Archive for the High Octane Fuel Category

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

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

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 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

57Breathing Exercise devices which provide resistance claim to increase lung capacity

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

Ozone air pollution alert means levels above 100 ppb. These can be checked at

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

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

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

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, 2007).”

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

Eating for Cycling

Posted in High Octane Fuel on January 4, 2011 by bethleasure

Your Ambrosia

43“In the beginning of the week lots of vegetables and at the end of the week plenty of spaghetti.” Sven Nijs, Cyclocross sensation, on eating prior to World’s

Carbohydrates are the performance star


Of any topic in this blog that causes a stew, the science of nutrition stirs with a big spoon. Every week a new diet is announced promising the wonder cure toward weight management. Using my personal recipe for superior slimness and outlandish energy, someone may be offended and others would starve. I believe good nutrition is a very personal menu decided by intelligent trial and error and with the support of 44experts. We are all distinct little chemical factories, and my formula won’t work for anyone else quite the same.

Often the so-called principles of a healthy diet are contradicted with the “rules” rewritten by the latest “study.” The research is conflicting and one concludes too many cooks spoil the soup. It would be a whole lot simpler if there were an immortalizing ideal nutrient or menu, but there isn’t and so we must carry on searching for the selections which best suits us.

Pasta used to be cycling’s ambrosia, but processed flour opponents can’t use it and some claim it imperils immunity. So no food recommendations here, instead, a strong urging to do your research, seek wise advice, and make your own conclusions. There is some common knowledge on the topic of timing. Your meals off the bike should be taken at intervals suited to an endurance athlete, considering 45pre- and post-race timing. Composition of meals is also a unique and dynamic percentage of protein, carbohydrate, and fat depending again on timing. There are reams of research on carbohydrate as an ergogenic/performance-enhancing substance used in endurance sports like cycling. Lately there’s been some proponents of stronger percentages of protein for ultra-endurance performance but this has yet to be proven beyond anecdotal evidence. Carbs remain the star for cycling.

Eat enjoyable food that brings sustainable energy, with plenty of fresh and fibrous choices led by clean sources of protein and healthy fats, like 46nuts and good oils. Think of yourself as a Ferrari, so fuel up with high octane food so your body can process less and utilize more of what you enjoy.

Prayer for Healthy Diet, Nutritionists

“You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you…All food…can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling.” 47Romans 14:19-21

We are thankful for emerging and traditional research about healthy diet. We confess we sometimes hold a personal choice as a standard for all. We bless our food to nourish our bodies and the hands that prepare it.     

Ponder How can I upgrade my diet? Affirm I can eat for energy and pleasure. Watch for racy leanness when you discover your balance between nutrients and enough of a good thing.

43Talking Cycling: Sven Nijs, the Belgian Cyclocross Wizard,” interviewed by Bill Mitchell on January 28, 1999 

44Experts such as a registered Dietician with endurance sports expertise, a qualified educated nutritionist, your medical doctor, possibly a naturopath, but one willing to research natural products to ensure ingredients are not on the banned substance list.

45“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. Timing and composition of meals in and around race time is an important consideration and food choice is highly unique per individual.

46Caution: some may be allergic to nuts. See what I mean? 

47The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson