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I received an email asking me what I thought the odds are that the USA men will lose a starting line position for triathlon at the Olympics.


Great question.


In yesterday's blog I outlined the current issue. Let me give you more information today.


I think there is a high likelihood that the USA will indeed lose that third men's slot this weekend. The big question is by how much.



I don't know what the Russian Olympic qualifying process entails, so there might be some intersquad rivalries that I'm unaware of, but if I were coaching that Russian team, I would make my team strategy to do whatever it takes to get Polyansky the most points possible. Yes, this means all of his country men setting him up in anyway possible for a win - or as close to that as possible. No one from Russia ought to cross the line ahead of him. Every Russian male athlete should be working for Polyanksy - and they should be rewarded within the country system for doing so.



Does the country system reward such team work in Russia? I don't know.



Looking ahead now to Madrid, requires some looking back in time. First know that Hunter does not have the maximum number of races that go into this year's rankings. This is a good thing and means it is easier for Hunter to make a points gap than it is for Polyansky to make a gap at this point. Any points Hunter scores adds to his total. Polyansky needs to place higher and score more points than in a previous race, to build his points gap. You can see this by looking at the Olympic Rankings chart.



When they have raced at the same race, only twice in recent past, Hunter has gotten the nod. Kemper/Polyansky at Des Moines 2007 and Beijing 2007: 172 to 92 and 201 to 117 respectively. On paper, Kemper is the faster athlete.



In Madrid, ignoring any individual goals, the USA is sending four men and Russia is sending three. It is in the best interest of each country to sacrifice any individual goals to get Kemper or Polyansky in the best positions possible.



While the battle above is going on, don't turn a blind eye to Australia and Switerland. As I mentioned before, the four countries are close in points.



If I was a betting gal, I'd bet the USA will lose the position at the Richard's Bay World Cup; but get it back in Madrid and keep it through World Championships. Of course, I'm assuming no crashes, injuries, etc. for Kemper.



Give me odds on that prediction...



1,281 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: olympics, triathlon, world, cup, kemper

Do you plan to watch the South African Richard's Bay World Cup online at the ITU website this weekend? Perhaps you should?


In the world of getting Olympic slots for your country, recall from my column about the qualification process that only eight countries will get three men and three women on the start line at the Olympic Games.


Which countries can send three athletes per gender is determined by the "2008 Olympic Qualification" document found on this page. Just select that document to read all of the gory details.


What it boils down to, is Hunter Kemper is currently our third place, USA ranked male and his ranking points total 2359. Complete rankings can be found by selecting the "2008 Beijing Olympic Qualification Rankings" document, found here. Know that the USA is currently the last country to qualify three men on the start line for the Olympic Games.


The country closest to taking that spot away at this weekend's Richard's Bay World Cup race is Russia, specifically Dmitri Polyansky. His current Olympic rank puts him a mere 53 points away from Hunter Kemper. Looking at the scores he's accumulated in his recent races (419, 379, 293, 252, 238, 221, 167, 126, 126) you can see it is completely possible for him to replace his lowest score with a good performance in Richard's Bay.



I have not tried to do the math to figure out what place he needs to get to score that 53 points, but the race point system can be found here by selecting "ITU Points Critera".



If the USA men lose that third slot, the only way to get it back is by Hunter having a solid race at Madrid World Cup. That start list can be found here or the ITU BG Vancouver World Championships June 8th. World Championships is the cut-off date for the Olympic qualification process.



The last country to earn thee starts at the Olympic Games, for the men, depends on the following gentlemen racing for their respective countries. They are all separated by a couple hundred points, as of 4/26/08:



Brendan Sexton - Australia (2507)



Oliver Marceau - Switzerland (2452)



Hunter Kemper - USA (2359)



Dmitri Polyansky - Russia (2306)



Know that all of these guys are on the start list for the Madrid World Cup, found here.



Unless Kemper can perform well, and keep his points higher than the men listed above, we won't need to worry about qualifying a third man to the Olympics at the Des Moines World Cup race.



Stay tuned....



