Saturday, December 31, 2005

An integrated plan

I was reading a fellow mtn bike racer's BLOG and he had gotten the Morris strength template from me. He did 2 hypetrophy workouts and then decided to bag it due to soreness and time taken away from riding. Which is fine, everyone has their own needs when it comes to training.

But I also read that he was looking at a Charmicael or a Friel training plan too for after strength work. And it struck me to emphasize a very important point with regards to the Morris Strength training plan.

It is but one part of an integrated plan. A lot of people want to try strength training out, and with the book and my template it's an easy one to follow. But then they don't follow the rest of his plan and do another training program.

The thing is, this strength plan is designed as a part of a whole program, and it creates a foundation that is then built upon with the subsequent phases. And if you just pull out the strength part alone, you lose a lot of how it is designed to work.

Strength training is a hot topic of debate. And there is data to show that it is not the best thing for cycling training, like this article. But part of their arguement seems to lie in looking at the strength training alone and isolated away from how it is integrated into the entire periodized plan.

Anyway just wanted to point that out. That if you are going to use the template I made to do strength training that it is really important to make sure that it is tied into a well designed periodized plan and that you aren't just doing it willy nilly.

See even the Pros are not immune

Even the pros are not immune to the sweet muse of Reese's

Check out Jeff's K.s 1st step , admiting it:

Revised review of Jtek Engineering Shiftmate

I did an initial review of the Jtek Shiftmate

My shifters were shot so I couldn't really comment finally on the shifting performance. Finally got around to getting my shifters back after a rebuild and putting them back on.

Shifting is really nice. The springs are brand new in the shifters so it 'feels' a little harder to engage the shift but that is because I'd been riding on worn out shifters for a long time. But it shifts up and down the cogset a lot nicer than it used it. Positive feeling, unlike my previous feeling of waiting for a misshift.

The shifts and sounds are chunky. I've not had much experience with a full new Shimano or Campy drivetrain but I imagine that they are smoother feeling and sounding. But a lot of people prefer the chunky shifting of older drivetrains as well.

The pulleys on the rear derailleur were totally shot. This caused the chain to catch when backpedaling. I replaced them and all is well

Some nice road bikes at reasonable prices

Any XC mountain bike racer needs a road bike for several reasons
1) They are fun.
Road bikes are made for one thing. To go fast on the road.

2) You can recover on a road bike
Unless you have easy gravel roads you just can't recover well off road. You get beat up, your legs have to work hard to get up anything, and mentally you can't take a breather cause you'll hit a tree

3)You can go harder on a road bike than you can on a mountain bike
-Intervals on the road are better than intervals on the mountain bike from a fitness perspective. You cannot go as hard on the mountain bike because you'll end up pinballin g into some trees. Of course it is still good to go race pace stuff on the mountain bike cause that is the only way to know what tech sections are going to feel like at speed. But from a training persepctive hard intervals are better on the road or trainer cause you don't have to worry about stacking it, or getting too beat up.

You can ride your mtn bike on the road of course, I did for years. 2 wheelsets one with knobbies one with slicks, etc. or hell just pump up your knobbies. BZZZZZZZ

But there is no feeling like flying on a road bike.

Nothing is cheap but there are some super sweet frames I've seen that would make a fine road bike for anyone.

Of course check ebay first. There are WAY more road bikes on auction than mountain bikes, it is amazing.

I'm partial to steel for road bikes, even though I just got Ti. For value steel of course beats Ti.

Here are some sweet one's I've seen

Kelly Bonestocks with sloping top tube on ebay

Gunnar Roadies


Soma Smoothie

Salsa at Airbomb on sale though check with you LBS as Salsa is a brand of Quality Bike and the LBS can probably get a closeout deal too

Burley Wolf Creek

Jade Cycles

I really like the semi sloping top tubes.
* though this is an expensive example!!

The upslope seems to helps get the bars higher w/o the need for lots of spacers or a super high rise stem.

For someone who's main emphasis is mountain bike racing, I like to have my road bike position set up similar to my mountain bike in terms of the drop from the saddle to the top of the bars and the reach from the saddle to the bars. This drop is very little relative to what a lot of roadies and road racers have.

But my inflexible hamstrings dictate a higher position for my best power output. And the techincal riding dictates a higher bar for the mtn bike.

Should have gone on the road bike

Road bike wasn't finished and I was dying for some single track. But the snow/ice of the past few weeks was either still there or the ground was soaked through, neither made for enjoyable conditions.

Combine that with dead legs from the last lifting session, and it wasn't as fun as I was hoping for. My timing/skills were totally off too.

Sometimes it is better to stay off the mountain bike. Out on Brush mountain ANY ride becomes hard based on the terrain and conditions. You just can't do anything easy or recover out there. And mentally it isn't the best confidence boost to roll it on an easy section, or bug out on a downhill when you've been taking skills classes and practicing.

But any ride can be considered a good ride, eh? Whad a country! That's what I say when it all comes down to the simple fact that we CAN ride bikes. What neat inventions.

Happy New year.

Cool things to come next year
-Press release coming on a cool thing.
-I've got more PRQ's coming. More with an endurance bias since they seem a lot easier to get a hold of lately. But I'll keep at it.
-Some winter clothing shootouts-tights, base layers, gloves, footwear items
-And constant chatter on the training front.

Friday, December 30, 2005

A losing battle

While away from home, it's a losing battle to not eat junk. My mindset changes when the stuff is around. If it's there I gotta eat it.


The above candy jar WAS full to the top with these chocolate kiss type things that were filled with peanut butter. I was activitely engaged in an elaborate scientific experiment to determine how they compared to Reese's : the ultimate baseline to which all chocolate/peanut butter combinations are compared to.

By the time we left the jar was empty. Conclusion: They were pretty damn good. Smoother chocolate flavor than Reeses. Nice balance with the peanut butter. But I don't know what brand they are. And they were not orange. So Reese's is still king.

At home, we just don't have that much junk food around. If we did it goes within a day. I practice being a magician more than I practice my bunnyhops. I go to our pantry, and open the door, trying to conjure up something to snack on. Chocolate, chips, etc. I do this at least 5-10 times a day. It never works. I am still practicing.

In the meantime I lose weight, slowly. Until equilbrium is reached.

On to power phase

Just finished my last workout in the Strength phase. On to power.

Power is an intersting phase in the overall plan. The weight work is really minimal. And performed with light weights at high speed. For squats you literally jump off the ground. It's good to get some looks from people in the gym.

Also done are muscle endurance intervals, sprints and leadouts along with the beginning of some endurance work. For upper body the book calls for doing another round of strength but I put on some decent upper body mass this year so am just going to do some pullups/dips and light shoulder stuff for kicks.

One of the things I love about this plan and periodized training is that each period is different a little and the change and transition helps provide an opportunity to redevelop my focus and passion. Obviously I like to ride and I want to race well, and it may not seem like it, but it takes an enormous amount of mental energy to stay focused, motivated and on track.

With my personality I could easily be knee deep into some project at the work bench, learning how to skateboard, or 'trying' to work on my car. The transition to each new period helps revitalize the focus.

Onward and upward. Hopefully I can start to lose some of this weight I put on. Part of it is muscle part of it is fat from the porkfest at my parents.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

PRQ #5: Dara Marks Marino

This is part 5 of the Pro Racer Questionnaire Series (PRQ)

Dara Marks Marino

*note this is an old picture but I wanted to show her Titus colors as she will be racing again for them in 2006.

Dara Marks Marino is a top Norba XC racer with 4th place rankings in the Short track and the Norba XC. Her breakthrough into the top spot occured at the short track in Snowmass this year.

With her signature pigtails she is easy to spot.


She had been on the powerhouse Ford team but unfortunately that relationship ended. She's put together an impressive grassroots package that has enabled her to continue racing at the top echelon. It says quite a lot about an athlete to be able on the spot to put together a sponsorship package to allow them to train fulltime and travel. It's not just results that can create that.

Dara is one of the few top pros that have a real BLOG. What I mean by that is a Blog that is updated fairly regularly and allows readers to ask questions that she answers. That kind of accessibility is one of the things that makes an athlete much more valuable to the their sponsors than just podiums.

We wish her the best for 06 and thank her very much for her time to fill out the questionnaire. She apologizes upfront for the sarcasm. I'll apologize for any sarcasm in the editor's notes as well.

The questionnaire:


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

*editor's note: Drool
DT Swiss
*editor's note: weight weenie drool
*editor's note: Get me a towel.
Crank Brothers
Athlete Octane
*editors note: Nice specs, especially some nice models for smaller faces like the Zink.

-What makes an athlete a 'good investment' for a sponsor?
Hopefully sponsors look carefully at the kind of person they are sponsoring. Obviously, athletic achievement and potential are important, but more
importantly, is this the kind of person you want to have representing your product? Are they out there talking with people, getting them excited about riding, helping them to be better riders? An athlete who is a good investment is one who does that, who acts professionally, who other people admire and respect. Also, a little bit of personality goes a long way in the marketing world.

-How long have you been racing mountain bikes, how long as a pro?
Started riding mtbs in 94, racing in 98, Pro in 2001

What are your goals for 2006?
Ride smooth, have a good time, inspire others to do the same!

Bike Geek Stuff.

-What bikes do you race on? What other bikes do you own?

I will be racing a Titus Eleven (the ti hardtail)eleven and a Racer X (the dually) racerx_xxs_AL, and I will also have a Titus
road bike fcr_ISO, but I'm not sure which model yet.
*editor's Note: When I started searching for a full suspension XC bike, Titus Racer X was top of the pops. But be prepared with some cash. Their road bikes and hardtails are not as well known but everything I hear is top notch. Those with even fatter wallets will be glad to know that they are on of the few qualified to build with Exogrid tubing.

I also own a Gunnar Crosshairs crosshair that is set up for long distance commuting/touring, a Kona Kaboom 1-speed kaboom, and a green cruiser.

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

I think they will continue to improve the pedalling efficiency of full suspension frames and shocks. In other words, all full suspension xc bikes will ultimately look exactly like the Titus Racer X.

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

I would buy any product made by any of my sponsors :)


-How many hours a week do you train (min, max,average)?
minimum, 9 on a rest week. maximum this season, 23.
maximum the last two years, 27. average, what's that?
I don't know the meaning of that word...

Do you have a coach?
yes. Doug Loveday at
*editor's note: I don't know Doug or his coaching philosophies but his coaching prices are some of the better one's I've seen, especially allowing ANY client to call him on the phone.

-Do you follow a scientific periodized cycling specific training program or 'just ride'?

Very periodized. Until the last mtb race of the season. Then I just ride until I start up with base again.

-Do you strength train?

a little. Mostly functional strength training, and only a bit of that.
*editor's Note: With guns like these, I think there is more going on than she's telling:
Dara Marks Pipes
*from Nick Martin's site

-How do you recover after a hard ride or workout?
Cold beer and pizza.

*editor's Note: With a physique as in the above I believe we are talking 1/2 of a lite beer and Pizza w/no cheese.

-What is your nutrition protocol for a 2-2.5hr XC race?
Too detailed to start explaining!
*editor's Note: What! Not pizza and beer?

-What is your pacing strategy for a 2-2.5hr XC race?
Pacing? What's pacing?
*editor's note: sounds like how I race.


-How do you balance the stresses of regular life with training and recovery?
Cold beer and pizza.

*editor's note: See a pattern here?

-Do you have a guilty pleasure?
*editor's note: Any guesses?..Anyone?

Cold beer and pizza.

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

*Editor's note: I'll work on this.

hanging out

Down here in crazy Myrtle Beach at my parents new digs. This place is something else. An amazing testament to the American way. Kitch up the wazoo, crazy locals, crazy tourists, more food than you can imagine, multi million dollar homes, a beach and more full size cranes for high rise construction than I have ever seen in one place. And it is the off season, Summer must be something else around here.

We are glad we don't live here but man are we glad to have fun place to visit. We went to the kitchyiest of kitch shows when we first got here, the Dixie Stampede and while the over the top gluttony was nauseating I'll admit that we had a good time. Next time we come it's the Medieval Knight show for sure.

I've gotten out on the bike a few times. Road bike was still in pieces so I brought the hardtail. Riding around here has been an adventure. Morning is definitely best, and this time of year much better than later on from a traffic perspective. 3 kinds of drivers down here. Old people, tourists, and locals, and none of them drive well at all.

Ocean Blvd. isn't too bad early in the morning. I found some dedicated bicycle paths, and a few less crowded roads. It seems the best cycling is to get way out of town towards Conway. But I haven't done that yet. Next time we come I'm going to try and get out on some group rides with the locals.

I've also been lifting too. Got one more day of Strength left and then on to power. Did my last heavy day today. 545 x 2 reps on the leg press. 6 plates a side + a 5

It's super flat out here, but doesn't matter cause the tiniest hill or overpass hurts my legs. Gotta keep remembering patience and to stick to the plan cause every year it seems to work out when it matters.

Can't wait to get home even if it is cold there. I'm a home body. 5 days away seems to be my limit.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The strength/resistance training thing

There were some posts over at the mtbr forums that sort of irked me. Like this or this where people say stuff like this:
Especially for cyclists who really do not need to explore the limits of their one rep (or three, or six, etc.) max.

It's not because they disagree with my (some might say holier than thou) training principles, but more so because they are just blanket statements made w/o a whole lot of thought. Typical of the forum world where one must constantly filter. One can never take any one forum post on it's own merit but must compare it to many others.

There is continual debate over the periodized strength training program for cyclists compared to just doing strength/power development only on the bicycle. Of course I don't know the right answer but of course I've got my opinion. There's some basic physiology principles that 'probably' are hard to refute.

-The amount of force that can be created is based on
a.muscle size
b.muscle composition
c.the number of muscle fibers recruited by the nervous system
d.strength gains are specific to the speed at which the muscle is trained.

(d) is why in the end strength/power work must eventually transition to in the saddle with things like
-leadout intervals
-muscle endurance intervals (low cadence/high resistance)
-stomp intervals
-single speeding

So I'm not debating whether one has to do the work on the bike. That to me is a given. But the debate is over doing hypertrophy, strength, and then some power in the gym with significantly higher resistances than can be created on the bike.

