Saturday 17 January 2009

The Compleat Tour de Basement: Introduction

Lance in his garage, getting fit.
Is this the best he can do for a home gym?
Photo: Art Streiber, Men's Health

I was alarmed to see the omnipresent Lance Armstrong appear on the cover of Men's Health magazine for January 2009. Alarmed for several reasons: a) he is smiling in the cover photo; b) he is now on every magazine cover in the world, having been on Outdoor magazine's cover in October, the December, January and February issues of Cycle Sport, not to mention the current Bicycling and c) the inside photos show him looking totally ripped, with hyper-defined abs and pecs. This is a cyclist? But Lance knows a thing or two from training as well as self-promotion if past results are any indication of future possibilities.

You have seen me refer to my extended off-the-road season ("Winter" is too kind) as the Tour de Basement. From the beginning of the bad weather in October I can be found on my time trial bike in the basement, watching old race videos or scenery DVDs or at the gym for spinning classes and weight sessions and doing some cross-training, such as cross-country skiing as well. I have an excellent coach who provides feedback to me and I maintain a detailed workout diary at as well as a food diary at

Although I am not a coach or trainer and profess no particular special insight, several years of doing this have given me some ideas about getting ready for the cycling season. In Ottawa I am basically training for seven full months to ride for barely five, and I have three weeks in summer that are the focus of my training. In 2003 I cycled the climbs of the Barolo wine country and the hills around Lake Como; in 2005 a dozen climbs in the Swiss Alps; in 2006 the hilly Black Forest and some climbs of the Tour de France; in 2007 the ballons of Alsace and more climbs in the Black Forest; and in 2008 the Route des Grandes Alpes in France, covering some of the most celebrated (and difficult) climbs of the Tour de France. This is in addition to my regular time trial racing on the flat, which of course has some different training requirements.

I have read very extensively and reviewed a number of cycling publications online. I now have a small collection of recent items related to training and I wanted to share them since they cover what everyone needs for their own Tour de Basement. I propose to do a short series here on Tin Donkey in the form of reviews dealing with books on weight training, nutrition and base training, along with my comments on training DVDs that have recently come on the market.

Until then, be entertained by Lance Armstrong training in Hawaii as he prepares for the Tour Down Under. This week in Ottawa it has been typically -28C (-18F) during the day and approaching -40C (-40F) with the wind or at night. This was clearly not the case in Hawaii. You will also note that Mr. Armstrong is using a 39-28 for the tougher parts of this climb.

Next: Weight Training for Cyclists


sarah said...

This is a great plan, your reviews are always informative and entertaining to read! I know I'll learn some things I can apply to my workouts.

cyclingchic said...

To add to your "Tour de basement", why not include Hawaii in your travels? There is a new company called Global Ride that produces virtual cycling DVDs to get you through these winter months when you must train indoors. The DVDs come complete with coaching tracks, commercially licensed music, and bonus sections of Pilates, Yoga, or Strength Training which is all great cross training for cyclists! I am a cyclist as well and these have helped me get through hours of indoor training helping me overcome that mental hurdle of training indoors. You can find them on Amazon or on their website at

Happy training!

Sprocketboy said...

Cyclingchic, DVDs will be Part 3! And I recently got a set of the Hawaiian DVDs and will watch them tonight. Thanks for the suggestion; I see on your blog how much you liked them.