Basso Wins Giro!

I can’t say this was a surprise. I guess it’s sorta like plaing hide and seek in your own house when you are little kid. You know all the hiding spots. You know who is going to hide where. Regardless, it is still a lot of fun. That is how the last week of the Giro D’ Italia shaped up. You see, Ivan Basso dominated from essentially the start. While humbly thanking and crediting his teammates for helping him capture the overall win, the stats spoke for themselves. Basso won three individual stages, was part of the winning team time trial, and finished second in three stages. I am not surprised he pulled off such a win. He started the Giro in incredibly good form, and has a very strong team backing him up.

The overall question is, can someone really perform at a world class level and win two Grand Tours in the same year? Marco Pantani did it back in 1998 (winning the Giro and the Tour De France), and we shall see if Basso manages a double come July. While I hope that Basso has enough in the tank to pull off a solid performance, Jan Ullrich (one-time winner and 5-time second place finisher of the Tour De France) is skeptical. Ullrich on Basso’s win:

“He makes a strong impression. And his CSC team is well-balanced. Ivan is on top of his game. However, I don’t think he will win the Tour. The competition is Italy is distinctively weaker than the one in France. And I want to have a say in it, too. (laughs)”

Read more about the Giro at Cyclingnews.com.

Throw Your Weight Around

Was out with my buddies Kapil and Jeff tonight. Somehow, the conversation progressed to strength training. I have been reading up (and testing for myself in the gym), a style of weight training called Static Contraction. The gist of the technique, is to use extremely heavy weights, during static holds at near your point of complete lockout. I’ll talk more about my experience with this type of training in another post. I asked Jeff about it, and he mentioned that his football team use to use a similar style of training in college. Of course, he also mentioned that he hardly EVER strength trains any more. He relies almst entirely on body-weight exercises and martial arts to build strength.

Jeff is a very strong guy (used to play D1 football) who is now an experienced Capoerista. Capoeira is a an Afra-Brazilian form of martial arts. Jeff described it as part dance-party, part kung-fu. I was invited to try it out (trust me, I’ll show up, but only in full body armor). During the course of their training sessions, they’ll perform anywhere from 500-800 sit ups and push ups. To mix things up, these will not be standard run of the mill crunches or push ups, but varying styles (including handstand push ups!) to make sure the muscles are build in a way that they have fewer weak points.

The gist of our conversation was that strength training is very useful, but it is important to build strength that you can apply to your life. In the case of working out with your bodyweight, using broad & compound movements, you are applying yourself in a manner that will help you throughout your daily life (and kick butt if you are every jumped in a dark alley). Many of the bodyweight exercises Jeff talked about put massive stress on your core (abs, obliques, back), which are often overlooking when working out in the gym, yet are the most relevant muscles for everyday health and activity.

oh yeah…I did my Hindu Squats, Pushups and Back Bridge day…made about 25 each of the first two, and about 1 minute on the back bend. I have a loooong way to go.

Strength Train With Your Own Bodyweight

The gym is closed. I’m hungry. I’m tired. I’m lazy. I don’t want to deal with traffic. Some days I just don’t feel like making the trek to the gym. Fighting traffic and dealing with the crowds in the locker room and gym floor are the last thing I want to do after a day of work. If only there were way to get much stronger, without actually schlepping around weights. There is a great article by Mike Mahler on bodybuilder.com on this topic. I’m going to start the Back Bends, Hindu Squats and Hindu Push Ups tomorrow. It will probably be a few months before I attempt the Handstand Push Ups!

On a side note: I just started reading some of Mike’s writings, and he really has great perspectives on strength training and nutrition. He trains world-class martial artists and ultimate-fighters, follows a strictly Vegan diet and contributes to several fitness managzines. This guy really knows what it takes to be strong, and build an outstanding level of endurance. Take a look at his site…and let me know how the back-bends are coming along!

Giro D' Italia

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The Giro D’ Italia is one of the three big tours (multi-day stage races) for the professional international cycling community; along with the Tour De France and the Vuelta Espana. The Giro started on May 6th and wraps up on Sunday. It is amazing to me that anyone can finish these tours, let alone race several a year. My last serious bike ride involved a stop for lunch at the local brewery at the halfway mark (6 miles in!). These riders are essentially putting in century rides (and then some) every day for 3 weeks. So let’s break down the Giro for a moment:

  • 21 stages (doh!), with 2 rest days (slackers!)
  • 3,553 kilometers in length
  • 169km average stage length (105 miles)
  • 10 flat stages; 4 moderate mountain stages; 4 absolutely insane mountain stages, 3time trials
  • 224km with 4000m of climbing are part of the today’s stage…also the toughest stage…oh, that invovles climbing 4 moutains and roughly 7 hours of time in the saddle

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To finish a race like this you need to be super-fit, have a good team, and eat like a horse. Using this online calculator, a 26 year old male weighing 160lbs would burn about 4500 calories. Adding another 1700 or so to account for energy needed just to keep the body functioning normally and you’re looking at 6-7000 calories per day just to keep the tank full!

When you are on the bike for 6 or 7 hours a day, that means taking taking in a lot of calories while riding. The most interesting thing I’ve noticed about long-distance cyclists, is that their edge is as much about the nutrition as it is about the riding. When you go out to ride a hundred miles, if you aren’t steadily drinking fluids and eating every 30 minutes, you’re going to run into trouble. If I only had that type of disclipine during a typical work day! Work is totally an endurance event. I think the same rules apply. I’ve lately gotten quite good at keeping a big jug of water handy, but my energy levels would clearly be better if I ate more of the right stuff, more often. Even if I’m not riding a hundred miles every day, sometimes it really does feel like I am…so I might as well eat like I am; right?

BTW…if you want to follow the Giro, check out www.cyclingnews.com. They have great coverage.

Hello World

Hi everyone. My name is Ravi and I am excited to start this process of discovery. People around me are amazing. One of the biggest motivating factors in my life is the study of what makes people tick; what makes them strive to achieve in any aspect of their life. If you look at the world with a broad enough perspective you can see that those who achieve have a single common thread, they continually set higher standards for themselve in one or many parts of their life.

This blog is a discussion. It is a discussion of people that do amazing things. It is a discussion of methods, tips and tricks that people have used to acheive success in their life. I don’t think there is any perfect answer to finding the perfect job, relationship or diet; but if we acknowledge that even in the absence of perfection, we may find a model of the world that helps us be happier than we are today; the pursuit of a better answer is surely worth the effort.

With this, let’s begin…