1,224 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: olympics, triathlon, itu, ranking, kemper, richard's_bay, world_cup, olympic_qualification

A city just north of me, Ft. Collins, Colorado, is doing something really cool. They have implemented a bike library. People can checkout bikes, like checking out books, for free. The only current downside is the program is so popular, they run out of bikes due to the high demand.


See a video clip here - Cool!



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This blog is additional information on an athlete that got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS. There will be four individual athlete blogs and a two-part column. Part I can be found here. Part II will be available May 4th.


Triathlete G.D.

G.D. was similar to the cyclists in the story in that he was going to school and performing very well in the sport of triathlon. His success came earlier than the others, he was under 18 when he began to recognize his talent for sport. He too performed well enough to get an invitation to the OTC.

He started high level training for triathlon at age 15 and was badly injured by the time he was 18. The injury was multiple stress fractures caused, in his estimation, by training inappropriately for someone his age. Too much too soon. He read a Triathlete magazine column about Lance Armstrong's training and tried to replicate it.



The success, however, was coming concurrent with the injuries. He had won a Junior National title at age 17, along with other races, and planned on being a pro at age 19. When he was 20 years old, he set numerous course records across the Midwest, racing nearly every weekend all summer.



Traveling to races, scoring podium spots and going to school made for an incredible lifestyle. Perhaps an intoxicating lifestyle.



The excitement and lifestyle so intoxicating that he did not recognize he was sick enough to be hospitalized while driving to a race. Rather, he planned to be on the podium at the race. His physical symptoms of unfathomable fatigue and boils on his body became so worrisome that instead of driving to the race venue, he drove himself to the hospital emergency room. He spent the night in the hospital and was in bed for a week before being strong enough to do a return drive home.



Like the others we've met, he was, and is, an achievement-oriented person. He is gifted in sport and outside of sport. Achieving success in sport and outside of sport was the motivation that gave him permission, self-permission, to drive himself hard. He worked hard at anything that drew his passion and somewhat enjoyed juggling many spinning plates at the same time.



He says that he believes three things contributed to his Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The first was consistent stress for years, not months, wore him to a nub. There was no time off of that stress at all.



For the training, he believes that it was the high intensity, and volume of high intensity training, that did him in. In his estimation, the long workouts can contribute to overall fatigue, but it was the intensity that pushed him over the edge.



The third item that contributed to his illness was spending time with a really cute girl that was a rampant pot smoker and perhaps gave him a virus. He has heard that most everyone carries Epstein Barr Virus, but only certain people manifest the symptoms. In either case, given by the cute girl or laying dormant, he was attacked by a virus.



His attempts to get healthy meant going through multiple cycles of rest, ramp-up, crash, repeat. He did this multiple times until he began to get a handle on the triggers for his illness. He said, "I've never gotten back to a point where I feel indestructible, but I feel like I have a pretty good handle on things now. Mostly, I just re adjusted my expectations of what was possible for me."



He, as well as a couple of the others, commented that the hardest part of dealing with the illness is trying to convey the symptoms to athletes that have not had the disease.



The main residual issue is fear. He was not the only one to use that four-letter word.



He said, "So much of the endurance mindset is about blasting through fatigue and pushing on no matter what. It is truly debilitating to learn your own limits through such a painful lesson. I personally believe this is the most painful part of CFS.



It is important to understand the difference between "reps to success" and "reps to failure."



After you get sick, it is crucial to get a grip mentally as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, in my personal experience, this process can take years. I do believe that it is incredibly important to talk to other people so you don't feel alone. Especially other athletes."



Every athlete commented to me that avoiding the old traps is a life-long challenge.



W.H. Triathlete

R.C. Cyclist

H.A. Cyclist

2,211 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: chronic_fatigue_syndrome, cfs

This blog is additional information on an athlete that got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS. There will be four individual athlete blogs and a two-part column. Part I can be found here. Part II will be available May 4th.


Triathlete W.H.


W.H. was different than the others in that he was not attending school at the same time he was participating in sport at a high level. His time was spent at more training, high volume and high intensity.


Prior to the months leading up to when the illness struck him, he was traveling the globe training and racing professionally. He was among a handful of top triathletes in the world. What if he could be better? Perhaps the best?


With two years of reasonably successful racing under his belt, he returned home for a break. With no races or travel for a six-week block, he decided to take advantage of that and train, train, train. He was logging 25 to 28 hours per week and many of those workouts, multiple workouts per day and multiple days in a row, were at very high intensities.


Following this big training block, he went into a big racing block where he traveled to and competed in seven races over nine weeks. This included travel overseas. His performances were soaring and he was achieving personal best placements in the field, consistently. He was on top of the world.


He trained hard between the races, so he wouldn’t lose any fitness. He returned home for a two-week break in racing. When he returned home, a fellow racer was there too, staying with him for six weeks. Training sessions became races of sorts, each one pushing the other.


Like most achievement-oriented people, there is a foundation concept that the more you work, the more you are rewarded. This concept was paying in spades for W.H. as he accepted invitations from more race directors to race at their events.


He was beginning to feel tired, though. He decided to take his training easy before the next race. At that race, he crashed on the bike. Accepting that it was just an off race, he continued to rest and heal his wounds.


Heading into the next big race, he found the media was his friend. There were lots of interviews and predictions that he would be the big race winner. The spotlight was on him.


As much as he tried to psych-up for the race, he felt tired. His body was tired all over. He ignored the feelings, passing them off as part of the normal cycle.


At the race he had an average swim; but, he planned to make his move on the bike. Putting the hammer down in the first 10K of the ride, he was surprised that he wasn’t dropping people. In fact, people were catching up. This wasn’t normal.


Not to worry. His run was his new weapon and surely this is where he would seal his fate on the podium. Out of the second transition and off to the run where he felt he was moving…backwards. Screaming fans urging him on, but he just couldn’t move faster. No energy in his legs.


With one disappointing race behind him, he looked ahead to the next opportunities to race. Plenty of races and travel were lined up. At the next race, he was still tired, so tired that he dropped out. It was the first time he didn’t finish a race in his career.


While traveling to the next race, he realized something was terribly wrong and cancelled plans for upcoming races. He said this was one of the lowest points of his career.


He consulted nutritionists, internists, acupuncturists, Chinese medicine specialists, took vitamins and herbal teas. Piles of tests and consultants, he did research and did what he thought was right for him.


He did low intensity training limited to four to six hours per week. For six weeks, nothing changed. His muscles ached and through his own research he determined that CFS was the culprit, though no “expert” diagnosed him with the disease.


At night he couldn’t fall asleep, though he was completely exhausted. Once asleep, he would wake up and remain awake for several hours. During the day, exhausted, he felt like he could fall asleep, literally, while riding his bike.


Because he was in the Pro Tour Series, he felt that he needed to race to maintain his points standing.


With little intensity training and lots of rest, he did a race. He placed reasonably well in the race and was surprised. Seven weeks after his initial fall into the chasm of fatigue, he seemed to recover and began racing again – though he would never be as strong and as fast as he was before he was struck with CFS.


G.D. Triathlete



R.C. Cyclist



H.A. Cyclist



2,025 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: chronic_fatigue_syndrome, cfs

This blog is additional information on an athlete that got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS. There will be four individual athlete blogs and a two-part column. Part I can be found here. Part II will be available May 4th.


Cyclist H.A.


The similarities between H.A. and R.C. include going to college in a tough study program and also being a very gifted cyclist. She was producing top-shelf results and was invited to be a resident at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). While at the OTC, she got pneumonia. Unfortunately, she was misdiagnosed and continued to train at a high level for two weeks, digging a deeper hole, before a proper diagnosis was given.


After treating the pneumonia, she tried for the next eight months to train, but she was just tired all the time. She described the same tired and low-level sickness feeling that R.C. described. As hard as she tried to train, she just got worse.


She got pneumonia again.


She started napping and napping turned into sleeping some 18 to 20 hours per day, literally. She didn’t remember what it felt like to not feel tired. She started to wonder, “What if this is what the rest of my life will look like?”


