Trans BC Enduro - Day 6

By: Cary Smith

Day 6, the final day, of the Trans BC enduro race finished today. Today was shorter with only three stages, but the climbs were steep, the temperature was high and the trails were steep, loose and tricky. The trickiness was exacerbated by the cumulative fatigue of the week and the desire to finish safely but still fast.

P: Dane Cronin/PinkBike

P: Dane Cronin/PinkBike

We rode the gondola at Mt. Revelstoke Resort to the mid-mountain lodge for a lavish breakfast. It took all my self-control to not fill my pockets with croissants, so I just ate them all before pedaling away. The course description for the first stage described it as “a trail that will make you feel like you can’t ride a bike.” Great. It was fun, but that description was fairly accurate with several awkward rock moves and tight switchbacks.

An access road climb took the group to the aid station, which was stocked with vodka for making mojitos. I decided to pass and climb the moondust to the top of stage two.

P: Noah Wetzel/PinkBike

P: Noah Wetzel/PinkBike

The second stage was brutal. Not much pedaling, just squeezing my brakes for all I was worth. It seemed like every steep chute was followed by a ninety degree turn at the bottom. Every turn had a catch berm, but these berms were basically dust and would just blow away when you hit them. At least the trees were tight so getting off line was not an option.

A quick ride back to the bottom of the resort took us to a climb next to the coaster. Their coaster puts the King’s to shame as it’s steep (duh!) and a single rail with a small car and a lap belt. Looked serious. There was rumor of a final Strava race down the track after dinner but I haven’t heard results.

P: Dane Cronin/PinkBike

P: Dane Cronin/PinkBike

The final stage of the week was on a brand new trail through the woods of the resort. This trail was short but no less exciting with very tight trees, a couple steep rock rolls and more signature Revelstoke duff.

It felt good to finish the week with no injuries or major bike issues, but I was a little disappointed with my performance the last two days. It makes me appreciate the good dirt at home but also realize the need to ride all types of dirt and trails to be competitive when I leave the valley.

This race was very well run, with a good vibe, fun people and great volunteers. If you can pull it off, pencil it in for your 2018 calendar. I’m sure they will have plenty of new surprises in store.

Trans BC Enduro - Day 5

By: Cay Smith

Day 5 of the Trans BC enduro stage race started with a very scenic drive over Rogers Pass. I’ve only driven it in the winter so it was a treat to see it in the summer. Just as stunning. I know I’m here for a bike race but it was fun to scope ski lines and start thinking about a winter trip to this beautiful area. Once in Revelstoke, we unloaded bikes and rode up to the first stage.

P: Noah Wetzel/PinkBike

P: Noah Wetzel/PinkBike

The first two stages were low elevation forest trails with plenty of loose switchbacks, compressions and root masses. All of these constantly tried to pull your front wheel in every direction. This type of trail is not my forte so I struggled to hold speed through the corners. It was tough to get my mojo flowing thinking I was going slower than everyone else.

The next three stages were quite different from the first two. These were old-school DH trails with steep rolls and chutes, plenty of dust and ruts and tricky root and rock drops that kept me on my comfort limit. This week has been great for me to increase my confidence in the ability of the modern bikes to get over just about anything the trail throws out. That was the positive I took out of today. For people who didn’t need to learn that, the trails were fun but pretty blown out and definitely hard on brakes and hands.

P: Noah Wetzel/PinkBike

P: Noah Wetzel/PinkBike

By the time we were climbing to the top of the last stage, I had caught up to the overall leaders of the week. It was amazing to watch them drop in carrying so much more speed than I do.

One more day of racing in Revelstoke tomorrow will finish the week. But we’re working on wrangling a heli to the top of Mt. Cartier on Sunday for a 7000’ descent before driving home to JH.

Trans BC Enduro - Day 4

By: Cary Smith

Day 4 of the Trans BC was a pretty sweet day. We awoke to clear skies in Golden, BC, after the smoke cleared overnight. The views are stunning from town, but so much better after a 4000’ gondola ride at Kicking Horse Resort. 

P: Noah Wetzel/PinkBike

P: Noah Wetzel/PinkBike

Once again, the approach to stage 1 was amazing. Plenty of third and fourth class scrambling along a beautiful ridge took us out of the ski area for about 30 minutes. Then it was game time. I was pretty nervous for this stage after riding/hiking to the start. This trail promised to be rocky enough that the recommendation was to “ride it, don’t race it. It’s a bike eater.” There were plenty of snipers in and around the trail. When I hit the first really technical section, I didn’t have to fight my ego as I had just caught the guy who started in front of me and he was walking, forcing me to walk without having to make the decision. It probably saved me a bunch of time! After getting around him, I tried to ride smoothly and was thankful to get directions from a course marshal at a serious rock drop that was rideable if you knew where to go. 

A short transfer took us to a short XC style stage. I knew this was a good stage for me to pin it, but that was relative after three days of racing. It was nice to give my hands a break from braking but my legs and lungs were screaming by the end. 

P: Riley Seebeck/PinkBike

P: Riley Seebeck/PinkBike

Another fairly short transfer brought us to stage 3, which was definitely one of the coolest trails I’ve ridden. The trail had all sorts of flow, with several wooden features, roots and berms. Plenty of pumping the terrain and trying to stay off the brakes. The bottom half was super fast. Aaron G. said his Garmin read 40mph for a max speed, which is quite fast on a trail you’ve never seen. A short section of the trail hugged the edge of a cliff overlooking an incredible canyon with a glacial river running through the bottom of it. I took a quick peak but figured I shouldn’t stare too long. 

P: Riley Seebeck/PinkBike

P: Riley Seebeck/PinkBike

Then it was time for a long, rolling transfer to the last stage. Another well built trail that meandered past several alpine lakes, one with a tempting rope swing. This trail brought us to the top of stage 4, a handbuilt flow trail with lots of small doubles and a bit of pedaling. I rode it pretty well, but blew one corner at the bottom of a short climb, which bummed me out. But I couldn’t dwell on it too much as I thought back to the day and how we were able to do four very different stages in a loop that required very little climbing. It was a very well thought out day to give our legs a rest before tomorrow.

In the morning, we get on the buses to go to Revelstoke for a big day. We have about 6000’ of climbing and 8000’ of descending waiting for us on the other side of Rogers Pass. 

Trans BC Enduro - Day 3

By: Cary Smith

Today’s stages were advertised to be steep and they didn’t disappoint. I rode the steepest trails I’ve ever ridden on Monday. And today’s were steeper.

And getting there was no more mellow. After shuttling to the paragliding launch at the top of Mt. Seven, we hiked up a class 4 ridge to a separate summit. From there, we dropped a couple thousand feet through the woods...straight down. Some of the chutes were a simple rutted affair while others were littered with roots and rocks. I came off a couple times, some smoother than others, but survived with minor cuts and bruises and a twisted shifter. Mike Austin wasn’t as lucky. He came upon another rider who didn’t get out of the way quickly enough. Mike tried to avoid him and ended up 50 feet below the trail with a cracked frame, broken spoke and flat tire.

P: Trans BC Enduro

P: Trans BC Enduro

After a short climbing transfer, we dropped into a totally different type of trail. Plenty of fun turns and pedaling. This should’ve been my stage but a rock in my shoe migrated under my sole and had me cringing with every pedal stroke. I couldn’t believe how I let it bother me but I couldn’t wait for the stage to be over.

After a quick lunch we climbed a gravel road to one of the most fun looking flow trails I’ve seen. It was like two Ferrins except with perfectly sculpted berms and fun jumps of all sizes. Part of me wanted to ride it before heading up to the start of stage 3. Stage 3 started at the paragliding launch. Racers had the choice of the mellower Summit Trail or the wicked Dead Dog trail. I watched a few guys go down Dead Dog and decided the Summit Trail was for me. Aaron Grutzmacher and Andrew Sherman both rode the “A” line, with different outcomes. Aaron cleaned it but said it was the hardest, scariest, dumbest thing he’s done on a bike. Andrew crashed twice and brought a significant dirt sample with him to the finish. Even after the two trails joined back together, the action wasn’t done. There were plenty of areas to make a mistake. But the majority of it was super fun, trying to drop my heels and stay light through the roots.

P: Trans BC Enduro

P: Trans BC Enduro

Another transfer on a fun looking trail brought us to today’s final stage. This was a high speed affair but it would bite you if you let your guard down. Plenty of corners to crush interspersed with rocky sections, root drops and g-outs. It finished with a fast bobsled run which tested your trust in your tires.

After the third day in a row of 4000 plus feet of climbing, tomorrow supposedly has less climbing but the descents promise to be rockier and just as exciting.

Trans BC Enduro - Day #2

By: Cary Smith

The hits just keep on coming here at the Trans BC. We took a bus from Fernie to Panorama Ski Resort in Invermere this morning. After getting our bikes dialed, the JH crew rode two lifts then rode out of the ski area. After passing through a beautiful meadow, I looked up and saw the other racers carrying bikes up this steep scree slope up to this exposed ridge. It was an awesome sight, but tough to get there. Once there, Panorama lived up to its name with huge 360° views.

P: Trans BC Enduro

P: Trans BC Enduro

The first stage wasn’t a trail before this morning. They taped the line and tried to skid it in to make it rideable. It may have been for some, but most got knocked off at least once. I should’ve known my limits but I wanted to give it a go. I ended up floundering around in the rocks, tripping and stumbling trying to regroup after searching for my Garmin that got punted then trying to drop my post once I got the lever back in its usual spot. From there, after a detour when I lost the route, it was sweet riding in classic BC loam down to a high alpine lake. Unfortunately for Aaron, his detour off course was a little longer and he lost a couple minutes getting back on course.

We had a one minute walk to the start of stage 2. This was a classic descent with everything a mountain biker could want. 15 minutes of roots, rocks, steeps, creek crossings, twisties through the trees and high speed flow sections kept us on our toes but grinning the whole way. One of the steep switchbacks caught out Mike Austin and he landed hard on his shoulder but finished and kept charging the rest of the day.

A climb back to the ski area took us to their DH track for a steep rip through the trees with plenty of rocks, drops and groomed berms.

Lunch awaited us at the bottom of this stage and, once again, the delicious spread got the best of me, making for an uncomfortable start to the long climb to stage 4. This stage was the bottom half of the stage we would’ve done if we had the helicopter this morning. It was good improvisation by the race crew but it would’ve been amazing to ride the top of this trail. It was cleaned this spring for this race and it was worth the effort. I keep marveling at the quantity and quality of trails in this area.

P: Trans BC Enduro

P: Trans BC Enduro

The last stage saw us hop on the lift one more time for a super fun trail in the bike park. Great traction saw the steep sections much more manageable since you could actually slow down and steer your bike. But that’s not to say there weren’t plenty of roots and rocks to keep it interesting.

Tomorrow we head to Mt. Seven outside of Golden for the steepest day of the week. They’re giving us two options to get off the top of the peak. The easy one has me sweating so I’ll have to get secondhand details of the harder option. Good thing I sanded my brake pads tonight.

Trans BC Enduro

By: Cary Smith

The Trans BC 6 day enduro stage race started today in Fernie, BC, Canada. I’m up here with Aaron Grutzmacher, Andrew Sherman and Mike Master doing battle against 120 other shredders. It’s a very international field with the majority of entrants from Canada and the US but a smattering of Europeans, Kiwis and Aussies.

P: Riley Seebeck/PinkBike

P: Riley Seebeck/PinkBike

If you don’t know what enduro racing is, it’s several timed, mostly descending, stages spread throughout a day of riding. The times of each stage are added together to give you a total time for the day. In the case of a stage race, each day’s times will be added together to give a total time for the week. So, you can pace yourself on the climbing transfers to get to the top of the next stage and drill it as fast as you can to the bottom. Obviously, some stages will be steeper, rougher and favor the racers with a DH background, while others will be flatter, require more pedaling and favor the fitter racer.

This particular race is referred to as “blind racing.” This means that we don’t know the trails we’re racing until the night before. This will hopefully prevent people from pre-riding but it also favors the locals because they will obviously have ridden these trails before.

Aaron and I arrived in Fernie on Saturday in time to spend the afternoon riding the lifts at Fernie Alpine Resort. The first 50 feet of trail was more technical than anything I’ve ridden all year. Welcome to BC! Once we got in the groove, the trails were awesome. Challenging but well-built in such a way as to let you gain confidence and go faster without wondering if a surprise was waiting for you on the other side of a blind drop or switchback.

P: Colin Meagher/PinkBike

P: Colin Meagher/PinkBike

The day before a race, I normally do a short ride to open my systems. That was my intention this time as well. I went for a ride while Aaron went to yoga, and rode two of the best trails I’ve ever ridden in my life. Needless to say, when I got back to the hotel, Aaron dragged me out to do it again. 7500’ of climbing the day before starting six days of racing is not in any training handbooks but it was too fun to pass up!

As soon as today’s course was posted, I knew we were not racing in the States. 25 miles with 5500’ of climbing is about three times what we did over two days of racing at Targhee last year. Although we rode a lift to the first stage, it wasn’t the lift that went to the top of the stage. They took us to the other side of resort and had us pedal up to the start. Which makes sense from a racer’s perspective as it’s easier to warm up by pedaling than by riding a lift.

The first stage was nearly 2000’ of descending on a BC Cup DH course. Nothing like getting thrown into the deep end! The average gradient was -22% for the whole thing. It’s uncanny how the trail builder found a root to drop off right before every switch back to keep us on our toes.

We then had a long transfer down, through town and up the other side of the valley. Again, we were shown how they do things in BC as the “easy” climbing trail was eerily similar to climbing Josie’s Ridge, not quite as steep, but twice as long, with switchbacks that required a lollipop built so you could spin around to make the turn. This delivered us to another 1500’ descent.

P: Dane Cronin/PinkBike

P: Dane Cronin/PinkBike

Then it got real. We started out climbing a logging road for a few miles, then turned onto a trail that was steep enough to force most people to push their bikes. People pushed for close to an hour before topping out on this beautiful ridge overlooking the town of Fernie while huge granite faces towered over us. This descent was the longest of the day at nearly 2500’. During that time I probably pedaled 20 times but my HR was pinned, my forearms and hands were pumped and my brake fluid was boiling. This descent averaged -23%, with a max of -48%. I’ve never ridden anything so steep. And the promoter told us that it is flat compared to what we’ll see on Wednesday! From there it was an easy cruise to the last stage, which was more “pedally” but still more technical than all but probably two trails in JH.

Now it’s off to dinner and the meeting to find out what tomorrow holds. The bad news is that we were scheduled to get a helicopter ride from Panorama Ski Resort, but the heli was called out to help fight a fire. Oh well, guess we’re pushing!

Check out Aaron Grutzmacher's file from the stage here: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1847438579

eBikes and Pathways in the Valley

By: Forest Dramis
Thanks to Brian Schilling for his contribution to this post

Whether you love the idea of ebikes or think they signal the coming apocalypse, there's no denying it -- they're here to stay.

Conservative figures put 2016 ebike sales between 211,000 and 251,000 units. That's a 50-70% increase in sales from 2015 figures. While overall ebike sales are about ten years behind those in Europe, sales trends in the US have been following Europe's.

What does this mean to us? It means you're going to see more ebikes on the road, on pathways and on trails. So what are the concerns with ebikes?

Most public concern over the safety of ebike use on pathways can be broken into two major categories: Speed and Skill Level of User.

Speed: While it is easy, and common, to think of an ebike as a moped, scooter or motorcycle, that is normally not the case. Ebikes are an assisted means of travel. They have no ability to produce power on their own without pedaling input from the rider. Ebikes simply assist the user to travel at a given speed with less effort. Further, ebikes sold in the United States govern their assistance at 20mph. A commuter on a standard road bike easily achieves this speed.

If we remove the cognitive bias against the motor, it’s clear that speed in and of itself is not so disparate between standard bicycles and ebikes as to warrant a restriction on our pathways.

Skill Level of User: Another area of concern is the skill level required to achieve a certain speed on an ebike versus the skill level required to achieve this level of speed on a standard bicycle. While it is certainly easier to achieve a certain speed on an ebike on a flat road, it’s no easier if one takes into consideration downhills and other road features. Further, studies show that the vast majority of ebike buyers are already bicycle owners; users who are already accustomed to controlling a bicycle.

JHCycling believes the benefits of allowing ebikes on paved pathways far outweighs the perceived associated risks. Ebikes allow users to commute farther with less effort, helping to reduce vehicular traffic. Local retailers have reported purchases from Rafter J residents citing just this ability. Furthermore, making the commute to town from Wilson easier will certainly increase commuter use on the new WY22 pathway. Ebikes also encourage users who are older or not fit to try commuting and ride more. The ability to make hills easier, and longer distances more achievable, encourages potential users of a wider age range and fitness level to experience Jackson by bike. One less car on the road should be everyone’s goal. And if ebikes are banned from pathways they will ride on the road, increasing the likelihood of bicycle/car conflicts.

While the question of ebikes is just arriving in Jackson, ebikes have been popular all over the world for quite some time. Most of the rest of the world: Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany, England, Turkey, Japan, Australia, New Zealand etc. have allowed ebike use in bike lanes and paths for a decade. In the United States most states have already adopted definitions of ebikes versus motorcycles and many cities have already moved to allow ebikes
on pathways and in bike lanes. Boulder, CO and Portland, OR are just two examples and last year the state of California passed legislation specifically allowing ebikes on all state pathways.

Currently in Jackson there are no laws or official policy governing ebikes yet. However, the following is the generally accepted approach in the Valley:

Type I (pedal assist up to 20 mph): OK on Town of Jackson/Teton County pathways and bike lanes. Not permitted on Federal pathways (Grand Teton NP and North 89)

Type II (electric up to 20 mph, no pedal assist requirement): same as Type I

Type III (pedal assist above 20 mph): OK on TOJ/TC on-street bike lanes. Not permitted on multi-use (pedestrian and bike) pathways. 

Electric scooters and mopeds: not allowed in bike facilities (pathways or lanes)

Ebike use on USFS land:  ebikes are managed as motor vehicles under USFS Travel Management Rule. EBikes are permitted to travel on all roads open to all vehicles, all trails open to vehicles, all trails open to vehicles 50" or less and all trails designated for motorcycles only. 

Second Doping Positive in Jackson (April 1st)

For Immediate Release:

According to a press release from USA Cycling, Jackson amateur racer and JHCycling founder Forest Dramis has tested positive for exogenous erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO.

Mr. Dramis was recently the subject of an out-of-competition test while on vacation in Hawaii. Mr. Dramis did not have a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for EPO. When queried he stated that he took EPO to help remedy a high blood pressure issue relating from the long lines at the local post office.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m the victim here. Between the long lines at the post office and the difficulty getting a decent dessert in town, my blood pressure was soaring. I just needed something to level the playing field,” said Dramis.

Dramis, who has a long history complaining about postal queues and the nearly ubiquitous inclusion of molten lava cake on local menus, insisted he didn’t even know EPO was a performance-enhancing drug. “I took it to feel normal again. Sure, I started winning every Strava KOM in the valley, but I don’t think that had anything to do with the EPO.”

While Mr. Dramis remains unapologetic for his actions, he hopes the cycling community will come together to comfort him in these trying times.

Doping and the Next Generation

By: Molly Breslin

“Why should I bother to train and race so hard when I have no chance of being competitive?” “How do I justify all the sacrifices I’ve made to myself and to my family when someone who cheats is getting all the glory?” “I’m so upset; I thought ‘this person’ was my friend.” “Where do we look for role models in our sport and in our community? I don’t know who to encourage my children to look up to any longer.” “Well, is it really any wonder I can’t keep up?”

After the news of Ms. Balogh’s 4-year ban for doping was publically announced by Ironman and USA Triathlon, I contacted all of my clients – both past and present – and had an open discussion with them regarding doping and cheating in amateur athletics. Above are some of the comments voiced. It’s a real “gut punch” to a coach to have to hear such dismay from her athletes and it’s difficult to know how to respond in an era in which our sport is unfortunately rife with such behavior. Here are some links to very good articles on doping and cheating in amateur athletics:

NY Times: Swim, Bike Cheat?    •    Cycling's Biggest Threat: Amateur Doping

And an article from the UK - this is not just a problem in the USA:

Doping in British amateur sport

It was very disappointing that the Jackson Hole News and Guide chose not to publish a “bigger picture” story and instead gave us an article of one person’s defense of her actions. The Planet Jackson Hole chose not to publish anything at all. Those publications missed out on an opportunity to report on a much larger story that the community deserves to be informed on, to ponder, and to respond to. Where were the voices and opinions of our hardworking, honest athletes who deserve to be heard as well?

Sunshine truly is the best disinfectant. Ultra Runner’s comment (found below in the comments section) on this blog regarding the secrecy of doping is right on target. If we keep this topic in the dark then how do we combat it?  

Doping and cheating athletes inflict damage to our sport that has tentacles extending far beyond the events they compete in. Their behavior discourages other athletes from training to their optimum potential, putting forth their best efforts on race day, or even participating at all. Dopers gives our sport and our community a black eye. Amateur athletic events would not take place without the support of volunteers, sponsors, law enforcement, permit-granting organizations, and medical personnel. I hope that I speak for the vast majority of our athletic community when I thank all of you for your support, time, and resources. We GREATLY appreciate everything you do for us and please know that the actions of one individual do not define or represent us. 

Performance-enhancing drugs can have extremely deleterious health effects. Use of PEDs start as early as middle school in our youth. Kids are given substances by coaches, parents, other athletes, and event organizers/supporters. They are told things like: “It’s just a vitamin that will make you faster and stronger.”  “Everybody is taking it.” “This protein powder is good for you and you won’t be as sore.” “Don’t tell anyone else about this – we get it for free from our sponsors and they can’t afford to give it to everyone.” For their part, the kids generally have no idea what they are ingesting and have little to no knowledge of the risks involved. The recent local doping issue in Jackson gives us an opportunity as a community to talk to our children about this and hopefully prevent them from falling prey to it.  

Following is an excerpt from an article on a study on doping in youth published in The American Academy of Pediatrics in June 2016:

The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) is an annual survey of parents and high school students regarding behaviors and attitudes about drugs and substance abuse. The 2013 PATS survey included responses from more than 3700 students. Steroid use increased slightly from 5% to 7% as compared with 2012. However, use of synthetic human growth hormone (hGH) almost doubled, from 5% to 11%, after being fairly stable from 2009–2012:

And here is a great resource from a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia regarding talking to your children/athletic charges about doping in sport.

The Mayo Clinic has a resource on their website that does an exceptional job of explaining PEDs and discussing their effects.

Perhaps we actually owe Ms. Balogh a debt of gratitude for giving us the opportunity to have this public discussion on doping and cheating. I believe, however, that the real thanks should go to Ironman, Purplepatch Coaching/Matt Dixon, USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, USA Track and Field, The North Face, and JHCycling for having the integrity and the courage to identify and sanction an athlete who has been caught doping. 

Thank you Forest, for providing a forum for productive discussion.

Molly Breslin - USA Triathlon Certified Coach
22Tri Athletic Coaching

Doping has arrived in Jackson

By: Forest Dramis

This is a rebuttal to the article published by the Jackson Hole News & Guide on March 8, 2017. 

To whom it may concern,

Doping in sport is a huge story right now. Russian state-run doping at the Sochi Olympics. Banning of Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics. The track and field BALCO Labs scandal. The upcoming Lance Armstrong trial. The UK Parliamentary Investigation into Team Sky and Team Great Britain, etc. All these and more, making headlines in newspapers across the world. There is no shortage of information on this subject.

The first line of the article reads: “Doping comes to Jackson. Allegedly.”

Meriam-Webster defines "allegedly" as: accused but not proven or convicted. i.e. an alleged burglar

Ms. Balogh tested positive, briefly fought her positive for exogenous testosterone and was banned and sanctioned by USADA and Ironman. Her doping was not alleged as the article states. Quite the contrary, she was convicted of the doping violation and was subsequently sentenced to a four-year ban. A four-year ban is the harshest penalty given by USADA other than a lifetime ban. It is a penalty more severe than Lance Armstrong’s team mates. First time offenders who have simply “made a mistake” are given 6 month bans.

JH News & Guide sport writer Clark Forster conducted lengthy interviews with community members in the run up to this article. Among those he interviewed were past Olympians and a USATriathlon Certified Coach. No part of any of those interviews appears in the article. Why were their comments not included in the article?

Other than the selected quotes from Ms. Balogh and her side of the story, there appears to be little original reporting on the story. Almost all other information in the article is simply cut and pasted from the Ironman Press Release. Except this passage which directly contradicts Ms. Balogh’s assertion of ignorance:

“It is unfortunate that Ms. Balogh chose to disregard the education, advice and knowledge she had regarding anti-doping and instead competed in violation of the IRONMAN Anti-Doping Rules,” said Kate Mittelstadt, Director of the IRONMAN Anti-Doping Program.  

And this one:

“Through this investigation, IRONMAN confirmed that Ms. Balogh was aware of the inherent risks associated with her conduct and proceeded to knowingly take the prohibited substance.”

The statements made by Ms. Balogh are never questioned in the article. She states in the article that she didn’t know testosterone was a banned substance. In this post-Lance Armstrong age, to plead ignorance on testosterone being a Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) is beyond the pale. One of the biggest scandals in American sport was the testosterone/creatine juicing of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs and Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Many Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, the list goes. The list of NFL players caught cheating with testosterone and other PEDs is staggeringly long. Steroid abuse is a common theme in today's media.

Ms. Balogh states that she disqualified herself from the Ironman race. That is untrue. Ironman removed her from the race results after her positive. This can be found by checking dates readily available online. This was not questioned in the article.

She states she was taking testosterone for ”two to three years.” By her own admission, this means her results from July 11, 2013 until today should be removed. Did she remove herself from these results? This was not questioned in the article.

The Ironman press release states, “Following the presentation of evidence, she decided to withdraw her appeal and instead accept the sanction.” She states in your article that cost was the reason she stopped her litigation. This was not questioned in the article.

The Ironman press release states members of Ms. Balogh’s team confronted her and later turned her in to Ironman. Ms. Balogh says that statement is “completely inaccurate.” This was not questioned in the article.

Ms. Balogh is quoted in the article as saying, “… she would be surprised if any amateur triathletes were doping.” Does she mean besides herself? Doping is rife in amateur sports. Especially endurance sports like cycling and triathlon. Velonews recently called amateur doping "Cycling's Biggest Threat." 

The article quotes Ms. Balogh that taking testosterone, “... allowed me to stay healthy and train, and not be recovering from injury,” and that she is "no longer taking testosterone after her positive test." Yet she continued to train and run Ultra Marathons after her test and after she says she stopped taking testosterone.

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) and Recreational Competitor TUE (RCTUEs) were developed by USADA specifically for athletes, elite and amateur, with medical conditions that demand use of a banned substance. The RCTUE was implemented by USADA because of the desire for older athletes with declining testosterone levels and other amateur athletes with testosterone and other related medical issues, to still be able to race. A standard TUE would be too strict to allow these amateur athletes to compete legally and so the RCTUE was created to let amateur athletes with these issues have a more flexible path to a TUE. Ms. Balogh never applied for or was granted a TUE or RCTUE.

The issue of Ms. Balogh's participation in running races is separate from her USADA doping positive. USADA suspensions pertain solely to events that are sanctioned by USADA partners. If a race is not sanctioned by USADA or one of its partners (US Track & Field, US Sky Running etc.), then there is no legal reason Ms. Balogh would be prohibited from registering for a race. Some races, even though they are not a USADA partner (or worldwide, a WADA partner) choose to follow and adhere to USADA/WADA doping rules. Races can choose to allow or not allow those serving USADA suspensions to compete in their events.

According to the Ironman press release, Ms. Balogh's doping ban began July 11, 2016. However, she participated in The North Face 50 on September 16, 2016, after her suspension began. The North Face 50 has an anti-doping policy, that all racers agree to during the registration process, that specifically disallows racers under a doping suspension from participating.

The North Face released the following statement regarding Ms. Balogh“It has come to our attention that Holly Ballogh (sic), a runner who was currently serving a doping ban at the time of the race, ran The North Face Endurance Challenge Utah 50 Mile race in 2016 under her maiden name of Hancock. In light of this situation, Holly has been retroactively disqualified from the race as she broke our clean sport policy that all athletes are required to agree to during the registration process. Steps have been taken to remove her from the results on our website and we are working with UltraSignup and the I-TRA to also have her removed from their result listings. This was not mentioned in the article.

Unfortunately, the article paints Ms. Balogh as a victim when she not only committed the infraction, but was convicted of the infraction. The article does not present any viewpoints other than Ms. Balogh's. At no point in the article does Ms. Balogh apologize to the athletic community or those whose results she has stolen, or seem display any remorse over what she has done.

The article doesn't discuss the many athletes who struggled to achieve their dreams. The athletes who sacrificed time with their loved ones, sacrificed money, time, sweat, and blood to achieve their dreams without cheating. Those athletes were cheated of their accomplishments. Dora Heller of Israel finished 2nd in her age group at Ironman Texas. While the Ironman records have now been changed, Ms. Heller's accomplishment will never be celebrated as it should have been, proudly standing on the top step of the podium in front of her family and loved ones.

JHCycling's stance on doping in sport is absolute. Anyone deemed positive by USADA or WADA (regardless of sport) is banned from participating in any and all JHCycling races and events for the duration of their ban. Period.

Thank you for caring about clean sport and thank you for taking the time to read this.

Forest Dramis
Executive Director - JHCycling.org

 

COMMENT PROTOCOL

If you wish to comment on this rebuttal or on the original JH News & Guide article, please do so below, with the following caveat:

The issue at hand is the JH News & Guide article, Ms. Balogh's doping and doping in general. Ms. Balogh's personal life (nor anyone else's) has anything to do with the issue we are discussing. All comments should be civil and not devolve to name calling, profanity or casting aspersions on one's character. All rational civil discourse, regardless of point of view, will be preserved in the comments below. Any comments that stray from the above constraints, regardless of point of view, will be deleted. 

Riding in Bear Country

By: Forest Dramis

Real footage of Canadian mountain biker mauled by bear. Always remember to carry your bear spray...Don't let this be you!

Once, bear encounters like this were extremely rare. But with more and more mountain bikers on the trails and in the backcountry, it is only inevitable that mtb/bear encounters are on the rise. It is incumbent on all of us to be good stewards of our riding areas, and as we approach fall, this means being bear wise and always carrying bear spray. The Cache Area, Game Creek Teton Pass and Munger Mountain are all areas we like to ride. They also happen to be places bears like to live.

Sometimes carrying bear spray can feel like a pain, sometimes we forget it and sometimes we just feel like we don't need it. Remember, carrying bear spray not only protects you, it protects the bear. Many bears are killed or relocated from our area every year because of encounters with humans. Keep yourself and bears safe by always carrying bear spray. 

To encourage riders to always carry bear spray, JHCycling and the Jackson Hole WIldlife Foundation have partnered in producing bear spray holders and informative water bottles. We will be giving these away at various events throughout the fall. Follow us on Facebook and sign up for the newsletter to learn where to get yours FREE!

 

The most important thing about carrying bear spray:

KNOWING HOW TO USE IT!

 

Avoid Bear Encounters

The best bear encounter you can have is no bear encounter! When possible, ride in groups. Groups are naturally louder and you're much less likely to surprise a bear when traveling in a group. If riding alone, make noise. Ring your bell often, yell, "Hey bear!", sing a song. Make yourself known. Surprise encounters are generally the most dangerous. In most situation bears will avoid humans.  If you encounter a bear in the field and it does not avoid you, you need to determine if the bear is exhibiting predatory or aggressive/defensive behavior. 

Bear Encounters

In most situations, bears act defensively to protect their personal space, a food source, or their offspring. A defensive bear often displays stress behaviors such as moaning, woofing, jaw popping, or paw swatting. Remember, the bear is acting aggressively to defend something and if you are not perceived as a threat, the bear should leave the area.        
 
What to do if you encounter an aggressive/defensive bear at close range

  • Try to remain calm, slowly back out of the area, and have a defense ready. 
  • Never run away from the bear.
  • Do not challenge the bear with any aggressive body language or direct eye contact.
  • If the bear begins to approach, stand your ground and use bear spray if available.
  • If a bear makes contact or is about to make contact, drop and cover by lying flat on your stomach and inter-lacing your fingers and placing them on the back of your neck. Do not fight back.
  • Once the bear feels the threat is neutralized it will stop attacking.

 
Unlike defensive bear attacks, a bear that is acting in a predatory manner is NOT defending anything. Predatory behavior is often recognized when a bear appears to be intensely interested in you or deliberately approaches you without displaying any stress behaviors. In a predatory bear attack, you should fight back by any means necessary, do NOT drop and cover!
                                                                                                
What to do if the bear is acting predatory

  • Do not back away from the bear but instead stand your ground.
  • Act aggressively towards the bear.
  • Make yourself look as big as possible by holding your arms out and using your coat and standing on a log or rock.
  • Yell at the bear in a loud firm voice.
  • Use branches and rocks to deter the bear.
  • Use bear spray or a weapon to protect yourself.

 

Women's Cycling in Jackson

By: Carri Wullner

A Bike Clinic for Women? In Jackson Hole? Yes….and it was FUN!

The Hub staff talks routine maintenance

The Hub staff talks routine maintenance

When I was given the opportunity to be an ambassador for The Hub Bikes, I knew I had a special role since I was the only woman on the team. Aaron, the owner of the bike shop, asked if I could help him with the women's side of things at the shop. He wanted to show his support for the women cyclists in our community and just needed some help. I had been through the struggles of trying to get women to show up for other cycling related events in Jackson, and knew I had a challenge.

Attendees learn how to fix a flat

Attendees learn how to fix a flat

I decided to just go for it! I created a basic skills clinic that would focus on the basics most riders should know, as well as the one dreaded task…changing a tire. I asked for some backup from the guys at the shop who were instantly on board and excited, as well as my good friend Molly Breslin.

Hands on experience is the best way to learn

Hands on experience is the best way to learn

I was nervous when I posted the event, hoping for maybe 10 women to show. To my surprise the interest was very high and over the weeks I started to get worried we had to limit the number for lack of space at The Hub. Turnout was better than expected. Over 20 women showed up, excited to learn and willing to get their hands dirty practicing tire changes. Everyone seemed to have a great time, gained some knowledge they didn’t have before, and went home with some great goodies! We hope to do this again, and are proud to support more women getting out on their bikes.

Learning how to set up their bikes

Learning how to set up their bikes

So much thanks goes out to Aaron and The Hub Bikes and all of his awesome staff, the ladies in the community who showed up, and all of our amazing cycling support in the Jackson Community: JHCycling, Revolution Indoor Cycling, Friends of Pathways, Persephone Bakery, Pearl IzumiShimano, and Empowered Cycling.

We will see you out on the bike and stay posted for more fun to come!

 

Trail Stewardship

By: Cary Smith

Let’s be honest. As an issue, trail access is nothing compared to famine, poverty or violent crime. But, on a local level, at least in my town, it garners much more conversation. I have been fortunate to be included in some discussions with “the players” in this field over the last few weeks and it started me thinking about my actions, both good and bad, and how I can improve.

Horses are users too.

Horses are users too.

Put place before self. This idea was presented to me and it gave me pause. Instead of thinking about how wild spaces can work for me, I should think instead of what would happen if it was gone. If I’m honest with myself, this is a difficult concept. I want to be able to enjoy the land and don’t want to be denied access. Yet I’m fully OK with denying access to mining, logging, development and horses. In other words, give me free rein but lock out other user groups who don’t improve my experience. This is a selfish outlook that will obviously lead to confrontation. So, I hope to see the land through the eyes of other user groups so we can all enjoy it. On the other hand, I will try to educate the other groups about what they can do to help all of us have a good experience as well.

Get involved. The more I learn about how decisions are made, the more I realize how important individual voices are. If there’s a public comment period about a decision to be made, submit a comment. Don’t just talk about it at the trailhead. If a trend develops, good or bad, inform the proper entity. The people who make decisions can’t read minds and don’t know everything that happens. Help them out by relaying what is seen and heard.

User groups are many and varied.

User groups are many and varied.

The Forest Service is not the enemy. In my area, most of the land is controlled by the USFS. They love the land and are doing everything in their power to protect it. Unfortunately, they are woefully underfunded and understaffed. This may lead to the perception that they don’t care and would rather close the land to everything. I don’t think this is the case. They are in the unenviable position of trying to please everyone, which will often leave nobody feeling pleased. Again, tell them what is seen and heard so that they can base their decisions on what the public wants.

Be nice. This is easy to do when everyone else is being nice, but the true test is my reaction when I experience something inconsiderate, mean, dangerous or illegal. Nobody wants to hear that they’re doing something wrong. It is a goal of mine to be tactful and educational when I see a problem with someone’s actions. I need to be very cautious, however, to not overreach and ask them to change solely to improve my experience.

Remember the goal. There are more and more people enjoying the outdoors. Although it may feel crowded, look at the big picture and be happy that they’re out there experiencing wild spaces in their own way. 

A Winning Perspective - JayP's Fat Pursuit

By: Gabe Klamer/Forest Dramis

Over the years several winter ultra-fat bike races have been popping up. The sport has been gaining popularity especially in the Midwest. The Tuscobia, Arrowhead Ultra, White Mountains and the granddaddy of them all, the Iditarod Trail Invitational, pull hundreds of racers each year. Three years ago there was a new kid on the block, the Fat Pursuit, hosted by our very own world-renowned Jay Petervary. The Fat Pursuit, held in Island Park, ID has quickly gained a reputation for a relentless race course, challenging weather conditions and spectacular views. Born in 2014, the first 2 years a 200k took place.  This year Jay upped the ante and added a 200 mile distance to the race. I chose the 200k distance just to get my feet wet in winter ultra-racing. One hundred and twenty miles on snow with 8,000 feet of climbing, “meh, piece of cake” I thought from the comfort of my warm home.

For a detailed map with topography, click the above image

For a detailed map with topography, click the above image

With these types of winter ultras there is a list of gear each racer must carry. This gear is in case of emergency. The required gear was as follows:

●      Zero degree sleeping bag minimum
●      Shelter
●      Insulated sleeping pad
●      Down jacket
●      Stove, 16oz pot and enough fuel capable to boil water several times
●      Front and rear blinky lights to be turned on at all times to avoid being run over by snowmobiles
●      Light suitable for riding at night
●      GPS and map for navigating

Jay calls his race the ‘Fat Pursuit’ because everyone has a unique pursuit of their own. Some show up knowing they will likely not finish, others show up to finish and then there’s the hardcore racers showing up to place. I’ll let you guess which category I fall into.

