• Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, MI

  • Racing the Provincial's Crit 2014

  • Forest City Velodrome - London, ON

  • Larkenville Challenge, Buffalo, NY

  • Winning the Sprint at the ForestCity Velodrome

  • Track Nationals 2014: Keirin

  • Track Nationals 2014: Points Race

  • OCUP #1: Feb 2015

Ron, a friend that I attribute putting the idea of racing a bike into my head, and I have been chatting about riding and performance on and off the bike. The topic of diet came up and he offered the following thoughts (edited for clarity). I thought they would interest others because they do apply to anyone interested in competitive cycling (or any sport for that matter). Ron is an avid biker (mountain and road) and skier.


I wanted to cover the basics of DIET which really is more than the food you eat.
In general I was surprised that your Garmin 705 calorie metre suggested almost double my estimate of calories burned for our last ride *but* my estimate of calories burned was based on another measure. My estimate was a rudimentary form that is scaled to my body type and weight.    

DIET is an acronym for which Diet is the first component

Diet - from the standpoint of heavy training is the 1/3 1/3 1/3 balance for the nominal number of calories required for daily intake (fat/protien/carbs.)  Eggs are not bad for you, nor is shrimp.  There are a lot of myths out there.  When training heavily the additional calories should be weighted more towards carbohydrates and less towards protein - too much protein can damage the kidneys and you don't break down that much muscle even during heavy training.  The additional load then becomes carbs (50%) fat (35%) and protein (15%).  

Inches - for measuring BMI weight and height suck.  The real measures should be muscle mass density using special machinery.  I have had higher body fat at 160 pounds as a teen than I did at 170 pounds when I raced cross country skiing.  Muscle mass was a crucial factor.  My rule of thumb was simply to measure - right now I'm a pear.  For the variety of things I do the real measure is the relative width of the shoulders to the waist.  It can give a much more accurate estimate than a BMI at a glance.  Other things are *not* relevant to bicycle racers - I recall the Soviet bicycle team were shaped like turkeys but could really fly.  The term "in shape" is then something measured by the eye than by the weigh scale or tape measure.  I had mentioned before that a pound of fat is more than weight - it is consuming oxygen that would better fuel muscles.

Exercise - as you know there are five regions of exercise to be concerned with.  Agility is sport specific and practiced with bike handling and balance.  Strength comes from the weight room.  Aerobic is more a balance of long steady distance, anaerobic training and interval training in a precise balance based on your heart rate.  Flexibility is something many athletes work on by using things like Yoga, while others go for Tai Chi to get their system in balance.  Endurance is pushed by the long steady distance and pushing just a little more as the time goes by (time in the saddle).  Go over and you hit over training, go under and you see suboptimal results.  Go optimal and then forget to take time off to rest and the body breaks down.

Time - You can't go too fast too soon.  Take the time and realize there is a huge draw to go harder because others can.  Take your time to get fast.  Three years is the minimum to get fast - but optimal fast is a decade. 'Tis time to get fit - not racing fit but all around fit - and keep that up for the decade so that at 60 I can be just riding along.  

Time is also that factor that says how quickly things change.  By weight an inch on the belly is worth about five pounds on the scales for which fat burns at the rate of about a pound for each 4 hours on the bike.  I mentioned that if one weighs 205 pounds that to get down to 175 pounds is not 30 pounds of fat but 50 pounds of fat because 20 pounds of muscle will replace some other fat.  Time is patience... 50 pounds is 200 hours of saddle time which is realistically a couple of seasons out since 5 hours a week of saddle time is hard to squeeze in.  Time means patience.



It is some good advice for anyone looking to take cycling seriously. My crash this season pointed out the need to take time to build experience. In a lot of cases, experience is more important than speed. However, I will differ somewhat from Ron's notion of 5hrs in the saddle is hard to do. More serious cyclists train 10-15 hrs/week. Anything less, and one cannot develop the muscle and aerobic/anaerobic systems to do anything more than keep up on a group ride. Real racing requires being able to go hard for 60 mins for a crit and 120 mins for a road race as well as understanding pacing for a 20 min/15km time trial.

Robbie Ventura in his Real Rides race video spends 15 mins of the 40 min crit in Heart Rate zone 5 (ie. above LT). This is not possible on 5hrs/week training. Before my crash in June, I was training up to 15hrs/week. I will agree with Ron, in that three years is need to be any good at racing. It is general considered the point when a cyclist is no longer a novice.

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