Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
NO QUESTION, CTS has a great formula to strengthen basic fitness—customized to your needs and goals. But there was only so much they could do about the day-to-day scheduling realities and psychodramas of training and racing, especially for a group sport like cycling, in which team dynamics are as critical to racing success as heart rate training is. My failure shed light on the boon and the burden of Internet coaching: Yes, I can train like Lance and let visions of peloton domination fill my head, but the reality is that cycling isn’t my career. “It might sound strange, but it’s easier to coach a pro than an amateur with a full-time job,” says Jim. “And even if I saw you every day, I still wouldn’t be able to control what goes on in a ride or race.”
At its best, online coaching works within the limits of your daily life to maximize those precious hours of training—nothing more, nothing less.
After my May debacle, Jim came to the rescue. He adjusted my schedule and cut me some slack when I just wanted to enjoy a ride instead of a focused workout. And when another business trip loomed, he used it as an opportunity to recharge my psychological batteries, designing short, intense workouts for the hotel gym that would keep me fit but would require minimal bike time.
It worked. I came home ready to hammer and, in an Oregon stage race the next month, turned in my best performance of the year, just as Jim designed. I felt amazingly strong, and seemed to get more so with each day. On the last stage, a mountainous jaunt over 85 miles, I was in ninth place overall at the finish (compared with 21st the year before), but blew the final sprint with a boneheaded gear change, crossing the line in 12th place. CTS had made me faster, but even a finely tuned athlete like me couldn’t avoid a simple amateur mistake.