Archive for January, 2011

Cornering Skills

Posted in Skills Seminar on January 28, 2011 by bethleasure

Rage Against The Machine 

49“You’re fighting your bike, Girl – in the hard turns. You must make it an extension of yourself and lean with it, trusting your bicycle with forces of gravity. You can really lean with it, you can!” Ina Teutenberg, Pro Cyclist, advising me how to take the corkscrew at Laguna Seca

The corkscrew that pops bike racers!

 

Ina delivered this instruction to me quietly in a hotel elevator after seeing me rage against my bike during early stages of Sea Otter Classic. I was really rusty, truthfully – scared in the mass cornering at speed situations in those twisty early season California suburb courses. Ina was not willing to subject herself to the next day’s Formula One course with me fighting myself and gapping her. Her advice was well received – I couldn’t get out of my own way! I was stronger than ever and didn’t know what to do with it. Newfound speed seemed uncontrollable and I felt like a new cyclist all over again.

I was also remembering that cycling was mourning 50three racers to unforeseen circumstances on screaming descents, and any speedy cornering or fast downhills were a block in my psyche. Ina’s advice awakened a resolution to my fear problem. By focusing not on the danger but instead on what could be trusted and on technique, I was able to amend my post-winter gawky cornering style and remember the fundamentals of leaning and counter-steering. Lean WITH the bike in some really fast turns, lean myself and not the bike if pedaling through or with sketchy road surface and sometimes on switchback descents. I practiced both techniques – attacking the corkscrew well before race time to take it at speed with no one else around. I did a little better that stage and lost less energy gapping myself and annoying my competitors.

Like any skill, willing to lay my bike or myself down through a final turn for a win took time. Eventually I mastered the skill as it was a dive through the final turns on a slick surface in the rain that won my masters national championship.

Prayer for Cornering Skills

“…he made machines designed by skillful men for use on the towers and on the corner defenses…His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.”  51 Second Chronicles 26:15

We marvel at the apparent ease of the speed specialists on the road. We confess our occasional fear even as experts. We ask for healthy respect for safety and for the fastest line to intersect any angle of geometry.

Ponder Have I discovered my turn speed limits by maxing it in grass drills? Affirm I move as one with my bicycle. Watch for opportunities to meet any fear through informed, skillful determination.

49Conversation with Ina Teutenberg occurred in Monterey, CA. Ina of course was beating all of us, sometimes not just lapping the field in criteriums but lapping it twice! I think she knew a little something about bike handling.

Laguna Seca is a Formula One race course for cars and has a wonderful twisting descent on the backside – a corkscrew- which drops the field suddenly in a spiraling whirl of wheels, wind and wonder. It’s a blast when properly ridden!

50The three racers were Fabio Casartelli in the 1996 Tour de France, Nicole Reinhart in the 2000 Arlington BMC Race Series, and Garrett LeMire in the 2003 Tucson Bicycle Classic. I was either present or closely associated with each situation.

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Fun Skill Drills

Posted in Skills Seminar on January 25, 2011 by bethleasure

Bump-n-Thump 

43loosen your grip. the more you white knuckle it, the more you’ll twist back and forth. it’s counterintuitive, but try to relax…it sounds stupid, but at high speed everything’s magnified. any little change in balance is noticeable.”   racer posting on RoadBikeReview Forum on cross-wind handling

Why you practice Bump 'n Thump

January is a great time to brush up on skills, and make it feel like play. Begin indoors on mats used for gymnastics or fighting sports to practice Tuck & Roll, a technique used if about to T-bone another rider instead of a superman flight end-o that’s more likely to lead to a broken collarbone. If you can get an indoor venue about half-court sized, play Bump-n-Thump. Riding in a small designated circle, the object is to be the last man standing after bumping all opponents “out” by forcing their toe to touch ground. This game is a blast played in heats for an overall winner.

Similar games can be played outside. Even the coldest days are warmed by field practice. Grass drills, such as cornering and bumping culminating in a grass criterium are good times with a bunch of eager riders in need of a mid-winter boost. Form lead-out-sprinter-sweep teams for match-sprint style grass play. In a group with uneven abilities, foster strategic thinking by restricting gears or other handicaps on the stronger riders and focus on teamwork. At least one session pre-season, it’s a good idea to max out on a grass corner to remember your lean limit. Wiping out on grass in a lot of winter clothes feels more like contact field sports sans road rash and broken bones. It shows what your bike can and cannot do.

Even snowy fields can be used for skill work learning how to counter-steer, look through corners, controlled slides, forced braking-while-turning, swerving, and bunny hopping – all useful for maneuvering in surprise road situations.

Graduate to an unused parking lot for more group play. Even seasoned racers can use a brush up on skills practice after rest, solitary road miles, or reaching a new level of fitness where the body moves a bit differently.

Prayer for Bike Handling Skills

“…like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  44Matthew 7:26-27

We know crashing is a part of cycling. We confess we mentally avoid the inevitable and must practice how to prevent and respond. We ask for opportunities to practice skills with others.              

Ponder Am I working agility on and off the bike? Affirm I can find others to improve skills together. Watch for group practice options and enlist others for a drills party.

43Mavic SL cross wind problems,” by estone2 posting 5/30/06 on RoadBikeReview Forum

44The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Supplements & Antidotes

Posted in High Octane Fuel on January 22, 2011 by bethleasure

Boosts & Balms

61“Caffeine is a non-banned supplement proven to have a measurable physiological improvement to performance.”  Katharine Beals, nutritional counsel to cyclists

Coffee works; the amount needs to monitored...

We pop out of the pot of how to define good nutrition and into the fire of dietary supplements. These include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals, herbs, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues and glandulars, metabolites etc. Some would buy snake oil if it would help performance; 62others say supplementation doesn’t enhance performance unless an individual has a specific nutrient deficiency, and some herbals may even harm.

From the supplement industry itself come repeated claims that today’s processed, inorganic, pesticidal, hormone-injected foodstuffs lack enough nutritional value. To some extent, we have to work through this ourselves searching, testing, adding, subtracting. Most importantly, we cannot rely on any regulatory agency to ensure that any supplementation is proven or free of banned ingredients. It’s a free-for-all out there whose snake oil vendors aren’t pedaling wares from a little wagon, but warehouses of information and products, and all of it claims to be the elixir of life and the thing you most need. 63A specific product may not be banned but it may contain other things that are not on the label.

Lower the risk by checking product endorsements, third party testing, purity guarantees, and history of clean use. Research the manufacturer, its track record of claims and other products. Ensure no danger if mixed with any medications or other supplements.

Often endurance athletes do become deficient in certain nutrients. There are times when an effective herbal mix or balm tops off an unfulfilling diet, addresses a particular ailment, or boosts immunity during tough training blocks. There are some good potions available, but none of them are magical quick fixes. Again, we’re back to smart and steady work, this time in ingesting nutrients.

 

Prayer for Clean Supplementation & Medications

 “…they exchanged in your market…because of the abundance of supplies.”  64Ezekiel 27:18

We are thankful for an expanding influence on traditional western concepts of medicine. We confess we are confused and bombarded by all the available remedies. We ask for light to shine in the darkness of the pantry so we can be informed.

Ponder What is my perceived panacea? Affirm I can improve my nutritional values by diet first, alchemy second. Watch what you ingest very, very carefully.

61Caffeine is the only exception of a non-banned substance for use as a performance-enhancement supplement that works, but with limitations for its use as reported by Katharine Beals in “Fueling Performance: Nutritional Strategies to Enhance Cycling Performance,” by Katharine Beals, PhD, RD, FACSM, Division of Nutrition & Department of Family & Preventative Medicine, University of Utah presentation at conference, “Women In Cycling Leadership,” presented by USA Cycling on January 27, 2008 in Colorado Springs. See banned list for allowable limits.

62“USADA’s Dietary Intake Recommendations for Sport, for Life,” by Jacqueline R. Berning, PhD, RD on www.usantidoping.org

63“Anti-doping Procedures,” presented by Betsy Weeks, USADA, Education Dept. 10/17/2007 as a USA Cycling webinar. 

64Amplified Bible Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Cycling & Sun, Air, Sleep

Posted in High Octane Fuel on January 20, 2011 by bethleasure

Intangible Assets

54“…it was still a shock to the system…today’s…ride I got the joys of sunburn and dehydration…”  John Lieswyn, Pro Cyclist, on going from an Iowa winter to Tour de Langkawi in tropical Malaysia

If all of us could breathe, sun, and sleep here...

Imagine going to the supermarket and searching for a bottle of sunlight, a carton of sleep, or a can of air. What isn’t ridiculous is the importance of these intangibles upon your energy.

Exposing skin to ultraviolet rays, especially the sunlight’s complete version is the primary means of producing Vitamin D. Because Vitamin D deficiency is an 55emerging problem, it’s worth planning for sunshine during the waning sunlight and weather-darkened days of winter months. Most cyclists aren’t underexposed to sunlight part of the year and receive an adequate 56dose of about 15 minutes per day. Yet darker skin requires up to 10 times more exposure than fair skin. Conversely, overexposure isn’t an issue as far as Vitamin D over-production but avoid sunburn. Skin is designed to tan as a natural protection. As days warm and the body strips, plan to gently “train” your skin for increasing exposure to the elements.

Another essential resource is pure air. Monitor pollution in risk areas by 57noting ozone levels; increased exercise ventilation at high ozone levels “sunburn” lungs, which can lead to chronic damage. Working the breath is part of training. 58Devices which strengthen inspiration-expiration muscles can be paired with psychological techniques to control breathing. Studies show these do have an effect especially with lung-impaired conditions, but the same amount of time is probably better spent working the lungs doing hard intervals – more specific.

Proper breathing in full, deep inspiration fills the lungs with oxygen and purifies the blood. Healthy respiration soothes nerves, stimulates appetite, improves digestion, and induces refreshing sleep.

If one has the luxury to sleep until awakening naturally, this ensures better recovery, as do consistent habits. Fragmented sleep 59two nights before an event shows no physiological effects upon performance, but does affect alertness and mood; however there are other studies which show effects on performance with one bad night. Strive for consistent deep sleep, and one worrisome pre-race night shouldn’t be an issue after a day of breathing in sweet air and sunshine.

Prayer for Wise Sunlight, Deep Sleep, Clean Air

 “The sun…will dawn…healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking.”  60Malachi 4:2

We are thankful for the sun, air, and sleep. We confess our compulsions sometimes resist our seeking the best of these gifts. We ask for awareness to adjust for wise sunlight, deep sleep, and clean air.

 

Ponder Getting the most of these intangibles? Affirm I am nourished by healthy patterns. Watch for tangible energy improvement.

54“Ready for the Tour de Langkawi: Malaysia,” The John Lieswyn Diary, February 3, 2004 on www.cyclingnews.com

55According to the world’s leading expert in the field, Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, dermatology, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine, relatively brief exposure to sunshine or its equivalent several times a week in tanning beds can help to ward off a host of debilitating and sometimes deadly diseases, including osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, uterus, kidney, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” declared on www.tanoramasalon.com. I believe they mean in absence of regular sunlight. Sunlight is superior to unnatural ultraviolet ray exposure, such as tanning beds, which do not produce the complete form of Vitamin D.

There’s also a trend in medical research linking cancer rates to geography; where sunlight is significantly diminished during winter, higher percentages of breast cancer are reported. There are several conditions which are exacerbated by sunlight; seek an expert about your particular needs.

56“Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D? Many of us are short on Vitamin D, which has plenty of health benefits,” By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Feature Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on  www.medicinenet.com

57Breathing Exercise devices which provide resistance claim to increase lung capacity www.expand-a-lung.com

Breathing techniques for both activation-psyching for sport; and relaxation to control for sport have been around a long time as practiced in ancient disciplines, such as yoga and martial arts.

58“Ozone Code Red days – should you ride?” by Randy Collins on www.cyclingpeaks.com

Ozone air pollution alert means levels above 100 ppb. These can be checked at www.epa.gov/airnow

Much is being done to prepare for competitions in highly polluted areas.

59Sleep Deprivation and Exercise Tolerance,” by B.J. Martin INDIANA UNIV AT BLOOMINGTON SCHOOL OF MEDICINE Annual summary no. 4, 1 Feb 84-31 Report Date Jan 85. The abstract states, “Heart rate, metabolic rate, and body temperature were identical to control, in contrast to sleepiness and mood disturbance, both of which were significantly elevated.” In other words, physiological responses were less affected than psychological, but psychology and fast reaction time is an important consideration for bike racing.

60The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling & Encouragement

Posted in High Octane Fuel on January 14, 2011 by bethleasure

Next time someone says, Go. Go.

Another Nourishment

71“All of us lack emotional support.” Anton Villatoro, Olympian and Pro Cyclist, on the dearth of encouragement in pro cycling

There was this superstar athlete from another sport whom the American public could not get enough of at his high point. Taking his talent for granted, I was astonished when I heard him interviewed once about his secret to success. The truth was that in college he was an average performer. When he turned pro, he gained incrementally. It wasn’t until the right ingredients gelled that he started helping his team to win important contests consistently. He was a clutch player who propelled himself, his team, his city, and the league to mega-media proportions.

Yes, he worked harder and his multidisciplinary approach from off-season to the playoffs was measurably more difficult than his peers. Yet he credited his ability to work harder and smarter to his “elements” being in place. These elements consisted mainly of people – a gathering of intimate allies who supported him consistently. His posse included his father, trusted coaches and advisors, a sacrificial spouse, and a teammate or two who wanted it as badly as he did but who cared about how they got it and about each other. Another element was stability. He had the financial resources to create a base camp – a true home of unconditional refuge where he could refuel.

My surprise was at the admittedly touchy-feely nature of his success secret. What he was describing was emotional support via encouragement, our last course to be fueled like a Ferrari, the dessert of our disciplined diets.

Prayer for Encouragement

“The lips of the righteous nourish many…” 72Proverbs 10:21

We are thankful for the people in our lives who feed us with truth and grace and believe in us. We confess we spend more energy fixing food than in cultivating a constituency. We ask for strong and loving supporters, carefully selected in our inner circles, in whom we can confide, rely, and always call for a reminder that we’re worthy. We ask that we attract this support by being encouragers ourselves.

Ponder Who are my encouragers? Whom do I nourish with my words? Affirm I can be a superstar for my selected loving audience. Watch the fortifying ingredient of encouragement feed your souls, making you capable of abundantly more than you imagined.

71Conversations with Anton Villatoro, whose dual citizenship afforded him the opportunity to ride for Guatemala in several Olympics. He also was a member of US Postal professional cycling team. Villatoro means the Town Bull. One of his stubborn efforts while “training” in a local race in Colorado was a spectacular solo bridge to a gap. His quiet determination while suffering through challenging circumstances has impressed me many times.

72The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Cycling & Hydration

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2011 by bethleasure

Necessary Nectar

48“Hydrate or Die!”  Camelbak’s motto 

Salt water, even better!

Believe it or not, there is a lot of controversy about the amount of hydration necessary for endurance performance. What is perfectly clear, we perish without enough of it. 49Water is the beginning and sustenance of life, and aging is a function of decreasing retention of water at the cellular level.

Dying cells are full of metabolic waste and toxins and small amounts of energized water. Some believe inadequate hydration is the cause of many diseases, and water the simple cure. Effects of dehydration on physiological responses include: decreased sweat rates, cardiovascular efficiency and blood pressure; and increased heart rate and core body temperature. 50Loss of water during endurance exercise by just -3%  leads to decreased performance.

Water is the most important supplementation for performance enhancement and for decreasing post-exercise recovery time. Clean water is key, and now there’s additives for wetter water, or water that is treated with bioresonance or vibrational qualities, making it more like dew or the water that is processed from fruit, also known as nectar. This wetter water is more easily absorbed, refreshing thirsty cells.

Refreshing thirsty cyclists is an easy formula – but must be highly individualized for specific amounts –drinking prior to an event and regular drinking while riding, highly dependent upon on environmental conditions, intensity, sweat rates and other factors. Herein lies the controversy in the research currently with Dr. Noakes leading the way, whose philosophy of – drink when “thirsty” – opposes gallons of research that shows we don’t drink enough and our thirst mechanisms may not work soon enough to tell us so. Add the cases of hyponatraemia – sickness and death from over-hydration (technically, too little sodium) among amateurs exercising at low rates stopping at every feed station to finish late in triathlons – and we have a full on water gun war. The truth is, most elite athletes don’t drink enough and a pinch of salt in the water bottle would avoid risks of the latter.

 51Additional hydration for metabolic purposes off the bike requires calculating your particulars like weight, sweat rate, and sweat content to know your necessary amount. Once discovered, it’s more likely you’ll drink this much daily if you monitor intake from a measured container. Also quench with water from vegetables and fruit, and enjoy that nectar.

Prayer for Hydration

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” 52Psalm 1:3 

We are thankful for water’s life-giving properties. We confess we are a dehydrated set of athletes in a time when convenient sources are in greatest abundance. We ask for cleaner more energetic fonts and vigilance in its regular replenishment.

Ponder Am I sipping water regularly and getting enough minerals? Affirm I can be energized by appropriate intake for my weight, climate, and other conditions. Watch for the 53body’s many cries for water and respond obligingly.

48Camelbak is the “world’s innovator and originator of hands-free hydration systems.” Their products are kind of like a water backpack…hmm like a camel. www.camelbak.com

49“Improve Drinking Water with prill beads, part 1,” by Dr. James Howenstein, MD posted on February 27, 2007 on www.newswithviews.com This article is fascinating and discusses the many health benefits of structured or energized water. 

50“Sport Drink Considerations,” presented by Lawrence E. Armstrong, PhD, FACSM, of University of Connecticut Human Performance Laboratory at USA Cycling Coaching Summit on October, 2006

51Hydration Calculator by www.hydracoach.com this one is in pounds and ounces, but others are in kilograms and liters www.beverageinstitute.org

 52The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

53Finally, on water: “You’re not sick; you’re thirsty. Don’t treat thirst with medication.”  Dr. F. Batmanghelidj’s book is Your Body’s Many Cries For Water Copyright 1992, 1995, 1997 F. Batmanghelidj, MD

Fueling for Racing

Posted in High Octane Fuel on January 7, 2011 by bethleasure

Fast Food

65“My favorite things are these little sandwich rolls with Nutella and banana. Those go down pretty nice. I like to stick with the little cakes, pastries and sandwiches.” Tyler Farrar, Pro Cyclist, commenting on his favorite musette treats

Fast Food, Fast Racing

Whatever’s in your feedbag or bidon, you gotta like it. Everybody’s got their favorites. One team director looked like a triumphant hunter after the kill when he shared a little foil packet of mixed sticky rice and egg as feeds for his team on a morning stage start. Calorie expenditure can be high during long events; tastier treats entice riders to keep eating since it sometimes becomes a chore to replenish.

Even products containing simple sugar, properly timed, are effective for fire power at the critical moment. Highly caffeinated liquids are legendary whether as pre-race espresso or the post-climb cola. Still these favorites have to be evaluated as much from the lab as from the kitchen. There’s over 100 years of research about water as an ergogenic aid in sports performance, for example. It’s best to seek advice from a coach who knows about sports fueling or a sports nutritionist.

 66Rules are: eat/drink before hungry/thirsty pre-, during, post exercise; use weight to monitor hydration and replace every pound lost with a certain amount of fluid (recommendations vary depending on factors such as sweat rate and sweat composition); never use a mix or food in racing without first testing it in training. Meet the need for carbohydrates in fluid 67mixing 6-8% glucose and salt to taste and eat 60-70g of carbohydrate per hour.

To prepare for and recover from a race, consume carbohydrate pre- and post race at about a gram per kilogram of bodyweight. Post-race, feed within an hour, then regularly about every two hours based roughly on a 68kilojoule to kilocalorie ratio. 69Intake should equal expenditure. For exercise beyond an hour, you can sustain the sugar burn with a little protein in the mix; this keeps you from getting the “knock” – a fuzzy-headed drop after a sugar spike; and research shows that this practice long-term helps increase lean mass. You want your fast feeds to maintain quick thinking for fast finishes.

 

Prayer for Ride/Race Fueling

“When you’ve stuffed yourself, you refuse dessert; when you’re starved, you could eat a horse.” 70Proverbs 27:7

We are thankful for good food! We confess we need discipline to eat the right amount at the right time in a race or training scenario. We ask for quality sources of race fuel.

Ponder Am I fueling properly for intensity? Affirm I can maintain race energy with smart fueling. Watch the pleasure of eating satisfy the science of fueling.

65“Tyler Farrar,” Interview by Erik Moen in BicyclePaper, March, 2007, Vol 36, No. 1, Seattle, WA www.bicyclepaper.org

66“USADA’s Dietary Intake Recommendations for Sport, for Life,” by Jacqueline R. Berning, PhD, RD www.usantidoping.org.  

Dr. Noakes, a hydration researcher, would dispute this and recommends hydrating when thirsty.

67“Sport Drink Considerations,” presented by Lawrence E. Armstrong, PhD, FACSM, of University of Connecticut Human Performance Laboratory at USA Cycling Coaching Summit on October, 2006.

More recent research saw success with higher kg/hour of carbohydrate ingestion, especially when combined as sucrose/fructose. 

68One rider’s energy expenditure was 5,700+ kilojoules during an active stage of a national stage race. That’s about 5,700+ calories just to replenish energy used in the race that day; and it was a flattish stage.

69“Health & Performance Issues for Female Cyclists,” by Lynda Ransdell, PhD, FACSM, Boise State University, presentation at conference, “Women In Cycling Leadership,” presented by USA Cycling on January 27, 2008 in Colorado Springs. Energy Availability means Dietary Intake must match Energy Expenditure. “Most problems occur when energy availability decreases below 30kcal-kgFFM/day (Nattiv et.al., 2007).”

70The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson