Friday, July 25

Ergogenic Aids

Ergogenic aids are defined as [from wikipedia] any external influences that can positively affect physical or mental performance. These include mechanical aids, pharmacological aids, physiological aids, nutritional aids, and psychological aids.

This can mean anything from making sure to eat breakfast on race day, to using illegal performance-enhancing drugs like Erythropoietin (EPO). While those are the two extreme ends of the spectrum (common sense versus illegal doping) there is a lot in between--including a large gray area.

I could explore that gray area all day, but not today. I'm just going to tell you what my favorite ergogenic aids are, what I use regularly. First off, there's the common sense stuff--don't be hungry when you show up. Some people like to carb-load with a big pasta dinner the night before a big race, but I don't, really. In my opinion a large pasta dinner is just loading up on empty carbs. You can't really boost your energy reserves in a meaningful way with a massive carb load. Instead, I'll eat well throughout the day, with salads heavy on vegetables (especially tomatoes) and spinach, and light on dressing and that worthless iceburg lettuce.

In the morning before a race, fruit is the best. Before the Working Man's Stage Race each day I'd go get a fruit salad or something for breakfast. Light, easy to digest, easy energy to get your day started. Then later for lunch I'd have a sandwich, nothing too major; just so there'd be something in my tank later on. Turkey but with plenty of vegetables. Then race in the evening. Evening racing is awesome--you have all day to prep.

Having all day to prepare for a race is like having ten miles of wide flat open road before the finish line to organize your leadout--it helps.



After getting to the races and doing registration and all that, I'll use this stuff, Ozone Elite Warming Oil. You spray it on your gams and massage it in. It helps blood flow or something, and has a warming action. The WMSR was like over eighty degrees every day, but the warming action wasn't too much. Legs on fire feels kind of good to me. This is the same stuff I used for the Tour de Cure. I recommend it. You can order it from Gus' Bike; they don't stock it but their vendors have it. For more infornation check out the Ozone Elite website.

Then, maybe an hour or so before the start time, I'll have a PowerBar. At the convenience store you always see PowerBar Performance and lately the protein ones. I've found that the PowerBar Energize works decently, though. I was brimming with energy as I lined up for the starts at the WMSR. You can find these at Gus' Bike, too.

If I'm doing a short race like the 7-mile time trial or a 13-mile points race, I'll take an Accel Gel maybe ten minutes before the start. If it's a longer race, I'll bring one with me and take it about a half hour before the finish. They take about ten to 15 minutes to kick in and last for like 45 minutes. These things are awesome. I officially swear by them. Everyone should try Accel Gel once or twice at least to check it out.

In my bottles I usually skip the sport drinks and just use regular water or better yet, Glaceau Smartwater. Their Vitamin Water is total, total crap; don't bother with it.

As far as getting my legs warmed up, I've got rollers that I've brought to the races but never really use 'em. Rollers aren't fun, and I'd rather tool around on the bike and check stuff out and talk to people and check out the course a little bit. See how the turns are, where a good place to make a move might be. If I don't have enough time to do the whole course, if it's a circuit race, I'll go backwards around the course, just to see how the final mile or so is one last time.

For race recovery, I just have a protein bar and a bottle of water. The problem with protein bars is that you want to eat them pretty soon after you finish, but they get all melted and gross in your pocket. Or you leave them in the car, but I like to hang out for a while instead of heading straight to the parking lot. Recovery is one of the very most important parts of cycling, and having a good plan is key, especially for stage races. I'm still working on figuring this one out.

For non-race ride recovery, where I can just pull up wherever and get something to eat, nothing beats a turkey-swiss sandwich and a Coca-cola. I guess I could just pack a recovery lunch and leave it in the car for races, I'll try that next time.

But anyway, there you have it. My two favorite ergogenic aids are Elite Ozone Warming Oil and Accel Gel Advanced Sports Gel. If you want to get that extra sharp edge in your racing, I recommend trying out these two products, both available at Gus' Bike or probably online somewhere.

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