DRINKING AND EATING ON RIDES
Ever been thirsty or hungry on a bike? How about really thirsty, dry mouth, tummy rumbling hungry? And what about those longer rides where your stomach cries out that is thinks you have deliberately poisoned it? Well chances are if you have been riding a few years or more and been on any rides over 2 hours some or all of these problems may have befallen you.
We talked to some experts and came up with a simple plan to help you, the recreational rider avoid some of the mistakes that riders have made over the years. As a general point we recommend completing breakfast or lunch at least 3 hours before your ride starts. If you have an early morning ride we suggest you skip breakfast entirely, avoid any coffee or tea and especially avoid acidy fruit like oranges and never drink orange juice before a ride. Try and avoid simple sugars on the ride like Shot Bloks, Gu etc. even honey. Never consume acidy fruits like oranges we so often see cut up at rest stops on major rides although some fruits like watermelon and bananas are excellent to eat on longer rides.
1-2 Hour Rides: Do not start any ride dehydrated. Make sure you drink some water before the ride and start drinking straight away on the ride even though you are not thirsty. Continue to drink throughout the ride. Never stop drinking. Try adding some Hammer Heed to your bottles to train your body to absorb 150-250 calories an hour. Try to absorb all your calories in liquid form, (1 bottle an hour to an hour and a half), not solid food and drink when you are not putting in big efforts like on hills, but are cruising along.
2-4 Hour Rides: Drink 1-2 glasses of water before the ride. Start drinking straight away consuming a bottle an hour to an hour and a half depending on body size, effort and temperature. Make sure you take in a Carbohydrate/Protein mix like Perpetuem, Sustain or simply add some Soy protein to your Heed. DO NOT mix simple sugars with your complex carbohydrates to avoid stomach distress later on. In the last hour you can switch just to Heed and do not need to add the protein as much. Think about taking a hammer bar or some almonds (or both) along so you have something solid to munch on at times on a longer ride but treat this as a break from regular liquid calorie intake, not as a substitute.
4-5 Plus Hour Rides like Centuries: Same as for 2-4 hour rides except you need to carefully MONITOR your body every hour and make sure you are drinking a bottle each hour and getting the right electrolytes from Hammer FIZZ or Endurolytes etc in addition to calories. Hammer makes some great products to cover you for fuel and electrolytes. The biggest mistake most people make is that they lose track of time, do not keep up their fluid intake and drink too little and then lose track of what they are doing, become disorientated, dehydrated and if it is a hot day not only do they slow down a LOT!!! (a 10% loss of fluids = 20% drop in performance) but they can start to feel the effects of heat exhaustion and by then the only solution to avoid bad things happening like heat stroke is to stop riding. Sometimes people set their watches to beep at intervals to remind them to do something but in spite of all our best efforts on a long ride it is important to know when we are done and to stop riding, to ride another day. There is no shame in this as we just need to review and tweak our preparation and fuel/water plan for next time when we can improve on past performances.
Hill Climbing/Descending Techniques.
There are many theories about exactly how to climb a hill. One technique that seems to work well is to review your cadence. If it is below 80 shift into an easier gear. On both the front and back gears the gear closest to the frame is always the easier gear. In the front it is the smaller of the big rings and in the back cassette it is the larger of the many smaller sized rings.
But what if you are already in your easiest gear and want to go faster? Try this. Click up one, or with practice, even 2 harder gears in the back cassette. That means a gear further away from the frame or actually a smaller cog and immediately stand up and pedal. This means you are NOT sitting on the saddle anymore. Think about lifting the back foot rather than pressing the front pedal down as gravity and your own body weight will take care of the front pedal going down. It has nowhere else to go! You should notice a quick increase in pace. Standing up you may also be able to shift into one or 2 more harder gears to get even more speed. This will depend on the hill, your weight and fitness and strength. When you have reached the desired speed, as you sit down click back one or 2 gears into easier gearing so you can maintain your leg speed as you sit down. Your cadence or leg speed may be as high as 90 RPM by now. That is just fine! Keep going and keep thinking about lifting your rear foot rather than pressing down on the front foot. "Rinse and repeat" as often as needed as you progress up the hill. You will be amazed at the results!
Cresting the Hill & Descending:
Many riders ease up as they reach the summit of each hill and coast down the other side usually to catch their breath. Here is where you can make up huge amounts of time by using this simple technique. As you reach close to the summit, once again click into a harder gear or maybe 2 gears in the back cassette and stand up and pedal concentrating on lifting your back pedal again. Your speed will pick up because the grade is easing as you crest the hill. Keep standing up and accelerating while you change gear again and again. As you start to descend on the other side, assuming it is not a steep dangerous descent, sit down and keep pedalling, not coasting at this enhanced speed all the while getting into a bigger and bigger gear including shifting into your big ring in front.
Move your hands from the hoods to the drops and stay in the drops as soon as you start descending. Advanced riders often have their chins "kissing" the bars but just try and get as low in front as long as you can see ahead where you are going, to minimize wind resistance. Helmets with peaks/visors cause problems here and are not recommended because of this. Lack of flexibility will be a limiting factor as will any back and neck issues. Keep pedalling until your speed is such that you cannot feel any resistance and then slightly shift your bottom back on the saddle and keep your knees and arms tucked in and your head down as you sail down the hill. This demands constant practice but you can increase your speed safely as your skill improves. Apply the correct cornering techniques set out below to maintain your competitive advantage on the corners.
There are many theories about exactly how to climb a hill. One technique that seems to work well is to review your cadence. If it is below 80 shift into an easier gear. On both the front and back gears the gear closest to the frame is always the easier gear. In the front it is the smaller of the big rings and in the back cassette it is the larger of the many smaller sized rings.But what if you are already in your easiest gear and want to go faster? Try this. Click up one, or with practice, even 2 harder gears in the back cassette. That means a gear further away from the frame or actually a smaller cog and immediately stand up and pedal. This means you are NOT sitting on the saddle anymore. Think about lifting the back foot rather than pressing the front pedal down as gravity and your own body weight will take care of the front pedal going down. It has nowhere else to go! You should notice a quick increase in pace. Standing up you may also be able to shift into one or 2 more harder gears to get even more speed. This will depend on the hill, your weight and fitness and strength. When you have reached the desired speed, as you sit down click back one or 2 gears into easier gearing so you can maintain your leg speed as you sit down. Your cadence or leg speed may be as high as 90 RPM by now. That is just fine! Keep going and keep thinking about lifting your rear foot rather than pressing down on the front foot. as often as needed as you progress up the hill. You will be amazed at the results!
How to prepare the week before a Century.
This is a really tricky topic and below is one suggested approach that Echelon Riders Club Members have found helpful for the Marin Century. Modify to suit yourself.
MARIN CENTURY PREPARATION
Preparation Notes for the 60/100 Milers
Sunday: (6 days to go)
Club or solo Ride. Nothing dramatic. 40 miles. Go easier than usual. No need to strain something now! Take Bike in to bike shop for last minute check up or check it yourself. Look for nicks on tires. Check shifting. Make sure chain is clean. Ensure Garmin or Cateye etc is charged. Check repair bag is stocked properly with tubes etc.
Monday: (5 days to go)
Easy Walk or swim only. No riding. Rest those legs! SLEEP IS NOW THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR NOT EXERCISE: It is too late to suddenly increase your fitness but you can ruin your ride by exhausting yourself this week. Chill out this week. Avoid stress as much as possible. Concentrate on getting to bed by 9:00 p.m. each night and getting quality sleep this week. Avoid spicy foods especially at night and postpone those heavy dates and evenings out until NEXT week. Eat normally if a little light this week as you are tapering your exercise down. No crazy carbo loading with huge pasta meals please!
Tuesday: (4 days to go)
Light ride, no more than 20 miles. This is your last training ride but go EASY. Check out bike and yourself so you know you are ready for 109 miles. Yes it is 109 miles not 100!
Wednesday: (3 days to go)
No more riding. Easy walk or swim. Eat normally if a little lighter and get to bed early. Check bike again. Check food you want to take on ride, gels, drinks, bars etc. If necessary go buy more stuff. DO NOT BUY ANTHING NEW. Stick with what you have been using.
Thursday (2 days to go)
Easy walk or swim. No riding. Have a massage. Eat normally if lightly. Relax and get to bed early. Check clothing you want is washed, dry, smells nice and is in a neat pile for Saturday so you do not forget anything important like socks/gloves. Check cleats on shoes. Recharge your Garmin.
Friday (1 day to go)
Complete rest day. No exercise. No massages. Nothing physical. Take a short walk at lunchtime for 15 minutes if you have time. Relax. Eat normally if lightly. Check bike, clothing and food and drinks for ride. Make up drinks and freeze overnight. Make a pile in one place of all the clothing and gear you will want to take. Check bike, pump up tires. Check in at Vallecito School between 5 and 8 p.m. or leave it until Saturday. Go to bed early.
Saturday. (Day of Ride)
Get up at 6:00 a.m. and have a LIGHT breakfast. Perhaps some oats. No fruit or juice. (Stomach acid). Do not have a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, or fried food even if you eat this stuff all the time. You will thank me about mile 60. Cut down on milk due to mucus. Do NOT drink any tea or coffee as they are diuretics and will dehydrate you on the ride later on. That’s right. No coffee this morning! Drink 2 glasses of water. Only water. DO NOT TRY EATING ANYTHING NEW TODAY. Stay in your routine. Have a shower (you will smell better and it is relaxing) and apply loads of sunscreen 70 plus or better and then get dressed. Finish making your drinks and load up the bike with Garmin/Cateye, drinks and add your extra food to the back of your jersey and ride or drive to start by 7:30 a.m. Check in and be ready to start at 8:00 a.m. sharp for either 60 or 109 miles. Good luck!
CORRECT CORNERING TECHNIQUE
HOW YOU CORNER DEPENDS GREATLY ON YOUR SPEED AND YOUR SKILL. Slow speed cornering does not require much thought, right? Just lean a bit and around you go! But what if you are travelling at a fast speed, how do you set it all up like the pros. First, just like a racing car or motocycle you want to be in a position to cut the apex of the corner. The so called "racing line". We have all seen it on TV and at car, motobike and cycle races. For a right hand corner, do not start hard up against the edge of the road. Look behind you first for cars and if you can safely move out a bit, do so, just before the corner. For a left hand corner you are starting on the edge but be careful to stay on your side of the road and do NOT cut blind corners too much in case a car is encroaching on your side of the road. This often happens because the car driver is being courteous when passing a cyclist coming the other way and giving them a wide birth! That part seems simple enough but what to do with the arms, the legs and the body. The most common mistakes are to stiffen up, lock both elbows with straight rigid arms, lean the body over into the corner and feather the brakes!! Please do not do any of these, ever. It can lead to a nasty result. Instead, as you approach a corner and take a good line, think about firstly keeping your body supple and relaxed with shoulders down, not up around your ears and arms slightly bent, NOT straight as I see all the time out on the roads. Brake BEFORE not during the corner (braking in the corner increases the force on the tire and can promote either front or back wheel or both slipping out) and think about pressing the inside hand down on the inside handlebar with a bent not a straight arm while trying not to lean the body into the corner. That's right, do not lean into the corner. Just like a skier the upper body remains upright and "neutral". Instead your inside arm pushes the bike over on an angle to obtain the desired turn. The more you angle the bike, the more it will turn. But what about the legs? The OUTSIDE leg is probably instinctively down to avoid catching the inside pedal on the road as you lean the bike over and you may be intuitively pushing on the pedal. That is the right thing to do and yes, we now want you to actually press hard on that outside pedal. But why? Pressing on the pedal transfers the body weight to the lower part of the bike which helps lower your center of gravity and keeps you more stable through the turn. Try any or all of these ideas on your next ride. Some or all of these ideas will seem wierd, perhaps uncomfortable the first time you try them but it gets easier very quickly, almost second nature. Experiment with doing it the old way you have done it for years. Then maybe think about pressing on the inside handlebar while bending your arms rather than being all straight and stiff. Once the arms are mastered think about keeping your body upright and NOT leaning too much into the turn. Next try pressing hard down on the outside pedal whiile you are doing all this. I know it is a lot to remember but try doing one thing at a time and add elements as you get more confident. Finally, once you have mastered all of this go back to the first idea which is to relax that body, keep it supple as you can absorb those scary mid corner bumps a lot better and be a safer, faster rider.
1. UPGRADE YOUR GEARING TO SUIT THE MARIN HILLS: Marin has loads of steep hills, everywhere. It is really hard to avoid them! To ease the pressure on joints, especially hips and knees, try and keep your cadence above 80 rpm as you ascend hills. What tends to happen is a rider, for some reason, as they approach a hill often just stays in the same gear and as the hill gradient increases but of course their cadence slows dramatically. Rather than change gear the erstwhile cyclist simply stands up and forces the pedals around using their body weight putting horrible and often painful stress on their back, legs and arms. Then at some point they are forced to sit down and change gears but by then it is too late and they are going really slowly. This seems crazy reading about it but we have all done it, many, many times. Do not be this rider! This is absolutely the slowest and most painful way to ascend any hill. You can now judge your own hill climbing prowess and if you need to, go to a Compact 50/34 in front on the big rings and perhaps an 11-28 on the rear cassette. In 2011, following world wide demand that only Sram had met in the previous couple of years, Shimano introduced the 11-28 ultegra cassette. It is not that expensive (use your Mikes Bikes 15% discount), rides like a dream for shifting and is quieter when using Ultegra or Dura Ace chains and big rings than a Sram cassette. Gone are the days when we had to struggle with standard big rings 54/39 and 12-25 cassettes. If you are not sure about gearing but know your knees and hips are sore after a ride and you are pedalling up hills around 50 to 60 rpms then get into a Mikes Bikes Store ASAP! Your body will thank you. It is just not sensible to let pride or some outdated ideas about "riding what the pros ride", interfere with your safe enjoyment of the sport you love. You will also be faster!! A "triple" big ring set on the front is also acceptable but going to a compact set up with just 2 rings up front and the 28 tooth on the back cassette is lighter and covers most situations.
2. PLAN, PLAN & PLAN: When approaching a hill, a Stop sign, a Red Light or a sharp corner, have a plan. Typically inexperienced riders come to a stop with no thought or a plan as to what will happen next! From that point on everything seems to be a surprise to them. Do not be that rider! Knowledgeable riders show their skill and smarts by choosing the correct gear to move again, well before they need to stop pedalling. Avoid having to lurch in too big a gear out of the saddle just to get going on your next ride. You probably see this everyday as a motorist. Again, do not be one of those riders you laugh at as a driver! Have a plan and change down into an easier gear well before you stop so you will be in the correct gear when you have to move off again.
ARTICLE ON COOL WEATHER RIDING CLOTHING:
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY TO RIDE IN COOLER TEMPERATURES?
1. Bib Shorts vs Long Pants? Still wear your Bib Shorts. For one they will be more comfortable with a superior insert than most longer pants and you just buy Knee Warmers or Leg Warmers to cover up your lower legs which you can take off if it gets hot. It is rare to see professional riders riding in long riding pants. Leg Warmers are typically longer than Knee warmers with a short zip at the bottom and as Knee Warmers have developed, Leg Warmers have gone out of style.
2. Jacket vs Wind Vest? Jackets were originally designed to be worn before or after a ride. Riders are out there every day with ill fitting jackets, usually too big and flapping in the wind or zipped up and acting like a parachute holding back the rider! Professional riders do not ride with jackets normally except in extreme conditions we do not ride in, like pelting rain, over their wind vests! Add a pair of arm warmers and you have the best solution. No to jackets! Except before or after the ride, NOT during the actual ride. The Echelon Capo Jerseys are designed to work with the Echelon Capo Wind Vest which has both waterproof and wind proof front panels, to wick moisture away from your body and avoid overheating common with jackets. If it is REALLY cold (say under 60 degrees) just add a further underlayer or two UNDER your jersey and wind vest and you will be toasty!
3. Helmet Covers vs Head Covers? Helmet Covers look strange. Instead buy a light head covering you can wear under your helmet, preferably covering your ears.
4. Full Gloves vs Short Gloves? In winter have full fingered gloves as an alternative on colder days. We like the Specialized BG Gel body geometry gloves sold by Mikes Bikes in both short fingers and full fingers. Remember the 15% discount for joining the Sunday Spins ride.
5. Shoe Covers vs Toe Covers? What are they? Some riders like full booties that cover their whole shoe. I find them cumbersome. Instead I buy little toe covers which keep my feet warm and dry in most conditions in winter. They are easy to slip on and off over the shoe too. Mikes Bikes sell Pearl Izumi Cyclone Toe Covers for $19.99. I have a pair and they work perfectly and last years. And you can use your Echelon 15% discount if you join our ride on Sunday at 10:45 a.m.
ARTICLE ON COOLER WEATHER/WINTER RIDING:
During the winter months of November, December, January and possibly also into February and even March and April, depending on the race program for 2012, many professional racers adopt a training program of longer slower rides to give their bodies a few months to recover from the rigors of hard training. We should heed this approach. Many of us ride the same on each and every ride, often choosing the same route so we can guage our relative times, regardless of the time of year and wonder why we lose enthusiasm at times. It is because our training program is not varied enough and causes us to basically “burn out”. If you ride every ride the same way year in and year out trying to get a better time than last time or go harder, faster, longer with each ride, eventually this approach will backfire on you. But how to slow down??? When every fiber in your being says push, push, push??? Join our carefully paced winter rides in the cooler months and stay behind the ride leader (yes I know that is hard) the whole ride to control the testosterone urge to beat everything in sight. We will keep you busy with skills classes on the bike like practicing pace lines, cornering and descending techniques etc. Your body will thank you for it come Spring when we load up the stress with harder training to increase speed having built a strong base we created over winter; and you will be a lot faster in Summer. Also during this period, as you ease the training, also ease the food intake and concentrate on improving your body composition which normally means losing some weight now rather than trying to do this when we are riding hard in Summer and having to eat more to stay healthy, which makes dieting difficult.
WHAT IS AN ECHELON?
An echelon is just like a pace line but as the wind shifts from coming straight at you and moves to either the right or left side, so too the small group or echelon has to adjust to ensure the riders following the leader maximize the draft or protection from the wind from the rider in front. So when you see 5 or so riders on the road and one is say on the "gutter" and the riders behind seem to be closer and closer to the center of the road as you go to the riders at the back, you have an echelon. In essence an echelon is a small group of riders working together taking turns to set the pace and protect each other from the wind so the whole group increases its efficiency and can move ahead more quickly than a single rider could with the same amount of power output.
Safely paceline in a group. (See Skot's page for an Article from our Ride Director)
SPINNING RABBI: Feel like reading something positive? Try our Designated Ride Leader - Marin, Fred Fox's blog of positive messages at www.spinningrabbi.com.
Echelon Riders Club