Unlike R.C., who had some rocky relationship issues, she had a very stable relationship with her husband and he helped her tremendously. He wanted her to heal and get better. She said he was a critical component to her getting healthy again. When others might have doubted she had any real illness at all, he knew she was sick and she would get better. He commented, “When you get better…”


She visited an immunologist and he told her to get on the bike every day and ride just a little and at low intensity. Not more than an hour in the beginning. He believed that this low-level of exercise gave her an endorphin hit and helped rebuild her immune system. On some days she had to drag herself onto the trainer for an easy 30-minute session, but the low intensity rides did seem to help.


Doctors wanted to put her on anti-depressants, but she refused.


She also worked with an internal medicine specialist that told her CFS tends to last for five years, in his opinion. He said she could begin training again for competitive racing, but the training structure had to be very loose. If a tough session was scheduled and she felt bad, she skipped it. She had to train according to how she felt. Fast on the days that she felt good, take it easy on days she didn’t feel good.


She did get back to the highest level of cycling again, but one frustration was her performance was unpredictable. In one stage race, she was dropped from the main group on the first day. On the second day of the same race she was on the podium.


In reflection, she says she believes that it is hard for competitive athletes to be honest about how they really feel. They can tolerate such high levels of pain and discomfort in order to race at top levels, that this tolerance blessing for training and racing is also a curse. Ignoring or minimizing how you really feel can lead you down a dark road.


Her husband’s support and others believing in her was critical to regaining her health. She carefully monitors the intensity of a common cold and immediately reduces training. She does a better job of resting and taking care of herself.


She was once on an extremely low-fat diet, that is no longer the case. She eats primarily fruits, vegetables and lean meats. She also uses multivitamins and antioxidants to help her keep healthy.


R.C. Cyclist

G.D. Triathlete

W.H. Triathlete

2,143 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: chronic_fatigue_syndrome, cfs

This blog is additional information on an athlete that got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS. There will be four individual athlete blogs and a two-part column. Part I can be found here. Part II will be available May 4th.


Cyclist R.C.


R.C. was the oldest of the athletes I interviewed and had the deepest history of dealing with CFS. Many of the threads in his story were common to the others. But, no two stories for getting CFS or for overcoming the disease were the same.


R.C. left home to attend college and live in the dorm at age 19. He was a fulltime student and cycling too. His cycling mileage was not that high compared to others. He estimated weekly mileage at around 200 and a moderate amount of intensity. He was riding well, starting to get noticed, and studies were going well too.


Dorm life, however, was not conducive to good rest. He found it nearly impossible to get good rest and he found it frustrating. In addition to rest being tough to come by, the college culture was ripe for spreading mononucleosis.


In September of his sophomore year at college, he got sick. The first problem he found was through a blood test that determined his liver enzymes were out of tolerance. In October he got Chicken Pox and in December it was mononucleosis. He quit school and moved in with his girlfriend to recover.


After a round of prednisone and getting his liver enzymes back to normal, he went back to school part-time in the spring. He also started riding and racing again. He didn’t feel that great, but was riding really well. He was a little worried about getting sick again.


His junior year he was going full speed, feeling confident on the bike and with his fitness. That winter he was selected to the U.S. Olympic Training Center resident collegiate program. The summer between his junior and senior year he raced a lot and was flying on the bike.


He was training with a coach that didn’t do big mileage, R.C. estimates only about 250 miles per week, but every workout included very high intensity. He was responding to the training with great results. He was selected for the 1980 Olympic Long Team; however, that was the year the U.S. did not send a team to the Olympics.


The spring of the following year he was back home, going to school and riding great. He was riding fantastically with light training volume. Communication from the Olympic Training Center continued and his hopes of being on the National Team were coming to fruition. At the same time, he began feeling bad. Riding well, but feeling bad.


He said, “School pressures, relationship stress, worry and performance anxiety did me in. I started feeling really bad. But oddly, I could still ride well. It wasn’t until I felt terrible, that I quit riding.”


A doctor misdiagnosed him with blood pressure problems. He worked for an entire year to rest and get healthy again.


He moved to the east coast to go to school and began riding again. It wasn’t long before he was riding very well and winning races. He moved back to the west and continued to get great results on the bike, while attending a new college. Though he was riding well, he didn’t get recognition from the Olympic Training Center and no selection chance for the next Olympic team.


He continued to ride and race well. A full eight years after his freshman year of college, he was flying on the bike again; but he started to feel that old sickness creep back.


Growing tired, he lost his power and speed on the bike. He felt sick. He said, “I felt the way you feel when you’re just about to get the flu or a cold. No energy, weak, tired and just sick. But the feeling lingers and just won’t go away…for weeks and weeks on end.”


After a battery of tests from a general practitioner, he was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The doctor put him on an antiviral medication, Zovorix. He began to feel better, but it would be two years before he felt good on the bike again.


He rode consistently well for seven years, and then began to feel unstable again. Looking back at that time, he says that a stressful relationship was the root of his emotional stress. He tried Zovorix again, but this time there were no positive results.


Another four years of struggling to get healthy produced limited results. After extensive testing to eliminate a battery of illnesses, he was diagnosed with CFS for a second time. An immunologist suggested he work to rebuild his immune system with healthy foods and acupuncture.


It took two years for him to get healthy again.


In reflection, he commented that when outside stresses began to pile up on him, he didn’t change his riding. He didn’t reduce intensity or volume and that was a mistake. Relationship issues were major stressors for him; however, because he was riding well, he didn’t feel like he needed to change anything about the bike.


The bike was a place to find peace and pleasure when other things were not got going well. He knows now, that keeping the same volume and intensity on the bike when life stresses pile up is a mistake.


He also knows that riding the bike in extremely windy, wet and cold conditions further stresses his body. In the past, no weather condition would keep him off the bike. Now he knows staying off the bike on some days will keep him healthy for the long haul.


H.A. Cyclist

G.D. Triathlete

W.H. Triathlete

3,292 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: chronic_fatigue_syndrome, cfs

What if you?re last?

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Apr 25, 2008

Last night I traveled to the Outdoor DIVAS Cherry Creek store in Denver to talk about nutrition and training issues at an event sponsored by Pearl Izumi. An enthusiastic group of women, and one support-your-gal guy, discussed all kinds of issues. I got a chance to meet some great women as well.


One issue that comes up in nearly every group that I talk to is the concern about being last in a race. It doesn’t matter if it is an all female, all male or a mixed group, there is always at least one person that expresses a discomfort or fear about being the last finisher at an event.


In 2005, I was the last official finisher in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race. How that all unfolded is another story – but that finish remains one of my all-time most memorable races and race finishes. I was quite happy to be last.


It’s no secret that I’m a Starbuck’s pumpkin scone fan. If I’m the last one to get a pumpkin scone before the tray is empty, I’m one happy gal.


If you were the last one to get something from a store before it closed, would you be happy to be last?


If you were the last one in a special line to receive $1 million in cash - would you want to be last in line or not in line at all?


Would you prefer to be in the game of life, playing with all you’ve got? Or home on the couch in front of the TV watching others play?


If you could be last in line to receive the privilege of health, participation, fresh air, friendship, physical exertion, feeling alive…would you chose to be last in line or not in line at all?


Do you know someone that needs some help with the fear of being last? Maybe these blog thoughts will help them.

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While it is really tempting to begin assigning the third Olympic team slots to a handful of athletes based on a mathmatics equation, in a World Cup race and a big money race, such as Des Moines, many things can happen to change the outcome of the team.


Pre-race illness, injury, overtraining and race day crashes are a few of the variables that make the Des Moines event interesting. There is no sure bet.



Vegas? What are the odds?



1,014 Views 2 Comments Permalink

Big congratulations to Matt Reed for winning this tough race.


Andy Potts gets second place and Hunter Kemper in third.


1 - Reed

2 - Potts

3 - Kemper


Interesting race now. For the Beijing World Cup, the places were reversed. Kemper was 2 and Potts was 3. They each go into the Des Moines race with a score of "5".



