bike racing

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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How much should you train? You may not like the answer.

How many miles a week should you ride? Such a simple question, but the answer isn't so  simple.  For starters “How many miles should I ride” isn’t really the right question, as not all miles are the same. Riding 50 miles on flat ground being pulled along by a group is not the same as doing a hilly ride, braving the wind in a solo effort. “How much should I train?” is really the better question. But still, there are different ways to measure “how much.” Power meters are now a common site on the bikes of pro and amateur riders alike. But before the power meter era, heart rate was considered the gold standard in training technology and many athletes used a heart rate X time metric known as TRIMP*. Now that a bike can be outfitted with a power meter for under a thousand dollars, riders of all levels are using the power related metrics as their preferred method of measuring training volume and stress. A power meter user can track daily and weekly kilojoules, and training stress score, along with acute and chronic training load as well as training stress balance**. While I love both training and coaching with a power meter, I also use a much simpler metric that pre-dates heart rate training, and power: The watch.

Saddle time is a simple metric that anyone can measure, and endurance athletes have been measuring their training in this manner for as long as endurance athletes have existed. Of course an hour at race pace is not the same training stress and an hour at recovery pace. But weekly training hours will give you a pretty good idea of total training volume. Weekly hours are not only easy to measure, but easy to understand. Some riders don’t care to learn about or use hears rate monitors or power meters. For these riders, weekly hours is going to be their best measure of how much they are training. So then the question is: “How many hours a week should I train?”

Don't overdo it and wind up looking like this

People naturally prefer simple answers to questions. But even seemingly simple questions have complex or even unclear answers. Answers to questions like: “How much improvement will I see from coaching?” or “How much should I train each week?” are difficult to answer, because everyone is different. Anyone that tells you to expect an exact amount of improvement or tells you that everyone should train a certain amount is either uninformed or untruthful.  As far as how much you should train, the answer for most people is:  As much as you can without it being too much…as much as you can train, and still recover both physically and mentally from the training.  You should train as much as you can while still ensuring that you get in the quality and intensity of your workouts. You should train as much as you can while still succeeding in your career, having a balanced social life, enjoying family time, and keeping your significant other happy.

When I’m planning the training for my athletes, the “A” (top priority) events go into the calendar first. The next items to go into the calendar are family, work, and travel commitments. The first workouts to go into the calendar are the highest intensity workouts. These efforts are typically the most important workouts of the week, and the integrity of these workouts must be maintained. If you don’t get them right, you are just spinning your wheels. Most amateur riders should not try and do the same volume of training that professional riders do, as the pros are dealing with a completely different set of commitments, priorities and circumstances. I’ve seen riders read about the weekly hours that the professionals train, and try to replicate it themselves. But for a professional rider, training IS their career. The pro rider can concentrate on recovery by napping, eating, relaxing on the couch, and maybe getting a massage. While the amateur rider with a 40+ hour a week job is often doing things that are counterproductive to recovery. Some riders increase their training volume and actually get slower, because they aren’t recovering properly in between hard workouts. One of my jobs as a coach is to ascertain: What is the optimal training load for that individual athlete. Some athletes are limited by how much time they can actually spend on the bike. For these riders, the task is to ensure that they are spending their time wisely. Some athletes have practically unlimited time to train, but I need to ensure they are recovering properly and not overdoing it. As an athlete it can be difficult to see when you are a pushing it a little too much, and that is when the objective eye of a coach can become invaluable. Athletes all have different needs, time, and stressors in their lives. All of these things must be taken into account when determining how much training volume and athlete can handle. There is no easy answer to “How many miles a week should I ride” or “ How many hours a week should I train”. It seems like a simple question, but there isn’t a simple answer. Do you need help figuring out how much is enough without being too much? Use the contact form on the right side of this page to contact us.

*TRIMP was developed by Dr Eric Bannister. Google will help you if you need to know more. ** Training Stress Score is based on the original work by Bannister. This and other terms were developed by Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen. Check out the book “Racing and Training with a PowerMeter” for more information.

Year in review

At the end of every season you should take a break from focused training. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ride your bike...not at all! But you should stop looking at your heart rate monitor, your power data and even your personal training duration for a few weeks. This helps to relax the mind, rejuvenate and reboot yourself. We don’t often think about it, but disciplined training is mentally taxing; it’s just plain tiring. Sometimes at the end of a good season the body will feel like it is ready to keep going but the mind still needs a break. After this ‘cooling off’ period I usually add very loosely-structured training with small goals to my riders’ training diaries. These goals are usually pretty simple: do a 4-hour ride 3 times a month, accumulate 3 to 5 hours of tempo per week or maybe do a club ride just for fun once a week. These workouts and weekly goals are low stress, low commitment and allow your brain to slowly get used to the mental workload that is coming when training season arrives.

Riders should find that rides during this time of the year are meant to be fun, motivating and inspiring. This is also the time when you should review how your riding and racing season went during the past year. New-found inspiration and motivation will help you see the future and all its possibilities. You should try to assess whether or not you’ve met the goals you set for yourself this past year and whether you want to try and improve on your gains. Maybe you want to attack those shortfalls that you may notice in this review. Maybe you’ll want to set entirely different goals for the coming year. It’s all possible, and it’s up to you!

Setting goals is paramount. If you’ve never set goals in past seasons you should try doing it this coming year. If my athletes are planning on competing in the upcoming racing season, I have them try to set at least three goals to strive for. After all, if you know what goals you want to achieve you can then measure how close you’ve come to attaining your desired results and make adjustments in successive years.

Setting goals is one of my favorite parts of riding and racing because I have the opportunity to entertain all the possible things I can try to accomplish, and that’s just fun! But remember: goals should be challenging and attainable. After you set some goals you should make sure to keep a record of the training you do, being sure to add comments about how you felt during and after your training sessions. You should also make sure to set milestone markers to measure whether you are moving in the right direction in order to attain your goals.

In my next blog post I’ll talk about setting accomplishable goals for your next season.

See you on the road, Coach Jesse Eisner

Did you have goals this past season? Did you achieve them? If you need help setting goals for next season and you need direction in how to achieve those goals, let the coaches at Crank Cycling know. We can help!

What Is VAM?

What is VAM? Cyclists, even riders that don’t necessarily consider themselves climbers, almost always love a good hill. The other things that cyclists love are gear and data. As power meters and GPS units have become cheaper and more ubiquitous, a typical cyclist has more data available to them than ever. This article will discuss one particular metric that can be measured using a GPS: VAM VAM was a term first popularized by Italian cycling trainer Michele Ferrari. VAM is the Italian acronym for “ velocità ascensionale media” which basically translates as “average ascent speed” . Just think of VAM as vertical meters climbed per hour. VAM is typically measured in meters per hour ( M/H), but you could theoretically use feet per hour as well. What makes this metric so useful is the fact that when climbing, most of the power the cyclist applies to the pedals goes to pushing the cyclist upwards, rather than forwards. So VAM can be used as a proxy for power to weight, as well as to compare performance on say an 8% grade, to that of a 10% grade. If an athlete is climbing at a VAM of 100 (M/H), it will take the athlete 1 hour to get to the top of an 8%, 10% , or even a 15% climb of 1000M . The VAM metric can therefore be used to compare different climbs to each other. You can tell if a performance is a good one or a bad one based on the VAM you achieved on the climb In the absence of a power meter, VAM can be an excellent way to gauge an effort, or even a great tool to build a workout. For example: If a rider has a powermeter, I might have him do a 20 minute time trial, and then take 95% of his average power as his threshold power. If the riders doesn’t have a powermeter, I can have him do a 20 minute hill, and record the VAM. If he does a VAM of 1000, I can assume that at threshold power, he climbs at 95% of 1000, or 950 M/H! So if I want this athlete to do 4 X 10 minute intervals at threshold power but he doesn’t have a power meter, I can tell him to do 4 X10 minute hill shooting for an average VAM of 950! There are plenty of online tools out there such as Garmin Connect and Strava that allow you to upload your rides, and look at your VAM along with other metrics., and most GPS computers will allow you to view your VAM as you ride. So there you go: VAM is a great tool to compare climbs of with similar vertical ascent, and can also be used as an inexpensive alternative to a powermeter.

I love my PowerTap, but this is ridiculous.

I saw this story on Velonews today:   Upcoming from CycleOps: Heart-rate-based power meters and superlight carbon wheelset I am going to say this as clearly and simply as I possibly can.  There is no way to measure power using heart rate.   It just isn't possible.   Heart rate is to dynamic.  It changes due to factors such as fed state, level of fatigue, how long you have been exercising, hyrdation level and more.      Power measured via strain gauges is instantaneous,  and any effort put into the pedals can be measured right then and there, but but  heart rate may take several minutes to catch up.    So heart rate is a reasonable proxy  for effort level on long efforts, but  is practically useless for long efforts.

Like I said, I love my powertap,   I have one on my bike, and I have a studio full of powertap stationary trainers.   But don't tell us you are measuring power when you aren't.    What PT is trying to do is measure training stress using heart rate, and make it applicable across different types of exercise.   This is nothing new and it can be useful.    You can read a good article on TRIMP HERE.    But there is absolutely  no no way that TRIMP equals power measurement.

-Sean

Retul Bike at by Studeo DNA - Part 1

I had a Retul bike fit done with Chris Bennet at Studeo DNA in Carlsbad last month, this is Part 1 of a 2 part entry on my experience with Studeo DNA and the Retul System. I'd like to start off with my  thoughts on bike fits, and fitters in general.  A good bike fit is can be one of the most elusive parts of a cyclists training and fitness regime. Fitting an athlete and a bicycle is equal parts science, rider feedback, personal experience, black magic and voodoo. I've always been skeptical of expensive bike fits that use lasers, smoke machines, and other fancy equipment. After all, the most important part of a quality bike fit is the fitter himself. You often see shop mechanics doing bicycle fits, but this never made much sense to me. I don't go to TP Automotive for my shoulder pain, so why would I go to a bike mechanic to help me with a bike fit. Even a week at some bike fit school, and a certificate on the wall doesn't necessarily impress me. I'm not saying that all bicycle mechanics are bad bike fitters, I've met many excellent fitters who also know how to turn a wrench. My point is that working in a bike shop does not necessarily qualify someone to do a good bike fit. In my opinion, the most important aspects of a bike fitter are( in no particular order) are:

1) Experience on the bike: A good bike fitter should have logged literally thousands of hours on the bike. This means that they have several years of experience riding bikes themselves, and simply know what it means to pedal a bike for mile after mile, hour after hour... and how to pedal a bike hard. Their understanding of how a bike and a rider fit together needs to be more than academic, it needs to be experiential.

2) Experience watching others: Ok, this mostly comes with logging the miles themselves. But spending all those hours riding with others riders allows a good bike fitter to instantly sense when something isn't right, to recognize the "suplesse" of a a bike and a rider working in perfect harmony, and to try and help you replicate that yourself.

3) An understanding of biomechanics and physiology: A good bike fitter has to have a fundamental understanding of how our muscles and bones work together to put the power to the pedals. This is where some good old fashioned book learning comes in. Fitters can be self taught, take college classes, go to weekend or week long bike fit classes, or combination of these things to learn and understand the biomechanics of pedaling a bike.  A good background in biomechaincs  allows an experienced fitter understand how parts of the body are related, and adjusting one part effects the rest.

4) Experience doing actual bike fits: Practice makes perfect.   That is not to say that all new bike fitters give poor bike fits,  simply that experience counts.

Each of these things is equally important and helps a bike fitter make you more comfortable, faster, and injury free on your bike. What you sometimes find in a bike shop employee is someone who has some background and understanding of biomchanics because they went to a "fit school", yet I assure you that all of these things cannot be learned in a weekend. Many bike shop employees loves bikes, and love to ride them but don't get all that , much saddle time. If a fitter has not had long hours riding the bike and watching others, a good understanding of biomechanics, and actual experience doing bike fits, then approach with caution.*

Studeo DNA in Carlsbad specializes in doing bike fits only.     Chris is an experienced masters racer, with many miles on under his belt, and one look at Chris clues you in to the the fact that he is a former bodybuilder.   As a bodybuiler and cyclists, Chris  has spent  years   studying and absorbing information about the human body and biomehanics and is as well versed  as anyone how all of those muscles, bones,  ligaments and joints work together.    Chris would be using the Retul Fit System to  help examine my current bike fit, and  possibly recommend any changes in my bike fit.   People usually get a bike fit because they are either new to cycling, have pain or discomfort, or simply want to find a more aerodynamic or  improved biomechanical position.     I had no particular reason to change or  alter my current fit, but I figured I would see what these guys have to offer.

Coming next...the actual fit process:

* I don't want to seem as if I am bashing bike shop employees here, I'm just trying to drive home the point that being a good mechanic  and  being a good bike fitter are not the same thing!   I have also seen non bike shop  bike fitters that posses all of the attributes I've mentioned, at yet still give terrible bike fits!

New Warm Ups Posted for Road, Mountain, Cross, and Track

A warm up is an important part of your race preparations.   It  is rather silly to  train for countless hours,  travel to a race, and payg entry fees if  you aren't  going to be properly warmed up. A  proper warm up may not necessarily  win  you the race, but it can definitely lead to a sub-optimal performance and can lose you the race.   We have posted  warm ups for road racing, cyclocross racing, crit racing, time trialing, track racing, and mountain bike racing.    These warm ups are not set in stone, and you may have to experiment a little bit to find out what works best  for you.    If you haven't been doing a structured warm up, or are looking for something new, consider them a starting point.   If you like them, stick with them,  but  feel free to experiment a little.     You'll more find  information   links to all of our warm up  protocols here.

Milk does not produce excess mucous.

Milk does not produce excess mucous.  That is a strange title for  an entry in this blog, but  it seems very appropriate  to my personal situation today.     I am suffering from a wicked headcold at the  moment.  A headlcold that may have been exacerbated by a high volume training cycle I completed on Sunday. ( and therefore relevant to cyclists, training and coaching)    I have  a slow nasal drip constantly coming out of my nose,  and down the back of my throat,  yet I  my head and upper respiratory  tract feel like they are holding so much pressure they are about to explode.    Basically, my head is full of mucous.     ( Doesn't that paint a pretty picture?  I know some might say my head is full of something else) .   I've heard from more than one person today, that I should stay away from milk and dairy, as it increases mucous production.   My first instinct was: " I don't buy it"   But that could be because I love cheese; swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, gorgonzola cheese, I love the stuff.    Cheese is one of the primary  reasons I need to drop 10lbs before track season starts.  (You can guess the other. It start with a B and end with an eer)  The other reason for my skepticism  is that I am not aware of any physiological  mechanism wherein dairy products produce mucous, but I have been wrong before, so I decided to do a little research. The first article I found that came from a reliable source ( ie: journal article or similar)  was this:   Relationship between milk intake and mucus production in adult volunteers challenged with rhinovirus-2.

In this article, they gave people sinus infections, and then essentially  measured their snot by weight, and measured their other symptoms ( such as cough).  What the researchers  found was  "Milk and dairy product intake was not associated with an increase in upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms of congestion or nasal secretion weight."   Basically:  Milk does not make mucous.   They also found what they called  "A trend ... for cough, when present, to be loose with increasing milk and dairy product intake; however, this effect was not statistically significant"  What this means is that basically they think there  may have been a difference there, that milk may have made  the cough  more loose, but that  the researchers did not have enough data or statistical power to prove it.    To me, this seems like like a great reason TO  enjoy dairy while you have a sinus infection.  I would rather couch up some loose phlegm that comes up easily, rather than that thick stuff!

Then I found this:  The Milk-Mucus Belief: Sensory Analysis Comparing Cow's Milk and a Soy Placebo.

In this study the researchers  performed a double blind study, and gave  subject either a milk , or  soy milk beverage that was indistinguishable from the milk .   Subjects reported increases in 3 of the mucous related variables when they drank the test beverage, but the effect was the same for  both the milk, and the placebo soy beverage.   The researchers "concluded that the effect measured is not specific to cow's milk, but can be duplicated by a non-cow's milk drink with similar sensory characteristics."    Bascially, milk does not make mucous, but if you think it does, and if you think you are drinking milk, you may report more symptoms.   I am going off of the abstract on this one, and I would like to read the whole article so I can see a bit more of their statistics and physiology, but I'm not willing to pay $41.95 for the privilege.

Those first two are from the 90s, and I found more from that  time period, but this is the one that really sealed the deal:   Milk Consumption Does Not Lead to Mucus Production or Occurrence of Asthm is a well written review article from 2005 with 49 references.    These  Swiss researchers carefully reviewed the literature and determined that recommendations to abstain from milk and dairy  in order to  avoid  to increased mucous or asthma symptoms  is not supported by research.  They also report that people  who believe  "milk makes mucous"  tend to report increased symptoms with milk consumption, while people that do not believe " milk makes mucous" do not report increased symptoms.   This in itself means nothing, until they point out once again, that people who believe "milk makes mucous"  are easily fooled by a placebo.    The reviewers  go on to say that avoidance of dairy products may lead to limited intake of certain nutrients, specifically calcium.   This might not be a an issue for a cyclist suffering from a short term a headcold, but  fact that I can still enjoy my cheese ravioli for dinner with no fear of extra snot buildup in my head gives me some comfort as I  stay at home recovering ans itching to get back on my bike.

-Sean

In 2003, I wrote about how milk  is an excellent recovery drink: ( this is a very old version of my old coaching site)

Several studies have confirmed that milk is an excellent recovery drink, and  , and works as well as commercially available recovery beverages for both cyclists, and runners.

Heidi Klum Likes Milk

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Red Trolley Classic

The Red Trolley Classic is on the schedule and registration is open.   Its'  the first big race weekend for people in San Diego and really all of  Southern California.  I've been involved with this race since its first year in 2003, and I really do enjoy putting on the race.   I've managed to keep the entry fees the same, even though the costs have risen by 20% over the last several years.  Ambulance cost has gone up by about $400 since the race started, USCF insurance fees have gone up by about $600, officials fees by about $200,   and San Diego City  traffic control costs have gone up by about $1500 over the last several years. ( from $300 a few years ago, to $1800 this year)  Fortunately the costs of the toilets and dumpsters, Ralph Elliot's announcing, traffic control equipment, and other costs have stayed relatively the same over the years.  Still, these increases mean that race entry fees  will go up  by a few dollars next year.    It also means that we have to  give some serious thought to the categories that we have racing.   The cash, and time outlays are quite significant, and I am putting my own money on the line.   We  already lose money all morning  by running the collegiate races, which have relatively small fees and mandated low entry fees.  We had to make the decision a few years ago to cut out the junior races, as we can't afford to lose money on those as well.   The women's field has been the smallest field over the last several years, and if the women's race does not have enough entries this year, we may have to eliminate that category as well.    It is simple  fact that  revenue needs to be generated to cover all the costs of putting on the race.  I would love to help support women's racing, but  I simply can't afford to take money out of my own pocket to make that happen.  So please women racers.... please come out to the 9th Annual Red Trolley, so that  we can have you there for the 10th! -Sean

You may want to read my post from last spring explaining:  Why it costs $10,000 to put on an industrial park crit.

Is power measurement the "End All Be All?"

I personally have been using power meters since 2002, and I love to use power meters to coach athletes. I'm kind of a science geek and I love to crunch the numbers and evaluate the data. I also love that fact that the power data can enhance or even tell a different story from what the athlete conveys. Power meters give truly objective and accurate information that can't be obtained any other way. They let us track progress more accurately than any other method, and they help us dial in an athlete's effort level to ensure an efficient use of time, as well as determine when "enough is enough." There plenty of resources out there on training with power, and there is ever more powerful software available to analyze, evaluate, and plan training. These are all powerful tools, that help athletes track and attain higher levels of fitnes, as well as help coaches communicate and track their athletes better than ever. The problem comes when athletes and coaches become too reliant on the power meter.

The training and coaching of an athlete is not just a simple recipe or formula with predetermined inputs and outputs. Every athlete is different, and every athlete's response is going to be just a little bit different. An athlete needs to be viewed as a whole organism, not just a set of power data. In fact the subjective feedback from an athlete is every bit as important as that power data. I think some athletes and coaches easily forget that. They just want to open up a book, take training plan from the book, and adjust it for the athlete's power numbers. It is easy to get caught up in all the charts, graphs, and information that today's powerful software provides, but all those charts and graphs just don't tell the whole picture. I would argue that power data in isolation can even confuse the issue. For example in riders look at their power meter data along with a chart that says they are in a Cat 1 range and get frustrated because they are still a Cat 3.

How and athlete "feels" is every bit as important as what that athlete does. In fact there are several athletes I have been training for years that don't use a a power meter, a heart rate monitor, or any piece of electronic equipment on their bikes whatsoever. We train primarily using RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion), or how an effort feels, and these athlete have reached many of their goals, as well as put wins on their palmares. Power meters have their place. And if i had my way, most of my athletes would train and race on them all the time. But power meters aren't for everyone. Price, functionality, and even all of that information makes powermeters and training with power undesirable for some.

For those that don't want to train with power, RPE works just fine. I used to rely heavily on heart rate monitors for athletes without power meters, but now I've gone the other way and prefer to use just mostly RPE. Heart rate data can simply change so much from day to day, and RPE conveys both what I want from the athlete, as well as what the athlete should do much better than heart rate.

Power meters have their place and many coaches and athletes love to use them, but they are by no means a requirement for success. Coaching and training is more than just looking at power numbers, and the entire experience of the athlete needs to be taken into account. Rate of perceived exertion and how an athlete feels is just as important as power numbers, and many coached athletes are successful using nothing more than than their own perceptions and some feedback from their coach.

Use the comments section below to tell me what you think.

Coconut Water for Rehydration

Coconut  Water  for Rehydration When I was in Costa Rica this last April, one of the locals I was riding with suggested we stop and have a drink of fresh coconut water.    Coconut water is basically the juice from the inside of a young coconut, before that juice becomes coconut milk.    To have a taste of the stuff, we simply stopped by a roadside fruit stand, and the owner knocked a whole in the coconut and gave us a straw.   The coconut water had an interesting taste, very mildly sweet, and refreshing.   As we sat next to our bicycles,  the local rider started telling me how coconut water was a perfect rehydration drink.   He went on about how coconut water was isotonic, meaning it has the same electrolyte concentration as the blood, and that it was actually used   as IV fluid in place of saline during WWII.    Those that know me, know that I consider myself and “open minded skeptic” when it comes to this sort of thing.  Honestly I thought the local guys was probably full of it, but I was still intrigued and I decided I would investigate further when I returned home.

What I found out actually surprised me.  Not only was coconut water isotonic to blood, but it was really used in WWII and there were several journal articles reporting the emergency use of coconut water being successfully used for IV hydration in place of saline.  Another study suggested that coconut water was just as effective as a commercially available carbohydrate/electrolyte beverage in rehydrating subjects, and the subjects actually had an easier time drinking the coconut water.     Now I had to go find myself some coconut water. ( There are no roadside fruit stands with young coconut near my house).

They don’t have the stuff at the Vons supermarket around the corner,  but I found some at the Pancho Villa Market  just a few minutes away.

The coconut water I found was 70% percent coconut water ( juice)  by volume, with 30% added water and a little sugar.    12 oz of plain coconut water would have about  70 calories, but the added sugar brings the calorie count of  the stuff I bought to about  110 calories per can.  This is still a little bit more than calories than Gatorade, and  about  1/3 less than a can of soda   The extra sweetness is not unpleasant after a long hard ride in the heat,  but I wouldn’t be opposed to have the unsweetened stuff either.  It is actually quite easy to buy canned,  unsweetened coconut water  online, so I'll probably order some soon.

Physiologically I wouldn’t say its “perfect” as an electrolyte replacement drink,  as the sodium is a bit low (it has about half as much sodium as  the same volume of Gatorade).   But then again it is packed with potassium and  you are most likely going to get plenty of sodium  from your post exercise meal.    it is  really a little low on sodium for use during exercise, but is pretty good as a post exercise drink.  Some studies have even shown that  potassium  is  highly important for maintaining proper blood pressure and heart health, so the extra potassium  could be a bonus.

My personal verdict?   My fridge is almost always  stocked with a few cans of coconut water these days.  It has become my go to beverage when I get home from a long ride.  It tastes good , gives me a few carbohydrates, and  replaces some of those lost electrolytes.

So  now is the time where I give you my shameless plug for your chance to try FRESH coconut water.   We are going to have a Crank Cycling training camp in Costa Rica this February.  It will be a weeklong camp where you can ride every day, relax by the hot springs each night, and sip  fresh coconut water    straight from the coconut.  Stay tuned for details.

Free Coaching with a Power Meter Purchase

You know you’ve been thinking about the taking the power meter plunge for a while now. We know that you want to quantify how hard you are pounding those pedals into submission (+- 1.5%) It is unlikely that your power meter will make you the as tough as Jens Voight,. Nor will it help you put out enough watts to power a small alpine village like Fabian Cancellara. But a PM can help you hone in your training so that you can see the maximum possible improvement, as well as make the most of your precious training time.But what do you do with that expensive toy once you get it? Well, the Crank Cycling coaches are here to help. Crank Cycling is an authorized dealer for both Powertap and SRM and we really want to get you on a power meter. More than that....we want to get you into a power meter and teach you how to use it. That’s why from now through the end of October, we are giving you 3 months of coaching with the purchase of either an SRM or Powertap SL. It’s as easy as that. Buy a power meter and a Crank Cycling coach will work with you for 3 months. That alone is a $495 value. So head on over to the Coaches page and check out the coaches. Don’t know which coach is best suited for you? Contact head Coach Sean Burke and he will help you figure out which Crank Cycling coach is the best match for you.

So to sum it up.... Here are the reasons why you should buy a new power meter from Crank Cycling right now:

You’ll get free coaching worth about $500 It will help you make the most of your training time You want to quantify how hard you are crushing it They look cool Jens Voight uses one, and he is a badass You know you want one This offer is only good through October 31st 2010

Contact Coach Burke at Coachsburke@gmail.com to get going on your power meter.

Racing at the Top

As the team manager for the Ranchos DET Team I have the opportunity to share in the challenges and successes of cyclists who ride at the top tier of amateur racing. One of the Riders I work with now is Bryan Larsen. He started out the year as a category 2 and has recently gotten his upgrade to category 1. Category 1 is the top of the amateur ranks. Bryan is a full time student and getting his upgrade has taken lots of hard work, focus, and balance. Bryan was recently invited to participate at the Sacramento Gran Prix as part of a Composite Team. Below is a race report of the Sacramento Gran Prix. The Sacramento Gran Prix was a Pro-Am event held on may 16th 2010 the same day the Tour of California finished in Sacramento.

Sacramento Grand Prix write up:

Hometown. Hometown crowds and friends. Same Course as the Tour of California circuit. And Money. What other reason do you need to be motivated, nervous, and excited all at the same time? And I think nervous was an understatement, as I was more nervous before this race than I had been since national championships back in 2008. My nervousness was only amplified by my crash last week at the Long Beach Grand Prix while still in contention for a descent place.

I’ll walk through a couple key points from the race:

50m in: Crash. 1 lap+50m in: crash. 2 laps: crash. Etc etc etc No joke, There was a crash at the start. And while receiving a free lap the rider(s) proceeded to take down half the 170 racer group moving at 34mph on the following lap while trying to reintegrate themselves into the pack. They ended up giving about half the pack a free lap and let them start riding prior to the front end of the groups arrival at the pit, which means I went from about 15th place to 85th place in a second.

With about 8 laps to go a two place prime was announced and I wasn’t super far from the front so I decided I might give it a go and just start late and not dig too deep. I did start late and by the time I was starting to sprint Justin Williams was basically crossing the line while I rolled in securely in 2nd. We cruised back into the pack only to see lap cards one lap later. I got real nervous when I saw this for two reasons: 1) I had just done a sprint and only had 6 laps to recover now and 2) MORE CRASHES. Everyone thought they could win the race and were doing stupid things to try and get to the front which in turn only caused more pileups. A break went up the road with about 3 laps to go with Yahoo blocking for their rider in the break. The break was caught and Yahoo decided to do a Bahati style lead out while riding the inside straight before flicking riders to swing wide right before the turns before swinging back to the inside line. Coming on two laps to go, there was MAJOR crash in the last corner. It happened relatively close to the front and I could hear it not too far behind me. The following lap we were coming into those dangerous corners, 3 and 4 and the moto decided to try and neutralize the race but Yahoo and everyone else essentially went around him. There was no way we were being neutralized with 1.25 laps to go. People were still sprawled out on the pavement in corner 4 from the previous lap’s crash. 1 lap to go. And I’m sitting about 20th. WAY TOO FAR BACK! Crash again while a group of riders were pinched through a corner. Next corner: CRASH! Everyone wanted what only one person can have and that was a win at the Sacramento Grand Prix. I found myself flying into the last corner under Justin with a little heads up on my part he didn’t pinch me and as a result I let him role by me immediately following the turn. 500M to go. I’m 7th-ish wheel and glued to Justin Williams’ wheel. Yahoo was still at the front driving as hard as they could and I was out of the saddle almost immediately and before I knew it I was pinched by a Yahoo guy and forced me into the wind to the left of the rest of the leadout train which happened to be right when Justin jumped forcing me to lose out on that valuable accelerating draft. I had to push my own wind and continued to do so. I crossed the line 4th within ¼ of a wheels length from 3rd. I’m glad I stayed upright, in fact if you had asked me 5 laps into the race how I’d finish I would have said I was going to go down. Another note: I think I heard there were 5 or so crashes in the last 3 laps!

It was a neat experience racing on the same course as Cavendish would be winning later in the day as well as standing on the same podium step looking out with your hands up. Maybe one day a few years from now . . . well, it never hurts to dream ;)

Bryan is on the far right and Justin is looking back at him

Bryan is on the far right again

At the rate Bryan is going he will be in the professional ranks soon. Good job Bryan keep it up!

Cheer Coach Jesse

It's Time for Speed

June and July are the peak months for most racing seasons throughout the US. Most championship races are held in these months, including Junior, under 23, elite senior, and masters nationals. Some state championships also take place at this time of year. This means peaking, tapering, and speed leading into these months are key. All of these are accomplished by lessening time and duration in your workouts, while increasing intensity and effort. These changes in your workout can be as simple as removing a long ride and adding more sprints, or by pacing with a motor and incrementally increasing the speed until your peak. An important component to these efforts is having rest days so your legs recover, as well as phasing in new exercises gradually so as not to incur injury.

One common workout to do to help build this speed is 30 second speed intervals. These 30-second bursts are followed by a 2-5 minute rest and repeated. Efforts in races at the height of the season are usually more intense and more frequent. By this time in the season, many riders are fit from training and racing and want to show off that fitness by attacking over and over again.

Riding in this aggressive manner splits the race fields in half, thins out the weaker riders, and helps us drop our friends on the Saturday club ride.

If you need help designing a training program that can increase your speed, we at Crank Cycling can help you. Shoot us an email. Let’s see what we can accomplish together.

Cheers,

Coach Jesse

Usain Bolt vs Sean Eadie

Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive, but can a top track cyclists beat him? That was a question posed in the June issue of outside magazine. Most trackies know that a top track sprinter doing a 200M time trial will go almost twice as fast as a 100m runner ( both pretty darn close to 10 seconds, with the track rider going twice the distance), but the cyclists has the advantage of the standing start. The folks at Outside magazine went to Jim Martin, and former track racer and now one of the top cycling bio-mechanist in the world. Just do a google scholar search and you'll see. Jim has done extensive work in modeling performance, so from a theoretical perspective, he was the guy to answer this question.Jim took some power data from Sean Eadie, the 2002 match sprint world champion, along Bolt's 9.58 100M and ran the model. From a standing start, it makes sense that the longer the race gets the more likely the cyclist is to win, as the runners are already slowing down after 100M and the cyclists is just gaining speed. But it is a pretty close race at 100M. Who do you think won?

The answer is the cyclists by 0.16 seconds. Bolt pulls ahead at the start, but then Eadie Passes him at 89.7 meters. Jim's models are excellent, and can be be highly accurate, but when it comes down to 0.16 seconds, I think it could still be anyone's race. If those two men lined up at the starting line in top form, I wouldn't have much confidence in predicting the winner one way or the other. I would love to see something like this happen. It would be great or Gatorade, Red Bull, or a company like that could put on a race with Bolt and a top track sprinter.....maybe Chris Hoy or Gregory Bauge...Jaime Staff is known for heaving a blistering start, so he might be a good candidate. What do you think?

99 lap pursuit

Check it out, a Pomona College student built a tiny velodrome in the library as part of a senior project.    His velodrome is only 132 feet in circumference, so that would be a little over 99 laps to do a 4K pursuit... the same as 12 laps at a 333.33 meter track like San Diego, or 16 laps at a 250 meter track like LA.  I bet  standing starts on that thing are next to impossible, and  you would probably be ill advised to put more than  say ...to riders at  a time, but it still looks like fun! -Sean

Heat Acclimatization

One of the riders I have been coaching for several years is training for the SCNCA time trial championship. Last year when he raced there, it was an unusually warm day and the heat really got to him. Steve lives in San Diego, where the weather is quite temperate, but the race is in Lake Los Angeles where it gets MUCH warmer in May. In fact the lake Los Angeles area is typically at least 10-15 degrees warmer in May than coastal San Diego Where Steve lives. So 2 weeks ago Steve started working to acclimitize to the heat by working out in his sun room twice a week. He set up the trainer, turns on the heater and just goes for it. Heat accilimitization starts to occur in is little as 3 days, and full accilimitization can be achieved in as little as 2 weeks. Acclimitiazation adaptations simply allow the body to stay a little cooler AND operate at a higher level when hot. These adaptations include increased blood volume, increased skin blood flow increased sweat rate, and changes in the sweat itself.Steve is off to race in the 50+ category. Good luck steve, those hot trainer sessions should pay off!

San Diego Velodrome Class Chariot Race

Here is a cool video, shot by Chris Grout during the adult developmental class, of a chariot race. A chariot race is a race where the riders are held at the start, and then all do one lap from a standing start. This is a great race for beginners, because there isn't a whole lot of jockeying for position, it also teaches "finshing skills" such as holding your line out of corner 4, and just keeping your wits about you when you are getting tired. This is also a cool race or drill for more advanced riders. It helps you with your explosiveness and speed, a requirement for just about any kind of racers, but even more for crit racers and track racers. You do 3 or 4 of these in one day, and I promise you you'll be feeling it! -Sean

Opening Night TNR

The first night of Tuesday Night Racing  for 2009 at the San Diego Velodrome  was last night.   It was a nice warm evening and everyone had a great time.  Coached rider Todd Woodlan was looking strong in the C group, and will be surely upgrading after a few nights.  Chris Daggs raced  with the A group and was looking pretty strong himself.     I played race director for the evening,  so no racing for me just yet.  Below is a photod of me motorpacing the A group to get them warmed up. -SeanSean Motorpacing