Jul 31 2009

Keepin' it simple

Just ride!!!This week, I came home from school and spent some time with my parents.  I usually only get to come home every couple of weeks, so riding is few and far between, so I have been itching to ride.  I haven’t ridden since April.  Actually, it’s not just itching, it’s a frenzy.  I saw my bikes in the trailer and wanted to ride right then.  It made me think what I really ride for.  I’m not going pro or riding for a national championship.  I ride for the fun of it.  I think a lot of people that ride and race every weekend, get consumed by the competitiveness, so they push and push to get faster, but get too frustrated when they don’t get the results they want.

 They think too much and don’t ride.  When I say ride, I’m saying they are putting too much emphasis on thinking about getting faster and ride over their head.  When I first took a long break from riding, I stopped thinking about improving my results in my races, trying to hit a big jump, or trying to remember to keep my form.  I stepped on the track, fresh from my break, and flowed.  I stopped thinking about everything and enjoyed every second I was on the track.  When I got off the track, I had a grin from ear to ear.  I didn’t throw my helmet off and try mess with the suspension.  Everything felt right because I was having fun, enjoying what got me into the sport in the first place….RIDING!!! 

A lot of people try to get serious about racing and it screws you up.  You start getting pissed off because you aren’t getting the results or riding like the way you want.  You essentially get burnt out.  I’m not telling you to stop racing, remember that it’s for fun.  Just remember what you ride for.  What makes you throw a leg over your bike and twist the throttle, every time you get up early to go the track?  Take riding for what it is, riding.

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Jul 30 2009

Starting things off right

Getting here is a lot easier if you get a good startEver read the results from a race and a guy that normally runs about 6th or 7th, finishes on the podium?  This is not a fluke and he found some extra speed in one week.  The reason is simple; he got a great start.  Most of the guys in the top ten of the Lites class are about the same speed, except for maybe Dungy and Pourcel.  When Tommy Hahn finished 2nd in the first moto of Washougal, that was not because he likes Washougal.  It’s because he had a great start and made the most of it.  Shawn Simpson, MX2 British Champion has said in a Risk Racing advertisement that, “Getting the holeshot is 50% of any race.  If you don’t get away with the top three, you have lost 15 seconds or so by the end of the first lap, not to mention getting filled with roost and having to pass a lot of other crazy fast riders.”  If you have ever raced on a full gate of 40 guys, you know this is true. 

Most of the starting gates in the pro nationals are dirt.  This is probably easier to start off of, but the ruts in the gate can get very deep.  When picking a gate, I have always heard to pick toward the inside because it is the shortest distance.  However, this may be true, but it is always a good idea to get a gate with a nice and straight shot towards the first corner.  Sometimes, this maybe on the outside or it may be right next to the dog house, just walk behind the gate and get a look at the straight before the first turn.  Be sure that gate your pick has a somewhat straight rut coming out of the hole.  If you saw a guy swapping side to side in your gate choice, don’t pick it.  The curvy rut will only rob you of forward, consistent momentum.

Once, I have my gate, I like to get all of the loose dirt out and stomp the rut so it is compact.  Now, some prefer to put more in and then pack it; you have to practice and see what works for you.  Now that I have my gate prepped, it’s time to wait.  I have read from a lot of pros, that the start is pretty much a mental thing.  If you can see yourself getting the holeshot and committing yourself to being the first one out, you’ve won half the battle.      

When the 30 second card comes up, I do the popular revs to make sure my bike is warmed up.  I try to stay calm and keep my heart rate down.  On Lites bikes, start in second, but for bigger bikes try what works for you.  I have read first and second gear works.  When the card goes sideways, it’s a good idea to sit a just in front of that neutral spot on your bike.  This is because on dirt, you don’t want to sit too far forward, or your rear wheel will spin too much.  Sit too far near the fender and you’ll loop out.  Once you have a good spot on the seat, sit and put all of your weight on the seat, giving you more traction on the tires.  Place both feet down, as this provides equal balance on both sides. 

Just before the gate drops, remember to have your RPMs up (throttle should be twisted a little past half way) and your clutch JUST about to engage so your chain is tight.  When the gate drops, SMOOTHLY, release the clutch and give it some gas.  Put your head forward slightly to keep the front end getting to high up.  When you get a few bike lengths out of the gate, pull both feet up, if you aren’t squirrely, and as you pull your shifting foot up, shift to 3rd gear.  The rest is commitment and having the balls to hold the gas on the longest.  Remember, practice makes perfect.

Jul 28 2009

Is the energy worth it???

If you have been watching the nationals on TV, you’ve heard Ryan Dungy say, “I’d like thank Rockstar Makita Suzuki….” And when Ryan Villopoto was riding for Mitch Payton, you would always hear, “You know…I just wanna thank Monster, Mitch, my mechanic….”  It’s always the same; thank the energy drink sponsor that is with the team.  The riders sound like robots, but they have to do it if they want to get paid.  They have to drink out of the bottle or can, but there is noooooo way that they are drinking those.  Their trainers would kill them.  Don’t get me wrong, I love energy drinks, I have tried almost everyone and enjoyed them, but they are not good in any way. 

In my high school class, there was a football player who would drink energy drinks before and after each practice and practice was every weekday.  On average, he would drink 10 a week.  And this is only Monday through Friday; just imagine how much he would drink on the weekend!  Now, at 20 years old, he has heart trouble with murmurs. 

Too much energy...The initial “buzz” is good, but this is from the massive amounts of sugar and caffeine.  In one Red Bull, the 8 oz can, there is 80 mg of caffeine.  This is about as much as a cup of coffee.  There is about 25 mg of caffeine in Coca-Cola, that’s three times as much caffeine.  This is way too much for one serving.  Caffeine is known to raise blood pressure and increase your heart rate.  If you are busting out motos, this is the opposite of what you want.  Even if you resting between your motos, the energy drink will increase your heart rate…and you’re not doing anything!  Not only this, but you become irritable and it becomes hard to sleep.  Lack of sleep can be one of the most detrimental things to your training.   

Another obvious ingredient is sugar.  This is not a bad thing.  But the amount per serving in each drink is bad.  The sugars in these are refined, which basically means they are just sweeteners.  They are empty and provide no nutritional benefit at all.  Your body must use calcium, sodium and magnesium to make use of the sugar.  The most important thing to take from this is the calcium…and what do you normally associate calcium with?  Bones.  Calcium is taken from your bones to help use the sugars.  Drink enough of the energy drinks and after a while, bone loss can occur. 

Taurine is another ingredient.  It is a natural amino acid found in meat, fish and breast milk.  It has been said that it can improve athletic performance, a big reason why energy drinks market them to active people trying to get an “edge” on the competition.  It can be taken as a supplement and is recommended for athletes; however, there are no concrete findings to show when your body has more than 3000 mg (the recommendation per day). 

One of most important reasons I stopped drinking them while riding is that the energy drinks dehydrate you.  With a lack of sleep and being dehydrated, energy drinks spell disaster.  You have to remember that they are like candy, and just like candy, you should only treat yourself every once in a while.  In my opinion, once a week is too much.  With the cons outweighing the pros, it’s safe to say that energy drinks should be kept as sponsors, not part of a steady diet.

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Jul 27 2009

Dealing with those annoying bumps…

Taken in 2005, Ivan Tedesco skips across braking bumpsBumps.  No matter how you look at them, they are not a good thing to have.  Whether the bumps are on you or on the track, they suck.  Braking bumps can make you or break you in motocross.  In the summer time, Florida gets rain regularly, so the tracks get beat up a lot.  Even if it doesn’t rain, at big nationals, the main line on a track is destroyed within a few motos. 

So where do you go when the fast lines are wrecked?  When this happens, your best bet is to look to the edges of the track.  Even if the fastest line is torn up, still try the smoother line.  This will help keep you from getting tired and arm pump.  The more energy you have throughout the moto, the more consistent your lap times will be and this is crucial on rough tracks.     

If the smoother line is still somewhat rough, remember to grip with your knees on the entrance.  This will keep your bike from swapping out.  This will help in braking too.  When the back end isn’t kicking you around, it’s on the dirt more, resulting in more friction for stopping.  When you are braking, don’t lock up your back brake up, drag it so the wheel “chatters”.  Balance your braking between the front and rear evenly. 

As you approach the corner with even braking and minimal swapping, keep in mind that if there are a lot of bumps before the turn, there might be some in the corner.  If this is the case, ride through it in a gear higher than you normally would.  You almost want to chug.  Momentum is very important here so you can ride in a gear higher.  If it’s a sweeper, then I would suggest standing up and if it is a sharper corner, sit down.  Flow and don’t try to fight your way around.  Your knees should be squeezing the bike in both situations. 

