The Rider

May 31, 2010

Forget the New Movie: The Real A Team In Action

Filed under: Rider Profiles — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

Alison Nakasako’s mother is a breast-cancer survivor – which means her risk of contracting this type of cancer is higher than normal. Like many other women in the high-risk category, she started getting regular mammograms at 35.

And every time, the results came back normal.

And then…

“Two months after my last mammogram, I found a lump,” said the 43-year-old Bexley resident. “By that night, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it had already spread into my lymph nodes. It was stage 3. I had the type of breast cancer that doesn’t show up on mammograms.”

The A Team during the recent Race for the Cure run/walk. That's Alison in the pink T-shirt and Dave in the yellow cap

This was March 2009 – and soon after Alison had a mastectomy, followed by chemo and radiation treatments, at The James.

“We’re so lucky to live where we do and have access to this wonderful medical center,” said Alison, whose doctor was Charles Shapiro. “He was just so wonderful.”

Alison is doing great – and will ride 100 miles at Pelotonia, joined by her husband, David. She is also the captain of the A Team peloton, which has 13 members.

“She is an amazing women who has the power to motivate everyone around her and make you feel as if anything is possible,” said Tamara Gosnell, a member of the A Team.

Tamara is also a member of Alison’s local “family,” who all helped her through her battle. Alison’s parents live in England (where Alison was born and grew up) and her father is too ill to travel, and David’s family lives in California. The couple moved from the West Coast to Bexley about five years ago.

As many Pelotonia riders have reported, their caregivers, whether they’re a spouse, parent of close friend, play a vital role in their physical recovery and emotional frame of mind. It helps to have caring, loving help.

“I went into this feeling isolated,” Alison said of her battle with breast cancer. “But our friends, our neighbors, sometimes people we barely knew, people from the kid’s school, were so incredibly generous with their time. We didn’t have to cook a meal for months. I think it’s something about the Midwest; community is so important to people here.”

The whole family: Dave and Alison, Tom on the lower L, Jack on the R

Alison and David have two children: Jack, 9, and Tom, 7.

“My husband was amazing,” Alison said. “He held down a job and took care of me and the kids.”

David is a project manager for Limited Brands; Alison is a substitute teacher.

“Before it was ‘I have to work,’” she said. “Now, I want to go back to work; I enjoy it so much more.”

Alison had thought about riding in the first Pelotonia, but the chemo left her feeling too sick to train. This year, Alison and David will ride 100 miles.

“At this point I’m cautiously optimistic I can do 100 miles,” said Alison. “It won’t be easy, especially the second half and the hills. I came to exercise later in life, so if I can do this anybody can.”

Tamara is also new to cycling. “Most of us are not ‘real’ bikers,” she said of the A Team. “But we felt so moved by Alison’s cancer (that we had) to join this effort.”

Alison also wants to get the word out to other women: mammograms aren’t always enough, so perform self exams on a regular basis. “I found it by chance, I was scratching under my arm in the shower and felt it,” she said.

10 Things About Alison…

Favorite ride

Around Hoover Reservoir

Dream ride

Southern France

Current bike

Specialized Dolce

Dream bike

Something custom built

Favorite movie


Favorite TV show

Brothers and Sisters

Favorite Book

Olive Kitteridge

Favorite musician/group


Favorite athlete


Favorite post-ride seal

A good chicken curry


May 30, 2010

The Balltown Classic

Filed under: Steve's Stuff — The Blog @ 6:43 AM

I used to think riding all day, from sunrise to sunset – through scenic fields and farms and great views – would be the greatest day ever.

I was wrong!

Here we are at the start - unaware of the brutal day that was ahead of us

Here’s the deal: I drove 500 miles on Friday to DeWitt, Iowa. On Saturday morning at 5:30 the 200-mile Balltown Classic ulta cycling race began and about 20 of us brave, heroic peddlers took off for Balltown (hence the name of the race) and then back to DeWitt.

The first 100 miles were easy. OK, not exactly easy, but I did them in just a tick over 6 hours and was starting to think I could finish in a very respectable 13 hours.

I was wrong!

The heat began to get to me. Not to mention the relentless hills and a non-stop headwind the entire second half of the race. I was also chased by a dog and attacked by this little black bird with red spots (gang colors?) on its shoulders. I was dehydrated, sun burnt (despite putting lotion on) and after 125 miles my stomach was doing flip flops and it was hard to gag down any food – and eating is a key to making it to the end of these long rides.

At least the scenary was nice. Who knew Eastern Iowa was so pretty.

I thought about quitting a few times, but I kept going – slower and slower and slower, stopping at every convenience store along the way for water and a rest – and finally finished a little after 8 PM.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one to suffer. Everyone else I talked to said the same thing: this was the most brutal day ever. That made me feel a little better, sort of. Even the winner, Kurt, was exhausted. He said he planned to finish in about 10 hours, but struggled (for him) and finished in just over 11. Does misery love company? I guess we ultra cyclers do – and several of us hung out at the finish line telling war stories.

Now that it’s over, I’m glad I did my first 200-mile race. I just wish it hadn’t been so hot. And hilly. And headwindy.

Hay, be nicer to our friends in Central Ohio

OK, one more thing to do: the drive back to Columbus. Yeah, it’s 500 miles, but I have air conditioning!

May 28, 2010

A Big Hug For Kelley

Filed under: The Pelotonia Staff — The Blog @ 6:03 AM

By the end of last year’s Pelotonia ride, let’s just say Kelley Griesmer – Pelotonia’s director of operations – was a little bit frazzled.

“The whole thing was surreal,” she said of putting together this logistical high-wire act. “And putting it together in 10 months, a major event like this, well … there were a heck of a lot of details and I’m a detail person.”

And then, at Slate Run, as the 180-mile riders finished, something happened that made it all worthwhile, and was yet another reminder of why Kelley gave up her successful law career, took a huge pay cut and took a chance with a brand-new, fund-raising ride with an unusual name.

That's Kelley on the left, with Jessica Kinman, Pelotonia's director of publicity and communication. They sort of look like sisters, don't they?

“This guy finished and got off his bike … and came over and hugged me,” she said. “I didn’t know him and I don’t know how he knew who I was. It was amazing that someone would do that and express their thanks for something I thought I couldn’t get my arms around.”

But this anonymous – and appreciative – rider was sure able to get his arms around Kelley, who said this wasn’t something that happened very often during her long legal career.

And now, as Kelley and her crew of Pelotonia staffers and army of volunteers prepare for the second annual ride, she promises improvements galore and an even better and more rewarding experience for everyone.

Kelley grew up in Akron, and attended Indiana University with the idea of becoming a journalist. After a career change of heart, she ended up at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law. On her first day of class she found herself sitting between Greg Gorospe and Liza Kessler. One she married, the other became her best friend. And as fate would have it, Liza is the sister of Tom Lennox, Pelotonia’s executive director.

But I’ll get to that in due time.

Kelley, Greg and Liza all eventually wound up at the Columbus office of the Jones Day law firm – and all eventually made partner. Kelley enjoyed practicing law, but yearned – that’s right, she actually yearned – for something more.

“The older I got, the more I realized that it’s been a fun ride, but it’s not what I set out to do,” she said.

Speaking of fun rides…

Through Liza, Kelley knew and hung out with Tom Lennox – who in 2008 was named executive director of this new Pelotonia fund-raising ride – and had to quickly put together a staff.

“We were all at a Dave Matthews show and another friend, Kristen, said to Tom that you should talk to Kelley about working for you,” Kelley said. By the way, she’s a HUGE Dave Mathews fan, but more on this later.

They began to meet and talk about it, with Kelley interested, but concerned about making such an abrupt career change.

Kelley's on the left, Pelotonia ED Tom Lennox is in the middle, and Jessica is on the right

“In the end I realized I never set out to make the big bucks and my husband was very supportive,” she said. “We said, ‘Can we afford this?’ We didn’t live an extravagant lifestyle, but we have a 7-year-old son and we said, ‘Can we still give him an education?’”

The answers to all these questions were eventually yes – and Kelley took a deep breath … and made the leap.

“I knew it would work and we’d be OK,” she said. “It’s really paid off and I’m so much happier doing what I’m doing.”

And what she does is plan, think about planning, do some more planning and organizing … and then replan and plan some more – and work with Pelotonia’s fulltime staff and volunteers.

“My role is to think about and plan for the entire weekend and make sure the rider experience, from the minute they register until they get off their bike at the end and even the next two months when they continue to fund raise, that the experience is a high-quality and carefree as possible.”

This means organizing everything, from the portable toilets (there will be 275 this year) to the food all along the route, to making sure the tents (about 25) are set up, getting all the necessary permits, working with about 10 different police departments who will be stationed along the route and making sure bikes and bags and secure and where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be.

And yes, there were a few problems last year: there were so many enthusiastic, encouraging volunteers in front of the entrance drive to the first rest stop that many riders missed the rest stop; there weren’t enough toilets at the second rest stop, some bags went to the wrong dorm at Ohio University and there wasn’t any coffee on Sunday morning in Athens.

“The thing that was amazing is that everyone was so forgiving,” Kelley said. “They could have chewed me out and didn’t and I think it’s because everyone was there for a reason, a cause, and that was more important than all the little things.”

But with a year’s experience under her belt, Kelley and her crew are determined to reach a state of near perfection and be on top of every single little – and big – thing. They have updated and improved the tagging system for the bike corral and bags being sent to Athens, there will be even more toilets, the volunteers will be more organized and experienced, there’s a new 75-mile route and riders will be pampered even more.

And yes, there will be coffee in Athens on Sunday morning!

“There was a miscommunication,” Kelley said of coffeegate, a problem between the vendor and the Pelotonia staff. And no, the coffee vendor wasn’t Bob Evans, which donated all the food for Sunday morning’s breakfast in Athens, but was not responsible for bringing coffee.

“They were so generous and this year they are working with us to make sure we get coffee,” Kelley said of the Bob Evans people.

As is the case for so many Pelotonia riders, the entire weekend has become a family tradition and bit of a reunion. Greg will volunteer and ride, Kelley’s mom and dad will volunteer again, as will her brother and sister-in-law.

“They did all the jobs I needed someone to do, whenever I needed them,” Kelley said of her personal staff of volunteers.

Dreams do come true! That's Kelley on the left, Dave whats-his-name (OK, Matthews) in the middle, and Kelley's friend Kristen on the right

Kelley has one more item on her wish list for Pelotonia – and it’s the Dave Matthews Band. She’s a total Dave fanatic, and has seen him perform live 86 times – a total that will be up to 92 by the end of this year. Her Pelotonia office is plastered with Dave posters.

“At some point my goal is to have him perform at our opening ceremonies,” she said.

Hey, maybe Dave will give her a hug.

10 Things about Kelley….

Favorite ride


Dream ride

Napa Valley

Current bike

Giant Avail

Dream bike

A Ridley

Favorite movie

Anchorman or The Hangover

Favorite TV show


Favorite Book

The Secret Life of Bees

Favorite musician/group

Dave Matthews

Favorite athlete

Jody Shelley

Favorite post-ride meal

Pepperoni pizza and Coke with real sugar

May 27, 2010

Can You Stomach This?

Filed under: Safety, Training and Riding — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

Make sure your bike fits you; don’t increase you mileage too quickly; practice climbing hills.

These are a few tips for Pelotonia riders from Matt Briggs, a staff physical therapist, assistant clinical professor/research assistant and coordinator of the Sports Physical Therapy Resident Program at OSU Sports Medicine.

In addition to all these titles, Matt is also Pelotonia’s associate medical director along with Kendra McCamey, an OSU clinical assistant professor of family medicine.

“I got involved after Dr. Caligiuri (who also has a lot of titles, but basically runs The James and OSU’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – and created Pelotonia) was in the sports medicine area and we started talking,” Matt said. “I told him about my interest in cycling and wanting to be part of Pelotonia and that got the ball rolling.”

In other words, if you tell Mike C you’re interested in Pelotonia, he’ll find you a job!

Matt and Kendra organized and managed the medical teams at the first Pelotonia and will do so again this year.

Matt knows first-hand all about athletic injuries. He hurt his knee pretty badly in college, which limited his ability to play sports such as basketball.

“When I was in PT school I had a friend who was into cycling and that got me interested in it and later triathlons,” he said. He continues to ride and is a member of Team roll:.

Matt’s PT specialty and research area is the core – the back and stomach – and how to train these important muscles for maximum results. He’s also helped many athletes come back from a wide assortment of injuries.

“You need a strong core to be a strong rider,” he said. “If you don’t have a strong core you’ll be sloppy in how you transmit energy.”

Matt is also an expert in fitting bikes and creating the perfect set up. Important factors are the frame size of the bike, the saddle height and making sure the saddle isn’t too far forward or back – but instead is just right.

Matt and OSU Sports Medicine offer a bike-fitting service.

“The right fit and riding as comfortably and efficiently as possible are ways to steer you away from injuries,” Matt said.

The proper fit is key - and Matt is an expert at this...

Training is another key – and the goal is to increase you mileage gradually, never more than 10 percent per week.

“If you overload the body it starts to break down,” Matt said.

Hill training is also important, as the Hocking Hills loom off in the horizon on the longer Pelotonia rides.

“There aren’t many hills around Columbus, so you should do short intervals with high intensity and get up, out of the saddle, like you’re running, when you’re climbing hills,” Matt said. “But don’t do this for too long.”

So, find a hill near you, the biggest one you can find, and go up and down it a few times, at a hard – but not too hard – pace. Experiment with different gearing combinations and find one that is challenging, but not too stressful. Over time, add a repetition or two and increase the intensity gradually.

Cadence is another key: the number of times your wheel spins in a minute. Matt suggests a cadence of 70 to 90 per minute. Some bike computers monitor this – others don’t.

If you’d like to learn more, click here. Also, Matt and some of his OSU Sports Medicine Colleagues will hold a Pelotonia Training Seminar on Sunday, June 6 at COSI from 3 to 5 PM. Admission is free, but you have to pay for parking. I went to the first seminar and it was really interesting.

10 Things About Matt…

Favorite ride


Dream ride

The Alps or Rockies

Current Pelotonia bike

A Motobecane

Dream bike

I’m not sure

Favorite movie

Forrest Gump

Favorite TV show

Gray’s Anatomy

Favorite book

The Perfect Distance

Favorite musician/group

I don’t have one

Favorite athlete

Michael Jordan

Favorite post-ride meal

Filet mignon, with chocolate cake for dessert

May 26, 2010

Take A Gander At This

Filed under: Steve's Stuff — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

You just can’t reason with a goose.

And trust me, I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried.

It’s spring once again and this means the bike path along the Olentangy River is filled with fluffy and adorable little goslings and their incredibly protective parents.

Get close to their precious little babies—which is all but impossible not to do since the entire family just stands there, right in the middle of the path, blocking the way, refusing to move their webbed feet—and Mom and Dad go into a regular and literal hissy fit.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m scared of geese.

Like you wouldn’t be afraid of these fine-feathered fiends?

Of course you would. And you know exactly what I’m talking about if you use the path.

This is the beginning of a recent column I wrote for Columbus Monthly. If you’d like to read the rest, click here.

I’m posting the link because I know I’m not alone … and there are a lot of you out there who have had battles with geese – and maybe even a few other members of the Animal Kingdom. So, tell us about your adventures! Click on the “Leave A Comment” button and tell us about your close encounters with geese … and the outcome.

BTW: Great illustration by Mario Noche.

May 25, 2010

Cancer Stinks

Filed under: Photos — The Blog @ 6:02 AM

I saw our very own Mike Caligiuri wearing these “cancer stinks” socks during a recent ride. I was able to track down the riders who had them made as a fundraiser last year – and will write more about them if they decide to do it again this year (they’re not sure yet). Either way … the socks are correct.

May 24, 2010

Team Tang Takes to the Road

Filed under: Our Volunteers, Rider Profiles — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

LeAnna Harris and her father, Dave Grubb, weren’t quite able to ride in the inaugural Pelotonia.

