Coach Carl Cycling

A website for cyclists wanting to win their race and achieve personal cycling bests.

Carl is a cycling coach and avid track racer. Carl focuses primarily on coaching junior racers, but coaches riders of all ages and backgrounds. Carl is the track cycling coach for the Northwest Cycling Club, voted USA Cycling's Cycling Club of the Year for 2013-2014, and is one of the main coaches at the Alkek Veldodrome in Houston, TX. He has introduced countless racers to the sport of cycling and and has helped many racers attain their personal bests, up to and including, 9 individual junior national track championships. Coach Carl Jones is a cycling coach and physical educator with a degree in Kinesiology-Movement and Sports Studies from the University of Houston. 

Wait...What About Weights? Weightlifting For Cyclists

I guess with any sport there are many opinions on the 'best' way to train. In this way, cycling is no different. And, when it comes to weightlifting, the opinions can be polar opposites depending how traditional you are. The traditionalist are usually against weightlifting, siting that it ruins your pedal stroke and cyclists don't need the extra bulk in muscles and the newer guard accepting weightlifting as pertinent training for cycling. 

My opinion, I am strongly for year round weight/conditioning for cycling.  But as always, the type of weight training depends on the type of riding on which you focused.

In an article by Kristen Gustafson of Rasmussen College, " 5 Benefits of Weight Training", she states that weight training: 

  • increases physical work capacity
  • improves bone density
  • promotes fat-free body mass
  • strengthens connective tissues of the muscles, bones, and tendons
  • can improve quality of live

I can't see anything in this list that won't benefit a cyclist. Especially us racers with limited time during the week that have families, jobs, and/or go to school. Weight training can make up for a some of that 'not riding' that you are doing.

Trackies: If you are a track racer, sprinters especially, weight training is probably a must. Simply put, you have to have the muscle to put down the speed. Lower reps and higher weights will be the trend for you. You'll probably weight train most all of the year. Squats and free weights have been a staple for the sprinter, but you'll find a lot of racers, especially amateur and novice, using machines for the added safety. 

Long Endurance track (mass start) racers probably won't lift as much, but will still benefit, but the pursuiters definitely will weight train. 

Roadies: Would probably only lift in the off-season, lighter weights with lots of reps for these folks. Most road riding is done sub-maximal and the focus is not on explosive movement, but general strength. 

BMXers/MTBers/CXers would definitely benefit from weight training because of the many explosive movements in their racing. 


As always, get coaching if you are not aware of the proper techniques etiquette and safety protocols in the weight room.  

There are many books out there that give excellent advice and workouts for the weight training cyclists but bare in mind all the general rules-of-thumb for weight training. 

  • get medically cleared before starting a program and be careful of previous injuries
  • get a coach or professional advice
  • stick with your program and keep records
  • set goals
  • choose exercises that benefit your discipline of the sport
  • Warm up and stretch before starting
  • don't over do it at the beginning if you aren't used to the rigor of the exercises. 
  • and...don't skip your scheduled rest days. 

Pump Iron and Ride Faster/Further. 



Winter is here and....over-doing it is just as bad as under-doing it!

I am reminded tonight as we prepare for the next cold blast that I was freaking cold this morning before my ride. I always panic on the first cold weather ride, wondering if I'll pick the right gear for the ride. Will I be too cold/hot during the ride. I'm glad I was prepared this time. Fortunately, I made great choices and I was extremely comfy in the 45-50 degree weather this morning, never overheating and staying cool for the whole ride. There were people around me, on the other hand, that didn't make wise choices though and they paid for it by over dressing and over heating,  or under dressing and shivering for their whole ride. What winter clothing do you have in your inventory, and how do you use your clothing? Lay it all out and look at it and imagine the combinations for various weather conditions. 

  1. RULE OF THUMB: Check the weather. What is the temp before you ride and what will it be at the end. Remember that over-dressing can be worse than under-dressing. Overdressing is very easy to do if you aren't aware of the before/during/after temperature variances during your day on the roads. 
  2. WEAR ENOUGH CLOTHING SO THAT YOU START OFF A LITTLE CHILLED. You will warm up quickly during the ride. 
  3. Just like a fellow coach used to say: Cover your knees. His rule of thumb is under 70 cover the knees (Thanks Garth!). This is especially important if your joints tend to stiffen up in cold weather, and if you've had injuries to your knees (i.e. you're old like me). Remember that your knees are always facing forward in to the cold and are the first to take abuse. Protect them. 
  4. Wear gloves - numb finger hurt!

