Ass Shakin’ Jam, just for Isis.

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BikeMonkey Guest Post
PalMD, Isis the Scientist and Dr. Charles have been talking a little bit about restarting fitness and dieting regimens, a topic in which I have a small interest. The cover of the August 17, 2009 issue of TIME magazine insists that “Of course it’s good for you, but it won’t make you lose weight. Why it’s what you eat that really counts.” Turning to the feature article on Health penned by John Cloud, all I can note is that the stupid not only burns, but it incinerates all logic and sense for a five block radius. I had trouble getting past the second paragraph:

As I write this, tomorrow is Tuesday, which is a cardio day. I’ll spend five minutes warming up on the VersaClimber, a towering machine that requires you to move your arms and legs simultaneously. Then I’ll do 30 minutes on a stair mill. On Wednesday a personal trainer will work me like a farm animal for an hour, sometimes to the point that I am dizzy — an abuse for which I pay as much as I spend on groceries in a week. Thursday is “body wedge” class, which involves another exercise contraption, this one a large foam wedge from which I will push myself up in various hateful ways for an hour. Friday will bring a 5.5-mile run, the extra half-mile my grueling expiation of any gastronomical indulgences during the week.

30 minutes? Maybe “an hour”? Four workouts per week for which the only one potentially useful for acute weight regulation purposes is the single 5.5 mile run? And from this the article claims that “exercise” is not useful for weight management?

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PalMD’s recent posts about starting a caloric reduction plus exercise regime and Isis’ chime in, combined with a recent burst of exercise I’ve been having, reminded me of the eternal problem. How do busy adults find the time? How do YOU find the time to exercise? Anyway, this post originally appeared on Aug 26, 2007.

BikeMonkey Re-Post
In a comment to Dr. Shellie on going running for “Balance“, Lab Lemming sez:

I used to do this, but it is harder now that I’m a parent…

A comment from Kevin Z on a post over at Cognitive Daily center punches a related issue:

I’ve been running every other day for the last 3.5 months. Its been great, I feel my energy level increased, my body getting into shape and my productivity increase as well. I will continue as much as I can. In the winter I cross-country ski every chance I can get.
Running is hard my knees and I know I probably don’t do it. I played soccer growing up and did short-distance (i.e. dashes & sprints) running, but I got sidetracked for oh, about 10 years and put on some weight. But I’m off the ciggies, off the junk food (though not entirely…), eating less more often and regularly running. Motivation mostly stems from wanting to be healthy to have fun with kids, and be around in good health for them as long as possible.

Who in this house holla back, aight? RealLife gets in the way of fitness and next thing you know it is TimeToMakeAChange.

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This post originally appeared on Aug 20, 2007.

BikeMonkey Re-Post
The NYT had an article a month ago on the fact that in bike-speak “Fit” is not always equal to “Thin”, a fact which apparently confounds Wake-Forest “exercise physiologist” Michael Berry

But, Dr. Berry added, “I quickly learned that when I was riding with someone with a 36-inch waist, I could be looking at the back of their waist when they rode away from me.”

I gotta say runners crack me up. They have a pretty hard time getting cycling, mostly because it seems like a series of “cheats” compared to what they are used to. So when they blow out their knees, grind out their hips, get heel spurs, bang their big toes or whatever, they are forced to the OneTruePath of cycling for health reasons. This leads to much hilarity.

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This post originally appeared on Aug 26, 2007.

BikeMonkey Re-Post
A most-confirmedly ex-competitive athlete, I. The formative years, athletically, were the overall formative years and I had the benefit of some formal coaching here and there. One might debate the quality but it was certainly coaching.
I run across the later-life convert to running or cycling, now and again, and there is a common theme. The person who “gets serious” about what-have-you. Marathons, USCF type bike racin’, etc. Being smart and dedicated people they go out and train a whole bunch and usually get pretty decent. Then, there is the plateau. “I want to qualify for Boston, my times are consistent but I can’t get faster”. “I want to do group rides but I’m not fast enough”. “I got dropped from the Cat 5s”.

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This post originally appeared on Sep 14, 2007.

BikeMonkey Guest Re-Post
Unsurprisingly, you can make your life better in sports by learning new skills. It’s one of those fun little benefits that you can set out objectively to get better at something and within a short time have obvious results. Cool. How many aspects of your life offer this?

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Repost: Don't Crack

July 31, 2009

This post originally appeared on Sep 13, 2007.

BikeMonkey Guest Re-Post
“I was hanging with the leaders until the second climb when I cracked about halfway up.”
“I just kept to my pace on the climb and passed three guys who cracked trying to ride with the front group.”
The use of “to crack” in cycling is different from “blowing up” in that it implies, to me at least, a psychological component. “Blowing up” just means you rode yourself beyond your sustainable level of effort, roughly speaking over into the anaerobic side of the power station. In contrast “cracking” is applied to situations in which the going is tough (generally climbing) and a racer (or rider) just stops maintaining the pace which is otherwise sustainable. There is a slowdown in speed, of course. A loss of cadence and of pedaling smooth circles. A dropoff of HR from the max sustainable threshold for aerobic activity. The rider drops a gear and just plods on at a survival pace. In other words, quits. It’s subtle because after all you are still technically riding up the hill or finishing the race; the difference is that you aren’t really trying anymore. You aren’t at maximal (or targeted) sustainable effort.

