How to not Burn the Match Book

There is a couple sayings from bike racing that basically state, don’t burn your matches too soon, and ‘Everyone at the start of the race has 1 dollar (worth of energy). The person that finishes with the most change wins the race.’

While you can argue that it is not entirely true due to tactics and some people that do not race aggressively and may finish at the back of the field with extra energy, the concept is correct. Every race comes down to who crosses the finish line first, and to do that whoever can use their energy the most efficiently is better suited to be in the winning move, whether that is the winning break-away, or the finishing sprint. If you can’t conserve the energy, then it is unlikely that you can finish the race with the winners.

Basically what they mean is that everyone has a certain amount of energy, and those that use that energy wiser will have more energy left near the end of the ride that a person that needlessly wastes their energy.

Even though you may not race, this concept can be very useful tool in finishing big rides. I’m sure like me you have gone to a big ride and been a little nervous about being able to make it to the finish.

One of my favorite rides is the Covington century, the first time I ever rode it, I got dropped at about mile 75. After more training the next year I finished with the main group. The next year I decided to work at the front too early in the ride and nearly got dropped even though I was in better shape. So the next year I decided to ‘sit-in’ for 75 miles, and then start working at the front – and that year I was right at the front at the finish!

Some techniques that help save energy:

~No needless attacks. A good way around this is to ‘follow’ wheels rather than being the draft that everyone else follows.

~Don’t pull at the front of a group for too long before rotating and allowing someone else to do their share.

~Climbing in too large of a gear (great in training, but not for a big ride)

~Work on smoothly staying on the wheel in front of you.
Too many people have the brake/gas mentality, be smoother and more efficient with the gas and you won’t need as much braking. To do this, I will usually spin an easier gear, and then let my cadence be the predictor of how close I am to the wheel in front of me.

~Hydration and Nutrition is a must!

How to decipher Body Signals

Tip: Listen to your body, pay attention to the signs/signals. Sometimes these signals come from different places.

The other day, I cycled out to meet up with the in-town Atlanta Tuesday night hammer group. As I was riding over, each hill seemed taller and steeper than necessary. I was looking for more gears than the bike has available…. and I started to realiz this was not going to be a hammer night for me. Maybe I’m just not warmed up yet – it has happened before – I feel rough for 10-20 miles, then suddenly the muscles warm-up and are ready to go to work.

As I rode up another climb, I attempted to shift to an easier gear – I was in the easiest…. I peeked at the Heart Rate (HR) monitor and sure enough I was about 15 beats lower for the effort that my body felt like it was at. This was a sign that my HR was not responding to the effort that my body was attempting to put out. Was my central nervous system suppressing the Heart? Or is it that the heart muscle was too fatigued to move the amount of blood that my body normally needs for this effort. Either way, it wasn’t there.

I spun easy for a few more miles and started up another rolling hill – still my HR was reaching the normal numbers, and my legs were grumpy about the strain I was putting them through. So, instead of meeting up with the group, I made the turn to go along the same route ahead of them, and spin much easier.

Your body sends you signals about what is going on, it is your brains job to interpret what those signals mean. For me, I did trail work on Saturday, I did a 5 hour ride on Sunday, Monday was off. My HR wasn’t getting to the upper range (zone 4) like it should have for the effort I was putting out.

The night before I happened to check my HR as I was ‘trying’ to fall asleep and it was about 5-7 beats high.

All of these added up means that I needed another day of rest, and since I was already on the bike, I did an easy, active recovery spin. There is no gain in stressing your body when what it needs to get stronger is recovery.

When you pay attention to the signals that your body is giving you, it becomes much easier to put them together to realize what they all mean.

Creating cycling video tips

When creating cycling videos, we can learn alot from the creators of videos that end up going viral. Check out a couple recent videos.
Here is a clip of Specialized doing commercials/advertising correctly.

Specialized Beats from WhiteNoise | Lab on Vimeo.

I wonder if Specialized had much to do with the creation of that video? Was this the artists way of showing off their abilities/creativity or was there some ‘grant money’ involved?

This isn’t Specialized’s first time to realize how this kind of advertising can make a big impression, here is another 1 that Specialized did for the holidays:

But cycling has gotten into the foray after a car maker used a similar concept to have a video go viral:

Now, when thinking about creating a video remember some important tips – for you and me:

~Try to keep the scenery changing
~Have something worth watching, something exciting – everyone has very short attention spans
~Also, keep it short and sweet – again attention…. squirrel!
~Having music that is either timely or that your target audience appreciates
~With cycling videos I have found that they are much more exciting when you are following someone

“It isn’t perfect when nothing more can be added, it is perfect when nothing more can be removed”.

Horse advice at Trail work party

My Friend David Muse posted on Facebook that the local Horse group was having a work party to work on National Trail Work day. The trail system of some local trails that are about an hour North of Atlanta called Jake Mt trails. Having had horses until I was 18, and being an avid cyclists for many years, I knew I should get out and ‘give back’ to any trails, whether I ride them or not – since there are so many trails that I do ride.

I was particularly interested in working with this horse group since I had ridden one of the new trails that had been ‘re-worked’. Now, anytime a new trail gets re-routed, it is usually for the better…..BUT not until the trail has been ridden many times to sorta ‘break it in’. This trail however, had seen some usage on some muddy days and the horses seemed to be doing more damage than a 12 hour mt bike race. The trails were rough & nearly impassible in 1 spot from the amount of muddy hooves. It really needed some work and some drainage!


So, I got up that morning, got some things together and headed up to meet this group. I signed in, we had a quick organizational meeting about what the plan of attack was for the day, grabbed our trail work tools and we headed out.

Flagged for water pooling

The goal of the day was to alleviate some low spots on the trails that hold water. This way the trail isn’t as muddy after it rains and hopefully anyone that uses the trail does less muddy. Trails get the worst damage when they are muddy!

After starting to get to work, we got chatting as we fixed a spot and moved up along the trail. The environment was laid back & happy. Everyone here knows that we are each volunteers and are here because we care about the trail usage and maintenance.
As I chatted with several different people at different times it was obvious how happy the horseback riders were to have the extra help from the Mt bikers! I learned that the horseback riders were just as concerned about loosing trails as Mt bikers are. And they were thrilled to have the extra help from us to maintain ‘our’ trails.

Post trail work luncheon

It was funny how I went into this work party slightly disgruntled about horse hooves that tore up a section of trail, then came out of it realizing that many of us have the same desires of having more trails, and enjoying the outdoors. I also later thought – there are bad apples everywhere – and at some point we are all going to meet someone that is disgruntled or a rotten apple in the bushel. Just like road cyclists vs. car drivers and Mt bikers vs. horseback riders – don’t let that 1 rotten apple be your only impression! These were great people and very thankful to see us working together.

After working all morning it was decided that we would finish at 1 and have lunch, so we all headed off the trails.
David summed it up best here:

“Few things compare to walking off a trail, filthy, sweaty, starving and thirsty and seeing a lunch table set up in the shade across the parking lot. The lunch spread was glorious.”

While eating lunch post trail work, we swapped stories of trail work, trail re-routes that had happened or areas that needed more attention, but also they shared some good information about how to better handle a situation where you encounter horses – Talk! It doesn’t much matter what you say, b/c talking to the Horse actually helps a horse realize you are a person & not something to be freaked out about. Horses can be easily spooked by things and they are not predators, so by nature they tend to be defensive. So, when you talk to them, they are less likely to buck or kick – and neither you, nor the horseback rider wants that.

I really came out of this experience with a re-newed outlook on how horseback riders see Mt bikers, often not as us against them, but more of a fellow trail user. They were really good people and were very welcoming and helpful.

Hopefully we can all keep that in mind next time we pass each other on the trails we share.

Dupont Trail system

There is good reason why this trail network no longer a local unknown favorite! What I liked most about Dupont was that you can find large variations of terrain on a single Mt bike ride.

They have groomed trails that you would find at trails that see a lot of weekly riders. All the way to sections of rocky drop-offs sections that most would rather walk down, just in case. 1 trail that we did was a large section of Rock, The Cedar Rock trail, where your only guide is some specifically placed tree limbs & pyramid pile of rocks to use as guide markers. This is the closet I have ever been to the feeling of riding SlickRock, in Moab, Utah.


Then there was Ridgeline. A trail so sweet, that when I rode up, I got more and more excited about the descent back down!
As we rode up, I stopped & got a picture of a Berm that was up to my eyeballs. This trail is just a slip & slide, glide down an easy grade with just enough grade that you don’t have to pedal much to maintain speed & just enough curves to keep you honest & give that feeling of playing Star Wars & blasting through a field of trees. Wheeeee!

view of ceasar's head

Dupont seems to be made up of a network of trails that are mainly .5 miles to 1 mile long. I was lucky that I was riding w/ friends that had been there before, but for ‘unguided’ riders, it would take a map & lots of stopping to check that map. Even our guide for the day had to re-check the map several times.

~ Don’t expect cell service in this area – even with 1 of the better coverage providers, I didn’t get cell service with my Droid Incredible until about 12 miles down off the Mountain.

~Another con (for some folks) will be that you can get out pretty far away from your car…. or maybe it just like I was that lost?

Presenting Bridal Falls

~There is a water-crossing that you will most likely have to dismount & shuffle across. The day we were there the water was about a foot deep and the crossing is just at the crest of the waterfall, with rapidly moving water. The rocks were very slick.

~ A lot of the trails seemed to be connected to other trails by Fire roads.

~ There maybe horses on the trail – we encountered horses both Saturday and Sunday when we were there – each time the horseback riders were very friendly, and everyone passed by friendly & easily.

Friendly bike rack

~You can get wide variations of terrain in a single days ride. If you are new to this area you will ride groomed sections on 1 trail and then ride gnarly sections on the next.

~ Ridgeline maybe one of the best trails in the South East!

~ You are never too far from water. With 3 waterfalls, and a couple stream crossings.

~ There are several parking lots, so you can get closer to a certain section of trail, and each parking lot doesn’t seem as busy.

~There are several variations of terrain that you will be exposed to. But if rock drop-offs aren’t your thing, you will only see that in a couple sections, or you could easily avoid them.

~ Well maintained trails that also give you the feel of being further from civilization than you actually are.

~Scenery changes that give you the feel of different areas terrain nestled in the Foothills of the Mountains.