tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:/posts Alison Dunlap Adventure Camps 2018-03-31T11:35:51Z Alison Dunlap tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/999776 2016-02-23T21:16:49Z 2018-03-31T11:35:51Z How to pre ride a race course

"I notice the pros spend a lot of time pre-riding courses for really important races.  What are you thinking about or focusing on as you pre-ride the course?"

Pre riding the course at a big race is an important part of your race prep and can be the difference between a top ten and a podium finish.  If done incorrectly it can also wreck your legs and end up making for a miserable weekend.

There are two ways to pre ride a course.  The first is to do a mellow reconnaissance of the course at an endurance pace.  This gives you your first look at the course and what you’ll be faced with on race day.  This is an important lap and should not be done as a “social” ride with a large group of friends.  Here are the things I do on my first lap:

1. On this first easy lap you need to carefully analyze all technical sections.  If you can’t ride something now is the time to stop and practice.  Get these sections dialed and make sure you can ride them.  And if you can’t, figure out the fastest way to walk/run and the best place to get back on your bike without losing any momentum.  Remember it isn’t who can ride everything; it is who is fastest through everything whether that is on or off the bike.

2. Look at the climbs.  How long are they, how steep, are they technical and slow or smooth and fast?  How will you attack each climb?  Ask yourself if you have the correct gearing on your bike for the climbs.  Make a mental note of where each climb begins so that in the race you are ready and in good position before each hill.

3. Analyze the terrain and trail conditions.  If it is super muddy and slick will you need to change tires?  Is it super loose and rocky?  Hard packed and fast?  This might also determine the type of bike you ride on race day.  If you know the course is going to be a total mud fest with lots of running you may choose to use a lighter hard tail with narrow tires then your full suspension.

4. Check out the first kilometer of the lap.  You need to know exactly when the first singletrack sections begins after the start/finish and is this first section slow and technical or fast and smooth.  Do you anticipate a big bottleneck getting into the singletrack section?  If so you need to figure out where you want to move up and in what position you go into that first singletrack. 

5. Check out the last kilometer of the lap.  How does the course come into the finish line?  If you are finishing the race in a small group how will you outsprint your competitors?  Where will you make your big move? 

6. Know where the feed zone is,  how long is it, how rough is the terrain, and figure out how many bottles you need to grab per lap.
Now you’re ready for a second lap of the course.  I call this the “hot lap” and now is the time to start putting things together.  The second lap should be done at a higher speed and intensity; maybe not true race pace but definitely a hard effort.   You want to know how the course flows, what the corners are like and how the technical sections ride at speed.  I like to go hard on my second lap because I want to see and feel what it is like to ride the lap with a high heart rate.   Riding over a 3 foot drop is a heck of a lot harder when you are at race pace then when you are doing your casual reconnaissance lap.    I don’t like to stop on my second lap, but if there is something that is giving you a lot of grief, stop and quickly work out a better line, practice once or twice, and then continue with your hot lap. 

If the laps are really short, maybe 20-25 minutes, you can do your first lap easy, the second lap at tempo, and make your third lap your hot lap.  And if the laps are really long and you can only realistically do one lap, then ride the first third easy, the middle third at tempo and the last third at race pace. This can be tricky because you don’t get to see the entire lap at a slow speed to work out any technical challenges.
The biggest drawback to pre riding the course is it can make you tired.  Be careful and strategic with how and when you pre ride the course.  Don’t do three hot laps on the course the day before the race because you feel amazing and you love the course and you’re just having too much fun.  Come race day your legs will be trashed.  Also don’t spend a ton of time trying to ride every technical section perfectly.  If you have a long lap and you’re doing a slow pre ride, you could be out there over three hours.  Sure you’ll know how to ride everything, but you’ll be so tired by race day it won’t matter.   Pre ride the course just enough to learn the major technical sections, get a feel for the terrain, and figure out the best tires and tire pressure to use.  That’s it.  Be confident in your abilities and trust yourself that you’ll know what to do out on the course.  Creating stress and anxiety over a course won’t do you any good and just leads to a miserable 24 hours before the race. 

After every pre ride of the course I like to have a recovery drink as soon as I finish.  I will write down important items before I forget them; tire choice, tire pressure, gearing, and bike choice.  If you’re lucky enough to have a mechanic helping you, talk to him right away and let him know your thoughts on the course and what you’d like to do to your bike for the race.  Then clean up, get some food, get out of the venue and get some rest.  Race day is fast approaching! 

Do your homework by pre riding the course, put together a solid race plan, and then relax and have fun.  And then ride your bike like you stole it!

Happy trails!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/985283 2016-02-03T22:40:59Z 2018-03-31T11:35:51Z How to deal with the chaos of travel when racing!

"My race season this year is going to entail a lot of travel with overnight stays.  What suggestions do you have regarding preparations for all the travel to be able to be at my best for race day?"

Travelling can be one of the trickiest things to deal with when racing, especially if you have many events over the course of a season.  Travel disrupts our normal routine, makes it hard to get the right foods, changes our sleep patterns, and puts us in an environment we’re not used to.  But there are many good techniques that will help lessen the negative effects of travel on your race. 

  1.  When flying, try and travel mid-morning.  Having a flight at 6am is brutal on the sleep schedule and can take 2-3 days to recover from.  I suggest booking a flight between 10am and noon.  You can still get to your destination before it gets too late. 

  2. I also suggest booking a non-stop flight if possible.  The shortest travel time is always the easiest.

  3. While on the plane do some simple leg stretches in your seat.  Getting up and walking around is always good, especially if you’re flying to Europe.

  4. If you are driving, get out of the car every two hours and run around and get the blood flowing in the legs.  Do some quick stretches.  Eat and drink. 

  5. After you arrive at your destination it is super important that you do some kind of ride. It can be a 30 minute spin on the trainer in your hotel room or a 90 minute spin on the road or trails.  Get those legs moving after a long day of travel. 

  6. Pack your own food.  I always bring a full lunch with plenty of snacks.  Don’t rely on airport food or convenience stores.  It is expensive and might not be what you want or need.  Also bring plenty to drink on the plane.  A big mistake athletes make is not drinking enough and getting dehydrated on their travel day.  This makes you more susceptible to germs and getting sick.

  7. I’m a germaphobe when I travel.  Bring a little bottle of hand sanitizer and use it a lot.  I don’t know if those things truly work but it is better than nothing. 

  8. When flying, bring your helmet, shoes and pedals in your carry-on.  If your bike doesn’t make it you’ll be able to borrow one and get in the ride you need to do for the race if you have these three items with you. 

  9. When you lay out your training for the week leading up to your travel day, it is best to have a recovery or endurance ride on the day you travel.   You don’t want to do an interval workout in the morning and then jump on a plane in the afternoon.   Bad for the legs.   Doing a really hard ride the day before you travel can also be less than ideal.  Make your last hard workout two days before your trip.  If you want to do openers for your race on the same day you travel, do them after you get to your destination.

  10. After you get to your hotel room and you’ve done your ride, stretch, eat, work on getting hydrated, and then put your legs up on a wall and relax. 

  11. If you have any say in your travel schedule, try and arrive to the race two days before your event.  This gives you one day to deal with all the stress of travel and then have a full day to either pre ride the course, do openers, or just relax in your room. 

  12. Stress is something you want to avoid.  Plan your travel with the least stressful itinerary as possible.  Give yourself more time than you think you need to get places.  Do your research.  Have maps ready to go.  Know exactly how to get to the race venue or the race hotel.  Have phone numbers of your team manager, family, friends, or race staff to help you if things get ugly.  The more prepared you are, the less stress you’ll have to deal with. 

    Getting to travel to races is both exciting and challenging.  If done right, travel is just a minor blip in the day.  If done wrong, travel can wreck your week, your race, and your season.   Plan ahead and be prepared.  And most importantly, have a good attitude, be ready to deal with anything, and be willing to make changes on the fly.  And like everything else, the more you do it the better you get. 

    Good luck and happy trails! 


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/971921 2016-01-16T03:47:26Z 2018-03-31T11:35:51Z How do I focus my training plan to become a better climber?

How do I focus my training plan to become a better climber?

Do you get frustrated on climbs when you can’t keep up with your friends?  Do you continually get dropped in races as soon as the road goes uphill?  Climbing isn’t just for the super skinny.  Anyone can get better at climbing.  As with all training, specificity is key.  To get better at climbing you’re going to have to spend some time doing workouts that are specific to climbing.  And the reality is to be a good all-around rider or racer you’re going to have to be a decent climber.                                                           

To become a better climber there is really only one thing you have to worry about; improving your maximum sustainable power output or your power at threshold.[1]  Actually there are a lot of things you have to worry about, but power at threshold is the biggest determiner of success on the hills. 

So how do you improve your maximum sustainable power output?  There are two good types of intervals that will accomplish just this.  First are maximal steady state or maximum sustainable power intervals.[2]  What the heck is this? Maximal steady state is the highest workload a person can maintain while his or her lactate levels remain consistent, or in a steady state.[3]  On the bike this might be the highest power you could sustain for an hour-long race-pace effort.  It isn’t the absolute highest amount of power you can generate at once, but the highest amount of power you can produce over an extended period of time without blowing up.   Why is this important?  When climbing you are riding at an intensity that is extremely uncomfortable for long periods of time.  There is very little drafting and obviously no coasting.  Being able to maintain this painfully high workload is crucial.  This means your legs AND your brain have to learn how to ride at a high intensity for a long time. 

There are many good workouts that will improve your power at threshold or your MSPO.  Remember that specificity is what we’re focusing on.  If you want to get better at the long gradual 4-6% climbs, then that’s the kind of climb you need to do your intervals on.  If you want to get better at all types of climbs, then do your intervals on a variety of climbs from the super mellow to the 15% “I think I’m gonna die” type climbs. 

The first type of interval is your basic lactate threshold climbing interval.  This interval should be a minimum of 10 minutes in length and can be as long as 30 minutes.   The intensity level is considered Zone 4 or your power/heart rate at threshold.  The recovery will be the same length as the interval.  Maintain a cadence similar to what you would use in a race.  When doing these intervals you have to remember that they are long and the intensity is quite high.  I find climbing intervals to be the hardest intervals we do in training.  They create the most fatigue, the most stress on the body, and they make you feel slow on the bike.  A big block of MSPO intervals are best done before the racing season begins. 

Here are some sample lactate threshold interval workouts:

Workout 1:

Week 1:  3x10 min on 10 min off at your lactate threshold power/HR

Week 2:  3x15 min on 15 min off

Week 3:  4x15 min on 15 min off 

Workout 2:

Week 1:  4x10 min on 10 min off

Week 2:  5x10 min on 10 min off

Week 3:  6x10 min on 10 min off 

Workout 3:

Week 1:  2x20 min on 20 min off

Week 2:  3x20 min on 20 min off

Week 3:  2x30 min on 30 min off 

In the winter I would do these intervals at or slightly below your lactate threshold.  As you get fitter and stronger you can do the intervals at or slightly above your LT.  These intervals can be 2-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks.  Be sure to give yourself ample recovery after these workouts.  They are long and hard and take a lot out of you. 

