A couple of weeks ago, we took in delivery of the new Specialized Venge Pro Force. The Venge is Specialized aero road bike that is setup to compete with rides like the Ridley Noah, Giant Propel, Cervelo S5 and other road bikes aimed at bringing aero technology from TT and Tri bikes to road racing frames. With the decreased drag and resistance, the bike is designed to cut through air with precision.
Specialized Venge Right Profile
About the Venge (from Specialized.com):
The VENGE is a pure-science mind wrapped in a lay-down-the-law body. With a one-two punch of Shiv-inspired aerodynamics and Tarmac-borne stiffness, this machine was born to fly. With multiple World Tour victories under its belt, the FACT IS 11r carbon frame and supreme handling delivers the winning formula of light weight, stiff and aero. With a measured 22 watts of free power at 40km/hr over the Tarmac SL3, it’s tailor-made for serious performers who like to crush competitors’ dreams and break spirits into tiny pieces.
Specialized Venge Front Profile
Features (from Specialized.com):
The Venge Pro’s competition-crushing combo of Tarmac-inspired stiffness and light weight with Shiv-inspired aerodynamics makes this pure race machine truly more bike than aero. A full compliment of SRAM Force components means high value and high performance.
UCI-legal, FACT IS 10r frameset, full-monocoque carbon frame with one-piece carbon OSBB/chainstay, internal cable routing, and tapered head tube provides the complete performance formula for weight, stiffness and aerodynamics
UCI-legal, full carbon monocoque fork with 3:1 airfoil shaping and straight profile for best combination of aerodynamics and stiffness
Specialized Pro FACT Carbon crankset with oversided BB and removeable spider, has an unparalleled stiffness to wieght ratio for efficiency and power transfer
Specialized Turbo Pro 127 TPI, offers BlackBelt protection for a tough tire that still offers low rolling resistance, great traction, and light weight to allow for quick climps and fast decents
Stiff, light, UCI-legal bladed carbon seatpost; pairs with Specialized BG Romin Expert with hollow Ti rails for durability
SRAM Force Hood
This version of the Venge is kitted out with a host of Specialized components and the complete SRAM Force component group (minus the cranks in favor of the Specialized Pro FACT carbons). Overall weight without pedals and the stock aluminum bar (Easton EA90 Aero review bar already installed as pictured) came in at 15 lbs 12 oz for a size 58. With this component group at that size, that is more than respectable.
Over the coming months, we are going to be using this bike to review road bike components and to review the bike itself. Stay tuned as we start putting the miles on for more updates. After the shakedown…we can tell you that this bike likes to cut through air much more than the Tarmac did…but that was to be expected.
This video is just another reminder on how safe we need to be on the road. Even in cases when we are doing everything right like staying on the edge of the lane, staying single file and wearing a helmet…bad things can happen that are out of our control.
Mulholland Drive in Southern California
The wreck happened on Mulholland Drive in southern California. For those of you that don’t live in the area, that might mean nothing to you, but it is a go to spot for road cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers as the road has a lot of twists and turns. In the motorcycle and car industry, it is famous for this and this turn is quite possibly the most recognized in the area…Rock Store (Search for it in YouTube and you will find nothing but motorcycle wrecks). In northern Georgia, we have similar roads that we use for road biking (roads that were used in the Tour de Georgia back in the day) which made this video a strong reminder for me personally as well.
It appears that the motorcyclists just froze. As the old saying goes…”look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to be” and he fixated on the two road cyclists and basically drove right through them. The only good news is that both cyclists appear to be able to walk away from the accident. Judging by the video, the first one my have a concussion or other head related trauma as he was down for awhile and wasn’t completely all there when he got up.
The road cyclists in this case were doing everything they were supposed to do when we “share the road” with other sports. This is just a great reminder to be extra aware while riding in popular spots. Even if you are in the right, things can go really wrong.
I have been riding bikes for over 15 years now and I have never had a professional bike fit until this month.
I thought that would be a great way to start this experience just to give you guys a baseline. I have always done my own fits based off of feel on the bike. Over the years, I have grown to know my body, my riding style and where I am most comfortable. It was not until my recent back issues (not biking related…just hurts while on the bike) that I considered getting a bike fit done to make sure I was not further agitating the condition.
I will say…my “just on feel” theory was wrong after having a real fit done, so here is the story.
The Professional Bike Fit
I called up a friend of mine that owns Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA. We have been talking a lot over the past couple of months about my back issues and what do to on the bike that could help that out. With the help of doctors and his first hand knowledge, I had gotten to the point that I was comfortable on the bike again.
When the Specialized Venge came in for review (first look article coming soon), I knew there was going to be a lot of saddle time involved. It was time to throw away my old way of doing things and make sure that everything was perfect. I told Todd what was going on and he scheduled me in that week to see where the current fit stood and what we could tweak to make sure I was getting everything I could out of the bike with the least amount of body error that might agitate my back or any other parts of my body. I fit the measurements of the Venge directly to what I had been riding on the previous Tarmac. This is also what I had been riding on for the shakedown rides.
Pedal Right Fit Studio with Retul
Todd uses the Pedal Right Fit Studio with the Retul fit system. What is really cool about this whole process is that he essentially traces your bike to find your baseline measurements. Then…once the fit process is complete…we retraces it to give you your measurements. This allows you to have the data to transfer the fit to other bikes. It also satisfies the data geek within me.
Tracing the bike with the Retul system.
Using a scanner and several key points on the bike, Todd was able to draw my current setup virtually. It really reminded me of the Xbox Kinect as he went from point to point. It is really cool how far technology has come over the years.
The Retul Scanner
After all of the baseline measurements were taken, Todd had me get on the bike and warm up a bit. After I had gotten comfortable and into my stride, he started to have me stop the pedals at 6 o’clock and 3 o’clock to check alignments and measurements as I sat on the bike. As many of you already know, bike fit is essentially a science. There are certain geometrical solutions that create the most power at a healthy angle for your body.
So what was the outcome of my “feel fit”?
Well…I ended up having the most common problem in bike fits…my saddle height was too low. Ironically, most of my other measurements were pretty dead on, but that doesn’t mean a thing if the saddle height is not correct as that is probably the biggest factor in a correct bike fit.
Todd got to work on the saddle height and then started tailoring the rest of the measurements around that. As we continued working on the fit, we noticed another glaring problem. I had been telling him how I feel like my heals want to point out on the bike. As it turns out, my pedals were so far inward that the laser was not even showing up on my foot when lined up with my kneecap.
A couple of washers later…and I had a straight line heading from my leg to my foot. As you might have heard before, your leg is like a piston in producing power. You want the straightest line possible to the ground to insure there is no power loss in side to side torquing motion (as a gear head I love that analogy). I was losing power due to not striking the pedal straight on. That can also be a source of knee pain over time as I was essentially torquing it to the side.
We got done with the rest of the measurements and Todd gave me the final data. These sheets aren’t of any real value to you unless you are my exact same proportions and measurements, but I thought they would be cool to post here so you can see how things changed.
The Proof in the Pudding: The Rides After the Fit
It is amazing how much little changes can make a big difference. The bike feels great right now and it is the most comfortable I have ever been on a road bike. Obviously, the biggest changes I can feel is the pedal placement and saddle height. I really don’t feel like I am fighting anything on the bike anymore during my pedal strokes. Fellow riding friends have even said that it looks more comfortable as we are riding in a paceline.
So…long story short…I was wrong.
This is something I should have done a long time ago regardless of the issues with my back. I started thinking about how much power I have left on the trail or the road due to not being lined up correctly on the bike. How many more miles could I have ridden? How much faster could I have been with that extra energy and by getting the energy I did have straight to the ground?
I’ll never really know the answers to those questions…but I do know that I am sold. If you are in the local area, Reality Bikes is a great place to get a fit done and I have always highly recommended their shop for a lot of things…so check them out. Otherwise, get a fit done at your local shop as it will help your riding.
Getting a new mountain or road bike is one of the many exciting parts of the sport of cycling. Let’s face it…there is nothing quite like a shiny new sled. You get to act like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. However, there is a process you need to go through with each new bike purchase to insure that the excitement keeps rolling forward and doesn’t turn into a stoke ending catastrophe.
For many, this process will be aided through your local bike shop, but let’s lay out the top 5 things you need to do on your new bike when you first take it into possession.
Top 5 Things Every Rider Should Do When They Get A New Bike
So here they are…the top 5 things every rider needs to do when they get a new bike…
Swapping parts between the Specialized Tarmac and the Specialized Venge
#1 – Swap Parts
Even if you are buying a complete bike that is ready to go off the shelf, there are probably some parts that you have upgraded on your old ride or parts that have to do with fit (handlebars, stem, seatpost, seat, etc.) that you will need to swap over to your new ride. It is best to go ahead and get this process started right away even if you really just want to tear it out of the box and start getting it dirty. Now is also a good time to look over the frame and add 3M protective film to anywhere on the frame where there might be cable or foot rub. That will keep your bike looking new for the long run and prevent those heart breaking first scratches.
This is also the time to check the torque with a torque wrench (all riders should have one) on all of your bolts to make sure nothing randomly falls off on your first ride. Nothing kills the new bike fever worse than a bad wreck.
Bike Fit Done by Todd at Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA
#2 – Get A Bike Fit
Many riders know exactly how they fit on the bike down to the millimeter, but many do not. A proper bike fit will insure less injury and more power from your legs getting transferred to the ground. This is also a great time to get a new fit done to begin with as your new bike’s geometry is most likely not the same as your old one. There will be tweaks to the fit that need to be made.
I always like to match up the fit from my old bike to the new as close as possible…then go in and get a fit done to fine tune the process. That also gives me an awareness on how the new bike fits differently than the old.
#3 – Shakedown Ride and Attitude
Now this is the tough one. Just when you want to go out and prove the new bike actually does make you faster…you can’t. The first ride on a new bike should always have an adjustment in riding attitude. During this first shakedown ride, you should pick a trail or road that you know very well. Preferably…one that is close by the car or tools so if you need to make adjustments you can.
During this ride, you are riding slower and not as intense as usual. You should be getting used to the new handling characteristics of the bike, watching for any loose bolts or fitment issues and taking it easy while observing all of these things at once. Shakedown rides are also shorter in distance as changes will need to be made and you are trying to just shake everything loose on the bike.
Just take this ride easy and make sure it ends well. Your time to push the bike is coming soon…
Shakedown on the new Specialized Venge
#4 – Recheck Torque Settings
After your shakedown ride, it is time to get your new bike in the garage and recheck all torque settings with a torque wrench on the bike. You are going to be surprised. That first shakedown ride popped a couple of things loose that you are not going to want to fall off on the trail or road. This is also a great time to double check all of the areas that you put 3M film and make sure it is doing its job. In many cases, the first shakedown ride has also pointed out new places that I want to keep components or other factors from hitting the frame.
#5 – Post It All Over The Internet
You know you want to and are going to. Part of the fun of getting a new bike is taking pictures of it out on the trail…in your car…on a couch in the house while your wife is not looking. Have fun with it. We all get excited over new bikes even if they aren’t ours.
What I am seeing lately disturbs me. While this attitude definitely spans farther than cycling these days, it seems the polarizing extremes are out to kill something cool that we all enjoy once again…Strava.
Strava started out as an awesome idea that the industry was lacking. Let’s turn GPS routing into something you can not only track against yourself…but the other people you ride with and others in you area. Awesome! You mean to tell me that I can now track my own progress and have some fun with my friends at the same time? This is awesome. Sign me up.
Inevitably, as with anything else cool, the polarizing extremes are trying to tear down something that the masses enjoy without issue by having a complete lack of common sense. Yes, there are a small percentage of people that believe having the KOM is the end all be all in their little world. They will push you out of the way, run over a fellow cyclist and break laws just to get that KOM. It is obsessing their life and if they don’t have it…they are nothing. Ultimately, this is a group that most people do not want to be associated with, which…in turn…discourages use.
There are also those that are speaking out saying how stupid the service is. Anyone who uses it is not a true cyclist. Look at me…there are no computers on my bike and that makes me better than you. You are an idiot for even caring and I look down on you and your riding. This group tries to discourage you from using the service.
Then there is a third group…those that lack personal responsibility and look for someone to blame for bad situations. It is Strava’s fault that my loved one wrecked. They should pay. While I feel for the families effected and would never wish that on anyone, the transference of liability and personal responsibility is an attempt at claiming that Strava should be responsible for any wreck on a segment (there are two lawsuits pending against Strava currently). Just another “it’s not my fault…it is yours” situation that we are finding in the world today (thanks lawyers). This group wants to insinuate that Strava is dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed to operate.
However, there is a 4th, much larger group, that is a group of cyclists that truly enjoys the service and is able to use it with the spirit in which it was intended…responsibly. Somehow…the masses that are enjoying something cool…don’t have a voice.
A Call To Riders: Start Using Common Sense
I was reading an article recently where BBC interviewed Strava’s chief executive, Michael Horvath after a recent slew of pro and anti Strava articles that have been stripping through the web. What struck me as most important was the intentions Horvath had with Strava in the beginning.
“The impetus for the idea was thinking how do we recreate this when we aren’t connected to people anymore through our daily existence, when we are busy with work and family and everything is pulling us and taking us away from our life as an athlete,” he says. ”We want to create that feeling of that virtual connection to other athletes that are like us.”
“Our people are active,” he says. “I am sure that there are people in their families who say they are obsessed about cycling. But we are not making them more obsessive, what we are creating is a place for them to tell their story. They have these habits anyway and we’re giving them the place to present it in a way that’s meaningful to them.”
“We’re certainly not trying to polarise,” Mr Horvath says. ”We can communicate, ‘Don’t be that guy, use good judgment. Remember that there are other people on the trail.’ And I think we spread that message.”
“I spend no time looking where I stand on the leader boards – I look at how I am doing relative to my previous performances,” he says. ”You realise that there is always going to be somebody faster than you. Surely you weren’t thinking you were the fastest cyclist in your neighbourhood.
“So that maturation of the athlete on Strava is something I think that we’ll see more clearly.”
It seems like I am saying this a lot lately about different areas of life, but when did people lose all common sense? If I asked a road biker to jump on a mountain bike for the first time and do a container drop at Whistler…they would tell me I am insane. However, some of these same road bikers think it is a good idea not to help out a fellow rider, break road laws and endanger their own life (and others) just for a spot at the top in a race that doesn’t matter. It is the same on the mountain biking side of things as well.
What the industry really needs is a dose of common sense and a reality check. Cycling is a sport that is supposed to be enjoyed by all. It is not a method of proving how much better you are than someone else. While it is fun to compete between friends, that should not distract from the true reason we get on a bike…because it is fun. When you stop having fun or are taking away from other’s fun because of your complete lack of realizing what is going on around you…you are going against everything that makes cycling awesome.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean that just because a select few want to act like idiots that we should strip cycling of technology. Strava is a fun aspect of the sport when it is used correctly and not at the expense of others.
As Horvath also said in the interview…
“But as I get older, I am less interested about how fast I am going, I’m more interested about how much fun I am having. And so that again goes back to storytelling and the social aspect which is at the core of Strava – that connectedness to other athletes.”
Connecting with other riders and watching each other’s progress should be a fun and social aspect of cycling. Never before have we been able to connect with so many riders through social media outlets like forums, Facebook and services like Strava. The trick is to step back and realize that everything in life should be done with moderation and nothing is worth endangering yourself or others.
I also think that idiots that endanger the life of others should not deter us from using social outlets to connect with other riders. Just because a select few can’t follow the social rules of cycling, that does not mean that we need to go back to the days of no suspension, rotary phones and topography maps. That is just a gut reaction that once again hurts the masses that enjoy that aspect of cycling.
I know…the view of using something responsibly and asking people to have fun is not all that exciting. You are sitting here thinking…yeah…that is common sense, but if that is true…why has this even become an issue then?
After a really rough year on the bike (injury and personal), I am planning on using Strava as my indicator on my progress as I continue to try to get back into the shape I was before the wall hit. For me, that makes Strava invaluable as it is a tool that will ultimately help my journey back on the bike and keep me riding. Hopefully, someday soon, I will beat my own personal KOM’s and enjoy being back in the riding shape I am used to.
