Here’s a little taste!
For nearly seven years Carlos and I have been Master Trainers at 24 Hour Fitness. We both have such a passion for health and fitness that really I can’t see any other way to live our lives. I have learned so much in these years, having trained over seven thousand sessions, from nutrition, to proper goal setting, exercise techniques, periodization in cardiovascular and strength training, and most especially flexibility. All of these things are the keys to life, longevity, AND successful cycling. When I say “successful” cycling I’m not talking JUST competitive cycling. I mean riding your bike for what it is intended for, to have fun! I would say THAT in itself, constitutes success in cycling! Unfortunately, it can quickly turn into no fun when we start getting aches and pains on OR off the bike. Even worse is when our aches and pains get so bad that it keeps us from riding our bikes at all.
So for week five of my Countdown to Christmas, I would like to introduce to you Podium Cold and Podium Cold Foam Rollers. Podium Cold is an extremely practical method to reduce inflammation after a hard ride by icing your legs with these awesome leg sleeves. No more messing with ice bags and wasting a ton of water for an ice bath. Podium Cold was introduced to me earlier this year by a fellow racer, and I must say, I was pretty excited when I got my own pair. When you first put these guys on, it really takes your breath away! REALLY. It’s helpful to have distractions, like watching The Big Bang Theory, or maybe a rerun of one of the XC MTB World Cups on Red Bull TV, then you’ll forget what’s even going on with your lower extremities. 🙂
Aside from icing your legs to reduce inflammation, I would really say that the Podium Cold foam rollers are the KEY to successful cycling. I am a HUGE believer of self myofascial release, which is just a fancy word for massage. So here’s a little bit of simple science…if one muscle is tight and “shortened,” then the muscles directly across, or opposite, is going to be weak. An easy visual example is your bicep and tricep. You cannot contract both at the same time. Therefore, these muscles are opposites. So if you were to have a shortened bicep muscle due to overuse, or keeping a constant bend in your arms, like on a computer typing, or riding a bicycle for long durations, then over time your tricep will get weaker and your range of motion will become limited because of the lack of flexibility that you have developed. This leaves us prone to injury especially in other areas like the connecting joint, our shoulder. Very commonly people who tear their rotator cuff also have a tear in their bicep muscle where it attaches in the shoulder, and usually it all happens with some sort of everyday movement like reaching to pick something up in the back seat of your car.
All this was to give you an example of what can happen when we start to form muscle imbalances and do not address them. When we sit down, whether it’s in a chair at work, in the car, on the couch, or on the saddle, sitting puts our hip flexors into just that, FLEXION. If we stop to think about how much time in a day these muscles are in a state of flexion, why in the world would they be capable of going into full extension? Unless we were to make a constant effort to inhibit (foam roll or massage) and lengthen (stretch) the tight muscles. Then, to correct the imbalance, we must activate and strengthen the opposing muscles, which in this case would be our glutes, otherwise known as your behind. So long story short, our daily lives, along with being an active cyclist causes tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors causes our hips to shift anteriorly, so if you think you are standing up straight and your butt is sticking out (this is an anterior tilt), and you have a huge arch in your back, you actually just have REALLY tight hip flexors, and most likely lower back pain to accompany it. This leads to weak glutes, among other things such as your abs and lower pelvic muscles, which we need all of these things to be strong and stable on the bike.
So here’s what you do…order a foam roller NOW for any and all of your cycling buddies and family who doesn’t already have one. Make them read this blog so they understand why they need to use it, and hopefully it will help them to ride pain free and better yet, faster and stronger! Taking care of our bodies is so important so that it will take care of you. We all need to designate time, whether it’s right before/after riding, or on your rest days to pamper our muscles that we tend to abuse day in and day out. If you are a racer, just remember, if you are capable of activating and utilizing more muscles than your opponent, then this will give you an edge and allow you to pedal longer and harder.
Whether you are a racer, non-racer, or just all around passionate cyclist, be pro-active and take care of your body. Don’t wait till something hurts, or a muscle finally gives out and pops. We’re not all Professionals who get pampered day in and day out with a sports massage. For a discount on any of these products, send me a message on Facebook or to our email at Teamuranga@gmail.com and I’ll give you a coupon code to use at checkout. So this Christmas give the gift of flexibility and longevity with Podium Cold!
Last Thursday Carlos and I set out on our journey to the beautiful Palo Duro Canyon for the kickoff of the 2014 Hill Country Bicycle Works Mountain Bike Marathon Championship Series. If you’ve never been out to this gorgeous canyon in the middle of the Texas panhandle, it is absolutely worth the trek! So much so that we made a four day weekend out of it! Since we got an early start on the road, we arrived at our campsite around 2:30 in the afternoon.
We set up camp and headed out for a ride. The trail was marked perfectly and the views were just as breathtaking as we remembered. When we got back from our ride, we were excited to see our friends and teammates Steve and Sonya all set up at the site next to ours! Ah, let the weekend of friends, fun, riding, and racing begin!
The evening was COLD so we ate some delicious homemade chicken soup to keep ourselves warm.
Friday morning we went out for another lap of the canyon and sectioned a few spots of the trail. The rest of the day we prepped our bikes for the following morning and kicked our feet up in good company.
I’m going to back track a little bit to the past month. Almost exactly a month ago was the last race of the cross country season in Tyler. There wasn’t a particular reason I didn’t blog about the race other than I just got lazy, busy, and SICK! The weekend of the Tyler race, the heavens opened up on us while we were camping, the day before the race. It was a huge storm that struck down trees and we even got hailed on! It was pretty bad. The rain came down so hard that our canopy started to cave in on us and all of our stuff was under it, including our bikes! The bad thing was that the canopy was right next to a tree and it was lighting like crazy, so we didn’t want to stay there to hold up the fort. We took cover in the truck and every few minutes Carlos would run out and make sure the canopy didn’t completely cave in. Poor guy got so soaked and next thing we knew he came down with a cold a few days later. Boo.
I thought I was home free when the first few days of his cold I felt fine…and then it hit me! Next thing I knew it was all in my chest and there was no riding going on in the Uranga household. I was having all sorts of trouble breathing and after a few weeks went by I finally just bit the bullet and made an appointment with my asthma doctor. It turned out that I had some major inflammation in my airways. He put me on a round of antibiotics, which dramatically decreased the inflammation, but I was still having this strange tightness in my throat which makes me feel like I can’t breathe, plus I was constantly having these dull headaches. I’m now on another round of antibiotics for a sinus infection. I nearly cried when my doctor said I couldn’t race the marathon. I decided to wait out the decision making till Saturday to reevaluate how I was feeling.
After riding Thursday and Friday, I was feeling really good. My congestion was gone, breathing was much better, and no more headache, so I made the call to register for the race with the support of my husband and my coach. I was given the green light to race as long as I PROMISED to pull the plug if I wasn’t feeling well. Sweet!
A little more back tracking to the weekend before the marathon, and here we were camping again, but this time at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, TX….another MUST for any mountain biker!
As Carlos and I were out exploring this beauty, he was caught a little off guard by a rocky drop off, and next thing he knew he was over his bars and landed solid on his hip and thigh! It looked bad and my heart dropped! There was no soft dirt for him to land on and rock is not very forgiving. Thank God he’s got some meat on his bones and he was okay, just very very sore. After our ride we were cleaning our bikes for the next days ride when we came across a crack on my carbon front wheel. Uh! It just wasn’t in the cards for us to ride. With all the signs that were right in front of us we took the weekend for what it was, a weekend all to ourselves to cuddle by the fire and just RELAX!!! Amazing how we need so much to happen in order to rest our bodies.
Okay, fast forward to Palo Duro and Thursday’s pre-ride…Carlos had a little tuck and roll action on a slippery decent. Of course it was Murphy’s Law, and you better betcha, that the rolling action was on the same side that he went down on the weekend before! Ouch. So here he is sore leg, sore hip, and sore shoulder.
The Minnerly’s drove me over to the starting area so I could register and pick up my number plate. I was feeling really good and my game plan was to LISTEN TO MY BODY since my health and riding have been little to nothing in the past four weeks. Today was not the day to try to be a hero and I wasn’t willing to risk getting myself sick again. On the other hand, Carlos woke up with some stomach pains and his breakfast was not going down very well.
The race began as a mass start. I was in the first row and Carlos was a few rows behind me. When they sounded the horn I made sure to stay up at the front, but out of the wind, which happened to be blowing around 30 mph the ENTIRE race! There was a two mile start loop which started on the road and then dropped into single track. I was the second girl going into single track behind Nina Baum (Stan’s NoTubes). The start was fast just as I expected and about five miles into the race I knew I needed to back off. I was happy to be out of the traffic behind me and stuck with my plan to tone down my pace. Somewhere back in the canyon Alison Kinsler (Nuke Sunrise Trail Bombers) came up on me and I went ahead and let her pass. I didn’t even attempt to chase her down.
About half way through my first lap Carlos had picked his way through the crowd and passed me. His pace was a little too brisk for my taste and it turns out it was a little too brisk for him too with the bumps and bruises he had accumulated in the previous weeks. As I approached the feed zone heading into my second lap I saw Carlos there swapping out his bottles. To my advantage Sonya was standing there with my bottle in her hand so I got to head out a few seconds before him. I just kept my pace and when I got to the first sandy, steep climb I I hopped off my bike to save a bit of energy. This was a bad move on my part because Carlos came up on me so fast that I couldn’t get out of his way in time. He was forced to I unclip and right away his legs started cramping. Uh! I felt so bad for being the reason he didn’t ride up the climb and it was much too soon in the race for him to be cramping. I immediately knew this was not going to be good. He told me to keep going so he could keep his legs moving. I rode off and continued my race.
Carlos struggled the rest of that lap fighting cramps. To make matters worse he had misplaced his pocket flask of Elete and so he had no relief. The combination of cramps, lack of calories, and his XC race pace (sarcasm) that morning was not ideal. He made the decision to pull the plug after that lap. As a certified cycling coach, he sometimes laughs at himself for being his own worst client when it comes to not following his game plan. So this winter his goal is to do more marathons for that simple reason, to make himself stick with his game plan!
During my first and second laps I had a terrible, throbbing, sinus headache. It got so bad through my second lap that I had almost convinced myself to pull out of the race. The last few miles when I was covered a little bit more from the wind, my headache went away, so you better believe that I kept on going! My legs were feeling surprisingly good still and my pace was still steady. The only thing putting a limp in my step was the wind. It was gnarly! At one point in the canyon I turned a corner and almost got blown off a cliff, and in an open section, I was literally blown off the trail! It was nuts climbing into a headwind. That’s not really the norm on a mountain bike. It felt more like I was on a brutal road ride.
All in all it turned out to be a pretty decent race for me, finishing in third and receiving a very healthy payout! The race was very well put together and organized.
Nothing to complain about and so much more fun than being sick on the sidelines! Life is good.
I’m excited to finally be back on my bike and enjoying this awesome weather! Now the countdown begins till it’s new bike day!!!! It should be any day now when my new wheels arrive at the shop!! Ah! Can’t wait!
Stay posted tomorrow for week five of my Countdown to Christmas…What’s Your Secret Training Weapon?!?
Here we are only six short weeks away from the big “C”…..CHRISTMAS!!! I know I probably say this all too often, but time sure does fly! I think most especially when you’re having fun, doing what you love, and loving what you do.
I don’t know about you guys, but if you’re any sort of athlete at all, I’m sure you’re a pretty driven person as I like to believe I am. So why is it that year after year I get caught on the week of Christmas thinking, “Oh shoot! I need to buy presents!” as if I didn’t know for the entire 364 previous days of the year, since the last Christmas, what date it was going to be on. Doh! It’s like a mean joke I play on myself every year, when I get to run around like a chicken with it’s head chopped off. Maybe it’s just the adrenaline junkie inside of me that likes to race against the clock to see if I can get it all done while the rest of the world runs around with their heads chopped off too! Ha!
Well the reality of it all, is that it REALLY just stresses me the heck out! So I’ve decided that this year I’m not going to continue this vicious cycle, and I’m going to enjoy the holiday that I truly do love. I’ll save the race against the clock for my bike. In an attempt to do this, I’ve decided to have a countdown to Christmas! Each week I will have a new blogpost to share a few of our “most secret” off-season training tools that could very possibly take place as fabulous gifts for your friends and family who also enjoy this wonderful sport of cycling! So follow us week by week to make sure you don’t miss anything!
