Quick and Easy: Fried Rice

April 19th, 2012

It has been a while since I last posted a simple and easy to prepare meal.  I want to return to this theme. I’m calling it the ‘quick and easy’ series.  I want to emphasize the importance of eating healthy real food.  You can’t reach your potential as an athlete if you don’t fuel the body right. As athletes, we are so time crunched it can be easy to reach for processed foods rather than preparing real food.

Now that our 6 year old daughter has some after school activities (right now it is swimming, yeah!) our evenings are busy.  For me to provide real food dinners for my family it takes some planning in terms of menu selection and time management. Here are some ideas that work for me:

1. When I have time to cook, I’ll cook up a storm: Cooking the things that are more time consuming such as beans, chicken, rice, etc.  Then I have these items already to add to meals for the next few days.

2. On our busy evening days, I’ve started to prepare some of our dinners in the morning before work.

3. With a little menu planning, I can make sure there are left overs that can be used in a meal the next day. For example:  cooking a big batch of rice one day to use for a Bento Bowl, and then using the left over rice the next day for this fried rice recipe.

4. Making big batches of a meal and freeze portions to use another week. Not ideal as it takes the ‘fresh’ out of the meal, but it works well for soups, stews and things like quiche. Pair these frozen dinners with a green salad to get your ‘fresh’ fixings for the day.

INGREDIENTS
Cooked cold rice
Coconut oil
1 Onion, diced
2 stalks of Celery, diced
2 Carrots, diced
Brocolli
1 Pepper, diced
1/2 cup Peas
1 – 2 cups Cabbage, shredded or any greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, etc.)
3-4 Eggs, scrambled
Protein of choice (Tempeh, chicken, etc.)

Dressing:
1/4 cup Sesame Oil
1/4 cup Soy Sauce or Bragg
1 tsp Ginger, minced
1 tsp Lime Juice
1 tsp Garlic, minced
2 tbsp Miso

OR use Trader Joes Trader Ming’s Soyaki Marinade

Trader Ming's Soyaki

Trader Ming's Soyaki

METHOD:
In a large stir fry pan, cook the onion in the oil of your choice. I like to use coconut oil instead of olive oil.  Once the onion is cooked, add the rest of the veggies. Mean while, scramble eggs in a separate pan. Once the veggies are almost cooked, add the egg, the rice, and tempeh/chicken. To make the dressing mix 1/4 cup of sesame oil, 1/4 c of Bragg, 1 tsp of ginger, 1 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp of garlic and 1 tbsp of miso. Stir into the rice and veggie mix. Alternatively you can use Trader Joes Soyaki marinade.  That’s it; quick and easy.

WARM Up Guidelines for Bike Racing

April 12th, 2012

A good warm depends on the type of event, your current fitness level, your level of experience, and how your body responds to the activity. What follows are some guidelines. Practice different warm ups during training to see which one prepares you best for any given event. What works for a road race will likely be different than what works for a time trial. Generally, shorter more intense events will require a much longer and deeper warm up than a longer event.

Regardless of the type of race, arrive at the venue in order to have enough time to register, pin your numbers, get dressed, have bathroom breaks, socialize, warm-up and get to the start line without too much rush.  For me, 1:30 hrs typically gives me enough time.

Where you warm-up is a detail you should consider ahead of time. You may be at a race where there are few roads and/or heavily trafficked areas, lots of stop signs, poor riding surfaces such as gravel roads and/or undesirable weather conditions. Your best solution is to pack a stationary trainer. This allows you to focus on a continuous and consistent warm up at any race venue in any conditions.

Place the trainer as close to the start line as possible so you can hear any changes in start times and be available at a moment’s notice.

Stationary Trainer

Stationary Trainer

Have an energy/electrolyte drink readily available during your warm up routine.  It is important to stay hydrated. Most people like to have music to pedal along to.  Have your playlist ready.

