Wednesday, 29 February 2012

An inspiring story

Thanks to Jeremy who entered my competition from the UK. His story is really inspiring and exactly he sort of thing I've been looking for. It's the sort of straight up no BS hard work, dedication and devotion which we can all learn from. It's also an ample illustration that you don't buy success, you go out and earn it. Thanks to Extreme endurance we're going to try and get some prizes to Jeremy. After his story you'll see my review of their latest product, a lactate buffering pre race drink. I hope reading about great achievements, great people and great products gets you through the wednesday blues. if not i suggest you indulge in some of these bad boys, and some insulin, about 4 units should cover it.

Jeremy's story

I've always had an interest in cycling, and for many years had ridden for pleasure & commuting to work. I thought that I was 'ok' but had resigned myself to never being world champion because I was a big bloke. I was pretty content with that.
Then something happened to pretty much turn my way of living, and whole view of just how I live upside down.

In Sept' 2009 I was diagnosed as a type II diabetic. My doctor & diabetic nurse were pretty good, but made it clear that I needed to make some changes or things were going to go downhill fast. The first thing I changed was obviously my diet. lots of changes, and even now I find this aspect really hard. The second change was to give up drinking. I'd always been a pretty social bloke, loved a pint or two with the lads etc. The thing was that this had gotten to be a bit out of hand, so again big change.

The third part of the plan was to get a bit more serious about biking. I dragged the work bike out & committed to commuting + a few extra loops and weekend longer rides.

I had an old steel Colnago frame & forks in the garage that had been sat waiting for a rebuild, and whilst I wasn't in a position to lavish it with a dream build, I decided that it deserved to be back on the road and getting some more miles into it. over the spring I collected up all the parts I needed, and slowly put it all together. compromises were made for the sake of practicality, but it was going to be my 'best bike' so I tried to do it justice. The final touches were a white saddle & white bar tape. Something the old roadies I knew reserved for the best bike.

In the mean time I'd been increasing my mileage and fitness, and at the same time shedding weight.

From the first trip out on the rebuilt bike I knew I'd done the right thing. Bright, crisp day, climbing up through a wooded valley in North Devon, feeling fit, bike all working perfectly, I could barely fit the grin in with out loosening my helmet strap!

Now as the year comes to a close, I don't ever want to go back to how things were. I've lost about 3 1/2 stone, completed a Triathlon in the top 1/3 of the results table, quite happily ride out on a Sunday morning for 70 or so miles at a decent pace with club cyclists.
I've bought bike kit with an S on the label. Never thought that would happen. The Colnago is truly a joy, and will get upgraded as finance allows.

I've been following you on Twitter and it was good to know that there were diabetics out there racing and getting on with life. Not something i'd ever had to think about before, but an inspiration to someone dealing with the lifestyle changes that i was going through.

At my last check up everything was heading in the right direction. Weight down, Blood Pressure down, Cholestrol Down Hba1C down. I'm intending to keep it that way!

It means so much to me now to be fit & well and to of rediscovered a love for life, including cycling.guess that this is as good a time of year as any other to reflect on the past 12 months.

extreme endurance xecute

As we know, i'm a little but fussy about what i eat. especially what i eat an hour before i go out and ride around in circles as fast as i can chasing people wearing spandex covered in pictures of candy . normally i don't really eat for 4 hours before a crit, i just cut my basal and use gels/ mix as needed. The combination of nerves spiking my sugars and a stomach which is missing a piece thanks to privatised helathcare, food doesn't really seem like my friend at that time. Also crits happen in LA, and so do chicken and waffles and you need to work up an appetite.

