Get better at Turning

Want to get better at turning? Many people lack confidence which is usually a lack of practice cornering.

Start out on a small 4 corner loop, and gradually build up your confidence of leaning the bike over through the turns. As always you will get better with practice.

-Always try to slow down before getting to the turn, then if possible do NOT brake while you are in the turn. Braking while in the turn maybe sometimes necessary, but should be avoided. If you must brake, try to only feather the rear brake.

-Something to remember is that I rarely ever pedal through a turn. I’ve had close calls, and hopped the rear wheel a time or two. I was lucky, and now, if I think it maybe close I just don’t pedal. Better safe than get run over.

Want MORE practice? Go to the Mountains and climb up a twisty road, then descend down the same road. Start off easy, brake before the turns. Try not to brake in a turn.

Something that helps me is once I brake early for a turn, I will occasionally turn slightly harder than I need to make it through the turn. By doing this, you know you are going to easily make the actual turn, but you get the feel of how tight you can make the turn. This will gradually boost your confidence.

As you keep doing this you will slowly build up more confidence in your bike handling skills.

Another tip is to watch track motorcyclists go through turns, focus on their steering.
Remember, make gradual adjustments and the improvements will come.

Mt Biking etiquette

This month I have come across some bad etiquette from other riders. Knowing some of these riders, I know that it probably wasn’t on purpose, and I bet they didn’t realize how this effects other people’s ride.

Broken carbon 2Niner frame

This past weekend for example, a group of my buddies were on a long Mt bike ride. There were about 70 people at the start of this ride. The course was over varying terrain – single-track, fire road, steep uphills, steep downhills and nearly everything else in between. One of our buddies is stronger in leg strength, but is still developing in off-road technical bike handling. So, we would ride awhile, then 1 of us would pause and wait on the other 3 to catch up and re-group.

This helps to make sure that if there is a problem someone is there to help you out. We wanted to make sure no one got a flat, everyone is following the same route and that no one crashed and needs assistance or actual medical help. But, it is also a chance to catch our breathe, talk about Fun sections, any crashes and/or near misses that just happened.

BERMS!

The problem was once we got onto the last 5 miles and less technical section of this course, our buddy proceeded to drop the riders that had just waited on him for the previous 25 miles. Although nothing was said, it was bad etiquette to not wait on us, when we had waited on him and stayed together as a group.

Another time I was riding with a friend on a trail that I had never ridden before. After a few miles, I realized that my front rotor was rubbing – I said ‘hold up for a sec’. I stopped for a second to readjust the front wheel and proceeded, I guess she didn’t hear me, but I figured I would catch up. I went a short distance and came to an intersection. I had no idea which way my friend had gone – so I just stayed there. A couple minutes later my friend showed back up.

Friendly bike rack

When Mt biking, here are some tips to keep everyone together and safe.

1) Always stop at intersections or at least make sure at each intersection that everyone makes the correct turn.

2) If you come to an intersection and don’t know which way to go – just stay there, that is better than getting lost, and people having to search for you.

3) On long uphills and or downhills, occasionally check that the person behind you is ok. Sometimes I just look over my shoulder, sometimes I will stop and regroup to ensure everyone is good.

4) If you encounter other riders stopped on the trail, check to ensure that they don’t need assistance because at some point it will be you that would like someone to check on you.

5) When passing riders going in the opposite direction, it is courteous and safer to mention how many other people are in your group, that way they will know there are more riders up ahead, thus potentially avoiding a head-on collision.

6) I have a bike Bell. Several reasons – it warns bears and horses that a human is near, alert other Mt bikers while going around blind turns, alert other mt bikers that I want to pass, and let other riders know that I’m Freaking Enjoying the Ride!

Little Moments

I was hanging out with a friend a few weeks ago. He works at a school, and he was talking about something that they were working on teaching the kids about when writing.
You see kids tend to tell sporadic parts of a story, and maybe focus just a little. So, they have been teaching these kids to focus on one single part of a story and describe that part in detail.

I though this was a cool concept. The part that tripped me out though was that my friend had just now started applying that to his own life – but instead of describing things in details, it was more that he was taking the time to notice “the little Moments” that make life so great.

I was floored. You mean you haven’t been doing that already?

For me some of my favorite things were those ‘little moments’ that you couldn’t describe, nor photograph (another of my hobbies). It is the little moments that if you try to explain it to someone, you end up telling them, “I guess you just had to be there”.

Some of my favorite and most memorable are:

Climbing up the 18% grade of Winding Stair in Winter. During Winter, all the leaves are down, so you can see through the trees at the Mountains that you usually can’t see during the summer – it is like a totally different view. A cool aspect of it too me was that a picture will not come out very well b/c you have to look through the trees to actually see the view. You have to be there to appreciate it!

While out on a Winter Bike League ride, it was about 45 degrees out. We stopped at a ‘mid-ride’ store-stop. It started to rain. A guy walks up to the ride leader (we call him Pops and asks “What is the quickest way back to Athens?” Without missing a beat, Pops says “With Us”. You see we were all in it together. There was no rain-check. Pedaled out & you gotta pedal home.

Find those little moments of Life, recognize them when they happen & appreciate them!
Did you make a random stranger smile?
Did you do something just to surprise someone when they didn’t expect it?
Did you make a friends day?

Did you make a quick connection with a random stranger?

I remember once I was driving home along a 4 lane highway. I looked over and saw a little old lady sitting in the back seat looking very melancholy, so I smiled and waved at her. She sat up in her seat and gave me a Big smile as she waved back. It was just a little moment, but I’m not sure who it had a bigger impact on.

Go out and make some memorable “little” moments, you may just find out that they have Great impact on you and even Greater impact on others!

cycling essentials

I’m sure there has there been a list made of cycling essentials, but I figured I would go over some of the things that I have recently been putting together due to some of my recent 6-7 mt bike, hiking, exploring adventures.

This is a list that I think is more first-aid, emergency oriented rather than the usual ‘how to make a repair and get home’ list of repair items.

Some of these things I wouldn’t necessarily carry for a quick trip around the local trails where you may see 5-10 other riders. This is more of what I pack when I go on adventures looking for trails that most other cyclists do not know about.

On some of my rides I only see military Rangers in training. Most of the time I see no one else except for maybe a couple people near where I park. Usually I see more wild-life than anything else.

1. Water tablets/water filter – Hydration is 1 of the most important things.

currently water filters are about $70+ and weigh almost a pound. So, I am carrying some tablets instead. I have had to use them before.

2. Benedryl – For the 3rd time just this weekend I had to pull out some benedryl for someone who just got stung by a bee, on the lip. A sting from the neck up can be a serious problem for someone that has an allergic reaction. Being able to quickly take a benedryl can minimize the risk. Usually the second thing to happen is a restricted air passage. I would rather someone take 1 of my benedryl, then have something serious happen.

3. compression bandage – this is the stuff for a serious cut/gash. Many of us get scrapes and bruises, but this stuff is for a more serious cut that could occur after a fall. These are pretty easy to find at a pharmacy.

4. para-cord or similar string – I know that many people are wearing the para-chord bracelets, but if you are really in the outback wilderness, there can be many uses for such an item. Tying a splint to hold a broken bone in place or a twisted ankle, tie a sling in case someone breaks a collarbone, tie down broken shoe straps, tie down things onto your pack.

Originally designed for paratroopers, paracord is a kernmantle rope: a braided sheath over a bundle of seven inner cords. This mantle makes paracord very resistant to abrasion. 550 paracord is rated for 550 pounds: 300 pounds for the sheath and 35 pounds for each strand. The cords can be removed from the sheath and divided into two strands if finer string is needed.

Read more: Uses for 550 Paracord | eHow.com

5. chem-light – this is something I watched the rangers use. They store for a long period, but you just pop the middle and they light up. This is a great tool if you get lost and people are attempting to find you. I wouldn’t say that it doubles as a flashlight by any means, although if tied to a walking stick (as I’ve seen the Rangers do) it may aid you if you are walking.

6. multi-tool – I know most Mt bikers carry a cyclist specific multi, but I also carry a regular leather-man multi-tool. They have pliers, knife, screw drivers, file, etc.

7. compass or compass app. Although I have a good sense of direction and figuring out which way I need to be going – I usually do so based on the sun positioning. I have a back-up plan though – a Free compass App on my phone.

8. Another ‘smart’ phone app is MyTracks When exploring I currently use MyTracks – and I try to remember to keep my phone is ‘airport’ mode to save battery.

Racing too seriously

Today I was thinking back over my several years of racing and I was thinking about one of the years I raced the US100K just outside Atlanta, GA.

Here we were rolling along on a fairly hilly course, most of us running a 54 up front ‘Just in case’ we got near the frantic downhill sprint – all the while because the real Pro’s were in town we were going around this course that we didn’t need the 39 up front. Rollin’ it!

I was thinking back to a year that the whole Saturn team was there, they were laughing it up. Talking to each other across the whole pack, even though they were fairly spread out in the group.

