Monday is a Good Day

Monday was a holiday, so of course it was a good day.  I didn’t ride, but I thought about it.  I wondered if thinking about riding counted as training, since I  must have spent 30 minutes just thinking about it.  My Monday Night Ride group is now starting earlier.  We’ve found that the earlier start allows us to get in the 25 miles needed in order for everyone to have a good, long conversation.  We now leave at 5:45 PM, which works well, since it gets all of us home a little earlier.  It seems that fall is approaching fast, and as a result, we’re getting closer to indoor training.

Historically, I have never really trained much in the off season; however, as I have gotten older, it seems that I have to spend more and more time training indoors. I guess there is no ‘off season’ when you get older.  Last year after my knee surgery, I rode very little in the off season, due to my body needing the extra recovery time. This resulted in my form feeling really “off” this season, and unfortunately, I was never able to find that ‘extra gear’ that I usually can count on from my training.   NO, I don’t race anymore and NO, I don’t train as hard as I used to…but I ALWAYS seemed to have an extra gear when I needed it.  Not so much this year.  As a result, I’ve decided that my goal for the upcoming cycle season is to get myself into the gym more, so that I can rediscover my extra gear.


Racing in northern Wisconsin a few years ago

For starters, I am going “back to the basics” with my workouts this winter.  To strengthen my legs, I will do squats, dead lifts, leg extensions, leg curls and lots of core work.  Two or three sets and maybe a fourth set, each progressing in weight. I will start in a basic strength phase, follow that up with a power phase, and finish with a maintenance phase.  All of these phases are designed to make me stronger on the bike. Once the weather gets really nasty this winter, I’ll set up the Cyclops trainer in my basement and start to reestablish my aerobic base on my bike, including building my cadence.  Then later, I’ll bring on the speed work.

January is the official kick-off for the new cycling season.  During this time, I will rely heavily on HPS (High Performance Spinning) as my training base. I’ll train twice per week, for 90 minutes with other friends who want to become stronger in the off season.  I can’t think of a better way to get ready for spring and the start of outdoor riding.  But hey, it’s still warm out right now, and September is one fine month in which to ride a bicycle.  I think I’ll get out there today and go for a ride.  After all, it’s Monday, and Monday is a good day.

Monday is a good day, especially when the heat finally breaks and the riding temperature feels more comfortable. This summer has been really hot, and the heat has taken its toll on me and a couple of the riders in our group.  Keeping cool and staying hydrated while on the bike are key when it comes to having a fun and successful ride.

I use a variety of techniques to stay hydrated during these hot summer days. Here are my top 6:

1.      Temperature above 80 degrees = one water bottle per hour while riding.

2.      On those days where you will be going through many bottles of fluids, plan your stops and always top off all water bottles.

3.      I take a drink from my water bottle every 15 minutes when the temperature is above 80 degrees, and I always take a drink at the top of every hill climb.

4.      I am never afraid to ask someone else for a drink from their water bottle. It can mean the difference between suffering from heat exhaustion or making it to the next rest stop.

5.      On hot days, start drinking fluids before you even start riding. Top off the tank, and keep it full. As you heat up, you will deplete your reserves very quickly.

6.      After your ride, drink the weight you lost in water.

Plenty of cool, refreshing water in Nice, France this summer

I like to consume a variety of drinks when I ride.  Lately, I have been drinking  the blue Gatorade. I like the taste, and it seems to agree with me when I drink it.  Other people have their favorites.  Water is always in at least one of my water bottles, especially if I carry three bottles with me on a ride.  Two of the bottles are used for hydration; the third bottle is used to keep me cool.  I simply pour the water over my head during the ride!  Not only does it keep me cool, but it also helps to wash off all the salt that seems to collect on my body when I sweat a lot. I enjoy my “Dump Bottle” on a hot day, because the water feels so refreshing as it slowly runs down my back after I pour it.

As September draws near, we are now beginning to approach  the autumn season.  The days are getting shorter, which means our rides are getting shorter … which means it is time to start thinking about a fall ride.  I am considering doing the Tyranena Bike ride on September 17th  Since I hate to ride alone, I am looking for a few folks to join me.  If you are interested in riding, drop me a line!  We can start a new group,  making Monday (after the ride) a good day.

Monday was a tired day. After a nine-hour flight back to Verona, Wisconsin, I am home.   Amsterdam, Paris, Grenoble, and Nice were all a part of my travel itinerary.  It is good to be back in the states, but I sure enjoyed traveling throughout my world.   This week, I am going to branch away from my usual coaching and cycling related topics, because I have gotten so many questions asked about my time in Nice, and how I was affected by the events that occurred there last week.   While I can’t tell you why this horrible tragedy occurred, I can share my experience as someone visiting the city when it happened.

Friday, July 15th at 8:00AM Nice time (which translates to 1:00AM Wisconsin time) found me answering all kinds of questions about my whereabouts.  Friends and family members were extremely concerned about my safety, and also the safety of my wife, Catherine and our travel-mates, Bryan and Steph Pritzl, following the devastating terror act on the Promenade in Nice the evening before.  Our friends and family members were frantic, and everyone wanted to know whether or not we were ok.  Thankfully, we were all asleep in our beds when the tragedy happened.

Let’s back up and start at the beginning.  At 6:45AM on Thursday morning, I was in a rental SUV along with Bryan Pritzl, heading to watch the Tour de France.  We had about 160 miles to cover, plus some walking to do in order to reach Mont Ventoux for a very exciting stage of the tour. We got to the small town of Sault at 11:30AM, which is 20 kilometers (or 12.4 miles) from the summit of the stage. We figured we could drive another 6 or 7 miles, and then walk the rest of the way. NOPE!  We had to walk the whole 12 miles, ONE WAY!  As we set off walking, I was thinking to myself that our original plan of meeting the gals for the fireworks at 8:00PM in Nice was likely not going to happen.  I figured that by 8PM, Catherine would quickly realize that we were not going to make it back, and that she and Steph would most likely head to the hotel for some much-needed rest.

13707762_10208484777424382_5313812675115916451_nBryan Prizl standing in a field of Lavender with Mont Ventoux in the back ground

The Mont Ventoux stage was EPIC, with Froome running up the mountain, and the whole stage turned upside down due to crashes, attacks and very high winds.  Afterward, another 12-mile walk back to the car.  I picked Bryan up at about 8:00PM, and we were off, on our way back to Nice. 

I pulled into a gas station about 5 miles outside of Nice at about 11:30PM to fill up the rental truck, as we were planning to return it in the morning, and I wanted to get it over with.  I paid for the gas, made a quick pit-stop to the restroom, and we began heading back to our hotel.  Once inside of the car Bryan told me that he had just seen 13 police cars fly by on the freeway all lit up with sirens blaring, and heading toward the heart of Nice. We didn’t give it much thought, other than stating “must be one heck of a party”.  

By 12:15AM, we were back in our hotel rooms, and I went straight to bed.  Catherine and Stephanie had cut their evening short after a long day of shopping and were already asleep.  The next morning, I turned my phone on, and it would not stop beeping!  Facebook messages were popping up so rapidly, I couldn’t read them fast enough. I immediately started responding to the posts as fast as I could, assuring everyone that we were all ok.  After taking everything in and realizing how close we were to being a part of this tragedy, I went to Facebook one final time to post my thoughts, which I now share with you below.

13718659_10208456213950313_3862122484210444544_nNice’s Promenade the day before the attack

“My thoughts go out to my friends in Nice today, some of which I may have passed on the small streets over the past few days. My resolve to travel and experience the culture of my world has not been lessened. I cannot be scared by the actions of a few. It will take some time for our world to make the adjustment needed to stop these kinds of terror activities. The change will have to come from within.”

Next Monday will be a better day.

Monday is a good day to learn something. Everyone who rides wonders, how do the “fast people” go fast? Well, they do a few things really well. You can learn to go faster too, with a few tips that even the pro cyclists use. Climbing, ride training, drafting, strength training and bike handling are just a few of the things that really good riders do better than the rest of us. However, if we can apply just one tip each week, we will become better cyclists, and we will ride a bit faster than we did last week. Over the next few blog posts, I will try to address some of these topics to help you to become a better rider.

When riding a bike, there are two instances where, if you play your cards right, you can gain the advantage and more easily catch another rider or even pass that rider. It is when (1) you are both going uphill (climbing), or (2) when each of you is pedaling into a head wind.  Riding downhill or into a tailwind is a very different story.  Everyone who has ever ridden or trained with me has heard me say that even my mother is fast with the tail wind and going downhill!

To be a good climber, you must know how NOT to waste energy while going uphill. Wasting your energy can be a costly mistake that will end up giving your fellow riders the advantage in the end.  Here are some tips on how to be a better climber:

32126_1483490444804_2452036_nLeading the group up the climb Photo compliments of Jerry Tyler


Stay seated when you climb. Remaining in the saddle allows you to apply more force to the pedals throughout the entire pedal stroke, while maintaining comfort. Sitting is always the first option unless you are forced to stand, due to the hill being too steep or due to the need to stretch your legs. Take a drink from your water bottle as you approach each hill and choose a gear which will allow you to have a smooth, even cadence. Sit back, flex your arms, relax the shoulders, ease your grip on the handlebars and allow for a little more distance between you and your fellow riders as you start your climb.

Maintain proper climbing form. A good climber is relaxed, pedals smoothly, has a calm upper body, and makes it appear that going uphill takes no effort. Good form helps to conserve energy and keep your speed steady. Try to avoid shifting too much while climbing, since every time you shift, the bike will slow down very quickly. Also avoid pulling on the handlebars or rocking back and forth. Your upper body should remain still.

Realize when it’s necessary to stand during your climb. This usually happens when the road becomes so steep that you lose your good climbing form and your cadence has dropped to a point where you are struggling to turn the pedals over. Standing should be your last resort. However, moving to a standing position will allow you to get the extra down-force you need on the pedals in order to keep climbing. To do this, slowly allow yourself to rise out of the saddle, and keep your weight over the center of the bike or at the very front of the saddle. The center of your torso should not be at the handlebar stem when standing. Move your hands to the brake hoods, and add one or two gears harder, since you will be using your overall weight to drive the pedals downward. Allow the bike to sway to the left and right, but try to keep your chin over the brake hoods when you sway. You will lose some force and some speed, because you will not be pulling upward on the pedals, but your body weight will assist in pushing the pedals down.

Know what to do once you get to the top of the hill. Stay in your climbing gear until you have taken a drink from your water bottle and you have started to go downhill. Allow your heart rate to start to come down, and take a little time to start recovering with some light spinning in that easy climbing gear. This will assist in getting the lactic acid out of your legs. I like to keep my bike in the climbing gear when I go downhill, just so I can lightly spin away the “heavy” feeling in my legs.

Following these few climbing tips can help make your uphill Mondays into good climbing Mondays.

Monday is a good day; if you were a duck. Yes it rained on Monday and that meant the ride got canceled or at least that is what I thought. Eric Gibson put out an email and just like that, Monday turned into Wednesday is a good day.


Eric Gibson and I on one of our many training rides

5 folks showed up for the ole Tipperary route. I think the whole route is just a shade over 25 miles and it is a good route to establish a good steady pace and work on drafting techniques or pace setting. Richard Drucker was the designated strong rider on this day and he showed many of us just how strong he is.

Richard has been taking my High Performance Training (HPS) class for years and for some reason this year he has come out riding like the wind. Smooth pedal cadence; no doubt form all of the single leg training we have been doing over the past two years. Single Leg spinning on a bicycle will help you establish a smooth turn over when you pedal. It will also help you become more efficient on the bicycle and stronger on the hills because you have to ‘Pull UP” on the pedals. Anyway he would seem to ride away from us whenever he wanted to. I will have to use him as a pace setter for the Door County Century in September!

All things considered, a good ride with a spirited pace with a strong tailwind pushing us all the way home. Richard and his strong legs allowed me to draft up to the faster riders so I got to stretch out my legs and push a faster pace. I think it was the first time I flipped up to the big chain ring and really paced Hard even though it was only for about a mile and it was really flat. Going Fast makes my Monday a good day.

Monday is a good Day:

Nice group of 11 riders today. The group kept a good tempo going while we traveled a distance of 27 miles.  We ended up having to ride just a bit faster in order to cover those 27 miles before the sun went down.  Took us about 90 minutes.

Being dressed in the proper cycling attire is critical to a rider’s comfort when biking during the early spring. Too much clothing means you can overheat, which makes for a miserable ride. Too little clothing and you freeze, also making for a miserable ride. Tonight I went against my own good advice and left the arm warmers at home. My arms froze! I managed to slip on my wind vest, which kept the cold off of my chest, but my poor arms got really cold. Moral of the story?  Focus more on covering the upper body well and don’t worry about the legs as much, since they will keep warm on their own when pedaling.

 spring racing
Spring racing in Madison in the right clothing! Photo by Anderson Bortoletto

The Last 8 miles of our ride consisted of a good tail wind, which pushed the pace up a bit high for some of the newer riders. I always keep a close eye on the rear of the field, being on the lookout for people who get dropped when the pace goes up; that is when people typically get “shelled” out the back.  When this happens, I am personally able to get some additional training in, as I have to go back and “pull” the dropped riders up to the front group.  Setting a good, even tempo for them, giving them a good wheel to follow and even blocking the wind for them makes their return ride that much easier.  I get a big kick out of the riders when I first go back to them and they say, “I’m OK, you can go back up to the front!”.  Little do they know, it isn’t that easy to do!   I have to remind them that I am here to help, and that they should take the help, because we have no place to go!

When pacing for another rider(s), you have to be very cognizant of the wind and what direction it is coming from. Echeloning to the right or left (or knowing how to ride into a crosswind) is critical to the person following, in order to keep them in that sweet spot out of the headwind.

eschAbove is an example of echeloning to the right when the wind is coming out of the left.

hedwindWhen the wind is coming directly at you, simply follow as close as your fear allows you to.

