Category Archives: Uncategorized

2020 Summer + Fall Races

If you are looking to do some racing in off season,  here are a few races that might interest you:

Tahoe Trail 100
July 11, 2020

MCBC DIRT FONDO
August 15, 2020

Race Wente
August 15, 2020

East Bay Dirt Classic
September?

Truckee Dirt Fondo
September 5, 2020

Adventure Revival Marin
September 12, 2020

Jackson Forest
Step 12, 2020

Sea Otter
October 1-4, 2020

Levi’s Granfondo
October 3, 2020

Lake Sonoma MTB
October 24, 2020

What’s in Neils Bag?

If you’ve ever ridden with Coach Neil, you’ll know that he carries a pack with a complete bike shop inside it.  I’m constantly amazed with the amount of stuff he carries for just about every situation.  He was generous enough to write up what he carries.

Tools

  • Allen and Torx keys for all fasteners on the bike except the very largest one (I carry 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 & T20, T25, though I have found need for a 10mm allen a couple times and had to MacGyver a work around)
  • Folding multi-purpose tool with pliers, a blade, and some other items.  Mine has metal and wood saw blades, several screw drivers, and scissors – it’s basically a Swiss Army knife built into the handle of folding pliers.  I use the pliers and a small flat blade screwdriver most often.
  • Chain tool – could be on a multi tool or separate
  • Tubeless valve core removal tool – this one comes in handy with pumps like my Lezyne, which thread onto the valve stem and occasionally remove it when disconnecting the pump or when the valve core needs to be replaced due to the tip being broken off or sealant clogging it
  • Tubeless tire plug kit – there are a variety of these out there with different pros and cons but this is majorly important for me as I have put holes in countless tires
  • Tubeless tire sealant (2-4 oz bottle) – whatever I can do to avoid tubing a tire the better.  Few people check their sealant status and it dries out, so having a refresh available can mean the difference between tubing a tire and risking flatting the tube and continuing the ride
  • Chain lube: I use this for its intended use as well as general purpose oil.  I’ve opened stuck bearings and squirted some in, put it on pedals or cleats when they get caked in dried mud or sand and are not releasing well, and used it on various squeaks and creaks that come up.
  • High Volume Pump – at least as high volume as you can get with a mini pump.  Basically the longest that will fit in my pack and largest barrel diameter.  Should be labeled as an mtb pump.  The tiny micro pumps are sort of passable for road tires, but flats happen fairly regularly off road and it sucks to work with those with large volume tires.
  • Shock Pump: Not really mission critical, but I have typically carried this with me over the years.  My current pack doesn’t fit it well when the water bladder is full, so it’s not always in there currently.  Of this list, this is the least important for team rides.  More of a peace of mind item for back country rides or when taking potential customers out on demo rides and needing to setup suspension for them.

Spares

  • Tube (2 for backcountry rides) – absolute last resort option if plugs and adding sealant fail
  • Complete tubeless valve
  • Valve core
  • Chain quick link & ideally a couple chain links
  • Brake caliper mounting bolts (M6 x ~18mm)
  • Disc brake rotor bolts (M5x ~10mm)
  • Shimano SPD cleat
  • Shimano SPD cleat bolts (M5 x ~10mm flat head)
  • Fiber Fix replacement spoke (I’ve carried these for years but I can’t remember using one)
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape
  • Chainring bolts (though these are not relevant to most current team bikes)
  • I also have a few random fasteners that are specific to the gearbox system and replacement springs for chain tensioners

Nutrition (Fueling) and avoiding GI issues

Hydration:
Good hydration helps your body to perform well in all aspects of your life. Whether it’s on the bike or in the classroom, your mood as well as your mental and physical performance benefit from adequate hydration. Try to drink throughout the day, so that you never really get very dehydrated. Be sure to have a glass or bottle of water (8-16 oz) in the last couple of hours before riding, and another one in the few hours before that. In general, try to average about 12-16 oz every 2-3 hours that you’re awake and a little more while you ride.

While riding in cool weather, you should have 1 bottle every 1-1.5 hours of riding. You may need up to 2-3 bottles per hour in warm weather. In cool weather, plain water or a sports drink mix are both fine. For shorter, easier rides just one bottle of water will be good, because you don’t really need any extra electrolytes or calories for those easy rides. In warmer weather or during very hard workouts, it is good to have a drink mix with electrolytes and some sugar to help absorb and retain the water more effectively. You will also want to take in some fluids after riding. After racing, hard workouts, or longer rides in hot weather, you will be low on fluids and may want 2 bottles or more in the first 30-60 minutes after finishing the ride.

Most of the time when you’re not riding, focus on drinking water. Sugary drinks like sodas or most juice drinks are high in empty calories and not good for you. During exercise, some sugary drinks may be okay, but usually most sports drink mixes are much lower in sugar than any soda. Except for the times that you are riding or immediately after you finish your ride, it will be good to mostly avoid extra sugars and focus on just drinking water.

Fuel:
Eat properly before training and racing to maximize energy and get the optimal benefits of training. Your body cannot adapt and get stronger and fitter from training if you do not eat healthy and appropriate foods before, during, and after your training rides and races. It’s good to have a balanced mix of fats, protein, and slowly digested carbohydrates at every meal. This ensures that your body receives an evenly distributed amount of energy throughout the day, rather than quick highs and big crashes from a high sugar diet. Always try to include a lot of vegetables and some fruits in your diet. Try to avoid processed foods, and instead choose natural plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, maybe some fish, poultry, or meat products. You will be healthier and fitter in the long run if you eat mostly unprocessed foods and avoid added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and artificially added fats.

After any moderate to hard training session, it is good if you can plan a snack or meal so that your body gets in calories and protein when it needs it most to recover, stay strong, and get fitter. If you won’t eat one of your main meals for a few hours after riding, then just having a small snack with some protein and carbs within half an hour is a good option.

When you are training hard, you want to be sure to get enough protein in your diet. This should not be difficult if you eat a mix of different food groups and include beans, nuts, and some meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products every day. If you don’t get at least a few servings of each of these every day, because you have certain dietary needs or restrictions, then you may consider adding a protein powder to your oatmeal or post-workout fruit smoothie. Soy, pea, whey, or other protein powders should all provide adequate amino acids for your needs.
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Training day with 9 a.m. morning ride:
Prepare:
Eat a light breakfast 1.5-2 hours before riding that includes a little protein, carbohydrates and fat. Some examples:

  • Oatmeal with nuts and berries
  •  Yogurt, granola, and a banana
  • Eggs with toast and butter or olive oil

Take 1 or 2 water bottles with you on every ride (however many fit on your bike). Take a small snack (a sandwich, bar, banana, cookie, or other small solid food item that will sit well in your stomach while riding). Consider taking some gels, chomps, or a bottle of drink mix if your ride will be hot or exceptionally long or hard.

Ride:
You can burn anywhere from 200-600 calories per hour, depending on how hard you’re riding, how fit you are, and your size. If you are only riding for an hour or less, then you don’t need to worry about taking in extra calories. If you are riding 2 hours or longer, then most athletes will feel stronger and perform better if they take in some extra calories throughout the ride. It takes time to digest food and absorb calories, so don’t wait until you’re hungry or feeling tired and weak, start eating early in the ride. You can focus on solid foods earlier in rides because that will take longer to digest and will provide more sustained energy. If you are racing or riding very hard, then try to pay attention to your body and eat foods that won’t upset your stomach.
Gels, chews, chomps, and drink mix get digested and absorbed quickly, so they work better for many athletes during hard workouts or races. Don’t rely on these fuel sources, though, for most of your riding calories.

