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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog
Bill Metz, from OptumHealth, will be a frequent contributor to the blog. This is the first of many posts that Bill will be making, dealing with a variety of topics within the life of a recreational cyclist.
I should be riding instead of writing. Just about now the folks I spend countless hours behind, next to and in front of during the spring, summer and fall are about 2 hours into the Minnesota Ironman bicycle ride, and I feel guilty.
How can I feel bad sitting here with a hot cup of coffee in the warm confines of home after getting an additional 2 hours of sleep? I’m looking out on a cold, misting rain with a 15 mph wind and my rational self says ‘I choose wisely’ and yet, I should be out there. I should be out there pushing the headwind while the cold slowly creeps deeper and deeper between the muscles past the soft, connecting tissues and ligaments till it gets right down to the bone. I should be sitting on a wheel battling the spray, grit and occasional night-crawler lifted from the pavement into my face while imagining the black stripe being painted up my backside. I should be cursing the weather along with the others wondering why the heck we didn’t stay in bed while secretly knowing we are the better for it because, these are the rides that stories are made of.
Stories like the one from three years ago when the Ironman still came through my hometown of Northfield. We started off from town on a similar morning albeit about 10 degrees warmer. When we got to Lakeville we didn’t let our buddy Brendan know about the remains of a worm plastered to his cheek while he checked in. Yuk! Remembering him “thanking” us in his shy Irish accent as we rolled over with laughter is now part of the common history of the group and it comes up whenever we ride in the rain. We always laugh. Nobody remembers the mundane.
So, I should be out there building new stories. Stories I should be part of and the only way to be a part of the story is to be part of the ride and the only way to be a part of the ride is to fight off the voices that call me back to the warmth of the covers and coffee, to pull on the shorts, socks, shoes and slicker, to load up the bike, meet the mates and head out into the cold, lashing rainŠ and ride.
The mist has now turned to a steady rain with a bit of thunder mixed in and I regret the allowing the voices of warmth to win over the pull of the story to be written…next time.
It’s heresy to include criteriums (short circuit races) in a pro stage race. It’s just not done. Yet the Nature Valley Grand Prix has the top ranking on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar despite using criteriums for three of the six stages.
What gives? How can a race get the top ranking when it breaks the rules?
The Nature Valley Grand Prix is the NASCAR of bicycle racing. Most pro stage races follow the European model, which emphasizes road races that start in one city, finish in another and a spectator’s race experience can last for less than a minute. Here they come and there they go.
Well, this ain’t Europe and people in the US of A want a show.
Since criteriums are held on a short course (usually less than a mile), spectators can see the start of the race, they see the pack of racers whiz by every minute or so, they can walk the course to see different aspects of the race and they can be there for the finish. And because the course is short, it can be surrounded by a party with a bike race in the middle.
Even people who aren’t into bike racing have a blast.
And our road races are nontraditional as well. They’re the long distance endurance events that road races are supposed to be, but they finish with multiple laps of a short circuit to provide the spectator experience that’s the hallmark of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. So they’re really road races that finish with a criterium. The best of both worlds.
When you rewrite the rules, the real test of success is whether the insiders buy in. The professional teams attend in force because they need the crowds and media coverage to give value to their sponsors. And USA Cycling, the sport’s governing body, must buy it because they’ve given the Nature Valley Grand Prix the top ranking and invite the promoter to their symposia every year to share our radical ideas with others.
And, most importantly, the public loves the format and vote with their feet. The crowds are huge and enthusiastic and non-fans who come to one race come back for others, except that they come back as true believers.
Last chances to win trips to the Nature Valley Grand Prix!
Minneapolis – April 23, 2009 – The 2009 Nature Valley Pro Ride will conclude in less than three weeks. Four amateur riders, two men and two women, have already won trips to the Nature Valley Grand Prix, where they’ll have the full pro experience as they race for the Nature Valley Cycling Team. They’ll be joined by four men and four women selected at upcoming events.
“I made the commitment to drive the 13hrs to St Louis for the Hillsboro-Roubaix road race” wrote Chris Winn in his blog.
“Long way to go for a bunch of Coloradans for a weekend suffer-fest, . . . The race was the second qualifier event for the Nature Valley Pro Ride, a chance for amateurs to get the complete pro package treatment in a composite team for the Nature Valley Stage Race in June.” It was a successful trip for Winn, who became the second man to qualify for the Nature Valley Cycling Team.
“The Nature Valley Pro Ride is a wonderful opportunity to give one the most prestigious races in the United States a go, racing on a team with some of the best amateur riders in the nation,” said women’s qualifier Sydney Brown. “I hope each of us will be able to fit our individual aspirations into what’s good for the team.”
With two races in the books, there are only four chances left to win trips to the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Those remaining spots will be filled in the next two and a half weeks.
April 25&26* Wente Vineyards Road Race & Criterium San Francisco, CA
May 2&3* Glenwood Road Race & Longbranch Classic Road Race Seattle, WA
May 3 San Luis Rey Road Race San Diego, CA
May 10 Bear Mountain Road Race New York, NY
* Scored as an omnium
Each rider selected in the Nature Valley Pro Ride will receive a travel stipend, free entry, housing accommodations, and full team support. They will make public appearances, get pre-race introductions, participate in autograph sessions, and race in front of crowds in excess of 50,000 during this five-day stage race. This program provides riders with a full professional experience and is only available to the Nature Valley Pro Ride winners.
Visit www.NatureValleyProRide.com for more information.
About the Nature Valley Grand Prix
The Nature Valley Grand Prix, part of the Minnesota Bicycle Festival, began as a one-day criterium in Saint Paul in 1999. Its schedule and prestige have grown steadily until now, in its 11th year, it is ranked at the top of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix schedule includes a unique mix of three criteriums (short circuit races), two road races and a time trial as the stages of the race move from downtown Saint Paul, to Cannon Falls, to the Uptown in Minneapolis, to Mankato, and, finally culminates in Stillwater. For more information visit: www.NatureValleyGrandPrix.com
About Nature Valley:
Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products.
Dr. Josh Sandell
Spine and Sports Institute
The risk of injury is an ever-present aspect of cycling, but almost every great performance follows a long period of relatively uninterrupted training. Though many athletes believe either that an injury is just a normal part of training or an unfortunate random event, the frequency of injuries may be dramatically reduced by an injury prevention program that develops strength, flexibility, and elasticity in tissues that are at high risk for injuries. Use this program to prepare your body fully for the high-volume/high-intensity training that will come later in the season.
Strength training is a critical aspect of injury prevention, affecting the connective tissues and the muscles. Since cycling actions occur primarily in a single plane, the tissues that act in that plane become disproportionately strong while those that act side-to-side atrophy.
Programs developed only for performance enhancement usually neglect tissues that act laterally, therefore increasing the risk of injury. Several muscles that are neglected in strength training programs are the hip abductors, hip adductors, and the ankle dorsiflexors. When performing the weight training exercises, use relatively heavy weights and slow movements. Keep the duration of each set between 40 and 60 seconds.
Strength training can be accomplished by simply using your own body weight with the use of physio balls and balance trainers. These exercises should be performed slow and controlled with the use of rotational movement and frontal plane movements.
We’ll have some more information down the road about ability-appropriate workouts geared toward both the recreational and the racing cyclist, so stay tuned!
GET ON YOUR BIKES AND RIDE!
After capping out registration in 2008, the Nature Valley Grand Prix woman’s race will be invitation only for 2009, organizers announced this week.
“The popularity of our woman’s race has grown steadily”, said Nature Valley Grand Prix promoter David LaPorte. “We’re the third of four stops on the Woman’s Prestige Cycling Series, a program that we coordinate. We’re also the destination event for two national woman’s programs. The Woman’s Collegiate All Stars will be selected at the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships, held May 8 – 10 in Fort Collins, CO. And the Nature Valley Pro Ride is selecting the men’s and woman’s Nature Valley Cycling Teams at regional events around the county.”
Applications are now open and can be found on the event web site under NVGP -> Racer Technical Info. The application deadline is May 1 and invitations will be issued by May 8. The Nature Valley Grand Prix will be held June 10 – 14.
Injury Prevention 101 – Flexibility
By Dr. Josh Sandell
Spine and Sports Institute
The Australian triathlon team was screened in November 2003 prior to the World Championships in New Zealand, and found two main predisposing factors to injury: thoracic spine stiffness and tight hip flexors.
This pattern is extremely common in cyclists. Cycling training is one potential cause of thoracic stiffness because of the time spent in the time-trial position. If good spinal posture is not maintained on the bike, the thoracic spine can become excessively hunched when the cyclist becomes fatigued. If this posture is not corrected and the mid-spine is not regularly stretched, stiffness can develop and a drop in cycling performance may follow as a result of the athlete adopting a less efficient aerodynamic position.
The thoracic spine’s mobility can be improved with lying on your back over a physioball or lying on one’s back with a towel on the floor.
Tight hip flexors are a major injury risk factor and are a common problem because of the length of time cyclists spend with the hip bent in the time-trial position while cycling. Low back injuries, hamstring strains, hip flexor strains and lower limb overuse injuries can be linked to tight hip flexors. Hip flexor and quadriceps stretching are essential to prevent this pattern from developing.
The muscle groups should be stretched daily, before and after activity (especially after cycling). Stretches should be held for approximately 30 seconds to one minute without bouncing, performed gently and slowly to the point of tension but never pain.
While an effective stretching program may reduce injuries, many athletes look to stretching as the answer to injuries. Athletes do become injured because of over flexibility. Be consistent with your stretching, but don’t go to extremes and don’t look to it as the injury cure-all.
Our next post will deal with strength training and injury prevention