The second type of interval workout you can do to improve your climbing is called Sweet Spot.  Sweet spot training is slightly below your lactate threshold and a little harder than tempo.   Technically, the sweet spot is located between high zone 3 and low zone 4: between 83-85% to 97-100% of your functional threshold power, maximal steady state, or just plain power at threshold. For the non-power meter user I would call it "medium hard" - below your 40k time trial race pace, but harder than a traditional tempo workout.    Sweet spot elicits more adaptations than tempo but less than threshold work.  So why do them?  We can ride longer at sweet spot and do it more often than lactate threshold work.  The quality of the interval is better and the fatigue is less.  The end result is better training, and ultimately a higher power at threshold.[4]

Sweet spot intervals look just like LT intervals only with a slightly shorter recovery.  For example you could do 3x15 min on 8 min off at your sweet spot.   And for those of you that hate structured intervals, sweet spot training can also be done “free form”.  Choose a hilly ride of a couple hours and decide how much time you want to spend in your sweet spot.  On every climb ride in your sweet spot zone, keeping track of how long each climb takes.  Once you hit your target time you’re done with your “intervals” and can finish out the ride at whatever pace you’d like.  Same amount of intensity but in a much more stimulating and fun format.

The third type of interval you’ll need to do to improve your climbing is called a supermaximum sustainable power interval, or more simply a Vo2/Zone 5 interval.[5]  These are short and very intense and are the kind of intervals that make your arms go numb and your stomach feel like it might throw-up.  The goal of these intervals is to improve your ability to ride at nonsustainable work rates or at a power level you normally couldn’t tolerate for very long.[6]  Why is this important for climbing?  When going uphill, especially in a race, there are usually surges or attacks.  Following an attack or making one of your own takes you from that painful maximal steady state effort to an incredibly painful Vo2 effort.  Most attacks or surges are short.  If you haven’t trained your legs to withstand this short bout of intense suffering you’ll blow up when it happens and get dropped.  Vo2 training gives you the ability to go with the surges and attacks on a climb and then settle back into your MSPO or lactate threshold.   

Vo2 efforts are 3-6 minutes in length with the same amount of recovery.  The intensity level is as hard as you can go.  It’s a super hard race pace effort.  If your lactate threshold heart rate was 173 you would do these efforts between a HR of 179-184.  If your lactate threshold power was 225 watts for example, your Zone 5/Vo2 efforts would be done between 250-350 watts.  The Vo2 or intervals are considered “super hard I think I’m going to puke” efforts or on a scale of 1-10, they would be a 10.  Do a bunch of these during each workout and do the Vo2 workout maybe 2-3 times a week. 

How do these fit into a training plan?  You will need to have a good solid aerobic base before starting these intervals.  Spend a few months doing long endurance rides with some intensity thrown in on the weekends when you ride with friends or do the local group ride.  When you have a decent level of fitness, do the Sweet Spot training first for 4-6 weeks.  After a good recovery week you can do the lactate threshold/Zone 4 training next 4-6 weeks.  Another rest week and then a block of Vo2 intervals. 

As your training progresses, you will want to increase the difficulty of these two types of intervals.  To do that you can make each effort longer, shorten the recovery in between, or increase the HR or power you do each effort at.  The only way you get stronger is to force your body to make adaptations to a given stress.  If the stress never changes, your body will never get stronger.  Push yourself to make the intervals slightly harder each week you do them.  With plenty of recovery in between workouts your body will make the needed changes and come back stronger and faster than when you started. 

The ultimate goal of all of this is to improve your ability to ride hard on the hills.  Doing these three types of intervals will increase your power output making you stronger and faster on the bike.  It is a painful investment but the reward is well worth it!

Have fun!


Alison Dunlap is a certified Level I USAC Coach and has been working with athletes for eight years.  She runs a coaching business called Alison Dunlap Coaching, and has MTB Skills Clinics in Colorado Springs, CO  through the Alison Dunlap Adventure Camps.  Alison is also a two-time Olympian, MTB World Champion, and 13-time National Champion.  For more information please visit www.alisondunlap.com

[1] Dave Morris, Performance Cycling; Training for Power, Endurance, and Speed (Maine:  Ragged Mountain Press, 2003) Morris 33

[2] Morris 33

[3] Morris 33

[4] Frank Overton-owner of FasCat Coaching 2008

[5] Morris 62

[6] Morris 62

Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/778849 2014-12-04T21:16:56Z 2018-03-31T11:35:50Z At what age do you think it's ok to start really structured training and racing? What would you focus on for a young teenager or pre-teen?

Cycling is a challenging sport as we all know.  The emphasis with young kids should be on the pure joy of riding and the fun that can be had cruising up and down the alleys around your neighborhood.  Go on an “urban assault” with your kids and show them all of the obstacles that can be ridden on a bike.  During these younger years it is important that kids be exposed to many kinds of activities, not just cycling.  This will help develop coordination, balance, movement and cognitive skills.  The emphasis should not be on structure, but the fun and enjoyment of being active with friends and family.  It is not appropriate to ask a young child (pre-puberty) to “train”.  Kids at this age should be allowed to play for the sake of enjoyment and not have to follow the rules and regimens of adult level sport rules.
Once a child reaches puberty she can start engaging in more specialized opportunities with an emphasis on organized and personalized training.   Kids should learn how to train properly in this phase with the focus on development, not outcome.    Competition can be introduced but it is not the main objective.  A child’s love of sport and her internal motivation to participate become stronger and more developed during this phase.   Help your child experience the joy and fun of cycling while giving them a healthy understanding of how to train.
Make cycling a social activity.  Friends are everything to kids at this age.   Remember it is all about the process, not the results.  You are trying to develop a lifelong love of the sport that will keep your child active well into her adult years. 

The amount of time spent in this development stage isn’t determined by a specific age.  It will vary with every child and depends on maturity and interest level.   Kids that fail to develop a strong intrinsic drive during this time period will usually quit the sport before reaching the elite ranks.  So don’t rush it or convince your child he may be the next cycling superstar at the ripe age of 17.
We want our children to love to ride.  And we want them to carry that passion with them until they are too old to get out of bed.

A lot of the information for this post came from a book I highly recommend; Kristen Dieffenbach’s book Bike Racing for Juniors; A Guide for Riders, Parents, and Coaches.

Happy Trails!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/642724 2014-01-16T20:24:35Z 2018-03-31T11:35:51Z Favorite workouts to do on the trainer

January 16, 2014

Now that winter is upon us it is time to become friendly with the trainer again.  If you get to ride outside all the time during the summer and fall, the switch to riding the trainer can be painful and unwelcome.  If you are one of those “time crunched cyclists” as Chris Carmichael calls it, you probably spend a lot of your time on the trainer anyways and the winter months won’t be much different.  Whatever level you’re at, whatever event you’re training for, there are lots of “fun” workouts you can do on the trainer.  “Fun” is relative of course because many of these workouts involve painful amounts of lactic acid.  Haha!

Workout #1  Lactate threshold/Vo2 ramping intervals:  If you have very little time to ride and want to get the most out of your time on the trainer, then this workout is one of my favorites.  It is “short and sweet”.  But it is also quite painful.   I also use power on the trainer which I think makes a huge difference in the entertainment value.  Start a good movie and off you go.

5 minute warm up
10 minute ramping effort.  My lactate threshold is around 220 watts.  I start this 10 min effort at 150 watts.  Every minute I increase by 10 watts so the last minute of the effort is at 240 watts.   Pick a range that starts in your endurance zone and finishes above LT.
2min recovery
5min LT/Vo2:  I start at 210 watts.  Every minute I go up by 10 watts and finish at 250 watts.
2min recovery
5min LT/Vo2:  Start this second effort at 220 watts and finish at 260.
2min recovery
5min LT/Vo2: Start at 230 watts and finish at 270.
2min recovery
5min LT/Vo2:  Start at 240 watts and finish at 280.  This last interval will be more of a Vo2 effort.
5min cool down and you’re done!  43 minutes total time with 30 minutes of intensity.  Not bad.

Workout #2  Vo2/anaerobic power:  These are short intense intervals that are done in a pyramid fashion.
10-15 minute warm up
90sec on at Vo2 intensity, 90sec off
75sec on at Vo2, 75sec off
60sec on at anaerobic power, 60sec off
45sec on at AP, 45sec off
30sec on at AP, 30sec off
15sec sprint, Done!
5 minute recovery
I would do 4-6 of these early in the winter and then 6-8 as you get fitter.
20 minute cool down.

Workout #3  The Hour of Power:  This workout came from my good friend Jay Gump of Incline Training.  This is another one of those “get the biggest bang for your buck” workouts.  It is done either at tempo or your sweet spot (steady state) power.  I wouldn’t do this at your lactate threshold because the recovery time is too short.
15 minute warm up
10min at tempo, 2min recovery
Repeat 5 more times for a total of 60 minutes of work. 
I would do 4x10min on 2min off the first week.  Your second week you could go to 5x10 and the third week you can do the hour of power; 6x10.  Then do a 15 minute cool down.

Workout #4  Microbursts:  This is a pure anaerobic power workout and is quite painful.  Don’t do this until you have a decent amount of fitness and intensity in your legs.  If you’re not training or racing (like me) then you can do this workout whenever you like.  It’s fun and the time goes by quickly.
15 minute warm up
2x3min Vo2 efforts with a 3min recovery.  This gets the legs opened up.
The 10 minute microburst starts with a 10 second sprint followed by a 20 second recovery.  Then another 10 sec sprint, 20 sec recovery and so on for 10 minutes.  Each sprint is a max effort best done in the drops.  The challenge of this workout is getting the power adjusted up and down fast enough on your indoor trainer.  If you’re using heart rate, just know that HR won’t respond fast enough in 10-20 seconds so don’t use it as a gauge of intensity.  If you don’t have power, perceived exertion is going to be your best bet.  Rollers might work better if you’re an extremely good bike handler and feel confident you won’t sprint off into the couch or fireplace.  You could also make these a little longer;  20 second sprint, 40 second recovery. 
Take a 10 minute recovery after each microburst.  I would start with one 10 minute effort your first week and work up to 3x10.  Then do a 15 minute cool down.

Obviously there are many other trainer workouts you can do.  Get creative and have fun with it.  Don’t look at the trainer as something evil lurking in your basement.  It is a valuable tool and can be very effective in the winter when it is 10 degrees outside with a foot of fresh snow on the ground. 

Happy trails!

Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/642722 2014-01-16T20:18:42Z 2018-03-31T11:35:50Z Level I Coaching Certification!

November 17, 2013
After an exhausting weekend of almost four days of lectures, working groups, and power point presentations I am now an official USA Cycling Level 1 coach.  Am I a smarter coach?  Maybe.  But I did get to meet and network with over 50 talented coaches all sharing ideas, philosophies, books, websites and scientific research that will help me do a more effective job training my athletes.  (Hope you all are ready!)  Our co-presenters; Kristen Dieffenbach and Stephen McGregor were fabulous and did an outstanding job of pushing us out of our comfort zones.  I feel very inspired and motivated.  That was all tempered, however, when I got home and had to spend most of the evening trying to get Emmett our 3 yr old to sleep and wondering if there will ever be a day when I will get more than 5 hours of sleep at any one time.  Haha!  I guess you can sleep when you’re dead.