The way I look at it is that before you get to (d) the on-bike work, you've got X amount of strength in the legs with which to work with to make cycling specific strength/power. By going to the gym and following a cycling specific periodized strength training program as outlined in the Morris book or here BEFORE you start the on the bike work will give you an X that is much higher than if you didn't.

With limited time for training, during much of the gym work (hypetrophy mainly), my aerobic is being compromised cause I'm not doing anything aerobic. But I've found that within 3 or so week of riding my basic aerobic level comes back pretty quick. And then I've got enough foundation to start doing the hard SMSP and MSP intervals.

Monday, December 19, 2005

PRQ #4: Salem Mazzawy

This is entry #4 in the PRQ-Pro Racer Questionnaire Series

Salem Mazzawy


Salem Mazzawy is a perennial favorite in the competetive XC racing scene in New England. With a background in downhilling and and XC racer's lungs he's got a potent combination for the technical riding up there. He had ridden down here years ago with one of my friends. I heard the story: they were riding a brand new trail that was fairly technical relative to our trail system, and he hit is sight unseen at race pace and cleaned it like nothing. It took me months of riding to clean it all.

He's also one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever talked to about bikes. With a keen understanding of geometry, handling, and suspension tuning. Definitely knows his shit. I actually bought my Iron Horse Hollowpoint off Salem after I tracked him down to ask him about racing on them to two New England Championships. He helped alot with the setup.

Some pros just race, but Salem lives the cycling life commuting and touring. Also doing some off beat stuff like racing a fully rigid hardtail in the pro/ex class.
The Questionnaire


-Who are your sponsors that you'd like to recognize?
Thanks to
Iron Horse
Coyote Hill Camp
DT Swiss
Crank Brothers

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

It's what you can offer beyond racing these days. I teach riding skills clinics through the years, try to show up on local group rides, and help out with R&D feedback.

-How long have you been racing mountain bikes, how long as a pro?
Yikes, 16 years total and 11 years as a pro.

-Where do you live and do you live their year round?
Central CT

-What are your goals for 2006?
I'd like to win my 11th New England title, but also, there is a chance I will be more involved with the production end of the company at Iron Horse which could be an interesting new aspect.

Bike Geek Stuff.

-What bikes do you race on? What other bikes do you own?
This past year, I raced a fully rigid IH Rogue Team belltown5, a beautiful blue Azure azurecomp, and one race on the 5" MkIII mkiii_team. I also train a lot on my classic IH Victory 853 Reynolds road bike IHVIC2 , and a K2 Enemy cross bike enemy_lg, along with a handful of rather junky bikes I love.
*Editor's Note: I believe that Salem had a hand in the developmemt of the IH MKIII and Azure. Done good judging by how well regarded they are.

-How do you see XC technology changing over the next 5 years
After my experiences with the DW-link, I wonder if Dave Weagle will ever be inspired to try a linkage fork. Oh, and as much as it makes me gag, you know 10 speed is coming. I'd rather see a very effective internally geared hub (an up-market Nexus) that allows for the ideal driveline like on a single speed.
*Editor's Note: DW Link, can I hear an Amen Brother.

-What component or cycling gear would you pay full retail for if you had to?
Would? I do buy old Suntour top mount thumbshifters but that isn't exactly retail anymore. Oh, and I think the ubiquitous silver, ground-smooth-welds Taiwanese stem than comes on all production bikes is a great product--really.


How many hours a week do you train? (Min, Max, Average)
As for time on the bike (good thing you didn't ask mileage, as I have no idea), it can be as low as zero, but those are infrequent rest weeks about once or twice a season. I probably average somewhere around 15+ hours, but have put in 40 hour weeks here and there, but those are as rare as the zeros. Usually it is on a touring bike when I have a couple week gap in races, and I head out on an overnighter trip.

-Do you have a coach?
Gag, no. I've learned a lot from a few coaches, but now I work better on my own.

-Do you follow a scientific periodized cycling specific training program or 'just ride'?
I am a little more organized early in the season while I am coming on to form, but after that, it is more tweeking and fine-tuning, with more time to just enjoy the miles.

-Do you strength train?
I do some upper body, particularly shoulders, work to help keep everything in place after a couple bad crashes and to increase durability for future ones. Other than than, riding a single speed, while rather silly, is a lot like lifting.

-How do you recover after a hard ride or workout?
Recovery? Maybe that's what I've been doing wrong. Seriously though, there is probably where I had to learn the most in years past. I find rollers and ice baths work wonders on my legs,

*Editor's Note: BRRR!
but still, most important is to not push hard again until the body is ready.

-What is your nutrition protocol for a 2-2.5hr XC race?
Early start time: raw rolled oats (neigh, neigh)

about 3-4 hours before, a Clif bar and hour out, then a mixture of sugar and salt in my water during the race (at the intensity of a race, you body can't really use all the junk in most sports drinks). Later start: A light breakfast with some fat/protein for satiety, then as above.

-What is your pacing strategy for a 2-2.5hr XC race?
I used to start harder, but I've taken to getting dropped off the line. Interestingly, after the first 1/4 mile, I am running the same pace as everyone else, but I've never had to go anaerobic, and by mile 3, I'm usually where I belong, but feeling much fresher than I used to.


-How do you balance the stresses of regular life with training and

I have a very low stress life. That was an easy one.

-Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Guilt would be stressful, so I don't do it.

-What advice do you have for those of us with families, and full time jobs who want to race our best?
Fake your death? No, seriously, find a way to commute by bike, but be careful of burning out, so if at all possible, vary your route (don't just go direct to work--make it a real ride). For me, it works best to do that in the morning, but I don't mind waking up early. Beyond the fitness, it is very gratifying to take one more car off the road. Oh, and you can fit a lot of groceries in a pair of paniers.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Preliminary testing of EXTREME Simple Green

During the one month in July when we get cable, my kids love to watch Most Extreme on Animal Planet. Today I got some EXTREME Simple Green to test out.

I had posted a few weeks ago about some Letters at Velo News about prolonged soaking in regular Simple Green potentially causing chain breakage.

Simple Green contacted me in regards to that BLOG entry and asked if I'd like a sample to test out. Why of course, I often live my life according to the sage worlds of an old roommate: If it's free, I'll take two.

I'm, just a hack garage mechanic, but believe that I am a good product tester given how I can do anything wrong and break the unbreakable. Kudos to Simple Green for realizing the potential marketing benefit of the BLOG. And also thanks for making me feel like someone important.

It comes in a simple spray bottle:

Just like it's consumer brother the regular simple green you know and love:

But this stuff isn't green, it's clear. But it does have a hint of a pleasant smell and isn't as potent as other inustrial cleaners I've seen.

The instructions suggest dillution

and they also included another instruction sheet that suggested some dillution strategies for different uses. Up to 1:127 of washing windows.

Of particular note is that this product is non-corrosive and safe on finishes, plastic and rubber. This makes it good for cleaning forks with any rubber seals and gaskets.

For my testing, I am going to soak a chain for several weeks:
The willing subject, hoarked from my wife's mountain bike:

*Note the Velonews tech letters discussed that a lot of the problem chains were SRAM chains. And someone thought that it might be due to cheaper metals in SRAM chains over Shimano. But I agree with Lennard that it is because SRAM chains are about 1 million times easier to take off and clean than Shimano chains. Hence a larger percentage of SRAM chains with potential for issues.

The super secret testing chamber:

I once left a chain soaking in regular simple green for several weeks. It was rusty when I took it out. Some have suggested that it is the water content in Simple Green that is causing the rust. Which in turn is leading to the metal fatigue and failure. Simple Green has noted that regular SG is NOT recommended for any storage of metal parts. Meaning if you are going to soak a chain in it, don't forget about it for several weeks.

At first I poured some of the Extreme into the container and then put the same amount of water into the container to get the 1:1 dilution according to the instructions. But then I remembered about the water content issue, and dumped it out, blew it with the air compressor and then poured back in just the Extreme SG.

In the past I've left this container to my wife's dismay on top of the washing mashine or the dryer to create a cheap ultrasonic cleaner. I once bought a used bottom bracket on ebay and the threads were just in supreme mint condition. I asked the guy how in the world he had gotten it so clean, as I've never been able to get threads that clean even with an toothpick/tshirt. He said he used an ultrasonic cleaner. I asked a jewler friend about ultrasonic cleaners and before I even finished what I was saying he said, "No I'm not going to clean your pedals."

I also tried it out cleaning some parts. Here is a Bottom bracket that I took off the other week, with old anti-sieze on the threads:

Didn't dillute it, just sprayed it right out of the bottle, onto the threads. Let it soak for a little bit and then hit it with an old Golf toothbrush
and then wiped with a tshirt, getting my fingernail into the threads.

Regular Simple green works too on stuff like this but required more elbow grease than with the Extreme stuff. No doubt I should dillute it for regular cleaning chores like this.

I didn't wear gloves when I used it and my hands were no more dry or disintegrating than when working with other cleaners. I should probably get more wise and use some gloves with this stuff, brake cleaner, brake fluid, etc...!!

I'll post back after Christmas with how the chain looks. I might even let it sit on top of the washer for a few cycles.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Eye on the prize

I was thinking recently on goals and why am I doing what I'm doing in terms of training or training at all. This is a tough time of year. I know I said I enjoyed lifting, which I do, but it is getting old. The 2nd time through hypetrophy and the 6 sets of 10-12 isn't as fun as the first 2 weeks. And when lifting is over, then comes the struggle to get outside on the bike.

Yes, I love to ride, you know I do. But I'll admit that it can be hard to motivate to get out in the cold. And yes the intervals can be fun in a sick sort of way. But it takes a lot of motivation to walk down the stairs to the basement and endure the pain. Sort of like it can be fun I guess to throw yourself in front of a moving bus.

And even when the weather turns nice, when you've got a job, family, and are the type of person that goes whole hog into whatever they are into at the moment, it can be hard to get out there. It still takes a lot of focus to keep at it. Sometimes riding slips down on the scale, and the more you don't ride the harder it is to get back into it.

Ironically, Mags had recently written a superb post on The Perfect Ride and it mirrors a lot of my feelings right now.

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't dreaming of getting on the box or beating, soundly beating, guys who have always beaten me. But those goals are fleeting and not truly goals because they are out of one's control.

What I'm striving for is that perfect ride. I can probably count the times on one hand that I've had the perfect ride. And never in a race. Except for that time trial where I went of course. That was close to perfect. Another time was when we had our first child and we were going to be going on a date and leaving our son with some friends for the first time ever. I did one more climb than I should have and was late. Not good, but man was I riding well.

For XC racing that perfect ride is the balance between climbing and descending, the flow in the single track. It's power, raw and strong, combined with grace, light touch, and presence of where you pedals are where your rear wheel is. It's small lithe weight adjustments small hops, 'working' the trail eeking speed out of every dip and berm. It's confidence to let go of the brakes a little, confidence to grab a gear on a grunt climb. Confidence to pull the front wheel off a drop instead of rolling it. It is at the perfect pace. Right on the edge of red but well within green.

That's it, that's the prize.

Results are secondary, cause if I get beat when I'm riding like that they deserve to win.

Cold gear on the cheap(er)

I'm not the proper person to be talking about cold riding, as I am only doing a little and am more psyching myself to be ready for some longer rides in about 3 weeks when my plan calls for it.

As Mags calls it "Door Threshold training" meaning just getting out the door is the training.

But I'm trying to figure out the dressing strategy. The hip gear is of course Assos, Pi, etc. Craft is just legendary in cycling circles. But this stuff is also expensive.

I've been doing some searching for cheap alternatives in base layers. Here's what I've found.

-Craft stuff actually on sale in the $30 range.
Sierra Trading post has some Craft stuff on sale
-Craft has a Clearance section at their web page, limited sizes

-My wife got me a some T3k under armour type base at a local running store. They have cold gear and thinner wicking layers. It isn't super cheap but I'm sure it is cheaper than Assos and other high end stuff. It works really well to keep you warm as long as it isn't exposed to the air. But this and a light windproof sheel keeps me pretty warm. But if I just wear a vest and my arms are exposed with this stuff they feel pretty cold.

-Just saw a guy on ebay that sells the T3k stuff at $9.00 ($6.50 shipping $3.00 per additional item) That's pretty darn good. And you can find it at major retailers like Sportmart, etc.

-Sierra trading post has some Duofold stuff. Lots of choices from stretch underarmour type to more loose fitting stuff for really cheap around $9.00-$15.00. Campmor sometimes has Duofold on sale

-Wallymart has two lines of UnderArmour look alikes. Starter and Active something or other. They have thinner material at $9.89 and thicker material at $18.00

-Lou at Foxwear has several options in base and outer layers at decent prices for high end fabrics

-Target has the Champion line of clothes that is in the $15-$25 range.

Zyflex has stuff in the $30 range

Voler is always trusted for shorts and jerseys. They have some base stuff in the $30 range as well

For road riding I've found that this layering to work pretty well

-mid weight base
-short sleeve jersey+arm warmers or Long sleeve jersey
-Mid weight vest
-My Foxwear jacket with powershield on the front
-heavy or mid weight tights
-Light weight skull cap to cover the ears, or light polypro balaclava.
-glove liners and either wind proof shells, or insulated Goretex gloves

Now the feet is where my problem lies. I don't think it is so much keeping them warm as much as it is keeping them from sweating. I've got some Lake winter shoes
That are pretty good. 1 size big with liner socks and thick socks for off road.

I put some SPD pedals on my road bike to also use the shoes, or I've got some road shoes 1 size big that I'll try with thicker socks and some Neoprene booties.

But irregardless my feet will sweat a little and then it is all over. I read about spraying or rubbing antiperspirant on the feet to help control sweating.
Old Spice or High Karate preferred.

Actually I just did it to try out around the house, as even at home my feet will sweat and then get cold. Seems to be working. I'll have to test this out again outside.

Need some spiked tires

Wintry weather again. Sleet mainly. They are calling for Freezing rain later. Sleet actually is ok to mtn. bike in. Traction isn't too bad. Figured I'd just tool around the neighborhood to spin the legs.

25-30degrees. Not too bad. I'm not worried being cold except my feet. Mtn biking is so much slower than road riding so wind chill isn't an issue. And you tend to work pretty hard climbing so if anything I tend to get overheated in the core.

My wife was saying to be really careful and that I was crazy.

Headed out the door

There is a new road that loops around back of the development. It is pretty steep, and wasn't plowed, covered in sleet. Figured it would be ok if I went slow. Crawling down it, being all cool with my elbows out chest/chin low positioning. Hit the rear brake lightly it slides out, hit the front it slides, fishtailing and then the front slides out completely hit the deck and slide for like 5', and I was literally only going 5mph or less.

Get up or I should say try to get it. This road is in the shade all the time, and doesn't get salted or plowed. Under this new sleet wasn't pavement or snow, but a sheet of solid ice. I couldn't even walk back up on the road, I had to slide over to the shoulder and then walk up to a level spot again.

No way I was going to go home a minute into the ride and tell my wife I stacked it. I bypassed this particular stretch and just looped around a couple times. Hard work to get anywhere in snow. Pretty toasty except for the feet.

I need to get some spiked tires or chains or make my own with sheet metal screws if this stuff continues.

Now I'm inside the rest of the day just eating.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

PRQ #3 Alison Dunlap

This is #3 of the Pro Racer Questionnaire Series

Alison Dunlap


Alison Dunlap is one of the winningest mountain bikers male or female in history. Her racing resume is just amazing. Here is just a highlight.

- UCI Tissot Mountain Bike World Cup Champion 2002
- UCI Mountain Bike World Champion 2001
- Olympic Games 2000: mountain bike, 7th
- Olympic Games 1996: road race
- Pan American Games: gold medallist (cross country) 1999
- U.S. National cross-country champion: 2004, 2002, 1999
- U.S. National short-track cross-country champion: 2004, 2002,1999
- U.S. National cyclo-cross champion: 1997-01, 03
- U.S. National Road and Omnium Collegiate champion: 1991
- U.S. Olympic Festival gold medallist (road race) 1993
- UCI Tissot World Cup: 2nd overall, 2000
- World Mountain Bike Championships: 1994, 1997-2002, 2004
- World Road Cycling Championships: 1993-94 (bronze), 1998-99
- World Cyclo-Cross Championships: 2004 (5th) , 2002 (4th), 2000 (7th)
- UCI World Cup wins (mtb): two (cross-country); one in cyclo-cross 2002
- Finished on the podium (top 5) in all UCI World Cup races for 2002, 2000
- National race wins: eight (cross-country), fourteen (short-track cross-country)
- Sea Otter Classic 1st overall 2004, 2003, 2002, 1999, stage winner 1999-2004
- Hewlett Packard International Women’s Challenge (road) stage winner: 1993 1996, 1997, 2001
- Redlands Cycling Classic (road) 1st overall, one stage win: 2000, 1996
- Tour of Willamette (road) 1st overall, two stage wins: 2001

In the immortal words of The Huntingtons, " This Alison: She's the bomb

Yes that was World Champion in 2001. You know rainbow jersey and all:

*fat tire fotos.

Could you imagine wearing that to the Wednesday group ride, "Oh, this old thing"

Like many pros, I'd only seen Alison's name on the results and pictures at Velonews and Cycling news. There have been some nice interviews at CN. But it wasn't until I saw Off Road to Athens that I really became a fan. Not that you can know someone from a few minutes of interviews and racing coverage, but I was struck by her profesionalism and demeanor. There was one scene where she was acknowledging that her chances at making the Olympic team were over. Now I am not an overly emotional person, but I had goosebumps and some welling up of tears during that scene. I also liked the scene in the first race where the locals were chanting her name: Al-LEE-son..Al-LEE-son.

Alison Dunlap retired at the end of 2004. And she certainly went out as close to on top as you can. Get a load of JUST her 1st places in 2004: The list is double with her 2nd, 3rds, etc. She raced probably more days than I trained last year.
1st - U.S. National Championship Cross Country
1st - U.S. National Championship Short Track
1st - U.S. Cyclocross National Championships
1st - NORBA National Short Track Series Overall
1st - Waco Norba National XC
1st - Maxxis Cup, Gouveia, Portugal
1st - Schweitzer Mountain NORBA National Short Track
1st - Sea Otter Classic Overall
1st - Sea Otter Classic Super XC
1st - Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race
1st - Snowmass NORBA National Short Track
1st - Sonoma NORBA National Short Track
1st - Sonoma NORBA National Cross Country
1st - Snowshoe NORBA National Cross Country
1st - Snowshoe NORBA National Short Track

She is currently coaching at CTS and running Adventure Camps. With her palmeres she certainly can teach a thing or two. In fact in my recent writeup on my own skills clinic, I used some pictures of Alison to highlight some points on positioning. I try and visualize this picture when climbing:
and this one when going downhill:

I'm quite flattered that she took the time to answer the questionnaire, and wish her best of luck in her coaching and camps.

The questionnaire

-Who are your sponsors that you’d like to recognize
Clif Bar
Crank Brothers

-What makes an athlete a 'good investment' for a sponsor?
An athlete needs to have good race results. An athlete also needs to be well spoken and a positive role model. They need to represent the company that sponsors them with honesty and integrity.

-How long have you been racing mountain bikes, how long as a pro
I’ve raced mtn bikes full time since 1997 and I started as a pro. I raced 1-2 times a year starting in 1993 while I was a road racer.

-What are your goals for 2006?
To make a living coaching and running the Alison Dunlap Adventure Camps

-Who are your cycling heroes?
Alison Sydor

Bike Geek Stuff.

-What bikes do you race on? What other bikes do you own?
I have raced on a Santa Cruz Julianna juliana_large and a Blur for the past four years. I also have a Santa Cruz Heckler heckler_large that I take to Moab. The team will be riding Orbea bikes in 2006 main_Alma_XTR

-How do you see XC technology changing over the next 5 years?
Lighter full suspension frames. Bigger but lighter forks.

-What component or cycling gear would you pay full retail for if you had to?
I would pay full retail for a Giro helmet


-Do you have a coach?

I have been coached by Dean Golich of Carmichael Training Systems for the past eight years
*Editor's note: Dean Golich wrote an article in Bicycling in the late 1990's that introduced me to Block Training. And my current guru, Dave Morris and Dean were partners back then in developing this 'revolutionary' protocol. As an amatuer who has 'found my dojo' it is neat to see a pro who has taken the same training philosophies to the top.

-Do you follow a scientific periodized cycling specific training program or ‘just ride’?
I follow a very scientific periodized program.

-Do you strength train?
I lifted weights for twelve years but stopped and haven’t lifted for three years

-How do you recover after a hard ride or workout?
I drink a high carbo/protein recovery drink and try and have a large meal as soon as possible.

-What is your nutrition protocol for a 2-2.5hr XC race?
I eat a large breakfast 3 1/2hrs before the start. One hr before the race I warm up using an energy drink. I race with energy drink and Clif Shots.

Immediately after the race I have a recovery drink and then try and eat a large meal right away.

-What is your pacing strategy for a 2-2.5hr XC race?
I go as hard as I need to to stay with the leaders the first lap. Then things settle down. I usually bump it up a notch for the last lap


-How do you balance the stresses of regular life with training and recovery?
I stay involved in other activities; family, cooking, reading, movies, etc to keep from getting burned out

-Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I love donuts

-What advice do you have for those of us with families, and full time jobs who want to race our best?
Get a coach. Get a schedule worked out and follow it. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on the bike. The time you do spend on the bike needs to be of a high quality. You have to be very efficient when you have little time. I think training in the morning is the best.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The weight game

I'm not a pro or even an expert so I've never been super hung up on getting down to sub 10% body fat. But last year I lost some weight and got close to the lightest I've been in almost 10 years which still isn't anywhere near 10%BF.

No real super secret to it, just sort of stopped eating as much. But I'm at the low end of the weight range (130-140lbs), and even a few pounds loss/gain is significant. But at my height (5'4.5") a pro would be 125 or less.

Since the season ended in October, my riding time has dropped to 0-5hrs/week and a lot of lifting. My weight has gone up by 7-9 pounds since then. Usually I can tell when I'm putting on fat by my face. It hasn't changed too much so I'm hoping that most of that weight gain is muscle.

Once hypetrophy ends, I move into strength phase (I am doing 2 rounds of 2weeks each of Hypetrophy and strength this off season) which has only two days of lifting, and I am cleared to do more riding. And moving into power there is even less lifting and more riding. And from power I move out of the weight room completely and back onto the bike.

Historically, any weight gain over winter has been lost by the start of the season. With travel to family, lower activity and higher food availability it is easy to put on weight. I'll 'try' to not gorge, but it is so easy.

After seeing some pics of Rasmussen over at Nick Martin's sight
I promptly stopped lifting upper body. I can put on muscle in my upper body by just looking at weights, and just mountain biking around here keeps my upper body muscular, so I figured I didn't need anymore.

I couldn't imagine actually weighing my food or really getting focused on my diet, but if I was a pro I imagine it would be a more serious concern. But weight lifting requires food. And riding in the cold requires food. So I'm not going to 'diet' but I try not to get into the mountain biker's credo of eat as much and of anything you want cause you're riding if I can help it. But 3 for 1$ Reese's don't count.