Cycling & Triathlon Nutrition: The Truth about Weight Loss & Proper Fueling

It’s not glamorous but it’s the truth; a great ride or race starts with sound cycling nutrition. If you want to see your power meter light up, then focus on fueling the engine before revving it.

I humbly share this information, having dealt with cycling nutrition and weight issues most of my life (for more see I’m Shrinking and I’m Never Going Back. It’s taken me a long time to really understand that eating off the bike directly impacts performance and enjoyment on the bike. Some of the most basic things can be the hardest for me to grasp.

Cycling Nutrition Basic Truth Number

The goal of eating is to have the right amount of fuel in your body to power your activities, without a surplus or a deficit (unless you’re planning to lose or gain weight).

A critical factor to consider when choosing a fuel source is your blood sugar. If we are able to keep our blood sugar level even and consistent throughout the day, we will avoid peaks and valleys, which lead to mood swings, lack of energy, and further poor fuel choices. The final piece of the pie (horrible pun) is sleep and recovery.

Cycling Nutrition Basic Truth Number

Keeping our blood sugar consistent helps minimize peaks and valleys. How do we fuel our bodies properly and keep blood sugar levels even? Well, first we need to figure out how many calories we need, factoring in for activity. I use a different formula but have found this to be a decent source for basil metabolic rate. Now that we have our daily caloric requirement, we need to plan our meals and day.

Cycling Nutrition Basic Truth Number

Consistency pays off big in training and nutrition. Consistency is especially important to blood sugar levels. I’ve found that if I break my daily caloric requirement into 6 small meals a day, my energy level stays high without needing caffeine and my attitude stays positive despite what’s thrown at me. I spread those 6 meals out so I eat every 2-3 hours. One Calorie does not equal another, however. For best results, stick with lean proteins and vegetables and foods that are generally low glycemic, unless it’s directly before or after a hard workout. I also avoid dairy and gluten products because they tend to be inflammatory and just slow me down and make me bloated.

Cycling Nutrition Basic Truth Number

Sleep does a body good. Have you ever thought about how impactful sleep is to your body? Until the past year, I hadn’t either. However, the more I read the more I learn how important a good night of sleep is. Research has shown that lack of proper sleep may lead to psychological stress, depression, anger, etc. So what’s the right amount of sleep for you? Start experimenting. While most people fit into the 7-8 hours per night category, you may be different. Try out different amounts to see how you feel. Maybe Monday night you get 9 hours, then Tuesday night 8.5, Wednesday 8 . . . until you get to 6 hours. Keep notes and see what feels the best for you.

If we can do a bit of planning and factor in daily fuel needs, planned activities and sleep requirement we should recognize a significant impact to our riding, running and daily life. I sure have.

Climb like a Colombian – Secret Indoor Training Techniques

This blog series is based on preparing for long climbing rides like The Triple Bypass or The Death Ride. I’ll share what I’ve learned about training for climbing rides from 6 time U.S. National Champion Arnie Baker, MD, and emphasize training mostly indoors through the winter months a stationary trainer.

Quick Recap: In part 1, we discussed some of the basic set up for indoor training, along with how to account for mileage, etc. In Part 2, we’ve covered breathing, rhythm and focus. In part 3, we covered gear selection and saddle position. And in part 4, we gave a sample workout for the stationary trainer.

In this final installment, we’ll dive into the last critical part of any race or ride: preparation. Love him or not, Lance Armstrong mastered the Tour de France and changed it forever. He, Chris Carmichael, and a few key teammates, dissected the 3-week course like military generals preparing for war. They reviewed every stage months in advance and rode many of them, meter by meter. Lance would set up discovery camps at the stages which they determined to be critical to the outcome of the overall race. He studied sections of the course for attack points and key junctions. Lance took his reconnaissance seriously and rode at full race pace, to determine how his body might respond to the terrain and where he could conserve energy.

Why shouldn’t we do the same? It takes months to train for events like Triple Bypass and The Death Ride. It doesn’t make sense to leave that big of a day up to chance. There are several things we can do to prepare for the big day.

When designing your training plan for the race, consider the course. Ask yourself questions like: how many total feet of climbing? Is it consistent climbing or up and down? What is the altitude and weather? What’s the distance between rest stops and what do they provide? This isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s a good start.

Speaking from experience regarding The Triple Bypass, the altitude is a killer. Maybe I was extra sensitive to it, coming from San Diego, but pedaling at 12,000 feet felt like pedaling with concrete boots. Take it seriously. Make a plan to get up to altitude 4 or 5 times before the event. It took me 3-4 days to feel “normal”, while staying in Dillon, Colorado. I arrived early and built in a few rides to acclimatize. The jury is still out on that fact. Some experts say that unless you’re going to be 3-4 weeks early and living at altitude for extended periods, don’t bother with arriving early. They say it’s best to arrive the night before and do the race the very next day. Regardless of which way you go, it will serve you well to get a few high altitude rides in prior to the event.

The last piece we learned from Arnie was about pacing. It’s important to determine your goal. Are you just going to finish or are you attempting to achieve a certain finishing time? That will have a big impact on your training and your race plan. Once you’ve determined your goal, you can work backwards and figure out what pace you need to maintain. Your iBike cycling power meter will help you match a wattage target to that pace. Be sure to stick with your plan.

iBike POWERHOUSE and iBike Dash+Power: A Complete Cycling Fitness System

Have you reached the goals in your training that you expected to hit at this point? That’s a harsh but very real question we should ask ourselves. Since we’re committed to getting lean, fit and fast, we must be willing to analyze our progress. If you are somewhat less than satisfied with where you’re at then I’d suggest taking a serious look at your plan.

Bike Training – Volume, Intensity, and Frequency

Consider the fundamentals of training. There’s a general proven progression for optimal success. It involves 3 workout components: Volume, Intensity, and Frequency. Volume is the quantity of miles you ride per month, intensity is how fast or hard you work during those miles, and frequency is how often you ride per day, week or month.

Those who are hell bent on designing their own training; there are some excellent books to help you put a plan together. A few authors I like are Chris Carmichael and Hunter Allen. Each coach has a slightly different adaptation but the progression is similar, in that they each focus on building and aerobic base, followed by strength, then speed. If your goal is weight loss, the system will vary further still, to maximize caloric burn and fat loss.

A Complete Cycling Fitness System

If you’ve come to the conclusion that it may be easier to lean on a professional for developing a successful plan then you may want to check out the iBike POWERHOUSE. The POWERHOUSE, coupled with the iBike Dash+Power, turns your iPhone into a complete power meter and bike fitness system. The combination gives us a coach in a box and a way to measure our progress. The POWERHOUSE combines everything we need in one condensed package; a measuring device and most important a proven plan! (Written by Hunter Allen). iBike power meters also have a built in fitness test protocol to guide you through setting up a baseline.

The Best Tip I Ever Learned from NASA

We’re nearing the end of January. Are you where you want to be?

That’s a good question to ask ourselves throughout our training. Sometimes, simply charging through our plan with our heads down can lead us in a completely different direction than we originally planned or injured. Think about the way the autopilot function worked in the space shuttle Discovery. There were literally thousands of small course corrections in a given flight. The autopilot wasn’t a passive system at all! It actively compensated for all sorts of variables like; wind, airspeed, weight, and fuel, to get us to our destinations in the most efficient way possible. We could learn something from the way Discovery operated.

The first step is to dedicate some time and stop to assess our progress. This is a bit like taking inventory. Am I healthy? Am I still motivated? Am I closer to where I want to be then I was before I started? If I continue down this path will I achieve my goal by the assigned date?

The “Inventory or Assessment” phase is a good time to review your iBike ride files with iBike Isaac ride analysis software. It’s also a good time to check the odometer on your iBike Newton power meter or iBike Dash+Power power meter and jump on the scale. Are we logging the miles we committed to? Are they the type of miles we need to ride in this phase of training? How is your heart rate, both on the rides and waking? Elevated waking heart rate is a sign of overtraining. Is my wattage where I want it to be on these rides and is it progressing the way I want it to?

After we’ve assessed our progress to date, it may be time to reevaluate our goal. I’ve been guilty of biting off way more than I can chew in the past by setting extremely lofty goals then killing myself to achieve them. Is it worth it? That’s up to us as individuals to decide. If you’ve put in 30 days of training and aren’t where you wanted to be it’s important to consider whether you’ll be able to make the needed changes in your life to hit your goal by race day. Is the goal still attainable or do we need to make a plan B? I like to start with my race date and work backwards to the current date to determine if I have enough time to salvage the race. If I have time goals and am trying to set a personal record, then I make sure to build in 6-8 weeks for speed / super threshold work during the last 6-8 weeks of my program.

Reality can really suck sometimes. It has no feelings and no remorse. It doesn’t care how much stress we’ve been under or that we’ve been sick for the last two weeks. It works with its evil partner time to keep us suppressed. The only way to defeat the duo is to consistently measure and assess our progress so we’re not negatively surprised on race day. If we know where we’re at we can take action to course correct if we need to.

Cycling Training: Adjusting the Feedback on Your Power Meter

Have you noticed a delay in your power numbers when you get out of the saddle for a spring or quick burst with your iBike power meter?

I’ve received a few e-mail about this and have investigated the mystery. Here’s the explanation.

If you’re not quite sure what I’m referring to, here’s the scenario: you’re riding along with your power meter at a steady pace. The speed and power numbers appear on your consistently, as always. The road pitches up to a short steep bump and you decide to pop out of the saddle and give it all you’ve got for 10 or 20 seconds. As you look down to amaze yourself with the raw horsepower you’re able to generate, you notice a stagnant power display number. The iBike power meter reading isn’t changing. Then, after about 3 seconds it starts to show higher power readings. Huh? Is there something wrong with the power meter?

The answer is no, there’s nothing wrong with your power meter. It’s operating as it was designed. Here’s how it works. . .

The iBike Newton power meter is an amazingly precise measurement device. It analyzes a ton of information that comprises the power measurement figure we see on our screen. This includes hill slope, wind speed, pedaling efficiency, and a bunch of other things, all at once.

Maybe you don’t realize it but our riding environment is constantly changing. The wind, road surface, and road slope change. Along with environmental forces, our pedaling force is never distributed evenly around the circular stroke. For a sneak peek about pedaling efficiency, check out PowerStroke. It’s pretty incredible! There are dead spots and surges no matter how hard we try to turn perfect circles. As well, our cadence (the speed at which you rotate the pedals) changes constantly. So there are a lot of changes going on as you ride that transfer to your power meter.

As I mentioned above, the iBike Newton power meter is a pretty amazing device. It collects all of the various inputs and takes multiple readings per second. It receives a staggering amount of information. When we think about it, if it displayed power at each instant it would just be a blur of unreadable, unusable numbers.

Instead of presenting a spastic strobe, it displays power over a meaningful period time, providing a comprehensible and useful number. For iBike power meters, the display period can be set to reflect readings from 0 seconds (think raw streaming data), 2, 3, 5, 10, and 30 second intervals. So, if the default is 3 second intervals, when you stomp on the pedals, you are not going to see the effect of that burst until three seconds later, as an average of the power you put out over that three second interval. Regardless of your personal selection, the iBike Newton records the ride file data without any filtering and the highest sensitivity do you can play with the data in Isaac free ride analysis software.

How is this useful? Well, if you race crits, you may want to see more immediately responsive data, so you’d select 0 or 2 second filtering. If however, you’re racing a 40k time trial, you may choose to set your filter at 10 or 30 second intervals to provide smooth readings. At the end of the day, the choice is yours and that’s what makes it so cool.

Thank you for your submitting your questions and blog topic requests. Many of us have the same questions but do not ask. Thank you for letting your voice be heard.

Cycling Training: Fall Riding- Getting Ready For The Rain

If you want to continue your cycling training then you better get ready! The fall is here and with it comes the rain. Our friends in Colorado can confirm that and so can us Portlandians!. . .I know, I don’t want to think about it either but ignoring it won’t make it go away. Instead, we need to prepare and embrace it. (Well, at least prepare.)
After growing up in San Diego where rain is a rare occurrence, I get fired up while riding in the rain. That’s still true after three and a half years of living up here in Portland, Oregon. An old friend of mine used to say “if it ‘aint rainin’, you ‘aint trainin’.” I think that sums it up for me. I believe I’m getting a psychological advantage on my “competition” when I’m out getting it done on those nasty days. I visualize people being warm and cozy by the fire while eating donuts and getting soft, making them easy pickings when it comes time to ride hard. It’s a little mental game I play to stay motivated. Maybe something like that will help you too.

On those days when you’re braving the storm, it’s important to have the right gear. Being cold and wet can make for a horrible experience. The most critical piece is a dependable and breathable jacket. These brands are well respected and proven; Showers Pass, Gore and Castelli.

Keep in mind that good rain gear is not cheap. But you do get what you pay for. Along with a good jacket you may want to consider; thermal tights, helmet cover, full finger gloves, booties, and blinking lights for your bike. Sometimes, visibility through the windshield is poor so we mind as well plan to be super visible. Also, If you’re riding with others you should pick up some fenders. That’s something new I learned about out here in the Pac Northwest. Your friends will thank you.

The right gear also includes an iBike power meter. I’m confident that my iBike Newton will hold up to anything Mother Nature can throw at you. I’ve experienced how sturdy these devices are first hand after a few years up here in Portland, OR, through snow, crazy hard rain, and hail.

The season is once again approaching, where we must fix our fenders and steal our minds to stay motivated and fit. If it helps to get you through the ride, know that these are the days that character and tenacity is built. It will all pay off in the spring!

Cycling Training: Recover Faster with an Ice Bath

Cycling training is hard work and your body needs help recovering. If you stop and listen to your body, I’m sure you’ll hear your muscles screaming, especially after those extra long ride or intense workouts that leave you feeling shredded afterwards. We’ve discussed recovery nutrition in previous posts and how it helps rebuild shredded muscles. Today, we’ll cover the next best things you can do for body; ice baths.

If you’ve followed your cycling training plan and just knocked out a 2.5 hour ride with your power meter, which included 6 X 1 minute max effort intervals, followed by 2 x 10 minute extended intervals, just above FTP, your body is ready for repair. An ice bath may be just what your muscles need.

Yes, I’ve heard all about the lack of hard clinical evidence supporting ice baths. As with most everything there are passionate people on both sides of the fence. However, world champion marathon runner, Paula Radcliffe, swears by them, as do countless other athletes, ranging from power lifters and gymnasts to professional cyclists. I’m in this camp. After years of long runs and hard rides, nothing seems to help quicker than a good recovery shake and an ice bath.

Despite the controversy, there are lots of theories out there as to how ice baths work and why they’re affective. Some say ice baths help muscles recover faster after intense activity by constricting blood vessels and pulling blood from your legs and along with it, toxins released during the intense effort. Others claim that it reduces swelling and muscle tissue breakdown. Regardless of the fact that there’s no medical claim to support its effectiveness, I’m a believer and have been soaking after hard or long efforts for the past several years.

After your next hard effort (2.5+ hour ride), try it for yourself: Fill your bathtub with cold water up the point where you can cover your entire extended legs and feet. Just before getting in, empty one 7 lb bag of ice cubes into the tub of cold water. Have a stop watch handy so you can time yourself for a 10-15 minute submersion. The studies that have been completed show that longer submersions, past 15 minutes, are counterproductive and rush blood back into the areas. So to get the maximal benefit, keep it under 15 minutes.

After your plunge, please reply with feedback from your experience! I’m running a bit of an experiment to see what people think.

Main Cycling Routes

Cycling is popular in Spain, cycling with panniers not so much… yet. Still, the movement is starting and there are some very well developed routes with some infrastructure that will allow you to explore the country for a Mountain Bike Holiday in Spain. Here is some information about them:

Way of Saint Jacques / Camino de Santiago

Under the generic name of “Camino de Santiago” you can find several routes that will lead your way from the border of Spain and France to the mytical city of Saint Jacques of Compostel, where, according to the legend, the Apostol Saint Jacques the Young is buried. Truth be told, this very popular cycle and walking path is no longer used exclusively by pilgrims but also, and maybe more often, by sport addicts and tourists wishing to see the country under a different light. If you choose this path you will be entitled to a great experience full of encounters, culture, beautiful landscapes and of course, some serious workouts. Not to worry, the road is apt for anybody with a minimum trainning and skill. Under the name of “Camino de Santiago” you can find several different routes:

Across the Pyrenees // Transpirenaica

If your thing is to emulate the cycling heros of the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, you may consider this route. 500kms from coast to coast, climbing some 20 high mountain pass on the process. There is a MTB version and a roadbike version, both spectacular and worthy. The MTB one though, is advised only for experienced, tought riders. This route is not marked although there are some quite good guides and in summer is easy to find other cyclist doing it.

Trasándalus

Trasándalus is an ongoing project that will allow you to do a tour around Andalusia only on dirt roads and paths. For the moment the only way to do it properly is using a GPS, since the road is not marked. If you have time and experience it’s really a very nice route although beware that you will need a MTB and that some parts are marked as hard, which means you will probably have to carry your bike on your shoulder every once in a while.

Cid’s way / Camino del Cid

XI century and Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (also known as Cid) has to make his way from the city of Burgos, in the middle of the Central Plateau, to the coastal Valencia, where he will fight and eventually win a battle against the Muslims, back them the roulers of the Peninsula. This historical tale is the evocative plot that now gives way to a 600kms cycling route that crosses the country from NW to SE. Following small roads and sometimes old raiwailway lines, if you choose this path you will find yourself inmerse in one of the least known, more traditional parts of the country. Castilla is a land where winters are rough and summers hot and short, people quite and landscapes sober.

Green ways / Vías verdes

Old railways no longer in use have been stripped of their equipment and transformed into cyclepaths. Sounds good, hum? It IS good, and moreover, sometimes quite convenient. The downside of this project is that many of this cycle paths are not connected so eventually you will have to combine them up with small roads to do a long-distance itinerary.

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Triangles

In the last few days, I have been thinking about triangles, as they relate to both my project, and bikes in general.

Lets start general and then work more specific. A while back now I came to realise that when it comes to bikes, the holy trinity is something like this –

Essentially, the premise is that you can have 2 of the above, but not 3. I think you could probably substitute fast for a few other things – part of me wants to put Unique – but I think you can follow my thinking.

Why am I talking about this? Because I think it’s worth thinking about. Of course you want all three, or as close as you can. Everyone has their budget, and their design spec. Unfortunately I will be pottering around the bottom of the above triangle for the most part, with the occasionally foray towards fast/unique/maybe even sexy – after all, I have to make the bike my own.

Now to triangles of a completely different type! More after the jump.

Great Find – MotoGadget

Historically, I have felt that my Internet research skills have been pretty good – and a pretty big part of how I earn a living is being able to find and analyse information.

As such I have relished the challenge of finding some of the more obscure parts and accessories for my project. It seems, as in many projects and artistic endeavours, the artisans involved have a variety of approaches – some are very open and willing to share, whilst others are very protective of their methods and suppliers.

I also get the impression that some of the more successful builders get a large number of enquiries from amateur builders like me, asking for advice and information, and probably don’t have time to respond, despite best intentions.

So how do we overcome this? By improving our attention to detail. I picked up a brand on a gauge from a photo of a Wrenchmonkees bike…and although this is a long story for a short link, it’s a good one – http://www.motogadget.com/us/frameset.html

Really nice all in one gauges, mini gauges, mirror gauges, and very neat switches and disc brakes. Some are expensive, but I think I can see the value, and to me they are neater and more stylish than the other solution I was contemplating – Acewell Gauges.

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