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Thermoregulation: Tips for Keeping Cool When It’s Hot

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We found this great article by Garret Rock that we thought our readers would find useful and insightful. Enjoy…

Thermoregulation is the ability of an organism to maintain a body temperature within certain boundaries, even when the surrounding temperature is very different. Basically, this refers to your ability to stay warm in cool environments, and cool in hot environments. A physiological example of thermoregulation is sweating.

The concept of thermoregulation is important to endurance athletes because it directly correlates to performance. The inability to control temperature swings results in a decrease in performance, and can put an end to your race day altogether. This decrease in performance is hardly negligible, just look at the following statistics from a study on marathon times.

  • In elite pro runners, for every 5 degrees over 41 degrees Fahrenheit, times slow by 0.4%. On a 77 degree day, an elite pro will expect to run 5% slower than on a 41 degree day.
  • The rate of slowing increases with slower run times. For example, in this study, they found that a 3 hour marathoner will be around 12% slower on a 77 degree day compared to a 41 degree day. This brings their finish time from 3 hours flat to 3 hours 21 minutes.

Fortunately, there are small steps we can take to battle the performance deficits that come with hot temperatures. Here are four of the most effective methods for avoiding over-heating during training and racing.

 

Hydration

Hydration is your first line of defense in thermoregulation. Although on the surface hydration seems simple, how you hydrate and what you hydrate with can actually have a big impact on thermoregulation and hydration status.

Laboratory based tests conclude that hyperhydration is an effective strategy for maintaining a slightly lower body temperature during endurance exercise in hot temperatures. Hyperhydration, put simply, is preventatively taking in fluids, or drinking when you are not thirsty. This effect seems to be due to a faster onset of sweating and improved “sweating efficiency”. For shorter races (1-3 hours), hyperhydration does appear to be an appropriate strategy on a hot day. Exactly how effective this strategy is in improving performance is yet to be determined at these distances, but theoretically benefits do exist, as research definitely shows improved thermoregulation through hyperhydration.

One way to enhance hyperhydration without having to chug down as many bottles of water is to nutritionally optimize intracellular fluid uptake. One supplement that aids this is glycerol, yep that evil alcohol sugar. Before undertaking glycerol supplementation for hyperhydration, be sure to do your research, or better, work with a professional that knows what they are doing. Done right, you win. Done wrong, you lose. In addition, during exercise, plain water is fairly poorly absorbed in the intestines. Including carbohydrates in a fluid replacement drink is crucial for optimal fluid absorption in the intestines. In fact, research shows that combining a carbohydrate with water during exercise improves intestinal fluid absorption up to six times!

Action Step: I recommend using a sports drink as your primary hydration source always. On exceptionally hot days, I recommend drinking 25 ml/kg body weight (175 lb person will drink approximately three 21 oz bottles) of fluids prior to the race. Make two of them water and one a sports drink. Be sure to use electrolyte tabs as directed during the race to ensure adequate electrolyte levels. 

 

Water Dousing

There is not much science to be found on the effect of water dousing on core temperature during exercise, however anecdotal “evidence” strongly supports frequent water dousing during a race in the heat. Fortunately, many races in hot environments now provide sponges and cups of ice for dousing.

Action: At each aid station be sure to douse yourself with water and/or ice/sponges. This is typically only needed during running, as the wind during biking is typically enough to evaporate sweat quickly.

 

Clothing Choices 

Your choice of clothing impacts thermoregulation. Sweating is the body’s natural cooling method. However, in order for sweating to be effective, the sweat must evaporate. It is the evaporation of sweat that cools the body. The ideal clothes for training and racing in hot weather allow for air to flow through them. On sunny days, protecting the skin from the sun is beneficial to staying cooler. Sunscreen can interrupt both sweat production and evaporation. Although dark colors do absorb more heat when the sun is out, in a short race this is unlikely to result in hotter core temperatures. However, in a long race, opting for the lighter color is likely the wiser decision. On sunny days, wearing a visor to protect from the sun and save on sunscreen use is the wiser choice.

Action: In a running race, wear light, loose clothing. If the sun is out in force, choose light colors. In a triathlon or cycling race, choose a kit made of breathable material. Choose coverage with the light apparel over sunscreen for most of your body. 

 

Pre-Cooling 

On hot days, pre-cooling appears to mildly improve performance in endurance races. For long and ultra races (Ironman, 70.3) this may not provide much performance enhancement. However, in shorter duration races (marathons, half marathons, 10K’s, 5K’s, sprint tri’s, and olympic tri’s), pre-cooling appears to benefit performance and thermoregulation on hot days. Pre-cooling may include staying cool in the water prior to a triathlon (if chilly), wearing a cooling vest during your warm up (www.stacoolvest.com), or sitting in a cool environment. Basically, be chilled just prior to the race. But don’t neglect an appropriate muscle warm up.

Action Step: Either perform your pre-race warm up in a cooling vest, or perform your pre-race warm up, then find a cool environment to sit in and get chilled (air conditioned car, water for a triathlon, or building close by). Being you’ll be sweating, the cool air will evaporate the sweat well and result in rapid cooling.

 

Michael N. Sawka; Lisa R. Leon; Scott J. Montain; Larry A. Sonna
Integrated physiological mechanisms of exercise performance, adaptation, and maladaptation to heat stress
Comprehensive Physiology 2011;1(4):1883-1928.

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1987;56(5):603-7.

 

Grucza R, Szczypaczewska M, Kozłowski S.

Source

Department of Applied Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.

 

Br J Sports Med. 2006 April; 40(4): 320–325.

doi:  10.1136/bjsm.2005.022426

 

 

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Fezzari Tips & Tricks: Disc Brake Adjustment

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This video will teach you how to properly adjust your disc brake calipers so they do not rub on the rotor. An Improperly aligned calipers is one of most common reason for squeaky brakes. A rubbing disc brake can slow you down, cause annoying noises, and result in premature wear of your brake pads.  Our Fezzari Technician will also teach you how to correct a bent rotor.

A Good Bike Fit Is the Easiest Way To Get Faster Instantly

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There is something about triathlons that seems to suck you in. What starts with a goal to just survive the swim of your first race quickly turns into a deep passion for the sport of triathlon in most.

Soon we find ourselves spending gobs of money on triathlon specific gear, subscribing to Lava and Triathlete magazines, and walking around comfortably in clothes more revealing than the road bike kits we once said we’d never wear. It’s about this time that we concern ourselves with our times.

The most wonderful characteristic of triathlons are that they are a race against yourself for 99% of triathletes. Its not about what place you got, its about achieving your goals. Maybe this is why the sport is so addicting. We can all be successful!

Being the bike is longest portion of a triathlon race and the easiest to improve in, if you want to improve your times, this is the place you should focus on first. If you are a serious racer looking to compete and are not riding a triathlon/TT bike…get one.

For regular road bikes, a good fit is very important. For triathlon/TT bikes, a good fit is what will make that bike pay off. I see so many people at triathlons riding expensive triathlon bikes outfitted with all of the gadgets and expensive wheel sets that are riding with their seats back as far as possible and propped up so high in front they could as well have saved their money and ridden the road bike they already had. They are losing the benefits of a triathlon/TT bike. If you are going to spend the money on a triathlon specific bike, spend another $200-300 on the proper fit.  Fezzari’s 23-point custom setup will get you 99% there on this fit.  They take specific body measurements to determine the proper frame size, stem length and angle, stack height, bar width, crank arm length, etc.  This is pretty great because if you do need to change what comes standard on the bike, i.e. a medium bike usually comes with a 90mm stem, 172.5 crank, etc., you would have to pay this out of your pocket.  They include this free of charge on every bike purchased which can save you a good amount of cash. Take a couple minutes and watch this video that describes what the 23-point custom setup is all about.

What Type of Bike Fit Is Best?

I am hugely biased toward digital motion analysis fits, either 2D or 3D is fine. The system I seek out is Retul (http://www.retul.com/). Although these fits cost more (usually $200-300 compared to $75-150 for a manual fit), they are definitely worth the extra money. I’ve noticed that many manual bike fitters concern themselves more with the drive train and revolve everything around that. The couple manual triathlon bike fits I’ve had that were done in such a matter resulted in me being in a position that was more of a hybrid between a road bike position and TT position. At the time this position felt great to me, however after getting a digital fit, my eyes have been opened.

My rationale for prefering a digital bike fit is because it eliminates most human error. Research has provided us with information regarding ideal hip angles, knee angles, etc, etc for optimal power output, endurance, aeroness (is that a word?), and comfort. With a digital fit, markers are placed on specific body landmarks and angles are measured while pedaling. The fitter then can adjust the bike to place you within these ideal angles. Compare this to eyeballing a fit and utilizing ancient plumb lines. I love science and exactness, and that is what a digital fit provides.

Below are my before and after pictures of my bike fit. From the naked eye, the changes look small. However, from a performance perspective, the changes are big. Most notably, look at how my entire body looks like it rotates forward, making me more aero and put my legs in a position of greater power and endurance of the pedals. This is achieved without changing my hip to torso angle, which means no greater strain on the low back.

BEFORE
AFTER

Here are my improvements in average speeds (compared to last years times) with changing to a triathlon bike and getting a digital fit:
Race 1: 25.0 mph compared to 22.1
Race 2: 24.1 mph compared to 20.9
Race 3: 22.5 mph compared to 20.5 (this course has 1500 ft of climbing and is almost better suited for a road bike)

Prior to my digital fit through Retul (and following my first manual fit with my current bike) I averaged about 0.8 mph slower on my standard training rides. Over the course of a 70.3 or Ironman distance, that equals a fairly significant amount of time.

So, the moral of this story is…if you are looking to get faster, get a professional bike fit (preferably digital). If you are going to spend money on a tri/TT bike, get a professional bike fit. Just get a professional bike fit, you’ll be happy you did.

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Things to Check Before You Ride

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Before each ride it is important to take time to perform a safety check of your bicycle. This can help prevent avoidable accidents and injuries and will only take couple minutes to do.

 

  • Check Tire Pressure – Check both tires for proper inflation. This information can be found on the side of the tire. You’ll be surprised how quickly pressure will drop on your bike. Road bikes can lose up to 20-30 psi in just a few days. Check the tire treads for excessive wear or other damage.
  • Check Brakes – Spin the wheels to check for rubbing and then apply the brakes to ensure they stop the bike smoothly and evenly. Check the brake pads for excessive wear.
  • Check Cables and Housing – Check all cables and housing to make sure there is no fraying or splitting (leaking for hydraulic brakes.) Usually you can do a visual check on mechanical cables. Also, if the lever doesn’t pull smoothly and return to the original position smoothly, you may want to investigate further. For hydraulic brakes, test pressure when compressing to make sure it doesn’t compress into the grip. Also, make sure there is no leaking where the cables attach to the brake and the levers at both ends.
  • Check Quick Release Levers on Wheels – Check the wheel quick release levers to ensure they are tight and secure. A good rule of thumb is when you close the quick release lever it should leaves an impression in the palm of your hand.
  • Check the tightness of cranks and all other nuts and bolts.  (If you own a full-suspension bike ensure bolts are tight on all rear suspension linkage parts.) If you have a torque wrench, usually the setting is 120 IN-LB /15  N-M. If you don’t have a torque wrench, do your best to make sure the bolts are snug. We strongly recommend using a torque wrench to prevent over tightening that may result in damaged bolts or other components.  It’s also good to check each bolt on the frame and components (when possible) to make sure that they are tight.
  • Check Shifting – Check that your bicycle is properly shifting through all the gears. If you need assistance with adjusting your derailleur we recommend the following instructional video. Adjust Rear Derailleur, Adjust Front Derailleur
  • Check Chain Wear and Lubrication – Check for dirt and proper lubrication. A good rule of thumb on lubricating is if you touch the chain and dirt or grime comes off on your hand, you should clean it. For lubrication, if the chain is dry to the touch, it needs to be lubricated. Don’t over lubricate your chain, either. Here are a couple different kits to help you keep your drive train clean.  Check the chain for over stretching. Put a ruler on the chain and measure 6 inches. The links should line up at the 0 and 6 inch mark on your tape measure. If the links do not line up on the 0 and 6 inch mark it may be time to replace your chain.

Perform a low-speed ride to ensure that your bicycle is functioning properly. If everything seems to be in order get out and enjoy your ride!

Safety and Emergency Repair Checklist

These are some items that we recommend having with you when you go out on a bicycle ride.

  • Have a helmet that fits properly
  • Carry a toolkit for basic repairs, including a pump, wrenches, patch kit, or spare tube, etc. Many companies sell accessory kits that include these tools.
  • Carry your driver’s license or some other form of ID.
  • Carry emergency contact information as well as any medical information that may be needed in-case of an accident
  • First aid kit
  • Reflectors and flashing rear safety light
  • Wear brightly-colored clothing to improve visibility
  • Carry a map or cue sheet to ensure you don’t get lost
  • Energy foods, snacks or extra cash
  • Bring adequate water in a bottle or hydration pack
  • Carry a few dollars for emergencies

*We recommend becoming familiar with how to repair a flat tire before you hit the road/trail. It is always a good idea to practice changing or patching a tube at home before you need to do it on the road/trail. If you are unsure how to change a tube please feel free to watch our instructional videos. Mountain Bike Tube, Road Bike Tube

The Stretching Debate

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For years practitioners, personal trainers, and everyone in between has preached stretching. I remember having 15-20 minute stretching sessions prior to our baseball practices and off-season training sessions in college. However, several recent studies have concluded that stretching does not prevent injury and may actually be detrimental to performance. These studies have drawn attention from prominent endurance sports magazines. The result has been a debate on whether stretching is good for endurance athletes or not. So, I scoured through research in hopes of finding the truth.

Here is as close to the truth as I could get…

Imagine if a hockey goalie never stretched? The first pass across the crease would lead to a torn groin. So, obviously stretching is good right?

There are a fair amount of studies available on stretching. One shortfall of some of them is that they make a broad conclusion based on a study using a specific activity. For example, in the conclusion of a study performed on sprinters, the authors worded it in a way that leads you to believe that stretching does not reduce the risk of injury in any sport that involves sprinting. The reality is that there is so much more than sprinting in many sports. Basketball involves jumping, football involves explosive movements against resistance, and hockey involves twisting while shooting.

The general answer to whether or not stretching is good is YES. However, for endurance athletes the timing of stretching makes a difference. When you pick apart the studies, what you find is that for endurance activities such as jogging, swimming, and biking, stretching just prior to the workout or event actually inhibits performance and endurance. This even holds true in sprinters. However, stretching after a workout remains to have favorable benefits in studies.

The ideal warm-up for swimming, biking, and running alike does not involve sitting on the ground stretching. Static stretching (holding a particular stretch) actually inhibits muscle firing and is shown to decrease muscle endurance and power. Therefore, this shouldn’t be done prior to your workout or competition (YAY, no more 10 minute boring stretching sessions).

However, a particular type of warm-up is shown to stretch muscle “just enough” and ready muscles for the upcoming activity. This involves dynamic warm-up drills, such as form running (high knees, striders, shuffle, etc).

What About Our Beloved Foam Rollers?

The foam roller can be a very beneficial tool, however it should be used in moderation. The primary theory behind it is that it affects the golgi tendon organ (GTO). Whether it is the stimulus to the GTO that makes foam rolling beneficial or not is a debated topic. What matters most is that people do well using foam rollers.

For endurance athletes, I do not recommend using the foam roller prior to a workout. It also should not be excruciatingly painful. It should be no more painful than a mildly firm massage. Following a workout, I recommend using the foam roller very lightly for no more than one minute per region (example: quads). The rolling should be slow, and again…light! Later that evening, such as before bed, you can use the roller a little more aggressively, but again, no more painful than a mildly firm massage.

Summary and Solutions

In the end, stretching is a good thing for endurance athletes, just not before a workout or competition. Instead, endurance athletes should perform “dynamic movements” to achieve the proper stretch. By easing into your workout over 5-10 minutes, your muscles will have time to adapt and be ready for the heavy workload.

Following your workouts, spend 5 minutes stretching. It is not necessary to hold an intense stretch for a minute, rather hold for 8-10 seconds and move on to the next body part. If you wish to use a foam roller, do so lightly following your workout (not before!).

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Preventing Squeaky Disc Brakes: Tips from Avid

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Have you ever had your disc brakes squeal or vibrate? This is an issue for a lot of bikers with disc brakes, and it’s not specific to Avid brand of disc brakes, it happens with Shimano, Formula, and Magura.   It’s often asked what can be done to prevent squeaky disc brakes, and there are a lot of different answers to be found online.  Our friends at Avid provided us with a great set of instruction on how to prevent the squeal and vibration sometimes experienced in disc brakes.

 

 

 

Rotor and Brake Pad Bed-in

To achieve full braking power the brake pads and rotors should be fully bedded in before the first ride. Proper bed in can prevent noise and vibration in a system, if done incorrectly these problems cannot be solved without pad and/or rotor replacement.

 

The purpose of bed in is to apply a thin even layer of pad material to the brake rotor. At a basic level this layer allows the brake pad material to generate friction on the rotor surface in use. Bed in should be done on a new brake and after any pad/rotor replacement.

 

To achieve proper bed in the rotors and pads must be brought to operating temperature allowing a transfer and then allowed to cool fully. During this process it is very important the rotor does not come to a complete stop with the brakes applied, this can create a thicker layer of material at one point leading to vibrations later in use.

To bed in a rotor:

1) Select a riding area which allows for a moderate speed, for safety remain seated.

2) Accelerate to a moderate speed and apply brakes evenly, slowing to a walking pace. It is important to prevent a complete stop. Do this 20 times, braking power will increase during this process.

3) Accelerate to a slightly higher speed and apply the brakes, slowing to a walking pace. Do this 10 times, do not come to a complete stop.

4) Allow the brakes to fully cool before riding.

 

After the bed in process the brakes should operate at full power without noise.

 

 

With these tips and proper maintenance you are ready for fun trail rides that are free from squeaky brakes and mechanical issues.  For questions please comment below or contact us.

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Winter Training Exercises

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If you’re like me, you hate to see the warm weather go. Cold temperatures force us back to the trainers or Indoor Spinning classes from great rides like Moab’s Slick rock, the Alpine Loop, and endurance races like Ranatad, Lotoja, and Salt to Saint. Consequently, this can be a good opportunity to focus on the fundamentals of cycling for both the road bike and the mountain bike. Winter is also the perfect time to rejuvenate your body with a periodization schedule.

At the end of the season I go back to a base building period that involves keeping my heart rate in an aerobic zone. I do this for 2 ½ months then I add strength zone which takes heart rate up about 10%. This is followed by adding in intervals at 92% Heart Rate (HR). This base building has many rewards including fully recovering from the stresses of intense exercise and competition, and gaining a larger cardiovascular base. Many athletes believe that the path to increasing fitness, power, and speed is to keep a high intensity or volume of training without interruption. Although it is easy to feel that any break in this kind of training will result in setback, the truth is that the real gains in fitness and strength come in the rest and regeneration periods between hard workouts or training cycles.

You’ll enjoy these other numerous benefits from aerobic training:
Increased fat metabolism: the body prefers fat for fuel at this rate.
Better performance: improves VO2 max (oxygen use during exercise).
Stronger immune system: increases number of macrophage and T-cells (our fighter cells).
Increased resistance to fatigue: The more effective the heart is as a pump, the better it efficiently provides more oxygen to the body.
Lower risk of heart disease.
Increased general stamina: We build more capillaries thereby creating less work for the heart over time for the same cardiac output.

I suggest finding a good spinning instructor who knows how to train for endurance, strength, and competition. I train my students at the Orem Fitness Center. We have just started our Periodization program so we’ll be more fit; ready to compete and enjoy staying with the pack on group rides and centuries. Come indoors and spend some time training with me until you can get reacquainted with your good friend, the road bike. I have taught Spinning for over 8 years. I do endurance races and triathlons for Fezzari Bicycles. Let’s build a stronger body together. Here is a good aerobic workout that I tried out in my class for you who prefer the trainers.

 

Objective: increase leg strength in aerobic zone
10 min. warm-up
3 min. small hill climb (elevate HR to 75% or level 5)
2 min. mod. Hill climb ( HR to 80% or level 6)
1 min. heavy hill climb ( maintain HR. focus on relaxation and breathing)
1 min. on flat road. Repeat

 

Rolling Hills: In the saddle
Add gear every 20 sec. 3 gears ( try and hold same cadence) off 3 gears
Add gear every 15 sec. 4 gears ( know your limits) off 4 gears
Add gear every 10 sec. 5 gears (put your ego aside and slow cadence) off 5 ( I take 30 sec. In between each set to recover)

Add gear every 30 sec. 6 gears ( last gear out of saddle for 15 sec.) off 5
Add gear every 20 sec. 5 gears (last gear out of saddle for 15 sec.) off 4
Add gear every 15 sec. 4 gears (last gear out of saddle for 15 sec.) off 3
Add gear every 10 sec. 3 gears (stay seated) off 3
(take 1-2 min. to recover)

 

Flat road. Cadence 100 rpm. Add 3 gears without slowing cadence. Hold for 30 sec. Slow down to about 80rpm. Add 3 gears w/o slowing down. Hold for 20 sec.

Slow down to 60 rpm. Add 3 gears w/o slowing down. Hold for 10 sec. Recover 1 min. Repeat.

Finish off with light resistance – hold for 2 min. then add tempo bursts until HR leaves zone (maybe 10-20 sec.) slow down and wait for HR drop.
Repeat. See how many you can do in 5 min.
Cool Down 10 min. Easy pedal.

 

For information about Orem Fitness Center Spinning classes: visit http://rec.orem.org

Written by: Audra Jeske

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Fitness: Pilates – The Silver Bullet for Cyclists

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All of us have heard the name “Pilates” from celebrity fitness gurus and sub-urban moms, but you may be wondering, what is Pilates, and how can it make you better at cycling?

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a fitness and strengthening system developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. The system focuses on building strength and flexibility mainly in the abdomen, chest, arms, back and buttocks, which typically are the weakest muscles on a road or mountain bikers physique.

Pilates Guide Marguerite Ogle made this observation while watching the Tour de France.

“As with most sports, in bicycling there are common pitfalls like repetitive stress on certain muscle groups and the accompanying uneven development of the musculature.”
In other words, we as cyclists tend to have highly-developed legs, but frequently without the same sort of muscular conditioning of the upper body.

In order to strengthen the commonly underdeveloped muscles try these three Pilates exercises:

Front Support/Plank Exercise: Works Arms, Core, Butt and Legs.

Position your body on all fours with either your hands flat on the floor or your upper body resting on your forearms. Pull your tummy in and straighten your legs one at a time so your body creates a straight line. Be conscious that you do not sag through your shoulder blades or hips. If your arms are straight, keep your elbows soft; not locked. Hold for two sets of five slow breaths. Increase the number of breaths as you gain in strength.

Pilates Push Up: Works Arms, Core, butt and Legs.

Assume regular push-up position with hands shoulder width, arms and feet directly behind you. While keeping your head and spine in-line, lift one leg up off the ground eight inches.

Do 6-10 push-ups or until failure in this tripod position while tightening core to your hold leg steady off the ground, and rest on knees for 30-60 seconds. Again while tightening core and keeping feet the same distance apart, lift leg off ground and complete your set with 6-10 push-ups or until failure.

Pilates Swimming: Works Lower Back, Butt, Core and Shoulders.

Lie flat on stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you, with legs outstretched behind you.

Before you begin squeeze inner thighs and heels together. When ready, tighten core and flex butt, slowly lifting chest off mat with arms extended away from you and about 6 inches off ground in a superman position. Without straining lower back, lift legs off the mat. Begin alternating arms and legs up and down in an even rhythm of swimming. Think of elongating your body and stretching your arms as far away as possible, pointing hands and feet. Make sure not to rock your core back and forth, keep as steady as possible on the ground while keeping tension out of neck.

Swim for 24 beats or six full breaths to complete one set.

If Swimming strains back or muscles to much try the modified swimming movement. Get on all fours and with the same idea, switch arms and legs in an alternating rhythm, stretching one arm and leg at a time. Make sure to not drop hips or arch back, engage abdominal to maintain tightened back angle. Swim for 24 beats to complete one set.

Athletes of all sports recognize the importance of cross training, more importantly weak-point training. Pilates being a program that is tailored to cyclists, should be utilized by all who wish to take their fitness to the next level.  Be sure to check out the Top 5 Weight Lifting Exercises for Cyclists for additional cross training tips.

Also, If you are looking to improve your fitness further, Take a look at the Cycling Computers we offer for accurate exercise tracking and statistics.

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