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Big, big contrats to Julie Ertel for winning in Tuscaloosa and getting the second women's Olympic slot. I followed the coverage live on


I stand (actually sit) corrected. With Sara Groff placing third in Alabama, she has a shot at the final slot. Haskins doesn't have it sewn up. If Groff is the first USA athlete across the finish line at Des Moines, then she will have a score of "4" and will get that third Olympic slot. In my last post I made the assumption that Sara Haskins would have it sewn up with a score of "4" due to her World Rank. But, not the case. (Bad transfer of memory data from the 2004 qualification process.)



So, unless there is a crash involving Groff and Haskins at Hyvee, then one of them will get that final slot. Ah, but plenty of crashes have dashed race-winning hopes.



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Before this weekend’s Olympic trials races in Tuscaloosa, here is one more thing for you to think about. If Hunter Kemper doesn’t place first, but places second, he automatically gets the third spot on the team. If Sara Haskins doesn’t place first, but places second, she automatically gets the third slot on the team.






The third slots are awarded to the athletes with the two lowest combined scores from the three qualification races: 2007 BG Beijing World Cup, Tuscaloosa Alabama and Des Moines World Cup. The “score” is their finish place among USA athletes. If other athletes score first place with Sara and/or Hunter getting second, no other athlete can possibly get a combined score of less than four.


In the case that the third slots come down to scores in Des Moines, here are the current scores from the 2007 Beijing World Cup:


2 – Hunter Kemper

3 – Andy Potts

4 – Doug Friman

5 – Matt Reed

6 – Brian Fleishman


2 – Sara Haskins

3 – Julie Ertel

4 – Becky Lavelle

5 – Sara Groff

DNF – Sara McLarty


The results of Tuscaloosa might select the team in one weekend – or – make the math problem very interesting for Des Moines. As an athlete, if it comes down to Des Moines, then your competition becomes the athletes that currently have two lower scores than you do. As long as you beat those people in Des Moines, the slot is yours.


See the Selection Procedures for more details.



***Note: My bad memory was thinking that a tie score in Des Moines was awarded to the athlete with the highest World Rank. Not the case. Tie score goes to the highest placing athlete in Des Moines. See the next post.



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This upcoming weekend is the second selection race for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.


You can find information about the Olympic process beginning with the last column I wrote, Designing the Olympic Selection Process. Other columns can be found at the links at the bottom of that column.


Is anyone bold enough to make some predictions? Who will be the next two athletes to be on our Olympic team?

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Back in February I wrote a blog about water contamination and contaminated supplements. I’ve received a couple of emails asking the whereabouts of the information, so I’m pulling the supplement information out into it’s own blog.


Here it is:


For the supplement issue, the study that was released in 2007 titled, " Investigation Into Supplement Contamination Levels In The US Market, HFL 2007 " made a big splash late last year on several news sites including Fox and USA Today. An excerpt from the report,


“Of the 54 samples that were successfully analysed by LCMS, 6 showed the

presence of stimulant contamination. This corresponds to 11.1%. Of the 52

samples that were successfully analysed by GCMS, 13 showed the presence

of steroid contamination. This corresponds to 25.0%.”


Manufacturing practices at supplement companies are obviously not up to snuff. A study done by the US Olympic Committee between 2000 and 2002 found that 18% of the 240 supplements purchased in the US contained steroids.


If you take supplements, know that they are NOT controlled by the tight standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Buyer beware.

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Bike Fit

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Apr 8, 2008

I have at least as many excuses as you do for not getting into my favorite bike shop for a bike fit. I can't speak for you; but, all of my excuses are lousy ones if I'm honest.


My first bike fit was to get my custom TT frame built by legendary frame builder Lennard Zinn. That was in 1992.


My second bike fit was somewhere around 2000-2002 when fit guru Andy Pruitt fit my road bike and tweaked Lennard's fit on my TT frame. Actually, it wasn't Lennard's fit that needed tweaking, it was my fit that needed tweaking due to changes in my strength, fitness and flexibility.


