Monday, July 30, 2012

Vino Make Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan Proud

Congratulations to Alexadre Vinokourov for winning the Olympic gold. Vino’s always been one of my favorite riders. His crazy attacking style is exactly what makes bike racing great. I can’t think of anyone in the peloton who I’d rather have seen win, yet it’s almost 100% unexpected. Borat jokes aside, glorious nation of Kazakhstan has every reason to be very very proud.

Kazakhstanis are real, hard men. That already reflects early on in their sportive orientation, hardened as they are from growing up in such a ferocious country. Boxing, wrestling, weight-lifting: they don’t raise sissies behind the Kaspian Sea.

What’s most amazing about this victory is that one year ago he “retired” from cycling after a horrific crash. Not only didn’t he retire, he somehow managed to race again by the end of last season. Always one of the toughest guys in cycling, that comeback pretty much sealed the deal.

Vino and his 13 colleagues were given extraordinary harsh training; up to three times a day they gave everything they had in their young bodies, in series of continuous labour. One hour at the crack of dawn, a three-hour trip right after the first meal of the day, and then another 2 times, 60 minutes going into the red right after the obligatory resting period: an education that can either break or make a person.

He raced this year under the guise of helping develop younger riders, which didn’t seem like propaganda. By all accounts it was his most quiet year to date. Finally he emerged in the Tour, one of the only races he never won but was always a major player in---as one of the few who’d flip Lance and the Disco boys the bird and attack whenever and wherever he damn-well felt like it. He didn’t win a stage but became more ever-present as it progressed.

So the Olympics shouldn’t have been a surprise. But they were. A bit like a movie where an old guy comes out of retirement to show the young bucks a thing or two—stuff that doesn’t happen in real life. It was an amazing moment in sporting history and a great excuse to dust off this old article with a bit of Vino’s backstory. Click on the excerpts for some good reading from The Daily Peloton—-a Monday Psyche if you will.

He’s not a man of big words, Alexander the Silent. Everyone agrees that he was born on September 16th, 1973, but there’s still some confusion as to the exact place of birth. Was it Petropavlovsk after all, or maybe Kazakhstanskaya? Almost everyone thinks it to be the former, but Vino doesn’t feel the need to speak out on the subject, he hides the answer behind that mysterious smile of his. “And still, he’s not the shy man that some people take him for,” says Walter Godefroot, the man that brought him to Telekom in 2000. “When there’s partying to be done you’ll always see him on the front line. Bottle of vodka in his hand, making loud jokes, dancing on the tables, that sort of stuff...”

So congrats, Vino, you’ve earned your party. Though if I had to bet I’d wager you were already back on your bike.

pics: ap, cyclingnews, some guy on myspace

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zombie Roof Solo

For your weekend Psyche here's another vid of Canadian climber Will Stanhope free soloing Zombie Roof (5.12d). The climbing is almost anti-climactic. What I dig about the vid is the historical perspective presented.

Soloing is a very personal thing, which doesn’t really make it the best fodder for motivation. But the mindset here is a very logical progression, where the solo is not so much a daredevil stunt or an adrenaline rush but a natural extension of the of both the sport and the area. Great accomplishments always pay homage to the history of their setting. Otherwise they tend to ring hollow. At least that’s how it feels to me, anyway. Enjoy the reflection as well as the journey. Otherwise you’re missing out on half the experience.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When You’re Not Feeling It, Press On…

One of the frustrating facts of training is that getting fitter is not a linear projection. At some point you’ll have a bad patch. If you’re lucky it will only last a few workouts, though it might last a few weeks and if you overtrain it can last months. So while there is strategy to consider when you’re not feeling it the solution, as Scottish climber Dave MacLoed points out in this recent article, is always to press on.

This isn’t something unique to un-fit. In fact it's the opposite as the fitter you are the more likely it will happen. This is because the closer you are to peak fitness the less margin for error you have when it comes to overtraining, which is why you always hear about athletes struggling to get their training timing right around competitions.

Overtraining is a hard—-and sometimes impossible—-thing to gauge because it’s based on so many factors that you can’t always assess. Things like your mental state, that can cause fluxuations in your hormonal and nervous system function, are always issues that are somewhat out of your control. Pressing on means you don't want to give up because it's not working, but continue to trust your training program with an open mind, always evaluating the possibilities for minor tweaks. Here's a very similar article I wrote on the subject that's more specific to Beachbody programs. If your training program is solidly-crafted, as I hope ours are given I'm the one that does it, the benefits will come in the end as long as you don't give up.

MacLoed, one of the world’s best all-around climbers as well as an exercise physiologist, says,

I could go cragging I guess, which might be good for the head. But it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do for some reason. Training feels right, or at least did feel right.

I have been doing my circuits night after night. Some strange things are going on though which I can’t put my finger on. I’m definitely getting less pumped per circuit. I’m even getting a reasonable amount done. Yet for some reason, I don’t ‘feel’ fit.

When warming up I’m feeling rough and starting from a low base. And even once I’m going I feel heavy. I’m guessing it’s just one of those periods you have to go through every so often. So I’ll carry right on, until my body decides to wake up to the message that I need it to get fitter and stronger.

Those of you who follow TSD know I’ve been blogging on this subject using my own training and how nothing seems to be clicking this year. My solution, like Dave's, is going to be to keep pressing on. As should yours.

vid: for those who don't know, dave is on a very exclusive list of those who climb near the top of the scale in many disciplines: ice climbing, sport climbing, mega-scary trad climbing, and bouldering.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

62,000 Bad Things and 6 Good Things

Dr. Mercola can be an alarmist wanker but he spins a plenty of good advice as well. And when I say spin I mean it in a myriad of ways. Two of those involve him trying to sell you stuff and ranting like a spinning top. But I love a good rant so, for today’s entertainment, I present his version of 62,000 bad things and 6 good things.

First, as his article is titled, we’ll look at the bad. Did you know that drugs were 62,000 times more likely to kill you than supplements? Well, it’s true, apparently, though I didn’t dig too deep into how he did the math. I mean, when every single drug ad on TV has a running list of possible side effects, often including death, that barely squeeze into the allotted time slot I don’t think bickering about numbers is necessary. But just in case you didn’t get the memo, our favorite hippy doctor hammers you with plenty of statistics, and enough conspiracy theories to make Robert Ludlum proud.

In striking contrast, drugs are known to cause well over 125,000 deaths per year in the US when taken correctly as prescribed – yet the FDA allows fast-track approvals and countless new additions of poorly tested drugs to the marketplace that must later be withdrawn due to their lethal consequences.

Obviously that statement is a little off the cuff since, well, we still have law enforcement in this county. But it’s worth reading, even with a skeptical eye, because much of what he’s saying makes too much sense not to be at least somewhat true.

He then leaves us with a shiny, happy ending so he can sell us some of his stuff. But, hey, a guy’s got to make a living and his 6-lifestyle recommendations to avoid meds are worth reiterating. I’m not sold they’ll mean that you’ll “never need medication” but they’ll certainly stack the odds in your favor. I’ve presented them here abridged but click anywhere for the full rant. I mean report.

1. Proper Food Choices Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, unprocessed foods (vegetables, meats, raw dairy, nuts, and so forth) that come from healthy, sustainable, local sources, such as a small organic farm not far from your home....

2. Comprehensive Exercise Program, including High-Intensity Exercise High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor...

3. Stress Reduction and Positive Thinking You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer...

4. Proper Sun Exposure to Optimize Vitamin D We have long known that it is best to get your vitamin D from sun exposure, and if at all possible, I strongly urge you to make sure you're getting out in the sun on a daily basis...

5. Take High Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats Animal-based omega-3 found helps fight and prevent heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer's, arthritis, diabetes, hyperactivity and many other diseases...

