Archive for March, 2011:
This past weekend proved to be another reason why 2011 could be one of the greatest years of Supercross racing. Ever. James Stewart had the confidence and swagger after being touted as the “fastest man alive” yet Villopoto had the raw speed to stay with him. After the first race, everyone doubted Reed and Dungey as they appeared to be on a lower level of speed. However, consistency pays off. Granted, most of us aren’t racing 17 gnarly Supercross races every year, but looking at Ryan Dungey’s persistency can teach you a lot.
Looking at the previous rounds, “The Dunge” has always been near the front of the pack. He hasn’t always been the fastest, but he’s always there ready to capitalize on the mistakes of others. Even if you aren’t the fastest guy in your class, you can still make an impact if you stay mistake free and have a clean ride. A few years ago, I had a bike problem at a local race. I wasn’t going to race, but my buddy let me ride his bike in the 16 – 24 class. There were definitely faster guys in there, but I stayed consistent and rode my own race. That saying is so over used, but that is the only way to describe it. I went 5-4 for 3rd overall on another bike. I kept it on 2 wheels, while other people took each other out. Like the old story goes, the tortoise beat the hare!
Persistency also pays off in training. Some people assume that if you kill yourself in the gym and on the stationary bike 1 or 2 days a week, you set for the rest of the week. That’s like showering a couple times on Monday and thinking you are going to smell good on Friday. Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. Staying on a program day in, day out for each week will pay tenfold instead of sporadic, random running or bicep curls. You chip away and slowly build on your endurance. You will save yourself from injury and avoid burning yourself out on the excess workouts.
It is that time of year again. Loretta Lynn Qualifiers are under way and regional races are right around the corner. More bikes and more riding time can turn a track in a torture chamber during these races as things can get extremely rough. Down here in Florida, the soil is soft and as Jeff Emig would say, “the track is alive.” One thing that is always a constant is the violent nature of corners. Half way through the races, some corners development nasty rollers and conventional techniques need to be modified a little.
When corners become too rough to sit down in, there are 3 things to remember: stance, flow, and correct gearing. Whenever you stand through turns like this, you want to be in modified attack position. You still want to keep you elbows up and head up, but have to be able to move on the bike. If you were locked in the standard attack position, getting the bike to balance under you while turning would be difficult. This doesn’t mean hang off the side of the bike like a quad rider, but just be ready to row back your front end tucks.
The stance and flow of this really go hand and hand. When I say flow, you want to stay loose on the bike and relax your upper body. If you let your arms and chest go with the motion of the rollers, you can almost find a rhythm through the corner and soak up the impact. As always, you want to grip with your knees to keep the bike from swapping under you. Another “secret” is to turn the bike with your legs. Pushing in on the outside shroud can help coax the bike in the right direction. Most of your control will come from the lower body; the upper body soaks up impact.
Finding the right gear through this section will help tremendously. If this happens to be a wide sweeper, don’t be afraid to shift up and let the RPMs sink down. The suspension will thank you. The forks and shock won’t bind up as hard to cause a harsh ride. You will have plenty of traction if you keep your momentum up. Revving the hell out of your bike might sound awesome to you, but shifting up in the rough stuff makes your life much easier. You will save energy and valves.
After eating the last little bit of carbohydrates in my pantry, I have officially gone primal. I have more meat, vegetables and fruit than any one caveman could eat. After doing some research on the cave man, one important thing that kept popping up was the importance of breakfast. This makes sense even if you aren’t on the Paleo diet.
At night when you are fast asleep, your body runs on idle, makes repairs and prepares for the next day. Obviously you are not eating when this is happening. So, when you wake and have your first meal you are breaking the fast. Hence, breakfast. Imagine having your breakfast at 8am, then not eating until 9pm. When you skip breakfast, this is what you are essentially doing.
I don’t know about you, but I would not make it through the day. You are not supplying the body with energy to operate at full efficiency. A solid, conventional breakfast would include three things: a carbohydrate, protein and fat source. This could be a cup of oatmeal with peanut butter and a couple of eggs. This covers all of your needs until the next meal.
Having a bowl of Cocoa Puffs is better than nothing, but the insulin spike will have you dragging a few hours later. Complex carbohydrates will help you maintain a steady rate of energy and avoiding any crashes. However, if you are on the cave man diet as I am, you want to skip on the grains. You can replace the oatmeal with fruit and a higher amount of fat. For instance, a cup of blueberries with eggs and bacon will be sufficient.
Whatever your diet consists of, don’t skip breakfast. It sets the stage for the rest of the day and helps get you through the morning. Something is better than nothing, but stick to complex carbs (or higher fats) and protein.
For the past 40 years, our government and certain “associations” have engrained into our brains that fat is bad. Especially saturated fat. Always interested in nutrition and diet, I believed this and always thought of complex carbohydrates as your main source of energy. However, this past weekend I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Fat Head.” I almost shut it off because the first 30 minutes were somewhat slow, but needless to say, I continued watching. The movie proves that a lower carb, high fat diet is superior to our current fat-phobia diets.
The man in the documentary actually lowered his LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and raised his HDL (“good” cholesterol) on this high saturated fat diet. The key to this was to keep his carbohydrates under 100g per day. When I saw this, I was thinking that would make no sense for motocross. However, if you are not eating carbohydrates, the fat eaten throughout the day becomes your fuel. Fat is easier to breakdown and has more caloric energy than carbohydrates.
Even more convincing is insulin resistance. Every time you consume a carbohydrate (made of sugar), your body releases insulin. In theory, carbo-loading constantly can result in massive spikes in blood sugar and insulin, which ultimately leads to said insulin resistance. At this point, your pancreas has been run into the ground. Imagine running your bike with little or no oil; you are going to burn your motor up.
The name caveman diet refers to the fact that our bodies have not adapted to the high amounts of grains we are now consuming. In Paleolithic times, man consumed fatty animal protein, vegetables and fruits. The food you consume through the day is provides you with energy, not the carbs eaten yesterday. In addition to this, saturated fat has been shown in many studies to increase testosterone. With an increase of this male hormone, subjects felt an increase in strength and energy.
After reading Coach Seiji’s blog about this diet and hearing Greg at Concept2 singing its praises, I have decided to plunge into the primal times! I am setting up an appointment to get a blood test. That way I will have a base line for my cholesterol, HDL and LDL levels. I will keep updates coming weekly or daily if I feel any changes.
This past race was pretty crazy. It seems like this season is the epitome of Murphy’s Law; anything that can happen, will happen. Stewart going down early in the main, knocking himself loopy and then remounts to set the fastest lap time. On top of all of this, he still jumps the massive wall! That is one thing every racer has to keep in mind; if there is chance of disaster, it will happen eventually. Going down in the first turn or later in the race requires control and patience.
One of the most important things to remember when you go down is to relax and stay calm. When you start to panic and rush, your heart rate goes through the roof and your breathing becomes short, quick gasps. You want to take a deep breath and concentrate on getting back to your rhythm. Panicking while riding will only lead to mistakes and arm pump.
Odds are slower riders will have passed you while you were on the ground. The fundamental race rule is not to follow and this definitely applies here. Finding alternative lines and smoother parts of the track will help save energy and tear offs. In the 250 main in Atlanta, Blake Bagget was following Barcia almost the entire race. He was obviously faster than Barcia, but he was taking his lines and settled into Justin’s pace. Once you settle into that rhythm, it is tough to get out of.
Last thing to remember is to ride smart. Stewart can get away with jumping a 10ft wall after hitting the ground because he is the fastest man on Earth…you are not. Sorry. By riding smart, you will stay on two wheels and avoid starting your bike again. This requires so much time and energy that could be used to gain a position or two, instead of losing a few.
One thing that will forever remain constant in motocross is balance training. Entering corners, jumping and running over whoops all require a certain degree of balance. Maintaining that perfect sense of equilibrium through a corner is the greatest feeling in the world. Having a strong sense of balance will also help when things get a little out of hand in the rough stuff. To achieve this type of training, bosu and/or medicine balls are essential.
At first glance, medicine balls look like they are for a middle aged woman in Pilate’s class, but these can add an extra dimension to any training program. In addition to balance training, using these medicine and bosu balls can add stability and strength to your lower body; mainly your ankles and knees. The key with this type of exercise is to take it slow. Starting with the bosu balls will keep you lower to the ground.
Doing everything from simple body squats to shoulder presses can be done. With the body weight exercises, you can do higher reps to get the ankle stability up. Be careful with weighted exercises such as dumbbell presses and shoulder presses: I’ve seen too many injuries because people went too heavy. If you don’t have access to a medicine or bosu ball, you can use a PVC pipe and wooden board to get a simple effect. It won’t target your ankles quite as much, but it will get the job done.
If you really need to work on your balance, you can do an entire workout on the balls or you can add an exercise or two in your normal program. Here’s a great example of a body squat on a bosu ball: