Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Cannondale's Carbon Hardtail - Flash carbon ultimate

After 18 months of development, Cannondale are introducing the 16.56lb Flash Carbon Ultimate hardtail, a dramatic departure for the Connecticut company known for fat aluminium tubes and full-suspension rigs.
Taking a page from the development of their race-proven, full-suspension Scalpel, Cannondale's aim with the Flash was to create the lightest, stiffest and strongest – it comes with a lifetime warranty and no rider weight limit – carbon hardtail on the market.
The 950g Flash Carbon frame uses the same high modulus carbon layup seen on Cannondale's SuperSix road frames, raced by Team Liquigas.
The continuous top tube/seatstay junction saves weight and adds stiffness, while the seatstays are straight – a major departure from the hourglass shaped stays found across the board at Cannondale for the past decade. Research and development director Chris Peck says this has been done to boost lateral stiffness for improved rear wheel tracking.
The high modulus carbon fibre top tube and seat stay junction is continuous, maximises carbon fibre's properties, weighs less, and gives tremendous efficiency.:
The chainstays – as well as the 27.2mm diameter carbon seatpost – feature Cannondale's Synapse Active Vibration Elimination (SAVE) technology, which is designed to dampen trail buzz without taking away lateral stiffness. The dropouts and disc brake mounts are alloy, not carbon, due to the intense heat created under braking.
The chainstays use cannondale's shared platform synapse active vibration elimination (s.a.v.e.) technology for damping trail buzz without taking away lateral stiffness.:
The Flash Carbon has a BB30 oversized bottom bracket shell, and comes with Cannondale's Hollowgram SL crankset – the lightest on the market – and Lefty monoblade suspension fork.
 First impressions? Plenty of comfort and performance packed into a technologically advanced frame which will certainly force Cannondale's competitors to revisit the carbon hardtail design approach. We're especially looking forward to the 29er version.
Somewhere in a park city, utah conference room...:
The Flash Carbon platform will come in three spec and pricing models:

Flash Carbon 2

  • Lefty Speed Carbon DLR 110
  • DT Swiss XCR 1.5 wheelset
  • FSA V-Drive BB30 44/32/22 crankset
  • SRAM X-7 shifters, X-9 rear derailleur
  • Avid Elixir R disc brakes
  • US$3,749

Flash Carbon 1

  • Lefty Speed Carbon SL 110
  • Shimano XTR wheelset
  • FSA K-Force Light BB30 44/32/22 crankset
  • Shimano XTR shifters/derailleurs
  • Shimano XTR disc brakes
  • US$6,399

Flash Carbon Ultimate

  • Lefty Speed Carbon SL 110
  • DT Swiss XCR 1.2 carbon wheelset
  • Schwalbe Furious Fred 26 x 2.1 EVO folding tyres
  • Cannondale Hollowgram SL BB30 42/28-tooth crankset w/ custom spider for SRAM XX
  • SRAM XX groupset
  • Fizik Antares carbon-rail saddle
  • US$9,599
Availability will be November 2009 for the 26-inch wheeled version pictured above, although MonaVie-Cannondale racers Tinker Juarez and Jeremiah Bishop will most likely race on pre-production models this season. A 29-inch version (below), the choice of many marathon racers, will be available in December.

The 2010 cannondale flash carbon 2 29er hardtail.:

Flash Carbon 29er 2

  • Lefty 29er Carbon DLR 80
  • DT Swiss X470 29er rims
  • FSA V-Drive BB30 44/32/22 crankset
  • SRAM X-7 shifters, X-9 rear derailleur
  • Avid Elixir R disc brakes
  • Price: TBC

Flash Carbon 29er 1

  • Lefty 29er Carbon SL 80
  • Stan’s ZTR Arch 29er rims and DT Swiss 240S rear hub
  • FSA Afterburner BB30 44/32/22 crankset w/ carbon spider
  • SRAM X-0 shifters, X-0 rear derailleur
  • Avid Elixir CR carbon disc brakes
  • Price: TBC
For more information, visit www.cannondale.com.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

My favorite mountain bike trails in the UK


Nine and a half miles of heart-racing climbs and heart- stopping drops, of the cheekiest twists and turns, of trees stumps, rocks, mud and glory - welcome to the Twrch Trail.
The Cwmcarn Trail climbs dramatically from dense woodland out onto open ridges with 15.5km of almost pure single track, this really is one of Wales’ hidden gems, and best of all the trails are free and can be ridden all year.
The Whyte bikes sponsored Twrch Trail at Cwm Carn is a purpose built 18km singletrack loop. We'll warn you know that nearly all the climbing is done in the first few km, some of it pretty technical and taxing on the legs. Don't give up though as once you're up the top the swooping, roller coaster singletrack back down again is more than reward enough. The trail is fast, flowing and very natural in feel, but first time round don't go crazy as there are some sections of real exposure on the edges of very steep hillside towards the end.

Any regular mountain bike will be fine for these trails. Just make sure the gears are working and there's plenty of life left in your brake blocks. As the trails are largely cut into stable base geology, there are only a few mud patches even in deepest winter but a Crud Catcher or similar will keep your face filth free.

The White’s Level Trail is the most technical of all the trails at Afan Forest park. Starting with a challenging singletrack climb, this 90% purpose built, all weather singletrack route then flows into a true trail roller coaster. An adrenalin pumping mix of rock drops, step sections, berms and cliff traverses - plus an optional black run descent section for the most skillfull riders - creates an outrageous 17km loop.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Specialized Stumpjumper 2010: New mountain bikes

It’s a bit thin on oxygen for a Yorkshire amphibian at Snowbird ski resort in Utah, but it’s not just the altitude that’s taking our breath away at Specialized's 2010 bike launch.

Okay that’s a cheesier intro than a face full of fondue, but to a cynical old sod like me it’s not often something as consistently impressive as their new trail bike line rolls under your nose.

As usual the devil is in the detail, but the key things to remember for the end-of-feature test are:

* New lighter, longer-travel Stumpjumper
* Much lighter and entirely new Enduro
* Biggest range of women's bike ever, including two truly top-end S-Works models
* Big-wheeled bikes – several of them – that are totally sorted
* A return to Fox-produced Brain shocks that are a genuine bonus not a headache

Stumping it up

The most significant news for most riders is that Specialized's trail flagship – the Stumpjumper – gets a complete reworking for 2010. Travel increases to 140mm front and rear, but weights drop across the board.

The S-Works flagship gets a totally new FACT IS carbon frame that’s 80g (50g in the mainframe, 30g in the seatstays) lighter than last year's 120mm bike.

Specialized's mountain bike engineers have unashamedly poached the latest ideas on layup and carbon knowledge from the road bike division. This includes a broad top tube and deliberate creases and curves in the wider sections to stop the ‘oil can-ing’ effect evident on some slab-sided bikes.

The front end is moulded in two pieces (front end and seat tube/bottom bracket) using post-layup stretching to remove any wrinkles or weak spots. The build system also makes the tubes much smoother internally with less overwrap at the junctions.

The Stumpjumper loses its short-lived rocker link layout in favour of a kicker link like the Specialized Epic. This means a healthy amount of seatpost drop before you bottom out on the curved tube.

The seatstay yoke attaches directly to the rear of the shock slider, with ball bearing pivots at all points for smoother actuation. The single-piece seatstays get a direct mount for the Brain chamber.

Fox-built brain shocks are far more consistently controlled than previous units and reliability issues should be sorted too. direct rear end mounting and full bearing linkages boost smoothness too:
Thank Fox for that

One of the most significant – and welcome - pieces of news from the launch is that Specialized are no longer using X-Fusion to make their Brain rear shocks. Instead all Brain – and Triad – shocks will now be made by long-time collaborators Fox. Not only should this eradicate the reliability issues of the past few years, but the performance is dramatically improved too.

The way the Brain activates has changed dramatically. It still uses a brass mass inertia valve, but now the shock link hose feeds in from the top, not the bottom, for a much faster reacting and more compact setup.

Rather than isolating oil flow from the Brain actuation, the compression circuit is now capable of opening the shock and keeping it open. There’s no spring delay on closing either so it opens and shuts immediately in response to the terrain.

After years of “no, it really works this year” assurances we’ll admit to being a bit jaded about the Brain concept, but this year it really does work. Dial the Brain Fade knob to your chosen opening threshold early in the first ride and then just forget about it.

The new top-flow brain shock from fox is far smoother and faster reacting than previous units, making it a genuine free flowing yet bob stopping bonus: the new top-flow brain shock from fox is far smoother and faster reacting than previous units, making it a genuine free flowing yet bob stopping bonus

There’s still a clunky feel in more static settings, but move towards the free flow end of the dial and there’s genuinely no trace of the inertia valve. Sprint into a rocky step-up with the rear end locked, pop the front wheel and the back end will swallow the impact completely, firing you up and over the crux.

It sucks up even the sharpest rock edges without pinch flats and you can squat and drive it through corners as well as any conventional shock, before firing out bob-free.

The new 140/115mm travel S140TA fork with its carbon crown and tapered steerer is equally impressive. New internals put damping in one leg and an air cartridge with single-stage travel-adjust in the other. That means it gains some weight over the previous 120mm fork but it’s still the lightest travel-adjust fork around at 1,602g (3.53lb).

According to Specialized, the 28mm axle end-cap design is stiffer with a conventional quick-release than 15QR forks. You can certainly rip the nose of the bike inside the natural line on corners and it holds a great line through lattice roots and random rock sections. With the Brain Fade turned to minimum it’s as fluid as any other fork we’ve tried and even with some auto lockout it triggers seamlessly when it needs too.

The only issue we had with the forks and shocks was the very light rebound damping, but talking to shock specialist Mick McAndrew, they’ll be changing that for production.

Specialized's new 140mm fork is the lightest travel-adjustable unit around thanks to its carbon crown and tapered steerer: specialized's new 140mm fork is the lightest travel-adjustable unit around thanks to its carbon crown and tapered steerer
S for spoilt

If your banker's bonus means you can afford the S-Works version you also get Specialized’s own FACT carbon cranks (97g lighter than Shimano XTR) driving a hybrid SRAM XX group. This puts non-pedal weight for a medium bike at a shockingly low 10.6kg (23.4lb), which only Scott’s Genius and the Ibis Mojo SL can compete with in the same travel category.

More frugal or financially restricted riders don’t lose out much either. The carbon Pro frame is only 100g heavier than the S-Works and the M5 alloy frame 200g heavier. The hydroformed tubes get the same stiffening crease lines as the carbon model too, along with cold-forged keystones including a hollow driveside dropout. All bikes get the oversize axle ends too (although Fox fork bikes use a smaller 26mm-diameter cap).
Slack attack

It’s not just the impressive vital statistics of the Stumpjumper that impress either, it’s the visceral, high velocity and insatiable chuckable ride that really sell the bike.

Typically for Spesh it’s based around “a roomy top tube, short chainstays, a low bottom bracket and relatively slack angles”. Actually their "relatively slack" is radically slack by most manufacturers' standards, with a 68.5-degree head angle in the short (115mm) fork setting and 67.5 in the long (140mm) travel setting. Add a short stem and this bike just loves to stir up trouble in tight singletrack or lean back and blast more open, rocky descents.

While Specialized haven’t said they’ve changed the makeup of their tyres, they seem a lot stickier before. This makes the bike a total rip-and-roost hooligan on Utah’s swooping, loamy, super-fast singletrack.

The tyres give it even more grip as it flexes its silly-light, locked-shock climbing prowess. The fact the locked rear naturally sits at the top of its stroke offsets the tendency of the slack angles to wander off line too. The fact it managed to blow us away with its trail scaling abilities is even more remarkable considering we were blowing out of our arse at 8,000ft.

The only real weak link in the mix is the very obvious slew and flex from the superlight Roval Control SL rear wheel. Then again, it’s all part of the headline-grabbing low weight, and the Germans will love it!

We’d also have liked a wider riser bar. Say that to any brand manager and they launch into a tortured speech about how it’s only the Brits who like big bars and the Europeans already think they’re too wide.

If you're thinking of engaging in a major race campaign in Europe, Specialized’s 2010 Epic is a better bike than it’s ever been before. The changes seem fairly small, but they make a big difference.

The chassis is unchanged, but the Fox version of the Brain-actuated micro shock is in a different league to the previous Specialized unit. It’s still pretty pert in action, but it’ll swallow decent sized landings without stumbling. The genuinely immediate shock actuation in lower Brain Fade levels means it doubles as a very fast and fluid short-travel trail bike.

Its credentials here are also improved by the same riser bar as the Stumpjumper, which actually feels wide enough on the skinnier, twitchier Epic. The same twangy Roval SL wheels also feel more in tune with the Epic than they do on the Stumpy.

It was my first time on a near-complete SRAM XX bike (it uses an S-Works oversized crank with Truvativ twin spider). Suffice to say the speed of shifting, powerful integrated mount brakes and sensible spread of off-road gears made a favourable impression. At just over 22lb for our large sample it’s proper race-light too.

All enduro models come with a custom double ring shimano crank and lightweight gamut chainguide to keep you chained up however hectic it gets: all enduro models come with a custom double ring shimano crank and lightweight gamut chainguide to keep you chained up however hectic it gets

Another platform where Specialized have worked from the ground up to save kilograms rather than just grams is the new Enduro.

Looking at the top S-Works model you’re getting a totally new carbon fibre frameset with an innovative ‘X Wing’ central crossover. The layout has been a real fight to make work, involving three separate bladders and internal walls to provide the proper compression. However, linking top tube and down tube has immediately tripled the number of cycles to fatigue failure and increased overall stiffness by 30 percent over the last Enduro frame.

The frame also uses impact resistant ‘high strength’ fibre rather than the more usual high stiffness but impact-vulnerable ‘high modulus’ fibre.

The previous rocker link layout has been replaced with the kicker link and horizontal shock mount first seen on the Epic. The rear eye of the Fox RP23BV shock is also slotted for direct attachment of two forged seatstay extensions onto the rear of the shock. Super-thick hollow dropouts give the same stiffness as a Maxle rear but with more versatility in terms of wheel choice.

The problem of putting ISCG mounts on a carbon frame has been dealt with very neatly too. A forged, keyed insert is fixed into the bottom bracket shell which an optional alloy ‘ISCGotron’ can be mounted directly onto. It only weighs 12g, can be replaced if it gets damaged or stripped and it’s Truvativ Hammerschmidt crank compliant too. The mainframes are all sized to take a standard water bottle too, and mud clearance is okay if not outstanding with a big 2.35in tyre.

Specialized have worked hard to continue trail ride practicality through all the components too. Every bike from the Expert upwards gets a Command Post adjustable seatpost with guides for the remote cable. This even includes a notch on the seatpost quick-release lever to tuck it in close when the lever is closed.

All models also get some sort of custom Shimano chainset running 36/22 rings and a Gamut double chainguide. Neat details like red anodised X.0 mech cage, shifter clamps and shifter levers all add to the bling appeal of the S-Works too.

Roval’s superlight Traversee wheelset keeps overall weight low and responsiveness high. From experience they’re properly tough rolling stock, although unsurprisingly you can feel them getting stressed through big sweepers.

The 160mm of rear travel is matched with a new 160mm fork. The previous bespoke triple crown unit has thankfully been dropped in favour of a new 34mm-legged fork using a tapered carbon steerer and crown with Maxle Lite 20mm axle. Like the Stumpjumper fork it can drop 25mm of travel via the top-cap switch and again it’s the lightest in its category by a huge margin at 1,774g (3.9;b). this brings complete S-Works Enduro bike weights to a startlingly light (for the travel) 26.8lb, and even the heaviest alloy bike weighs under 31lb with RockShox Lyrik forks.

Despite the lack of weight it’s certainly no fragile long-travel cross-country bike. The 66-degree head angle, low belly and tight rear end make this bike feel almost as straightline secure and shock sucking as the legendarily planted SX Trail. It certainly sits far lower into the trail than the previous Enduro, making it a blast to pump, slide and carve despite noticeable flex from the wheels.

The performance of the fork is particularly impressive, with a plush stroke once you’ve passed the initial ‘Spike Valve’ compression damping. Its ability to keep a level-headed and controlled response to rock-and-drop sections is clear when switching between the S-Works and the more clumsy feeling Lyrik equipped alloy bikes.

Red anodised sram highlights are typical of specialized's attention to detail: red anodised sram highlights are typical of specialized's attention to detail
Women’s bikes

With 18 women’s bikes across the various families Specialized are rightly proud that they have the widest range of female-specific bikes available. To quote program leader Rachel Lambert: “Nobody in the world takes female riders as seriously as we do. Nobody else creates bikes at as high a level as the S-Works and across more platforms.”

The new Safire is their designated all-rounder designed to cover 90 percent of riding situations. Travel is 140-115mm front and 120mm rear with 68.5 to 67.5-degree head angles. The S-Works version uses a women-specific narrower diameter tubeset and lighter layups. Standover is also 10-15mm better than the leading competitors for increased confidence. Sizes cover riders from 4ft 10in to 6ft and there are four models, the 23.6lb S-Works, Expert carbon, Expert alloy and a Comp alloy version.

Whatever the price, positive and negative springs are softened for lighter riders, and Brain units get lower thresholds. Smaller brake rotors, levers and specific saddles/grips, etc. give appropriate fit and performance.

The Era is essentially the female-specific Epic with Flow Control Brains and the same fit and standover attributes as the Safire. S-Works version highlights include the 3.1lb E100 fork, FACT 10M carbon frame and FACT cranks. There are also Expert carbon, Expert alloy and Comp alloy versions.

Myka deploys the same thinking but at an entry-level price. Both the hardtail and 100mm-travel full-suspension bike use an M4 frame plus custom tuned suspension from X-Fusion and Fox rather than just off-the-shelf units.

Specialized are also extending their links to the Susan G Komen for the Cure breast cancer awareness program. Limited edition bike and kit sales include a 10 percent donation to the cause and they’re supporting a series of events in the US, Italy and Germany.

Specialized have massively expanded their 29er programme too. There are carbon S-Works and M5 alloy geared and singlespeed hardtails, plus M5 Epic and 130mm travel Stumpjumper 29er versions.

All are based around a very short chainstay, offset trail and an inch-and-a-half lower bottom bracket, and they feel ‘right’ on the trail straight away. The S-Works hardtail certainly makes big wheels more competitive than they’ve been before, with a 1,150g (2.54lb) frame that’s as light as last year's 26in bike.

The 90mm travel RockShox Reba S29 fork uses a Specialized carbon crown mated to a Reba Team bottom end to deliver a 1,625g (100g lighter than Reba) front end. A tapered headtube keeps stiffness high and cockpit low, while a curved seat tube gives correct front mech positioning.

Dedicated single- and multi-speed frames both use a curved top-to-seat tube flow which increases compliance and comfort. A super-stiff down tube, oversize bottom bracket and offside alloy dropout areas maximise power delivery from the S-Works crank enhanced SRAM XX groupset. Full bike weight is a minimal 21lb/9.2kg complete with Roval 29 wheels and Specialized’s new 3.8g top cap.

Specialized have seriously committed to big wheelers this year, with s works race hardtail, singlespeed, epic and stumpjumper options: specialized have seriously committed to big wheelers this year, with s works race hardtail, singlespeed, epic and stumpjumper options
The big bikes

Finally, there’s not much news on the big bikes yet for 2010. The SX Trail gets a slight tube straightening to better fit the latest Fox shocks, while the Demo 8 gets slacker, Sam Hill inspired geometry. Specialized hinted that something more interesting will be debuted at Crankworks in August.

Scott Scale 899 2011 hardtail. Lightest MTB ever???

The race is on, in more ways than one. Understandably narked at being outdone in the lightest production mountain bike stakes last year by the Merida 0.Nine, long-time featherweight enthusiasts Scott will turn racers’ heads with their new Scale 899.
With a guaranteed frame weight of just 899g (for small and medium sizes), the new Scale’s proprietary HMX net carbon frame is beating its nearest established rival by some 31g and the previous Scale by a hefty 100g. Specced with full SRAM XX transmission and brakes, a longer-travel 100mm fork and new geometry to suit, this thoroughbred may prove more than a race-day black beauty.
It'll no doubt grab podium places next year, but while its focus is clearly whippet-like speed, it’s refreshing to see that the designers have also paid attention to the evolving demands of riders and created a bike that boasts a bit more versatility, albeit at a tremendous price.
Ride & handling: Bred purely for the racetrack but still rides like a dream
As soon as we threw a leg over the 899 we found we were impelled to go fast. Put the hammer down and the frame twitches with energy without a murmur of flex. Climbing was a joy, with SRAM’s XX chainrings delivering faultless shifting under power and the new rear triangle delivering ground-hugging compliance.
Rather than skip its way over every bump, the Scale 899 seems to suck up the terrain, helping to retain rear wheel traction – an attribute that reminds us of the legendary GT Zaskar LE’s triple-butted stays of old.
Borrowing technology from their CR1 road frame by way of both ovalising the seatstays and adjusting the carbon direction layup, Scott’s engineers have added a degree of vertical compliance while increasing lateral stiffness, which they claim increases comfort by 30 percent over the old Scale. The result is a rear triangle that is instantly there for you when you put the power on, but glides over climbs almost effortlessly.
Many oh-so-light hardtails are gold on the climbs but can prove skittish on the descents. Not so the Scale 899. From the moment we rolled into the first snaking singletrack descent this bike felt like it was on rails.
The tapered head tube and oversize box section leading the main triangle ooze surefootedness and directional stability, helped by the stiff carbon lower assembly of the fork. The tweaked geometry rewards the 899 with a character that touches on the playful – something you wouldn’t expect from a highly tuned race-ready machine.
Now the lightest production mountain bike, the new scale is bred purely for the racetrack but still rides like a dream:
Scott’s one-piece 600mm-wide bar and stem carbon combo felt comfortable and positive, though it does represent a limitation to riders looking to customise the front end with their choice of bars and stems. Meanwhile, the tight, snappy frame offered every change of direction with a burst of energy delivered via short 16.5in chainstays.
In performance terms, Scott have nailed it with the 899 – only the value of such a bank balance-busting bike is in serious question. Yes, it rides great, is the world’s lightest production hardtail, oozes tech advances and is a status symbol to boot, but you pay a hefty premium for the privilege.
Not only is it £1,000 more expensive than the Cannondale Flash Team, which weighs a very close 16.6lb (7.5kg), but the 899’s price exceeds the sum of its parts by around £250. So you could buy the frame only, spec it with full SRAM XX, top-end Scott, Ritchey and DT Swiss parts, and it’ll cost you less than to buy the complete bike. Yes, less.
Scott say this is due to the 899 being lavished with some custom parts and finishing flourishes including a one-off DT Swiss wheelset. Realistically, however, most privateers will plump for a lower priced Scale RC (£4,699) or the frame alone (which is both 31g lighter and £139.03 cheaper than the Merida O.Nine frame).
Frame & equipment: Road-bike-light chassis plus top-end race kit
Scott have gone back to the drawing board to shave weight from their already successful Scale carbon frame. While diminutive frame hardware such as the minimalist new integrated seat collar (weighing a scant 5g), post-mount brake mounts and new carbon dropouts visibly shout weight savings, the new frame has a lot more going on out of sight too.
Large one-piece bottom bracket and head tube boxes replace the previous tube-to-tube bonding, making a lighter and – according to Scott – 10 percent stiffer and stronger frame where it most counts. The aluminium BB insert of old has been ditched and the BB (either standard 92 or BB30) is now press-fit, retained in a plastic sleeve to assist servicing.
With its curving one-piece homogenous seat- and chainstays and seamless front triangle, the 899’s skeleton screams contemporary carbon aesthetics. It’s topped off by a raw matt carbon finish and simple red and white graphics that announce in no uncertain terms the weight of your frame: 899g.
Scott wisely listened to their team riders and added 20mm of travel up front by speccing a new DT XCR 100mm fork – the production bike also gets a carbon steerer and carbon lowers. The bike’s geometry has been tweaked to match the longer travel, with a shorter 90mm stem, 10mm longer top tube, 10mm lower BB and a one degree slacker 70-degree head angle.
All this helps to balance the inherent racy feel with more planted handling. Finished off with a splattering of carbon-tinged componentry and 2x10 SRAM drivetrain, we're under no illusions as to the race-winning intentions of this bike.

The new dt swiss 100mm xcr fork adds stiffness and 20mm of travel:

Thursday, 9 December 2010

First ride: Specialized S-Works Epic

Despite the current Specialized Epic having debuted just a couple of years ago, there's now an all-new model for 2011. That's a pretty quick design turnover, but there's a good reason for it - Specialized wanted to tackle the high-end 29er full-suspension market, which meant doing an Epic 29er in carbon. At that point, redesigning the 26in bike was an obvious next step.
The 2011 Epic is a rare example of the design of a 26in bike being driven by the needs of a 29er. Specialized's engineers, led by mountain bike engineering manager Jan Talavasek, were aiming to overcome the fact that bigger wheels and frames are inherently more flexible - stiffness was a primary design goal. Everything that the team came up with found its way into the 26in bike too.
A bike this light will always flatter on the climbs, but it's not just weight that helps - the sorted Brain suspension has all the traction-grabbing ability you'd expect on loose or rough ascents. The previous model delivered extra trail sensibility and the new one carries on in a similar vein. When a bike rides this well, you don't want to stop.
Ride & handling: Out-of-the ordinary, full-paced ride
We rode the S-Works Epic on an all-day singletrack loop, taking in sections of the Colorado Trail, a 500-mile route through the Rockies. The first impression was one of speed. This is an awesomely fast bike, even when the engine is somewhat hampered by operating at 11,000ft. A lot of that is down to its feathery weight, but low mass isn't the whole story.
Often, flea-weight bikes feel twangy and nervous, but all the work that went into making the Epic stiff has paid off - it's not just eager under power, it's poised in corners too.
The test bike did have a secret weapon in the shape of its carbon-rimmed Roval Control SL wheels. At 1,200g a pair they're amazingly light, but don't feel as flimsy as you'd expect. Production Epics will come with aluminium rims that weigh a little more but still feature the stiffness-enhancing range width tweaks.
Specialized has been pushing its Brain inertia valve shock tech for years. From an uncertain start it's been continuously developed, and the setup on the 2011 Epic leaves little grounds for complaint. The transition between locked-out for smooth trails and open for bumps is usually scarcely detectable and the Mini Brain rear shock and E100 fork work well together. There's also a useful range of threshold adjustment at both ends, so you can almost always have it locked-out, except for the big stuff, or a setup that's nearly always open.
Despite the Epic's race-oriented demeanour, Specialized has kept the handling balance conservative. Some cross-country race bikes are tricky at higher speeds or over rough ground, but the Epic is friendly. There's no lack of agility in the twisties, but you can give it its head when things open up, and it will hold a line.
On the flowing descents of the Colorado Trail it was spectacular - fluid and poised over the bumps and through corners, and like lightning out of bends and up short rises.
Frame & equipment: Brain shock concept has come of age
While the general layout of the Epic's rear suspension is unchanged, some tweaks have been made. There's now a seatstay bridge, with a removable shock mount at the front end of the seatstays to permit assembly. The seatstays themselves have a new hockey stick profile, with the rear end incorporating the chainstay pivot, through-axle carrier, brake mount and Brain inertia valve mount (the latter two on the non-drive side) into a light carbon fibre moulding.
The X12 142x12mm through-axle rear wheel system is found on a lot of 2011 bikes, but not many in the Epic's category. Specialized has taken advantage of the fact that it build its own wheels to make the most of the extra width. Rather than using the extra axle length to engage in frame slots to ensure wheel alignment, they've moved the cassette 2mm outboard to accommodate wider range spacing for a stiffer wheel.
"By moving the flanges further apart, we have over 20 percent stiffness increase just in the wheel," Jan explains. The system is called 142+. The Epic will take any X12 wheel, but the Epic-specific Roval 142+ wheels won't fit other X12 frames. 142+ is a tool-free design and racers will be glad to hear Specialized say it's at least as fast to change a wheel as with a conventional quick-release dropout.
Standard spec on the S-Works are Roval Control SL wheels - with 24 spokes front and rear, a DT freehub mechanism and a carbon/alloy front hub with oversized end caps - that increase stiffness when combined with the Specialized Future E100 inertia valve fork. Less expensive Epics (and the 29er models) will come with RockShox Reba forks with Brain inertia valve internals, but Specialized is sticking with its own fork on the flagship model. A bijou Mini Brain shock suspends the back end.
Up front, the main frame is all carbon fibre. The extra top tube strut on the 2010 Epic has gone (except on the L and XL sizes), to be replaced by a generous flare. The tapered head tube takes a 1.125/1.5in headset, while the bottom bracket shell is sized for the press-fit 30 system. As is traditional on a high-end Specialized, you'll find the company's carbon fibre crank arms on the Epic, with a spider designed to take 29/36 SRAM XX chainrings. The complete bike comes in just under 10kg (21.4lb).
Tester says...
Mike Davis: "When the first Brain-equipped Epic came out we were sceptical. It was unpredictable, didn't help much on bumpy climbs and lacked adjustability. While we're still not 100 percent sold on the concept for long-travel bikes, on the 100mm Epic it's a bona fide asset. Stir in the stiffness boost in the back end and the ultra low weight and you've got a winner, whether you're racing or not."

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

5 Best MTB trails in the UK

1. Afan Forest Park, South Wales
Great for: Those who love magical forest riding.
Trail breakdown: Best known for its hard-core mountain biking, Afan is also home to the brilliant, family-friendly Rheilffordd Trail, a 14-mile, purple-graded (easy) loop that follows the gentle river and valley floor and is perfectly suitable for road, mountain or BMX bikes. The trail starts at the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre, and aims for the Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre for a food stop and leg rest.
The route then heads back on the opposite side of the river using reconditioned railway embankments that weave their way through the unspoiled countryside. With plenty of BBQ areas, picnic benches and the old Cynonville train station – which has been converted into a viewing stop-off – there’s no shortage of rest stops, while more adventurous riders might wish to tackle some of Afan's more famous routes: the red-graded Penhydd, The Wall, Skyline and White's Level trails. Expert riders can try the black-graded W2 trail – a 44-km loop of serious off-road riding and one of the most challenging trails in Europe. 

Standard of riding: Afan caters for everyone, from absolute beginners through to professionals. Bike hire is available from Skyline Cycles (skylinecycles.co.uk, 01639 850011) at the Glyncorrwyg Visitor Centre with prices from £20 per day for a Kona-branded mountain bike. 

Further info: Try the mbwales.com site as well as afanforestpark.co.uk. The Forestry Commission site forestry.gov.uk lso has a wealth of info on the area. 

Ordnance Survey map number: OS Landranger Map 170 – Vale of Glamorgan covers the region.
Ordnance Survey grid references: Afan Forest Park visitor centre can be found at: SS821951, while the Glyncorrwyg Mountain Bike Centre is: SS872984. 

2. The Ae Line, Ae Forest, part of the 7Stanes Project, Dumfries, Scotland
Great for: Adventurous daredevils.
Trail breakdown: Scotland’s 7Stanes Project – seven trail centres spread over southern Scotland – may share one website, but each centre has its own character and charm and appeals to different riders. Ae Forest, to the north east of Dumfries, is the best place to head if you like lots of jumps, twisting trails, and high-octane riding. The centre’s fabulous Ae Line trail is 24 km of twisting and turning single track through untouched forest, with plenty of rest stops that take in the fabulous views over Big Knowe, Green Hill, and Whaup Knowe.
While there is a specific downhill trail here for serious racers (with an uplift service on scheduled days), the Ae Line has been built for those who love to get airborne but still want a full work out and a good ride into the wilderness. Near the highest point of the trail sits the Omega Man, a sculptured head – or ‘stane’ (hence the name of the centres). From here the run back to the impressive visitor centre is so full of adventurous launches, balance beams and tight turns that riders regularly walk back up the purpose built ‘push up’ track to have another go.
Standard of riding: As with all the 7Stanes resorts, there are trails to suit all abilities, though more advanced riders will get the most from the technical challenges here.
Further info: 7stanes.gov.uk has full details of the trails, while the ae7.co.uk site has info on the café, visitor centre and bike hire facilities. Prices start from £20 per day for a Specialized-branded bike. 

Ordnance Survey map number: OS Landranger Map 78 – Nithsdale & Annandale is the one to get.
Ordnance Survey grid reference online: The Ae Forest Visitor Centre can be found at NX983893

3. The South Downs Way, Winchester to Eastbourne, Hampshire & Sussex
Great for: A bank-holiday weekend adventure.
Trail breakdown: At just over 160 km long, the South Downs Way is a serious ride by any stretch. Add in the total vertical climb of 3 555 metres and it sounds like a gruelling slog. In actual fact, ridden over three days it’s a hugely rewarding challenge for almost all abilities. Most of the route is over chalk gravel bridleway, but there are plenty of sections where the trail dips into the woods and has great single-track loops to discover. Make sure you ride from west to east (odds on the wind will be on your back), and take a camera for the beautiful views from Beacon Hill as well as the stunning Seven Sisters sea cliffs just before Eastbourne.
Foodies will love a detour to Lewes, while a stop in Arundel – with its incredible castle – is another brilliant minor excursion. If you only have one day, and simply wish to sample the trail, then head to Bignor Hill (Ordnance Survey grid reference SU978131) which has great views along the coast. From there ride to Washington – around 15 km down the SDW – and finish with a pint at the brilliant Frankland Arms pub (Ordnance Survey grid ref TQ122128).
Standard of riding: Absolute beginners might be better off trying their skills out at the brilliant Queen Elizabeth Country Park (a mini section of the SDW, with fantastic waymarked trails and bike hire available – www3.hants.gov.uk/qecp); otherwise, the entire SDW is fine for all standards, though slower riders might wish to add an extra day to their plans.
Further info: A list of accommodation ideas along the way can be found at nationaltrail.co.uk, while the brilliant bikedowns.co.uk has detailed plans for each section of the route specifically for cyclists.
Ordnance Survey map number: Winchester is covered by OS Explorer Map 132, while Eastbourne and Beachy Head are covered in map number 123. In between, you’ll need numbers 133, 134 and 122.
Ordnance Survey grid reference online: Start at Winchester Cathedral (SU481292); finish in Eastbourne (TV598982). 

4. Mineral Tramways Project, Portreath, Cornwall
Great for: A family day out in spectacular countryside.
Trail breakdown: Cornwall’s Mineral Tramways Project has converted many of the disused ex-mining railways around the Redruth area into one of the country’s finest cycle path and bridleway networks. There are currently seven waymarked trails to chose from: Tehidy, the Portreath Branchline, Tresavean, Great Flat Lode, Tolgus, Redruth & Chasewater, and the main attraction – the Coast to Coast Trail. This 15-kilometre route stretches from Portreath on the north coast down to the beautiful estuary village of Devoran on the south coast, where the Old Quay Inn makes for a perfect full stop on the day’s riding.
Being ex-railway and pony-treck lines, the riding is naturally very gentle, but don’t be fooled into thinking the MTP only caters for beginners. The sheer variety and number of loops will satisfy riders hungry to eat up kilometres, while more experienced thrill seekers will love the fact that the dirt-jumping spot of The Track is within the network, as is the downhill heaven of Poldice Valley.
Standard of riding: Absolute beginners through to experts. Bike hire and accommodation is available from £12 per day either from the Bike Barn near Portreath (elm-farm.co.uk) or from The Bike Chain in Bissoe near Devoran (cornwallcyclehire.com)
Further info: cornwallcycletrails.com for the MTP, while The Track can be found at the-track.co.uk
Ordnance Survey map number: OS Explorer Maps 104 and 105 cover the area.
Ordnance Survey grid reference online: The visitor centre at The Bike Barn near Portreath can be found at SW694457. The Bike Chain in Bissoe is at SW771413. 

5. Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland
Great for: Empty road riding and brilliant off-road terrain.
Trail breakdown: There are two reasons for heading to Kielder – the road-bike friendly Lakeside Way route (which at 35 km skirts Europe’s largest man-made lake) and the incredible mountain biking to be found in the UK’s largest forest. Recently voted ‘the most tranquil place in England’ by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, visitors can expect to see newly introduced Ospreys, the beautiful Kielder Castle and enjoy the numerous visitor centres and cafes around the park.
Road riders will love the views, the car-free roads and the fresh air, while mountain bikers can reap the benefits of a recent £900 000 investment into the area’s trails. There are three new routes for 2009: a blue-graded easy trail and a more challenging red-graded run, both of which take in the summit of 1 900-feet-high Deadwater Fell; and the new Lonesome Pine trail – the UK’s longest section of Northshore (purpose-built wooden beams that test a riders skill and balance).
Standard of riding: Absolute beginners and families will love the Lakeside Way, while the mountain biking is perfect for all levels. There’s even a ‘skills area’, designed to show what grade of obstacles suit your standard.
Further info: The Purple Mountain Bike hire and shop has Kona-branded bikes for hire from £25 for a full day (purplemountain.co.uk), while info on the trails can be found at visitkielder.com or the local rider site kieldertrailreavers.co.uk
Ordnance Survey map number: OS Landranger Map 80 covers the Cheviot Hills and Kielder Water.
Ordnance Survey grid reference online: Kielder’s main visitor centre at the castle (also home to Purple Mountain Bike) can be found at NY632936.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Supplements and performance aids for Cycling

Competitive cyclists (and other athletes) who have achieved maximal results from their training programs will often turn to extrinsic aids (termed ergogenic aids) to enhance their performance. These include mechanical aids (equipment), psychological aids (hypnosis, psychotherapy), pharmacological aids (erythropoietin) and nutritional aids (creatine phosphate, vitamins, minerals).
The use of performance enhancing dietary supplements can be traced as far back as the Romans, who reportedly drank lion's blood to improve their strength and courage. Unfortunately nutritional supplements are frequently promoted with unsubstantiated claims in magazine advertisements and health food stores, by coaches, and by entrepeneurs who stand to gain financially from their use. And in many cases their potential harmful effects have not been studied or pointed out.
There are three common flaws in the claims accompanying these advertisements, including
  • an absence of a "control" group using an inert or inactive agent to eliminate the placebo efect
  • the use of annecdotal or personal testimonials (once again increases the risk of a placebo effect)
  • a failure to understand the strengths and weaknesses of using statistics to rationally sort out conflicting results
A placebo effect is evident when an inert compound, identical in appearance with the material being tested in experimental research (where the subject and the experimentor do not know which is which) produces results similar to those of the purportedly active agent. It results from our optimism and hope that a medication, supplement, or training program will be beneficial, biasing us toward a positive impression of the results. This is best demonstrated when a sugar pill (the placebo) is used in studying disease treatments. When told that the placebo will help, a large percentage of subjects report significant benefits. However this beneficial effect usually lasts for only a few doses and then wears off.
We can avoid confusing a placebo effect with a real, reproducible benefit of a supplement by comparing two groups of athletes in carefully monitored or "controlled" studies - one group using the active ingredient being investigated and another group given an inactive or sham agent - and not telling either group "double blinded" whether they had the placebo. Only if we as individuals are "blinded" (i.e. not told whether we are using the active agent) and then rigorously compare results in ourselves as subjects with both the active and inert agent (or use two groups of subjects, one on the active agent and the other using the placebo) will we be able to eliminate the placebo bias.
The placebo effect also points out the risks of using annecdotal infomation to make decisions on training products. It explains why an athlete, optimistic about the benefits of a product he/she using, provides a testimonial based on his/her own perception of its benefit, that is almost universally with a positive bias.
Use of statistics and data
A third error results from a misunderstanding of the fact that random positive results can occur when studying supplements, even when they may be of no physiologic benefit. Clinical studies use statistical methods to minimize the chance of interpreting random success as a reproducible effect (positive or negative) of a supplement. But even in the best of studies, with good statistical analysis, the potential remains for random, non-reproducable results. So if you find several studies on a training aid, but only one supports a positive or beneficial effect, be skeptical that the single positive result may have been by chance alone (and thus not reproducible). Likewise, be wary of the single, often quoted study with results which no one else can duplicate.
And finally, try to put the claims (proven of course) in perspective. A nicely done review of three classes of ergogenic aids (stimulants, tremor reducing agents, and anabolic steroids) in 1997 pointed out that Most studies of drug effectiveness have not used athletes. The effectiveness of many drugs may be reduced in highly trained athletes because there is a lower margin for improvement. And there is always the cross sport applicability to be considered - will an improvement of a few percent obtained in repetitive sprints to exhaustion on a bike trainer be relevant to an endurance or recreation athlete?
The theme of this section is to be skeptical about unbelieveable claims for these products. And unless they are proven in well designed, blinded studies, assume that a claim which sounds too good to be true, probably is. There are few shortcuts for a well designed training program supported with sound nutrition. And although there may be little risk in trying supplements in addition, there is a monetary cost for those on a limited budget for their athletic pursuits, as well as the potential to lose focus on the need for a good training program.
Following is a listing of argogenic aids that have been used for years, and some that are relatively new on the scene. There is an overlap between nutritional and pharmacologic ergogenic aids - caffeine is the best example being found in coffee and also available in tablet form as NoDoz. Following are a compilation of various dietary supplements that have been advocated as ergogenic aids over the last few years. Whenever possible the original scientific studies were reviewed to validate the claims and are so noted, but in many cases only anecdotal and testimonial evidence was available. If you would like to check on the most up to date literature, PubMed contains over 9 million citations in the MEDLINE database.
Based on my reviews, I have tried to identify those supplements that I feel are clearly helpful and beneficial (++) for improving cycling performance. The text will be clear for those that have nothiong other than annecdotal information to recommend them. For the others? Caveat Emptor (the buyer beware) - the author
The following question from a reader is one I commonly recieve:
Q: I am a beginner cyclist, and it is sometimes difficult to find time for cycling with college (Bio/Chem double major). However, I have became better at finding time and now it seems that I am in need of finding a nice, well-rounded muscle building/endurance enhancing supplement. I am rather slender (160lbs, 6'1"), and have trouble building the muscle needed for explosive power and lasting endurance. JT
A. There is no evidence that protein (powders or otherwise) beyond a fairly minimal 100 - 120 grams a day as a maximum are of any benefit. Likewise for carbs. Weight gain would be about adding daily Calories (fat has the most) and muscle mass is from stressing the muscles - that is exercise.
My advice is a good training program and a balanced diet - no supplements are needed (or are adding any value for your $$ spent).

in alphabetical order.
Occasional articles will appear touting the benefits of alcohol as an energy source for vary sports activities. Although alcohol does contain more energy per gram (7 Cal/gram) than carbohydrates, and is rapidly absorbed from the intestinal tract, the available evidence suggests these Calories are not utilized to any significant extent during exercise. Thus its negative effects outweigh any theoretical positive ones. These include
  • it is a diuretic and contributes to dehydration
  • it slows down glucose production and release from the liver
  • it disturbs motor skills including balance and coordination
In a recent study from Penn State, 10 women were given a mixed drink equal to a moderate drink. They then rode stationary bikes for 30 minutes at 70% of their maximum heart rate. Compared to their own baseline performance off alcohol, cycling after alcohol required more energy, produced a higher heart rate, and stimulated a higher cardiovascular demand. Even moderate drinking while exercising placed increased demands on the cardiovascular system.
The bottom line is a definite negative influence on performance.
Purified amino acids (particularly arginine, ornitine, lysine, and tyrosine) have become a popular, if expensive, form of protein supplementation. Five well performed studies have failed to demonstrate that either singly, or in combination, there is any significant effect on human growth hormone secretion (postulated to be the method of action) or direct measures of muscular development, stength, or power.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are present in almost all the foods we eat. As with vitamins, a balanced diet which replaces Caloric expenditures should provide more than enough of the essential amino acids. Amino acids sold in the health food stores at $25 to $30 per bottle have no added advantage over a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk, and don't have nearly the taste appeal.
Protein should provide approximately 20% of our daily Caloric intake. It normally provides less than 5% of the energy expended during exercise and is used as a source of energy for normal cell functions only during starvation or extreme malnutrition. Studies in athletes have shown that 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram per day is adequate for muscle development in most sports, and protein in excess of 2 grams per kilogram per day will be turned into fat. Most cyclists get more than enough protein for cell building and repair from the foods they eat, and any excess - whether from supplements or in the diet - will be either converted to body fat or burned inefficiently as fuel.
In addition, excess protein:
  • has a diuretic effect increasing the risk of dehydration
  • can cause diarrhea and abdominal bloating
  • may lead to chronic renal damage
  • can lead to gout
  • may increase total body calcium loss
Common wisdom holds that taking anti-inflammatories or aspirin before cycling or other vigorous activity can reduce muscle soreness. However a study at the University of Georgia concluded that even at large doses (20 mg per kg or 4 standard aspirin for the average rider), aspirin did not delay the onset of muscle pain during exercise or reduce the perceived intensity when it occured. In addition there is good evidence that using agents such as motrin (ibuprofen) or aspirin on a regular basis increases the incidence of ulcers and can cause kidney and liver damage. How much is too much? If it's a regular part of your program, it's probably too much, and may be a sign that you are riding or training too hard.
There is evidence supporting the long term benefits of antioxidants. However,short term studies are more controversial. But at least one has suggested that the use of antioxidants in the form of vitamins C, E, and beta carotene decreased muscle damage in a group of runners as compared to a control group, and there are numerous anecdotal reports that vitamin C taken before a ride diminished the amount of muscle soreness the next day. However, none have suggested a positive effect of any of the antioxidant vitamins on actual exercise performance although one study from the University of Birmingham in England did suggest that a group of riders that took 500 mg of Vit C and exercised strenuously for 60 minutes recovered 85% of their muscle strength at 24 hours vs 75% in the placebo group.
The bottom line is that very little evidence to support the short term benefit of antioxidants for the competitive athlete - and plenty of controversy remains as to the long term health benefits. But there is no evidence that they will do you any harm.
More information on antioxidants.
Aspartic acid salts may improve aerobic endurance - perhaps by sparing muscle glycogen utilization. Conflicting studies (no effect of 3 grams of aspartate ingested 24 hrs before a ride to exhaustion at 75% VO2max; 15% increase in endurance at 75% VO2max after 10 grams of aspartate over the 24 hr period before the ride) suggest a possible role in endurance performance. Low doses are considered safe.
ASPIRIN (see anti-inflammatories)
A root herb from the Mongolian wilderness. Reported to increase the body's capacity to handle stress, and help reduce fatigue and enhance endurance. There are no studies with specifics. aAll information is purely anecdotal.
ATP (oral)
ATP is the chemical compound which provides the energy for muscle action. It is composed of a base (adenosine), a sugar (ribose) and three phosphate groups. It is the high energy phosphate bonds that contains the chemical energy which is stored in this molecule, and it is the breaking of these bonds during cellular metabolism that power muscle contractions and other vital cellular functions.
An oral supplement of this compound is available. The only controlled study available demonstrated a 7 % increase in mean power as demonstrated by a Wingate performance test (a 30 second interval of maximal performance, ie anaerobic, on a bicycle ergometer) after taking a 14 day supplement of 0.2 grams per kg body weight per day of ATP-E. How this translates to improvement in actual cycling performance or a positive impact on an end of race sprint is yet to be determined. Until further studies confirm this preliminary impression, and translate any benefits into actual improved cycling performance, this supplement should be considered as unproven.
BETA-CAROTENE (see antioxidants)
BICARBONATE (see sodium bicarbonate (baking soda))
Another name for red blood cell reinfusion. In this procedure 1 to 4 units (one has about 10 units of whole blood circulating normally) of blood are removed, the red blood cells separated from the plasma and stored, and the plasma reinfused. Three to four weeks later (when the body has replaced the red blood cells removed) and just prior to the event, the stored red blood cells are reinfused with a rise in the hematocrit (or red blood cell percentage of the whole blood) from a normal 40-45% to 60%. The increased hematocrit will persist for 14 days or so before the body readjusts through decreased red blood cell production.
Since red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles, this increase in the total red blood cell mass is beneficial to the endurance athlete for whom oxygen transport and delivery to the muscle are often limiting factors in performance. In controlled studies this translates into a 5 to 13% increase in aerobic capacity, reduced submaximal heart rate and blood lactate, and augmented endurance.
The opposite side of this issue is the definite deterioration in performance that results from donating a unit of blood. Research has shown that both VO2max and endurance suffer after blood donation. There is an immediate drop in plasma volume of 7 to 13% which persists for up to 24 hours, and the loss of hemoglobin may not be corrected for several weeks, even with an iron supplemented diet.
A new blood doping testing methodology introduced in 2004 can identify "inconsistencies" in blood samples. This was the case made against Olympic time trial winner Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton's tests revealed a "mixed red blood cell population", which, if confirmed, would indicate a homologous blood transfusion (from another person). Simply put, the tests suggest the presence of blood that is not Hamilton's own, and point toward the original form of "blood doping" in which an athlete receives a transfusion of his or her own stored blood, or that of a compatible person. As of 10/15/2004, the final results are pending.
Boron has been reported to increase serum testosterone levels and susequently the lean body mass and strength of male athletes. However, a carefully controlled study of 19 male body builders, half of whom received 2.5 mg of boron per day for 7 weeks, demonstrated no significant difference in total testosterone, lean body mass, or strength. A normal diet will provide 10 mg/day of boron; 50 mg per day appears to be a toxic level.
CALCIUM (see also minerals)
Calcium metabolism in the athlete is still not completely understood. The question of an increased calcium requirement is linked to concerns about osteoporosis in women athletes who, because of the intensity of their training, have become amenorrheic. The hormonal changes that occur with amenorrhea (associated with intense training programs) affect bone formation and are thought to be one of the causes of osteoporosis. Recent evidence has suggested that the positive effects of weight bearing exercise on bone formation may counteract and cancel out bone loss. At this time, there is no consensus on the need for calcium supplements.
We're discovering that cycling may contribute to bone loss in both men and women because it's not a weight-bearing activity. So cyclists should crosstrain for bone health. Weight training and jumping (like rope skipping) are helpful.
CARNITINE (see l-carnitine)
CHLORIDE (see sodium chloride, minerals)
An amine widely distributed in food, as well as synthesized in the body, choline has been postulated to increase the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and thus prevent fatigue in endurance events. Even with increased blood levels (ingestion of choline bitartrate, 2.34 grams), two separate studies failed to demonstrate any significant improvement in cycling times to exhaustion at 70% VO2max.
A chemical compound reported to potentiate the effect of insulin, and help build muscle and dissolve fat. However, 8 different studies, using up to 200 micrograms of chromium picolinate daily, have failed to demonstrate any changes in body composition or strength compared to control groups administered a placebo. Current information indicates that daily intakes of up to 400 micrograms are not toxic.
CITRATE (Sodium Citrate) (++)
Sodium citrate was evaluated in a 30 km high intensity time trial event at a dose of 0.5 grams per kg body weight. Total power output, but not peak power output, was greater in this treated group. At 30 km, the riders using sodium citrate had an average 100 second lead. The cyclists using the sodium citrate had a higher venous blood pH throughout the ride, and it is presumed that this buffering effect led to the improved performance (by optimizing the pH within the muscle cell and enhancing contractility).
Sodium citrate has also been shown to increase peak power over a placebo control group during short, high intensity cycle ergometry of 120 and 240 seconds duration. Again, this is thought to be related to optimizing the pH within the active muscle cell.
CIWUJIA (Endurox tm)
Ciwujia is an herb derived from a root grown in the northeast section of China and used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 1700 years to treat fatigue and bolster the immune system. It is commercially prepared and marketed under the trade name Endurox in the United States, and is claimed to shift energy metabolism in the exercising muscle from carbohydrate to fat, thus sparing carbohydrate and slowing lactic acid buildup. There is also a decrease in heart rate during moderate exercise.
However, there are several important caveats:
  • the "published" literature is in Chinese and was done only in animals
  • the human research done in the US has not been published and probably won't be as it wasn't done in a blinded, controlled fashion
  • the subjects weren't athletes
  • the exercise was only of moderte intensity
  • the longest exercise bout lasted only 60 minutes
So for the moment, there is no proof that this supplement is of any benefit to athletes exercising near their VO2 max (or at prolonged moderate levels as well).
Clenbuterol is used by athletes in many sports for its purported anabolic effects and reduction of subcutaneous fat. It is a beta-2 (beta 2) agonist prescribed outside the US as a bronchodilator, but not approved for use in this country. It is on the banned substance list of the United States Olympic Committee.
A review of the animal husbandry literature (Clenbuterol: a substitute for anabolic steroids? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995 Aug;27(8):1118-21)reveals that this drug, when administered in doses far greater than those required for bronchodilation, does increase the deposition rate of lean mass and retard adipose gain. However, there are no human studies available and no investigation into long-term cardiovascular side effects has been undertaken. Thus the extrapolation from animal studies to unsupervised human usage is alarming.
For example, a laboratory study (Clin Sci (Lond). 2000 Mar;98(3):339-47) demonstrated significantly undesireable effects on heart muscle - The hearts of sedentary rats treated with clenbuterol exhibited extensive collagen infiltration surrounding blood vessels and in the wall of the left ventricle. The results indicate strongly that chronic clenbuterol administration deleteriously affects exercise performance in rats, potentially due to alterations in cardiac muscle structure and function.
CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10; ubiquinone)
A lipid found in mitochondria, as well as an anti-oxidant. In a recent review of research on this compound, supplementation of 100-150 mg/day for 4 - 8 weeks elicited no enhancement on metabolic responses to submaximal or maximal exercise, VO2max or cycle time to exhaustion.
Performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
COFFEE BEAN/COFFEE (see caffeine)
COLA NUT (see also caffeine)
A natural source of caffeine. Used in the energy gel GU, which contains the equivalent of 20 mg of caffeine per 1.1 ounce packet.
COPPER (see minerals)
An organic compound which, when combined with phosphate, yields creatine phosphate, an intermediary in the energy transfer pathway in the muscle cell which resynthesizes ATP. Creatine is available through nutritional supply stores in the form of creatine monohydrate, and will increase body weight (whether this is water retention of true muscle mass is still unproven). It is claimed to improve performance during maximal strength or power tests (weight lifting) and in repetitive high intensity bouts with short recovery intervals (short sprints of 5 to 15 second duration). However, the literature is split evenly on the question of benefits for the competitve cyclist, and there are some questions as to whether long term use of high doses might affect the kidneys. No short term toxicity has been reported at doses of 20 to 30 grams per day.
This compound may be effective in limited situations. It is doubtful that it is of any benefit for sprints of lasting more than 30 to 45 seconds. The study most like a real life cycling situation, an 18 mile time trial that included 6-15 second sprints, demonstrated no difference between riders receiving creatine or a placebo. So if you are being beaten by competitiors using this supplement, it is probably for other reasons.
Cytochromes are iron containing cellular enzymes which facilitate energy transfer. The only controlled study of this compound examined the effects of a supplement containing 500 mg cytochrome C on eleven trained triathletes. The performance test included a treadmill for 90 minutes at 70% VO2 max. followed by cycling to exhaustion again at 70% VO2 max. There was no significant improvement over the
D15 (see Pangamic Acid)
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)
DHEA is a steroid, related to cortisone, produced by the adrenal gland. Maximum production occurs during the third decade of life and then gradually declines with aging. Studies to date on it's "anti-aging" effects are only preliminary and have given conflicting results. Doses of 25 to 100 mg per day have been given for 6 months to subjects over 60 years of age with variable results on muscle strength and lean body mass. It appeared that men had more of a response than women. At this time there is absolutely no evidence that physical performance is modified in young, healthy individuals.
ELECTROLYTES (see also minerals, sodium chloride)
The minerals sodium, potassium, and chlorine are collectively referred to as electrolytes. They are dissolved in the intra (within) and extra (outside) cellular water as charged particles (ions) and are responsible for maintaining a proper electrical gradient across the cellular membrane - required for the proper functioning of each cell.
A normal diet contains these three minerals in excess, and the kidneys control the loss from the body. As a result there is no requirement for diet supplementation except in extreme conditions.
DHAP (dihydroxyacetone pyruvate)
A metabolic byproduct of glycolosis which includes dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate in a 3:1 ratio. Several studies have sugggested that 100 grams per day of DHAP for 7 days increased arm ergometer endurance at 60% VO2max and cycle ergometer endurance time at 70%VO2max. These studies are yet to be confirmed in well trained athletes.
Performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
ENDUROX (see ciwujia)
EPHEDRA & EPHEDRINE ( additional information)
A short acting stimulant found in the traditional Chinese herb tea Ma Huang, ephedra mimics adrenaline. The synthetic version, ephedrine, is found in asthma and nasal decongestant (pseudoephedrine) products. It has been used in tandem with other natural caffeine sources such as kola nut and guarana. In fact, the only study that assessed the the effects of ephedrine and caffeine in combination reported that ephedrine must be supplemented with caffeine to affect athletic performance. In higher doses it can cause tremors, rapid breathing, nervousness and insomnia - common side effects of caffeine as well.
Although it appears to be safe in small amounts (up to 50 mg of ephedrine or 2 cups of Ma Huang tea per day), a tolerance will develop (ie it becomes less effective as time passes), and its use in any amount is banned by the International Olympic Committee. In fact the USOC advises athletes to eliminate all herb based teas and diet supplements for one week prior to a race (and urine testing) if they are unsure whether they might contain ephedra. Likewise check on any decongestant and asthma medications to see if they contain ephedrine.
EPO is a hormone, produced by the kidney, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. It is available in injectable form and can be self administered to "hyper"stimulate the bone marrow. The result is an abnormally high red blood count (hct, hematocrit) which effectively creates the same physiologic conditions as blood doping. Unfortunately, when administered in an unmonitored manner, the hematocrit can increase above 60% increasing blood viscosity and predisposing to the formation of blood clots (also aggravated by the dehydration which occurs in competitive cycling). This clotting tendency is speculated to be the explanation for the cases of "sudden death  which have been reported after hard training or racing - most likely from a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism.
Athletes training at altitude will increase their hematocrit by about 1% per week for the first 12 weeks, an effect partially moderated by an increase in erythropoietin release from the kidneys which is stimulated by the lower oxygen levels at altitude. However, as the result of counterbalancing factors from a decrease in maximum exercise capacity, training at altitude this increase in hct does NOT lead to an equal improvement (compared to EPO injections) in sea level performance.
EPO is banned in sanctioned events. But as it is almost impossible to monitor for an excess of a hormone that is naturally produced, it is the hct. that is monitored, not the hormone itself. Any cyclist with a hct greater than 50% is not allowed to compete, regardless of the mechanism of the increased hct. Unfortunately this is not as fair as a test for EPO, but health concerns were felt to override those of fairness.
FAT(DIETARY) - see also
Over the last few years it has been suggested that a diet composed of at least 30% fat Calories improves competitive aerobic performance over a high carbohydrate diet - relatively restricted in fat Calories (20-25%).
There are a number of physiologic studies that demonstrate fat CANNOT sustain high level (high VO2 max.) aerobic and anaerobic activity (the cause of the "bonk" as glycogen stores are depleted). And others that have shown that a high carbohydrate diet is best for maintaining glycogen stores while a chronic deficit in replacing carbohydrates has been proven to lead to chronic fatigue. In addition it has been proven beyond any doubt that a long term high fat diet leads to heart disease. And for those who still aren't convinced, it should be remembered that even the leanest athlete has plenty of stored fat available without any need for diet supplements.
A variation on this theme is reflected in the energy bars which contain fat and are alleged to improve performance, SELECTIVELY increase fat metabolism, and aid in weight loss. While there has been some evidence that an occasional long slow recovery ride in your training program MIGHT improve the ability to metabolize or use stored fat Calories for muscle energy, there is no scientific basis for the claims made by these products that eating any particular food or food type (i.e. fat) will enhance fat metabolism.
Ferulic acid is derived from the natural plant sterol, frac, and has been claimed to assist the body in maintaining greater workloads. However these performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
Fiber is a general term for non digestible carbohydrate in the diet and refers mainly to the cellulose, lignin, and pectin found in fruits, grains, and vegetables. Currently there is no recommended minimum for dietary fiber and no special requirements for cyclists or other athletes. On the other hand, there is good evidence that too much fiber may bind minerals such as zinc in the intestinal tract, resulting in poor absorption. A high fiber diet also may lead to abdominal bloating and cramping. The most reasonable approach seems to be a well balanced diet with enough fruits, grains, and vegetables to maintain regular bowel function.
Many companies add food colorings to make their products look more appealing, not to improve nutritional value. These are felt to be harmless although the purist can read the label and will be able to find almost any commercial product in a "natural" form, if they are willing to spend the time and energy to look.
A 6 carbon carbohydrate derived from fruit often touted as superior to glucose as an energy source for the endurance athlete. However, there is little evidence that fructose alone has any advantages over glucose and may in fact have less of a glycogen sparing effect. There is some evidence that its benefits lie in a combination fructose/glucose sports drink.
Performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
Ginsengs are herbal preparations extracted from the roots of plants in the family Araliaceae, and contain a wide variety of chemical substances. Thus all ginsengs are not equivalent as far as ergogenic potential. Some may work at the higher centers of the central nervous system to enhance both mental and physical stamina.
A commonly advertised commercial product, Ginsana, claims to produce lower lactate levels and increase VO2 max. However, as with many of the herbal products, there are as many studies supporting the claims as refuting them - a common situation with ineffective claims. And the most recent, which are the most carefully contolled, failed to demonstrate any change in maximal aerobic performance after two and three weeks of supplementation.
At recommended doses, ginseng can produce the "ginseng abuse syndrome" - high blood pressure, nervousness, and confusion. Although this compound may be considered as "possibly" effective, needing further study, try it at your own risk!
An over the counter agent derived from shark cartilage, glucosamine sulfate is helpful in decreasing the joint pain from degenerative or wear and tear arthritis (osteoarthritis). There is no evidence that it decreases the muscular pain associated with over training.
A chemical compound that together with fatty acids forms triglycerides (the most plentiful lipid in the body and the major form of lipid stored in fat cells), glycerol is a clear, syrupy, and extremely sweet substance which also has water retaining effects when taken orally. In 1987, it was shown that resting subjects drinking a glycerol solution retained 50% more fluid than when drinking a similar volume of water alone. This led to investigation of its ability to help prevent dehydration under extreme conditions of exercise, heat, and high humidity.
Human growth hormone, also known as somatotrophin, is now competing on the illicit market with anabolic steroids a tissue building and performance enhancing drug. Although there have been studies suggesting a decrease in body fat and an increase in muscle mass with growth hormone supplements, these reults have been mainly in men more than 60 years old, and there is no evidence it improves muscle mass in athletes less than 60 years old. Growth hormone must be given by injection as the molecule is too big to be absorbed if taken orally. It is still only conjecture (unproven) whether oral amino acid mixtures (available without a prescription) can stimulate your own, internal, GH release from the pituitary gland.
Side effects include insulin resistance (diabetes), water retention, and carpal tunnel syndrome. At this time, injectable growth hormone should be considered potentially dangerous and its benefits still to be proven.
A South American herb used as a natural source of caffeine. Used in the energy gel Pocket Rocket, which contains the equivalent of 50 mg of caffeine per 1.2 ounce packet. The caffeine effect of one teaspoon (100 mg) of guarana is equivalent to one cup of coffee.
HERB TEA (see also Ma Huang)
The biggest short coming of herb teas is the inability to identify the active ingredients, increasing the possibility of taking a substance banned by the IOC or USOC. Strength of these teas is directly related to the brewing time, making calculation of a "safe" dose difficult and increasing the chances of a toxic side effect.
HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate)
This metabolite of the amino acid leucine was studied in a group of serious weight lifters (1.5 hours a day, 3 days a week) on their "normal" diet of 117 grams of protein per day (twice the Recommended Daily Requirement) and a high protein diet of 175 grams per day.
HMB (1.5 and 3.0 grams per day) decreased the products of muscle breakdown (muscle damage) found in the urine during the training period, and increased the amount of weight lifted in each week of the study when compared to a control group not using the supplement. There was a dose related effect, that is the 1.5 gram per day dose of HMB was beneficial but greater improvement was noted on 3.0 grams perday. There was no benefit of a high protein diet compared to a normal protein diet (117 grams per day) either in the control (no HMB) or HMB groups. Lower body strength improved more than upper. The average increase in overall (averaged) strength compared to the control (no HMB) group at week 3 was 13% for the 1.5 gram per day HMB supplement and 18% for the 3.0 gram per day HMB supplemented group. No adverse effects were noted during the study period.
HMB is of use in a program of regular resistance training amd appears to work by minimizing the muscle damage that normally occurs. It's role in aerobic conditioning or cycling where strength is less of a factor has not been studied.
Humic substances (including humic acid) are ubiquitous in the environment and may constitute as much as 95% of the total dissolved organic matter in aquatic systems Although they have been touted as a health supplement, their use at this time should be considered risky.
Inosine is a nucleoside theorized to enhance oxygen delivery during exercise. However, the only available study in 9 highly trained runners after 6 grams per day for 2 days reported no significant benefit either during submaximal running or peak oxygen uptake and performance in a treadmill run to exhaustion.
IODINE (see also minerals)
IRON (see also minerals)
Iron is important as a component of hemoglobin in red blood cells which transports oxygen from the lungs to the muscle cells, and iron deficiency can cause fatigue and weakness. Although some riders use iron supplements to alleviate the beat feeling they experience after a long ride, a balanced diet easily meets the RDA for iron (10 mg for men and 15 mg for women). Four ounces of red meat contains 8 - 10 mg. As excess iron can be toxic, any questions of a deficiency state are best resolved with a screening blood test before resorting to supplements - any self prescribing has definite risks.
Athletes involved in contact sports (including runners) are more likely to be anemic as a result of iron deficiency than cyclists, but even regular cyclists have an additional need of around 18 mg of iron per month (equal to one menstrual period). As you might expect, iron deficiency is more of a problem in women athletes because of monthly menstrual blood loss. When the US Olympic team was studied, it was found that 20-30% of the female athletes did not get enough iron from diet alone. If you ride regularly, taking a multivitamin with iron will help to prevent anemia. An alternative is to eat extra portions of iron containing foods (dark green vegetables, prune juice, figs, and raisins).
KOLA NUT (see caffeine)
The caffeine effect of one teaspoon (100 mg) of kola nut is equivalent to one cup of coffee.
An nitrogenous compound found mainly in meats (a non-vegetarian diet contains 100-300 mg per day), but also synthesized in the kidney and liver from lysine and methionine. Theorized to enhance aerobic endurance by increasing the oxidation of glucose, decreasing the accumulation of lactic acid, and enhancing fatty acid metabolism by the cellular mitohondria.
MA HUANG (see also ephedra)
MAGNESIUM (see minerals)
MANGANESE (see minerals)
MINERALS (see also electrolytes, sodium chloride)
Minerals are chemical elements found in the body either in their elemental form or complexed with organic compounds. Like vitamins, they are essential for normal cell functioning. The two most prevalent minerals, calcium and phosphorus, are major components of bone while sodium and potassium are found in all tissue fluids, both within and around cells. Magnesium, chloride, sulfur, and zinc are other minerals that play a key role in cell function. The trace elements iron, manganese, copper, and iodine are found in much smaller quantities, but play essential roles as catalysts in basic cellular chemical processes.
These minerals, found in all foods, are kept in balance through internal regulation of absorption and excretion. As a result, adequate tissue levels are easily provided by a balanced diet. Multiple studies of body tissue mineral status in athletes failed to identify any deficiencies in those ON A BALANCED DIET compared to people engaged in normal daily activities. Athletes who are restricting energy intake to achieve a lower body weight (endurance runners for example) are the exception, and may need supplements.
It has been alleged that athletes need higher than normal levels of minerals to maintain maximum performance. However numerous studies of mineral and micronutrient diet supplementation (with the exception of iron in athletes who were clearly anemic with iron deficiency) have failed to demonstrate an improvement in performance whenever studied.
Only calcium (for long term bone strength) and iron (in clearly deficient individuals) may be required by some athletes in increased amounts. Because of toxic side effects when taken in large amounts, minerals as a group are not recommended as routine supplements for athletes on a balanced diet that meets their Caloric needs.
The concentration (and thus availability) of fatty acids in the blood is believed to directly influence their uptake and oxidation by skeletal muscle. The use of niacin as a vitamin supplement results in a lowering of blood free fatty acids levels at rest and a blunting of the rise in free fatty acid levels normally associated with prolonged exercise. Theoretically this should reduce the use of free fatty acids as an energy source for skeletal muscle during exercise, and require a compensatory increase in the amount of carbohydrate metabolized from muscle glycogen stores or blood glucose supplies. And one might even expect a potential decrease in TOTAL muscle energy output because of a decrease in the total energy Calories available to the muscle cell (fatty acids and glucose).
However, as measured in actual controlled studies, the effects on performance have been inconsistent. One investigator reported impaired "run to exhaustion" times with nicotinic acid supplements while another reported no impairment in performance in a 10 mile run. As to cycling performance, one study failed to demonstrate a difference in "cycling time to exhaustion" while another reported a decrease in physical work capacity to exhaustion in a one legged cycling model.
These conflicting results suggest that any decrease in overall performance is probably small, affecting at most only a minority of elite cyclists. However, as with all medications, there is the occasional individual with a particular sensitivity and exaggerated response in which case this medication could have an adverse effect on their personal performance.
Performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
These "eicosanoids" are speculated to stimulate human growth hormone release, and are marketed in several energy bars containing a blend of fish and vegetable oils with omega3 fatty acids. There is currently no support for an anabolic or performance enhancing effect. Excesses may interfere with blood clotting.
A plant extract claimed to have anabolic effects, this is a ferulic acid compound derived from rice bran oil. Recent studies have indicated it may actually decrease testosterone production. Any effect on performance is purely speculative.
Touted by many athletes as a performance enhancer ( increased aerobic capacity, increased endurance, decreased blood lactate levels), there is no evidence from controlled studies as to any benefits in athletic performance. Concern has been expresses as to possible harmful effects to humans, and the FDA has made it illegal to sell this as a diet supplement or drug.
A blood phosphate compound (2,3 diphosphoglycerate, DPG) binds with hemoglobin to facilitate the release of oxygen at the level of the muscle capillary. Thus oral phosphate, a building block of DPG, has been investigated as a performance enhancer. However results have been conflicting and although there is some suggestive evidence, this compound should be considered as unproven as an ergogenic aid at this time.
Usual doses are 3 to 4 grams of calcium or sodium phosphate for 3-6 days. Phosphate supplements may cause gastrointestinal distress unless consumed with ample fluids or food, and chronic consumption may interfere with calcium balance.
PHOSPHORUS (see minerals)
PRITIKIN DIET (see vegetarian diet)
A procyanidin extracted from the tree bark of the pine, Pinus maritima. It is a free radical scavenger and antioxidant when studied in the test tube. However there have been limited animal studies and no human studies of this compound. There is no proof as to benefits of this compound compared to the antioxidant effects of Vitamins C or E.
PYRUVATE (see also DHAP (dihydroxyacetone pyruvate)
This medication is used by cyclists as a cure for leg cramps. However it can cause a drop in blood count and has been linked to 16 deaths, so the FDA is banning it from the market. Cramping cyclists should fight leg cramps with proper hydration, training, and electrolyte replacement instead.
SELENIUM(see also antioxidants)
Thought to have a possible role as an antioxidant, there is little evidence this mineral plays a significant role in minimizing the harmful effects of free radicals. It almost certainly plays a less significant role than Vit C or Vit E, and the occurence of specific selenium deficiency in humans is quite rare. It is found naturally in seafood, meats, and grains, and specific supplementation is not recommended.
A chinese herb, questionably related to ginseng - as in many of these herbal products it is difficult to determine the exact chemical makeup - claimed to have benefit as a brain stimulant. A group of volunteers is reported to have shown an increase in mental alertness and work output, while another study suggested an increase in athletic performance under stressful conditions such as heat and noise. As with other herbal products, these claims are anecdotal and there is no scientific proof of increased athletic performance.
SMILAX (smilax officinalis)
Smilax Officinalis, native to the tropics of Brazil, began as a pharmaceutical base for the production of certain anabolic steroids. However, without the chemical modifications, smilax officinalis is thought to be non-toxic and its use has no known negative side effects. It is alleged to raise the blood content of testosterone - the male growth hormone - and to be equivalent to anabolic steroids in gains of lean muscle mass and defined tissue. However these performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
A chemical compound available as baking soda or Alka Seltzer, sodium bicarbonate buffers lactic acid allowing longer bouts of near maximal cycling for short, high intensity sprint events lasting 1 to 7 minutes (400m. or 800m. sprints, time trials), but of minimal additional effect compared to the body's natural buffering capacity for lactic acid during very short intense exercise lasting less than 30 seconds or sustained endurance events. Generally, studies that used doses of 300 mg/kg body wt. found an ergogenic effect, while those using less than 200 mg/kg showed no effect.
An early study at Iowa State University demonstrated some improvement in sprinting ability after taking 2 tablespoons of baking soda immediately prior to the event. However, diarrhea and stomach upset were reported, and it appeared to be beneficial only in very short event such as the 4000 meter pursuit. Another demonstrated an increase in average power output on a cycle ergometer during repeated 10 second sprints. A third study at the University of Washington has failed to demonstrate any improvement in a series of one minute intervals at 95% VO2 max. in female cyclists.
Sodium bicarbonate should be considered of probable benefit in very specific circumstances but has certain drawbacks which may outweigh these advantages. (See also Citrate)
SODIUM CHLORIDE (see also minerals, electrolytes)
Over a 24 hour period, the athlete's standard training diet will replace two to three times the normal salt losses. Only under extreme environmental conditions of high temperature or high humidity is a salt supplement needed. An exception might be the cyclist who has not trained for an event and can lose excessive amounts of salt in his/her perspiration. Although exercise cramps were once thought to be the result of salt deficiency, it now appears that they are related to a dehydration and a decreased blood flow to the muscles.
SOMATOTROPHIN (see growth hormone)
SULFUR (see minerals)
Performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
Performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
As most vegetarian diets are already high carbohydrate diets, and also supply enough protein for normal body cellular repair, there are no special supplements needed. In fact, they are the model for continuous carbohydrate loading.
Vitamins are held up as a safe and effective way of improving performance. Although they are often recommended by coaches and trainers, multiple studies of body tissue vitamin status in athletes failed to identify any deficiencies in those on a balanced diet (replacing Calories expended) when compared to people engaged in the normal activities of daily life.
It has been alleged that although deficienceis have not been identified, athletes need higher than normal levels of vitamins to maintain maximum performance. Although supplementation does elevate blood levels of the corresponding vitamins, there is no evidence of an improvement in performance.
And in the face of no proven benefit, there is evidence that mega-vitamin programs can be hrmful. The fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are not eliminated in the urine and can accumulate in body fat to reach toxic levels. There have even been reports that the water soluble vitamins (B complex, and C) which are excreted in the urine if excess amounts are taken can be harmful at doses of 10 to 100 times the recommended daily requirements (RDA).
Vitamins are catalysts for the metabolic and biologic pathways that convert fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into Calories or energy. As such, they facilitate the reaction, but are not "used up" or consumed by it. This is why there is a single RDA that is independent of body size, sex, or daily energy expenditures.
The RDA is being reviewed and updated regularly. Recently (2005) it was shown that the current RDA for Vitamin D (400 units) may be too low as a higher dose (1000 units) provides protection from certain cancers. This is particularly important in northern climates where sun exposure (which can provide up to 20,000 units in a single day) is minimal many months of the year.
If there is a concern about how your diet being well balanced, there is no harm (other than to your wallet) in using a simple over the counter multiple vitamin once a day. But vitamins are not the easy answer to increased performance.
No studies have documented enhanced lean muscle mass or strength. It is non toxic even at high doses.
An elegant study in 2005 demonstrated definitively the lack of any benefit from vitamin C supplementation as far as VO2max or maximal cardiac output.
Recently (2005) it was shown that the current RDA for Vitamin D (400 units) may be too low as a higher dose (1000 units) provides protection from certain cancers. This is particularly important in northern climates where sun exposure (which can provide up to 20,000 units in a single day) is minimal many months of the year.
An alkaloid extracted from the bark of the yohimbe tree and claimed to have an anabolic effect through stimulating the release of testosterone or human growth hormone. Performance claims are not supported by published research studies.
ZINC (see minerals)