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A few weeks ago I wrote a column about pre-cooling for improved race performance. Top road racers Levi Leipheimer and Tejay Van Garderen used pre-cooling techniques before the Vail time trial at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge event.

 

I was near the 300 meter mark on the hill and caught this shot of Leipheimer shortly before he won the time trial and set a course record of 25:47.

 

web_leipheimer.gif

 

When I went home and watched my recorded live coverage, what I noticed is that Leipheimer was wearing a pre-cooling vest during his warm-up.

 

web_leipheimer-precooling.gif

 

With a bit of research, I found the vest is made by Game Ready. You can find more information about Radio Shack uses and the various uses of this system at this link.

 

Tejay Van Garderen appeared to be wearing a pre-cooling system as well, though I can’t find the manufacturer of the apparent gloves.

 

web_van-garderen-cooling.gif

 

When preparing for the Olympic Games, I recall a presentation by a company named AvaCore. Though I don’t think Tejay’s glove is manufactured by AvaCore, hand cooling is used due to the heat dissipation characteristics of the human hand (and sole of the foot).

 

None of this was covered on the one-hour show, so I was glad to have the live version recorded.

 

Cool! Literally.

708 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: leipheimer, usa_pro_cycling_challenge, pre-cooling, van_garderen, vangarderen

Today I had a chance to run in a new show – On. I have to say, I’m impressed.

 

Normally, when I run in a new shoe it takes a few runs before I feel comfortable. I was comfortable from the first step in this shoe. I suspect it is due to a combination of footbed design and the sole. It is an unusual looking sole.

 

web-photo.gif

 

Before running in the shoe, I did go to the company website to see the story behind the shoe and I had a look at the research that found running in the shoe reduced heart rate and lactic acid concentrations. I normally remain a skeptic on studies – particularly if a single study is involved.

 

Though I can’t report specific speeds or heart rate numbers for myself (I wanted to just run in the shoe), I can say that I did feel light, fast and very comfortable in the shoe.

 

For me, a neutral runner, this shoe gets big thumbs up after only one run. I’ll keep you posted on further impressions.

897 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: on, running_shoe, running_on_clouds

For those of you coming to the Colorado mountains to catch the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, be sure to catch the Aspen/Snowmass Women’s Pro Stage Race going on August 22 to 24. Jessica Phillips (2002 U.S. road champion and 2009 U.S. time trial champion) was instrumental in bringing the race to Aspen.

 

Though the women’s race doesn’t follow the same course as the men’s race, both races carry title sponsorship from UnitedHealthcare. Kudos to UnitedHealthcare for their support of cycling and, in particular, women’s racing. Additionally, it’s great to see USA Pro Cycling Challenge promoting the event as well.

 

The stages are:

Stage 1 – Maroon Bells Time Trial
August 22 5:00 p.m.
The eight-mile, uphill time trial opens racing Monday evening southwest of Aspen. The route follows the Maroon Creek Road and gradually rises 1,500 vertical feet. The course is not technical, but the climb and thin air will conspire to put big splits into the field before the race’s first night is out.

Stage 2 – Snowmass Circuit Race
August 23 10:00 a.m.
The 3.5-mile circuit climbs the five-percent Brush Creek Road climb every one of 12 laps. The 1.4-mile climb gives way to a stair-step descent to the start/finish with barely a respite for riders.

Stage 3 – Aspen Crit
August 24 1:00 p.m.
Eleven corners in criterium! There will be no formulaic racing in the downtown Aspen finale. With 49 feet of elevation gain every lap and an uphill finish, the Aspen Crit will be the most challenge criterium on the women’s national circuit. Throw in the altitude and the final stage will be a true test, if for just an hour.

 

The ever-young Jeannie Longo will be racing alongside U.S. Olympian Kristen Armstrong Savola. You can find complete starting rosters on VeloNews.

551 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: usa_pro_cycling_challenge, womens_cycling

I like to look at statistics. Below are some numbers I pulled from the data on Milliseconds Sports Timing. I used the data sets from the all-male and all-female sorts on the Leadville results page. That means the mixed tandem team data is not included in numbers below.

 





Stats




264

Women entered


14% of the entry field was women

66

DNS



25% of the w's field didn't show up

70

DNF







194

Started



64% of the w's start field finished

124

Finished



47% of the w's entry field finished

 





Stats




1614

Men entered


This includes all-male tandems

212

DNS



13% of the men's field didn't show up

254

DNF







1360

Started



84% of the m's start field finished

1148

Finished



71% of the m's entry field finished

 

 

I’m interested in what kept the women from showing up to the start line. You can post your comments here on Active, on Facebook or send me a private message at gale@galebernhardt.com

 

If you know of women that didn't make it to the start, please forward this post to them - thanks.

813 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: statistics, women, men, leadville_100_mountain_bike_race

From my Facebook page:

Congratulations on your race Gale! Saw you mentioned a 29er. I have friends who won't even consider riding one - they all recite the same claptrap from 5 or 6 years ago. Too heavy, harder to climb - we've all heard all that stuff. Care to tell us why you did the 29er and give us a little more on your experience - maybe some folks will listen to you...(-;        - Steve Kent

 

Hey Steve ~ Glad to give some feedback on the 29er. The big reason I went with the 29er is that my local shop, Peloton Cycles, staff knows me and my riding style. They also know that I love the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. They were the ones that recommended, and hooked me up with, the Specialized S-Works 29er.

 

Last fall, I did ride a demo 29er and you can read that review here.

 

The S-Works version is a step up from the demo 29er I rode last fall and it definitely delivered on weight. (This resolves one of the issues I wasn’t crazy about.) The S-Works is close to 3 pounds lighter than my LOOK. This bike climbs. I don’t know how familiar you are with the Leadville 100 course; but, I can climb every section of the Columbine Mine that I climbed on the LOOK. Coming inbound, I walked the steepest sections of Powerline and climbed everything else on the 29er while others pushed. This is a testimony to the 2 x 10. I know some people criticize 2 x 10 and want a triple – but I like the 2 x 10 just fine.

 

Yes, some of the previous paragraph depends on fitness; but you have to know that my fitness this year was flagging. Starting in January to race day, I lost six weeks off the bike due to work travel. I was sick three times this year – the first time I’ve been really sick in five years. So those that look at my time this year (10:56) compared to my best time two years ago (10:08) need to know that I simply didn’t put the time into training that is necessary to go sub-10. I know what it takes to go fast and I didn’t do the work.

 

I would add that all of my comments (what I liked and what surprised me) from the previous demo 29er review still stand with this bike. To add further comment:

  • It rolls over rocky technical sections with greater ease. Specifically for Leadville, this was a huge advantage for me (as I mentioned on Facebook). I took some less-than-desirable lines down loose rocky sections to get past other people that are more timid on the descents. In fact, I took lines I would not have taken on the LOOK 26er due to comfort and control issues.
  • The cranks on this bike are the same length as my LOOK (not longer like the demo cranks) and I liked that better. (This resolves one of the issues I wasn’t crazy about.)
  • I still stand by the comment that I’m able to ride all corners on a 29er that I do with 26-inch wheels. Perhaps someone with a higher skill level than I would see a marked difference – I do not.

 

Before I head into the suspension, know that I am a technology geek and I am absolutely insistent on a quality ride from my mountain bike. No matter the terrain that a dirt rider prefers, today’s fork and shock technology is capable of delivering a ride quality that has not existed in previous years.

 

Because the S-Works uses the Specialized Brain technology and that is combined with the technology of other systems (the combination of air pressures in all chambers, compression and rebound settings), it does take some time to get the system set up to your personal preferences. Don’t view this as a negative – rather a plus in that you can make changes to suit your rider weight and riding style. I am convinced that if you are unwilling to make adjustments to your system, you have not optimized your ride quality.

 

Using the online charts, feedback from my local shop and one of the Specialized corporate mechanics, Jeff Donaldson (Yes, you do recognize his name from Olympic stories – he was the Olympic triathlon mechanic in 2004 and 2008), I was able to fine-tune the suspension system perfectly for the Leadville course, my weight and my riding style.

 

I will say the Brain kept me from making doofus mistakes I’ve made in the past – specifically locking out my shock and fork at some point during the race and then later wondering why the ride quality stunk and I was flying all over the place (forcing me to take even more conservative lines). It’s because I forgot to unlock the shock. Doh! For this course, it locked when I wanted it to and unlocked when I wanted it to – without me needing the wherewithal to remember to make manual adjustments.

 

One significant change I made to this bike that I didn’t make to the demo bike is tire pressure. On my 26er tires I would run 28psi rear and 23 front. I weigh 122-125 pounds during the race season. On the 29-inch tires I ran 18 psi front and 20 in the rear. This worked for me and it may not work for someone else that weighs the same as I do. Obviously, I’m running pressures outside the recommended values – but this contributes to the quality of my ride and I have not had any problems with these pressures. (Skull and crossbones – just because I run my tire pressures low does not mean I’m recommending you do the same thing. Make these changes at your own risk.)

 

It did take me some time to adjust to riding the 29er because I felt like I was sitting higher and I felt more vulnerable. That feeling has gone away. It rides different that a 26er. Yes. As it's intended to do.

 

That’s all I can think of for now. Drop me a note if you have further questions and I’m happy to answer them.

 

PS...I stand 5'4" and people that say a 29er doesn't work well for those under 5'6" are wrong.

970 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: specialized, s-works, epic, 29er

Something new for this year's Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race is athlete tracking. Keep in mind it's not exactly "live" - don't think follow someone like GPS tracking. Rather, the athlete tracker will tell you when the athlete crosses certain points on the course.

 

If this system is like others I've had experience with - don't panic if you can't find your athlete on course. There are often glitches in the system and I can't imagine the challenges on a mountain bike course like this one.

 

Enter your athlete's last name (or bib number) at the link on this page: http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com/

 

I am bib number 643.

 

Thanks to everyone for the well-wishes. I'm a lucky dog to have such great support from family and friends.

1,250 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: leadville_100_mountain_bike_race, athlete_tracking

A few days ago, the organizers for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race released the new athlete packet for 2011 and there were some changes made. Good changes – in my opinion.

 

Recall last year I commented that the race was growing and those growing pains were causing problems. Of that list of issues, two items that have caused the most message board discussion (sans – What tire pressure are you running?) in previous years included the use or non-use of timing chips and how to seed the athletes at the start line.

 

Though timing chips were used in previous years, they were not utilized to record official race time for the athlete. Official race time was the time you crossed the finish mat. Official start time was when the gun went off at 6:30am. For people lined up a couple of blocks back this meant a several minute time penalty – critical if you’re aiming for a sub-12 or sub-9 finish time.

 

That issue combined with a first-come-first-serve starting position caused multiple problems that I covered in last year’s blog. To help alleviate these issues, the new race organizers have instituted two important changes:

  1. Your official race time will be recorded by your chip. This means if you have to start 10 minutes behind the leaders at the start line, your timing chip records the difference and gives you “credit” for a start deep in the field.
  2. You will be put into a corral based on your best previous finish time in the past three years. This gives racers with proven experience racing this distance at altitude a seed time over newbies. All newbies (to this race) start at the back. Race bibs will be color-coded and those cheating by seeding themselves into an inappropriate corral will be disqualified.

 

I think these changes are positive and will be effective. We’ll see if I’m right in about a week.

582 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: leadville_100_mountain_bike_race

On August 6th and 7th, the ITU World Championship series heads to London. This is a critical event for many countries, including the U.S.A., because members of the 2012 Olympic team will be selected at this event.

 

For U.S.A. athletes, a good performance means automatic selection. The two highest placing U.S.A. athletes, one male and one female, will make the team provided they finish in 9th place or higher. Because this is a test event, or dry run, for the Olympic organizers you can count on a highly competitive field. All countries want to have a look at the Olympic venue and they will be sending their top athletes to the event.

 

Best wishes to all athletes for a great race – all you can do is your best on that day.

 

You can find more information at these links:

 

The U.S.A. Olympic selection process for athletes and support staff (coaches, team leaders, etc.)

Preview of world-class competition

Women’s start list

Men’s start list

Getting a spot on the Olympic Start Line

International Triathlon Union Qualification System for the XXX Olympic Games

 

If you like watching Olympic possibilities and probabilities, see the Olympic Qualification rankings and Olympic Simulation (number of slots achieved), see this link.

541 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: olympics, triathlon, london, 2012, usa_olympic_team

Um…because the guy in front of me did…

 

Yes, my mom did teach me not to do stuff just because someone else does it. Somehow that lesson didn’t enter my conscious mind on Saturday.

 

Last Thursday I decided to enter my first mountain bike race of the season. It was the point-to-point race at Winter Park. Normally I like to pre-ride a course before racing it, but there was no time to do it before race day.

 

The race was a nice benchmark for my fitness. Relative to other people, my climbing felt strong and I was able to make up time on the climbs. The single-track descents in the woods were my nemeses. I just haven’t put the time into riding these kinds of descents to allow the comfort level needed to not be a white-knuckler.

 

I was a brake-squealing creeper. Ugh. I hated it. It wasn’t the descents I hated, they were great. I hated not being confident on the descents. I lost a load of time going downhill. I’ve got some work to do.

 

On the upside, the open descents felt good.

 

About those squealing brakes…

 

At the start of the race, the marshal mentioned that we would go around one stream crossing due to the high running water. He said there is a second crossing that “some people choose to ride and others walk.” Fair enough.

 

Somewhere in the second half of the race, the stream suddenly appeared. I was riding down a descent and before I knew what was going on, I noticed the guy in front of me rode through a stream. He made a big splash. I thought, “Doable and it looks like fun.”

 

Charging through the water, all I remember is that my front wheel felt light. It lifted and drifted, seeming to hit something. Instantly, I’m down into the stream, submerged except for my face. There was a small, green tree branch (or trunk) that was some two or three inches in diameter down in the stream. I managed to catch my arm and handle bar on the branch, which kept my head from going under. 

 

All I could do was start laughing. I had a flash in my mind of what that fall must have looked like. In a word – funny. Yes, at least two people saw it - or saw the result.

 

Of course I was in the deepest part of the stream when I fell and it got shallower at the edges. I picked myself up and walked a couple of feet to the bank and started riding again. I laughed for quite awhile after that, in spite of wet, squealing brakes. I had a big smile on my face.

 

Ah, to act like a 12-year-old again. I love mountain biking.

394 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: mountain_biking, winter_park, stream_crossing