Skip navigation

Last blog I wrote to technical guru Lennard Zinn to ask the best tire pressure to avoid slit tires. Boiled down, my question was:


Q:  If I ride a course that is littered with shale and I want to avoid getting a slit in my tire, does tire pressure make a difference one way or the other? Using a balloon and pin theory – if I poke a fully inflated balloon with a pin, it pops almost immediately. If I poke a half inflated balloon with the pin, the balloon gives quite a bit before failure. One argument is that I should keep running my low tire pressure. Another theory is that more air in the tire may have deflected the shale not allowing it to sink into and slice my sidewall.

So, when running tires on a shale and rocky course do I run more air than normal, less air or run “normal” pressure. (“Normal” being what I would run for a rocky course, sans patches of shale.)

Also, is there any scientific evidence anywhere (that I couldn’t find)?

Here is Lennard’s reply:


A:  Wow. Good question! Unfortunately, I don't know the answer. My guess would be that the lower pressure would probably reduce punctures more over the long term, but I have no scientific data to back that up; it is only a hunch.


Thanks for your question for my column.


Keep the wheels turning,

Lennard Zinn


President, Zinn Cycles Inc.

Senior Technical Writer for VeloNews

Author of bike maintenance books and other books

7437 S. Boulder Rd.

Boulder, CO 80303-4641 USA

ph. 303-499-4349






783 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: mountain_bike, tire_pressure, lennard_zinn, slit_tire, low_pressure

Often, mountain bike racers are concerned with the optimal tire pressure to run to decrease rolling resistance or to improve traction on particular courses. But, what is the optimal pressure to avoid slits and punctures?


My recent experience at a race got me wondering about tire puncture theory. I couldn’t find anything online, so I sent the following note to technical guru Lennard Zinn:


Hey Lennard ~

Hope this note findsyou doing great.

I’m having a debate with myself – and others – about mountain bike tire pressure. Not regarding speed and power output – but puncture resistance. Over the weekend I did a race at Pueblo Reservoir, the Voodoo Fire. Rolling through a benign section of trail (non-technical, relatively flat, no big obstacles) I kicked up a piece of shale and it sliced the sidewall of my tire – near the tread.

Though I think it was simply bad luck the way I hit the piece of shale – does tire pressure make adifference one way or the other? Using a balloon and pin theory – if I poke a fully inflated balloon with a pin, it pops almost immediately. If I poke a half-inflated balloon with the pin, the balloon gives quite a bit before failure.One argument is that I should keep running my low tire pressure. Another theory is that more air in the tire may have deflected the shale not allowing it to sink into and slice my sidewall.

So, when running tires on a shale and rocky course do I run more air than normal, less air or run “normal” pressure. (“Normal” being what I would run for a rocky course, sans patches of shale.)

Also, is there any scientific evidence anywhere on this subject (that I couldn’t find)?

In advance, thanks for the answer/theory.




I’ll let you know what Lennard has to say. In the meantime, what do you think? Higher pressure or lower pressure? Let me know your opinion on my Facebook page.

823 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: mountain_bike, tire_pressure

As I continue the blog series on training principles, today’s post is on workout duration. So far, I’ve covered overload, volume, duration and specificity.


“Depending on each individual's current fitness, race goals, the sport and training time available, the frequency of workouts scheduled will vary. Some athletes will workout only once per day while others workout twice or more times per day.”


As athletes get more competitive and gain more fitness, they move from doing workouts three times per week to six or seven times per week. Beyond that, athletes move to multiple workouts per day.


A few tips for workout frequency:


  • It is typical for competitive triathletes to do two workouts per day, several days per week. Some will answer an early morning alarm and complete one workout on an indoor trainer or treadmill to optimize time.
  • Cyclists will often commute to and/or from work to add additional workout frequency to their training.
  • Sometimes a short workout at an easy intensity can aid recovery. Don’t overlook steady walking as an option. A lunch time walk is perfect.
  • As you eagerly increase workout frequency, pay close attention to your overall training volume and be aware of overload.



These training plans have helped thousands of people succeed, they can help you too.

659 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: volume, specificity, duration, overload, training_principles

I decided at the end of last season that I wanted to do more early season racing in 2012. To meet that goal, I signed up for the Voodoo Fire race in Pueblo, Colorado, the marathon (66 miles) distance. It is a three-lap course, with each lap (you guessed it) being around 22 miles. My Garmin shows the first lap at 23.3 miles, but lap 1 includes a mile or so of start that isn’t included in the other laps.


Colorado has been unseasonably hot. Athletes that did the race last year said it was a full 25 degrees hotter this year. The start temperatures were around 47 degrees and by 2:00 pm, my car thermometer read 83 degrees.


The course is nearly all single track, which is both a joy and a curse. Though the race had a wave start, it wasn’t long before the various categories were battling for positions on the single track. Passing people meant selecting one of three options including burning up the legs by powering through the powdery talc-like soil and dodging cactus and low brush; waiting for a loose shale section; or really biding your time and waiting for the very, very limited double track. Though some places were much better for passing than others, some impatient riders made risky moves that cost them a fall, or worse yet took out another rider.


There isn’t a lot of climbing in the course, compared to some of the high mountain courses in Colorado. The limited climbing makes the race a great way to start the mountain bike season, because most riders have limited fitness in the spring.


For me, shale attacked my rear tire on a benign section of nearly flat trail about two thirds of the way through lap one. The shale put an inch-long slit in my tire as if it were sliced by a knife. I booted the tire and limped my way back to the finish line where I ended my day.


Riders with flats were all along the course and collecting at the finish line. It’s hard to say how many riders scored a dnf due to flats because not all of them are shown on the finish list – but suffice it to say a lot.


Other riders, like Bill Frielingsdorf, didn’t have any tire problems and went on to score a podium finish. Congratulations to Bill for a strong ride and finish. 



Left to right, BillFrielingsdorf (Peloton-Specialized Fort Collins), Nathan Collier (Pedal Pushers Cyclery), Taylor Thomas (E2 Cycling Team Fort Collins)

More course photos can be found on the singletrack.comsite.


I’d definitely consider doing this race again because there is plenty about it to like. Though people that ran beefier tires than I did still had tires slit by the shale, I think a heavier tire reduces the likelihood of problems. In addition to a heavier tire, I’ll consider running three to five pounds more pressure in both tires. 


The mountain bike race season as begun!



Questions and discussion can be found on my Facebook page.


Cycling and mountain bike training plans can be found here.

1,315 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, mountain_bike_race, specialized, peloton, voodoo_fire, bill_frielingsdorf

A one day diversion from the series on training principles, today’s post has to do with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). When I wrote the column, “Liars, Cheaters and Thieves in Your Sport” I looked for a study that was done on Olympians and aspiring Olympians that asked if they would cheat if they wouldn’t get caught.


Through a post on the USAT coach’s form, I was able to track down the link I was looking for. Here was the first question for the athletes:


A scenario, from a 1995 poll of 198 sprinters, swimmers, powerlifters and other assorted athletes, most of them U.S. Olympians or aspiring Olympians: You are offered a banned performance-enhancing substance, with two guarantees: 1) You will not becaught. 2) You will win. Would you take the substance?

One hundred and ninety-five athletes said yes; three said no.

That’s right - 98.5% of the athletes said they would cheat if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. But what if not getting caught had other extreme consequences? The athletes were asked a second question:


Scenario II: You are offered a banned performance-enhancing substance that conies with two guarantees: 1) You will not be caught. 2) You will win every competition you enter for the next five years, and then you will die from the side effects of the substance. Would you take it?

More than half the athletes said yes.

Over half the athletes were willing to die after five years of competitive glory.


While the data is a little old, coming from a Sports Illustrated story printed in 1997, I suspect the answer would be very similar today.


Even though the story was done on elite athletes, I wonder if the stats would be similar if it was a survey done on competitive age group athletes?


Reference: Michael Bamberger, Don Yaeger, Over The Edge, Sports Illustrated, April 14, 1997

795 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: death, olympians, olympic_athletes, drug_use, cheaters

This blog continues the series on training principles. The last post was on duration. Today’s post is on specificity.


In one of my many past lives, I taught alpine skiing. That was a loooooong time ago. When I got hooked on triathlon, I drifted away from alpine skiing. I’m not blaming triathlon for my lack of skiing, there were lots of reasons why I quit skiing.


First came the dry spell of skiing only once or twice per year. Then was the complete lack of downhill skiing for about 12 years (+/-). In the past three or so years, I did take up Nordic skiing. I still do more Nordic than Alpine skiing, but I’m getting the itch to do more Alpine skiing. Not only is it a blast, but I think it helps my mountain biking skills.


The same balance and weighting issues that are present in skiing are present in mountain biking. For examle, my right turns are weaker than left turns in both sports. I’ve done more skiing, both Alpine and Nordic, in the last couple of years and I’ve found that skiing helps my mountain biking. Nordic skiing does lend more to endurance than downhill skiing. However, alpine skiing helps with balance, skills, power development and the ability to pick a line down the mountain at high speed.


While I believe skiing helps my cycling in the off-season, it is not cycling. As the race season approaches, in order to be a better mountain bike rider – I need to ride the mountain bike. This training principle is known as the principle of specificity:


“The mode of training becomes more important, as event day approaches. Training that is specific to the sport becomes more important than generalized training. In other words, the specificity of training becomes more important.”


These training plans have helped thousands of people succeed, they can help you too.

807 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: mountain_biking, skiing, specificity, alpine, nordic

Today’s blog is continuing the series of eight things to change if you want to get faster or improve your ability to go longer.

If you have an endurance goal, a good question is "How long should your longest workout be – what workout duration do you need?"

From the book, “Duration of your longest workout may or may not be the length of your goal event. Generally, the shorter the event, the greater likelihood that you will complete the event distance sometime within your training. “

I did discuss some rules of thumb I use for the longest workout in the last blog on training volume. But what about the length of each workout, how long should daily workouts be?

The duration of your daily workouts is tied several items:

    1. How much time do you have available to train each day?
    2. What is the least amount of training you can do each day to bring continuous improvement?
    3. What are your fitness goals?
    4. Do you use daily workouts as weight or stress management? Are these goals more important than performance improvement?
    5. Are your workouts social? Is the social part of fitness more important to you than performance?


When planning your daily workouts, you have to take a hard look at why you’re doing the workout and how that workout is tied to your goals. Some of you may prefer the social, stress management or weight management aspects of your fitness goals over the performance aspects.


These training plans have helped thousands of people succeed, they can help you too.

807 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: planning_workout_duration, length_of_workouts

Yesterday I began a blog series on training principles. I covered the principle of overload in the first blog. Before moving to the topic of training volume, I want to add a comment about overload.You can overload training intensity, as well as training volume. In my experience, sudden and abrupt overloads in training intensity come with more risk than increases in volume. If you decide to overload intensity, carefully monitor your response during the workouts and in the days following an intensity overload block. Be ready to reduce intensity to stay healthy.


Now on to the topic of volume. From the book:

“Training volume can be defined as the combination of frequency and duration. When assembling your training plan, annual training volume is one piece of the puzzle. Broken down, the monthly, weekly and daily training volumes are as important as annual volume.”

In the last blog I mentioned annual and weekly training volume. Today I want to include comment about daily training volume. If you plan to do an endurance event that is some 30 minutes to 17 hours (perhaps the time it take to complete 5k run to the time it takes to complete an Ironman triathlon) long, what does the volume (or duration) of your longest training day (in hours and minutes) need to be?

The shorter the event, I tend to have athletes complete 100-percent of the expected event duration in a single training day. In other words, if your event is expected to take you between 30 minutes to 3 hours to complete, more than likely I’ll have you do a single training day that is between 30 minutes to 3 hours long.

For events expected to take less than an hour, I may have you complete double the expected event completion time in a single training day. Whether or not I double the time depends on your current fitness, the amount of time you have to train for the event, and your race goals. Experienced and highly fit racers with plenty of time to train for an event will complete double the expected event duration in training. Beginning athletes with little time to prepare will not.

I can’t think of a time that I’ve scheduled a training day in excess of about six to seven hours, or the time it takes to complete a century bike ride – whichever is longer. For situations where a training day will not mimic the event duration, my rule of thumb is to have the athlete complete 50- to 100-percent of the expected event duration over the course of two or three days (frequency). Most of the time these training sessions are on consecutive days, but there are exceptions.

Training volume can be manipulated over the course of days, weeks, months or years. Annual training volume may remain steady, while weekly training volume changes dramatically. Weekly training volume can remain steady, while daily training volume changes. How you tweek training volume depends on your current fitness, lifestyle, time available to prepare for the event and the expected event duration – your athlete profile.



These training plans have helped thousands of people succeed, they can help you too.

863 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training_volume, duration, event_preparation, training_principles

It’s no surprise that I often get asked the question, “How can I get faster?”


The short answer is, “It depends.” (Those of you that know me well, know this is my short answer for 90% of the questions I get asked.)


Though the precise answer depends on a lot of things, I can tell you that there are eight major training principles that affect all training – no matter if you want to go longer or get faster. Those training principles include overload, volume, duration, frequency, individual response rate, intensity, specificity, rest and recovery.


In the next few blogs, I’ll take at least one of the principles and give you a couple of things to consider when applying that principle to your training. Know that these principles are discussed, and applied, to the training plans in all my books.


Let’s begin with overload.


Taken from my book, “Individual and progressive overload must be applied to achieve physiological improvement and bring about a training change. A widely accepted rule of thumb is to increase annual training hours, or annual volume by 10 percent or less.“


If you’ve looked at any of my training plans, you’ll quickly notice that I increase weekly volume by more than 10 percent in most all plans.Why?


                I’ve found that short-term overload can be increased by more than 10 percent if adequate recovery is included in the plan. When I work with athletes over the course of a year, annual volume is typically increased by around 10 percent. There are, however, exceptions.

What’s the biggest mistake I see self-coached athletes make with training overload?


                The biggest mistake I see is the ever-increasing-by-10-percent overload. In other words, people increase weekly volume each and every week, week after week, by 10 percent. This eventually leads to an overtraining situation. This mistake becomes the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Next blog is training volume.




These training plans have helped thousands of people succeed, they can help you too.

979 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, mountain_biking, training_principle, how_to_get_faster