LeAnna and Dave were volunteers at Pelotonia last year

LeAnna was having back problems that eventually required surgery and Dave, well, let’s just say he was still feeling the effects of years of smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

Instead of riding – they volunteered, which turned out to be such a rewarding experience the two dedicated themselves to training for and riding in this year’s Pelotonia. And not only will they ride, Dave and LeAnna will go the distance: 180 miles to Athens and then back to Columbus.

“The biggest thrill last year was being a cheerleader for all the riders,” said Dave, who volunteered at one of the rest stops with LeAnna. “From the looks on their faces, you could tell they were surprised to see people cheering them on so far from Columbus.”

Maybe you were one of these riders.

“It was amazing to see Lance Armstrong fly by,” LeAnna added. “But then an hour or two later all these riders came by who were struggling, but obviously enjoying themselves. And so many of them are survivors or had the name of their spouse (who was battling cancer or had died from cancer) on their shirts. I can’t talk about it, even now, without getting goose bumps. My heart has never been fuller.”

This year they will ride 180 miles

This year’s ride will be the first century (a 100-mile ride) for LeAnna and Dave, but they are determined to be ready and train together regularly.

Cycling has changed Dave’s life – and waistline.

“I smoked for years and years,” he said. “I didn’t exercise and I was so out of shape.”

“When I was young I remember him being a runner,” LeAnna said of her dad. “But that was when I was 6 or 7 and I can’t remember him doing any exercise after that. Except golf – if you can even count that as exercise.”

Dave finally managed to quit smoking a few years ago and then LeAnna pushed him into cycling.

“She talked me into buying a bike,” said Dave, who is a safety manager with American Electric Power (AEP) and a member of the company’s Pelotonia peloton (AEP Energizers For A Cure).

The two started riding together.

“I had my bike for about a week,” LeAnna said. “We decided to do this (Columbus Outdoor Pursuits) ride and do the 32-mile option. At the end I was so tired I literally fell off my bike. I thought, I’m in the worst shape ever. But then, when we were putting my bike back on the rack, my father discovered the rear brake had been on (clinching the tire and making it very hard to pedal) the whole time.”

Whew, LeAnna wasn’t in as bad of shape as she thought!

Unfortunately, she hurt her back soon after and eventually, in October 2009, had surgery. Her back is feeling better and stronger … and she and Dave are riding more and more.

Dave has dropped 25 pounds since he started cycling – and feels like a new man.

Cycling has changed both of their lives - for the better

“Cycling has changed how I feel, my outlook and I’m sure it’s not only helped the quality of my life, but will prolong my life,” he said.

Now, he can actually climb hills … and feel good at the top.

“Not carrying that extra 25 pounds makes such a difference,” Dave said, adding he still can’t keep up with his daughter on the inclines. “She can climb hills like you can’t believe.”

LeAnna and her husband, Derek have two children, Nia, 8, and David, 5. The four of them often ride together. The entire family was already quite close, but have rallied around Dave, LeAnna – and Pelotonia.

Kareena Gibson – who is Dave’s daughter and LeAnna’s sister – will be a Pelotonia volunteer this year and may one day join Team Tang and ride in Pelotonia.

Team Tang?

During a ride…

“We stopped at a stop sign and as we got ready to take off this giant team of people, with matching jerseys and looking super professional came by,” LeAnna explained. “They yelled ‘stopping’ and then ‘rolling” as they took off all together. None of us in our group had matching jerseys and we were riding mountain bikes and tandems. On the back of their jerseys it said lemonade and we joked that we should be Team Tang.”

The name stuck … and T-shirts were designed and printed.

Here are the famous Team Tang T-shirts

I recently rode with Dave and LeAnna during a Pelotonia training ride – and it’s easy to see both have not only become strong riders, but have also joined the growing legion of obsessed – but in a good way! –  cyclists.

“Yeah, we are,” LeAnna admitted. “I have to stop myself from talking to people about biking who aren’t into it.”

10 Things About Dave and LeAnna…

Favorite ride

Dave: The River Rendezvous

LeAnna: Around Indian lake

Dream ride:

Dave: Colorado

LeAnna: Northern California

Current Pelotonia bike

Dave: Trek Madone

LeAnna: Giant Avail Advanced

Dream bike

Dave: The one I have

LeAnna: I think I have it

Favorite movie

Dave: Fail-Safe

LeAnna: Forrest Gump

Favorite band/singer

Dave: Blood, Sweat & Tears

LeAnna: The Cure

Favorite TV show

Dave: M*A*S*H

LeAnna: The Daily Show

Favorite book

Dave: The Source

LeAnna: A Prayer for Owen Meany

Favorite athlete

Dave: Archie Griffin

LeAnna: Anyone who doesn’t cheat on their spouse

Favorite post-ride meal

Dave: Steak and baked potato

LeAnna: Chicken-and-mushroom kabob with a Corona and lime

May 22, 2010

Photo of the week

Filed under: Photos — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

Imagine a world - and rush-hour traffic - in which there were only bikes on the streets!

May 21, 2010

Life’s Lessons from the Garden

Filed under: Rider Profiles — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

This is the time of year Dean Henderson loved.

Dean at work on his gardens

The plants and flowers in his amazing gardens are sprouting and blooming, eliciting oohs and aahs from neighbors and passersby. Sure, it took a lot of work to keep all his gardens looking their best, but hard work and commitment were attributes Dean had in abundance.

“He took a lot of pride in his yard,” Matthew Henderson said, adding his father spent years remodeling their old house in Bexley and landscaping the yard. Matt learned a lot from his father by watching him work and from helping out: the value of hard work, the rewards of a job well done – and patience. And after Dean was diagnosed with prostate cancer eight years ago, Matthew learned all about courage, the importance of family and friends and living life to its fullest every single day.

Dean, Mary Beth and Matthew

Dean passed away in September – and now Matthew and his mother, Mary Beth, tend to Dean’s gardens – maintaining the beauty he created.

Matthew will be riding in Pelotonia for the second year, once again in honor of his father – and also his grandfather.

“I lost my grandfather to cancer the day before Pelotonia and lost my dad on September 3rd, right after Pelotonia,” he said. “It was and continues to be a difficult time for me, but I use Pelotonia as an outlet in many ways.”

Mary Beth – a teacher – will also be riding this year.

Dean worked for Dublin as a landscape inspector. This was actually his second career, after 25 years as a car salesman. He had always loved landscaping – and went back to school, night school while he worked days, at Columbus State. He earned a degree in horticulture – and eventually went to work for Dublin.

A family gathering...

Along the way he provided another valuable lesson for Matthew: the importance of education and finding a career you are passionate about.

Matthew attended the University of Kentucky. After he graduated he worked for Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell – and then he moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Matthew moved back to Columbus recently and runs the local office of Peritus, a public relations firm.

Dean was diagnosed with prostate cancer during Matthew’s senior year of high school – and was given two years to live.

“It’s very rare to have it that young – he was 46 – and it was a very rare and aggressive form,” Matthew said. “But he was able to stretch those two years into eight.”

There were a lot of ups and down over the years, as Dean worked his way through several rounds of chemo treatment and all the illnesses and problems related to his cancer and the treatments. Despite this, Dean did his best to make the most of what time he had.

Matthew learned a lot from his parents

“The way he looked at it wasn’t necessarily that he was dying,” Matthew said. “He was living and he made the most of it.”

By late 2008, Dean’s cancer had spread to his brain and his condition deteriorated.

“It’s such a terrible disease that deforms your body physically and emotionally and it’s always present and it never goes away,” Matthew said.

In early 2009, Mary Beth heard about Pelotonia – and suggested Matthew ride, in honor of his father and to support The James, where Dean was a patient. Although Matthew hadn’t ridden in years – he signed up.

“It was very emotional,” Matthew said of the ride. “I cried for about the first 60 miles and realized how dehydrated I was.”

Matthew will ride in memory and honor of his dad

Like so many others who were new to riding before Pelotonia, Matthew is now an avid rider. Cycling he says, is an outlet and helps him deal with the loss of his grandfather and father.

This year’s ride in August, Matthew said, will once again be emotional and he will have a lot of memories of his father to think about and time to reflect on all the lessons he learned from Dean.

“I learned so much from him,” Matthew said. “I learned the value of life and family and love – and also virtue. And not letting things, situations, get to you … and seeing all the love and support from family and friends was amazing.”

10 Things about Matthew…

Favorite ride


Dream ride

Down the mountains into Rio de Janeiro and into the countryside

Current bike

Cannondale Synapse

Dream bike

A Trek Madone

Favorite movie

Star Wars

Favorite TV show


Favorite musician/group

Josh Rouse

Favorite book

Courage is Contagious

Favorite athlete


Favorite post-ride meal

A large pepperoni and pineapple pizza from Tommy’s

May 20, 2010

Don’t Be So Dense

Filed under: Safety, Training and Riding — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

I’ve never been big on science – not since the Bunsen burner/missing eyebrow incident of 8th grade. But, I have to admit, the presentation Sunday at COSI by the OSU Sports Medicine people for Pelotonia riders was really interesting – and I understood most of it! Unlike 8th-grade science class.

Several members of the Sports Medicine program’s Endurance Medicine Team gathered to tell us about body fat and V02 max rate – and how they relate to cycling.

Here's Alex getting ready for the Bod Pod

Pelotonia’s Alex Pratt – our director of procurement and captain of Pelotonia Cycling Team powered by roll: – was brave enough to strip down to his bike bib and step inside the Bod Pod, which measures mass over volume and determines a person’s density. Let’s just say this isn’t the first time someone has called Alex dense.

Only kidding Alex.

Density is another way to determine a person’s percentage of body fat. For men, the acceptable range is 5 to 25 percent, for women it’s 12 to 40 percent. Too much body fat can lead to all sorts of health problems and an increased risk of many nasty illnesses.

Alex rides a lot of miles – and has the lean, muscular build of a cyclist. His percentage of body fat was measured at 13.1 percent – great for a “normal” person, but a few percentage points higher than what Alex was hoping for. Uh-oh … if Alex is 13.1 percent, I have a gut feeling I’m at least 20 percent, maybe more, despite all the miles I ride. That’s what middle age will do to you.

This is the VO2 max test

Another test subject was hooked up to an ergometer that measured how hard he was working as he peddled a bike. In technical terms, your VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen you utilize when you work out and it’s measured in milliliters of oxygen used per minute per kilo of your total weight. In simple terms, it measures how efficient your heart is and how well you are able to ward off the effects of lactic acid – which, when it builds up, makes you tired and want to stop cycling. Especially up hills.

Lance and the other top pro riders have a VO2 max rate in the 80s, while cross country skiers score in the 90s and the dogs that pull sleds in Alaska come in at an amazing 240. Despite this, I don’t suggest pulling a sled through the snow for exercise. Sure, it worked for Rocky, but he’s a fictional character.

While it’s hard to increase your VO2 max, what training – such as cycling – does is help you reach an aerobic threshold closer to your max rate, which in turn makes you a more efficient machine. So, no matter what your VO2 max is, the goal is to be able to ride as close to it as possible for long periods of time. This is what will get you up those Hocking Hills.

So what does all this science mean?

Jumping in the Bod Pod or on an ergometer aren’t really necessary unless you’re an elite athlete looking for an edge – or are having a specific problem related to exercise and training. If this is the case, talk to your physician and a visit to OSU Sports Medicine might be in order.

But the lessons we learned from our friends At OSU Sports Medicine apply to everyone: it’s important to exercise and watch what you eat to control your weight and keep your percentage of body fat at a healthy level. If you want to improve your overall fitness and cycling prowess, train smarter.

Training smarter means:

Ease into your cycling training program. Gradually add on the hours in the saddle and miles you ride. In fact, try not to increase your mileage from one week to the next by more than 10 percent. Doing so could lead to injury.

Don’t ride all out all the time. And take days off to let your body rest and recuperate. Otherwise, you may find yourself over tired.

Map out a training program that makes sense for you, a week-by-week guide to get you ready for Pelotonia. Follow it – and you’ll do great.

Here’s the link to OSU Sports Medicine. They know what they’re talking about.

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