Wednesday, June 25, 2008

PDA4A continuing thoughts

I've had a long lasting stomach bug the past few weeks. It seems to have finally left my system just in the last few days. It sort of threw off my evaluation of the Paleo Diet 4 Athletes. You can read my past comments here, here and here.

During that stomach bug, my appetite for anything was shot, then transitioned to being hungry but with a rumbly stomach afterwards no matter what I ate. One a two weeks ago I saw the lowest weight I'd ever been but was probably dehydrated.

So what's my take now? The last few days I noticed a significant change compared to the first few weeks on it. I used to be totally famished in the middle of the day. With a sharp hunger that seemed exacerbated by the fruit and vegetable regimen of this eating plan.

This very hungry feeling seems to have disappated significantly. In fact I'd go so far as to say that I'm just not very hungry much at all these days. Don't get me wrong, I still eat. Quite a bit, especially when preparing for a ride. But oftentimes when I'm not hungry like during the first few weeks.

I have been adding back in some carbs during lunches, not too much though. Dinners is where I try to stick to the plan unless a big ride or race is coming up in the next few days. While on vacation recently, I pretty much went off it and scarfed down major desserts almost every day. Once back home and in familar environs I got back on pretty quick.

Blood sugar levels have stabilized very nicely. I can tell when I've eaten some carbs though, especially when I'm at my desk or sitting around at home. I feel it in my arms of all places. The muscles in my arms seem to feel bonked. It's interesting.

What about the affect on riding? If I just go on a ride w/o having eating significant carbs 3 hours before it usually doesn't go too well. Not too bad but not as good as if I'd prepared properly. I'll intake some carbs as soon as I start pedaling or sometimes within the first few minutes prior to starting. Within a few minutes the legs seem to come around ok.

If I've prepared well 3hrs prior the ride goes real well. Also during the ride I intake a constant stream of energy drink and sometimes high carb food. Blood sugar spikes while eating on the bike have gotten much better. But I really need to test it out with some gels or cliff blocks to truly verify. I seem to be able to last as long or longer than I used to last on just go-juice.

After riding I'll slam some serious carbs. Ensure, Coke, chips, candy, fruit cup.. you name it it is fair game. Then later at night typically a meat dish with vegetables.

Recovery seems to be pretty good. As the propaganda points out the higher protein content is supposed to help with that.

Lunches are still the hardest. I tried making some stews but often get stewed out by Weds or Thursday. On the Fast food front, Chili and salad at wendy's or the taco salad at The border work well. Or a turkey sandwich. I'm not too strict at lunches. For snacks I stick to fruit, dried fruit/nuts trail mix, beef jerky, and yogurt (technically not on the plan). Too much fruit and vegetables leads to you know what so sometimes I slack off those.

Breakfast is usually scrambled eggs (with several eggs being just egg whites), and fruit. I'm thinking some lean bacon or sausage in order too. Sometimes left over meat from the night before.

I was Xlbs nothing before I started this and have lost a few pounds. I'd say I'm still losing a little per week. Definitely noticeable on the bike. And all my clothes are loose. This was not the aim mind you, but a side benefit from a cycling point of view. The main thing is I just don't think you carry as much water weight on this plan.

So what now? It can be a pain in the ass. If it's not convenient, I deal with it and eat what is there. If we're out and they're serving pizza, I'll take two. If we're at cold stone give me a Peanut Butter Delight. 'Nuff said' about it being too restrictive. It's not if you don't let it. But most of the time, I try to stick to the basic principles of
-3hrs before
-1hr after
All other times, lean meats, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts
I throw in some addition like yogurt too.

I do have low energy on non riding days if I haven't had enough fruit vegetables. It's a low level feeling and not a spiky feeling.

The nice thing is that the plan is an enabler to riding. Sometimes even us cycling nuts need incentive to ride. Want to eat some good shit, then ride.

So for know I'll stick with the general plan as a compass and go from there.

Good little accessory for shock pumps

One of the annoying things about shock pumps for forks and rear shocks is the loss of air when removing the chuck from the shock. You have to thread the pump on just tight enough so that when you take it off you can do it in one swift 1/4 turn motion. The goal is a very short pffft sound. More often than not though it's a longer psssss sound and you've lost more air than you wanted.

I saw this little gizmo at the bike shop and decided to try it out.

First you thread this unit onto the shock. Then thread your shock pump on. If there is air in the shock you have to pump up past the intial pressure in order to break the seal of a check valve inside this thing. The pressure will increase quickly then once the check valve is broken it will drop a little bit immediately. Pump up to desired value from there.

Then, if the shock pump has a air pressure release hit it short and quick to remove all the air pressure from the pump. Unthread the pump from the unit then unthread the unit from the shock.

I think it works. I pumped up to a value took it off then put it back on and once the check valve was broken it was at the same pressure I'd finished from the first time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mountain Lake Dirty Dawg race report

This was going to be titled the race report that almost wasn't because I was waffling back and forth till about the last possible moment. I'm so glad the way it finaly waffled and that we went. It was a wonderful event

The location was idyllic at the Mountain Lake Hotel. The course was unlike any around, challenging technical rocks, but also some power fire road climbs, loose shale off camber, twisty single track, and bomber fire roads. With trail names like Moonstomper and Toejammer which ironically lived up to it's name in my case


Thanks to Ben, The Mountain Lake Conservancy and the Mountain Lake Hotel. For putting on such a great race. Putting on events takes such effort, and we wouldn't have races to go to without people like that. Race or no race, the riding up there is super fun and they are committed to creating more and more trails.

On Wednesday, I got this GI stomach bug that has been going around town. A terrible stomach upset then low grade fever that just put me in bed. The fever went away after a day, but the stomach has been on strike since then. I had no appetite and if I did, no food irregardless of type felt right. It wasn't getting that much better into the weekend, and was thinking that racing might be out of the picture. The event was billed as a weekend festival with campout, bonfire, etc. My buddy and I and some of our kids went up there Saturday night to just say hi.

While up there my son started to haze me about racing. What to do, my own child, who seems to have reached a new level of maturity, is razing me, while the violins are playing in the background as I remind him of the stomach thing I've got.

It was pretty much decided to go that night. I'm really glad, and have been jonesing for some of that fullfilment that comes from racing. I'd made a conscious choice to not race much this year due to other commitments. I'm glad to have other priorities and not be so uber focused on cycling to the point of nausem, yet have also missed that good feeling that comes from voluntarily putting yourself through physical hardship. Running the gauntlet and coming out the other side feeling like utter crap, yet feeling empowered and fulfilled at the same time. That is mountain bike racing. If it was easy everyone would do it.

In the morning I tried to eat some serious carbs but nowhere what I'd use to eat prerace. It sat ok, but I could tell things weren't 100%. The legs were primed though. Two weeks ago, I performed my standard peaking protocol of doing three consecutive days at high intensity, with duration decreasing across each day. Due to the stomach bug and other obligations I'd had no saddle time from Wed to Friday prior to the race. But Saturday I did some zone 2 on the trainer and some 5x1min on, 2off on the trainer. The legs felt a dead, and later that night they felt tender to the touch. Typically that would be cause for alarm. But I've learned that this tender feeling after a wake up the legs effor t is the tellatale sign that something's going to happen...something wonderful.

The start was uncharacteristically mellow. I think many had either preridden or heard how much harder it was than last year and took it slower out of the gate. My goal was to take it easy and not get sucked into the start frenzy. I've not been training like years past or racing for months so doing that would be a recipe for disaster. As we turned to the single track, I actually started to catch a few. This one crazy foo' on a rigid single speed was practically going backwards. But when we hit the dirt road, I was sprayed with gravel off his rooster tail as he light it up.

The course leads to some off camber shale sections. Flat city for many. Then into the hardest climb out to the start of the technical single track, Moonstomper. I actuall got my foot wedged into a rock within minutes of starting this track. My pinky toe got munched. I thought I might have broken it. But racing is racing, and it didn't keep me from riding. Throughout the day,I sometimes pressed it down in my shoe to get a jolt of pain to wake up.

After passing someone on the rocks I was alone for a long time. Trying to just stay steady. For about an hour and a half I was riding strong. Right around the 2hr mark the energy stores were fading and the first dose of sport legs was waning. My in race dose was taken at the 1hr mark and didn't kick in until 2:10 or so. Would't you know that right around the 2 hr mark Dave passed me. We'd traded spots in the rocks where I chose to burn many matches pinballing off rocks while he saved some energy.

More often than not I don't really race my bike. I just ride as best I can, but don't often dig deep to hang onto wheels or bridge gaps. I was proud to focus hard and stay on the wheel as he passed. But just as we top out on the golf course road, the leg locking cramps hit. So I had to back off a tad. These days I ride through them as best as I can cause I know they'll go away as soon as the Sport legs kick in, but I lost the wheel though had him in sight.

On the last major climb through a grassy jeep trail I'm slowly chasing. Grinding the middle ring and see him get off and walk. Grinding and grinding and the gap is barely closing. It was like that scene from Monty Python where those knights are running and running and aren't getting any closer to the castle. All of a sudden I finally crawl by.

I'm thinking that if I can make it to the last technical singletrack downhill maybe I can gap enough to hold him off. Look at me, thinking all competitively and tactically. Through the last single track alone and onto the fire road climb. I'm dying. Knowing I'm being chased. Trying to just get through this last road. Big ring as much as possible then middle. Ahh the last checkpoint meaning that it's just a grinder hill away to the finish.

God that hill hurt. Oh then there is the climb to the stables. Just as I'm near the top of the fire road, who but that rigid single speeding yahoo blows by me. No way possible to hang onto the train. Rolled through to the finish with snot hanging down my nose, stomach in knots. I heard my name but couldn't even think to look around. My wife and kids had come up but didn't even see them till after I'd crossed the line.

Look how old my kids are getting

See my face. To the untrained eye it could be seen as a smile. Grimace is the correct term. I used the large picture so you could get the full effect. That is the face I came here looking for. For the next 4 hours my face looked like that. My stomach was in utter rebellion. It wasn't that sickly over carbed feeling but more of general turmoil.

Great day, great organizers, great competitors. So glad I came. In the end I got 5th with 4th less than a minute and 3rd less than 2 minutes. Way way better than I would have expected given this year and the last week. The top two were like 20mins ahead. I'd love to see those two dancing through the rocks.

Please come next year when they have it. And to the mtn lake crew keep building trails. But if I could make a request, make some smooth but twisty single track that can be enjoyed by rank beginners as well as experts. We need to grow some new bikers so they can go after those rocks.

Notes to self
-haven't been keeping a training log the last few months. So not exactly sure about what has worked so well
-Combo of some hard rides back to back. Good tough routes:
-460 to mtn lake, jenelle road, woodland hills, pearman, Old brush and hills in the neighboorhood, up beast, up OF. And lots of rest and not riding.
-Want to bring back one trainer session a week. lead outs to get my leg spinning ability up and/or butt kickers.
-Peaked well two weeks before
-Have lost weight. Combo of PD4A which I'll be writing more about soon (good and bad), and just plain not eating crap, and just plain not eating much the last week with the stomach thing. No doubt about it weight matters. My power numbers are all down from last year but the weight is lower and I feel good on the bike.
-I was pushing a bigger gear an lower cadence most of the day. Still seems counter intuitive that it works but I think this course combined with the Sport legs worked better with that strategy
-I don't like being dependent on those things in races, and I don't like that they take away snap and ability to spin up on demand. But damn do they work on my cramps, and damn if I can't just keep pedaling middle when I should be in granny.
-Still can't start fast. But caught a few people after in several minutes.
-Technical skills were big factor today. Needed em.
-Skills felt on today. I did a skills session with the cones last week and another a few weeks ago. It takes several days for the feelings to get ingrained and I could feel the rear wheel breaking and coming around on turns w/o it freaking me out.
-Bike had no problems.
-Stans is key in this terrain
-Had a competitive fire today. Rode it like I stole it for some golden moments.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Dirty Dawg Mountain Bike Festival

Dirty Dawg
Mountain bike festival.

Wow, great course. A very very technical rock section in there. Take Gap rock sections and do it about 10x. Save some gas for that section as you'll need some power in the legs to push a decent size gear through. Spinning does not work in this kind of terrain. You need a large enough gear to be able to pop the front wheel up on demand.

I might ride it on Sat. May race may not. Last few days having problems breathing or something with the allergies or heat. Legs are ok though.

Interactive Trail map of Pandapas pond trails

Just came across this
Amazing amount of work. Cool interactive trail maps with elevation profiles of all the trails in my back yard.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

PD4A going on 2nd week

So I'm going on the 2nd week of the Paleo Diet For Athletes.

I actually haven't even looked at the book since skimming it the first time. The book didn't read very well to me. Written by two authors, it definitely feels disjointed. You can easily tell which author wrote which sections and it isn't laid out very well.

What I prefer is a very simplified plan based on Gordo

Gordo distills these ideas to what he calls the Key Three:

Majority of nutrition from whole fruits, lean protein and fresh veggies.
Starch and sugar only during and after training.
Eliminate as much processed food as possible

I augment this to eat whatever you want a few hours before a ride or 10min before a ride, or 1hr afer ride.

For dinners we've been getting some frozen fish from Kroger. Cheaper brand of wild caught salmon and tilapia. Plus lots of fruits/vegetables. BBQ chicken.

Before a commute bike home it's...cookie time. Get outta my way. Cookie time. And at home I'll 'recover' with somthing..

So far I haven't been feeling as bad during those low points in the day. And haven't been going off the plan too much. And this is important. Except... When I damn well please I eat what I want to. I if I want pizza I'll get it. Same for bday cake. And if the BBQ goes on, a beer comes out.

If you are following a 90/10 goal fo 90% of the time the plan, 10% deviate. Or 80/20 whatever. This is a goal eating plan not a diet. It's not a caloric restriction it's more of a scheduling. For someone just starting out, I'd suggest only try it for dinner. Switch to a lean meat/fish and vegetable dinner (except if a big race was coming up the next day)

results to date
-still feel a little energy lull in middle of the day, seems to be getting better.

-Just fruits/vegetables for a snack doesn't cut it. Nut/with dried fruit helps. Supposedly peanuts are not the best, but those peanut/fruit mixes are about 5$ cheaper per bag so that's what I get. Also yogurt helps, even though it is technically not on the plan.

-Planning is key. I've been cooking up a stew in the crock pot the past two Sundays. It gets me through several breakfasts and lunches. When cooking up some BBQ chicken make the whole package and eat it for breakfast or lunches through the next few days.

-Going riding w/o planning for it and then taking something 10mins before works, but only for a short time. the 10minute thing is only for riding moderate or light pace, not for race pace. cause it makes my legs feel like lead.

-No blood sugar spikes at all even during riding and eating a little debbie.

Weight scale said lighest ever, BF% showed lightest ever. But I was probably dehydratded....My guess is that with less overall muscle glycogen in storage I'm carrying less water in general. It seems that I don't need as much water as previously to stay hydrated.

As long as I eat properly to prepare for riding (with influx of carbs 3 hrs before) I am riding real well. Climbing well especially due to lower weight.