Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cento Cycling Product Reviews: Now in Video Format.

We have been wanting to do some videos of our products for a while now. And we finally have our first one done. It reviews a company called Outwet. This is an Italian company that specializes in base layers and winter cycling accessories (arm, knee, leg warmers, head bands, skull caps, etc.).

Check it out on Youtube:

Leave us a comment and let us know what products you would like us to review in the future.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Planning for an off-season: Recharging your system

As hard as it can be to take time off from training and racing, the rewards are well worth it.  This rest period is critical for both physical and mental rejuvenation.  It is a time to let your muscles recover from the long and intense months of training and racing. It is time to let your mind enjoy a change of pace that will help restore your enthusiasm for the upcoming season. Typically this recharge period should be at least 4-6 weeks in length. And yes, you will lose fitness, maybe put on a few pounds, but this is absolutely necessary if you want to continue to get stronger and improve moving forward.  

You cannot expect to maintain your race fitness through the winter months. To quote Joe Friel “Fitness is transient”.  Peak anaerobic endurance and sprint power fitness lasts for only a couple of weeks, whereas as peak endurance fitness will last a little longer, but not into the off season. The purpose of the rest period is to allow:
  • Your joints and muscles to heal and repair after many miles of training and racing. Without the period of rest, injuries could result
  • Hormone levels to regain a balanced level
  • Re-stimulate the central nervous system
  • Restoration of the energy-producing enzymes inside muscle fibers that are naturally broken down during training
  • Refueling of glycogen stores within muscle cells
  • Endocrine, nervous, and immune systems upset by training are allowed to return back to normal
What to do with this extra time on your hands:
Don’t hurry your recovery. Enjoy this time. Get re-acquainted with your couch. Go on; put your feet up and catch-up on some movie/TV time. Use this period to catch up with old friends that don’t train or race, schedule some over-due appointments, start a house project, try some new sports (mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, etc.), or find some worthwhile volunteer work. 

Planning for the next season:
1. Reflect and set new goals-
Towards the latter half of the rest period reflect on last season’s results. What lessons did you learn? How will this shape the goals for the upcoming season?

2. Mental preparation-
Get yourself mentally ready to resume a training schedule throughout the winter months. Write a training plan or hire a coach to help together a training schedule that is realistic and appropriate.

3. Equipment-
Make sure your equipment is ready to start back up again. Are your running shoes worn out and need replacing? Is your bike ready to brave the winter weather?

4. Research-
 Read about new training techniques and new equipment.

5. Make commitments-
Commit to any lifestyle changes you want to make (especially any nutritional changes).

Now go forth and embrace a guilt-free hibernation period!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Planning for a faster Recovery

Training and racing are a stress on the body. It takes time to recover from that stress. The harder the workout gives higher stress and therefore a longer recovery. What you do before, during and right after you complete your workout (or race) greatly affects how you will feel later on and the next day. Adopting a few simple practices can help you recover quicker and feel ready to tackle the next day’s workout with less tired muscles, more energy and motivation.  Here are some guidelines to consider.  
Grazing means eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. This usually means a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.  If your training volume is high, I recommend you don't go more than four hours without eating. Effective grazing or snacking should consist of nutrient rich foods. Snacks should be  planned and not left to chance.  Snack ideas include: granola with yogurt, bagel, trail mix, nut butter with apple or pear, etc.  If you follow a grazing diet it should mean you have enough fuel to get you through the first part of your workout.
During the workout
Eat and drink responsibly!  Don’t leave it until your fuel stores and fluids reach extreme low levels.  If you do, then you’ll need more recovery time to replenish them.

