10/14/15

Full Circle – Enve Wheels reviews

Another season is wrapping up for me, and it’s another completed on some Enve Wheels.  I have two sets of Enve wheels.  I train on 3.9 clinchers and race on the 8.9 tubulars.  Enve has received some great reviews and awards from several places. One, from last year, is the best in class award from Triathlete Magazine for their wheels.  More recently, Enve became the official wheel of Ironman and received an award for their carbon wheel hubs from Eurobike.  My experience with these wheels have been nothing short of amazing in the last couple years.

The wheels are durable:

This year, I took a spill on my bike with my 3.9’s.  The wheels came out unscathed.  Not even the least bit out of true.  I also hit some major holes/cracks in the road with the 3.9’s and 8.9’s while training and race.  Again, these wheels took the beating and stayed true.

Fast is best:

Everyone is looking for ways to save some time on the bike.  These wheels have helped me ride considerable faster bike splits than I was prior to using the wheels.  This year I was able to have the fastest bike split at the Toughman national championship.  The 3.9’s are also a great wheels for those of you more into the road biking scene.  I do a lot of riding with some of the local cyclists in Louisville.  Many of these guys are Cat 1, Cat 2, or former professional cyclists.  My 3.9’s handle the hills, the corners, the accelerations, and are responsive enough to help me put the hurt on the other cyclists in the group.

Enve makes several other products that are also noteworthy such as: forks, road bars, socks (partnered with another sponsor, Swiftwick), bottle cages, etc.  All of Enve products have created a large amount of chatter about them when Enve debuted them.  Enve is serious about creating the best performing products on the market.  Enve provides a full circle of products to make any bike fast and appealing to the eye.

enve blog

 

Most recently, Enve also became the the official wheel of Ironman World Championships. ENVE wheels helped post the fastest bike split in Kona in 2015.

06/20/15

BSX Insight Bike test – 3

I just completed my third BSX Insight bike test.  Each one has shown marked improvement.  Watch the video below to see a few shots of the test and the results.

With this new FTP, I currently am able to push 4.84 watts/kg! Thanks BSX for the valuable data, and thanks to Brian Grasky for using this data in your coaching! Looking forward to the second half of the season!

BSXinsight-Logo

BlueSeventy – save 20% on all orders using coupon code MavMike.
BSX Athleticssave $40 on the multisport unit with coupon code MavMike
Infinit Nutrition – used the coupon code “MAVERICK” at checkout to save 10%
Primal Sports mud – Discount code: MAVMIKE15 will give you 20% off from 1/1/15 to 12/31/15.; http://www.primalsportmud.com/buy.html#sthash.5UY88juh.dpbs
Challenge Family Races (USA)use code CHALLENGEMIKE to save $10 on your entry fee. This shows Challenge Family that pros do matter to help #keepourpros
06/3/15

BSX Insight run test

This video shows me doing the run test on the BSX Insight and how it works.  It is super simple, blood free, and can be done anywhere there is a treadmill.  This device is incredibly useful for any biker, runner, or triathlete that wants to get faster. Use coupon code MAVMIKE to save $40 on the BSX Insight Multisport Unit! #StopthePricks

04/22/15

reflecting on 70.3 NOLA

Every race has lessons to learn from it.  Some have more than others… those tend to be ones that go horribly wrong that have more obvious lessons to learn.  However, even on races that go well I think that if one reflects on the race long enough, areas for improvement can be found… even if you won that race.

I obviously didn’t win 70.3 NOLA last weekend, but I felt like I had a great race. Squeezing in a top 10 finish with some big names on the start line such as Andy Potts, Matt Charbot, Eric Limkemann, Ben Hoffman, and Trevor Wuertel to name a few.  I had a short conversation with my coach after the race, thanking him for this help and expressing my satisfaction with the race.  He told me to think about the race and get back to him with 3 areas that went well, 3 areas for improvement, and if anything in the race made a light bulb turn on.  Here is what I came up with:

 

1.  Nutrition – I felt my nutrition, hydration, and electrolyte replacement was spot on.  I never felt weak.  At times I felt like I was loosing steam, but would know to take a shot of NAPALM (on the bike) or some coke (on the run).  With the exception of 1 gel on the bike course and a few shots of Coke on the run course, all my nutrition came from Infinit Nutrition. I absolutely love their product. I have never had any GI issues with their product and it works. Every time!use coupon code MAVERICK at checkout to save 10% on Infinit products.
2.  Bike pacing – I felt my pacing was pretty even.  It wasn’t until about mile 40 when Chris McDonald caught back up to me (I rode solo the entire ride prior to that) that I was able to work with anyone. At that point the wind was so strong, evn sitting 12 meters back was a big difference in power. I would guess 50-60 watts difference.  That’s why my average the last 45 minutes or so was much less. – I love my Rotor power meter and Q-rings.  Pacing is so important in longer races and a power meter makes it much easier to gauge my effort.
3. Run – I felt strong and smooth the entire run.  My attitude was 100% positive the entire race.  I did feel like I had another gear from a breathing/heart rate standpoint, but when I tried to kick it into gear around mile 3 (a huge hill/bridge at the beginning of mile 2 took me a mile or so to find a rhythm after that) i just didn’t have the snap in my legs to get the pace to quicken.  Other than that, the run was great.  I passed 6 or so people with authority.  So fast they didn’t even try to match my pace.
Things that I could improve on:
1. Swim – I’ll try to make this brief.  The water was warmer than what the “official race temperature” was.  I swam in my full-sleeve wetsuit in the same water temp on friday and was burning up.  Even swimming easy I felt like I was going to over heat.  On Saturday, I used my swim skin and was very comfortable in the water.  I decided to use the swimskin on race day knowing from previous experience if I over heat in the swim my bike leg often is embarrassingly slow.  At the start of swim, I got caught in the mix with some of the slower swimmers. I was right in the middle and couldn’t get out to catch the guys I know I can get out of the water with that ended up being about 1:45 ahead.  That group consisted of Trevor Wuertel, AJ Baucco, and Ben Hoffman. I was out with Hoffman and Wuertel last year in this race, out with AJ in San Juan.  Maybe part of the reason was they were using wetsuits??  Not sure.  But one the athletes I coach sent me an email with a good idea on what to do next time the water may be too warm for me to use a wetsuit, but still wetsuit legal – wear my Blueseventy Core shorts over the swim skin.  They give you middle body/hip bouncy but without covering my whole body and cooking myself before the race starts.  I think I will do this in the future. – Use code MAVMIKE to save 20% on your next Blueseventy order.
2. Run – as mentioned in the “the things that went well” I felt like I had another gear on the run from a cardiovascular standpoint, but didn’t have the snap in my legs on that day to knock down the pace an extra 10-15 seconds per mile.
3. I really can’t think of a third thing that could have been improved on for the race.  I really think it boiled down to the swim.  If I were able to get out with the pack I know I can swim with (Weurtel, Hoffman, and Baucco), I would have had the advantage of a group to pace with the entire bike leg (or at least more of the bike leg).  I spoke with Eric Limkemann after the race and his wattages were similar to mine, but since he was in a group he was moving faster.  So if I did manage to get a group for the bike leg, I’m still not 100% certain I would have been able to out run Hoffman and the 6th place guy to claim the final position getting paid, but would have definitely been at least 7th.
Light bulb of the race – suggestion to use the core shorts.  I think that is a great solution to me just getting hot in wetsuits really easily.
I also received a really cool/nice message from Alex Bok (manager of TBB back in the day). I met him at the Maverick Multisport Pre-season camp in January this year:
Screenshot_2015-04-19-21-00-26

 

04/13/15

BSX Insight Bike Test 1

Just a few days ago, I received the highly anticipated BSX Insight device (Multisport unit).  I had originally thought about waiting until after 70.3 NOLA to do a bike test, but after a quick conversation with my coach, Brian Grasky (a USAT level 3 coach), we both decided we were too curious to wait.  This device is the world’s first wearable lactate threshold device.  What does that mean?  No more blood draws/finger pricks.  We both knew that I would go into this test being fatigued since I had done a big race simulation on Friday morning, a hard swim set Friday afternoon, and a 6.5 hour training day on Saturday.  We figured the results may run a little low, but at least put us in the ball park of what the actual result would be.  Based on my high levels of fatigue, we figured the test would read about 10 watts lower.  See chart below (a TSB less than -20 indicates high level of fatigue):
Screenshot_2015-04-12-13-11-00

To get started, you need to pair your BSX Insight Device with your phone.  Simply turn on the bluetooth on your phone and follow the prompts to pair the device.  My phone found the BSX device in just a matter of a few seconds.

Secondly, you have a series of questions that it asks that you need to answer to the best of your ability to get the test protocol set up correctly.Screenshot_2015-04-12-12-26-04

Screenshot_2015-04-12-12-26-12

Next, for the bike test, the BSX device needs to pair with your power meter and heart rate monitor.  My HR monitor synced with my BSX device almost instantly, and the power meter took about 10-15 seconds.  Once that is done you get a little tutorial of how the test will be run and you are on your way to the pain cave.

The test starts out extremely easy and ramps up every 3 minutes until failure.  My test lasted a little over 33 minutes (not counting my own little warm up and cool down), which is about perfect.  I made it about 30 seconds into the 420 watt phase and then cracked.  This is a huge improvement for me from when I first demoed the product at the Maverick Multisport Pre-season camp in January where I only got 10-15 seconds into the 400 watt step.

Once I stopped the test, the BSX app went to work and came up with the results:

Screenshot_2015-04-12-13-09-34

This is about what I was expecting based on my level of fatigue making the results a bit lower.  This is the second time I’ve used the device and both times it was very accurate.  The first time, as mentioned above, was at the Maverick Pre-season camp when I was well rested.  My coach and I knew going into the test that my FTP was between 345 and 350 watts.  The results for that test was 345.

As a reminder, Brian (my coach) and I thought that my level of fatigue would lower the results by about 10 watts.  My latest 20 minute critical power test (CP20 test) was 380 watts.  By taking 95% of that 20 minute power test, that puts my FTP at 361 watts… putting the BSX on target for this test.

Overall, I like doing the step test better because it takes out the guess work needed in pacing as hard as you can go for the CP20 test.  No more starting out too fast and not getting accurate results because of not being able to complete the 20 minute critical power test.  It also works well for people who may not push themselves hard enough in a 20 minute critical power test.

Want one of you own?? Use MAVMIKE at checkout to save $40 on the multisport unit and #stopthepricks!

bsx

 

10/7/14

Turn, Turn, Turn – Enve Wheels

Since I first started in triathlons about 10 years ago, I have ridden several different wheelsets for both training and racing.  Wheelsets such as Mavic, Spinergy, Blackwell Design, Zipp, and most recently Enve Composites.  All these wheels were ridden at different points in my progression in the sport from amateur to professional.  And almost every season, I had a different pair than the year before, hoping that I could gain some sort of advantage from the newest model.  Or perhaps, I used a different brand for training and racing.  But, I finally found a wheelset that can handle all my training rides and races:  Enve Wheels.  Anything I could throw at these wheels, they handled tremendously.

While thinking about this, I realized that for every type of riding I did this year (group rides, hilly races, windy races, etc.), Enve wheels kept turning as if nothing bothered them.  Turn, Turn, Turn… over and over again, never wanting to slow down, slicing the air, staying stiff while climbing and cornering, and, probably most importantly, staying true (no wobbling from side to side from a bent rim/spoke).  Over the course of this last season, I put thousands of miles on my wheels.  I hit some pretty nasty things along the way, but the wheels stayed true and never cracked.

I also did a lot of training with some roadies from the Louisville area.  One of them is well known in the region and does really well in races all over the country.  The wheels were super responsive and stiff with the accelerations that roadies do in training and racing.  I managed to hang with the group, and did my fair share of pulling them around the country roads surrounding Louisville, many of which are full of curves, fast descents and fast climbs.

Racing with the 8.9’s, was no different.  The triathlons I did over the course of the year had some that lay at each end of the spectrum of hilly, windy, technical, etc.  The first race I did this year was New Orleans 70.3.  I managed to pull out a PR that day with really windy conditions.  The wheels handled the crosswinds fantastic.  The next race(s) I did was the Triple T in southern Ohio.  These courses are the most technical someone could find for an on-road triathlon.  Several switchbacks, steep climbing, sharp cornering going down hill… my wheels did great all weekend here.  And I managed to be at the top of the fastest bike splits for all of the 4 races over the weekend.  Then, in my last race of the season, IM Louisville, I got another PR on the bike (and a course PR as well).  Louisville is a very unique course… not too technical (maybe a turn or two on the entire course), lots of hills, and a couple steep climbs.  Just a little bit of everything.  The Enve wheels kept turning for those 112-miles and helped set me up fora 4th male pro finish!

I’m not the only one that thinks Enve Wheels are the best out there.  Triathlete Magazine named Enve Wheels the Best in Class for 2014 for wheel choice!

Enve wheels are your wheel of choice for everything out there. Not just this season, or next season.  Not just this ride, or a the group ride.  Every ride… every season… every course.  Unlike the song by the Byrds, Turn Turn Turn… Enve wheels are your choice wheelset for every time!

05/26/14

Energy Bits

As an elite athlete, I’m always looking for things that will facilitate recovery, help me perform better, and be faster.  About a month ago, I stumbled upon a company called Energy Bits.  This company makes, markets, and sells algae tabs as food.  When I first discovered them, I’ll admit to being a bit weirded out.  But after doing a little bit of reading about algae on their website and several independent websites that published the benefits of algae, I realized I would be stupid not to start incorporating algae into my daily routine.

Over the last month, I have taken them like pills, chewed them, or put them in some of my homemade yogurt based smoothies with fruits and vegetables.  I really like the taste that it adds to the smoothie as it mixes in with the other ingredients.  Immediately, I noticed several things:

1.  Shorter recovery time – The weekend I did a sprint, two Olympics and a 70.3 triathlon in 3 days (an epic event call the American Triple T), I took a serving of the algae tabs after every race.  When I woke up Sunday morning, I noticed I had more energy than I expected to have (and also in comparison to how I felt when I did this race before).  I had energy to race and race well on Sunday during the 70.3 race.  This is mostly due to two things about Energy Bits: highest concentration of antioxidants (gram for gram), and 65% of the calories are protein in amino acid form.  When protein is already an amino acid, it absorbs faster and the body can get 99% of the amino acid.  Translation… your muscles get the amino acids it needs much faster than ingesting animal protein.  Antioxidants also reduce inflammation and help in the recovery process.

2. Hunger satisfied longer – when I usually make smoothies with fruits and veggies in them, I get hungry really quickly afterwards.  However, after adding 1-2 servings of Energy Bits (30-60 calories), I was more satisfied for much longer.  This is probably due to the high concentration of nutrients in the algae.  When the body has all the nutrients it needs, it doesn’t trigger hunger.  Thus making it easier to stay lean and still perform well.   See image below for some nutritional information. Algae has 40 nutrients in it.  NASA has also found just 1 kilogram of algae to have the nutritional equivalent of 1000 kg of fruits and vegetables:

Algae has several other benefits, such as the ability to improve blood flow with the nitric oxide that is naturally found it in.  This means that blood can more efficiently care nutrients/oxygen to places and carry waste away.

These algae tabs are food, not supplements.  So that means all the nutrients can be absorbed.  When taking a supplement or multivitamin, most of the nutrients are in one form.  Many vitamins, such as vitamin C, are found in several different forms in nature.  But when put in a pill it is almost always found as ascorbic acid… and the body can’t absorb all of it when it’s concentrated in one amount like that.

Energy Bits algae tabs are 100% organic, 100% GMO-free, gluten-free, and WADA compliant.

Go to www.energybits.com and find out more.  When ordering save 20% when using code “MIKE502BITS”

 

03/12/14

Primal Sport Mud Review

Recovery is vitally important to anyone that is training for competition.  Recovery is when the body gets stronger by adapting to the stress (training) that is placed on it.  Without recovery, we would continue to breakdown and end up getting slower and/or injured.  When training for an Ironman, 70.3, or any other long distance event, recovery becomes even more important.

When training at a high level, generally those that are smartest in their recovery are the ones that make the most improvement and beat their competition.  That being said, I know that I must do everything I can to help my body recover.  That is why I’ve turned to Primal Sport Mud this year after a trail run of it early this winter.

Primal Sport Mud comes from the idea that ancient warriors/athletes of putting volcanic mud all over their body to help with recovery and sore muscles.  Primal Sport Mud is basically that, minus the dirt.  They have removed everything except for the active ingredients and activated them to make them more effective.  With that being done, the molecules can absorb through your skin and into your body more efficiently and work much faster.  With using normal organic matter/mud, it would take several treatments to get the same effect as 1 or 2 treatments of Primal Sport Mud.  In the few months that I’ve started using Primal Sport Mud, this is what I’ve noticed:

1.  It helps with sore muscles – Just yesterday I did a fairly hard brick workout.  Afterwards my legs were sore and tired.  I applied it all over my legs and let it soak through.  I felt a lot better after it was done.  The next morning the amount of fatigue in my legs was significantly less than what it would have been without using it based on how I felt in last years workouts that were similar.

2.  It helps with inflammatory issues – I have had some inflammation issues this year in my IT band.  I think it has been due to needing new running shoes and also with the significantly higher volume in comparison to previous years.  I’ve applied it when I felt the pain coming on, and it has always been gone the next day.

When I was first learning how to use it, I was told to apply the Mud, wrap the area in plastic wrap, and then apply heat.  However, I found that using some two 2-gallon zip lock bags worked better.  I cut out the bottom of it and pull it over my upper legs.  I put the part that locks shut around the thickest part of my legs so it wouldn’t rip the bag.  Also, I could reuse the same plastic bags over and over again instead of using plastic wrap once and throw it away.  A small bag can be used over the lower legs in the same manner.  To clean it off your body, simply jump in the shower and rinse somehow with water.  The product is completely water soluble and safe to go down the drain.  It will come off your body looking like coffee going down the drain.

Most recently I completed a radio commercial for Primal Sport Mud.  I added pictures to it so I could upload to youtube.  So here is my 15 seconds of fame:

You can try Primal Sport Mud by going to their website and ordering the product there.  Use coupon code “maverickprimal14” for 40% off your first order and bring your recovery (and racing) to a new level!

02/14/14

Cobb Saddles Review

Biking, in some shape or another, has always been a part of my life.  I started out riding the big wheel around in circles on the little cement portion of the driveway when I was younger.  I tore up that driveway.  Power slides, burning rubber (probably more plastic than rubber), and, of course, going super fast:

Sadly, I out grew this speed machine and moved on to something a little bigger and with one less wheel.  I got my first bike and learned to ride it without training wheels.  Just a little  guidance from my dad and… off I went.  However, I can remember 12 mile round trip for breakfast a few times a year as a tradition with my family.  These were my longest rides.  Getting off the bike felt so good to relieve that saddle soreness.

The wooden blocks on the pedals were because my legs were too short yet to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. My dad, being a wood shop teacher at the time, came up with a great solution!

Eventually high school rolled around.  I was known for riding my bike to school and work when everyone else that could drive took advantage of their four wheels.  Not me… I preferred two wheels.  By the middle of my junior year, I finally decided it was time for a real road bike.  I had no clue what I was looking at, and bought one off the internet (big mistake).  I rode that thing in my first triathlon and for my first three years of racing.  I’m not sure what saddle was on there, but believe me… it wasn’t very comfortable.

This is one of my first rides on this bike. I hadn’t gotten any bike clothing yet… the spandex scared me a little back then.

Fast forward to college.  I finally broke down and bought a TT bike for triathlons.  I had a Selle Italia Gel Flow saddle on it.  It was fine for shorter rides, but when I started doing 70.3 and 140.6 races, the long miles on that saddle really hurt.  By my Senior year at college I got my first really nice bike.  It was a huge step up from what I was riding at the time.  The saddle that came with it was a Fizik saddle.  It didn’t take me very many miles (less than 20 on my first outdoor ride) to know that this bike saddle was one of the worst that I have ever been on.  My plastic big wheel seat from my toddler years was more comfortable that this thing!  Unfortunately, I was a poor college student and decided to just man up and deal with it.

After moving to Louisville, I was connected with a new triathlon store called VO2 Multisport.  They suggested I try using a John Cobb saddle.  The most popular one they sold was the V-flow Plus.  They put it on the bike I was getting and I immediately knew this was the saddle.  Every saddle I had before this wasn’t very comfortable to start with, and over time either my body got used to it or the saddle broke in a little bit and it became tolerable.  But Cobb’s saddle was on a whole new level that the rest of the saddles I tried.  I used that saddle until I wore it out (probably over 20,000 miles on it).  When time came to buy another one, I didn’t even bother looking at another brand.  I knew Cobb’s saddles were the best for several reasons.  I never got saddle sore while riding… even during a race with minimal padding in the tri shorts.

John Cobb has lots of information on their website about their saddles, but here are a couple images to help you decide which one may be the best one for you:

 

They also have a new saddle called “Fifty-Five JOF (just off front)” that isn’t on these charts.  For more information straight from John Cobb himself about this product, click here.

When ordering your saddle, remember that you can save 5% on your saddle and receive free ground shipping by using the coupon code “MavMike” at checkout.

 

 

01/23/14

Rotor Qrings Review

I have been cycling with power since the fall of 2011.  Power meters are a great tool for any cyclist (as long as you or your coach knows how to interpret the numbers and apply them to your training).  It keeps you honest by giving you data to know the difference between feeling like quitting because you feel like your struggling, but instead to keep pushing through it when the numbers are still within the goal  Power meters also let you know when to quit.  If RPE is sky high, but watts and HR is low, then you’re body is depleted and you’re better off bagging the remainder of the workout.

I had been riding with SRAM Quarq power meter from 2011-2013.  My training was revolutionized when I started training and racing with power.  I was able to pace myself better in races (especially 70.3 and 140.6 distances).  However, this year I made the switch to the Rotor Q-rings.  After one ride on with the Q-rings, I was a believer in all their claims they made on their website.  Here is what I’ve noticed in the first few rides on the rings:

1.  20-25 watts higher at the same RPE – During my hard intervals that I’ve done on the trainer, I noticed that my RPE that used to produce about 300-310 watts (slightly over HIM pace) is now about 320-330 watts.  I am confident that I should be able to hold 310 watts now on a HIM race, which is about 20-25 watts higher than last year.  This, according to some on-line calculators, translates into about 4 minutes faster for for a 56 mile ride.  For an IM race, assuming the watts are consistently 20-25 watts higher, that is a little more than 8 minutes faster for 112 miles.

2.  The cranks are more beneficial at higher power outputs – While riding in Z2 and Z3 yesterday, I could see some difference in the amount of power being produced from my level of exertion.  But this morning when I was riding at threshold, I could see a much bigger increase in the power in comparison to the SRAM Quarq I had used the last 2.5 seasons.  It is consistent with their findings on the website.

3.  Although my watts are higher, my recovery time is the same or less – One would think that if the watts are higher, more lactate is produced by the body.  However, Rotor broke that rule.  Studies show that Q-rings help riders produce more power and produce less lactate.

I’m sure that as time goes on, my body will become more adapted to the elliptical chain rings and produce even more power as the season progresses.  And the data on their website agrees with that assumption.

I’m super excited about what this season could hold for me with the improved power on the Argon E-118 bike, the Rotor Cranks, and the Enve wheels.  Couple that with my swim times being about 5 seconds faster per 100 meters than the end of last season (thank you Lakeside Seahawks), and I should finally break that 4 hour mark.

Thanks again to VO2 Multisport for building the bike fore me… couldn’t be happier with it.

Rotor Bikes – Q Rings a Road Cycling video by Rotor