Does Protein intake improve cycling

An interesting Does protein intake improve cycling“>article + discussion.

I’m a fan of eating a higher protein diet after hard rides for muscle recovery and repair.
This does not negate the need for simple sugars and carbs immediately after a ride – then my next meal will usually be more focused on protein. BUT keep in mind that I am a protein metabolic type. Meaning that I do well eating meat, steaks, chicken, fish, beans. Some people don’t feel as well on a diet like this, but eating ‘more’ than usual would be helpful.

bicycle maintenance

Here is an important tip:
1 of the least expensive things on your bicycle can be replaced often and save you a bunch of money in the long ride. Why this concept hasn’t taken off more by now I do not know! What that concept is that if something were to wear out first – would you rather it be something very expensive or rather 1 of the most affordable components on your bike?

This is such a Great concept! It is your chain!
Yet most people do not realize this.

If you would Replace your chain annually, the gears that it runs on would last MUCH longer!!

Oddly, your chain is one of the least expensive parts of the drive train, and if you replace it often it can save you money because you will not have to replace your chain-rings and cassette as often! You see it is actually your chain that wears out first – due to all the links/joints in the chain. Then once the chain is worn out it wears out the cassette and chain-rings due to the stretched links in the chain.

A great and super easy way to measure your chain is to put your chain onto the big chainring and use a standard measuring tape to measure out the links. The pins in the links should measure up at the 0″ mark and the 12″ mark. Anything exceeding 1/4 (one quarter) of an inch is excessive chain wear, and should have already been replaced.

If you have excessive chain wear and replace your chain there is a good chance that you will have to replace other parts in the drive-train. What can happen is that the worn out parts may allow slipping when put under pressure.
For example, when standing on a steep climb your chain may suddenly skip a tooth on the cog.

So, depending on how much you ride, check your chain once or twice a year – replace as needed. It will save you money because your chain-rings and cogs last longer!

US Forestry Chainsaw Certification

This past weekend I attended the US Forestry Service (USFS) chainsaw certification class/workshop in Blairsville, GA. This class was recommended to me by David so that we would have more trail volunteers capable (certified) to do more maintenance. This class was Free from the USFS and a volunteer, FOR volunteers.

In attendance was 1 new USFS employee, 6 Appalachian Trail volunteers, and 9 local Mt bike volunteers – in attendance was Mike Palmeri, Joe Palmeri, Todd Lyons, Seth Owens, Jason Brousche, Tony Stevens, Gary Monk, Jim Townsend and myself.

Forestry Morning Meeting

On the Forestry side, it became obvious that (as you can expect) these guys are overwhelmed with the amount of land that they have to maintain, manage. They are thankful for the volunteers. The USFS in their efforts to gain assistance, while volunteering, a certified sawyer is considered an employee of the USFS and falls under their insurance. They said to date, that no one has needed to take them up on the offer of the insurance, and hope no one would need too.
Oak slice

Side Note: For those of you that don’t know, each Spring/Summer I cut & Split 3-4 cords of firewood for my Mom to heat her house all Winter. So, going into this class I felt quite confident, but was also hoping to fill in some areas of my knowledge. Well, it was pretty shocking that having someone that is basically grading you and hanging over your shoulder as you work made me more nervous than I would have expected. Suddenly, I’m not out there doing things my way & just my dog watching. But still I was able to attain ‘B’ cert. or the 2nd level of certification.

Getting Instructions

One of the greatest things that I learned from the class was Safety! Of course, working with chainsaws is Dangerous – period! The moment you relax and/or get ahead of yourself is when you will get hurt.

They are insistent that you use the brake on the chainsaw. This was something I wasn’t used to – heck, only 1 of my 3 chainsaws even has a brake on it.

Speaking of Safety, 1 of the things they were insistent on was a pair of chaps – and this is why:

Since most of what trail volunteers deal with is blow-downs (trees that the wind knocked over) they showed us how to best cut that tree with out getting your saw stuck, which is very easy to do & also dangerous.

How to properly cut a tree to better control which way the log goes once it has been cut.

How to maintain more control over a tree that has been blown down on the trail.

Dawg demonstrating a leaner cut

Another great technique was how to deal with Spring trees – these are trees that the tops got pulled over by another tree and the trunk is still rooted, but the top of the tree is pulled over & down. They are a dangerous situation, because the force of the tree wants to ‘spring’ it back up.

How you approach a situation where multiple trees are down and you need to clear the trail. Access the situation from all angles – and do some limbing if you need to get a better understanding of where to start.

How to determine the amount of lean a standing Tree has. This will determine which direction a tree naturally wants to fall, and what it would take to make it drop in a different direction if needed.

Since I do cut firewood & have to cut down dead trees I learned a ‘felling’ technique that I am anxious to try out.

Here is an example of a compound tree that I cut up for firewood. Notice it has a ‘Spring tree’ on the right, and that it is a compound situation where the downed tree is interlocked with the standing tree. It was a tricky situation to say the least.
Compound Fell Tree

Again, remember taking your time for safety and accessing the situation are the 2 greatest points – we are volunteers out there and in some situations even the Pro’s have to walk away.

Also, if you ride Mt bike trails – you should volunteer, if you are good with chainsaws, this class was Free from the USFS and volunteers, FOR volunteers.

How to ride in Cross Winds

I love riding in cross winds. It is a time when power to weight ratio of the sprinters can really put the hurt onto the climbers.

It is a time when how the break works together can be the difference between survival and getting shelled.
Work too little and you may win, or the break may get caught, Work too hard, and you get shelled.

It is a time when knowing where the draft is can be crucial.
Just watch these professional riders have a tough time staying in contact with the rider in front of them due to the cross wind and the speed of the race.

Notice in this video of the 2012 Tour of Qatar – when Cancellara makes the move, the wind is coming from his right side & so he is on the Left side of the road – this is so that anyone behind him gets as little draft as possible. He is doing this in hopes that they will not be able to hold his pace and he can ride away.

Conversely once Cancellara realizes he isn’t going to be solo and wants some help, he edges to the right, so that the person drafting him has room to find the best draft on Cancellara’s back left.

Also, notice how when there are more people in the break they move to the right – so that the other riders can get a draft and they can all work together to hold the gap.

Quick Tip: Mash a larger gear in a crosswind. This is a great strength builder and when you spin (I generally) feel the need to always change to an easier gear and spin even more. If it is a training ride, try mashing that gear! You may feel tired after the ride, but you will get stronger!

Too fast too soon

I was visiting my nephew Austin, he was on his push scooter & asked me to push him. So, I start pushing him from room to room around my sister’s house.

We get going and Austin is having a blast & of course wanting to go faster, faster! As we go cruising around the house, I have to slow down because their Labrador jumped up to see what all the fuss was about. She had to jump out of the way, and now she thinks it’s a game of chase.

So, here we are ready to get started again, and the dog is on the other side of the kitchen wanting us to chase her. I psyche up my nephew (Austin) and say ready, set, GO! and I start pushing him full bore chasing the dog. We are off to a great start, straight through the kitchen, but as we start getting towards the dining room, my nephew must have been a little concerned about looming kitchen table and starts to turn – a bit too early.

Between my legs, and my nephews reaction, he had turned his little push scooter too soon, catching a handle-bar on the frame of the dining room, causing him to immediately be ejected off the scooter and onto the floor. Suddenly, the next thing I know, I have gone from pushing my nephew full bore, to that awkward standing on the tips of your toes, arms swinging wildly, while trying not to step on my nephew that I just crashed. I’m looking down at him, figuring for sure he got hurt or at the very least is about to start crying. He looks up at me & says “Uncle Stephen, let’s not go that fast”.

I couldn’t help but just nod my head & say Ok. Although it freaked me out at first, shortly after it was pretty funny.

Oddly enough I have done the same thing to myself (in a different scenario). I have finished the road racing season and hopped on the Mt bike, get out on some trails and let the legs start cranking & suddenly my speed becomes greater than my skill & Boom you crash.

If speed becomes greater than skill and curves/corners are involved, you will crash at some point. So, remember in the off season it is always a great time to sharpen your bike handling skills – whether that is Mt biking, cornering, holding a straight line.

Don’t neglect the basics.

How to compare trainer hours to cycling outside

Many people ask the question of relating trainer hours to hours cycling outside – you can not truly compare the two.

1. On the trainer, there is no coasting.
2. your bike on the trainer acts differently than it does on the road.
3. On the trainer there are no fluctuations in traffic, pacing, hills, etc. just ‘Pedal dammit’!
4. You can zone out and pay less attention to things around you, and focus on the workout.

For these reasons, I don’t attempt to compare trainer hours to outdoor hours. I have heard people suggest that an hour on the trainer is worth 1.5 on the road. If you had to compare hours, I guess you could do that. However, I would suggest getting your workout done in a faster amount of time is really the goal – not just spending time ‘on the bike’.

What this means to me is that you have a goal (a set workout) planned, you warm-up, do the prepared workout, cool down, and get off the bike. Completing workout that is an overall goal of a training plan is much more important than merely ‘hours on the bike’.

These workouts will make you
1) Leaner!
2) faster!
3) stronger!

Bike WindTrainer

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The Winter Wind Training classes is a series of on the bike workouts that will best prepare you for the Spring rides and upcoming race season. The workouts have been laid out so that you will come into the season in your best possible shape with out being burned out or fatigued. The workouts Build from one week to the next.

– These workouts can be done on the Windtrainer or outside!

What to expect:
-Heart rate based intervals of varying length and time each week.

-Steady state intervals for climbing and Time Trialing

-Individual Leg Training (ILT) for forming perfect pedaling circles

-Spin-Ups to increase leg speed

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Get all this:

$28.95 Fat Loss: – FREE!
$28.95 Stretching – FREE!
$28.95 Four things for Stronger Cycling – FREE!
$9.95 24 Windtraining Workouts – Included!
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ALL for just 14.95!
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Winter Cycling Training

This is the time of year when Mother Nature tries to fool you into thinking that the winter will be easy and you will have beautiful days to ride all Winter.

Winter weather head gear

One Winter several of us at a local bike shop got together and did twice weekly spin classes. We started in the first of the year, and it was good to do it with a group. But suddenly our guy that had to lock up when we were done got a change of schedule and we could no longer spin – a month later, the time had changed and we were once again out on the road. But I feel like I was starting all over again.

Many people do all kinds of training this time of year, only to burn out or stop due to the cold and/or wet weather in the early Spring. Remember not to do too much intensity and do not do too much mileage this time of year, unless your plan and commitment is true, and you follow through to the new year.

Remember the old story of the tortoise and the hare – steady wins the race.

Chess table
Have the proper Winter cycling gear to get you through the cold and dreary days.

Don’t let that happen to you!
1) Get a Trainer
2) Have prepared workouts that ramp up the intensity.
3) Do the workout and get OFF the bike! Riding the trainer can be more challenging for you mentally than physically! Do a workout and get off the trainer.

best cycling upgrade

Many cyclists are curious what the best upgrade for your bike is – but what we seldom want to consider is that the best upgrades is actually for the motor!

I saw a post by a friend that stated they got a new pair of wheels and then stated: “Hey, that’s the most important upgrade you can make!” I had to post that they go the best “bike” upgrade.

Cycling is all about each person’s ‘Power to Weight’ ratio. One of the main ways to increase your power to weight ratio is to either increase your power, or to reduce your weight. Ideally you would do both.

1. A problem with increasing your power is that many people have various methods for doing it. Also, you have to be very consistent and have a good plan both on and off the bike – this is where having coach helps.

2. The problem with reducing weight via the bike and components is that there is a high price vs. reward. BUT the most important part of the bicycle (the Motor) is where the most performance improvements can be made!

For instance, what is the greatest aero-drag, a bicycles motor. Where can ‘most cyclist’ shave the most weight? Probably their gut.
Last Spring I lost 10 pounds from my stomach area – I don’t think there is anywhere that you can loose 10 pounds from a bicycle (and still safely ride it), especially in a span of a couple months.

Gym goers and personal trainers have a saying: “Abs aren’t made in the gym, they are made in the kitchen” What can cyclists take from this is that health and peak performance begins with what you use to fuel your body.

Another great saying is that “you can’t out-train a bad diet”.

Winter Bike League Maysville 2011

You know that Winter is about to cast her steely grip across the US when anybody whose is a cyclist rushes to Athens, GA to join into the Winter Bike League. They go in hopes of Fame and fortune that but a few have been able to attain, the stories of which have never been told – unless several adult beverages have been consumed.

Mineral Man and StrongerCyclist

I got a call from the Mighty Mineral Man himself, telling me that he was returning to grand form & was making preparations to rip the legs off any non battled hardened cyclists that dare forget his story. It had been a mere seven years since Mineral Man and your’s truly left their own mark in the Archives of the WBL.

As I do every year, I re-read last years WBL report . This year I was determined that my lack of mileage (from recovering from a recent Mt bike crash) wasn’t going to be the source of my suffering.
Greenville WBLer Derek.

Luckily, I talked my friend Derek into coming from Greenville to the original WBL & luckily he gave me 2 NUUN tablets at the start. I also filled up 2 flasks full of Hammer Gel, a clif bar, and a secret weapon, a pack of pop-tarts – yeah, I’m going old skool! I wasn’t going to let a lack of nutrition keep me from holding onto the front group.

WBL start Dec3, 2011

As the ride gently rolled out of town, everyone was all chatter and festive, seeing old friends, meeting new friends. Little did I realize the depth of the days field, but why would that surprise me? this is the WBL! I saw some great riders, a @Team Type1 rider, 2 Team Mountain Kakis riders, a Real, Jered Gruber, Clay Parks, Hammerin’ HillBilly, FarmerG, the PACK SHOUTER, old motorcycle racers, and a score of cyclists that race! It was a stacked, packed, jacked field of 2 wheeled craziness about to embark on a slugfest. As we rolled outta town, you could tell everyone was giddy with anticipation!

Then, came the rolling hills. At the mid-field riders were being made into diamonds via the intense pressure of the leaders. All you can hear is the weazing wind of those putting in monumental efforts to keep themselves with the herd. As I looked up I realized that we were only half way up this roller and you have to pay attention as riders start to fall off the pace.

Pack is spread out on 2nd lap

I see a couple riders swerve around and then suddenly see why, 1 gal was lost in her personal hurt locker, I checked traffic, played frogger and eased over and became a pusher. I geared down, and asked if she wanted a push, when she looked over her shoulder I realized it was her weazing I heard. She was nearly hyper-ventilating. I got the two of us up to the same speed, but we still had a ways to get over this hill, and now I’m nearly weazing also. PUSH! Finally, I got her onto the flats, let her catch her breathe, and the ride continued along.

Once at the store stop, I filled the bottles, popped in the extra Nuun tablet, ate on a smore pop-tart and checked in with the Mineral Man & Gainesville fella’s. So far, so good! But as the group was knocking out the 2nd half of the ride, the rollers were back. Funny how you can’t remember much about a route, but once you are hurting you can realize this is where the hurt was put to you last time. We were on a skyward ascent, under I-85 when I had deja-vue. I dug down and my quads were talking to me, but I was able to throttle enough to keep my placing in the pack.

By now, I’m going through my second flask of gel. The quads and hamstrings are mumbling, but no mutiny yet. Onward, we march. I take every chance to throttle my pace. After each surge ahead of me, I catch up slowly – no big efforts. And no one is in any hurry to get around me either. Everyone is suffering.

Finally we round a corner and I realize we are just outside Athens, and have 2 climbs left. But the first climb I loathe. It is somewhat short, but man is it steep. Suddenly the pack starts to move all over the road nearly everyone is out of the saddle, rocking their bikes. Again, I make it with the group, and my mood improves, Athens is on a hill, and now that is the only hill left. Post ride Food and Beer awaits!

Interesting to hear the stories when your done and finally relaxing. Man, was I suffering when we were going past that white picket fence. “yeah, I remember that fence, that section SUCKED!”

You are suffering? Remember everyone is hurting, you just have to hurt just a little more to stay with them!
Most races come down to 3-5 minutes of who can suffer the most and that often determines the winner.

cycling app strava and mytracks review

Strava vs. MyTracks Droid apps for tracking your cycling.

I liked MyTracks for a long time, but to me it seemed to use too much of my battery (more on this later). MyTracks was very useful as I was learning some new Mt biking trails in North Georgia. I found that I could take it off ‘satellite’ put it on ‘map’ mode it would download my location much faster.

climbing Cherohala skyway

But as the summer cycling season was starting to reach it’s peak and I was doing group road rides, I found Strava and started trying it out. I really started enjoying it’s features.

Strava can be Fun. You input some data about you and your bike (from which it will estimate your wattage). Then record your ride via GPS, once you finish and save the ride, it quickly uploads. Then it will show you how you did on various climbs on a social network –, compared to others in your area that have done the same rides or climbs – whether or not you are following them.

This can be Fun, challenging and give you new goals to push yourself for. Get a PR or even best some of the riders in your area. I have to admit, I did a couple rides this summer with no other intention than bettering my time on a couple climbs during a group ride.

But suddenly this weekend a glaring difference was found and now, I am mixed between the two apps and will keep both on my phone – but for totally different reasons!


I made my way to an area of Mt biking trails that I had never been before. So while I was getting prepped, I did my usual of turning on Strava, and my dog Apollo and I hit the trails…. only Apollo was tired from a fun dog day on the farm. I though we would knock out 5-6 miles, like we usually do – he barely made it 2.

Suddenly I was in the middle of unknown area of trails, and needed to get back to the car along the shortest route possible. I went back to the Strava app, but all it would show me was our ride time and our pace. I attempted to figure the best possible route and forged onward. Apollo was getting more tired, we stopped again & I re-evaluated. And then suddenly I remembered MyTracks.


The reason that I went back to MyTracks is that during the ride, it will give you a map of where you are & a red line indicating where you have been. This makes it much easier which direction you are going on the map, and figure out which way you need to go. Both apps allow you to view where you have been on a map from a computer, but only MyTracks allows you to view that map while you are riding.

Although I do like both apps, I now really feel that they both have a separate purpose that (for now) neither can fulfill.

MyTracks is Great if you are exploring or you realize you are lost & attempting to get back to where you started.

Strava is Great to compare and keep up with how you are doing along a route, against yourself or others.
With Strava you can review the map after the ride.

Bonus Tip: Strava and I think MyTracks can both be turned on for a minute to ensure satellite connection then, you can put your phone into airplane mode to save battery!

See my previous post about MyTracks

While recording using MyTracks, you can:

1. See location / progress on a map
2. Monitor real-time statistics: time, distance, speed, elevation
3. Create waypoints
4. Create statistics waypoints (splits tracks into subtracks)

Thanks to the comment below, I have successfully uploaded .gpx files from MyTracks onto my computer, then uploaded them onto
Although this is more of a pain due to the extra steps, it is good work-around.