Recover:
Use the mantra; “Person first, equipment second.” Take care of your needs for fluids, calories, and protein before worrying about cleaning your bike and gear. The sooner you eat the better you will recover. It’s best if you can eat within the first 30 minutes after riding. If you can’t, then at least get something before an hour has passed. If you don’t, then your recovery will be much less effective. Not enough protein or calories keeps your stress hormones elevated. As soon as you step off the bike, the clock starts ticking for your 30-minute window. It’s good to get 20-30 grams of protein and some carbs (with how much depending on the intensity of the workout) then.
You can eat real food or take a prepared recovery product. Milk or yogurt with some cereal or fruit can be good. A fruit smoothie with protein powder is great. A sandwich with some meat or toast with a couple of eggs can work. Pick anything that’s available and includes 300-500 calories and some protein, or if it’s time for a full meal, then that will work well, and you probably don’t need to worry about making any special plans as long as you have several hundred calories and some protein in the meal.
If you have a small snack after riding, then try to plan a full-sized meal within the next 2 hours after that snack. As always, try to include some protein, fat, and carbohydrate, and avoid lots of added sugars and fats. If you are not sure what nutrients are in your food, there are good resources online where you can look up the nutrition facts of any food.

Training day with 4 p.m. after school ride:
Eat a normal (healthy) breakfast and lunch. Pay attention to your body and energy levels. Make sure you are staying hydrated, and pay attention to whether or not it will help you during your ride if you have a piece of fruit, a sandwich, or some other small snack 1-2 hours before the afternoon training session. Not everyone will need a snack at this time, but some people will feel best with a small snack between lunch and afternoon training. Again, always take some ride food and 1-2 bottles on your bike.

Race day:
Think of it the same as a training day, with some changes – read above. Always consider your training days as practice for race days. Your riding and your eating habits can be tested out in training before you implement them on race days.
Prepare:
Know the course ahead of time so you can plan ahead where you can eat and drink. Eat the same type of dinner and breakfast you always eat, don’t change anything up on or right before a race day.
Race:
If your race is within 2 hours of breakfast, then there should be no need to eat more. Hydrate and fuel during the race. Leave sugar products to the end, giving you energy to attack and sprint at the end.
Prepare:
If your race is later, eat a snack within 2 hours of the race. For example, toast with butter, a sprinkle of salt, an avocado, or a small sandwich.
Race:
Hydrate in the first hour, then hydrate and eat real food during hour 2. Use glucose tablets or blocks in the last 15 minutes for quick energy to attack and sprint.
Recover:
Recover with the same schedule as a training day; protein within 30 minutes, followed by a real meal within 2 hours.
Limit or avoid:

  • Processed carbohydrates or added sugars, except maybe during training or immediately afterwards for your recovery snack.
  • Regular use of NSAID drugs (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen). Basically, all pain-killers except for Tylenol/acetaminophen are NSAIDs.These drugs stop your body’s inflammatory activities, which are instrumental to adapting to training. If you are always taking ibuprofen or naproxen, then you are preventing your body from responding naturally to training by adapting and getting fitter.
  •  New practices on race day. Always try out any eating or drinking strategy or product in training before you try something on a race day. This way you can avoid unforeseen problems with digestion. Nobody wants an upset stomach during a race.

Notes for women:
Hormonal changes can affect your bodies and may make hard training or racing efforts feel more or less difficult on different days. Just pay attention to your body so that you can know when to expect when you will feel normal or good and when you may not feel as strong on your bike.

  • 5-7 days before menstrual period you might need a little extra carbohydrate if you are
    experiencing fatigue.
  • Branched chain amino acids are also helpful if you are making hard efforts in the 5-7 days before
    your period.
  • 3 grams before training, 5 grams after training.
  • Increase your protein intake during your menstrual period.
  • Consider taking a multi-vitamin with iron or an iron supplement if you do not eat much red meat. Even if you do eat meat most days, you may still benefit from going out of your way to add iron to your diet. If you take supplemental iron, it is a good idea to get your blood checked by your doctor a few times each year, maybe at the beginning and the end of the season.

Reach out to other women on the team if you need more support.

Dealing GI Issues

Trail Runner magazine with some guidance on addressing GI issues (upset stomachs and other) experienced while on a ride or run. What the Gut?

Equipment for team rides

What equipment MUST a rider have on team rides?

  • Helmet – Make sure that it fits properly. Two fingers maximum should fit in the slack under the chin when it is buckled up. ( We’ll confirm this in the first practice.)
  • Gloves – Gel padding can help prevent numbness. Full fingered gloves are recommended for mountain biking to protect fingers better in case of crashes.
  • Glasses – Sport-specific. Do not wear glasses made with actual glass; this can be a hazard in a crash. Great options can be found on Amazon for under $20. Ask others what they’re wearing and where they got them.
  • Trailside repair toolkit – Build a kit: spare tube; patch kit; inflator cartridge or hand-held pump; multi-tool; and tire levers. A small saddle bag can be hung under your seat. Riders need to be self-sufficient, coaches assist when necessary but riders need to carry their own gear and be able to fix a flat (don’t worry, we can teach you!).
  • Lights (front and back for early season midweek practices).
  • Hydration pack or water bottle(s)
  • Snack food like a bar, dried fruit, or nuts that can easily be eaten on the ride.

I’m a new rider, what kind of shoes should I wear?
If you are new, you should start off the season with comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.  Right now it’s just dusty, but if we get rain it could be muddy.

After you are comfortable on the bike and as your skills increase, you may want to upgrade.

Most riders will end up wearing clip-less pedals with shoes like this.

When clipped in, your feet won’t slip off the pedal.  They are also more efficient because you can pull up on the pedal.  But they are expensive because you also need to buy new pedals.

Other riders prefer flats with a pair of mountain biking shoes.

Helmets

One of the most important pieces of equipment besides your bike is a helmet. Helmets are required for all rides and races. This includes coaches, parents or anyone riding with the team. If you don’t have a helmet, you’ll be sent home.

Here is a great article on: How to Choose a Bike Helmet

A few things to note:

  • Some riders ride with a road bike helmet and others ride with a mountain bike helmet. Either is fine.
  • Make sure you adjust your helmet properly. This article has some tips. If you’re not sure, then ask a coach to check for you.
  • Helmets with chin bars are not allowed in races. Besides you’ll get way too hot.
  • Know when to replace your helmet. If you had a big crash, then replace it. Helmets are meant to absorb a single impact. If your helmet is old (4 to 5 years), you should replace it. Pollution, UV light and weathering may weaken key components over time.
  • The team can lose points at a race if a parent or coach is found riding at a race without a helmet. Please don’t be that parent.

Here are some more details about helmets in the NorCal Edition of the NICA Rulebook

RULE 4. WEARING HELMETS STRICTLY ENFORCED
A. Student-athletes must wear an approved helmet at all times. See below for the list of approved helmet standards. Under no circumstances should a student be on their bicycle without a helmet fastened to their head, even when riding a very short distance. Students must also keep their helmet on when walking or running on the course with a mechanical (see Rule 2). In addition:
Helmet straps must be adjusted to the extent that two fingers can be pushed under the strap, whereas three fingers would be difficult.
Helmets should not have any cracks or dents from previous falls or mishandling.
Helmets should be the correct size with little to no side-to-side or front-to-back movement.
Full-face helmets are not allowed without written permission from the Rules and Appeals Committee.
The helmet rules are not applicable to riders warming up on bikes that are securely mounted to stationary trainers.

ORANGE LEVEL CONSEQUENCES
B. Approved Helmets meet one of the following standards:
a. Snell Memorial Foundation Standard “B” or “N” series.
b. American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F-1447.
c. European Committee for Standardization (CE EN1078) standard for bicycle helmets.

RULE 13.COACHES’ HELMETS
All coaches and team assistants must comply with all helmet rules at all team practices, team events, and League races. In the event a coach is seen riding without a helmet, a 25-point penalty will be applied to his or her team’s score.

RULE 14.PARENTS’ HELMETS
Parents shall comply with all helmet rules at all races. Parents riding bicycles without helmets will receive two warnings. After a third infraction, the parent’s student-athlete will be penalized 25 points at the race where the infraction occurred. Parents must wear helmets for the following reasons:
To set an example for the student-athletes;
As a part of risk management due to limited emergency
resources on site;
It is often difficult for race officials to visually differentiate between parents and coaches; and
NICA is concerned about the safety of all our participants and spectators.