Polar RS800CX BIKE in for Review

February 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Gear

If you follow us on Twitter or belong to the our Facebook group, you were probably already aware of the Polar RS800CX BIKE that we received for review.

polar rs800cx bike Polar RS800CX BIKE in for ReviewFinland-based Polar Electro is one of the very few companies giving Garmin some competition in the category of GPS devices for mountain bike enthusiasts.  The new RS800CX BIKE sports wrist watch is the do-all personal trainer from Polar.  Polar strives to help people get fit and improve their physical performance.  The RS800CX BIKE is their top of the line training system specifically for cyclists.

What does Polar have to say about the RS800CX BIKE?

From PolarUSA.com

Get the most out of your performance with the RS800CX. With its professional training software you can effectively plan and analyze every detail of your ride. See your route profile and total meters climbed with the altitude, ascent and descent features, as well as uphill or downhill steepness in percentages and grades to help you to track your efficiency effort while training.

  • Comes with the wireless CS speed sensor™ W.I.N.D. for interference-free cycling data
  • Synchronizes with the Polar ProTrainer 5™ software for guidance, analysis and creating individual training settings
  • Determines if your training program and recovery time are optimally developing your performance
  • Measures incline and adjusts your efforts accordingly

We will be testing the RS800CX BIKE with the following accessories: G3 GPS sensor W.I.N.D., CS cadence sensor™ W.I.N.D., and the Universal Bike Mount

Have you used a product from Polar?  Do you currently use a similar device?  We’d love to hear from you, please respond in the comments section below.

Dirt School DVD Teaches Mountain Bikers How to Improve Their Skills

January 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Tips

dirt school dvd cover the mountain bike technique film 210x300 Dirt School DVD Teaches Mountain Bikers How to Improve Their SkillsScottish national downhiller Chris Ball opened Dirt School in 2007 after realizing that there was no company currently offering mountain bikers coaching from someone who has been there, done that, and still racing.  The company holds classes aimed towards improving skills for downhill, xc, and freeride.  In addition, private classes are also offered.

Offering a fresh take on How-To films the DVD shows you the steps required to execute and master certain techniques.  Highlighted in the films are excerpts form the school’s lessons providing an easy way to “watch and learn”.  There are blue, red, and black level trails included for progression.  The DVD will help you ride with more confidence and attempt new feats.

Watch the trailer below.

Filming takes place at Glentress and Innerleithen trail centers located in Scotland.

Riders interested in purchasing the DVD can do so for £17.99 GBP by clicking here.

Mountain bike champion to inspire at Coronet Peak

January 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Industry News

Mountain bike enthusiasts are in for a treat at Coronet Peak this summer when supreme downhill mountain biker Scarlett Hagen hosts a range of training sessions at the Bike Park.

scarlett hagen of queenstown new zealand 300x199 Mountain bike champion to inspire at Coronet PeakThe former 2004 Junior Downhill Mountain Bike World Champion and 2008 Oceania Champion will hold skill sessions from 8 January to 1 March.

Scarlett aims to analyze riders’ performance and provide personal feedback and skill development whilst teaching them different techniques to aid improvement.

Ski Area Manager Hamish McCrostie said Scarlett’s skill sessions provided an awesome opportunity for aspiring and advanced mountain bikers to learn from one of the world’s best.

“Scarlett’s passion for downhill mountain biking and her reputation within the industry makes attendance at these sessions a must for up and coming riders or anyone who wants to take their skills to a new level,” he said.

Scarlett says the sessions are designed to accelerate development and fast track improvement.

“I love inspiring others to reach their potential and I’m always amazed at how much people improve with just a few simple training tips.”

The sessions cater for all ages and levels from beginner to advanced. For $50 (plus lift pass) participants can choose to take part in either a two hour group session or a one hour private session.

Participants must have their own bikes with all the necessary safety equipment including their own protective wear.

Positions are limited so early registration is encouraged. Visit www.scarletthagen.com for more information.

The Coronet Peak Bike Park season opened yesterday (7 January) and will run until March 1. The park will be open 11.30 am till 7.30pm Tuesday through Sunday each week of the season, weather permitting. Closed on Mondays.

Strong Cycling Skills Indoors? You Bet!

November 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

momentum pro stationary bike Strong Cycling Skills Indoors? You Bet! Can stationary bike training improve your outdoor cycling performance? Of course! Whether alone on a trainer or with an indoor group cycling class, many skills can be enhanced over the winter months. What makes an efficient cyclist? Endurance, strength, speed, stroke skills, bike handling skills and mental resolve. All of those assets (most have bike handling) can be cultivated indoors.

Physical benefits are not the only thing you can cultivate. An indoor environment without the distraction of cars, potholes, rain, and wind allows you to work on the mental side of training. An athlete could be a gifted, genetic freak of nature, but not have the positive mental skills to reach optimum athletic potential. The NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB all have their own sports psychologists to maximize their athletes’ performance. Read one of the books by Jerry Lynch and Al Huang ‘Thinking Body, Dancing Mind’ or ‘Running Within’. While reading, what talks to your strengths, and what makes you aware of you weaknesses? Make indoor training the time you work on mental toughness.

While indoor cycling is often generically called “spinning,” SPINNING TM is actually a trademarked program. It was created by ultra-endurance cyclist, Johnny Goldberg, with the goal of getting the public more healthy and fit through riding a stationary bike.

When choosing a group to ride with indoors, be sure the coach/instructor bases the sessions on the principles of training: heart rate and/or power zones, and cadence parameters. If the coach/instructor is blasting Cher and asking you to do pushups on the bike, you are in the WRONG place. The pros first build a base through long, aerobic rides to improve endurance. Aerobic, then anaerobic hill work is then layered into the mix to build strength. Based upon the riders goals, the next stage is usually speed work, in the form of short fierce bursts followed by recovery. Modify the workout and select your exact training dose based upon your body’s response to previous workouts.

All certified indoor cycling instructors are taught about how to use heart rate training in conjunction with perceived exertion (RPE). When taking a session, each instructor should be prepared to talk about:

  • The class structure
  • Ways to modify the class
  • Benefits of the class

The big benefits, which you can’t get by taking a pill, are:

  • Increased O2 capacity
  • Increase in the # of oxidative enzymes
  • Increase in the # and size of capillaries
  • Increase in the # of mitochondria
  • Increased heart stroke volume ( pump more blood per beat)
  • Slow-twitch muscle development
  • Increased muscle fuel storage
  • Increased muscular endurance
  • Elevation of lactate threshold
  • Strength development
  • Increase in blood buffering of lactate
  • Improved lactate clearance
  • Speed development
  • Power development
  • Hypertrophy of fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • Increased anaerobic capacity
  • Increased VO2
  • Increased neurological recruitment

cycling class 300x200 Strong Cycling Skills Indoors? You Bet! Experienced instructors will provide a positive and non-intimidating environment. With an experienced instructor, Lance Armstrong could be riding next to your Grandma, and both would get the proper exercise stress they need and feel empowered to gauge the ride based upon their own body responses. It should not be” monkey see, monkey do.” Coaches coach, players play. Look for the same qualities in a cycling coach ( or any coach ) that you would look for in a personal trainer.

Whichever of the over 150 indoor studio bikes you use, it is important to find the proper set up. Set up is critical for optimal use of muscle groups, knee health, proper breathing, and protection of the low back. Remember: this bike was assembled in a factory for the general public. It does not mimic the geometry of your tri bike, nor was it hand-made according to your unique measurements at the Serrotta plant. Strive to get the best set up possible. Most classrooms have a plumb line to determine an accurate fore/aft adjustment. Use the KOPS method:

  1. Dropped from the front of the knee, the plumb line should fall over the center of the pedal spindle.
  2. Stand next to the saddle and lift the knee parallel to the floor to approximate saddle height. The cyclist’s hip flexor should be about even with the saddle.
  3. A general recommendation for handle bar height is to keep them even with the saddle, although it is a comfort adjustment for the rider. If back problems are an issue, or if the rider is pregnant, place the handlebars on the high side.

Riding in an aero-dynamic position for extended periods on a stationary bike is not recommended. Sine the rider is in extreme forward flexion while on a bike with no frame movement, a huge amount of torque is put on the low back. Outdoors the bike, which was probably made FOR the rider, moves! Ride to promote health, not damage it!

Some facilities are now training on indoor bikes equipped with a power measuring device called a Power Tap, which has been the secret of the pros for the last ten years. Power Training principles are similar to those for heart zone training, but they’re based upon the amount of work- POWER -the rider can produce. Heart rate training in particular zones based on threshold is a good place to start, heart rate can be influenced by many external and internal factors such as, lack of sleep, improper nutrition, illness, dehydration, heat, humidity and stress. Have you ever been in a car accident or had a close call and noticed your heart beating in your ears? Have you ever been at the starting line of a race and seen your heart rate at 180 simply due to nerves? Try wearing a heart rate monitor during a heated argument, and watch your heart rate rise: you’re not on the bike or the treadmill, and there’s no work involved – just stress. Think about it…..

Power is power; it is the work one is doing, measured in watts. Unlike heart rate, it is not affected by other factors, which makes it a great way to quantify a workout. Let’s say an athlete is at the squat rack and can see 50 lbs. stamped on the side of each plate. He/she KNOWS how much work he/she is doing. The same principle applies when training on a bike that measures power. Not only do riders see the work they are doing, but they also gauge the correlating heart rate and how they feel at that power output. It’s a whole package. Over time, all cyclists want to be able to go a little faster for a little longer. On a bike with MEASURED, not estimated power, they can see that eventually they’re pushing MORE watts at a LOWER heart rate. Now THAT is progression!

Rather than growing roots into the cracks of your couch this winter, find a local class or indoor trainer session. Get your WHOLE TEAM–cardiovascular system, pulmonary system, muscular system, and MIND– ready to race come April.

Top 3 Exercises for XC Mountain Bike and Trail Riders

October 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

This post originally appeared in our forum by James Wilson of MTBStrengthCoach.com Please, take the time to introduce yourself in our forum and contribute to it!

Strength training for the MTB world has been slow to catch up to the unique and highly physical demands of our sport. Today’s average rider rips up trails that just 5-6 years ago would have been considered extreme and today’s extreme rider…well, let’s just say that they continue to defy all logic in their quest to progress our sport. Considering how fast our sport has evolved in such a short period of time it really comes as no surprise that most MTB specific strength and conditioning programs are stuck in the time when cantilever brakes were still viable options and anodized purple was a highly sought after fashion statement (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Today’s MTB world is not simply road riding on a dirt road. Muscling a 30-35 pound bike around on a technical trail requires a far different skill set and physical attributes than MTB riders needed at the turn of the century. As such, routines and exercise selection needs to reflect this fact. With this in mind, let’s review what I consider to be the top 3 exercises for the XC/ trail rider to include in their program (besides the deadlift, of course, which is a must for every rider).

bulgarian split squat 300x225 Top 3 Exercises for XC Mountain Bike and Trail Riders#1.   Bulgarian Split Squat – One of the best things about this exercise is that, when done correctly, it serves as both a great uni-lateral leg exercise and a great hip flexor stretch, something all mountain bikers can use more of. Prop your trail leg up on a bench, make sure that you start with your torso completely upright with your shoulders and hips square. Lower yourself under control (don’t just turn the muscles off and drop) and make sure that you keep your torso upright and everything square on the way down.

You may notice a tendency to lean over as you lower yourself, indicating weak or inhibited glutes. Leaning over lets you use your low back to help you get back up and should be avoided in order to establish the movement pattern we are looking for. You may also notice that you want to let your hips open up as you come down as well. This indicates tight hip flexors and every effort should be made to keep the hips square in order to maximize the stretch on this area during the exercise. Just like everything else with your strength training, it’s not just about going through the motions, it’s about doing the movement pattern correctly in order to get everything we can out of our time investment.

female chin ups 236x300 Top 3 Exercises for XC Mountain Bike and Trail Riders#2.  Pull Ups/ Chin Ups & Variations – Most XC/ Trail riders are very weak in the upper body. This really takes its toll as the trail gets rougher and the ride gets longer. Having good upper body strength and strength endurance is vital to controlling your bike and maneuvering down the trail. In fact, if more riders worried about getting stronger rather than how to shave a few pounds off their bikes they would be far better served.

Pull Ups, Chin Ups and their variations are a great way to strengthen the upper back and gain good body control. Let me clear up a few things:

-It is not a chin/ pull up if you do not straighten your arms all the way at the bottom and allow your shoulders to come up by your ears as well. Most people who think that they can do an adequate pull/ chin up are really fooling themselves by not coming all the way down at the bottom.

-Pull ups indicate that your palms are facing away from you and chin ups indicate that your palms are facing towards you. Both have their place in a program but I almost always start people out with chin ups as they are easier learn how to initiate the movement by pulling the shoulder blades down.

-If you can do more than 8 reps in a set then strap some weight to yourself. Adding more reps will only start to work on short term strength endurance and we want to get stronger through strength training (imagine that). Strength endurance should be addressed in the overall program but not when we are looking to add real strength. I can personally do a chin up with more weight than I can bench (bodyweight of 180 lbs. plus 95 lbs. strapped to me) and I feel that every MTB rider should be able to do the same.

standing military press 300x225 Top 3 Exercises for XC Mountain Bike and Trail Riders3.  Standing Military Press – As I have already commented on, most MTB riders need some more upper body strength and the standing military press is one of the best exercises available for strengthening the pressing muscles. Over the last few decades there has been a real decline in the use of the standing military press in strength training programs. Most have shied away from it for injury concerns reasons (I think ego is more of a factor since you can bench far more than you can press over your head). This is extremely unfortunate since, when done correctly, the standing military press will not only add upper body strength, it will actually help injury proof the torso and shoulders as well.

If you make sure that you keep the torso strong with no backward lean when pressing over your head then you not only protect the lower back, you help strengthen the torso like few other exercises can. Pressing over your head also forces all of the muscles around your shoulder to fire in order to stabilize the entire shoulder during the lift, helping to injury proof this area as well. Both of these areas are trouble spots for bikers during long, pounding rides with a heavy hydration pack strapped to them. The military press builds true functional upper body strength in a very efficient package.

There you have it, the Top 3 Exercises for your average XC/ Trail riders. You guys make up the bulk of the riding world and can gain a lot from a good strength and conditioning program. For a long time now the bike industry has mislead you by making you think that a new bike or a new part will make the biggest difference on the trail when it is the engine that drive the bike that makes the real impact. Getting stronger will allow you to ride harder, faster and longer, adding up to more fun on the trail. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyways?