Friday, May 11, 2012

La Plagne Climb

Legs still tired today but took advantage of the sunshine to get out and climb up to altitude for the first time this year. It was over 33°C at 700m but arriving at la Plagne 2000 it was still cold. The snow at that altitude acts like a giant refrigerator. 

Maximum Effort
Did a maximum effort workout on the D220 climb - but my legs weren't fully charged up. Heart rate topped out at 175 bpm and stayed there for the full 5 to 6 minutes. It took about 15 minutes to recover from that while climbing afterwards.

To protect my back I worked on Chi Cycling actions - linking the push with the hip coming backwards, feeling the abdominals along with the pull up on the opposite side and the corresponding twist of the spine. It's clear there are many possible ways to move - but injury is a sure sign that you are doing something inappropriate. Contrary to that, "connection" is a feeling that lets you know that you are doing something appropriate.

There is no doubt in my mind now that in general this is the direction to take. When the push was coordinated to work along with the hip moving backwards there was a strong sense of physical connection. Pulling back the hip slightly before pushing just loses this connection - so it isn't just an alignment issue. There are so many ways to move that it might be impossible to identify which way is the right one. The key appears to lie in initiating the movement from the spine instead of the feet or knees or any other peripheral body part. At the same time the motion has to have the right intention:You turn the pelvis so that you can extend your leg - therefore during the process there is pressure on the foot.

During the climb I suddenly understood why it's necessary to to have the arms and shoulders relaxed. I'd heard this said often but couldn't feel any particular reason to do it and it also seemed to contradict the need sometimes to pull or push the handlebars. Stiffening the arms and hence the shoulders blocks the free movement of the spinal column. You then can't control or initiate your movement from there and lose out on much of the contribution of the core muscles. The resistance in the arms and shoulders swallows up energy directly as well - but more importantly it prevents the relaxed mechanisms that permit efficient mechanics thorough the whole body.

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