Here’s to new knowledge and the chaos that goes with it. 

Happy training everyone!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/604380 2013-09-26T22:22:39Z 2018-03-31T11:35:50Z Sept 19-22nd, 2013 Interm/Adv Moab MTB Skills Camp

ADAC Intermediate/Advanced Moab MTB Skills Camp  Sept 19-22nd, 2013

I looked through all the pictures and videos from this past weekend and got a huge smile on my face!  Another successful Moab Camp of great rides, yummy food, and time with friends.  I already can’t wait for next Spring!

After a week of torrential rains and devastating floods along the Front Range of Colorado it was a welcome relief to spend some time in the dry sunny desert of Moab, Utah.  We had blue skies and warm days for most of the camp, using lots of sunscreen and even filling up my Camelback bladder to the very top for our long rides.  We had six guests this year; three were returning alumni and three were newbies.   This was the all-inclusive camp so Rim Tours did all of our cooking and Beth Roberts helped me with guiding, instruction and worked her magic on the bikes every day so they all ran flawlessly.
Our first morning was spent at the Old City Park doing skills and drills on the grass.  I recently took a Professional Mountain Bike Instructor Certification course and used the new techniques for the first time in Moab.  This was an intermediate/advanced camp so we didn’t spend much time at City Park except to quickly review the fundamentals and brush up on our drop-off and ledge riding techniques that are so important for riding around Moab.  After a nutritious and delicious lunch we rode the Slick Rock Trail.  Not wanting to destroy everyone on the first day we did just the Practice Loop (in both directions of course) and worked all the technical sections.  Everyone enjoyed massages in the afternoon back at the condos followed by appetizers and a large dinner.  Beth gave us a great trail-side bike maintenance clinic before retiring to our beds for a much needed night of sleep.

Saturday was another gorgeous blue-bird day.  We drove up to the Magnificent Seven trail system and spent the entire day riding singletrack!  The Mag 7 trails are a nice mix of challenging technical sections and fast fun flowing singletrack.  The views of the La Sals, Gold Bar Rim, and the Moab valley were stunning.  We had a late lunch back at the van and then did the short hike to the Gemini Bridges.  Then it was back to the condos for massage and some down-time.  After dinner we got some good laughs watching all the videos I took from the last two rides.

Sunday, our last day, was our first day of inclement weather.  The Moab valley was clear and sunny but the La Sals were engulfed in dark ominous looking clouds and that was where we wanted to start our ride.  The plan was to do the Whole Enchilada which starts at the top of Geyser Pass and then climbs almost to tree line over Burro Pass.  With the weather not looking good we decided to start lower down at Warner Lake and do Hazard County to Kokopelli and then down the Porcupine singletrack. After riding and racing all over the world, I can still say this is one of the coolest rides I’ve ever done!  We rode fast, stopped and worked on fun technical sections, took tons of pictures, and kept an eye on the slowing worsening weather.  Eventually our little donut hole of sunshine disappeared and the skies opened up on us, dumping rain and wind for the last 4 mile singletrack descent down to the Colorado River.  This was also the most technical part of the ride which the rain and mud made even more exciting.  But everyone made it down in one piece and we were still smiling as we loaded the bikes in a torrential downpour.  As we drove back into Moab we stopped and took pictures of the huge waterfalls that had formed from the huge amount of rain that came down in just a few minutes.  It was quite impressive!
After unloading back at the condos we hooked up the hose and washed our muddy bikes and clothing.  We had snacks, exchanged photos and videos, and then said our goodbyes before everyone left to head home.  I left Moab at 5:30pm and experienced some of the worst weather ever on a drive back from Moab.  Pouring rain for hours turned to a blizzard over Vail Pass.  I finally gave up from exhaustion and got a hotel in Frisco, finishing my drive early Monday morning.  Always an adventure driving anywhere in Colorado this time of year!

I am already planning on running camps in Moab in May and October in 2014.  Check back to our website www.alisondunlap.com around the first of the year for the new schedule.  Enjoy the changing of the seasons and the beautiful fall colors!

Happy trails!


PS.  To see all the photos from the camp go to IMG_1674



Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/577016 2013-05-02T20:03:48Z 2018-03-31T11:35:50Z What constitutes a proper warm-up for a race?

"What constitutes a proper warm-up for a race?  Would it vary depending on my level of racing, i.e. beginner vs. pro?  How would warming up for a short track race vs. cross country race vs. endurance race affect the warm-up?"

Warming up for a  race is one of the most neglected parts of our race preparation, yet a proper warm-up can have a dramatic effect on how you perform, especially in the first 15-20 minutes of the race.  A good warm-up will activate your muscles at various intensities without creating a lot of lactic acid.  An accumulation of lactic acid would inhibit muscle contraction causing you to start your race already tired.  Without a good warm-up your muscles will be tight and “asleep”.  The start of a race can be very intense and your HR can skyrocket within seconds.  If your legs aren’t ready for such a violent start, you’ll feel terrible and you won’t be able to ride as hard as you’re used to or want to.  You’ll most likely get dropped from the pack within the first 5-10 minutes.

Warm-ups vary depending on the length of the race.  In general, the shorter the race the longer the warm-up.  The longest and hardest warm-ups are done for prologues, track events (kilo, pursuit), MTB short tracks, and criteriums.  There is very little warm-up for the ultra-endurance events, 100 mile/100km marathons, and big multi-day stage races. 

When trying to decide what to do in your warm-up, ask yourself what kind of intensity you think you will be racing at for the first 10-20 minutes.  If the race starts slow with a more social atmosphere until an hour or two into the event, then a moderate warm-up with some endurance and a little tempo work will do you very well.  If you are getting ready for a short track or a 2hr cross country event, you know that you will be maxed out within 30 seconds of the gun going off.  Warming up for this kind of event should include a lot of lactate threshold and vo2 intensity. 

Age and experience on the bike are also things to consider when designing your warm-up.  A very young cyclist that has only a few years of racing in his legs might not do well with a long warm-up.  It might make him tired by the time he goes to the start line.  I would suggest a 30-40 minute warm-up at most.  For athletes that have raced for decades and have a high level of fitness, or may be racing at the pro/elite level, then a full one-hour warm-up works well for a short event, 45-50 minutes for a cross country race, and 20-30 for an ultra-endurance race.  And for athletes that are above 50 and consider themselves “Masters”, an even longer warm-up might be needed.  Older athletes tend to need a lot more time to get their legs going up to race pace. 

So just what should you do in your warm-up?  Up until 2005, the warm-up I used for all my cross country races was the following:  20min easy spin, 10 minutes at tempo, 5 minute easy spin, 4 minute lactate threshold, 4 minute easy spin, 3 minute vo2, 3 minute easy spin, 3 minute vo2, 3-4 minute easy spin and then off the bike and over to the start line.  If I raced the short track the next day I would do the same warm up except skip the 4 minute lactate threshold.

I changed my warm-up slightly when I came back and raced cyclocross in 2009 to a shorter, more efficient warm-up.  It consisted of: 20min easy spin, 2x5min tempo efforts with a 2min recovery followed by 2x2min vo2 efforts with a 3min recovery.  Then right to the start line. 

If you were warming up for an ultra-endurance event I would do the following:  20min easy spin followed by a 10min tempo effort.  That’s it.

There are a couple of other things you should know about warm-ups.  

1.   They are best done on a trainer.  You can eliminate the stress of trying to find a safe place warm-up, you don’t have to worry about flatting or having a mechanical while getting ready, and your food, drink, and clothing is right there next to the trainer.   

2.   Do everything in a nice high cadence around 100-110rpms.  A lower cadence will load up your legs and fatigue your muscles. 

3.   Be conservative with your heart rate and power.  If you are doing a 4 minute effort at your lactate threshold, ride at the low to middle end of the LT zone.  Don’t try and set a record for highest power and HR in your warm-up.

4.   It is easier on your legs if you do your efforts on a “bell curve”.  When we do intervals in training we usually start the effort at the desired power and try and maintain it for the entire effort.  When we finish the effort, especially a hard one, we are completely maxed out and we collapse on our handlebars.  A lot of times we completely stop pedaling.   When warming up for a race, slowly ramp up your effort so that at the half-way point of the interval you have reached your desired HR and power.  Hold that intensity for 15 seconds to a minute and then slowly back down.  This is much easier on your legs and won’t create a build-up of lactic acid.  For example, if my tempo zone is 155-165bpm, I will take 4 ½ minutes to hit my desired HR of 160bpm.  Then I will hold that HR for a minute before slowly decreasing my intensity so by the end of the 10 minute effort my HR is back down to 120-130.  If my LT zone is 169-175bpm, I will take 2 minutes to build up to 172, hold it for 15 seconds, and then back off until I reach a HR around 140. 

5.   If you are doing a multi-day event or back to back races, remember that when your body gets tired your HR will be lower than normal.  In this case I will do my warm-up using “perceived exertion” instead of heart rate.  For example; when warming up for the 5th day of a 7 day stage race, your HR might be 10 beats lower for the same tempo effort that you did on day one.  You might still be generating the same amount of power, but if you go strictly by HR, you will think that you’re not riding hard enough.  Mentally that can be very defeating and you will end up thinking you’re going to have a bad day.  Going by perceived exertion eliminates this.  I will cover up my HR monitor and do the warm-up strictly by feel.  If you are lucky enough to have a power meter, then this is something you don’t have to worry about.  Power is power no matter how tired or fresh you are.

6.   Always do your warm-up with an energy drink and food.  If you warm-up with only water and you don’t eat anything you will be quite depleted in carbohydrate reserves and most likely dehydrated before you start your race.  You’ve already dug yourself into a hole.

7.   Time your warm-up so that you finish with only 10 minutes to go before call-up.  A great warm-up won’t do you any good if you finish 30 minutes before your event and you stand around getting stiff and cold. 

8.    Eliminate distractions from family and friends.  Encourage those folks to chat with you after your race.  Your job isn’t to be social while warming up.  Stay focused and be a little selfish.  You’ll be glad you did when the gun goes off.

The best thing to do is practice your warm-up routine at training races and smaller local events that aren’t important.  Be familiar with your warm-up schedule, know your body and how long it takes for you to get completely ready physically and mentally, know what kinds of food and drink work best for you and how much, and know how much time you need to get off the trainer and head to the start line.  It is even important to know how many times you typically go to the bathroom before the start of a race.  Then when you go to the big events your warm-up will be stress-free and something you don’t really have to think about; you just do it.

Good luck and happy trails!




Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483481 2012-06-27T19:07:21Z 2018-03-31T11:35:50Z Colorado Springs fire update

My family and I are safe from the fire that has enveloped the northwest side of our city.  We live downtown and are probably 7 miles from the fire.  Last night the fire doubled in size and destroyed entire neighborhoods just north of Garden of the Gods.  Many of our favorite hiking and biking trails are gone.  And a lot of my favorite road rides are closed because of evacuations.  No one ever believed the fire would actually come down into the city.  But it did.  And it is devastating.

Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483482 2012-05-09T17:46:06Z 2018-03-31T11:35:51Z A vacation in Moab??

It isn’t very often that I take a trip to Moab for fun.  With life as busy as it is these days I rarely find the time to go to Moab for something other than work.  This spring I decided to take a mountain bike trip to Moab and do some big rides, hang out with friends and family, and spend time in one of my most favorite places in the world.  I talked my sister and her family and my dad into going for a long four day weekend.  Unfortunately my husband had to stay home. 

I loaded my car with an enormous amount of stuff, squeezed Emmett into his car seat, and took off to the desert.  The drive out was easy and uneventful.  I had picked up my dad in Denver so he helped with the driving when Emmett started to get bored in the back seat.  We stopped along the way and had a yummy pizza at one of the coolest pizza joints around, Hot Tomato Café.  http://hottomatocafe.com/.  For all you mountain bikers that spend time in Fruita I highly recommend going.  Ann and Jen, the owners, are two wonderful people, amazing riders, and they make a delicious pie that is well worth the trip!

My four days in Moab flew by!  I shuttled the Hazard County ride with a bunch of Colorado Springs friends that were also in Moab for the weekend.  If you’re never done this ride it is one that should be on your bucket list of things to do before you die.  I have ridden and raced all over the world and this ride ranks in my top three of all-time greats.  To get yourself up to the start in the La Sals, jump on the Acme Shuttle.  It is run by my good friend Kyle Mears, who happens to be one of the best downhillers in the area and also one of the coolest people in town.  Unbeknownst to me, my dad and brother-in-law, and some of his teacher friends also shuttled this same ride, but at a lower starting point.  My dad is 71 and the only mountain biking he’s done in the last five years are a few trips on the White Rim.  So when I caught up to an older gentleman in a Ride the Rockies jersey half way down the Porcupine descent, imagine my shock as I looked over and realized it was my dad!  How cool is that!  To catch up to your dad riding down one of the gnarliest descents in Moab. 

After chatting for a few minutes I took off and caught up to my group.  The rest of the ride was a kick in the pants and I finished exhausted but grinning ear to ear.  The next day we did it all again.  This time I got to ride with my sister while her husband Dan had babysitting duties for the day.  I had arranged daycare for Emmett in Moab and had the entire day to ride.  Dan drove us up to the start of the Gemini Bridges road off Hwy 313 (Island in the Sky/Dead Horse Point).  We cruised down the dirt road for a few miles before jumping onto one of the newer trails in Moab; The Magnificent Seven.  The trail is all singletrack and descends down the Bull Canyon/Gemini Bridges mesa to the bottom of Gold Bar Rim.  It then climbs up a ways before ending at a spectacular canyon with views of the La Sals, Behind the Rocks, Amasa Back, and the Colorado River.  The singletrack portion of Mag 7 is a blast and nothing too extreme.  Once on Gold Bar the difficulty level jumps considerably, with many gonzo extreme sections that are a pride swallowing suffer fest.  Haha!

We didn’t have time to go all the way across Gold Bar Rim so we turned around and rode back down to the Gemini Bridges road and followed it up and out and then back down to Hwy 191.  There is a beautiful new bike path that starts at the Hwy 191 and 313 intersections and goes nine miles back to town.  We jumped on the path and rode down the big hill to where my car was parked at the Potash Rd.  Drove back to town and met my dad and the rest of the family at the Moab Rec Center. 

On Sunday my family and I did a mellow hike up Courthouse Wash.  Saw a snake, lots of puzzle grass, crows, vultures, butterflies, and lizards.  My family left for Denver after lunch and I drove up to the Bar M trailhead and met my good friend Kyle Mears for a 2hr mountain bike ride.  Moab has done a great job of building new singletrack trails in the past three years.  For a long time Moab was the place to go to ride your mountain bike.  But it was also the place to go for jeeps, rock crawlers, ATV’s and UTV’s.  All of the trails in Moab were old uranium roads built into extremely remote places in the quest for “yellowcake”.  The roads were shared by everyone, but over the years the mountain bikers got tired of dealing with the noise, smell, exhaust, and traffic caused by the motorized recreators.  Fruita, only two hours away, became the “go to” place for mountain bikers because a lot of their trails were singletrack, which meant no conflict with jeeps and ATV’s.  Moab was no longer the best place to ride a mountain bike.  But this has all changed in the last few years.  A group of very motivated individuals got together and realized there was a huge need for singletrack in the Moab area. With the help of IMBA, Moab began building singletrack.  Now there are dozens of new rides that are singletrack trails built by and for mountain bikers.

The Bar M trail system where I met Kyle has some really fun trails that range from beginner to crazy technical.  I followed Kyle around for 2hrs trying unsuccessfully to keep up with him.  Did I mention earlier that he is one of the best technical riders I’ve ever ridden with?  The great thing about riding a mountain bike is there is always room for improvement.  Riding with Kyle made me realize that I have an enormous amount of room for improvement. Haha!

My final day in Moab was spent on a leisurely hike up Mill Creek with my good friend Sylvie.  I carried Emmett and we hiked for an hour up the creek looking at petroglyph panels and exploring some of the big alcoves.  Mill Creek runs year round and is a great place to go in the summertime.  Emmett had a blast and especially liked when we splashed through the water.  Sylvie has worked with me at some of my Moab mountain bike skills camps.  She does day trips with Rim Tours http://www.rimtours.com and also makes a mean espresso at Chile Pepper bike shop.  www.chilebikes.com.  She is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet until she kicks your ass on the mountain bike.

Then it was time to say goodbye.  I loaded up the car and took off around 1pm.  Emmett slept over 3hrs which made the drive go very quickly.  The weather fell apart and after leaving Moab in shorts and a T-shirt, we drove over Vail Pass in a snowstorm.  It is springtime in Colorado so I shouldn’t be surprised.  All in all a great trip and a much needed break from the chaos of life at home.  Until next time….

Happy trails!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483484 2012-02-13T21:49:00Z 2014-12-28T12:53:12Z Should I peak for an entire season or just one event?

Here's a question I was asked the other day:

"Lots of talk about training to "peak" at the right time of year or for an event but my question is how long can you stay at your optimal or peak performance? Is it possible to maintain it over the race series or is it best to focus on an individual race or two?"

Peaking for one event versus peaking for a series or even an entire season is a tough decision and can dramatically change how you structure your training in the off-season.  With more races on the calendar and our local and national series sometimes spanning eight months, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to do well at every event.  However, peaking for just one or two events can be incredibly stressful and can put an enormous amount of pressure on a rider to do well.  And if that one event doesn’t go well is the whole season a bust?  So what should you do?

First thing is figure out what events you want to do well at.  If you find your list is quite long then you should consider trying to “peak” for the entire season.  If you have only one or two major events that you want to do well at, then you can go for one or two major peaks.  

Here are the benefits and drawbacks to both approaches: 

Peaking for the season:

  • You have to be race fit a lot sooner, usually in late March or early April, and you have to maintain that fitness a lot longer
  • If you are trying to do well in a series, there is less pressure at each individual race
  • Your race fitness won’t be 100% at every race if you are doing a season long series
  • It can be a mental strain to always feel like you have to do your best at every race you go to
  • If one race doesn’t go well you have many other races in the series to make up for a poor performance
  • Even if you don’t end up doing well in the overall standings of a series, you can always look back at some of your better individual results

Peaking for one or two big events:

  • You don’t have to be race fit quite so soon in the season
  • It is easier to focus your training on just one event
  • You can still go to lots of other races, but the pressure to do well isn’t as high because your focus is on the “big” race coming up
  • You can train through a lot of early season races
  • The pressure will be a lot higher at your big event
  • The mental and physical preparation for your big event will be a lot more intense
  • If your big event doesn’t go well, is your entire season a bust?
  • If your big event does go well then you will have a fantastic result and an incredible emotional high from doing so well at the most important event of the season

 Which method is best depends on you and the kind of rider you are.  Figure out what’s important to you, how much money you can spend for the season, and ask yourself how you perform under pressure.  Weigh the pros and cons of each and then decide what works best for you.  Try one approach for this season and then maybe try the other for the next season.  If you’re willing to work hard you can do well at either one. 

Good luck and happy trails!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483486 2012-02-13T05:34:13Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z New dates for 2012 Moab Camps!!

Hi everyone! 

Hope your winter has been going well and you’re getting out on your bike.  Here in Colorado we don’t have much of a winter anymore so I’ve been riding a ton, mostly with Emmett of course.  I’m getting out on my mountain bike on the weekends and sometimes Greg and I even get to ride together.  Haha!  Emmett is now 15 months old and is running all over the place.  It is super fun and very entertaining to watch him learn and explore.  He still loves to go for rides in the bike trailer which is the only thing that keeps me sane.  Whew!

Wanted to let all of you know the new dates for our 2012 Moab camps.   The Novice/Intermediate camp will spend the first two mornings at City Park doing skills and drills and the rest of the time out on the trails, again with a heavy emphasis on skill work.   The Intermediate/Advanced camp will have more of a riding focus this year with less time spent doing skills at City Park and more time on the big epic rides.  As in years past, the camps are five days long and are all-inclusive.  You will be treated to four days of skill work, amazing rides, gourmet food, luxurious condos, relaxing massages, educational seminars, and coaching.  All of the details can be found on our website www.alisondunlap.com.  We’d love to have you join us in Moab!!

May 1-5  Novice/Intermediate

May 29-June 2   Interm/Advanced

Sept 25-29   Interm/Advanced

Have a great winter and happy trails!



PS.  Here are some new photos beginning with Xmas 2011. 

Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483488 2011-11-02T20:50:07Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Moab Mountain Bike Advanced Skills Camp Oct 4-8th, 2011

Hard to believe another Moab camp has come and gone; and it was the third one of the season!  The summer has just flown by and Emmett is now crawling everywhere and into everything.  My dad and his wife Connie came with me this time to babysit Emmett.  My Subaru Outback was once again bursting at the seams.  For this trip I borrowed a huge oversized Yakima rocket box.  Held a lot more stuff, but because there were three adults and one small child we brought a lot more stuff.  Somehow it all fit and we made it in one piece.

The drive out was gorgeous!  This has been one of the best seasons for aspen in a long time.  My dad came down with the flu the day before we left so he decided to wait a few days before coming to Moab.  So it was Connie, Emmett and me driving to Moab.  One of our many stops was in Vail to do a short hike and enjoy the wonderful colors.  It was warm and sunny and a nice break to the monotony of driving.

After almost a twelve hour day we made it to Moab.  We stayed at Rim Village condos again on the south end of town.  We were able to check in two nights early which made life a thousand times easier.  Having Emmett makes “crashing at a friend’s house” a thing of the past.  The two nights before the camp starts I usually stay with my dear friend Cathy Mattingly.  But with 3 ½ of us there wasn’t the room.  Luckily it worked out to stay in the condos.

On Monday I spent a good portion of the day getting stuff ready for the camp.  I was able to ride late in the afternoon with my good friend Jim Rutkowski.  He was here for our camp for the seventh time.  And he came a few days early so we were able to hook up for a ride before the other participants arrived.     It was almost 80 degrees out!  Gorgeous day.

