Monday, December 29, 2008

Jammin' Out to the Rock and Roll Trainer

This is an excerpt from a longer article, "Great Gear to Keep You Rolling All Winter Long," which originally appeared on reprinted here with permission.

Rockin' and rollin'!

Rockin' and rollin'!

As promised, here's my very own review of the Kurt Kinetic Rock & Roll Trainer. My coach and I don't always agree... but not so in this case: this is the only company whose trainers we both feel 100% comfortable endorsing across the board. And he even shelled out his own $$$ for a Pro stationary trainer (which, if you know John, says A LOT!)

To be honest, I've never been a fan of generic indoor trainer workouts. Typically, I'd much rather bundle up and brave the elements than pedal without moving and feel bored out of my gourd. Part of the problem, however, might have been that I never had a Kurt Kinetic Rock & Roll Trainer. The energy of the new live Cyclo-SPIN classes have definitely changed my indoor attitude as well.

Riding a trainer has always felt very different to me than actually riding a bike outside. All manufacturer claims aside, all wind, mag, and fluid resistance trainers just felt plain wrong. Somehow the Kurt Kinetic developed fluid resistance that mimics the feel of spinning along on the road. But there are two things that put the Rock and Roll at the top of the heap.
  1. It rocks, it rolls! The trainer allows for a side-to-side, "rocking" motion. While most trainers lock you in to an unnatural, static position, the Rock and Roll's coolest attribute is that you can move the bike beneath you, as you would on the road. Great for intervals and out-of-the-saddle efforts and it allows you to better engage your core during the ride.

  2. Though simple, the front wheel support is pure genius . Turning your handlebars actually turns your wheel thanks to the turn table riser ring , further adding to the realistic feel of the setup. Ring is also available separately.

Spin that turntable
Spin that turntable
What it does: Rock and Roll is sturdy, quiet, and enhances the indoor trainer experience dramatically.

What it doesn't: It's not meant to be portable for pre-event warm-up. Set it up in your workout room and stream some Cyclo-SPIN classes, relive your favorite pro race on video, or pop in Cyclo-CLIMB and enjoy.

Rock and Roll MSRP is $559.99, Turn Table Riser Ring is $39.99

Back Outside AT LAST, Dripping Away, & Radiohead Obsession...

Sweet, sweet, sweet! After 2 weeks largely devoted to indoor trainer workouts and off-the-bike stuff, I managed to squeeze in back-to-back outdoor rides the last couple of days. When I checked the weather report and saw scattered showers and temps in the mid-40's+ for the foreseeable future, I was PSYCHED. That shows just how bad things had gotten... and that "it's all relative." Rain meant the ice and snow would be quickly whisked away; mid-40's to low 50's meant a couple of layers, maybe some waterproof on the exterior, and I'd be good to go!

Yesterday was an hour and a half between tempo and "sweet spot" and I felt oh-so-good. Put out something like 850 or 900 kilojoules in the first hour, which is a lot on a non-race day for me. Apparently my body was super-psyched to be out on the road too. Today was a more moderate pace, but for 2 hours 40 and about 2,000kj total. And, although the weather has been iffy of late, the riding here in Portland is absolutely incredible - worth the moisture, frankly.

Both of the above rides came during my "Drip" phase. I alluded to it before but will delve a little deeper. Since I'm mostly just focusing on volume in my training right now, it's a good time to try to trim off my extra winter weight - well before race season kicks off in earnest. The calories brought on board during the day (between a sensible breakfast, moderate dinner, and the inevitable snack I devour post-ride) come from a diluted protein/carb mix drink "dripped" into my system all day long. Something between 3:1 and 5:1 carb to protein seems to work well, and I'm mixing up the sources quite a bit. A sports drink like Perpetuem or Accelerade would be good for during a workout, something with whey protein, like the Clif Shot recovery drink works well for after.

Frankly, I'm giving sports drinks a break and experimenting with my own concoctions to mix up the flavors. I bought this crazy Chocolate Chile hemp protein mix at my local natural food store (in case you didn't know, yes, I'm somewhat of a hippie at heart!) and have been mixing that with soymilk, lots of water, and a little bit of maple syrup or organic brown rice syrup for the right nutritional proportions. The chile, though subtle, has a really nice warming effect on these damp, chilly winter days. Unfortunately for me, I later found it here for waaaaay less money. I also bought soy protein in the bulk bins and am experimenting with some cheap drink mix options of my own with that.

I can't only talk about the bike stuff... too boring. Here's what else I've been up to: Got 52 minutes and 31 seconds to kill and tired of watching shitty television? I can't recommend this online Radiohead video broadcast enough. It took a couple of listens for their latest In Rainbows album to grow on me... now that growth has completely enveloped my body and soul. Like a thick, cushy fungus. Only... less gross.

Back to the point, the band made "Scotch Mist" to commemorate New Years 2007. They got together and did some great alternate takes of every song on the album, linked together with some sweet video and audio interludes.

Check it out!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Music for Inspiration

Is this a bike blog or music playlist? Well... either way. What can I say, good music strums my heart strings and gets me inspired to do good things with my life. Today's highlight was definitely going to see a band that I just keep liking more and more and more...


As much as I loved the recordings I have of their music, to see them live changed everything. I'm totally on board, these guys are fabulous! If you like it, you gotta check out this free 90+ minute concert from May on the best podcast ever, NPR's All Songs Considered.

Biking and training happened too... but that's all in the background today. Over the course of the day...
  • Morning Rituals with Tongue Scraper, skin Brush, Energy Exercises
  • Rode the trainer while watching an awesome Cyclocross World Cup from France earlier this year - the Nommay World Cup. Good way to tap out a good tempo for an hour+ without getting bored. I'm coming for you, Lars Boom!
  • 30 minutes Cyclo-ZEN Power Yoga
  • Ab Power-Roller for more core
  • Medicine Ball work for yet more core...
  • And some jump rope, just because
  • oh... and it was DRIP Day Two.

A little Nommay Action, to boot (this clip in Flemish, appropriately enough):

Friday, December 26, 2008

Day One "On the Clock"

Today's Training: I managed to churn out 90 minutes on the indoor trainer today which, for me, is a minor miracle. I'm not a big fan of indoor bike workouts - but road conditions in Portland for the past week have been atrocious. While I could probably ride a bit, there's no way I could go fast enough to get any sort of good training in. The only real outdoor work has been taking my dog Sasha along on my cross-country ski jaunts... down the middle of the neighborhood streets!

The Kurt Kinetic Trainer I'm currently demoing (just posted a review on cool Winter Gear in Cyclo-CLUB, will snip out and upload the review of the trainer here at some point soon as well) definitely helped the cause - as did my DVD copy of the 2002 Paris Roubaix.

This morning did an hour of Power Yoga, which felt awesome.

Oh... and I'm also a day-and-a-half into The Drip. More on that to come, but the basic premise is: eat a small breakfast and a moderate dinner. In between, bring on a diluted carb/protein mix in drink form all day long. I'm experimenting with different solutions and will likely mix it up so it's bearable. It should keep my metabolism burning all day long - and I'll emerge skinny. And tough.

Putting Pen to Paper (or pixels to screen...)

My day job is bike-centric too: I help to run Cyclo-CLUB, an online membership community with on- and off-the-bike workouts, articles, tips, techniques, streaming Spin classes, etc. One of my duties (among many) is to head up the Everyday Cyclist Challenge which encourages Club members to set goals and document their journeys and experiences in a public blog.

Several of them are absolutely incredible - Engaging, thoughtful, and downright inspiring (I'll post a blogroll here soon!). In fact, they've pretty much forced me to "put up." Although I've written tons of content for Cyclo-CLUB, including my first-person experiential "Watch Me Race" column, it's high time that I follow our own recommendations, set some concrete goals, and make a kickass public blog.

So, without further ado, we're underway. My goals, pertaining both to the bike and life in general, could fill a book. We'll start with these - For 2009 and beyond...

  • Make the weight / make the power. Like to be ~65kgs (or as low as I can get while staying healthy and maintaining power output!) and have a 320+ watt threshold power.

  • Incorporate regular foam roller and hypoxic breathing intervals.

  • Learn to meditate. Improve FOCUS, life-organization, and time management.

  • Kick my damned heartburn. Experiment with diet to improve energy levels.

  • Hit a couple of big races out of the country.

  • Build up our sweet new Green Cycling Team!

  • Win a bunch of races...


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

(Re)Wrapping Up 2008

[This article originally appeared in Cyclo-CLUB. Reprinted with permission.]

After dabbling in some badass cyclocross races over the winter, Josh is emerging refreshed, strong, and excited. NOW is the time to lay to foundation for his 2009 campaign.
He's kicking it off with a 7-Day Fatloss Bootcamp followed by lots of dedicated training...

What a long, strange season it's been! Illness stalled my plans for the season's first stage race in mid-February, but I started racing with the big kids not long after that. 2008 was my first season as a Cat 1, which meant bumping elbows with the pros at most events.

As I documented all season-long in Watch Me Race, it was a wonderful experience. Nothing motivates me to continue to push my own personal boundaries than lining up against competition that's better than me and constantly trying to drop me! I turned myself inside out for some results beyond my expectations -- and I also discovered shortcomings and limiters that I'm working to overcome.

Chasing Pros at Tour of the Gila, New Mexico

Chasing Pros at Tour of the Gila, New Mexico

Several times I found myself tired out, both mentally and physically. Training, traveling, racing, all mixed in with working for Graeme and building the trailblazing, successful online community known as Cyclo-CLUB. Combine that with the fact that I was pushing my body faster and further to hang with the competition and it's no wonder that I needed to add in some downtime.

I wrapped my season up for the first time in mid-August, very early for me. I was in peak form for the US Elite National Championships, but I was already starting to unravel and fray from a long tough season. Those races in LA went well, and I was psyched for some R&R. I wasn't completely off the bike, but used the time to just enjoy my rides again.

A recent move to Portland, Oregon forced me to heed the call of the cowbell -- you can't be a cyclist here and avoid the draw of the killer cyclocross scene. I did a smattering of races, had an amazing time, and got some great full-blown intensity training in without the "chore" of intervals. Unlike most winters, where I come in gassed from a road season and just keep racing and losing fitness as the 'cross season progresses, I came in undertrained and used the local races as part of my build phase.

It worked out great. I trained through all of the races -- since cyclocross wasn't a priority for me, there was no reason to taper for the events. My form got better each week, culminating with the US Grand Prix in Portland last weekend. Unfortunately starting order was based on time of registration, which meant my last-minute butt was lined up 88th out of 90 entrants in the 35+ race. Despite an early mechanical which left me at least a minute behind second-to-last on the first lap(!), I was able to tap out an aggressive tempo and kept picking off riders. All things considered, including another minor mechanical and a sweet late-race crash, my 20th placing was pretty darned good in my book.

I find myself refreshed, feeling strong, and ready for one of my favorite parts of the year -- the winter build phase leading up to my first road races. I'm inspired to get serious, finalize the roster and sponsors of my Cat 1 team, and have the best road season yet. The crazy-cold weather spell we're in the midst of now is the perfect time for me to shed my winter weight with the 7-Day Fatloss Bootcamp (Day One today!) and I'm just getting started of an Everyday Cyclist Challenge blog of my own to document the process and keep me honest.

Tools of the Trade for Josh's Offseason: