10 Things That Will Make You A Better Mountain Bike Racer

I love to race. It was tough at the beginning because I tried to beat other people. Once I realized that I couldn’t go any faster than I was able, it began to make a little more sense. If you are new to racing, you may find this “10 Things That Will Make You A Better Mountain Bike Racer” helpful.


  • 1) Practice fixing a flat – You won’t need to do it very often, but when you do, you’ll be glad you know how. The best practice is to switch your tires – move your front tire to the back wheel and you’re back tire to the front wheel or buy a different set of tires and switch them on. Make sure you have plastic tire irons and new tubes. When you practice be sure you run your fingers along the inside of the tire to check for protrusions that would have caused a real flat. Try to make it an automatic process because when it happens during a race, don’t assume that you’ll be able to think clearly because your heart rate will be elevated. Considering hydrating during this time.
  • 2) Train all types of terrain – hills, rocks, single / double track, if you’ll be riding it race day, make sure you know how to ride it.
  • 3) Dedicate training time to hill climbing – probably the biggest bang for your training buck right here. If your races are 60 minutes, train hill climbing for 60 minutes once a week. Find a hill and just ride up and down focusing on seated spinning and standing climb. Mix it up because you’ll be using both during any race. Hills end 50 meters AFTER they level off so continue climbing effort until you find your top speed and then recover.
  • 4) Learn how to identify when your thinking abilities are being impaired by the intensity of your work. Racing effectively and safely demands that you keep your wits about you. There are countless studies demonstrating the relationship between elevated heart rate and cognitive impairments. Rates of between 160-170 are associated with tunnel vision, impaired judgment, and an inability to think logically and rationally. You need to learn how to avoid this, or at least, gain the ability to remain aware that your thinking is impaired. What seems like a good pass at 165 may actually have been a concussions.

For race day:

  • 5) Make sure your cables will make it through the race. Losing rear derailer function or rear breaks makes for a tough race. Cables wear out, change them before they break. Change damaged cable housing while your at it.
  • 6) Make sure your gears are tuned up. “Grind it till your find it” is what happens race day. I know this because I only see broken chains on race day. Bring it to the shop if you don’t know how to do it yourself. You want crisp and precise gear changes. You need it to stay in gear until you change it.
  • 7) Race with an empty stomach or one containing liquid only. Until you find what works for you, try not to over eat. I need to avoid fat as much as possible because it takes me longer to digest it. I eat mostly low GI carbs and whey protein powder before races. These things clear my stomach quickly and if I need to get sick, they come up pretty effortlessly and without that burning acid.
  • 8) Be well hydrated but freshly peed right before the race begins.

During the race:

  • 9) Try to keep your heart rate in an effective range. Everyone has a sweet spot, a level of exertion that is their best. Try to find this as early in the race as you can and hold it. Your goal is to be close to spend at the end. A heart rate monitor will be very helpful to you here.
  • 10) Assume that all of the other racers have tunnel vision from an elevated heart rate. State your intentions of other riders and, if they won’t call you round to pass, don’t yell back at them when they call you on your aggressive riding. They are tired and not thinking clearly so if you scared them, they are going to call you an a-hole. Most people will do what you tell them because they don’t want you behind them. If you hear a rider approaching you and you want them to pass, tell them when and point to the opening you are giving them. If someone lets you by, say thank you.

Get Off The Hedonic Treadmill – See Your Friends Regularly

The post A Mercedes Benz or a best friend? Hmmm…. by Colin Beavan has very little to do with Colin’s blog, I grabbed onto it because of his question “who doesn’t feel a tension between the time it takes to sustain their personal relationships and the time it takes to “get ahead”?” as he relates it to the hedonic treadmill theory.

When I was driven by a lust for money I figured that I was putting my relationships on hold temporarily and would, as a result of getting ahead, have enough money to free up the time to work on them later. It is equal parts brilliant and ridiculous. Brilliant for the few people that are able to make this approach work for them and retire young and ridiculous for the rest of us who work out our lives in vain sacrifice. But we do it because we have learned that this is how it works.

At some point my mind became aware of what I was doing and I started to consider my role in the whole thing. I made some changes after I considered what I want out of life and am now actively doing the things that I need to do.

I think that is a part of what Colin is getting at. Having become aware of the experience of not seeing his best friend, he’s seen the relationship between working hard as measured by sacrificing personal relationships and getting ahead as measured by job, creative and academic successes. One has the immediate known reward of seeing the people you like while the other has a delayed unknown reward of whatever achieving these successes will bring you. This reminded me of shortcut one from Happiness Is A Choice – make happiness a priority.

With regards to finally getting to hang out with his best friend, Colin says

Yesterday, at last, Tanner and I debriefed about our marriages, our work, people we know in common, hot chicks we saw on the street, the first coffee I was having in three weeks (social exception from the local food rule), movie stars, our therapists, computers, and politics. I felt, after all that time without each other, like a dry sponge soaking up water.

Sounds like they had fun and, for an afternoon at least, they both got off the treadmill.

Do You Know Art When You See It? Bouncy Balls: The Sony Bravia Commercial

About a month ago Des had some people over to play guitar. As is the case with most of these evenings everyone sits around chatting and getting caught-up before we play a lick. And we usually have a few drinks.

The TV was on in the back ground and something like Media Television was doing a special on recent commercials that were worth watching. When the segment featuring the Sony Bravia commercial with the superballs bunching down a couple of San Francisco Streets everyone in the room stopped talking. The commercial features José González’s song Heartbeats, a moving acoustic guitar gem, and 250000 brightly colored superballs. The show played the extended version of the commercial which is about 2:02 long and only referenced the product during the last 10 seconds.

Like I said, we were speechless. It is a beautiful way to spend 2 minutes of your life and a couple of things stood out about the experience.

Watching it, everyone knew there was something different or important about it. Visually, we had never seen anything like it before in my life. The balls looked like they were swarming and had a collective consciousness that directed their movement. The shadows that the balls threw to the ground added to the overwhelling visual stimulation. This was a brand new visual experience and I think everyone gained a huge insite into some of the untaped power that our eyes hold.

Listening to it I realized that Heartbeats was one of the songs that I had on my mp3 player during my trip to the east coast last summer and I had listen to it a lot. But I had never heard it in the context of passive stimulation before, always when I was riding my bike. When it was paired with what was happening on the screen, I appreciated the lyrics for their beauty and for the feelings they are attempting to capture.

It was such a collectively moving experience that I concluded that it must have been art. I’m not sure if you’ll agree, but I’m pretty certain that you’ll enjoy the commercial.

For more information about the commercial and how it was made, visit the Bouncy Balls: The BRAVIA Commercial site.

NOTE: the video does take a while to load depending upon your internet speed.

Are Lifters On Their Way Out Of Fitness Clubs?

I really like lifting weights and building mass. It’s a lot of fun and I like having a nice body. The experience of building muscle is fantastic because it looks and feels good, it makes doing physical things easier and it gives you a huge lesson in body awareness. I’m going to stick with building muscle.

But I’m also a cycling instructor. Riding an indoor bike is an athletic activity, like running fast on a tread mill, but it isn’t a mass building activity. In fact, of the 6 different fitness classes that are offered at our gym, only one of them is geared towards mass building. And there is very little cross over between the fitness class participant members and the mass building members. I’m one of the rare members who participates in both weight lifting for mass and group exercise. But I’ll do whatever is put in front of me to do. And that brings us to cardio equipment.

There is a third type of exercise that people come to the gym for and that it cardiovascular exercise. This is the middle ground between lifting and Group Ex. Many lifters and Group Exers use the cardio equipment to burn extra calories. Some people actually use it as cardio equipment, working at high enough intensities to dramatically improve their cardiovascular health.

So of these three types of members, lifters, group exers and cardio freaks, what drives the bottom line of a gym? Well, moving forward I think it is going to be group fitness and here is why:

Lifters are always lifters. There are a few people who turn to the plates later in life. It’s a lifestyle if you want to make it work and most people don’t get that much out of it to start doing it when they’re any older than their 20’s. This group more or less stays the same size and grows or shrinks based on the number of people who are in the lifting age range. The point is, don’t count on there being a big increase in the number of lifting only members at your gym. The good news is they cost very little to keep once the initial over head has been laid out. Their retention depends more on the initial cash outlay for equipment than anything else. Keep the equipment working and leave them be.The cardio only people are the same way. Buy enough good equipment when you open your club and you won’t have to worry about this group. Cardio only people train themselves and they keep to themselves. Their numbers are dependent upon the age of the population.

This leaves Group Ex. Group Ex is where you need to focus your effort because it entices members who need more than just the equipment to perform a workout, it grabs them because Group Ex provides the motivation and education to help members get their workout. Along with helping to get people involved, Group Ex makes it fun. It adds enjoyment to an otherwise joyless experience which will help to ensure participant retention. Since the classes are very effective at building fitness, making them fun is going to improve your bottom line.

Group Ex will open your gym up to a much larger audience than the traditional group of users, thus driving your bottom line.

The beauty of it for a gym owner is that there is very little overhead associated with group exercise. The initially start-up costs are marginal in comparison to resistance training or cardio equipment. Operating costs are also low when compared to cardio and only slightly larger than resistance training costs.

The only cost that group exercise has that the others do not is the cost of the instructor. This is were you are going to need to invest the most effort to ensure that you maximize the growth potential of the group exercise market. Good instructors will facilitate exceptional experiences for participants, turning them into vocal advocates for the classes. They generate really positive word of mouth opinion about your club.

I compare instructors to personal trainers because both serve a very similar role and appeal, to a large extent, to the same type of people, those who need social accountability or external motivation in order to engage in fitness activities. Group Ex is going to do to that fitness studio what personal training has done to your lifting section, turn it into a money maker.

What Is The Best Workout For People Over 40?

Bodybuilding.com asks the question what Is The Best Workout For People Over 40? and their members reply.

Blink41 wins a $75 store credit with is workout and nutritional recommendations, but it’s conciseness is worth more than that.

The older you get, the weaker your body becomes. An adult over age 40 should start to experience a decrease in muscle size, strength and recovery time. Bones becomes increasingly more fragile and more prone for injury.

Testosterone levels begin to decrease and the ability to build quality muscle decreases greatly. Joints begin to ache after a hard days work. However, there is an easy way to slow this aging process down. Simply follow a good diet with a good routine and you can slow down this decay on your body.

The Workout:

* Monday: Chest / Triceps
* Tuesday: Rest
* Wednesday: Back / Biceps
* Thursday: Rest
* Friday: Shoulder / Traps
* Saturday: Rest
* Sunday: Thigh / Calves / Abs

Do 5 minutes of light cardio before workouts to get the blood flowing through the body. Do 30 minute of moderate intensity cardio after workouts. Be sure to stretch before and after workouts. Allow 2 to 3 minute rest periods between each set.

My Top 10 Books

Before the Internet I used to read books. It sounds funny to say that because I probably spend a couple of hours a day reading stuff online. I’m pretty certain that is why my list of favorite books have only 2 that were written this century.

  1. Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman
    I have read this book 5 or 6 times and have given it as a gift once. My brother gave it to me after my girlfriend was killed in a car crash. It was my first experience with death and grief and it really threw me a downward spiral. I honestly believe that Des giving me this book kept me alive. There is so much wisdom in it that I will read it every couple of years to refresh my understanding.
  2. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
    I have read this book three times and given it as a gift twice. It’s another recommendation from my brother and I’m still coming to terms with the significance of the lessons Gladwell offers. It an easy book to read and the real world examples are keenly relevant and very illustrative. It gave me the reasons why I should trust my gut. It is an important book for those of us who still engage people in real-space.
  3. Feeling Good – The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, M.D.
    My dad suggested this one to me. Reading it was an awakening for me. I had never considered the act of thinking before I read it. After words, I developed an interest in the science of thinking. It’s just too bad I read it in the last 2 months of university.
  4. A Day In the Live Of Ivan Desinovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    I have read this book 6 times. During my first year at Ottawa University I took a half year English class to satisfy one of their requirements. We were placed according to some criteria. I am convinced that they placed me in the wrong class because I didn’t know the difference between a noun and an adjective. English literature was what they gave me and it’s what I did. This book and a C- are all I took out of it. I read this book at night when the job I’m doing at the time is getting me down.
  5. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    I have read this book once, in grade 6. But I’ve probably seen 4 or 5 different movies / TV versions of the it. I loved the story and liked that the kids were doing all these cool things. I guess I wanted to be Tom or Huck because they didn’t let the rules get in the way of their plans.
  6. Speed Trap: Inside the Biggest Scandal in Olympic History by Charlie Francis
    I have read this book 3 times. I bought it because one of my high school teachers coached Larry Cain during those Olympics and his description of the Canadian athletes shock and disbelief after the positive result was released was intense. Charlie Francis tells a compelling tail of what it took to be the fastest man on earth. The chapter titled “The Running” captures the entire 100 meter race with complete clarity. It’s the best chapter of a book I have ever read.
  7. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
    I have read this book once. McCourt seems to write from the perspective of a 5 year old boy. You feel sorry for the life he’s living, but grateful that he’s too young to know just how bad he has it. Tis, the follow-up book was also very good.
  8. The Regulators and
  9. Desperation by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.
    I have read each of these books once. They tackle the same story from 2 completely different perspectives, one from the suburbs and one from a desert town. I’m sure King could tell it another 10 different ways and all would be best sellers. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re starting with gold.
  10. Getting Things Done by David Allen
    I have read this book once, but some parts of it 2 or 3 times. It’s another one Des recommended. It’s a time management book. The biggest tip I took out of it was about adding the next physical step you need to for each item on your to-do list. Doing so allows your brain to consider the loop closed for now and divert effort over to the task at hand.

“How to Make Easy Exercises More Difficult and More Effective”

In How to Make Easy Exercises More Difficult and More Effective by TC from T-nation he gives us a few ways to save time by making some exercises more difficult. I really liked:

Real-World Squats

Let me ask you a question: how often in your life do you walk up to an object hanging from a tree, carefully place it on your shoulders, and lower it to the ground?

Hunters typically don’t find dead deer hanging in trees. Generally, the thing’s lying on the ground and they have to pick it up.

What I’m trying to get at is the conventional squat is screwed up. It’s not a real-world movement. Our entire motor program, from childhood on, was developed to pick things up from the ground instead of the opposite.

That’s probably why a lot of people have trouble learning how to do the squat.

Well, I’ve adjusted the movement. I’ve made it more “real world,” but in doing so, I’ve also made it harder — and consequently, more effective.

I rarely start my squat from a standing position. Instead, I place the loaded bar onto the safety bars of the power rack and start from the ass-down position.

Guess what I’ll be doing next leg day?

Eliminate Body Fat by Eliminating The Need For It

The human body is remarkable at conserving energy. It will quickly adapt to changes in the external environment to create an internal state that it can maintain. You can increase the amount of daily calories you consume and your body will respond by increasing its metabolic rate to burn off the increase. Talk to any body builder and they will tell you that adding 3 pounds of muscle per month requires that you increase your caloric consumption by more than 350 per day; many lifters find that they need to eat an extra 1000-1500 calories per day to add any weight. If the body did not have the ability to adapt and boost metabolic functioning in response to caloric increases they would need just the 350 per day to add 3 pounds per month.

One of the more effective survival mechanism of the body is the fat storage system because it allows humans to store energy during times of food surplus and utilize that stored energy during food shortages. This system is, for the most part, an all or nothing thing – you will either be storing fat or you will be using fat.

Maintaining stored fat requires energy because body fat needs oxygen and, therefore, a blood supply. The cost is small, but over a long period of time, or if there is a lot of body fat, the cost will be dramatically increased. High blood pressure is one consequence to obesity because of the increased need for blood vessels to service the large amount of fat – the heart has to push blood around miles of extra tubing so it has to work harder.

However, the body does rely on what I can transient fat storage / utilization (TFS/U) to help it get through the periods of time when blood sugar level drops to a critical level and food is not eaten. TFS/U deals with periods of less than 12 hours, the usual maximum time that anyone will go without food as a result of sleep. Even people who eat a calorie balanced diet (equal in the amount of energy that they eat vs. what they burn off) will rely on the TFS/U throughout the day because they are eating three meals a day; this feeding schedule is insufficient at delivering the constant energy needs to fuel their daily activity. As a consequence, the body remains motivated to keep storing fat because it is being utilized fairly consistently.

The notion I am putting forward is that, in a caloric equilibrium state, the body will rid itself of excess body fat if we eliminate the need for transient fat storage. The rational is that the body will do what it can to conserve energy. Since body fat requires energy to maintain, energy can be conserved by getting rid of it. However, the only way to eliminate the need for TFS/U is to maintain a constant blood sugar level through frequent feeding and eating food that cause slow and steady increases in blood sugar.

Blunt Force Drama – When Friends Get You Down

Do you have one of those friends who always seems to have bad things happen to them? No matter what is going on in your life, there is something worse going on in theirs. Any joy you try to share with them is beaten back with another story of their victimization. It’s constant drama about stuff you didn’t even know existed let alone mattered. It isn’t just boring, it’s depressing and it’s a tax on your happiness.

If you said yes there is a good chance that you have a few of them. If you have a few of them, maybe it’s time to start looking at your own behavior to see why these people are flocking to you. It may be tough, but you need to consider the fact that people do what they feel comfortable with and what they can get away with doing. In the case of your drama-prone friends, you are enabling them at best, and at worse, you are one of these people. If you are one of them, you are giving others the permission to do the same thing. It’s an ugly thought that you might be manufacturing the victim role just so you can perpetuate a sense of suffering but you need to consider it because if you are doing it, you are really hurting the self-development of you and those around you..

What are the benefits of viewing oneself as a victim?

  • It frees them of responsibility for their place in life. It’s a life preserving fiction that ensures the ego remains intact because they never actually try anything. One never fails because they never try. Never failing is a good thing because only failures fail.
  • It frees them of the need to expend effort – since they are a victim, failure is going to be the outcome regardless of their actions. This learned helplessness ensures that they conserve energy because they’re smart enough to know how things are going to go.
  • It frees them of having to think up something useful to talk about. Nauseating as it may be, people who view themselves as victims always have something that they can talk passionately about.
  • They never get caught up in self improvement project or pursuits. Guess why? Because they know they don’t work. Something is going to come along and ruin their efforts.
  • They will never be alone because misery prefers miserable company and perceived victims are execeptional at passing along this characteristic to the people they engage, including their children.
  • It is very easy to sustain the victim role because, if you are already playing it, it is a part of who you are. Playing it is effortless, changing it requires effort; first in identifying and accept the fake role you are playing and then in the actions you take to make things better.

Wait a minute you say, these aren’t really benefits at all. Good sign, you may not be a victim so you can use this list to help you identify the drama people in your life. Have you heard any of this defeatist talk coming from any of your friends?

What do you do with drama friends?

You have a couple of options and your course of action will be determined by the quality of friend that they are. For really good friends and family members you have two options:

  1. Blank face conversations – just start to withdraw from the conversations about their victimization by blank facing them. Give them nothing in terms of body language or words that they can take as incentive to continue sharing their misery. People will stop talking very quickly when they get no validation from you in a conversation.
  2. Try and help them see how they are behaving – this one is a lot tougher because you are not just trying to stop a behavior, you are trying to change one. It’s a lot of work to get someone to see that things are not the way they think they are and they need to be open to change. But, like most interventions, hearing it from a loved one is likely going to have a bigger impact than hearing it from someone else.

For other people, you have three choices, blank face them, try to help them or get rid of them.

  1. This blank face can have contempt in it because you probably care less about their feelings and more about getting them to stop being a big downer. You’re not looking for their happiness, you are looking for their silence.
  2. You are welcome to try and help them, but be warned, it’s a poor investment of time. The chances of success are very small in relation to your almost certain vilification. If you do try be sincere about it, at least you’ll know you tried to do the right thing when they lash out at you.
  3. You can remove them from your life completely so you don’t have to deal with their drama anymore. This can be as simple as just not communicating with them. If you’re lucky it just ends, it can be that simple some of the time. But most of the time, it’s like pulling off a band aid. You are, in essence, breaking up with someone. It’s an interpersonal conflict. It isn’t likely to get ugly but it can be uncomfortable. But just pull fast and get it over with. It’s better for everyone, mainly you, because your life will immediately get better. Again, try to be decent about it because something has happened to make them this way. Just because you don’t care enough about them to try and help shouldn’t mean you deliberately try to hurt them. You have no idea where life will take you so be genuine and fair.

If you are not a drama person, you really have no business hanging out with drama people because they will ruin your happiness, they will chew up your free time and they will add very little to your life. By continuing the friendship you are killing your chances at happiness as well as making sure they don’t get any better. Do the inventory and set free anyone who keeps you bogged down with their drama.