RedEye Velo Junior Camp

Coach Brady’s Camp Recap

This week I joined some of the RedEye Velo junior cyclists for their third annual North Georgia Training Camp.  This three day camp has become a tradition for them in many ways. It is a great early season jump start to their mileage, a great learning experience and a bonding and team building experience for the entire team.  The mountains of North Georgia provide not only some amazing climbing and great views but some challenge that may of these juniors don’t get the opportunity to frequently visit. 

Dahlonega, GA 6 Gap Training Camp

We awoke Monday morning to light rain, and temperatures in the low 40’s.  After breakfast and delaying for several hours the rain ceased and we bundled up and hopped on our bikes to conquer 3 passes in the cold (Jack’s, Unicoi & Hogpen).  With fresh legs everyone was feeling a bit froggy and the goofing off quickly turned into a pace that brought out everyone’s game face and as the road picked up so did the intensity.  We summited Jack’s and the speed quickly picked up to 40+mph as we descended the sweeping turns that are on the backside of this climb.  As the road kicked up again we knew that Unicoi was our next task.  The road went up and the temperature continue to drop, the rain set in and what was once clouds quickly became fog that engulfed the roads ahead of us and made rider’s disappear into the fog as slight gaps formed between the riders.  As we summited everyone quickly put on the garmets they had shed for the climb.  As everyone slowly snaked their way down the wet, winding mountain roads we regrouped and pressed on with our largest task of the day at hand.  Hogpen. The climb that nearly every 6 gap rider dreads.  Grades of 8% and up leave you wishing you had an extra gear to shift into and cause you to be out of the saddle more than anyone even desires.  The large part of the group stayed together until the start of the KOM segment which marks 10km to go and then I fell off the pace, the sign of minimal riding and a lacking level of fitness. The rest was left up to the pace setting of the remaining 3 riders and from the sounds of it ended in an attack with 1km to go. Tuesday we rode out with sunshine and weather in the mid 40’s.  The much appreciated sun meant a warmer feel even without warmer temps.  We rolled out planning on doing 60+miles on the day and when we arrived at the base of Wolfpen gap to find a “Road Closed” barricade with a rather serious looking construction worker we were forced to reassess our day’s plan.  We decided to climb Neel’s gap instead and as we ascended the sun disappeared.  What would come next was more like we had experienced the day before.  Cloud cover, fog and rain met us on the way up and as we summited and began our descent we were graced with a bit of sleet as well.  By far the coldest descent of the day left us all ready to be done but there was a great deal of work that still had to be done.  After a bit of discussion we made the decision to climb back up Neel’s and search for a bit warmer weather.  Once we began our descent down we found slightly warmer weather and wrapped up our day with tired legs. 

Neels' Gap Summit Georgia cycling Camp

Wednesday consisted of sunny weather and a short climb up Jack’s.  Everyone was quick to express how fatigued their legs felt and it was apparent that motivation was low since a rotating pace line turned into only two riders with everyone else hanging off the back.  After some clean up and packing we hopped back in the cars for the long 6.5 hour drive back to Tallahassee. As we reflected on the past three days we discussed the importance of hydration and nutrition, particularly as the weather gets cold and our senses and desire to drink something cold decreases.  We also talked about the riders’ need for a greater focus on nutrition.  As good as Skittles, cookies and Cheez-its are off the bike (wish I would have taken a photo of what they inhaled) they were not our focus of this weeks’ nutrition discussions.  Some of the athletes are training with power meters and we discussed the utilization of power meters to accurately track calorie expenditure and how each athlete can better use this data during their training and racing to stay sharp and keep energy levels high. Thank you Redeye Velo for the opportunity to be a part of such a great camp and we thank you even more for allowing us to be a proud sponsor for another year!

Core Strength

Closing out our “Good plan, better body, best athlete” series we’re going to take a look at the importance of core strength for cyclists. Creating a solid core can have a huge effect on your efficiency, endurance, power and overall health. When I refer to core strength I am referring to not only the abdominals (which include the Rectus Abdominus, Transverse Abdominus and Obliques), but the Lower-Back (Quadratus Lumborum and Erector Spinae) and Glutes as well.  While the cycling position (in which the body weight is carried on the pedals, saddle and handle-bars) relies heavily on core strength, it doesn’t do much to build it. By strengthening the core your efficiency on the bike is improved by stabilizing the upper body, eliminating any unnecessary movement and transferring that energy instead into the pedal-stroke. While a cyclist’s legs are the primary source of power, the core is the foundation for all movement.  A strong core provides spinal stability and improves posture. Both posture and stability can help minimize lower-back pain. Adding a couple core workouts to your weekly training routine can go a long way to not only improve overall fitness but can also help prevent injury. SAMPLE ROUTINE (15-20min)   Plank (4 sets. 30sec-1min) 

 Weight is balanced between the forearms and balls of the feet while Abdominals remain tight to keep the back level. Hold pose 30sec-2min. Side Plank (4 sets left and right. 30sec-1min) 

 Weight is balanced between elbow and foot while Obliques and Hip adductors are used to stabilize. Basic Abdominal Crunch (4 sets of 15-25reps) 

   “Superman” (4 sets of 15-25reps) 

 Start by laying on your stomach with arms overhead. Slowly raise both arms and legs off the ground in a controlled motion using the back to stabilize, pause at the top before slowly lowering arms and legs to ground. Back Bridge (4 sets of 30sec-1min) 

 Start by laying flat on your back, knees bent with about six inches between heel and glutes. Raise hips off the ground and hold using glutes and lower back to stabilize. ALL PHOTOS BY ALICIA OSBORNE

Foam Rollers

f you are unable to afford regular massage or simply can’t fit it into an already busy schedule a good alternative is a foam roller. While it can’t replace massage entirely it can help with releasing tight muscles and flushing waste from the muscles. Foam rollers come in a variety of sizes and densities. If you’ve never used a foam roller or are unfamiliar with deep tissue massage I’d recommend a softer roller to start with.  Sample Foam Roller Routine (15min) Starting at the bottom or top and working your way along the length of a muscle slowly move along until you find a tight spot then pause and slowly work back and forth in smaller motions or rocking side two side, focusing on the tight spot spending about 10-15sec before moving on. Repeat this process several times, top to bottom, each time pausing at the tight spots before rolling back and starting again. Calf 

                Starting just above your heel slowly work your way up, stopping just before the back of the knee.   Hamstrings

              Starting right at the base of the glutes is a boney protuberance called ischial tuberosity (commonly called the “sit bones”) where the hamstrings attach. Roll down the length of the muscle until you are just above the back of the knee.   IT Band/TFL

              At the top of the femur is a boney point called the greater trochanter. Starting just below that and rolling down the side of the leg and stopping just above the knee. The ilio-tibial band (or IT) is a common problem site for cyclist as well as runners and spending some time working it after your workouts can do wonders to reduce knee pain.   Glutes/Lateral Hip Rotators

              All you do is sit on it and yet for cyclists, this can often be another very tight spot. Place your weight just behind that boney point on the side of your hip and roll upwards.   Quads

              As the primary muscle group used in cycling the quads can always benefit from a roller. Starting above the knee, work your way up towards the hips. Be sure to make several passes focusing on each of the muscles in the group.   PHOTOS BY ALICIA OSBORNE

Structural Maintenance: Good Plan, Better Body, Best Athlete:

Continuing our  “Good Plan, Better Body, Best Athlete” series, this month’s article focuses on structural maintenance, specifically the benefits of massage and chiropractic care. As an athlete you can get a lot of benefits from regular massage including improved blood flow to muscles, improvement in nutrient absorption, clearing metabolic waste, reducing muscle and connective tissue tension, improving elasticity and stress relief. Chiropractic adjustments keep the body’s skeletal system properly aligned, greatly reducing the postural issues that are so common amongst cyclists. Endurance athletes in general are especially good candidates for massage and chiropractic adjustment, due to the long and repetitive training hours they put in week after week throughout the year. Because of the long hours required for endurance sports, recovery often falls by the wayside but, it is absolutely essential for improvement, performance and injury prevention throughout the year.   What all that actually means: -Improved Blood Flow / Nutrient Absorption / Clearing Waste Tight muscles restrict blood flow to those fibers, which reduces oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscles as well as the removal of waste products that are produced during exercise. In addition to simply feeling sore this also means your body’s efficiency during exercise is greatly reduced because your muscles are not receiving the fuel they need in order to perform. Deep Tissue or Sports Massage restores blood flow by pushing the blood back to the heart and stretching out that tightened tissue that is restricting blood flow restrict the returning blood flow. As tight muscle fibers relax the blood can now flow freely throughout, bringing in oxygen and nutrients and carrying the waste out. -Reduced Tension and Increased Elasticity Tension is due in part to waste build-up from lactic acid and also to tight muscles because of the fixed posture that is held during cycling. Muscles will shorten over time if they are not used in their full range of motion and the cycling posture is very restrictive (see last month’s article on stretching for more on this) Massage stretches out, not only the muscles themselves, but the connective tissue that surrounds them. Known as fascia, this connective tissue surrounds muscle fiber and bodies as well as muscle groups almost like seran wrap throughout the body. When the body isn’t properly stretched and hydrated, fascia begins to shrink and bind resulting in “tight spots”. -Cortisol  (the “stress hormone”) Your body needs to be stressed to make performance gains but it also needs rest in order to ultimately achieve those gains. Intense training without proper rest can result in elevated levels of Cortisol.  Cortisol causes your body to release stored carbohydrates and fats for immediate use enabling you to use all your body’s energy in one go. Cortisol can make you feel tired, rundown and moody, even after a day of rest.  It is one of the hormones responsible for the “fight or flight” response our bodies undergo when placed in high-stress situations. Whether it’s an important job interview, race, or being chased by a pack of rabid dogs, the response is the same. In small doses this is a good thing. If your body is unable to lower the cortisol and it continues to build however, the results can be disastrous from a training and performance perspective.  It has also been linked to reduced immune system function. Literally making you sick and tired through overtraining. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic response, the opposite of  “fight or flight” and has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. John Engelbrecht, D.C., is a chiropractor, cyclist, and triathlete in Tallahassee.  His practice, Engelbrecht Chiropractic & Rehabilitation can be found on the web at doctorjohndc.com and by phone (850)668-7062. As a chiropractor, he has treated a number of cyclists from serious competitors to recreational riders and has found they all have common issues related to their sport. Here’s what he says about back pain and the benefits of regular adjustments: “As a cyclist we’ve all experienced that nagging pain between the shoulder blades and the tightness that goes along with it.  Maybe you are training for a triathlon and are logging hours in the aerobars.  Maybe you are trying out new hand positions on your handlebars or did a long pull at the front of the pack.  Either way, there is nothing quite like that annoyance. Fortunately, chiropractic adjustments can help to relieve those symptoms in as little as 5 minutes.  The thoracic spine, or midback, provides the structural support for our upper body and shoulder regions.  When we stress that region through our various cycling activities, oftentimes the spine becomes misaligned and the supporting musculature tightens and spasms to protect the area.  A simple and painless chiropractic adjustment to the misaligned thoracic vertebra can eliminate that pain and offer immediate relief.  Regular maintenance adjustments during your peak training months can also help prevent that pain from occurring at all.  Adding regular chiropractic adjustments to your training regimen leads to happier, more comfortable training and a better race day performance.” Whether you’re training for a weekend crit or the Tour de France, receiving regular maintenance anywhere from once a month to once a week (pre and/or post event) can greatly enhance recovery and improve performance.  Just like your bike, your body needs regular “tune-ups” in order to continue functioning at it’s best.  Make sure your therapist is qualified to do the work you need, specializing in Sports Massage or Deep Tissue. Communicate your needs before the session begins and during don’t hesitate to ask your therapist and/or doctor to spend a little more time on a particular spot if you feel you need it. Your therapist and/or doctor will appreciate the feedback as it will help them give you the best treatment possible.

Stretching: Good Plan, Better Body, Best Athlete

In recent years a very heavy focus has been put on recovery and training.  With that the focus has become more and more prevalent in endurance sports as well.  Whether it is a post exercise drink, compression socks or the latest pill designed to aid recovery many will spend whatever it takes.  All money aside, an often neglected aspects of recovery is stretching.  We know that after a long ride, run or swim all you want to do is eat, get cleaned up and relax. While this is all good, adding a short stretching routine to your post-ride ritual can go a long way towards aiding recovery, preventing injury and maybe even gaining a little power on your next ride. The goal in stretching is to counteract the cycling posture and limited range of motion in the pedal stroke. If your muscles are not being used in their full range of motion they will shorten and become tight. That’s why often at the end of a long ride it can take a little effort to stand upright or bend your legs fully. By stretching them back out they retain their full range of motion.   The Benefits: Our bodies are designed to move in a full range of motion. On the bike, we are confined to a very limited range of motion: the upper body is bent forward and moves very little while the legs never fully extend or contract during the pedal stroke and so the muscles are shorter (“tighter”) than when you started. Just like the spokes on a wheel the musculature of the human body keeps us upright and functional through counter-tension. When the origin and insertion points of a muscle are brought closer, the muscle shortens in order to maintain this tension. When a muscle is chronically tight (i.e. not capable of fully extending and contracting) it throws the entire system off balance. That’s why when you have lower back troubles what first starts in your lower back can begin to creep down your leg and can creep all the way up to your neck if the issue is not addressed. If you are one of the lucky few and you’ve never experienced any soreness whatsoever or have no idea what I’m talking about, I can only say that prevention is a heck of a lot cheaper than treatment. But most people, from recreational riders to top pro tour riders, can all benefit from stretching. Not only for injury prevention but for power as well, a tight muscle requires more energy to move.  Loose and healthy muscles need less energy. Meaning it takes less effort to transfer force to the pedal. When to Stretch Within about 15min of finishing your ride so the muscles are still warm. Stretching muscles that haven’t been properly warmed up can lead to injury, so you want to make sure you haven’t cooled down too much before you stretch. Get cleaned up, get some hydration and get started. (I could write an entire article on hydration. But to be brief, it’s one of the easiest and most important ways you can take care of your muscles. Proper hydration throughout the day prevents injury and helps flush lactic acid from the muscles. It’s water, it’s totally free and it’s everywhere.)  Sample Routine The goal in stretching is to counteract the cycling posture and limited range of motion in the pedal stroke. If your muscles are not being used in their full range of motion they will shorten and become tight. That’s why often at the end of a long ride it can take a little effort to stand upright or bend your legs fully. By stretching them back out they retain their full range of motion. More important than stretching as deeply as you think you can is the length of time you hold the stretch. This isn’t about challenging yourself, that’s what the bike is for. Think of this as an opportunity to let your body know that you are still friends after you just abused it for hours on end. Find the point in the stretch when you start to feel it, but can comfortably hold it while breathing normally. Hold each stretch for 20sec to a minute (or longer if it feels particularly tight). You should be able to breathe fully and deeply. If you find yourself holding your breath or have difficulty breathing normally, back off until you can breathe comfortably. Side Stretch 

Standing up straight, bring your arms up over head and clasp your hands together with palms facing outward (towards the ceiling). Deep breath in and on the slow exhale, bend sideways keeping your arms stretched overhead.  Hold stretch and maintain normal breathing     Chest Opening

Standing upright, clasp hands behind back. Keeping your hands clasped with your arms straight, slowly raise your arms while extending your chest forward and up.       Downward Dog   

Laying on your stomach, push your upper body off the ground with your arms and hold. Feet can either be flat on the ground as in the picture or for a little deeper stretch you can push up onto the balls of your feet.   Supine Hamstring   

Lying on your back raise one leg while keeping the other flat on the ground. Keeping the leg straight raise it high as you can, grasping it with your hands.         Seated Hamstring 

Sitting on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Keeping your back straight, slowly lean forward reaching for your shins or ankles. Once you reach a point where you feel the stretch in the back of your legs you can lower your head to stretch your neck. Supine ITB Stretch