 What and how much you eat and drink during a workout depends on several factors:
-Intensity (how hard are you working)
-Volume (how long are you working)
-Temperature (working out in 90 degrees versus 40 degrees have very different fueling requirements)
-Individual differences (every athlete has different requirements)
There are lots of guidelines out there. And that is just what they are: guidelines. Don’t expect to find a fueling plan that is ideal for you. You will need to experiment and see how your body responds to different types and quantities of fuel.  Here are some ideas to start with:
1 hour ride: 1 bottle of water or electrolyte drink (like nuun)
2 hour ride: 1 bottle of water and 1 bottle of energy drink (
Hammer Heed)
3 hour ride: 1 bottle of electrolyte drink, 1 bottle of energy drink, plus 1-2 gels and/or half a Hammer bar.
4 hour ride: 3 bottles electrolyte, water and energy drink. 2-3 gels and/or a Hammer Bar.
When you are doing LSD (Long Steady Distance) workouts,  make sure you use the food/drink you would during your long races. Not only are you working on improving your endurance, but also training the body to utilize fuel.  For these workouts aim to ingest 200-350 calories per hour. This can amount to a lot of gel packets; gel packets that can be easily fumbled. I recommend buying the gel in bulk (saves money) and putting it in a flask that contain 5-6 servings. Figure out how many gulps of gel from the flask equal one serving (one serving typically equals 100 calories).  Rather than rely totally on gel, consider using drink that contains more fat and protein (such as Hammer Perpetuem or Accelerade).

I think one of the biggest errors for many athletes is to wait too long into a workout before starting to eat and drink. 15 minutes into a LSD workout you should start to drink.  If you wait until you’re thirsty/hungry; it’s too late. To get on a fueling schedule, set the timer on your watch to beep every 15-20 minutes. This serves as a reminder to eat a gel and to drink a couple of gulps of drink. It is amazing how fast 20 minutes can go by and you may not feel ready to eat and drink again, but you need to in order to stay strong to the end of the workout.
Read the labels: There are so many gels, bars and sports drinks on the market. Make sure you read the labels. Stay away from electrolyte drinks that contain too much simple sugar. This will give you a quick burst of energy, and not a sustained energy. You want a mix of simple and complex carbohydrates.  Some gels contain electrolytes and some caffeine too. Experiment in training to see what your stomach can handle. Don’t leave it to race day to try something new. With the added stress of racing; adrenaline, nerves, and the intensity can wreak havoc on your digestive system, so don’t give it anything new to contend with. 
Note: Anaerobic efforts cause the digestive system to slow down because blood is being drawn away from the stomach to the working muscles. If you have been fueling then this can give you an upset stomach, make you feel bloated, nauseous, or cause diarrhea.  Anaerobic workouts tend to be short in duration (2 hours and this includes the warm up and cool down).  You really don’t need to eat anything during the workout; just afterwards. 
After the workout: Re-hydrate and Re-fuel
Typically fluid/nutrition intake during the workout won’t fully replace what was lost during the workout. Most athletes will find themselves in a bit of a deficit. Consuming the right nutrients shortly after exercise will help repair tissue damage and re-fuel muscles.   There are many post-exercise recovery drinks on the market that claim to have the correct ratios of electrolytes, carbs and protein to aid in recovery, such as:
Hammer Recoverite, Endurox R4, Gu Brew Recovery. Their goal is to:
1.  Hydrate
2.  Replenish muscle glycogen stores
3.  Repair muscle and tissue damage

Timing is critical: After intense or long workouts, the body is very receptive to absorbing nutrients to replace those used, and to help repair any muscle damage.  This is referred to as the Glycogen Window. Typically it is thought that this window of opportunity is within the first 30 minutes post-exercise.  It is during this time that the body readily absorbs nutrients at a quicker rate. It is reported that carbohydrates eaten will be converted into muscle glycogen at 3 times the normal rate. This rate drops off dramatically after 30 minutes. So make sure you make the most of this glycogen window by drinking/eating 20-30 minutes post exercise.

Compression Garments
Research has shown that the use of compression recovery socks and tights help reduce leg fatigue and muscle soreness, thereby also reducing recovery time. This helps your legs feel fresh for the next time you exercise. How does it work? Graduated or progressive compression increases blood circulation back to the heart. Research has shown that this can be up a 138% increase with the correct compression (18mmHg at the ankles working up the leg to 8mmHg according to Sigel et al (1975)). This helps remove exercise induced by products (such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide) from the muscle tissue. This aids recovery.
The key is to have the right amount of compression for these garments to be effective. Too little compression, and circulation is not increased, and too much will actually inhibit circulation. It is key is to have graduated compression.
Ice bath
To help heal the muscles from the stresses of intense workouts (especially running) and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness consider taking an ice bath.  The stresses of exercise cause small tears in the actual muscle fibers. An ice bath prevents further break down of the muscles, constricts blood vessels that help flush out waster products, reduces swelling and stimulates the muscles cells to repair the muscles tears. 
Fill the tub with cold water and add a few cups of ice or ice packs. The goal temperature is 53-59 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill the tub enough to cover up to your waist. Don’t stay in the tub too long; 5 to 10 minutes is adequate. This is not a case where more is better. Too much can cause cold induced muscle damage. If you are like me and an ice bath makes you shiver just thinking about it you can sip a hot drink, wear a warm layer on your upper body, and try to distract yourself by reading or listening to music.  Take a warm shower/bath about 30-60 minutes later.

Stretching is the most overlooked component of most endurance athlete’s regimens.  It has big returns for a small time investment. I find that you really need to commit to a stretching routine to make it happen. Build it into your workout time. If you have 3 hours to workout, then ride for 2:40 hrs and spend 20 minutes on recovery practices including the stretching. I know that my best years of racing are the years I've committed to a stretching program.
During a workout your muscles contract and relax many times, especially performing a repetitive motion like cycling or running. Stretching has numerous benefits: reduces muscle soreness by improving circulation, reduces muscular imbalances, increases range of motion (and thereby decreasing injury potential).
There are a few different stretching techniques out there. I’ll save that for a future blog posting.  Static stretching is appropriate to do post-exercise. Hold the stretches for 30 seconds to 60 seconds. Don’t go too deep too soon; make sure you ease into the stretch.
Eat a healthy meal 2 hours after exercise.
Restricted blood flow to the muscles following exercise hinders muscle growth, muscle repair and glycogen replention. Massage increases blood and lymph circulation. The movement of blood and lymph may help clear the body and the tissues of metabolic waste products thereby increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. Massage helps relieve muscle spasms and cramps, and also decreases the recovery time by helping to flush the lactic acid produced while training/racing at high intensities.
Not everyone can afford the time and expense for a professional massage.  However, for a small investment you can be set up at home to do your own massage work.  I like the massage stick and the  foam roller

Put your feet up
Elevating the legs above the heart helps eliminate byproducts from the legs, which is one of the primary causes of swelling and extended fatigue. Elevate your legs so they are higher than your heart. Lie with you feet up the wall to have gravity assist with recovery by lengthening the muscles (hamstrings) that have been contracting for a long time, dilating blood vessels and speeding the removal of lactic acid and other waste-product buildup that can leave you stiff and sore the next day.
8 or more quality hours of deep sleep aids muscle repair and recovery. It’s a hormonal thing. The deeper and longer the sleep (REM sleep) the more testosterone you produce that aids in muscle repair.  Get as much sleep as you can.  Without adequate sleep, fitness can be lost. Throughout the year it is common for athletes to have trouble with sleep. Here are some guidelines to help promote a good night’s sleep:
-Reduce caffeine intake
-Exercise in the early morning rather than later in the evening.
-Take a hot shower/bath just before going to bed
-Take a short slow evening walk followed by some gentle stretching
-Go to bed the same time each night and get up the same time every morning.
-Try some calming, sleep promoting yoga poses.
-Breathing exercises
-Quieten the mind. If you have a lot on your mind write it down. Think of this exercise as purging it from your mind.
-If you are napping during the day, eliminate the naps.
Get into a nightly routine so your body and mind knows what to expect and falls into a pattern that prepares it for sleep.
Lots of ideas. Try implementing one or two to see if it makes a difference. Happy recovering!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Summer Bike Time
Summer Bike Time
Ahhh summer time.  This time of year I ride quite a bit. I have my usual training rides, but I also enjoy using my bike for transportation more so than during the winter. I love riding into work, riding with my daughter to her art class, riding down to the grocery store for the forgotten ingredient for that night’s dinner, riding to the library, riding down to the park to meet friends, etc.  Lots of good bike time.  All this riding means more time on the road with cars. I naturally tend to ride very defensively.  Despite this, I had a near miss with a motorist last week.  She came out of nowhere. Luckily we made eye contact and both reacted before it was too late.  It was a good reminder to take bike safety seriously. Here is a list of things to consider:

Planet Bike Light Set
Planet Bike Light Set
Be visible day and night: Light it up.
During the day wear bright/light colored clothing and be seen. If you ride at night or in fading day use a front and rear light (flashing red lights).  A bright yellow jacket at night looks grey. Look for jackets with reflective detail, or better yet wear a reflective vest.  I read that motorists tend to notice moving parts – think pedaling legs. I sewed some reflective tape on the back and sides of my shoe covers/ booties. This really is effective. You can buy reflective tape at most sewing stores.  A few years ago I was at a stop light in downtown Portland and I actually had a motorist wind down their window to comment on how visible I was. His exact words that I looked like a landing strip....

Metro's Bike Map
Metro's Bike Map
Choose your route wisely:
Opt for low traffic streets, wide streets, roads with bike lanes, or bike paths. Living in Portland there are a few good resources available for maps. One of my favorite maps uses a color coded system to show you which roads are low traffic, have a bike lane, etc. And here is another great map for Washington County.

Know what is behind you:
 Knowing what is behind you allows you to make turns and change lanes with confidence. Get comfortable with looking over your left shoulder while being able to hold your line (ride straight). If this is a challenge, invest in a handy bike mirror. I haven’t used one, but I’ve had clients and friends who like the Bar end mounted mirror; it's smaller, out of the way, but still accessible, and inexpensive.

Obey Traffic Laws, including stop signs.
Obey Traffic Laws, including stop signs.
Obey the rules of the road:
Don’t run red lights or stop signs, don’t ride on the wrong side of the road, and don’t make illegal turns. Obey the traffic laws. Don’t do anything sudden and communicate (use your hand signals). Make your intentions known.

Make sure your bike is in good working order. Once a year I change the chain, replace the tires and brake pads and get a general tune-up.

Ride defensively:
Expect motorists to not see you. Expect them to pull in front of you, not use their turn signals, or swerve into the bike lane. Make eye contact with motorists to make sure they have seen you. This is huge. It means riding alert, thinking ahead, and being on your brakes constantly.

Put your lid on
Put your lid on
Protect yourself:
Wear a helmet. Parents riding with children, even if it is just down to the park– set the example. Gloves are great for reducing the chance of getting blisters, but they also provide much needed protection if you take a tumble. Wear glasses with clear lenses or dark ones to protect your eyes from bugs, dirt and grit from the road.

Be prepared:
Carry equipment to take care of a flat tire (a saddle bag with tire levers and spare tube and a frame pump at a minimum). Carry ID. Consider getting a Road ID bracelet.  Carry some cash. Have food/water with you.
Let me know what you would add to this list. I’d love to see it develop into something more comprehensive. Leave me a comment.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Exercise: Finding a Balance

A few months ago I was listening to “Hear & Now” on NPR. On came a story about excessive exercise and the effects it can have on relationships, especially when only one half in the relationship exercises.  They interviewed Kevin Helliker who had recently written an article called “A Workout Ate My Marriage.” for the Wall Street Journal. He looked at how excessive exercise can really hurt a relationship and how more couples are seeking therapy to help with this issue.

How can two things that you are (supposedly) passionate about become such a huge area of conflict?

Time Management
Time Management

Training for endurance sport is not exactly a 10 minute a day deal. Time becomes an issue when exercise repeatedly takes precedence over other responsibilities (kids, work, chores, etc). The house still needs to get cleaned; food bought, meals made, bills paid, and with all the working out it is quite amazing how quick dirty laundry can pile up. This just adds stress and more areas of conflict in a relationship. I think it is interesting that if you ask the athlete and non-exercising partner to estimate the number of hours spent on exercise, the non-exercises tends to estimate a higher number.

With most endurance sports there is equipment and it is so easy to become an equipment junkie.  Every year there are new innovations that you just must have. It’s an investment in your fitness you might argue…it is, but seriously how much were those wheels? So now money becomes another area of stress and conflict.

No doubt about it, endurance sports can be addicting. You reach a point where your body and mind need to workout. You need that release, that freedom, the time away. For me it keeps me grounded, Makes me a better wife and mom, I sleep better, I feel better.

Healthy Balance
Healthy Balance

Working on finding that healthy balance:
My husband, John, and I work pretty hard at finding a balance. It isn’t easy, especially when you throw a kid, or two, into the mix. Our daughter, Indie, is now five. And since we have been blessed with her presence, we have both continued to train and race to some degree. However, now we both don’t try to train for the same events. That would just be too hard and frustrating for us to be able to find a healthy balance between training, racing, family, and work. John races on the road in the spring and early summer, and I race cyclo-cross in the fall. This is working for us, for now. It is still work to make it work. It takes planning, thinking ahead, communicating (lots of communicating) and prioritizing, and compromising.

Being two active parents can be perceived as being inconsiderate or neglectful of parental duties. Yes, we do invest time into our activities. I see this as an important thing for Indie to see. It lets her see the lifestyle, it lets her know that we are our own people with interests. But we are still her mom and dad and find plenty of time for family activities away from our exercise interests.

Some of the things we work on, or have found help us include, well, the obvious really:


1. Communication, setting goals and priorities…together:
Communication with yourself. Have a heart-to-heart with yourself as to why you train and race. What is the motivation? For me it is mentally healthy for me to have a physical goal.  I need that. Once it is clear in your head on why you want to pursue an athletic goal, it’s then important to share this with your significant other so they have an understanding of where you are coming from.

Calendar Planning
Calendar Planning

Make sure you find the time to sit down and plan together. Get a calendar and plan for the long workouts, races, family trips, house projects, etc. For me it is so important that we understand each other’s expectations, hopes and desires. By setting goals together you can make sure they are realistic and within the context of your life.  Ones you can both support.

We live in a fast paced World where we try so hard to fit it all in. John reminds me (more times than I care to admit) if you want to do it well: then just pick two things, and scale back on the others.  In other words; prioritize.

2. Time to yourself:
What has been working for us is for each of us to have a chunk of time each week that is our own. It’s mine to do with what I choose. Granted it is usually a workout, but it’s an evening that I don’t have to pick up Indie from Preschool and make dinner. Having this regular and constant time is something I look forward to. There are no questions asked. No stress. It just happens.

3. Getting involved in each other’s goals:
Often, it is the little things that are so instrumental and monumental.  John and I find that if we can help each other a little in the pursuit of each other’s goal, it makes the other person feel more invested, more helpful and a part of that process. Like I said, it is often pretty small things. When John is in the middle of racing, I’ll make sure he has supplies at hand (sports drink, spare equipment, etc.), I’ll make arrangements for travel and/or accommodations.  When I’m racing, John will make sure my bike is clean and ready to go (no small feat when you’re dealing with a weekly muddy cross bike). Get the kids involved too. Indie loves to help fill up water bottles, or pretend to pump up tires, or even do some yoga with me. Yes she has her own special yoga outfit…nothing that a grown up would wear for yoga, however it succeeds in making her feel part of the routine or process.

