Archive for the Firm Foundation Category

Biomechanics & Positioning

Posted in Firm Foundation on November 23, 2010 by bethleasure

Body Geometry

12“Make the bike fit the body, don’t make the body fit the bike. It is not what the bike looks like leaning against the garage wall, it is how it functions under the rider!” Andy Pruitt, Positioning guru


More biomechanical research, please

Another off-season task is to test and tweak bike position. As you either re-establish your body for biomechanical functionality into next season or set up new equipment, now is a great time for a proper fit. Whether last season brought twinges or injury or the off-season aided postural corrections and rebalancing, it’s important to be mindful that dynamic physical developments require periodic bike adjustment. A new fit is best manipulated and adapted in this low intensity phase.


There are several methods for proper fit, such as taking 13measurements like the distance from saddle height to cranks, noting weight distribution fore to aft, and side-view leg angles. The best bike fitters assess a rider off the bike first, analyzing both static and dynamic posture, functional strength, and kinetic chain alignment. Next the fit moves to the bike with both static and in-motion analysis and measurements, also noting anterior view pedal stroke and aerodynamics.


It’s a privilege to have an experienced fitter’s eye evaluate you on a ride determining if variable terrain, cadence and effort affect the union of bike and body. Twice I’ve had major position changes with corresponding rehab: once from crash impact and another from improper frame size. Seeking expert advice saved me in the short-term.


Frequent fine-tuning of bike position was driven in the long-term by an acute kinesthetic awareness of changes caused by fitness gains, or muscular rebalance or better flexibility. 14This sensitivity and its ongoing adjustment “in the field” are keys for biomechanical longevity. One trip for fit is only a prologue for a bike’s seamless match with the body.


Prayer for Biomechanics

“I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line.” 15Isaiah 28:17


We are thankful for the burgeoning research in cycling-specific biomechanics, bike geometry, and orthopedics. We recognize we sometimes must reprogram neuromuscular pathways for better bike posture. We ask for kinesthetic awareness. Bless position specialists, bring funding to cycling-specific biomechanical research.


Ponder When was my last fit and has anything changed since? Affirm I can move my bike for better biomechanics. Watch how position changes affect oxygen uptake in the short and long-term.


12“Body Geometry: Bicycle Fitting Seminar,” presented at USA Cycling Summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado, October, 2006 by Andrew Pruitt, Ed.D. founder of Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Andy is remarkable not only for the expansive scope of his influence and expertise on positioning, but for his personal experiences in winning the disabled rider World Championships.

13Many schools of thought propose one particular standard. It’s best to take all these measurements and others as well. For instance, an old school method of heels on pedals – checks saddle height for many reasons. Newer procedures include more detailed analysis of body in motion multi-dimensionally, but there needs to be more field studies specific to elite cycling.

14Field adjustments mean regularly evaluating one’s own physical metamorphosis as a season progresses, seeking regular expert advice and appraisal, and readjusting for a host of variable considerations. It’s a science that becomes an art form.

15The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Check-ups and Medical Tests

Posted in Firm Foundation on November 19, 2010 by bethleasure

Bloody Good Show

3“I noticed my cycling getting slower and slower. I thought I was tired from all the early season long rides…Well, something else was happening…I was just in for a routine checkup, with blood work, and found out that I had iron deficiency anemia.”   Bicycling Long Distance forum 

Electrodes, wires, and more information

Apart from the brouhaha regarding regular testing for anti-doping compliance, other types of testing are important for elite and recreational cyclists. Off-season is a good time for an annual medical examination to determine your physical vibrancy and establish a benchmark to monitor throughout the year.

Blood tests can: indicate cholesterol and pressure, vitamin and mineral sufficiency, hematocrit levels; determine vulnerability to infection; and assess status of many organ systems. A separate heart exam should be included in your checklist.

4While the health benefits of exercise are clear, there are risk factors for a cardiac event during and immediately post-exercise, including Sudden Death Syndrome. SDS factors may be detected even in young healthy athletes, and it’s worth budgeting for this test.

Breathing tests can be performed to evaluate lung function as a basis for determining Exercise-Induced Asthma. Special prescriptive exceptions, known as Therapeutic Use Exemptions, for certain medical-related conditions can be obtained from WADA; some must be doctor-referred and filed well in advance of possible anti-doping testing.

Give yourself time for this process and any needed treatment during this phase of volume prior to intense work. Off-season is also a good time to establish baselines in body composition: fat loss, lean mass,  bone density – best performed in a lab. From anemia to zetacrit, head into the holidays with 4bDecember’s diagnostics.


Prayer for Health Check-Ups

 “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life.” 5Leviticus 17:14

We are thankful for wellness. We confess we sometimes over-emphasize physiology and ignore the physical condition of our bodies. We ask for guidance and provision for proper health maintenance and ask blessing on testing labs and treatments.


Ponder Do I know my specific physical condition? Am I physically ready for a new training year? Affirm I can endure the pricks and pokes and lab time necessary to be cleared for exercise stress. Watch results from medical exams to gain greater physical awareness that in turn, increases cycling-specific training & performance knowledge.

3“I’m Anemic, No Wonder I Got So Slow,” posted by kg on 10 February 2007 Bicycling Magazine Forums→Bicycling Forums→Bicycling’s Long Distance Forum

4“Sudden Death in Athletes,” webinar by USA Cycling Science & Education department as presented by Dr. John Vitarello on 11/8/07

4bCertain deadlines exist that should be planned in other months. For instance, UCI currently requires 6 months of medical testing associated with the biological passport prior to participation in a Pro Tour event. Sponsor deadlines are related to financial year decision-makings. There are many other deadlines to consider throughout the year.

