1. From the Top: The Bike Builder: Why Many Bikes Have Sloping Top Tubes
2. News & Reviews: What We Can Learn from the 2014 Pro Challenge
3. Question of the Week: Are You Considering Electric Shifting on Your Next Bike?
4. Ask Coach Fred: Is a Structured Training Plan Necessary?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Observations on Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 after 18 Months
7. No Problem: Three Easy-to-Calculate Performance Numbers
8. Quick Tips: Drain Your Bike and Wheels Occasionally
9. Cadence: Sports Drinks Linked to Weight Gain
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
Editor’s Note: Today we’re featuring another column from Jim Kish, our Bike Builder columnist, based on a reader question focused on a very common aspect of bike design. I think you’ll find it enlightening. I know I did. – J.M.
So many bikes today are made with a sloping top tube. However, I am still trying to get a straight answer as to why, or what is the advantage of a sloping top tube. I like the traditional horizontal tube. In fact, I may have a custom frame built just to have it this way. My question is, Why the slope? – Richard G.
The simplest answer is if the top tube is not constrained to being level with the ground, the frame’s designer is free to use any head tube length (which governs handlebar height), and any seat tube length (which governs standover height), she or he desires.
With a level top tube, as the frame’s head tube gets longer, the seat tube must follow suit, which often results in a battle between the ideal handlebar height and ideal standover height.
Sloping top tubes became more common on road bikes about 25 years ago, concurrent with the appearance of mass-produced mountain bikes, whose tall suspension forks and often unexpected rapid dismounts demanded a frame design out of the ordinary. For all riders but the very tallest, a level top tube mountain bike was not possible, or at least not safe, to ride.
As people got used to the unconventional look of a mountain bike, with its sloping tube, frame designers began to incorporate the sloping top tube into road bikes as well. Usually, the reason given was that the smaller front triangle created by using a sloping top tube resulted in a lighter, stiffer frame. All else being equal, this is true, as long as you never sit down when you ride.
By the time you add a longer, larger diameter seat post to the equation, though, you may find that you’re right where you started as far as weight and stiffness go.
Slope skeptics also point out that many manufacturers limited the number of sizes offered with the new sloping frames. Rather than sizing frames in one- or two-centimeter increments from, say, 50cm to 60cm, frames were now only offered in sizes small, medium, large, and (maybe) extra large.
The reason given by the manufacturers was that by sloping the top tube, and therefore taking standover clearance off the table as a fit element, it was now possible to fit more riders on fewer sized frames. (It did not go unnoticed by the skeptics that it also greatly reduces the inventory burden of the manufacturer.)
In the end, some people see sloping top tubes as an affront to the elegant look of the traditional road bike, a cost-saving measure disguised as an evolutionary advance. Others like the look, and appreciate the flexibility in design the slope allows.
Personally, I see sloping top tubes as another tool in my design toolbox. I’ll use a gradual slope to pick up a little extra stand-over clearance, and I’ll use a steeper slope if the customer requests it. Similarly, I find that many riders appreciate the classic look of a level top tube, and if that trips your trigger, I’m happy to build a bike that way, too!
Jim Kish has been building custom frames and bikes for nearly a quarter century. His shop, Kish Fabrication, is located in Carrboro, North Carolina. Jim can be reached at 805-574-0414 or via his website, www.kishbike.com.
Jim writes a regular column for RBR centered on the topic of bike building. If you have a specific question or aspect of frame building or bike building that you would like to pose to Jim, just hit the reply button on any email from us, or use the Contact Us form on the website: http://www.roadbikerider.com/contact.
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By Coach Fred Matheny
This year’s USA Pro Challenge, won for the 2nd consecutive year by BMC’s Teejay van Garderen, was defined by cold rain at high altitude. Several of the stages featured downpours at crucial moments in the race, including Hoosier Pass on stage 5 and the stage 6 uphill time trial in Vail.
Nowhere was the misery more obvious than on the dirt road descent of Kebler Pass into Crested Butte during stage 2. Sodden riders had to deal with washboard, gravel, blinding rain and a dirt surface that quickly changed to slick mud.
To add to their woes, officials neutralized the race near the bottom of the descent so already freezing riders shivered in the cold waiting for the re-start.
Of course, the pros had team cars handing out rain jackets and long-fingered gloves when the conditions deteriorated. And in the Vail time trial, riding uphill blunted the effects of cold rain.
But when we recreational riders get hit with nasty conditions, there aren’t any soigneurs available to toss us gear. It’s not simply a case of being miserable. Cold rain, sleet and snow can present real dangers like hypothermia. There’s a less appreciated danger, too: if you shiver on fast descents, the bike can quickly begin to shimmy uncontrollably.
So we need protective gear, but we don’t have a team car following us on every ride. And we don’t want to haul a huge seat bag when weather threatens to turn on us.
The travails of riders at the Pro Challenge got me thinking: What’s the minimum needed to survive bad weather in the mountains or on any ride when temperatures may dip below 65 degrees F with rain?
Here’s what experienced riders tote along when the weather threatens mayhem:
Rain jacket. A light shell, even if it’s not waterproof, can help you retain body heat. Choose a high visibility color so motorists can see you when their vision is impaired by rain and mist. The best jackets have a long tail to keep spray off your rear wheel from soaking your chamois. If yours doesn’t, make a 1 foot by 18-inch emergency tail from a plastic bag. Pin it to your jacket for a workable substitute.
Food. Being cold drains calories fast. Your body has to use energy to create heat. That’s why it’s important to carry extra energy bars when bad weather threatens. Remember to eat even if you’re not hungry to keep the internal furnace stoked.
Hat. A thin wool cap or beanie under your helmet makes a huge difference in comfort. Pick one that covers your ears. Or opt for a light balaclava for neck and face protection.
Knee and arm warmers. Of course, anything you put on your legs will just get wet. But even so, a layer of insulation over your knees provides a surprising level of protection. Arm warmers under your jacket keep clammy jacket sleeves off your bare skin.
Long-fingered gloves. I like CoolMax gloves with rubber “sticky” dots in the palm. These gloves pull on easily over your short-fingered cycling gloves. The dots mean a good grip on the handlebars even when they are wet. Nothing compromises bike control like numb hands, so these are crucial. Some riders like to include a pair of latex gloves to trap body heat. They double to keep your hands clean during roadside repairs.
Foot coverings. Effective shoe covers are usually too bulky to carry conveniently. A few light plastic produce bags from the supermarket take up almost no space and work great as a heat trap worn over your socks.
How do you carry all this stuff? Light knee and arm warmers can go in one jersey pocket, a jacket in another. Save the third pocket for food. If you have room in your seat bag, stow the hat and gloves inside, along with tubes and tools.
You can attach a short piece of elastic cord and a cordlock to loops sewn on the back of a smaller seat bag. That’s a good place for the rolled up jacket with warmers inside. Or take a tip from the pros and tuck your jacket under the back of your jersey. This only works if your jersey is tight! And don’t let a piece of the jacket work loose. It will flap in the wind and eventually pull the rest of the jacket out.
With these simple additions to your usual cycling garb, you’ll be able to survive cold rain on a long descent in the mountains—or a slog across the rainy flatlands in spring or fall conditions. Because Mother Nature doesn’t discriminate between racers in the USA Pro Challenge, and the rest of us!
While his fellow pros were slogging through the nasty elements at the USA Pro Challenge last week in Colorado, Taylor Phinney was very gingerly and slowly getting back into cycling after a horrific crash back in June at the U.S. professional road race championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In a Cycling News story, Phinney said he was riding at 53mph (85 kph) when he crashed. The crash left him with a compound fracture of his tibia, a severed patella tendon and a compound fracture of his patella (knee cap).
Phinney lives in Boulder, Colorado, and did a little spin with his BMC mates when they were preparing for the race.
"I went out on the bike with the guys yesterday, and I was like, 'Did I used to be at this level,' because they were going way too fast," he said. "But it's good to be around here and be around the race. It's bittersweet.
"I do like 200-250 watts, just tapping it out," he said. "I'll just kind of progressively ride more and more over the next month through September, and then come October, judge where I'm at. It's really hard to put a date on things, because so many things can either go better than expected or worse than expected."
He chalks up as one of the only benefits of his situation the fact that he’s getting to ride with his dad, Davis, as he recovers. And Davis, apparently, has the rare satisfaction of besting his boy.
"I get to ride with him every once in a while," Taylor Phinney said. "He gets to win all the town sign sprints because I'm not allowed to accelerate."
By Coach John Hughes
Last weekend Elizabeth Wicks, who is familiar to RBR readers, took third place overall in the Mid-Atlantic 24-hour — at age 70! She rode 260 miles in those 24 hours. That was 21 miles farther than her personal best of 239 miles (which also broke the previous record) at the National 24-Hour Challenge in June.
Elizabeth had 10 weeks between the two 24-hour races. After two weeks of easy recovery riding, her weekly workouts consisted of two hard rides at different intensities and one endurance ride. Her two longest endurance rides were “only” 125 miles in about nine hours.
Elizabeth had built a strong endurance base in the spring, and between the two 24s she really only needed work on speed and power, doing just enough long riding to maintain her endurance. The last two weeks she tapered, maintaining the intensity but reducing the volume significantly.
Also last weekend Jack McCombs (another RBR reader, with Elizabeth in the photo) raced 102 miles in 5:50 on the same course, averaging 17.5 mph. A sub-6 hour century by a 74-year-old man!
Jack rode a perfect race. Based on his training I had projected an average of 17.5 mph, which he nailed. Rather than getting carried away early in the race, Jack rode at near-constant effort, the optimal way to go very fast in an endurance event.
Jack’s training was different from Elizabeth’s. He’s a road racer, and his key events are the 40K Delaware state championship road race on September 13 and the North Carolina state time trials on September 28. The 100-mile race was an important race, but the ones next month are his key events of the season.
Jack also built a great endurance base — he rides three to five hours every week with the Silver Riders, a group of senior cyclists. In addition, he does two hard rides a week: a power workout and a harder race simulation workout, riding at the intensities he’ll race at in the 40K road race. He also does training time trials offered by a local club.
How did these septuagenarians perform so well? By focused training at the right intensities at the right times of their seasons, as described in my new eArticle: Cycling Past 50, 60 and Beyond: Peak Fitness. The 39-page eArticle contains four specific programs to improve your fitness in one or more of the following ways:
1. Improved Endurance
2. More Power
3. Faster Speed
4. Higher Aerobic Capacity (VO2 max)
The programs are based on the individual programs that I use with clients like Elizabeth and Jack. The specific week-by-week workouts are designed to make any rider a better, fitter cyclist. You don’t have to be a racer or even training for any specific event to benefit from improvement in one or more of these key areas of cycling.
Before beginning any of the programs, the eArticle describes how to establish your current baseline fitness. Each of the four programs is then divided into two 4-week blocks. By following one of the programs for just 4 weeks, you’ll see measurable progress in your baseline fitness. And by following the program for 8 weeks, you’ll progress even further.
The programs are designed sequentially so that after following one program for 8 weeks, for example, Improved Endurance, you can then progress to the next program, for example, More Power. In total the eArticle contains 32 weeks of workouts.
The 39-page eArticle is packed with useful information that will benefit all riders in your 50s, 60s and beyond (and younger riders, too!).
It’s available for only $4.99 for instant download for non-Premium readers. After their 15% discount (on all our ePubs and gear we sell, along with other perks) Premium Members pay only $4.24 for the new eArticle.
Slowly but surely, we’re working to make available some of our best-selling titles in Kindle editions for those of you who use the popular reader. We will continue to work though our catalog, and as new titles go on sale we’ll work to get those up on Amazon as well. Because Kindle editions are sold exclusively through Amazon, and Amazon takes its cut, there is no Premium discount available on Kindle editions.
Here are the RBR titles currently available in Kindle editions:
I started riding five years ago, logging about 3,000 miles a year, including centuries and cross-state rides. Now I have more time to train and want to improve. Do I need a structured training program, or can I just increase my miles and add more intensity when I feel like it in the form of hills and group rides? -- Samantha V.
I suspect that most cycling coaches would tell you that a structured program is necessary. And for a good many riders, they’d be right.
[I’m exaggerating in the next two paragraphs for effect.] They'd point out how training to improve is different from just riding. They'd say that if you want to get stronger you have to treat cycling like an athletic endeavor, not a recreational activity. This means that each ride is a workout, not a pleasant diversion from daily life.
That's fine for personalities that thrive on precision and like to follow a plan. They want to know their workout schedule in detail, months in advance. They want each ride spelled out minute-to-minute. They can't "just ride" because doing so leads to a sense of cosmic uncertainty. For them, a structured plan is the ticket.
But many roadies don't like to be so constrained. They simply love to be on their bikes, and training is secondary. They still improve because they ride consistently, enter recreational events that challenge them with greater distances, and don't shy away from hills -- the natural form of interval training.
You need to evaluate your personality and decide which profile fits. Many cyclists have improved with the structured approach, and many have gotten good without "training" at all.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
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Sorry, I know I promised to review TruVelo Design’s impressive new wide-rim model 724 wheelset this week. However, when the maker found out that I had raced on his wheels in the Northern California District Road Race (60-64 age group) on August 16, a funny thing happened.
He was following the results because two other racers (a man and woman in younger categories) had won on his wheels. When he learned that I had almost won -- leading out the sprint and getting caught right before the line, he shocked me by calling and apologizing for giving me the wrong wheels to race!
It turns out that the winners were on the 733 model, which have 33mm tall rims versus 24mm on the 724s I rode. There are a few other go-faster features. I’ll go into more detail when I review the wheels. But, first, I have to give the 733s TruVelo rushed to me a good test in the USA Masters National Championships next week in Ogden, Utah (they’re even finished to match my red bike)!
In the meantime, since it’s fall, when many bike shops are getting in their 2015 road bikes, you might be in the market. Maybe you’re lusting after Trek’s rumored-to-be 10.1-pound (4.6kg) $15K Emonda?
Or, to get to today’s theme, perhaps you’re considering a new carbon flyer equipped with electric shifting. If so, I thought it would be helpful to provide some long-term observations on my 2013 Ultegra Di2 10-speed electric shifting components. Di2 stands for Digital Integrated Intelligence by the way.
I reviewed my Di2 group back in March of 2013. Since then I’ve ridden 4,125 more miles and in many races. Note that Campagnolo has its EPS electric shifting components and SRAM should soon release a system that’s wireless. I’ve only ridden Campy’s EPS on a few short rides. But, I do believe electric shifting is worth considering if you’re bike shopping.
To recap, because staying in the right gear is so crucial for optimizing performance racing against the clock (and because Di2 is pricey!), I only purchased Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 10-speed for my Cervelo P2 time-trial bike. So, I have not been riding Shimano Di2 shifting brake levers, but rather their “pod” shifters that fit neatly in the ends of the aero extension bars.
These pods are different than the regular STI levers. They do have 2 “buttons” on each side. However, the levers have individual blades (like Shimano’s cable STI levers) you press on for upshifts and downshifts (they barely move). Instead, the pods have small protruding buttons. The top shifts into easier gears, the bottom into harder.
Other than that difference, the wiring, battery and derailleurs are identical. Let’s look at my components and how they’ve functioned for the last 18 months.
Even though they’re featherweight, made almost entirely of plastic and seemingly fragile, the pod shifters have easily withstood my use and abuse. The advantage of electric push-button shifting is not having to push and pull on a bar-end shift lever.
It seems like a minor thing, yet it’s significantly easier to simply press a button than it is to move your hand onto a lever and push/pull (often forcefully) to make that same shift. It can be the difference during a grueling TT between shifting and deciding not to shift, too, which can make you faster.
I’ve never crashed on these shifters, but I have already moved them onto 4 different aero extensions and rerouted the internal wiring multiple times. None of this harmed the electronics, the expanding ends that lock them in the bars, the tiny screws that hold the bodies together, or the wiring.
Buyer’s tip: Whether you go with regular levers or pods, like mine, be sure to really try the shifting action before you buy. Even all this time later, I often hit the wrong button, shifting into a harder or easier gear when I want the opposite. Also, I wish it took less pressure to make a shift. I thought you’d be able to tap shift, but you have to really press. Different brands and models vary, so find the one you like.
When Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 came out, much was made of their new plug-and-play E-tube wiring system -- a big upgrade over the original Dura-Ace Di2 wiring. Each Di2 component connects with lengths of these small-diameter, flexible wires with plastic ends that press into the components and make a “click” so you know you have a solid connection. Shimano supplies a small tool for connecting and removing the wires.
The wiring has been foolproof on my Cervelo. Because my bike was not set up for internal wiring, I first routed the E-tubes along the frame. But then I got brave and decided to re-route them internally (after checking with Cervelo that it wouldn’t harm the frame). This took forever, but made for a super-clean install.
And, even being very rough with the wires to stuff them into and pull them through the frame, I didn’t damage a single wire. Also, loading the P2 on car racks and stacking it with other bikes at races, I haven’t once unplugged the wires from the rear derailleur (something that looks like it could happen).
Buyer’s tip: Even though Shimano’s wiring has performed flawlessly, I’m excited to see Shimano’s new wireless Di2 and SRAM’s, too. It only makes sense that you shouldn’t need wires and without them, you’ll have the cleanest and simplest setup. Supposedly, interference from other wireless devices isn’t an issue.
I’ll finish up my Ultegra Di2 post-18 month observations next week by going over the derailleurs, battery and a few final thoughts.
Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for 38 years. He's the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check his "cycling aficionado" website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached 7,531.
Last week, we started a new series on measuring and using power – without the need for a power meter or fancy laboratory testing.
In short, you don’t need an expensive lab test to determine 3 important performance numbers—power at lactate threshold, maximal oxygen uptake and meters-per-minute of climbing.
Last week, I explained how to do the testing used to calculate the numbers for these. I’ll finish up today by showing you how to use your test data to make the calculations
According to Garmin Sharp team director Jonathan Vaughters, this measure is important to pro cyclists. Why? Because climbing is contingent on your power-to-weight ratio.
Determining meters-per-minute climbed gives you an objective rating of your uphill ability without the need for other calculations.
To do it, simply divide the height of the climb by the number of minutes it took you to get to the top. For instance, if you climbed 186 vertical meters in 10 minutes, your meters-per-minute figure is 18.6.
What does this number mean? According to Vaughters:
19 meters per minute = Survive the Tour de France
22-25 meters per minute = Place top 30 in the Tour
30-32 meters per minute = Win climb of l’Alpe d’Huez
Data for recreational racers isn’t available, but here’s an educated guess: Category 1-2 riders will range from 20 to 25 meters per minute. Masters will do 17-22, depending on age.
If those numbers seem high compared to Vaughters’ values, remember that in U.S. racing, climbs are usually short by European professional standards. The shorter the hill, the easier it is to maintain a high rate of climbing speed. And if a domestic race does have a long climb, it’s usually done just once, in contrast to the Tour, where the l’Alpe d’Huez ascent is typically the third or fourth mountain of the day.
To calculate your average watts for the climb:
1. Multiply the number of vertical meters in the climb by the total weight of bike and rider in kilograms.
2. Divide the result by the time of the climb in seconds.
3. Multiply that answer by 10 and add 60 (a constant that reflects rolling resistance, chain friction, etc.)
For example, if you climbed 186 meters in 10 minutes and the total weight of bike and rider is 80 kg, your average wattage is 308.
To calculate your VO2 max:
1. Divide your average watts from the above calculation by an efficiency factor of 72 to get your total oxygen consumption in liters per minute.
2. Multiply the result by 1,000 to get milliliters of oxygen consumed.
3. Divide milliliters of oxygen by your body weight in kilograms to get VO2 max expressed in the standard ml/kg/min.
For example, if your average watts is 308 as in the above example, and your body weight is 70 kg, your VO2 max is 61.1 ml/kg/min.
In Vaughters’ view, speaking from his experience in European cycling, a VO2 max of over 70 is outstanding, and anything above 60 is excellent.
These figures are for Vaughters’ home testing grounds west of Denver at elevations around 7,000 feet. At sea level, VO2 max results are about 8 percent higher. So, you flatlanders need values of about 76 and 65, respectively.
My RBR eArticle Equations for Cyclists details how to calculate these and other such power numbers.
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Editor’s Note: Today’s QT comes to us from Premium Member David Dumond, who writes about something that initially might sound strange – draining water from your frame and wheels.
One would hope that your bike doesn’t take on water often, or easily, but there may be special circumstances or reasons that it might, on occasion. For instance, when I had some custom wheels built a few years ago, I opted to go with plugs vs. rim tape. Well, I quickly realized that those wheels would take on an inordinate amount of water on rides with significant rainfall – and they would need to be drained after each such ride.
So, with that preface, here’s what David wrote:
Most of us don't think about it, but it's a good idea to drain your bike from time to time. Water from rainy rides and condensation associated with metallic frames builds at the bottom of the seat tube and bottom bracket on some bikes. The water can enter via the top of the seat post during rainy rides from wheel spray. Condensation inside the tubes can contribute to moisture accumulation in some frames.
Accumulated water can be drained (this differs from bike to bike) from some frames by removing the screw that secures the plastic cable guide mounted on the underside of the bottom bracket tube. There is no need, usually, to remove the plastic guide, just the screw. If water has accumulated around the bearing it will drain through the screw hole unless the hole is clogged (rust, corrosion, grease).
To speed up drying, a wick can be made of a piece of paper towel and inserted in the screw mount hole. Let the bike sit for a time while it dries. Salt water (winter road salt) can exacerbate problems.
During rain or when fording puddles, water can enter wheel rim aero chambers at the valve stem hole in the rim. If the water is salty, you can eventually have problems since moisture can lead to corrosion of wheel metal and spoke nipples. On older wheels water can also enter around spoke nipples. If you use cloth rim tape it can become saturated and slowly rot -- but not before holding damaging moisture for months.
Using a valve stem retainer nut can help to prevent water from moving into the rim on rainy days. A small o-ring (possibly using a piece of innertube – a previous QT!) that fits snuggly around the valve stem at the rim surface will also help. If you ride in the rain or hit lots of puddles with metal wheels, remove tires, tubes and let tape dry. Drain bare rims by pouring out water and letting them dry, stem hole down, for a time before remounting tire and tube.
If you ride in rain a lot, you will take on water. Drain your bike and wheels from time to time to get rid of it before it becomes a problem.
We’d like to hear from our readers with any Quick Tips you might have. To contact me, just hit the reply button on any email from us, or use the Contact Us form on the website: http://www.roadbikerider.com/contact.
By Gabe Mirkin, MD
In the last few years at least 20 studies have associated sugared soft drinks with weight gain. Many people have stopped drinking sodas and started drinking sports drinks instead, on the mistaken belief that they are more healthful than sodas.
A new study has followed 4,121 females and 3,438 males, ages 9-16, for seven years and found that each year BMI increased by .1 in girls and by .11 in boys for every 8-ounce serving of sports drink per day (Obesity, July 14, 2014). For a 5'6" female that is .62 pounds per year for each serving per day. (The formula to convert BMI to pounds is BMI/703 x (height in inches) x (height in inches) = weight in pounds).
Athletes use sports drinks because they need sugar during competition or hard training. Sodas provide the same benefit. However, if you take sports drinks when you are not exercising, they cause the same amount of weight gain as sodas or any other sugared drink. Sports drinks are advertised and labeled to make people believe that they are somehow healthful, which may lead some people to drink more than they would of ordinary soda, so they will gain even more weight.
The primary sources of energy for your muscles during exercise are sugar and fat. You have almost an infinite amount of fat in your body to drive your muscles for many days. However you have only a limited amount of sugar stored in your muscles and liver.
You start to run out of sugar after 70 minutes of intense exercise and have to slow down. So all athletes learn, sooner or later, that they have to take sugar during any competitive event that lasts more than 70 minutes. When blood sugar levels drop, you bonk, and when muscle sugar levels drops, you hit the wall.
Bonking: In sports, the term bonking refers to low blood sugar. Your brain gets 98 percent of its energy from sugar in your bloodstream, so when blood sugar levels start to drop, you feel weak, tired and dizzy and can even pass out. There is only enough sugar in your bloodstream to last for three minutes at rest, so your liver must constantly release its stored sugar (glycogen) into your bloodstream.
However, there is only enough sugar in your liver to last 12 hours at rest. During intense exercise, you start to use up liver sugar at 70 minutes. Your liver then must make new sugar from certain protein building blocks, or you have to take in a source of sugar in food or drink. Your body cannot make sugar from fat.
Hitting the Wall: How fast you can run or pedal a bicycle over distance depends on how much sugar you can keep in your muscles. The limiting factor to how fast you can run or pedal is the time it takes for oxygen to get into contracting muscles. Sugar requires far less oxygen than fat does to power your muscles.
When your contracting muscles run out of sugar, you have to slow down. This is called hitting the wall. The greater the percentage of sugar that your muscles burn, the faster you run.
Soft drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, most fruit juices and other sugared drinks contain close to 8 percent sugar. This is the concentration at which sugared drinks taste best to most people. Unsweetened cranberry juice contains only 4 percent sugar, so it tastes sour.
Sometimes manufacturers add artificial sweeteners to their sports drinks and advertise that they contain reduced amounts of sugar. If they want to make a diet drink or low-calorie beverage, they should stop calling it a sports drink because the only useful function of these drinks for sports is to provide sugar to help power muscles.
When you exercise intensely for more than 70 minutes, you should take sugared drinks or eat sugar-added foods. You will have a better workout and do better in competition.
However, I think that it is foolish to take sports drinks or any other sugared drinks when you are not exercising, because the extra sugar will just increase your chances of gaining weight and becoming diabetic.
When you take sugar in its solid form, such as in a cookie, you usually eat less of other foods. However, when you take sugar in a drink, your brain does not recognize the extra calories and you do not reduce your intake of other foods. Sugared drinks in all forms tend to make you fatter than the same amount of sugar taken in solid food.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine. Gabe Mirkin, M.D., is a sports medicine doctor and fitness guru. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin has run more than 40 marathons and is now a serious tandem bike rider with his wife, Diana, often doing 30-60 miles in an outing. His website is http://drmirkin.com/.
Coach John Hughes' Cycling Past 60, Part 2: For Recreation builds on the foundation of information for 60+ riders in Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health and uses the concept of “Athletic Maturity” to design more rigorous programs for more athletically mature riders. Part 2 builds on Part 1 and assumes that you have read it and taken the test to determine your Athletic Maturity. latest is for both health-focused and recreational cyclists who ride with more intensity. This 23-page eArticle includes the six different health maintenance objectives for different components of your physiology, eight basic (and four advanced) training principles, types of rides, cross-training and recovery tips.
It includes six different structured workout programs, three each for Endurance and Performance cyclists, based on levels of athletic maturity.
Our other new titles include:
Dynamic Conditioning Monthly – Part 3: Power Development, by Coach Dan Kehlenbach. It’s the 3rd installment in Kehlenbach’s 5-month series, with each building on the previous installment. Part 3 focuses on power building, particularly functional power.
Coach Harvey Newton’s new 132-page Strength Training for Cyclists Manual, which can be purchased on its own or as part of the entire Strength Training for Cyclists System (eManual, DVD and 28-page hard copy Quick Start Guide). This is the strength training resource for cyclists.
Coach David Ertl’s eArticle Keeping Off The Pounds – a Strategy for Maintaining Body Weight in the Cycling Off-Season was written to complement his best-selling eBook, Pedal Off The Pounds. It contains both nutrition and workout tips for managing your off-season weight.
Coach John Hughes’ eArticle Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health describes how your whole body ages and gives you six different health maintenance objectives for different components of your physiology, including comprehensive fitness programs that address these objectives.
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