April Training Blog: Turn It Up!

It’s sunny, but not necessarily warm.

Well, Tax Day has gone by, the days are getting longer, and if you live in the Pacific Northwest you’re probably wondering: Where is the warm weather? Or at least, that’s what we’re thinking here in Central Oregon. The mountains in this area are still getting snow, and the thermometer has not made it over 60 degrees very much at all this spring.

But your BRNW trip is three to four months away. Hopefully, you’ve been working on building your base, and full-body strength work. Maybe some of you are still skiing one or two days a week to maintain your fitness, but if you’re like me you’re ready to be done with winter and start riding in shorts.

If you’ve been building your base, riding two to three days a week and doing a long ride of 3 hours or more at least a couple times, it’s time to start adding some intensity. I define intensity as anything above your endurance zone.

I suggest starting with some long tempo intervals, on both flat and hilly terrain. Your tempo zone is that zone where you’re working hard and steady, your breathing is hard but you’re not panting, and your leg muscles are working but not burning. Tempo intervals can vary anywhere from 8 to 30 minutes, depending on your longest ride so far and/or your plans for your event. (For longer events as well as better base fitness, I suggest doing the 30-minute interval.) Your heart rate can be anywhere from high endurance to a few beats below your lactate threshold zone (or 75 to 85 percent of your max HR). When determining your max HR, use a figure that is specific to cycling, since your max HR when running or Nordic skiing is often 10 beats higher than for cycling. If you’re interested in how to calculate your max heart rate for cycling, go to:  http://www.wenzelcoaching.com/blog/q-a-heart-rate-maximum-and-threshold-testing-outside-of-a-lab/.

Do these tempo intervals on a long gradual hill or flat section, and try to maintain the intensity and effort level the entire length of the interval. The rest period should be 1/3 the time of the interval. Start with one of these one or two days a week, and work up to three of them at least once a week after three to four weeks of doing these. These types of intervals are the best bang for your buck, in that they don’t tire you out as much as harder-intensity intervals but they really give you a good training stress to improve fitness. Continue with another two to three days of endurance rides, always increasing your long ride. You may also want to practice doing two long rides back-to-back, to start preparing you for the bike tour.

You need to continue with a full-body strength maintenance program one day a week, and core strength at least two days a week (but three is better!).

Here is a sample week with five days of training: Monday: off; Tuesday: tempo intervals; Wednesday: strength maintenance and core, plus an optional easy spin of less than 1 hour after the strength work; Thursday: tempo intervals or a longer endurance ride; Friday: off; Saturday and Sunday: long endurance rides, plus core one of those days.

You can really do your core workout on any day; you just want to be sure to get it in. As with any training regimen, if you’re not fully recovered you risk getting injured or sick, or just not having fun. So if you find you’re overly tired and having a hard time getting in your workout, just do a recovery day (yoga, walk or easy spin, all with a very low HR) or take another day off.


Now that you’re starting to increase the time and intensity, it’s time to talk about nutrition on and off the bike. You want to maintain healthy meals with a lot of fruits, vegetables and healthy protein and fats. Since you’re increasing your intensity, you need to be sure you’re getting in enough carbohydrates. I find most people underestimate their true carbohydrate needs for fear the carbs will make them fat.


Pre-workout, you need to have a good solid meal (carbohydrates and protein with good fats) up to two hours prior to your workout. For any endurance or recovery workout under 45 minutes, you can just drink water. For any workout between 45 and 90 minutes, you should aim to take in at least 30g of carbohydrates, which equals around 120 calories in the form of food (banana, energy bar) or carbohydrate electrolyte drink.

For any workout between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours, you should aim to take in 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour, depending on your body weight and the intensity. And for any workout greater than 2.5 hours, you need to aim for 70-90g (210-360 calories) of carbohydrate per hour – again, depending on intensity and body weight. As the intensity increases, you need more carbohydrates and easier-to-digest foods.

After any workout greater than 45 minutes and/or involving strength work, you need to take in a recovery drink or food. This can be anything that is easy but provides a good source of carbohydrate and protein. Aim for at least 160-250 cals. You want a high-glycemic carbohydrate source so you can replenish your muscle glycogen stores quickly. Then remember to eat a good healthy meal about 2-3 hours after your workout/recovery drink/food. A great reference book for Nutrition and Endurance activities is Monique Ryan’s “Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes”: http://moniqueryan.com/media/books/

Now, get out there and ride and have fun. See you soon! Next month we’ll talk about adding even more intensity – and something that’s very important for anyone who is training a lot: recovery, and how to maximize it.

Until next time,


If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at annelinton@gmail.com or go to wenzelcoaching.com if you want more in depth coaching and/or training plans.


I Scream for… Bike Tours

Photo by Phil Bard

I was at my favorite ice-cream shop, Salt & Straw, and I faced the usual dilemma. Should I go for my favorite ice cream in the world, the Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper? It’s available year-round. Or should I try one of the funky limited-time specials, like the Apple Frosting Caramel Crackers? I might not ever get a shot at this one again.

What a lovely (first-world) problem to have. I would have been happy either way. (I know this because I had a sample of the new stuff, and then a scoop of my standby.)

And I savored every ounce of it – partly because I had done a good hard ride earlier that day, meaning I was indulging guilt-free for the moment. And that got me thinking about cycling, while I was eating ice cream, and… wait, do I have a point here?

Yes, actually. My point is that bicycle touring in our region offers a lot of flavors, and you can hardly go wrong with any of them. (How’s that for a sweet analogy stretch?)

Photo by Phil Bard

One of the things I was most curious about when I joined up with BRNW was if there were any big differences between our riders and those on the other tours I’ve worked on. And the answer is, not really. Some people enjoy riding a larger or smaller tour, but overall there are way more similarities than differences in the core groups of each event.

There are multiple well-run bike tours you can ride around here. And one of the things I like about my fellow tour operators is the way we work together and help each other out. We have a national conference every year, where we openly share ideas, strategies, technology… because the overall ethic is that if we all put on good tours, we’ll get more people out on bikes, and there will be enough riders to keep all our events going strong.

So whichever tour you choose to do, you’re likely to have a great time – I mean, it’s the ride-eat-chill-sleep-repeat cycle no matter who you’re riding with, and there’s plenty of scenery to go around here out West. So they’re all a blast.

And to me, that says as much about the riders as it does the events. I’ve followed my curiosity into five or six very different careers over the years, so I’ve experienced a pretty good cross-section of people. And the riders I meet on bike tours are some of the nicest, most appreciative and interesting folks I’ve ever met.

Photo by Phil Bard

Here’s a story that illustrates my point. Last August I was sitting in the caterer’s trailer at the tour I was running in New York. The caterer works for a company that runs several restaurants, caters both huge weddings and small exclusive events, and employs over 1,000 people. He and I were adjusting the amount of food at the rest stops. Then we relaxed and got to talking about the bigger picture, and he said something that sticks with me. “At every kind of event we do, I hear from the guests when stuff goes wrong,” he said with a sigh. But then his face lit up. “But this bike tour is the only time I have people actually seek me out to thank me for how good the food is.”

That about sums it up for the kind of people we bike-tour operators get to deal with. (Well, 97 percent of them, anyway; the other 3 percent is a story I’ll tell another time.) We’re here to show you a great time on a bike, and you’re along with us to have one.

So, getting back to the ice cream analogy: There are many delicious flavors of bike tours out there for you to experience. We don’t expect to be the only one you ever taste. But you can’t blame us for hoping BRNW is your favorite.

BRNW Rider Focus: Carolyn Kalish

This month we’re featuring Carolyn Kalish, who has been riding with us since the second year of the Oregon Bicycle Ride – she’s become as much of a treasure as the event itself.

Name, hometown, age:  Carolyn Kalish, Washougal, WA; 60

What’s your BRNW history?

My history with BRNW started in 1988. I was living in Eugene at the time. It was a sleepy, rainy April morning as I sat drinking my coffee and reading the paper… when an article about how a group of cyclists the previous summer had ridden across the entire STATE of Oregon caught my attention. These hardy souls had actually pedaled from Hells Canyon to the Pacific Ocean.  As I read about their adventures I could feel my excitement… registration was open and the ride was a mere four months away. I called my best friend Carol and told her to read the article and get back to me… 30 minutes later she called me: “Let’s do this!”

Now what? We didn’t even own bikes.

That first year Carol and I rode the entire way. We finished. We purchased Trek 520 Touring bikes for our adventure, and to be honest did not really know anything about the art of cycling… we just knew we wanted to ride our bikes across the state of Oregon. Most days we were the last to arrive at camp. I remember watching the “real” cyclists whizzing past me in well-orchestrated pacelines along the flat sections, and then seemingly float away from me up the long hard climbs as I struggled for air and cadence. I watched them descend with fearless command. I wanted to learn more about how to do this and do it well. I was infatuated with it all.

When we got home…I immediately started looking for a new bike…the rest is history!

That was the beginning of a love affair with OBR/BRNW and with cycling, which continues to this day. Riding my bike has brought me lifelong friends, and a sense of excitement every year as I plan and train for various events. I met my husband, the love of my life, on a bike. I have come back for the magic that is OBR/BRNW almost every summer since 1988!

Why do you ride a bike?

I ride for a sense of connection – to myself, to the earth, and to others. I love the feeling of getting to the top of a long, hard climb and soaking in the vista and accomplishment. I love working through physical discomfort and conquering it. I love the feeling of freedom and being a kid again that riding a bike gives me.

How many bikes do you own, and is this a problem?

At the moment I own three bikes. A few months ago it was five.  I could never have too many bikes…

What is the most unusual or challenging place you’ve ever ridden?

I think the most iconic place I have ridden is Maui. My husband and I went on a tour with an organization called Second Summer Tours – in January, when most cyclists are not in the best shape. It was a brutally hard yet fun tour. We did a climb up Haleakala – sea level to 10,000 feet in 37 miles. It was amazing and beautiful!

If you’ve done other tours, what makes BRNW rides different?

The support on the road is AMAZING! I never feel alone. The food… delicious and healthy!

Why do you keep coming back?

It has become a summer tradition. To see old friends, make new friends, ride my bike in the summer warmth, camp under the stars, laugh… to see how much I can do on a bike, and remind myself how thankful I am to be able to do what I love.

What did you see on a BRNW ride that you never thought you’d see?

My husband jokingly says: the inside of a tent! I had been doing OBR/BRNW for several years before we married. He had never camped. Our honeymoon in 1992 was the OBR Denio tour. It was such a wonderful week. Laughter, friends and LOVE…

What advice would you give a first-time BRNW rider?

If you have never done a multi-day tour, don’t go out too hard the first few days. Enjoy the scenery… you have all day.