Monday, November 15, 2010

New PowerBar Perform Sports Drink

This is what will be used at Ironman Events

Recently I had the opportunity to use the new PowerBar drink in training. Originally I only had it in the premixed bottles which sure was nice...but took up some space. But it does come in a powder form which is a bit easier for when you have time to mix it up.

Probably the most important thing for me in a sports drink is if I will drink it. There are many out there that are simply too sweet for me and it ends up sitting in my bottles for me to dump out at the end of a ride. So that is the first marker. Because if a drink it 'perfect' in every way, but does not taste good, you don't tend to drink it. I like the flavor of the new PowerBar drink and its mild sweetness.

The next step is looking at the electrolyte make up and the rest of the nutritional information. For those of you that NEED to know EXACTLY what is in it, here you go.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Carbon Seat Posts. Lube it right...torque it right

Many people have been having trouble with carbon seat posts slipping. I have seen all kinds of solutions which I always say, "It may work for a bit, but that is not designed to do that." So, there is a right way, and then there are other ways. The other ways people seem to think work range from loads of tape, cleaning off the post and cleaning out the frame so it's bone dry, and then also using traditional grease. Those ways are not recommended. Instead, use a carbon specific grease and tighten your bolts to recommended torque specifications. Here is a step by step method that Morgan, from Fitness Fanatics, demonstrates.

Finishline Fiber Grip

Get a portion of it on your finger...

and rub it up and down the post...about 3-4" from the bottom.

Insert the post back into the frame...

Torque to appropriate load. Most seatpost require anywhere from 4 to 6 Nm, and they normally say what the Nm they require on the seatpost cuff.

If you don't have a torque wrench, and you have a bike with many carbon parts, I strongly suggest you invest in this tool. Frame manufacturers are not warrantying bikes that are cracked because of owners over tightening bolts. And one of the most common bolt that is over tightened is the seat post because people use the wrong grease. Horrible cycle.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Group Riding Etiquette

After riding in many groups, I started to come up with a list of suggestions. After searching around a bit for some pics, I stumbled upon some other 'lists' and now I will post them here.

Group riding can be a lot of fun when people all are 'speaking the same language.' As triathletes, we often train alone and therefore really only pay attention to what we need. But change that solo ride into a group (4+) and the dynamics change quite a bit. What we think is common sense, we soon realize isn't so common afterall.

Although cycling has its benefits and is relaxing and fun, it’s always more pleasurable to ride with someone than to ride alone. However, riding with someone or riding in a group requires adherence to certain rules. It also requires skills that may take a little practice before mixing it up with the local club. No one likes a squirrel in the pack so I thought I’d outline several common sense "rules" of etiquette to follow when we are out there enjoying the scenery with a group of friends. These "rules" will increase your enjoyment and safety whether you are just putzing along or if you are hammering in a fast paced training ride. You surely don’t want to peel yourself off the pavement or cause someone else to be seriously injured by displaying poor riding habits.
Be Predictable—This may be the most important rule (even for solo riding) and it involves every aspect of riding from changing positions in the group to following the traffic rules. You might say that all the other rules support this one. Smooth predictable riding isn’t just a matter of style. If unpredictability is the only predictable part of your riding style, you are a hazard to yourself and everyone else who has the misfortune to ride with you. Have you ever been on a ride where the group stops at an intersection and people scatter all over the lane? Some going through on the wrong side of the road and others turning left from the right side? Some running the stop sign and others doing it right? It’s confusing and irritating to drivers of vehicles as they approach a situation where cyclists are going in all different directions or just blowing through stops. Part of being predictable is riding within the rules of the road as a vehicle. Groups should maintain integrity when approaching intersections. That means staying in the correct lane, stopping together, and starting together as traffic allows. It goes without saying that if we demand the right to ride on the road, then we must be willing to ride responsibly...especially as a group.

Don’t Overlap Wheels—This habit will get you in real trouble. This is a good way to test your ability to do cartwheels if you don't adhere to this rule. Some people do it from lack of concentration, others may just not know any better, but sooner or later they'll crash. There is no recovery from a front wheel deflection. All it takes is for the person in front to move sideways a few inches...if someone is overlapping his wheel, that someone will go down along with practically everyone who is behind him. Many times the person in front can recover, but not the people behind.

Be Steady—This includes speed and line. If the person behind you fails to adhere to #2, you will contribute to a crash if you wallow around all over the road. When everyone is working for the group, maintain a steady speed as you go to the front. Ever notice how easy it is to ride behind some folks? If you take note of their riding style you’ll probably notice they don’t yo-yo around in the pack. They are rock steady. When they take the lead, they don't accelerate. If they are strong enough to accelerate the group, they do it after the previous pull has rejoined the rear of the group and then only gradually so as to not string out the pack. When they are leading, they ride a straight line and their speed will be constant with the conditions. What a joy to ride with someone like this. Sometimes steady doesn’t just mean speed. It means steady pressure on the pedals…uphill or downhill, headwind or tailwind. When you are following someone like this, life is good! When they are following, they don’t make sudden moves or they know how to control their spacing by using their body position instead of using the brakes. Sudden braking will set off general alarms from everyone in the rear and make you very unpopular. If you do use the brakes, feather the front brake only and keep pedaling against the resistance. This allows you to moderate your speed without disturbing trailing riders.

Announce Hazards—When you are in the lead, you are responsible for the safety of everyone behind you. You will become very unpopular very quickly if people behind you keep bouncing off of potholes, running over rocks, or reacting to unsafe traffic situations that you fail to point out. You need to be very vocal when approaching intersections, slowing, stopping, or turning and all actions should be smooth and deliberate. Sudden, unannounced actions will throw terror into any peloton. Riders in the pack should relay these warnings to the rear. When you are following, announce oncoming traffic from the rear…in this case others should relay this info toward the front.

Signal—Signaling lets everyone (vehicles and riders) know your intentions…remember #1? This makes you predictable. Also, it’s a good idea to make eye contact with oncoming traffic at intersections. One note here, use your right arm straight out to signal a right turn. It’s uncool to stick out your left bent arm to signal a right turn; more importantly, it’s impracticable and ineffective. In a big group combine this with a loud vocal warning of your intentions.

Don’t Fixate—If you are staring at something (i.e., the wheel in front of you), eventually you’ll hit it! When you walk in a crowd, you don’t stare at the back of the person in front of you…so you shouldn’t ride like that either. Learn to be comfortable looking around or through the riders ahead of you. This will allow you to see things that are developing in front of the group. With a little practice you will be able to "sense" how far you are off the wheel in front of you.

Stay Off Aero Bars—This shouldn’t require much discussion. They are much too unstable to be used in a group ride. Plus, you don't need to be on aero bars if you are in a pack as you will receive more aerodynamic effect from the other riders anyway. Maybe...one exception…when you are at the front pulling you can get away with it, but never, never, never when you are within the group or following a wheel. I know there are some people, usually triathletes, who are more comfortable on the bars. But, sooner or later, steering with your elbows in a group will add new meaning to the term "lunch on the road." Use aero bars for what they are meant for...solo fast riding.

Don’t Leave Stragglers— If you get separated at intersections, as a matter of courtesy, the lead group should soft pedal until the rest have rejoined. Another note here is that if you are the one who will be caught by the light, don't run the red light to maintain contact. If they don't wait for you to catch up, you may not want to be riding with them anyway. Also as a courtesy to those who may not be able to stay with the group, the pack should wait at certain points along the route to regroup. Especially, at turn points and if the stragglers don’t know the route. No one should be left alone on a group ride. If you don't adhere to this rule, your "group" will get smaller each week until you're riding solo.

Know Your Limitations—If you’re not strong enough or too tired to take a turn at the front, stay near the back and let the stronger cyclists pull in front of you instead of making them go to the back of the line. Unless they are a complete...well you know...they will appreciate that more than having to get past you to get back to the front. Plus, it strokes the animal's ego as you admit that he/she is the stronger rider. Another point here, don’t pull at the front faster and longer than you have energy to get back in at the rear (Remember, your "pull" isn't over until you do). I've seen this scenario many times, it comes "biker wannabe's" time to take his/her pull and the pace is getting up there. The thoughts running through his/her mind is, "I need to show these guys that I can pull 2 mph faster than everyone else has been pulling." They go to the front and hammer. Legs begin to burn after a monumental pull...now it's time to pull over and let some "lesser" rider take a turn. Well, the "lesser" biker is all refreshed after tagging on a wheel and is ready to punch it up another notch. It's bye-bye to the first rider as he/she gets blown off the back...toast! Testosterone and ego is a volatile mix and it can get you dropped in a heartbeat.

Change Positions Correctly—A common beginner faux pas is to stop pedaling just before pulling off the front. This creates an accordion effect toward the rear. Keep a steady pressure on the pedals until you have cleared the front. After pulling off, soft pedal and let the group pull through. As the last couple riders are passing through, begin to apply more pressure to smoothly take your position at the rear. If you don’t time it correctly, you’ll create a gap and have to sprint to get back on. A technique used to reenter the line is to move your bike sideways first then your body. Try it. It will feel awkward at first, but it is the safest way to move within a group. It's just a small subtle move not an exaggerated one. If you lean your body first and misjudge the speed or the person in front of you slows down, you’ll touch wheels and be leaning the wrong way…bad situation! If you move the bike first, you will have a chance to pull it back.

Climbing—Ever been behind someone when they stood up going up hill and all of a sudden you were all over them? If you need to stand, shift up a gear to compensate for the slower cadence and stand up smoothly keeping a steady pressure on the pedals. This will keep you from moving backward relative to the rider behind you. Apply the opposite technique when changing to a sitting position. Downshift and keep a steady pressure on the pedals to avoid abrupt changes in speed. It takes a little practice, but your riding buddies will be glad you spent the time learning how to do it right.

Descending—The leader must overcome a much greater wind resistance as the speed increases. If you are leading, keep pedaling. If you don’t, everyone behind you will eat your lunch. Riders to the rear will accelerate faster downhill as drafting becomes more effective at the higher speeds. If you are following, back off a couple of bike lengths to compensate for the greater affects of drafting. If you are closing on the rider in front, sit up and let the wind slow you or use light braking to maintain spacing, but in both cases you should keep pedaling against the resistance. Keeping your legs moving not only makes it easier to keep the spacing, but also helps the legs get rid of the acid build up from the previous climb.

Relax—This one is really important. It will allow you to be smooth and responsive. You can bet that if you see someone who is riding a straight line and is very steady, he/she is relaxed on the bike. It not only saves energy, but it makes bike handling much more effective. Anytime you are riding in close proximity of other riders there's always the chance that you may come into contact. If you have tense arms and get bumped from the side, the shock will go directly to the front wheel and you will swerve, possibly lose control, and possibly cause a massive pile up. If you are relaxed, it's much easier to absorb the bump without losing control. A good exercise is to go to a grassy field (which is softer than pavement if you fall) with a friend and ride slowly side by side. Relax your arms and lightly bump each other using your relaxed elbows to absorb the (light) impact. You will become familiar with how to safely recover from that type of contact. It may save you some road rash someday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Love this Time of Year

This is the time of year that you just don't care about training. You go back to the roots of enjoying a run, ride, or even a swim. You workout with people you have not been able to because a ride is just that...a ride. You indulge in food that you normally would not on a ride and learn that it just may have helped. Swims at the pool are not about 'time' but about enjoying the feel of the water. Runs are not about splits, and how fast you were able to run a loop compared to last week...they are full of conversation, stops, and views. This is the time of year when you enjoy your surroundings...people, nature, yourself. This is the time when you start to again realize why you supposedly like to train/workout. It's not always about what race is next.

Then there are also those days that you simply do nothing. And that feels just as good.

Happy October people. Enjoy the lazy months while you can. Well, except those of you racing IM AZ and Clearwater :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Better Story

One happy...and proud...family

For the month of August it seems that Emma has been doing a lot more racing than any of us. She wanted to race the Hot Summer Nights 5k series (3 races). So, like any 7 year old, she wanted to pre run the course a few days prior. So we, as a family, decided we would. I told Emma that since the course goes right by our house, we could join the course there and do 1 loop. She said that would not work. Emma said that we needed to drive to the start and do it the "right" way. Sooo, we loaded up and headed to Twigs.

We got out and ran the course. Emma did a great job pacing herself and getting an idea as to how the course went. She remembered a lot of it from the race last year (she ran it 4 times). Afterward, I was thinking that she may rethink running it, or setting too lofty of a goal. Nope. She wanted to run faster than she did last year where her fastest time was a 34:50. If you know Emma, then you will know that when she sets goals, so will bleed through the eyes to meet them.

She ran her first race in 31:40. Holy cow! I thought a sub 33 would be great for her this year. The conditions were really good on that day so to repeat would be tough the following week. Emma did not seem to take race #2 as serious, but somehow she pulled out a 30:20. She really worked hard. She collapsed at the finish and was so excited. The last week was much hotter and conditions just did not seem the best for a PR. Jessi and I both ran with her and cheered her along. I was getting hot, so I knew her little body must be miserable. But she kept it steady and finished strong. Her goal was to beat last week's time, but her super secret goal was to go sub 30. Sub 30 was a steep goal given the conditions. But we cruised along and I knew Emma was working so hard. She was heading into the last 400 meters and we could tell she was picking it up. But she knew to make time was not about a sprint...a steady effort makes up time. So as she was approaching the final 100 she was clipping long well and when she could see the clock, she raised her hands as if winning the whole race.

Emma seeing the clock

You can almost 'feel' the excitement

Emma high 5'ing Uncle Mark

On the clock read 28:04. She was so excited to cross that line. She annihilated her super secret goal. She fell grass and was almost in tears. She did it! She set goals each week and worked to meet them. Along the way, she beat over half the women who raced...wow.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Feeling Flat?

There are many events that happen in life that connects us all. Events like, locking your keys in the car, burning dinner, saying something you regret when you are intoxicated (maybe more than once), having your zipper down when walking out of a public restroom. All these things most people can say, “Oh, I have done that,” and then a subsequent story ensues.

As a cyclist, or triathlete, one thing we all seem to stumble on from time to time is getting a flat on a ride. Some of these unfortunate events happen when you are close to home, and simply require a quick and easy change. Other times, they require a phone call…assuming you are in cellular range. But on occasion you are faced with a unique challenge that you wonder if there is a solution to.

One such challenge I have been faced with from time to time is when the puncture size is so large, that the tube will actually come out of the tire upon inflation. These can happen on the “tread” of the tire (part that touches the road) or on the sidewall (part that does no touch the road where all the tire information is). If you do not notice this, after you install a new tube and inflate it to 80-100psi, the tube can come out immediately, like a kid blowing a bubble, and explode. Though it makes one hell of a sound, it will still cost you the price of a tube (about $4-$5). One expensive firecracker.

A couple weeks ago, I, once again, experienced such an event. I was riding with Jessi as she was conquering her ascent of Mt. Spokane, and to my fortune, I flatted near the base. As I waved her on and told her to go one without me (between the rapid panting) she continued up the climb and I allowed my wheel, with the deflated tired and tube, rumble to a stop. Upon my inspection of the tire, I saw that there was a pretty big slit in the tire that went through the casing as well (meaning the slit went all the way through to the tube). Normal punctures are caused by small sharp objects like glass, nails, staples, etc. The impact those have on a tire itself are quite small and the tire can normally handle installing a new tube and you are on your way. But when the cut is so large, as stated earlier, you have to get a little more creative.

All the supplies

Here is a picture of the cut in the tread

The cut being a little more visible

The inside of the tire...it's actually bigger than it looks in the picture

In fixing such a problem, you need to put something inside the tire, where the slice is, so that the tube will not “squirt” out. This does not have to be a very big, or bulky, item. Most things can be found on the side of the road. In this case, I had just eaten PowerBar so I used the wrapper. I have also used a dollar bill, grass, paper cup, etc. Just something to block the opening. You could even use a patch from your patch kit and stick that over the hole in the tire. Seems like a waste of a patch though.

The wrapper

So the next steps are the exact same when you change a flat. The critical part is to make sure that you place the covering over the whole. It would be easy to have it slip when you put the tube in or when you inflate it.

However, I have to say that I did not use a CO2 cartridge on this one, which I normally always do. I used this cool little mini pump that fits INSIDE my under-saddle bag. It took quite a few pumps, but was well worth it. It is made by Innovations. I added this to my repair kit after having my CO2 inflator not work. Believe it or not, this has happened twice to me when I am out by myself. It is pretty frustrating when you have 2 tubes and 2 CO2 cartridges, but you cannot get the air into the new tubes! And that is where the cell phone comes into play.

Yup, it works

I hope you never flat, and if you do, you don’t have to implement this strategy. But if you do end up having a large hole, or slice, in your tire, don’t freak out. There is an easy fix.

Friday, July 09, 2010

2 Videos Of The Kids Triathlon

Emma after the finish. (photo by Dave Erickson)

Dave Erickson (www.daveerickson360.com) created a two part video series of the race that Tri Fusion put on again this year. It was an amazing day and so many kids (a sellout) were able to take advantage of it. If you ever want to watch triathlon in its purest form, go watch a kids triathlon. These guys have a blast and put it all out there. And parents... I think they get a better workout in the process as well. A HUGE thank you to all the sponsors that made this great event happen and all the hard work of the volunteers and excellent direction by the beautiful Jessi Thompson.

Click HERE for video #1
Click HERE for Video #2

Friday, July 02, 2010

Mt Spokane

I think it's a ride that most cyclists and triathletes do once a year or so. That is, ride to the top of Mt. Spokane. This is about 3500 vertical feet +/- effort that has some good pitches. Some friends of mine have ridden some of the epic stages in the Tour de France such as Mont Ventoux and L'Alpe d'Huez and said that Mt. Spokane was a tougher climb. I personally have not confirmed this, but I think it goes to say that it is a respectable climb.

It has been a ride that I have been wanting to do for over a month now, but just have not had the time. But recently Shawn Howard, a stellar local cyclist, posted on facebook that he climbed up there and had pics that looked cool. So, I thought, "What the heck." Jessi and I rode for over an hour before she had to go and meet with my mom. She just got a new Cervelo road bike that she has been enjoying to ride and we have been getting out from time to time and enjoying time together on road bikes. Since I did not have a lot more going on, I started towards Mt. Spokane. The day was cloudy with some shots of sun. But there were some very daunting clouds that were throwing down the rain that required any driver to run the wipers on high and slow to about 30mph.

As I rolled across the flatlands, the weather was holding. But just when I hit the base of the mountain, it started to rain...and boy did it rain. I tried to capture how hard it was raining but I could not pull my phone out of the plastic bag because it would have been ruined by the volume of rain.

The last 2 pics were taken through a ziplock bag...but you can still see how hard it's raining

As I climbed up the gradual 5-6% approach, I watched the water stream from my cotton gloves and looked at the sleeves on my jersey droop from my arms and drip water. Fortunately I wore my Timex thermal vest by Sugoi. Though it would get wet, I would hopefully stay warm...especially on the way down. I rode for about 30 minutes in an absolute downpour. It was amazing. It was raining so hard, that you did not even think about how to try and stay dry...or avoid standing water on the road. I don't think I could have been any more wet if I were to have stepped out of a pool. But, I plodded along and maintained some body heat.

I was watching my power output on my new SRM powermeter (thanks Robin and Fitness Fanatics!). I had not even reached the main part of the climb and I was already in my easiest gear. Oh boy, this is going to be a long climb and my legs would be turning over very slowly as I climb.

About 1/4 of the way up the mountain the rain stopped and the sun was trying to come out. The road was still very saturated and the water was streaming down it. But it was beautiful. There was really no place to take it easy and take some pics, but I snapped a few.

I eventually reached the snowmobile parking lot. The clouds took over again and the winds were blowing pretty good. At this point I had 2 options. 1) continue up, or 2) head back down. I was a little nervous about getting too cold, but what the heck. It's just a mountain.

Continue up...Or head down...Down does not sound all that bad...

I have not ridden to the top in quite some time. But whenever I have, I seem to get so friggin' cold. Then, you have to coast all the way down and get colder. But mountains are meant to be climbed and I was most of the way up...I think.

The last portion of the climb is beautiful. You zig zag along the ski runs and are treated to some amazing views...and winds. The road narrows and you really feel like you are on some grand tour alpine stage, but without all the crazy fans.

Kind of looks like a Tour stage.

Once on top I only took a few minutes to snap a couple pics and send Jessi a video to let her know I made it and was heading home. I could not feel my feet and the wind was smokin'. I ate 1/2 a PowerBar and headed down. I made some pretty good time down the entire mountain and was back into the sun. I really don't like descending because I feel it's kind of a waste of time. I'd rather be riding my bike than coasting and braking.

Towards the end of the ride I actually ran into Shawn Howard at a stoplight about 1 mile from home. Crazy. Though I am sure I did not climb it anywhere as fast as he did, or felt as good, I saw the same amazing sight. It was a lot of fun and I hope to ascend that climb again.