Lying on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other, take the top leg and bring it out in front until it’s at a 90 degree angle to the rest of your body (leg can be either straight or bent depending on flexibility). To deepen the stretch, turn neck and torso away from top leg.     Seated ITB Stretch   

Sitting on the floor with both legs straight in front of you, bend your right leg and cross over the left leg, placing the heel of your right foot next to the left knee (or closer to your hip depending on flexibility). Next, turning to the right, place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee and use it to push into the stretch, keeping your right hand on the ground for stability. Repeat on the opposite side. Runner’s Lunge 

Standing straight up, bend forward and place hands on ground on either side of feet, step one leg straight behind while front leg bends at a 90 degree angle (make sure the front knee does not extend beyond the toes). Keep the back leg straight behind resting on the ball of your foot or lower your back knee to the ground depending on flexibility. In just 10-15 minutes everyday (or at least after every workout) you can do yourself a world of good and keep riding strong all the way to the end of the season. If you have any questions be sure to contact us at scienceofspeed.org   PHOTOS BY ALICIA OSBORNE (aliciaosbornephoto.com)

Stage 2: A Start for First Timers

This years TdF has started off with victories from first time stage winners.  Today’s Stage win from Jan Bakelants was not only his first Tour de France Stage win but his first sizable win since 2008 when he won the Tour de l’Avenir. 

tdf13st02-win620

With a career plagued in injury, misfortune and close 2nd and 3rd place finishes it was certainly a well deserved day.  Today was no exception for his quality of performance, Bakelants appeared to be one of the strongest riders in the break and did his fair share to help a tough day turn out to be a success.  With a hard charging Peter Sagan, Jan Bakelants was able to hold on until the finish line for not only a 1 second victory but also the opportunity to spend Stage 3 in the yellow jersey. The day was not so enjoyable for many people though.  The second climb of the day, la Col de la Serra, lead to a great deal of riders dropping of pace including stage twos victor, Marcel Kittel.  Even though the yellow jersey will not rest on Kittel’s shoulders for day three he will still be given the honor of spending day three in the coveted green sprinters jersey. With a surprise filled first two stages the remainder of this Tour proves to be nothing short of exciting!

Managing Weight with Training Tools

The general population puts the majority of focus on weight numbers but as endurance athletes our goal is to make our bodies effective and efficient machines.  We already push ourselves physically and mentally and many focus on the effectiveness of our weight and bodies’ composition.  Power to weight is a great example of this efficiency, making each pound productive in reaching a final goal.  As athletes, one of the hardest things can often be maintaining weight during a taper or transition period when volume and/or intensity is low.  During these times it becomes more important to utilize many of the tools that are at our disposal including: testing, heart rate monitors, power meters and especially a 3 day nutrition log.

Calculating Your Burn Rate

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is a measurement of what our body would burn calorically if we were completely sedentary.  This number is what it takes our body to simply sustain life.  There are several things that can alter this including age, weight, body composition, supplementation, medications and stress.  Your numbers for RMR can be estimated with many online calculators, my personal favorite being at shapeup.org.  If you are looking to personalize it for yourself you can do a resting metabolic rate test, which we offer at Science of Speed.  This test gives you precise data that is specific to your own bodies needs and adds a much greater level of accuracy.

HR monitors and power meters can be a good way to gauge our total calories burnt.  Heart rate can have it’s inaccuracies, however, it can help you track your trends in training with your weight and allow you to become proficient at estimating your needed calories.  If you are looking to add an even greater level of accuracy power meters are an amazing tool for tracking caloric burn through kJ, which correlate roughly 1:1 into calories.  Tracking these numbers with RMR, and a calculated estimate of your daily activity can give you very reliable numbers for your overall needs.

Tracking it

By far the most successful thing that I have found for my own personal weight maintenance and many of my athletes’ success is completing a nutritional log.  It is certainly something that you can do daily but it can take a fair amount of time.  Doing a three day period, including one weekend day, monthly or bi-monthly gives a realistic gauge of consumption vs. burn.  I have found two great apps that have lead to great success for many of my athletes.  Trainingpeaks.com’s mobile app helps track training and nutritional data and makes it a one stop shop for all of my athletes to see their schedule, upload training files and input their dietary intake.  Not looking for something quite so detailed?  Another very useful app is MyFitnessPal.  It is free, very user friendly and has many great features.  With both of these you get the ability scan barcodes, create your own meals and most importantly get a breakdown of calories as well as your percentages of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that you consume.

Maintainence or Loss

Each day’s nutrition can vary drastically.  From the long training sessions that lead to high caloric burn and the rest days that result in very low caloric needs so too will your caloric intake needs vary.  Much like training, tracking our nutrition can be a very good thing to help take you to that next level but it can be taken to the extremes.  A safe approach to weight loss is moderate weight loss (1-2lbs/wk ¹) over an extended period of time and by properly monitoring your nutrition and workload with the above listed tools you can track this very precisely and effectively reach your own weight loss goals. So, take that next step and begin tracking your nutrition.  Don’t track the days that you know are your “good” days, instead get a realistic snapshot and take a critical look at it.  If it is overwhelming to track your own training progress, nutritional progress and everything else that is involved we are here to help you bring the science to your training and help you make it to whatever your next level may be.

¹ http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/aim_hwt.pdf

Equipment Like the Pros

Over the past week there has been a great deal of hype in the cyclocross world.  With the Elite men and women racing in Louisville for the first ever U.S. based Cyclocross Worlds.  If you have been reading through any of the cycling news based sites or magazines you would have noticed that there has been a great deal of focus on these important races.

One thing that has not been mentioned that has stood out to me is the story of current U.S. National Champion, Jonathan Page.  Through 2012 he has not had a bike sponsor, or title sponsor for that matter, and had been riding and racing on a Blue brand cyclocross bike.  After his Nationals victory he was signed by Fuji bikes, hardly one week before his largest race of the year. Here is what I see as a coach, bike fit specialist and athlete:

  • Even though as a professional and he has a full time mechanic to take care of his equipment and make sure it works well you drastically increase your risk of something going wrong.
  • When you have been training and racing on the same equipment for a whole season.  One week out you are now changing not only the bike but the fit and the way the bike handles.  As many of you know fitting is not always an instantaneous process and a fair bit of the fine tuning takes time.  Having a bike that doesn’t feel perfect has a big impact on not only comfort but confidence which ultimately can impact outcome.
  • As athletes we all fall prey to marketing hype, athlete promotion and “sex appeal” of equipment.  This is a perfect example in my eyes that a lot of times it comes down to money for so many athletes.  Keep in mind that your hero is working when they are training and racing.  A lot of the equipment comes down to a paycheck even if it isn’t the most optimal thing out there.  You can see this at some of the large races where a wheel is re-branded with another name but the dimpling clearly means it is a Zipp wheel.

What does this mean for you.  Be smart, remember that you do this for fun and because you love your sport.  If you are unsure of what to do research the product and if you can’t find anything try to find a friend or trusted source that has the knowledge to help you.  This could be your local bike shop or it could be your coach.  As coaches many of us pride ourselves in doing a fair number of research on a great deal of our sport to offer our athletes a less biased viewpoint.  

Press Release: Liz Gerrity Joins Rose Bandits!

For the 2013 cycling season, Science of Speed athlete, Liz Gerrity will be racing for The Rose Bandit Cycling Team.  Liz’s several years in the saddle have brought a great deal of success to her including many first place wins but the crowning jewel are her SECCC Time Trial Championship and her 2nd place finish in the Florida State CAT 1/2/3 Road Race Championships.  2013 is sure to bring a great deal of success for Liz and Science of Speed and her coach, Brady Irwin, can not wait to see all that we know she is capable of!

Phillipe Gilbert Wins World Road Championships!

With a leg shattering attack Phillipe Gilbert took the win in the final four minutes of today’s World Road Cycling Championships. His decisive move on the Cauberg left all other riders behind and only Edvald Boassan Hagen had enough strength in his legs to even consider chasing down the belgian’s jaw dropping attack.