Big congrats to Iron Cowboy James Lawrence on his 36th Ironman Finish at Ironman Kona World Championships. It’s a pretty amazing journey. Thanks for telling us what it takes and what this amazing day was like. James races his Fezzari T5 Triathlon bike.
Wow! I am still in disbelief that I actually did this race! When I started triathlon over 10 years ago Kona was just a dream, the impossible dream. Everyone talks about Kona…. Kona, Kona, Kona. I’ve done a few Ironman races over my career, and without fail the one thing I hear about the most is Kona and the buzz of qualifying. Everyone talks about it, but few will ever accomplish this triathlon dream. It is hard to qualify in any division, and I know first hand how difficult it is for men 35-39 to qualify. My best IM is low 10 hours… respectable yes, but in order to qualify I need to be low nine hours. I’ve done the math and with my God given talent, five kids and real life, the sacrifices necessary won’t work for me. At any given race there are just a handful of slots available for the big show, the World Championships. Typically it is the genetically gifted athletes who have realized their gifts and developed these gifts with lots of hard work. In 2012, Ironman announced a new program called the Legacy Program. This is a program for loyal Ironman competitors to have a chance to grace the Kona stage, based on the number of Ironman races completed in a lifetime. One of the requirements of this program is a minimum of 12 WTC Ironman races to be completed. Most individuals take a lifetime to achieve this mark. When they announced this program, I was just wrapping up 30 Ironman races in one year, this satisfied the 12 minimum races in a single year with ease. Another requirement is to have done an Ironman race the year you meet the 12, and to also be registered for another Ironman the following year. I met this requirement as well. You are then put into a pool and they pull “so many” names to be invited to race in Kona. Two years later my name was pulled and it was my time to go and dance.
I invited my parents, from Canada, to come to the big island of Hawaii to watch. My dad had never seen me race an Ironman and my mom only on two occasions, my first and Ironman Canada when it was still in Penticton. It was the four of us headed to the Island, myself, Sunny and my parents. I wanted to enjoy the week and to not only be focused on the race. We did a slew of activities to kick off the week including: sea kayaking, snorkeling, cliff diving, zip lining, volcano exploring and a night manta ray dive. All were incredible and so much fun. The second half of the week shifted to race stuff.
During the Athlete parade, we met all the Utah athletes and one of them offered to let us stay at their house the night before the race. This was a huge help, as our condo was about 45 min away and would have made for an early, early race morning. The house also served as a perfect ‘home base’ for Sunny and my parents on race day. Thank you Cameron and LaRane for being awesome!
I slept well, despite no air conditioning, and woke up excited for the day. Again, I couldn’t believe I was at this race…. I wasn’t nervous at all and ate my bag of rice and quinoa, like I always do prior to an Ironman. Cam and I left the house with plenty of time and walked down to the race start. The pier was already buzzing and the energy was awesome! The winds seemed calm and it looked like it was going to be a perfect day. For some reason, they decided to do tattoo race numbers and all the athletes were herded into these lines so that volunteers could apply the numbers. The system was HORRIBLE and I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with a good old fashioned sharpie. Anxious and not willing to stand in the ridiculous lines, I sacrificed some of the water in my bottle and applied both Cam and my numbers. We slid through the crowds and popped out the other side.
There’s not much to do in transition race morning of an Ironman. Most everything should be done in the days proceeding the race. I quickly pumped up my tires and placed my bottles on my bike. Walking back out of the transition area, I stopped at a series of tables where volunteers where doing last minute ART (type of massage) work. My right leg had been bugging me all week, so I plopped onto a table to see if he could work out any last minute kinks. I actually felt better and headed toward the swim start. On my way there I saw Macca and walked over to him and gave him a high five. I had hoped some of his Kona Championship pedigree would transfer to me during this high five exchange…. as you will find out later, it did not
I zipped up my BlueSeventy speed suit and walked off the pier into the famous swim start. This was the first year they separated the woman and men age groupers. The men went off first and the woman 10 minutes after. With this being the world championships and swimming not being my strongest of the three events, I positioned myself near the back of the pack treading water and waiting for the deep water start. I was calm. Totally at peace with whatever the outcome was going to be. Sitting in the water, I felt very little pressure to perform. I was honoured and overjoyed with the simple fact that I was there. I was in the same spot as so many triathlon greats. BOOM the gun blows and I start out super slow, super chill. I am near the back of the mass start and wasn’t concerned about a fight or separating myself from other athletes. In fact, this was one of the least violent swim starts and swims I have ever experienced. Three reasons for a calm swim experience: 1 – I positioned myself appropriately, given the quality of the field and my swim skills. 2- I started out super slow and controlled. I have found in my training experience that when I start out slow, I seem to end up with a better net swim result. 3- Most of the field are seasoned athletes and decent swimmers, meaning they swam straight. There were very few swimmers making random left and right hand turns, swimming across the paths of other swimmers, and very few swimmers doing the dreaded underwater breast stroke kick of death. I was told there is typically a small current against us when swimming out to the boat and to not be discouraged when I look at my watch at the half-way point. I found some great feet and just settled in. The water was clear all the way to the bottom and the ocean was alive with fish. I swam easy and the guys I was following did a great job swimming the buoy line. I reached the boat, swam across the top and made the right hand turn for home. I glanced at my watch and it was right at 35 minutes. I was so happy since my goal was 1:10 and after swimming out and across the top I should easily reach this goal, only having to go straight back in and now I should be swimming with the current. Well, this was the first cruel trick this island had in store for me today. Due to the winds that had rolled in, I guess the current or tide had switched and was actually hurting us coming in. I felt as if my effort was equal to my swim heading out, but when I popped up out ofthe water my swim time read 1:18…. meaning an 8 min slower swim on the way in .
Overall I was really happy with my swim. My effort was consistent, my swimming was straight, and I didn’t overdue it. I quickly picked up my transition bag and headed through transition to my Fezzari bike that was patiently waiting for me. Off towards the Queen K I go!
I had no issues through transition and felt really good coming out of the swim. I felt good. I was ready. The first part of the bike was a short out and back on the Kuakini Hwy. This section is in town and mostly protected. Everyone is super excited at this point of the race and most are going too hard, myself included. I was 20-30 watts above where I should have been and people were still zooming past me. I kept saying to myself, “Chill, chill, chill. Focus on you, your race and what you are doing. Chill, chill, chill.” So chill I did. Early in the ride, I rode up to my good friend Sonja, who is a beast and ended up second on the day in woman 35-39. I joked with her before the race that she wasn’t allowed to catch and pass me in the water (remember the woman started 10 minutes after us men). Well, she did just that! I joked with her for a second on the bike and then she took off like she was coming out of a cannon…. I never saw her again ’till late in the run. The ride really started once we turned onto the Queen K. Right out of the gates, the winds were present. I thought nothing of it and knew that this was Kona and that it was suppose to be windy. So bring it on! I put my head down and just dialed in my watts. I settled in nicely and started banging out the miles as David Warden had instructed. David has been instrumental in getting me back into shape and will be the man to get me ready for my 50/50/50 challenge. As we progressed down the Queen K, the winds got worse, and worse, and worse. I knew I should stay down, stay in aero, but I was scared. The winds had become angry! They had become violent! I found myself up, out of my drops, white knuckled, trying to just keep the bike upright. One gust in particular scared me silly, which set me up for a disastrous rest of my ride. There were four us, legally spaced, and suddenly this gust hit us from the right, blowing us through our lane, over the center line, and into on coming cyclists. Luckily none of us crashed. Some cyclist weren’t so lucky and there were many reports, post race, of crashes caused by the wind. Sitting up in the wind is the worst possible scenario to achieve maximum speed. I started to get passed left and right, but couldn’t force myself down into the aero position. I was getting defeated mentally which is rare. Usually I’m mentally tough! “Bring on the element!” I say. A guy wearing a chocolate milk kit biked past me that looked like Apollo. I asked if it was him and he said, “No, I’m his stunt double. I believe he is 10-15 minutes up the road.” “Bummer,” I thought…. my Cowboy vs. Apollo undefeated streak wasn’t looking good. I KNEW once I got to Hawi that it was going to be a magical ride back to Kona. It HAD to be a tail wind! I surveyed the trees, the bushes, and the resistance against me. There was no possible way we’d be riding into the wind on the way back. I FINALLY made it to Hawi and made the turn. BOOOOOOM! It was like a different island! It felt like I was shot out of a cannon. On the way out my watts were in the 220 range with my MPR coming in between 14-20…. After Hawi, I was pushing only 160 watts, in total recovery, traveling at speeds in excess of 30 mph. This was about to be a 50 mile PR for me. I was so excited. I thought how perfect this was that I was going to be able to go this fast, with this little effort, and save so much for the run! I was re-motivated and super excited – I was back! This state of euphoria lasted only 5 very short miles before making a slight right back on the Queen K and back towards Kona. I couldn’t believe it! Dead into the winds again! How is this possible?! I mean, I’ve heard them say it on TV; but still, how on earth is this possible? A head wind? Come on, really? My hopes of a record time back to town were dashed and I settled in for the long ride back Due to the winds, I was out there much longer than anticipated. We had planned for specific watts, but not for a 6 hour ride! My legs grew heavy and I was short on nutrition. I started to not feel well and coke from the aid station was all I wanted. I limped into town, but still had a smile on my face. I saw Sunny and my parents and they looked concerned. I was a good boy, stayed at my watts and just kept peddling. Eventually I would get to the finish and would be able to start the run.
I was in the best run shape that I have been in in a long time. I was pain and injury free (thanks to Dallas at Utah Spine and Sport and Natalie R for their magical hands). I had PR’ed (personal record) at a run earlier this year in a half Ironman. I was ready to run! Coming off the bike I felt good, but not awesome. I noticed my heart rate was high on the bike, based on the watts I was pushing. David wanted me to go out hard and just hold on for as long as I could. He wanted to see how far I could make it at a certain pace. He said that slow down in an Ironman is typical, so let’s cover as much ground as possible before this happens. This race really wasn’t my main focus (it is Brazil in 4 weeks), and again I was just happy to be there amongst so many greats. As I ran out of transition and up the road, I could hear them announcing the winner of the race coming in. Holy cow! I must have really been out on my bike along time I came out of the gates at a conservative 7:45 (slower than David wanted), but that was all I had…. and it only lasted 4 miles…. ahhhhh! It was going to be a long marathon. I was hot. I was tired. I was beaten. Mentally defeated. This just isn’t me. This isn’t the IronCowboy!!! I knew there was no point turning myself inside out over the next 22 miles. I would save it for another day – I would save it for Brazil. Even if I had run a PR marathon on this day, it wouldn’t have mattered. The competition here is unbelievable. So what was the difference between 100th and 200th… at this point, nothing. My goal was now to smile, thank the volunteers and cheer on the others around me. Remember the winds on the bike course? They were now a blessing on the run course. We had cloud coverage and a light breeze, which is rare and welcome. Oddly enough, I was slightly disappointed (I will explain in a moment). My cramping became worse. It was the worst in my upper inner leg. So running fast was out of the question and my stomach was starting to turn. I couldn’t figure out why. I had practiced my nutrition A LOT and have had minimal issues. Unfortunately sometimes it is just not your day. I had made it all the way out to the turn in the ‘energy lab’ and committed to run through it and experience it’s infamous heat (insert disappointment). The cloud coverage made the ‘energy lab’ normal… somewhat cool. At mile 18.5, I buckled over to the side of the road and threw up a bunch of liquid; man I hoped that would help. I started to run and a guy that had passed me while I was pulled over remarked, “Oh my! You are running again! I’d be down and out after what you just did! Go get ‘em!” I laughed and said, “Thanks,” and finished up the ‘energy lab’ out and back. The next 6 miles were full of emotion. Happy… Sad… Tired… Energetic… Excited… Disappointed… Stressed… Relieved… but mostly gratitude Grateful for Sunny, my kids, my health, the journey, all of it. I turned the corner and started to head down Ali’i drive. I heard cheers from the crowd and tried to hold myself together. I’ve crossed a lot of finish lines, but none more meaningful than this one. This was bigger than 30 in a year; this was Kona. Total side note – the most inspiring person on the course was by far Apolo Anton-Ohno. He REALLY impressed me! We raced in Boise earlier this year. I ran him down and beat him overall. I didn’t think there was any way he could take himself from that performance in Boise to what he pulled off in Kona. On his first Ironman, on that stage, in those conditions, he managed a sub 10 hour race. Of all the celebrities/athletes that have graced this course, who didn’t deserve to be there taking the spot from a deserving athlete, Apolo earned his right to be there with that performance. Hines Ward, Tera from the Biggest Loser and chef Gordon Ramsey… THAT IS HOW YOU DO IT.! Congrats Apolo and you sir have my respect! I hope we meet again in the future and settle our 1-1 record After the race I hugged Sunny, my mom and dad and just thought to myself, “We did it…” What is next? Brazil… Then prep starts for 50 iron distance courses, in 50 consecutive days, through all 50 States. #NoGoalTooBig www.ironcowboyjames.com
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Department of Applied Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.
Br J Sports Med. 2006 April; 40(4): 320–325.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!).
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.
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