The extremes of either side of the argument are getting the bandwidth online right now. My recommendation is to give a voice to the large majority of users that enjoy the service. Keep using Strava as it was intended and share that experience with other riders that do the same. Ultimately, that is what keeps a service like Strava going and silences the small percentage that tries to ruin the experience for everyone else.
With Strava and other GPS platforms, our phones have become a vital part of capturing our rides. After looking through some options, the guys at RockForm sent over one of their new v3 iPhone 5 mounts with case to review. I will be putting the mount and case through its paces on both our commuter bike, and also strapping it to the mountain bike to see how it performs off road on some rough singletrack. The RockForm mount attaches to your fork and replaces your top cap. Then the case covers your phone securely and snaps into the mount using a quarter turn system and a little magnet that’s integrated into the case. It’s a pretty ingenious solution and easy to install and setup for your preferred viewing angle.
Out of the box, the mount and case look great. Everything that you need is included, labeled well, and packaged nicely. It came with:
- The top cap mount, including a new bolt.
- A solid surface “remote” mount that you can mount to any surface (like a car dashboard)
- A tether for the “just in case” moments on the bike
- The iPhone case, including a rubber surround
- Screen protector, wipe, and alcohol pad for install
Everything necessary to clean, install, and mount
To start with, I really like the case itself. It’s a nice hard plastic case so it protects the phone on all sides, but it’s not so bulky as to take away from the iPhone’s size. Also, the magnet portion on the back side of the case has a rubber coating, so the case sits nicely on a desk or solid surface. Other full plastic cases slide really easily and I really like how this one sits solidly. Lastly, the magnet is a really cool feature. Since it’s coated in rubber, it doesn’t hurt or mar any surfaces, but it has an strong enough attraction to attach itself to steel surfaces. I’ve used it to hang my phone temporarily on my toolbox in the garage and also place it on the roof of my car and have full confidence that it won’t slide off. It’s a very cool, unexpected feature of the case, and I really like it.
I got the case installed on my shiny new iPhone 5 and the mount installed on the commuter bike to start with. I have a pretty short commute (3 miles each way, but I usually do some extra credit so it ends up being a 10 mile round trip) but it passes through our local city park and I do hop on/off a couple of curbs and sidewalks, so its a good test for the commuter application. The mount uses a quarter turn system, sort of similar (but MUCH more durable looking) to the Garmin mount, and then “snaps” into place using the small magnet on the back of the case. It’s a solid interface, easy to put into place, and feels very secure. You get a nice reassuring ”click” sort of sound when it goes into place.
Comes with everything needed to install. Impressive.
I haven’t yet used the full removable rubber bumper or the on the bike tether, as I feel just the plastic case is enough for my day to day use and on the commuter. I do plan on using both of those when I strap the iPhone to my Trek Remedy and hit the singletrack though.
The only drawback I found to the mount is that I now that I have such easy access to my technology, I caught myself texting and riding a couple of times, and also jumping on an email or facebook while sitting at a stoplight. It’s super easy to get distracted!
We will continue using the mount and case on the commuter and seeing how it holds up to more wear and tear, and shortly we’ll strap it to our big hit bike and test it out on the trails. Look for the full in depth review coming soon!
A little while ago I wrote about Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel and our initial impressions. I was very impressed with the product as soon as I tried it, and I’ve been using it for the last 2 months as my sole energy source for longer rides. I’ve experimented with different mix ratios and am in love with the product today, maybe even more so, than I was at first. I haven’t had to worry about gels, Clif bars, shot blocks, etc during any of my rides. I’ve watched a couple of friends even fall behind in their nutrition and have to scarf down Clif bars while their heart rate was in the 170s. No thanks!
What’s great about Tailwind is that you have constant sustained energy, since it’s in your drink, and you are drinking all the time. In the past, I’d run out of ooomph after 45 mins or an hour and rock out a gel or Clif bar and get your mojo back. Here, since you are getting your energy constantly you never have that dip, you just feel great the whole time. I like that.