You need a complete warm up that activates all the energy systems used during your race. Start off pedaling at an easy pace. Slowly increase the intensity until you reach race pace. You want to expose your muscles to race intensity for a short time (up to 3 minutes). Most riders benefit from progressive intervals, with easy recovery spins in between.   After you have finished the block of higher intensity riding you will want to keep spinning in an easy gear to make sure any lactate produced during the warm up is removed.

Make sure you practice your warm-up routine beforehand in training so you can make any necessary modifications. It is important to experiment with different warm up routines so you can figure out what works best for you and the type of event you are doing. The length and intensity of the warm up should be dictated by your current fitness level.  Don’t overdo it. You don’t want to work too hard during the warm up so that you are tired for the actual race.

If you find you are standing around due to a delayed start; keep calm. Practice some visualization and mental imagery. See yourself riding very smooth, fluid and relaxed. Use positive affirmation by repeating power or trigger words. If there is space keep spinning around. Alternatively, perform some very light static stretches. Don’t stretch too deep. Your muscles will need to recovery from deep stretching and can result in a decrease in initial power at the start of the race.

Race Start

Race Start

CycloCross:
The start of a cyclo-cross race is one of the most crucial aspects of the race. You should be 100% ready to give maximum effort from the gun. Getting a good warm up is absolutely necessary to get off the start line fast and achieve a good position going into the first technical part of the course.

Ideally practice a couple laps on the race course. Ride the course relatively easy focusing on the technical areas.  Look for good lines around corners.  Re-ride any technical areas. After riding the course, plan to spend up to 45 minutes warming-up on a stationary trainer. Time the warm-up so you are finished about 5 minutes before the start of your race.  Keep in mind that you want to finish the warm up with enough time to get a decent starting position on the line. Keep hydrated and warm. Make sure you are in the gear you want to be at the start line.

Time Trial:
You need to be ready to ride at your threshold from the start in a time trial. Be sure to check the race clock (it can differ from the actual time). Check the start times and make sure you are within range to hear any schedule changes or announcements to ensure that you make your start. Remember, the clock starts at your start time, whether you’re there or not.  Make sure you are in the gear you want to be at the start line.

Criterium:
You should be 100% ready to give maximum effort from the gun in a criterium . Often before the start of your race the course will be open for 5-10 minutes to pre-ride. Take this opportunity to scout out the course. Even if it is just a simple four corner course. It is good to know where there may be any loose gravel, potholes, man hole covers, etc. It will give you a chance to figure out the best line to take around the corners.

A 45 minute race will probably need a good 45 minute warm up.  Keep in mind that you want to finish the warm up with enough time to get a decent starting position on the line. Your body will maintain the benefits of a structured warm up for at least 10-15 minutes after your warm-up is complete, so don’t stress too much if there is a wait on the line. Make sure you are in the correct gear at the start line. Know where the wheel pit is and when the end of the free lap rule is.  These things are usually explained by the chief referee at the start line. Pay attention.

Cool Down
An effective cool down will help accelerate your recovery by removing waste products (such as lactic acid) and reducing post exercise soreness. Just like you need to practice and experiment with warm up routines, you will need to with cool down routines too. Here are some basic guidelines:

Refuel:  After a race most athletes will find themselves in a bit of a hydration and fuel deficit.  Consuming the right nutrients shortly after exercise will help repair tissue damage and re-fuel muscles. There are many post-exercise recovery drinks on the market that help to hydrate, replenish muscle glycogen stores and repair muscle and tissue damage.

Timing is critical: After intense or long workouts, the body is very receptive to absorbing depleted nutrients to help repair any muscle damage. This is referred to as the Glycogen Window. It is thought that this window of opportunity is within the first 30 minutes post-exercise. During this window the body readily absorbs nutrients at a much quicker rate (carbohydrates eaten will be converted into muscle glycogen at 3 times the normal rate). This rate drops off dramatically after 30 minutes. So make sure you make the most of this glycogen window by drinking/eating 20-30 minutes post exercise during your cool down routine.