5The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Testing & Physiologists

Posted in Firm Foundation on December 11, 2009 by bethleasure

Conconi, Wingate, Schoberer & Co.6 

7“… start you off at 100 watts and ramp you up 30 watts every 3 minutes. So really the test is easy then you are suffering and then it’s over for the most part.” Stu Cycling blog on LT testing

Me as lab rat

Yet another set of tests establish benchmarks for physiological adaptation and training efficacy. One of the measurements of talent in the lab determines amount and time to adaptation – with champions often showing a greater training effect in a shorter training cycle than average performers. These tests can measure maximum potential while also revealing the starting points for the new season’s training.

While VO2max is the be-all, end-all figure for measuring pulmonary potential, it’s important to remember that one data point does not always give a true picture since VO2max can change. 8Studies indicate even this gold standard of endurance performance can be trained for greater uptake. The new standard for performance potential is power at Lactate Threshold. Also known by other monikers such as maximum steady state, it is the hardest one can go for about an hour.

For serious competitors, 9it’s important to discover the new season’s training zones simultaneously measuring these performance indicators: power at LT, VO2 max, heart rate; along with Rate of Perceived Exertion to understand the feel within each range of intensity. Many other indicators can be useful to track all aspects of training efficacy and responsiveness. One can employ field testing protocols simply by using a watch, RPE and the same course; a stationary trainer, a friend with a clipboard, and a heart rate monitor as in the Conconi method; a Powermeter; or use lab protocols that provide specialized equipment and a physiologist.

Lab tests such as the 10Wingate measures anaerobic capacity.  In the “firm” of field and lab testing procedures, a host of name-worthy “associates” are available to measure your suffering and determine its physiological meaning!


Prayer for Performance Testing, Sports Physiologists

“In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” 11Job 12:10

We are thankful for methods to track training progress. We confess we sometimes idolize results rather than use them as strict self-comparison; or are intimidated by their realism. We ask to know our personal profile of testing standards and for blessing on cycling’s exercise scientists.


Ponder Do I know my range of numbers? Affirm I can collect data that compares where I am with where I’m going. Watch those indicators to know what smart training is for you.

9“Before participating in strenuous exercise or before beginning to exercise after a layoff from regular physical activity…it is ideal to have VO2 max and  heart rate measured simultaneously.” Quoted in Serious Training for Endurance Athletes by Rob Sleamaker, Ray Browning published by Human Kinetics 1988. To this we now add, power at LT and always Rate of Perceived Exertion. If all equipment fails and to race without distraction, one still has to know how hard to go by feel.

10There is no standard for measuring anaerobic capacity, and physiologists disagree about the proper testing method for it. In road racing situations, the real test is what one has left to reach the finish line first; however, improving anaerobic capabilities has a positive affect upon aerobic performance.

11The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

Training Programs & Coaches

Posted in Firm Foundation on December 8, 2009 by bethleasure

Live Chat

1“…experience will tell the coach what is physically realistic and… [the coach] needs that subjectivity to balance the non-organic objectivity of science.” Erin Hartwell, Track Coach, Olympic Medalist


Teaching is a big part of Coaching


For road cyclists, now is the time to begin laying a firm foundation for future fitness and performance. After rest and focus on other aspects of life and exercise, getting back to the bike even in wintry conditions is welcomed. Now is the time to re-set in several areas: gather current data, set up new parameters, start a fresh approach to training.

Without exception, everybody needs advice in this community. We seek wise counsel for everything from blood work to bike clubs. The riding itself especially needs an experienced guide. Today’s good coach is both scientist and artist, who evaluates all currently known measures and applies them in consideration of personal experience, the myriads of variables associated with the pursuit of cycling, as well as you – its unique participant.

To produce the Training Plan is a small part of coaching. What seems like black and white in a training journal is in fact a textured, living masterpiece in an interactive coach-athlete relationship. This master plan needs to be an organic work in progress. Ultimate success for the soundest regimen is dependent in large part on mutual trust between rider and advisors. Building rapport is the first step in taking responsibility for another’s welfare, and the best relationships start with agreement about what’s to be accomplished. The twin privileges of objective correction and subjective insight can then be exchanged between rider and coach melding fact and feeling to craft beautiful works-in-progress and even winning performances.


Prayer for Training Program, Coaches
“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” 2Proverbs 15:22

We are thankful for the abundant resources for smart training that exist today. We confess we are sometimes either confused by what seems like conflicting methods or are stubborn in admitting that we need directions to find the best approaches to successful form. We ask for wise counsel and blessing on coaches and training programs.

Ponder Am I seeking advice from experts for fitness improvements? Affirm I can make steady gains with the right advice. Watch how straight a crooked road becomes with an expert ally to guide and affirm your accomplishments.

1Erin Hartwell is a multiple Olympic and World Champion medalist on the track. As a coach, he is quoted here on, one of many coaching associations in America. Perhaps the best known of these groups is Carmichael Training Systems due to founder Chris Carmichael’s affiliation with Lance Armstrong. Hunter Allen’s Peaks Coaching Group also is producing a stable of performers and is an innovator for applied Powermeter data, Or look me up at

2New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation