Although we were a Murray down, we persevered….. You see last year the 3 Murray brothers and myself raced the 12 hours of Yargo. We went to have fun, hang out & ride hard. We were battling it out for what we thought was first place, but because of a timing mis-hap (an unrecorded lap) we actually battled it out for 2nd place. This year, unfortunately 1 of the Murray’s needed to skip this year race, so David came on board. Even though they weren’t racing, Ryan and RT still came out on course to cheer us on!! What a great crowd that shows up to these events!
The Dirty Spokes 12 hours of Yargo is a Mountain bike race on a 11.7 mile mainly single-track trail in Winder, GA. This course has open sections where you can get a lot of speed, some sections where you pick up momentum down a hill only to do a hairpin turn and go back up that hill. Many climbs are steep, but short however, 2 of climbs that are steady and longer. A couple of the downhills have some whoops and the race included 1 of the horse show drop-ins. If you have enough speed you can jump out of the horse-shoe, but you have to do it at an angle b/c once you are out of the horse-shoe, the trail turns left almost immediately. Lots of technical sections where you need to throw the bike around turns to avoid the trees and in a couple cases are bouncing off of them. Most lap times for the course were low 50 to 60+ minutes.
We all met up and camped at Fort Yargo the night before the race. ‘Jet-Pak’ Ed was out of the camp site early and got us a pop-up next to Fresh Bike service, on the front row of all the action! As always the start was a little hectic with so many 6 and 12 hour solo riders, and multiple teams, the line for the parade lap before heading into the trail wrapped around the parking area and the 4 wheeler pace vehicle had to slow for the last of the riders.
Our team clicked off the early laps, and waited anxiously to see where we were at against the other competition. A difference that we lacked this year was that we didn’t pay as much attention to when the last person was leaving – although this didn’t actually hurt the team, it didn’t make things easier. Usually we keep an eye on when a person leaves for their lap, and gauge when they will be coming back to the transition area. This year everyone seemed to get ready as soon as their relay person was heading out. This gave us about 55 minutes to get things together, get dressed, get warmed-up.
At the campsite I stayed hydrated with NUUN and tried to keep steadily eating food to keep the energy levels up. Two turkey subs from Firehouse were devoured, and I even tried some of the fine pickles offered by Addictive Cycles, anything to avoid cramping.
As the day went along, each time check came in showing that we were in the lead, and then each lap the pressure built – stay consistent – don’t cramp – don’t get a flat & worst of all – don’t Crash! The consistent part requires speed, especially for me, since I was not the fastest rider on the team. I get bogged down on some of the uphills, but I have to conserve the Heart Rate and pedal over them. The sections of fast, twisty single track is where I need to stay moving, and this requires full concentration. Whipping the bike left, right, right, left gets crazy with the tress directly in the edge of the trail. Too much speed and a missed-timed turn means sudden handlebar stoppage and rider ejection!
Lady luck was in our camp this day and as the laps ticked by we seemed to consistently put time into our opponents and at the end of the day team Sprocket Rockets relayed for 140.4 miles in 12 hours. We finished a lap ahead of our competitors and Won First Place! I was fortunate to have a great team, and once again, I had an out standing birthday weekend camping and racing at Fort Yargo!!
Unfortunately, due to finishing the race at 11pm, we didn’t get any pictures of our finishing podium. Full results are linked from the Dirty Spokes site here .
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A question that I have been asked many times before is why 2 people with the same body type and weight may have varying heart rates with the same amount of exertion.
The body is an amazing thing, and it adapts in so many ways. Our hearts for example have to pump the same amount of blood volume through the body based on the exertion that is required. Along with many other things, the blood carries into the bodies the necessary nutrients and oxygen, and carries out the by-products of muscle contractions including the lactic acid.
So, how can a trained athlete have such a lower heart rate than an untrained athlete given that they are doing nearly the same thing at the same level of exertion and the body having to pump the same amount of blood? The answer lies deep in the heart muscle itself.
As a untrained person starts to do consistent exercise the heart muscle begins to adapt to the demands that are being placed upon it. Just like any muscle in the body, with regular exercise the heart starts to adapt to the stress placed upon it. The heart becomes more adapt to handle the challenges placed upon it and becomes more efficient.
What physically happens is that the interior of the heart chambers start to expand and enlarge. The overall size of the heart stays the same, but each of the 4 chambers actually expand to accommodate more blood. As the heart pumps, with each contraction the amount of blood that is pulled into the heart and is pumped out is increased. So, suddenly with each heart beat the volume of blood being moved through the heart is increased with each beat. Therefore, if an equivalent amount of blood needs to be moved throughout the body, then the number of beats required for a trained athlete is less to pump the same amount of blood as a untrained athlete who has a heart that isn’t pumping as much blood per beat.
How long does this take to change the effects and the amount of blood pumped through the heart depends on the time spent, but generally it is said that an initial adaption period is 8-12 weeks of consistent 120-140 beats per minute training 8-12 hours a week. Of course, for some it will be less and for others it will be more. To get the most out of the time necessary to train and adapt to this much time on the bike, it is best that the cyclist do this during the winter base period.
If you would like more info on Stronger Cycling or cycling coaching be sure to check out Coaching section.
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I’ve had several heart rate (HR) monitors since I started racing over a decade ago. And I’ve liked features of some and didn’t like features on several of them.
The worst problem that I had with other HR monitors was that the chest strap would not pick up under power lines. And since 1 of the sections that I used to like doing intervals on had a brief climb, then a long gradual uphill, I would do intervals on that section of road that was also slightly busy. After a year of being disappointed by the chest strap not picking up my HR it seemed that the best brand was Polar. I thought man, if I had a Polar HR monitor, I would always have a read out.
So, finally I dropped over 100 bones and got a Polar F6. Life was good. The chest strap picked up everywhere. Although the features are a bit more than I needed, it was just a short learning curve to figure out how to use the features that I wanted, and I didn’t have to mess with any extra’s.
I’ve checked out better HR monitors that have cool features, but I only want to know what my HR is, how long the timer has been going (intervals) and how long I’ve been on the bike (time). Although the numbers were slightly smaller on the HR feature – because when you are pushing LT +5 it gets hard to see straight!
After about a season of riding/racing the F6 HR monitor stopped working. I searched around to see what could have happened. I adjusted the strap & it would work some, then nothing. It became aggravating, but I realized that it must be the battery on the chest strap that has gotten weak, and was no longer working.
I asked several places about what to do and found out that Polar only has 4 service centers in the USA….. so, I hustled down to the postal non-service and shipped my chest strap and watch to Michigan.
It’s been about a week. And when I checked the mailbox, I didn’t expect the box to be from Michigan. In fact it took me a couple minutes to figure out what I would have coming from Michigan, then it dawned on me, the HR monitor had already gotten back to me! Sweet!!!!
Or so I thought…. I opened up the box and pulled out the contents that had been packed in styro foam. Out came the chest strap and the elastic chest band. Then I pulled out the watch that was packed in bubble wrap. I opened it and realized that the scratches that it had endured were still there – bummer.
Next I pulled out the yellow sheet – the bill. I scanned over it – it got checked out – $13 ok. They determined the chest strap wasn’t working (even though I noted that on the return form) they packed up a new chest strap – $30!??!! shipped it for $7 !?
Grand total – $50. Now granted I allowed them to charge my card to expedite the process, but for sure I didn’t think that it would be HALF the cost of a brand new one.
“Dear Polar, next time I will be more careful which chest strap I purchase so that I don’t grab my ankles attempting to get a new battery!”
….but for not a whole lot more than $50 and I could have gotten a brand new HR monitor – 1 that I haven’t scratched the watch lens yet! Those scratches will be a reminder of my aggravation with Polar’s customer no-service. I will be pedaling in anger due to Polar.
Polar has high marks in the functioning category – their chest straps seem to always pick up in any conditions. Their watches take time to figure out how to scroll through and get to the feature you want, but once you get over the learning curve it either gets easier or you don’t use it.
Although I would get another Polar HR monitor, I would make certain that it had replaceable batteries for the chest strap – batteries cost about $3 and I’ve replaced many of them in all the other brands. Also, I would not get more features than necessary because it seems challenging to scroll through the watch features to get what you want out of it.
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