Red Hook Brooklyn #10 Race Report

We go to every single race with a plan to win it. The team was looking great and feeling fast in our Eliel skinsuits and our new Cordoba frames. Aventon is focused on making fast bikes that anyone can afford, and the new Cordobas are plenty fast, so we had no excuses. The field is stronger and stronger at these races each year, but I also believe we have some great riders that can hold their own against anyone out there.

The new Cordoba is HOT!

The new Cordoba is HOT!

 

In the women’s race, I was relying mostly on Sammi and Eleonore for the results, with Kym , Nissy, and Esther riding in a support role. The results from the qualifiers and super pole showed us that this plan was spot on. Both Eleonore and Sammi easily won their heats, and then Elenore crushed the super pole lap to handily be the top qualifier. This is the second time in 2 races that Eleonore has been the top qualifier. She asked me if he could join our team before the Milan race last year, and I told her we would see how she did in the race. She qualified first there, and we both knew the answer to that question before the final even began.

Eleonore started off in the coveted #1 position

Eleonore started off in the coveted #1 position

 

So with Sammi and Eleonore showing their fitness, I was confident that could take home the W in this one. But the first lap didn’t go so well. There was a big crash and a pile up, so I ran to the start to check on the riders. Sammi had taken a solid fall, and nearly everything on her bike was crooked. I jumped the fence and got her going again, but she restarted the race with a broken saddle.

 

The race restarted and that first lap was lightning fast. Sammi didn’t get a great start, and was probably still hurting from her spill. But Eleanor was looking confident and staying near the pointy end of the race. Sammi eventually worked her way to the front, and even took a couple of solid digs, but Esther and Nissy seemed to be struggling a bit and were constantly hampered by crashes.


 

The race was aggressive, but the main field stayed together with no rider able to escape the surging pack. Eleonore was well positioned with 1 to go, and I had my fingers crossed that she could close the deal. In the end though, Colleen Gulick was just too fast, but Eleonore was a solid second. We always want the win, but along with second place, Eleonore scored enough points in winning her heat and the superpole that she is now series points leader, and the other women finished high enough to ensure a strong leads in the women’s team competition. Eleonore is obviously the team leader, and we’ll be looking to put her on the top step in London.

Eleonore with her points leader jersey

Eleonore with her points leader jersey

The men’s race:

Tristan won his heat, while David and Olivier both took third in theirs. David did great in the super pole, and earned a third place on the starting grid. Past results and the qualifiers told me that along with Aventon, the top four teams were: Specialized/Rocket Espresso, Intelligentsia, and Bahumer. Cinelli Chrome didn’t qualify all that well, but they would probably be 5th on that list.

That is the smile of a man that likes to win bike races

That is the smile of a man that likes to win bike races

 

Our plan going into the race was to get Olivier, Tristan, or Dave into a break with one or more of the riders of the top 4 teams. With Tolley and Isaac running support. If one of our guys got away with an Intelligentsia and a Specialized rider, the rest of the pack would surely be racing for third. Marius Petrache from Intelligentsia attacked off the gun. He likely knew he wouldn’t stay away, but his job was to soften up the other teams.  About 8 laps in, Colin from Intelligentsia and Stefan from Specialized got away and got a small gap. At that point, I wasn’t overly concerned, as they were only 8 seconds away for several laps, and still within striking distance. When your team misses the move like that, you do everything possible to get across to it. You even risk blowing up and not finishing if you have to. We didn’t come to race for third, so Tristan and Dave both tried to get across, but they just couldn’t make it. Olivier was near the front, but couldn’t summon the strength to lay down an attack. Meanwhile Tolley and Isaac rode mid-pack, working hard to move up. Cinelli Chrome took a few strong pulls and tried to bring back the break as did Addison Zawada and some other strong riders, but to my surprise, the Bahumer guys were nowhere to be found.

In the end, the gap to the break grew, and I realized that the move was gone. There was a crash and a restart with 5 to go, and that that point I thought there was a tiny chance that we might bring that break back. But I wasn’t holding my breath. In the end, the break stuck, and Aldo Ilsec won the field sprint to take third place, and our best finisher was Tristan in 7th place. I was not happy with those results, and I know the guys aren’t either. These guys are all bike racers, and 7th place isn’t satisfactory for them. I know we have the equipment and the talent to reach that top step, and that the guys will be extra motivated for London.

Tristan shares the last 5 laps of the race with us. Watch until the end to see him close some big gaps. 

What Crank Length and Gear Should You use for Fixed Gear Racing?

What Crank Length and Gear  Should You use for Fixed Gear Racing?

What Crank Length and Gear  Should You use for Fixed Gear Racing? Riders often agonize over their choice of gears. They spend hours thinking about: “ What gear should I use for my race.”  Gear choice is especially important on single speed and fixed gear bikes. Tack racers, fixed crit racers, and urban fixed riders have an important choice to make, because once they’ve made that choice, they are stuck with it for the rest of the ride.

Velodrome Resurfacing Update

3/27  Velodrome Resurfacing update. We are now at the end of March, and we expected to be done by now.   So what's the scoop? So here is what I know, or think I know about the current state of the track surface. I'm not an SDVA board member, and I'm not managing the project for the SDVA.  So you can consider all of this hearsay, conjecture, and  educated guessing.

In January, I wrote a post about what was going on with the track resurfacing.      If you haven't read that, it's a great place to start.  It explains the problems with the first contractor,  and suggested that the track would be open by mid-March.   Of course we are in the last few days of March, and the track still isn't open.

There are a few things that caused additional delays. If you live here in San Diego, you know that we've had record rains  in the last couple of months.   The rain prevent work from being done on the actually rainy days.  But also left the infield soil so wet, that the heavy equipment required for the job simply couldn't operate.  On top of that,  the possibility of legal  conflict with the original contractor meant that a representative from the city and/or parks department asked the SDVA to cease work for a short time while city of SD representatives examined the situation.     Once the go-ahead was given from the city/parks department and the infield was sufficiently dry, the crews at Hazard construction returned to work.

I've stopped by a few times and watched the crews at work measuring and  leveling the surface.   I believe that t the next step is to put a smooth layer of asphalt on  top of the existing level surface, and that is starting this week.  That is really  the difficult part.    After the smooth surface is laid out, it's just a matter of measuring and painting the lines, and the re-installing the fence at the top.   These things take a little time, but aren't inherently complex and should go off without a hitch.   I'm hoping that the track will be rideable  in the first half of May, so keep your fingers crossed on that.   In the meantime   the Spring Veloswap is scheduled for April 23, and even if the track isn't ready to ride,  theVeloSwap is a go!

What is happening with the San Diego Velodrome resurfacing?

Many  people have been asking me what is going ton with the San Diego Velodrome resurfacing project.   I'm not  directly involved with any of the resurfacing, and I have not served on the SDVA board of directors for several years now.  That being said,  everything here is my personal understanding of what is going on and does not represent  opinion of the San Diego Velodrome Association,  any of the members of the board of directors, or anyone else but me.     Here is what I know, or at least think I know. Mark Ainsle has been the driving force  behind this project.   Many of us have tried to get the ball rolling on a resurfacing project, but Mark is the one that really  took it on and finally  got it moving.   In early fall,  2016 a bid was accepted to resurface the entire track in blacktop.  Some question the  use of  the asphalt/ blacktop type surface,  but it is actually an ideal surface for an  outdoor track such as ours.   Concrete is at least 5 X as expensive, is so hard that it feels  bumpy to the riders, ALL concrete  will develop  cracks, and can be  difficult to repair.    The epoxy  type surface that  we previously had was difficult to repair, allowed water to seep underneath, and  was  slippery as snot when it became wet.      The epoxy surface had been patched many times over the last 20 years, and simply needed to be replaced.    Black top/asphalt is actually the original surface of the track, and the  epoxy surface was installed over that.    The photos below show the original surface of the track as it was built over 40 years ago:

All Photos uploaded to  San Diego Velodrome Unofficial Discussion Facebook  Page by Dusty Wynne

The bid was accepted and the contractor got to work, the expectation was that the  resurfacing itself would take only 4 days.   There are frequently delays in construction project, as things seldom go perfectly to plan.  But the contractor  ran into problem after problem, most of them generated by his own mistakes.  Days became weeks, and he did not appear to be making any progress.   It almost seems that the more he tried to create a nice, smooth surface, the worse it became.   After ~ 8 weeks and with the track in worse condition than before, the contractor was asked to leave the job.

The current state of the track surface: All Photos uploaded to  San Diego Velodrome Unofficial Discussion Facebook Page by Mark Ainsle

Mark Ainsle has been project managing the job for the SDVA and has put in many hours to get this job done.    When it became obvious that the original contractor was not capable of  doing the job, Mark searched far and wide a contractor or expert  with appropriate experience that would  be willing and able take on the challenge.  But there simply aren't a whole lot of construction companies that have  the right experience for this sort of project.  And  of the few that do, none of them were willing and able to come to San Diego for the work.

Eventually, Mark  connected with  some executives at Hazard Construction, a large, local, San Diego company.   Hazard does not have  experience  resurfacing velodromes, but they are a huge company with  the experts, engineers, and equipment  to get the job done.   It appears that the Hazard Construction executives take personal pride in  the project as well.   The resurfacing was scheduled to be finished the first week of February, but that was before our most recent rains.   My guess  is that the completion date will shift by a week or so.   Even if we add another  week for  more rain or unexpected delays,   that still leaves plenty of time before racing typically starts and before  the first scheduled adult classes begin  in mid-March.      I'll post class  registration links as soon as I'm confident that  the track will be open.    Just email me: Sean@crankcycling.com if you would like top be put on the mailing list and get an alert when  registration opens.

Thanks to Mark Ainsle for putting in MANY hours of work on the resurfacing project.   I'm sure he'll be as happy as anyone when the whole thing is finished!

 

 

Holiday Coaching Sale!

Now is the time to think about the 2017 season.     A strong  winter foundation is a great way to prepare yourself for your best season ever.      An even better reason to start thinking about training for 2017, is that now through December 25th, you can  start  your coaching  with no start up fee, a savings of up to $250.    Additionally, with an optional annual commitment, you can get 10% off the monthly rate.    You can check out  coaching rates here.  Or email me: Sean@crankcycling.com with any questions. 88d7e4d7-c393-42b3-9baf-47a946de0228

Can mouthwash make you faster?

Can mouthwash make you faster?

No, we aren’t talking about Listerine, Scope, or any of those other mouthwashes that are intended to give you a clean mouth, fresh breath, and make you more kissable. We are talking about the opposite of that: a sweet drink that makes your mouth sticky with sugar, and you don’t even have to drink it. How does that work? First, let’s start with a little background.

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Most athletes understand that moderate to high intensity exercise is fueled primarily by carbohydrate. We have large stores of fat, but the energy from that fat cannot be released quickly enough to fuel your muscles at those higher intensities. The chemical energy in carbohydrates can be turned into mechanical energy at a much faster rate. So pedaling harder or putting one foot in front of the other with any reasonable intensity requires carbohydrates as fuel. The problem with carbohydrate is that you can only store so much of it. Once that carbohydrate done, you’ll slow to a pace that can be sustained using only fat for energy. You’ll be slow, and you probably won’t be very happy. In the 90s, researchers firmly established that supplementing with carbohydrates, usually in the form of sugary drink, improved performance. But here’s the thing: Carbohydrate supplementation improved high intensity performance even when the intensity and duration of the exercise was not enough to deplete the athlete’s stores of carbohydrate. And these improvements were real, meaningful improvements, ranging from as little as little as 2.3-11%. What does this mean in real world terms? It means that improvements in a 40K cycling time trial, or a half marathon are measured not in seconds, but minutes. So what is going on here?

A large breakthrough came in 2004, when Doctor Carter from the University of Birrmingham did something new and interesting. He bypassed the mouth. Carter and colleagues had cyclists do a 40K time trial while receiving and infusion of either saline, or a carbohydrate solution at a rate of 1g/min of carbohydrate (similar to what an athlete could drink and absorb the good old fashioned way). As you might expect, blood glucose level in the carbohydrate group went up. What might surprise you is that there was no improvement in performance. That athletes didn’t go any faster. Carter’s follow up was to have athletes do another 40K time trial. But this time they would take a mouthful of carbohydrate drink, swirl it around for 5 seconds and then spit it out. You can probably guess what happened: The athletes improved on the order of about 3%, similar to if they had actually swallowed the drink. Once again, the improvement could be measured not just in seconds, but in minutes. Several other researchers have found similar results, but not all of them have. But there does seem to be a growing body of evidence that at least in some circumstances, a carbohydrate rinse improves endurance performance. So how does it work?

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“Central governor theory” suggests that one of the limiters of performance is the brain, and I’m not talking about mental toughness here. According to central governor theory, the brain is constantly taking in all sorts of information about the physiological state of the body, and then regulating muscle recruitment based on that information. The evolutionary value of this would be to reduce the likelihood of self-harm. The brain tells the body to “ease up” to keep from hurting itself. The research on carbohydrate mouthwash/rinses suggests that some sort of chemoreceptors in the mouth tell the brain “more carbohydrate is coming!” so the brain allows the muscles to keep on pumping away.

Of course not everyone agrees. A few studies have shown no effect with the carbohydrate rinse. A few of these studies may have found an effect if the sample size were larger (the larger the sample, the easier it is to find differences). Studies that included 4 hours or more of fasting before the exercise session were more likely to find a benefit. So starting with full stores of muscle and liver glycogen may blunt the effect of the rinse. It also appears that the rinse doesn’t help with efforts of about 30 minutes or less, and nobody has really looked at efforts over 70 minutes.

So how can you put this information to use in a practical way? To some extent, this research has value even if we can’t put it directly to use right now, as it gives us insight into what limits human performance. But I think we can put it to practical use. In most cases, athletes should simply swallow their carbohydrate mix rather than spit it out. But athletes that experience an upset stomach ( GI distress) may be able to get the performance benefits of carbohydrate supplementation, while avoiding the distress. Some experimentation during training may be required, and the athlete may find it best to “rinse and spit”, “spit one, swallow one”, or something along those lines. The other practical implication is for people that are training for weight loss. It would be theoretically possible to use the “rinse and spit” method to complete a more intense workout, while also minimizing calorie intake.

So next time your legs are heavy and your stomach is in knots, just try the rinse and spit.

Questions? What would you like to see me write about next? Email me: coachsburke@gmail.com

Resources and further reading

Beelen, M., J. Berghuis, B. Bonaparte, S.B. Ballak, A.E. Jeukendrup, and L.J. van Loon (2009). Carbohydrate mouth rinsing in the fed state: Lack of enhancement of time-trial performance. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 19:400-409.

Carter, J.M., A.E. Jeukendrup, C.H. Mann, and D.A. Jones (2004). The effect of glucose infusion on glucose kinetics during a 1-h time trial. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 36:1543-1550.

Carter, J.M., A.E. Jeukendrup, and D.A. Jones (2004). The effect of carbohydrate mouth rinse on 1-h cycle time trial performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 36:2107-2111.

Chambers, E.S., M.W. Bridge, and D.A. Jones (2009). Carbohydrate sensing in the human mouth: Effects on exercise performance and brain activity. J. Physiol. 587:1779-1794. Fares, E.J., and B. Kayser (2011). Carbohydrate mouth rinse effects on exercise capacity in pre- and postprandial states. J. Nutr. Metab.2011:385962.

Jeukendrup, A.E., S. Hopkins, L.F. Aragon-Vargas, and C. Hulston (2008). No effect of carbohydrate feeding on 16 km cycling time trial performance. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 104:831-837.

Luden ND, Saunders MJ, D’Lugos AC, et al. Carbohydrate Mouth Rinsing Enhances High Intensity Time Trial Performance Following Prolonged Cycling. Nutrients. 2016;8(9):576. doi:10.3390/nu8090576.

Noakes, T.D. (2000). Physiological models to understand exercise fatigue and the adaptations that predict or enhance athletic performance. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 10:123-145.

Silva T de A e, de Souza MEDCA, de Amorim JF, Stathis CG, Leandro CG, Lima-Silva AE. Can Carbohydrate Mouth Rinse Improve Performance during Exercise? A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2014;6(1):1-10.

New Posts on the A4 Adventure website

I've got som cool new stuff on the Appetite 4 Adventure  website and Youtube Channel.  

Most recently, James  has showed us a quick look and review of the Knog Oi Bike Bell. I did a quick unboxing and first look  for a long term review of the Outdoor Tech Buckshot 2.0 Bluetooth Speaker.

 

We also have our first look at the 3T Exploro bike, and we hope to get one for a long term review.

 

La Vuelta Espana 2016 Stage 14: Col du Marie Blanque and Col d'Aubisque

I love the Pyrenees in the summer.  I've been lucky enough to   be able to make it there the last 3 years and ride some big climbs in the mountains.  Most  recently, I rode up Col du Marie Blanque and Col d'Aubisque  and then  watched stage 14 of the 2016 Vuelta Espana from the top.  I made a little video about the experience.   I hope you enjoy it:

Holiday gift ideas for every cyclist

What do you buy for the rider that has everything?  Here are a few ideas:  

The Sport Kilt.

Dropping  your pants in the parking lot to change into your kit  just isn't a very nice thing to to you your neighbors.   You can wrap a towel around your waist, but  Its comfy, it works better than a towel, and it makes the  car ride home oh so breezy!

Available at SportKilt.com:

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 Pro Cycling on $10 a day.

Phil Gaimon tells so humorous  stories about his fast ascent into the pro peloton.  He'll make you chuckle,  and he'll  make you realize that you probably didn't want to be a pro bike racer anyway.

Available on Amazon.com

Pro Cycling on $10 a Day by Phil Gaimon

 

A Pebble Smart Watch

Pebble smart watches start at just $69.99, but my recommendation is to go for the $149 Pebble Time  What I find most useful about the Pebble is that when you get an incoming text, you can just glance at your wrist to read the message.   If the message is important, you can answer it.  If not, you worry about  it later.   Click on the pic to read a view on geekwire.com or go straight to pebble.com to buy one.

Pebble-Time_GeekWire-03-230x300

 

Thule Paramout DayPack

I love my Thule backpack.  I use it as a carry on/laptop bag when I fly, I use it when I ride my bike to go get groceries or beer, and I stuff it with close and shoes when I drive to the start of a mountainbike ride.     The rolltop protects the contents from rain and helps you fold the bag down to a smaller size when it isn't full.    The padded laptop sleeve cradles  my mac and protects it from  shock.  The whole thing is sturdily built and looks great. Buy it on the Thule Websitethule

 

 

Lezyne Road Drive Pump

Real bike riders do epics rides.   Real bike riders might need more than just a few CO2s to get them home.   The Lezyne Road Drive mini pump is a must have accessory for  riders that love  REALLY get out on the open roads, where there is no cell service and no bike shop for 30 miles.    Just carry this  pump, and extra tire, and a patch kit.  It is way better than walking.  You can use the water bottle cage mount that comes with  it,  or you can just stick it in your pocket.   The detachable hose fits inside the pump when not in use, and is easy on the valve stems.   Get it at your local bike shop or many online retailers.   Lezyne.com

lezyne 2

 

 

 

San Diego Cycling Camp 2016

February 14-21, 2016

Greenville Cycling &  Crank Cycling are joining up to bring you a world-class training camp in sunny Southern California in Winter/ Spring, 2016. Based in Carlsbad ( North County San Diego), this camp will provide the enthusiast rider and the avid racer an opportunity to train out of a relaxing seaside resort, the Carlsbad Inn. We’ll blend a variety of rides up and down the beautiful SoCal coast along the Pacific Coast Highway with awesome rolling rides around northern San Diego County including an excursion into the  mountains in East County San Diego.  This cycling camp will not only provide you with some great days on the bike, but you'll have some great times off the bike as well.

Off the bike you can enjoy the trendy cafés and restaurants of Carlsbad Village just steps from the Pacific Ocean. Camp routes will test your fitness and skills; however you'll be on the road with some of the top coaches in the country. We are right there to answer any questions you have and each evening we have Coach Time where you can review your power files, map out a training plan, or ask nutrition or equipment questions. Power Training Camp Option: Each evening a coach can review your files with you and answer any questions you have. If you don't have a power meter and would like to learn more about training with power, rent a PowerTap wheel for the duration of camp! Take your training to the next level and learn more about training with power!

 

WEATHER: San Diego, CA has wonderful weather all year long! February has average low of 51 degree and high of 65. Humidity is relatively low.

 

COST & REGISTRATION:

 

Double Occupancy $2499, Single Occupancy $3299 Day camper fee $250/day • A $500 deposit is required at time of registration. 10% (of total camp cost) cancellation fee applied to any cancellations. Cancellations accepted up to 30 days prior. Final payment is due three weeks prior to camp and at this time all payments are final and non-refundable.

 

“Best mechanical support Iʼve ever experienced, bar none.” Courtney McDonald

PROGRAM INCLUDES

Picturesque lodging at the Carlsbad Inn, www.carlsbadinn.com

  • Sag support on all rides including mechanic, snacks, and drinks
  • On-the-road coaching and support
  • File review and training analysis for all riders
  • Roundtrip airport to hotel ground transportation upon request
  • Professional mechanical support including bike assembly and disassembly, packing, daily adjustments, lube, and minor repairs
  • Breakfast daily, ride food and drink, lunch
  • End of Camp Banquet on last night at a local restaurant
  • Short and long ride options each day

 

Optional Daily Excursions: Enjoy San Diego! Be sure to check our website for info about activities outside of camp such as sailing, State Street Farmers Market, shopping, spa, Witch Creek Winery, surfing, etc

Ready to go or have a question?   Contact Sean Burke directly  619-865-3389

or reach out to us via the contact us page

How Accurate is the Calorie count on your Garmin?

To be frank, your Garmin is lying to you about the calories you have burned.  If you have a power meter, than it is still going to be much better than just about every calorie counting machine you’ll find in a gym, but gym machines aren’t really the topic here.  Let’s take a quick look at how Garmin computers and the Strava app do at calculating your total calories burned. Power meter such as an SRM can calculate your total work done during your ride, essentially power X time= total work.     Basically, if you ride at 150 watts for an hour, you do the same amount of work as if you ride at 300 watts for half an hour.   Your Garmin or other training device will display this as Kilojoules, or KJ.  KJ and Calories are both units of energy, and one can be converted to the other.  Many people will simply take the number of KJ and say that is the number of calories burned.    While that the total number of KJ is close to the number of calories burned,  KJ and Calories are not the same thing.

For starters the KJ measured by the powermeter are  a measurement of the mechanical work that was put into the bicycle.   Your body is really only about 21% efficient at creating mechanical work from the food energy.   So in reality, you need to multiply the total KJ of work by 4.8.    So if you did 1000 KJ worth of mechanical work, it actually took 4800 KJ in food energy to do that work.   Next you have to convert from KJ to Calories.  This is sort of like converting feet to meters.   One Calorie is equal to 4.184 KJ, so  you need to divide 4800 KJ by 4.184, and you get 1147 Calories.

If you simply looked at your Garmin, and assumed that KJ = Calories, you would have underestimated by 147 calories, or nearly 15 %( In reality is probably somewhere between 13 and 15%).    I can understand how early powermeter users simply looked at total KJ, and used it as a proxy for calories.   They probably considered it close enough.    But considering the fact that a modern bike computer is capable of doing  some fairly complex calculations in real time,  it seems silly  to work with this assumption.   Unfortunately, it appears that is exactly what Garmin is doing.    For  more explanation on  mechanical energy, food energy, and garmin’s KJ to Calories gooof, see this excellent blog  post by Jose  Areta.

Now on to my little experiment( N=1):

I started off a ride with a Garmin 500  synced to my SRM,  a Garmin 800 that was not synced to any  other training devices, and the Strava app on my IPhone.    The ride was from my house to the top of Mt Soledad, a local 700 foot climb.  I kept it at endurance pace for the most of the ride, and tempo pace up the climb.

The Garmin 500 really should be giving the most accurate calorie count, as it was the only device that could accurately measure KJ.  Unfortunately, Garmin makes the mistake of simply converting the KJ into Calories.   It seems absurd that they would make  that mistake, when all it would take to make a  more accurate calorie count would be to multiply KJ by 1.15 to get a much more accurate calorie count.

Total  Calories burned according to the Garmin 500 synced to the powermeter: 1075 Calories

More accurate calorie count (1075 KJ X1.15):  1236 Calories

Error:  Underestimate by ~15%

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Next, was the Garmin 800 that wasn’t synced to anything else.   I’m not exactly sure what Garmin uses to estimate calories, but it must be some function of speed and elevation.     Unfortunately the Garmin doesn’t  “know” if I have a headwind or tailwind, if I’m drafting or riding solo, if I’m in the drops or sitting upright.     My expectations for an accurate calorie count were quite low.

Total calories burned according to Garmin with no  power : 1906

Error: overestimate by 54%

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Whoa!  If you were using this to get an idea on how much you should eat to be Calorie neutral, you could be in big trouble!   Even if you were trying to have a 500 calorie deficit each day, you would be sorely disappointed.   Imagine meticulously measuring your food and calculating your energy expenditure, only to find out that  rather than having a 500 Calorie deficit each day, you actual had a surplus.      Do you think it will be any better if you measure heart rate?  Not According to Jose.  This is  a situation where bad data is worse than no data.    I have zero confidence in the calorie count of a Garmin without a power meter.   Zero.

What about the Strava app?    I suspect that Strava is using the same information  ( distance, elevation) as the Garmin.   But I was honestly surprised to find that the Strava data was pretty darn close to the Garmin/ Powermeter data my guess  is that Strava has loads of data  from all  of the riders that upload their files with power, and that they have created an  algorithm that is far more accurate than the one used by Garmin.  Yea big data!   Strava probably has more information about riders and rides than any organization anywhere and they are really doing some interesting things with it.

Total Calories burned according to Strava: NA

The Strava app  didn't actually give Calories, but it did an amazing job estimating total KJ.  if we know the KJ, we can  do a pretty good job estimating our Calories, as long as we don't make the  KJ=Calories mistake.

Difference in KJ from the Garmin/Powermeter: ~2%

strava calories

So what can we learn here?   Basically we’ve learned that Garmin data on Calorie count is practically useless, without a  powermeter.     The Garmin/Powermeter data does a pretty good job, but still underestimates Calorie count by ~15% ( get on this Garmin engineers!), and Strava did a surprisingly good job with KJ,  but the app doesn't actually give us Calories.     I would like to upload a few more files and see if I get a similar result.    I’m not sure what happens when you upload a  Garmin file (no power) that has a calorie count.   Does Strava use the Calorie count from the Garmin or  does it still only estimate KJ?    Let me know if you’ve experimented with this.

 

Why do I use Calorie with an upper case rather than calorie with a lower case?  The simple explanation is that 1 “food Calorie”  is equal to 1000 “physics calories.

 

Thanks again to Jose Areta for inspiring this post.

What Causes Exercise Induced Cramps? Not what you think.

Cramps aren’t caused by sodium loss and dehydration (but make sure you replace your sodium and stay hydrated)  

Muscle cramps are the enemy.   Just when you were having a great race, on your way to a PR, and pushing your limits like never before, you get a cramp that forces you to slow down, or may leave you unable to continue.   Athletes have likely been searching for the exact cause  of  (and thus a way to prevent) exercise associated muscle cramps (EAMC) since before the Olympic games in ancient Greece, but the fact is that we still don’t fully understand the mechanism  that causes cramps.   One thing we can be sure of, or as sure as we can be of anything proven by science, is that muscle cramps are not caused by electrolyte depletion or dehydration.

 

 

This seems counter-intuitive to many,  the notion that cramps are caused by dehydration and electrolyte depletion has been around for a long time and has been  repeated so many times that it many simply accept it as fact.  This is probably because athletes that suffer cramps are frequently drenched in sweat and covered in salt, so there does seem to be some anecdotal evidence for the correlation.   However the fact is that there is no known mechanism by which sodium depletion or dehydration would cause cramps.   Additionally, there is little evidence to support the theory that the loss of sweat is actually responsible for the EAMC, and a large amount of evidence to refute it.     A quick search of the scientific literature generates several studies that show essentially no difference in the water or electrolyte losses of athletes that cramp, vs those who don’t cramp .      The research of the last decade or so has led to an acceptance among exercise researchers that electrolyte loss and dehydration are not the cause of EAMC.    But if losses due to sweat aren’t responsible for cramps, then what is the culprit?

 

 

The current school of thought is that cramps are primarily due to “altered neuromuscular control” due to fatigue.   While studies have shown that water and electrolyte losses are NOT associated with cramping, there are several factors that are definitely associated with EAMC, including lack of fitness, pre-race muscle fatigue   and athletes simply pushing themselves harder than usual.    The simple and effective treatment of stopping to rest and stretching the muscle likely gave researchers some of the first clues that dehydration was not the cause of cramps.  After all, stretching and rest does nothing to help with hydration or electrolyte levels.  The altered neuromuscular control theory truly began to take hold in 1996, and the evidence for theory has grown, as has the evidence against the dehydration/electrolyte theory.  There are a few different plausible theories for exactly how this “altered neuromuscular control” causes cramps, and as is typical, more research needs to be done. But the point is that there is a mountain of evidence to show that electrolyte depletion/dehydration is out, and general fatigue is in.

 

 

Does that mean you should skip the electrolyte beverage?   Absolutely not.  The American Dietetic Association, The American College of Sports Medicine, and Dieticians of Canada all recommend a carbohydrate/electrolyte beverage during prolonged exercise.  Dehydration due to lack of fluids, and hyponatremia due to sodium loss can be not only detrimental to performance, but deadly. So I recommend that all my athletes use a carbohydrate/electrolyte drink during all rides longer than an hour.   The most important thing about one of those beverages is that you like the taste and you’ll dink it.   It isn’t doing any good just sitting in your bottles, it has to find its way into your stomach.  I’m sponsored by Powerbar and I enjoy the taste of their lemon-lime Ironman Perform, so that’s what I put in my bottles, and in my stomach.   The carbohydrates and the electrolytes will help replace what you use and what you use.   But they won’t protect you from cramps.

It won’t keep you from cramping, but drink it anyway.

Bonus:   Some people have asked me about pickle juice to prevent cramps.  There is actually some strong evidence that pickle juice can help relieve cramps, and while researchers have typically used juice from a plain old jar of dill pickles, companies have been quick to sell pickle juice that is specifically marketed and packed for endurance athletes.  Pickle juice is high in sodium, but it does not appear to be the sodium that helps with the cramps.  The pickle juice works so rapidly, that the sodium does not have time to enter the stomach and then the bloodstream.  The most likely theory is that the acidity of the vinegar has an effect on the nerves at the back of the throat that somehow blocks the cramps.  As is typical more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism.

I’ll buy a bottle that also comes with the pickles!

 

Sean is the head coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA.   Have a question for Sean or a topic you would like to see covered?   Contact Sean Via his website: CrankCycling.com

 

 

References:

 

1)Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Jul;37(7):1081-5. Serum electrolytes in Ironman triathletes with exercise-associated muscle cramping. Sulzer NU1, Schwellnus MP, Noakes TD.

 

2) Br J Sports Med. 2004 Aug;38(4):488-92. Serum electrolyte concentrations and hydration status are not associated with exercise associated muscle cramping (EAMC) in distance runners. Schwellnus MP1, Nicol J, Laubscher R, Noakes TD.

 

3)Br J Sports Med. 2011 Jun;45(8):650-6. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2010.078535. Epub 2010 Dec 9. Increased running speed and previous cramps rather than dehydration or serum sodium changes predict exercise-associated muscle cramping: a prospective cohort study in 210 Ironman triathletes.Schwellnus MP1, Drew N, Collins M.

 

4)Br J Sports Med. 2009 Jun;43(6):401-8. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2008.050401. Epub 2008 Nov 3.Cause of exercise associated muscle cramps (EAMC)–altered neuromuscular control, dehydration or electrolyte depletion? Schwellnus MP.

 

5)Sports Med. 2007;37(4-5):364-7.Muscle cramping in the marathon : aetiology and risk factors. Schwellnus MP. J Athl Train. 2009 Sep-Oct;44(5):454-61. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-44.5.454.

 

6)J Athl Train. 2009 Sep-Oct;44(5):454-61. Electrolyte and plasma changes after ingestion of pickle juice, water, and a common carbohydrate-electrolyte solution. Miller KC1, Mack G, Knight KL.

 

7)J Am Diet Assoc. 2000 Dec;100(12):1543-56.  J Am Diet Assoc. 2000 Dec;100(12):1543-56. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance.

Strength Training and Endurance Performance.

mouse Strength training does not increase endurance performance, but you should probably do it anyway.

What exactly is strength?  For our purposes, I would  define neuromuscular strength as:  The ability of the muscle fibers   to produce   force.  In the case of a cyclist this would be the force against the pedals.     Endurance cycling doesn’t require much strength.    From a practical and mathematic  standpoint: The force required to push against the pedals while doing  a 40K TT at 90 RPM in under an  hour is less than 45lbs  of force.   Strength and force production simply aren’t a limiting component of putting out the power required for endurance performance.      From a pure scientific standpoint: I am aware of no  peer reviewed studies that indicate strength training in trained cyclists   improves  endurance performance, and I’ve seen several that show  no increase.   There is a preponderance of evidence to show that strength training will not improve your 20 or 40K.

But you should probably do it anyway.

One reason is that bike racing requires more than just steady power outputs and strength training CAN improve sprinting performance.  The US  racing scene is dominated by criteriums, which  require frequent hard accelerations out of corners and  almost always come down to a sprint, even if it is only between a few riders.  Non racers enjoy sprinting too, and we all know that  every club rider wants to throw down in the sprint for the city limit sign.    Even if you don’t consider yourself a sprinter, most races will involve some sort of sprint.   Very seldom does a rider just roll away from his or her rivals, so even the  135lb climber is probably going to have to sprint against someone to get the win.   For a mountain bike racer, a finishing sprint may not be important.  But improved strength can help power over that log, rock, or step up.

Another reason to do strength training is that it can help with your bone density and therefore your long term health.  In 2003 when I was studying exercise physiology at San Diego State University, two of my professors authored a paper titled, “ Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists.”  The take away message from study was that cycling may keep you fit, but it doesn’t keep your bones strong.   What does keep your bones strong is weight bearing activity, so most  cyclists ( men and women alike)  would be well served by adding strength training or other  bearing activity to their fitness regime.

Besides improving sprinting performance and increasing bone density,  a little  strength training  can also help prevent injuries, and just make you an overall healthier person.   A little shoulder and core strength can help you maintain that aero position longer and more comfortably, or prevent  back pain that some riders get on long rides, especially hilly ones. You aren't going to be come an amazing climber by doing crunches, and core work is not going to win the race for you.   But weakness and back pain can very easily kill your race.  One of my favorite reasons to strength train is another one altogether: Sometimes it feels good to just go to the gym and lift heavy stuff.

So if some weight training is appropriate for most riders, that just lead to many more questions such as: How Much?  What type?  and When?     The details of this can be a bit more complicated and must be a tailored to each individual rider.   It is important to remember that the best way to get better at riding your bike is to ride your bike.   So  for a committed bike racer, on “on the bike “  training is going to take precedence.     Most riders will benefit from doing most of their strength training during the winter, when it is the off season,  the days are short, and training volume goes down.    The weight training will help you stay fit through those winter days,  and strength training for only a short time each off season can pay dividends all year around.  Some cyclists, such as track sprinters and even some criterium specialists, may do weight training even during the racing season.   Cyclist will also have to balance their overall training stress, the total time they have to train, possible weight gain, their natural abilities, their desire to be more well-rounded as an athlete, and  many other factors.

We are coming up on the shortest day of the year,  so  it can be tough to get in weekday rides.   If you haven’t already begun an off season weight training program, now may be a good time to start.   Talk to a coach that is well versed and educated on strength training as well as cycling, do your own research, or find a well-qualified strength coach to help you develop your plan*.

Sean Burke is the head coach for Crank Cycling.

*If you choose to go with a  strength coach  rather than a cycling coach, I  would suggest going with someone with a   Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist ( CSCS) certification.   CSCS   is the gold standard for strength and conditioning coaches

7 Reasons You Should Race in Mexico

I’ve got many friends who live and /or race on both side of the US/Mexico border.  Some of them live in Tijuana or Ensenada, but many of them live north of that line in the dirt.   Don’t let that border fence keep you from going down south and having a great ride.  

    • The racing is cheap.   For example, my friend Omar Lozano is promoting a race in Tijuana On November 30th,  and entry fees run between 180 and 250 pesos, depending on your category.   That’s only $15/$20.   That makes the entry fees about half of what they are in the US  (Americans may have to pay $2-3 dollars more for insurance)
    • Tijuana and Mexico in General are safe. I usually accumulate several weeks in Mexico each year, and I’ve never felt unsafe. Of course there are some bad neighborhoods,  just as there are in any city.  There are neighborhoods right here in San Diego where I wouldn’t want to walk around after dark.  The same goes for LA, New York, or any big city.
    • The racing is fun! There is just something about racing in Mexico that is different than racing in the US.   Everyone races hard, but I feel like nobody takes themselves too seriously.  The racing scene in Mexico reminds me of cyclocross and MTB racing, in that the racing is hard and the athlete are fit.   But everyone is also having a great time.
    • The border wait has been significantly reduced. For the last decade or so, the San Ysidro Border wait could be a big barrier, with borders waits reaching 3 hours at peak times.   But recent opening of additional lanes, has reduced the  border wait during those peak times to 45 minutes, and sometimes as little as 15!
    • You don’t have to drive your car across the border. Many of the Americans that I know  ride across and to the race, so that is always an option.  You can also park your car on the north side of the border, cross by foot, and hop in a minivan cab to get a ride to the race.    The races in Tijuana are not far from the border and a cab ride will be cheap.    If you do drive, it is a good idea to get Mexican insurance from our friends at Baja Bound.  Your insurance company may cover you for somewhere around 20-25 miles into Mexico, but if you get in a fender bender, the Mexican authorities won’t recognize it.   Yet another option is to get a shuttle from Chula Vista to the  race v   I personally have an annual policy from Baja Bound, so I prefer to simple drive across.
    • You can have some great food while you are there:   Tijuana  is a great up an coming culinary scene.   And whether you prefer gourmet meals, or  food from a street cart, TJ has some of the best.  In fact I’ve never been much for ceviche or sushi but I’ve recently grown fond if it,  And some of the best fish I’ve ever had in my life was from places with plastic tables and chairs in Mexico.
    • It feels like a mini adventure: Even though I cross the border frequently, I still feel like it is a small adventure every time I do. It just breaks up the monotony of doing the same  thing every day, or every weekend.

