Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Calories Out, the sex factor...

Nobody has taken the lemming up on the Calories In = Calories Out challenge, but on a tip from a reader today, I was alerted that having sex really isn't the calorie killer that it's been famed to be. To be honest, this news was very disheartening, now whenever your significant other asks you if they look fat in these jeans, you can't tell them it's because they always have a headache.

Unfortunately, having vigorous sex for an hour comes just at the same level as sewing, depending on which section you trust, but lower than setting the table and shaving. I tried to find a definition between light, moderate, and vigorous sex, but searching for "vigorous sex" on Google sidetracked me for hours. My guess is light and moderate don't get chosen all that often. The lemming has to wonder what this calorie list is for as he notices entries for "shearing sheep" and "Scuba Diving - as Navy Seal". Besides the obvious question of Navy Seals counting calories, the realization that this calorie counter is aimed at both Navy Seals and sheep shearers alike is both fascinating and disturbing.

But back to the sex, 137 calories per hour translates roughly to 23 calories for every 10 minutes that sexual activity lasts. Guys would say at that rate they would burn 274 calories on each encounter, whereas the ladies would say it's more likely to be around 12 calories.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Mr. Obvious Show, today's topic, high altitude

Bicycling magazine seems to get all gushy over stories of divide and conquer. Whether it be tall tales from readers about joining the local group ride on a rusty old mountain bike and showing the young pups on $5000 carbon road bikes a thing or two, or tales from their own authors about their personal conquests of overcoming other riders and leaving them crying for momma, new conquest stories are the sheep who grew the golden fleece.

When Lance announced his comeback, the heavens more than likely opened up over Bicycling mag with much rejoicing. The editors must be drooling over possible future stories such as Lance’s “look” to Ulrich before he dropped him up Alpe d'Huez, and scheming on how they are going to use that on the bike trail when some family guy on a Raleigh gets too close. Anyone who can be overcome, whether they are trying, riding with their family, or fixing a flat, is inferior and a chance to show your dominance, to be like Lance.

That said, it was with much rejoicing that I saw the latest story in Bicycling about an author moving to high altitude, going out to ride in the remote suburbs, passing a bunch of family riders, and then finally getting schooled by some apparently lost women bike messengers. If the story would end there it would be amusing enough, but he went on to contact an adviser to the Olympic Committee about loss of performance at high altitude and explain the reason for his poor performance in the article.

I couldn’t help thinking back to my favorite radio show, the Bob and Tom show, where funny little skits are used as filler between the talking and interviews of comedians. One of their little skits is Mr. Obvious. Each week Mr. Obvious answers questions from callers such as a frantic caller who stopped at a restaurant, only to have his car “stolen” by guys in black suits who gave him a card with a number on it. Mr. Obvious has to go on to explain to the frantic caller that these are valets and his car hasn’t been stolen.

If I could only arrange an interview between the author and Mr. Obvious, this is how it might transpire.

Mr. Obvious: Hello, Mr. Obvious.

Author: (frantic) Mr. Obvious, is this Mr. Obvious?

Mr. Obvious: speaking

Author: Hey Mr. Obvious, long time listener, first time caller. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Back at sea level I felt strong and I was never outrun by anyone by the fastest roadies, but now that I’ve moved to Denver I run out of breath when trying to catch riders that should be inferior to me.

Mr. Obvious: Well super, happy riding up there!

Author: Wait, wait, Mr. Obvious, I moved to Denver and now it seems like I’m slower or I can’t breathe as well, and the other day some bike messengers…

Mr. Obvious: Did you say you can’t breathe as well caller?

Author: Yes, Mr. Obvious, I moved to Denver and some bike messengers…

Mr. Obvious: Caller, caller calm down… Everyone doesn’t breathe as well at high altitude, there is less oxygen up there.

Author: But the bike messengers, they…

Mr. Obvious: No caller, it’s just a lower amount of useable oxygen at higher altitudes, everyone suffers from it, there is no reason to be alarmed.

Author: Well thanks Mr. Obvious, I tried to bug my contact at the Olympic training center again, but for some reason he has quit returning my calls.

Mr. Obvious: I, ah, don't know why that would be. Well, this is Mr. Obvious saying so long for now, and join us next time for the Mr. Obvious show.

Friday, December 19, 2008

the lemming has to go away for awhile

Kids, the lemming has to go away for awhile, until after the first of the year to be exact. Be good to your mom while I am gone, and don't believe any of the stories the kids at school tell you! I love you all and will see you again soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the edge of my seat for the sequel

Admittedly, I read Bicycling magazine for the fodder. After getting a good laugh reading the Style Man (I secretly wish I was the Style Man), I head to the back of the magazine to see what kind of bizarre, non-bike ads were published this month. Usually there is the slightly sleezy pajama gram, the very sleezy pleasure chair (although I haven't seen that one in awhile), engraved snowflake awards, and a whole host of other weird stuff that would make one think most cyclists are closet perverts. Although many stories run through my head about how the pajama gram, pleasure chair, and engraved snowflake awards are most likely related, the one that keeps catching my eye is the Rosette Stone ad.

It doesn't pique my curiosity because I want to learn Italian, I can hardly speak English. It catches my eye because I want to know the story behind it. "He was a hardworking farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he would have just one chance to impress her." How does this not make you want to go to their site and learn the story? Did they meet on the internet? Was he a bike messenger who arranged a race against her on her skateboard? Is she visiting his small village on a humanitarian mission? Was she from a small village herself and her mom keeps pressuring her to marry a small town boy? Is he going for an interview? Could this be the elusive BikeSnobNYC?

But beyond that, I want to know how this comes out? Did he learn Italian so well with the Rosetta Stone that they are now a couple? Or did his fluency of the Rosette Stone-inspired Italian impress her while his rambling on about having to pay $12 for a hamburger in the big city turn her off? Did he land the job at the supermodel agency? Did he get the grant for his hog farm? Is the rest of his life in color now or is he still black and white holding a bright yellow box? This ad really makes me want to know! But unfortunately, it's just an ad, I've been all over the Rosetta Stone site and there is no mention of the hardworking farmboy or the Italian supermodel. I've been duped, and by an ad no less.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coach Fred, Issue No. 373 - 12/11/08 Newsletter, Issue No. 373 - 12/11/08, Coach Fred

More laughs from the Coach Fred section of this week. Being a coach, Coach Fred has to answer in the most caring and helpful way. I however, will answer in how Coach Fred is probably thinking.
Q: I have more belly than is good for me. At 45, I changed my life and started bike commuting. I've dropped some weight and 3 inches off my waist, but there's lots more to go. Is there something better than basic sit-ups and leg lifts for trimming the stomach? -- Michael R.
The lemming answer:
Michael, congrats on the weight you've lost and the 3 inches off of your waist, that is huge! But c'mon man, do you really need to email in and ask me for exercises to take inches off of your belly. Now 60 of my minions are going to email in helpful comments such as "there is no such thing as spot reduction". Holy crap, I have to have good material for my "Best of Coach Fred" you know, they're going to fire my ass if these are the only questions I can answer! I mean, what's next someone asking me a question on if they can do spinning workouts on a bike at home?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stimulating the economy, upgrading your bike instead of your body

You're feeling down and out. You mistakenly told your know-it-all buddy about the bike upgrades you hoped to do over the winter, and like a nerdy middle-schooler, he reminded you that 20 lbs off of your ass is better and cheaper than 5 lbs off of your bike. Not only that but he repeated the old and tired calories in/calories out speech, essentially giving the slam dunk defense to your proposed upgrades.

Well, that sucks, but don't despair. No need to water down your beer with tears as your heart longs for that titanium bolt kit, the lemming is here to get you those upgrades with something as simple as economics. As most of us know, the country right now is in what economists call a recession. You can use the current state of the economy to your advantage to get the upgrades that you want. You'll be helping our country, being patriotic, and making your bike lighter and faster at the same time, all without ever having to deal with the dreadful task of losing weight.

But on to the details. When we put money in to the economy we are putting the multiplier effect in to action. Essentially what that means is when you pay $499 for the carbon fiber derailleur pictured above, the bike shop then pays their employees, who use their salary to buy beer and food from the grocery store, the grocery store then pays their employees who use their salary to buy other stuff, and the cycle continues. Pretty soon that $499 turns in to $4,990 in the economy without ever having to sit in front of Congress begging for a bailout.

Since you are helping to save the economy, it would be wise to avoid small ticket items. It may seem hard to believe that just minutes ago you had given up on the idea of upgrades due to your know-it-all friend, but now you have the green light to upgrade away with seemingly no limit. It can be overwhelming with so many endless possibilities, so for ideas let's turn to none other than Bicycling magazine and it's holiday gift guide.

What Christmas list would be complete without the dimpled Zipp Zed4 tubular wheelset? At just $4,772, you can put the money in to the economy and be nearly ten multiplier steps ahead of someone less patriotic who buys just the $499 Campagnolo carbon derailleur. But you can't put just any tires on bling like this. That's why Bicycling recommends the $141 Strada Soie silk tubular tires. In my fantasy land these tires are made by virgins who raise the silk caterpillars from little pupae on a strictly organic diet. They sing to the caterpillars as they lovingly spin the silk in to tires with birds chirping around them. The completed tire is kissed as hearts fly in to the air before shipping them off to market. You can't put a price tag on tires produced by happy virgins and undefiled caterpillars!

So in a long and roundabout way, that's how you get your upgrades, tell your friend about the multiplier effect. And when he says the multiplier effect works if you buy a gym membership as well, tell him no money gets multiplied if 24Hour Fitness uses it to install escalators.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weight training for cyclists, do train like a bodybuilder PLEASE!

Ahh, the offseason, the time of year when the focus is shifted from biking to activities that have cross in the name and have nothing to do with biking. Crosstraining, cross-racing, crossdressing, and cross-examining the training plan. Cross-examining the training plan as the cold grasp of winter closes in would not be complete without wondering how to integrate weight training in to the quest to be faster. Each fall the minions make the great migration to sites such as RoadbikeRider to climb the mountain and beg for the regurgitated annual advice on how to train with weights. A betting man would be wise to take a bet on if Chris Carmichael will have a piece on weight training in the upcoming issue of Bicycling magazine.

Advice will vary, but all the publications seem to agree that cyclists should not make the mistake of training like a bodybuilder. Conspiracy theory or lemming-mentality, it's because of this that the lemming must jump off the bandwagon. Please, those of you that are going to hit the gym this winter, do train like a bodybuilder. All year long we cyclists are hitting our legs hard and doing nothing for our arms. What results is big ol' legs, a huge head, and tiny flat shoulders. Perfect if you are a professional cyclist, bad if you aren't making money as a rider and are trying to land dates.

One of the popular cycling publications had an entire article on a survey of women and the body types they found attractive. The writers were frankly surprised that women didn't prefer the huge head, tiny shoulders and arms, and ripped legs of a cyclist's body. Frankly the lemming was surprised to hear that someone was frankly surprised to hear that women do not overwhelmingly prefer the physique of cyclists.

The grand poobah of cycling, Lance Armstrong, knows this. Look at him on the podium, then look at him after he retired. He didn't maintain his tiny, flat shoulders and arms, the dude is ripped, and he now has shoulders and arms to complete the package. He didn't care if he gained 10-15lbs, he knows he can still crush Chris Carmichael in a mountain bike race. That's how you date an Olsen twin(s) and hang out with Matthew McConaughey folks!

Of course there are those of us who say we wouldn't want to date an Olsen twin while our wives are listening, and really don't have interest in hanging out with Matthew McConaughey. For those of us life is about balance, and doing 3-4 months of "curls for the girls" in the gym this winter isn't going to wreck our weekend cycling career, it's probably going to enhance the rest of our life. So throw some pullups in there too, eat some protein beyond your 4:1 recovery drink, do train like a bodybuilder this winter!

Tyrannasaurus-like arms

Big legs, tiny arms, now extinct

Unproportionate forearms
Can crush a can and shoot spinach 2 feet in the air and catch it in his mouth

Always has to fight another guy for his chick

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Trek Y-Foil, born from jets

Anyone who has watched the Tour de France has been inundated by the Saab, born from jets commercials. The sheer amount of repetition is comparable to having water dripped on your forehead in the middle of the night while the Real Slim Shady is piped in to your cell, however the commercials represent genius in marketing.

With truths which may or not directly correspond to reality they play on people's emotion and attempt to instill a feeling of superiority which Saab would have you believe only comes from their jet born cars. A feeling that if you own a Saab, you yourself can play volleyball with Maverick and the IceMan. After which you'll race your Saab beside the runway as a jet takes off before going to hook up with your teacher, while the less fortunate pack up their sluggish cars and drive the kids to soccer.

The 3900lb, 110hp Saab 900, born from jets. 0-60: unknown

Saab was obviously not the first to do this, enter the Trek Y-Foil. Never has a bike taken the charity bike circuit by storm and developed a recreational racer following like the Y-Foil did in 1998. The Trek Y-Foil just looks fast, and nothing says "My bike has cobwebs on it, but I've got some cash to blow and I need all the help I can get when I do the MS150 this year" like a Trek Y-Foil. Couple that with some expensive aero wheels and a big ol' spare tire and you've got yourself a winning combination, if Maverick and the Iceman rode bikes, they would ride a Y-Foil.

The Trek Y-Foil, probably also born from jets

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Training with power, care and feeding of your Powertap

Congratulations on the purchase of your new Powertap. If you've purchased the Elite+ base model it will only have set you back $999.99. If you splurged for the Zipp Disc with PowerTap 2.4, your wallet is a paltry $3,599.99 lighter. While this may seem rather high to the uninformed, the benefits will far outweigh the costs as you train with power and end those meaningless days of going out on your bike for fun.

When beginning to train with power, it's good to have goals. A possible goal might be to dominate your local charity ride, complete a century, finish mid-pack in a cat 5 crit, or even crawl across the line barely under the 17 hour time limit in an age grouper Ironman triathlon. However lofty your goal may be, your new Powertap will get you there.

When deciding if you should go with the base model or leverage your failing 401k for the Zipp, consider this, the extra $2600 for the Zipp wheel is well worth the price. Why? Two words, dimples! The dimples slice through the air infinitely better than a disc without the dimples. To see just how much better we'll use this formula, (coefficient of drag - rotating mass * pi divided by the square root of infinity). Clearly now you see how we all win with technology...

For those not mathematically inclined, look to modern day life where we have the examples of jets with dimples, race cars with dimples, and super fast track stars with dimples. Coincidence? I think not!

But back to training with power, the true beauty of training with power is that it supplies quantifiable evidence of how much you are hating your ride. That dude that the marathon was named after, he didn't have a power meter, and he died. While that may not happen to you, the sobering consequence of training without power could be many enjoyable rides on your bike, something that Bicycling and RoadBikeRider may call "junk miles".

But Lemming you ask, I know heart rate can vary dramatically, but what about speed, do I really need a Powertap when I could just keep a log of speeds on a given course referenced against perceived exertion? On the contrary dear reader, what if you ride a course trying for a personal best on your Spinergy wheels and Trek Y-Foil one day, then the next day hop on your Cervelo P4 with a Zipp disc? You will have no idea how hard you are working or how you little you are enjoying the ride. To make the answer even more enlightening, what if you put your PowerCranks on to your Trek Madone and ride around the same course in your skinsuit after freshly shaving your legs? Now you're beginning to see what I'm talking about. We're going to have 3 different outcomes with possibly the same fitness, but how would you know without the knowledge provided by a Powertap?

Lastly, to protect your investment in the Powertap, RoadBikeRider might suggest to clean your wheel after every ride with generous amounts of Simple Green and a Scotch-Brite sponge. The Lemming recommends and prefers you clean your wheel with lingerie and a bottle of white zinfandel.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Top ten reasons you should do an organized century

10) You've read that article in Bicycling about doing your first century and figure it's the first step in your lucrative age grouper career. Possibly after completing a century you can start training for your first Ironman triathlon.

9) You like spending money and think it's fun to pay upwards of $50 for what a lot of cyclists just call a long ride. Unless you are lucky enough to find a ride that includes a jersey in the cost, then you'll only have to pay in excess of $100 to go on a long ride.

8) Lots of watered down, crappy donated Accelerade and tons of stale bagels, energy bar halves, and bananas, need I say more?

7) High potential to use your first aid training after a squirrelly rider crash, or have someone use it on you after they take you out.

6) An oppprtunity to feel like Lance as you pass the soccer mom on her vintage Specialized Stumpjumper mountain bike with slicks (and aero bars). Give her a look back and hammer up that hill, leaving her in the dust like Ulrich eating pastries.

5) You enjoy getting yelled at by pissed off drivers who are now backed up by miles and miles of cyclists. Bonus points if you flat because of tacks that they threw on the road.

4) You love cold chicken breasts, pasta salad, and more crappy Accelerade at the "finish line". Nothing says thank you for the $50+ you spent on your entry fee like crappy finish line food.

3) You need another crappy event t-shirt. Oops, I guess I said there was nothing better than the crappy finish line food, I was wrong.

2) You've tried your hand at races and just haven't been successful. Charity rides are the perfect place to showcase your unappreciated power and dominate the unwitting!

1) You have a recumbent!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Best of Coach Fred: Issue No. 369 - 11/13/08

Best of Coach Fred: Issue No. 369 - 11/13/08

I feel the need to help coach Fred out this morning. The subject of why do male cyclist shave their legs comes up yet again. Coach Fred gives it the old college try, but falls short of the goal line, so the Lemming is here to help out. On to the questions:

Q: My road riding buddies shave their legs all winter even though they're covered with leg warmers. In fact, I heard one guy say that leg warmers are the reason he continues shaving. Huh? -- Bud P.

Coach Lemming:
Dude! I want to dispel some myths for you, no matter what anyone tells you, cyclists shaving their legs isn't about better cleaning up after a crash. If it was we should really be worried about how much people are crashing. It's also not about how terrible massages feel on hairy legs, although I'd agree with that. How often are we getting massages as recreational riders, unless you are someone with way too much money in this economy, with a prescribed coach, trying to finish mid-pack in a local crit.

Just to set the record straight it's also not about riding in the rain and how water sticks to the hair and makes you cold, although that is a good reason too, most cyclists shy away from the rain... It's not about all those pesky little gnats that get caught in your arm and leg hair and make you look like a freak, you might already look like a freak in the spandex. Lastly, it's not about helping leg warmers stay up better...

Pure and simple, shaving your legs is about showing off your leg muscles. Unfortunately just because a person can flex their calves and see little lines in the mirror, doesn't mean their legs look muscular, and a huge head on tiny shoulders has the potential to offset any muscular looks the legs have anyway.

In conclusion, don't question someone about shaving their legs, let them have their fun. And if you are going to shave yours, by all means, NEVER stop at your shorts line, your wife should never have to see you wearing a pair of wookie shorts!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My First Spin class

My First Spin class, a story by a fictitious poster named Larry...

I had heard that spinning was "a great way to stay in shape over the winter". Up to this point I had avoided a class, opting to ride outside even in the cold vs sit inside like some gym rat. But since everyone raves about it, I thought why not give it a try. To be honest, my thoughts have always been that spinning probably isn't that fun, rather cyclists latch on to it because it's the only "class" offered with any direct relevance to biking, sort of like how cyclists latch on to any cycling on TV just because it's on there.

Anyway, being a "Cat Reaffirming my Sense of Self-Importance" I knew that the only way to get out there and prove my self-worth was that I needed to hit that gym and get strong for next year. So without adieu I donned my full Discovery kit, grabbed my bike shoes and gloves, and headed off to the gym.

When I got there I was amazed with what I saw. There were only two others in full bike gear, one really skinny 50-something in a Hawaiian print jersey and non-matching black shorts, and another rather hefty 30-40-something in a TwinSix Category 6 jersey. All of the rest were in workout shorts, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. I was going to look like a superstar compared to these clowns.

Our instructor Lisa came in, a bubbly 20-something with more energy than I'll ever have. The class got started and I admit, riding the fixed gear bike with the heavy flywheel was a little interesting. I had fears of stopping pedalling only to have my femur smashed through my pelvis, but I got the hang of it pretty quick. We started out with a nice easy spin and light resistance to get warmed up, this was a walk in the park. The music resembled a more upbeat mix of the 2Unlmited stuff we heard drill teams playing at sporting events, with a beat that made me want to offer to buy the soccer mom next to me a drink.

Next, our beauty queen told us to crank up the resistance as if we were climbing a hill. I like climbing so I was all over this one. As we went on we kept adding resistance until we were grinding along at about 20rpm. Holy crap, this was kicking my ass! Next time I head to the local killer hill though, I'll be ready to pop it in to my 53x11 and just grind up that hill! The pinnacle of the class was her screaming at us in her "drink, drink, drink" voice, telling us to think of all of our troubles and to defeat them on this hill. Damn! What a great idea! Next time I go out riding I'm going to think about all of my troubles rather than how beautiful it is outside and how great it is to be alive!

Anyway, I decided I was getting cynical because this was kicking my ass so bad and I was looking like a fool when the soccer mom next to me was jovially riding along, so I lightened up and got back to enjoying class.

Next came the sprints! I consider myself a pretty good sprinter. On my training rides for the MS150 I often come up on other riders and sprint past them just to assert my utter dominance, so I was primed and ready for this! Lisa told us to take all resistance off of the bike and spin as fast as we can. At first it felt good, but then I got scared, I was flailing around like a freshmen at his first high school dance, this was not good. But again, I thought about how much this was helping me. If I ever get on one of those group rides that Bicycling magazine and RoadBikeRider talks about and we get in a city limit sprint, I'll drop down in to my lowest 39x25, err 39x19, and blow the doors off everyone.

By this time the sweat was pouring off of me. This class that I thought was going to be easy was becoming a death march. I began to despise Lisa, I could only imagine the torture she must impose on her boyfriend as he just wants to sleep and she lies awake with a plethora of energy. I prayed for the end of class or my life, whatever could get me out of here, but then came the popcorn sprints...

The popcorn sprints were brutal, if I ever get on one of those group rides Bicycling magazine and RoadBikeRider talk about, I'm going to try them out and see if I can do some major damage to the group sprint. Lisa had us wind up to about 140rpm and once we got there we stood up and sat down over and over again while trying to maintain 140rpm. It was excruciating and I could only imagine how this was making my sprint power even better. Not only that, but if I had to transition from standing to sitting real fast I would be able to do it better after this.

After the popcorn sprints, we got to cool down... This is something I always look forward to on the road. Going back home, sipping my Endurox while watching an old Tour day France video to relax. It was a little different at the gym, after stretching I headed back to the locker room to shower. Admittedly, I was worried about not having my 4:1 to recovery drink and what that might do to my performance, but those worries quickly turned to horror as I noticed old guys walking around the locker room naked. WTF, do these guys not know what a towel is? Opting to skip the shower and just get the hell out of there, I headed home, reflecting on the ass-kicking I had just received. As inferior as I felt, I think I'll be going to more classes as it will give me a huge advantage over other cyclists who don't spin.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A military workout won't make you stronger?

Weekly Dispatch - Issue No. 368 - 11/06/08

"Research in resistance training has shown this for some years:

1-6 repetitions create strength

8-12 reps foster muscular growth

15+ reps build muscular endurance

In other words, if you want to get stronger, add weight. And as a result, reduce repetitions. (A repetition is one full movement of the exercise.) If you train with high repetitions, guess what: You really won't get stronger at all."

Yikes! Someone better tell that to the military, apparently all those pushups and pullups aren't making soldiers stronger at all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calories Out = Calories In?

Calories Out = Calories In? This is the most often quoted golden rule for weight loss. Since I don't necessarily agree with this plan, I give any reader this challenge to prove me wrong.

First month
For one month I'll buy you as many energy gels and ho-hos as you need to maintain the exact caloric intake that you normally eat with your balanced diet, that's all you can eat because calories in equal calories out. At the end of the month we'll weigh you and check your resting heart rate.

Second month
The next month we'll repeat that, letting you eat your daily caloric intake in only the 73% lean beef you find at the grocery store. You can add mayo to the burger for "flavor". This month we'll weigh you and check your cholesterol, time to exhaustion, etc.

Third month
The next month we'll stir it up, you can drink your exact daily caloric intake all month for an entire month in high fructose corn syrup, which I'll buy you by the bottle. This month we'll drive by corn fields and see if you throw up.

The prize
If you can maintain your fitness and weight for those 3 months with that diet, I'll gladly say I'm wrong and I'll give you a month's supply of moon pies, but only a month's supply at your exact daily caloric intake.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Best of Coach Fred - Issue No. 365 - 10/16/08

Best of Coach Fred - Issue No. 365 - 10/16/08

Q: I've followed your discussions concerning the relationship between weight training strength and climbing ability. I was a lousy climber no matter how many leg presses I did -- until I did spinning classes. The "climbing" workouts were killers, but now I'm a fairly good climber. Can these indoor workouts be done on a conventional trainer too? -- Howard C.

Lemming response:

Dear Howard C.,

While the spin bike and your bike (and associated trainer) do both have handlebars, seats, and pedals and that alone might make any reasonable person guess that yes you can do the workout at home, you will be missing some key elements.

Your home may not have the stench of stale sweat like a spin class does. This may seem insurmountable at first, but invite a dozen of friends over for beers and turn your thermostat up as high as it will go. Try to get them to stay for a few games of charades, hopefully in no time your place will stink enough that you can move on to the next step.

To be really successful "spinning" at home, you will have to make sure you can sequester a bunch of New Age crappy music that really only motivates you when you're trying to look all cool to the girl beside you in the short gym shorts and string tanktop. Speaking of that, there won't be any hotties while you're on the trainer at home. Taking a spin class might make you marginally cool to them, sitting on a trainer at home is about as cool as being alone in your cabin in the woods (aka unibomber).

But most importantly, on the trainer at home people sometimes do rides that mimic the fun rides that they do outdoors. This may be hard to swallow. Spinners are used to an aerobics instructor who hasn't ridden a bike in years who tries to teach their class more like a step aerobics class than a bike ride. It may be hard to do "popcorn sprints" at home, where you stand and pedal and sit down and stand again and again and again so fast that you barely touch the seat, all the while trying to maintain 120-130rpm. But by all means try your best, you know how much that applies to real cycling!

That said, spinning is lame, do you really want to look like these people. There is this really fun thing called riding outside that is way better than spin classes. Just don't do it in a full Discovery kit on a Cervelo bike with PowerCranks, at that point you can just as well do the spin class. I hope that answers your question, next week I'll discuss why watching Tour de France videos while you ride the trainer is like masturbation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Strange product alert - Reset Racing AirPort EVO

Since someone had already got to the Bontrager carbon seatpost rack, I figured the next most ridiculous item Bicycling has recommened is the Reset Racing AirPort EVO. Recommended as a "performance booster", according to Bicycling magazine this $45 item saves the most anal and obsessive compulsive from worrying that their shock doesn't have exactly 121psi in it after they remove the pump and hear the split-second of "psssst", thus ruining any ride thereafter due to "incorrect" shock air pressure.

CyclingNews however, highlights the product as an adapter for hard to reach shock fill locations. Who is most correct? I have no idea, I can't read German... And don't get me wrong, when you go to their site they have some pretty cool stuff, however worrying about a loss of a few psi when you unthread the shock pump and here it go "pssst" is just something I'll never do. If I were remotely anal, I'd just put the pump back on, see how much (if any) pressure I lost, and inflate it that much past the pressure I'd like to run. That way when I took it off and heard the "pssst" sound it wouldn't ruin every ride I had after that, not that it would anyway...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Take the ring - but not my bike!

October 2008's Bicycling had a letter about the title of this blog. Rather than giving the letter to the Style Man, they announced it as letter of the month and gave her a new set of Park Tools. As I think this should have gone to Style Man, I'll answer it as best as I can in the same style below.

Original letter:
Take the Ring - but not my bike!
My fiance of nine months asked for the ring back after a minor argument. A week later he asked for reconciliation. I said no - so he took back the Cannondale Synapse he bought for me. I loved that bike! I miss that bike! What's his next girlfriend going to think about receiving a bike used by his previous girlfriend? Is it just me or is this guy an ass?

Lia Ruggiero, Grand Junction, CO

Your boyfriend broke the cardinal rule, which is "Never buy your girlfriend a bike. Buy your wife a nice bike, but NEVER buy your girlfriend a bike", many a man have fallen in to this same trap and been left with the decision of leaving their ex with a damn expensive bike or snatching it and selling it for beer money. Further complicating the matter is the fact that most guys give their girlfriends bikes out of the blue while still having the pain of seeking out gifts for Christmas, Valentine's, your birthday, the anniversary of your first date, your cat's annual vaccination date, etc.

But I digress, the fact that he broke the rule, one can assume he either didn't know the rule or decided the two of you were going to make it long-term. Skirting the lines of assumption again, he bought it for you so that you could ride with him and enjoy the sport that he loves, not so that you could pursue it as a lifelong sport in the case of leaving him, he is selfish. I assume you yourself are over the loss of the hopes and dreams of the fiance and have moved on to the mourning of the loss of a bike?

As for the question about what his next girlfriend will think about the bike, my guess is he will be using ebay to recoup some of his losses for money to blow on alcohol in which to drown his sorrows.

Now that we've got that settled, does this mean you are on the rebound and single?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Best of Coach Fred Issue No. 359 - 09/04/08

Best of Coach Fred Issue No. 359 - 09/04/08

A reader wrote:
Q: Yesterday I scheduled an interval workout having four 5-minute efforts. But during the warmup and on the first interval I felt tired and that ruined my motivation. So I went home. Was that the right thing to do, or should I have gutted it out and completed the workout? -- Barry A.

Coach Fred, of course, answered in a roadie coach way, all the while probably thinking to himself, "I didn't become a coach to answer questions like this over and over and over again. Heck, that's one of the reasons I do my newsletter, so people can go back and not ask again".

Beyond that, this question is about as vague as a question can get. In automotive terms it would be the same as asking, "Yesterday I brought my car up to 140 mph and it started shaking violently, furthermore the engine sounded like it was going to explode, is this normal?" Well, if you have a nice new Corvette, that is a problem, but if you have one of the last existing 1982 Chevette's, and you and your neighbor "Hank" thought it would be interesting to slap a nitrous kit on to "see how fast it would go" over a 12-pack of Busch Light, that's an entirely different story altogether. What Coach Fred should have said was this,

A: "Dear reader, that really depends what your training program is and what you are trying to accomplish. If you scheduled an interval workout all nimbly-bimbly with no structure in the plan whatsoever, then yeah, bailing on that and just riding your bike for fun would have been a better plan, heck it might have been anyway for a pure enjoyment perspective. I have to assume if you are going through the trouble of scheduling four 5-minute efforts, that you must know your body pretty well and know when you are tired vs. just feeling lazy and that this crazy interval effort is part of some bigger structured training program, but if I assumed that then you wouldn't be asking the question, you know what they say about ass-u-ming."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Roadie Rules for bike commuting

It seems like most people I meet along the road to work have the rules for bike commuting pretty well figured out, in fact, most of my research comes from observing the natives. Just in case though, I thought I'd outline some of my research so that others may benefit.

1) Kharma doesn't work
Buddha was a smart dude, but he had it wrong, kharma doesn't work... As such if you ever see someone broken down on the side of the road with a flat, or pushing their bike on a flat, you should never ask if they need help or if they have everything they need. It won't come back to you some day and the last thing you want to do is waste a patch and 5 minutes of your time.

The one exception would be a hot chick who has it all under control, by all means stop for her and hang around in the spandex. Bonus points occur when you mention you were doing CP12 intervals that your coach prescribed, but you felt strong enough that you were doing them at CP6 intensity.

2) Never say hi
On the road, cyclists are about as loved by drivers as GW Bush would be at a Save the environment rally. So it makes sense that you should never say hi to other cyclists as you go by them, from either direction. Sometimes a cordial wave is ok, but waving is like turning on your blinker before you turn when someone is waiting at an intersection, it shows weakness and you must avoid that. Saying hi also takes precious energy and might throw you above your heart rate zone, you don't want that! The absolute best scenario is just to stare straight ahead and pretend like no one is there.

3) Everything is a race
Let's face it, competition is in our blood, and there is evidence of competitions of great magnitude throughout the ancients. So it makes sense that we carry on the tradition at every opportunity. Someone stops at a light with you, make sure to clip in and beat them across the street. A hill is coming up, keep looking back to see if they are gaining. When all else fails...

4) Remember the 3 Amigos

This is really an extension of rule #3, but it's also a segway in to rule #5. Do you remember the scene in 3 Amigos where El Guapo tells Martin Short, Chevy Chase, and Steve Martin that they will die like dogs? No? Let me highlight it for you.

3 Amigos: Tell us we will die like dogs
El Guapo:...You will die like dogs
3 Amigos: No we will fight like lions

Remember this one when you are out there making everything a race. Chase someone down even if they are faster than you. As you catch them at the limit of what you can do, STAND and HAMMER! Put some distance on them. When they maintain a constant speed and catch you again, well, it's time to resort to #5.

5) Never admit defeat
If someone catches you as you are riding along and violates rule #2 by saying hi, be sure to mention that you rode 300 miles in the last two days and have a big sprint day tomorrow that you are resting up for. The ride today is an easy spin to stretch out your legs. If the other rider persists in talking to you and you are out of breath, mention "this is my corner" at the next intersection and turn off.

There you have the bulk of my research thus far. I am sure there is much more to be learned and I am anxious to complete my studies.