The Fixie Allure and, A Weekend’s Worth of HIIT

“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you’ve hung around the ol’ TTP blog for long, you’ve inevitably heard me drone-on (and on and on…) about my beloved fixie.  What’s the allure, you ask — I mean, Chrissakes, it’s just a friggin’ bicycle, right?

Au contraire, my good friend; the fixie is to cycling, as Vibrams are to running.  You don’t so much ride a fixie as you tango with it; jockey, machine, and environment all inextricably connected in the dance.  And as an added bonus, the fixie, by it’s very nature, screams of mixed-intensity bursts of exertion — commonly referred to in the parlance of physical culture as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).   Looking for a primal cycling experience?  Look no further than the fixed-speed bicycle.  Short, intermittent bursts of high power output interspersed with longer bursts of moderate-level power output, starts, stops; all chaos, all fractal in nature.  Very primal.

So that’s an experienced rider’s take.  Want a newbie’s impression of the fixie experience?  Here’s an informative fixie article, from Mary Buckheit, of ESPN.com.

“…for those keeping score at home, that’s one bike, one gear, one brake (if any)…”
– Mary Buckheit, ESPN.com

And hey, check this out — it’s so much fun, even Lance Armstrong loves a fixie  🙂  Saddle one up, and you’ll be forever changed.

Nothing can really impart to you the unique fixie feel, short of actually climbing on board and taking one for a spin.  The following clip, though, does a good job of portraying the essence and fun-loving spirit of the fixie experience.  Notice the plug near the end (beneath the bill of one of the rider’s cap) for Mellow Johnny’s — is it safe yet to call Mellow Johnny’s an Austin institution?  Well, how ’bout we just say that it’s my favorite Austin bike shop, and leave it at that?

Oh yeah, and one of my favorite fixie porn sites, here.

A Weekend’s Worth of HIIT

Fixie, Vibrams, a sled and an open field; this is gonna be good!

So the theme for this past weekend was many, many, many short HIIT bursts, from Friday evening until Sunday night.  Friday after work I sprinted (fixie, that is — Vibram sprints came later in the weekend) to the coffee shop, read for a while (Einstein’s God — fantastic read, by the way), then from there to a friend’s house for dinner (low country boil!), then from there, back home again (night time riding!).  Saturday and Sunday was much the same — I dare say I racked-up a good 15 rides (15 to 30 minutes or so a pop).  I also performed plenty of barefooted sprints and variety of of sled pulls and drags over the weekend as well.  I can’t really quantify any of this other than to say, again, it was all done in short bursts of high-intensity effort, followed by full recovery.  It was a weekend full of high-intensity, active play.

The one thing I can quantify was a Saturday gym session (following a barefooted sprint session) that shaped-up like this:

behind the neck (barbell) push-press: 135 x 5; 165 x 4; 185 x 3; 195 x 1, 1, 1, 1
straight bar muscle-ups: x 3, each of 7 total rounds

Couple of notes: all that lower body work really put the hurt on my push-press numbers.  Think the push-press is a shoulder dominant exercise?  Think again.  See what your push-press (jerks, too) numbers look like following a hip-dominant blitz.  It’ll feel like you’re pushing/jerking out of loose-packed sand.  Also, if you’re planning a bike-to-sprint (running) combo, remember to properly transition by doing some hip mobility and glute-activating movements prior to running.  Get that posterior chain revved-up or you’ll end-up running like a drunk initially — or worse yet, pull a ham string.  Biking is a highly quad-dominant endeavor and in no way prepares one for PC dominant work.  Biking will rev your core temperature, no doubt — so in that respect, it is a good “warm-up” activity — biking does nothing, however, to prime the PC for running sprints.

Today is most definitely a rest day 🙂

…ok, maybe a little bit of riding 🙂  Gotta feed the fixie jones.  Be forewarned, fixie riding is a serious addiction.

In health,
Keith

According to This Study, Even the Thought of Working Out Will Prompt One to Eat More

“Middle age is when you’ve met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.”

Ogden Nash

One of the few beefs I have against an otherwise fantastic book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, is Gary Taubes’s apparent dismissal of exercise as an adjunct to a sensible weight loss/weight management program.  But I do get his point, though, and to be fair, his work is intended to be a purely scientific look at the causes of fat accumulation.  The book was never intended to be a “how to” manual.  We all know that even a not-so-vigorous workout increases your appetite, and that one must fuel themselves properly (i.e., in a Paleo way), or chance amplifying an already dismal eating pattern.

Now this study, from professor Delores Albarracin of UIUC, shows that even thinking of working out will cause you to eat more.  The immunity to all of this is, of course, a Paleo diet.

When someone overcompensates for a drawn-out, low intensity workout — a workout that results in very little muscle/liver glycogen depletion — with excess carbohydrate calories, any dreams of resultant weight loss will be stymied.  Why can an athlete like Lance Armstrong get away with shovelling-down platefulls pasta (not that it’s healthy), and still maintain a svelte body?  Because he continually depletes his glycogen stores via intense workouts.  Moderate exercise does not deplete glycogen stores in this fashion, therefore, any carbohydrate (especially refined) overcompensation — which is quite easy to do — will result in weight gain, or at least a much diminished weight loss.

In Health,

Keith

Lance Armstrong Exchange with Paul Kimmage

“Nowhere to run to baby, nowhere to hide…”

~ Martha and the Vandellas

I have always admired Lance Armstrong as an athlete, and as (and in every sense of the word) a true competitor.  Of course he is in no way a sprint/power athlete, nor can he be considered, by any stretch of the imagination, “Paleo”.  But as a class-act person who happens to be an athlete, though, he’s got quite a bit to teach us all; lessons in humility, overcoming extreme odds, looking-down death itself, and the desire to give back to others.  I really do wish that he’d find and spread the word of the efficacy of ketogenic diets in battling cancer; he’d be one hell of a spokes person.

And I have to say that I appreciate, and agree with, Lance’s stance on re-admitting “doped” athletes back into the competitive fold (which he touches on in this clip, after he deftly rips Paul Kimmage).  Many would argue that a doped athlete should be banned for life, and I can certainly understand that point of view.  Maybe my lenient bias comes from having once been a highly competitive athlete myself.  I know all-too-well the “whatever it takes” mindset.  Add to that, then, the obscene amounts of money that the top few of these athletes in any given sport stand to make, and you’ve just created an ultra-volatile combination.  I think what the general public doesn’t fully grasp is that these athletes truly love their given sport, and to be tarnished in the eyes of that sport is unbelievably painful.  It doesn’t make any sense then, I know, to take the chance on doping and getting busted.   All I can say is, the drive to win sometimes overrides even the most powerful of feelings — even love.  Some athletes will let close, loving relationships wither and die rather than take the chance on converting some training time to “relationship time”.  Hell, I’ve seen this out of amateur athletes.

Anyway, Lance is one cool customer.  Just watch how he handles reporter Paul Kimmage in this clip.

Thanks to ccyclist for this particular clip.  And thanks to one of my favorite athletic blogs out there, EliteTrack, for the head’s-up on this one.  Nice find, guys.

In Health,

Keith