Saturday, September 30, 2006

Food Log: 9/30/2006 Saturday


Waffles -80g
Syrup - 53g
Soy sausages - 3g
Soymilk 8g

*Talk about a sugar spike. Was lightheaded afterwards for an hour

3/4 cliff bar - 30g
yogurt - 30g

Power Bar drink 2.5scoops 42g
12:30- Ensure 40g

1:30 ride 1:20
On ride Power Bar drink 42g
felt fine no lightheadedness.

Waffle with PBJ - 50g
popcorn - 16g
Mini bagel w/cream cheese 24g

5pm: Banana-29g

Bread - 48g
Mashed Potatoes - 42g
Pasta (w/soy crumbles)- 84g

Daily total:
605 (10.3g/kg) *recommended upper limit is 10g/kg as more than this does not seem to increase muscle/liver glycogen levels.

breakfast was a sugar bomb, but laying around the house dizzy is ok.
-80g in the hour before riding was good. Did not lead to reactive hypoglycemia. Started drinking energy drink immediately on the ride and felt fine.

- Typically after a dinner of pasta and bread I'm hungry a few hours later and need a snack. Didn't have that hunger pang tonight. Mashed potatoes was new tonight, don't usually have that. Wonder if that helped? Or if I just ate so much all day that I'm full.

Poor Mountain Hillclimb tomorrow

Tomorrwow is the Poor Mountain Hillclimb

I've never been here before. Just from reading descriptions it is going to be pure carnage. My palms are getting sweaty just writing this from nerves.

I'll be on the hardtail. In a stroke of irony, I got a cheap rigid fork to put on there because my wife's new bike needed my 80mm Black SPV, as her new fork is delayed. It seems that his cheapy rigid fork weighs about the same as that suspension fork. So no weight weenie gain for that. I could have jacked up the pressure on the suspension fork and it'd be the same.

This course sounds brutal:

Then comes 1/2 of pavement with a 13% gradient.

The following 4 miles are dirt with some small loose rocks and lots of embedded rocks. This surface is hard packed with a 12% gradient. The final 3/4 miles are steep, hardpacked gravel with a gradient from 15% to 16%.

There is even a section of 21% grade.

It is a mass start on a paved gradual incline. This is the kind of thing that gets me into trouble. Because I'll want to stay with the group in order to take advantage of a draft. In addition the excitement of a race just draws me in. Tempts me to push beyond my magic sweetspot for too long and then I fade hard later and cramp.

With a hill like this that gets worse the farther it gets and ends with the hardest section, it is imperative that I find my special spot in the pain as soon as possible. In fact I should be going at least 1 maybe 2 gears lower than I want to be.

The key for me is to find that perfect gear that enables a continuous and stable spin but also putting out good power. One of the drawbacks of steep climbs on my road bike is that my gearing limits my capability to spin on steep climbs and it turns into a grindfest. On a mountain bike, the low gearing can actually be a double edged sword because it can promote you to take a bailout gear. This leads to a high spin but you go nowhere.

The biggest downfall is to go out too hard too early. Something I always do in a race. I've just got to let my people go and get to my own rhthym and hope that I can go harder towards the end.

Traction is going to be an important issue to. I've got a new tire on there but it is tubed and not STANS. There is less worry about pinch flats on a climb but still, the lower pressure/highervolume of the stans might have been good here.

I'll be doing a good warmup today, maybe go up Oldfarm at a decent pace.

We'll see how it goes. This will also be the kickoff for a final big block of training before Rowdy Dawg. Monday I'm going to try to do the entire expert course of Rowdy Dawg and then Tuesday another 2 hrs hard.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Food Log 9/29/2006 Friday

Low Sugar Oatmeal - 24g
Yogurt 34g

10am Sweet/salty granola bar 19g

11: balance gold bar 22g
11:30 2 fig newtons 28g

rode bike down to Radio Shack

1:00 lean Cusine Panini -32g
felt tired/light headed after eating this
2:20 PBJ-43g

4:00 Ensure 40g

4:45 Banana - 29g

7:00 3 Pieces Pizza -90g

Daily Total:
361 (6.3 g/kg)

-2 fig newtons did not cause stomach bloating. Fig newtons have caused bloating when I eat too many.

-Didn't feel that good for most of the day, after the frozen Panini sandwich I felt pretty tired and sort of lightheaded. Didn't feel better till after the ensure at 4pm, felt pretty good after the banana all the way till Pizza later.

Food Log 9/28/2006 Thurday

English Muffin 27g
W/egg and cheese slice

Hot pocket -40g
Ensure+ 50g

1:30 Lunch at sons' school
Chicken Fajita salad - negligible
Bowl white rice - 30g
bowl baked beans - 30g

-ensure+ - 50g

Was going to do cyclocross mock race, but due to rain went on the trainer

Trainer ride - leadouts
Dizzy after first set
drinking power bar energy drink 20oz bottle 42g finished it in like 15mins. didn't help dizziness.
Slammed another bottle Pbar energy drink - 42g after I stopped.

PBJ sandwich 26g +11g+ 6g
Mini Bagel/cream cheese 24g

150g taken in 3hrs before riding.
50g taken in in hour preceding.
Daily total: 378 (6.6g/kg)

150g should be enough for a short ride, but should have been consumed 2hrs before ride. larger quantities should be completed 3hrs before a ride

50g in hour preceding was too low and elicited hypoglycemic reaction

Food log

I'm going to keep a food log for the next week at least to track food intake. The metrics I'm really interested in is carb intake, timing of the carb intake related to training, and how I feel. Specifically, I'm concerned about my excercise induced hypoglycemia

This is basically a situation where I feel lightheaded/dizzy pretty much like bonking right at the beginning of a ride. I'm very susceptible to it in early afternoon and evening riding/commuting. It's one thing to be 3hrs into a hard ride and start to bonk. But to be lightheaded within minutes of just tooling around a parking lot praticing trackstands/wheelies isn't right. It is starting to really piss me off and it affects any training not done in the morning. Here are some specific examples and observations.

I used to have 2 bowls of cereal then ride into work. By the end of a 1/2hr commute I'd be dizzy. Solved this by intaking some protein such as an egg white.

Good breakfast, snacks at 10, lunch at 12, snacks again at 1. Go outside to practice some skills for a break at like 2pm. Within minutes I'd be dizzy

Riding at 1pm, thought I'd eaten enough earlier in the day. Bonked from the start. Started to slam my energy drink. Took about 45mins for it to kick in then felt fine.

Commuting home at 5. light headed. It seems like I graze all day and have a good lunch.

If I have just coffee and then jump on the trainer, I'm fine and can do a pretty hard workout. As long as I am intaking energy drink from the start of the workout, I'm pretty good. If I were to eat something small first then ride 1/2hr later I'd be dizzy.

From observation, if I take in a small amount of carbs (30-50g) in the hour prior to exercising, I'll feel light headed at the start of the workout. Sometimes it goes away in like 15 mins, other times not.

If I intake 70g of carb w/in the hour preceding the workout I don't feel lightheaded.

Potential problems.
1) not intaking enough carbs during the day preceding exercise. (general daily recommendations range from 6-10g/lg body weight: 340-570g/day)
2) taking 70g or less 1hr before that triggers a hypoglycemic reaction
3) Not taking enough protein/fat to help balance the carb. When I added some protein to breakast it help significantly with feeling light headed on my commute

I've lost a significant amount of weight over the last 5 weeks. I think this has exacerbated the condition. I'm also just doing more riding in the afternoons/evenings which naturally has brought more attention to the issue.

My pre-race preparation has been working well and has induced no hypoglycemic reactions.

Pre race prep:
-4-5g carb/kg body weight 3hours prior to race
-70g carb liquid form 45mins before event
-40g carb/hr liquid for during race

Ho hum Interbike

Interbike is going on right now. This year my enthusiasm for it is very ho hum. There's just nothing I'm really into. It's mainly because of my current situation

-I'm totally content with my road bike. Sure new components like SRAM Force or whatever would be cool but I'd rather let that stuff develop for a few years before adopting it.

-Just got my new FS and it's going to take months to really dial it in. Components wise its fine. Maybe an XO trigger rear would be cool, otherwise it's just a matter of working out the kinks.

-This is on it's last legs. But interbike isn't the place for what I'm looking for.

interbike seems to be big on 29ers this year and carbon FS. So others are excited but for me it's a big yawn.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Interesting diet observations and consipracy theories

So more than a month ago I had a case of OC (over carb) in a race, and suffered that sickly sweet feeling that permeates your entire body. Bloating, burping, and unable to stomach hardly anything besides grease/fat for hours after the race.

The very next day I eliminated junk food from my diet. Cold turkey. For the next week my stomach was in turmoil during the adjustment. I was highly sensitive to even natural foods with high fructose content such as fig newtons and dried fruit. In addition, drinks like HEED that containg xylitol a sugar alchohol caused immediate bloating and stomach stress.

After that adjustment week I had no issues. No cases of stomach bloating and excessive burpiness. I still intake a large amount of carbohydrates as necessary to be a cyclist. Gatorade and Power Bar endurance drink have not caused issues under high intensity riding though I have been keeping the carbohydrate intake to 40g/hr or less.

But tonight, I just had to go and screw it all up. There were some mixed dried fruits in the cupboard. The cool polygon shapes of papaya and pineapple. I only had like 3 freaking pieces. Sure enough, my stomach has been bloated and painful for 2 hours now.

In addition to men-in-black theories, I theorize that I am fructose intolerant or suffer from fructose malabsorption . I already know for sure I am lactose intolerant. But it never fails. High fructose foods such as fig newtons, dried fruit, apples yield the same results. Why it has taken me so long to really realize is beyond me.

My wife has a masters in nutrition. Yet she doesn't want to hear about my conspiracy theories. She was just wondering what the heck I was doing eating dried fruits. Ok I learned my lesson.

I got some Power Gels to test out. Only becase the form factor is easier to deal with than energy drinks. With no handoffs and up to a 3 hr race that's going to be 3 bottles I'll need. 2 gels can take the place of one of the bottles. But I just checked the ingredients and they contain maltodextrin and fructose. I've been staying away from Hammer gel which is just maltodextrin because it was involved in my OC episode.

We'll see how they go. If they don't work I might try Hammer Gel out again. I'm happy so far with the Powerbar drink but haven't used it in really high intensity race-sim yet.

Monday, September 25, 2006

PRQ #12: Jeremiah Bishop

This is Part 12 in the Pro Racer Questionnaire series. The same questions are posed to pros/semi-pros. The idea is to provide some exposure for the athletes and their sponsors as well as share some info with amateur XC racers. The feedback I've been getting from readers is that they love to hear about this stuff from the pros. There is precious little written about XC racing and sponsors need to know that there is a public out there and that XC is going strong.

Jeremiah Bishop


Jeremiah Bishop has been in the local racing scene here for more than a decade. He's been a fixture at the Virginia Series and more recently has taken on the world stage. He's a big name now with his Pan American Medal and the chase for the olympic team featured in Off Road to Athens.

Most recently was his spectacular finish at the Mountain Bike World Championships in New Zealand last month. It was the first top-ten finish at an elite men's world championship in XC in 11 years.

From a fan perspective it's just cool to have a Virginia Boy at the top of the XC charts in a time when most of the pros are located out west. He's a very approachable pro willing to talk about training and gear with anyone. He certainly understands the sponsorship responsibilities of a professional athlete. I've seen him several times leading kid's races and it makes an impression.

I thank JB for his time and wish him well for next season.

The questionnaire:


Who are your sponsors that you'd like to recognize?

Rock Shox
Advantage Physical Therapy
Power Bar
Peaks Coaching Group

What makes an athlete a 'good investment' for a sponsor?

IMPACT not just impressions. How long will you remember your interaction with an athlete or their story? Do you remember a bill board you saw last year?? Probably not.

How long have you been racing mountain bikes, how long as a pro?
I have been racing since the fall of 1992 and I have been pro since mid 1999.

Editor's note: I've been racing since 1991 and ride the back of the bus in Vet Expert. Something doesn't add up!

What are your goals for 2007?

Rock the WORLD. Win the USA National Championships.
Win the Pan- Am Games again. Top 5 @ Worlds.

Bike Geek Stuff.

What bikes do you race on? What other bikes do you own?
Trek 9.9 elite99_chired Top Fuel 110 DSC00848 and a Madone Road Bike madonessl69_pewter.

I am really excited to build up my single speed cross bike next!

Editor's Note: Notice the Power Tap rear wheel and V brakes on the Fuel. Used for training races. I'd love to get a power profile of Massanutten or Douthat. Could you imagine programming that into a Computrainer and doing that as a training ride!

How do you see XC technology changing over the next 5 years?

HMMMMMMM. Well. I think there will be disk brakes on road bikes!
But in regard to XC. I think you will see more athletes training and racing with power meters. Ergomo could be the best MTB system. Also there will be a complete shift in drive technologies in the next 10 years. The main planetary system will be near the center of the bike.
I would have to draw it for ya. :)
Editor's Note: I've heard several pros say the same thing about drivetrain systems.

What component or cycling gear would you pay full retail for if you had to?

Trek Bikes for sure are the best in the world especially the advancements in the new 07 bikes!

Editor's Note: Special kudos to Trek for continuing to sponsor athletes at the grass roots racing level. Their factor teams continue to develop the US's best racers.


How many hours a week do you train (min, max,average)?

Do you have a coach?
Hunter Allen with Peaks Coaching Group.

Do you follow a scientific periodized cycling specific training program or 'just ride'?
I just ride until Hunter has rendered my legs useless. ;)

Do you strength train?
Yes but it is all using body weight. Dr. Bill Johnson with Advantage Physical Therapy designed my core, speed and agility programs. I also do strength work on the bike.

How do you recover after a hard ride or workout?
Cyto max recovery drink, Massage, Epsom salts baths elevation self massage advil and anti oxidants. SLEEP!

What is your nutrition protocol during a 2-2.5hr XC race?
Mostly Gels, Cytomax, and sometimes I will do a late bottle with coke or redbull.

What is your pacing strategy for an 2-2.5hr XC race?

It totally depends. World Cup the first climb is a flat out sprint!!! A high altitude NMBS I will start as slow as possible without falling behind the leader.


How do you balance the stresses of regular life with training and recovery?
Don't sweat the details too much and try to obtain balance with all things in the World.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Coffee and Chocolate only the good stuff though! As the earlier answer says there is not much guilt to it.

What advice do you have for those of us with families, and full time jobs who want to race our best?

Pick a few goals maybe just 3 and KILL IT! Get a coach. With accuracy you can cut your training time in half! Really.

You can't sustain a monk like training program for long not even the best full time racers can so that's why it is important to buckle down for a an 8 week PUSH!

This may require some sacrifice but if you do it right you can bring the trophy to work or home and show them it was worth it.

Then you can say I gave it my best and now I will just have fun and do 2 or three super rides a week. I was working 2 jobs just 4 years ago! So I know.

Off camber

Riding off camber turns and trails is something I've been thinking about lately. This is an attempt to put it into pictures. Hopefully it makes sense and hopefully I've got it right.

This is bad:

This is worse:

This is good

This is better

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Had an awesome ride today. Slightly damp, turned to rain/drizzle. The roots were wet and the rocks were slick. I'd been planning on riding regardless of the weather and was actually looking forward to the wet conditions. Lately, I've lost the fluid nimble feeling when riding and there's nothing like slick conditions to make you relax, flow and bring out your body english. It was nice to reconnect with that essence of mountain biking.

I also got a chance to ride with Brian and Bob. I haven't ridden with Bob in several years. He was one of my early mountian biking mentors. I've learned a ton from him over the years. It was so much fun to be the rabbit or the fox chasing or being chased up and down in the slickish conditions.

First I lost a water bottle on the first downhill. There went half my energy intake so a bonk was coming. Then I crashed on this one rooty switchback that gives me troubles. Then later we were coming down the S turns of Poverty creek and on this wide loose sweeper I was leaned way over and both tires washed out from underneath me and I slide on my shin across the wide trail. I got up with this HUGE smile on my face and jumped back on and continued on almost laughing outloud.

Typically when I crash it's more of a negative experience. But I think I was so happy because I was pushing my personal envelope today and it felt good. When you don't exceed your limitations then you can't improve. This was probably one of the more excessive washouts I've had, but it was wicked. Whooshhh. sliiiddde... It was onto my left shin which I seem to crash on 8 out of 10 times. I think the feeling is gone on that knee so it isn't feeling too bad right now.

These kinds of crahes really aren't too bad. The bad ones are when you're nervous and tight and going too slow. Then you end up crashing big.

I'm wondering if some lightweight shin guards might be in order and would help me ride better?

Brian was riding so strong. All on one-two days a week. Here I am training all year. Since November with the weights. With the training program, all mapped out, the skills course, etc.. And he's right there in the rearview mirror all day. But for many many years I was always doing the chasing and now I can be the rabbit. It's just an example of the sliding scale that applies in mountain biking. It's so easy to compare yourself to other people in terms of skills/fitness. But what really matters is how you are improving relative to yourself.

Coming down Old Farm was incredible. There is this one log staircase towards the top. When it's there I can launch off it when it's not its a roll down. Today it was a full on launch and smooth landing.

The keys for my handling right now are vision and braking. Plain and simple. Need to get my head up and get off the brakes so much. Though I'm thinking lately that a fatty 2.3 tire might be worth the tradeoff in weight for some cornering and downhilling capability.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Did a road ride today. Man I tell you I LOVE that road bike.


From work, down Ellet to valley

-Deercroft to Nellies Cave to the top (1point)
-Back down to Woodland hills horshoe (1/2point)
-Up Harding 13:28 (white start line to end line) (1point)
-rode easiest gear a lot and spun, just tried to ride consistent
-Partway down Harding to Happy Hollow (1/2point)
-Up Preston Forest (1point)
-Down pearman to the Preston Forest road by recycling station (1point)
-Old Brush to the top (1point)
-down to the newer section of Brush mtn estates (1/2 point)
Total: 6.5

Limited by food. Was bonking definitely trying to get back to work. Just tried to ride consitently up the hills.

If I went back down to the valley and Up Jennelle then over to Oil well I can get up to 8.5 points

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Notes to self on training cycles

Yesterday the legs felt decent on the commute even though the previous two days they were achey from the race. Those two days were hard so I thought they'd still be achey but they felt snappy on the commute today.

I think I do well the week after a rest week. Last week was somewhat of a rest week that ended with a race on Sunday.

Last week
Tues- Off
Wed-1hr with some hard efforts
Thurs-Easy mtb skills work
Sat-1hr Zone 2 with 5x1min on 2 off
Mon- Off (though my legs felt decent)
Tues-Tough Butt Kicker workout 4sets 12min on alternating 2mins MSP with 4x:15 on :15 off leadout intervals. Only able to complete 3 sets
Wed-1hr hard MTB, legs ached didn't ride too well
Thurs- Commuting.

I think I need to adjust the cycles to put a race the week after a rest cycle and not at the tail end of a rest cycle.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Good map of poverty creek / Brush mountain trails

T. sent over this nice map of the Poverty Creek links.
If you click on it then go to DIFFERENT SIZES down at the bottom right you can go to the original sized drawing.

pov creek trails

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Analyzing the race

I've been going over the last race trying to identify problems and how to address them over the next season.

From the very start I never really felt that good this past weekend. I just cannot go too hard on the starts or I'm screwed for the rest of the race. Did it again this past race. On sport starts I can hang with a bulk of the pack, not the lead guys. But for experts it's even a stretch to hang at the back. To get the best performance I need to ramp up slower.

But from a training perspective this is something that needs work.

My pedaling never felt really on. And my skills haven't really been there since the bike switch. I took a hard look at the current position and was comparing measurements to my hardtail which has been feeling pretty good. I don't know how I did it, but my saddle height was higher on the new bike. For some reason I'd set it at my road bike height which is 5mm taller. Also I haven't been able to properly measure setback. The plumb bomb just isn't that easy to do because it catches on the frame or other parts and is tough to do with high repeatability.

If I had the same seatpost I could reference off some part of the clamp but this seatpost is different. After trying several times with the plumb bomb it seemed that the saddle position was too far forward. I moved it back which changed the measurement from the tip of the saddle to the bar. I'd used the 80mm stem off the Hollowpoint but just from calculations on Bike CAD I'd figured that I'd need a 75 or 70mm. So I should have known from the start that the saddle was set wrong when the 80mm looked like it fit.

I stole the 70mm off my hardtail and am testing it tomorrow. So far handling feels better. My pedaling feels a little better.

One glaring deficiency in my skills was downhilling on sidehills. Which most of Douthat is. Most people love that stuff, but honestly I don't like most of it. Not until it gets off the sidehill. Here at home I can't ride our sidehill trails well either.

I asked for some help at mtbr and this thread shows some of the discussion. I'm going to practice weighting the downhill side and leaning in more. Ironically, the more off camber it is the better I do. Because I do weight the downhill side more. It's the smooth fast stuff with sidehill that messes with my mind.

Nutrition notes from last race

Pre race meal
started at 6:30 finished by 8am, Race start noon

Ensure 50g
Cereal Grape nuts trail mix 1 cup 74g
Soy milk 8g
English muffin 27g
Natural Peanut Butter - 6g
Yogurt 34
1/2 cup grape nuts 37
Antother Ensure 50g


During race
60oz of Gatorade. Mixed at 1 3/4 scoops / 20oz

Target of 3 swigs at 5 min intervals. Missed several of the intervals but still finished 60oz by 2:20.

1-20oz bottle of pure water, drank about 1/2 of it.

Didn't bonk , though I did start to feel a lose of energy. Some burping, but no Over Carb feeling of sickly sweetness.

Very hungry empty stomach by the finish.

Ensure downed in 2 gulps for recovery.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

No Fries for you

I told myself I'd get french fries if I broke 2:35 today. 2:40 or 2:41 or thereabouts. Pizza on the way home was consolation.

Many Thanks to Kyle and East Coasters and mother nature for such a wonderful day. It was wonderful to see Kyle's wife Debbie working the registration table, welcome back.

I'm happy with my ride. 15minutes faster than last year. But it was rough.

The pro/ex went off and then the Vet X, masters and junior X went off. There was no bottle neck for me because when we got to the initial climb I was with two other guys and the rest were gone. I mean gone gone like not even in sight. In the blink of an eye.

My legs weren't going too good at first. I knew I was over doing it and the legs were letting me know. I think I have to realize that my legs need to start slowly and then build up to the sweet spot in order to go their best. If I go to hard too soon they never seem to come around as when I ramp up.

This climb just goes on and on and on. It took almost an hour to get to the top. At the 1/2hr point I pulled out my magic pill box and downed 5 sport legs.

I'm in such a pickle sometimes. Because I knew I had to hold things in check otherwise I'd have no hope on the second climb, at the same time you gotta go cause it's a race and at if you want to move up from the back of the bus you gotta go.

Regardless I topped out and got on the flat sections and then promptly got passed by 2 people on the start of the downhill. 90% of the downhilling at Douthat is narrow trail with a drop off to one side. This is definitely a severe weakness in my skillset. I don't think it's a bicycle issue or losing 1/4" of suspension by going to the Azure from the Hollowpoint. And here on my home trails I can rail on the beast and old farm but not on Sidewinder/Snake root. For whatever reason I can't keep my vision down the trail and can't let go and fly. Fear is the overriding sensation rather than fun. Something about the sidehill dropoff keeps me wanting to hug the uphill side which just makes it worse.

The switchbacks went reasonably well. Left hand switchbacks were easy, righthanders were sketchy for me. Towards the bottom we get off the sidehill stuff and I had more fun, but still I didn't feel as comfortable as I think I should.

We dumped out into a campground and started riding on the road. 1:15 to the road. Same time as I did last year to the same spot. And Sure enough I started to cramp in almost the same spot. This race was a really interesting testimonial to how the Sportlegs are working for me in terms of cramp mitigation. Almost to the minute, 1hr from the point I'd take the Sportlegs, the cramps subsided for a little while at least.

They not only went away, but I could ride hard and not have to resort to survival mode riding. Into the second climb I cleaned almost the all the first part. I sometimes questioned the switch to the 24t front ring but in general I think it was a good choice as overall speed was faster compared to if I'd gone bailout with the 22/32. At 1:30 I took the second dose of Sportlegs. I actually dropped two of them and was debating continuing on. F that, I stopped, backed up and picked them off the ground and got them down.

I caught up to the two guys who'd passed me on the downhill and we traded spots several times. It seemed like I was climbing stronger than either of them (when not cramping) but they were downhilling better.

After the inital climb there is some fun downhilling but then it gets really brutal. Several steep grunts that are loose and under fatigue just hellacious. The cramps were back again, but I'm quite proud to have kept the pedals turning and not get shutdown by them. My left calf was almost completely locked up. It is totally tender to the touch right now.

The last downhill is straight stretches into sharp switchbacks. Again the left handers were great but I feel totally awkward on the righthanders. But I cleaned them all which was a first. The bottom of this downhill is SOOO much fun, I love carving the turns and am able to float through some rock sections. This time I went through the creek instead of trying to battle climbing up the suspension bridge. The spectators at the bridge said 3 miles to the finish.

The LONGEST 3 miles with the exception of the ridge of Dragon's Back I've ever ridden.

Right about this time the cramps were coming back. But again, 1hr after I'd taken the last dose the went away and was able to ride decently strong again. My 60 oz of gatorade was gone too. My timer was set for 5min intervals. And I missed several due to being on a downhill or otherwise occupied. I was definitely drinking more than 20oz/hr as it ran out about 2:20.

Mentally I wasn't all there today and the mind was wandering. But the goal of 2:35 was willing me on. On and on this trail goes. I was riding it much much stronger than last year which was inspiring. The last downhill was rough but I hit it well and rode into the finish at 2:40 or 2:41 or something like that.

In looking at the boards it looked like I was next to last for VetX. Not an issue to me right now. I feel like I know what needs to be done for next year and that I'm real close to making improvements that would put me up higher.

As I was rolling back to the car I saw my friend John. Poor guy had flatted and his C02 crapped out on him and was pumpless. Hence a DNF but he did go home with a black eye as a prize from hitting a tree.

No mechanicals, no crashes, didn't bonk though was starting too. Cramped hard but rode through it. What more can you ask for? I learned a few things too. That's one of the beautiful things about mountain bike racing is that you always learn something new about yourself.

I think the magic in the sportlegs is working I just need to time the intake better. It seems like I need them at little earlier. Like at :15 in and 1:15 in and 2:15.

-I think I could have made up 2 or 3 more spots if I'd been able to hang better on the downhills. I need to figure out what it is about the sidehills that throws me off and then a method for improving on them.

-I need to force myself to practice hike-a-biking cause no matter how good I 'think' I am I'm gonna be hike-a-biking.

As proud members of Team MWC (married with children) our obligations do not end with racing and representing our sponsors well. When I dropped off John at his house he was informed that his youngest son's bags were packed and he was 'hitting the road'. Damage control was required. When I got home, I learned about my youngest son's total misbehavior and bad attitude that pretty much ruined the day for my wife. Sort of dimishes the successes of the day.

It's never easy. Mountain bike racing and parenting that is.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Another shot at Douthat

Douthat (Middle Mountain Mama) is tomorrow.

In years past I've never had a good race there. I'm hoping for a consistent ride tomorrow.

I had a little scare on Friday night. We got back from soccer practice/game and I was really cold and then my nose started running. I wrapped up in a blanket and lay on the couch. Thankfully in the morning I felt a lot better. My youngest son had been sick earlier in the week so I must have finally gotten it.

The legs seem to be ready to go. Last weekend my legs felt really tired on Saturday but were coming around on Sunday. This week was really busy at work which turned out ok, as all I did was 50mins on the trainer on Wed with some hard efforts and 40 mins around the neighborhood on Thursday trying to ride a wheelie and doing track stands.

It's interesting though the aches/pains that accompany a taper week prior to a race. I've heard of marathon runners experiencing sharp pains and weird aches during a taper week. Last Friday I was helping to coach my son's K-soccer practice. Just running around passing the ball w/the kids. The next day my ankle hurts to put weight on it. It hurt a little on the bike but usually worked out. It still hurt today.

This morning I did my ritual pre-prerace warmup. On the trainer with some good punk and some good mountain bike DVDs. 30mins zone 2 followed by 5x1on 2 off at SMSP then some more Zone 2 for a total of 50minutes.

We visited my brother-in-law in Lynchburg and had an awesome time walking around Downtown Lynchburg and some of the historical districts. Looks like a really fun place. Though it highlighted how uni-dimensional I've become as the walking we did on the hills there made me a little sore. It's sad that I can't play soccer or walk around for a few miles. That's one thing I want to work on a little to balance myself out some.

Days off are recovery but they also lead to dead legs. So the first 30minutes at zone 2 feel sort of hard, and it takes that long for the legs to come around. The SMSP 1x intervals are always a good indicator of tidings to come. Today the felt effortless. The power meter doesn't lie so that is a confidence boost.

I'll be going for 245g-300g of carb for the pre-race meal tomorrow morning aiming to be completely done by 9am.

1hr before the start I'll down a midsized bottle of Gatorade for 56g of carb aiming to be done 15min before the start

Tomorrow I'm running 60oz of gatorade mixed at slightly less then 6% concentration. It's going to be between 2:45-3hrs of a race so at 20oz an hour I'll need between 50-60oz. At 20oz and hour it comes out to around 35g carb/hr. I'm also bringing one bottle of just water. I'm going to set my watch timer to go off at 5minute intervals and try to take 3-4 swigs from the camel back each interval. There will also be a safety energy bar in my pocket just in case. I imagine that I'll be gettings some serious hunger pains about 2 hrs into it, but as long as my glycogen is topped off and I'm not bonking I'll save the solid food till afterwards.

I'll also be bringing two pill boxes of Sport Legs. 3 will be taken 1hr prior to the race start and at 1/2hr I'll take 5 and at 1.5hr I'll take another 5

From the race description it looks like they are starting all the Masters/Vets together sport and expert. I was hoping to go off with all the other experts. The thought is the experts would ride more of the start which can be tricky and have less bottlenecks. If I go off with all the Masters/Vets then getting a good start is more important.

-get to the sweet spot as soon as possible
-control it on the first climb.-Ride with my head first, and then heart later.
-Have confidence to go outside the sweet spot into the red for technical sections and short steep sections/switchbacks.
-Clean the 2nd climb
-Concentrate in the present. Try not to think too much about elapsed time
-Head up, Hips into the turns, downhill fast but in control, be aggressive
-Ride smooth, avoid flats. Shift smooth, avoid chainsuck and other preventable mechanicals.
-2:35 would be a dream finish time. Last year I did it in 2:56 with epic cramping and either bonking of dehydration lightheadedness.
-I don't care about placing for now though mid pack would be a total success.
-I break 2:35 I get french fries

I still can't handle sweet things. My son's 6th birthday was on Thursday. We had cake and icecream. It's interesting, I'm not really craving sweets but I wanted some because I thought that I should be craving it given how my entire life I've craved sweets. It wasn't even that big a piece or that much ice cream. I was almost ill afterwards.

I've cut out lots of fried foods too. Though admittedly, I do crave french fries.

The scale this morning says I weigh less than I've weighed in over 12 years. After a 250g/carb meal it will be significantly higher tomorrow. But going uphill the drop in weight is going to be welcome. Something switched in my brain that day after that first expert race. If you've read for awhile you know that racing doesn't come easy. It's been a constant push day by day to work harder and smarter and get better. I just told myself that if I really want to do well than everything has to get better.
Eating, sleeping, recovering, skills. Those experts are for real man. Guys like me have to work every angle.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thanks Oury

Oury is sponsoring the Rowdy Dawg Mountain bike race.

They just sent us a box of grips.
These grips rock. Even for small hands they provide excellent cusion and tactile feel for technical riding. The grooves are perfect for just ringing the ring finger and thumb on downhills. And if you don't run bar ends, the ends of the oury are nice to just wrap your hands around on climbs.

I just wanted to thank Oury for helping out grass roots racing

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Iron Horse Azure Review Pt 2: Some Saddle Time

This is part 2 of a review of the Iron Horse Azure. Part 1 can be read here.


*Note* There is no right/wrong opinion on aesthetics. These are just my impressions **

The 2004 Hollowpoint always looked a little kludgy to me in terms of the linkage design. I imagine the design issues are related to DW coming after the bike was originally designed and applying the DW linkage. Regardless, it just never looked right to me.

Now the Azure looks sweet. You can definitely tell that the linkage was designed along with the entire bike from the ground up. The lower linkage with the anodized red look gives it a distinct bling aspect found on more boutique frames.

The redesign of the linkage also allowed the placement of a water bottle on the down tube. On the HP the only place for the bottle was on the underside of the top tube. At first the HP's bottle placement sucked until someone recommended a side access bottle cage. This actually made the HP's water bottle really easy to access.

Ironically the placement of the bottle on the Azure is actually harder for me to access. It is placed really low on the tube and it is a long reach for my short torso. In addition, it is really really tight in that triangle. This is not a knock on IH as this is just the nature of the beast on small sized FS frames.

-There are bottle bosses on the underside of the downtube. This isn't the ideal place for a bottle because it gets really muddy, etc. But I definitely appreciate having it here. If you run bottles for energy drink during racing only having one on the bike can be a pain if you don't get handoffs.

Weight is such a touchy and well 'weighty' issue. It's hard to be an XC racer and not be somewhat influenced by weight. The HP was beefy and heavy for an XC bike but just right I imagine for a trail bike. At its best it weight 27.2 lbs with all my budget and exotic weight weenieness applied. However, the only time weight was an issue was hike-a-bike sections and racking the bike. The utter beauty of the DW-link is how it can remove weight as an issue for how the bike rides.
The Azure is about 1pound lighter than the HP.
6.3lbs for frame/shock.

The frame is definitely a beefy frame for an XC racer

With gussets, some and large tubing. The seat tube is seriously thick. I think the USA made Factory frame has a lighter seat tube. I recall on guy complaining about how the seat tube was so thick he couldn't use a weight weenie seat clamp and get the post to stay in place.

You can't really compare this frame to a Blur XC, for example, because the Blur XC has a rider weight limit. There is no weight limit on the Azure and it should be confidence inspiring for some aggro XC and endurance miles. The Blur and Titus and Specialized also cost a heck of a lot more. Only the Giant Anthem beats it on weight at a similar price point.

However, I think given some ingenuity and thought, IH could cut another pound of the Azure. They did that with the 2007 MKIII, so I bet in another design revision if they feel it is worth the investment you'll see a lighter Azure.

I also weight weenied some more parts as well, and right now it's around 25.8lbs. This is with cages and a fender,CO2, skewers, so it isn't true weight weenie. I bet with some parts changes it could easily be 24 something.

Build Spec
Stans Olympic Rims
NO-Tubes (With rim strip)
IRC Serac 2.1 front (regular tire not UST)
IRC Mythos 2.1 rear (regular tire not UST)
2003 WTB Laser Disc Lite Hubs
Salsa skewers
XT Cassette
Sram PC chain (mid level)
American Classic ISIS BB
FSA Carbon Team (24t pseudo Ti ring from Action Tec)
2004 Manitou Swinger Air shock
KCNC Seatpost (ti hardware)
WTB Rocket V (ti rails) saddle
Shimano 540 pedals (boat anchor)
Stock deore FD (boat anchor)
Ritchey Pro stem (one of the only 80mm stems around)
Answer Carbon pro taper bar
XO rear der
XO twist shifters
2004 Juicy 7s
2005 Manitou Minute 2 (fixed 100mm)
WTB grips

It's funny, one of my first rides on the Azure was when I was totally bonked from the get go. It didn't ride any better than the HP even at close to 2lbs lighter. It drove home the fact that 2 lbs on the bike can be meaningless sometimes.

Setup Issues
The stock bike came with a Manitou Radium R shock. I was actually hoping that the cheap parts spec I got would include a simple non-platform shock. I didn't know that the cheap Radium came with a built in platform that is NON-ADJUSTABLE. On a ride down the street it was TIGHT. I mean no bob when standing at all tight. I knew right away that the platform was too high for a DW link. I took my swinger air off the HP and put it on. More so that I could an apples-to-apples comparison to the HP. But also because the platform is somewhat adjustable on it. DW link bikes do not require such a high platform and it's a shame that the Radium was spec'ed on this bike to begin with.

As with any DW link bike it takes a lot of setup to find the sweet spot. Thankfully my experience with the HP let me find a good spot quickly. I am using about 10 psi less on the Azure than I did on the HP in 3.75" mode. SPV is set to the minimum of 50psi.

Here is a suspension setup guide that is a work in progress.

In addition one must also dial in the front fork as well. The HP had always been difficult to set the fork on. Because the HP had a rearward weight bias. The only time it felt really balanced (from an XC perspective) was with an 80mm Black SPV on there. The Azure is definitely more forward balanced. It feels VERY sweet from an XC perspective. At first I had my shock SPV chamber a tad too small. I opened it up a little and it felt really nice.

Protection from Chain slap.
The chain seems to ding up the frame in some places you wouldn't think to wrap. Make sure to wrap electrical tape in these areas to protect from chain slap. Otherwise you'll see these small pinhole size dings in the paint.

I still have more dialing to do but it feels really good right now.

Also make sure that when you wrap the chainstay that you wrap the angled section that connects to the BB. I stopped my wrapping right there and I've already worn down to the metal from chain slap.

The HP had a stupid slack seat tube that required me to push my saddle all the forward on the rails. I could never get rid of the creak in the saddle. The Azure has a 73.0 seat angle which makes it much easier and nicer looking to place the saddle closer to the middle of the rails

The Azure allows more choices for Front Der than the HP which is nice.

The Azure uses a more standard 27.2 seatpost, but the HP used a weird 27.0 size


No doubt about it, the Azure is a climbing freak. It is noticeably faster than the HP. The HP is an awesome climber by the way. But the Azure is faster. The HP does get a tad better traction sometimes and in the 4.5" mode it gets insane traction on loose terrain. But 4.5" mode climbs slow. It pedals slower. The Azure is just tight. I can definitely feel more of my energy going to forward momentum. The more forward balance also lends itself to keeping the front wheel planted better. Sometimes I'd say I'm riding one gear higher than on the HP. It's that much louder.

Standing and general pedaling
I got standing pedal bob on the HP. There is still some on the Azure but noticeably less. I've found that I'm standing much more on the Azure than I did on the HP. Part of this is that I'm getting better at knowing how and when to stand. I never was able to stand right on my hardtail but I am doing it better now. The Azure feels as good as the hardtail in the right standing situation.

-In technical riding, rockgardens, etc. The Azure is better. The more centered position and balanced position on the bikes makes it easier to pop the front wheel on demand and also to coaster wheelie.

The Azure kicks total butt on any pedaling sections. Especially through the roots/small rocks that constitute trail chatter. And the buried baby head sections like this. I am talking about pedaling uphill through this stuff

The HP in 4.5" mode had this delayed feeling when the rear would suck down into the crevices. This improved in 3.75" mode and it is even better on the Azure

Ok, the Azure does not descend as well as the HP in 3.75" mode. 1/4" of travel and 2lbs makes a difference. But I also have only been on this bike for a month whereas I had moer than a year on the HP. The lighter Azure is more skittish under hard braking. Obviously the 4.5" mode HP descended the best. However, the Azure is very stable given it's longer wheelbase (for the 17" Azure compared to the 15" HP) It does take a little bit more impulse to get it to turn and requires some more body english -hip action. I'm still getting used to the subtle change in the weight balance and all too. But rest assured it does go downhill capably as an XC racer.

Of note is the headtube os 70.5 and is specced with a 100mm fork. It is NOT a twitchy bike or super fast steering. My experience in XC racing is that a super fast bike becomes a handfull when under fatigue towards the end of a race. An expert rider might be fine and welcome the quicker handling bike at all times, but for the rest of us I think the stability inherint in the slightly slacker headtube is great at all times and on these East coast aggressive xc trails

I think the Swinger shock is holding it back too. A plusher Cane Creek non platform AD-12 of Fox would probably make better use of the rear for downhilling. But I am geting full travel and am not bottoming out.

Tire Clearance
My 2.1 Mythos is slightly larger than 2.1 because it is tubeless. It is tight but is not rubbing at all. One knock the Azure gets is on tight tire clearance. But it is an XC racing frame and if it's muddy you should run mud tires. I don't think it will be a problem but I haven't really run in super muddy conditions which I hate to anyway.

It's hard to really see the true tire clearance in this picture sorry

The only negatives so far has been the difficulty in getting to a bottle and the back of the mind feeling that it could be lighter. Other than that no issues so far.

Plain and simple this is a faster racing bike than the HP.

The HP is still a kick butt frame and one of the most versatile bikes made. It climbed superbly and downhilled very well. However, the Azure is faster climbing and faster in any rolling/pedaling singletrack.

I am very pleased with the Azure so far. It just feels so tight and solid under pedaling. Every pedal stroke just seems to will it forward. And I'm climbing some stuff when at redline that I'd normally be too shelled to climb on the HP. I even bumped up my gearing from a 22t on the front to a 24t and haven't had too much problem.

I've been messing around with some settings. Based on some tuning tips on the iron horse forums at this link I've turned up my rebound compression. The below video shows how it rebounds now. The higher rebound (slower rebound)also makes it bob less.

The front derailleur cage hits the lower linkage when in the granny gear. I get a knock sometimes the shock compresses a lot and it is in the small ring.

**One thing I've noticed is that on smooth climbs, the Azure doesn't do as well as the hardtail in high cadence/low torque pedaling. With the FS it seems to bog down a tiny bit under low torque. A tad lower cadence/higher gear works better. On steep hills, the terrain forces a high torque situation so the FS climbs way better than the hardtail.


**NOTE ** Water bottle clearance problem.

The lower bottle cage is on the underside of the down tube. Using a regular bottle cage places the bottle a little high. Under heavy fork compression the tire can hit the bottle.

A combination of a sidewinder cage and a bottle with that is slightly shorter can help with the clearance.

Notice the height difference between these two bottles.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Dealing with food labels

I've been looking at the labels more closely especially on engery drinks. Make sure to double check the serving size when checking out carb level of a drink.

Gatorade puts you on a little goose chase.
The label says a serving a tbsp and there are 13g/Tbsp.

But the jug comes with a scoop. There are 1.5 Tbsp/scoop
So there are really 19.5g/scoop

Also it is important to mix drinks between a 6-8% solution. Most things I've read agree that your body absorbs this range of solution best. To calculate the % solution:

Divide the grams/volume (in ml)

Typically energy drinks provide mixing directions based on 8oz of water. 8oz=240ml

I also did some measuring of how much water is in a 'swig' from my camel bak. Ok picture this. I've got my camel bak on in the kitchen and a big measuring cup that has gradations every two oz. I take swig and spit it into the cup. I measured about 5 swigs/2oz, so 50 swigs/20oz

Monique Ryan's book says the fluids are cleared faster when you have a higher volume in the stomach, so it's better to gulp rather than sip. I was thinking of setting a timer for 5minutes, and taking 4 swigs/5minutes. I'd also bring water in a bottle or two and take some when convenient.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New Gearing

I put a 24t ring on the Azure in place of my 22t
My rear cassette is a 12-32

previously I tried a 27t Durace cassette with the 22t up front. the 22/27 just wasn't low enough for me.

I'd been staying in my small ring more and more lately, and found that the 22t was leaving me in a no-man's land. I could only go about 4 down on the cog with the 22t, going to the 5th down didn't shift well at all.

I could try and stay in the middle 32 but oftentimes the 32/32 was just a tad too high but conversely the 22/xx (whatever the 4th down is) was too low.

On the hardtail I've got a 24t in the front and 28 in the rear. It actually makes me go faster when I'm not really tired.

Putting the 24 on has been good so far. Shifting is fine and it lets me stay in the sweet spot longer w/o having to shift the front chainring as much. The problems arise when I'm really tired and the bailout gear of the 22/32 isn't there.

Overall not having the bailout equates to noticeably faster riding. The Azure is a wicked efficient bike, and I think I'm sometimes riding a gear higher than usual anyway. So the 24t hasn't been a liability for the most part.

For humble pie I went up Dodger today. It's a quest to see how far I can make it. I didn't make it too far but I did clear some spots that I'd never cleared before. If I had the 22t I might have been able to eek out a few more feet. But traction starts to suffer the lower you go so I might have spun out if I had it. It is so steep I have to sit on the very tip of the saddle.

The Hardest part of Douthat is going to be the 2nd climb up from the road. It gets really really steep. If I can ride this section I'll be stoked. Everything else is pretty rideable except some of the switchbacks. The key is going to be the legs. Last year I was already cramping on the 2nd climb, and totally locked up on one of the switchbacks.

No OC today

Remember the classic Movie I'm Gonna Get You Sucka? In the movie June Bug is found dead from an OG. Over Gold. I term the overdose of carb as OC and after my last overdose several weeks ago I've been on a mission to figure out how to intake carbs better.

This mission got derailed when I tried some Hammer HEED. I originally went to HEED because it has reputation for being light tasting and source from complex carbohydrates and supposedly creates less stomach distress.

Every time I used it, my stomach had problems but I mistakenly thought that it was the carb level being too high to clear from my stomach. In reality it was just the HEED.

Today I tried a scaled back pre-event meal and some Gatorade mixed at 30g/20oz bottle. It was a mountain bike ride so I was assured of getting shaken up like a martini.

Riding at 11 am. Finished eating my 8am

Oatmeal 39g
Yogurt + grape Nuts Mix Crunch 34g+37g
2 veggie sausage links 3g
Ensure+ 50g

On the ride I brough wo 20oz bottles mixed with 2Tbsp of gatorade at 13g/tbsp = 26g each.

I finished the first bottle at 1hr and the second bottle at 1:50. Ahead of schedule even. No stomach problems except for hunger. The downside was that I was starting to bonk a little.

The amount of carbs taken in at the pre-event meal was about 100g lower than what I'd be shooting for in a race. But the good news is that 26g/hr of gatorade did not upset my stomach and I didn't have that telltale sign of OC. Where that sweet sugary aftertaste permeates everything and I can't get anything in my stomach for hours afterwards. The question is can I go higher to say 35-40g/hr w/o OCing?

One problem with the situation in accessing water bottles. The triangle on my frame is very very small and tight with the full suspension linkages. Getting to the bottle isn't easy and I'm not too good at it. In addition, I have a second cage on the underside of the down tube, and I've been carrying a third bottle in a jersey pocket to prepare for events longer than 2hrs.

Everytime I go for the bottle, I feel my speed decrease and several times almost steered off the trail. It's a liability. I'm thinking of putting the energy drink in my water pack and carrying pure water in the cage.

I had a very very bad experience doing that years ago at a 24hr race. I was so obsessed with not bonking that I mixed a real strong energy drink solution into my pack and didnt bring any water. It was so strong that I ended up actually dehydrating because once in my system the stuff actually started to pull water out of me.

This time though I wouldn't mix a heavy concentration, It would be mixed to the recommended 6% solution. The good thing about using energy drink instead of gels is that you get the hydration benefit of energy drinks. So you really don't need that much more water on top of the drink as long as it is mixed properly and isn't too strong.

The good thing about bottles though is it's easy to regulate how much you are intaking. 1 bottle an hour=20oz =X grams depending on how you mixed it.

With a camel bak there is no guage. I am going to measure how much a swig is from the camel back and figure out how often I'd need to drink to equate to 20oz/hr. Then I'll set my timer on my wach.

I also rode pretty well today. I thought I'd be in the tank but amazingly my legs felt pretty good. I think the Sportlegs helped and it's also been 2 weeks since some really strong rides, so I've supercompensated from those. So this is good. Now I know my legs are on the upswing.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Nutrition Notes

I'm working on my pre-event meal and my in-race nutrition. The last time I tried a pre-event meal it didn't go so well as it was hard to get in all the carbs w/o feeling bloaty but this mornings felt pretty good. My stomach had been messed up for several weeks where anytime, riding or not it felt bloaty.

Not sure exactly what was going on but things have calmed down a little. I think I'd unconsciously cut back on protein/fats a little. Now things seemed more balanced.

I took copious notes this morning with start times/end times for what I ate and exact portions. Yes this is anal, but this is such an important part of racing and if I can get it figured out it's on less thing to worry about and one more thing to feel confident in.

I'm going by several sources for my guidelines.
Dave Morris's Book

Monique Ryan's Book

And Chris Charmicael's book

For pre event meals in the time frame of 3-4 hours prior to the event they suggest a range between 2-5g/kg body weight.

Here's what I had and the times:

7:25 Coffee 1/2 caf 1/2decaf cream/splenda only drank 1/2 cup

Ensure + 50g
Grape nutes Trail MixCrunch 2x1/2cups @ 37g/1/2cup=72g + soymilk 8 g
Thomas Hearty Grain English Muffin+ eggwhite sandwich 2x27g = 52g
1 cup Stony Field Farm Organic Vanilla 34g
mixed in 1/2 cup grape Nuts mixcrunch 37g

Total: 253g

I think I'm around 57k=4.4g/kg

I started eating at 7:30am and finished at 8:40am

My stomach did not feel bad after all this. Sure I was full but not anywhere near as bad as last time. A lot of this stuff is high fiber which is not so good for a pre-race meal but this is how we eat all the time. I'd like to get some lower fiber stuff like regular english muffins and some basic pancake mix instead of the But-wheat stuff we have around. But I won't experiment w/that until after this next race.

I believe the culprit for my problems last week was the HEED. I took 2 glasses of 3scoops of it. In addition I used HEED on the rides. Plain and simple that stuff just rubs me the wrong way. I'd been thinking that I'd had the concentration too high during the race sims, but tonight I confirmed that solely maltodextrin sourced drinks DO NOT sit well with me. It also could be the Xylitol in HEED which is a sugar alcohol which can upset sensitive stomachs. I had a glass of it at tonight while watching a DVD to just get some more carbs in for tomorrow, and I couldn't even finish 1/4 of it before my stomach started to get bloated. And it was just 1 scoop. Last week I had 3 scoops/glassx2.

I am so glad actually that I know to stay away from it. I'd been thinking that I should try it again at a lower concentration for tomorrows ride. But I'm going to stick to Gatorade. I wanted to get some of the Power Bar drink which I've had before and really like the taste but can't remember how I did with it at high intensities.

at 10:30 I started to drink a bottle of Gatorade mixed with 4Tbsp Gatorade and 25oz water =4x13= 52g. Finished that by 11:15

I started riding at 12:00
on the ride I brought 2 bottles of 20oz Gatorade mixed at at 2Tbsp Gatorade = 26g each, and one 20oz bottle of plain water

started drinking at 15mins into the ride. Finished 1st bottle at 1:15
Finished ride at 2:20 and had about a 1/4 of the other bottle left. I only drank less than 1/2 of the pure water.

Didn't bonk or feel close to it. Stomach felt tight but not too burpy and I didn't have the sickly sweet taste in my mouth. Was able to down another Ensure+ after about 15minutes w/o issue.

However road bike riding does not shake you up as much as mtb racing, and I wasn't going as hard as I would in a race.

So I took in less than 30g carbs per hour. And I didn't bonk and didn't have an upset stomach. But the question is will <30g/hr keep me from bonking in a race.

One thing I know is no more Heed or Hammer gel for me. Just personal preference.

Training notes

Did a 2:15 road ride today. The plan had called for 3hr hard but my legs are definitely getting shot after last weekend, then two on days Wed and Thursday.

There was some power in the legs but not much snap.

Tabor to Sandy Ridge to Harding to Lusters Gate and up Deercroft to Patrick Henry to home.

The Douthat Race is next weekend and it's one of the races I work all year towards. I've never had a good race there.

It doesn't bother me that my legs aren't here this weekend. In fact it would be worse if they were ready to rock this week. This won't make much sense but I'll just spout it off anyway.

When feeling really good, I can put out some serious work over consecutive days. It feels almost effortless in someways when you're really on. This work output takes a lot out of me and it can take up to 11 days to really feel super again. One thing I've seen is that during this recovery time regardless of if I sit on the couch or train through it I won't feel that good in it and will come out the other side feeling strong.

The worry is should I be training during this low period? The benefit of any workout won't be realized for at least 11-14 days. So the rides I did today and tomorrow aren't going to benefit me for next weeks race. But they will benefit me for later races.

There is the potential that I could do more harm than good and compromise the recovery needed to be going good next week. But one thing I feel is that when fatigued slightly I just can't work as hard and hence can't do as much damage to myself.

And if I really can't do the workout based on the prescribed power settings or just feel bad I'll cut it back or bag it. But one of the keys to my success I think, is training when fatigued. It doesn't feel as good as when you're riding the wave, but it's surprising how strong you can be even though you don't feel it.

Tomorrow calls for a 2hr hard mountain bike ride. It's going to be a struggle I think, but I also need to work out some nutrition things and some bike setup things too.

After tomorrow comes 2 days easy/off then some short rides with a few hard efforts. I have confidence that my legs will be really coming around by Thursday and then it's a matter of just keeping them loose. Saturdays are my pre-race ride which consists of 45 minutes on the trainer with 5x1min SMSP 2min off to really get the legs going.

I had Dave Morris work me up a calendar from May through October. I stare at it and stare at it and sometimes can't really make out the cycles he's setup. It's like magic sometimes when I say to myself I really shouldn't be doing that ride on that day. But almost always I surprise myself and can do it. And on race day the legs have been there ready to rock.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

growing old before my time

I'm going to try out some Ensure

Specifically for the high carb content to help reach the target goal of 5g/kg body weight during a pre race meal.

A bottle of Ensure+ has 50g of carbs. I was really concerned because I am lactose intolerant. So things like Slim fast of carnation instant breakfast don't work for me. Ensure has a cool online chat. System. I logged on and got the low down in a few minutes.
The following Ensure® products are lactose-free: Ensure®, Ensure® Fiber, Ensure® High Calcium, Ensure® High Protein, Ensure® Plus, Ensure® Plus HN, and Ensure® Powder (if not mixed with milk).

Ensure® Pudding is not lactose-free. Ensure Pudding contains 5 g of lactose per serving.

All of our Ensure products contain some milk ingredients in the form of milk protein, but they do not contain lactose (milk sugar).

So I'm going to get some an test it out. Tomorrow morning is a tough trainer workout and this Sunday is a potential race. I really want to get the pre race meal dialed out and the in-race energy drink system fixed before the Douthat race on Sept 17th. That basically means I have this weekend to figure it out.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Iron Horse Azure Review pt1: Introduction / background


I just got a 2006 Iron Horse Azure Sport. I stripped the entire frame an rebuilt it with parts off the Hollowpoint and some additional improvements. This will be the first part of a long term review comparing the Azure to the 2004 Hollowpoint. Note that this is written from an XC/aggressive XC racing perspective.

As many of you know I've been on a 2004 Hollowpoint for the past year.

I've written extensively about it in this review, this discussion on tuning a DW link and this discussion on 80 vs 100 mm forks.

I adore the HP. I don't regret it's purchase for a second. It was an economical way to try out the DW-link suspension and to see for myself whether I preferred a shorter travel XC bike or a might prefer a longer travel trail type bike. I found early on that for my particular goals and focus that the XC short travel mode was for me.

The Hollowpoint made me fall in love with the DW-link suspension linkage. I love to experiment and try new things, but oftentimes if I find something that works I want to stick with it and not mess around. One could spend a lifetime and a fortune trying to find the perfect component, nutrition, tires, and especially full-suspension system. There is so much out there and so much hype and so many quite expensive bikes that I didn't even want to get into it. After riding the HP I knew that the ONLY bike for me was one with a DW-link suspension.

The HP is the ultimate do-it-all bike and was a combined the qualities of an XC and trail bike. However, when you try to combine two different disciplines you invariably have to make compromises on both ends. For 2005 Iron Horse took the HP and split it into two bikes. The MK-III took over the trail duties while the Azure took over the XC side.

As much as I loved the HP there were some drawbacks to it's design Some of the issues I had with the HP included:
-slack seat tube angle (71.4 degrees)
-overbuilt for XC racing (7.3lbs frame/swinger shock)
-rearward weight bias
-kludgy design
-water bottle position
-27.0 seatpost spec
-limited choices in front deraileur due to suspension linkage
-some standing pedal bob

Geometry Comparison
I was riding the 15" HP. It was a difficult decision but I went with a 17" Azure and am very glad I did. The geometries are actually very similar.

15" HP
22.7 Eff Top tube (this looks long but the slack seat tube makes it shorter-see here for why)
71 head tube
71.4 seat tube
41.3 wheelbase
16.9 chainstay

17" Azure
22.5 ETT
70.5 Headtube
73 seat tube
41.8 wheelbase
16.85 chainstay
12.8 BB drop

Of note though is that Azure has a 70.5 head tube. The HP has 71 (not exactly sure what fork length that was measured with, I'm assuming a 100mm). The 17" Azure has .3" longer wheelbase

Being and XC specific bike gives the connotation that bike is going to be a quick twitchy bike. But just by the numbers the 17" Azure might actually be more stable than the HP.

The following posts will go over each issue point by point and discuss the tuning and performance of the Azure.

The sugar source and carb intake for racing.

I still haven't figured out the right intake of carbs during a race.

Two issues that are still up in the air for me are:

1. # of grams/carbs per hour that I can
A) absorb into my system w/o getting bloated
B) keep me from bonking

2. The form factor of the carbs
A) drink vs gel or combination.
B) carb source: blend of sugars vs one kind of sugar, which ones

-Also could drinking too much water combined with the energy drink have contributed to the bloating?

A few weeks ago I had been alternating plain hammer gels and gatorade and totally bloated out and was really sick to my stomach afer 1.5hrs of racing at high intensity.

The last two race simulations I ran 1.5 scoops of HEED/20oz bottle and strived for 1 bottle an hour. Last week I was riding for 2hrs 8minutes. And right towards the end I was starting to get that bloated feeling where everything tastes sickly sweet. And one of HEED's claims to fame is that it isn't as syrupy/sweet as other drinks.

This past weekend I ran the same concentrations but rode about 2hrs 45 minutes at high intensity. Again around the 2nd hour I started to get that bloated feeling and couldn't drink as much as I should have. I finished the first bottle in 1hr but didn't finish the second bottle until around 2:20 or 2:30. And was definitely getting that bloated feeling and sickly sweet aftertaste from almost anything I ate with a hint of sugar for hours afterwards.

This past weekend I also ate bigtime 3 hrs before the ride and had about 250 grams of carbs. The goal had been 300g. This is based on the guideline of 5grams carbs/kg of body weight 3-4 hours prior to an event.

1.5scoops Heed = about 37g of carbs. Most guidlines say that you should shoot for 30-60grams of carbs/hour. However there is a maximum that can be absorbed into your system and emptied from your stomach. If you go over this threshold bloating and that sickly sweet feeling can happen. Some places I've read that the limit is 50g/hr. In the September 2006 Issue of Bicycling (the USA today of cycling mags) there is a decent article on sugars and they are saying 1.0g/minute to 1.1.

I read with great interest the few paragraphs discussing that products with sugar BLENDS (combination of glucose, sucrose and/or fructose) meaning where the carbs come from a variety of sources and not just one can allow cyclists to reach oxidation levesl of 1.5g/minute to 1.7g/minute. But most intersting to me was that they said that subjects did not complain of stomach upset with sugar mixtures but had some trouble with glucose or maltodextrin alone.

HEED's sugar source is Maltodextrin only . Maltodextrin is claimed to be better than fructose or sucrose because it is more complex. But the thing is it's a single sugar source. Hammer gel is also just maltodextrin. I've read some stuff that said during high intensity exercise that complex carbs aren't a real advantage over simple stuff.

I originally thought Gatorade was a single source (Sucrose) but it is sucrose and dextrose so it is a blend. The New gatorade Endurance is the same as Gatorade but with more sodium and additional electrolytes

This article found higher absorbtion rates with glucose+fructose and glucose+sucrose mixtures. One study showed a 2:1 mixture of maltodextrin + fructose yielded 1.5grams/minute of oxidation. Another blend of glucose, sucrose and fructose showed 1.7g/minute.

So the question for me is:
Is it the single source of sugar in the HEED / Hammergels that is making me bloated, or am I exceeding the upper threshold for amount of carbs/hour that I can absorb/hour or is it both?

It looked like from this past weekend that I took in 37g of carbs the first hour, 3/4bottle in the 2nd hour for around 27-30g/hour. This seems to be on the low end of the 30-60grams/hour and well under the 1gram/minute absorbtion rate. That 1.7g/minute absorption they are saying for some sugar blends comes out to be 102g/hr.

One thing that isn't really qualified is the intensity at which people are riding when performing these measurements. A century pace is different than mountain bike race pace.

So two things I need to try.
1) drop the concentration of HEED down to 1scoop/ bottle which equates to 25g. Shoot for 1 bottle an hour.
*Make sure to have eaten similarly 3hrs before with very high carb intake.
-observe level of bloating and the sensation of sickly sweet aftertaste after event/race sim.
-observe energy level while racing and if I'm bonking or getting close.

2) Try a sugar blend product such as power gel or the power bar drink which have a sugar blend of Maltodextrin and fructose. I've used the power bar drink before and can handle the taste. But I can't remember if I raced with it or did a race sim with it. Retry regular Gatorade but DO NOT alternate it with gels.

I'm glad I'm focusing on this issue so that I can work it out and be confident in the solution for race day. But it's disconcerting to not have it figured out and dialed.

One positive byproduct from that last race and almost puking from sugar overload is that I haven't been craving desserts in the least. Though the brownies at the potluck we went to last night looked good. But the thought of everything else from icecream to soda makes my stomach turn. I guess it's sort of like in college when you threw up from screwdrivers or tequilla and never wanted to drink the stuff again.

Speaking of which I've only had one beer in like 5 weeks and it was only a small cup. That seems wrong in a way.

Being the best but still not knowing anything

I'm going through a rough patch with our littlest one. I'm always the bad guy these days. With this one you have to stay on top of discipline constantly otherwise it will get out of hand.

He was apologizing to me after a round of calling me names. In his special way he said:

"You're the best. But you still don't know anything"

He is almost 6. Isn't that 10 years too soon

Sunday, September 03, 2006


It's always easy to fall back on the fact that I am MWC and FTJ and say that I don't have the time to train like others. But honestly, I don't think time is a limiter. I certainly don't put the kind of hours in that a lot of guys do, but I don't think that's limiting me right now. I'm luckier than most. My wife is very understanding being cyclist and former racer herself, and the kids are getting older which makes it easier to get away.

But time limitations aren't a good excuse for performance.

How do I know? Because sometimes I can't complete a scheduled workout at the prescribed intensity. I've got the time to do the workout, but can't do it.

Recovery is the biggest limiter not time. Maybe in a few years from now when I've progressed enough to have worked up to more weekly hours, then time might be a limiter.

Doh moments and race sim notes

John and I drove out to the R. Dawg course again. I was going to leave first this time and do the full expert course. But when I went to get my shoes/helmet. Doh! I'd left my bag in the garage. I even sat in the car before we left my driveway and went through a checklist, helmet, check, shoes, check, etc. Um how could I check it off if I didn't have it?

I ended up riding home in sandals and helmetless. Got my stuff and rode back out to hook up with him on the course. My saddle felt way to high in the sandals and I could feel my hamstrings from the extra stretch they got later in the ride.

Kudos to John for shaving 8 minutes off his time from last week. He has a new secret. It can shave 8 minutes of YOUR time too. I will sell it to the highest bidder... Ok I'll give it away. It's called eating.

Pre-race meals and eating enough carbs during the ride/race.

I stuffed myself this morning at 5:30am. I ran 3 small bottles of HEED at 1.5 scoops=37grams/bottle. It was too high a concentration as I started to get that bloated feeling. The first bottle got drained in an hour, but even 2:20 into it I hadn't finished the second bottle, I was just feeling too bloated to want to drink it. I put started on the third one at around 2:40. I was starting to feel the energy drain a little, which makes sense cause if you're not drinking the drink than there isn't any carbs going in.

Afterwards when I tried to drink stuff for recovery everything tasted sickly sickly sweet.

I am thinking that if I've got a full tank from the pre race meal, that 37g/hr is too much. I'm, going to drop to 1 scoop/bottle which equates to 25g. The concern is that this is too low to keep the bonk from coming in a race. It's such a fine line between keeping good energy and no bonking and getting bloated.

John made a comment that my pallette seems to have gotten reprogramed a little. Cause honestly I am not craving sweet stuff at all. This is coming from someone who practically has enshrined Reeses on this BLOG. It's just after the last race I'm really sensitive to sweet tastes.

In the past 3 weeks. I have had 1 candy bar and 1 ice-cream and like 2 sodas. All felt like mistakes. I used to have sevearl candy bars a week, and ice-cream or other dessert at least 2-3 times/week. The only real sugary stuff I'm eating is gatorade or Heed for riding.

This creates a somewhat of a Catch 22 for me. Simple sugars are absorbed faster which is imperative during racing. But the simple stuff tastes sweeter. Other sugars don't clear as fast but don't taste as sweet.

Hopefully cutting the concentration of the HEED will help me to drink enough to keep from bonking but not get bloated. I can't even fathom the thought of hammer gel. Maybe it was the plain stuff I'd been using as I don't recall the rasberry or Power gel creating such a negative taste reaction with me.

Riding wise I felt ok. Last night's trainer workout was a tough one. On the way back out to the trails I rode up old farm for time. 17:44. 36 seconds off my PR. Not bad. And I cleaned this one section that I always walk when going for time, but can clean when just riding for the clean.

from the 3 way back to the finish I shaved a minute from last week. But definitely wasn't as motivated as last week, and was a little more fatigued.

To dually is coming along. It felt pretty good today. Seems to be a great climber, and standing feels better than the HP. Downhills felt slightly better today, and it definitely carves the loose turns better than the hardtail. The longer wheelbase helps hold more speed through the corners and I'm glad I went with the 17" over the 15".

Someone asked for a picture:

The review is coming. I need more time to get dialed on it.

Get the calculator out

Pre race meal

5grams carb/kilo body wt

approx 300g for me.

2 slices bread = 26
natural pb = 6
Fruit spread = 10
3 potatoe slices from dinner last night = 10
1 serving pasta = 42

3 scoops HEED = 75
repeat 3 scoops HEED = 75
244 g
still 56g short

if I puke then I'll be 300 g short. Trying not to puke.

Need to get highr concentration in Energy drink like Perpetuem or Sustained Energy. Those have 52 and 75g/scoop.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

So you wanna be an expert?

What a day. Out the door at 8:30 to drive 3 hrs to Wet/wild emerald Pointe water park. We had a blast acutally much more than I though we would. The kids ar e6 and 8 and we didn't do any of the main attractions except the wave pool, but there was plenty to keep them occupied, and we stayed till closing and didn't get home till 8:45pm.

I needed to do a trainer ride. Yes right then. My wife was very understanding and she put the kids to bed. This is my last weekend to do anything hard that will provide benefits at the Douthat race on sept 17th.

I was so tired and just wanted to lay down. But just kept asking myself "do you want to be expert of what?"

Hopped on the trainer. Starting into the workout and felt terrible, just like this past wednesday. Light headed to the point of wanting to faint, higher than normal sweat dripping in buckets. I'd tried to down some gatorade and hour before on the drive up. But after baking all day in the sun and not eating 300 grams of carbs 3 hrs before, I wasn't set up for this.

Check out this So you wanna be an expert workout:
6X 0:20 on 0:20 off
1min rest
5min MSP
6X 0:20 on 0:20 off
5 min rest

repeat X4

This first one I thought I was going to die. The second felt a little better. Thank something or someone cause the third on was better than the first. My light headedness was gone and I was functioning . Made it through the 4th with a little half assing some of the leadouts. It was hard.

3hrs on Brush. John and I are going to do the R Dawg course again. Except this time He is going to give me a headstart and I'm going to do the expert loop. On the new bike no less. At first I'd suggested another ride, because I was scared of doing this race sim. I'm glad he talked me into it. It is wise to do something once like you're going to have to do in a race.

I'm bringing 3 bottles of HEED with 37grams/carbs /bottle. Goal of 1 bottle and hour
3 sport legs 1 hr before, 5 at 40mins another 5 at 2hrs.
Camel back with 60oz water

I'm also getting up at 5:30 in the am to get 300 grams of carbs in me somehow someway for an 8:30 start.

New bike with front tire checked over, it seems to be holding air. Some different grips, tightened the fork up a little (decreased SPV chamber, addede a little bit of air) to see if the front end won'd dive as much.