Transitioning to Indoor Training

How to train inside and not lose your mind or motivation
by Coach Mike Ricci

Coach Mike working with an athlete on swim video review in Solvang last year

While many athletes will grind out miles on the trainer and treadmill over the course of the winter, I like to take the opposite approach. Unless you really love to sit on your bike seat and ride in place, and have lots of time to do so, I think your time could be spent more wisely, during the winter.

There are 3 different types of energy systems I like to see athletes access during the off-season. The first energy system is Tempo or Zone 3.

Mike with athletes post ride at our camp headquarters

The second system is Threshold or Zone 4, and the last set is VO2 and Zone 5. The mix of workouts below will give you a taste of each energy zone and by the time the winter months are over, you’ll have some new found fitness and you’ll be ready to hit the race season with great power!


Here are a few of my favorite trainer and treadmill workouts for the off-season:

Easy 10-15 minute warm up, then go right to the bike.
Warm up of 15 minutes and then 5×1 minute hard with 1 minute easy in between, followed by 5 minutes easy. That’s 30 minutes total warm up.
After bike warm up, go right into:
5×3 minutes @ 90% of FTP [Functional Threshold Pace] or Zone 4 HR, with 3 minute recovery – after this main set, you’ll jump onto the treadmill for 3×3 minutes with 3 minutes’ recovery, at LT [Lactate Threshold] and 10k pace. After the last set, move right back to the bike again.
2nd round will be:
5 minutes easy on the bike and then 5×2 minutes at 95-100% of FTP with 2 minute recovery, and after this main set, you’ll jump onto the treadmill for 3×2 minutes at LT+ and 5k pace.
Finish up with an easy 5 minutes.

Total workout is 2:10 minutes, including warm up and all the main sets in this workout. Continue reading “Transitioning to Indoor Training”

Gear review – Staff Tim Murakami and his go-to Bibs!

Pactimo Alpine Thermal RT Bib Shorts – Gear review from Solvang staff crew and hill-climber-cyclist-extraordinaire,  Tim Murakami!

Fall is here and odds are this is the time of year when you have to consider staying warm on training rides regardless of the climate you live in, and if you don’t, well you’re living the dream.

The Pactimo Alpine RT (reflective technology) Thermal Bib is just the piece of kit that will accommodate that need.

Tim racing the ‘Barry Roubaix’ in the Bibs!

It is one of the most versatile pieces of cycling gear I own, and has been exceptional in conditions ranging from sub 40 degree, raining and windy gravel races to an atypically cool 60 degree ride to Jalama Beach with Solvang Triathlon Camps (they’re typically in the mid 70 – 80 degrees) but hey, the ride was still phenomenal.

Cold Rides
The Apline RT Thermal Bib is fleece lined throughout, including the braces which add an extra layer of warmth from the lower back up to the shoulders. They are the one of the best fitting pair of bibs I own, running true to size with excellent muscle support and with ample compression around the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Continue reading “Gear review – Staff Tim Murakami and his go-to Bibs!”

Athlete Michelle Hildebrand’s top 6 takeaways from Kona

Thanks to athlete Michelle Hildebrand for this great read on some of the nitty gritty race specifics of racing in the prestigious Ironman World Championships!

All of us here at Solvang Tri Camps have been honored to see Michelle’s progression from her first Solvang camp in 2009, through to her 6th camp earlier this year. Her determination and dedication to her Kona goal was an inspiration and something we all suspected would be on the cards in due time!

Congratulations Michelle on achieving your goal of qualifying for and racing in Kona, very well deserved!

Michelle Hildebrand’s top 6 takeaways from Kona


1. The environment on race morning is indescribable so take the time to look around and soak in the small things like seeing the pros bikes in transition, walking down the red carpet steps into the water while listening to the drums, and looking back at the sea wall full of spectators before the swim start.

2. Racing in the Ironman World Championships is almost more mental than physical because of the long stretches of nothingness and lava along the Queen K on the bike and run that don’t provide the mental change up that other courses provide. I expected the heat and wind but not the mental challenge this course threw at me.

3. The extra aid stations on the bike are a godsend for getting extra bottles of water to keep cool but the length of the aid stations on the run is almost a curse because walking the entire aid stations eats badly into your run pace.

4. The run is hot but for those of us finishing over 10 hours, the energy lab and return trip to town are not too bad because the sun is starting to go down.

5. The wind on the bike is as bad as you’ve heard in spots but keep telling yourself that the wind is your friend and eventually you’ll start to feel it push you along.

6. The last mile of the run going down Palani, through town and down the finisher chute in Kona is as amazing as you can imagine!

Solvang Coach Guides Athlete to Ironman Record!

Erich Manser & Matt Smith – IRONMAN Minute

Erich Manser has been slowly losing his vision and he teamed up with Matt Smith as his guide today to race IRONMAN Maryland. Watch their IRONMAN Minute!

Posted by IRONMAN Maryland on Saturday, October 7, 2017


When Coach Matt Smith’s phone rang last January with a request from visually impaired athlete Erich Manser to guide him at Ironman Maryland, it was no surprise to hear that Matt’s decision to help was a swift and an unhesitating yes.

Matt, a 3 x Solvang coach and coach of our Solvang Endurance Camp in 2018, shares some great insights into their Ironman Maryland race below. It truly was a day to remember, where Erich pushed the boundaries of the sport to a new visually impaired Ironman World Record, and the expertise, experience, and energy of Matt shone through with this selfless act.

This video shows footage of Erich and Matt on the course. Congrats to them both for an amazing performance full of trust and determination, great stuff!!

1. How long have you known Erich and how did your guiding role come about?

Erich and Matt ready to start their day at Ironman Maryland

I have known Erich for about 5 years. We met when the Denver Triathlon hosted the visually impaired championship race for the Olympic distance and I had volunteered to be a guide. Supposedly, I was the only person capable of keeping up with him on the swim, which I did not do in that race. I have worked with him on a couple of other shorter races and he called in January to ask about Ironman Maryland because his usual guide wasn’t able to do a full IM race this year. When he called, there was no hesitation, I said yes right away as I knew it was what I was meant to do.

2. There must be so much that goes into guiding a visually impaired person across 3 different sporting disciplines. Did you guys train together before the race? What strategies did you have to make this look so effortless on both your parts?

This is the coolest part about the race to be honest. Coolest and scariest for me. Erich lives in Boston area and I live in Denver so it wasn’t in the cards this summer to train together until the Thursday before the race. We went for a bike ride on his new tandem which I had never seen before and it just felt right. It took me a few turns to get things down but once we did it just fell into rhythm. The same thing happened for the swim and the run. That’s the cool part.

The scary part is that he had to have complete faith in me, my sight and my judgement of our pace, direction, just about everything regarding the race.

It’s scary to have that much responsibility in your hands for someone’s success. I think what makes it look effortless is that he has complete trust that I’m going to steer him in the right directionand I take that trust seriously and respect it wholeheartedly. Anything less would lead to a meltdown.

Continue reading “Solvang Coach Guides Athlete to Ironman Record!”

Alaska Bob’s trade secrets!

If you have attended a March Solvang camp since 2010, then you would have no doubt met, or seen the back wheel of, Alaska Bob, AKA Bob Smith. Bob, a strong athlete with a quiet demeanor, lets his biking do the talking at camp and his signature ride is the Jalama Beach ride. Bob seems to be one of only a handful of athletes who has the ability to negative split that ride even with putting the hammer down on the way TO the beach!

2017 has been a good year for Alaska Bob which included a great race at Ironman Wisconsin in September, which enabled him to punch his ticket to Kona for 2018! So on the back of that, we thought we would check in with him to see if he would spill the beans on some of his training behind his amazing biking strength.  Thanks for sharing Bob!

Alaska Bob is his element in Solvang!

Alaska Bob’s Key Ironman Bike Session

Progression by week: This session starts out with a two hour bike on the weekends and increases a half hour every week. These long rides are on Saturday followed by my long runs on Sunday and those increase two or four miles every week. It peaks at a five hour ride three weeks before the Ironman race. I try to hold a zone 2 power range mixing in some surges and intervals and hope my normalized power is in the low zone 2 range for these rides.

Cadence: I like to go at a cadence of 90 (not that it happens enough)! It also works best if it is a open road without stop signs or lights. Continue reading “Alaska Bob’s trade secrets!”