Special Guest: Amber Pierce – Ask a Cycling Coach 193



Chapeau on this podcast! @ambermalika was so professional and well spoken. Has to be one of my Top Ten AACC podcasts!


What a superb podcast. Enjoyed every minute and genuinely laughed out loud at various parts.

Amber was a superb guest and certainly knows her stuff too.

Congratulations to you all on a great job.


I believe the key is “out with the bad, in with the good.” Since we can only consciously think of one thought at a time, the struggle of good vs “evil” is the underlying tone. She referenced a personal mantra to remind herself to relax. So if you have a lyric that helps you relax in your headspace, that should work. It is more of a matter of struggling well in that headspace to fight the “evil” and all too overpowering thoughts of defeat. Find what works for you and struggle well, and often.


@Jonathan @Nate @chad - hit it outta the park on this one. Need more perspective like @ambermalika brought that can be practically applicated (in some form) to a normal riders day. I love you guys but sometimes a different voice is needed.


What a fantastic concept! I am new to the sport and it never occurred to me the mental toll exercising takes. Specific to cycling, I assumed it was merely one pedal stroke at a time and did not take into account the “TSS” you accumulate in the totality of your life circumstances. You did an excellent job of articulating your thoughts on this subject. Thanks again!


What a great podcast. I listen while driving and pulled over to listen to it properly. @ambermalika expressed some concepts so perfectly that I felt I gained some incredible insight and motivation. I’m definitely going to think in terms of having a good day and trusting that good days will build up to good weeks and then good months. Mega!


Totally agree. Fabulous addition to your podcast!


Protein (ie: Hammer Perpetuem) only necessary in ride with efforts over 3 hours. Efforts 2-3 hours is “grey area” and you could use protein mix but not necessary . Effort under 2 hours sports drink is all (ie: Heed).


Amber Pierce was a great guest. Experienced, Educated, and Eloquent.
Thank you @ambermalika for joining the podcast.


@Nate TR needs to lock her down on the payroll as a regular guest speaker.




Just got around to listening to the podcast and I have to echo the sentiments of others here. That was an excellent episode and @ambermalika came across as really informed, passionate and eloquent.

One of my favourites for sure! Well done all, hopefully Amber can be a returning guest - I’d love to hear what she gets up to riding wise in her retirement.


Thank you!! It was so nice to hear a women’s perspective on the podcast. I hope you will continue to bring on guests, esp women. I can’t wait to hear from Stacey Simms!


I realized after the show how much more detail I could have offered on this, but we still went to 2hrs! I followed up on a couple of the FB comments, too, and realized most of what I have to say requires a lot of proactive effort on the part of women (I’ll get to details in a second). I want to say outright that this is frustrating to me. Of course, if anyone wants to get involved in a sport, it will require effort, but the truth is that cycling lags behind most sports in terms of its accessibility in general, and especially its accessibility for women and POC. Due to this cultural inertia, it falls on the shoulders of those not represented well in the sport to take more time and make more of an effort to be involved than it would for those better represented (keeping in mind this can be very uncomfortable if you’re, say, the only gal on the group ride every week). While this is improving, it’s still not a fair shake. If you’re well and solidly embedded in your local cycling community, I strongly suggest you talk to your local promoters, group ride regulars, bike shops, etc, about helping newcomers to the sport. Be the person to whom your bike shop can send a new rider for advice, introductions, and even a few pointers. Be the person who takes time to say hi to the new person on the group ride, and maybe even dedicate your ride that day not to winning the sprint, but to getting to know the newcomer and to making sure she or he has a great experience and learns how to safely and enjoyably ride with everyone. If the newbie is already skilled, simply offering a few introductions to folks in the group can go a really long way!

If you’re the one looking to get started, the best thing you can do is to connect with an experienced rider in your area who can show you the ropes. Make friends with the folks at your local bicycle shop; they are a wealth of knowledge and love to see more people fall in love with the sport! You might find a great mentor at the shop, and if not, they can probably help you connect with a local group or rider who can ride with you and teach you some foundational handling skills, and show you some recommended routes. I strongly recommend you find someone who is not your significant other from whom to learn. It’s too easy to mix up relationship dynamics when learning, especially if your SO is way more experienced and faster than you. This is not to say you can’t enjoy riding together! It’s just sometimes easier to hear things from a more objective third party. :slight_smile: Plus, it helps to have multiple perspectives. When you feel ready, find a group of folks with whom you can ride. Group rides are super fun, because they’re social and give you a sense of safety in numbers, especially if you’re venturing out on a bigger adventure (which is one of the great joys of riding bikes). Plus, you can learn the best thing about road riding: drafting! Developing good group riding skills can be a lot of fun and open new doors of opportunity. If all of this sounds great, but you’re still feeling stuck, do a web search. There are so many wonderful resources on the web for new riders, and you may feel more comfortable doing some reading before you throw a leg over your bike. Another great resource is Ayesha McGowan’s virtual ride series: the Do Better Together Ride. It’s a good way to get over than initial trepidation and “ride” with a group of folks at all different levels of experience, who are all happy to be supporting each other (see aquickbrownfox.com).

If you’re interested in racing, start with the local group rides and get to know some of the local racers. They can help you identify what races might be good starters, and can even practice certain racing skills with you on the group rides (e.g. attacks, sprints, and even lead-outs). Build your village of mentors and supporters. You could even use the group ride as an opportunity to debrief your race experiences and get some valuable feedback from the more experienced riders.

Remember, just because someone is a strong racer doesn’t mean he or she is a snob! Chances are good you’ll find a few folks who are more than happy to help you navigate the local racing scene.

