The last week has been a lot of fun and very enlightening. Getting to hang out with some of the fastest riders in the world as they prepare for the upcoming season has shown me a side of racing I had not seen before. The amount of preparation and planning needed to get these guys ready to roll is impressive and Team Yeti is one of the best in the world at doing it.

The main point of the trip for these guys was to get their suspension dialed in. Fox Racing Shox sent Mike, one of their best techs, out to help them do just that. I got to do a presentation on nutrition and training on the road as well as put all of the team members through a movement screen to help them identify their weak links and any potential injuries that might be lurking under the surface.

Here are some of the lessons I learned this week:

– I asked both Scott Sharples and Jarred Graves about clipless pedals. I had done some research on them and was surprised to find that there is not a lot of research on the subject and nothing that definitively says clipless pedals help you produce significantly more power. They both told me that was because they don’t.

Jarred, who is the current 4 Cross World Champ, told me that he is only 3-4% faster on clipless pedals than flats and he admitted that if he rode flats more that difference would be even less. Here is one of the best riders in the world who relies on his power more than any other mountain bike athlete telling me that clipless pedals don’t give him much of an advantage at all…interesting.

Scott told me that for many years the record at the Australian sports institute for pedaling power was held by Nathan Rennie…on flat pedals. He could produce more power than anyone else who came through their doors, including clipped in track cyclists. Seems that the whole “clipless pedals let you produce significantly more power” argument is more of an urban myth than fact. I’ll have to write more on this later…

– Getting someone who knows that they are doing to help you tune your suspension makes a world of difference. I thought my 303 was riding great until Mike told me I was basically riding a brick. He made some adjustments and it was like riding a different bike. It went from feeling great to feeling unreal. In other words, if you can get a professional to help you set your suspension up do it. You clicking knobs and adding air pressure may make it feel good but odds are your bike is going to be held back a bit.

– Don’t wear an old Azonic jersey and sunglasses with your full face when riding with a bunch of racer boys. Apparently those things went out with 12 inch travel bikes and 20 mm through axle rear ends. No one sent me the memo…

– Bootleg Canyon is WINDY! Holy crap, it seems like it never stops. It isn’t too bad on the trail but hot sun, dirt parking lots and high winds make for long, thirsty days and long showers at night to get all the crud off that has been wind blasted on to you.

– Muscle Milk sucks guys. I don’t know why but it has gotten pretty popular and I had to tell a couple of the riders that it is just cheap protein, sugars and fillers. Don’t waste your money on it.

– The best thing you can do to help you make smart food and supplement decisions is to learn how to read  labels. For example, whey protein isolate is the best kind of whey. Whey protein concentrate is the worst. You want to avoid proteins that list Whey Protein Concentrate first and look for ones that list Whey Protein Isolate first. Or, better yet, look for a pure whey protein isolate.

That’s about it for now, I’m sure there’s more and I’ll do another blog post when I remember it. Now, off to go battle the wind and ride my bike…

-James Wilson-

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