Proper Drafting techniques can make your Monday a good day.

Monday is a good day:

Training is the foundation of success. I just made that up and it fits the way I feel about cycling and the success that I have had in the sport. Training: it is hard work but I always enjoyed it even though I complained a lot about it while doing it. Success: winning races or completing a long ride that made all the training worth it.

That brings me to this week’s Sunday and Monday rides. 27 fun flat miles on Sunday with Ann Camillo, Karen Gruenisen, Janice Beers, and her beau Dave Barger. One of the things that I love to do is watch people just ride their bicycles. See how they train, how they put forth efforts, and to see how they express those efforts. I always tried to hide my feelings when racing so no one could get a “Read” off of how I was feeling. Now all I do is read people and how they ride.

Ann loves to Lean into a hill and power up the climb. She gauges her efforts to make it to the top without blowing up; I like her aggressiveness when going uphill. She is strong and is always pushing the pace to challenge herself and the group.


Ann Camillo, Riding away in Italy

Karen is the best teammate a person could have, she can draft and knows how to protect herself in the group so she does not get dropped and therefor is able to ride much faster than her abilities. This is a crucial skill to learn when riding in a group. Karen is also a skilled bicycle handler. Things like drinking from a bottle while holding her line or not making sudden movements always make it an enjoyment to ride behind her.

Janice, my newest rider has no idea how fast and strong she really is. I was blown away at her pedal power and her determination to be strong. Her spinning is giving her more confidence which will only driver her determination even more. She also has really strong upper body form which also comes from a well-fitting bicycle but the person also has to have that relax look while riding which she does.

good janice

Janice, riding like the wind

Dave, Yes I was watching you on our ride too. I watch everyone ride their bicycles. I don’t look for flaws; I look for strengths and weakness anything that I can use in my riding techniques and in coaching.

We had a great ride on Sunday which will make Monday a good day.

Monday is a good Day:

Well, I made it through another week! I am now spending up to two days per week on my bike.  I am just beginning to feel my riding form coming around again. Being in touch with my body and how it behaves when I ride and train is something that I have learned through experience over the years.  Feeling aches and pains and knowing whether or not I have the legs to push the pace (or how hard I can go and for how long) have been good things to know about myself. When I was much younger, I could go all day really hard, and I never seemed to get tired. However, as I’ve gotten older, those moments have become fewer and further between, and as a result, I’ve had to judge my efforts more closely.


Matto in the early 80’s racing in Maryland. Photo by Tim Miles

This week my goal was to be able to “push it” going uphill. My newly-scoped knee had other plans, though.   The ole’ right knee said “Matto, better take it easy”.  I still have a little “hitch” in my up-stroke, but it’s coming around.  Every now and then, I feel the old legs coming back, and the need for speed creeps up into my consciousness.  However, that goes away really quickly when friends like Chip Camillo or Eric Gibson start to talk to me about whatever the topic of discussion is for that day.  It’s a really good distraction.

Training to be a better cyclist is something that I enjoy immensely. It’s been a huge part of my life for many years.  I’m finding out more and more that if you truly want to become better on the bike, the first thing you must do is embrace the love of riding no matter what the conditions – even when dealing with an aging body and a bum knee.  However, one thing will never change – and that is seeing my legs turn those perfect little circles and feeling the power in my body as I maneuver that bike uphill. If you can learn to love the training no matter the circumstances, the rest is a piece of cake…and your Monday will be a good day.

Monday is a good day.

Two years ago this Saturday was the last time I raced a bicycle competitively. That day marked a 35-year career of going “all out” to win a race. I had many good days and many bad days in those 35 years, but for the most part, I am very happy with how it all turned out.

jerry tyler
Whitewater race with my teammates the Flying Bobcats photo by Jerry Tyler

Since that day two years ago, I have done very little riding. I recently had my right knee scoped to clean up all the “junk” that had accumulated in there over the course of my lifetime. I also put in a good, solid year of simply working on my house and planting my own vegetable garden. I never quit riding, just put it on the back burner for a few months.

jerrry two
Finishing 2nd at Whitewater in an uphill sprint photo by Jerry Tyler

This spring I started again – not racing, but riding just for fun. I sent out an email to a few friends, and before I knew it, I had a group of 25+ interested people on my list. We now meet on Mondays at 6:10 PM, and we ride about 25 miles at an average pace of 15-17 mph. Many of the people I ride with are from my HPS (High Performance Spinning) classes and the Door County Century training classes I have taught over the years.  I have acted as both a coach and mentor for these folks, with the ultimate goal of helping them to become stronger and more confident cyclists.  It is both ironic and pleasing to me that so many of the guys and gals I used to train with when I raced competitively are interested in simply getting together for these weekly “love rides”.  I look so forward to my Monday evenings- makes for a good day.