Spin: The more intense the race; the longer you should spend spinning. Typically 5-15 minutes of easy spinning is adequate.  This allows for your heart rate and body temperature to slowly decrease and help flush out waste products from the working muscles.

Stretch: Light static stretching

There are numerous good recovery habits to consider once you have completed your cool down routine and these include compression garments, ice baths, self massage / foam rolling, and elevating your legs.

Here are a  couple of warm ups defined by Heart Rate Zones (rather than power) to experiment with.

Warm Up 1

1)       Ride for 15-20 minutes easy spinning with high cadence (90+). Find a gear that offers little resistance. Stay seated. Heart Rate Zone 1-2.

2)       Stretch for 5-10 minutes.

3)       Ride for 5-10 minutes easy spinning with high cadence (90+). Heart Rate Zone 1-2.

4)       Ride for 1 minute in one gear harder but keep cadence high. Heart Rate Zone 2

5)       Ride for 1 minute in one gear harder; try to maintain your leg turnover (cadence). Heart Rate Zone 2.

6)       Repeat this for up to 5 more minutes. Every minute shifing to a harder gear. Heart Rate Zone 3.

8)       Change to an easier gear and spin for 1 minute.

9)       2 minutes in a gear that simulates your TT pace.  Aim to slowly increase your heart rate up to Zone 3-4.

10)     1 minute recovery spin

11)     2 minutes in a gear that simulates your TT pace (HR Zone 3-4).

12)     30 second jump; all out in a medium gear.

13)     2 minutes recovery spin

14)     30 second jump; all out in a medium gear.

15)     5-10 minutes cool down.

Check to see if your bike is in the correct gear as you line up on the start line.

Warm Up 2

1)      Ride for 15-20 minutes easy spinning with high cadence (85-95). Find a gear that offers little resistance. Stay seated. Heart Rate Zone 1-2.

2)       Ride tempo for 10 minutes Tempo with a slightly lower cadence of 75-85. Heart Rate Zone 2

3)       2 minutes recovery spin

4)       6 minutes slowly building to Heart Rate Zone 3 by the last minute.

5)       2 minutes recovery spin

6)       2 minutes high cadence interval (105). Heart Rate Zone 4.

7)       2 minutes recovery spin

8)       2 minutes high cadence interval (105). Heart Rate Zone 4.

9)       5-10 minutes Recovery spin (timed so it is as close to the start as possible).

Warm Up 3 

1)       Ride for 5 minutes easy spinning with high cadence (90+). Find a gear that offers little resistance. Stay seated. Heart Rate Zone 1-2.

2)       1 min spin in an easy starting gear. 15 sec Jump (90%). 1 gear harder. Heart Rate Zone 1-2.

3)       1 min followed by a 20 sec Jump (90%). 1 gear harder. Heart Rate Zone 1-2.

4)       1 min followed by a 25 sec Jump (90%). 1 gear harder. Heart Rate Zone 2-3.

5)       1 min followed by a 30 sec Jump (90%). 1 gear harder. Heart Rate Zone 2-3

6)       30 sec max cadence in an easy gear. 1 min recovery spin. Heart Rate Zone 2-3

7)       60 sec max cadence in a harder gear than the pervious effort. 1 min recovery spin. Heart Rate Zone 2-3

8)       90 sec max cadence in a harder gear than the pervious effort. 1 min recovery spin. Heart Rate Zone 3-4

9)       2 min max cadence in a harder gear than the pervious effort. 1 min recovery spin. Heart Rate Zone 3-4

10)    30 sec standing climb/ 30 sec seated climb. Repeat for 5 minutes. Heart Rate Zone 3-4

11)     5-10 min easy spinning.

 

A Healthy Valentine’s Day Cookie

February 14th, 2012

I have a family who like treats, especially cookies. No wait, make that ‘love’ treats, especially cookies. And given that we don’t eat wheat this can be good (or bad) depending on what your view point is on consuming treats….

We aren’t tempted to buy cookies given they typically made from wheat flour. That means the cookies we eat are usually ones we make. In my exploration for new recipes and the nutrition they provide, I’ve recently been experimenting with raw food treats.  They can be healthier and just as tasty.  Thanks to Ani Phyo’s book, I’ve gotten some good ideas. Here is one that I came up with for a Valentine’s Day treat. 

Choosing the right ingredients:
I really try to use ingredients that are not just empty calories, but provide some nutrition too. These cookies contain carob, coconut and dates.

Carob: I have a daughter who loves chocolate.  That same daughter, who, like me, is very sensitive to theobromine in chocolate (a chemical that has a similar effect as caffeine). Neither of us can eat anything made from chocolate in the evening or we’ll pay the price and will be rewarded with a sleepless night.  That’s where carob comes to the rescue. It tastes similar to chocolate when it is mixed in with other ingredients and it doesn’t have the negative impact on our sleep. 

Carob Chips

Carob Chips

So what is carob?
Carob is a legume that comes from the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). This evergreen tree is native to the Mediterranean. The tree bears fruit; the carob pods. These long bean-like pods are cooked for a short time or roasted and then ground into carob powder or made into carob chips The roasting enhances the chocolate-like flavor.  Note that given the roasting; carob powder or chips are not technically ‘raw’.

Carob provides some good nutrition. It contains as much Vitamin B1 as asparagus or strawberries; as much niacin as lima beans, lentils, or peas; and more Vitamin A than eggplant, asparagus, and beets. It also contains Vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and the trace minerals iron, manganese, chromium, copper, and nickel. It contains approximately 8 percent protein and is a good source of fiber. Compared to chocolate, carob is three times richer in calcium, has one third less calories and seventeen times less fat. Carob is also nondairy; making it a good option for those who are lactose-intolerant.

I buy unsweetened carob chips from Wholefoods Market.

Unsweetened Coconut

Unsweetened Coconut

Coconut: Look for the unsweetened dried grated or shredded coconut meat (I like Bob’s Red Mill flaked coconut). Dried coconut can keep at room temperature for several months if sealed in plastic bags. Coconut is a source of fat (one of few non-animal sources of saturated fatty acids), dietary fiber and as well as vitamins and minerals. Coconuts are also rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, and boosts the immune system.

Medjool Dates

Medjool Dates

Dates:  Dates are harvested from the date palm tree. They have a wrinkled skin and are a dark reddish brown color. Dates contain a seed that needs to be removed. The inside of this fruit is fleshy and sticky. Dates are mostly eaten fresh or dried. I buy the medjool dates (from Trader Joes) which are typically larger and moister.  Dates are a good source of dietary fiber, low in calories, high in potassium, calcium and magnesium, loaded with a variety of B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and low sodium. Dates are a good energy boosting food with the naturally occurring sugars (fructose, glucose and sucrose). Given these naturally occurring sugars, dates are naturally sweet so there is no need to add any extra sweetener when using them in recipes.

Ingredients:
2 cups of medjool dates (seed removed).
2 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
¾ cup of raw cashew nuts
¾ cup of unsweetened coconut
¾ cup of oats
¾ cup carob chips.
1 tsp of cinnamon (optional)

1. In a food processer; process the cashew nuts, coconut and oats until they are quite fine.  Pour these into a bowl and set aside.

2. Next process the dates and peanut butter into a paste.  Break up the date paste a little with your fingers (this is a sticky mess).

3. Add the processed dry ingredients, carob chips and cinnamon. Process until all the ingredients are well mixed. If the mixture is too dry; add some more date paste, or too wet; add some more dry ingredients to get the right consistency. The right consistency is when you pinch the ingredients together they will hold together and not fall apart.
 
4. Using your hands form small patties or I use a mini muffin pan to help form the cookies. 

'chocolate' chip cookies

'chocolate' chip cookies

And that is it. So simple. And my 6 year will eat them. I store them in the fridge for up to a week. They don’t typically last that long though….

