Monday, June 22, 2009

Tri Tip: Flip Turns

Now I'm not the best swimmer by far. I learned to swim as a kid, but really started to do lap swimming when I was at Skidmore at took a Swim for Fitness class. I've been progressing slowly but surely and think that one of my mile stones is being able to do flip turns.

Technically they're not the most complicated things in the world. But I think that they require a certain level of comfort with the water. For Triathletes with non-swimming backgrounds, being able to swim without the constant fear of drowning can be a large hurdle. The more relaxed you can be in the water the more you can focus on technique and expending energy in the form of propulsion.

Consistency helps a lot with comfort in the water. As well as just experience and repetition. Eventually you'll start to figure out how to move in and through the water and swimming might even start to feel good. (I'm almost there!)

When I first started to try flip turns I was primarily hampered by a lack of oxygen, which led to freaking out and total disintegration of comfort.

I've figured out that the breathing through the flip was difficult because it was inconstant with how I was breathing when I would do a non-flip turn. In the latter I would take my last stroke, then grab the edge of the pool with my approaching hand, take a breath, pull my legs towards the edge, duck my head/upper body back into the water and push off into my streamline. I would never have to worry about my breath in the last few strokes before the turn because I would always get to breathe during the about-face.

But when doing a flip you obviously can't breath while in the middle of your somersault.
And if you add up the time in the last couple of strokes before the flip,during the flip and in the streamline before your first stoke it seems to be way longer than the time between three stokes (if you're bi-lateral breathing...and you should be). I've never actually clocked the aforementioned amount of time. But I've struggled enough to know that if I don't think about taking a breath before I come into a flip my streamline is going to be pretty short and I'll be burning for air.

So. How to remedy the first problem of flip turns? Well, the solution that I've come up with is to make sure that I take a breath after I pass the flags at the end of the pool. Usually I'll see the flags on a stoke and then take two, sometimes three, more strokes, breathe and will have enough O2 until I come out the other side of the flip. Play with it and see if that helps.

Now hopefully if you're a little more comfortable with the breathing aspect of flip turns then the actual execution won't be that difficult.
For me I took five or ten minutes during a couple of practices to mess around in the shallow end to see if I could make my flips work. This is what I would suggest doing:

Walk out from the wall ten feet or so, enough to allow for a few strokes. Turn around. Push forward with your feet to generate some momentum and then take a few strokes. When you get just past the T, where the stripe in the tile ends, keep your recovering hand (the one moving forward to take the next stroke) out in front of you, and press down with your head then chest as if executing a somersault. Focus on looking up towards the ceiling and the lights, as this will help you rotate. And when you flip upside down breath out through your nose and mouth. The latter will keep the water out and the comfort in. Once you've completed your somersault stop there. Just try that a few times to get a feeling for moving forward and flipping. Make sure that you recover enough between each try so that searching for oxygen isn't an issue while you're figuring out the movements.
Now as for that part about keeping a hand out in front of you: I like to keep one or both hands out in front of me as I think it helps to give me something to pull against and assist my flip. I'm sure it's not Pro and others will argue against it. But it really helped me to rotate around and has now started to dissipate as I'm more comfortable with my flip turns.

Once you've tried just somersaulting a few times your next step is pushing off the wall. The T on the floor gives you an indicator that the wall is approaching and about when you need to flip. I usually find my self going just past the T and flipping with my legs pretty bent for a good push off the wall. Often times my outstretched hand could be in contact with the wall when I start to flip. But err on the side of caution allowing for a bit more room, especially if you're afraid of bonking your heals.

Flip keeping your feet about shoulder width and your knees fairly bent. When you're about upside down, push off the wall and engage a twist to right your self out. You're going to use the stability of the wall to help you rotate your twist. Twisting without the wall is possible but a tougher. Also, you'll probably find that you prefer twisting to one side or the other, but try both to see which works.
Again, while flipping think about looking for the lights on the ceiling as you're pressing your chest and head forwards at the start of the flip. And while you're flipping make sure to breath out for the duration of the flip.

Work through it a few times and it'll come. I'm sure of it. Plus when you're cruising and land a really quick tight flip it's an awesome feeling.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Forecast at a Glance

Chance Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 50%
Hi 60 °F

Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 100%

Lo 57 °F

Rain Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 70%
Hi 64 °F

Slight Chance Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Slight Chc
Lo 59 °F

Chance Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Hi 64 °F

Chance Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 50%
Lo 59 °F

Chance Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%
Hi 67 °F

Chance Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 50%
Lo 58 °F

Chance Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Hi 70 °F

Monday, June 15, 2009

Riding With Headphones

....Or earbuds. Because rocking these while riding would just be silly. Although the acoustics would be boss.

So here's my stance.

Ride with them. Rock your favorite tunes, turn it up, play it loud, get pumped and have an amped workout. ...But ride safe.
For the most part when I'm riding I'm going straight forward hugging the side of the road. If a car's gonna hit me it's gonna happen because someone's not paying attention not because I'm being a hazard (i.e. riding in the middle of the road). And if they're coming from behind me it's not gonna make much of a difference if I can hear them or not.

However, I think that if you have a tendency to meander around the road or aren't very comfortable on your mighty stead then take heed and stow the buds for a couple of weeks or for the empty road through the countryside.

The best thing that I can say about riding with earbuds is that it almost makes me a safer rider when maneuvering around potholes, manhole covers etc. Wait, wait. Because I've noticed that I look behind me for cars way more often when wearing buds as opposed to not wearing them. And I know, it's because I can't hear the cars behind me, but it's really good practice to force yourself to look back when you're gonna stray from the edge of the road. Think about that.

So in my humble opinion of you're comfortable on your bike and are going to be doing your thing, riding strong on the edge of the road, then rock the tunes. Listening for cars is fine. But more often than not what are you really listening for? I can definitely hear car horns through my buds (even though they have excellent sound attenuation).

So thoughts comments? I have a hard time believing that everyone is going to think like me on this one.


Remember last summer when I wrote a little note about eating snickers and cokes while you're ridding. Well Chris Horner and Co. do it too:

Click here. (I tried to embed it, but it played automatically and that was really annoying.)

Not that everything good for the goose is always good for the gander, but next time you'll think twice before scoffing at my mid ride Lays.

Training Tool

It's inevitable that training's gonna get boring some times. Even when you try and keep it fresh and fun and's gonna happen. Music helps. But sometimes you've over played that "Push It Hard" playlist or can't handle another lap of that Boom Boom Pow.

What's an athlete to do?

Especially when I have an OD to do I've found that podcasts are the way to go. Sometimes thought provoking, frequently funny, occasionally sleepy (try and skip the latter), but they always seem to help the hours slip away.

Here are a couple of my favorites.

Radiolab has great topics and hosts mixed with an impressive medley of sound effects. They cover some pretty cool stuff so exercising or not check them out.

This American Life is a new standard. They've covered a lot of ground and have been around for a few years. Occasionally it's hit of miss, but usually Ira keeps you engaged.

The only other podcast that I listen to with any regularity is Wait Wait Don't Tell Me the weekly NPR news quiz show. Keeps you up to date with the week's news (kind of) but it's mainly good for some laughs.

Now as a disclaimer I don't recommended listening to any of the aforementioned shows while doing any kind of hard exercise (listen to something that'll keep you rocking), if you're trying to listen to beeps from your watch/computer/cylcolmeter (for intervals, zones etc) or if you're doing exercise that requires counting (such as laps, repeats etc).
I should probably say that you shouldn't listen to your headphones while ridding but I don't subscribe to that line of thought, but that's for another post.

Also, if you have any favorite podcasts please fill me in. Thanks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Easton Parts

Hey crew.

I'm pretty confident that the half dozen people that check into this site have complete bikes and don't need new parts or don't have bikes and don't need new parts.
But I'm gonna throw this out there just the same.

I have a seatpost and a fork that need a new home.

The seatpost is a new "in box" (it's actually a bag, nevertheless it hasn't been opened), Easton EC70, 31.6mm diameter, 350 mm length. It's good for MTB or road, is wicked light at 215 grams. Plus Easton's CNT's will keep your cottontail more cushed than that aluminum post your curently ridding.

The fork is an Easton EC90 SLX 700 cc. It's lightly used, never crashed and shows nary a wear. It's touted as one of the lightest forks available, with a weight in under 325 grams. It's got a 1 1/8" steerer tube (standard on most road bikes). Looks sick in slick black. Retails for over $400. I belive the steerer is cut, but there's still ten inches left.

Prices are negotioable for both. I'm asking 90 for the seatpost and 190 for the Fork.

Drop a line if you're at all interested



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mooseman Race Report

Well in a sentence I put together a good race on Sunday. I set a new PR, didn't cramp, didn't blow up, beat my goal time, drafted for most of the swim, had a negative bike split, didn't get caught on the run (Tim Snow doesn't really count: I had just passed him on the he's just a running machine.) didn't have any GI issues....pretty good day all around.

On to race details.
Transition set-up was uneventful. I noticed that I would be dodging a tree conveniently located in the middle of our lane. I grumbled at the guy next to me who put his stuff on the right side of his bike and was crowding me, but it's the way it goes and no harm done. (I think the SuperSprint in Melbroune is the only race that I can remember where they MADE you put your transition gear to the left of your bike.)

I didn't heed the opinion of the other Triathletes staying at our "Inn" (Aka ugly blocky house with a couple of rooms to rent out). They were suggesting that Newfound lake was warm enough not to wear a neoprene swim cap. I think they just didn't have one and so were talking them selves into it.
Ever the weenie when it comes to being cold I opted to wear mine the the ~60 degree water. After five minutes or so of battle-swimming I thought I might be on the quick track to overheating...but 60 degrees? That's cold right? Felt cold. Didn't overheat.

The rest of my swim was concerned with trying to find some toes to follow. Craig suggested that whenever someone was starting to swim past me I swim right next to them. You know. Catch a draft. Which I understand when you're behind them. But aprarently there's a draft when you're next to them. But all I seemed to catch was a hand in the face or a palm full of neoprenene. I gotta work on this technique.
Spending all my time trying to look for toes around me made the swim wizz by. An awesome contrast to getting to the first big buoy and looking at your watch then thinking, "Oh man this is gonna take forever."

Upon emerging from the water I felt small twinges of cramps emerging in my legs and thought I was in for a gruesome slog of a ride run brick. I mean who has leg cramps after half an hour of swimming?
The wetsuit stripping was a bit of a mess. I had a hand full of swim caps and goggles that I was trying to pull through the arm my Zenith. But the kids manning the stripping station did a good job of pull off the arms and legs of my suit. Thanks!

After donning the glasses and lid I grabbed my velo and weaved past transitioners and the Tree that inconviently happened to be flanked by some bloke that had an unluckly number placing him tree side. I adeptly threaded that needle and cross-hopped on my pony up up and away.

It's always exciting passing people. And it's always exciting going fast. But holding back is the name of the game. So after leapfrogging a fast swimming 35+ Quebequoiser for way longer than I wanted (15 minutes or so) I settled into my HR and a groove.
When I started to pull up to Kropelnicki and a close following Pat Wheeler I was a bit concerned I was hitting it too hard. I know what Jesse can do but I was right on plan and so kept trucking along.
Oh and then I pulled up to Tim Snow about a lap later and was just hoping that he was dogging the bike to throw down a nasty run. (He was)

The death of my HRM last week led me to borrow my sister's watch which does pulse and overall time but no splits. Making the third leg not only a run but a math test as I tried to calculate my pace.
Tim and I had a chat as he stolled by. He told me to watch out for the carnage ahead and to keep steady.

After mile two I started to settle into a managable pace. The three turn arounds are great for checking out where the competition sits. It's a bit tough to know who's who on the second lap, but it gives you someting to keep your mind busy.

I was happy to post a new PR and happy to smash my goal time. I'll be even happier if I have another great day on August 23rd.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Old Stomping Grounds.

It only took four years but now I know the where to bike around Saratoga. There's actually a lot of it and I'm sure there's still more to explore. But the roads up around the springs are pretty awesome and picturesque. To the east of town are rolling hills through working dairy farms (I must have held my breath through at least five on Saturday), horse farms (mostly for racing I think), around the lake, past the Historical Park (which has a fun one way loop bt-dubs), the boathouse (I showed up there for 5:30's Freshman year and have the grades to show it). North and west of town are some hillier rides but some nice sights: the T House, a 55+ mph hill, ...wait two actually, and if you go up over the latter there's nice ridding around Sacandaga, and there's a ripper climb to Lake Desolation,
But Saturday I rode down by the lake and my favorite stretch of pretty road. In prep for Mooseman I was reacquainting myself to the aero helmet and gave the locals something to gawk at.

Off the bike I bricked it around town. There's actually a decent amount of running through the streets and on a few trails in the Spa Park. The springs are pretty ill, but are worth a taste. Naturally effervescent but best avoided on a run.

For quieter, softer and longer running there is an awesome network of trails behind the Skidmore Stables. Technically maintained by mountain bikers they're awesome to run on. You can connect to them through the trails at North Woods on Skidmore's campus, but it's a little tricky and you'll have to run the powerline trail to get to the network. The North Woods trails are also decent and there's some single track but you'll start to reloop before too long.

For more hiking/running there are some trails in and around Moreau State Park. But the trials aren't...or weren't...well maintained nor well marked, so bon chance. Plus they're on a ridge and steep. There's also supposed to an old quarry for swimming in that area, but I never found it.

Skidmore has the only lap pool that I know of and it's decent. But you could open water swim in Saratoga Lake, in a small part of Moreau Lake. That's all I know of.

So if you're in Spa City and are looking for a spot I hope this helps.