Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Go Wiggo!

A huge Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins (Wiggo) and Team Sky for what amounted to be a fantastic Tour de France for Great Britain and the world of cycling as he became the first Briton to win le Tour in the 99 years of its existance.

Wiggo showed poise in the face of assanine doping allegations from the media and dominated the 9th and 19th stages in the Indivdual Time Trial (ITT) sealing his spot as the winner of the 20 stage race that covered 3497 km or 2172.935 miles.

In addition to Wiggo winning the overall classification in le Tour, Team Sky also had a second rider on the final podium in Chris Froome who placed 2nd and Sprinter Mark Cavendish finished this years Tour de France with his 23rd Stage win in his 5 years of participating in the Tour de France.

Chapeau to all the competitors of this years' Tour de France! 

I look forward to seeing all the pros racing again in the Olympics (Road Race July 28/Time Trial August 1), the Tour of Utah (August 7-12) and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado (August 20-26)!

The following photos are taken courtesy of TheAtlantic.com

Stage 19 ITT

Stage 19 ITT Finish

The following are links to video highlights of the 2012 Tour.  Peruse through and let me know what you think of this years Tour de France  If you had the chance to view any of it, what are your favorite moments?

Tour de France 2012: the best bits pt1-video

Tour de France 2012: the best bits pt2-video

Tour de France 2012: the best bits pt3-video

Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Monday, July 9, 2012

You Done Been Shrunk Cortisol!!

Hello My Friends,

Sooooo Stressed Out!! I'll Fight Myself!
As everyday athletes, we all have to deal with normal stresses such as work, family, deadlines, etc. and there is that constant search to find time to unwind and relax so our bodies can decompress to some state of normalcy.  In my case, there is no such thing as "Normal". 

There came a point over the weekend when the stress level was too much for me.  I'm usually an easy going guy and am pretty good at rolling with the punches.  I could feel my mood changing, tension building in my neck and shoulders and my mind weighed heavy on far too many issues that I couldn't sort out.  Cortisol, one of the "stress hormones" in the body, had been apparently working overtime in mine.  My wife could even see it taking its toll on me and how rapidly my cortisol levels were preparing me for the "flight or fight" response. 
In the past, the natural tendency was to look for carbs to ingest to prepare my body for flight, a response I had grown accustomed to since childhood, but this time was particularly different. 

"When cortisol spikes, it tells the body to eat something with a lot of calories--a great survival tactic if you need energy to flee a predator but not if you're fretting over how to pay bills," says nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection.

Read more: prevention.com


More specifically, I was looking for a fight, even if it was with myself.  Instead of going toe-to-toe in front of a mirror, I suited up, prepped the bike and struck out on a ride determined to flush out every bit of worry, anger, irritation, and negativity in my body that resulted in a 24 mile trail of emotional carnage laid out on the road for no one to see, aside from the grimace on my face and anger in my eyes. 

As the miles and time ticked by, I could feel my mood change, shoulders loosen and head clear.  Endorphins were building in my body and I welcomed every drop of it as it put the smack down on the cortisol.  Every now and then one of those "things" would pop back in my head and I would increase leg speed and hammer on the pedals to either ride away from it or to simulate stomping it to the ground with every pedal stroke. I like to think it was the latter, but was probably a combination of the two. 

In the words of Vector from Despicable Me, "You Done Been Shrunk!" 

Throughout the ride, I found myself practicing techniques that had me pushing harder on the climbs and pedaling faster on the descents.  Now being a flat lander in East Texas, we don't have many real "climbs", but it just doesn't sound as cool to say that I rolled over a gopher mound in my hardest gear.  We do have our share of false flats and gentle hills, but for the sake of this post, these were climbs of the grandest nature. 

The techniques I'm learning are from a video training program that are teaching me ride stronger, faster and more efficient.  It's in the similar styling of P90X and Insanity in that it's a 90 day program with short specific training goals in mind.  I'm starting my 5th week and have already seen improvements in my cycling strength and ability.  It's challenging, tough and rewarding.  Graeme Street is the owner/operator/founder of Cyclo-Club and developer of the Cyclo-Core workout programs.  I've been listening to his podcasts for years and have learned a great deal from him.  If you'd like to check out the workout plan that I am using, click the link below the video.  You can also follow him on twitter @Cycloclub.

I hope you've found my lesson in cortisol management helpful, if not enjoyable to read and look forward to your comments and feedback.  Check out the training plan if you're into cycling and want to be stronger on the climbs and faster on the flats.  I definitely notice a huge difference in my abilities on the road and cannot wait to see what I'll achieve at the end of the program. 
Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard