So, how 'bout some fun stuff instead...
Like most of you probably do, I come across some random things in endurance sports that aren't always headline topics in the latest magazine. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes it's "WTF, that exists?" and sometimes sheer awe or even disgust. Well, I want to talk about it...
My List of Random Realities in Endurance Sports
1. Hypoxic Tents. Cheating? Borderline. Expensive? Hell yea. If you don't know, these are contraptions that simulate high altitude - a low-oxygen tent that you sleep in if you live at or near sea level areas and want the benefits/adaptations of living in high altitude. Why do athletes want to train in Colorado and high-altitude? Because there's less oxygen in the air, and as a result the body adapts to that over time by creating more red blood cells, which carry oxygen, which makes for better sports performance because more O goes to the muscles. (Blood doping, EPO, all relatively the same concept.) Sea level areas have close to 20% oxygen in the air; high altitude (8,000 to 12,000 feet) has about 12%. So you can see imagine how the body would adapt by making more RBCs. As far as using this to race better - the ethics are being debated, but it's not banned as far as I've read. However, one of these tents will set you back thousands - saw one quote at about $5,700 - so don't jump in the car to go hypoxic-tent shopping. Something to think about next time some Lance-type guy flies by you though.
2. Snot Rockets. Ah, a juicy topic that everyone should be intimately familiar with - guys and girls. First off, in no way is this a guy-only act, chicks should feel comfortable and proud of their s-rocket skills. It's ain't glamorous, but it's essential. When the air is wintery brisk, you're 20 miles into your ride and your nose starts dripping, what else is there to do? God forbid you let your mph drop for a runny nose, but you can't just let it slither down your face, and there's no Kleenex in cycling! You have to cover one nostril and blow that stuff out the other, and (key point) blow with force... Guys generally have this down no prob; some girls need to let go of being dainty - won't work, that just creates a mess on you and the bike. I'll admit, I'm an extreme case as far as girls go when it comes to s-rockets: I get a runny nose even on the hot, dry days - basically every time I go riding... Needless to say, I'm a master of the art. Nothing to be ashamed of. Heck, I can even do a hands-free snot rocket. And I'll do one on my first ride with you. (Really, I'm not a gross, offensive, manner-less person; it's just a reality in cycling.)
On that note, there are some "rules" involved. No. 1) Always look behind you to make sure you're not about to shower someone with snot. That's not cool, it's happened to me. However, there's a gray area with No. 1 if that person behind you is your rival/enemy. No. 2) Make note of the wind. Logical. No. 3) Steer clear of landing it on the bike as much as possible. Crusty bike = tough cleaning. No. 4) Make sure there's enough snot accumulated for a quality rocket. No half-assing this. ....For more insight on snot-rocketing, check out Ryan's blog.
3. Spin Classes. Love-hate relationship with these. They're a great addition to cycling training, as you can really push yourself to the max - just add that tension and spin hard, no stop lights, cars or pedestrians to take out. But you're in a small room with a bunch of other sweating people. Now, I sweat a lot as it is, but I sweat 10x more in a spin class, so I can only imagine others' sweat level. This almost reached a breaking point with me once when some dude next to me must have had Indian food the night before. He had the most foul-smelling sweat. I swear, I gaged. I'll leave it at that to spare you the grossness, but I almost left that class, and ever since I've been cautious (but not discriminating) toward choosing my spinning neighbors. The thing is, once I start a class, I'll go to the end... no leaving early like someone inevitably always does. (C'mon people, one hour, that's it... and you need that cool down.) Guess my point with this one is, I love them, but I hate the idea of being boxed up with smelly gross people for an hour. Not to mention, every now and then an instructor will play the worst bee-bop-type music ever. That always kills it.
And my last installment for the day....
4. Dirty Water Bottles. Ever leave just a little leftover Cytomax (or your drink of choice) in your bottle and forget to wash it? Go to grab it out of the bottle cage on your next ride a couple days later, untwist to refill and....oh God. Now that's a foul smell! Not to mention, things start growing in there, science-experiment style. Cytomax, for one, creates this weird black oily substance. I know this well because my ex-boyfriend was notorious for not cleaning his bottles. He'd leave them in dark corners and let them ferment and then, like nothing, he'd grab one, refill it and be off. Never got sick. Crazy. As for me, I usually forget to clean my bottles because after a long ride I have a one-track mind: EAT FOOD. Bottles suffer as a result. Probably even worse than leftover Cytomax though is an old whey protein shake in a bottle. All it takes is just a little leftover drink, like one sip, for the smell to get so bad that you might as well just toss the bottle. No saving. My gym bag has been home to these stink bombs. Their next home after that? The trash. I can afford to purchase another $5 bottle.
Until next time... happy training!