Performance Coaching

Cycling with Barb Morris!



It's all about the bike! I have the best time coaching and riding, being social and competitive. Bringing people together, sharing the experience as I share my experience. Bringing together bike and body for life! Oh, and I like wine, chocolate, coffee, good food and fun times.

Race to learn

It occurred to me while thinking about the season and the training phase we are now in, as a LTR Learn to Race coach, that for many, they are racing to learn.

Cycling is unique in the many different directions that we can take on 2 wheels, road racing for example! When you approach the idea of racing vs group riding or club riding, both of which are satisfying, you encounter a change in thinking.

There’s a different way of looking at the prospect of putting yourself on the line, feeling that you are being looked at and what that means to you even though most will admit to a level of competitiveness with the riders around them. The spirit of the idea can overcome trepidation. That spirit of striving creates an eagerness, a vision that comes from within or from a source of inspiration.

When the process is followed, becoming a bike racer at any level is a journey that explores what you are capable of and are prepared to make happen.

Racing then is framed as a learning experience and when you do that, there are no expectations, there is only a process. What can you learn, what did you learn in the process about yourself and the performance of your sport. Enjoy the process and race to Learn.

Coach Be

Comox Valley coaching with Barb

Experienced, long time certified cycling coach Barb – ‘coach Be’ – has relocated to Vancouver Island.

Coach continues with established mainland clients and is now welcoming V. Islanders to her performance coaching roster.

With a history of coaching from youth triathletes to Time Trial road racers, IM and cyclocross, fondo and Learn to Race, coach Be has successfully done it, coached it and brings that all-round knowledge to the athlete with an interest and desire to perform in their sport of cycling.

Be it Fitness, Performance, Personal Best or Podium results, coach Be makes it happen for you!

email; or phone/text 778 837 0288 to make an appointment and begin your journey on the bike, can’t wait to hear from you.

Group ride session (above left)

with Road and TT champion Graham (bottom left)

Workload and kJ, the connection

Metric; a system or standard of measurement

Introducing the kJ measurement*

def; A kilojoule is a unit of measure of energy; it’s the metric, up to date terminology used in science AND on sources of nutrition

A calorie (aka kcal) is the measurement of potential energy that is available from food

Are they the same, yes basically. They can be converted back and forth. 

What does this croissant have to do with the topic of kJ?


Fitness/CTL, Form/TSB, Fatigue/ATL, TSS; are useful and we’ve been using them to build, adapt and perform. 

There comes a point though, where various factors prevent or reduce optimization of performance based on those alone.  When increasing CTL volume no longer happens, when the TSB should stay the same.   How do you improve performance further, make gains without adding just volume or just intensity?

The performance we’re looking for is;

3. Aerobic endurance, going fast for longer

2. Aerobic power, going faster for a moderate amount of time

1. Anaerobic pure power, going fast, for a short time

Where do they all fit in;

  1. Is dependent on strength, the muscles ability to contract with force, anaerobically 
  2. Is measured by the maximum aerobic power available for 3 to 8 minutes, before the lactic acid environment prevents optimal muscle contraction 
  3. Endurance is a measure of the muscles to continue to contract over time. 

All of these contribute to performance and required in differing degrees of importance depending on the type of riding you do and plan to do. 

Now we can bring in the power of the kiloJoule, kJ!

It’s not a super power, but you may think of it that way when wielding it to produce results!

Here’s the take, the spin, the different way of looking at energy production and usage. 

Energy is required to to produce your results, through every ride. 

kJ is the workload produced and the energy required based on that; the intensity, let’s call that power or watts and the heart rate associated with that intensity.  How do you prepare to supply that energy?


Total kJ needed = your workload, based on a power meter and HRM x 30-35%/#hrs of the ride

This gives you kJ/ hour. To calculate how much workload/energy needed on a long ride:

#seconds x avg. power / 1000 = kJ/hr.

Here’s the math, for example: 

A 3 hr ride is 3x60x60 = 10,800 x 100W (avg,) = 1080000/1000 = 1080kJ, workload or energy utilized by the body.

That can be compared to other rides and used to calculate fuel for the intended workload. 

A more precise method, since avg watts and HR varies is to look at past rides and see the kJ metric. Use that to calculate future rides, x 30%

As an example for you, I’ve gone to my ride of the 100km PacPop this year;  

Starting from home the ride workload as monitored and recorded was 1887 kJ for 4.25 hrs at 123w avg. 444kJ x 30% is 133 / hr.   

With that, I know to have breakfast, egg on toast. I can aim for over halfway, 60 km to have that date bar waiting at the checkpoint since I’ll have used stored glycogen and breakfast by then. Keeping in mind that the average doesn’t take into account the hard burn at the start. 