Dress in layers, but you'll have to experiment with your clothing combinations. 

My combo today: 42 degrees and finished at 45 degrees. 

  1. base layer
  2. jersey
  3. arm and leg warmers
  4. shoe covers
  5. full finger/wind blocking gloves
  6. team vest...started in the vest but took it off and gave it to a one of my junior riders. 

I was a little chilled at the beginning of the ride but, warmed up quickly. I stayed cool and didn't sweat. My toes were a little stiff and numb, but they always are. No big surprise there. 

The chart above comes from a post from Richardson Bike Mart and posted on Major Tayor Group - Dallas...Great Stuff!

Base Layer - essential for wicking sweat away from the skin

Jersey - gotta represent!

Head Covering - Especially on the coldest day. Some people use a cycling cap under the helmet. Helmet covers, skull caps, balaclavas, Don't forget your neck!

Gloves and Warmers (leg/knee/arm) - a must in most cool to cold weather. 

Footwear and shoe coverings - Keep those toes from going numb!

Wet wear in case it rains. Nothing worse that wet and cold!

In fact, I'm usually over-prepared. Being a junior team coach, I always pack extra cold weather gear for the kids if they forget something. Bring extra and you may be able to help a friend who isn't prepared, I did today! basics!

Ride With a Kid and You'll Remember to Ride Like a Kid. Always Learning!

On the ride with juniors this morning I realized once again that most riders are in a constant cycle of hard training. Traditionally cyclists lighten the gears, work on cadence and pack riding skills, and pacelines. But, all these traditions have seemed to disappear into a haze of big gear mashing and hammering down the road. It seems that we have lost a little of the nuances of bicycle training. 

I had a small juniors group out on the road today along with a nice sized contingent of newer riders tagging along who had never had the pleasure of riding in a really organized group, and they were blown away. They found out, with a good deal of coaching from me today, about wind direction and rotating the effort at the front of the group, and that they were able to go faster than they every had gone in a group with less effort. I 'taught' them the beauty of tight formations, taking short effective pulls, orchestrating precise exchanges at the lead in the group, and basic paceline etiquette. By the end of the session, we were blasting up the road 3-5 miles faster than most could average in their normal groups. One rider, in fact, commented "this is like what I see in the Tour de France". My answer: 'yep, keep pedaling', it's almost your turn'. I think that these riders had a revelation today and it was a simple one. "You have to practice the instrument, before you become a virtuoso"

Well, Off season is here and it's time to 'ride'. In this tense the word, ride doesn't mean ride like you did during the training season, ride to become a faster. But, rather, ride to become a better and more sound rider for the upcoming season. 

C3 adivce column: 

Get like minded people around you that want to work on the same things. You can do this stuff in the 'chain gang'. They are too busy mashing gear and trying to win the Tour de Hempsted. Work as a group during the winter.  

Traditionally, in the winter we would ride mainly in small chainring for leg speed and cadence work. Staying around 100-105 rpm. We would get in some 'saucy' small gear sprints during the ride and we would take note of the wind and do EVERY conceivable version of a paceline. Find people who want to improve their leg speed and pick one or two rides a month through the winter to spin fast for the whole ride. 

Practice short effective pulls and share the work during these rides. And, research the different formations for pacelines and use them. But, be careful to stay safe on the roads. Long echelon pacelines don't work on Texas roads unless the road is free of vehicular traffic. 

Lastly, make sure you are giving your brain a break too this winter. Remember that childlike enthusiasm that we all have for riding and give yourself a break from hammering up the road every ride. Make sure you are having fun, every ride!

Live Long and Ride, 



Moonlight Ramble 'PurpleTutu Stylin'

Another Moonlight Ramble is in the books. Late night Houston, 22 miles, an hour and a half, and a purple tutu and angel wings. Thanks to my riding bud, Marcus Jennings and big thanks Sarah Greene for the tutu. It wouldn't have been as much fun with just my racing kit!!!  (click 'source' for my style picture) You should have been there.