Monthly Archives: March 2012

Doesn’t Worry So Much About Nutrition

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I’ve spent a fair amount of time messing with different diets/nutrition throughout my cycling career. I was a vegetarian from 14 until the first time I went to Europe in 1980, so that was nearly 6 years. Then I kind of was a poultry and fish only meat guy, plus the normal vegetables, etc. That is kind of how I still eat most of the time, but I don’t have anything against red meat really other than I don’t think that fat from it does you much good.

One thing that I truly believe is that cyclists, and athletes in general, are way too consumed by what they put into their mouths. We are pretty lucky burning the amount of calories that we do. That means we get to eat a lot more food than the average person. By eating this massive quantity of food, we get way more nutrients than the average person also. There are a few things that we need more of being athletes, but the main thing is calories. I think after you eat a certain amount of “good food”, it doesn’t matter much where the rest of the calories come from. I know a lot of you are going to disagree with me on that statement, but you’re going to you have hard time convincing me otherwise.

I’d forgotten how much food that these 20 year old guys eat. They are eating probably twice as much food as Bill, Adam or I. Yesterday we all rode around 6 hours, close to 110 miles, and it was amazing the quantity of calories consumed during the day. Ben has got some wheat allergies and other food stuff going on. Austin seems to eat just about anything he can get into his body. But both of them are eating constantly.

I did a study with the government in one winter when I was 20 years old. They paid me $20 a day for nearly 4 months to sit up in a lab in Grand Forks North Dakota to train while eating 3 different diets. The diets were a saturated fat diet (70% of the calories), a polyunsaturated diet (same 70%) and a carbohydrate diet (same). Each was for around a month long. Lab techs weighed the food I ate down to 1/100th of a gram and I did max and sub-max VO2 tests twice a week. I was eating 5500 calories a day, mainly riding inside most of the time since the winter starts super early up there. I’d guess I was probably eating another 1500 calories or so a day more when I was racing outside during the season at that time. Anyway, I felt a ton different eating those diets. I could barely stomach the saturated fat diet. I felt sick and horrible nearly the whole month. I was a vegetarian when I went in and my cholesterol was off the low end of the charts when I first got there. After 4 weeks of that diet, it was 100 points off the high end of the range. But, that being said, my output on the bicycle for a max VO2 test or a one hour sub-maximal test didn’t hardly change at all. On any of the diets.

I ate pretty good then. Lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grain breads. But usually every night when I was on the road, such as the Tour of Texas, the Coor’s Classic, etc. I’d eat a pint of Hagen Daz ice cream. Nearly every night. When I got to that study in North Dakota and had to eat the 5500 calories, it was nearly impossible for me to stomach the quantity of food they were serving. It was something like 2 chicken breasts boiled in oil, plus a whole pyrex family size serving bowl of mashed potatoes, made with non dairy creamer, plus 8 slices of bread and a couple large glasses of whole milk. They finally had to split my 3 meals a day into 5 meals, just so I could eat the right number of calories and not loose weight. I was used to eating way higher caloric food that took up much less volume – ie. ice cream.

I think the movie Super Size Me was bullshit and completely unfair to McDonalds. That movie was about gluttony, plain and simple, and had nothing to do with the quality of food his was eating. It was all about the quantity of the food he was trying to consume. I’d bet you a million dollars I could eat at McDonalds for a year straight, 3 meals a day, and not have any ill effects or performance issues in cycling.

When I first started racing I used to take a bunch of vitamins. A handful a couple times a day. Now I take fish oil at night, when I have them, and just about nothing else. I figure that by the amount of food I consume, it would be nearly impossible not to get enough nutrition from it. I’ve been using salt for about 6 months now. I’ve never put any salt on my food, but a Swiss nutritionist came and talked to the BMC guys last year and told the riders to eat as much salt as they could stomach. I’ve always had a cramping problem, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it for a while. Other than that, I eat just about anything I want. I think I eat pretty good. I don’t eat hardly any processed food, but am not really against it, I just don’t like it as well as fresh food.

So, to wrap this up, I don’t think you need to worry so much about what you eat. That is unless you are just consuming too much and are showing the signs of that. Other than that, eat what you like because one of the big fringe benefits of riding your bike all day is you can eat a lot of food all night.

Here's Adam with a piece of carrot cake, a dark chocolate Snickers bar, a jug of Gatorade, plus a Starbucks double espresso shot at the 75 mile pit stop.

Ben got some jalapeno Kettle Chips and washed them down with a RedBull.

I'm not sure what these chips Austin had were. Bungles or somethig like that. I didn't really get the chips during the ride thing going on today. I just had a cup of coffee and called it a day.

Road or MTB – That was the choice

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Yesterday I went ahead and entered the Lago Vista Races both days. I had considered racing the MTB race outside Austin, but that didn’t seem too bright. I plan to do some real MTB racing this season, but since I haven’t been feeling all that great, plus, I haven’t ridden a MTB in a few months, I thought it would probably be better to race on the road.

I like the Lago Vista races. The course is around a 6 mile loop that they run in both directions (one direction each day). Sunday’s race, counter clockwise, is a much harder course than Saturday’s. Last year I was 4th on Sunday. Kind of the last man standing. The climb is pretty severe on Sunday. I like steeper climbing normally.

Riding around here is pretty user friendly. It isn’t as good as San Diego, mainly because of limited choices and traffic. But, that being said, it is pretty easy to get in pretty good miles that seem to go by quickly. Austin is a great town. The people here are super interesting. The restaurant selection is maybe the best in the country. That goes for the music selection too. But, there isn’t anywhere near enough water around. And it is super hot for months during the summer.

Did you see they awarded Austin the Cyclo-X Nationals in 2015. Next year it is in Madison again. Then Boulder in 2014, then Austin. I rode through Zilker Park today and was wondering where exactly they are planning to put the race. It doesn’t seem like there is much terrain change there, but I’m sure it will be an excellent race. In 2016 the race in in Ashville, NC. at the Biltmore Estates. The last time I raced a race there I won, but that was a really long time ago. Those 3 towns are 3 great US cities. I think it is important to put National Championships in cities that are fun to visit. So, USAC did a pretty good job of doing that this time around. I don’t see a problem with not giving a city the race for 2 consecutive years like they have been doing most of the last decade.

I’m heading back up to Kansas after this weekend. There are good races in Tulsa next weekend and then in Arkansas the week after. It is pretty amazing how short the winter seems when you do cross until mid-January. The average high temperatures in Topeka are in the mid 50’s early March to the lower 60’s at the end of the month, so it is pretty user friendly for riding. I really wasn’t that into winter this year, so I am glad it is nearly over. I guess that is the what most cyclists think, I hope.

Stefan, since he was wearing red, was pissing this guy off a little on our long ride on Wednesday.

The USAC might of got the Cross Nationals right, but it took them 3 trys to get Trudi her licenses for this season. She ended up with 9 by the time it was all said and done.

This is a photo of Lake Travis from the Pace Bend race last Sunday. It is nearly 40 feet low. Low enough that they aren’t going to drain it anymore to flood the rice fields . Rice in Texas, go figure.

If you've never been to the Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC, you should make it a point to go. It is fantastic.

I caught Ann, looking all cute, on her way to an Earth, Wind and Fire concert downtown last night.

Finding Stuff

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I’m a little behind today. We need to take off and go road race in just a bit. It is weird how quickly the morning of race days goes.

Anyway, a couple days ago Bill and I found a squished iPhone on the road. It was pretty smunched. I put it in my pocket, figuring it was worth something. When I got back to Ann’s house, all of us had a discussion on if I put it on eBay, what it would bring. The guesses were anywhere from nothing to $45. So, I went ahead and listed the phone on eBay, saying it was a iPhone 4 or 4s and it was broken badly. Within 5 minutes someone emailed me and offered me $45. It has just escalated and this morning it was $150. The phone is really destroyed, but obviously people know way more about it that we do.

I’ve found some pretty weird stuff throughout the years. My brother, Kris, seems to find way more stuff than me. He found a broken iPad last year. Bill once found a router in a box, brand new. He found a camera last year, a really nice one, listed it on Craigslist in Lawrence and someone claimed it. It seems like a lot more people are leaving their phones, cameras, etc. on top of their cars nowadays and driving off.

The first year I came down to Austin, we were driving out to Pace Bend and Trudi saw some money blowing across the road. We stopped the car and there was a lot of bills blowing around. We picked them up and eventually found a wallet. So, when we got back from the race, I called the guy whose wallet it was. He came over to put it up and when I gave it to him, he accused me of stealing some of his money. We’d put all the money we found blowing around back in the wallet, but didn’t get it all I guess. He’d left it on top of his boat while he got gas driving out to Lake Travis. He was a prick, at least that day, never once saying thanks or anything.

One of the weirdest discoveries was when one time a group of us were riding MTB and someone broke their chain and we didn’t have a chain too. We were way out, without an easy way to get home. Then someone looked down on the ground and said, “hey, there’s a chain tool.” Laying at our feet was a chain tool. It was like god had thrown one down for us to use.

Big things are the worse to find. Last year I found a 2 foot long screw driver. I just put it on my handlebars and road home with it. I found a 3 foot pipe wrench once. I stashed it in the bushes and got it later.

Anyway, I think the discovering of lost stuff is just an added benefit from riding around on a bicycle. You never know what is out there.

This is it, the million dollar phone. Pretty beat.

Lago Vista Texas Road Race – Clockwise

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Yesterday we race 15 laps of the Lago Vista course for a total of 83 miles. The course is pretty hard, but not as hard as it is going to be today. Today we ride the race counter clockwise, which is up a descent that we did at 54 mph yesterday. We do that 15 times also, so it is a pretty hard race. There is nearly 8000 ft of climbing in the race, hardly a flat section on the course.

I don’t really know what to think about yesterday. It was pretty windy, but the wind didn’t play too much of a factor into the results. There was some gutter riding, but not enough to get rid of any true contenders. It was the normal Texas guys, 10 Elbowz riders, plus a full contingency of Bontrager-Livestrong youngsters. Plus a few other guys that we’re here last weekend.

The race started out pretty tame. My legs felt pretty good, but my lungs were toast from when I clipped in. I couldn’t tell whether I was getting sick (Bill is sick) or just totally clogged up. I wanted to ride off the front. For a lot of different reasons, but mainly so I didn’t have to try to make the selection when it went. There were too many places where I could be way out of position and miss the move, so I figured it would be better to be up the road and let the move come to me. It’s not a way to win a race like this, but that was never going to happen anyway. I’d guess I rode 10 of the 15 laps off the front. With anywhere from 1 other guy to 8. With about 8 laps to go I went away with Tyler Jewel, Elbowz. I saw my friend, another Kansas rider, Jay Blankenship trying to bridge up, so I waited for him. Tyler was pretty much just sitting on, which I expected. Then the next lap, Adam Mills, from Lawrence, KS, was away, so I waited again. Jay, Adam and I pulled Tyler around for 3 laps. I was pulling the whole climb, which was 1/2 a lap, and then we rotated the other 1/2 lap. I wasn’t going fast, but sort of hard. I wanted to be up close to a minute. The out of sight, out of mind thing.

Anyway, with about 4 1/2 laps to go, the “real” guys started bridging up. When it was all said and done, it was 5 Elbowz riders, 1 Livestrong guy, plus Stefan Rothe and myself. Adam and Jay got shelled. The last time up the hill, Heath Blackgrove jumped with Joseph Schmalz on his wheel. I was expecting this. I knew where it was coming. I made a huge error trying to stay on Joseph when he came off Heath. I was more tired than I thought, plus Joseph’s jump is better than mine, at least right now. So, I was in no man’s land, just for a few seconds, but enough to be toast. The Livestrong rider and Heath blew by me a little bit later. Stefan was slow to react, but came by hard in the gutter, hurting the 3 remaining Elbowz guys. I got on, but was cramping some in my left leg. If Stefan would have left some room to draft initially, I think I might have been able to pull through and bridge back up. But, that moment passed and we were dropped. The front 3 rode away from us and we just jacked around the rest of the lap. The Elbowz guys started attacking, one up, on the down hill and ended up getting 4th and 5th in the race. Stefan was ahead of me in 6th, I way 7th, beating one Elbowz guy.

I don’t know how to judge that result. I did an incredible amount of work, but not full out work. It was most likely the only way I was going to make the final selection, but by doing so, I wasn’t good enough to make it into the final group. That’s bike racing I guess. I’m pretty hurt today. We’ll see how it goes. Sometimes when I’m mildly destroyed, I come around after a couple hours and feel pretty good. I hope that is the case today.

It was Jospeh’s birthday yesterday, 22 years old. It is always nice to race on your birthday and way better when you win. Heath will most likely win the race today. That is how it went last year, Joseph winning on Saturday and Heath on Sunday. But, you never know until the race is over, so maybe it will surprise me some.

Result-Click twice to enlarge.

Winner and birthday boy, Joseph Schmalz, after the race.

Long time Lago Vista promoter, Don Hutchison. He always has great t-shirts. This year it had my friend, Raul Alcala’s photo, from the 7-11 days on it. A classic.

I saw this little hula pig at a taco stand we stopped at on the way home. I'd like one for the dash of my van. It was really cute. He looks so happy.

Lago Vista Race Highlights (from my perspective)

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I’ve been writing here about the last 4 road races I’ve done down around Austin Texas. And how the Elbowz guys played nice. Yesterday, again in Lago Vista, they played nice, but the results were ugly. Here’s the deal in cycling, when the courses get harder, the better riders have a much easier time show casing their abilities, because everyone else disappears on their own. That is pretty much what happened yesterday.

We rode our bikes around in loops and every time we climbed, there were less and less people participating in the event. Such is the way on a hard course.

I tried to maximize my placing, but I’m not too big on riding for 6-10 usually. A group got away, almost instantly, that contained 3 Elbowz riders. 3 out of 6 at the start was not good. And it wasn’t even their 3 best guys, so that foretold what was going to happen later when everyone else ran out of juice.

I would have loved to be riding off the front. I was having a better day than on Saturday and the course suits me better too, so that is good. But, that wasn’t going to happen. For various reasons. One, I was sort of marked from the day before, or lifetime before. Two, I wasn’t good enough to drop everyone and ride off the front for miles and miles. And three, there was only one of me and it is pretty hard making the early split when you never know which one is going to work.

As it turned out, the front group finally got down to 4 Elbowz riders and Colton Jarisch. That is after Heath Blackgrove, Elbowz, bridged up to the break on his own. The field was self destructing about the same time. That was mainly due to the efforts of Brant Speed, 787, and Dave Wenger and his team. They were making it very hard over the top of the climb on the false flat tailwind section. Eventually Brant and Stefan Rothe rolled away on the downhill. Finally, with maybe 4 or 5 laps to go, Sean Sullivan and Joseph Schmalz, Elbowz, put in a good dig over the top of the climb and only Dave Wenger, Austin Venton and myself were left. I felt good, not really under any stress.

Sean and Joseph pulled with us until we caught Brant and Stefan, then sat. They had 4 out of 5 guys in the break, so they thought they were justified in their actions. I might call it just being lazy, but they did what they did. We were over 3 minutes back, with just two laps to go, so there was nothing that we were going to do to threaten the break. We were all, pretty dyslexic, with none of us really remembering how to race bikes properly. We were going so bad, that with one lap to go, a small group of 4 or 5 rolled up from behind. I didn’t really care. I thought I was fine and that it was going to explode on the climb the final time up.

I was right in half of those thoughts. The problem was it was it was going to explode on the climb. I turned out to be not so fine. I was actually pretty good, the problem was I cramped when Joseph put in his big dig. Dave Wenger, who had been riding crazy strong all day, especially on the climb, didn’t have any problem bridging. I got about 1/2 up and cramped in my left hamstring. I didn’t see that coming. Then my right forearm cramped too. I can’t really remember having an arm cramp during a race. I’ve had them after the race, but nothing like this. It is amazing how debilitating cramping is. It seemed like I had tons of energy, just no way to access it.

So, I was reabsorbed by Stefan and Co. I had to ride the last few hundred meters of the climb cramped, which does wonders for my legs, especially the next few days. Over the last rise, Sean Sullivan decided he had enough and left use too. That left 6 of us. We sort of rotated down the hill behind Sean. Stefan did his normal Stefan attacks, but nobody was having any of that. Finally Brant Speed put in a pretty good jump with about a mile to go and he went up the road. I did this sprint last year, nearly in the same physical state, and knew that it was too long, hard and uphill to start anywhere than at the back. It took a little finagling, but I somehow came out of the last corner, which is about 600 meters from the finish, at the end of the group. The sprint is downhill for 400 meters, then kicks up a 150 meter hill to about 50 meters false flat to the finish. My guys went way too early, so it wasn’t much of an effort to come by them as they all bogged down. So, I finished 10th. The results are below.

The race is great. I like the counter clockwise direction much better. I love bike racing on courses that make the selection. I would love to race this race with a bigger, higher quality field and witness the attrition, lap after lap.

Ben Stover, who came down with me, had to get back to Lawrence to work on Monday, so we left right after the race. It was nearly 700 miles door to door. After dropping Bill off and unpacking our bikes, it was close to 5 am before I was horizontal. I get along a lot better than I use to on less sleep, but I’m not that big on missing nearly a full night of it. I’ll catch up this week I guess. The weather here in Kansas looks pretty great for the next 3 days, 60’s and 70’s. Can’t complain too much about that.