Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton
16:57

Stage 16: 21 Days, 21 Tips: LONG RIDES!

LOng Rides

While the riders of the Tour de France are used to being in the saddle for 3 to 7 hours every day, day after day, that's a luxury you and I can probably not afford. Instead, we have to plan our long rides accordingly.

North Texas is lucky, in that we have great routes that leave from popular bike shops every weekend, and we're also fortunate enough to have a FANTASTIC bicycle rally calendar! I prefer the rallies, but you'll certainly get something out of every event, local, regional, or otherwise.

Preparing for a long ride requires some logistics. Here's an example:

On Friday night of last week, in order to prepare for a rally on Saturday, I did the following:

ABC Quick Check - Checked the air pressure on my tires, made sure the brakes were touching the rims in the right places and not rubbing the tires, lubed and cleaned the chain, and then checked the bike over for cracks, dings, rips in the saddle, etc. If you do this the night before, you can always fix it at home, instead of scrambling at the start of the ride.
Checked to ensure that my shoes, helmet, gloves, glasses, and sunscreen were in the car. Honestly, since I'm a cycling coach by trade, I always carry an extra helmet and shoes, just in case.
I prepared and chilled my bottles and Camelbak (YES, I drink a Camelbak as a fast road cyclist, and I'm not ashamed of it. My safety and health are more important than a verbal jibe). ALWAYS BE PREPARED. I carry extra fluids, and I drink on a schedule.
I also checked my saddle bag to make sure I have tubes, Co2 cartridges, cool-tool, tire tools, patch kits, and some cash. Because you never know.
Before the ride itself began, I repeated my ABC-Q check, made sure my Camelbak was working (clogged hoses are bad, really bad), and made sure I had some food in my pocket as well, just in case.

Car keys - well, find a spot to put them, because I think they're better served closer to the car, in case, well... just in case you get sidetracked. Do NOT lock your keys in the car!!

For the ride itself, whether you're alone or with others, remember these three rules:

BE VISIBLE, both to oncoming traffic and upcoming traffic.
SIGNAL YOUR INTENTIONS. I don't care if it's dorky, use your hand signals and communicate with all the other road users.
CONTROL YOUR POSITION IN THE LANE. I know it's controversial, but you're safer in the lane than on the shoulder, and if you're visible, upcoming motorists can always prepare to pass safely, or wait until that is possible. If you're slogging it out at a slow speed, and you can 'sense' a queue of motorists behind you, well, do the courteous thing and pull over. It's an easy way to avoid conflict. Let them pass.
If you're solo, make sure you know the route, and make sure that others know where you're going, how long you'll be, and when they might expect your return. Something as simple as a note on a fridge or windshield can make a difference if others are looking for you, and you're out on the side of a road with a broken bike that can't be fixed on the spot.

ALWAYS drink early, drink often, and drink on a schedule. Any rides over 90 minutes, go ahead and eat a bar or waffle. It's far better than bonking, and dragging yourself or others home at a delayed pace. And finally, PLEASE consider cycling without earbuds. I'm convinced that hearing is a great way to plan for and avoid pending events, and I just see too many looks of surprise when I pass cyclists with earbuds, even after I've been announcing myself for the past ten or fifteen seconds, clearly.

There's no concrete definition to the term "Long". A long ride can be an hour, a morning, a day, or a voyage of many days. Work within your limits, train smart and hard, and watch that definition change as your body adapts and becomes more powerful!
Long Rides are one of the most enjoyable aspects of cycling, and the reward is looking back at what you've accomplished with satisfaction. If you have questions about how we can help you accomplish a longer ride, be it a rally, or even the Hotter 'n Hell 100, come by the studio some evening, and introduce yourself. We'd love to help - after all, that's what coaching is all about!

Tags:
Coach Wharton
17:02

Those Critical First 15 Minutes After a Workout - Post-Exercise Recovery: Nutrition

That's Our Motto! "Leave With Nothing Left!"
Everyone here knows our motto reads, in bright green Neon letters... 


"LEAVE WITH NOTHING LEFT!"

The workouts are hard, they are based in scientific theory and application, and they lead to great results. But until recently, Cycling Center Dallas was not placing much more than a verbal emphasis on the importance of a good, nutritious, calorie-dense, recovery. 

Recovery from exercise is almost as important as the exercise itself, because it's in those critical minutes, when our body begins to back off metabolically, that it realizes the effects of the workout. When we work out, we create trauma. It's not a bad thing, it actually helps us develop more and better muscles, it helps us keep our bones from getting too brittle, and of course, it keeps the mind sharp. But the key is in the recovery - microtrauma begets muscle repair and improvement, so that the NEXT time, and the NEXT time, and the NEXT time after that, doing that same level of work, will be easier, and won't be as stressful. If you want to ensure that the NEXT time you ride, you'll be even more prepared, well, you need to do take advantage of two windows of opportunity: the first 15 minutes after a workout, and then the first hour after that. We'll focus on the first 15 minutes, because that's a harder goal to achieve. 

Getting quality protein, fluids, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids back in to the body quickly after a workout is the key to progressing from a state of Catabolism - where your body kinda eats itself and robs itself of minerals and nutrients from one organ to another - to Anabolism, where it begins to repair, recover, and figure out how to make that muscle BETTER for the NEXT TIME it's used like that. 

But what's the best mix of carbs, protein, minerals, vitamins, Amino Acids, etc.? Well, it starts with Carbs. Research has shown that ingesting about 0.5 to 0.7 grams per pound of body weight. So for me, at 160 lbs or 72.7kg, that's a whopping 80 grams of Carbs, at least! Then, look at protein... you'll want maybe half as much protein as carbs. So 40g of carbs would work. 
Think about it - you're at the studio, or you've just rolled up to your car after a long, hot, hard ride. It's hot. You've got salt rings on your jersey. There's nothing left in your water bottles. There's snot on your bike gloves. You're cooked. Everyone wants to either stand around and shoot the bull, or hang out and maybe talk about the ride, but the clock is already ticking. It's time to ACT.
BlenderBottle 
Start off by ALWAYS being prepared. Pick up one of these blender bottles at your local health food store. I prefer this brand, but it doesn't matter. You just want something that will allow you to shake up a quick drink. 
Igloo coolers with blue ice are great for recovery drinks
Then, think about that old cooler that's stuck in a corner of your garage or pantry. It doesn't have to be large, it doesn't have to really work all that well - it just has to keep things cool enough that they won't spoil for the duration that you're out on a ride, and the interior of your car gets hot. Fill it with your blender, the recovery drink powder of your choice, and an 8-16 ounce container of water, milk, almond milk, rice milk, or chocolate anything, and then get one of those blue ice thingies. Boom, you're done. Take it with you when you travel to to a ride, and as soon as you're done, open up, and start playing bartender. 

We trust Stacy Sims and OSMO Nutrition.
Now, if you know me, you know how crazy I am about Stacy Sims and her product line, OSMO nutrition. Stacy's got stuff for pre-ride hydration and cramp prevention, she's got a drink mix that you can use when you're on the bike, and she's also got a recovery powder. I trust her research, I trust her production, I trust her team, and I relay that trust to my clients, both at the studios and around the world. So the next time you come to the studio, pick up a bottle of OSMO Recovery Drink, and try it with chilled almond milk. You'll feel better knowing that it's the NEXT STEP NECESSARY to better workouts and improved performance. 

Recovery Immediately With Osmo Acute Recovery and Almond Milk. YUM!
In fact - I've taken a leap here, and decided that this is just too important a step to ignore. I'm now offering, at the Richardson location first, CUSTOM BLENDED OSMO ACUTE RECOVERY DRINK, AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY, POST-RIDE. So as soon as your eyes uncross from that last interval, and you're able to clip out, you'll have the option, for $3.25 with tax, to suck down 12-20 ounces of OSMO ACUTE RECOVERY, mixed with chilled almond milk. It's what you'd do after a ride outside, and it's what we'll be offering from here on out at Cycling Center Dallas. 

We'll be discussing other things around recovery post-ride, so stay tuned.

Tags:
Coach Wharton
14:41

What To Look At, and What We Look For, on the PerfPro Dashboard, Part One

When cyclists come in to the studios, they're often quickly overwhelmed with the information they get, what it means, and how it affects their workouts, current, past, and present. I'm going to take the time today to show you one or two of the dashboards, and help you understand what's going on. 

First, remember - the workout is almost always PRE-PROGRAMMED. This means that most of the time, all you have to do is just warm up, calibrate (see previous post), and then PEDAL. As long as your speed is between 17 and 25 mph, which is where the Load Generator tends to work best, then the computer is in control, and soon you'll be breathing harder, pushing the pedals, and working to keep up. In fact, this is a GREAT place to start!

PerfPro Load Described
When the workout begins, you'll see a LOT of numbers doing a LOT of things. Let's try to Simplify them in order of importance. In Column 1, Row 1, below your name, you'll see EITHER the word "LOAD", or "GOAL". This is the WATTAGE that is being placed against the tire. It's the amount of POWER that you'll need to overcome. This is the LOAD or GOAL Wattage of each Interval.

PerfPro Watts is the Power that you Generate Against the Load.

One Column over, still in Row 1, you'll see "WATTS". This is the Power, or WATTAGE that YOU are Generating AGAINST that "LOAD" or "GOAL". Think of it this way: When "LOAD" is 100, you've got 100 watts pushing against you, and then you'll have to generate 100 watts. When "LOAD" goes to 150, YOU have to go to 150. 200? 200! It's a 1 to 1 ratio, and it ALL hearkens back to Sir Isaac Newton, and the THIRD LAW OF PHYSICS....

Which is....

"For Every Action - There Is An Opposite, and Equal, RE-Action!"


So when the Load Generator Generates a LOAD.... YOU must Generate POWER!!! 

Now, don't be upset if your "WATTS" end up fluctuating here and there. Humans are really NOT that great as engines, and keeping your "WATTS" in the "GREEN" Color, is not that big of a deal. Beginning cyclists will be a bit high, a bit low, repeat ad infinitum, until they become more adept as cyclists. This is ONE area where the cycling training that you do at Cycling Center Dallas, can give you an advantage. The LOAD is the same, all the way through the pedal stroke, and you can learn how to ride with a steadier power output, with fewer surges, over time. 

So remember - "LOAD" or "GOAL" is the Challenge, and "WATTS" shows you that you're meeting that CHALLENGE. 

Let's continue....

PerfPro Works best between 17 and 25mph.

I'm going to pass over RPM and HR, which stand for Revolutions Per Minute (or "Cadence"), and "Heart Rate". Those have their importance, but it's harder for us to get that information on the dashboard all the time, and they're such individual values, that I'd like for you to leave it up to us coaches to help you better understand what they mean and how to use them.

Instead, let's look at "MPH", or "Miles Per Hour".

I've said before that for a CompuTrainer, the Load Generator tends to work best between 17 and 25 MPH. To get to that speed, all you need to do is make sure you're in your BIG chain ring up front, and you're somewhere in the MIDDLE of the REAR CASSETTE in back. Remember - COMPUTRAINER SPEED IS NOT INDICATIVE OF THE REAL WORLD. IT MEANS NOTHING IN REGARDS TO YOUR FITNESS. WE DO NOT MEASURE DISTANCE TRAVELED OVER TIME. WE JUST USE MPH TO MAKE SURE YOUR LOAD AND WATTS ARE CLOSE TO 1:1, AND YOUR CADENCE IS RIGHT FOR YOU!!!!

Sorry to use all caps, but this is important. GEAR SELECTION is what determines SPEED in the studios at Cycling Center Dallas. Furthermore, for those of you who really think you're HOT DOGS and that RULES don't apply to you, well, we have a TRAP to ENSURE that you'll comply!!!! 

If MPH gets above 27mph..... well, no matter what your LOAD said the moment before.... the PerfPro Software get's ANGRY, and ADDS A TON OF WATTS to your LOAD!!! It will KEEP THIS LOAD ON THE WHEEL until you drop your WATTS back down a good bit, and to DO THAT, you'll need to SLOW DOWN. It's a GOVERNOR, to keep you compliant. GOT THAT? 17-25mph is best, and anything over 27 means you'll end up dragging cinderblocks until you break down and start weeping. 

Now - let's take a moment to look at another part of the Dashboard...
PerfPro FTP means "Functional Threshold Power"
Look to the RIGHT of the area where your name is. Do you see that acronym "FTP", it stands for "Functional Threshold Power". FTP is the ESTIMATED power that you can generate over 60 minutes. FTP is the UBIQUITOUS value that we focus on raising when we train. The more fit you get, the more watts you can generate over different and varying periods of time. Wattage Intensities that are ABOVE FTP, can, over different durations and levels above FTP, RAISE FTP. So ---- where are most of our intervals at Cycling Center Dallas performed??? You guessed it - AT or ABOVE FTP!!! If you don't know your FTP, well, don't worry. We test for FTP about every 2 months or so, and like the guys at the State Fair who can accurately guess your body weight, we've developed a keen eye for determining fitness and FTP. 

Now - here's one thing you need to know. If we're in Fixed-Gear mode, and shifting is not necessary, but you feel that an interval may be too hard or too easy, USE THE PLUS "+" or MINUS "-" buttons on the LEFT SIDE OF THE CONTROLLER, to RAISE or LOWER your FTP. FTP determines the intensity of each interval, and you can modify that value with those buttons. Now, you may ask... "What are we really changing with the raising and lowering of the FTP?" Well, that can be found, right HERE:

On the PerfPro Clock, % of FTP is what determines your "LOAD" or "GOAL" wattage
This is going to require a little juggling with the eyes, and maybe a little math, but have a look at this image. If Joe Cyclist has an FTP of 150, and the interval that he is performing has a "LOAD" set at 107% of FTP, then he's got to GENERATE... 161 WATTS for 2 minutes. The option for cadence is also there, but remember - Cadence is a bit personal, so we'll look at it on a more individual basis. Instead - look at the % of FTP, look at the remaining time, and then look at the "LOAD", and watch your "WATTS". As long as the "WATTS" color stays GREEN, more or less, you're ACCOMPLISHING the GOAL set out for you by the coaches. If the interval feels too tough... press the "-" button on the Controller, and DROP YOUR FTP a bit. If you want to challenge yourself, FIRST TALK WITH THE COACHES, but sure, go ahead and hit the "+" button a couple of times, and RAISE your FTP. 107% of 165 is... 177. Try THAT for 2 minutes, and then see how you feel!?

There is a LOT more information that I'll be sharing with you over the next few days and weeks, but let's call it a day for now. Remember that "LOAD" is the resistance the generator is placing against your rear wheel, "WATTS" is what you're generating against the generator :), and "LOAD" is based % of FTP, which you can control with the "+" and "-" keys. If your "WATTS" are more or less colored GREEN, then you're doing the workout properly. And remember - if you speed PAST 27mph.... the program will lay down some serious punishment until you back off. 

Until then, have fun, enjoy the workout, and don't forget to download your own copy of PerfPro Analyzer, which will give you the ability to keep your files on your own PC, and look at them in different ways, so you can assess your progress independently, or with the help of your coach. WATTS UP, GANG!!!!

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Coach Wharton
15:56

Handling the Heat - the Cycling Center Dallas Way!!

We often get asked - "How do you ride in the heat?! I can't STAND IT!" Well, there are no simple answers, but being native North Texans, we can give you a couple of pointers that will definitely make a difference.
  1. DRINK MORE, DRINK OFTEN, DRINK MORE OFTEN! - Take a look at this hydration chart. Start by looking at your weight, then, scroll over to columns two and three. I'm weighing in at 160-164 lbs right now, so I'm looking at a MINIMUM of 25 ounces per hour, and in times when I'm really pushing hard, 30 ounces per hour. Sometimes, when it's really hot and humid, I'll consume over 50 ounces per hour!Osmo Nutrition Hydration Strategy
  2. THINK about what you DRINK! - Most Sports Drinks trend towards a 6-8% sugar content. Everyone who knows me knows what a fan I am of Osmo Nutrition, and secondly, Skratch (both were developed by Pro Crush, Stacy Sims, who also had a hand in Clif Electrolyte formula). The hotter it gets, the more you want to consume something with fewer overall calories. You're NOT trying to get calories by drinking. You're trying to basically keep FRICTION DOWN at a CELLULAR LEVEL! Osmo is about 3.5% solution, and helps keep you cool. Furthermore, water in the bloodstream helps prevent the bonk better than just about anything else!
  3. DRINK BEFORE YOU HAVE TO! - Osmo and Skratch both have pre-ride solutions that will help act as anaerobic buffers, will help you basically retain water (your ring finger will get tight), and help you 'stay thirsty my friends' with their good salt setups. These aren't the most flavorful items (they tend to taste like seawater), but they REALLY work. *** Note - women - Try the women's formula at full-strength, BUT, if you feel bloated, then cut the solution down to 1/2 a dose of the powder, with a full dose of the water needed. It'll help you avoid an upset stomach. 
  4. It's not ALL on the inside! - One of the most important things we can do as cyclists, since we're exposed to the sun for hours at a time, is to protect our skin. Sunscreen makes a HUGE difference, and if you're a guy, they make 'mousse' that you can rub in your hair, which will help protect your scalp. Don't forget the small parts, like eartips, the upper neck, the hole in your gloves when you cinch up the velcro, and the chest, when your zipper is down.
  5. Fabrics Matter! - When you ride, your fabric can literally save your soul. Modern fabrics are designed to have SPF factors in the 30's and 40's, and the stuff that I've gone with, the Louis Garneau jerseys, are treated with a dip called ColdBlack, which literally repels about 40% of the IR rays per square cm that the Sun fires off every moment. Have you ever stuck your hand under a heat lamp at a cafeteria? That's IR energy! So think about that, the next time you're out there roasting. Think about how, for a few extra bucks, you could have something that is still breathable, still comfy, but also helps keep you skin that much cooler. And cooler skin, means less energy expended trying to keep you cool from the inside!                 
  6. You CAN be aero AND have great ventilation in a helmet! - Everyone knows that a helmet is a must these days. They're the 'last inch' of protection! But when you're NOT using the helmet as protection, you can expect a modern helmet to channel oncoming air in different ways over the scalp, so that any heat generated can be channeled out the back, and keep your head, literally, cooler. Again - check out the latest helmet from Louis Garneau - yeah, I'm a fanboy, but it really does work.                                                                                          
  7. What's in YOUR jersey pocket?! - Still too hot? Stuff your valuables like your wallet, keys, and smartphone in a waterproof pouch, and then FILL YOUR SIDE POCKETS TO THE BRIM WITH ICE!!! Yeah - that's right, ICE. Sure, it's messy. Sure, it's going to MELT ALL OVER YOUR LEGS AND LOWER TORSO. But you know what? IF WORKS!!!! Refill every hour that you're out, and watch your watts stay HIGH.                                                                                                                                                     (Photo Pending - you'll LOVE it!)                                                                                                          
  8. SONIC! WE LOVE SONIC SLUSHES!!! - Research shows that one of the most effective ways to keep your cool, is to consume beverages made from Ice Slurries. While we don't always have access to a blender while we're out on our rides, we CAN stop at the local Sonic, and have a Wet, HIGH SUGAR-BUZZWORTHY Slushie, in any color/flavor you like, and safely expect that it'll help drop your core temp quite well. Mmmmm!!!!                                      
So that's about it from me regarding this topic. I also have used unhosed Camelbacks filled with ice, and have let them drip down all over me. Furthermore, taking a gallon ziploc, filling it with ice, and then nipping the corners, allows you to stuff it under your jersey and against your back, where it'll melt and drip, much like the ice in your jersey pocket, and allow you to stay cool on an area that is filled with blood vessels that are close to the skin. 

Heat stroke is a real threat when the temps and humidity climb. I know - I've had one, and it left me with some damage to my right eye. But with proper strategy and precautions, you SHOULD be able to withstand the heat, and enjoy the ride!

Till next time! Leave With Nothing Left!!

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