1. From the Top: Springtime in Australia: Magpies Attack Cyclists
2. News & Reviews: On-the-Bike Nutrition Can’t Be Overlooked
3. Question of the Week: What Type of Chain Lube Do You Use?
4. Ask Coach Fred: Which High-Speed Cornering Technique Is Better?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: More Ways To Outsmart Bike Thieves
7. No Problem: Painless LT Training
8. Quick Tips: Chain Lube Tip Uses Gravity for Amazing Life
9. Cadence: The One Mineral to Replace During Exercise
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
It sounded like a Hitchcock movie when an Australian reader wrote me last week to ask if I have ever been dive-bombed by a Magpie while riding. I have to admit that I didn’t think much about it after that day, my mind moving on to other things, like my weekend ride plan, football watching and such.
That is, until I received the following email just days later from Clive Greenhill, who lives in Perth, in Western Australia:
Spring is upon us and a few of our feathered friends, black and white birds called Magpies, are now starting to target cyclists and walkers who pass through their territories. Do cyclists and walkers in the States have similar problems?
OK, Aussies, you now have my attention!
Clive emailed a newspaper story with a still shot taken by a cyclist wearing a helmet cam of a close encounter with a Magpie. And a quick Google search on my end found this story from 3 News in New Zealand, complete with video of yet another cyclist being attacked by a Magpie.
I’ve heard of just about every possible way to be harassed on a bike – and I’ve personally experienced quite a few of them over the years, culminating with being shot with a pellet gun while riding early this summer.
But I have not, I’m glad to say, ever been dive-bombed by a Magpie. (That quick Google search also told me this offending species is indigenous to Australia and Eurasia, so hopefully I never will!)
But this seems to be quite a serious problem during the 6-week springtime nesting period in Australia – as Magpie’s apparently are fiercely protective of their nesting grounds. It seems not that unusual for cyclists who pass unsuspectingly by an area where a Magpie is raising a group of nestlings to be targeted for a special kind of bombing run.
The video referenced above makes it clear that the poor cyclist is literally under attack, being struck repeatedly by the angry bird. It seems that the birds are quite expert, swooping in from behind with the sun at their back.
So while this is a strange-sounding novelty to most of us in North America – where we’re just entering what many of us consider the best time of year to ride, and the only thing you have to worry about from above is a stray leaf or two falling on you – following are some tips to help our Australian cousins in cycling deal with this real springtime menace.
Yes, there really is a wikihow.com page devoted to this topic! I’m not making this up. Here’s what they suggest (I’m keeping it strictly to tips for cyclists, not walkers, etc.):
Apparently, Magpies like to nest in gum trees, which can be found just as readily in urban areas as in the countryside. So keep an eye out for Magpies that may be nesting near you riding routes, and try to steer clear.
The wiki article suggests alerting the local government so that they can post signs, etc. Now, I don’t know if government Down Under is as ineffectual as it is in the States, but that sounds like a pipe dream to me! At the very least, use your local cycling email lists, social media and word of mouth to get the word out to fellow cyclists.
Don’t Harass the Birds. If you try to harm the birds or the nest, apparently you’ll create a REALLY angry Magpie. And they live in groups of 20-30; you really don’t want that Hitchcock film to become reality! So literally steer clear of anything dumb like throwing stones at the birds, trying to hit them with a hand-held object, etc.
According to the wiki article, “Bicycles irritate magpies the most…” Aren’t we lucky, cyclists! The suggestion is to dismount, and walk the bike away from the area, while trying to maintain eye contact with the bird. Doing so makes it less likely to swoop, as it prefers to do so from behind. On the plus side, wearing a helmet gives you protection against head strikes.
And this goes without saying, but resist the temptation to swerve or otherwise vary your line while you’re at speed. You’re much more likely to be seriously hurt in a crash trying to dodge the bird than you are by the bird swooping you, even if it strikes you.
These birds are said to have great memories and will attack the same people over and over. They’re also said to be pretty darn good time-keepers. So if you are attacked once, if at all possible, find another route. Or, at the very least, vary your schedule so you’re not riding by at exactly the same time each day. And you might want to avoid wearing the same kit as your buddy who was attacked in a specific spot!
If there is no way to avoid “bombing alley,” there are at least of couple of things you can try. First, find some stick-on eyes – or maybe one of those “wacky eyes in glasses” get-ups (perfect time of year; it’s almost Halloween! Buy them online from the States!). Stick the eyes to the back of your helmet, or “wear the glasses” in the back of your helmet.
You could also mount a bunch of zip ties or pipe cleaners to your helmet, leaving them sticking up in the air so that you create an “array” around your head that will confuse and consternate the Magpie if it gets too close or touches one of them.
Sure, to humans you may look like a complete idiot. (And we all know that, to some fellow travelers, we roadies already do look like complete idiots! So who cares?) But to the Magpie, it will seem that the fake eyes are staring it down, and it will be less likely to swoop, or the bird might touch your “array” and get flustered.
If our Australian readers have any personal tips for dealing with Magpies, please share them on our Community Comments page. And be careful down there!
--- John Marsh
Premium Member Price: $17.00 / Non-Premium Price: $20.00
Free U.S. Shipping / $12.50 International
Premium Member Price: $7.00 / Non-Premium Price: $8.50
Free U.S. Shipping / $5.00 International
Editor’s Note: A good bit of what we report and write on occurs “organically.” A reader will ask us a question, we will ask for some additional information, and before you know it, we realize we have something worth sharing with all our readers.
Such is the case with the following, which includes the original email from reader Tim K., followed by Coach John Hughes’ detailed response (after a couple of rounds of back-and-forth with Tim to gather additional details and information).
Tim K. wrote: “I finished my first 400k this weekend in Boston. I'm happy except for the stomach issues I had. I started off with a combination of bars and gels, with some cookies and fruit at controls. And just water. At mile 118 I ate real food at the control and felt awful after that. I couldn't tolerate anything but gel, and that just barely. I felt pretty awful. I managed to eat at the next control and gels after. Anyway, I'm concerned I'm not getting enough calories and I think that will not bode well for the 600k I’m doing next month. I'm thinking I may need to drink a much bigger percentage of my calories by using perpetuem or something. Any suggestions?”
After getting more information from Tim, Coach Hughes responded:
Thank you very much for all the information. This is a long response [which will be of value to all riders doing “endurance” rides, not just those doing long brevets]. I’ve broken it down into a number of important areas to consider.
Experiment of One
Here's what I know about the science of sports nutrition, but you need to determine what works for you. One friend swears by a commercial sports drink. Another eats minimart burritos. I like breakfast bars, cookies, crackers, etc. All three of us have ridden multiple 1200Ks.
Energy Sources while Riding
On endurance rides, your energy is coming from 2 sources: glycogen (from carbs) and fat, in roughly equal proportions. We all -- even the skinniest rider -- have enough body fat to fuel a 1200K. However, glycogen stores are limited, so carbs are the key food type. Protein only provides about 3-5% of the energy while riding. Protein is useful for rebuilding muscles, but you don't do that during an event.
When you run out of glycogen, you bonk -- your brain can only burn glycogen -- and you hit the wall (dead legs, etc.).
Most types of carbohydrates are much easier to digest than different forms of protein and fat. The exception is carbohydrates that contain a lot of fiber.
Sodium is the only electrolyte lost in significant quantities in sweat. [See today’s Cadence column, below, by Dr. Gabe Mirkin, titled The One Mineral to Replace During Exercise.]The concentration in sweat varies, depending on how acclimated you are, but is roughly 800 mg / liter. On a hot day you could easily sweat a liter or more / hour. If you are taking a supplement, figure out how many you would need to take to provide 800 mg.
Electrolytes per se don't help keep water moving through your system and may contribute to bloating.
You should drink enough that you aren't thirsty, but shouldn't try to drink to a pre-determined schedule. Drinking too much water or sports drink can dilute your blood sodium to a dangerous level. I have more info on this on my site at: http://www.coach-hughes.com/resources/hydration_myths.html
Your body moves fluid between the digestive system and the blood to maintain osmotic equilibrium. Put simply, when you consume stuff there are a bunch of particles (food molecules and electrolyte ions) in your gut. If the concentration of these particles in your gut is greater than the concentration in your blood, water will flow into your stomach to achieve equilibrium.
Calories per Hour
Despite claims to the contrary, you can consume 400 or more calories / hour while riding hard if they are the right kinds of calories. I was chatting with Lon Haldeman not long ago. He consumed 400 cal / hr while racing over 400 miles in the National 24-Hour.
Research shows that you can digest 360 cal / hr of carbs if they are of different types (glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltodextrin, etc). And more per hour if you include some fat and protein.
Susan Barr, who has a Ph.D. in nutrition and is an experienced randonneuse, recommends consuming all the calories you burn over a 24-hour cycle: http://www.coach-hughes.com/resources/calories.html
You were riding at a reasonable pace and drank enough, so those weren't factors. You ate less than or up to about 300 cal / hr for the first 118 miles. You ate a banana and fig newtons at the first control. Fructose may cause digestive upset in some people.
“The real food I ate at 118 was: 1/2 slice of watermelon, a serving of potato chips, a pickle, one slice of wheat bread with salami and cheese, and maybe a couple of fig newtons (but I'm not sure), and about 6 ounces of iced coffee (black)”
Let's take a look at these:
The bottom line is this: You ate a lot of fat and protein that you didn't need, and not enough carbs. You consumed at least 900 mg of sodium, probably more depending on serving sizes. The combination is what caused the bloating, as your body was trying to get back into osmotic equilibrium, with water moving from your blood to your gut.
All the sodium is what caused the thirst. But you were so far out of equilibrium that drinking water just added to the volume in your gut rather than the water moving through to your blood.
Note that sodium per se wasn't the problem. If you only ate three spears of dill pickle, that would be about 900 mg of sodium -- the same amount as all the food you ate. You'd be thirsty, you would drink, and your body would then be in equilibrium -- you wouldn't bloat.
If you had eaten mostly carbs, they would have digested faster and provided the glycogen you needed.
A lot of carbs and sodium probably still would have caused bloating, just not as badly.
“At Peter's house I had some pasta with a meatball, and 1/2 link of sausage, some potato chips and a pickle.”
The same factors apply. The pasta was 100% carbs, the meatball, sausage and chips were high in fat and protein, and, along with the pickle, high in sodium.
Sports Nutrition is a Business
Selling bars, gels, drinks and pills is a multi-billion dollar business. Their primary goal is to sell you stuff. All the scientific literature I've read makes the same point: regular, healthy food is always as good as, and often better than, so-called sports nutrition.
Bars, gels, drinks and pills are more convenient, yes. But they are rarely as tasty, and always more expensive than real food.
Among the more than 20 eArticles I have written for RBR are a couple on these specific topics. Using the info in these articles, you'll save enough by not buying expensive sports products to cover the costs of the articles many times over.
I encourage you to check out Nutrition for 100K and Beyond, and Eating & Drinking Like the Pros: How to Make Your Own Sports Food & Drink. The pros eat a lot of real food, including some fat and protein, to keep fueled. The eArticle contains a number of recipes, which I've tested with clients, for both drinks and food.
Finally, I never met a calorie I didn't like -- anything in moderation is okay!
Coach John Hughes
We’ve got a few new eArticles and eBooks on the way soon from the prolific – and terrific! – Coach John Hughes, and other authors.
First, here’s what’s on tap from Coach Hughes:
New Fit Book Shows You How to Best Work with a Fitter
Also coming soon is a terrific new eBook from Rick Schultz, who in addition to being one of our regular product reviewers runs his own bike fitting business.
What sets Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit apart from other fitting articles and books is this: It is packed with details that you can use to do a complete self-fit – BUT it is also designed to give you the “tools” and knowledge to help ensure you can find and work with a professional fitter to get the best possible fit for you.
Like most of us, Rick has heard legion horror stories about “professional” fittings that left riders less comfortable, in more pain, etc., AFTER the fitting. That should never happen. And Rick’s eBook was written as a response to ensure that it doesn’t happen for you. Look for it later this month or early November.
New Shoulder Injury Treatment and Prevention eArticle
Dr. Alan Bragmanhas a new title, as well, Shoulder Injuries and Cycling:
A Guide to Treatment and Prevention, coming soon.
Shoulder injuries are extremely common with cyclists, Dr. Bragman points out. In fact, both he and I have had one.
Understanding the shoulder’s anatomy, and the various exercises used to address the different types of shoulder injuries or problems, can benefit cyclists – whether you’re trying on your own to overcome a less-serious shoulder problem or working with a physical therapist or other medical professional to rehabilitate a traumatic injury.
This knowledge, and the various strengthening exercises, may also help you avoid some of the typical shoulder problems as well. They are recommended for overall strengthening and stability of the upper extremities, with the goal of increasing your riding comfort and avoiding injury.
By Coach Harvey Newton
As cyclists, we all know that we should mix in resistance training as part of our overall workout and fitness routine, in part for the high-impact benefit on bone strength that cycling lacks.
And most of us know that resistance training becomes even more important as we reach age 50 or so – to help stave off the loss of muscle mass that comes with aging.
So, to gauge our readers’ use of resistance training in their workouts, in our reader poll of a couple weeks ago, we asked: Do You Do Weight or Resistance Training? Seasonally, or Year-Round?
Here’s how you answered:
34% replied: Yes. Year-round.
11% replied: Yes. In the off-season.
12% replied: Yes. Off and on throughout the year.
14% replied: Every once in a while, but not at all regularly.
12% replied: No. I know I need to, but I do not do it.
5% replied: I used to, but I quit doing it.
12% replied: No. Period.
So, more than a third of readers resistance train year-round. Another 23% do resistance work either in the off-season or on occasion throughout the year. That makes 57% who utilize resistance training in a fairly regular way.
Of course, that leaves 43% of you who not. And that’s not good.
As routinely mentioned in RBR, there are two primary reasons for cyclists to engage in a sensible weight training program:
1. The overall health benefit of maintaining and/or improving one’s muscular fitness should be obvious. A related health benefit is that of improved skeletal health, a hot topic in cycling media for some years now. Cyclists are not unique in this way; everyone needs to be concerned with muscular fitness, especially as we age.
2. Plenty of solid scientific research supports the ergogenic benefit of lifting weights on performance, even for cyclists.
As USA Cycling’s President and CEO, Steve Johnson, Ph.D., said in Bicycling 17 years ago (and remains just as true today) “Cyclists need strength, but cycling doesn’t develop it.”
While lifting weights may not be as much fun as riding, this is simply a must-do form of training for cyclists, if they’re interested in optimizing performance (and, more importantly, staying healthy).
This is especially true for the average RBR reader, who tends to be in the master (40+) age range. Let’s hope this off-season provides the impetus to get many of those that responded “no” to change their ways – and for those of you already using resistance training to keep up the good work(outs)!
If you’re either looking for a program to get you started with resistance training, or you’re in the market for something specific to cyclists, look no further than Coach Harvey Newton’s Strength Training for Cyclists SYSTEM, which includes the 132-page electronic Strength Training for Cyclists Manual, plus a 42-minute DVD Training Program and 28-page hard copy Quick Start Guide.
Coach Newton, a veteran roadie and former coach of the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team, is unequaled in his understanding of how cyclists benefit from strength training. And his Strength Training for Cyclists system has benefitted hundreds of RBR readers over the years.
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:
When cornering at fast speeds, I know you should coast with the outside pedal down and shift your weight to it. But what should you do with the inside leg -- point your knee into the turn or keep it in next to the bike? -- Jay B.
Traditionally, rider pointed their knee into the turn, aiming it toward where they're going.
The sharper the curve, and thus the more lean angle needed, the farther out the knee would go. You still see pros corner this way when watching race videos or TV coverage of this season's events.
But there is another way. I first saw it used by American pros Davis Phinney and Ron Kiefel in the 1980s.
Called "countersteering," it consists of these 4 elements:
All this results in the bike cutting through the turn with a greater lean angle than your body.
In the past, I coached at Carpenter/Phinney Bike Camps where Davis taught countersteering by having riders negotiate a slalom course past traffic cones in a parking lot.
He argues that it's the superior way, and I believe it. I've followed Phinney and Kiefel down mountain passes here in Colorado. They fly!
Countersteering works on a mountain bike, too. I almost came to grief a few years ago, trying to stick with Davis on singletrack descents.
I’m a proponent of countersteering and recommend giving it a try.
I like it better because it seems more stable in tough corners. It's also easier to change my line in mid-turn if I encounter gravel or sand. I simply let off some pressure on the inside hand. The bike straightens, then I re-initiate the turn by pushing again with my inside hand.
To learn, use paper cups to make a slightly downhill slalom course in an empty parking lot. Countersteering will seem awkward till you break your old knee-out habit, but once you get the hang of it, you'll feel the advantages.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
For new, and renewing, Premium Members, we’ll kick in One Free eArticle of Your Choice. That’s a rebate, in effect, of $4.99 off the annual $24.99 membership. You can choose from among any of our 70 individual eArticles (bundles are excluded). Click to see the entire array: http://www.roadbikerider.com/all-earticles.
Of course, you’ll also get all the other great benefits we’ve pulled together for you, including discounts on all our eArticles and eBooks, great cycling product discounts, access to our full treasure trove of searchable content and, when you can’t find what you’re looking for, the Ask RBR a Question feature – which allows Premium Members to ask our experts directly; we’ll tap our network to find your answer.
Here’s how it works: Your receipt (emailed to you after purchasing your Premium Membership) is your coupon. Just hit Reply on that email and write in the title of the eArticle you’d like. I’ll drop it in your Downloads folder in your RBR account. (If you can’t find your receipt, just let me know. I’m happy to help you out.)
Last week, we warned to be ever-vigilant to protect yourself against bike thieves, recommended a few super high-security locks and provided some tips to keep your bikes yours.
But, what if you don’t want to purchase and carry a heavy, expensive lock? Or, what if you forgot to bring a lock? Or maybe you want to bike around without having to worry about thievery, and you’re willing to get a “new” ride just for that purpose? Here are some ways you can usually stay safe without carrying a “real” lock.
Disclaimer: If you choose one of these workarounds, you still want to keep your guard up because any bike can get stolen anywhere. There are even bike hijackers who steal your ride out from under you. This happened to a friend while he was riding on a popular bike path in Anaheim, California. The thief was on foot and hiding a brick in his hand behind his back. He hit my friend with the brick, knocked him down and rode away on his bike before he could recover. The cops told my friend he shouldn’t ride on that path alone.
But once in a while, cyclists strike back, like the guy in New York City who caught a thief trying to steal his bike, knocked HIM down and locked him to a pole, wrapping his U-lock around the thief’s neck!
Hopefully, the following tips will keep your bike safe and the bike thieves away.
Get a folding bike. The idea behind folders is having a bicycle that gets so small, so quickly, that you can always take it inside with you to keep it safe. Some companies that make nice models include Brompton, Dahon, Bike Friday, Tern and Montague.
I’ve owned one of Brompton’s commuting models (which have fenders and lights) for years and my favorite “trick” is folding it (it takes about 10 seconds), carrying it into the grocery store and putting it right in the shopping cart. I’ve also ridden it to the movies and parked it in the next seat. It’s that small and convenient.
Make it so ugly no one would want it. This is an old trick based on the theory that if a bicycle looks ugly enough, the thieves will leave it alone. Again, there are no guarantees; however, lots of cyclists believe it works. Anything goes to uglify a bicycle, so think creatively. I’ve seen entire bikes and components wrapped with black electrical tape, house-paint full-cover coats -- tires and all, and even “trashcycles,” which are bicycles with refuse attached like a hideous parade float.
Ride a “junker” or “beater.” The idea here is similar to the ugly bike, but the trick is to find a crappy, heavily used and abused bicycle that’s so worthless, you actually don’t care if it gets stolen. Surfers here in Santa Cruz use this technique, usually pedaling rusted-out and even wrecked beach cruisers that look almost unrideable.
Or, you could go stealth and find a beater bike and retain the rat rod look but upgrade just enough of it so that it’s actually a nicely functioning bicycle. There’s an art to this and if you start looking you may see some surprisingly well-equipped commuting bikes that at a glance look ready for the dump.
The only caveat is to remember that commuting accessories like lights and bags attract thieves, too, as do quality components. So, don’t add too much bling that attracts the attention you’re trying to avoid.
The following tricks are risky and should be considered a last resort only.
“Sabotage” your bike. Most thieves try to ride away on a bike. So if you make your bike impossible to roll, they’ll crash if they grab it, run and try to hop on. And that should give you the time to get your bike back.
On most road bikes, an easy way to do this is to open the front brake quick release mechanism (the little lever that spreads the brake pads wider so that you can remove the wheel). Next, unscrew that brake’s adjustment barrel until the brake pads are almost touching the rim.
Now, to lock the front wheel, simple close the quick release. With the front wheel locked, anyone trying to ride your bike will flip right over the bars.
Tip: Some city cyclists adjust their front brake cable tension so that the quick release becomes a front wheel lock like this (it also works as a parking brake, preventing your bike from rolling so it’s easier to stand it up and get it to stay).
Make your bicycle look broken. The concept with this trick is fooling the thief into thinking your bike’s not worth taking because it’s not even rideable, or is missing parts. The most common technique is to remove the front wheel and bring it in the store with you. But, some people also remove it and flip the bicycle upside down, so be creative.
Hide it. Out of sight, out of the thief’s mind is the idea. Last week I mentioned covering bikes that are in your garage or in your car. When you’re outside, if you can find someplace to really hide your bike, it can keep it safe, too. However, it’s still an unlocked bike, so don’t take anything for granted and get back to it ASAP.
Also, covering bikes and hiding them doesn’t always work. Because thieves know these tricks, too, and they’re happy to break into things, like vehicles, and look harder to find those things worth stealing. So, be careful, and good luck!
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 7,580.
This concept in a nutshell: “Play” at high-intensity training to avoid the drudgery of intervals.
I’ve made the case before that lactate threshold (LT) is a magic number. Generally defined as the heart rate (or wattage) you can maintain for an all-out effort of 30-60 minutes, LT is key to performance on a bike. The power you can generate when going as fast as you can in a time trial or on a long climb dictates your cycling ability.
The other physiological measurement that’s often invoked is maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max). However, this is not very trainable because genetics imposes a “ceiling” on every person’s ability to improve. Also, the limiting factor in cycling ability isn’t the amount of oxygen your tissues can process. Rather, it’s the amount of power you can generate at a given percent of oxygen consumption.
Some great cyclists have had relatively low VO2 max numbers. But their ability to generate significant power allowed them to compete very successfully against riders whose oxygen uptake was higher but whose efficiency was less.
LT, on the other hand, is highly trainable. Using the proper workouts, you can improve the percent of maximum heart rate you can sustain, and improve the amount of power you generate at a given heart rate. You can also boost your body’s ability to process lactate. This lets you venture over the threshold where lactate is accumulated, but rid it from your tissues quickly. These improvements mean big gains in useable speed and power.
Fine—so how can you boost your lactate threshold and reap these wonderful benefits?
The answer, as you know by now, is hard work. There’s an emerging consensus that endurance athletes should spend large amounts of training time—some say as much as 25 percent of total on-bike time—at heart rates (or power production rates) ranging from 10 percent below LT to slightly above.
That’s a lot of time to dwell in painful territory. And it’s made even tougher by the mental demands of pushing yourself to such an extent. Imagine spending 1 hour in every 4 riding as hard or harder as you do in a time trial you really want to win. Ouch!
Fortunately, there’s an easier way to reach LT levels in training. It changes pain and suffering into something closer to fun. All you need is to find ways to go hard without goading yourself to go hard. Sound like a contradiction? Not really.
Let’s take running as an example. Suppose your coach orders you to run 6 miles with 40 short sprints scattered throughout. These sprints must be nearly all-out. You’ll go anaerobic and then recover only enough to sprint again. This workout doesn’t sound like fun. You may be able to handle it occasionally—but 2 or 3 times a week for the whole season, or your whole career? Forget it.
Now let’s suppose that instead of doing the grueling workout, you were told to play a game of full-court basketball. The effort would be similar to the loathsome running workout. Studies show that NBA players run about 6 miles during a game and accelerate dozens of times while maintaining heart rates at or above their lactate thresholds. But guess what? Basketball is fun. You’d have such a great time that you’d barely think about how hard you were working. The game would fly by.
In the same way, you can design workouts on the bike that elevate your heart rate to LT and above without the physical and mental ordeal of structured intervals. Next week, we’ll show you some ways to get this “basketball effect” on the bike.
"I've been a long-time reader of your free RBR, but finally decided it was time to subscribe. You have a great publication and perform a much-needed service for the road biking community. Keep up the great work! "-- Roger Fobair
Support RBR with an annual Premium Membership for only $24.99.
This weeks’ QTs come to us from Michael Phillips, who writes:
Hi John, First, the last couple months of newsletters have been really good. Thanks!
Now, here's my Quick Tip, which really ain't all that quick, but I like it and haven't noticed anyone else doing it.
Per common wisdom found here and elsewhere, I used to lube my chain by placing a single drop of oil on the top of each link. This works whether the chain is oiled on the bike or off , so for those who leave the chain on, my tip won’t apply. However, if you use a quick link and remove the chain like I do, I feel this method does a better job of getting more lube where it needs to be.
A website I stumbled upon while researching chain stretch tools made me realize the “top drop” method is flawed. Done that way, the roller portion of the chain – the wearing of which does not affect true stretch – gets the bulk of the lube, while the center pin gets very little, by comparison.
Getting the lube into the side of the chain would allow more to flow to the center where it’s needed, but how to do this? Using a long piece of wood molding (or whatever) with a small nail at the top to hang the chain from, I lay the chain sideways (flat) from said nail and lean the board on something to provide a “gravity angle” for flow/penetration, typically 40 to 60 degrees.
Next, I place a single drop of lube at the leading edge of each link plate. Since I use a heavier lube in Chain-L, it can take a while for the lube to fully get into the pin. To hasten the process on warm days, I put it in the sun; on cooler days I use a heat gun (which I have around for electronics work).
Since this only does half the pins at a time, the chain needs to be reversed (bottom of chain is moved to top) to allow the other links to be addressed.
I know this is a highly debatable subject and don’t have science to back this up, only what seems to me to be a better system if one has the time and patience. For the record, my current chain (Wippermann 10X1 stainless) has 6,600 miles and about 1/32” stretch ( for me, that’s about half worn). My previous 10X1, lubed top-drop style with Pro-Link (first half of life) followed by Chain-L, was worn (1/16”) at 7,200 miles. My clean/lube intervals are 500 miles, +/-100.
[In a follow-up email in which Mike sent along the photos, he added this:] This cleaning was after 470 miles, running the grand total for this chain to 7,068. I still see about 1/32" of stretch, well below the recommended change amount of 1/16". I feel pretty confident of hitting 10,000 miles for this chain, which would thrill me being they typically sell for $50-$80 on eBay. (This is the stainless 10X1, discontinued but available under a different part #.)
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
The only mineral that you need to replace during exercise lasting longer than three hours is sodium, found in common table salt. You do not need to take extra potassium, magnesium or any other mineral during exercise.
The definitive studies on minerals and exercise were done during World War II. Dr. James Gamble of Harvard Medical School paid medical students to lie on a raft in his swimming pool, take various amounts of fluids and salt and have blood drawn to measure salt and other mineral levels. He showed that you have to take a lot of salt when you exercise for several hours, particularly in hot weather.
For many years after that, every student at Harvard Medical School heard Dr. Gamble give his lectures on minerals and exercise, and today, most serious medical students still read the Gamble lectures published in 1958, since nobody has improved on his research.
Salt, but Not Salt Tablets
After Dr. Gamble published his studies, people who worked or exercised in the heat were given salt tablets. Then doctors became concerned because they thought that a person could have his blood pressure raised by taking in too much salt. Some people would vomit from the high concentration of salt from salt pills in their stomachs. However, salt restriction can cause people to suffer heat stroke and dehydration during hot weather exercise.
A low-salt diet does not lower high blood pressure for most people. A high-salt diet causes high blood pressure usually only in people with high blood insulin levels: those with protruding bellies, overweight, and high blood sugar levels. Eating salty foods and drinks when you exercise for more than three hours is unlikely to raise blood pressure. Doctors do not recommend salt tablets today because they can burn holes in your stomach and cause nausea and vomiting.
Why You Need Extra Salt During Prolonged Exercise in Hot Weather
If you don’t take salt and fluids during extended exercise in hot weather, you will tire earlier and increase your risk for heat stroke, dehydration and cramps. The rule is that people who are going to exercise vigorously for more than three hours continuously should take some source of salt while they are exercising.
Salty drinks taste awful, so it is easier to meet your needs with salted foods. If you plan to exercise for more than a couple hours in hot weather, drink one or two cups of the liquid of your choice each hour and eat a salty food such as salted peanuts, potato chips or any other salty food.
You Need Salt to Feel Thirsty
Not taking in enough salt when you exercise for more than three hours in hot weather can prevent you from retaining the water that you drink. It can also block thirst, so you may not know that you are dehydrated. Thirst is a late sign of dehydration. You lose water during exercise, primarily through sweating, and sweat contains a far lower concentration of salt than blood.
So during exercise, you lose far more water than salt, causing the concentration of salt in the blood to rise. You will not feel thirsty until the concentration of salt in the blood rises high enough to trip off thirst osmoreceptors in your brain, and it takes a loss of two to four pints of fluid to do that (American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 1999;17(6):532-539).
You Need Salt to Retain the Fluid You Drink While Exercising
In one study, female competitive distance runners took in drinks with different concentrations of salt during a four-hour run (British Journal of Sports Medicine, August 2003). Ninety-two percent of those who took in plain water with no additional salt developed low blood levels of salt.
Taking in fluid without also taking in adequate amounts of salt dilutes the bloodstream so that the concentration of salt in the blood is lower than that in brain cells. This causes fluid to move from the low-salt blood into the high-salt brain, causing the brain to swell, which can cause seizures and death. This is called hyponatremia, the low-salt syndrome that can kill. It is usually caused by taking in far too much fluid, rather than from not taking in enough salt.
How Salt Can Improve Performance in Competition
Taking extra salt just prior to competition can help you exercise longer and harder (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, January, 2007; and Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, January 2007). Fatigue during hot-weather exercise is caused by lack of water, salt, sugar or calories. Of the four, exercisers are most ignorant of their salt needs.
Always replace fluids, salt, sugar, and protein after you exercise in hot weather. Just salting your food to taste should replace the salt you lose through heavy sweating. If your kidneys are normal, you should be able to rid yourself of any excess salt that you may take in.
Who Is Most Likely to Suffer from Salt Deficiency?
Vegetarians and people who limit meat are at increased risk for salt deficiency because plants are naturally low in salt. Meat, fish and chicken naturally contain far more salt. Most processed foods are high in salt because manufacturers know that salt makes food taste good and is also a preservative.
The North American diet typically contains up to 10 times the minimal daily salt requirement. If you doubled or tripled your salt losses through sweating, you may still not be deficient because you probably take in far more salt than you need.
Exercise Can Prevent a Rise in Blood Pressure with Extra Salt Intake
Excessive intake of salt causes high blood pressure in some, but not all, people. High blood pressure increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney damage. Many middle-aged people who start an exercise program lose their tendency to develop high blood pressure when they take in extra salt (Journal of Human Hypertension, May 2006). This study shows that many people who develop high blood pressure from a high-salt diet when they are sedentary, will not develop high blood pressure on the same diet when they exercise.
If you do not exercise, you do not sweat very much and you do not need very much salt. Too much salt can increase blood volume, which raises systolic blood pressure. Being fat is the primary cause of elevated diastolic blood pressure.
On the other hand, if you exercise vigorously, you sweat tremendously and lose a lot of salt. Without extra salt during prolonged, vigorous exercise, you will not perform at your best, you will not recover from your hard bouts of exercise, and you will be more likely to be injured or tired all the time.
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.
All of our more than 100 titles are available for instant download.