     

    If you’d like to give racing in Mexico a try, you’ve got a great opportunity to give it a go on November 30th.   But even if you can’t  race that day, keep an eye on Omar’s website for his races in the US and Mexico.

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SRM Raw Power

SRM_RAW

Are  you using a Cannondale, Specialized, Rotor, or SRAM crank?  Looking for an SRM?  We have the deal for you.  For only $1490, you can get an SRM Powermeter.  This powermeter attache and  replaces the existing spider on your cranks.   This is an excellent way to get SRM Power on your bike for a great price!  Ready to go?  Have questions?  Contact Coach Burke at  sean@crankcycling.com or call 619-865-3389

3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge Ride Report

3rd Annual Boulder Creek Challenge: Gravel Grinder, Challenge Ride, Fundraiserboulder creek 1 Last Saturday November 8th, riders congregated in Descanso to participate in the 3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge.  The BCC began in 2012 as a way to have a great day on the bike as well as raise money and awareness for San Diego Velo Youth, a program that uses cycling as a tool to reach kids from at-risk schools and teach them about life skills.     The ride itself is a little over 60 miles, with over 6500 feet of climbing, most of it during the first 30 miles and on a dirt road.   The ride isn’t described as a race, but riders vie  for prizes at 3 KOM points along the route.  The nearly 5000 feet of climbing on dirt roads would mean that many would call it a gravel grinder one of the many gravel bikes on the market is probably the ideal bike for the ride.  We call it a “challenged ride” and riders are encouraged to challenge themselves, but equally as important is the fact that 100% of the proceeds go to San Diego VeloYouth.

 

The neutral rollout in through Descanso boulder creek 2

 The weather was sunny but cool, and  the rain from the week before had left the dirt roads in excellent condition.   The riders followed the  lead truck  on the neutral rollout and got to warm their legs up for a few miles before the climbing began.  The lead vehicle pulled away on Oak Grove road and , the highly motivated pair of  Dana Weber from Stage21/Cannondale and Tim Zandbergen  of Rokform/Rock-n –Road immediately turned the screws.  Ten minutes later, the duo had left everyone behind and they actually approached  FIRST KOM so quickly that the event staff was caught by surprise and barely caught them as the crossed the line.   Tim was first to the top of the first dirt climb and took the prize of PowerBar energy blasts.

Weber and Zandbergen riding away, with smiles on their faces

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Struggling to keep the dynamic duo in sight.boulder creek 4

Ryan Johnson, Kevin Lentz and  Celo Pacific , as well as   Everett Hauser of Adams Ave bikes chased up the dirt road as Weber and Zandbergen  bombed the dirt descent, sometimes getting their skinny tires  a bit sideways in the dirt.   The two stuck together and only widened the gap on the chasers on the 1200 foot dirt climb.   Here, Boulder Creek climbs at 12% or more for extended stretches, and the riders had to sit down and grind it out in a struggle to keep traction in the dirt.  When the twosome approached the second KOM, the other riders were nowhere in sight.     Weber wheelied across the line to take the KOM prize of a gift certificate to Toast Enoteca and Cucina  wine bar, while Tim earned the second place reward of another box of PowerBar product.

Weber and Zandbergen  heading down the first dirt descent

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The KOM Point Awaits

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Some riders enjoyed a more leisurely pace up the dirt climbs

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It doesn’t get much better than thisboulder creek 8

After the second KOM, the road turned to pavement and the riders rode towards the 3rd KOM atop Engineers road.    Dana and Tim hammered uo the 1200 foot climb and then  relaxed as they  crossed the line together to each win a pair of Spy Performance sunglasses and wait for the others.   It was over 10 minutes before the Celo Pacific boys made it up to the top of Engineers road to claim third and fourth  at the final KOM, and nearly  30 minutes until all the riders that made the time cut at the turnoff for  Engineer’s road reached the top.     The entire front  group stopped to trade a few war stories  and refuel with PowerBar blast, gels, and bars, then descended Engineer’s and rode towards Julian to enjoy some well-earned pie.

Katie Crist won the women’s KOM at the  Boulder Creek Fire Station and a pair of Spy Sunglasses

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 Former Olympian and world record holder Shaun Wallace was the first rider to cross the 2nd KOM, without making the time cut, and apparently the first to Julian Pie Company. boulder creek 10

Riders relaxed at Julian Pie Company as the KOM winners were recognized, and some even went for a second helping of pie.  After some pie, some coffee, and some trading of stories,  the riders rolled off together   back towards Descanso.  The climbing wasn’t quite finished, with 500 feet of elevation gain between Julian and Descanso park.   The group once again found Weber and Zandbergen pushing the pace, but not enough to break away, as a group of 10 crested the final hill and rode downhill into Descanso.

Julian Pie Company

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Riders Relaxing at Julian Pie Company  before the descent back into Descanso

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We consider the 3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge  to be a huge success.    Everyone got to push their limits riding the beautiful dirt roads between Julian and Descanso.   The weather cooperated, we had some great pie, and we had great fun.    We also raised some money for San Diego VeloYouth and helped get kids from  at risk schools learning about life and riding bikes.     The 4th annual Boulder Creek Challenge will be some time during the first half of November 2015.  We hope  you’ll join us.

 

Sean is the head coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA.   Have a question for Sean or a topic you would like to see covered?   Contact Sean Via his website: CrankCycling.com

 

 

*All Photos Credit Elaine Hutchinson or Kathy Burcham