Throw the bike................. NOW!

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Friday, December 31, 2010

IT'S OVER!!!!!!

The year known as 2010 will be officially history  in a matter of hours.

It has been quite a year for me concerning "My World From a Bicycle"

It's all pretty well documented here in the contents of this blog.

In fact, I have a post called "The Best of GoPro and the Best and Worst of David Henderson"
This post is really my best and worst video experiences related to biking and bike racing (I tried to be heavy on the "best", but that is of course subjective).

Yet I feel that have I evolved this blog into a bit of a free coaching blog as well.  I would say that my top ten thirteen posts related to coaching would be as follows:














I have also learned quite a bit about the HD Hero camera and how to edit, share, and archive high definition video.  For reference see this and this.

With that covered, I should announce that not only is the year over, but so is my racing career.  And that's ok.

I am proud not only of my racing accomplishments for 2010; I am also proud of the contents of this blog.  Yet, they don't pay the mortgage or any other necessary living expenses (although I've tried... believe me). 

It's all good. I just need to focus on work and my kids.   If anyone has raced at a Pro 1-2 level you know how racing is. If you are going to be serious about it, it is necessary to devote your life to it. I've done that.   Blood, sweat, and tears.   Literally.  And now it's time for a new chapter for me (I'm no spring chicken).   I'll always love all things bike related though.

I plan on still doing more posts on this blog over time.  I will probably do a bit more coaching stuff.  I do have a large video project in the works currently.  (It's a completely new idea and I don't think it has been done before as I plan to).

My primary goals for 2011 is to develop contents for a new blog.  This one.   And of course ride my bicycle for fun whenever possible.

Oh yeah, if you are thinking about getting a video camera that can film both above and below water, shoots 5 MP stills, time-lapse photography (2,5, 10, 30, 60 seconds), several different video resolutions/sizes, and high-speed 60 frames/second, and can even record your biking adventures, click here to learn more at my blog post:

Happy New Year everyone.  PEACE AND LOVE!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Giro Della Montagna Criterium

I have produced two videos for this blog post (actually 3, I just added a new one at 9:20 Dec 26, 2010).  The first is my "short" version at 1 minute and 51 seconds and my second video is my long version at 5 minutes and 7 seconds.  The 3rd video is 8 minutes and 3 seconds and is without any transitions/interruptions and no background music. 

I'm posting all three and adding a request from viewers for their opinions as to which is best, and what I could do to make them better.   Feedback would be valuable for me for future video projects.  I really would like to make videos that not only capture the excitement of bike racing, but are actually worthy of viewing. 

A little about the race: First here's the race results.  (This race is the Pro 1-2.  results near the bottom of this link.  I, David Henderson was officially 14th.)

Here's my watt data.  First a race overview below:
And an image of the finish data from the last 8 minutes and 28 seconds of the race below:

And here's the course below (St. Louis, Missouri) 

Here's the race flyer below: (My videos on this post are from the Giro Della Montagna Criterium which was held Sept 5, 2010).
To learn even more about these races, click here to be taken to the website that is pictured below:
It has been requested that I give a bit of supplemental commentary  to the above videos and direct my comments to the topic of race tactics and the like.  All righty then.

The most valuable thing that I can say about the 1st video is my quick field position change (:47 to 1:10).  I went from almost the back of the field to the front in a matter of 23 seconds.  I did this tactically correct.  I used the timing of course location, point of the race (in duration/time), and physics to know when, where, how and why. 

First, I choose to advance myself near the end of the race (this is when it is clearly critical).  Secondly I choose the uphill side of the course because I would get more purchase for spending energy going up a hill vs going down a hill (speed from power related to aerodynamics and gravity).  Third, I began my advance immediately after the corner.  I was already going near full hard coming out of the corner.  Instead of letting off and staying in the draft I remained full throttle (a body in motion tends to stay in motion) and charged up the left side.  I could see that the pack wasn't all strung out in a straight line (this meant the pack was not at full speed.  It is best not to advance when a field is single file).  Lastly I tried to reinsert myself into the draft with ease before a turn.  I try not to advance through turns, but racing sometimes requires this. 

The most valuable thing that I can say about the 2nd video is toilet paper.  It's one of the primary reasons that I started from the back (I was late to the line).  Let me explain.  I arrived at the race with just enough time to prepare for the race, which included "heaving a Havana" or "taking the Browns to the Super Bowl" (also known as "putting one through the hoop" or "pulling into defecation station").

To my chagrin all of the port-a-johns were out of toilet paper except for possibly one.   A lady had entered it just before me.  I had determined that all the others were sin paper.  That particular stall was my only hope.   All I had to do was wait for her to exit to find out. 

So I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.  More than 10 minutes later nothing.  I even knocked a few times just to make sure that she hadn't fallen in.  I couldn't believe that she hadn't come out!  It was near 90 degrees outside......  and the smell!  Good God man! 

Well, she never came out (as far as I know, she's still in there).  I did come up with a solution, but I will leave a little mystery here.  My advice to all (including myself) bring you own toilet paper to races.  It is not uncommon for port-a-johns to run out of paper.  In fact, it's probably a good idea to hit a public restroom somewhere just before arriving at the race site if possible.

Finally, the third and last video shows the last eight minutes of the race.  It might of have been nice to show the last ten minutes because basically I was following Brad Huff (pro- Jelly Belly).  He told me to stick with him and I did, which lead to us getting into a break-a-way. 

I made at least two errors.  One, I was touching my breaks on the lower two turns.  This actually wasn't necessary.  A few times I was ok, but overall I was poor in my confidence.  The other error is a bit more forgivable.  I didn't see the field catching us just before the last 2 turns.  I wasn't looking back at all.  I was just concentrating on making it through the last 2 turns.

You can see in the video that Brian Jensen bridged up from the field to us and then attacked my group just before the bell lap.  Brad Huff reeled him back in and countered him.  All I could do was keep my speed up and reattach gradually.  Brian did eventually surrender, and my group of three were quickly swallowed up in the turns and following sprint. 

After the race Brad said that if he hadn't been in the break that probably the field (several pro riders) wouldn't have chased quite so hard and Brian said that we all would have had a better chance had he not attacked us and instead we all worked together. 

Who knows, it's not terribly important.  There were two riders up the course who were successful, and we all gave it a good try. 

For another perspective of the race read Steve Tilford's account.

Here's a few still images (more can be found from the link above).

The above image is a frame grab from my HD Hero camera that was mounted to my bike.  This image can be seen in the longer video clip above around 4:35, which is the last corner of the race leading to the final sprint.  Pictured here is Eric Young who won the field sprint.

Some other notable riders in this video include Brad Huff @ 4:00, Brian Jensen@4:10, Steve Tilford @ 4:33, Daniel Holloway @ 4:36.

Of course there are many other fantastic racers beyond my short list, including Jonathan Jacobs who actually won the race!  He's not in my video because he was to busy winning this race with his break-a-way companion, Robert Bush.

Click here to learn more about the camera I use to video my races. They can do much more than just record cycling!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stuff you need so that you can ride in the winter

I generally love cycling.  The cold.... not so much.  Some additional gear is required to survive the cold when cycling. 

In this blog post I list a few items that I think are necessary or will at least help you survive Jack Frost nipping at your you know what. 

The cool thing is that you can click on the image and actually buy the product from a highly respected distributor at a price that will be very difficult (if not impossible) to beat.  

Consider buying from your local bike shop first if possible (preferably Cyclextreme) .  

Oh yeah, and the operator of this blog is rewarded by here-within linked to companies with rare gemstones, emeralds, exotic trips (or maybe that was exotic animals) and I think somewhere in the fine print there was something about my own private island (or maybe that was,  I must indenture myself as a pirate on an island).  Whateve....... just buy this stuff and go ride in the cold.  By making a purchase, you'll feel all warm and tingly, whenever you think about how you single-handedly stimulated the economy.
This is a North Face Cable Fish Scarf (proximal to a "A Giant Neck Sweater"Sorry that was the closest I could find)  It's not traditional cycling winter wear (as I know it), but I just learned that for a select few it is.  If there is any doubt click here to see the evidence. 

Wrap the Cable Fish Scarf around your neck for reliable warmth on cold, wintry days. It’s fashioned from a blend of wool and acrylic for a perfect mix of insulation, breathability and durability, leaving a scarf that will defend against the cold while keeping you itch-free. Match it with the Cable Fish Beanie for a great look and warmth that will stem the flow of heat loss from a key area of your body.  $35

For the Ladies:  The Pearl Izumi Women's Select Thermal Tights are designed for maximum warmth and comfort for cold weather running or riding. $70

For the Men:  The Pearl Izumi SELECT Thermal Tights is designed for maximum warmth and comfort for cold weather activities. $65

 Craft Pro WS Gunde Short Lg Black $32 (Also called Gore Wind Stop Gunde Boxer)
The ultimate base layer for cold and windy conditions. Our Gore WS Gunde Boxer features Gore’s lightest ever windproof, 4-way stretch fabric panel to date. Gore WS is strategically applied to Pro Zero fabric in order to maximize protection where you need it and ensure moisture transfer from the skin. Minimize your layers while protecting your core with our new Gore WS Gunde Boxer.

For All:   Pearl Izumi Barrier Skull Cap - Featuring our PRO Barrier fabric, the Barrier Skull Cap provides maximum wind and water protection for cold weather runs in inclement weather.  $29.99

For All:   The Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier Balaclava is made with a combination of windproof Barrier fabric along with wicking Transfer and UltraSensor fabrics that keep the elements out while you stay dry.  $35.

For All:  The Pearl Izumi PRO Transfer Headband is the headwear of choice when you need your ears covered but anything more is overkill.  $20

The Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Toe Covers are a classic must-have toe covers set the benchmark for cool weather protection and have been updated with reflective logos.  $20

Pearl Izumi's Thermal Knee Warmers feature PRO Thermal Fleece fabric on the front for warmth and a lighter fabric on the back to vent excess heat.  $35

The perfect balance of protection and insulation you need for milder winter conditions.  $49.99

Pearl Izumi ThermaFleece Arm Warmer - The soft plush ELITE Thermal Stretch fabric of the ThermaFleece Arm Warmer provides warmth and comfort to keep the arms protected and warm in cold weather.  $29.99

For the Men:  The versatile Pearl Izumi Men's Elite Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket is a wind and water resistant shell jacket quickly converts to a vest, and features connected zip-off sleeves $100

For the Ladies:  Women's Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket - This jacket converts to a vest, the zip-off sleeves are connected for the ultimate in convenience, packability, versatility and protection from the elements. $99

For the Men (a little warmer):  The Pearl Izumi Men's Elite Thermal Barrier Jacket is a classic that returns with new materials and design. We strategically place Barrier fabric over the Thermal Fleece body to resist wind and water.  $120

For the Ladies (a little warmer): The Pearl Izumi Women's Elite Thermal Barrier Jacket is windproof and water resistant, the comfortable and highly breathable W s ELITE Thermal Barrier Jacket provides lightweight core and thermal protection.  $120

For the Men (this may also work for women with 5 fingers):  The Descente Wombat Cycling Gloves offer protection for your hands when the weather isn't working with you. Their articulated knuckles, pre-curved finger construction and non-slip silicone. $27.93

For All:  The Pearl Izumi Select Softshell gloves are our warmest wind proof, water resistant running gloves, keeping you comfortable and warm on the most blustery of days.  $45

For All:  The Pearl Izumi PRO Thermal Leg Warmers offer full coverage with our anatomic fit to eliminate bunching through your full range of motion.  $45

For All with 2 feet:  As the 'original air-flow design sock', the Aireator is the sock that kicked off the air-flow rage years ago. Today, the Aireator still leads in durability, wicking, drying, and air permeability. $6.93

Sunglasses are necessary in the winter.  These are my favorties:  Oakley sunglasses define a mixture of art and technology.  $110

This is a serious light.  The more the merrier:  The new Minewt.250 Cordless raises the bar of what a one-piece, modular bike light should be. This compact light features best in class lumen per dollar ratio, tool-less quick release mounting, and with 250 lumens on tap, punches out enough light to hit the trail. The 250 Cordless optic design incorporates a reflector and Borofloat lens custom tuned for bike riding. This combination delivers a superior beam pattern when compared to total internal reflectors. Three light levels plus flash mode and USB charging round out the Cordless 250’s features. $129
Do not ride at night without this (or one like it)!:  High powered LED's and a proprietary collimator allow you to be seen over a mile away. Internal reflector provides visibility even when the light is off. $24.99

When it's real cold out, this is what I ride:  If it's important to you to make every workout count, the Fluid2 trainer is the most valuable weapon you can add to your indoor training arsenal.Our engineers designed the Fluid 2 to capture real road feel through the use of a 2.75 lb individually precision balanced flywheel for more momentum and stability of your rear wheel. We've also adjusted silicone fluid levels for better resistance and improved the position of sealed cartridge bearings for better inertia and an ultra quiet.  $299.99

The Trakblock II is a wide, stable platform to level the front of the bike when riding a trainer. $11.93

If you have been a really good girl or boy, Santa might bring you this:  Light, fast, stiff durable. All carbon rims and R2R spoke design provide excellent strength and stiffness. 40mm profiled rim, profiled carbon spokes and hub flanges provide optimum aerodynamics. Lists at $2,999.99 and is on sale right now for $1899.99

Or if you been mostly good and only a little naughty you might get these instead:  Directly inspired from the Ultimate, the Cosmic Carbone SLR is quickly becoming the wheel to beat for aerodynamics clincher wheels. The optimized 52mm carbon/ aluminum rims are extremely light and flow perfectly onto the profiles R2R carbon spoke design. The perfect blend of aerodynamics, lightweight, stiffness and ease-of-use. Pictures just don't do these wheels any justice! Once you get your hands on them, you wont let them go!

Well, I better stop listing stuff because I'm thinking about buying one of each item.  Well....... I've already gotten most of these, but it's always nice to have a spare.  *wink*   *wink*

I almost forgot (and Santa most likely will too because he hasn't biked in years.... hence his big gut), you'll be needing some tires for your sweet new wheels!

I have never used these particular tires, but they are a great brand name:    GP Attack & GP Force - NEW and faster than ever ! Front and rear tires have different tasks. Steering and braking forces are transmitted on the front, while the rear transmits the driving forces and bears the majority of the cyclist's weight. Subsequently, the two tires in the Continental tire positioning system (TPS) have been designed differently. GP Attack Front Tire The tread compoundis designed for excellent grip, both on dry and wet roads. $112

I can verify that these are excellent racing clinchers:  Corsa CX has proved successful in road races all over the world, but the new EVO version is bound to even greater success. With a handmadetubular structure for superior performance and comfort, it has also got a special latex inner tube that increases its elasticity and puncture resistance. Further features are the Kevlar SiO2 3D Compound with added silica - for reduced rolling resistance and better grip in the wet Our new high density casing - a true 320 tpi $64.95

I can also verify that these are excellent tubulars:  The Zipp Tangente, the first tire developed in the wind tunnel. In its tubular incarnation, this tire simply flies. To cut through the wind, we've used our patented ABLC dimples to mitigate the "un-aero-ness" of a round shape at the wheel's leading edge.  $89.95

Musten forget the tubular glue:  Rim cement for gluing tubular tires. 30 gram tube. Enough for 1-2 tires.  $3.95

Below are special discount links.  They are time limited and only available by clicking the the link specifically.

30% Off Clearance Cycling Apparel. Offer Valid 11/24/ to 
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Save up to 50% Men's Cycling Jerseys, Shorts & Socks. Offer Valid 11/24/ to 1/2/11

Save up to 70% Women's Cycling Jerseys, Shorts & Socks. Offer Valid 11/24/ to 1/2/11

Santa-Sized Savings: Free Shipping + $10 off $115, $15 off $125, $25 off $150

Friday, November 26, 2010

Psychology for Competitive Cyclists part 2

Please read part 1 first.  Or last.  Or whatever.

Anxiety Control or Thought Control

Many people believe that we have complete control over our thoughts and thereby control our feelings and beliefs, which in turn help set our values and following behavior.  In short, we have free will and we are our own master.  The popular conception of free will seems to rest on two assumptions:  (1) that each of us could have behaved differently than we did in the past, and (2) that we are the conscious source of most of our thoughts and actions in the present.

I do not believe that this is completely true for many reasons.  There are many factors such as: knowledge, attitude, beliefs or core values, perceptions, personality, etc. and many external factors such as:  environmental stressors, socio-cultural, economic, biological or physiology, etc. that largely determine not only thought, but also behavior.  In short, we may have some degree of free will some of the time, but not complete free will all of the time. 

How much free will?  I don't know.  If we accept the ramifications of Einstein's theory of relativity which suggests that time is an illusion such that there is no actual distinction between past, present and future (all things ARE) other than our human perception of it as an illusion, then free will must also an illusion. 

Let's ignore that argument and allow freewill to exist since it certainly feels like it exists.   Yet we must acknowledge that our freewill is variable, conditional and changing.   Here are just a few examples of what I'm talking about:    Your arm is lopped off.    Now think happy thoughts.  It's not going to happen in the present, but given time, perhaps in the future.    Or you are informed that your home and possessions have been destroyed in a fire.  Now think happy thoughts and conduct yourself according.  It would be impossible to think happy thoughts under these conditions initially.  It is also equally impossible for an individual with severe schizophrenia to "will" their thinking such that audio hallucinations disappear.  And the list goes on; are you free to do that which does not occur to you?  Of course not.

Now picture a giant elephant with long smooth ivory tusks facing you directly.  It's huge ears flapping repetitively so as to cool it's massive body.

Did you choose this image in your head or did I?

Our thoughts and behaviors are constantly being triggered or influenced by external sources in an endless stream of cause and effect.  Examples of internal and external factors that influence behavior (often determinately) are far too many for this post. What is important to understand in regards to freewill and the psychology of cycling and the human psyche in general, is that we do not always have complete control of our thoughts.  There is a window of freewill that opens and shuts conditionally and provisionally based on the many factors previously mentioned. 

The good news is that there are methods to increase one's self-control.  "Although we can certainly influence our minds and emotions, often we have little or no direct control over our thoughts or feelings, which are temporary and rise and pass like weather fronts.  We do however, have significantly more control over our behavior - despite what we are, or are not, thinking or feeling.  In fact, our behavior (how we move our arms, legs, and mouth) is the only thing we can directly control.  This is a great secret of success." - Dan Millam 1999

Interestingly, behavior can influence thought and feelings as much or more than the other way around (thoughts and feelings determine behavior).  In short, doing becomes being. It may be difficult to impossible to choose what we will choose to do, but we can typically or often do that which we choose.  This takes us back full circle to the topic of interest:  anxiety control or thought control.

I really like Nike's slogan, "Just Do It".  The slogan put into action is a simple and powerful method for altering our thoughts and feelings from "Just Do"ing a behavior.  We have all experienced this phenomenon where doing an activity completely changes our mood and thought patterns.  

Another variation of behavior determining thought and feelings is the phenomenon of "acting as if" .  An example would be to make yourself smile and/or laugh out loud. Soon you will find "as if" becomes "I am". 

Although we can certainly influence our minds and emotions, often we have little or no direct control over our thoughts or feelings, which are temporary and rise and pass like weather fronts.  We do however, have significantly more control over our behavior - despite what we are, or are not, thinking or feeling.  In fact, our behavior (how we move our arms, legs, and mouth) is the only thing we can directly control.  This is a great secret of success - Dan Millam 1999

Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you the power of ........ "Just Do It!"

So with this in mind, as an athlete we need to focus heavily on our behavior (which can determine our values, feelings, beliefs and thoughts).  Controlling one's thought should not be ignored, but (In my opinion) should be considered less reliable than controlling one's own behavior for determining our mindset. 

Now let's talk a little about how and what to think about briefly and return to ideal behaviors for competitive cyclists later.  It has been said that you get more of what you think about, and if you think you can do something, you may.  If you think you can't, you won't.  Henry Ford put it this way, "Those who believe they can and those who believe they can't are both right." (this is also known as self full-filling prophecy).

Here's what to think about as a competitive athlete:  In general it is best for an athlete to NOT THINK! (particularly during competition).  Yogi Berra put it this way, "Think!  How the hell are you going to think and hit at the same time?"

Ideally a competitive cyclist (or any athlete) should be so rehearsed and practiced that conscious thought is almost unnecessary for the activity.  Movements, actions and decisions are ideally instantaneous for optimized performance.  An elite athlete should be able to operate on a near instinctive level in order to perform at the highest level.  This is often referred to as being "in the zone".

For a cyclist to be able to get "in the zone" or race instinctively, they must practice cycling skills repetitively (both physically and through visualization) until they become instinctive.  They also should  learn a series or list of rules and responses to different scenarios and be able to automatically (or instinctively) react when these events occur.

Allow me to list just a few of my rules for racing that reduces my need for deep thought and thereby allows me to ride more "in the zone".  Keep in mind that there are occasionally exceptions to these rules, but again decisions are best to be made on instincts and rapidly in order to increase cycling performance.   

1. Never half wheel.  2. Stay very close to the wheel in front of me (stay in the draft).  3. Do the least amount of work as necessary to stay in the race (conservation).  4. Never chase down a teammate.  5. Never attack down hill or into a head-wind.  6. Attack or expect an attack up hills and with cross-winds and tail-winds.  7.  Expect the 1st lap of a crit to be hard and fast.  8.  When I am tired while "sitting in" (just drafting) alarm bells should be going off for me to get up near the front because a winning break could establish.  9.  Expect a break away after a "Prime" (prize lap).  10.  Expect a counter attack after a break is caught.  11.  Hold onto a wheel (draft) no matter how hard it becomes or how long it lasts.... it will let up eventually 12.  The inside line has the best survival rate during a crash in a corner.  13.  When the peloton slows/groups move up to the front and be weary of crashes.  14.  Bridge up immediately to break-a-ways that have the major teams represented.  15.  If a break is being caught by the peloton group that I am in...... sit in and prepare for  the counter attack.  16.  Try to be in all break-a-way attempts during the last half of a road race.  17.  Solo riders do not usually ride away.  Go in groups.  18.  Be up front during technical sections.  19.  Expect to produce a maximal effort and suffer at the end of a race.  20.  Break-a-ways survive best when out of sight.

The list goes on and on, but these are a few of my rules for racing, that I have adopted on a learned instinctive level.   I do not have to debate in my mind what to do when these scenarios present themselves to me during a race.  My best race performances are when I respond instantly and instinctively.

"Think!  How the hell are you going to think and race at the same time!" - David Henderson

If by chance you are looking for the best video camera (for cycling, skiing, paragliding, skateboarding, ski-diving, scuba diving, motorcycling, race car driving or just general high definition hands free videoing) please click here, and read my post about the camera that I use.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Epic Bike Ride

I have found that pretty much all trips with my two daughters tend to be somehow (or at least feel) epic. 

The above video pretty much illustrates this and at the same time, sticks to the theme of this blog........ bicycles and my world from it.

The below video is the same video, but in 3-D.  So grab your special glasses and check it out. 

Here's a couple of video editing points that I think is worth sharing.  The first of which is that  that Adobe Premiere Elements 8 (the software I use) has a substantial music library and also contains special software that edits the music to the exact length that the user requires.

Actually the music software is created by "Smart Sound" which has existed for 10 years or so.   Many different video editing software products use their technology.  APE8 comes with it and has about 26 royalty-free musical selections.  There are literally thousands of other musical compositions available from "Smart Sound's" library for purchase from the internet.

It's pretty amazing really.   The only slight negative is that you have to pay a fee for a tutorial to learn about how to use the "Smart Sound" on the video editing software that I use.

Below is a few images that show how to find and open "Smart Sound" for adding cool, customized musical compositions to your videos.
Simply click "Click here to select music" and then pick one of the 26 different compositions that comes with the software or order something off the internet library ($14.95 per track).  Then you can customize the composition in the "SmartSound Quicktracks".  Each composition has several variations (depending on the length you select, also the variations are quite different) and you can preview/listen to them before you select.

A simple click and POW! the music lands exactly where the time-line indicator is positioned. 

The video software that I choose to produce a 3D video with is Roxio 2011.  It can apparently produce several variations of 3D rendering that is viewable with different 3D viewable sources.

Below is an image of the screen where the 3D source selection is made.
This software also boasts stabilizing capabilities for editing shaky video footage.  I tested it and was not impressed.  It certainly works to some degree, but my shakiest footage did not fully correct.  In fact, I would estimate a half-assed job.  

Technically I could fix the shaky footage myself by arranging each individual frame and then cropping the final product to clean up the perimeter, but this would take a DAMN LONG TIME!  

I have been alerted to some software that will do it and it is supposedly free, but I can not imagine why it would be free.  I'm to nervous to download such an item.  

My dad told me years ago that if something sounds to be too good to be true, then it probably is.   

I also have a video tutorial and blog post about editing with Adobe Premiere Elements 8 here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Psychology for Competitive Cyclists

The psychological aspects of cycling should not be ignored, in fact, you can not.  Simply put, athletes are not pure machines.  We have thoughts, emotions, feelings, beliefs and values which in turn effect our behaviors.  As a result, athletic performance can be greatly connected to psychological or mental factors.  My intent in this article is to discuss psychology for bike racing and identify several skills and techniques, including anxiety management, attention and concentration control (focus), imagery, visual mental practice, and self talk, that can improve performance.

Let's begin with visualization, or the technique of using one's imagination to picture or imagine specific behaviors or events that have or can occur in one's life.  It is important to note, that the act of visualization can significantly improve an athlete's performance.  The value of visualization or mental practice is well established in research.

One such study used sixty beginning basketball players split into three groups of twenty each.  The first group practiced shooting baskets from the free-throw line, attempting a specified number of shots in a specified time for a period of two weeks.  The second group was asked to do the same thing, but only as a visualization or in their "mind's eye".  The third group was a control group and performed neither mental or actual shooting practice.

Each group was tested at the beginning and end of their two-week practice.  As expected, the third group didn't improve.  The group who only used visualization, or mental practice, however, improved almost as much as those who physically trained. (Dan Millman 1999)

In another well known study on visualization in sports, Russian scientists compared four groups of Olympic athletes in terms of their training schedules:
     Group 1 = 100% physical training;
     Group 2 =  75%  physical training with 25% mental training
     Group 3 =  50%  physical training with 50% mental training
     Group 4 =  25%  physical training with 75% mental training

Group 4, with 75% of their time devoted to mental training, performed the best.  "The Soviets had discovered that mental images can act as a prelude to muscular impulses." (Scaglione & Cummins 1993)

The Brain Cannot Tell The Difference Between a Real and an Imagined Action

"According to Lynne McTaggart in her book The Intentional Experiment, electromyography (EMG) has shown that the brain does not differentiate between the thought of an action and a real action.  In an experiment with a group of skiers, EMG discovered that when they mentally rehearsed their downhill runs, the electrical impulses sent to the muscles were the same as when physically engaged in the runs." (Chadwick 2009)  This illustrates the power of visualization. 

This information is HUGE in it's potential impact on athletic training and performance.

A few clear advantages of mental practice versus physical practice is that it's safe, you can do it anywhere, anytime, it produces no physical bodily wear, and because mental practice can be error free, there's no fear of failure.  For competitive cyclists it's an ideal way to rehearse hairy field sprints, or dangerous mountainous descents, and high speed cornering, etc.

Here's how I personally applied visualization to my goal of winning a National Championship.  Among many details,  well in advance of the race, I used the internet and Google mapping to inspect the course that I would be racing on, and later I rode the actual course before the race.   Throughout my training and racing season, I visualized the course and the riders that I had raced against the previous year repetitively in my mind.  I also mentally re-raced the finish of the previous year's National Championship races in my mind with several variations of possible tactics and with as much sensory detail as I could muster.  Always, I would be victorious in my visualizations.   I would imagine myself riding flawlessly, no errors, just perfection. I would imagine myself  calm, collected, confident, calculated, and alert, exhibiting perfect drafting, bike handling, and apply perfect tactical  racing.  I would think keywords such as:  smooth, invincible, strong, smart, patient, focused, etc.    I did this over and over again throughout the year, on my stationary trainer, on long rides, sometimes before sleep and also during travel to races.  In races, I would recall the keywords (smooth, focused, confident, etc) to boost my confidence and performance.     This virtual training combined with my actual training lead me to believe that I could win and become a National Champion, which in fact, I did.  

I have added some more material to the topic of "Psychology for Competitive Cyclists".  It can be found and read by clicking here.

To learn about the best video camera in the world for videoing cycling (which is the cameras that I use for my videos) click here.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

National Champion Forevermore.

This is my Men's Masters Criterium National Championship video.  The race was held at Jeffersonville, Indiana on August 7, 2010.

The best part is........ that I WON!!!!   I Won a friggin' National Championship!!!!  I'm a National Champion forevermore! It's in the record books Dude! 

Now, I know there are plenty of people who would say, "Big deal, you beat a bunch of 40 year-olds at some bike race".  Well, that's true, but that same kind of attitude can be applied to all achievements.  For example, "You climbed Mt. Everest?  Big deal, all you had to do was go up an incline."  Or, "You walked on the moon?  Big deal, try Mars, now, that would be impressive."   Some people think this way. 

For me, this National Championship win, was my crowning achievement for my entire career of racing bicycles.   It was something that was very difficult to achieve and many others would like to do the same.  I've had friends tell me that if they won a National Jersey, they would "sleep in it", and have "sex with it".  It means that much and it's that good.

So here's my cliff notes from the race. First I must give a shout out to my friends Bob Cummings and Maurice Hessel.  They both treated me like a true team-mate even though we aren't officially (it's not uncommon for local competitors to become allies while abroad).  Both Bob and his wife treated me like family and offered me shelter and great company during the "off-times".  Maurice played a key role in giving me critical information during the race. 

Critical indeed, for most of the race I was hanging in the back (as per usual for me).   Maurice let me know what's up from the side-lines.  Actually, at one point I thought my race was all but over.  About half-way into the race, a break-a-way of several riders had gained over 24 seconds on the field.   Maurice's split times eventually told me another story.  The gap was closing; the break-a-way was going to get caught.  Game back on!!!!!  And the rest was timing and pure effort on my part. It is well documented in the video above.

In my video, I should point out that at minute 2:34, I came up quickly on a group of riders while I am trying to bridge up to the winning break-a-way.  These are lapped riders!  At first it freaked me out.  I had to be patient and wait to pass (@3:05) because of a series of turns.  This allowed my chasers to reattach, but I went again.  To some degree the lapped riders helped to slow my chasers, but not much.

I caught the lead break-a-way at minute 4:05 (in this video) and attacked at minute 4:21 and took Dan Martin with me.  The peloton was closing on the break-a-way as we went.

According to my video time-line from my raw footage: At 63minutes and 45seconds Dan Martin and I took off from the break-a-way group with about 4 laps to go. We finished about 5 minutes and 30 seconds later with a gap of ...around 7 seconds. The race lasted approximately 69minutes and 19seconds. (I'm glad I have this on video).

Speaking of video: I wanted to show the entire last nine minutes, but the YouTube limit for video size is 2GB (and I'm right there). So I removed about one minute of me and Dan Martin during our final effort.

I should also mention that the music in my video is "Plastic Flashing Lights" by Professor Kliq and the last song is "Roller Coaster" by JCRZ. I have aquired licenses that allows me to legally use both tunes for my videos. (I don't want to anger "the man".)

The below image is a graph of my watt/speed from my SRM data (1% smoothing).  As you can see, the race average speed was 27.47mph with an average of 272.4 watts.  The last nine minutes I averaged 28.42 mph and 368 watts with a peak of 1262 watts and 35.7mph max speed (with some cross wind). The course was approximately one kilometer long.  My data indicates that we raced for 50.81km for a total of 1hour and 58seconds or so. 
One fact that I should mention is that the front camera video appears very shaky.  This is because a piece of one of the extensions to my camera mount fractured during the race.  This happened for a couple of reasons.  One I added two extensions to the bar mount, in order to place the camera forward of the brake/shift cables.  This made the mount a little weak and bouncy.  So, in order to stabilize the camera,  I added a heavy metal wire that dropped from the handle bars to the extension for support. I then added some rubber-bands for pull-down tension.  Apparently, the repetitive road shock (from this and several others) combined with the multiple extensions, resulted in a fracture of the mount.  Happily my support device kept the camera on the bicycle and filming.

The image below shows my forward mounting system.
The rest, shall we say is history! :-)

Wait a second..... did I mention that the race was close.  I mean REALLY close.  Check the below pictures and you'll see just how close.

I would say about 3 inches.  But here's the weird thing, I knew I had won (or at least I had guessed correctly).

Interestingly, I thought I had lost the National Road Race Championship by about this same distance last year.   

Oh, and here's a nice article written by Tom Carbone for the Missourian about my National Championship achievement.  

And other nice article written by Joe Walljasper for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

To learn about the best video camera in the world for videoing cycling (which is the cameras that I use for my videos) click here. 
National Champion!


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