6. Avoid as Many Chemicals, Toxins, and Pollutants as Possible This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

God Save The Cycling Queen

For the first time in 100 years we have an English champion of France's finest sporting event. The Brits took second, won six stages, and with the likes of Team Sky--what amounts to a national team of sorts and perhaps, with a fine assortment of the Queen's subjects, even an Empire team--fair Albion has stormed the Tour like Henry at Agincourt. However, as is usual when the UK dominates the world, something is rotten in the state of... in this case cycling.

As I mentioned in my Tour intro, Bradley Wiggins and team have set a new template for how to win one of sport's greatest spectacles. But this new idiom has not exactly set the world on fire. Like the dominance forged by the Welsh longbow, calculated technology isn't always what the world wants to see. And, gentle reader, this brings me to today's most important topic. How are we going to save the world of cycling? For Queen. For country. And for all the rest of us.

The problem, it seems, is that many have found the calculated cool of Team Sky to be boring. Our hero, one Wiggo of down-the-pub, does this no favor in the above interview when he starts throwing around numbers that make racing seem like little more than a computer program (click here if the embed doesn't work--seems geo restricted). Without the chemical enhancement that we've seen in years prior, particularly the 90s when most of cycling's records were set, human limits are established and with a peloton full of data all one needs to do in order to cover a move is to assess the numbers. Can you sustain a 500 watt output for 20 minutes without a haematecrit north of 50? No? Therefore, no reason to chase. And so on.

As a physical trainer I find this fascinating. As a sports fan not-so-much. Give me Tommy Voeckeler any day. Sure, his cavalier riding will never with a Tour in this day and age but, man, it's fun to watch. And with this in mind just what is our beloved sport supposed to do? For the answers we turn to the same panel as my mid-race recap: Bob, Sam, Josh, Reed, Aaron, Dustin and moi. Take it to heart.

"Bring back dope. Seriously. Have a divisions for doping and no doping and let people watch whichever they want."

"I agree with Bob, it was kind of a boring tour. I think Sagan made it pretty interesting at times, as well as Cav, but there wasn’t a lot of excitement. Cadel and Nibali did attack, but they just didn’t have enough gas to make it stick. I don’t know that Van Garderen did either, but it would have been nice to see him try. I had hoped for more and thought Cadel could bring it, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

But the Cav sprinted out of the group yesterday was insane. I was gobsmacked.

Actually the most exciting parts of this tour have been the finishes while I’ve been waiting to see if the break is going to get swept up or make it to the end. Those are always great, but it seems like this year they were the highlight."

"Random doping control where you inject some riders and not others so that everyday is a crap shoot."

"Or maybe we could just have a realistic parcours. 120k stages, 2-3 climbs, let folks recover and be fresh for the next day. Fucking Horner said he had to let go of the leaders on peyresourdes because since gc wasn't an option, he needed to save his gas for today. Boring."

"I have to agree. It’s a boring tour. Bring back more DOPE!

I re-iterate, not random drug testing ,but random drugging."

"Prefer clean riders, but they need to re-consider the parcours to make things more interesting. Obviously, the profile for this Tour did not result in compelling racing, at least among the GC rivals.

Big mountains are not likely to shake things up either. Without the dope, riders simply ride hard tempo and slowly shed the weaker riders. If a GC guy has a bad day (Evans) he loses time, if not, then the time gaps between riders are manageable.

I think they need more classics style stages that reward risk taking and are far less easy to control by the dominant teams. You can’t do away with the Alps and Pyrenees, but I think the Tour should put in more lumpy stages with cobbles, dirt, and time bonuses to make it interesting.

It might actually bring more riders into contention, which is a good thing."

"Or . . . This just dawned on me: do away with teams altogether. Everyone relies in neutral service.

That would be interesting."

"This is actually productive. We could save cycling.

Do away with measurement shit for sure. No watts et al. And no radios. I like teams but maybe not team cars. Neutral support and lots of it so you can't complain (or pay them off). Team cars can ride behind with spare bikes but that's it. No talking to your riders.

I really like Sam's idea about the parcours. Remember when Lance was complaining about having to ride cobbles, like it's a different sport. Fuck 'em. It's bike riding. Make shit hard but not just with endless miles on good pavement. I want to see some of those wimpy little GC fucks climb the 20% cobbles in Cordes. Guys like Boonen or Cancellara could gain minutes. Dirt. Sand, construction sites, super winding intercity courses. Back roads with wild boar. Courses are now so boring the peloton crashes all the time rolling down a dead straight road. Liven it up and they'll ride better. Bring back pub raids. Everything will be better. You won't even need dope. Just a few brews at the end of each day to take the edge off.

Henri Desgranges"

"Cobbles. Any race that has cobbles, or at least dirt, especially dirt climbing, is instantly better. Maybe Gilbert missed an opportunity to change things when he freaked about the dog instead of applauding its insolence in knocking him sprawling. But we don't want the dogs getting hurt. And what if we fucked with the riders, instead of late or early drug tests, make them go to the club on random nights and dance le velo techno. Be good for morale at least. And no more bank team sponsors, occupy cycling. Now just beer, bikes, or lingerie (why not? imagine the podium. and you know Cipo would love it, probably wear it too.)."

"You better put that on the straight dope. And shit, while you're at it, what's your platform for President. We still have a few months before people vote maybe there can be a write in!"

And whilst we contemplate our sports future, at least we have French commentators to inject cycling with all the enthusiasm they can. Their riders may never win another Tour but they will continue to stylishly remain the best venue in the game.

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Routing

The thing about being a multi-sport athlete is that you can't get fixated on one thing. The Tour, and the challenge, are still going. My first big race is just a week away and cycling has been taking up all of my free time lately. Yet fall is just around the corner. Climbing challenges await and it’s time to start training with those goals in mind as well. And with that, the Friday Psyche presents a vid about new routing in the Canyonlands.

My fall challenge (perhaps this year’s birthday challenge) is going to feature some new routes. I’ve scoped it out but before it gets announced I need to gain a lot more fitness to know that it’s at least feasible. So with Butte training nearly in the barn it’s time to taper, which is a good time to begin some foundation work for my upper body. This morning I’m heading out with Ben to jump on a couple of our fall climbing objectives to assess their feasibility and re-in vigor our psyche. Then we can tailor our training to what we know for certain we’re lacking.

This vid reminds me of my old climbing days when I had ample free time to roam around and look for cool new stuff. I especially like the part when he talks about finding things not only to do now, but for the future—-perhaps even future generations. Quite a few of my old endeavors had this in mind and, in fact, many of my old projects still have not been finished. Doing first ascents is a bit more like an art project than just a personal challenge. You’re looking for the latter, of course, but also always keeping in mind the canvas that is the history of the sport and your place in adding to something that is mainly for others. To me, that was the main driving force about the years I spent exploring for new routes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Panache Spelled Tommy

If anyone needs a power meter, heart rate monitor, watch or any other measuring device to calculating your riding mine are all for sale. I’m going Tommy Voeckler. Who decided we needed all the crap anyway? Just ride your bike and let everything else take care of itself.

On Eurosport today someone wrote in, “If it wasn’t for Voeckler this would be the Tour de Snore”. And while I don’t agree, necessarily, it sure would be a lot less fun. Everyone loves an attacking rider. Especially one who starts grimacing in agony with 60k and three climbs still to ride. Throw in lack of most techo gadgets thought to be indispensible for even recreational riders and you’ve got the definition of panache.

There was a moment today that made me so nostalgic I wanted to cry. Our hero, attacking on the day’s final climb, asking a fan how big a gap he had. No radio. No team DS. Just a guy on the side of the road. Probably took a swig of wine from him too. Maybe even a drag off his cigarette.

