Don't ride here!

It's that flip-flopping time of year. Trails are freezing at night, thawing in the day. If you can get out early when frozen. It's the most fun. If the trails are wet, avoid them. If only a section is wet, walk it. If you make ruts and they freeze for the winter, you're gonna pay when the trail is frozen and you should be railing but get tossed because you couldn't control the urge to ride in the mud!


Going to the Canary Islands in Feburary! Come along!

Takeaim Cycling and BiciFitness are leading another training camp in Spain this year! This time we will be in the Canary Islands where the weather's perfection is only trumped by the spectacular roads on this volcanic island.

We will be leading two camps. Feb 11-18 and the 18-25th. Both camps will be all about climbing and decending. Unlike other cycling camp destination islands like Maljorca, Tenerife is an unknown gem with a more relaxed atmosphere. We will help refine your riding skills and give your season a serious kick start. That being said, don't sit on the couch until the day you fly. If you are going to enjoy this trip you need to be prepared. That's good motivation to stay fit through the cold winter months!

Our prices are a bargain compared to many camps out there. Check out the site at www.bicifitness.com!


"It doesn't matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop" confucius

      I was working with a rider today, going over some of the fundamentals of technique. We practiced going as slow as possible without falling over. Even at a crawl the motion is still moving forward. If you want to increase your balancea and improve your technical skills practice riding as slow as you can!
keep a foot out of the clips so you can put a foot down quickly if you are new to clip in pedals. 


Expanding the domain of TakeAim

 Hi all,
Just wanted to let you know that I'm now the guest blogger for the mountain bike division of the website Find the Best. You'll find general commentary and advice there for cyclist of all genres.


Stretch it

        Why stretch?
  1. It reduces injuries by allowing the body to react to adverse situations through a greater range of motion.
  2. Increases body awareness.
  3. "Reduces soreness by lengthening muscle fibers, increasing blood circulation and removing waste products." Brad Walker
  4. Improves posture, co-ordination, circulation.
  5. After a good stretch, energy levels increase and stress reduces.
      One of my favorite benefits is a little less than obvious, but is in-line with the philosophy of TakeAim Cycling. Better biking through efficient riding. Brad Walker really opened my eyes when I first read his book "The Anatomy of Stretching". He explains that stretching will reduce fatigue because for every working muscle there is an antagonist muscle. If that antagonist or opposite muscle is more flexible the working muscle does not have to work as hard to do it's job. Therefore your body becomes more efficient simply by stretching.
      How does that translate to the bike? You get faster without having to buy a new piece of expensive equipment. We spend a lot of money on making our bikes efficient, but ignore the simple things that are at hand.

Stretching guidelines
  1. You can injure yourself stretching! 
  2. Stretching is not a contest. Your range of flexibilty is not mine. The goal is not for everyone to touch the ground. The GOAL is to achieve the benefits of stretching.
  3. Turn off the TV. I've seen recommendations for stretching for 10 minutes in front of the TV. I say that stretching is a time to listen to your body. If you are distracted you are more likely to stretch improperly and can injure yourself with a strain. 
  4. Don't bounce the stretch.
  5. Hold it for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Breath!!! Don't hold it in. Everyone has a tendency to hold in the breath. It takes awareness to remind yourself to breath. Breathing helps us relax and increases blood flow to those oxygen starved muscles.
  7. Before exercise. It's strange to warmup for ten minutes then stop to stretch and return to workout. Still it's a good idea. I tend to find that most of my cycling workouts involve a 20-30 minute warmup period so I don't always stretch. If I'm at a race, I definitely stretch before the start.
  8. After Exercise: Spend at least 15 minutes doing simple stretches that target the areas you worked the most and feel the most. It's not unusual to spend up to an hour gettting a good stretch in. I highly recommend getting a longer stretch in from time to time. It's like a free massage.
  9. Don't stretch an unhealthy muscle. There is a difference between a sore muscle and torn one.
Contact me if you are interested in learning more. We can develop a routine for you that will improve your cycling performance and comfort. Either way, don't ignore the importance of regular stretching!


    Your arms will fail before your legs.

             Sure you might have the best training regime out there to get your legs and heart ready to survive 9+ hours on a bike. But, how much thought have you given to your core and arms. I took a strong rider out the other day on a 5 hour ride through the trails of Jim Thorpe. It wasn't race pace, but by the last hour of the ride he was wondering about his ability to hold himself up on the bike.
              What most people don't realize, is that in order to get yourself through a hundred miles on the mountain bike, your upper bits are as important as your lower bits. Really you should look at it as a symbiotic relationship. A strong core, shoulders and arms allows you to transfer power more efficiently to the pedals. It's like a race car the has to have a stiff chassis to harness every ounce of power from the engine and transfer all of those horses to the wheels. No one wants a flexy bike, so why would you want a flexy body.
              Do yourself a favor and start a core and upper body workout program today. It will payoff more than you can know,.. till you know, then you'll be telling others all about it to! There is no need for a gym membership. Get a couple of 10 or 15 pound weights, a pilates ball and 15-30 minutes a day. Crunches, back extensions, lunges, tricep curls, abdominable crunches, push-ups, planks, dead lifts, wrist curls...
    If it works your abs, lowerback, shoulders triceps, forearms it's a good thing.
    Start now, because you can't suddenly build this kind of strength two weeks before a race!

    "When you're on the starting line of your first century, it's not wise to sit there and think, 'I've got to ride one hundred miles.' I remember my first one, and my thought was to get to the first rest stop. I made each succeeding rest stop my goal. When they're about twenty-five miles apart, you don't get imtimidated by what seems an impossible distance. All you need to do is ride twenty-five miles four times." -Seana Hogan


    Tips for riding in the snow/sand/mud!

    Just because there is snow on the ground doesn't mean you can't get out and ride. Of course there are circumstances where it's just about impossible. But, if you have a snow that is light and fluffy, not to thick and maybe a little tracked out then you can get an excellent power workout.
    Benfits of riding in snowy conditions:
    1. Improved handling skills.
    2. Greater awareness of power transfer and gear choices.
    3. An awesome workout in a short distance.

    Here is what you can do to help improve your ride in the snow.
    1. Shift your weight rearwards to add traction to the rear wheel. Stay balanced but push the rear of your butt another inch or two towards the back of the saddle. Don't hang off the back of the saddle, it's just a minor shift backwards. Keep your heels dropped like you're pedalling a paddle boat.
    2. Don't stop peddling. The best force is a steady effort. Resist the temptation to go to an overly easy gear or a gear that bogs you down. Of course you can coast downhills, but any other time you should be turning over the pedals. If you find yourself spinning the rear wheel while riding, I recommend clicking to a gear or two harder to ensure you are constantly transferring power. If you can't get started from a stand still try a slightly easier gear. Like a car trying to get unstuck, start in second. Be aware of your rear wheel's contact with the ground.
    3. Don't oversteer. Try to ride a straight line as much as possible. It's okay to go off line. Slowly redirect the bike with gentle steering. 
    4. Let the bike go where it wants. You can't fight the directional path the snow or sand wants to take you. So read above, then patiently pedal back to where you want to go. 
    5. Keep elbows and knees bent. Use them as balasts. If the bike swings one way use these appendages to compensate. Be dynamic. Next time you are out, see what it is like to stiffen the elbows and keep the knees tight to your top tube.You'll quickly see how important it is to have loose limbs.
    6. When climbing, keep your butt on or just above the saddle. If you stand up and lean forward you are taking traction away from the rear wheel.
    7. In corners, stay centered on the bike. The front wheel will push out if you remain in the straight line position of staying slightly back on the saddle. 
    8. Look ahead to where you want to go. It's okay to scan the ground in front of you, but make sure you are picking your lines early. 
    9. Breath and stay relaxed. You can't fight the snow. It's all about bike Judo! Transfer the energy to your advantage.
    If you have anyother tricks that work for you, post a comment!


    When it snows it's time to slide!

         We are looking to get 6+ inches of snow tomorrow. What to do? Get some xc skis and get exploring. XC skis are a great way to cross train for your cycling season plus they allow you to explore places you never expected to get to. Ski through the Wissahickon, down Mt. Misery in Valley Forge or straight up your street to the store.
          Besides a good aerobic workout, you get a serious quad, hamstring and balance workout.

    Go to Buckman's or other ski shop and get your gear together today! After last years snow fall I put my cheap 5 year old skis to the test and managed to ski about 30+ days. Valley Forge, Wissahickon, Marsh Creek, Belmont Plateau and Allegheny ave. On the last day of good sking I ripped the bindings out while making turns into a tree. I promised myself an upgrade and managed to sell some extra things to get a pair of Alpina Discovery skis with a full metal edge. I wanted a little heavier duty set up than my last since I don't particularly follow the groomed path.


    Rethink your training methods!

    "Golf pros hit balls on the range, swimmers practice with wooden paddles on their hands, and athletes in other sports do other things that improve performance by enhancing muscle memory. Too many cyclists just ride their bikes." Mike Kolin

          The tradition of the bike ride is to grab your bike and be gone, tooling around the neighborhood, riding to a friends house or running some errand. That's easy enough to do and the satisfaction comes partially from the ride and partially from the arrival at a destination. Cycling can live long in that capacity with out the need to ask more of your bike or your body. On the surface biking is easy.
          Now think about another activity like softball, tennis or piano playing. How would you rate these in terms of "easy to do?" You can join a friendly beer drinking softball league where you'll practice throwing and catching the ball. All in all it's pretty easy to play softball but it does require coordination and a little thought about the mechanics of your body's actions. I'd say softball has a long life before you feel there is a limit to your skills.
         Tennis on the other hand has a novelty effect for people who are untrained at it. Hitting the ball back and forth over the net is a neat game to play if both players are of similar skills. How long would it take before you ask yourself what it would be like to really be able to return the ball with that solid thwack good players have? If you enjoy fooling around with tennis, you'd soon be bored with your self-taught skills and go searching for a few lessons. Tennis has a shorter life span for the uncoached player than the softball player.
          So why would you even sit down at a piano unless you knew how to play or were going to dink-dink around.
          What I'm driving at is that as soon as you want to become better at what you are doing you will search out some sort of instruction. I come from a tennis and swimming background. In those sports practice doesn't mean just going out and playing or swimming. We'd practice starts, overheads, turns, forehands, backhands, strokes and everyother piece of minutia that made you a better athlete.
          When I started mountainbiking I'd tool around and spend time trying to get up and over things like curbs, downed electric poles and puddles. I'd take the road bike into an empty parkinglot and practice taking corners at different speeds with different body positions. That doesn't mean I got it right, but I got better quicker than would have if I I had just learned in the heat of the moment during a ride.
          My challenge to you is to go out and find a log, a curb or a corner and practice going up and over or around it for at least 15 minutes. Do that for three days and I guarantee you'll either come out of it doing it better, or at least realize you're doing something wrong.
          And the great thing is you can do this in your back yard, or the park right next to you. You don't need a trail. All ways start slow and build your way up, staying in control.


    Welcome to TakeAim Cycling!

           The new year is here and presumably some of you have a few goals to meet. As you might have read from the "mission statement" on the right of this blog, my goal is to help mountain bikers of all levels improve their trail riding skills. The benefits of being a more technically capable rider is far reaching for the overall enjoyment of such a great sport. Here is a list of why skills coaching is beneficial:
    1. Safety: The better you are at handling your bike in a variety of terrain the safer you ride.
    2. Efficiency: Instead of fighting the trail, you work with the earth to save energy while gaining speed. An efficient rider can also ride longer, extending your range of exploration.
    3. Less Mechanicals: A smoother rider has better control of their bike, and will have to visit the bike shop less. Or the hospital
    4. Broadened Horizons: The better a rider you are, the more places you can ride confidently. 
    5. More Fun: A smoother rider scares themself less, can think more about the surroundings instead of the bike and will have a solid skill base to improve upon for future skills.
    6. Racing: A mountainbiker and a road racer enter a mountain bike race. The roadie has all the numbers from training to prove they are much more fit and stronger than the woods rider. The mountainbiker wipes the earth with the roadie. Why? Practice... An efficient mountain biker has the advantage that a regular coaching program doesn't cover. 
          I learned to ride a mountain bike from riding with better riders. Early on I believed that paying for lessons seemed counter to the nature of mountain biking. Over the years I have changed my tune after countless experiences of providing helpful tips to people that immediately made them better and more confident riders. I grew up taking tennis and swim lessons twice a week for years and looking back on that experience I believe in the power of repetition with a good coach.
            For the past few years I have coached and given skills lessons to friends and aquaintences. I now plan to bring the things I've learned in my past seven years as a professional cyclist to anyone who wants to progress in their riding.

    Thank You

    Harlan Price

    Coaching Services and Rates

    1 on 1 Skills Coaching: We will step into the woods or onto an obstacle course with our bikes and practice performing specific skills. Including but not limited to braking techniques, cornering, climbing, rock gardens, log hopping, bunny hopping, body position. $70 hr, $120 2hrs, $300 for 6hrs in 3 sessions, and youth rates. Ask about discounts for bike industry employees. 

    Group Skills Sessions: Larger groups and times can be negotiated. Traveling costs will need to be factored in according to distance from Philadelphia.
    2hr sessions, $300; 4hrs $400; 6hrs $500

    Ride-Alongs: For road and Mountain: You can learn a lot from having someone ride with you and give tips on technique. It's also extremely valuable to have someone to follow to "watch their lines" on the mountain bike. I learned most of my riding by watching what other people did. It's also an opportuntiy to figure out if you are properly doing the training ride your coach prescribed for the day. Your coach may not be in the same town as you or may be unavailable to ride with you when you would like. I'll work with your coach to provide you feedback and them critical information about what you are doing on the bike. A ride-along is less intense than a Skills Lesson but will provide another dimension of analysis and information for you to become a better more efficient rider.
    $40hr for local rides.

    Training Camps: There is nothing like spending a block of days with friends or other like minded people riding hard and getting stronger each day. Training camps are good for preparing for an upcoming event or establishing an early season base. Camps are customizable and can be formed to fit your schedule. From two days to a full week, the camps can be on road or mountain bikes and will be established soon. Prices vary depending on needs and location. Look for upcoming 100 miler training camps. 

    Ride Guide: I have spent years exploring riding options in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. Especially in Pennsylvania there are many known riding areas that have no trail markings. If you are looking for a unique adventure or want to ride an area you are unfamiliar with, I can take you there. Rates are dependent on location and time.

    *I'm flexible so make a suggestion if you have a different idea.
    **Usually there will be an additional charge to cover expenses for all rides outside of the Philadelphia area.**