Sunday, July 6, 2014

July Update: Getting in Shape, The World Cup, and the Tour De France

Getting in shape, playing soccer, and what about that Tour De France?

For the past three weeks, this blog has been quiet. The truth is, things on the cycling front have been very quiet for me since doing the Collin Classic in June. I'm still riding, but now I dedicate my rides to commutes to the gym. I have been riding 13 miles round trip to the gym plus doing a lot of upper body workouts to even tone my flabby abs with my cycling legs. With the World Cup going on I have caught the soccer bug and I'm playing pick up games on the weekends with friends. My favorite team so far are the Netherlands and I'm a huge fan of Arjen Robben even though he did that swan dive that ultimately ended up knocking out Mexico with a penalty shot. This picture pretty much sums up what happened in real life.

I have actually liked soccer since I was 15 years old. It was my main sport growing up that I would play with friends until I hit my 20's. After that lots of friends moved away, got married and the soccer group that I grew up playing with has since dissolved. 

This is a big year for me. I'm closing the chapter of my 20's and I will be in my 30's by the beginning of next year. I don't want to start that chapter flabby and disproportionally out of shape. So road cycling is on the back burner for now and abs and dumbbells as well as other load bearing and resistance exercises are in. I was never a fan of going to the gym. I do however recognize there are a lot of benefits to resistance training. Although our legs are the largest muscles in our body, we can't assume that we will have a complete workout just by working out our legs. As time passes our bodies don't do a good job of metabolizing fats and start to store fat in our abdominal lining and in our liver. When we only do one type of activity, such as cycling, the body will burn calories and fats off our legs first, and will not address our fat deposits elsewhere. Weight and resistance training forces our bodies to react against it's natural tendency to be lazy and to burn off the easy calories. 

With weight training and supplements I have already lost 9 pounds in the last couple of weeks. No Creatine or Hydroxycut for me though. I have been using CLA, which is a lipid pill composed of good fats high in Omega 3 acids derived from Sardines and Anchovies. I have also been taking Ginseng and Rhodiola pills for mental clarity and Whey Protein powder with bovine colostrum to feed good proteins to my muscles. I have a serving of fruit a day in the form of a homemade smoothie. I feel great and if anything I know that I'm keeping my cholesterol down and have drastically cut my sugar and carb intake. 

This year's Tour De France is going to be a good one to watch. There are many veterans of the sport still racing and defending the old guard. It's good to see guys in their 30's and 40's still performing on the professional level. My hat is off to Jens Voigt and Chris Horner for being some of the hard old dudes in the bike race and still holding their own against guys they could have fathered. Fabian Cancellara is also one of my favorite guys to watch. He has the ability to break up an attack from the peloton and has blown away the competition in one day races like the Strada Bianche. These are some of the main guys I'm rooting for, probably because in a year I'll be in the master's category should I decide to compete. 

This year's tour also brings a ton of new talent to the fore that we haven't seen in years past. Andrew Talansky won the Criterium Du Dauphine, the prologue race which matches rider's abilities to how well they are going to race in the Tour De France. Marcel Kittel is an up and coming sprinter who has dethroned giants of the sport like Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel. Of course we can't dismiss the slightly older kids on the block such as Alberto Contador, said to be in peak form this year and riding with a solid team. I'm not going to take away anything from Chris Froome either, he has shown himself to be (somewhat suspiciously) a freak of nature when it comes to climbing and has that trademark high cadence, low geared spin that he does when he attacks on the climbs. I'll say it's probably being raised in Kenya at high altitude that honed his abilities, again I don't want to take anything away from him.

Glaringly missing from this year's race, in my humble opinion, is the presence of Nairo Quintana. I believe that this little guy from Colombia has the skills and physical ability to win it all should he choose to. I can easily see him pulling off a Giro-Tour double, for example. He has the skills to blow away riders on climbs like Froome, Contador and Vincenzo Nibali as if they were standing still. Knowing the politics that currently surround the sport of cycling I can understand why Nairo opted out of the Tour this year. Although Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche and Fausto Coppi have pulled off such feats in the past, in this era of doping a Giro-Tour double would be highly suspect. Quintana wouldn't have any problem proving his innocence, he's as clean as a whistle and is just pure cycling talent. Knowing his quiet and humble personality he's probably happy currently enjoying the biggest win of his career at a very young age and probably doesn't want the aggravation of having to explain himself that the only thing mixed in his water bottle was Panela, or hard sugar. 

This is my July update. August and September will probably be similar posts like these. Like skin cancer? Heat strokes? Ride a bike in the middle of the day in Texas during these months, just because. No thanks, I'm turning 30 soon and I don't need to prove anything to anyone. Stay tuned for more informative posts and videos from a Bicycle's Point of View.

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