On Tuesday the weather changed and became cold and cloudy.  Our guests arrived in the late afternoon to an ominous weekly forecast.  Darn!  We got to know each other with yummy appetizers, red wine, and a delicious dinner.  After dinner I went through the schedule and the details for the week and then sent everyone off to bed.

Our first morning was spent at City Park doing skills and drills.  It’s a great way to get people loosened up and relaxed.  Moab can be so intimidating that it’s hard to ride technical trails first thing.  We covered everything from basic balance and position on the bike to cornering and switchbacks.  It also gave me a chance to assess everyone’s skill level.  After a quick three hours it was time for lunch.

We had lunch at the park and then loaded up the vans and drove out to the Bar M trailhead north of town.  This area has been extensively developed in the past two years, with some great new singletrack trails.  We rode a trail called Deadman’s.  It was a good solid intermediate trail with a little of everything, including switchbacks.  A good introduction to Moab riding.  Even though we didn’t ride very far we spent a lot of quality time working on skills, and taking lots of pictures of course.

Back at the condos the campers were treated to relaxing massages and then late afternoon appetizers.  Dinner was a Dutch Oven lasagna with chocolate brownies for dessert.  It’s a good thing we’re out riding our bikes all day!  Bobby, our Rim Tours guide did a great bike maintenance talk after dinner.  Then it was off to bed.

Thursday was another cold gray day.  The sun peaked out a couple of times but the wind kept everything fairly chilly.  We started the day with a skills and drills session at City Park.  Today we worked on the front wheel lift and riding up and down ledges.  In just one day I could see big improvements from everyone.  We had lunch in the park before loading up and heading up to the Slick Rock Trail. 

After unloading all the bikes a fast moving squall blew through, dumping heavy rain and hail for about ten minutes.  Our timing was very fortuitous in that we hadn’t started our ride yet when the front moved through.  We all piled into the van and waited for things to clear.  They did and we were soon our bikes.  The nice thing about the Slick Rock trail is that it is one of the best places to ride in the rain.  It should really be called “Sticky Rock” because of the amazing traction.  Any of the sections that weren’t on rock were in deep sand, which actually got much easier after the rain. 

We split into two groups and did the Practice Loop.  At one point we took shelter under a ledge as another storm blew through.  Not a great day for the weather but everyone still learned a lot and had fun on their bikes.  At 3:30pm we loaded the van and drove back to the condo for massages and a little relaxation.  Dinner was a delicious Mexican pile-up.  After we ate I gave a power point presentation on racing, training, and nutrition.  I borrowed a projector from a friend of mine and showed it up on the wall.  Made it easy for everyone to see.

Thursday was our first full today of riding and a chance to really fine tune the skills we had worked on all week.  It was also the first day of sunshine we had since the camp started.  Yippee!  We took our group to a ride called Blue Buffalo.  It’s a great ride to work on slickrock skills; riding up and down steep ramps and learning how to launch off ledges of all sizes.  There was something for everyone.  And we had lots of sunshine and no wind.  Lunch was at Uranium Arch just below the Seven Mile Rim.  By the end of the day everyone was mentally and physically exhausted.  We stopped ½ mile from the van and scrambled up the slickrock to a beautiful petroglyph and pictograph panel high above the valley floor.  Years ago there was a blue buffalo painted on the rock, also known as a pictograph and also the name of our ride.  Unfortunately vandals destroyed the painting and you can only see a very faint outline of where the buffalo used to be.  Many of the other petroglyphs were still in good condition and made for some great pictures. 

After another relaxing afternoon of massages, pool time, and a nap.  Tonight’s dinner was “dress-up” night.  It was fun to put on something other than sweats and a t-shirt.  Being our last night we didn’t have an evening presentation.  Everyone hung out and shared pictures, phone numbers and emails.  Then it was off to bed.

Saturday morning we woke to rain and low dark clouds.  After yesterday we were certain all the bad weather had moved on.  Unfortunately it snowed overnight in the La Sals making it impossible to do the planned shuttle ride up to Hazard County.  After consulting with Kirstin, the co-owner of Rim Tours, we changed plans and drove up towards Island in the Sky to do a ride called The Magnificent Seven.  This is fairly new singletrack that just recently became a legal trail.  It was the perfect ride to end with.  Starting up in Island in the Sky meant that most of the ride trended downhill.  There were still a few bumps and one long uphill climb at the very end, but otherwise it was fast fun singletrack. 

Eventually the trail joined Gold Bar Rim and started to climb.  This portion of the trail became more technical and definitely more challenging for the lungs.  I enjoyed getting my heart rate up!  Great views and to our surprise the weather cleared and we got a nice afternoon of sunshine.  Finally!  The ride back out to the cars was long and tiring, mostly because there was a painful 20 minute climb in the last hour of the ride.  Ugh!

Finally back to the van we celebrated a successful four days of riding by enjoying a bag of potato chips!  Boy does salt taste good!  Back at the condos everyone packed up their stuff and said their goodbyes.  Sad to see everyone go!  The five days always goes so fast.  Luckily I had our staff condo for one more night so we didn’t have to pack up until Sunday morning.  I took my dad and Connie out for a delicious dinner of Thai food to thank them for all their help.  It’s not easy taking care of Emmett for five days straight.  I spent the night packing and answering a few emails.  I also came down with a head cold yesterday and was pretty miserable for most of the da.  Yucht!  Glad the camp is over because I’m exhausted!

The drive back was long and slow, mostly because we have to stop a lot for Emmett.  My dad and Connie took Emmett in their car so I could make phone calls to my athletes and get caught up.  Emmett held up really well and didn’t get fussy until the last 45 minutes of the drive.  Not bad for an eleven month old!

This summer was the best season for our Moab camps in three years (when the economy tanked).  We filled three camps; two in May and the one in October.  They are a lot of work but I get to meet such great people.  And it was also fun for Emmett to spend so much time with his grandparents.

And we’ve already got our dates for next year!


May 1-5 2012:  Novice/Intermediate

May 29-June 2 2012:  Interm/Advanced

Oct 2-6 2012:  Interm/Advanced

Thanks for a wonderful week and I hope to see you back next year!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483489 2011-09-21T03:40:14Z 2016-10-17T20:05:08Z A long overdue update on our summer of organized chaos!

Hard to believe summer is almost over!  Our Moab mountain bike skills camp is right around the corner, we just got back from our annual trip to Michigan, and our son Emmett is almost walking.  Walking?  Wasn’t this the little guy that just last week started smiling and then a few days ago learned how to roll over?  It is amazing how time has literally doubled in speed since we had Emmett.  The days disappear before I even finish breakfast.  The months are measured by trips to the pediatrician for vaccines and by how many clothes he outgrows.  We are approaching his first birthday at the end of October.  It’s been one heck of a year!  When they tell you that having a baby is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, believe them because they are all right.  Having Emmett has brought more joy and laughter to our lives then I ever imagined possible.  I have also had more meltdowns in the past ten months than my entire forty-two years combined.  But it has been an amazing journey, one that I would never give back.  So here’s the scoop…

Alison Dunlap Adventure Camps:   We are getting ready to host another Moab mountain bike skills camp on Oct 4-8th.  My dad and his wife Connie are coming with me to babysit Emmett for the week.  We have eight participants, two of which are coming back for the fifth time and one is coming for his seventh!  We will be doing rides and skills clinics on the classic Moab trails along with some of the new singletrack that has been built this past year.  I’m super excited to get to ride my mountain bike for five days in a row!  Greg, unfortunately, has to stay home.  He’s got the real job and can’t take that much time off from work.  We’ll miss him terribly.

Coaching:  My coaching has picked up this year and I now have eleven athletes.  It has been steady work all season, which is a nice change from the past two years.  It has also been harder than ever to try and get all my work done while taking care of Emmett.  He doesn’t take very long naps during the day so my free time has been very limited.  But somehow I get it all done.

Cycling:  I’m not racing this year for obvious reasons.  I am riding a bunch pulling Emmett in my Chariot bike carrier.  That thing is the best!  He can sit in it for over 2 1/2hrs without complaint.  We’ve been riding everywhere!  And what a killer workout!  I get out for a mountain bike ride maybe once a week.  Harder to do because I need to get a babysitter.  I do plan on getting up to the mountains in the next few weeks to do some aspen rides while the colors are in their prime.

General:  We just did a great seven day trip to Michigan to visit Greg’s family.  First time they have seen Emmett since he was a newborn.  He was amazing and they adored him, of course.  We took him sailing on Lake Michigan one day, a big hike around Meijer Gardens, out to dinner twice, lunch and breakfast, and to the Fallsburg Fall Festival for some great bluegrass music.

Life is crazy to say the least.   I call it organized chaos.   But we love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Check back with us in a few weeks for pictures and an update on the October Moab camp.  It’s going to be a blast!

Until then…..


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483493 2011-06-24T22:37:04Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Moab Mountain Bike Advanced Skills Camp May 24-28, 2011

After having done our novice mountain bike camp two weeks ago I felt like I was a little better prepared with all the stuff I had to bring.  Before I had a baby I kind of laughed at all those parents that felt like they needed all these different baby items.  But now that I’m a parent I totally understand.   I DO need all that baby stuff; pack-n-play, jungle gym, Johnny jump-up, stroller, high chair, toys, clothes, bath supplies, stuffed animals, noise maker, hiking gear etc.  To say that my Subaru Outback was bursting at the seams was an understatement!

Mom took care of Emmett for the week while I ran our advanced skills camp.  We had nine participants. Two of the riders came to this camp three years ago.  It was great to have them back.  And one of my young mountain bike athletes from Breckenridge also came.  We stayed in the Rim Village condos with everyone getting their own room to spread out.  And like the first camp, we worked with Rim Tours again.  Our guide was Sylvie, an amazing woman and phenomenal mountain biker.  I think she ended up having more fun than any of us!

Everyone arrived Tuesday afternoon to warm sunny skies and a weather forecast that was about as perfect as you get in Moab; mid eighties, clear skies and no wind.  Yeah!  After a casual afternoon of socializing, wine, and appetizers, we had a big dinner of grilled chicken, veggie pasta and a big salad.  I took the group through the week’s schedule before sending everyone off to bed.

Our first morning was spent at City Park reviewing the basic fundamentals and core concepts of mountain biking.  Having an advanced group meant we were able to move a little faster and cover more skills.  By noon everyone was mentally exhausted.  Lunch took care of that!  My mom brought Emmett to City Park so I could feed him before heading out on the trails. 

After loading up the van we drove north of town to the Bar M singletrack.  This area has been extensively developed in the past two years, with some great new singletrack.  We rode a trail called Deadman’s.  It was a good solid intermediate trail with a little of everything, including switchbacks.  A good introduction to Moab riding.  Even though we didn’t ride very far we spent a lot of quality time working on skills, and taking lots of pictures.

Once we returned to the condos, each guest, including my mom, was treated to a relaxing massage and then late afternoon appetizers.  Dinner was a yummy Dutch Oven lasagna with chocolate brownies for dessert.  Definitely not a week to try and lose weight.  One of the Rim Tours mechanics came out after dinner and gave an extensive bike maintenance talk.  By the end, half our group was nodding off.  Time for bed!!

Our second day started at City Park, with a quick review of the skills we covered yesterday before moving on to the more advanced techniques needed for the bigger rides in Moab.  It was fun watching the participants ride up and down ledges that only yesterday they said “No way!” when I showed them what was in store.  After three hours of mental gymnastics we enjoyed a tasty lunch with Emmett and my mom.

Then it was up to the Slickrock Trail.  We split the group in two and went in opposite directions on the Practice Loop.  The name is very misleading.  The Practice Loop isn’t any easier than the main trail; it’s just a lot shorter.  Everyone got to practice the techniques for super steep climbs and descents.  Because the trail is almost entirely on rock you get amazing traction and can ride up and down stuff you would never otherwise consider.  By 3:30pm we were done and it was back to the condos for massage, appetizers, and a dip in the pool.

Dinner was grilled salmon, pasta, veggie kabobs, and a huge salad.  Plus a delicious dessert of homemade lemon cookies courtesy of Kirstin, co-owner of Rim Tours.  Tonight was movie night!  I showed everyone the “Off Road to Athens” movie to give them a better perspective on what I used to do for a living. 

Thursday was our first full today of riding and a chance to really fine tune the skills we had worked on all week.  We took our group to a ride called Blue Buffalo.  It’s a great ride to work on slickrock skills; riding up and down steep ramps and learning how to launch off ledges of all sizes.  There was something for everyone.  And we had lots of sunshine and no wind.  Lunch was at Uranium Arch just below the Seven Mile Rim.  By the end of the day everyone was mentally and physically exhausted.  We stopped ½ mile from the van and scrambled up the slickrock to a beautiful petroglyph and pictograph panel high above the valley floor.  Years ago there was a blue buffalo painted on the rock, also known as a pictograph and also the name of our ride.  Unfortunately vandals destroyed the painting and you can only see a very faint outline of where the buffalo used to be.  Many of the other petroglyphs were still in good condition and made for some great pictures. 

Another afternoon of much needed massage and rest.  We always have a special “dress-up” night for our last dinner of the camp.  After eating way too much food we all hung out, drank more wine, watched videos from the week and had a lot of laughs.  Hard to believe this was the last night of the camp.

Saturday was the grand finale of the camp.  We shuttled up to the Kokopelli start of the Upper and Lower Porcupine Singletrack.  This has become one of the best rides in the Moab area, and it was a perfect ride to end the camp.  It starts up in the La Sals at almost 8000 feet and then descends back down to Moab at 4500 feet.  Much of the trail follows the edge of Porcupine Rim, giving everyone incredible views of Castle Valley and Castleton Tower.  Of course nothing is every truly downhill.  There are a few leg burning climbs on this ride making you appreciate the downhill that much more. 

Lucky for us, my husband Greg joined us for the day.  He drove out to Moab late Thursday after work, mostly to see Emmett, but also to help me out with this ride.   His dry sense of humor was a big hit with the campers and kept us entertained all day.  And after six plus hours, numerous flat tires, a broken cleat, and a few mechanicals, we made it down with everyone intact, grinning from ear to ear.  Whew!  I’ve done this ride at least 50 times and it is still my favorite!

After returning to the condos we unpacked the van, loaded up the cars, took a few last pictures, and said goodbye.  The end of camp is always bittersweet.  I am relieved to finish, but I also feel like I’m saying goodbye to my best friends.  It was a big success and I can’t wait to go back in October and do it all again.

Have a great summer and maybe we’ll see you this fall in Moab!



Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483495 2011-06-24T22:08:56Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Moab Mountain Bike Novice Skills Camp May 3-7th, 2011

This year’s Novice Moab mountain bike camp gave new meaning to the words “adventure” and “logistics management”.  Last year at this time I was five months pregnant.  This year I have a very energetic little boy named Emmett.  He came with me to Moab, along with my mom and a car load of cycling gear and baby supplies.  My mom, Ginny, graciously volunteered to be the nanny for the week.  Without her this camp would have never happened.  But it did and we had a fantastic week of riding, weather and good food.

We had six participants in our novice camp this year.  Everyone arrived on Tuesday afternoon to the Tierra del Sol condos off Hwy 191.  We had riders from Washington, San Francisco, Colorado and Iowa.  Great group of people!  Bobby, our Rim Tours guide and mechanic worked on the bikes to get them ready for the first ride while everyone else drank wine and enjoyed appetizers under the warm afternoon Moab sun.  After a yummy dinner and a short meeting to go over the schedule for the upcoming week, it was off to bed.

We woke to a gorgeous sunny day!  What a relief because up until today the weather had been unstable with a lot of rain and even snow up in the La Sals.  After a big breakfast of French Toast we drove downtown and started our day at City Park.  We spent the morning doing skills and drills on the grass and rock features in the park.  It’s a great place to learn and review the core concepts of mountain biking.

My mom brought Emmett to the park for lunch.  I’m still breast feeding so it was great to get to nurse him before heading out on the trails.  After lunch we drove north to the Bar M trail.  This is a fairly easy ride and makes for a good introduction to Moab riding.  Plus it gives everyone a chance to practice the skills we learned in the morning on an actual trail. 

Once we returned to the condos, each guest, including my mom, was treated to a relaxing massage and then late afternoon appetizers.  Dinner  was a yummy Dutch Oven lasagna with chocolate brownies for dessert.  Definitely not a week to try and lose weight.  Matt Hebbard, co-owner of Rim Tours, gave us a trailside bike maintenance talk while dinner was cooking.  And then it was off to bed. 

Our second day started at City Park, with a quick review of yesterday’s skills, and then an introduction to the more advanced techniques necessary for riding safely in Moab.  We had another yummy lunch with Emmett and my mom before driving out to Klondike Bluffs.

Klondike Bluffs is a good intermediate ride and offers a little of everything; slickrock, sand, ledges, drop-offs, and amazing views.  We stopped at anything technical and spent time explaining, demonstrating, and then practicing the challenging moves.   Took videos of everyone trying various things.  Watching video of yourself riding is one of the best ways to learn.  The ride back to the trailhead was all downhill and generated a lot of laughs and big smiles.  The day was a success.

Another delicious dinner, this time prepared by Kirstin, the other co-owner of Rim Tours.  It was Mexican night with slow roasted pork, black beans, guacamole, salsa, and salad.  Tonight was movie night!  I showed everyone the “Off Road to Athens” movie to give them a better perspective on what I used to do for a living.


Today was our first full today of riding and a chance to really fine tune the skills we had worked on all week.  We took our group to a ride called Blue Buffalo.  It’s a great trail to work on slickrock skills; riding up and down steep ramps and learning how to launch off ledges of all sizes.  There was something for everyone.  And we had lots of sunshine and no wind.  Yippee!  By the end of the day everyone was mentally and physically exhausted.  We stopped ½ mile from the van and scrambled up the slickrock to a beautiful petroglyph and pictograph panel high above the valley floor.  Years ago there was a blue buffalo painted on the rock, also known as a pictograph, and also the name of our ride.  Unfortunately vandals destroyed the painting and you can only see a very faint outline of where the buffalo used to be.  Many of the other petroglyphs were still in good condition and made for some great pictures. 

Another afternoon of massage and a much needed soak in the hot tub.  We always have a special “dress-up” night for our last dinner of the camp.  With everyone in their finest we enjoyed grilled salmon, orzo, veggie kabobs, and a big salad.  Dessert was a sinful chocolate fondue.  We spent the evening watching videos from the previous three days, sharing stories, dranking lots of wine, and having some good laughs.  Hard to believe this was our last night already.

Our final day of riding took us up to the Intrepid Trail at Dead Horse Point State Park.  9 miles of fun mellow singletrack winding around the rim overlooking the White Rim Trail and the Colorado River.  The views were stunning to say the least.  There were a few technical sections on the trail, but otherwise it was fast and fun and a great way to end the camp.  We had lunch on the trail and then walked up to the official “dead horse point” overlook by the visitor center for more pictures. 

After a relaxing drive home we said goodbye to everyone as they met their spouses and friends at various places in Moab.  Camp was over.   It was a huge success with everyone making big improvements in their skills and confidence.  It was a relief to be done, but also hard to say goodbye to such great people.  I think my mom was the most excited to be done.  Taking care of Emmett for a solid week wore her out!  We head home tomorrow and then in two weeks we’ll do it all again!

Until then…


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483498 2011-04-21T16:14:53Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Diapers, breast feeding, coffee, and my new life as a full-time mom

I’m 41 years old, a retired professional cyclist, and six months into one of the hardest and most rewarding adventures I’ve ever undertaken.  I’ve become a mom to a wonderfully outgoing, energetic, time consuming, attention getting baby boy named Emmett.  I heard it almost every day of my pregnancy, “Being a parent is the toughest job you’ll ever do; get a lot of sleep now because you won’t get any once he is born; having a child is the most rewarding thing in the world, etc. etc.”  I hate to say it but everyone was right. 

I’ve done a lot in the past 41 years.  I grew up in Aurora, CO, went to Smoky Hill High School, graduated valedictorian and went on to get a biology degree at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO.  It was there I got into cycling.  Since then I have spent the last 22 years riding and racing all kinds of bikes all over the world.  I got to make a living doing something I loved.  Up until six months ago I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything harder than racing in the Olympics, or spending hours and hours training alone, or fighting back from a life threatening injury.  Of course that all changed on Oct 23rd, 2010.  That’s when I went into labor.  I’ll tell you now that I have a new found respect for every mom out there that has gone through labor and delivery.   After 46 hours of mind-numbing contractions I gave birth to a healthy 8lb baby boy.  That experience now wins the prize of being the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced both physically and emotionally.  But the end result is that I’m madly in love with this gorgeous little baby and it’s true, my life will never be the same.  

Now my days are totally consumed with changing diapers, breast feeding, cleaning baby bottles, doing laundry, picking out the cutest outfit possible for Emmett, and drinking lots of coffee.   I am also running a full-time coaching business from home and three mountain bike skills camps in Moab, UT this spring and fall.  And of course I am totally addicted to endorphins, which means that if I don’t exercise I get really grumpy. 

So how does one fit it all in???  Life has become one big balancing act to say the least.  One thing that hasn’t changed is I still love to ride my bike.  No matter how busy or stressed out I get, I always make time to ride.  I’ve accepted that it doesn’t happen every day.  And I’ve also accepted that there are other really fun things to do for exercise.  But I love my bike.  And I am so looking forward to the day when I can take Emmett in my new Chariot bike carrier for his first ride on the bike path.   Riding my bike has a way of making the chaos of life disappear.  It is something I will do for the rest of my life.   And it is something I hope Emmett will want to do for the rest of his life as well.  

Happy trails and happy motherhood!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483500 2010-12-06T19:36:13Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Alison Dunlap Announces 2011 Moab MTB Camps!

We’re back for our ninth year and more excited than ever about our Moab Skills Camps!  Come join me, Alison Dunlap, World Champion and 2-time Olympian, for our popular Novice/Interm 5-day Skills Camp in early May, or for those of you looking for more advanced riding, the Intermediate/Adv Skills Camp in late May and early October.