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Le Twitt de France

July 6, 2009

BikeMonkey Guest Post
Even the greatest sporting event on the planet is getting into the Web2.0 act! Being in the US, land of the time-zone and sports-television challenged, I usually follow Le Tour on via their live updates. (Although for some inexplicably crazy reason the live page is in reverse chronological order this year, epic sporting spoiler FAIL!!!)
This year there is a new and improved way to get extra color commentary on the goings-on. Turns out a few of the pro cyclists have adopted Twitter, either haltingly or with full enthusiasm. In this latter list is @lancearmstrong. If you take a look at his Tweets from today you’ll find a list of other TdF competitors who are on Twitter.
Twittercounter claims that ol’ Lancie is the 16th most-followed Twitt, strange for a retired celebrity from an obscure (for the US anyway) Frenchified sporting endeavor. Except there’s this little thing about him being a cancer survivor. And his charity, the Lance Armstrong Foundation/LiveStrong.
Love or hate Lance from the sporting perspective or for his interpersonal behavior, you have to respect this. Following him on Twitter has given me an appreciation of how engaged this celebrity is in promoting awareness of cancer and supporting many programs which support those people who are fighting or have survived various cancers. Highly engaged. Twitter allows him to talk about the doings of the LAF and about cancer survivors every day…and he apparently tries to hit just such a frequency. Kewl.

BikeMonkey Guest Post
Professional sports continues to suffer from doping scandal. Although it is understood that preparation for the highest levels of competition involves considerably more than “training”, most sports have enacted rules to distinguish allowable training/preparation aids from “cheating“. This is by no means new. Nor is it over, the cycling world is poised for the now-traditional pre-Tour revelations of doping which will re-shuffle the lineup on July 4th.
But rules violations are in some ways uninteresting. There are rules to sport and if you break them you are penalized. Within that context, the nature of cheating and the ethical concepts of fair play are operationalized. Boring.
More interesting is to consider the essentially arbitrary distinctions that create the rules in the first place. Take Lance Armstrong. Winner of a record number of Tours de France, dominant rider and all around cycling icon. Did I mention he was making a come-back at his ripe old age and after a several year layoff? Great stuff.
And this was all possible only because he decided to have cancer.

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In the year 1899 an American cyclist won the world championship in the 1-mile track event. In those days, track cycling was what really mattered and cycling was a reasonably big deal. So this was an event in sport. An even bigger deal was the fact that Marshall “Major” Taylor (Wikipedia) was black. This fact was, likewise, important:

The League of American Wheelmen, then the governing body for the sport, banned blacks from amateur racing in 1894, just as bicycling’s popularity surged.

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January 9, 2009

The 2007 WADA list has caffeine in the “2007 Monitoring Program” but it is not a “Prohibited Substance”. The 2007 US AntiDopingAgency (USADA) list seems to directly quote the WADA list on stimulants, so ditto. It used to be one of the threshold substances (under 12 micrograms/ml of urine and you were OK) but was delisted as of Jan 1, 2004.

HA! I just noticed this draft from 11/30/07! Dang if I can remember where I was going with it, just a stub and all. Reminded me about something over at Zuska’s diggity dogs. Caffeine really is a drug. Gee ya think?

no longer quite the n00b scicurious recently had something about adenosine and caffeine so I’ll just point you there for the science.

one of PalMD’s podcasts ( I think it was #2 or #4 but I could be wrong) talked about the wonders of coffee and how medicine can’t really find much to worry about. Sure, save the addiction part.

Anyway, I’ll just snap this up in case it jogs my memory of what I was thinking about. Probably some papers on cycling performance I guess….

Now this is interesting. VeloNews is reporting that Lance Armstrong is coming out of retirement to race the big races again next year.

Lance Armstrong will come out of retirement next year to compete in five road races with the Astana team, according to sources familiar with the developing situation.
Armstrong, who turns 37 this month, will compete in the Amgen Tour of California, Paris-Nice, the Tour de Georgia, the Dauphine-Libere and the Tour de France — and will race for no salary or bonuses, the sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told

Interesting sporting angle, what’s all this about the doping, DM?

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The Summer Olympics are finally upon us. No doubt there will be some interesting sports doping cases arising. While we’re waiting, might as well beat a dead horse and see if we can get anything out of it. The latest issue of Nature contains a commentary from Donald A. Berry on the “flawed statistics and flawed logic” of detecting sports doping. I’ll get to that after the jump but first the Nature editorial team issued a fairly strident position:

Nature believes that accepting ‘legal limits’ of specific metabolites without such rigorous verification goes against the foundational standards of modern science, and results in an arbitrary test for which the rate of false positives and false negatives can never be known. By leaving these rates unknown, and by not publishing and opening to broader scientific scrutiny the methods by which testing labs engage in study, it is Nature’s view that the anti-doping authorities have fostered a sporting culture of suspicion, secrecy and fear.

Preach on! [Update 8/7/08: roundup of commentary on this story from Trust but Verify blog]

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Okay, with Stage 13 on the books, where are we with the doping cases? Well, first we had Manuel Beltrán nailed for erythropoietin (EPO); his team Liquigas pulled him out of the Tour and suspended him. Next up was Moisés Dueñas as the second rider with a “non-negative test” for EPO. Number three is Riccardo Riccó, also nailed on suspicion of EPO.
Here is where it gets interesting.

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The world’s greatest sporting event is on at the moment; I’m sure you are all glued to the live feed from every morning (in the US, whatever time wherever you may be) [Go Vande Velde!!!!!]. You may possibly have missed the expected, i.e., the first doping positive- Beltrán was booted for suspicion of EPO doping. And you know we just love the doping stories around here. [Update 7/16/08: Another EPO positive non-negative “A” sample]
One of the larger ones of recent interest was the Landis debacle. The debacle in which the accused rider’s defense rested in no small part on the probity of the testing lab and the validity of the analyses which provided evidence of his testosterone doping.

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