Speedplay Pedal Replacement

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

 

 

Please be aware that if you’ve had your bike fit done professionally, cleat installation is a critical piece of the formula. Long rides locked in at the wrong angle can be terrible for your knees. If you’re uncomfortable replacing the cleats yourself, head back to your bike fitter and they’ll likely help you out for nothing if you’re a loyal customer.

Caffeine and the Athlete

Do a Google search for caffeine and its effects on the body or its effects on an athlete’s performance, and you will get more information than you can possibly read or internalize in a lifetime. The frustrating thing is that there is no common conclusive ruling that the medical community has made on the subject. Most athletes, like myself, just want to know: is it beneficial or damaging?; how much should I take in?; how often?; daily/before training/before a race? will it help my sprint events? how about ironmans?

The other notable thing you will discover in your search around the web is the mind-boggling volatility in articles, blogs, and message boards on the subject. People in all walks of life subscribe to a personal theory that works for them and will defend that theory to the bitter end. It’s almost comical. I always encourage people to be passionate about things in life. I personally don’t choose to funnel that passion into the caffeine habits of other athletes who I’ll likely never meet.

It is not my intent to influence your own personal decision. I did find the following article to be very fair, straightforward, and academically sound, and applicable to 10DL readers.  If you don’t like all that boring sciency stuff feel free to skip about half way down to get to the meat you’re looking for.

Please feel free to add perspective in the Comments (keep it kind, please!)

Full credit to Dr. Mark Jenkins at Rice University for the content of this article.

Coffee was first discovered over 1000 years ago, and currently approximately 75% of Americans drink coffee on a regular basis. Despite the thousand years that have passed, there is still mystery and controversy surounding the biological effects of coffee and it’s principal active ingredient, caffeine. Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant drug in the world, usually ingsted in the form of coffee, tea, soft-drinks, and chocolate. Table 1 shows the relative caffeine content of these food items. Caffeine is also used by triathletes and other athletes as a peformance aid. The purpose of this article is to discuss the role of caffeine as an ergogenic (energy generating) aid in endurance sports and to discuss the health issues related to caffeine use.

What happens when caffeine enters the body

Caffeine is well absorbed from by the stomach and intestine, and peak blood levels occur about 45 – 60 minutes after ingestion. Once in the blood stream, caffeine causes a number of responses in the body. Caffeine is well known for it’s stimulant effects on the brain, but there are a number of other physiologic effects that occur. Blood pressure, pulse rate, and stomach acid production are increased, fat stores are broken down, and fatty acids are released into the blood stream. These effects can last from a few hours to as long as 12, but within 4 days of regular use, the body develops tolerance to many of the effects of caffeine. For example, although caffeine increases blood pressure and pulse in a first time user, a regular user will not experience any significant change.

Caffeine and Health

In making a decision whether or not to use caffeine — or any other drug — it is important to consider the potential adverse effects on health. These can be separated into short term (ie. related to a single dose) and long term. The short term affects of caffeine are much better understood than the long term effects.

Because caffeine increases the production of stomach acid it may worsen ulcer symptoms or cause acid reflux (“heartburn”). Insomnia, poor sleep, and anxiety are well described psychological side effects of caffeine. Regular evening use of caffeine may, over time, deprive the body of proper sleep, resulting in lack of energy and fatigue.

Many studies have suggested a relationship between chronic caffeine use and a number of diseases. Proving a cause-and-effect, however, has been difficult and most of these suggested links remain inconclusive. Some of the difficulties that arise in studying the long term health effects of caffeine are due to problems in accounting for other lifestyle variables (eg. smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise), differences in genetic inheritance, form of caffeine intake (coffee, tea, sodas), and the presence of other biologically active substances in the beverage. For example, one study looked at the whether caffeine intake increased the risk of heart disease. Over 45,000 people were evaluated and the data indicated a slightly increased risk of death from heart disease in individuals who had an average daily consumption of more than 5 cups of *decaffeinated* coffee. Currently, there is no evidence that caffeine causes cancer, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, or serious heart arrhythmias.

Caffeine Withdrawal

Abrupt discontinuation of caffeine in a regular user may trigger caffeine withdrawal symptoms. The most common symptoms are headache and fatigue. The headache may begin as soon as 18 hours following the last dose of caffeine and may worsen with exercise. It is not known why some people experience caffeine withdrawal and others do not.

Caffeine and Athletic Performance

Despite considerable research in this area, the role of caffeine as a performance enhancing drug is still controversial. Some of the data are conflicting, which is in part due to how the experimental studies were designed and what methods were used. However, there is general agreement in a few areas:

Caffeine does not appear to benefit short term, high intensity exercise (eg. sprinting)
Caffeine can enhance performance in endurance sports.
Glycogen is the principal fuel for muscles and exhaustion occurs when it is depleted. A secondary fuel, which is much more abundant, is fat. As long as there is still glycogen available, working muscles can utilize fat. Caffeine mobilizes fat stores and encourages working muscles to use fat as a fuel. This delays the depletion of muscle glycogen and allows for a prolongation of exercise. The critical time period in glycogen sparing appears to occur during the first 15 minutes of exercise, where caffeine has been shown to decrease glycogen utilization by as much as 50%. Glycogen saved at the beginning is thus available during the later stages of exercise. Although the exact method by which caffeine does this is still unclear, caffeine caused sparing in all of the human studies where muscle glycogen levels were measured. The effect on performance, which was observed in most experimental studies, was that subjects were able to exercise longer until exhaustion occurred.

In addition to the beneficial effects on muscle, caffeine may alter the perception of how hard you are working. During testing, athletes are asked to judge their effort, which is referred to as the rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Some studies have yielded significantly lower RPE’s — less fatigue — when the athlete used caffeine. Other studies have not found this effect. Obviously, the RPE is very subjective, and there are many things that may influence it.

What about caffeine in Ironman races?

The exercise studies on caffeine involved endurance testing of approximately 2 hours, so there is no specific information related to ultra-endurance races. Pre-race caffeine may be beneficial though, because the longer the race, the more important fat is as a fuel. During the race, caffeinated soft drinks are one of the choices at the aid stations in an Ironman. Whether this source of caffeine is useful is unknown, but these soft-drinks do supply necessary carbohydrate. Because longer races have a greater baseline risk of dehydration, nausea and abdominal cramps, it is very important to consider the side effects of caffeine (below).

Variable results and side effects

Despite the known benefits of caffeine in endurance exercise, individual results may vary greatly. Differences in metabolism, diet, and frequency of caffeine use are some of the factors that can determine how an individual will react to caffeine. Additionally, some athletes may actually experience a decrease in performance, usually due to side effects of caffeine.

Although caffeine does not appear to significantly alter water balance or body temperature during exercise, dehydration is a potential concern because caffeine is a mild diuretic. Some athletes may also experience abdominal cramps and diarrhea related to the large intestine contractions caused by caffeine. The combination of dehydration and cramping can have particularly detrimental effects on performance.

Recommendations for athletes

If you choose to use caffeine, then here are a few tips that may help you maximize the benefits.

Ingest caffeine about 3 – 4 hours before the competition. Although blood levels of caffeine peak much sooner, the maximum caffeine effect on fat stores appears to occur several hours after peak blood levels.
Consider decreasing or abstaining from caffeine for 3 – 4 days prior to competition. This allows for tolerance to caffeine to decrease and helps ensure a maximum effect of caffeine. Be careful though, because some may experience caffeine withdrawal.
Make sure that you have used caffeine extensively under a variety of training conditions and are thoroughly familiar with how your body reacts to this drug. Never try anything new on race day.
Be prepared to accept the consequences if your urine test is above the current cutoff.

Conclusion

In writing this article I am not suggesting that athletes use caffeine nor am I supporting the use of performance enhancing drugs. I am simply reviewing the use of caffeine as an ergogenic aid as well as the known health consequences. Athletes must individually decide whether or not it is appropriate to use this drug — both in competition and day-to-day. All of the information for this article came from the current medical literature. Those of you who take prescription medications or who are under a physician’s care should check with your doctor about the relevance of caffeine to your health.

2011 Goals – 10 Degrees Latitude


2011 is a HUGE year for 10DL. First of all, thank you for all of your support in 2010. The North American event has been a long time coming and it will finally happen in 2011. Stay tuned for final details. One of the cool aspects of the course we’ve chosen is that it starts at the exact Latitude that we finished off in Europe. The European event wrapped up south of Paris at the 48th latitude. North America will begin at the 48th Latitude in Washington state and culminate in the 10-mile “Prison to Prison” open water swim from San Quentin to Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay.

In the coming days we’ll be introducing our growing list of new and continuing business partners. We couldn’t exist without the help of these sponsors. The fact that we’ve had so many new companies agree to join forces with us as well as our existing sponsors that have all increased their participation in 10DL, is a humbling and exciting statement that we’re very proud to make.

Goals for 2011:
1. 10 Degrees Latitude North America – 1000+ mile multisport event from Washington to northern California

2. Deer Creek Challenge – slated as the toughest century ride in the North America

Deer Creek Challenge Elevation

3. Summit of Mt. Evans – America’s highest road (the final 27 miles are the easiest!)

4. Summit of Long’s Peak – For Colorado mountain climbers, this is one of the toughest 14,000ft ascents in the Rocky Mountains.

5. Various local triathlons – let’s see what the season has in store!

Suunto X10 Review

suunto_x10

I took the new Suunto X10 on a trip to Portalón, Costa Rica. The trip was one one-part real estate recon and one-part adventure travel. The watch was useful for both. For the adventure travel part of the trip, I traveled on horseback through the rain forest near Manuel Antonio National Park. It was the perfect place to run the watch through the paces. What follows is a review of this watch with pictures of the Google Earth integration. This Fall Suunto debuted their new flagship GPS product – the X10. The X10 is the replacement for the X9i.  This is proo positive that GPS technology has come a long way in a short time. It is now commonplace in the lives of so many people, and Suunto is leading the way in the GPS watch segment. Just a few years ago, the GPS watches that were out there were expensive and the quality was poor.

Suunto X10 Specs:

1. GPS Route Planning
2. 50 Routes, 500 Waypoints
3. Syncs with powerful Suunto Trek Manager Software as well as Google Earth
4. Altimeter, Barometer, Compass

TEST 1: Accuracy
Could it acquire and maintain a good satellite connection? Would this connection be compromised by the dense cover in the rainforest? I must tell you, it did not disappoint.  I was able to maintain a good connection throughout my entire ride.  There are three modes that determine how often the watch seeks a GPS satellite signal: Manual, 1 minute, and 1 second. Battery life is reduced correspondingly. The owner’s manual estimates a battery life of 16 hours, and 6 hours for 10 minutes and 1 minute respectively. I operated in both modes repeatedly and battery life exceeded these limits by 20% or more in all cases.

TEST 2: Interoperability
My favorite feature, by far, is the interconnection with Google Earth. The process was a super-easy, plug-and-play interface. With the press of a button, my entire trip was uploaded from the watch into Google Earth. See below. Aside from the map data, the watch also maintained time series data on speed, elevation change, distance traveled, etc. Any feasible data relating to my trip was captured and available through the Suunto Trek Manager software. This is, by far, Suunto’s best attempt at software design.

SYNOPSIS: Useful
A GPS wrist top computer has traditionally been a tool used by mountaineers. The X 10 has taken a large technological leap that brings it well within the realm of the casual fan of any outdoor activity: cyclists, trail runners, kayakers…the list goes on. The Google Earth interface makes it extremely easy to share via email, facebook, or your own personal blog or website. User-populated sites such as Mapmyhike/mapmyride/mapmyrun etc. are the perfect venue for these new Google Earth files. Information such as topographical data as well as distance, and elevation gain becomes easy and fun to share with others. Ohh, and don’t just take our word for it, this watch won the Gear of the Year Award by  National Geographic Adventure.

OTHER REVIEWS

 

 

Check out the pictures below for GPS maps of the trek — pretty cool!

5 Reasons To Train in the San Francisco Bay

It’s only natural that people should ask why we love to swim in the San Francisco Bay. Swimming in the ocean sounds perilous and dirty to the unintiated. My answer to this common question is below.

5 Reasons To Train in the San Francisco Bay

  1. The Bay is clean and has less chemicals than the pool.
  2. Swimming allows me the feel the strength of my body.
  3. Time with the people at the Dolphin Club makes me a better person.
  4. Being among the ocean creatures puts me in touch with nature.
  5. The colder the water the better the sauna feels at the end.