360 kcal per date square will get me to the finish easily but they’re so good I may have 2!

Rules in general 

  • 2 hrs maximum stored glycogen. More like 80 minutes if you’re pushing hard off the start.
  • Also note that 1 gram of glycogen has 2.7 grams of water with it for those folk concerned with an increase of weight overnight. 
  • Aerobic metabolism is more efficient in that it can continue indefinitely compared to anaerobic metabolism.   
  • If you choose to ride fasted, then you have 80 minutes assuming that the store shelf was replenished.  Or ride aerobically, below threshold to use all energy sources available in your body; fat being an energy source for the slow burn. 
  • Fluids with even small quantities of carbohydrate, rinsed in the mouth, is associated with improved high intensity endurance performance. Always leave a little in your WB!

How to do it – the steps to take, do it now!

  • Put the kcal or kJ metric on your monitor screen;  then use it
  • Prepare for the ride, make your nutrition choices prior to the workout
  • No need to eat in the first hour unless preceded by a swim, or run. 
  • Fasted? eat after an hour depending on intensity, aerobic or anaerobic. 
  • Know how many kJ are in your bar or WB. If you plan to eat a bar or have a gel, have a bottle with plain water or one with only elytes, available to help the nutrients absorb. Your gut can only absorb so much at any time since your skeletal muscles are working hard and need the blood flow.
  • Gels are best, work for you optimally in the last 10 to 20 km to the finish on the bike, OR to use on the run after an hour.   And you can calculate how many you need in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 hrs.

The croissant picture at the top, is an example of the type of nutrition you or I may choose!
The energy in kJ is 1699. Conversion from kcal is x 4.184

Micronutrients, minerals available in a croissant as well; Magnesium, Calcium, K and Na, Iron

Macronutrients protein; 8.2g and lipid; 21g

@ Thomas Haas has the right idea! A croissant is a great choice pre or during a ride at the cafe stop.

Now What? Based on this knowledge*

*What will you be doing in the future to use this metric effectively?  

Monitor your ‘burn’ during the ride to prevent depletion of your resources, AND to improve your performance;

Increase your kJ per ride, meaning that within any distance ride, you will be producing more Workload!

This information garnered from CTS TrainRight podcast presenter Adam Pulford

Coach Be

Day 30 of the challenge

What’s strong with me today is completing 30 days of the challenge to write here, daily about qualities and habits, bike experiences and cycling tips. I’ll be continuing with a coaches corner of sorts, that offers what you didn’t know, you didn’t know. More specifics on the skill of biking that lead to performance in the sport.

What I’ve found over the month, is that I often have to look elsewhere to find out about my self. Looking for strengths is easier said than done; while noticing quotes, concise messages that are relatable was a way to find them and recognize them. Finding a list of ways to be (and not to be), can remind me that yes, I do embrace change, forgive others, talk about ideas and continuously learn. I do accept responsibility for things I’ve failed at and am grateful for the opportunity to then set goals and develop a life plan. (Thanks Terry Small yet again!)

To have 30 days of sharing my strengths has been rewarding. I can’t ignore my weaknesses, but it almost seems silly now to think of ‘working’ on them, ‘fixing’ them, since they are all negative to start with. While strengths result in joy, satisfaction, energy and feeling alive.

In cycling, having a good sprint could become having a stronger sprint. Having good endurance becomes amazing stamina, climbing hills becomes enjoyable when you put your mind to working on that strength. I enjoy sharing my experience and my cycling abilities with others to give them the same confidence and feelings while riding a bike and it’s what’s strong with me; coaching!

Coach Be

Minimizing risk, maximizing enjoyment

Risk is a personal thing, most of us have boundaries of what we would consider risky behaviour. Some people seek risk to give them the maximum thrill, exhilaration comes with the element of danger and bodily harm. I feel I am very much risk averse, yet some may consider things I do as being risky. For them it is, since without the training and repetition, the experience and knowledge, riding their bike in the Gastown Grand Prix for example would be an extremely hazardous event.

When life happens to you, it may change your attitude towards certain situations and what was fun and exciting now becomes fraught with the potential for anxiety. Yet the activity is still something that gives joy.

Today the weather was cloudy and 1 or 2 degrees, feels like 0. My rule of thumb is not to ride when the temperature is below 2 degrees and it’s been a useful system for staying upright when there’s frost and black ice potential. The ‘it depends’ rule comes into play when the sun is shining and roads are dry. Then the shade factor is taken into consideration, can we ride on roads that run east west with south exposure? And what about the cold itself; hands and toes, face and ears! Why expose them to the elements, be uncomfortable and risk feeling the nastiness of warming them up in the shower, it’s painful!

There’s a book written by Wim Hoff, a dutchman also known as the Iceman, who has trained his body and metabolism to withstand cold and ice, running barefoot in shorts on snow covered mountain trails. After reading his book and still having no intention of snow running, I did learn that cold is a state of mind. We like warmth, seek it, make it a necessity for our comfort. Is it though, necessary for outdoor endeavors? We still have to ‘warm up’ and have our circulation increase, our muscle temperature go up to function optimally, but that happens just by moving, increasing speed and power output. Where does it say we need to be or feel warm for that to happen?

The enjoyment of a sport continues in all temperatures; the feeling of being in a group of like minded people riding along at a speed higher than I would get by myself. Chatting and finding out about our diverse group that have this thing, riding our bike, in common. With scenery; forests, streams, rivers, bridges and coffee shops, gravel trails and busy highways – ok, that’s not so much fun!

The enjoyment outweighs the risks by a huge margin and we stay safe by knowing our limits, becoming skilled and fit and focusing on that. It’s the best!

What’s strong with me day 29

Coach Be

In the face of…

A great requote from my favourite Brain Guy Terry Small “When working with people, assume good intentions. When listening to people, interpret their words in a generous way. You will occasionally get burned and mistreated by always assuming the best in others, but it is a far better way to live than the opposite”, J Clear.

What came up for me is how to deal with being burned or mistreated and if that is reality or a creation. To be flame proof you would have to have a thick exterior covering which would make you resistant to feeling and the point is one that I’ve mentioned before, it’s my take or viewpoint on what’s being said that creates the feelings.

In sport, we deal with ourselves more than others! When I’ve been told I’m looking good and I’m 30 seconds behind the main pack, it’s not a statement that I agree with and would have argued with given the chance. Understanding that it’s encouragement and that yes, I do look good, thank you!, would be more beneficial to my performance. I always liked it when someone else in the peloton had the same name as me, then I’d get cheers from all kinds of spectators!

When it’s not encouragement though, criticism can hurt when it strikes a chord with us or pushes a button that trots out an old memory, goes down the habit path. To pull back and recognize that someone is saying something that has created a response in you, and it may not have been intended in the way you think, is a sign of your awareness.

Sitting and looking at what they may have said, it’s not easy to think that they may be right?! (But you didn’t want to hear it just the same), or the disappointment is something they’re feeling (it’s not about you, it’s them), or you’re just not very good at your sport (ha! that’s an easy one, yes I am!).

What can we use as a shield to protect us in the face of an attack that comes from the outside or is self inflicted? Reflecting and deflecting. The reflection is to consider and to understand, the deflection is to prevent it from penetrating your being. Having a witty response can work well. I have to laugh whenever I’m with one of my friends who can deliver a quick retort to a rude person. Then there’s the folk who can call it like it is, Fauci into the hot mike, saying “What a moron”.

In sport and in life, there’s no point in taking it too seriously; you can be serious about your training, pay attention to what matters in your sport, strive and create habits that support your intention and even have it be your life for a short or long time providing that you can laugh, enjoy it, have fun with it and the people around you.

What’s strong with me day 28

Coach Be

Asking for help

Going along with yesterday’s theme of ‘LetsTalk’, I was reminded today about how valuable the people in my life are and who they are for me. To get an idea of what it means to ask for help, I had to turn it around and think of how I feel when someone asks me for help. I am only too happy to help them with anything within my power, purse or ability. The problem is me then, feeling that I can’t ask.

The purse situation was why this came up since being hit by a car that failed to stop at a signed intersection, 4 years ago. As a one person operation without sick benefits, long term disability or extended health the cost of my repair was on me. With that not changing over a couple of years, heck my new bike wasn’t even reimbursed and what is a bike coach without a bike? Eventually a dribble of dollars came in but in the meantime, credit cards were becoming maxed out and my mental and physical health were taking a beating with coach Be now knowing what concussion was like.

At the 4 year mark, I now need people help and reached out to a few folk to ask. I also realize that it’s up to them to say yes or no to the request. That’s the beauty about asking, not expecting, there’s no expectation in a request because that’s all that it is, a request. They may say yes or no and they don’t have to explain their answer, provide an excuse or reason. All kinds of feelings may come up to be discovered and dealt with if it’s a no, and even a yes may have some feelings about conditions being attached, owing them. (By the way this wasn’t a financial ask.)

I’m just very grateful at this point, to have good friends, good company, a good lawyer!