And I cannot stress this enough: if someone is a jerk, forget them. Don’t waste your time. I learned this the hard way and wasted a lot of time trying to gain the approval of people I thought I needed to impress. Nope nope nope. Total waste of your time. There are so many good people in cycling (yes even road!) that you can always find someone to help.

If you’re struggling to find good resources locally, you can always reach out to me with questions (@ambermalika on Twitter/Insta), and if you’re a woman, you can apply to get matched with a pro-level mentor through Network for Advancing Athletes, a small non-profit I founded for this very reason (http://advancingathletes.org).

I hope this helps!


You could definitely use a song as a mantra! Whatever you use, it should be really familiar and easy - something that doesn’t add to your cognitive load. Keep it simple. If it’s a song you love that you’ve got memorized, that sounds like it would work well! Again - this goes back to whether or not it works for you. You can play around with different songs, different mantras, and see what really works for you. AND what works for you one day might not be as good as something else on a different day. Or what works on a climb might be different than what works on a descent! Just play around with it and see what helps you the most!


May I offer THE mantra: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”

Seems to have worked for Coach Taylor and the Dillon Panthers HS Football team.


Nice one! :+1: I don’t remember where I read it, as it was quite some time ago, but yes, a song on repeat works the same as a mantra.

re: cognitive load – guess I should give this one a listen, y’know, considering my present state… :wink:


Couldn’t get The White Stripes - Rag & Bone out of my head while training for my first time trial a couple years ago. Every time “I’m blowing up” would enter my head I would mentally replay the last 10 seconds of that song and push thru the pain. Later on during training I would start rides thinking of the heavy beat they lay down at the beginning of the song and it made the entire ride easier. That song is still on on high mental rotation when I go outside for a tough training ride. Never understood the psychological basis for it until now. Thanks!


Thank you for the great feedback - much appreciated! Stacy’s book ROAR is so good. I’m kicking myself for missing that opportunity to recommend it on the live show! Here is a link for those interested (I’m featured in one of the inserts talking about framing competition as a cooperative effort): https://www.amazon.com/ROAR-Fitness-Physiology-Optimum-Performance/dp/1623366860/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1547858721&sr=1-1&keywords=ROAR

To your question re: books on mindset. Two authors immediately come to mind, and neither is a sport-specialist. First, Brene Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability. Her work is so good and highlights how much we limit ourselves just to avoid being vulnerable. She really highlights how important vulnerability is to strength, and I think this is a HUGE issue for most athletes. You have to get out of your own way to learn, progress, and grow. You have to be willing to come up short sometimes. To really push yourself to confront and challenge your limitations, you HAVE to be vulnerable. If you can’t allow yourself to go there, you’ll never know how good you could be, or what you might be capable of doing! Her work really helps clarify this and offers tons of practical advice on how to get better at it. Second is Carol Dweck, a psychologist from Stanford who coined the terms Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset. She has a book titled (wait for it) Mindset, that is really good too. Someone with a fixed mindset thinks that, e.g., talent is a fixed, innate quality that people either have or don’t. Sure, genetics play a role in sport, but we also know that they aren’t the whole story! People who have a fixed mindset at some point got it in their heads (probably from a well-meaning but misguided coach or role model) that they performance outcomes reflect their innate talent - who they are, than their efforts - what they do. Someone with a Growth Mindset recognizes that most of what we do in life can be improved with a little effort and elbow grease. Someone with a Growth Mindset views a “failure” as an opportunity to learn, try harder, and do better next time. Someone with a Fixed Mindset will view that same “failure” as a repudiation of who they are as a person, which will make them less likely to try again, or to want to seek big challenges (and instead stick with “safe” things they know they can accomplish). As you can imagine, this ties in well with Brene Brown’s work, too. For more sport-specific stuff, The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters is a great resource for working with your limbic system (what he calls the inner chimp, and what others call the lizard brain).

Re: strength movements, I think it’s really important to do work that enhances stability and that offsets the repetitive movements of cycling, for general health and to avoid injury. Hip stability is particularly important, and it’s key to work the legs in different planes, not just the single-plan movement of pedaling. That means doing stability/mobility work that includes external/internal rotation and that activates the glutes. Good ones: single-leg dead lifts (also called bird dips), bridges (+ single leg variations), clam shells, standing 4-ways with a band. Also important for cyclists (especially to prevent knee injury) is eccentric work, especially for the quads. Eccentric motion challenges tendons in ways that help maintain range of motion and elasticity - crucial for the quadriceps and patellar tendons to keep your knees happy! Just walking down stairs or walking downhill can do this for you, and you can add extra challenge by really slowing down each down-step to accentuate the effect (or slow the lowering motion of your leg extensions for 3-5 counts, and do the lifting motion in just one count). Cyclists also need to offset that their hunched posture by stretching the rib cage, pectorals, etc, and strengthening the rear chain - neck, rhomboids, and scapular mobility (Is, Ws, Ys are good for this). Coach Chad has some great stuff on all of this!


Hey @Scheherazade its a dream is to get my wife riding on the road, and go beyond the casual Sunday rides on her Electra Townie to farmer’s market. She admits to needing cardio to complement strength training. I’ve introduced her to woman that ride in our club. It seems more about taking time to going out on a club ride, versus the 50 other things around the house that demands her attention. Oh, and sprinkled with a dash of “I’ll go out on the ride and it won’t be long before you ride off with buddies?” despite my assurances it wouldn’t happen (or admitting yeah, I’ll do a sprint or two but then turn around to regroup). Complicating it all, she doesn’t have a road bike or full kit. Where to start?