Sunday, April 29, 2012

Facts on Carbs, Bicycling Magazine, June 2012

I saw this in the June 2012 edition of Bicycling Magazine. I know that I pound a lot carbs, usually 60-65% of my daily intake and sometimes higher. This article had some good facts on how carbs help make us better riders. 1. Carbs make us faster riders and may even help make us more lean. Just drinking a drink with carbs and spitting it out before you race can cause the reward centers in your brain to react enabling you to ride harder. Ingesting carbs during a race or long ride has been proven to improve performance. 2. Not all carbs are created equal but there is a time and place for most of them. Its fine to mix simple (fructose, glucose) and complex carbs (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc). Complex take longer to breakdown and contain fiber which slows digestion but simple carbs can be used for that quick burst of energy. 3. If you feed your brain you will avoid bonking. You brain is like your body's file gauge as it oversees your speed and fuel. Run low on carbs and it will start to shut the engine down. you may not even be able to ride at mx intensity if your brain senses low carb stores. 4. When riding, you can ingest more than you may think. Studies have shown its possible to ingest up to 400 calories per hour. You do however need to train your body to this. if you usually ingest 200-250 calories per hour, you won't be able to go right to 400 but over time you can get there. 5. Gluten does not mean grain free. If going gluten free be sure that you're not going with just highly processed substitutes. Giving up gluten just for the sake of giving it up won't result in performance gains. The slow buying carbs and nutrients in wheat are an important part of an athletes diet. If you think you have a gluten issue, see your doctor.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

from RoadBikeRider, tips on aero wheels

6. JIM'S TECH TALK — Mechanical & Product Advice

News & Views From The World of Wheels
I know we talk a lot about wheels, but there’s a good reason. Apart from a road bike’s frame, no other component influences the ride and performance more than the wheels. That’s because they’re what you have to get moving to fly down the road. And it’s why we’ve seen such incredible changes in the average pair on modern bicycle wheels, and how they’ve become probably the most popular upgrades, too.

Because they make such a difference in ride quality, and because I race, I try to keep up on the latest technology and ride the best ones, too. I’d like to share a couple of recent wheel experiences that I found interesting and will likely influence the wheels we all end up riding in the future.

Keith Bontrager and his Aeolus aero wheels
I’ve known Keith Bontrager since the early eighties when he moved to Santa Cruz and started custom-building Bontrager frames out of his garage. He’s a great guy who came to cycling from a motorcycling background. He studied physics in college and has put his moto, bicycle and science knowledge together in his current job as head of Bontrager, now a key component of Trek Bicycles. There are Bontrager-designed and branded components on all kinds of Trek bicycles, so he stays very busy.

As you know, I’ve been getting into time trialing and I learned that Keith was working on a new aero wheel, the Aeolus, that was rumored to be among the fastest to date. So I contacted him, expecting him to be out of the country helping the RadioShack boys. But instead he surprised me by driving over to my house and hand delivering the Aeolus 5 and 3 D3 tubular wheels for me to take for a spin (clincher versions are available).

Perhaps the fastest rim shape yet
Carbon rimmed wheels are usually lighter at the rim than aluminum ones, so they feel fast, sometimes almost effortless, depending on what you’re upgrading from. But what’s so special about the Aeolus wheels is the aerodynamics. Following in HED and Zipp’s footsteps Keith and his team of Trek engineers studied rim shapes and discovered that the inside of the rim was just as important for aerodynamics as the tire side that meets the wind.

Experimenting and testing rim profiles, they ended up with one that looks crazy wide (26mm). With 22mm tubular tires, the edges of the rim are clearly visible from above, that’s how wide 26mm is (a standard rim used to be about 19mm wide). The rims are so wide that before you can install the wheel you will probably have to widen your brake adjustment.

The Aeolus rim doesn’t have a sharp triangular edge on the inside like you used to see on so-called aero rims. It’s a blunt, round profile like a bullet. This ensures that the rim smooths out the airflow past the wheel and decreases wind drag more than any other design Trek tested. It looks heavy and slow, but it’s just the opposite.

Carbon rims that brake
The free speed is the reason I reached out to Keith in the first place, because riding fast time trials has a lot to do with how aero your bike is. You hardly need your brakes, in fact. But Keith letting me try his Aeolus 3 wheels, superlight beauties perfect for hill climbs and road races, meant that I would be braking a lot on them.

This worried me because my current carbon wheels with Swiss Stop brake pads made for carbon are dangerously grabby and almost caused me to crash in races last year. It made me feel better when Keith said that the team had requested he come up with a brake pad to go along with his new Aeolus wheels that would perform as well as regular pads on aluminum rims. Keith explained that Fabian Cancellara and the Schleck brothers would routinely go through a set of pads in one stage of the Tour (!), and they were very unhappy with the braking on their bikes.

Keith’s cork pads do the trick
So, with the wheels, Keith gave me a set of Bontrager cork brake pads that have worked miracles. Last year I was sanding the Swiss Stop pads to remove the black marks on them from the carbon rims after every ride. And I was cleaning the rims with solvent, too. Even doing that, though, the pads would grab and cause the wheels to almost lock up, which made descending treacherous and made it impossible to hang with the top guys on descents.

Keith’s new pads completely solved the problem. It’s possible that it’s the combination of the wheels and the pads. His new wheels ride so nicely I’ve ridden them in every race this year. And the braking feels exactly the same as standard pads on aluminum rims. I haven’t had to clean the rims or sand the pads once. I’m highly impressed and no longer worry going into technical courses with hard cornering and fast descending.

I also believe that Keith’s Aeolus wheels offer an aerodynamic edge. I’ve posted some faster times on my time trial bike and even with the Aeolus 3’s, which are only 35mm tall, I feel just as fast as on the 50mm-tall carbon rims I rode the previous two seasons.

I’m hoping to try Keith’s 90mm-tall Aeolus 9 D3, at least in a front wheel, since it might be the fastest front TT wheel. But, Keith tells me it’s in such high demand by the pro teams that it’s not going to be easy for me to get on one. I’m holding my breath.

Tip: If you’re interested in the design and testing of the Aeolus wheels, you’ll enjoy the white paper on them.

HED saves me some bucks
The same way I contacted Keith looking for fast wheels for my TT bike, I contacted HED Cycling. I don’t know Steve Hed as well as I know Keith, but I did buy my first disc wheel from Steve around 1984 when I was trying to become a pro triathlete. And I’ve talked to him whenever I’ve gotten a chance over the years because he’s been a leader in aerodynamic wheels and components for so long and worked with so many famous pros over the years, from LeMond to Armstrong.

I didn’t get to speak with Steve but I still got an education from Tim at HED, who helped me select a new disc wheel for my TT rig. Unless you’re into time trialing or triathlon, you’re probably not interested in disc wheels, but keep reading because what HED told me might surprise you.

The Jet is faster
First, understand that I told Tim I wanted the fastest disc. Looking at their catalog and talking to riders, I had decided that that would be their Stinger Disc tubular. So I was taken aback when Tim told me that their fastest wheel was actually their Jet Clincher (less expensive than the Stinger, too)! It’s actually the disc that Tony Martin won the world time trial championship with and what superstar Bradley Wiggins now rides, too.

Tim explained that the clincher is faster than the tubular because 1) it forms a more aerodynamic shape at the rim; and 2) it reduces rolling resistance since the tire sits perfectly on the rim (unlike glued-on tubulars that never sit exactly true on a wheel).

Tip: HED has found that another way to decrease rolling resistance and add a little extra speed to your wheels is by using latex tubes and dusting them and the inside of the tires with talcum powder.

Softer is faster too
Perhaps the biggest surprise was when HED told me that Tony Martin and Bradley Wiggins run only 90psi in their race tires -- even on smooth courses. HED has been a proponent of wider rims and lower pressure since before Bontrager and Zipp (the Jet disc’s rim is 23mm wide). But I was still fascinated to learn that pros were riding clinchers and such low pressures, since the European peloton is usually so traditional, and tradition says tubulars and maximum pressures.

These Bontrager and HED wheel developments are already changing wheel designs from other companies. It’s looking like, now that we have good braking, carbon wheels are here to stay, and that wider rims are, too, because they’re faster and ride nicer. And clinchers run at lower pressures are the way to go unless you need superlight wheels, in which case tubulars still have an advantage. The other emerging wheel tech trend to watch is disc braking, but I’ll leave that for when it’s more settled.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Time to Evaluate

Now that the team has a few races completed this spring it would be a great time to step back and think about what part of your training needs some adjustment. Ask yourself the following...

are you able to keep up with the general pace of the race and finish with the main group?
If not, its time to start working on your steady state efforts. Try doing 20 minute efforts with heart rate in upper zone 4 or just below time trial pace. I'd do 3x20 minutes, 5 minutes between and maybe more. These can be a real grind to do alone but so is trying to hang with the top riders in your bracket. Its still better than trying to catch up after being dropped. You really do have to spend time in that 88-92% of your max heart rate zone.

are you with the main group but being out sprinted?
time to work on your sprints and probably coming out of a steady state effort (replicate the effort it actually takes at the end of the race, and do it 3, 4, 5 or 6 times). In these you'll be going from that 88-92% heart rate zone and going to 95-99% in the sprint. Once agin, its better to work these systems in training than try to pull them out at the race.

what has worked well and how can you capitalize on this?
Are you in position but just not getting any breaks? do you have team members in position to help or be helped? are you great on the climbs but then not able to sprint? Look at your race and then make a list of what is working well and what is not. This will help with your training and race strategy.

are you properly tapering for the race?
You can only have maybe two true tapers in a season for really key events but you can and should taper prior to all races. This would mean cutting back on time on the bike but keeping just the right amount of intensity even the day before so that you feel fresh. your Form=Fitness+Freshness. you can be very fit but tired or completely recovered but lost fitness. Form is that perfect balance of both.

how many days per week during race season are you doing interval training?
I'd do two, maybe three, depending on your schedule and ability to recover and goals for these spring races.

how are you fueling before and during the race and during the week?
Even on cool days you are dehydrating. Its important to keep drinking. Are you getting enough protein during the week and after races for proper muscle building and repair? Its not easy to do. Are you getting the proper carbs prior to the race? How is your energy level halfway through the race? 3/4 of the way?

are you mentally prepared to race? do you think you'll do well?
I guarantee that those winning aren't necessarily stronger riders. They just know they can win.

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