4. Share the value of fitness by exercising together or at least at the same time. 
 Get a baby sitter. John and I use to tag team it. He would exercise in the morning, and then I would in the afternoon. No time, or at least very little time, together as a family. Now we get a babysitter or arrange a play date so we can exercise at the same time. It might not be together, but at least we are both getting the workout in and will then have the afternoon together for some quality family time.

Cycling & Hiking
Cycling & Hiking

How about getting the whole family outside and exercising at the same time? We like to mountain bike. We’re friends with another family who have kids and also like to mountain bike. The dads get up early and car pool to the trail head to go ride, the moms and kids carpool mid-morning to the trail head. The moms hand the kids off to the Dads. The moms ride, and the dads and kids hike. The kids have a good time. The adults get to workout and hang out together. Everyone is happy.

5. Good Time Management:
Be creative in finding the time to fit the workouts into your schedule. Some may find they can fit a workout in early morning or take a slightly longer lunch break to free the evening up.  And sometimes you might find that if early mornings is the only time slot available to workout, it can really test your desire. Especially when it is so cold and wet outside.  There has been more than one occasion when I’ve decided to foregothe workout (with no guilt) and hang out with the family instead. When we go on family trips, we take our bikes. One of us may get dropped off with their bike a couple of hours prior to the final destination, and the other dropped off on the way home. This takes some planning, but is a very effective use of time.

To conclude:
Excessive exercise can be detrimental to your relationship; if you let it.  It takes work to find a balance that keeps everyone happy. And that balance will probably change over time. Sometimes it seems like ours changes monthly….making sure we keep that communication open.

I try to make sure I don’t compare our family to other families when it comes to finding this balance. It is easy to look over the fence and see that the grass looks greener. We  (the parents) all have different needs, priorities, energy levels, desires, etc. And so do our kids. The right balance for you may work for your family, but not necessarily for others. It’s pretty individualized.

According to Kevin Helliker he believes that extreme working out is a 3-4 year trend or phase, and begs non-exercising partners to be patient.  Maybe so for some athletes. I know for myself that it is not a phase. It isn’t just about being fit, but achieving health, wellness and balance. It’s a lifestyle.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lots of Spring Updates

It has been a busy couple of weeks getting some new product on our website.

First we have Veloflex Tires. Veloflex have re-named their tires and added a few new ones. New tubulars include the Extreme and the Sprinter tires. The tires are identical except for the color of the sidewall; Extreme has a black sidewall, whereas the Sprinter has a tan color sidewall. All of our 2010 clinchers will only have black tread. We are no longer going to offer colored tread. If this is what you want, we do have some 2009 colors still available, but not many.

Next is Etxe Ondo clothing. Some super items that we are really excited about. Check out the limited edition Attaque Bib Short and also a top of the line bib for women. We are offering lots of different short sleeve jerseys for various weather types that will compliment any of the bib shorts we have.

There is an updated design for the GSG Acqua & Sappone clothing. We have some summer items (cap, gloves, arm warmers, jerseys, vest and shorts) as well as some winter items (Bib tights, vest, and jacket).

Next we'll be working on the new MS Tina clothing. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Winter Jacket Blow out Sale

It's time to blow out our winter jackets. And what a collection we have. If you are looking for a good deal on a thermal windproof jacket, look no further. We have lots to choose from: Professional Team Jackets, Styling Solid Color Jackets, Bright high-visibility Jackets, etc. All made from outstanding fabrics that will serve you well. Teamed with the right base layer these jackets will make your winter riding a whole lot more comfortable.

Please contact us for sizing help. Most of our jackets are cut small.

Sale terms: Jackets returned for sizing exchange will be charged a $20 restocking and return shipping fee. Jackets returned for refund will be charged a $20 restocking fee, and refunds will be in the form of store credit.

Our Preferred Customers receive an additional 10%.