Spend the week with me in Moab, UT, the mountain bike mecca of the world.  We'll fine tune your technical skills, improve your confidence, and take you on some of Moab's most famous rides.  And after spending all day on your bike you'll be treated to gourmet food, luxurious condos, relaxing massages, educational seminars, and coaching. We’ll cook for you, teach you everything you need to know about mountain biking, clean your bike, pamper you, and create memories you’ll want to share with everyone.

Novice/Intermediate Skills Camp: May 3-7th, 2011

Intermediate/Advanced Skills Camp: May 24-28 and Oct 4-8th, 2011

All inclusive: $2185

Camp and food only (no lodging or massage):  $1577

Please visit our website www.alisondunlap.com  for all the details.  We'd love to have you join us in Moab in 2011!

Happy trails!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483501 2010-11-19T19:35:41Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z I'm a mountain bike racer and I want to race cross this fall. What fitness abilities should I work on developing that do not cross over from mountain biking to improve my cross performance?

Mountain biking and cyclocross are both difficult and painful sports.  The physical skills you have already from mountain biking will help you do well in cross, but if you want to really excel there are a few easy but painful workouts you can do to help your body transition into a cyclocross racer. 

The biggest difference between the two sports is the intensity level.  Mountain biking is all about going fairly hard for a long time.  The effort in a mountain bike race is fairly consistent over the course of a 2-3hr race, with a few bursts of power to get up a short steep hill or a technical section.  A lot of racers will go into “time trial” mode, riding a nice steady consistent pace from start to finish.

A cyclocross race is much shorter, only about 40 minutes for women and an hour for men.  The intensity level is higher, with most of the race spent at or above your “red zone”.  It is one big suffer fest!  Cyclocross is also about explosive power; being able to sprint out of every turn; being able to follow attacks, and being able to jump off the bike, sprint, and then get back on the bike without losing any speed.  There are huge changes in speed and intensity during a cross race.  Cyclocross is all about anaerobic power and the ability to tolerate high amounts of lactate in the muscles with very little recovery.  The “time trial” mentality of mountain biking won’t help much in a cross race.

To get ready for cyclocross there are some great workouts you can do that will help you develop the fast twitch muscles and the explosive power you’ll need.  One workout I like is called Microbursts.  After a 20 minute warm-up, the workout consists of a 10 minute interval.  During the interval you will do a 10 second sprint, a 20 second recovery, a 10 second sprint, 20 second recovery and so on for the full 10 minutes.  Then recover for 10 minutes before doing another set.  Each sprint should be done in the drops and as hard as possible.  Sprint like you were attacking in a race.  Heart rate won’t respond to such short efforts so don’t look to it as a guide.  The microburst workout will help you develop high end anaerobic power and the ability to recover from repeated accelerations without blowing up.

Another great workout that helps develop the anaerobic power needed for cyclocross is the Kilo.  Kilos are some of the most intense intervals I’ve ever done.  You’ll need to find a flat stretch of uninterrupted road.  Measure off a one kilometer stretch, marking the start and finish.  This workout is most effective if done with a power meter.  Get up to speed before crossing your “start line”.  Once you cross your start line start your power meter.  You want to go as hard as you possibly can for one kilometer.  You are going for the highest power output over one kilometer.  This effort is harder than the standard Vo2 interval.  On a flat road with little wind it should take you around 1 ½-2 minutes to reach your “finish line”.  Stop your power meter when you finish the kilometer.  Now recover for 10 minutes.  When you do your second one, try and generate a higher average power and a faster time for the same distance.  This workout is exhausting and I recommend doing it only once a week.

Of course there are lots of other workouts you can do to help prepare your legs for cyclocross racing.  These are two of my favorites and I’ve gotten great results from both.  Remember, though, that it takes time and your legs won’t become cyclocross legs overnight.  Give yourself a few months before you start seeing changes.  It’s worth the time and effort!

Happy trails!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483502 2010-11-16T18:55:03Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Week Three: breast feeding, changing diapers, and sleeping??

Our little guy is now three weeks old.  Hard to believe!  We’re already seeing changes in him.  Of course he has put on weight and is filling out.  He is breast feeding like a champ!  I’ve figured out how to sit at my computer while feeding Emmett.  Let’s me get some work done during the day.  He isn’t the fastest feeder so I’m spending a good 45 minutes to an hour each time I feed him.  We are using cloth diapers with him.  It’s great for the environment, healthier for him, and easier on the wallet, but I admit it is a pain in the ass at times.  You can’t let him sit for 3-4hrs without changing him.  Cloth diapers don’t absorb as much and become saturated rather quickly.  Disposable diapers keep baby dry which means you can get away with not changing him as frequently.  Cloth diapers need to be changed at least once every hour.  Most of the time it’s not a big deal.  However when he is fast asleep I hate to wake him for a diaper change, so I tend to let him sleep and deal with the leaking diaper later. 

Our Border Collie Jiggs has adjusted well to the baby.  He doesn’t mind the crying and just wants to be where the action is.  Emmett can be screaming at the top of his lungs, and Jiggs is fast asleep on the floor below.  I’ve been taking both of them on walks every day.  Feels great getting out.  I’m also back to hiking at Palmer Park.  I may try riding my bike next week.  Can’t wait!  We’re still having some wonderful weather which makes it hard to stay indoors all day.

It’s gorgeous outside today so I’m off for a hike with the boys.  Have a great week.  Until next time!



Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483504 2010-11-05T00:18:50Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z The newest member to the family has finally arrived!!

We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our family; Emmett Dunlap Frozley!  He was born on Oct 26th at 2:29am and weighed 7lbs 14oz and was almost 22 inches long.  No wonder my belly felt so big!  My labor was long and challenging.  46hrs from the first contraction to when he popped out, with no break.  But he is fine and healthy and I’m very sore.  Haven’t been able to do much of anything the past ten days.  Lots of breast feeding, naps, and diaper changes.  Life is pretty simple right now.  Haha!  Stay tuned for more details.  Right now I’ve got to go take a nap.


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483505 2010-10-18T21:08:00Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z One week left till the chaos begins!!

We are officially one week away from our due date of Oct 23rd. Getting super excited! Also getting very tired of being pregnant. Everything hurts and aches and sometimes I feel like an old woman every time I stand up. I knew the last month was going to be hard, and it has lived up to its reputation in every way. On the plus side I am sleeping really well which I hear is rare for being this far along.

We are doing a home birth which is very exciting! We also just finished our Bradley class. Bradley emphasizes natural childbirth, no medications or drugs, and the husband being 100% involved from start to finish as “coach”.

Oct 23rd is a special day for us in many ways. It is my husband Greg’s bday. And on 10/23 he was born at 10:23am. How crazy is that! It is also the day we got married. Back on 10/23/99 there was a full moon. Guess what the moon is doing next Saturday? It’s FULL! I’m convinced our little guy will be born on his due date. I hope I can be patient for another seven days. Haha!

Enjoy this wonderful fall weather and we’ll let you know when the excitement begins.



Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483507 2010-10-15T22:59:55Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z One week left till the chaos begins!!

We are officially one week away from our due date of Oct 23rd.  Getting super excited!  Also getting very tired of being pregnant.  Everything hurts and aches and sometimes I feel like an old woman every time I stand up.  I knew the last month was going to be hard, and it has lived up to its reputation in every way.  On the plus side I am sleeping really well which I hear is rare for being this far along. 

We are doing a home birth which is very exciting!  We also just finished our Bradley class.  Bradley emphasizes natural childbirth, no medications or drugs, and the husband being 100% involved from start to finish as “coach”. 

Oct 23rd is a special day for us in many ways.  It is my husband Greg’s bday.  And on 10/23 he was born at 10:23am.  How crazy is that!  It is also the day we got married.   Back on 10/23/99 there was a full moon.  Guess what the moon is doing next Saturday?  It’s FULL!  I’m convinced our little guy will be born on his due date.  I hope I can be patient for another seven days.  Haha! 

Enjoy this wonderful fall weather and we’ll let you know when the excitement begins. 



Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483509 2010-09-02T21:55:00Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z As my season draws to a close I'm wondering what I should do in the off-season?

Now that September is finally here and the first hint of fall is in the air, it is time to think about what you want to do once your season is officially over. Depending on where you live you may already be done, or you may have another 1-2 months of racing still to go. By this time, however, almost all of us are feeling the burnout associated with a long summer of training and racing.

This is the best time of year to give yourself a mental and physical break from the bike and do things you’ve been missing out on all summer. Once you finish your last race I recommend taking at least four weeks completely off the bike. Your body needs the rest, and your head needs a chance to decompress from the rigors of training and racing. With that being said, I was never very good about staying away from my bike for a month. September and October are some of the best months to ride bikes here in Colorado so I would often grab my mountain bike and go out with friends for some epic rides in the aspens before the snow started falling. It is ok if you still want to ride a few times a week. The biggest thing is that you only ride for fun and you don’t do anything that can be considered “training”. Yes you will lose fitness but that’s the idea. Your body needs a break!

This is also a great time to do some hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, rock climbing etc. Go out with friends and family and catch up on what you’ve missed this past summer. Eat ice cream, stay up late, go to movies, or buy something fun for yourself.

After a month or so of no training, you can slowly start back into a very casual routine of riding. By this I mean you should try and ride your bike 1-2 hours a day, maybe 5 days a week. No structure at this point. You can ride as slow as you’d like. And if your friends are doing a big hard mountain bike ride on the weekend you can definitely go with them. Again the goal is to have fun and not feel like you’re “training” just yet. I would also start a strength training program, lifting 2-3 days a week. You can still throw in hikes and trail runs 1-2 times a week if you’d like. Anything aerobic is good.

After your second month of off-season activities it is now probably November/December.This is the time to get more serious about riding. Depending on your upcoming race schedule you may want to start doing some intensity mixed in with longer rides on the weekend. By January you should be back into the hard core training mode and getting ready for the first races of the season.

The off-season is one of the most important times of the year for cyclists. It gives us a chance to rest and recover from the long season. It is also when you will build the foundation that determines how successful you’ll be next season. Most importantly it reminds us of why we love to ride our bikes; because it’s fun!

Enjoy yourself, enjoy the beautiful fall weather, and rekindle your love and passion for the sport.

Happy trails!

Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483510 2010-09-02T21:53:00Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Seven weeks and counting!

I am now at seven weeks to go and getting more and more excited about the arrival of the little guy growing in my belly.  It has been a long slow process, watching my body change and grow every week.  All of a sudden time is moving faster and our due date is coming quickly.  I’m sure it’s because, as first time parents, we don’t have a clue about what to expect.  Plus we haven’t done a thing to get the baby’s room ready.  We’ve been spending all our weekends doing the house projects that have been on the “honey-do” list for the past three years.  I spent today going through the bags and bags of baby clothes we’ve been given by friends and that has got me motivated to start setting up the baby room.  Fun stuff!

Even though I feel quite large and uncomfortable I am still hiking a few times a week and doing pilates every Wednesday.  And last week I started going to a swim class for pregnant women at the YMCA.  It feels wonderful getting in a pool because you actually don’t feel pregnant!  Of course all this wears me out so I’ve been taking naps every day.  The best part about being pregnant is you can take naps and not feel guilty.  Haha!

