1. From the Top: An Ode to Wool Socks
2. News & Reviews: In Iowa, a Cyclist’s Life is Worth About $1,500
3. Question of the Week: What’s Your Favorite Riding Season?
4. Ask Coach Fred: How Many Calories Do I Really Need?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: My Completed 1974 Masi And Final Thoughts
7. No Problem: Using Centuries to Boost Fitness
8. Quick Tips: Alternate Storage During a Ride
9. Cadence: More Mitochondria to Make Better Athletes?
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
I hope you’re having a terrific fall riding season (and an equally great early spring in the Southern Hemisphere)! Many of us tend to think of the two “shoulder seasons” as the best time of year to ride.
It has felt more like spring than fall here in Atlanta so far, with lingering warm daytime temps, but cooler overnights and early mornings. Those cool mornings, especially, are the perfect time for me to start wearing one of my favorite cycling products – wool socks.
It’s kind of funny to think that wool socks, of all things, are among my favorite cycling gear! But my toes have always been my “Achilles’ heel” when it comes to weather. They are the first things to get cold on my body, so I’ve always had to pay them special attention. Wool is the perfect material to keep them happy.
I know some riders who wear wool socks year-round – and they’re certainly well-suited for that. They breathe and wick moisture pretty well. I like to save them for fall, though, because their special ability to keep your tootsies warm even when wet is ideal for this time of year, and into the winter.
And the fact that they come in various thicknesses allows you to “build up” (in thickness and warmth) as the temps drop and the days get shorter.
In fact, I’ve been wearing a few different makers’ woolies lately, all of which have their merits. Instead of individual reviews, I thought I’d just sing the praises of wool, in general, and let you know about the ones I’ve been wearing, because you really can’t go wrong with just about any wool socks. Interestingly, all three of these makers have a little different twist on their approach.
Sock Guy is a California-based company long known as a quality maker of cycling socks (it also produces socks for running, skiing, etc., as well as a bit of additional gear, like arm warmers and such). The company has fun with it, putting different brand’s logos and catchy designs on their socks. The pairs I’ve been wearing feature an IPA (India Pale Ale) tag, and a Sasquatch rendering (see photo), which immediately drew the attention of the cycling buddy I was riding with on the unveiling.
The woolies I’ve been trying out this fall are 6-inch “crew cuff” sized, and fairly thin. They’re made from what Sock Guy calls TurboWOOL, a blend of 50% Merino wool and 50% polypropylene. The company claims this blend is 5 times the strength and durability of Merino wool alone.
What I like most about these socks is that they are effectively the same thickness as regular cycling socks, so they feel exactly the same in your shoes. Yet, they deliver on the warmth and dryness/wicking that wool socks promise, so they’re especially good to reach for when those cool morning temps start out below your “comfort zone” but are likely to increase throughout the ride.
Sock Guy woolies come in a variety of cuff heights and designs. $12.95 - $13.95. http://www.sockguy.com.
This company, based in Tennessee, has been primarily an outdoors-sock maker, producing socks for hiking, hunting, skiing and the like for more than 100 years, in the oldest operating hosiery mill in the U.S. FITS realized a couple of years ago that their merino-blend wool socks were perfect for cycling, too.
Because of this, what they market as “biking” socks on their site are called Light Trail Quarter (see photo) and Pro Trail Performance Quarter. (They also provided a pair of Medium Hiker Crew socks, which I have not yet worn. They’re a bit too thick for the weather so far this fall but will surely come into play later on.)
The quarter cuff socks are a merino-nylon-polyester-spandex blend, with the Pro Trail model offering cushioning in the footbed, which makes them a little thicker. Both are already somewhat thicker than the Sock Guy woolies, which makes them ideal for somewhat cooler temps. (And they work great for hiking, too.)
FITS are available online at http://fitssock.com. $16.99 - $17.99.
This U.K. company produces an array of socks, gloves, hats and related items for various outdoor activities, including road cycling, nearly all of which are claimed to be 100% waterproof and windproof. The company website boasts that all its products are designed in Great Britain, 50% are “hand built” in Great Britain, and every single piece it makes is hand-tested to ensure it is completely waterproof!
I’ve been wearing the Thin Mid Length Sock (see photo), which covers at least the lower calf. The socks feature two layers, including an inner layer of merino, polyester, acrylic, elastodiene and elastane. The outer layer is nylon and elastane. Between these layers is a “hydrophilic” membrane that you can feel and see. Still, the socks are claimed to be breathable, and I have not noticed any undue sweating or retained moisture when wearing them.
Because of the double layers, they are somewhat thicker than the other “thin” woolies I’ve been wearing. I haven’t had the occasion yet to wear them in the rain, but if there’s a real threat of rain on a cold ride this fall or winter, I’m reaching for these socks (they also come in two thicker weights), or the Cycle Over Socks (boot covers) from SealSkinz, also 100% waterproof.
SealSkinz products are available online at http://www.sealskinz.com (choose your country of origin when visiting the site). $38.00 - $58.00.
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“According to Iowa law, Shawn Gosch's life was worth about $1,500 — or $3,500 less than the bicycle he was riding this year when a car hit and killed him on a rural highway.”
That’s the opening paragraph of another eye-opening article by Kyle Munson in the Des Moines Register on what amounts to getting away with murder when it comes to motorists running down cyclists.
So many U.S. states have such feeble laws regarding motorist-on-cyclist deaths that the “punishment” for these crimes is sadly, laughably lenient – to the point of being the final, indignant slap in the face to the cyclist’s family. Gosch’s wife called his death, and the lack of real justice, a lingering “open wound.”
The driver who ran down Shawn Gosch – a 47-year-old husband, father and grandfather – on a clear, sunny, “picture-perfect day” on a wide open Iowa road claimed in his 911 call, "I hit a bicyclist. I didn't see him in the glare."
That’s all it took to shield 30-year-old Eric Meyer from anything more than a $1,500 penalty – the claim that he didn’t see the defenseless cyclist.
Mark Wyatt, co-founder and executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, who attended Meyer's sentencing in Rockwell City (after a 10-minute non-jury trial), asked, rhetorically, "Can we raise the penalty high enough that drivers start paying attention? This 'I didn't see him on the road' is not an excuse. It's a confession."
"Had (the driver) been on his cellphone or under the influence of something, we would've had more to work with," said Calhoun County Attorney Tina Meth-Farrington.
But in Iowa, a cyclist’s life taken by a driver just not paying attention (or, being the only living witness in the case, as it so often happens, whose word is all there is) is worth the sum of $1,500.
The Des Moines Register article also cited a New York Times op-ed last year by Daniel Duane, a contributing editor for Men's Journal, who wrote of such “gets away with murder” cases: "There is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people even when it is clearly your fault, as long you're driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you're not obviously drunk and don't flee the scene."
This is why we as cyclists need to support our local and national cycling advocacy organizations, and do what we can as individual citizens. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again.
I shudder to think that one of the victims of such a cruel death, and cruel adjudication, will be a friend of mine, or an RBR reader. I don’t ever want that to happen. And it’s a damn shame that so many fellow roadies have experienced this outcome. Who among you does not know someone who knows someone who’s died on the road?
Six degrees may separate any one person from another on our shared, small planet. But I’m guessing that among road cyclists, only 2 or 3 degrees of separation exist between each of us and someone who’s died while doing what we love.
It’s got to stop.
Here’s the full Des Moines Register article.
--- John Marsh
Just launched last week: 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 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.
IMPORTANT NOTE: For the many of you who purchased the eBook last week, Rick has added some detail about how to measure sit bone width and measure for handlebar width, as well as some additional info on goniometers. The updated version of the eBook is now in your Downloads folder on the site; simply log in and download the new version for the additional info.
On Tap from Coach John Hughes and Dr. Alan Bragman
We’ve got a few new eArticles and eBooks on the way soon from Coach John Hughes.
New Shoulder Injury Treatment and Prevention eArticle
Dr. Alan Bragman has 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.
I really enjoy the types of quirky questions that readers sometimes submit for the Question of the Week. (And we’re always open to your Questions! Please send them in!) Such was the case last week, with the question: With Which Foot Do You Click Out?
It seems that it was an engaging topic to you, too, as it yielded about 800 votes, and a few comments as well. Here’s how you voted:
45%: I am right-handed and click out with my right foot.
42%: I am right-handed and click out with my left foot.
8%: I am left-handed and click out with my right foot.
6%: I am left-handed and click out with my left foot.
I was somewhat surprised by the results, as I suspected more riders consciously tried to click out with their left foot to avoid the possibility of contacting the drivetrain while clicking in and out. (This is something I had heard years ago when just starting out, but I have always clicked out with my right foot; it’s simply what comes naturally to me.)
In fact, a few months ago when I was having some issues with my right cleat, I switched to the left foot during a ride and found it very challenging to click in with my left. It just was not at all comfortable or natural.
But the comments we received suggested there may be other reasons to favor the left or right foot.
Fred A. Lewis wrote:
It's an interesting question this week....Here is, perhaps, some insight into a contributing factor. For most of my life I resided in Canada and during that time I developed the habit of a right handed - right foot release. I never gave much thought as to why.
Since I moved to Japan (Sapporo) almost 14 years ago I seemed to and have transitioned to a RH - Left foot release. Frankly, I never gave it much thought until you posed this question today in the Newsletter.
I have surmised that, in my case anyways, I have changed sides because we drive on the left-hand side of the road here (as in the UK) and thus a left foot release allows me to put my foot on the curb when coming to a stop at intersections.
A U.K. reader, pajama, seconded that opinion:
I would imagine that most people would clip out the foot nearest the side of the road -- that's left for me in the UK. Maybe another poll? Great read every week. Keep up the good work!
A couple of other comments suggested yet other explanations:
Rick Schultz (author of Bike Fit 101 and one of our regular product reviewers) wrote:
I have noticed that cyclists that unclick with the right foot also (1) skateboard with the right foot back, (2) surf with the right foot back. For those that unclick with the left foot, it’s left foot back, or, in surfing terms, called goofy foot. Look up goofy foot in urbandictionary.com. So next time you see a cyclist unclick with the left foot, ask if he/she is goofy-footed!
Here's another thing I noticed: I unclick with my right foot and the right cleat wears out twice as fast as the left cleat. So, for every other time, I only change the right cleat. This will save you some money since you don’t need to change the cleat that doesn’t get unclipped each time as often as the one that does.
Finally, Bryan Nystrom (another Premium Member and product reviewer), wrote:
I'm right-handed, but I intentionally try to alternate which foot I click out. That way I don't wear out the contact surface of one cleat faster than the other.
As many of you know, we sell the very handy JerseyBin Waterproof Storage Pouches on the site. I’ve used one for years to carry my mobile phone, some ID, contact information and a little cash.
As phones have gotten bigger in recent years, we’ve started offering 2 sizes, but even those are not big enough for some phones.
I, and at least one reader, were curious recently when the new iPhone 6 came out as to whether it (NOT the iPhone 6 Plus – the phablet version) would fit in the TrimBin-sized JerseyBin.
The answer is, Yes, an iPhone 6 (without a case, as is recommended by the maker of JerseyBin) will fit in a TrimBin with no problem.
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.
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:
Is there a formula to calculate how much sports drink and energy gel I need on a ride? It's easy to keep swilling drinks and popping gels, but if I don't need all those calories for the ride, won't I just put on weight? -- Peter C.
That's a real good question, Peter, and the answer is -- it depends!
Caloric needs vary depending on body size, the ride's terrain, weather, intensity and duration, and factors such as how much you've eaten for your pre-ride meal and whether it's a one-day ride followed by a recovery day or you're in the middle of a tour, camp or stage race. So, any caloric recommendations by me or other coaches are necessarily approximations.
The same is true of hydration. Things like temperature and humidity, your hydration state going into the ride and your training during the previous days combine to make standard fluid replacement recommendations inexact.
In this and many other physiological areas, we're all experiments of one. Here are 3 key considerations:
1. What is the minimum amount of food that allows you to last the distance without fading due to lack of fuel?
2. How much food causes digestive discomfort or even weight gain?
3. How much sports drink allows you to avoid dehydration, overheating and cramping but not feel bloated and needing frequent pit stops?
When I started riding in the early 1970s, we didn't have energy bars or drinks (except Coke). Bottles were small and bikes had only one cage. I routinely did 3-hour rides on 20 ounces of water and a few fig bars.
Of course, I was younger, stronger (and dumber) then. But I think the human body can adapt to differing amounts of food and fluid, at least within reasonable limits. If it didn't, our ancestors would have died out 100,000 years ago.
I hope you understand why this answer seems wishy-washy. I think the best approach is to follow the dosage recommendations on the labels of the foods and drinks you're using. If you feel good, experiment with less to judge the effect. Then learn how the variety of factors I've mentioned can change your needs on a given ride.
Warning! Never bonk. Reducing calories (intentionally or not) to the point where you become drained on a ride can set back your form a week or more. Always carry a bit more food than you're sure you'll need, just in case. Remember, though -- just because you have it doesn't mean you have to eat it.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
[Coach John Hughes has written a number of information-packed eArticles on nutrition.]
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.)
If you’re a regular RBR reader, you’ll recall my stories of finding and restoring a 1974 Masi Gran Criterium, a hand-built frameset widely considered among the holy grails of road bike collectibles. [Note: We’ve pulled those two columns out of the archives, added this one, and posted them here as a complete first-to-last set. Enjoy!]
Well, I’m pleased to report that, with lots of help from the friendly fraternity of vintage velonauts at Classic Rendezvous (keep reading), I finally rounded up the period-correct components to finish building this beauty.
If you want a closer look at the finished bike, visit this link, http://jimlangley.net/MasiGC1974restored72014SideView.jpg and click on the photo. It’ll zoom so large that you can see almost every detail. (Please ignore the rather ratty and cheap tires. They’re the only vintage sew-ups I had. Eventually, I will upgrade to modern vintage-look ones.)
You’ll also spot some rust and corrosion on the parts. They’re that way because I wanted to reuse as many of the original parts as possible. That seemed right to me. And, while they don’t look perfect, they do operate well.
Besides the enjoyment and satisfaction in finding, restoring and building a classic road bike like the Masi, there’s the thrill of riding it. For this, there are retro rides where classic 10-speed lovers bring out their original and lovingly restored steel rigs, dress in period cycling clothing and hit the road.
Maybe the most famous retro ride is L’Eroica in Italy http://en.eroica.it/, which has official rules for what you can and can’t ride. But, there are smaller and less official retro rides that are lots of fun, and much easier to attend, around the country. For example, my maiden voyage on the Masi was about a month ago on Cupertino Bike Shop’s vintage ride, http://www.cupertinobikeshop.com/.
The best way I know to find these chances to show off your old road bike with others on theirs, is to visit ClassicRendezvous, http://www.classicrendezvous.com, and join their free Google email group. Every now and then, a club or bicycle shop on that group will say they’re holding a retro ride. All you have to do is show up with your cool old bike and join the fun.
Tip: The CR Google group is also where I received so much help with the information and old parts to rebuild my Masi.
If you do this, you’ll meet some cyclists stuck in the past, but usually some that are just as passionate about modern road bikes. And a common subject of conversation is how far we’ve come over the years, or how bicycle technology has gone astray -- depending on your point of view.
I think it’s an obvious and interesting question whether these top bikes from the past compare with what we ride today. With that in mind, using my “new” Masi as the example, here’s what went through my mind while building it and riding it. Your comments and opinions are welcome.
Pros: Double-butted steel tubing with classic road geometry from one of the finest frame-builders ever means a high-performance, great-handling and silky-smooth ride. Additionally, while this was a racing bicycle, the era’s designs allowed clearance for many tire sizes so you could dial in the ride to your heart’s content -- unlike many of today’s carbon wonders -- especially carbon forks with their unicrown design.
Cons: Significantly heavier, not as stiff and not as compliant as some modern carbon bicycles. Even the best steels on these 1970s frames rusted, and the Masi was corroding badly before I saved it. Steel tubing also bends and dents in collisions. Carbon will not rust or corrode or bend or dent.
My call: I love the Masi’s ride. It’s not as effortless to get up to speed, doesn’t climb as well, and isn’t as fast as my modern Cervelos. But, for anything other than racing it works just fine, and, like a 1970s Ferrari, you’ll probably get a lot more attention on your retro rocket, which adds to the fun.
Tip: If this old 10-speed bug bites you, you’ll want to get a vintage-style wool jersey. I had mine made by Portland Cyclewear, because you can choose your style and lettering and their quality is great for the cost.
Pros: I grew up working on Campagnolo equipped bicycles, so it’s hard to be objective about this. To me, the Masi’s large-flange Campagnolo Nuovo Record hubs are gorgeous, and I know they’re super-high-quality, because the bearings are still in like-new shape 40 years later. The Stella spokes with little stars stamped in their heads and the Martano tubular rims add a bit more class.
Cons: Vintage Campy hubs had a weakness: the rear axle could break -- especially if you added spacers on the right side to accommodate a 6- or 7-speed freewheel. So, for our modern 9-/10-/11-speed drivetrains, we need hubs with stouter axles. Most newer hubs have sealed-cartridge bearings, too. These have the advantage of not harming the hub when run dirty the way the old Campy bearings could. And, as pretty as they were, Stella spokes were nowhere near as durable as the DT Swiss stainless-steel spokes that I choose to build with today.
My call: If you throw in carbon rims and aero profiles and tubeless clincher tire technology, I think we can agree that today’s wheels are significantly superior.
Pros: About the only one is that down tube shift levers are simpler and lighter than shifting brake levers and electronic shifting. Also, I would say that you were less likely to break shift cables with down tube levers and that bikes looked cleaner with less cable housing and batteries.
Cons: Slower shifting, harder to hit gears, greater effort to slow/stop and exposed brake cables get in the way of your hands.
My call: This is a slam dunk. While vintage braking and shifting won’t let you down, you’ll be disappointed going from new to old.
Pros: I said I loved the Campagnolo hubs on the Masi, and I feel the same about the crankset, which is among the most beautiful ever made. Ditto for the Campy pedals with ALE toe clips and straps. Look close and you’ll also see the Regina Oro (gold) chain and freewheel, which look especially nice in the sun.
Cons: Some Campagnolo crankarms had a fatal flaw in the casting that led to breaking. Quill pedals with clips and straps can’t compare with modern clipless pedals, which are much easier to enter/exit and boost your power a lot. As nice as they look, Regina Oro freewheels were notorious for failing under pressure. Today’s cassettes and freehubs are far superior.
My call: Today’s clipless pedal and cassette technologies are great improvements. I don’t, however, feel that modern cranksets -- even with hollow chainrings, compact gearing and oversize bottom brackets and new bearing standards -- have added much to what we had with classic cotterless cranksets.
Pros: Fine leather saddle and a super-strong Campagnolo Nuovo Record post that is simple to adjust and absolutely won’t let the seat slip or change angle.
Cons: Simple saddle shape and thin padding isn’t comfortable for all cyclists, and with its heavy construction and steel rails it’s on the heavy side.
My call: Modern saddles offer much more comfort for most riders. But modern seatposts could actually improve if designers would return to the past for inspiration. What we had then is better than what we have now, in my opinion.
Pros: Like the Masi’s Campy hubs and crankset, to me, its Cinelli stem and handlebars are among the most stylish ever made. The bars have a simple bend that fits most cyclists, and the stem has nearly invisible bolts and an ultra-fine finish. Back in the day, a Cinelli stem and bar were like the hood ornament on a Rolls Royce. Plus, all you had to do to raise/lower the bars was to loosen one bolt and move them up and down.
Cons: Compared to modern bicycles with their oversize head tubes, tapered fork steerers, larger-diameter stems and handlebars, often all made of super-stiff and light carbon, vintage aluminum components can’t compete on lightness or, more importantly, in a flex test. Which means that for climbing, sprinting, cornering hard and descending at high speed, modern components have a big performance edge.
My call: I love the performance of modern carbon bicycles and their oversize front ends, stems and bars. But I sometimes get numb hands holding my carbon bars; that never happens with aluminum ones. Also, I dislike the exposed bolts on modern stems and think it’s silly to have to use spacers to raise and lower your handlebars, too.
Summing up, while we’ve come a long way, and today’s road rockets can beat the pants off my Masi, I think bicycle designers would do well by copying some of what seems to have been forgotten.
Note: After writing this column, I found out that Speedplay CEO Richard Bryne has his own compelling Masi story: http://www.speedplay.com/speedplaylabs/masi/
Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 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 7,595.
This concept in a nutshell: Make road cycling’s classic event, the century ride, a key part of your training plan.
Most riders view century rides as goals in themselves, events to be ridden almost like a race. They train for centuries rather than viewing these 100-milers as a way to prepare for other objectives.
A century can be both—a great goal and a superb training device. It’s a long ride, for one thing. And a century can be as competitive as you want to make it, either against the other guys at the front or against yourself as you push for a time under 5 hours or your PR. In fact, I think centuries are one of the best training tools in a rider’s arsenal.
In the same way, you can use century rides as “races” to boost your fitness and help you achieve cycling goals later in the season. This week, we’ll start this 2-part series with information about building up to the century with appropriate training and nutrition. Next week, we’ll talk about formulating a strategy for riding the century.
Build your base. Don’t do a century without adequate base miles. It’s okay to ride your first century on training rides of 60 or 70 miles. Most first-timers just want to complete the distance.
But if you want to get a PR or use the century to best advantage, it pays to give it the respect it deserves. This means at least 8 weeks of gradually increasing long rides on weekends. Ideally, you’ll work up to rides of 75-90 miles with speedwork during the week.
Taper. Treat the century just like an important race. Make sure you taper for at least a week before the event. You won’t get maximum benefit from the ride if you aren’t rested and raring to go.
Eat and drink. Perhaps the biggest mistake a rider can make is trying to lose weight in the few weeks before a big event. “If I were just five pounds lighter, I’d be able to climb with the front group,” a rider thinks -- and promptly begins to limit food portions.
Inadequate calorie intake is the primary cause of fatigue and poor performance. In fact, some experts say that overtraining is almost always caused by not eating enough carbohydrate to restock the muscles with glycogen after hard rides.
The basic rule: Eat a lot to ride a lot. The same goes for hydration. Down plenty of sports drink and water in the days before the event. Keep a bottle on your desk at work. You should be urinating 4 or 5 times a day and getting up at least once each night to empty your bladder. If not, you’re probably going into the century dehydrated. A loss of even one percent of your fluid weight can erode performance.
Next week we’ll discuss riding strategy for that century.
If you’re looking for some more detailed training and tapering advice for century riding, consider my eArticle Peaking for a Century.
"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
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Today’s QT comes to us from Premium Member Greg Titus. Here’s what he wrote:
When stripping down on rides that start cool and warm up, I've always had problems trying to fit arm warmers and knee warmers in jersey pockets that are already occupied with my standard cycling items (food, small wallet, etc.).
Then one day I realized, why not take the arm warmers, fold them in half, tuck one half inside my cycling shorts in the back, and let the rest hang outside of my shorts? That's what I did, and it only adds a little bulk underneath the jersey pockets and keeps the pockets free and accessible for all the other stuff that's already there. Works the same for knee warmers, too.
You've got something hanging below the jersey in the back, but who cares? The extra clothing is out of the way and you're free to ride and get at stuff in your jersey pockets just like always. Works for me.
[Sounds like Greg rides with regular shorts, not bibs. For those who wear bibs, the alternative to Greg’s storage solution is simply to tuck warmers and such up into the back of your jersey, letting the elastic or cut of the jersey at the bottom hold the items in place. Unless you have a super-loose jersey, you should have no problems.]
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
Sled dogs can run more than 100 miles a day, at sub-8-minute-mile pace for weeks on end. Humans couldn’t possibly run as long or as fast and recover from such abuse of their muscles. The explanation for the dogs’ incredible endurance is their mitochondria.
Mitochondria are small areas in all the cells of your body (except mature red blood cells) that turn food into energy more efficiently than any other means in your body. Each human cell contains from 2 to 2,500 mitochondria.
Muscles have two major sources of converting food to energy. They have mitochondria that use the Krebs Cycle chemical reaction to convert all foods to energy. They also have glycolysis, inside the muscle cell and outside the mitochondria, which converts sugar to energy. Since dogs have over 70 percent more mitochondria per cell than humans have, their cells can convert fat far more efficiently into energy.
If humans had as many mitochondria as dogs do, the world records for all endurance events would improve incredibly. Increasing mitochondria could also help to slow aging and to prevent diseases such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. However, at this time the only way that we know to increase mitochondrial number safely is to exercise repeatedly to exhaustion, or to severely restrict calories.
Studies have shown that exhaustive exercise even increases the number and size of mitochondria in the brain to increase memory and learning in mice (The Journal of Applied Physiology. August, 2014). Taking thyroid hormone increases the number of mitochondria, but excess thyroid hormone will turn your bones to chalk and damage every cell in your body.
The limiting factor to how fast a human or dog can run over distance is the time it takes to process oxygen in exercising muscles. Once a muscle does not meet its needs for oxygen, the muscle becomes acidic, which burns, hurts, and slows the athlete down.
Sled dogs can use far more oxygen than humans can. The maximum amount of oxygen a person or dog can take in and use over time is called the VO2max. Top marathon runners and cyclists rarely have a VO2max of greater than 90 ml/kg/min. Untrained sled dogs have twice the oxygen capacity, or 175 ml/kg/min VO2max. Trained racing sled dogs’ VO2max is more than 3 times as much as that of the best-trained humans: 300 ml/kg/min.
Muscles burn carbohydrates, fats and, to a lesser degree, proteins for energy. The sugar in carbohydrates requires less oxygen than fat does to power your muscles. The problem is that humans have only a very limited amount of sugar stored in their muscles and liver.
Humans start to run out of stored sugar after only 70 minutes of intense exercise. When a muscle runs out of its stored sugar, it hurts, becomes more difficult to coordinate and requires more oxygen than usual. A limiting factor in how long you can exercise a human muscle is how much sugar you can store in a muscle, how quickly you use it up, and how quickly you can restore the sugar in your muscles (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2005).
Humans could attain greater endurance by storing more carbohydrates in their bodies, by taking carbohydrates continuously during exercise or by bringing oxygen to their muscles faster so they could burn fat more efficiently.
However, humans cannot store more carbohydrates than they already do because all extra carbohydrates are immediately turned to fat, so improvement in endurance will have to come from bringing oxygen into muscles faster, or figuring out a way to burn fat with less oxygen. If a human could teach his muscles to burn fat with less oxygen, he would be the best long distance runner, cyclist, or long-distance cross country skier ever.
Since human muscles depend on sugar for energy during all-out exercise, and humans store only a small amount of sugar, humans cannot recover from hard exercise as fast as dogs do.
Humans take a long time to restore muscle sugar, called glycogen. Top marathon runners restore muscle glycogen in anywhere from a day to several days. Sled dogs can restore muscle glycogen almost as quickly as they are fed. They are able to restore more than 50 percent of their resting muscle glycogen after two consecutive 100-mile runs even when fed a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Humans could never replace muscle glycogen that fast.
Humans could have more endurance if they had as many mitochondria in their muscle cells as sled dogs do. All human endurance records would topple by a huge margin if a new drug or training method that increases mitochondria appears on the market.
At this time, the only safe way we have to increase the number of mitochondria in muscles is by exercising intensely enough to create an oxygen debt. This means that you must exercise so intensely that you become short of breath and your muscles burn. However, every time you exercise intensely, you damage your muscles and feel sore the next day. If you try to exercise intensely when your muscles are still sore from a previous workout, you are at high risk for injuring yourself.
You need to plan to take intense workouts that damage your muscles on one day, feel sore on the next day and go easier. When the soreness lessens, take your next hard workout. Realize that how often you can exercise intensely depends completely on how long it takes for muscles to recover.
Top cyclists go hard on one day, and recover by going fairly hard on the next day. If their muscles feel very sore, they go very easy or take the day off. The schedule for other sports will vary depending on how muscles are used; for example, swimmers can usually take one hard workout and one easy workout every day.
If you have never ridden very hard, on one day you could do controlled 50- or 100-pedal stroke intervals with recoveries until your leg muscles start to feel heavy and hurt. Try to do 20 100-pedal stroke intervals with one- to three-minute recoveries, depending on how you feel. The next day, ride easy for an hour or two depending on how you feel.
If you are a trained athlete and regularly ride hard, on one day, do controlled racing with your friends for 20 to 80 miles. The next day, do controlled short (less than 30 seconds) or long (greater than two minutes) intervals. Always reduce the intensity of your workouts or take the day off when your legs feel heavy or stiff before a workout. Then repeat the cycle of “race” days and interval days, with days off as needed.
This is just a rough recommendation for training. You have your own training methods and should follow what you think is best for you. Remember, though, that if muscles do not burn on your hard days, you will not significantly increase the number of mitochondria in your muscle cells.
Caution: Intense exercise can cause a heart attack in a person with blocked arteries. Check with your doctor before making a major change in your exercise or training program.
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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