For a moment it was 1986 all over again. A lone rider attacks an entire peloton, against the sage advice of anyone who would listen, with no calculation whatsoever about whether or not he might make it or completely blow up. All he knows is that he’s going to put his head down and mash on the peddles until either his soigneur or God himself pulls him off his bike. Win or lose, that is how cool people race their bike. You just know The Badger is smiling.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do You Need Milk? How About The USDA?

A pretty good article on milk came from the NY Times last week, that probably ended up hurting the credibility of the USDA as much as it did milk’s. Our government’s food police, as I’ve pointed out before, are the veritable Keystone Cops when it comes to overseeing the nation’s health. But you probably knew that, so let’s get into the scam over milk’s place in your diet.

Mark Bittman’s blog post titled Got Milk? You Don’t Need It, begins by informing us,

“Americans were encouraged not only by the lobbying group called the American Dairy Association but by parents, doctors and teachers to drink four 8-ounce glasses of milk, ‘nature’s perfect food,’ every day. That’s two pounds! We don’t consume two pounds a day of anything else; even our per capita soda consumption is 'only' a pound a day."

He then proceeds down the sordid history of milk recommendations while citing some interesting nutritional facts such as “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.”

The post then moves into storytelling, with his own history of growing up with an upset stomach that never really went away until he gave up milk. This anecdote is common. I’ve long ago given up keeping track of those I’ve worked with who’ve seen their health improve sans milk.

Then he comes back to our government, quoting the book Milk that explains how difficult it’s become to make money selling it, “The exceptions are the very largest dairy farms, factory operations with anything from 10,000 to 30,000 cows, which can exploit the system, and the few small farmers who can opt out of it and sell directly to an assured market, and who can afford the luxury of treating the animals decently.”

In fact, if you follow health news you’ve heard that it’s even worse, the FDA has actually targeted small dairy farms and collectives very aggressively over the last few years, spending millions of dollars trying to shut down the dairy farms that actually care about your health.

He closes, most appropriately, with the lobbying scam about milk, schools and osteoporosis, adding, “In fact, the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries, and it turns out that the keys to bone strength are lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine...”

“...The federal government not only supports the milk industry by spending more money on dairy than any other item in the school lunch program, but by contributing free propaganda as well as subsidies amounting to well over $4 billion in the last 10 years.

It’s all pretty thorough and damning to an industry that’s continues to take well-deserved hits lately. He doesn’t get into the nefarious world of pasteurization, which has both ruined the would-be nutritional value of milk (it’s not really nature’s food anymore, much less “perfect”) as well as making it easy for Big Dairy to dominate the industry by using abhorrent animal raising and health practices, but it makes sense to keep the story targeted and there’s plenty of ammo.

As for the USDA, well, before you put any stock in any of their guidelines consider this line.

“To its credit, it now counts soy milk as ‘dairy.’”

Which, to me, confirms the USDA has no credit. How does soy count as dairy? The only similarity they share is a strong lobby. A soy bean is a legume. A cow is, well, a cow. Lumping the two together makes about as much sense as calling a French fry a vegetable. And who in their right mind would ever do that? Oh, wait...

Batter-coated french fries now a fresh vegetable on USDA list

I’ll shut up now.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tour Challenges For Everyone

Oddly enough I’m not the only person in the world who’s thought of doing challenges that mimic grand tour bike races. For your Friday Psyche I present a couple of other versions, one for motivation/cool-ness and another for practicality.

Starting with the latter I present the Velo News Tour training program. This is a great opportunity to, not only mimic what’s going on in the Tour (in very little time each day), but to get a solid cycling training program for free. I can’t believe it took me so long to hear about it but I’m sorry to say that VN has been one of my old daily indulgences my busier schedule has caused me to give up. I think they did it last year, too. Ugh, I feel shame.

Anyways, I did find time to give it a quick once-over and it’s a good, solid training program that would help any recreational cyclist improve without spending heaps of hours in the saddle. If you want to jump into a Tour challenge, or just get fitter on the bike, click on this paragraph.

Next is the more ambitious Reve Tour, where six women are riding the entire Tour de France route in order to raise money for bike awareness/access in America. It’s one of those dream jobs that most fans of the Tour (at least fit ones) would kill for. Click here for their blog and get prepared to be inspired, and a little bit jealous.

look better than whatever you're doing this month?

The psyche part is that this is obtainable. Anyone can ride the route of the tour, as you’ll see in their blog they aren’t alone. Sure it’s a challenge on many levels, not just physical. But it would certainly worth some organizational headaches to try. There’s simply no way it wouldn't be a life-altering experience. To help them raise money click here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Problem With Reading

“I believe virtually everything I read and I think that is what make me more of a selective human.”

David St. Hubbins

I’m interrupting cycling month for a little rant. As one who’s spent most of their professional life as an educator I’m a huge proponent of reading. But when an “article” like the one published by MSN the other day gets thousands of shares and hundred of comments not stating “this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in print” it makes me want to become a government sensor so I can ban crap like this. Because the fact that people—even if it’s only a fraction of the population—are swayed by such drivel is disgusting. May I present MSN's finest:

Don't envy skinny pals: You may live longer if you're fat

This might be a provocative title if it had any truth but the second sentence casually renders it useless, stating that according to a study being overweight doesn’t lead to early mortality “if you discount the folks with diabetes and hypertension” (in other words “people who are overweight”). That’s like saying a study showed fast food was perfectly healthy is you discount the people in the study who ate fast food.

I’m not exaggerating. Diabetes (type 2) is the fastest growing illness in the world and has been for over a decade. Its number one cause (basically its only cause) is obesity. The CDC states nearly 10% of the Americans have it but also claim the actual numbers are unknown and likely much higher because many poor and overweight people are undiagnosed. As for hypertension, the FDA estimates that number at 65 million with the same disclaimer. These numbers completely cover, with estimated room to spare, the national obesity rate, currently hovering between 30-40%.

MSN then states that the highest risk group for early mortality is the underweight, which when you throw out overweight only means underweight is worse than being the ideal weight. Whomever at MSN wrote and approved this headline should not only be fired, but banned from journalism for life. All of which reminds me of another classic film quote,

“Apes don’t read philosophy.”

“Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.”

All of this coming full circle to the real lesson of today, which is just how much less funny the world would be without Christopher Guest’s friends and family.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tour Challenge: Rest Day Wrap-Up

I did some yoga to start the day and am pretty psyched to have a day off of my bike, except I’m not. I’m starting to finally feel decent after a week of some amount of misery. Let’s do a little recap, on both the race and the challenge, and lay out what’s ahead.

The actual event has been crazy, with crashes galore—ga-LORE! I’ve been following the Tour for nearly 40 years and have never seen anything like it. In lieu of boring reporting—after all this is a blog with no political restraints—let’s recap citing some spirited banter of my friends. Special thanks to Sam, Reed, Josh, Dustin and Bob.

“Wtf!? Has everyone in the peloton completely forgotten how to ride a bike?”

In spite of crashes and some serious fashion misgivings, the sprints have been excellent, spurred by the demise of the HTC train that at one time included most of today’s fastest men.

“Those helmets don’t look very cool.”

“Horrible helmets!”

“Well, I think Cav has put the “he’s got the best train” argument to rest. Like Steve said, he won that won McEwen style.”

“It should make for an interesting week. I've never seen such a deep sprinter field. If Cav wins them all he'll start making a case of best of all time. I don't think he will but he's smart so maybe, especially if he gets Greipel's wheel everyday.”

Unfortunately Cav got caught twice by crashes (such is life without a train) and, so far, Sagan’s been the revelation although Greipel probably won the rubber match if his last lead-out man doesn’t drop his chain. Anyway, the battle for the green jersey is still completely up in the air, as well as Cav’s place in history.

However, the best moment in the race so far was a transition stage where a breakaway held, animated by director sportif Marc Madiot’s enthusiasm. Check out the video above.

“I think it should go to the FDJ DS (most aggressive rider of the day award)—he was going crazy in the car!”

“He seems more enthused than I would expect a 2-time winner of Paris-Roubaix, but then I think that makes me appreciate it that much more.”

And on the race for yellow…

“Enjoy these lumpy stages, because the GC is battle is ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.”

“It's a long time since the days of Cippolini and friends. Any chance Sagan will show up in a leopard striped skin-suit? Doubt it.”

sagan, take some fashion tips, please

“I think what all of you Wiggo/Evans detractors are saying is that you miss dope. Well fuck, I miss it too. Shit, wasn't baseball more fun when every game you went to was like a home run derby? Who doesn't like seeing Discovery leading Big Tex onto Alpe d' Huez like the launching Cav at 200m?! It's fucking rad. Shit. I miss Ricardo Ricco. I miss Raimondas Rumas. I miss Simoni's grandmother's cookies and Festina. Willy Voet where have you gone?”

“Evans attacks way more than Armstrong ever did. The only difference is that he can't make it stick. Okay, he has a whinny voice but he rides with a fuckload of panache. And Wiggo trains like a Spartan and drinks a ton of beer. And he swears. In his first interview in yelllow he said it was "fucking great". Tonight he called his detractors "fucking cunts". The Texan would never do that because it would hurt his corporation. How is that boring? Nibali attacks on every single descent. Who the hell has ever done that? These guy aren't boring. They just aren't jacked full of EPO. And they're not Cipo. But, well, nobody is Cipo. Anyway, if he were in the race he would have won four stages and dropped out already so no use talking about him."

Cyrill Guimard “

“I fucking hate Cipo. He races the first week and now he’s already down on the beach in the French Riviera while I’m trying to hold onto the grupetto.”

~Frankie Andreu

super mario, you are missed

Finally, Sky’s dominance has everyone screaming dope and it does bring back some fond memories. Not that it has any bearing on doping but, as my post suggests last week, Wiggo’s Tour build-up has been as systematic and anyone since the Texan. I for one am not surprised.

All of which has provided sufficient motivation to stick with my own challenge. It hasn’t been easy. Psyche has been low, it’s been crazy hot, and I’ve been tempted to pull a Cipo and pack it in almost every day. Yesterday, however, I actually felt a bit better on the bike, which has renewed my enthusiasm for the weeks ahead, which looks like this:

Wed and Thurs are simulated Tour mtn days. On the slate is an 80-mile ride with over 10k of climbing on the road bike, followed by a mtn bike day featuring 4X 20 minute climbing intervals. Then I get two recovery days where I’ll ride trails staying as aerobic as possible, followed by another long mountain day and then a shorter interval day leading into the next day off.

Of course there’s other supplemental training. Primarily yoga and foam rolling, easy climbing (too hot to climb hard so sticking to active rest or ARC training), and one resistance—usually Asylum Strength--workout per week, following the 3 Weeks of Hell plan. During the next rest day the final week will be determined.

In closing, the Tour’s ads have been much better this year, especially on the European networks. This Specialized ad is truly inspired. Now get out there and ride!

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Tour, P90X, & A Guy Called Wiggo

To me, by far the most interesting storyline in this year’s Tour de France involves Bradley Wiggins. On the road he might be deemed a boring racer but when you lift the hood and see how’s he’s prepared for this year’s race it’s a fascinating story that brings back memories of creating P90X.

I’m inspired by training systems. Not just the day-to-day efforts that athletes use to prepare for events but the entire scope of training for a goal. During our P90X development Tony was generally focused on making the hardest and most creative workouts he could while I was strategizing how we’d integrate them into a system. A lot of how it came to fruition was stuff I’d learned from the Tour.