With six weeks to go, I want to introduce our favorite piece of indoor training equipment…Sport Crafters Rollers. A little over a year ago my brothers best friend gave us his set of Sport Crafters Cadence Rollers because he just didn’t have the time to use them anymore. He knew that Carlos and I would put them to good use and knowing how much they helped him improve his cycling, he knew that we would provide the perfect home for these puppies.
If you’ve never used rollers before, they sure can be tricky! I totally thought to myself, “I’m a mountain biker! How hard could this really be?!?” Well, boy did I have to put my ego to the side and get a good hold of the wall next to me! Carlos held my bars to make sure I wouldn’t fall, and for the first time I was not eager to get rid of those “training wheels!” After a few minutes I finally had the courage to ask him to let go. At first it felt like the bike was going to slide right out under me and my heart rate was going up like I was working on my threshold! I knew this had to be so much more mind over matter so I focused on relaxing my upper body and letting the bike move underneath me…just keep turning the pedals over. A few more minutes into it and I found myself in a rhythm. I loved it! I found that riding our new rollers improved my balance on the bike significantly and was NOT boring at all! Through the winter my indoor workouts flew by so much faster than my plain old trainer workouts.
During the remainder of the year when we do most of our general riding outside, Carlos and I used our cadence rollers inside mainly to spin our legs out on recovery days and continue balance work. The deal with the cadence rollers is that there isn’t any added resistance. So if your goal is to get your watts up pretty high it’s rather hard to do. Unfortunately, sometime last month the band that connects the front and rear drum broke. But, because they have a lifetime warranty, we sent their customer service an email. Their quick response was impressive and what was even more impressive was that they shipped out a new band the very same day…for FREE! In this process their marketing manager, Sarah Houser, informed us of their new OverDrive drum that offers a “real road resistance” feel. With the winter about to begin we knew this OverDrive drum was just what we needed, so we bit the bullet and ordered one.
This is a game changer folks! There is zero vibration and plenty of room for hitting your top end power. Carlos and I have both done some really great workouts with our new OverDrive drum and it is awesome! It’s fun to not only challenge your body by pushing hard, but also to have to use core strength and balance to stay on these things.
As for Christmas, I don’t know of any cyclist who wouldn’t be ecstatic to have one of these under the tree with their name on it!!! They’re a little pricey, retailing at $399, but they’re sure to please! So check out your local bike shop to get one ordered, or hit them up online at http://www.sportscrafters.com.
Stay posted next week for more “secret” off-season training tools and start your gift list now!
Fall is HERE!!!!!!!! My favorite time of year! The last race of the TMBRA Texas State Championship Series is a week and a half away, and that will conclude three and a half years of racing in the books. Oh how time flies!
Three weeks ago was the Dave Boyd Huntsville Classic. Throughout the entire spring we were super spoiled by staying in hotels because of the constant racing, week after week, . It was time to break out the camping gear and enjoy mother earth a little bit deeper. All of the previous TMBRA Fall Series race venues (Huntsville, Ruston, Tyler) always bring back such sweet memories! This is where our TMBRA family began to form, and new friendships blossomed. Not everyone likes Huntsville because of its lack of elevation gain, and “technical” features, if you don’t want to include ginormous piles of sand and roots as “technical.” That is basically what Huntsville is, a SUPER fast, rooty, sandpit. Which, by the way, is perfect for taking a spill in. I got to experience that sand one on one right in my face! I just don’t understand why anybody wouldn’t enjoy going that fast on a mountain bike no matter how “non-technical” it is. As long as the rubber is rolling on dirt I’m a happy camper!
Carlos’ race went really well! He got a solid start going into the trees somewhere around top ten. Through out the race he began to move up little by little and next thing he knew he was rolling through the finish in fifth in a stacked field of nineteen guys!!! Oh man, it was so exciting! I can’t even describe how much my heart was jumping with joy!
For the Women’s Pro field we had SEVEN girls! I know to all you boys this seems like a puny number, but that’s HUGE for us! So awesome to see cycling really start to grow for us women. We have, hands down, the most AMAZING support here in Texas! In numerous races there has been an added payout for the women and not only that, but this past weekend in Ruston, LA there was equal prize money for the Pro Men’s and Women’s Categories! WOW! I’d like say a huge THANK YOU to Jennifer Behling for making this happen right out of her own pocket! And ladies and gentlemen, this is not the first time she has contributed to the women’s prize money. With that being said, my race in Huntsville was fast and FUN! Yes, I got to eat a little bit of dirt, but pushing yourself to the limit is always a blast! I walked away with the win, a nice envelope filled with a little green, a jar filled with a little sand, and an awesome Muscle Milk backpack now filled with a little cycling stuff!
Now Ruston was the real adventure! This is really one of our favorite races and trails of all time. Park Ranger James Ramsaur really knows how to keep a trail in tip-top condition. It’s so awesome that they even blow the trail off to clear it of leaves and pine needles! Between that, the flowy burms, the screaming Tomac Hill, beautiful scenery, pristine soil, and race organization to absolute perfection with Tobin and Jennifer…why wouldn’t you make the drive to the piney woods in Louisiana?
We got the earliest start for the weekend that we could and arrived at the park around 3:30pm Friday, set up camp, and hit the trail. It was all the bit of fun that I remembered! Saturday morning after breakfast and coffee we went out for one last pre-ride before resting up for the Tomac Hill Time Trial (TT) that evening. I was the only girl to do the TT, which was absolutely absurd to me because there was even a payout. So I got to have a little under ten minutes of fun riding my bike as fast as I could and I got paid for it!!! Score! I have to say that I was a bit nervous starting out on Tomac Hill where all eyes are on you and the penalty for failure is pretty high. But I cleaned the drop and had a smooth ride, so I was a happy camper!
Now Sunday was a different story. The forecast was predicting a high chance of rain overnight Saturday and through Sunday morning. We were crossing our fingers that the weather man would be wrong, as they normally are (sorry weather man, but it’s the truth.) Before bed we cleaned up camp, left out only what we would need in the morning, and put our bikes along with everything else under our canopy. This was going to be our first time camping in the rain, and it started to come down pretty early. At some point in the night I got out of the tent to tinkle and on my way back, checked out how the canopy was holding up…not very good! Uh oh! There was so much water that it starting caving in on both sides and water was dripping on my bike! So Carlos adjusted the straps and fortunately that fixed the problem before it got ugly. I finally got some good sleep towards the end of the night.
My favorite husband got up early and woke me up with my coffee and oatmeal. What can I say girls, I picked a good one! So we sat in our tent having breakfast waiting for the rain to settle down. It was perfect timing when it stopped, giving us just enough time to tear down our entire campsite, load up the truck, get ready and then realize that our start was earlier than we had thought…oops! So our warmup was pretty non-existent, which is never fun (or good) to start a race cold. But it was what it was.
There were only two of us in the women’s pro field, Jen and myself. I knew that I didn’t really want to be full throttle for this race because the muddy conditions are still very new to me. The soil is similar to that of Tyler State Park, which I have ridden in the rain before, but I was still a little hesitant to just open up. So I pretty much just kept a steady pace for the whole race. Carlos’ category started two minutes behind us. In my first lap a few of his guys passed me and shortly after Carlos came by. He was looking strong and had a good pace going in third place. When he passed, he told me his water bottle had popped out of his cage. Uh! Not good. As the race went on it rained on and off a few times and the trail was getting sloppier and sloppier. I was in the middle of my second lap when I saw Carlos’ jersey in the distance for the first time since he had gone by me earlier. I didn’t know what was going on because I knew I wasn’t going any faster than before. I was going back and forth with James, who was in fourth right behind Carlos. Without knowing what Carlos’ race had fully been like, the last thing I wanted to see was us catch up to him and him lose his position. Well, what I didn’t know was that he had slipped on some roots and hit the ground hard in his first lap. All in all he was okay, just got twisted pretty good. This, in addition to nearly an hour of race pace with no water, and then trying to make up time on the second lap with a super slippery back tire on the climbs made out for him hitting the wall. In the last mile of the trail James rode by him to take third. Carlos and I crossed the line together, him in fourth and myself in first.
Although it wasn’t the race he had visualized, he still made out with a solid finish, and I had SO MUCH FUN! I know not everyone may feel the same, but I thought the mud was a blast to slide around in! You really got to test your limits in the corners and pray that the mud or slippery roots wouldn’t claim you. We were dirty as could be, and our bikes needed a whole lotta tender loving care, but it was well worth it! So many memories come from races like this, and they are ones you’ll never forget.
One more XC race for the year in Tyler next weekend will wrap up the season. Hope to see everyone out there…this is one you don’t want to miss!
Sometimes I forget that not “everybody” is on Facebook. I had posted a few pics on my page from the “Ride Better Feel Better Clinic” I put on two weekends ago and I really want to share them on here. It was such a success and I’m so excited to start planning the next one, so keep your eyes open for the date! I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to all the ladies that showed up! I managed to drag my service manager, and not to mention client, from 24 Hour Fitness out with me. 🙂 I had such a good time with her! When we got to Plano Cycling in the morning there were already quite a few cars already in the parking lot. As more pulled up one by one I was really surprised by all the mountain bikes I saw on their racks! It was awesome! Lorinda Putter, bike mechanic and bike fitter from the shop, led a great road ride. A few of us opted for the shorter route. It was perfect timing, as we were finishing up our ride we met up with the group that went long. There were women of all levels and diverse cycling backgrounds. For many it was their first ever group ride, for others it was the first time ever riding on the road, and for some it was their very first time riding this year! I’m SO PROUD of EVERYONE who came out!
Afterwards, we all headed into Bikin’ Mike’s for the clinic. Thank you Plano Cycling and Fitness for providing us with delicious Einstein Bagels, bananas, and bottled water! I just wanted to say that this idea of putting on a clinic has been something that Carlos and I have been brainstorming for quite sometime now. It was one of those ideas that you just write down on paper, kind of like the idea of racing Pro, and then all of a sudden one day you find yourself at the starting line next to Georgia Gould, Emily Batty, and so many other women that you look up to! This clinic was actually one of those ideas and it was really awesome to finally make it happen. I really have a passion to help people, or at least try to, and I was so blessed with every single one of you ladies that showed up. You could just tell that everyone wanted to be there, and everyone wanted to learn! It was really a personal trainer’s dream if you ask me. All I hope for is that everyone walked out with the knowledge to be proactive in their lives to have fun, feel great, and maybe even ride a little better!
This weekend is the DORBA 17th Annual Women’s Mountain Bike Camp/Clinic at Tyler State Park. I am so excited to volunteer and meet more fellow women who share the same passion of cycling! It’s my first time to attend this event and hopefully not my last! Now lets just see if I can survive without my best friend, my hubby, for a few days. #sadface There are still a few spots left for camp if you haven’t already signed up click here to make your reservation! Can’t wait to see ya’ll in Tyler, my happy place and also one of my favorite trails of all time!
Do you have lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain? Would you like to ride your bike, run or jog longer or faster? Have you been struggling to lose those last few pounds? I am a Certified Personal Trainer of over six years, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and aspiring Pro Mountain Biker. Join me for a casual Women’s ONLY NO DROP road ride at Plano Cycling and Fitness on Saturday July 27 at 8:30am. Immediately after we will have a hands on clinic that could very possibly make you ride better and feel better! Don’t have a road bike? Not a problem! Fat tires or skinny tires, they’re all welcome! This is a free event and strictly for the ladies so bring your friends and riding partners whether they are beginner or advanced.
This ride will start at 8:30am SHARP in the parking lot of Plano Cycling and Fitness. For details on this ride please click here.
Immediately following our ride will be a clinic where I will go over nutrition (on the bike and off the bike), flexibility, core and strength training, and bike fit. Some items to bring that will allow you to get the most out of this clinic are a foam roller and a yoga mat (a large towel will also work.) No worries if you don’t have a foam roller as I will have a few extras handy.
IMPORTANT! This ride is NOT rain or shine. Therefore in the event that it does rain the clinic will be held at 1pm. If all goes well and the skies are blue the clinic will start at 11:30 am (after the ride.)
I want to thank Plano Cycling and Fitness for providing us with snacks and drinks and for generously opening up the space for us to make this possible!
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to email me at TeamUranga@gmail.com.