Initially I tried 2 scoops (200 calories) per 24oz bottle (I’m 170lbs) and I think that ratio works well for harder or longer training rides. Something in the 4-5 hour range where I’ll be putting in some harder efforts. For 3 hour rides or doing an epic group ride, where the pace won’t be as fast, 1.5 scoops (150 calories) seems to be enough. You can always err on the side of caution and always drop in 2 scoops, but I’d like to save some calories if I don’t need them.
I also did a 3.5 hour endurance time trial a few weeks ago. For that race, I put in 2.5 scoops (250 calories) per bottle and drank every last bit. I was a little worried that I didn’t put in enough, as in the past I consumed 300 calories per hour of gel/clif bars/gatorade/etc but the 250 calorie portion of Tailwind gave me energy all race. I finished with a big personal best and finished in the Top 10 out of 100+ racers. Sweeet!
I plan on continuing to use Tailwind with my training and I’ve got my first 6 hour race coming up February 16th. I plan on doing that race solely using Tailwind. I think I will err on the side of caution and put in 3 scoops (300 calories) per bottle, as I’ll be racing super hard the entire time.
I came across this really cool video today that a company called SportsGarage.net put together and it is rather unique. The basic premise is a split screen look at mountain biking vs. road biking.
At Bike198, mountain biking has always been the spark that initiated the passion for pedal induced forward motion. What started off as a love for dirt has grown into road, urban and other platforms of cycling. The best part about this sport is the ability to enjoy it in an infinite amount of ways that all have their unique angles. For guys that like to get pointed downhill like me, the aggressiveness of steep, technical terrain blasting through the trees and rocks is where I find my inner peace. However, that doesn’t take away from the adrenaline rush that comes with testing the limits of skinny tires at 50 mph down a country mountain road.
My favorite caption from the movie is this:
The trail is the technical challenge…solving the riddle. The road is the rhythmic zen…releasing the power.
Cycling is a passion as much as it is a sport. Get out an enjoy whatever kind you call home and do not be afraid to experiment with other forms of the sport.
I’m relatively new to the mountain biking scene, only seriously riding bikes for 3 years. I therefore don’t know how it was in the “olden days”, but even 3 years ago, night riding meant buying a $400 light and riding slower than normal for 1.5 hours before the battery went out. Now with the abundance of inexpensive Chinese lights, night riding is a lot more approachable and so many more people can enjoy riding their mountain bike during the short days of fall/winter.
Our riding group was a mix of old and new lights, but recently one of the guys bought a $130 light from Amazon (Lumintrek 1600). Having had two of the “900 Lumen” Magicshine 808 series lights, I thought “meh, it’s not going to be better than my 2 light setup.” Boy was I wrong. It really is a game changer. The beam pattern and pure power of the Lumintrek 1600 light is way better than my Magicshine, and was leaps and bounds better than the older lights the rest of the guys were on. It’s not a total spot beam like the Magicshine, and it’s also not a flood. It seems to be a perfect blend of the two, to where it lights up quite a lot of the trail in front of you, but also let’s you really light up the area you are focused on. The one light is enough to where I can just throw a light on my helmet and don’t need a secondary bar light. Also the battery lasts a full 2.5 hours at high, so you get a great ride in after work. Needless to say, a couple of weeks later, we are all riding with the Lumintrek lights and all the older lights have been retired or sold off.
Luminktrek 1600 on the trail. 1/15s camera shutter so a great representation of what it actually looks like
It’s like a different sport. It’s daylight out there. We’re not any slower than during the day and when you are 3rd in line with those 1600 lumen lights all around, you almost don’t need a light yourself. Now there are a lot of other options in the market other than the Lumintrek light, and many at similar price points, but what really impressed me was the quality of the product, bike mount, battery, and helmet mount all for $130. It allows pretty much anyone, regardless of budget, to go out there and rip it up on their local trail after the sun goes down, which in itself is awesome!
Any of you guys using these inexpensive Chinese lights? What are some of your experiences?
(Editors note: This isn’t a formal review and we were not provided this light by the manufaturer. We were just happy enough with a product to write about it!)
As I talked about in a previous article about me knee pain, I got into CrossFit over late fall/early winter to work on some muscles that were heavily underused in my biking. It turned out to be an awesome experience and I would highly recommend for everyone that is into mountain biking to at least incorporate some of the CrossFit principles into your cross training workouts. There are some very direct mountain biking benefits to this type of cross training. My technical climbing and descending has greatly improved, and my burst power used in those steep grunts is way better than ever. I’m able to finally understand what people mean by muscling my bike through rocks. I can pick up the tires over rocks and direct the back end of the bike where I want. It has enabled me to clear technical climbs that I used to walk, and I recently nailed a very technical what used to be a 50 minute climb in 32 minutes. That’s what I call improvement!
CrossFit in short is a training methodology that focuses on “functional movements”, which are basically things you could do in real life (well not me and you, but maybe firemen or policemen, I sit at a desk). You don’t do any isolation exercises like bicep curls. It has compound exercises, many of which are Olympic lifts that work not only your major muscle groups, but also all the stabilizer muscles. That is the key in my opinion, as it will not only make those major muscles stronger, you are also working out all the support muscles leading to less injuries. There is a new WOD (Workout Of the Day) each day, and those are switched up, so you and your muscles and never bored and plateau’d. Also, the competition aspect of CrossFit makes you work hard and really push yourself. Every workout has some competition aspect to it, whether it’s AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible in a defined time frame) or performing a pre-set number of rounds no matter how long it takes.
An example CrossFit homy gym. Mine isn’t that fancy.
Having said all this, CrossFit can be abused and since it’s easy to open a CrossFit gym, there are many bad ones to go along with the great ones out there. In my opinion, it’s very much worth the extra money to join a good, experienced CrossFit gym in the beginning to learn how to perform all the complex Olympic lifts and learn proper form. Without proper form, you WILL hurt yourself. Especially if you try to overdo it. I personally joined a great gym for 3 months and learned as much as I could. I went 4 days a week and tried to absorb all the knowledge. Now that the biking base training season has kicked in, I’ve built a little home garage gym, and I’ve scaled back my workouts to 2-3 days a week as part of my training plan (LW Coaching training plan review coming soon!) and don’t do as high of an intensity as I did before. I’m focusing on maintaining my strength and keeping all those support muscles happy but I don’t want to build a bunch more strength.
Have you tried CrossFit and if not, what kind of cross training do you do?
For my whole time racing/riding I’ve used a mix of fluid/gel/food to get me by. While it’s worked, and I haven’t had too many nutritional issues, it sure isn’t convenient. Dealing with used and unused gel packets, wrappers, Clif bars, dosing etc is a pain in the butt. I’ve been looking at the possibility of switching to just a single source of energy, and when I heard about Tailwind Nutrition I was excited to try it, as it seemed like a product aimed directly at me. It’s a single endurance drink that gives you everything you need, and nothing you don’t. It is supposed to be easy on your gut, easy to drink (even after 6+ hours on the bike), and hydration bladder friendly (a must for long training rides).
Here at Bike198 we got some samples from Tailwind and we’ll be putting them through the paces during training and racing. The idea of it sounds awesome, and in my opinion, it has a bit of an advantage over it’s main competitor (Infinit Nutrition) as it is very camelback friendly, has easier dosing options for easy/medium/hard rides, and is slightly cheaper. Tailwind also does not have any protein in it’s drink, as according to it’s website, it can cause stomach issues in endurance athletes. Lastly, compared with a similar dose of Infinit (~250 calorie portion) is has more Sodium (750mg vs 380mg), same Carbs, more Magnesium (37mg vs 23mg), and more Calcium (63mg vs 30mg). On paper, it sounds like a winner.
I’ve now tried Tailwind on 2 different training rides and have had great results. The first ride was a quick “trial by fire” as it was a Performance Test I was doing as part of my training routine. It was a short ride (30 minute warm up, 20 minute test, 30 minute cool down) and I did one bottle of 2.5 scoops. Solid energy the whole time, but I wasn’t expecting to have issues. The next test was a bit longer as it was a 4.5 hour training ride this past Saturday. I put in 10 scoops of Tailwind into my 100oz camelback expecting to drink 20oz and 200 calories per hour. I brought some energy gels as backups, but didn’t have to use them. I felt good the whole ride and never ran out of energy. The taste is this mix of sweet/salty that kept me coming back and I never got tired of it the whole time. It comes in 3 different flavors, so we’ll see if Orange and Berry are as good as the Lemon one I’ve had so far.
I’m looking forward to using Tailwind exclusively as fuel for my training and racing. With my weight (170lbs) I plan on consuming around 150-200 calories for my longer training rides, and 250 during racing efforts. If things go well, this will be the end of my having to deal with gels, Clif bars, and other random things I have to hunt down and eat during my riding. I’ll keep you guys up to date with how the longer training rides are going, as I have a couple of 5-6 hour rides planned in the next 2 weeks.
Last but not least, Tailwind Nutrition is so sure of it’s product, it offers the Tailwind Challenge. “It’s simple: if Tailwind Endurance Fuel doesn’t make you stronger, happier, and less stressed while you train and at your next event, we’ll pay your race fee.” That’s a pretty bold statement and I like the fact they put their money where their mouth is and back up their product.
I’ve been dealing with knee pain on the bike for pretty much all of the last year. After multiple rounds of taking time off the bike, 3 different MRIs, Physical Therapy, massage, cross training, and Voodoo, I think I finally have it kicked this time around. This is a writeup of what I went through, and I feel that over the last year I’ve sort of become a mini-expert on biking and knee pain, so if anyone has questions about theirs, feel free to ask.
(This came out a little long, so if you are just interested in what worked for me, skip down to the last couple of paragraphs)
When I first got into biking a couple of years ago, I came off the couch and was super out of shape. I had no muscles in either the upper or lower body and just started riding. I didn’t do too much riding as I was tiring fast, and I ramped into it pretty well and somehow managed not to hurt anything. Being an analytical guy, I got a professional bike fit from 55Nine Performance (Wobble Naught fit methodology) and figured I was fine. At the end of 2011 I ramped up my hours greatly and did a 50 mile endurance race and 6 hour race over a 2 week span to end the season. After those last two weeks, the pain came fast and totally took me off the bike. I couldn’t even turn the pedals over without intense pain in my knee cap. I took some time off the bike and and got my fit rechecked (patella pain is usually a seat that is too low). Surprisingly, everything was fine with the fit and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I had some MRIs done, went to a orthopedic doctor and they said everything was “fine with my knees”. They couldn’t explain the pain.
I took 6 weeks off the bike, and got back into it. I could bike for 2 hours on the local trails without pain but as soon as I went to climb some mountains, the pain came back with a vengeance. I got more MRIs with the same results, so I decided to take more time off the bike. I even got another bike fit from a different brand (Retul this time) which ended up putting me in the same 100% exact position as Eddie’s original fit. The bike fit was not my problem for sure. I ramped up my training after this next session of time off and long story short everything was fine until I did a longer race towards the middle of the year. Terrible knee pain again.
This time, knowing the MRIs weren’t the way to go, I decided to see a number of Physical Therapists and finally found a knee specialist that started looking PAST my knees to find where the actual problem was. Within 15 minutes, he had me diagnosed. I had a muscle imbalance in my quads. Since I never had leg muscles before biking, with how I’m built, I naturally developed my outer quad which led to that muscle being actually too strong, and over a longer ride/harder effort pulling my knee cap sideways, resulting in my pain. No matter how much time I took off, as soon as I got back into it, I re-hurt my knee.
This time, I took a few weeks off the bike to get everything calmed down and started doing Physical Therapy exercises specifically targeted at the VMO (Inner Quad muscle) as well as CrossFit. The below wall ball exercise has been key in getting VMO strengthened and along with full squats (Don’t stop at 90 degrees, cover the calf with the hamstring when doing squats as seen in the video below) I’ve completely rebuilt the muscles in my leg.
I’m happy to report that I’m now 6 months into no knee pain and have done a number of long mountain rides and hard efforts. My legs also look balanced where before my outer quad completely dominated. I’m hoping that continuing to build CrossFit and VMO targeted exercises into my training throughout 2013 will keep me 100% knee pain free.