The third fit was by Kevin Hansen of Peloton Cycles, fresh off of a course that certified him in the fit techniques of Pruitt. That fit was on a new mountain bike in 2005.


Happy to tweak my own fit and transfer measurements from bike to bike, I slowly crept out of fit. For the last two to three years, I've had trouble with my right fingers falling asleep on any ride over an hour. I just put up with it, because it didn't prevent me from riding.


There is the problem.


Why in the world would I wait until an issue became debilitating until I did something about it? Probably for the same reasons you do too: too busy right now, will do it next week/month/year?, it's not that bad, it doesn't bother me all the time, etc.


When Roy Gatesman of Peloton Cycles offered to do a complete Body Geometry Fit on the new bike for me, I said, "Yes, let's do it. You can probably fine tune the current fit, which works fine." (Achem! - "Fine"? Really?)


I am the first to admit that doing my own bike fit is like trying to give myself swimming stroke technique tips. I honestly don't have a clue what I looked like and what's going on with various moving parts when in motion.


Here's what Roy suggested that I change, and I agreed with his diagnosis:


  • - Shorter stem by 10 mm.

  • - Narrower handlebars than what came on the bike. (Back to what my current bike is equipped with, at 40.) Also, the new bar had a 20 mm shorter reach. (The distance from the centerline of the handlebar to the brake hoods was shorter so my hand didn't have to travel as far forward to reach the brake hoods.)

  • - SRAM Red has a built-in adjustment to bring the brake lever closer to the bar for my small hands. Much, much easier to reach the brakes.

  • - Removed the washer from between the pedals and the cranks and moved the cleats on my pedals to the outsides of my shoes. All of this brought my knees and ankles inline with my hips (measured with a nifty laser), which fall on the narrow side for a woman. This is a good fit biomechanically and reduces injury chances along with increasing my ability to generate power.

  • - Adjusted the seat fore and aft to get my knee correctly aligned over the crank arm. (Did I mention that off and on right knee pain I get on occasion? Oh, I guess it slipped my mind.)

  • - Removed a shim that was under my left shoe to get my knee to track in a straight line, rather than traveling side to side.

  • - Put my seat height back to what I thought was, rather than what it actually measured. (Travels with the bike and time lowered my seat. Ooops.)


There are probably other items slipping my mind, but this is the majority of issues. I took the bike for a long, hilly ride that had gusty winds (the worst aggravator for my sleeping fingers and occasionally cranky knee) last Sunday.


Guess what? No problems at all.


Roy Gatesman can be seen below making adjustments on the bike. Trent Schilousky, who helped with the shim troubleshooting, seemed to disappear when the camera came out. Todd Kornfield, who often cares for my bikes, is in the background contemplating, "Gale, now tell me again why you waited so long to get a proper bike fit?"


No good excuse.




2,421 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: bike_fit, kuota, peloton_cycles, sram

I've been getting some flack about the weight of my new bike and I think it is unfair.


As shipped and assembled, with carbon water bottle cages and Ti Speedplay pedals included in the total, it weighs in at 14.99 pounds. The bike, sans filled water bottles and flat repair kit, is roughly 12.2 percent of my body weight.



There are plenty of nice bikes out there that weigh around 17 pounds, and many weigh much less than that.



Here is my sales pitch:



It only seems fair that bikes are an equal percentage of body weight. Doing some rough calculations, assuming others have a bike weight of 17 pounds and mine is 15, anyone over 140 pounds body weight should be carrying some of my stuff. At 153.75 pounds, this person should carry one of my filled, large water bottles in addition to their own. Anyone weighing 168.1 pounds should carry both of my filled, large water bottles in addition to their own.



I'll make the sales and fairness pitch at the Sunday group ride and let you know how it goes.



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In yesterdays blog I mentioned that studies on hypoxic training in swimming have been very revealing. Indeed they have.


All studies on hypoxic training techniques in swimming have revealed that these breathing-restricted training techniques do not simulate altitude acclimatization.


Dr. Resignis and Dr. Sille have questionable research techniques and they are hoping for more than April fools to purchase their product - they need year-round fools. It appears they, and a long list of fervent investors signed up yesterday, will attempt to lure eager-to-improve cyclists and runners into their net of deception. It is rumored that they are all scheming up a plot to be multi-gazillionaires by the end of the year.


The business plan includes snorkel models of various styles and colors to be worn some 14 to 16 hours per day. They concluded athletes eager to improve would be willing to wear snorkels nearly all day, to achieve performance gains. Not surprising, there are evening wear models, complete with sequins. A foul weather model is displayed at the end of the blog, with a built-in nose plug.


Undaunted by the scientific evidence that their product does not work for altitude acclimatization, they are forging ahead. They are attempting to recruit periodontist Dr. Todd Singiser (whose office, by strange coincidence, is on Abarr Dr.) and professional engineer Scott Ellis to help on design. At press time, it is unclear whether the two professionals will lend their advice to the product design.


On a parting note, they have decided to add a product warning label, "Do not attempt to use this device while riding your bike near a cliff. Oxygen deprivation could cause a black-out and serious injury."


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Hypoxic (low oxygen) training has been utilized in swimming workouts for years. Those of you familiar with swimming know that sets of controlled breathing by 25 yards are very common. An example of such a set is breathing every 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th stroke. By the time the swimmer is on the last 25, oxygen is definitely at a premium and the swimmer must focus on high stroke economy, while relaxing in order to make the breathing pattern.


A second common hypoxic set in swimming is repeat sets of 25 (or more) yards of underwater swimming. Swimmers develop the ability to swim longer and longer distances underwater, dealing with oxygen deprivation for extended periods of time.


A third example of hypoxic training for swimming is utilizing a snorkel. The snorkels used in swimming are designed to sit in front of the face and come with reducer valves to further restrict the oxygen flow.


These workouts and tools are designed for swimmers to teach their bodies to deal with oxygen deprivation. Oxygen deprivation is exactly what occurs at altitude. There have been recent studies on the effects of hypoxic breathing to simulate altitude training for swimmers. The results of the studies have been quite revealing. More on those results in the next blog.


Researchers at Abarr Institute have taken the hypoxic format of training from swimming and are applying it to cycling, with very interesting results. Dr. Resignis and Dr. Sille are the lead researchers.



Instead of using the snorkel designed for swimming workouts, researchers are using the snorkels designed for scuba diving because they do not obstruct front vision. Snorkels have a helmet attachment to keep them upright. Cyclists use a nose plug to eliminate any nose-breathing.



The experiment has cyclists doing two workouts per week with the snorkel. The entire workout is done wearing the snorkel, which appears to yield faster results than found with the swimming experiments where swimmers wear the snorkel for only a small portion of a workout.



Workout number one was a steady 20 minutes at lactate threshold power and this workout remained constant throughout the 12-week experiment. Cyclists were allowed unrestricted snorkel breathing, or no reducer valves. Workout number two was a series of hill repeats, on a hill taking three minutes to climb. Week one began with 21 minutes of accumulated hill work.



Two changes were made for the second workout during the experiment. Each week, one more hill repeat was added to total 57 minutes of high intensity work by the end of week 12. Additionally, athletic tape was utilized to restrict breathing flow during this second workout. For the first week, the snorkel diameter was reduced only slightly. As each week progressed, the diameter was reduced more, to further restrict oxygen. Diameter reduction was calibrated to simulate altitude increases. By the end of the 12 weeks, cyclists were breathing air through the snorkel equivalent to working out at 12,000 feet.



Dr. Resignis plans to release the data in the near future, but commented that the snorkel and calibrated reducer could give cyclists an affordable alternative to the very expensive altitude tents now being sold.



Dr. Sille is working on an adaptor to make the snorkel more comfortable for running. The running experiment is in progress now, so results of that experiment are not available.



Both researchers commented that the results of this test will completely revolutionize altitude training, giving endurance athletes a safer way to boost red blood cell count without taking dangerous drugs, sleeping in expensive altitude tents or relocating to high altitude cities.



Part 2 is found here.



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