However recently Justin from extreme endurance contacted me about xecute, despite the name it will not get you headless (i'm wondering if the next product in line is energy gellotine?) nor will it leave you for dead. Rather it promises to buffer lactic acid by giving your body a source of lactate to start digesting before you do so by riding as hard as your little legs will allow. clever.

i'm not going to go into the science, you can check it out here but long story short, i've used this for 2 races. both crits, both hard. i drank it 90 minutes before both races and, despite it's chocolate flavour (which is nowhere near as chalky as many "chocolate" drinks) it seemed to clear from my stomach pretty rapidly and didn't leave me bloated or sick. In the races i noted a difference, as always in the early season i was running a bit high, but i didn't feel the same leg burn i normally do. It seems to give me a better range of sugars to play with. if i have perfect control this means i also have a better ability to clear lactate, this means my legs hurt less. or, i can make them hurt the same amount but i'll go faster. yeah that sounds like a better idea.

It's not like this stuff will turn a donkey into a racehorse but it made this donkey a little more Thoroughbred. I've tried a lot of sports nutrition products and (as you may have noted with the sponsors on previous teams) i tend not to blog about them unless it hink they're worth your money and they are the sort of thing i would put in my own body. This stuff passes both those tests, it also tastes like chocolate. so try some, and in the comments section, tell them you're type one, or that i sent you and see if they don't hook you up....

happy Wednesday

-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

mis en place

one of the best things I learned when working in a professional kitchen was the art of "mis en place" using free time to make things easier when you need to be fast later. The least useful thing i learned was "no you haven't hurt yourself that's just a burn".

It's my rest week this week and I've been getting up to some fun and games in the kitchen making quinoa energy bar bites, going to the farmers' market (Yup that picture is actually from our farmer's market, it's AMAZING) and chopping and freezing lots of fruit and veg. I've cleaned the bike, mixed up some secret recovery potion. Checked over my lancets, insulin, pods and needles (not that i can get any more if i am running out!) and generally got my ducks in a row.

Mis en place works mentally as well, i'm concentrating on getting my thoughts in order, establishing what i want to achieve every day, in training, in life and with my diabetes. Trying new diet and insulin approaches. intervals and wattages and meeting new people and ,making new links, just like the mis en place I learned at the restaurant this gets easier the more you do it, you chop more peppers and fewer fingers.

Chopping things up into little chunks like this makes it much easier to see progress. if my goal is to talk to my dad twice a week not once, or to wake up below 120 i can see progress and i feel great. I think it's important to have goals, and work towards them and to celebrate the accomplishments you make each day. otherwise we can easily loose sight of the small victories along the route to a destination we may never reach. i'm working on a pretty exciting diabetes/social media project which i'll be sharing more about soon but this process of goal setting and achieving along the route to a bigger goal. like chopping things up into bite size pieces and combining them to make a great dish is a key part of it.

I've been beavering away at a few projects which are coming to fruition. one of which is my diabetes stories project which I'm going to publish a few entries of over the coming weeks, thanks to everyone who entered. i've made some very cool sponsor connections (expect reviews soon) oh and i've been pinning numbers onto zebra pattern lycra. Because i've got all my apples chopped and it's time to start Bakin' !

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

retul'd and ready

This is what perfection looks like. the fit isn't bad either

Yesterday, whilst bouncing about from car breakdown to thunderstorm, i managed to fit in a bike fit with the good people at San Diego Sports medicine. First of all i want to point out how incredibly kind Trina was today. My car died en route to the fit, leaving me stranded. Trina stopped by and collected my bike, took it to the studio and allowed me to get my car into the garage and then ride the road bike over there and complete my fit session an hour late. Pretty sure that's above and beyond the call of duty.

Anyway, as you'll know if you're a regular reader I've suffered from a fair bit of spinal injury in the past. Being as i am a fan of walking upright and being, as i am unwilling to stop doing silly amounts of bicycling I've become quite the fan of bike fit, indeed it's fair to say that i consider a good bike fit to be THE most important thing to spend your money on in order to improve your cycling experience. I can, from experience, tell you that you can be riding a $14,000 dollar bike and it will not feel as good at a $1,400 bike if the latter is better fitted to you.

The guys at SDSM have a great tool called Retul, basically it tracks the different points (and on me these points are rather pointy) on your legs and ensures that, when correctly positioned, these points track in a straight line and you're not wobbling about (because whatever the weebles tell you it's not cool) . The computer then assesses your position and spits some numbers out at your fitter, but this isn't so much a science as an art. the fitter has to take into account your flexibility, riding style and indiviudal foibles in order to trun the ranges generated bu the retul computer into a position that works for you. This is where having an experienced fitter comes in, when you've watched the person fitting you destroy the field in the women's pro race the week before you don't really need to worry too much about her not knowing about the real world of bike fitting where the rubber meets the road.

after Trina had helped me sort my saddle and perfect my pedal position I had a quick word with Greg, as an acupuncturist, Physio and formidable bicycle rider in his own right greg is another great resource. I have world class tight hip flexors and, judging by his ability to identify this and poke me in such a way that those tight muscles really hurt I'd say Greg is something of an expert on the subject. He gave me some exercises (one of which is called the pidgeon, but looks nothing like the dance of the same name) which should help me get into my TT position better.

I was also able to touch base with local legend and doctor to the stars Dr Allan Richburg. he's helped me with a lot of injuries over the years, not least diagnosing a burst appendix on the infield of a velodrome (unlike my primary "care" physician who missed it with the benefit of a laboratory behind her). He's also responsible for sticking Chris Horner together when he breaks. He's also done some work for some of those rugby players who dress up like power rangers but i can't remember their names.

So, if you're in Southern California an you want to be more comfortable on your bicycle, need some tips on what sort of frame or bike would be best suited to you. or indeed if you've hurt yourself and want to get back to riding as quickly and painlessly as possible i really couldn't think of a better group of people. And if you get really lucky, Trina might even fit you so well that you too get to practice your victory salute.

one hell of a day

I've had a mare today or to be more accurate things have conspired against me but people have conspired to make it all ok.

This morning i woke, to the happy hullabaloo created by a blackberry in full song and bounced along with my merry routine of brewing up some revolution roasters coffee and locating my thermos coffee mug thing which allows me to bring above body temperature beverages along in my bottle cage without risking a potential groin scalding or, far worse a coffee stain on my top tube.

Anyway, i set off to school happily touting my caffeine and coconut milk combo. Rocking out to some hardcore NPR i made it to about 2 miles from the uni when it all started to go a bit pete Tong. Sadly this doesn't mean NPR started playing dance tunes, but rather it stopped playing at all when my car engine, and electronics all cut out, in the middle lane of the motorway. arse.

i made my (less merry) way onto the hard shoulder where i called work and got someone to go and tell my students that, much to their disappointment, they wouldn't be enjoying another riveting role play of the gupta caste system today. My friend Matt Bigos happened to be driving by and stopped, being more mechanically inclined than I he correctly identified that my car wasn't going anywhere. The nice people from the highway patrol towed me into a local car park, where my friend/coach/fashion guru Jesse Eisner popped up with some coolant and a coffee. Another friend, Trina, came and took my mountainbike out of the car and took it to the fit studio. more on that later.

having killed an hour (and resisted the temptations of the bakery) at whole paycheck and taken full advantage of the free refill coffees the tow truck arrived and took me to my friends at SDPE, the guys took the audi into it's happy place (their garage) and they're currently looking her over. Here's hoping i can get to arizona this weekend!

at this point i was already late for my fit so i hit it pretty hard in order to get there in time, i'll blog on the fit tomorrow, long story short it was great, wonderful people, great space, good results and a great mix of science and art.

fitted and comfy i set out to burn off some tension on the roads of san diego. it looked pretty windy out there but i was (for the first time in over a week) experiencing what is, in the finest tradition of literal translation, often referred to as "good sensation". i made my (merrier) way out east at a cracking speed and, a bucketload of watts later, having spotted horner headed the other way. I turned at the high point of my ride to descend to the south before turning east to go home. the wind was definitley in my face, i had beene xpecting that. what i hadn't been expecting was that it started bouncing down with rain and the wind was aiming for a new 1 hour max power reading. I made it home, somehow i'd only eaten a bread pudding slice and a chewy bar since my pb and pumpkin sandwich at 9am. needless to say, i was so cold that i had been ignoring how low i was and i ended up palming (i really suffer from reduced circulation in the cold) some dextrose into my chattering teeth during the 30 minutes it took me to get my shoes undone before i could get into the shower.

All in, things didn't go well but, if people hadn't been there to help it could have been a lot lot worse. Now to take the wallet beating for the tow truck and getting the car fixed, anyone know anything fun to make out of oats, eggs and tuna?

Monday, 13 February 2012

hot (and tasty) pockets

I seem to continually get asked what i eat out on the bike. I've blogged about this before (not here) , but rather than referring people back to that I thought i'd update it a bit. What i'm doing now is a little different. I'm not going to give you a full nutrition lowdown but rather a few sample snacks which you probably hadn't thought of.

first off let's get down to the science; you want carbs, some easily digested protein, salt and maybe some rapidly digested fat. You don't want frankenfoods, artificial sweetners, processed fats and excessive fructose - that knocks about half of the commerical bars avaliable out of the frame.

here are some ideas;
peanut butter sandwiches with: bannana, pureed pumpkin and raisins (and honey and cinnamon), applesauce, just pb honey and cinnamon, pb and nutella pb banana and nutella, all of the above with almond butter.

baked sweet potato with almond/ peanut butter and honey and cinnamon (do you see a theme here?)

bean burritos - great at the top of a climb in the cold

and my latest greatest invention; savory bread pudding;
4 cups bread (i used a mix of hawaain and old bagels)
2 cups coconut milk (MCTs)
4 eggs
1/2 cup hard sheeps cheese or parmesan
some chopped up ham , raisins and sea salt

heat the milk with the bread until it's all soaked up, mix in the rest of the goodies and bake at 350 'murican degrees or 180 euro degrees until set. sprinkle with crystal salt and honey, devour! i promise that if you make these once you will thank me forever.

i'm also a big fan of liquorice and ginger sweets (yup i'm living up to national stereotypes here and plugging allsorts) as i feel they help to settle my stomach.

In the bottles i am a massive coconut water junkie, but i also like green tea with honey when it is cold. and maybe even some kombucha.

and post ride, you can't beat a tomato juice, and a big bowl of Greek yogurt, blueberries honey and granola. or a taco and a beer!

with all that said, there are still times when i'll hit a shop and grab a snickers or a payday and a juice or even a fizzy drink if i need the sugar boost but it's about moderation. i like to take real food, good food and if i need sugary crap, well in California it's never far away! It makes pleasant change to stocking up on syrups and inflammatory fats in sports branded wrappers and thinking i am helping my body go faster.

I was going to include a pic of a mid ride sweet poato but it looks like a passing dog left it!

Friday, 10 February 2012

the real dirt on mountainbiking

so.i've been practicing riding bicycles on gravel and sand and rocks and through water and in other places where it is both generally uncomfortable and impractical to ride bikes. It's fun. In the process i have fallen off a few times, punctured my ego many times and my skin once.

anyway, i thought i would share with you, my dedicated readers, what i have learned from my brief foray into riding dirty in socal;
1) in a 3 hour mtb ride i did not pass a single piece of sheep poo, or indeed a single sheep, nor was i, at any point told to "slow down" by someone in knee high socks - this all confirms my suspicion that "we're not in Wales any more jimmy". Sadly this also means there were no welshcakes.
2) cacti, are spiky
3) disk brakes are mega, mega is an adjective (and for that matter so is gnarly)
4) the cut off jersey makes you feel faster (and scar bigger), the mountain dew makes you feel like you fit in (the high blood sugar makes you feel like you don't), the beer afterwards, that just makes you slower
5) mountain bikers are really nice, they'll give you advice and they very rarely come flying up the inside of a corner screaming "inside" in much the same way that i imagine Kamikaze pilots used to shout "Banzai"
6) as far as i am aware, there is no "zone 2" on the trails, this is good, very good
7) tubeless wheels are great (hello road bike wheel manufacturers)
8) i'm not an expert in camelbak operation, in fact i seem to be an expert in creating "camelbak blowbak"
9)that wasn't a trail, it really was a drainage ditch
10) when you get lost off road, nobody can hear you scream (and worse yet your phone can't find you on googlemaps)
11) embro is frowned upon - this is not cyclocross (although i imagine frites are shared between the disciplines)
12) yes, that bottom gear looks ridiculous, so are some of the hills
13) it's a whole different diabetes game (more on that another day)
14) you can't run your road position on an mtb, no way
15) mountainbikers are winning the "how many gears does your bike have" race, their bikes also have suspension. no child will ever be 10% as impressed with your roadbike, children don't get aero, they do get gnarly

Saturday, 4 February 2012

all day, all night

It's been a while since i added another installment to my long series of "stupid things James does". I've decided to remedy that this week, having scanned the San Diego area for bovine threats and come up with nothing and dismissed the idea of swimming with Shamu. I've decided to take on a new challenge. And no, i'm not talking about the spontaneous colony of bacteria and yeast which is currenlty festering it's way into a delicious beverage in my kitchen. Although i think they might be the most twittered about microorganisms on the planet. I've gone and entered a 24 hour mountainbike race. in 2 weeks. Did i mention that i don't own a mountainbike?

now i do have some previous with long, solo races and anyone who was at sea otter will recall my glorious "oh shit the brakes on this bike aren't the sides i'm used to" cartwheel. rapidly followed by my "oh shit i'm in road pedals and i'm actually STUCK upside can you please roll me over my course marshal" experiences in the fat tyred world. That said, i think it will all be OK because, well, it normally is, right?

(ADDENDUM; i just watched 24 solo, great film, now i'm really really scared)

Tomorrow the MTB training begins, thanks to kerry i have a top of the line pronghorn MTB to ride, thanks to Scott i have a lift thanks to gordon i have the brakes the correct way around, a good espresso in me, a jar of embrocation and one of the best friends a boy could have on this side of the pond. Oh and thanks to emily, i have someone to keep me sane in between now and then.

Whilst we're ont he subject of people who've helped me, i got the chance to help someone myself the other day. Dan,s car had broken down so we pushed it into velohangar and i drove him home. I realised just how nice it is to be able to do something for someone. i also found straight up the best coffee in the county at Revolution roasters.

anyway more importantly the trip to Arizona gives me an opportunity to do what i like doing most (apart from amateur bullfighting and eating) 'betes advocacy. Arizona has some pretty serious political issues, not leats its provision of healthcare. i don't want to get into public policy again but suffice it to say you shouldn't be broke because your sick or sick because your broke. and you certainly shouldn't be TAXED because you're sick.

In the USA in general and certain parts of it in particular, diabetes advocacy doesn't tend to speak Spanish (with notable exceptions). because in general, speaking Spanish doesn't pay the piper. Seeing as this piper didn't get paid anyway, it's my desire to help my brothers and sisters' with my condition however i can, in whatever language i can. A big issue that I'm trying to conceptualise a plan to deal with is the lack of brotherhood between diabetics over the world. i share a lot more with a diabetic in Malawi than a non diabetic in Milwaukee or Middlesbrough. And yet, we don't see people getting together to donate supplies to the people in Africa and South america who are often testing less than once a day (sadly this is also true inside the USA). This year i plan to try to do my bit to change that, everywhere i go i want to meet people and talk to them, to see what they need and how i can help. I'm fortunate enought o get to travel to race, and i want to leave more than a hole in the ozone layer a result of that travel.

I'll be logging my experiences in Arizona, both riding through the night and speaking in the day. As illustrated above, people are good, they want to help each other. nobody leaves someone suffering when they can see it, we just need to extend that notion to people we can't see. hopefully some of these stats will help you see a little more clearly what we're playing against

until next time - i have 3o papers to grade and my red pen is already running low. stay safe, ride fast and be nice