The Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition, Part 1 – The Macro on Nutrients

We work out. We eat. We work out. We eat some more. What is it that we’re eating? How do the things we eat ultimately drive our legs? And how many calories are we really burning? I’m not going to give you specific eating guidelines since everyone has their own dietary needs, and needs to adjust them to their activity and personal requirements. But it’s good to understand what food really is to the body, how it’s used, and how fast it’s used.

Notes on Notation

Okay, yes, "c" is also for "cookie."
Yes, C is ALSO for “Cookie.”

Before I delve too deeply, I want to clarify something regarding calories. There are two notations for calories:

  • c (lower-case “c”): this is the scientific notation for a “calorie”, and is equivalent to 4.184 Joules of energy – the energy needed to increase the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at a pressure of one atmosphere.
  • C (upper-case “C”): known a a food, nutritional, or dietary calorie, this is equivalent to 1,000 calories (lower-case “c”), and is also called a kilocalorie. A calorie is very small amount of energy, so when working with food, it’s easier to use Calories (1,000 calories) instead.

For the purpose of this article, all references to calories will mean food calories (upper-case “C”).

Continue reading The Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition, Part 1 – The Macro on Nutrients

Embrace The Dark Side

Appreciate the darkness for the opportunity to see the light.
Appreciate the darkness for the opportunity to see the light.

You’ve all heard it before: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Usually, that idiom just means “don’t worry, it’ll get better.” There are plenty of these little perk-you-up phrases, like “Every dark cloud has a silver lining,” and “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” One I’ve heard in Spanish is “No hay mal que por bien no venga,” which literally translated means there is no bad from which good does not come.

In cycling, there are plenty of dark times. Everyone’s been there: you’re out on a century and you’re feeling awesome; 70, 75, 80 miles in. Then you do a particularly strenuous climb, and suddenly that finish line seems eons away. Maybe you’re in a race and you’re riding with the leaders, but suddenly it seems like it’s taking everything you’ve got just to hold.

And we’re always told to focus on the dawn, on the silver lining, on the good that’ll come. That’s a good notion, and a positive outlook. But I think we’re giving those dark moments a raw deal.

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Stretch Your Abilities

Seriously, if you can do this, don't even bother reading any further.
Seriously, if you can do this, don’t bother reading any further.

Stretching. Yes, I know half of you just went “Ugh!” and felt your ham strings involuntarily tighten. But like anything else that’s hard – sprinting, hill climbing, distance riding, changing a flat – you have to do it if you want to get better at it. Today, I’d like to go over why stretching is important, the various types of stretching, the pros/cons of each, and when they should be done. NOTE: I won’t get into specific stretches, because you can find plenty of examples online, and it would take forever to go over them all.

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Hydro Power

Yep, you're reading that right. 119° at the 2011 Hotter 'n Hell.
Yep, you’re reading that right. 119° at the 2011 Hotter ‘n Hell.

Our body is built around water. We can go a long time without food (though we’ll cover that problem next time), but we cannot survive without water. So, let’s go over hydration.

Water to Sweat

Sweat is pretty impressive. A single, bead of sweat can cool nearly 1 liter of blood by about 1° F. The thing that makes sweat work so well is that it’s made of water. It takes advantage of the large heat of evaporation of water; to keep it non-technical, that means a lot of heat is released into the air as water evaporates from a surface (taking the heat from that surface with it into the surrounding air).

Now here’s where it becomes a problem: about 60% of our body is comprised of water. About 55% of our blood is fluid, with 95% of that fluid being water. That means over half of our blood is made from water. When you sweat, water is removed from the body. It’s gotta come from somewhere, and that somewhere is mostly your blood. The more you sweat, the lower your blood volume. As your blood volume decreases, it becomes more difficult for the body to shed heat.

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Should Auld Rides Be Forgot…

Happy New Year
May the best miles of your past be the worst miles of your future.

We ride. The year was full of ups and downs, first times, last times, good times and bad. And we ride.

We’ve seen friends injured, and we’ve seen friends fall. We’ve seen friends stand up again, and seen friends help each other back to their feet. And we ride.

We’ve lost friends whose like we’ll never see again. And we’ve gained friends that will enrich our lives for years to come in ways we cannot imagine.

And we ride.

If there’s one thing I want to take from last year, it is this: I may be strong, but we are stronger. I may be fast, but we are faster. Each of us has the strength and courage to face this ride that is life on our own, but all of us make it a ride worth taking.

Thanks for being along for the ride.

Beyond the miles, beyond the hills.

    Beyond the heat and cold.

Beyond the wind and rain and ice.

    Beyond the tires old.

We form a line, a bond, a link,

    We take it all in stride.

We face the year and miles ahead,

    And together, we shall ride.

Semper equitare, and Happy New Year.

You Know It’s All About Dat Base

Might not look like much, but a long, steady, simple ride is where it all begins.

Now that you’ve got that little earworm stuck for the next 10 hours, let’s get to it.

What are base miles, why do we need ’em, and how do we go about building them?

‘Bout That Base

Cycling has turned into a 365-day sport. If you can put two wheels on the surface, we’ll ride on it. If you get two people together on that same surface, we’ll race on it. This is great, because it’s increased accessibility to cycling year-around, and throughout so many different terrains/regions. But with so much up-time, it’s easy to lose the benefits of down-time.

Base miles aren’t designed to stress your muscles to the breaking point. Instead, they’re used to help your body recover from the previous year’s events, as well as aid your cardiovascular system by building endurance without adding stress to an already-beleaguered system.

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Esthetician Partners With Local Bike Shop – Rolling News

Forget the climb, THIS is where the pain begins...
Forget the climb, THIS is where the pain begins…

Rolling News. December 9th, 2014.

What started out as a casual conversation has turned into a profitable business model.

Will “The Wookie” Chambers was speaking with local esthetician Lila Marx while fixing her bicycle, and they got onto the subject of hair removal.

“I know cyclists that shave constantly, or have tried home solutions for hair removal with… shall we say, unfortunate results,” said Chambers. Chambers asked Marx about her hair removal services and the possibility of going into business together.

“I never really thought about it,” said Marx. “I mean, we’re always looking for new, stable customers. Never occurred to me what a great demographic it would be to target. One that’s already obsessed with how they look and continuously willing to spend gobs of cash? What a niche!”

When asked how his customers are responding to the new services, Chambers indicated that his clients have had only positive remarks. “Many male cyclists feel weird going into a beauty salon to setup a waxing appointment. But they’ll come into a bike shop, try on tight spandex shorts and skin suits. They just needed a place that they’d feel comfortable.”

Trials and Tribulations (of the “Time” Variety)

My chariot. May it's footing be swift and sure.
My noble steed. May it’s footing be swift and sure.

I am a good cyclist. Why do I think that? Because I believe a large part of being a good cyclist means knowing what I’m bad at. And for me, that’s sustained power output. And basketball. Oh, and making pretzels. But I digress.

Enter the Time Trial
When you want to get better at climbing, you find a hill and you climb. And then you climb it again. And again. If you want to get better at sprinting, you find a marker and sprint. Then you do it again. And again.

Sensing a pattern? So I figure if I want to get better at sustained power output, I better output some sustained power. And nothing says sustained power like a good ol’ time trial.

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Forget The Gipper

"I hear the call to do nothing and am doing my best to answer it."
“I hear the call to do nothing and am doing my best to answer it.”

Things have been rough on the riding front this year. Lung infection, injuries, high work loads, family needs, etc. I’m about 1,500 miles behind where I was last year at this time. I don’t say this for sympathy; I say this because all the reasons mentioned are valid reasons to not ride. The problem? I feel guilty for not riding.

See, at some point, without realizing it, I crossed over to a dark road. Riding went from something I wanted to do to something I had to do. It became a requirement. Worse, it became a chore.

  • If I didn’t ride with the my race team, I felt like I was letting down the team; whenever I did ride with them, I felt I was just holding them back.
  • If I didn’t ride with my casual team, I felt like I was not being a good supporter of the other riders on that team.
  • If I didn’t ride on my own, I felt like I was wasting opportunities to ride, stay in shape, burn calories, clear my mind.

So every time there was an opportunity to ride (or even when I couldn’t) and I didn’t, I felt like I was letting everyone down, including myself.

Now, I grew up Catholic, and if anyone knows how to do guilt, it’s the Catholics. So it was easy to blame myself for not riding. But here’s the deal, folks: you can’t ride because someone says you should ride. You can’t ride because others are riding. There’s only one valid reason to ride, and that’s because YOU want to.

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FAA Halts Production of New Aero Bike – Rolling News

Rolling News. August 26th, 2014.

Project Icarus
Project Icarus

A new cycling company’s aspiration to build the worlds fastest, most aerodynamic bikes has been put indefinitely on hold by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Known as Project Icarus, this new, cutting edge bike company is the brainchild of several former Boeing and Lockheed Martin employees looking for new rolls in a downsized military economy.

“It was such a natural fit,” said lead designer and engineer James Jordon. “Bikes are using more and more aerospace technology: carbon fiber, titanium alloys, ceramics. We figured, who better to put these things to good use than us? We’ve been tinkering with this stuff for decades.”

“The first prototypes were outrageously fast,” claimed Lis Jentzon, project director. “Acceleration was off the charts. It was like having a motor in the crank, or the greatest tailwind following you wherever you went.”

As Project Icarus started to staff up their fabrication plant in preparation for full-scale production, the FAA decided that their first production bike – the Icarus SOL – no longer qualified as a bicycle. Instead, they claim it is essentially a pedal-powered jet.

Spokesman Eric Gradior of the FAA said, “Though we encourage innovation and hope that the materials and skills developed within the aeronautics industry can be applied to other pursuits, this is clearly an instance where you have to call a spade a spade.”

When asked why the FAA demanded that production be halted, Gradior stated, “It’s simple. You need a license to fly a plane. You need training to fly a plane. They’re building what’s essentially a plane. So, we need to figure out what kind of training and licensing it needs.”

“It’s a bike!” retorted Jentzon. “It’s got a handlebar; it’s got wheels! It’s a [redacted] bike! It just happens to be [redacted] fast and made by aerospace [redacted] engineers! [redacted] [redacted] [redacted]!”

Only time will tell if this new company’s production bike will ever get off the ground.

In related news, the head of the FAA announced her intention to step down from her post and run for a local congressional seat in her home district. Sources close to the campaign indicate a recent influx of funds from the automotive industry. We’ll report more on this story as it develops.