Packing Your Race Bag

It’s Training Wednesday and today we have some advice and tips from Nicholas Vipond of Summit Consulting. Nicholas holds a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honours in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa and a Master of Arts degree in Consulting and Intervention in Sport, Health and Exercise, also from the University of Ottawa. Nicholas has worked with athletes from beginner to elite in multiple sports, including cycling, running, basketball, soccer, triathlon, swimming, rock climbing and surfing.

With a particular specialization in mountain biking, Nicholas is a NCCP (National Coaching Certification Program) certified mountain bike coach, working towards his level 3 certification. Nicholas has coached both development and elite riders. He has managed the Canadian Mountain Bike at the 2009-2011 World Championships and has been an assistant coach with the Ontario provincial team on several projects since 2004. Nicholas’ background includes several years of competing at the national and provincial levels in both nordic skiing and cycling. Nicholas’ education and experience as both an athlete and a coach make him an excellent resource for other athletes and coaches who are looking to pursue excellence in their own performance domain.

You have inevitably arrived at a race to find that you are missing something that you need, everyone has done it! Wether you have forgotten your base layer, gels, tools or something major like skin suit, shoes, helmet or race wheels, forgetting something can negatively impact your race, it doesn’t matter how important this item is it can still have an impact and leave you struggling to find things when you should be relaxing or warming up. Below are some tips for ensuring that you always arrive at the race venue with everything you need.

  1. Always use the same bag – by always using the same race bag you can keep items that you don’t need during the week in your bag so you’ll be sure to have them come race day.
  2. Use small bags to pack important items – you can pack things in their own bag inside your race bag to keep things organized. For example use camping stuff sacks to separate some small tools, race food, clothing for after the race, race clothing, warm up clothing, embrocation etc.
  3. Make a List – have a check list of all the items that you normally keep need for a race day, keep this list protected in your race bag so you can double check it before heading out to the race – see sample packing list below (one day race).
  4. Pack Early – pack your bag the night before the race. By backing your bag the night or day before the race you give yourself time to double check that you have everything that you may need and if you’re missing something you have time to go out and pick it up. This is especially important for the early season when you’re not in the routine of preparing for a race.
  5. Organize your Bag – if you are able to pack your bag so that you can easily find everything that you will need on race day, you will save yourself unnecessary stress and lost time of digging through your bag every time you need something different. Use the pockets on your bag and stuff sacks to keep things organized, always keep things in the same place week after week.

If you develop a routine to packing your bag and preparing for a race you will save yourself time and energy allowing you to focus more of your energy and time on the necessary preparations for the race.

Here’s a sample packing list that you can use (adjust for your personal race requirements):

Race Bag Check List
Item Quantity Packed Item Quantity Packed
Race Clothes Warm Up Clothes
Skin Suit Long Sleeve 1 Thermal Jersey 1
Skin Suit Short Sleeve 1 Rain Jacket 1
Under Shirt Sleeveless 1 Wind Vest 1
Under Shirt Short Sleeve 1 Tights 1
½ finger gloves 2 Rain Tights 1
Full Finger Gloves 2 Thermal Gloves 2
Arm Warmers 1 Riding Toques 1
Knee Warmers 1 Compression tights 1
Leg Warmers 1 Compression Socks 1
Socks 3 Podium Kit 1
Thermal Socks 2 Socks 2
Equipment Casual Clothes
Helmet 1 Pants 1
Shoes 2 T Shirt 1
Riding Glasses 2 Underwear 1
Extra Lenses for Conditions 4 Socks 2
Spare Parts (emergency) Sweater 1
Tube 2 Rain Jacket 1
Multi Tool 1 Soft-shell Jacket 1
CO2 and Head 2 Running Shoes 1
Lube 1 Rubber Boots 1
Pressure Gauge 1 Toque 1
Safety Pins 20 Gloves 1
Other
Embrocation 2 Cell Phone Chargers 1
Spare Contact Lenses 2 IPod and head phones 1
Deodorant 1 Book 1
Map to venue 1 Race Licence 1
Photo ID 1 Hand Warmers 1
Foot Warmers
*** Note this is to be used as a guide for a packing list ***

To contact Nicholas email him. Be sure to visit Summit Consulting to learn more about Nicholas and his services.

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5 Ways to Make Your Recovery Easier

It is training Thursday and today we have another guest post from Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. Steve has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amateur teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

Recovery from your workouts and races is a critical part of the equation in an athlete’s quest for improved fitness and form.  Below are a few steps to help make recovery quick and easy.

•  Keep a gallon of low-fat chocolate milk on hand:  even if you’re crunched for time, it’s easy to grab a big glass of chocolate milk on your way in from training (and hitting that first important window of glycogen replenishment).

•  Roll out a yoga mat before your ride, so it’s ready and waiting for you when you get home.   It’ll serve as a great reminder to do your core work and stretching, and it’s one less thing to set up when you get in from riding.

•  Plan to make a couple of larger meals during the week, so you have left overs on those days when you’re pressed for time.  By cutting down on your overhead time preparing food, you can put your feet up and get a little more rest.

•  Take a nap on the weekends (or whenever you can).  A little extra sleep can make a huge difference!

•  If you live in a hilly area, consider doing your recovery ride on the rollers / trainer.  It might be boring, but keeping your HR and exertion in the recovery zone, and minimizing torque on your legs is important on for those active recovery rides.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.

All About Plant-Based Protein

Tuesday already? Today in our nutrition series we have blog post from Deb Gleason. Deb is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and vegan triathlete as well as co-founder of Wellness Warrior Coaching, a whole foods nutrition and multisport performance coaching company. Deb works with people to help them transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet to help them achieve their health, fitness, and performance goals. 

Our culture is extremely caught up in the idea that if you are not eating meat you are not getting enough protein.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the meat marketing people may have something to do with this.  The truth is that North Americans get more than twice the protein they need everyday leading to obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and all kinds of nasty diseases.

Protein is required for the building, maintenance, and repair of tissues in the body. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, can be synthesized by the body or ingested from food.  So where do we get the amino acids that are not synthesized in the body? Let’s start by looking to the sun, all energy starts with the sun. The sun’s rays through photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide into plant compounds especially sugars. These plants are full of all the amino acids humans and non-human animals need to make protein in their own bodies and thrive.

In our conventional food systems we organize animals like cows to eat those plants so they can create protein and grow.  Then humans come along and eat the cow’s flesh and milk so they can get the energy back from the plants.  For us to get that energy back we have to use a bunch of our own energy which could be used for training and recovery to break the meat, dairy and eggs back down to the original plant amino acids so we can convert that to build the protein we need for our bodies.

Is it just me or does it seem like we are doing a bit of extra work here.  Why would we waste all that energy breaking down the protein from animals back into plant protein when we could simply eat the plants directly in the first place and get everything we need?  The crazy part is that in order to get the cows to grow and make this protein we waste unfathomable amounts of water, and fossil fuels and create more global warming gases than any other industry on the planet. Not to mention that animal protein is heavy in saturated fat and cholesterol which have been shown to lead to obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other horrible diseases.

Why not cut out the middle man and get the goods directly from the source – plants. Plants don’t just provide us with all the protein we need, they have some healthy baggage as well.  They are a good sources of fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, folate, iron, magnesium and calcium, and they can lower blood cholesterol, as well as reduce the risk of certain diseases. Research has shown that all plants have at least 14% protein and in fact broccoli has more protein per calorie than steak does. Of course, you’ll need to eat a lot more broccoli to get the same amount of calories that you do from the meat.  This is where legumes come in.  Legumes are packed with dense amounts of protein.  Consuming a whole foods vegan diet with lots of plant variety will guarantee you clean, easily absorbed abundant protein.

Be sure to visit Deb’s website and feel free to contact her directly at 613-290-8733 or drop her an email. Deb is also on Twitter: @debgleason.

Montreal Bike Show

It is bike show time. If you’re in Montreal, be sure to visit us at the Montreal Bike Show.

Stop by the Stevens Bikes booth (#520) to see the latest road bike from Stevens: the Stratos.

  • Innovative high-end frame with extremely lightweight THM-fork
  • Highly modular carbon fibres make for the optimal weight/stiffness ratio
  • Carbon dropouts, innovative carbon cableguides
  • Stiff and comfortable “Tapered Steerer” fork
  • Comes with Ritchey Comfort 27.2 mm carbon seat post

 

Adversity as Opportunity

It is training Wednesday and today we have another guest post from Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. Steve has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amateur teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

Life as a competitive athlete is filled with challenges and obstacles of many forms:  flatting, crashing, getting caught out in bad weather, juggling family and job responsibilities with training and racing.  While many cyclists derive satisfaction from overcoming the challenges of a hard workout or race, those other unexpected obstacles can be harder to take in stride.

We can’t control when or where we’ll run into bad luck and adversity on the bike (or anywhere else).  Regular and thorough bike maintenance usually goes a long way to preventing equipment related issues, but flats and other mechanicals are unavoidable.  The same with crashes, last minute problems at work, bad weather, etc.:  we can do our best to avoid these scenarios, but they happen to all of us at some point.

It’s easy to get hung up on the downside of those times when adversity comes your way, but instead of focusing on the negatives of a situation, I encourage you to focus on what you can control:  your reaction to the situation.   Did a flat tire take you out of the race?  Focus on trying to get back into the field, and use that opportunity to work on your TT skills and pacing.  Decreasing daylight, and sometimes broken bones from a crash confine us to the trainer.  Instead of dreading that trainer time, why not use it to work on your mental toughness and focus?   Bad weather, delayed flights, and problems at work are all things we can’t control.  But, staying calm and minimizing your stress and anxiety will likely leave you feeling fresher for your workout or race.

Coaches and athletes work together to create an optimal training and racing environment, but many days on the bike are far from ideal.  Embrace the challenges that come your way, and work on controlling your reactions to those obstacles.  Try to make the best out of those situations, and remember that perseverance and mental fortitude are skills that you can train when things aren’t going your way.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.

Linking Up

Today we’ve got a bunch of reading and links for you. Yes, kind of a lazy post but it has been one of those weeks and we’d really much rather be out riding our bikes than sitting in front of a computer… Can you blame us?

Thinking about doing a single track bicycle tour? Give this article a read to get some pointers on what to pack and how to plan ahead.

It is the biggest weekend on the mountain biking calendar – the World Championships. If you’re trying to figure out how and where you can watch the speedy cross-country racers, the nimble and quick downhillers and want to get our fill of 4x, use this viewing guide.

There’s a tradeshow going on right now in Germany. Yes – it is Eurobike time. Here are few articles that give us a glimpse of the latest and greatest to be put on display.

As usual we always have cyclo-cross on the brain here at Stevens Bikes – and we’d like to highlight this great program by one of our retailers. The Cyclery has a special program specifically focused on getting kids out on cyclo-cross bikes. 

So there you have it, a few links to keep your Thursday morning fresh. Have a good one!

Get Yourself Committed

It is training Wednesday and today we have another guest post from Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. Steve has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amateur teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

Part of cycling’s lore and mystique is the unfaltering commitment of its athletes.  We’ve all heard tales of huge training blocks, four-hour basement trainer riders with the lights off, and cyclists’ dedication to training and recovery above almost anything else.  This commitment to the athletic lifestyle and long-term goals often pays dividends in increased fitness and skill.

A long time friend and client of mine brought up an interesting point in a conversation the other day, highlighting the importance of commitment on a much smaller scale.   Juxtaposed with the dedication that comes with being a competitive athlete are those moments in a race when we decide to launch solo off the front of the field, jump across to an early break, or sprint for the finish.   My friend astutely explained that as athletes, we owe it to ourselves to fully commit to that solo break, attack, or sprint, and give it our full focus, mentally and physically.

Now, don’t get me wrong:  I’m not saying that you should burn all your matches following every attack in a race, or take a solo flier at the start of a 100 mile day.  Rather, I’m encouraging you to race confidently and commit to going “all in” during your races.  Try new things, jump on those attacks without hesitation, and embrace the process of learning from those experiences.  By really committing and giving 100% in races, you’ll push your limits, gain fitness and experience, and learn more about yourself and racing, while never having to wonder if that break would have stayed away if you had only taken a few more pulls…

Make a pledge to yourself, or better yet, set the goal of committing during your races:  react to the dynamics of the race and go all in.  Then, after the race, review those times when you gave 100%.  Did those efforts pay off?  What lessons did you learn?  What will you change next time?

In addition to those epic training rides, skipping out on the family hiking trips, and politely refusing dessert, don’t forgot to capitalize on those precious race-day opportunities, or better yet, make your own opportunities!  Commit yourself 100% to the decisive moments that make up each race day, objectively review those efforts, and reap the benefits of your commitment as you learn and improve.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.