The 120 mile race course is broken up into three aid stations. Aid station #1 is at mile 35. Aid #2 is in a house in West Yellowstone at mile 65. The final aid is at mile 100 located in a barn known as the ‘Man Cave’, more on this later.

At Aid #1 all racers are required to boil water. This is to prove that you can make water if needed while on course. The trail travels through very remote country from this aid forward so the ability to boil water could literally save your life. I entered this aid tied for 1st riding with well-known adventure cyclist Blake Bockius. Knowing we would be required to boil here I incorporated water boils into my daily training rides. I saw the water boil as a part of the race and you need to be quick and deliberate to win the race. I was in and out in 4’30”. This stop included filling my 100oz camelback, making 20oz’s of instant mashed potatoes and restocking some of my food. I attacked for the next hour attempting to separate myself from Blake. Blake is a formidable predator and I did not want to give him a rabbit to chase so I did my best to break visual contact with him. I would look back often but no one was ever there.  I just told myself over and over, “Don’t let up, he’s just around the corner. Keep working, eating, drinking, wiggle your toes”.  This became my mantra. 

P: Gary Chrisman • Water boil

P: Gary Chrisman • Water boil

After aid #1 the trail quickly became soft and the riding was beginning to be marginal. I had to adjust my tire pressure several times to help with traction and managed to ride 100% of the trail all of the way into West Yellowstone, another 20 miles.  Although I managed to ride into West, it started to snow and the temperatures were dropping forcing me to break trail.  This added to the amount of work that the hilly terrain already demanded. 

P: Dan ReRuyter • Descent into West Yellowstone

P: Dan ReRuyter • Descent into West Yellowstone

“I want to know minutes, seconds and miles” I barked as soon as I entered aid #2. We were all carrying Spot GPS trackers so our progress could easily be monitored from a computer or wireless device. One of the volunteers told me I was 10.2 miles in the lead. At first I thought they were mistaken but realized my competitors were struggling in the same conditions. The aids offered me soup and an arm chair. I guess they thought I wanted to catch up on the football game. I apologized for not being able to hang out for lunch as Liz DeRuyter handed me a grilled cheese for the road and out the door I went 5 minutes after arriving.

The re-entry into the mountains in West Yellowstone is a daunting experience. You are riding farther from civilization, warmth, food and safety.  I was stoked for the challenge! What lay ahead of me was a 2,000’ climb up and over a beast of a mountain called Two Top. Two Top should be named Four Top because I am pretty sure I crossed four peaks, not two.

The trail was soft from the snow and hundreds of snowmobiles that passed over it earlier in the day. My speeds were decreasing as the trail steepened and my legs weakened. Often I was forced off of my bike and required to push. I found it was easier to push than grind my way up some of the steep pitches. By the time I got to the top it was 5 degrees, dark and currently a blizzard. Visibility was 5 meters and I was navigating by an arrow on my GPS. My 270 lumen headlamp could not penetrate the heavy snow and dense fog. It was something out of an Earnest Shackleton story but I was in the lead and nothing was going to stop me. “Ride forward, ride forward and get off this DAMN mountain” became my new mantra. 

 

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P: Mike Barklow • Frozen dinosaurs on Two Top

P: Mike Barklow • Frozen dinosaurs on Two Top

Once I hit the bottom of the Two Top descent I came into an intersection that was a bit confusing. My vision was damaged from the snow that had been hitting my eyes and my brain was starving for food and water. The next thing I knew there were lights. I figured the chasers had caught me but I was wrong. It was a trail groomer. He exited his machine puffing on a Marlboro and approached me. I explained I was a tad bit confused and he pointed me in the right direction with a chuckle and off I went.

I had 15 miles between me and Man Cave, my final aid station. The snow was soft but better than Two Top. I knew I needed to keep moving forward because the chase group was now on recently groomed trails and were likely making time on me. I would eat and drink when the trail permitted but my main objective was to get to the aid station where I knew there would be people ready to help me.

P: Fat Pursuit • Refueling at Man Cave

P: Fat Pursuit • Refueling at Man Cave

I pulled into Man Cave at 10pm and there stood the aid station volunteers, my wife, the owner of Fitzgerald Bike Shop and fellow Fitzgerald team members. Man was I happy to see those people. They stripped off my wet clothes and immediately began serving me warm food and drink. I may have been a disaster but my motivation was still strong. They told me 4 chasers were coming quickly and were now within 7.9 miles of Man Cave. That’s all I needed to hear and 20’ after arriving, still shivering, I exited the Man Cave and pushed on for the final 22 miles. My stomach was again digesting food so my legs were coming back. The trail was groomed earlier that night and I was making good time. I told myself, “This is what you wanted. You wanted this pain. You have to suffer to win this thing. If you hurt so do they”. I turned onto the Ponds Trail which takes you directly to the Ponds Lodge where the finish line was. At 12:26am I crossed the line to a serenade of police sirens and a small group of cheering fans.  I raced for 17 hours, 16mins, 2sec for 1st place.

P: Fat Pursuit • LtoR: Jay Petervary, Gabe Klamer 1st Place, Cully Todd 2nd Place, Blake Bockius 3rd Place (not shown)

P: Fat Pursuit • LtoR: Jay Petervary, Gabe Klamer 1st Place, Cully Todd 2nd Place, Blake Bockius 3rd Place (not shown)

Thank you JayP for putting on a beautiful, beast of a race and for encouraging me to register. Thank you to Derrick Nobman and Fitzgerald’s Bicycles for building a spectacular race machine on Wednesday night before the race. Thank you to HED Wheels for rushing me a set of the fastest wheels on the planet! Thank you to my wife Jenny for putting up with me the two weeks leading up to the race. I love you.

Ride forward,
Gabe

Full Gear List

Sponsors Fitzgerald's Bicycles, Trek Bikes, Snake River Brewing, Kate's Real Food
Frame Trek farley Carbon
Wheels HED B.F.D
Tires 45NRTH Dillinger 5 (tubeless)
Pressure Front/Rear Between 3 psi and 6 psi Don't be afraid to adjust pressure as conditions change
Pedals Crankbrothers 4Ti
Pogies Dogwood Designs
Computer Garmin eTrex for navigation, Garmin 510 for time, distance etc.
Lights Princeton Tec Push & Swerve for safety. Princeton Tec EOS Pro headlamp for light.
Clothing system Nike DryFit baselayer and Sugoi full zipup long-sleeve jersey. Added a LuLuLemon wind shell when it got dark and temperatures dropped (I like to look good). I wore a nordic beanie and Buff on my head at all times and added a 45 NRTH Dozer cap when it got cold. 
Gloves I rode half of the race without gloves. When it got cold I wore a light pair of Under Armor fleece gloves. Pogies work really well. 
Boots 45 NRTH Wolvhammers with an Outdoor Research 'Huron' gaiter with neoprene booties, Medium weight Swiftwick wool socks
Number of bottles consumed? Rode with a 100oz Osprey bladder underneath my outer layer and two insulated water bottles. Consumed approximately 300 oz's over the entire ride which wasn't enough. 
How many aid station stops/for how long? Aid #1 - 4'30", Aid #2 - 5 minutes, Aid #3 - 20 minutes
What did you eat? I ate 2,000 calories of homemade walnut/date/chocolate cookies, 1,000 calories of yogurt covered pretzels, 1 package of instant mashed potatoes, 8 gels, 1 grilled cheese sandwich, a couple handfuls of Pringles, a few boiled potatoes, 3 M&M's and 1 sourdough pancake
Did you do any special training or prep for this race? I practiced boiling water on my training rides because we were required to boil water at Aid #1 and I wanted to be able to do this efficiently. I also did several rides with a fully loaded bike. 

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? Be mentally prepared for anything, but hope for the best. You CAN finish this! 

 

Winter is the Time for Biking!

By: Cary Smith

Video provided by: Jeff Brines & The Hub Bicycles

Video provided by: Jeff Brines & The Hub Bicycles

I’m sure you’ve noticed the increase in numbers of fat bikes, both in summer and winter. More and more manufacturers are making them, which is great for the consumer because it offers choices in materials, components, fit, price, etc. Purchasing a new bike can be a daunting task, especially for something as foreign as a fat bike. Luckily, the local shops have demo programs to try before you buy. I want to share a few things I’ve learned while riding my fat bike during the last several Jackson winters that will hopefully help whether you’re heading out for your first demo, just bought a bike or are a seasoned veteran.

BIKE STUFF

• Choose the proper bike. If you’re cruising groomed bike paths, you can get away with 4” tires with less aggressive tread. If you’re riding trails, use at least an 85mm rim with the widest tires that will fit in your frame/fork.

• If you use clipless pedals on your mtb, you will be happy with clipless on your fat bike. See below about footwear, however.

• Play with your tire pressure. I usually leave my house with my tires a little firm; 8-10psi. When your tires get cold, they will lose pressure. Also, I want to feel trail conditions and it’s easier to let air out than to pump it back in. Higher volume tires allow you to run slightly higher pressure and still maintain traction. If you’re getting bounced around or are spinning out, try dropping your pressure until you find the sweet spot. Use higher pressure with increased body weight and/or firm conditions.

• Studded tires are nice when it’s icy, but are not needed for hard-packed snow.

• I almost always use pogies-- handlebar covers that function like an overmitt. They allow me to use a lighter glove so I maintain dexterity yet keep warm hands.

• Don’t expect to run the same gearing that you do on your mtb. I drop about 4 teeth on my front chainring due to the higher resistance.

• Hydraulic brakes work in the cold, whether they use DOT or mineral fluid. They may be a little sluggish when it’s really cold, though, so learn what to expect.

12227114_943197849049938_8566757123711081876_n.jpg

CLOTHING

• Don’t overdress. The speeds on snow are generally lower and you’re working harder so it’s easy to think you need a bunch of layers. Bring a pack on your first rides so you can experiment with different layers. I wear thermal tights, with a wind resistant overpant if it’s below about 15°F. On top, I wear a thin undershirt, long sleeve jersey, wind shell, and a light insulating layer if needed. I wear a skull cap under my helmet and the appropriate gloves.

• In my pack, I usually bring spare hat and gloves, Buff or neck warmer and a synthetic “puffy” if it’s cold.

• Warm feet can be the challenge. If it’s 20°F or warmer, a “transition season” cycling shoe is ideal. If it’s colder than that you will want to invest in some true winter cycling boots if you use clipless pedals. If you use flat pedals, you can get away with a warm pac boot or insulated hiking boot. Be aware, however, that these choices are not designed with cyclists in mind and are not an ideal option.

• If you ride in the dark, you won’t need as much light as in the summer due to the reflection off the snow. Plan on at least 500 lumens as a minimum, but more is always helpful. Bring a second light/spare battery just in case. It gets cold, dark and scary in a hurry if your light dies.

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RIDING TECHNIQUE

• Relax and look ahead. Although this is important in the summer, it’s critical in the winter if you’re riding singletrack. The trails are narrow and if you veer off the track, you will sink. The best way to avoid this is to relax your arms and hands, engage your core muscles and look as far ahead as possible.

• Keep your weight over the rear wheel when climbing so as not to lose traction. Try not to hunch. Roll your hips forward, arch your back, keep your head up and think about pushing your butt into your saddle.

• On hard packed snow, these bikes have incredible traction. Trust your tires and use your front brake. Just be ready to adjust for changing conditions such as ice or soft spots.

• Keep pedaling. If you spin out or drop off the side of the trail, don’t just give up. Quite often, if you look ahead, relax your arms and pedal smoothly but firmly you can get back on track and keep going.

ETIQUETTE

• Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the rules of the trail are forgotten. Only now it’s harder for everyone to just move to the side of the trail because of the deep snow. Slow down, make eye contact and quickly devise a plan to keep everyone safe, happy and enjoying their day.

 • If you have to push your bike, walk next to the riding trail, rolling your bike in the track. Yes, you may have to post-hole but it’ll keep the trail pleasant for everyone else to ride.

• Try to fill in any major holes, divots or ruts you make if you careen off the trail or crash.

I hope this helps get you started. Your local bike shops are a wealth of information to fill in the gaps or answer any questions I didn’t address. See you on the trails!

Bicycling and the Law in Jackson Hole, WY

By: Forest Dramis

As autumn encroaches on daylight and we are forced to ride into the twilight, dusk and dark, I took to the Interwebs to research what the laws regarding bicycle lights and riding at dark are. In my research I found some interesting and obscure facts that I didn't know about. And one specific law that I'm pretty sure no one knows about. 

The following laws are applicable to all bicycles operated in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park and the Town of Jackson.

STATE OF WYOMING:  
In Wyoming bicycles are vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles and a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle, except for special regulations specific to bicycles and those provisions that by their nature can have no application. Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§31-5-102(a)(lviii); 31-5-702

Bicycling Under the Influence: Wyoming's law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to all vehicles and therefore applies to bicyclists. Bicycles should not be operated while intoxicated and operating a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances may result in severe punishments. Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§31-5-102; 31-5-233

Passing a Cyclist:  Wyoming requires that the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle, which is operating lawfully, proceeding in the same direction shall, when space allows, maintain at least a three (3) foot separation between the right side of the driver's motor vehicle, including all mirrors and other projections from the motor vehicle, and the bicycle. Wyo. Stat. Ann. §31-5-203(c)

Distracted Driving Law:  Wyoming currently requires that no person operate a motor vehicle on a public street or highway while using a handheld electronic wireless communication device to write, send or read a text-based communication, subject to limited exceptions. Wyo. Stat. Ann. §31-5-237

Right Side of Road: Wyoming requires that every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. Wyo. Stat. Ann. §31-5-704

Dooring Law: Wyoming requires that no person open any door on a motor vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. In addition, no person shall leave a door open on a side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Wyo. Stat. Ann. §31-5-121

TOWN OF JACKSON
Stop Lights & Stop Signs:
All bicycles are required to come to a complete stop at all stop signs and stop lights. This applies whether you are riding in a bike lane or a road lane.

Right of Way/Pedestrians: As vehicles under Wyoming State Law, all bicycles are required to obey all right of way laws. Bicycles therefore must yield to pedestrians. Bicycles must yield to school buses.

Required Equipment: Bicycles must be equipped with a white light on the front and a red light on the rear, operational, when being operated at night. 

Number of Riders: No more than one person may ride on a bike unless the bike is designed for more than one rider (such as a tandem bicycle), or unless it is fitted with a child bike seat or trailer.

Riding on Roadways: Like cars bicycles are required to be ridden “as near to the right side of the roadway as practical” and must be ridden in the same direction as the prevailing vehicle traffic. Bicycles may be ridden two abreast if there is room to do so without impeding the other vehicle traffic. 

Hand Signals: Cyclists are required to use hand signals indicating a turn or stopping.

Cell Phones: Jackson's ban on using cell phones without a hands-free device while operating a vehicle applies to bicycles as well as motor vehicles.

Carrying Items: Cyclists are forbidden from carrying items in their hand.

And now for the weirdness.....  
Bicycles may not be ridden within a two-block radius of the Town Square. (Edit: The TofJ police dept bike law information page is erroneous with respect to this law. It should read: Bicycles may not be ridden ON THE SIDEWALK within a two-block radius of the Town Square.)

GRAND TETON NP & JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER PARKWAY

Operating a bicycle abreast of another bicycle is prohibited. Single file only on Park roads.
Bicyclists must obey all traffic laws and signs.
Bicycles are allowed on paved and unpaved roads open to motorized vehicles.
Between sunset and sunrise an operator or bicycle must have a white light that is visible from at least 500 feet to the front, and a red light or reflector that is visible from at least 200 feet to the rear.
Bicycles are NOT allowed on trails or in backcountry areas.
Pets are NOT allowed on multi-user pathways

Sources: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/LSOWEB/wyStatutes.aspx, Town of Jackson, US Dept. of Interior, Grand Teton NP

JayP's Gravel Pursuit

By: Forest Dramis

As a fan of both road racing and cyclocross racing I've always been interested in gravel racing. But for the past couple of years I've always come up with an excuse not to do the Tushar or Rebecca's Private Idaho or one of the other "gravel grinders.". It's not that I was really against gravel events, but the idea of a gravel road race seemed to be the worst of all worlds -- a road race without much drafting or strategy and a mtb race without single track. Not for me, I thought.

But then I heard about the Gravel Pursuit. It was being put on by a friend, it was in my backyard and I had no other races scheduled. In short, I'd finally run out of excuses and so I signed up. Now, after the fact, I'm oh so happy I did.

The Gravel Pursuit takes place on the vast array of Forest Service roads in and around Island Park, Idaho. For those unfamiliar with the area, Island Park is just 30 miles south of the Yellowstone border. The terrain consists of gentle rollers, dense forest, windswept plateaus and incredible vistas. At some points along the course the views extend all the way to Yellowstone; almost enough to make me wish I had a camera with me and wasn't racing. Almost.

Quiet and flat. What else could you want?

Quiet and flat. What else could you want?

Lodging is easy and convenient. The Ponds Lodge hosts the race and pre-race dinner and offers great rooms and cabins. For those looking for a little more rustic sleeping location the Forest Service Buffalo Campground is a great alternative. Just a 3 minute bike ride from the Ponds Lodge, it offers tent and RV sites, bathrooms and showers for the low price of $15 a night. My site was flat, and quiet with only the sound of the bugling elk to keep me company.

Dinner and a bear safety presentation at Ponds Lodge.

Dinner and a bear safety presentation at Ponds Lodge.

Race festivities begin Friday night with a great dinner of pasta, salad and dessert provided by the Ponds Lodge (included in the race fee). Lodge staff was friendly, helpful and made everyone feel at home. During dinner we were treated to a course description from JayP and a visit from a park ranger to provide bear safety information to the riders. While many races take place in bear country, it was great to see that the organizers of this event not only took our safety seriously, but also took the safety of the bears seriously. The ranger gave a great talk on safety, bear spray use, recent bear sightings and what to do when encountering a bear. Though I'm well versed in bear safety, it was great to see this information given to racers.

After a restful night listening to the elk bugle and the coyotes howl, I made the short ride to the start line for our 8am start. Dirt double track and a shallow stream crossing lead to dirt roads and the first challenge of the day, a paved climb. Long and mellow, never exceeding 8% and hovering near 5% for most of the way, this is a great climb to break up the peloton and help establish the group you'll be hanging with the rest of the day.

Photos courtesy of Gravel Pursuit

Photos courtesy of Gravel Pursuit

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Dense forests lead to the summit where a fast and fun dirt road descent lets you catch your breath and test your nerves. This descent leads to some fun rollers and flat sections and takes you to AId 1. Aid stations were incredibly well stocked and manned by volunteers both helpful and vociferous in their support of the racers. The next challenge is a long, tough climb on dirt that ascends through pine forests and deposits you on the summit plateau with views to Yellowstone including distant peaks and forest. A long, winding and fast descent on dirt leads to 6 miles of flats to the finish line. (120 mile course details can be found here).

Well-stocked aid stations and awesome volunteers!

Well-stocked aid stations and awesome volunteers!

An interesting, challenging and varied course with incredible views in a beautifully wild location with enthusiastic volunteers...what more could you want? Schwagg? OK, let's talk schwagg. A great racer bag with items you actually want, a massive raffle from Salsa, Princeton Tec, Osprey, K-Lite, Crank Bros., HED, GU Energy, Kate's Food, where every entrant got a prize and the coolest trophies around. Custom designed and forged from bronze by artist Lee Kinder, belt buckles for the top 3 men and women in each distance received a trophy anyone would be proud to wear. I know I am! All in all, an event not to be missed. Well organized, well run and a ton of fun. Some people race it. Some people ride it. But everyone had fun and really, isn't that the point?

Lee Kinder's beautiful bespoke bronze cast belt buckle.

Lee Kinder's beautiful bespoke bronze cast belt buckle.


GRAVEL RACE SETUP
 

One of the first questions anyone ever has is, "What kind of bike setup should I use?" The second question is generally, "What kind of tires and pressure should I run?" Below you'll find the race day setups of the top finishers. If you have any questions regarding bike setup, shoot us a line and we'll be happy to help out!

Gabe Klamer • 1st place 120
Fitzgerald's Bicycles, Trek Bikes, Snake River Brewing, Kate's Real Food

Frame Trek Boone 9 (18#'s race day weight)
Wheels Hed Ardennes+ tubeless w/ Stan's valve stems
Tires WTB Nano 40mm set up tubeless w/ Stan's sealant
Pressure Front/Rear 44fr/46r My front tire was down to <20psi at the finish due to it burping on the descent off of Two Top
Pedals Crank Brother's 11 4ti
Any specialty items? Revelate Designs 'Mountain Feedbag', Garmin 510, PrincetonTech 'Push' and 'Swerve' lights, Krieg saddle bag with 2 spare tubes and Pedro's tire lever. Blackburn 'MtnAir' pump stashed inside of my camelback and two 16 gram CO2's

Number of bottles consumed? 150oz's of Kiwi Lime CarboRocket, 50oz's of Lemon CarboRocket 333
What were you drinking? CarboRocket and CarboRocket 333
What did you eat? How much? 6oz's of Tram Bar 'nugs', 2 packages of strawberry banana Power Bar Chews, 1 flask of Rasberry Hammer Gel

How many times did you stop at an aid station? I stopped very briefly (coming in hot!) at both aids to pick up my drop bags. Applied chain lube at aid #2 

Did you do any special training or prep for this race? I rode several long gravel rides the weeks leading up to test my gear and to become familiar with my bike. I raced a cyclocross race on the Thursday before which definitely opened me up. This season I have climbed close to 500,000 vertical feet and ridden over 4,500 miles.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? 'What the mind of a man can conceive and believe, the mind of a man can achieve, with a positive mental attitude' and 'HTFU!'

Anything else that you’d like to add? Huge thanks to Jay, all of the race volunteers, the Ponds Lodge and the city of Island Park for allowing us non motorized weirdo's on their trails for a day.


Eric Balog • 1st place 60
Hoback Sports

Frame Specialized CruX
Wheels Zipp Tubular
Tires FMB 32c
Pressure Front/Rear 36 psi
Pedals Time ATAC

Special items?  SRM with PC8 head unit

Number of bottles consumed? 2.5 bottles, Nuun
What did you eat? Hammer Gel (x5 or 6), 1 Honey Stinger waffle
How many times did you stop at an aid station?  None
Did you do any special training or prep for this race?  No

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year?   Tire choice is critical. Know the capabilities of your tires as well as the proper pressure to run. Don’t be like me and build your bike the night before—do a full shake-down in advance.

Anything else that you’d like to add?   The course profile made the main descent, which the 60-milers hit twice, appear steep; the director's warning about this stretch of road made it sound loose/washed out/nasty — enough for me to worry about it. When run with tires at the right pressure, it was downright fun. The event is a fantastic excuse to get out and ride some of the most beautiful terrain in the area—roads most of us otherwise would not ride unsupported. The event was clearly put on by and for racers; every detail and need was anticipated by JayP and his crew. I want to send a big thank you to the volunteers who enabled us racers/riders to go out and have fun all day. 


Shae Griffin • 1st place 60
Teton Cancer Institute, Sticks and Stones and Kelson Bikes 

Frame Trek Crockett
Wheels Hed Belgium on White Industry Hubs setup tubeless
Tires Hutchinson Piranha, 33mm
Pressure Front/Rear 45/45 psi
Pedals Crank Brothers Candy 2
Any specialty items? Suunto Ambit3 Peak


Number of bottles consumed? 5 1/2
What were you drinking? Water, Red Bull and Gu tablets
What did you eat? Gu, Scratch fruit drops, Power Bar Chomps
How much? One package of each listed above and 3 or so chocolate Gus with caffeine.  
Any specialty items? Red Bull! 
How many times did you stop at an aid station? Twice
Did you do any special training or prep for this race? Just riding with my friends. Also raced Crusher in the Tushar and Rebecca's Private Idaho.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? Bigger tires for those sharp rocks. 

Anything else that you’d like to add? The course was awesome and aid stations were friendly and well organized. I can't wait 'til next year's race! JayP was awesome when I flatted out in the first 5 minutes and he came by to help change my flat in record time. I was frustrated to start like that but he encourage me to just enjoy the day and have some fun! 


Forest Dramis • 2nd place 60
JHCYCLING.ORG

Frame Giant TCX Advanced
Wheels Stan's NoTubes Iron Cross, tubeless
Tires Specialized Trigger 37mm
Pressure Front/Rear 43/45 psi
Pedals Crank Brothers 11 4Ti

Any specialty items? Lezyne Energy Caddy, Suunto Ambit 2S, Pedros saddle bag with 2 tubes, tire lever, two 16g CO2

Number of bottles consumed? 2 tall bottles and Camelback vest
What were you drinking? Gatorade, Gu Energy tabs
What did you eat? How much? 4 Gus, 1 prior to the start, Powerbar chews
How many times did you stop at an aid station? None
Did you do any special training or prep for this race? Bought wider tires for my 'cross bike
What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? Just do it! Whether you're racing for the win or just out for a ride, it's a great course to challenge yourself on and beautiful place to ride.


Mark Linares • 3rd place 120
The Hub Bicycles

Frame Niner Air 9 carbon with rigid fork
Wheels Easton EC90 XC
Tires Tubeless Schwalbe Thunder Burt 2.1 (I do not like this tire, very fast and light but way too squirrely in anything other than road or bullet proof single track. (I used it at Leadville, a mistake and thought it would be better hear but it was not.)
Pressure front/back 25/23 psi (a little on the hard side)
Pedals Crank Brother's 11 4ti

Nutrition:
2 X 16 oz bottles with two Endurolytes Fizz in each, grape flavour.
2 X 100oz Camelbacks with Accelerade. (Only drank half of my last one after aid two)
2 X Handlebars
1 banana
1 pickle
2 x EFS gel flasks

How many times did you stop at an aid station?  I stopped at both aid stations. Probably 90 seconds aid 1. Probably 3 mins at aid two, ate the pickle and had a piss( my 7th of the race, yes I was counting) just to confirm that cramping has nothing to with being dehydrated.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year?  My advice. For the 120( 118 on my Garmin) Although you may think that it will be a fast race, being no single track etc etc. It is not. I was thinking I should average 15mph. I was for the first 45 miles but then the course slowed down a lot. Between miles 50 and 90 it is pretty slow with a very challenging double track straight out of the second aid station. Thank god I had MTB I was in the 32t for 20 mins. Also don't underestimate the road climb after 20 miles or so. I went too hard up that.


Kris Quandt • 4th place 120
Fitzgerald's Bicycles

Frame Salsa Fargo (steel)
Wheels I-9 hubs laced to 32 hole DT Swiss XMC Carbon 29 rim. Tubeless with extra Stan's
Tires WTB Nano 40c (they measure a little narrower, 38ish)
Pressure Front/Rear 45-50psi (I use the hand squeeze test method for best accuracy) 
Pedals Time Atac Carbon 8 (run them summer and winter with zero issues)

Any specialty items? Nuclear Sunrise feedbag for snacks, Revelate Designs Mountain feedbag for bear spray, Garmin 510 mounted with a BarFly mount. 

Number of bottles consumed? I used 2- Zefal Magnum bottles which hold 33oz each. I think I finished 4 bottles during the race.

What were you drinking? 1 bottle always had water the other had Skratch Matcha Green Tea (The larger bottles delude the sweetness so it is easier to get down when the stomach is not happy).

What did you eat? How much? I carried Kate's Bars x3, Cliff Blocks x2, EFS Liquid shot x2 and a stick of jerky (Just in case the space food was not doing it for me). I ended up eating 1-Tiki Kate's Bar, 1-Margarita Cliff Block and 2 bottles of EFS Liquid shot. Probably not as much as I should have eaten but I was able to push the pedals. 

Any specialty items? Quick hand full of BBQ potato chips at Aid 2!
How many times did you stop at an aid station? 1 quick stop at each to fill water and mix Skratch drink mix.

 Did you do any special training or prep for this race? Besides taking part in 2 other gravel races this summer, DK200 and Rebecca's Private Idaho, I spent as much time in Teton Valley, ID riding gravel roads. I rode the middle 60 miles of the course a month before the race. 

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? Get a Salsa Fargo or Cutthroat and ride as much gravel as you can. Most important is to know that taking part in these events is a personal journey, make it what you want. If you want to race...Great, if you want to push your personal limits and have fun...EVEN BETTER. As JP said the event is designed for everyone to Pursuit their own challenges. 

Doing Something Different

I've been burned before. Everytime Cary suggests we do "something different", I immediately add a headlamp, jacket and twice the food to my pack. - Forest Dramis

Cary Smith

Living across the street from the Putt Putt trail is both a blessing and a curse. It’s obvious why it’s a blessing, but it’s a curse because it’s so easy to go there I struggle to branch out. I try to make a conscious effort to ride different trails without using my car, so Teton Pass is the next closest thing. Luckily, I have a favorite ride that’s worth checking out. Just think of Hwy. 22 as a nice warm-up and cool-down. And when the bike path is completed, it’ll be a no-brainer.

I call this ride the Dumbbell Loop - it was all I could think of today as I was climbing. It’s roughly shaped like a dumbbell with two loops at either end of a trail you ride in both directions. If this seems like more than you want to tackle, the loop at either end would be a great ride by itself. Or you could split it up however you see fit.

No matter when you ride it, the views are superb. But if you time it right, you will also have the bonus of popping wildflowers, vibrant mid-summer foliage or glowing fall colors. Really, you can’t go wrong. And for any backcountry skiers, it’s cool to see this area in summer and try to pick your favorite ski lines.

So, here’s the nitty gritty...

Ride down Fall Creek Rd. out of Wilson and turn right onto the dirt Mosquito Creek Rd. After several miles of low angle climbing, you will come to a road on your right with a gate. This is the entrance to an outfitter’s camp. It’s the way I went today (and the track from my Garmin) but I was told in no uncertain terms that I was trespassing. Luckily, the outfitter was very friendly and told me a different entrance. Instead of turning at the gate, continue up Mosquito Creek Rd. until it forks. Take the right fork and cross the creek. This should put you on the single track (I saw the junction today). Go left on the single track and follow it. There are a couple braids, but I think they all come back together. The outfitter has done work on this trail so it’s quite rideable. I only had to go over about 4 logs all day. There are some steep sections, so be ready to push your bike if needed-these are short.

You will climb to a saddle. Turn right and follow a faint trail for about 100 feet, then the trail becomes well-defined again and continues up. This is a tough section so have a Gu if you’re struggling. Now you’re on the ridge and will continue to roll up and down along an awesome trail. You will pass the junction to Mail Cabin (at Windy Ridge) on your right. There is an old sign on a tree that is easy to miss. Continue on this trail for several miles. As you start your descent into Mike Harris, pay attention to the trail coming in from the left at about 7 o’clock. That is your return trail.

Rip the Mike Harris descent. It’s a blast all the way to the highway. Go left on Hwy. 22 toward Victor. I get more water either in Victor or at the real estate office at Teton Springs. They’ve always been very friendly if they’re there, and if not, there’s a spigot on the outside. Follow the signs to Pole Canyon Trailhead.

Take trail 31 (not to the left and up the power lines, but to the right and up Pole Canyon). This trail has seen much improvement over the last couple of years and is a challenging but enjoyable climb all the way to the saddle. There are no forks in the trail.

Just after the last rock step, you will top out, looking into Swan Valley. Turn left, ride a few hundred feet and start pushing. It’s only about 5-10 minutes of walking up the ridge then there’s a steep 50’ descent and then you’re climbing back up to the ridge and having a ball. Very fun trail with all types of terrain. When it’s fast and smooth and you’re flying along, remember to look for a trail coming from your right at about 5 o’clock. This is your hard right turn to head back toward Mail Cabin. If you miss it, you will start descending back into Mike Harris.

Backtrack along the ridge to the sign at the top of Mail Cabin, turn left and follow it down. The first 1/4 mile is fun with some root features, then it’s a little bit of shale to the saddle. From here, you get on the new reroute, which is still a work in progress but a blast with sweet bermed switchbacks and little features to pop off. Follow this trail all the way down Mail Cabin. Just before the first creek crossing, look for a faint trail going left. Take it and you will avoid all the creek crossings. Don’t take it if you want to cool your feet and wash your bike. There’s a bridge over the last crossing, after which you will climb up to Hwy. 22.

Climb the highway and turn right in the pullout at the top. You can either take the single track from the road or the access road. I recommend the single track as it’s a nice trail. Follow this trail until it tops out at Mt. Elly and the start of Black Canyon. Alternatively, you can descend Lithium (steep and challenging). It’s starting point is a couple hundred feet before Mt. Elly. Descend Black Canyon trail until it spits you out at the Old Pass Rd. Trailhead.

Coast down into Wilson and enjoy your cool-down back into Jackson!

DOWNLOAD GPS TRACK HERE

Full Loop Stats: 69 mi, 9,295' of climbing, 6:45 ride time, 7:30 total.

Mighty Mitochondria: Your body's power plant

By: Molly Breslin • www.22tri.com

Mito-what? How many of you reading this are scratching your head, wondering “What the……?”  and “Why do I care?”.  As a performance athlete the microscopic entities (organelles) located inside your muscle cells known as mitochondria are the key to your training and racing success.  Got you thinking that maybe you should have paid more attention in biology class?  It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a pro athlete: the proper care and feeding of your mitochondria is crucial.  Let’s begin with what a mitochondrion (singular) is.

Mitochondria are affectionately referred to in almost every academic physiology textbook as the powerhouses of the cell.  For our purposes we are going to focus on the muscle cells of the skeletal and cardiac (heart) systems but mitochondria populate many other cells of the human body.  A mitochondrion is 0.5 to 1.0 microns in size; that represents 0.0000195 to 0.000039 of an inch.  To put this in perspective, the head of pin is 2 millimeters in diameter.   A mitochondria is merely a 4,000th to 2,000th the size of the head of a pin.  Up to one-third of the volume of your skeletal or cardiac muscle cell is taken up by mitochondria.  Incredulous that something so miniscule can put you on the podium? Here is a distilled version of the cellular physiology behind the magic and how to manage it to your advantage.

 As athletes we all know about oxygen and carbohydrates (sugar).  The mitochondria take both of these ingredients (substrates) and use them to produce the energy(product) that makes your heart beat and your muscles perform.  Glucose (the form of sugar found in our blood stream) is repackaged inside the complex internal structure of the mitochondria into two key components:  pyruvate and NADH (nicotinic adenine dinucleotide).  Hey there, stop that yawning, this is where things get exciting!  These two chemicals are now transported into the central part of the organelle where, in the presence of oxygen (this is of primary importance), they are used to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  ATP is a nifty little chemical that is essentially the energy currency (think money, not electricity) of the cell.  This all happens via the Krebs Cycle.  Bicycle, Krebs Cycle – starting to sound connected here? Khan Academy has a fabulous video explanation of cellular respiration if you’re a visual person and would like to know more about the process, click HERE.

Now that I have piqued your interest and you are starting to wonder exactly how that ATP helps you turn the pedals and stride the miles, let’s talk about what ATP actually does.  Inside your muscle cell there are tiny little fibrils (essentially filaments of protein) named actin and myosin.  The complex physical interaction of these fibrils will be the topic of another article, but in the meantime it’s just important to understand that ATP binds to the myosin fibril and causes the muscle to contract (be it skeletal or cardiac).  Rigor mortis ensues when your body is no longer able to supply ATP to your working muscle cells.  Hopefully that gives you some perspective on how important ATP is!  Ever completely bonked in a race?  Your muscle cells were depleted of glucose, oxygen, and ATP. 

 Production of energy for your working muscles is an extremely complex biochemical recipe, but it can all be boiled down to the simple ingredients of sugar, oxygen, and calcium.  Sugar supplies the basic building blocks (remember our friends pyruvate and NADH) that the mitochondria use to produce ATP in the presence of oxygen (the whole process being called oxidative phosphorylation if you must know).  Calcium is essential to transformation of glucose into the pyruvate and NADH as well as the interaction of the myofibrils myosin and actin mentioned above.

 This process is completely dependent on the presence of oxygen as it represents aerobic respiration inside your working muscle cells.  Have a little light bulb over your head blinking “heart rate monitor”?  What a good student of exercise physiology you’ve become in just a few short paragraphs.  Your working muscles use glucose to produce ATP at a rate 13 times higher in the presence of oxygen than when oxygen is not readily available.  Heart rate monitor alarm screaming because you’re exceeding your lactate threshold (going anaerobic)?  Guess what, it won’t be long before you bonk.  Bonk is a synonym for Not Enough ATP (see above)!

 Now here is the best part – exercise actually results in mitochondrial proliferation within muscle cells.  What this means is that by exercising you are essentially asking your body to provide you with more energy and it responds by revving up it’s own cellular machinery.   The Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology published a fascinating article that explains this in more detail if you’re looking for a little light reading before bedtime. Click HERE to download.

 All sounds great, right? Your cellular biochemistry cannot do all the work on it’s own however; it needs you to be it’s teammate in the process. How can you help your physiology to perform at it’s best?  Here of some simple things you can do to optimize this process and make the best of your training and have a great race performance:

~Train smart: Overtraining and training without appropriate recovery damages muscles cells and the intracellular machinery.  Develop training programs and hire a coach if you are able.

~Stay hydrated:  Optimal cellular function is dependent on the right balance of water so that transport of substances occurs readily. Dehydration leads to “gunking” up of the system.  Think car engine here!

~Fuel: Feed your mitochondria a steady diet of available sugar.  This means consuming carbohydrates in a manner that gives your cells readily available fuel (glucose) for training and racing and well as eating a well-balanced diet and choosing high-quality recovery snacks to boost your glycogen reserves.

~Protein:  Muscles and mitochondria need protein to proliferate.  Make sure your protein intake is adequate and high quality.

~Constant oxygen supply: Mitochondria cannot function in an anaerobic environment.  Know your maximum heart rate and lactate threshold and use your heart monitor to keep that oxygen flowing freely to your cells.

~Electrolytes:  As we discussed, calcium is integral to the biochemical process, but calcium does not exist and function in isolation.  Calcium’s availability and function is inextricably tied to the levels of other electrolytes like potassium and magnesium as well as the pH of the blood (another article, another time).  Make sure you are ingesting a balanced mix of electrolytes when training and racing.