In sport we can ask for help from our coach and again, when we do that good things happen, things fall into place and our destination is closer, our goal can be seen and easier to hit. Instead of being confused or alone, we know and we also know we’re part of a bigger picture. Trying to be strong without support is a bad habit, one that can be changed with a different think, continual practice and help from your cheering squad. You are amazing!

What’s strong with me day 27.

Coach Be

Let’s talk

Today is BellLets talk day; “an awareness campaign created by the Canadian telecommunications company, Bell Canada, in an effort to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental illness in Canada. It is notably the single largest corporate commitment to mental health in Canada.”

It came to my attention when the first spokesperson for the campaign, Clara Hughes, Olympic medallist in cycling and speed skating talked about her mental health, the depression she was dealing with over 10 years ago. Clara’s Big Ride crossed the country and brought awareness to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Since that ground was broken, there have been others in the cycling and sport world who have been able to tell their stories and bring the realization to the population that mental health affects us all.

Sport, physical activity is on the list as one of the things to do to treat depression – so how is it that athletes can still suffer from anxiety and depression? Athletes are people; their circumstances, their expectations, the pressure to perform from themselves as well as others around them, an incident that causes anxiety that triggers and upsets the complex balance of the body and mind. The sadness that is the main symptom of depression can be ignored in an athlete who expects to be able to ‘get over it’ or is unable to talk about it.

The depression that I have was triggered by a couple of things and I wasn’t shy about asking for an experts help – it’s ironic that the institution that created it also offered help and support from a medical professional. What I was reticent about and still am, is talking about what it feels like, what happened and what I’m doing about it. Although it’s not something I’m ashamed about, there’s still part of me that thinks that I’ll be judged or looked at differently if I talk about it. I think about it as something I have, not something I am, like having a scar on my leg or wearing contacts. I don’t talk to people about that so why would I bring up depression?

It has given me insight into others that may be affected and don’t realize it and I have learned that there are some ways that are better than others to bring the topic up. Knowing some of the questions that lead to the possibility of depression being the cause can help the conversation and help the process of suggesting professional help; sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, lack of interest or enjoyment of activities, emotional swings and for some, suicidal thoughts. I think it’s important to understand that those feelings aren’t normal, they don’t need to feel that way and shouldn’t. It’s not healthy and it can be a nasty rabbit hole that is hard to get out of once you’re in there.

Me? Yes I’m on medication that keeps me on balance; it’s not something that I really want to have as a staple in my life, heck I don’t even like taking ibuprofen, but at this point I think of it as a supplement that maintains my mental health and balance.

Keep the conversation going, because no one should suffer in silence.

That’s what’s strong with me, day 26

Coach Be

How hard is hard?

In the same way that a structured indoor training session can have an Intensity Factor based on the time, and the power that’s been prescribed, the category of workout stress can be defined by the TSS or Training Stress Score. That can also be used to monitor how hard, or not the workout will be or becomes.

You could use PE, Perceived Effort, to determine how hard it feels as well. On a scale of 3-10; 3-5 would be easy, 5-7 moderate and 7-10 would be hard, harder and hardest! That’s fine in the moment, but; how do you calculate in the time/volume aspect?

Lets go back to TSS. Training Peaks calculates the TSS using the Intensity Factor along with duration and assuming that your FTP is more or less accurate.

Just based on numbers; a TSS less than 150 is low and recovery would be overnight. 150-300 is medium and you would expect some residual fatigue the following day that’s gone by 2 days after. Upward of 300-450, well that’s high and even a couple of days may not give your body enough time to fully recover, while over 450, it’s very likely that fatigue is taking place that will last several days.

Where does the perception of ‘hard’ come in? Take a look at your Fitness, the number calculated using your Acute minus Training Stress Balance, gives you Fitness or Chronic Training Load CTL. To create the workout then;

Add 50-100% of Fitness for a Hard workout. eg; current CTL is 100, then a TSS of 150-200 would be Hard. Add 25% for a Moderate and subtract 25% for Easy. A TSS of 125 would be Moderate and it would be an Easy workout at 75TSS.

For someone with less Fitness, say a CTL of 50; Hard would be 75-100 TSS, Moderate 63 TSS and an easy recovery ride would be 38 TSS.

Yearly Training Plans can be built using TSS and there are some folk that have that function turned on when using their computers on the road, as one of the fields available to keep track.

Either way, you will know during or after, take a look at the red dots on your Performance Management graph. It’s a great visual to see at a glance, how many of your rides are Hard, Medium or Easy while you’re building your Fitness!

What’s strong with me day 25

Coach Be

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