Archive for January 2012
I know, I know. Why am I beating the “get lean” and stay lean dead horse? Well, because I wanted to share some tips that have worked for me. You may have already read my health and wellness transformation post from a year ago, and if not, please go ahead and read that first. I’ve come along way, thanks to my nutritionist wife and cycling. Along the way, there have been things that have worked and things that have not. I’m going to share what I’m doing right now to stay healthy and lean while maintaining “good legs” for cycling (aka – not starving myself).
1. This goes without saying and is largely beaten to death, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: eat whole foods for God’s sakes. Eat 3 or 4 pieces of fruit and several helpings of vegetables every single day. How do you do this? Rather, how do I do it? Simple. I bring fruit with me to work and snack on it throughout the day. An apple here and there. An orange. A banana right before I leave for the day. Whatever it takes. Have a piece of fruit whenever you start thinking about food between meals. Vegetables are a bit different for me. I generally eat my plants for dinner. Lately I’ve been making huge spinach and fresh greens salads. I’ve been throwing whatever greens I can find around the house in them, plus nuts, raisins, and some kind of cheese. For example, the other night I came home to find that we had some leftover asparagus in the fridge. Perfect! I threw a big pile of spinach in my bowl, added the asparagus and some leftover broccoli in there. Then dumped half an avocado, a handful of raisins, shredded almonds, feta cheese, and some peas. It was delicious. My rule of thumb with big hearty salads is – there are no rules. Throw whatever plants you can find in that bad boy and go to town. It’s allll good. Got some kale lying around? Throw it in. What about that sweet potato sitting over there? Hells yes. Throw that bad boy in. Nothing won’t work.
The bottom line is this: if it has a label, be wary. Read the label. If it has more than a few simple ingrediants, it’s probably not food. It’s more likely a food-like product (thanks Michael Pollan). Eat real, whole foods. Don’t accept the substitutes.
2. A tip that goes along with my first point is to experiment. Like I said in my previous nutrition blog post, there is a cornucopia of vegetables out there that are far from your typical peas and carrots. Even in your standard King Soopers fruit and vegetable aisle, you’ll find a half dozen vegetables that look strange and may have names that are difficult to pronounce. Try them out! What’s the worst that can happen? The wonderful thing is, when you do find something random you like, you now have one extra bullet in your chamber. The more foods in your repertoire, the less likely you’ll become bored and wander off into Hamburger Helper-ville.
3. Eat breakfast. I don’t give a shit what time you wake up and how quickly you have to get to work. Do yourself a favor and eat breakfast. I also don’t care about “kick-starting your metabolism” or any other faux-scientific reason to eat breakfast. The reason breakfast is important (at least to me) is that it’s another opportunity to put good, nutrient-rich food in your system. Look at it like an opportunity, not a good time to avoid calories. And when you get to work and start getting some craving, you won’t have the excuse, “well, I haven’t eaten anything yet…. so why not indulge in a couple donuts?” Don’t give yourself that out. Start the day off right and continue to build on it.
4. Drink water all day. I know you’ve probably heard this one before, but I stand by it. I drink water all day long. I have a big cup sitting on my desk that I’ll take swigs from while working. I fill it up a few times a day on average. I think water is great because I think hydration is great. Plus, it kills the boredom hunger strikes that are sometimes unavoidable at certain points throughout the day. Kill that tiny speck of hunger growing in your stomach with some water. It doesn’t stand a chance.
5. I don’t try to eat all day long, but I kinda do. I know it’s an old wives’ tale to eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. Or maybe that’s just good science. I don’t know, but I do know that I inadvertently adhere to the eating throughout the day principle. Why? Because I’m constantly snacking on fruit all day. I’ll generally have a stock of apples and bananas at my desk at all times. Sometimes I’ll have a bag of nuts and raisins. Typically, every couple of hours I’ll grab something and put it down the hatch. Maybe this is good, maybe it’s bogus. But I do it and it seems to work pretty well.
6. This is one that I kinda just picked up and is geared towards endurance athletes. On the days you do a big ride, I’ve found that eating good carbs (sweet potatoes, rice, squash, whole grains) as your recovery meal is preferable to having them all in a “big dinner.” I used to just have a protein fruit smoothie after I got home from a 5 hour ride and then have a huge dinner. I think my mind is changed about that. Now when I get home from a big ride, I’ll have some good sources of carbs and protein IN REAL FOOD! Then later on I’ll have as much greens as I can for dinner. I’m not sure why this seems to be working, but it is.
Let me give you an example. After I got home from a hard 4 hour ride today, I had some pre-cooked rice and eggs all fried up in a delicious mixture. Pre-cooked meaning I cooked a few cups of rice last night. Now for dinner I’m going to have a big spinach salad with a bunch of green fixins. Again, this tip is the least tested, but it seems to be working well for me.
7. Just because I slightly disparaged protein fruit smoothies a second ago doesn’t mean they don’t have their place. Remember the eat breakfast tip? Well, a fruit smoothie is a great breakfast item. Get yourself a decent blender and start experimenting with different frozen fruits and protein mixes. Lately I’ve been using half of my whey protein mix and adding a scoop of Sunbutter. That combo is especially delicious for strawberry/banana smoothies. (Side note: Peanut butter is bullshit. Sunbutter is where it’s at).
8. Final tip: Give yourself one cheat day every week. Mine is on Fridays. And I don’t mean “cheat within reason.” I mean go ahead and go buckwild. See those donuts in the breakroom? Ravage them! I think Fridays are optimal for cheating because it’s a good set-up for a weekend of long rides. But pick whatever day of the week works best for you. The cheat day is also important because it gives you that ace up your sleeve to resist sweets throughout the week. No need to indulge on Wednesday if you’ve got Friday to look forward to.
That’s about all I can think of at the moment. Many of them you’ve heard a million times before, but unlike some of the other standard nutrition advice out there, I can vouch for these tips.
I took the new bike out today for Worlds! Fantastic! What a great ride. However, I noticed that my seatpost was slipping throughout the day. I went from the 10 marker on my post down to the 8. No bueno. I decided to head over to Ike’s house after the ride and get some of that magic no-slippage grease on my post. It worked wonders on my Supersix’s seatpost. We hit that up and then decided to weigh the new beast. I guessed it would come to 16.5 lbs. After all, we were weighing with bottle cages, pedals, and some post-ride dirt and grime.
That bad boy came out to a measly 16.06. YES. That means with a good wash, it’ll be sitting at a solid 16 lbs even. Not too shabby for a heavy power tap wheelset.
I was able to take out the new bike this morning for a quick spin. I wanted to get a few miles on it before I take it out for 5 hours tomorrow. I brought an allen key with me to make any adjustments that might come up. My plan was to ride down to Wash Park and do a few laps.
As soon as I pulled away from my house and headed down Corona, I noticed the massive tubes between my legs. “Why hello there industrial sized tubing. Have we met before?” The top tube is so wide, it feels like my knees are going to hit it every pedal stroke. This didn’t happen at all, but it certainly felt like it was going to. My second thought was, “damn these breaks are powerful!” In fact, the 6700 group as a whole is a great improvement over 6600. The 6700 feels super crisp, both shifting and breaking. It makes my 6600 feel like mush.
As I pulled into the park, I really noticed how stiff the bike is. It was difficult to tell as I was coming down from the top of the hill, but once on flat land, the stiffness jumped out at me. Sitting down and pushing the SL4 is a real joy. Standing up out of the saddle is a whole new experience now. Simply mind blowing. What a difference in responsiveness. It makes my SuperSix feel like mush.
I took a lap around the park and tried riding in all my positions. On the tops felt the most comfortable right off the bat. The bar is much wider and flatter now that we have cables running on both sides of it, so my “climbing” position on the tops is super comfy. From the tops I moved onto the hoods. This felt a little more awkward. I felt like I had to move forward a bit on the saddle to “get into” the position. After messing around with my butt position, I was able to find a good spot. (keep in mind, I have a slightly different saddle on the Tarmac. It has an Antares, my SuperSix has an Arione). With that checked off the list, I did a little switching back and forth between the tops and the hoods. The tops continued to impress. The hoods took a bit getting used to. Granted, I’ve been on this new bike for a grand total of about 10 minutes at this point.
Another thing I noticed was that I felt like my seat was a tad low. I didn’t feel like I was getting full leg extension. I pulled over and adjusted it up a cm or so. It was perfect. From that point on, it felt more “normal” to me. I continued going around the park, said hello to Jordo who was out on a run, and started to get a better feel for my hoods. (another point: the 6700 hoods are WAY different than my 6600. It’ll take some getting used to).
The last lap I focused on getting my position dialed in the drops. The drops felt much better right away. I was really able to feel and enjoy that extra 1.5cm I have now in length. (insert small penis joke here). Before I felt like I was too scrunched up in my drops. On the Tarmac I can relax my arms and back much more. 60mph descents, here I come!
After a couple laps of messing around, I felt satisfied enough to take the new baby out tomorrow for Worlds and High Grade. I headed back home, up the hill. I was looking forward to climbing on this stiff monster while on my comfy tops. It was dee-lightful! What power transfer. Yes, I said that. I said a really lame ass bike buzz word. But that’s all I can think of to describe it. Power. Transfer.
All in all I’m super happy with the new bike so far. I’ve got about 30 minutes total on the thing, so I won’t know for sure until after this weekend when I’ll have logged around 10 hours on it. I’ll check in after Sunday’s all-team ride with my secondary and tertiary thoughts.
I’ll say it up front: I haven’t ridden the steed outside yet. But, I wanted to give it its due with my attempt at a CyclingNews esque Pro Bike review.
First a little background. I’ve been riding an ’08 Cannondale SuperSix with Ultegra SL on it for… let’s do some quick math… carry the 1… ah ok, 4 years now. It’s been a great bike in every respect. I haven’t had any issues with the frame or any of my components. (Well, that’s not entirely true. I broke one of the inserts on my crank last off season and that set off my knee issues. But, in my crank’s defense, my knee issues would have reared their ugly head eventually. The crank only accelerated the rearing part). Nevertheless, it’s all worked very well for me these past few years. But the idea of having just one bike has always made me uneasy. What if I were to go down? What if someone knocked my bike over and cracked something? What if my steer tube broke a ‘la George Hincapie? Thankfully, luck was on my side and nothing major ever happened. I decided last year that I’d wait one more year, then get a new bike – hopefully with the ability to build it up independently of my SuperSix. Thus, TWO whole bikes!
And here we are. A year later and I’ve got two bikes. Team Primal put in our orders for our new Specialized bikes in October with the idea that we’d get our new rigs come January, possibly later. I decided against getting the Tarmac SL4 built up with Force and opted to get just the frame. I figured I could pick up slightly used Force or Ultegra 6700 on Craigslist. (I was right). Anyhow, my bike came in December, slightly ahead of schedule. Hooray!
From the time I ordered the bike, I made a list of the parts I would need to build up the SL4 and keep the Six fully intact. Over the course of a couple of months I was able to get everything I needed at super deal pricing. In the end, most of what I got came from Craigslist (thanks Jimi!) and the other stuff I got from Bike Source. The only thing I switched over from the old bike was my Hollowgram crank. When my bike finally arrived in December, I was ready to start building that bad boy up. I asked BABs to help me out and he obliged. We knocked it out over the course of a couple nights. I learned quite a lot. Thanks bud!
The next call I made was to George Mullen for my annual bike fit. He slotted me in right away and we ironed out my position on my new bike. I ended up keeping the same saddle to bar drop (10cm) as before but with a slightly longer reach (about 1.5cm). Turns out, I not only have really long legs, I have really long arms too. My wingspan is a few inches longer than my height. I can’t wait to take out the new steed and do a real fast descent in my new, more stretched out position. I’ve been wanting a longer position for awhile and now I’ve got it.
Ok, enough talk. Let’s get down to business. You and I both know why you’re here. You came to see some bike prOn. I’m here to show it.
Frame: Specialized FACT 10r carbon, FACT IS construction
Fork: Specialized FACT carbon, full monocoque
Seatpost: Specialized Pro, FACT carbon, 27.2mm
Headset: 1-1/8″ upper and 1-3/8″ lower Cr-Mo cartridge bearings, w/ 8mm carbon cone spacer
Bottom bracket: BB30
Stem: Specialized Pro Set 130mm, -17
Handlebars: FSA Wing Pro, 44cm
Tape: Fizik white pro logo
Grip: Hudz Roubaix red
Brakes: Ultegra 6700
Derailleurs: Ultegra 6700
Crank: Cannondale Hollowgram, 50/34
Cassette: Sram Red 1090, 11-26
Chain: Ultegra 6700
Pedals: Ultegra PD-6700 carbon
Wheels: Kinlin rims, Sapim Cx-Ray spokes, Powertap Pro+
Tires: Specialized all condition armadillo elite
Saddle: Fizik Antares
Bottle cages: Blackburn carbon
Computer: Garmin Edge 800
Sorry for the camera phone pics. I really didn’t want to deal with a slightly crappy digital camera. I should also mention that despite having two whole bikes now, I still only have one set of wheels. So if anything were to ever happen to them… let’s not think about that.
As you can see below, the Six has been relegated to the bike stand in between rides. Actually, the SL4 sits on the bike stand much more often than the old bike. I will not ride the new steed on my trainer. Or when it’s slightly wet outside. Or when it might snow the following weekend.
The rumors are true. I do indeed have a new bike. No, I haven’t ridden it yet, but it’s all put together and has been fit to my oddly long body. I’m excited to take some decent pics (e.g. not from my phone) and write a little pro bike review on this here blog. Let this post serve as a place holder and reminder to give my new SL4 it’s just deserts.