In fact, I have a memory intrinsically linking the two. While Tony was putting the hurt on the first 90X test group in LA I was in a hotel in France digging through data I’d been compiling from un-official test groups through our Message Board community attempting to do the opposite. I vividly recall a conversation with my colleague Isabelle, about stress tolerances of athletes vs lay people. We were both in Europe on different agendas but each had Beachbody projects foremost on our minds. She was there working with some Olympic athletes in Italy, but also had a program she was working on for us. I was there for the Tour, to witness Lance Armstrong attempt tp re-write history while trying to create a fitness program that might do the same.

Armstrong won his Tours by forever alerting the template cyclists used to train. Instead of logging thousands and kilometers and then racing into shape, his team devised a periodizational training plan focused around one big peak, the Tour de France. In his mind, no other race really mattered.

This is exactly what we were trying to do with P90X, alter the template for home fitness. Instead of making another sweat-fest cardio program, the idea was to systematically break down your body and build it back up over time, targeting all of your physiological factors in one program. On this balmy night in Grenoble my challenge was how to modify the training system we’d created for the broadest demographic. This required some hedging on the tolerance levels of regular folks vs athletes to accommodate the greatest number of people without injuring or overtraining them.

iconic climbs/iconic no helmet fashion

The results of that trip were that Armstrong made history, I wrote a couple of articles on the Tour, cancellation of Isabelle’s proposed Beachbody program leading to her wedding our CEO, and P90X Lean. All of which comes full circle around a guy called Wiggo.

Maybe he’s the P90X2 of cycling. Riffing off of Armstrong’s template only took Wiggins to the podium of a grand tour. Not satisfied, he’s re-shuffled the deck of cyclist training card with an audacious new plan using a coach with a swimming background. Like P90X did with home fitness, they’ve scrapped pretty much every traditional notion of how to train for bike racing. No “base miles”. No “racing into shape”. Not even Armstrong’s throw away races. Just blocks of training followed by a test race taken seriously, periodizided to include a few minor peaks leading to a major one.

Preliminary results are stunning. He’s won every race he’s targeted as a test, something even Armstrong never managed. And if he can indeed parlay that into a Tour victory he’ll have once again altered the training template for those harboring Tour dreams. And while he still has many detractors who dig up his past failures or say he’s peaked too soon, most of the industry “experts” said we’d never sell P90X.

Of course he hasn’t done it yet. That’s precisely while I’m watching. The first big test is tomorrow. For me, the drama will be more than what we see on the grimacing faces of men pushing their bodies to the limit. It will be the validation or failure of a new training system, which is something that excites me even more than sport.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Vive Le Tour

Vive le tour! from Bear Thunder on Vimeo.

With Le Tour and the Tour Challenge going on it's clearly bike month so let's celebrate the world's most iconic bike race with a classic short film from famed director Louis Malle. It focuses not only on the bike race but the culture around the race. Having been there I can say Malle has captured it very well and, in fact, even though Vive Le Tour was filmed in '62 it's amazing how little the spectacle has changed. The bikes are more techie (though probably less cool), the doping excuses more sophisticated than "bad fish", and feeding is more strategic than "pub raids"; but from the daily lifestyle of a town when a stage rolls through to the pre-race parade and the riders' extreme suffering, Tour still looks very much like it did in the 60s.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Steph Davis On Climbing, Jumping, & Life

Here's some Monday Psyche for a holiday week. Not the usual Psych fare, and some might find it boring, but I think it's very cool. Steph’s more introspective than the average climber and her observations about life are, in my opinion, pretty spot on. Not that I always agree with her, as that isn’t the point. It’s that she agrees with herself. She’s figured life out, at least at the moment, and that’s always an inspiration for the Psyche. Plus climbing desert towers and jumping off of them is rad and never really gets old.