I’m off to my midwife appointment.  I’ll keep you posted in the next few weeks.  Happy Labor Day!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483513 2010-07-26T22:31:57Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Is it ok to drop out of a race if I'm having a bad day?

Here is something I was asked the other day.  “If I am having a difficult race when is it OK to drop out?  Is it better to pull out and save my energy or is it bad to give up once I have started a race?”

The answer to this question is easy.  You never want to drop out of a race unless you have one of the following excuses:

1.    Your bike is broken and is no longer rideable

2.    You are deathly ill, throwing up, or running a fever

3.    You’ve crashed and there is blood everywhere or you’ve broken a bone

If you’re just having a bad day, then grit your teeth and tough it out.  You will have a lot more respect for yourself if you finish then if you drop out.  Once you drop out of a race, it becomes easier to drop out of another.  It is easy to race hard when you feel good.  What makes a true champion is someone that finishes the race despite having the “worst day of his life”.  Bike racing is incredibly difficult.  Don’t give up on yourself because you think you’re having a bad day.  The legs might come around and you might surprise yourself on the next lap.  If you quit you’ll never know what might have happened.

Happy trails!


Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483514 2010-06-29T20:01:02Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Getting sick when training

Being athletes makes us susceptible to getting sick because of the constant state of fatigue we always seem to put our bodies in.  There are some easy things you can do to avoid getting colds, as well as some good strategies for dealing with a cold once you get one.

Probably the biggest reason we get sick is we let our bodies get run down.  When training, make sure you are getting a lot of sleep.  I always needed at least 8-9hrs of sleep when training.  For those of us that have full time jobs and families this isn’t realistic.  Do the best you can.  Also very important to make sure you are eating healthy.  For women it is important to get an adequate amount of iron in your diet.  Low iron can result in anemia which can make it very easy for your body to get sick over and over again.  Be sure to eat lots of whole grains, fruits and veggies and limit high fat foods such as meat and dairy.  Another reason we get sick is we let ourselves get dehydrated.  Hydration is the key to health!  Did you know a 150lb individual has almost 50 quarts of water in his body?  Dehydration can make you more susceptible to viruses, can prevent your body from recovering after hard workouts, and keeps your body from flushing out the toxins produced over night.  Eating the right foods, drinking water, and sleeping are key to healthy living!

What can you do once you get a cold?  For me the best thing to do is sleep as much as possible.  If possible take long naps during the day and sleep in as long as you can.  If work prevents this, then go to bed early and avoid the usual nighttime activities that keep you up late.  The next thing you need to do is drink a lot of water.  Pure water will help flush out the toxins in your body.  When your body is hydrated, drainage from allergies and colds doesn't stick and collect in your throat and lungs, and your cough is more "productive".  I like to drink three nalgene bottles of water a day minimum.  Some other things that have worked for me are sucking on zinc lozenges and taking Zicam, a homeopathic anti-cold remedy.  Sometimes these work for me and sometimes they don’t.  Unfortunately a lot of times a cold just has to run its course, which can often be 10 days to two weeks

What about training when you have a cold?  If you have a mild head cold, then easy to moderate exercise is ok.  I would not do any kind of intensity.  If your cold has dropped into your chest, then only 1hr recovery rides are recommended.  If these irritate your lungs and cause you to cough, then ride indoors.  Again, no intensity.  If your cold turns into the flu and you have a fever, then no riding whatsoever.  Wait until the fever is gone before getting back on your bike.  In general, the less “training” you do while sick, the quicker you will recover.  The problem most of us have as cyclists is we can’t stand the thought of not riding and we start to panic that we are losing fitness.  So we go out and train while sick.  This will prolong your illness and can lead to complications.  The head cold might turn into the flu.  The flu might turn into bronchitis, and bronchitis might turn into pneumonia.  Let yourself be sick.  Give your body a chance to fight the cold/flu and you’ll recover faster. 

Every athlete out there will get sick at least once a year.  Everything evens out in the end.  Don’t stress when you get sick.  Do the best you can and hopefully you will be back on your bike in a few days.



Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483516 2010-06-29T00:03:29Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z My husband just had back surgery!

We had a crazy week!  My husband crashed a week ago riding the Monarch Crest Trail near Salida, CO.  He slid out in a corner and fell on his hip pretty hard.  Nothing that we cyclists haven’t done dozens of times over the years.  But he hit just in the right way that it ruptured is L5 S1 disc in his lower back.  By the next day he had numbness in his leg and couldn’t lift his foot or toes.  We got in for an MRI on Monday and saw a spine specialist on Tuesday.  The doctor said his rupture was so severe that he wanted to schedule Greg for surgery immediately.  Crap!  Greg went in two days later and had a procedure called a lamenectomy.  It went really well and he was back home that afternoon.

Now he is on heavy pain killers, muscle relaxants, and stool softeners.  What a combination.  He takes four walks a day, each 10 minutes long.  For the next 6-8 weeks he isn’t allowed to lift anything heavier than 5lbs.  He can’t even push a shopping cart in the grocery store or open the windows of our house.  That basically leaves me to do everything; clean, shop for food, cook, laundry, house work, and yard work.  Normally it wouldn’t be a problem.  But now that I’m almost 6 months pregnant my energy level is quite lower than normal.  I’m going to recruit my neighbor to help me mow the lawn tonight. 

Eventually Greg will be back on his bike.  But I think he’ll be going a lot slower for a while.  Here’s to pain pills, ice packs, and lots of time on the couch.

Happy recovery Greg! 

Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483483 2010-06-26T17:59:12Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Ride the Rockies Day 7 Alamosa to Salida

Even though today’s route looked relatively easy on paper, it was still 87 miles long with one pass to climb towards the end of the day.  The road north from Alamosa is called the “Gun Barrel”.  It is dead flat and straight without a single turn for over 45 miles.  On both sides off in the distance are big mountains, but the valley itself is quite boring.  Carrie didn’t want to ride my slow pace so she took off and we only saw her at the aid stations.  I sat in front and gave Marge and my Dad a draft the entire way.  Luckily we had a tailwind that grew in intensity as the morning turned to afternoon.  There were moments when I felt like I could fall asleep on my bike.  No one was talking and I wasn’t getting any stimulation from the scenery.  I had some caffeinated Shot Blocks at one of the aid stations and that helped give me a boost.  After three plus hours we finally started the gradual ascent of Poncha Pass.  This was the easiest pass of the entire week at only 3 miles long.  And with our huge tailwind we literally got blown up the hill. 

The aid station at the top was full of celebrating cyclists.  Last climb of Ride the Rockies.  Yippie! The sun was out and everyone was enjoying the food and music at the summit.  We all rode down the pass together and came into Salida four abreast across the finish line.  Oh joyous celebration!  The final festivities were in a nice grassy park with big shade trees.  The local Thai restaurant was selling curry and Pad Thai so of course that’s where we had lunch.  There was a pretty good band playing so we relaxed in the shade eating and listening.  Feels so good to be done! 

We found our bags one last time and took a quick shower in the shower truck before heading home.  My husband Greg was going to pick me up so everyone else left in my dad’s car.  I hung out in the shade for another hour before my husband arrived.  He and I grabbed a pizza downtown before the long drive home. 

I am definitely tired but with a big smile on my face.  I feel so lucky to have gotten to ride across Colorado for seven days with my dad and sister.  Considering my sister has two little kids and I’ve got one on the way, this was a very special week.  Hopefully next year I can talk my husband into going and we can bring the baby and our own car and recruit Grandma for babysitting.   I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

Until next year!



Alison Dunlap
tag:blog.alisondunlap.com,2013:Post/483485 2010-06-26T17:53:53Z 2013-10-08T17:05:00Z Ride the Rockies Day 6 Pagosa Springs to Alamosa via Wolf Creek Pass

The big days just keep coming!  Today was another 90 mile day up and over the huge Wolf Creek Pass.  We started at 6:30am under sunny skies and chilly temperatures.  The road was gradually uphill for the first 16 miles to Aid Station #1.  Then it was time for pancakes!  After carbo loading we started climbing in earnest.  Wolf Creek isn’t terribly steep, maybe 8-9% at most, but it is long.  At the first switchback there was a semi truck lying on its side, the result of coming into the turn with too much speed.  The rest of the climb was uneventful.  All of us rode our own pace up the hill and then met on top.  I felt ok, keeping my pace nice and slow to keep the baby happy.  Took some pictures and chatted with folks as they passed me.

It was chilly on the summit so we didn’t stay long.  The 20 mile descent down to the small town of South Fork was a blast!  Wide open roads with a rip-roaring tailwind.  We easily hit over 50 mph.  I had a large deer run across the road about 40ft in front of me.  If it had stopped to look at me I would have hit him.  Luckily he kept trotting and we missed each other.  Definitely got my adrenalin up.  We reached South Fork in one piece and enjoyed more grapes and animal crackers.  Filled up our bottles with Gatorade and started towards the next town of Del Norte. 

This next 15 mile stretch was what I call a “powder day” on a road bike.  We had a huge tail wind, it was slightly downhill, brand new pavement, and a shoulder that was 10 feet wide.  It was pure joy!  It never gets that good!  We reached the next aid station in under an hour.  Quick stop and then another 15 mile stretch to Monte Vista.  The wind was starting to change and we had a few sections of cross/head wind.  Not too bad and not enough to curb our enthusiasm. 

In Monte Vista the riders were treated to free baked potatoes.  This area of Colorado is potato country and the town comes out in force to support Ride the Rockies.  The best were the purple potatoes.  Because of the challenge of finding healthy food this week I decided to give up my vegan diet for the duration of the ride.  I slathered butter all over my potato and I admit it was damn delicious.  So much so that I had a second one.  Did I mention all the salt I added?  Yummy goodness!  After a long break we finally crawled back on our bikes for the last 15 mile stretch to Alamosa. 

This ended up being just as bad as the last stretch coming into Durango.  The “powder day” was gone.  All the snow had been skied off and it was all ice.  Our tailwind had turned into a nasty cross wind coming from the south.  It was super hot and the humidity was -20%.  My dad had jumped in the sag wagon at Del Norte so it was Marge, Carrie, and me.  We stuck together and pulled Marge all the way to Alamosa.  This last stretch took forever.  Dead flat highway through farm country.  And we couldn’t ride very fast because I would start cramping and Marge would get dropped.  What a pair.  We finally made it into Alamosa and found dad with a cold cup of lemonade in his hand.  Once again I was worked!  The heat and the wind really take it out of you! 

Today I had to wait in line for the shower.  I didn’t mind because I was able to stretch and do some Pilates on the grass.  The shower felt great and cooled me off.  We were all camped at the Alamosa Recreation Center.  Beautiful facility with huge green athletic fields.  Our community dinner was right here so we didn’t have to go anywhere.  We had veggie burritos and yummy salads for dinner.  Carrie and Dad also had a few slices of pizza.  We got to enjoy a wonderful bluegrass band called the Rifters.  It was some of the best bluegrass I’ve heard in a long time!  They played until 9:45pm.  So I didn’t go to bed until 10:30am.  Hard to believe this is our last night.  For such a hard ride it goes so fast!

Alison Dunlap