Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Note: The photographs are clickable and larger images can be viewed.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The alleyway that we were in was quite interesting looking since it had an interesting combination of old and modern Taipei. I took a picture (shown on the right) of an interesting composition with the red lantern; massive bill-board with non-Taiwanese people depicted; myriad of Chinese signage and the flow of people walking past the food stalls.
We were now ready to eat a proper meal and found a small Thai restaurant tucked away in the same alleyway and ordered two dishes and a Thai Style Milk Tea. The picture on the far left is the Chicken Red-curry that tasted quite authentic and contained some thick noodles at the bottom with carrots, potatoes and spices. The other dish, shown on the right is a dish they call "Yunan Dish" which was a mixture of cold vegetables, thin noodles and some dried type of fish sprinkled on the top. It was actually quite tasty and a good meal to end our cycling excursion with. The Thai Milk Tea was the best 'authentic' style we have had in Taipei since enjoying it during our trip in Thailand. It was so good that we asked if they had the actual tea that we could buy. Surprisingly they said they could sell us a packet of real Thai Tea for $150NT, which was a very good deal since it was a good sized bag and you can make at least 100 cups of tea with it. Our meal (including the Thai Iced Tea) at the Thai restaurant only cost $175NT ($5.40) for both of us. The cycle home, past Da-An Park the largest park in Taipei, took only 15 minutes, it was already dark. This is a nice ride to do if you are looking for an easy, relaxing one and a chance to taste the various street foods that Taipei has to offer.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I had started up my training last week, beginning with easy morning spins on the rollers. I then did the Epic 190km ride that I ended up 'bonking' in. I recovered quickly though to have enough energy to play tag rugby at the American school in Tianmu. I played well, at least till I fell and ripped open my knees. My left knee was the worst hit since it re-opened an old cycling injury from 3 years ago - it had been torn open enough times to prevent skin re-growth! Also, since I had not run since last year, my muscles had a shock and for three days I was hobbling around like an old man! This put me off cycling for the week, but I spent three hours yesterday cycling around Taipei City. The best way to understand a city is to let yourself get lost and go with the flow. I visited a few language schools that I spotted and went in to enquire about teaching positions and to leave my resume. I cycled mostly around the back streets, checking out all the shops and outdoor eating stalls that were lined up on the road. I also took a few photographs with my Nikon D90, but it was hard to hold the heavy camera in one hand, steer the bike with the other and watch out for traffic! I enjoyed a freshly made pork 'Baozi', steamed bun (piping hot) on one of the busy corners for only $8NT (about 20cents).
Today I went on a proper training ride to Maokong Mountain. It was not too long, 40kms and 1hr 40mins. I did a couple of 1min 500 plus watt efforts and also did the mountain climb in 16 mins @ an average wattage of 335. Which was not too bad for lack of training since the Deaflympics. I will be racing the Giant Cup Criterium race in Taichung at the end of this month and need to re-gain some semblance of form I had prior and during the Deaflympics. Some quality structured training over the next couple of weeks should sharpen me up for the event, which will be my first Taiwanese race.
Friday, October 9, 2009
- Invariably at some point during the ride, you bonk from lack of food/fluids and the last miles take a momentus effort just to keep going
- You suffer the misfortune of a mechanical or a puncture/burst side-wall
- The ride is longer than originally planned - riding in unknown areas
- You experience cramps and have to fight them to get home
- When you start fantasizing what foods you will eat when get back
- When you start watching every mile ticking over and feels like it takes forever
- After riding through heavy Taipei traffic and once the roads had less traffic, the Specialized Novatec team of seven riders set quite a fast tempo that I was regularly putting out 350 plus watts to stay in the pace-line.
- We rode single-file and hard once we were out on the highway next to the ocean, with the powerful wind behind us we were averaging over 30mph (48km/h) and sustaining 35mph for good periods of time. When I hit the front for a turn, I was putting out 400 plus watts to maintain the speed.
- Covered 80kms in 1hr 38mins and ended up in Hsinchu City, almost halfway to Taichung. The pace was ramped up considerably 20km outside of this city and the team was splintered and only 3 riders plus myself were riding hard. I pulled the plug when I realized I was over-doing it and especially since it was my first real training ride since the Deaflympics.
- I rolled to a stop in Hsinchu City to wait on the side of the road for the Specialized Novatec support van to come. I must have been there about 10 minutes when all of a sudden my rear tyre went completely flat. I pulled out my spare tube and proceeded to change tubes. While checking for foreign objects in the rim and tyre, I discovered that the tyre side-wall was ruptured. Support van eventually came up and fortunately they had a spare tyre which I was able to use.
- My plan was now to head back the same way we came (if I could find the way back). The weather had now heated up since we left Taipei; it felt very hot and humid. I drank the rest of my fluids and got replacement water from the support van.
- Since I was having so much fun riding in the pace-line with the Specialized-Novatec team, I had failed to realize we had traveled so far. Now I was faced with the daunting prospect of riding directly into the powerful wind. After enjoying high speeds on the way down, I was now grinding at 50-60rpm going at a snails pace of 16km/h. My power output had fallen to 150-160 watts.
- I also missed the turn for the highway we came on, and continued my death march along highway 15 that went through several small towns. That did make the ride more interesting and since I can communicate in Mandarin, I stopped to ask for directions back to Taipei and one kind Taiwanese man gave me several bottles of cold water as by that point I was seriously hurting and was not in good shape. I mixed my REV 3 Surge powder mix into one of the bottles, and that's what kept me going for another hour or so. I also had a caffeine gel plus two bananas to eat. The old man told me I still had a good 60 or more kms to go! That was not good news to hear.
- The wind was so ferocious that when I cycled past buildings, I would get some respite but the instant there were no buildings, the power of the wind really kicked me side-ways. My front wheel was a HED Jet 60, so most of the sideways movement came from that. After grinding along for a couple of hours, I jumped at the opportunity to draft some trucks including a truck filled with big fat pigs all squashed together. However, this brief activity of higher cadence and power-output caused the first of my cramps to come on.
- I had to stop shortly after the drafting to shake the cramp out of my big thigh muscle. From then on I was battling the cramp. I controlled it for the most part by pointing my heel down and keeping the gear light.
- I enjoyed my Usana Oatmeal Raisin bar as the last of my food supplies. I had packed enough food in my pockets to last me for 100-120kms! So, I was definitely going to suffer the last 60kms home. I finally made it back to Ba Li, a small town that marked the beginning of entering the sprawling city of Taipei and cruised up to a traffic light. There was a drink van in front of me, so I rapped on the window and asked in Chinese if I could have some drink. He motioned for me to wait on the side of the road while he pulled up to park. I saw that he had 250ml cans of milk coffees and water, so asked for three milk coffees and two bottles of water. I told him that I did not bring any cash with me and would he give it for free since I was shaking from lack of energy. He said that he could give me the water for free but not the coffee. However, I noticed some on top of a box and asked him what they were. Was told that they had expired by two months and could give my stomach problems. I replied that's no problem (I was desperate for something sweet to keep me going for another 30km). He gave me it and I gulped it down and that gave me a new lease on life.
- After drinking the coffee and drinking more water, I actually noticed my power output increasing back up to 170-180 as I continued on my adventure to get back home.
- Once back into Taipei City proper, I had to contend with the cramp that was coming back slightly along with dodging crazy scooter riders, taxi drivers and trucks that would cross my line. Riding in Taipei City is not for the faint hearted and I was constantly weaving through the traffic to get to the front where the hundreds of scooters were waiting to take off.
- I also had to rely on my sense of direction to get back to my apartment on the other side of the city. I almost crossed over a bridge that would have taken me in the opposite direction, but before taking the bridge I stopped to ask two traffic wardens which direction was the International 101 building, one of the tallest buildings in the world. Once they pointed me in the right direction, I was able to navigate myself back home using the 101 building as a point of reference.
- I was stoked to have finally made it back after pedaling for almost seven hours and 190kms!
- 9 bottles of water
- 1 x 250ml coffee
- 2 x caffiene gels
- 3 x bananas
- 1 x USANA Oatmeal raisin bar
- 2 x REV 3 Surge paks
A 2005 study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that SMP saddles have a new geometrical conception for maintain the vascular perfusion of the genital-perineal region. The study stated:
“The true innovation brought about by the SMP saddle is its capacity of interfering scarcely on the blood perfusion of the penis…. It is the geometry of this saddle, by redistributing the body weight onto the buttocks, prevents the squashing of the neurovascular structures that run medially to the ischial tuberosities. Furthermore, the depression in the rear part prevents the coccyx from touching the saddle, thus preventing repercussions caused by the un-evenness of the ground that may affect the spine”
The study showed that the SMP saddle was the “most efficient in protecting the blood perfusion of the penis compared to one of the saddles most frequently used by professional cyclists”
When I first saw the Selle SMP Strike saddle, I was doubtful that it would comfortable enough to do long training rides on, let alone do road and criterium racing due to its peculiar shape and hardness. I was also skeptical that the saddle would eliminate my numbness issues I frequently get during longer or easy training rides. I was pleasantly surprised. As mentioned in my previous posting, racers are less affected by blood flow issues. The same is true for me as I seldom experienced numbness during racing events; it was just during training that my issue emerged. The Selle SMP saddle seemed like it might be the saddle that could solve my problems.
I was supplied with a nice looking Strike Composite saddle that is shown here in the picture and had this mounted in conjunction with a bike-fit and raced on during the US racing season and when I represented New Zealand at the Deaflympics. I was amazed at how snug it felt during my first race. When I was on the rivet, I was able to slide forward into a position that is more conducive to power riding. SMP claim that the beak of the saddle nose is “designed to supply a flat base for efforts when sitting for long climbs that have to be faced and as a help in downhill slopes, offering greater thigh control of the bicycle”. When you actually try this saddle out, you will realize that the claims by Selle SMP have a very solid foundation with their award-winning design and function.
Based on the research in the field and the product innovation of SMP, they have come out with a cutting edge saddle that will amaze anyone who has not yet tried it. There are other saddle manufacturers that do well, such as the Specialized Body Geometry saddles, but they do not compare to the quality and performance of SMP. Provided the SMP saddle is fitted correctly, you should eliminate problems with numbness and enjoy your long rides. In fact, I just completed a seven hour ride today on the Composite saddle and was comfortable the whole time although my legs were feeling quite shattered by the end of my epic ride.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
His research concluded that a bike saddle can compress the perineal region, restricting blood flow and therefore leading to impotence. One of his other sensational comments was that “Cycling should be banned and outlawed”. The general scientific community did not accept his ideas since Goldstein’s research had several limitations including: small sample sizes, questionable methodologies and never peer-reviewed.
However, one of the main benefits accrued from the findings was that bicycle saddle manufacturers took notice and begun re-designing saddles to increase comfort levels and blood flow.
Minkow and Sommer tested more than 20 different saddles on large numbers of volunteers and they found that not one seat would ever fully eliminate compression. Minkow stated that “we found that it only takes a minute for blood flow to be compromised”. Roger Minkow became one of the leading experts in saddle design after the statements by Goldstein hit the world headlines. Minkow realized one of Goldstein’s main draw-backs in the methodology to determine blood flow could not be administered while the subject was actually pedaling on the bike, only if the subject was sitting stationary.
Minkow developed the early Specialized Body Geometry saddles that quickly became best sellers; however, with the success of Lance Armstrong, cycling became more and more popular.
German Professor, Frank Sommer was the person who found out the way to measure penile blood flow while actually riding. Sommer tested 100s of riders with many different saddle designs in different sitting positions. The research that Sommer and Minkow produced proved to be a critical factor in the proliferation of new and better designs produced by different saddle manufacturers in the last decade.
According to Minkow and Sommer, Conventional saddles of more than 10 years ago, blood flow while riding would be only 20-40% of what it was while not on the bike. However the emergence of new saddle designs, that can be increased to an average of 80%. Sitting on a regular office chair compromises your blood flow by 10%, which is what most people contend with when working. Minkow concluded that if you can find a saddle that only loses 10-20% blood flow, you can ride for longer than saddles that gives you 50% compression over a 1-2 hour ride.
Dr Pruitt (2006) says that “a lot of people think crotch soreness is part of the sport – it really should not be”. He goes on to say that “cyclists should be regularly standing up in their pedals every five to ten minutes during a ride to keep the blood circulating”
Another interesting point Dr Pruitt raises, is that racers are less affected by blood flow problems than casual recreational riders. Racers are generally lighter and thus support less weight on soft tissue when riding. “Racers usually have better technique, standing more often and take the weight of the vital areas. Furthermore, racers are training or racing at high intensity and are pushing down considerably harder than recreational riders on the pedals, this lifts their hips off the saddle slightly on each pedal stroke. The recreational rider, on the other hand, maybe overweight and likely to sit down the entire ride spinning with his whole weight on the soft tissue which can lead to increased incidence of numbness and crotch discomfort”.
Top tips on eliminating numbness
- Get a professional bike fit – often this is a big factor. Once you have been fitted properly to your bike the numbness and other discomfort issues may disappear
- If you don’t get a professional bike fit, you can try positioning your seat that its level or just a few degrees down in front
- Ensure your knees are not fully extended at the bottom of your pedal stroke, otherwise this puts extra weight on your sensitive areas
- Saddle choice – go for firm saddles over the softer ones. Firm saddles are better because they do not compress your vital arteries and support your sit-bones better. Sommer and Minkow state that flat or concave saddles generally have better performance. Since the link between cycling and impotence made headlines in the late 1990s, a proliferation of new saddle designs emerged and there now a wide range of choices for the cyclist.
- Invest in a pair of good quality cycling shorts with a well designed chamois
- The simplest adjustment you can make is to ensure you stand up on the bike every 10 minutes or so. If you live in hilly or rolling areas this would be a natural occurrence.