Roundup Time

January 31st, 2012

‘Roundup Time’ is a chance for me to post about things that caught my eye over the last month or so.

New Tri Shop in Portland (well Beaverton to be exact).

Epic Tri Shop

Bike Gallery has opened up a Triathlon store called Epic Tri. The new store is located in the existing Bike Gallery Beaverton location (12345 SW Canyon Rd, Beaverton, Oregon 97005 503-641-2580).

Cycle Oregon – Registration process

Cycle Oregon

Cycle Oregon

Cycle Oregon New registration process!
Registration will be online only, and opens Feb. 7 at 9:00 p.m. (PST).

Shit Cyclists Say

Shit Cyclists Say

Shit Cyclists Say

If you haven’t seen this yet; it is worth a watch. 

Books:

Natural Running Book

Natural Running Book

I’m about half way through this book. I didn’t learn too much in the first few chapters. But now I’m into some more interesting material that focuses on drills and biomechanics.

Swimming Pools:
Traveling and want to find a pool? Check out www.swimmersguide.com or download an app called swimradar (includes international locations too). 

And while we’re on the topic of swimming; here is a worthy video to check out that takes a look at technique.

Tight IT band?
Try foam rolling. Here is a video on how to.

Strava App

Strava

Strava

Looking for a free cycling app for your smart phone? I downloaded Strava and have been using it for a few months now. For someone who hasn’t had a cycling computer in ages (probably about 10 years), it is nice to have some data to look at. And data that is easily accessible and easy to understand. You can set up segments. A segment is a stretch of road (or trail for that matter) that you and all other riders that ride that stretch will be automatically timed and ranked each time it is ridden.

Snack Attack

January 24th, 2012
I love snacks. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. My choices in what I snack on have changed over the years depending on whether I’m are trying to shed a few lbs, eat healthier, or prevent the mid-afternoon bonk during a workout. Here are a few snack ideas. My snacks are always vegetarian, wheat free, and typically low in grains.
Snacks

Snacks

My motto has been “don’t deprive yourself”. If there is a particular snack (or dessert of that matter) that you absolutely love, but may not be the most healthy of choices; don’t try to go without. Have it on certain days; just not every day. During the race season we try to do desserts only on weekends. I say ‘try’. My weekend sometimes starts Friday and ends Monday….

Another option is to ‘water’ down the snack. Add something healthy to it. For example if you like chocolate, then make some trail mix with the chocolate.

Watch the portion size. Set out a single helping of any given snack, rather than keep dipping your hand into the big bag of trail mix or chips.

Here are some snacks I turn to:

-Smoothie
-Trail mix
-Raw Bars (homemade or Lara bars)
-Fruit / nut butter
-Yogurt
-Veggies / Dip
-Rice crackers
-Chips
-Cottage Cheese

SMOOTHIE

Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

Ingredients:
Plain Kefir (probiotics)
Almond Milk or water to get the right consistency
Frozen Mango or berries
½ ripe banana (as a sweetener and also potassium)
Big handful of greens (Kale, spinach, beet greens, chard, etc.)
Flax seed oil (or ground up flax seeds)
Chia Seeds
Hemp or brown rice protein powder or scoop of almond butter
Cardamom

TRAIL MIX

Trail Mix

Trail Mix

Ingredients:
raw cashews, almonds and peanuts (Trader Joes)
unsweetened coconut flakes (Wholefoods)
raw sunflower seeds (Trader Joes)
Jumbo raisins or apricots or cranberries (Trader Joes)
Carob (Wholefoods)

BARS – recipe can be found here.
2 cup of raw nuts (almonds / cashews / peanuts / walnuts / pecans)
1 cup of (unsweetened) coconut
1 -1 ½ cup of Medjool dates (with pits removed!)
1 cup of dried apricots
½ -1cup of dried berries (cherries, cranberries or goji berries)
½-1 cup of seeds (sesame / sunflower / pumpkin)

Optional ingredients for flavor variations: Lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, peppermint extract, Organic cocoa powder, ginger, or carob.

FRUIT and NUT BUTTERS

 

Fruit

Fruit

Apple and peanut butter
Pear and almond butter (I really like Trader Joes Raw Crunchy Almond Butter).

YOGURT

Yogurt and Berries

Yogurt and Berries


Plain Greek yogurt with maple syrup or berries
Plain Greek yogurt with granola.

VEGGIES and DIP
Raw veggies such as carrots, snow peas, sugar peas, zucchini, and celery with a bean dip.
Celery with cream cheese or peanut butter.

CRACKERS
Rice crackers with cheese and tomatoes
Rice Crackers with bean dip (hummus or lentil)

CHIPS

Chips & Salsa

Chips & Salsa

Chips with salsa
Chips with black bean dip.

Salsa Recipe:
2 cups Roma tomatoes
½ Cup red Onion, finely chopped
1 glove garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Chopped green onions
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Options: 1 serrano chili pepper (stems, ribs and seeds removed), finely diced, corn, peach, mango or black beans.

Method:
Bring the chopped tomatoes and onions to a quick boil. As soon at the mixture starts to boil, remove from the heat. Depending on the consistency you like, you may want to strain away some of the liquid. Mix in the other ingredients. Serve as is, or blend.

Black Bean Dip Recipe:
2 cups of cooked black beans.
1/2 cup prepared salsa, hot or mild
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method:
Use a potato masher to mix all the ingredients together, or use a hand blender.

COTTAGE CHEESE

 

Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese


Organic Cottage Cheese (I like Nancy’s) with fruit.

 

Winter Riding

November 30th, 2011

I started cycling when I was a student in New Mexico. Without a car, I used my mountain bike to get around town and to class on time.  It was at a local running race I met Virginia, who thought I would enjoy triathlons. She lent me a 56cm Schwin road bike. It was way too big (I ride a 52cm).  Nevertheless, it got me started. I loved riding in Las Cruces; lots of quiet roads around pecan orchards and chile fields. Not to mention the mild winters (no rain, no snow, no frosts, no cold temperatures to deal with….).  When I moved to Portland for work, I didn’t own a rain jacket, or even a long sleeve cycling jersey for that matter. I’d never heard of shoe covers or booties. Or even know you could set up a dedicated bike for riding in the rain.  Over a few years I got an education in how to ride in Portland through the winter months.

It took a couple of seasons to figure it out. And even now, over 15 years later, every year I seem to learn something, discover a new product, or find ways to mentally deal with riding in the rain. 

Service your “Good” Bike
This time of year, I hang up my “good” bike and dust off my rain bike. Before putting my good bike away for its winter hibernation, I take some time work on it (or at least my favorite shop, Cyclepath, does!) so it will be ready to go when that nice spring weather hits us.  I know this seems a long time away; but when spring rolls around you’ll be thankful you have a bike ready to go. Here is a list of things to do:

  • Check brake pads and replace if they are worn.
  • New Chain (it’s a good idea to replace the chain at least once a year.  Over time it stretches, and it will wear the cogs out so that it won’t shift as well). And it is cheaper to replace a chain than worn out cassettes or cranks.  Believe me….
  • Wash bike
  • Check frame for cracks, especially around the welds.  Cracks in paint can be actual cracks in the frame, have your shop check out any suspect areas.
  • Check wheels for loose spokes and for cracks around the spokes as they enter the rim, and also check the breaking surface.  If the braking surface is wearing down and is concave, think about getting another wheel.
  • Have the headset and bottom bracket checked, they may need an overhaul.
  • Replace cables and cable housing.

Winter Riding
There’s no doubt about it, equipping yourself and your bike to ride in the dark, cold, and rain can make your winter riding days more enjoyable and safer. 