Each corner is different, so practice these techniques before applying them in a race situation.  In order to be successful in any corner, momentum is king.  And this is no different.  Braking bumps are hell at first, but keep at it and remember the fundamentals for corners; head and leg up, weight on the outside foot peg and a steady throttle.

Jul 25 2009

Loretta's Hydration

water_bottles_turqoiseAaahhhhh!  It’s that time of the year…you know what I mean.  The Loretta Lynn’s area and regional qualifiers are done.  You put everything you had on the line and you are going to the Big Show!  The motor home is getting packed, prepping the bikes, and trying to stay calm.  If you are from the south, you know what the weather is going to be like, hot and humid.  If you are driving from the West or a temperate region, be prepared for hell.  Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but it can be quite a change it you are not used to it. 

This year, Loretta’s will be held on August 2nd through August 8th.  It is during, quite possibly, the hottest time of the year.  Most riders will get used to the heat; however, the humidity is what takes some getting used to.  I was looking at the weather for Phoenix, Arizona and it had a high of 103 degrees and a humidity of 24%…that’s intense.  But, Hurricane Mill, Tennessee had a temperature of 90 degrees and a humidity of 49%.  That’s twice as much water vapor in the air.  It has been my personal experience that the more humidity there is; the more I sweat….obviously.  This means that you lose more fluids than drier areas and in order to perform at your best, you need replenish those fluids. 

Going by how thirsty you are is NOT an accurate way to determine your hydration.  The standard 8 glasses of water per day is a good starting point.  However, you are training and this result in more fluid loss.  The best way to stay hydrated is to keep a water bottle with you and drink it throughout the day.  Another good way to start the day right is to drink a couple cups of water.  If you drink coffee, try switching to decaf. 

If you have been drinking a bottle or two throughout the day, you will be plenty hydrated for exercise.  Remember that you cannot just chug a bunch of water before a workout; you need to drink a few cups about an hour before and then a few more around 30 minutes before the exercising.  This ensures you have plenty of water in you.  If you are exercising for less than 45 minutes, stick with water.  However, if you are going longer than that, use a sports drink to help replenish your electrolytes.  This is crucial for keeping your energy up and maintaining it throughout the workout. 

Bubba and Ricky are Florida natives, so they train and ride in temperatures of the nationals.  If you are not, just remember to take it easy until you are hydrated and used to the heat.  Have a water bottle with you during the day and sip.  If you made it to Loretta’s, congrats and good luck.

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Jul 24 2009

Interval Training Basics

interval_training_sprinter-773796There are many different ways to improve your cardio for racing.  You could run on a treadmill or spin on a stationary bike for an hour.  But after a while, your body adepts to the workouts you put it though.  Therefore, for any program to be efficient, you must confuse the body and shock it into new training methods.  This is where interval training comes into picture.

So what is interval training?  It is basically a system of elevated heart rate “sprints” mixed with lower heart rate “recovery” sets.  The recovery time is where you continue to keep your heart rate going, just not as high as the sprinting.  This results in more efficient way to improve not only the aerobic, but also the anaerobic conditioning.  The difference between aerobic and anaerobic is that aerobic uses oxygen and anaerobic doesn’t.  That is why you get a burning sensation in your muscles when you have a period of high intensity; you reached your anaerobic zone, which produces lactic acid.

There are a couple of different zones to train in and each one produces different results.  However, to get an accurate range of each zone, you must first find your heart rate intervals.  To do this, use the Heart Rate Karvonen Formula:

Target Heart Rate = ((max HR − resting HR) × %Intensity) + resting HR

For example, my resting heart rate is 56 and I am 19 years old.

So I take my maximum heart rate: 220 – 19(age) = 201

201 – 56 = 145

Then plug the numbers into the equation:  (145 x 60%) + 56 = 143

So, at 60% of my maximum heart rate, I should be around 143 beats per minute (bpm).  Now that we know how to get our target heart zones, you should know what zone does:

Zone 1 is mostly recovery and uses fat as fuel.  The heart percentage is around 60%-70%.

Zone 2 is the Aerobic zone and burns mostly fat and some carbs and has a range of 70%-80%.

Zone 3 is the Anaerobic which uses half fat and half carbs.  Your bpm should be 80%-90%.

Zone 4 is your Threshold and burns carbs.  Your bpm should be 90%-100%.

This system allows you to get your body trained in less time and you still work both aerobic and anaerobic systems.  It is a very ingenious training program.  I’ll be posting some ways to use this in a few days so keep checking.

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