Sunday, May 18, 2008

In Which I Rejoice About Equipment

I have been lent a Time Trial bike to train and race on in my bid to become a member of the US Paralympic Cycling Team and qualify for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. The bicycle is a Roark Titanium Aero frame. My benefactor is Rick Kattouf. Rick is quite the Duathlete with several National Age Group Championships under his belt; he is also a Performance, Nutrition, and Fitness Coach based out of Greenville, SC. I met with Rick last Monday to pick up the bike and meet him for the first time. He is a great guy and very enthusiastic about what I am attempting!
I am noticeably faster after having ridden the bike for a week and acclimated to the new position. The bike does make a difference when it comes to Time Trialing. I am also getting faster from training on my own, it is a different pain than pack riding/racing. It is a dull, steady pain that is fully tolerable as long as the body has been trained to deal with and through the pain. Until two weeks ago I had not trained in this fashion and I feel I am finally starting to make the transition to this type of riding. The bike has been motivating in helping me want to train. I just love this bike, giving it back is going to make me sad!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In Which I Whine About Equipment

I want a Time Trial frame, I feel like crap in the tuck on my current road bike with clip on aero bars. I'm stretched out too much, my saddle hurts, my glutes burn like I'm a newb, sliding forward makes my legs feel bunched up, I can't turn more than 28mph, and I can't sustain 25 for more than about 2 miles. Seriously, I can hit 31 in the dropps and I can hold 26 for a while. I know it will come with practice and getting fitted at cycle center (big shout out to John Greene and Cycle Center) will help a LOT. I'm done whining.

The modification I will make to my bike include:

Profile Design Fast Forward Seatpost: Shortens the effective top tube length allowing a more aero position and more use of the hamstrings and is more powerful. All that Deadlifting during the offseason should come into play here.

Tri/TT saddle: Allows you to ride on the nose to produce more power.

Different aero bars: The bars I currently have are old, heavy, and do not fit my left arm very well.

Position: John will be fitting me this week or next making sure I am in an optimal position to make power and while creating as little aerodynamic drag as possible.

Wheels: I have been offered the use of lighter more aerodynamic wheels by a few people.

Me: I just need more saddle time in the aero tuck, and I need to learn how to suffer while alone.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Time Trialing

The Paralympic Trial is going to be a 14km TT so I ran my first simulation yesterday. The course was a mostly flat, 9 mile, one way stretch of road. I averaged 23.4mph. 2.2mph less than I need in Denver, in other words I need to drop about 2 minutes off my time. I'm satisfied with having that as a base as I have never done a Time Trial and that was my first ride in aero bars. There are several things I can do to improve my time.
1) Bike Fit: Tailoring my bike to Time Trialing should net me some speed.
2) Specific Muscle Adaptation: Time Trialing utilizes some muscles that are not used in the standard road bike positions, those were on fire during my TT effort. Adapting those to TTing will allow me to ride faster for longer. Just getting used to a TT position will also help.
3) Equipment: If I can obtain some better gear (best case scenareo would be an aero bike) such as better bars, seat, aero wheels, aero helmet I can gain some speed.
4) Training: Practicing riding solo and pushing through the pain will help me a lot.

Friday, May 2, 2008

3 days in a row

The past 3 days on the bike might have been the hardest I have ever experienced.

Tuesday Crit: I rode near the front the whole time, chased a few too many breaks. Got into a break with Rob K. with 4 to go. Our skinny butts got pulled back with 2 to go. Finished OTB.

Wednesday Summit Ride: Pretty fast pace, did well on the hills, attacked coming into the last hill, but it was WAY too soon. Got passed halfway up. This is the sort of ride where there is no resting, no sitting up and waiting. You get dropped, you ride in alone.

Thursday Mt. Elon Ride: The fast sections were brutally fast, like nothing under 29 mph for long stretches of road. The last hard section spit off a bunch of guys who are not weak. I was on the ragged edge of blowing up several times. The Pineview stretch was all mental, because my body was rebilling hardcore.

I'm very satisfied, and happy I can stick it out 3 days in a row.

Rest and a slow beer ride today, I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sleeping Enough

I got 12 hours of sleep last night. My body was feeling a little beat up last night and it felt really amazing this morning. I think this sleep thing might really be helpful in taking my performance to the next level. We all hear that sleep is vital but I know I get to bed too late far too often. I'll have to keep the late nights in check between now and Denver.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Racing in Denver

I have decided to go to the US Paralympic Cycling Team Trials in Denver, Co on June 6th. If I am fast enough I get on the team. It seems so simple, 25.6mph average makes me Elite, 24.9 is National, 22.6 is Emerging. 22.6 doesn't seem too bad but that's not really good enough for me. I have 38 days to whip myself into time trial shape. I'm not going to do any races until this one so I can focus all of my training energy into coming out of this with a good time. I will sleep more, drink more water, eat only good food, and I will have to save my money for the ticket. I am so excited!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I just paid $1.39 for a gallon of milk! Just the thought of all that protein and fat for so little money makes me very happy. Mark Rippetoe would be proud.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Playing With Pictures

This picture was taken at Carolina Crossfit while I was doing Tabata Intervals. Stephanie was timing. I'm not sure if the colors look proper next to the background here, but clicking the picture will show it against whitespace.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm going to get fat.

I was reading the blog of some racer here in the southeast, I think he was at least a Cat2, and he said, "If I plan to race and don't, I'm afraid my breakfast will turn into fat." I thought it was hilarious. Bike racers are not fat once they hit the 3s and a little breakfast isn't going to up the BF%. Athletic Anorexia makes me giggle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Training Log Informed me That I am an Idiot!

Last night's Training Crit was beyond miserable with 10-15mph wind and gusts over 20, and I was completely spent after 35 minutes. I was mad, I wanted to stay in the whole 45+2 and I kept thinking about what exactly is going wrong. I decided to check out my training log and see if I could find any clues and I now know why I'm not performing at the level I was last year.
I finished the State Champ Cat 5 Road Race with a 10th place finish and did not touch my bike all winter. My log shows that my first ride of the year was February 2nd. Further, it shows a total of 171 miles during February and a total of 161 miles in March, there is also a distance lack of interval work in those months. Sitting here on the 16th of April I have 227 miles, 1 race, 1 day of intervals, and 2 crits that acted as pseudo interval sessions.
My problem right now is simple volume and intensity. Until April I was not riding enough and I was not riding enough really fast miles. Once I get a few hundred more miles and some interval sessions in my legs I should be back where I left off last season and I should be riding better on a much more consistent basis.
Taking the entire winter off from the bike was an ill advised move on my part as well. I can't say it was a total loss because my understanding of performance in relation to diet and my understanding of my body have improved markedly. The strength I gained has made my snap acceleration much more violent with very little added bodyweight.
In summary, my training log let me know I was an idiot for riding too little and expecting too much from my body. It did tell me that I'm not far from where I should be and that I need to up the intensity. I guess training logs are good things to have, but if I could only get my hands on a PowerTap I'd be able to over-analyze my training to the extreme edge of excess.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Easy Tiger!

I was at the Blatt PE Center weight room today for Box Squats and Deadlifts; a buddy of mine (Eric) happened to be doing the same thing in the rack beside me and they guy in the rack next to his was squatting. I admit that it was odd, he was using a bench as a box but he was not sitting onto it and he kept his weight on his toes. I didn't care, I had to worry about my ripped palm from deadlifting (2 freaking weeks in a freaking row!) and my front squats which I did after I could not deadlift. So I finish a set and hear what sounds like an escalating disagreement. Some kid called the no touch box squatter out on form and the squat guy didn't like that. The challenger says, "I bet I can out lift any of you based on bodyweight". I think he was talking to the 3 of us, but he's probably wrong because Eric can Deadlift +500lbs at less than 200 bodyweight. And what would it prove? I think it's a better idea to let people be in your average commercial gym. They don't want to be told they are wrong and arguing about it will not do any good.
That's one thing I loved about training at Carolina Crossfit, people instructing each other on good form and a much lower occurrence of ego. Instead of looking at the other people in the gym as hostile creatures, they were people that wanted you to succeed.
Since I cannot train there now I just mind my own business. I won't call someone out on bad technique because it is not worth the greif. I will call you out here on account of bad training, but this is my blog and you chose to read it. People in the gym do not want your advice unless they ask.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Is really becoming expensive and I am realizing how much and what I need to make it through the hard, fast rides in doing. I'm not very happy about it because I like eating 1 pound of beef, plus potatoes, carrots, onion, etc but it isn't cheap. I'm a bit at a loss for what to do, I can't stop eating, I can't stop racing, and I can't think of much else I can cut out save for a few things that are pretty minor.
I hope I make more money this summer or I'll need to buy pasta in 50lb bags so I can feed myself for a month. I need a cheap source of protein and fat as well.

PS. Yes, I do regulary eat a whole pound of beef for dinner after heating heartily all day.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Similar to Mark Twight Sans the Hostility

The feud between Mark Twight of Gym Jones and Crossfit has not been pretty. It does seem to have been well documented, though. In a recent blog Twight took a veiled swipe at Crossfit and said that the generalist is mediocre even if you tell them they are elite. I disagree in that I think the generalist can realize an elite level of fitness and all around physical prowess, this should not be confused with thinking they are elite in any single sport. I would venture to guess that Twight was lashing out because he was having to cope with the realization that in order be a good bicycle racer he needs to spend a lot of time in the saddle. He recently started racing and after a season that did not go to plan he had to evaluate his training. The understanding that the work he was doing in the gym, the work that landed him the job of training the cast of 300, was not sufficient in the saddle was devastating. I know the feeling, but I'm not mad and I'm not going to lash out at those individuals who have goals that allow them to have a better level of broad range fitness. I cannot say I am thrilled that I will be spending less time in the gym, that my strength gains will occur slower, and that I may lose some weight. The benefit of being faster on the bike is worth the trade-off to me. I will still be Deadlifting once a week and Squatting at least every other week, I will maintain my ability to crank out pullups, but I will be focused on riding. For me, being competitive is more important than having a broad fitness base. This may change as I get older but I think I can remain healthy in realation to my Cerebral Palsy with the Deadlifts and pullups. I hope Mark Twight can accept his chosen fate while being happy for those that decide to specialize in not specializing.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Some Advice for Women

Everything you are about to read is going to fly in the face of everything you have heard about what women should do in the gym. Take it or leave it, but it is true. Women that are already training hard can disregard this, you know who I'm talking to.

1: The gym is not a fashion runway
The only requirement for your gym attire is that it is comfortable and allows a full range of motion. Makeup should streak off due to sweat if you are wearing it so do not take the effort.

2: Weight control starts at the table
Cut out the sugar and ease up on the beer, this will do more for your body than what you have been doing in the gym.

3: Weight is your friend
Those 5 lb dumbbells are not doing anything for you. If the weight does not feel hard until rep 43 it is TOO LIGHT.

4: Sweat is good
It means you have actually worked! Work produces results.

5: Run faster
You are not running fast enough, you will be healthier and burn more fat from running faster. I don't care it you have to cut the distance, your intensity needs to increase.

6: Do pullups
Every person on earth should be able to do pullups, women are not different. A woman that can do pullups is a strong woman and strong women are a rare, wonderful type of woman.

7: Become friends with the barbell
It is the best tool your gym has.

If you really want a firm, shapely butt your best friend is the squat with the barbell on your back. An added bonus is that it will make your whole body strong.

9: Deadlift
Being able to pick up heavy things is about the most practical physical skill to have, plus it really hits the butt and hamstrings.

10: Osteoperosis sucks:
Weak bones really suck and the absolute best way to build strong bones is external resistance. We go back to the Deadlift and the Squat and how healthy they are for you.

11: Lifting will not make you huge
Size, like I said before, starts in the kitchen. Now, if you do lift your body composition will change to meet the needs of what you are doing but bodyweight is directly related to what you eat and how much.

12: Work hard
That's the only way you will achieve your goals (you should write some down).

Progress and Calming Down

I started exercising and moved on to training because I wanted to get stronger, faster, and healthier, not unlike most people.  For a while I just wandered around the gym trying to figure out what I was doing, what form I should be using, and what I enjoyied, not unlike most people.  I made some progress but things really started coming together when my schedule became organized.  I decided to become stronger using the Deadlift and the Squat so I Deadlift and Squat every week.  Every week I increase either the weight on the bar or the number of reps per set.  I never perform more than than 5 reps per set because my goal is strength.  This plan is simple and brutally effective, and I have been using the same plan for over 2 months.  For a training plan to work you need to use it more than 1 week, more than 2 weeks.  After a month you should start seeing results, then you stick with the plan until the results stop.  
Too often beginners have exercise ADD, they work out for a week and wonder why they have not lost weight or become stronger.  Well, it took your body years to become the way it is now so you cannot expect some miracle transformation in 7 days!
The same applies to runners, some person decides to start running then they think the only measure of how good they are is distance covered.  I cannot apologize for saying that running 4 or 5 miles at a 10 minute mile pace isn't doing jack for your running ability or your health.  You would be better off increasing your speed over a shorter distance before you add distance.  Use a methodical plan, learn about intervals, run fast, stop wasting your time; you will burn more fat, waste less time, and look less like a jogger!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Importance of Strength and Flexibility

I feel as if I have reached a breakthrough, and it seems minor, but I feel as if I understand what base is necessary for one to do well in Crossfit. I extends beyond Crossfit, though, to anyone looking for a good level of physical well-being. It is also vital to most athletes.
This 'magic' is the melding of strength and flexibility, and everyone that claims they are mutually exclusive does not understand the mechanics of the body. Flexibility allows the body to move and strength causes those movements. An increase in both will improve your quality of life far outside the doors of the gym, but I'm more concerned with the goings on in the gym.
If you are not flexible then you have no business doing a laundry list of strength exercises that are brutally effective movements to include anything Olympic, Back Squats, Overhead Squats, Thrusters, and if you can't keep those heels on the ground during the hip break you should not be doing Push Presses. When you are working with weight of any significance your weight needs to be on your heels because that is where you are most stable. Stable is good, stable prevents you from falling over and throwing a loaded barbell and some poor guy's head. Of course, being able to display this ability requires flexibility in the hams, calves, and Achilles tendon. If this is a weakness, then check the ego at the door and use a light load and do various forms of stretching based around the necessary mobility.