I remember one year when I was laughing it up with a buddy of mine. Asking him “does this group do this ride very often?”, “want some of my banana?”. I mean here we were, tucked into the draft doing about 30, and I’m making jokes.

I got thinking about how years before then, how focused I would be on rides. I wouldn’t even talk to anyone because “I was training”. I wasn’t worried about getting dropped, I was worried about who was ‘up the road’, I was worried about where I should attack!

Yet, years later, I guess I started to realize that even if I got dropped, or even if I didn’t ‘make that break’, it wasn’t the end of my cycling. Maybe I even started to realize that I was near the top of my fitness level – unless someone was going to suddenly start paying me or I started to dope – neither of which was going to happen!

One of the things that always stuck out in my mind was how you could do 1 group ride a week, and chat with one person each time – and pick up the conversation, right where you left off last time. Bumping into friends (literally) from out of state that you haven’t seen all Winter.

I guess that realization started to lower the stress and the pressure that I had been putting on myself. I started to enjoy my fitness level, and enjoying my friends in the field. Those were some of the best years of racing that I had. It wasn’t the races, it wasn’t the miles and miles of training, it was the people that were around you while you are doing those things that in the end impact your memories the most.

A win is great, but mutual cycling friends is greater.

pedaling with anger

Looking for a short turbo boost?
Focus all of your emotions into the pedals.

There is a saying around the interwebs about ‘Stomach of Anger’. Although I’m not really sure what they mean by that I can tell you that I have pedaled with Anger before. And it makes you fast! But also out of breathe very quickly.

You see I was on a group ride that was usually very steady paced. Everyone rotated evenly and the pace of the group as a whole was pretty quick at around 22-24 mph. But this day we had 1 rider that was randomly attacking the group.

It was throwing off the rhythm of the group and thus lowering our average speed, and it was getting on my nerves. So with each successive attack I was getting more and more P-O’d at this person and their failed attacks off the front that were distracting other riders, until he attacked one time, and I had enough!

I down shifted & MASHED the pedals, shift, MASH, shift, MASH, until I not only went by him at a much greater pace than he was going, but had gotten a significant distance up the road to a red light. As I sat at the red light attempting to catch my breath, I had a chance to think for a minute about what had gotten me so riled up. Although I felt better getting some anger out, I also felt guilty for doing the same thing that this person was doing to the group.

I guess in hindsight I was trying to tell him that he wasn’t the only strong rider in the group that ‘could’ go faster. I’m still not sure, but one thing I learned from this was that when I got my emotions together and focused my energy, that I could create a large amount of watts for a brief amount of time.

I could pedal in Anger!

The thing about pedaling in Anger is that your mind shuts down – you don’t feel any pain, all you have is raw emotion – and all that energy is poured into stomping on those pedals!

How to get odor out of cycling clothes

This has been quite a mystery for me for several years, and I have tried multiple products along the way, but still once I’m sweating then my cycling clothes stink.

Some of the things that I was trying (scented detergent, oxy-clean, fabric softeners, drier sheets) always seemed to be only temporary masks and the ammonium odor used to come back. Usually what I notice the most is my gloves when I wiped sweat from my brow.

Cause: Ammonium odor usually means that you are burning muscle, which is caused by a lack of glycogen (sugar) to use as fuel. This often happens when you are riding at intense heart rate for extended period of time – like a fast group.

What we have found is that if you wash your cycling gear with hot water – Double Rinse them and do NOT use any fragrant products & NO clothes softeners. They are merely a temporary mask & as soon as you start sweating again, the softeners attract the scent molecules and attach to them. This causes the odor to stick around longer.

Any other helpful tips, just throw in a comment below, Thanks!!

never ride at the front

I have said it, and I see that others are posting articles or info about it. The problem is maybe too many people are taking it too far.

Do not ride on the front should not be confused with NEVER ride at the front.

Too many people seem to just sit-in – on ever ride, year around. Bah!
Too many people never do any work – whether they are afraid they will get dropped, feel they aren’t strong enough.

Sometimes you need to move, do something, stir things up. Sometimes that is for the group & sometimes that is just for yourself & your training.

It’s interesting how the group dynamic of a ride can change – week to week and sometimes during a single ride.
Not long ago, at the ‘Wednesday night World’s’ the group was being shy. There were only a few people rotating & it was often that if you rotated you would have to sit on the front for awhile before someone else would come around.

What happens next is that the stronger riders and/or opportunists attacks the group. Sometimes this is enough to stir things up, sometimes the ride will continue along in the same manner watching that person increase the gap until they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As this keeps happening all the stronger riders & some opportunists are ahead on the road and there isn’t enough people strong enough or willing to work to bring them back.

I watched this happen a couple times and tried to shake things up myself by rolling past the group on a downhill and along the uphill on the other side – what this caused was the group finally sped up and started getting more aggressive.

Remember, “Don’t ride on the front” is different from “Never ride on the Front” there are good reasons to rotate and pull-through, and there are good reasons not too. Sometimes the group is hammering along and you should conserve your energy for later. Sometimes you should rotate just to get others to rotate also, sometimes it is to keep the group going.

One of the best ‘team blocks’ I had ever witnessed was by Scotty Weiss – we were racing a 1Km pan flat crit in N.C. His team mate jumped the pack with another racer and they were rolling up the road – well most team mates would go to the front and soft pedal or not even pedal at all – but not these guys, Scotty went to the front and kept the field going at a steady pace. He knew if the group slowed down too much there would be attacks and his team mate would have less chance of winning the race. So, he kept the pace slow enough that his teammate was still going faster than the group, yet just fast enough that no one would attempt to attack the group! At that time I was a fresh Pro1,2 rider and at first I was bewildered that his own team mate was on the front doing the pace-making. It took me about 5 laps before I realized the plan.

Most everyone knows the basic tactics, but when you can mix things up that is when you are racing intelligently!

12 Long Haul Essentials for Mt Biking

Recently this year I have been doing much longer and often solo rides.
These are Mt bike rides in the Chattahoochee National Forest where I am out exploring new (to me) areas of the forest. I will look at a map of an area and sometimes wonder how to connect different sections of this vast forest, or I will see a trail/old logging road and explore where it goes. Often the only signs of life I come across are wild-life and Army Rangers in training. So far this year I have seen many deer, several turkey, a couple hogs and a bear.

As it was well phrased recently in Outside magazine: “No one knows the sorrow of being stranded without tools like a cyclist.”

For these reasons I realized that I needed to start planning out what I have in my pack that is not the norm for a 2 hour mt bike ride. But for those longer rides, I am adding some items that I deem necessary in a worst case situation. And since I’m in remote areas this means more self-reliance.

River crossing.

The norm for my pack is 70oz water, a pump (just more reliable and reusable than CO2), 2 tubes, clifbar, gel flask, salt tablets, Master Link, cycling specific multi-tool, a RoadID.

First thing – I always tell a friend that knows the general area, where I am going too and what area I’m planning on exploring and where I’m hoping to get back too a more civilized area. And I always let them know when I’m done!

1. Water tablets. I have gotten back to the car several times either with no water or very little left – and since we are coming into the hotter days of summer I figure that having iodine or water purification tablets in my pack might really save me from dehydration.
They are light, do not take up much room, and will be there when you need them – however, make sure you read the label before you have to use them. Most require 30 minutes to 4 hours to completely purify the water.

1A. Nuun tablets. A. I really like Nuun tablets that add a little flavor to any water – whether on the bike or not – but I strongly Dislike the flavor of Iodine – this is a good masking of it & bonus of added electrolytes!!!

2. Hemorrhage Control Compression Bandage – Something that has happened to a friend before was getting a pretty bad cut, and I know of a person that probably lived only because he was life-flighted out of an area. But imagine how scary that would be and how expensive the after-math was. What if all that could have been avoided? Having a compression bandage (and knowing how to apply it) can help stop the bleeding which will save your own or someone’s else life. When I did my CPR class recently Celox was highly recommended by the EMT teaching the cert. and I have seen it listed in many of the first-aid kits sold at local outfitters.

3. multi-tool – I know most Mt bikers carry a cyclist specific multi, but I also carry a regular leather-man multi-tool. They have pliers, knife, screw drivers, file, etc. Any of these tools can come in very handy to fix ‘on the trail’ problems.

4. Emergency blanket. seriously, these are very light and very inexpensive (about $7-15) and reflect 90% of your body heat. Even those hot summer days can end with really cold nights.
4A: I will often carry a windvest and even arm warmers, temperatures can change quickly on a mountain.

Mt Biking @ Lake Fontana, NC

5. compass or compass app. Although I have a good sense of direction and figuring out which way I need to be going – I usually do so based on the sun positioning. I have a back-up plan though – a Free compass App on my smart-phone. It is a great idea to learn how to use a compass in training before you need it in an ‘episode of lost’.

6. chain tool. and not just any chain tool, the Park chain tool that I used when I worked as a bicycle mechanic. Yes, it’s heavy. Yes, it will be worth lugging it around if I ever have to use it. I have broken my chain several times and the current multi-tool I have does not have a chain tool that works very well. This is a ‘better safe & be able to cycle 10 miles to the car than have to walk’ item. Besides that master link isn’t going to be useful if you don’t have a chain-tool.

7. Extra Food. Most anytime I get on the bike I have a gel flask and a cliff bar – when I know I’m going out for 4-6 hour ride, hike-a-bike, exploration trip – I will add a sandwich, an at least 1 extra cliff bar, a pop-tart or another kind of energy bar. I have found that I am more likely to eat and less likely to cramp if I have variety of things to eat.

8. Another ‘smart’ phone app is MyTracks When exploring I currently use MyTracks – and I try to remember to keep my phone is ‘airport’ mode to save battery. This is a great app that can help you figure out where you are and what direction you want to go and where you have been. CAUTION: using an app on your phone uses up your battery life which maybe precious in a bad situation. I have had to turn off MyTracks in order to save my battery life.

9. chem-light – this is something I watched the rangers use. They store for a long period, but you just pop the middle and they light up for about 8 hours. This is a great tool if you get lost and people are attempting to find you. I wouldn’t say that it doubles as a flashlight by any means, although if tied to a walking stick (as I’ve seen the Rangers do) it may aid you if you are walking and there isn’t any worries about batteries dying on you.

Long haul home

10. para-cord or similar string – I know that many people are wearing the para-chord bracelets, but if you are really in the outback wilderness, there can be many uses for such an item. Tying a splint to hold a broken bone in place or a twisted ankle, tie a sling in case someone breaks a collarbone, tie down broken shoe straps, tie down things onto your pack.

Originally designed for paratroopers, paracord is a kernmantle rope: a braided sheath over a bundle of seven inner cords. This mantle makes paracord very resistant to abrasion. 550 paracord is rated for 550 pounds: 300 pounds for the sheath and 35 pounds for each strand. The cords can be removed from the sheath and divided into two strands if finer string is needed.

Read more: 550 Paracord uses

11. Matches. If you get turned around/lost or have to settle in for the night lighting a fire will cause smoke to rise – which can keep you warm and also been seen for over a mile.

12. Know how. Ok, maybe this isn’t something you pack, but it is something that helps – it is practice for using all the things that you pack, and face it, if can have all the tools with you, but what good is it if you don’t know how to use them.

For me, several seasons of camping, reading books/articles, CPR certification, shared knowledge and experience have helped me put together this list. And the list changes occasionally.

Anything I missed?? I would like to hear your input and specifics of what you pack for your longer ride/adventures!

Why dieting causes you to loose power

I hear many times from athletes that they can not get too low in weight because they loose power. But if the main factor in cycling is power to weight ratio – and that ratio increases if you lost weight then how can you also loose power?

I think that there is a point of minimum bodyfat where someone would loose strength or reserves. However, if that is the case, then what about all the Pro racers that come out of stage races with less than 5% bodyfat.

My hypothesis is that when people are dieting and do not eat as much for meals ‘reducing calories’ then when they go out for a long or hard training then they do not have enough nutrients in their body and they do not ingest enough calories too keep them going. Once the body runs out of nutrient supplies then it doesn’t function optimally – they loose energy (power).

Now take the same ‘reduced calories’ and factor in the high intensity of training and/or racing and the body is in a depleted state WHEN beginning an event – and since it is difficult for most people to ingest enough nutrition during an event, they eventually ‘loose power’.

Something I tell my clients is to ‘feed your training’. In other words you must eat according to what you are planning to do. If you are going to hang out on the couch then you can/should consume less food. But especially consume less food that the body would use immediately for energy. This is a good time to consume foods that the body would use as building blocks or repair.

When you have a long training day or race day, now is the time to ingest more foods that the body can and will use for energy.
This past weekend I was leading a group ride – I got up 30 minutes earlier just so that I could prepare some Belgium waffles with maple syrup. Less than 2 hours later we were all on the bikes and riding a few miles over to a 3 mile climb – I had a great day, which started out with a meal that was going to fuel my activity.

This morning I was in a meeting for a couple hours and have been working on some research and getting some ideas on paper. For breakfast this AM I had an omellete with chicken, salsa and guacamole. Foods that I wouldn’t get a burst of energy from, but food that will keep a steady stream of nutrients with out an insulin spike.

Want to really find out all the details of nutrition and proper dieting, check out my EbookSupport independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Remember: Feed your training.