Originally Written December 19, 2019
It’s day two of our ride. The boys are all tired and stiff today. I stretched immediately after our ride and they just laughed at me…who’s laughing now? Me, I’m ready to go after a pot of coffee. Today’s goal for the ride is to ride into Nogales for a lunch at a taco truck. Oh yeah, that was a goal worth keeping up with the boys I was willing to take on.
Our leader took us through a canyon, up a mountain fire access road that had been mostly eroded down by some heavy rains the day before to a breathtaking lookout spot. The trip down turned into an epic learning experience for me.
The narrow roads in that area were covered in granite rock slabs and granite dust - no sense using the back brake whatsoever. I am a confident front brake user but quickly found out that using front and back brakes was not a good idea. While I manage to stay on my bike while skidding down a steep slab of granite around a switch back, I had to stop and take a minute to catch my breath. Hoping that was the worst of the steep descents was over I threw my leg over my torn seat and headed into steeper territory. The switchbacks and steep descents went on for over 30 minutes until we were finally down into a valley and about 30 minutes to tacos.
I was excited about tacos and didn't realize, while there were no steep descents into Nogales, we still had a few miles to ride on some super gnarly narrow jeep trails. I lived and made it into town for amazing tacos. We (meaning me) decided to head back home via some breathtaking easier riding roads. I'm glad we did as it was getting cold, we were all tired, our bellies full of Mexican goodness and we were running out of gas and daylight. We rode 6 hours that day. I'm proud to say I had the skills to ride all the terrain, including terrain I was not confident riding. As the day wore on I got used to riding and it made me a better rider.
I wonder what challenges tomorrow's ride will bring!?
Most of the time I go overboard when I get it in my head to do something or get into something new. It is a problem because sometimes I can't tell myself enough is enough. Sound familiar? This week, I screwed up. Super hard dirt biking for 4 or 5 days in a row, plus some mountain biking thrown in, a TRX work out and surprise, now I'm off my dirt bike for a few days resting my worn out arms while my partner is off enjoying some single track with a local.
When is it time to take a break? I think that is up to each individual. Some people train hard for 3 weeks then take a week off, some train every other day, some train 4 days on 3 off. Whichever method you choose, it is important to build in a plan for rest days. I must change my thinking. I know I need to strengthen my upper body for the terrain I'm currently riding, however dirt biking for 4 hours then doing an upper body workout afterwards is dumb - that's just screaming for problems or an injury. My new plan: I'm going to dirt bike for 3 days in a row, one day off and spend that day stretching and a light upper body workout and see how that goes. My nutrition is good, and my sleeping habits are excellent, so I know I just have an overuse injury.
I realize not everyone has the freedom I currently treasure, but we can all think about our current workout routine. Sometimes taking a week off may improve your strength when you get back at it. Maybe just lightening the load for a week or riding a few hours less a day will give you enough rest. Certainly, taking stock of one’s eating and sleep routine and making adjustments will help as well. Remember what you do on rest days are just as important on what you do on workout/riding days
If you find yourself in a plateau, or sore from overtraining, maybe it’s time to try a new approach to your workout. Give it some thought and tell yourself it's OK to take a break. Everyone needs to slow down and smell the roses sometimes.
After spending 2 days playing a roller derby tournament in the U.S., I came to reflect on this topic quite a bit. The biggest problem I had was finding enough quality food to eat to fuel my activity. Roller derby can burn up to 1500 calories per hour. I figure I burned 1000 calories day one and 300-400 day 2 (I spent half the last game on the bench with a groin injury).
The hotel had the usual free breakfast: powdered eggs, white bread, pastries, sugary cereal, yogurt. I didn't have a problem with the breakfast options, but what about lunch, snacks and dinner? Our first game was at noon, so we ended up at a Japanese steakhouse/sushi bar for a team dinner. Our 2nd game was scheduled for 8 pm. I knew eating a steak was the wrong choice, and unfortunately, while you might think the veggies were a good choice, it takes a long time to digest vegetables, so sadly those were out. I chose sashimi and a bowl of white rice. My biggest mistake was the soy sauce. I was most likely on the edge of dehydration from game 1 and the soy sauce defiantly exacerbated the dehydration. While the white rice was a good choice as it has low fibre and is easily digested, I ate too much of it. The end result prior to game 2 was not so good. I was sluggish, tired and my gut hurt. I didn't play that well, in fact the entire team felt the same. We were tired from not sleeping well the night before, the long drive and the lack of quality food and choices.
A lot of us brought food but it's not the same. The best choice for us would have been a small plate of pasta and a good quality tomato sauce. The pasta is easily digestible, and the tomato sauce is low in fat and because the sauce is puréed, easily digestible. Both the pasta and tomato sauce contain carbohydrates for fuel and the tomato sauce has some vitamins and minerals.
The large portions you typically get at a restaurant are sometimes over the top. I would have been better off eating half the food I ordered, and instead paired it with a protein shake after game 1 and a banana before game 2.
Every time I go to the gym, play derby or go for a long dirt bike day, I ask myself “what snacks do I need” and “what am I currently eating and how will it effect my performance?”
There are so many diets out there that promise weight loss and other “results” if you eliminate one food group or another. The reality is you need to think of food as fuel for the adventure. You need to think: “What type of food do I need to have the energy I need to perform?”
With all the confusion around nutrition, FitRiders will be working on a cookbook for riders, with nutrition and calorie content for each meal. In addition, it will take the mystery out of what to eat, when to eat and what activity will benefit from different food types. The right food choice makes a difference. Even with the help of a nutritionist I have got it wrong on many occasions. Through trial and error, I have found what works for me. I can't wait to share my recipes for success and hope anyone who is interested in feeling better will use my experiences to help themselves. So, stay tuned sports fans for more nutritional information and the odd recipe here.
In the winter of 2015, I booked myself the trip of a lifetime: I was going to go to Mongolia on an epic dirt bike adventure ride! This isn’t something that most people get to do often, and I was stoked! Then I realized, I need to get into shape. 14 days of epic off-road riding, averaging 200 km/day, it was more riding than I had ever experienced before.
I had booked my trip for July 2016. With just over 6 months to get into shape, I hired, Karl, a personal trainer. When I met with Karl, I told him of the type of terrain I would be riding, the number of hours I would be spending on the bike. Not only did I want to get in shape to handle the ride, but I needed a strategy where after a long day of riding, or after sleeping in uncomfortable Ger camps, I would also need some sort of recovery mechanism. With that, Karl helped me come up with a strategy to get fit for the ride, and how to keep the muscle aches and pains at bay while on the ride.
For 6 months, I worked from the comfort of my own home to get in shape. No gym membership, just some basic free weights at home, body weight exercises and a yoga mat for basic stretching. My wife Maria would often join me in the fitness routine, as she found it helped not just with her riding, but all the other sports she loves to play. That was all it took to get into the kind of shape I needed to be in to ride Mongolia.
When I returned home from Mongolia, I wondered if there were many other middle aged guys like me that would love to do the same type of bucket list trip, but what was holding them back from going was the thought that they couldn’t handle the terrain at their current fitness level. In fact, there were many middle-aged guys on the same trip that directly benefited from me showing them some stretches that we all did at the end of the day in front of the campfire. If this program helped me, then maybe this program could help others who also want to do these same bucket list adventures.
And so, FitRiders was born. We have members all over the world, of varying ages, men and women, who know that the key to having better riding adventures is to get into shape. So, what are you waiting for? What’s holding you back from getting in shape for the ultimate adventure ride. Get Fit to Ride! Join the Movement! Join our Community!
I work out almost everyday, the days I'm not working out, I'm riding. But what toll does that take on the body? Can the body take that much abuse constantly? A traditional workout schedule seems to be, warm up with cardio, leg day, the next day arm day etc. The thinking was to give the legs a day off when you were doing arm day. My workouts incorporate the entire body. So why is taking a day off or a week or two off from the gym and the bike beneficial?
When we workout to build muscle (let's forget the cardio part for now) we actually tear our muscles. If you have ever had a torn muscle you know it takes time to rebuild that muscle. Those microscopic tears, while ultimately beneficial in building new muscle, need time to rebuild. If you don't give yourself the proper nutrition, hydration, or time, you could end up with an injury. My general rule of thumb is one rest day for every 6 days of working out or riding. Every few months, I skip the gym for a week, sometimes even 2 weeks.
When do I know it's time for a long rest? When I'm bored, when my performance on the bike is questionable and when I just feel run down. Do I just sit around watching TV for a week? Not really. I tend to go for a walk, I may go to the gym for a slow 30 minute bike ride or a quiet swim. I may drop into a yoga studio for a session, I definitely get a massage, I re-evaluate my eating habits, try out new recipes and stretch everyday. When I return to the bike and the gym, I'm stronger, happier and feel amazing. My mind and body are reinvigorated, stronger and rested.
I also notice I sleep better and my resting heart rate has decreased. I've also spent time re-evaluating my eating habits, maybe try some new recipes and even sit around doing nothing but watch TV for a few hours a day.
I am a bit obsessive about fitness and I track my resting heart rate most mornings prior to getting out of bed. I don't have a fancy Fit-bit, so I do it the old fashioned way. My average is 58 beats/minute. If I start to see an increase into the mid 60s, I know it's time to take a long rest. While you don't have to do this, I find it helpful as I'm a bit obsessive with my fitness routine and it keeps me from over training, burning out, and possibly preventing an injury as well. If you think of it, keep a log of your heart rate, it really is helpful.
Don't feel guilty when taking a rest day, we deserve it, we are after all only human.
Karl Tettmann, Co-Founder. Avid health and fitness coach who just loves to ride.