 STAY WARM & DRY – you use up a lot of energy trying to stay warm. Here are some tips to help.

Winter Accessories

Winter Accessories

  • Base layers (Outwet or Icebreaker)
  • Arm warmers and Leg warmers (Endura or Outwet)
  • Vest
  • Socks (I like the 4 inch wool socks by Swiftwick)
  • Rain Jacket (one that is breathable and packable.  www.showerspass.com or http://www.endurasport.com/)
  • Thermal windproof Jacket (Etxe Ondo make some awesome jackets that can’t be beat. On the expensive side, but they do last for a long time. Consider it an investment. I’ve had my EtxeOndo Jacket for going on 7 years and it still works well).
Outwet Winter Accessories

Outwet Winter Accessories

 
  • Booties and Gloves (On long, wet rides consider carrying a second pair of gloves to change into). Currently, I’m using the Deluge Glove and Illumite Booties by Endura. So far so good. In the past I have used a waterproof spray (from REI) to help keep my gloves and booties drier for longer. Depending on how much you ride, I usually would end up re-spraying gloves/booties 2- 3 times during the winter months.
  • Helmet cover or tape up the vents.
  • Head band to keep your ears warm or a skull cap or full balaclava. I’m using the Outwet headband and neck gaitor. If it isn’t that cold, I wear a Cap under my helmet to keep rain/spray out of eyes.
  • Clear lens or orange lens glasses.
  • For those that really struggle with the cold, consider using an embrocation; a warming potion. There are lots out there to choose from: Mad Alchemy, DZ Nuts, Born to name a few.

BE SEEN – Always assume that you are invisible. This helps me ride more defensively.

  • Bright clothing is great during the day. However, a bright yellow jacket at night looks grey.
  • Reflective clothing is better at night. Look for jackets with plenty of reflective detail (make sure you don’t cover up that reflective detail with a camelbak or messenger bag. Another option is a reflective vest. You can buy reflective ribbon from sewing shops. This can be added to booties, back packs, etc.  Studies have shown that moving parts stand out and catch driver’s attention. I’ve added reflective tape to sides and backs of booties/shoe covers.
Endura's Gridlock Rain Jacket

Endura's Gridlock Rain Jacket

  • Add reflective tape or plastic strips to bike frame and fenders. Plastic strips can be found at most bike shops.
  • Tail lights and headlights. These are not just for evening commuters. During the day, on very overcast gray days or foggy /misty days, tail lights help others see you easier. I like the Light and Motion brand. They are bright, light in weight, and rechargeable. Made in USA too.
  • Safety in numbers; Ride with a partner. It can be easier for cars to see two bikes rather than just one.
  • Choose your route wisely. Opt for low traffic streets, wide streets, well lit streets, roads with bike lanes, or bike paths. Living in Portland there are a few good resources available for maps. One of my favorite maps uses a color coded system to show you which roads are low traffic, have a bike lane, etc. And here is another great map for Washington County.

BE PREPARED: EQUIPMENT 

  • Fenders are a must. They keep down spray from the road. If the road is wet, and you don’t have fender, you will get wet and cold in a heart beat. If you ride with a group install a courtesy flap too (a courtesy flap is an extension on the rear fender to further eliminate spray off the back wheel.  This prevents the person riding directly behind you from getting soaked from your rear wheel spray. It can be as simple as a flap made of duct tape or a bolted on piece of plastic. Rainy day make some great reflective mud flaps.Most group rides will not let you participate on wet days unless you have full fenders. 
Rainy Day Mud Flaps

Rainy Day Mud Flaps

 
  • Check your tires for wear. Don’t wait until you have a series of flats to replace them. For winter riding I like wider tires (25-30 mm) and ones with “built-in” liners are much less susceptible to flats.  The Specialized Armadillos are a great winter tire, as are the Vittoria Randonneur
  • Always carry 2 spare inner tubes, tire levers, a pump (or co2 cartridges), a patch kit, and an Allen wrench tool.  I have a saddle bag big enough to carry all this stuff.  I have an equipped saddle bag for each bike so I don’t have to keep switching.   
  • Despite low temperatures you still need to eat and drink.  It can take a lot of energy to keep warm (up to 10% of your energy output while riding on a cold day can go towards just keeping warm). Make sure you have enough supplies to see you through your ride.
  • Warm-up slowly.
  • Carry a cell phone, cash (just in case money) and route maps.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you are riding.

BE SMART: Your own Comfort Level

Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to riding in inclement weather. If you and your bike are adequately equipped, the question comes down to whether you feel the conditions are safe. Some useful guidelines are as follows:

  • Avoid riding early morning when it is typically colder (let the frost/ice patches melt).
  • Avoid riding late afternoon as the light is fading.
  • Black Ice is a thin layer ice covering the road. It looks like a wet pavement. Avoid it if you can. If you must ride over black ice, do the following:

-Slow down before you get to the ice.
-Ride straight and coast across it. Keep smooth and relaxed. Avoid turning, braking, or accelerating.
-Look for ice in shaped areas, bridges etc. If you do have to brake, look for dry areas and use your rear brake only.
-If I doubt, dismount and walk.

 If you are struggling with riding outside here are a couple of things you can do:  

  • Switch your schedule around. If you are fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule that allows you to be selective when you ride, watch the weather reports for the better days.
  • Find riding partners. With a commitment it is a whole lot easier to deal with the weather.  Misery loves company, right?
  • Split the difference. Ride inside on rollers or a stationary trainer for 1 hr and then outside for 1-1:30 hrs to give a decent ride time.

Planning for an off-season: Recharging your system

November 15th, 2011

As hard as it can be to take time off from training and racing, the rewards are well worth it.  This rest period is critical for both physical and mental rejuvenation.  It is a time to let your muscles recover from the long and intense months of training and racing. It is time to let your mind enjoy a change of pace that will help restore your enthusiasm for the upcoming season. Typically this recharge period should be at least 4-6 weeks in length. And yes, you will lose fitness, maybe put on a few pounds, but this is absolutely necessary if you want to continue to get stronger and improve moving forward.  

 You cannot expect to maintain your race fitness through the winter months. To quote Joe Friel “Fitness is transient”.  Peak anaerobic endurance and sprint power fitness lasts for only a couple of weeks, whereas as peak endurance fitness will last a little longer, but not into the off season.

 The purpose of the rest period is to allow:

  • Your joints and muscles to heal and repair after many miles of training and racing. Without the period of rest, injuries could result
  • Hormone levels to regain a balanced level
  • Re-stimulate the central nervous system
  • Restoration of the energy-producing enzymes inside muscle fibers that are naturally broken down during training
  • Refueling of glycogen stores within muscle cells
  • Endocrine, nervous, and immune systems upset by training are allowed to return back to normal

What to do with this extra time on your hands:
Don’t hurry your recovery. Enjoy this time. Get re-acquainted with your couch. Go on; put your feet up and catch-up on some movie/TV time. Use this period to catch up with old friends that don’t train or race, schedule some over-due appointments, start a house project, try some new sports (mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, etc.), or find some worthwhile volunteer work. 

Planning for the next season:
1. Reflect and set new goals-
Towards the latter half of the rest period reflect on last season’s results. What lessons did you learn? How will this shape the goals for the upcoming season?

2. Mental preparation-
Get yourself mentally ready to resume a training schedule throughout the winter months. Write a training plan or hire a coach to help together a training schedule that is realistic and appropriate.

3. Equipment-
Make sure your equipment is ready to start back up again. Are your running shoes worn out and need replacing? Is your bike ready to brave the winter weather?

4. Research-
 Read about new training techniques and new equipment.

5. Make commitments-
Commit to any lifestyle changes you want to make (especially any nutritional changes).   

Now go forth and embrace a guilt-free hibernation period!