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Why pre-wash lycra with salt?

polyester-tag

Why pre-wash lycra with salt?


Congratulations, you’ve bought a brand new riding kit. You pull it out the packaging and cut off the tags.

You think for a second, debating whether or not to wash it before you wear it. Then you notice something strange written on the tag:

“Pre-wash with a tablespoon of salt before wear.”

“Hand wash in cold water.”

“Do not tumble dry, line dry in shade.”


What?!

Why does something that is designed to be hard wearing and tough need to be and pampered during wash time?

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Pre-washing with salt


Have you ever wondered why cycling gear needs to be washed with salt before use?

Apparently, by washing separately in cold water with salt it prolongs the colour intensity, so it doesn’t fade overtime. It makes the material colourfast and prevents staining (where colour bleeds onto other parts of the item or stains other clothes it comes into contact with).

I have done this before, and didn’t experience any fading or staining. But there have been plenty of times that I haven’t used salt during a pre-wash and I didn’t experience any problems then either…

If you are worried about the colour fading or staining, grab the salt shaker from the pantry and sprinkle it in water to pre-wash your kit before wear.

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Hand washing bike clothes


The tags say that it should be hand washed separately in cold water. I confess, this is one thing that I never do.

You get home from a ride; the bike gear gets chucked into the wash pile covered in sweat and mud. The last thing you want to do is fill up a bucket with water and carefully hand-wash your clothes.

Sometimes the tag states it can be cold machine washed in a delicate items bag or on the delicate setting.

To be safe and not destroy your expensive new kit, it’s a good idea to machine-wash it on the delicate setting.

Drying bike clothes


The one rule that I do follow is “Do not tumble dry”. The dryer and I do not have a good relationship. I would never put expensive lycra or jerseys in the dryer, except if you want to shrink it for your kids to wear.

Hang it to dry on the clothesline in the shade. The elastic on lycra or the bottom of jerseys can become brittle if left in direct sunlight for too long.

How many tag instructions do you follow?

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Unlucky 13. Why people wear race plates upside down

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Photo credit: mountainbike-trails.com.au

I’ve been racing a long time, but have never been handed the famous number 13 race plate.

As I got to the registration desk for the Chicks in Sticks 3 hour race, there it was, number 13.

I had often seen people racing with their race plate #13 on upside down. I guessed they were a bit superstitious, and by turning it upside down it would ward off evil sprits or something. There is even a special word for people with a phobia of the number 13; Triskaidekaphobia (the term was coined in 1911).

This image is of a racer at another race wearing the number plate upside down.

unlucky13-girl
Source: http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/view.php/eagle-outside-festival.html

Back at the registration desk, I stood there looking at the race plate. I’m not really superstitious, but have had some weird coincidences happen in life. Should I put it on upside down? If I put it on the right way would I be worried about some phantom accident that might happen the whole race?

Apparently ‘unlucky 13’ is a big thing in the motor car racing world. They don’t even have a pit number 13 and opt for a 12a instead. (source: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-racing/motorsports/10-superstitions-from-the-world-of-motor-racing6.htm)

In the rules of riding from this site; http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/comment-page-212/ , it clearly states that “If you draw the unlucky 13, turn it upside down to counter act its negative energy.”.

13-roadie
Source: http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/comment-page-212/

I thought about it, and decided to treat poor #13 with respect and run it up the right way. I was confident with my ability and preparation going into the race.

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Photo credit: mountainbike-trails.com.au

plate-13

I have since learnt that #13 is also considered good luck, especially in Italy (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13_(number))

The number 13 also represents femininity, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). Which is kind of fitting for a female only mountain bike race.

Embracing the number 13, I rode well and pushed hard. Had some great battles with other competitors and finished in 3rd place. It was about 51 km and 3 hrs 30 mins. The family all came out to cheer me on, which was lovely.

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What happens at a professional bike fit?

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If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend ages choosing the perfect bike.

The colour, the wheels and the running gear all have to be perfect! You finally choose it, and get it from the shop. Then you put the seat to the ‘right’ height, make sure you can reach your brake levers and off you go!

I will admit it. I have never done a ‘technical’ set up for my bikes.

I make sure I buy the right frame size for my height, and then put the seat roughly to the right spot (based on putting my heal on the pedal, and straighten my leg, then set the seat height based on that). Then I might tweak it up or down depending on how it feels.

I never could justify getting a professional bike fit. I am far from a ‘professional’!.

So what exactly is a bike fit?


Put simply, a specialised bike fitter will measure you up and fit you to your bike.

A proper bike fit will reduce pain you might have in your back, feet, arms, neck while on and off the bike.

A bike fit also aims to get your technique right so you can get the most power out of your legs while riding.

Although I am far from being a ‘professional’ bike rider, I am keen to get the most out of my bike and my body. Perhaps my back problems are part baby-related and part bike-related? Maybe I can increase my power output and improve my race starts?

Fix a sore back


I do get a sore back. But they are not related to my bike…

It’s the kids!

People told me that having a baby ruins your back. But it's not the pregnancy that wreaks it. It's the slumping while breastfeeding. It's the rocking the baby to sleep and awkwardly and carefully placing them into bed. It's the leaning over the cot or through the cot rails patting or rubbing baby’s back at all hours of the night. It's the laying down sideways breastfeeding and trying to catch some zzzzzz. With a crook in your neck. Because you can’t move. Because then you’ll wake up the baby.

Anyway, I digress.

If you are sitting on your bike wrong and your pelvis/knees/ankles/feet are not working right, then you will do more damage to your body. You will get sore and probably won’t want to ride your bike as much. A bike fit can fix these problems.

Get more power


A bike fit can ensure your body is aligned and you are getting optimum power from each pedal stroke.

If you are set up properly you can be sure you are using those big muscles in your glutes.

Professional bike fitting


A friend I used to race with recommended I visit Gary Land from PRO Bike Fit. http://www.probikefit.com.au



He is located in Brisbane’s leafy suburb of The Gap, which is not far from me, so it seemed like a perfect idea to catch up and see what he does.

I met with Gary to discuss his professional bike fitting service, PRO Bike Fit. He is a Master certified Retul bicycle fitter who has been in the bike industry for 14 years.

His workshop has a lovely view of the rolling hills and is surrounded by bushland. Over a coffee we talk about the types of problems people have and how Gary fixes them. He legitimately wants to help people solve bike fit problems.

I know nothing about muscles


While listening to Gary explaining how the human body works, I realised I know nothing about muscles. He used all the technical terms for muscles which I can’t even attempt to spell, so I have no chance Googling them.

What happens at a bike fit?


Gary’s previous clients included high level road cyclists and World Champions. But surprisingly I didn’t feel ‘un-worthy’ being there. Gary also fits clients who are just getting into the sport.

PRO Bike Fit uses a Retul 3D motion capture system. The Retul motion capture bike fit assessment is about 90 minutes long. You get hooked up to a set of LED lights (on all your ankle, knee, hip, elbow, wrists etc), which is tracked by the motion capture system when you pedal your bike on a stationary trainer. I felt a bit like a super hero.

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Photo: Part of the Retul system

The objective is to analyse your movement on the bike. Are you moving in the most efficient way possible? Are you flexing or rotating too far in one direction in your ankles, knees or hips?

The bike fit also includes bike measurement set up report of bicycle after setup, so you can use the measurements to replicate the bike fit on your other bikes (yes, I know you have more than one).

Making contact with the bike


It may sound obvious but there are three points of contact with the bike:

* Feet.
* Bum.
* Hands.

So, each of these needs to be assessed to see where problems may lie.

Feet


The PRO Bike Fit service will include an assessment of your bike shoes and cleat position in relation to your feet and toes.

I have always set my cleats up with the premise that they should be placed on the ball of my foot. I thought I had that part of my set up right…. But I guess I never really knew where the ball of my foot was!

Bum


Although I’ve been riding bikes for 15 years, I have never really thought too much about the type of saddle I’ve used. I just buy one that looks good and is light. I was never too fussed on the style of seat. I figured the women’s specific saddles were a marketing gimmick.

The PRO Bike Fit using the fancy Retul 3D system will determine if my saddle is right for me.

Hands


The sensors on my wrists will detect if I move my hands around while riding on the stationary trainer and it will also show the angle of my wrists on my bars.

Measurements and analysis


Once I was hooked up to the LED lights, all I had to do was pedal on the stationary trainer while the Retul motion capture system did it’s thing.

bike-fit-system
Photo: The bike fit process

Key findings from the bike fit


The analysis provided really detailed numbers for the various movements that your body makes when cycling. It showed where my right or left side were unevenly moving. It also showed that my pedalling technique needed work.

Bike set up


With the results showing where I had uneven movements, or where my body was moving in an inefficient way, the PRO Bike Fit assessment recommended changes to my bike set up and to my technique.

The big thing that I took away from the results was that apparently my trusty saddle was not the right size for me. It is too narrow for my sit bones. I needed a slightly wider seat because my sit bones were sliding off the saddle with each pedal stroke.

It occurred to me that I have no idea if I sit on a seat correctly. And what the ramifications are of it. Thankfully Gary lent me a women’s specific saddle to test out (that reminds me, I must give that back…).

Gary explained that some of the simplest bike set up errors can result in a lack of power. Your body may be using different muscles, and not using the strong glute muscles (in your bum).

When I got home, I found myself Googling sit bones and pelvic bones on saddles. I might follow up on a future blog about saddles when I’ve done my research.

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Photo: The bike fit process

Results


I was quite excited to test out my bike with the new PRO Bike Fit!

I did my normal loop in on my mountain bike. The cleats felt a bit weird, but I soon got used to them in the new position.

The women’s specific saddle felt really good. I could actually notice that I wasn’t sliding sideways with each pedal stroke.

It’s strange that I never thought I had an issue prior to the bike fit. But with the changes in place I could notice the difference.

I ended up getting a few Personal Best records during climbs on my mountain bike ride! Amazing!

I am totally sold that the bike fit will result in more efficient pedalling and more power for me. I’m not sure if it will fix my back pain as I am sure that is related to carrying my kids in awkward positions. But being more stable on my bike will probably help reduce potential future pain.

If you are interested in getting a bike fit, check out the PRO Bike Fit website (http://www.probikefit.com.au) and contact Gary for more information.




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Merida Hidden Vale 24 Hour race

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We geared up for a weekend of riding at the 24 hour race at Hidden Vale. We have been the past few years, and it’s a great way to get some quality riding in, and spend time camping with the kids.

As always there was a big bouncy castle for the kids to play on, plus an easter egg hunt for them on the Sunday morning. Our two older kids (5 and 3) also raced in the kids bike race. This year they got to ride some new single track, which was a lot of fun.

We entered the 24 hour race in a mixed duo. So we tag-teamed racing and child wrangling.

Hidden Vale has a stack of new trails, so each lap was mostly single track and it took about 1 hour to get around it.

Our youngest Master Z is almost 18 months old, so he is still quite little. Being out in the hot sun and also fuelled by chocolate meant that our kids were slightly feral by the days end.

On my dusk lap (about 6pm) I was chatting to a guy as we rode around. He asked how many laps I was doing, and I said I was heading back to camp after this one. He kind of called me ‘soft’ and suggested that I should do more laps.

I didn’t go into the details with him, but the tasks at hand back at camp were far from soft!

We needed two parents on hand to get everyone fed and into bed. We had to make sure all the soft animals were lined up perfectly, teeth were brushed and a few Peppa pig books were read. A fresh nappy for baby, and after a long time for them to wind down, Tony could go back on the track.

This was great. Kids were asleep and Tony was out racing. The only problem was I was covered in dirt. But the showers were a long way from our camp. I couldn’t leave the camp as the kids were asleep!! I couldn’t go to the toilet or shower. Argh..

dirt-legs

I managed a wipe down with a cloth, but I really wanted a hot shower.

We raced well and came 4th place.

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The new tracks were a lot of fun. We had a ball.

All the details of the race are here http://hiddenvale24hr.com.au

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Kids love dirt

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Mr F (5) raced in under 7s in the kids race and came 3rd. He was so happy. And he got chocolate. Chocolate makes them go crazy.

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Toowoomba Nationals 2016

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After this weeks debacle of events, it was touch and go whether we would make it to the race. Thankfully the Gastro bugs stayed away.

We did everything we could to make it happen. We managed to borrow my Mums car (thanks Mum!) and somehow squeezed my bike into the back. The forks hung over one child’s head, and the handlebars over another.

Baby Z woke at 1am for a breastfeed and again at 4am ready to start the day.

Today will be sleep deprived racing at its greatest.

I tried and tried to get him back to sleep but it was futile.

In my pre kids life at a Nationals race, my bike and gear would be super organised and I would be in the right mind set to race. But this time around I was just hoping to pack matching gloves and water.

The morning was spent packing three lunch boxes full of tasty goods to make sure the kids were happy on the almost 2 hour drive to the race.
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Photo: Lunchboxes all sorted.Yes, I know who likes the triangles and who doesn’t

As for my own nutrition, I made sure I had a banana for before the race and some protein for after the race, and my water.

While getting everything ready to pack into the car, Baby Z managed to fall out of the car onto his head and he got a big lump. Ice packs needed, and one cranky baby loaded into the car. After numerous discussions between Master F and Miss T about who brought which toy, we were finally off.

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Photo: Bumped head

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Photo: Finally on route to the race

We made it to the track and I really wanted to ride half of the course. I seem to do much better in races when I have warmed up on the track. But unfortunately I couldn’t get onto the race track because there was a race on. Luckily I had ridden it the day before!

My mind was distracted over the multiple cries of ‘Mummy!’ ‘Mummy!’. It is hard to focus. I made sure I drank some water and nibbled some food.

Although I was racing Cross Country, the butterflies from my prior downhill racing days were back. I think it was because I could see the downhillers doing runs, and I knew how they were feeling.

After giving the kids more food, and drinks, I was off to do a short 10 minute warm up before the race start. I kept bumping into some of my old downhill racing buddies. So my warm up was not too good and soon it was time for the race start.

Lining up with top names like Rebecca Henderson, Imogen Smith, Anna Beck, Jodie Willet is pretty cool. Even though I was racing in Veterans (which I found out is now called Masters!! ), it was nice to be amongst the Elite.

The gun went off and we were off up a fire road then onto single track. I pushed hard to try get a good position into the single track. The passing opportunities were limited on the track, so it was best to get a good position early.
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Photo: The race start. I am in there at the back.

The Toowoomba track is fun!! I enjoy technical uphill. I am much better at it than long grinds. The downhills were super fun, and left me smiling. I loved going past the kids each lap and hearing them call out ‘Go MUMMY!’.

I managed to overtake a few people as I went around. Which is always a good confident boost.

I knew there was a girl in my class in front of me and one right behind me. I pedalled hard to try catch the leader on the climbs and stayed off the brakes on the downhills. I could see her, but just couldn’t quite catch her.

I came through in 2nd place, 11 seconds behind the winner. Stoked with my race as I kept positive and had my angry face on.

After the race Master F asked me innocently ‘Why didn’t you go faster so you could get the gold medal Mummy?’

I tried baby, I tried!



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Hoping gastro has a 3 day incubation period…. Aussie Nationals T-Bar!

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Here’s hoping that gastro has a 3 day incubation period, not 2. …. Aussie Nationals T-Bar!

The next round of the Australian National Mountain Bike Series is on this weekend at Toowoomba (or T-bar).

I’ve entered in the Cross Country race, which is on Saturday. I’ve never ridden the XC tracks there before, so am excited to have a crack.

Gastro Baby


But, on Wednesday night, baby Z started vomiting at 1am. After a change of sheets and clothes, he went back to sleep. Only to do it again at 4am, then again at 6am.. You get the gist.
gastro-baby

By Friday he was fine. So, if gastro has a 3 day incubation period, then I should get it on Saturday night. Which is great as it means I can still race on Saturday!. But if it hits me on Friday night, then it will be all over.

Today I had the chance to pre-ride the track. Thanks to my mum for looking after Baby Z and Miss T!!

I organised the three kids to get the eldest to school and the other two to my mums. I could smell poo…. I figured it was baby Z needing a nappy change. Yep he sure did. But it had actually exploded out his nappy and onto my top and onto my pants. Awesome. Then it went all over the floor… So I had to clean all that up before I even got out the house for the 2 hour ride to the track. Exhausting…

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The track is awesome. Some tricky uphill sections, with fast fun downhills.

Car Troubles


Along with the gastro baby, we also have problems with our cars. Yes that’s right, both of our cars.!

Our 4WD has a broken accelerator. Apparently something has snapped and it means you can’t push the pedal properly as it just hits the floor. So it means a slow and sluggish drive. It will cost $600 to fix it and they have to send it away somewhere. ARGH. So todays 2 hour drive was painful and my leg is sore from pushing so hard on the accelerator.

The other car also has problems. But I can’t fit my bike in there easily anyway. Plus the back seat smells like spew and it looks like this:
No cover on the car seat. Means no baby can sit in it until the cover is clean and dry.

So, stay tuned to see how I fair tonight and tomorrow for the race!
Backseat-carseatspew



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Adare Wild West Series - XC Race

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My race morning started at 2 am, with Baby Z waking up and needing to be fed, rocked and patted back to sleep. Catching another few hours sleep between 3am and 5am gave me just enough energy to grab my racing gear and a coffee and get on my way out to the Adare XC track.

I didn’t get a chance to ride the whole track before the race, so I was chatting to someone about the track layout. I remembered that I had actually raced at Adare before. And it was in 2008; 8 years ago!! I mentioned that I raced here 8 years ago, and I could sense that they were thinking ‘oh gee this chick is older than what I thought…’.

The conditions were dry, dusty and humid. It was only 7:30am, so we would be in for a hot race.

I was under the false impression that todays race was more of a short course format. But it was the full XCO style race (Olympic style cross country racing). That means it’s about 1.5 hours of racing for A grade women.

Considering my rides lately have not been much over 1 hour, I was feeling a bit nervous about my stamina to finish the race.

There were 5 ladies in A grade and it was all smiles at the start line. Off went the gun and we took off in the dust behind the A grade men. Let’s just say my race starts need a bit of work, and coupled with my lack of sleep and doubting my ability to race the longer format, I was behind the others within the first 100 metres. I decided not to chase them down and risk blowing up and not finishing the race. I had no idea what the track was like and wanted to make sure I could climb the climbs and make it down the technical stuff in one piece.

It may not be the best race strategy, but hey, it’s been a while since I raced A grade in the XCO format. The reality was that I was in for a longer race than I expected, I didn’t know the course and I was tired. So tired. So I decided to focus on keeping my rhythm, aiming for some consistency in my lap times and finishing the long distance. I was enjoying being on the bike and getting some time to myself.

The track had some fun rocky sections and not many climbs. There was a whole section which seemed to go forever with flat turn after flat turn after flat turn. I was started to get a bit nauseous from the constant turning.

Negative thoughts about my racing started to creep in midway through the race. Sometimes it’s hard to ‘fire up’ and get racing when you can’t see your competitors and are way behind. I find it much easier to race when I have competitors close by (in front or behind). I hate getting negative during a race. I soon snapped out of it and battled out some sections with the B grade men who were coming through behind me.

At one stage I thought it was raining. But it didn’t eventuate. Then I felt the ‘rain’ again in the same section of track, right where the cicadas were chirping. Next lap I realised it wasn’t a coincidence and that the ‘rain’ must be related to the cicadas. Perhaps it was cicada pee. I’m not sure…

On my fourth and fifth lap I started to remember what was coming up next. So I got a bit more flow on the corners. This didn’t help me much though as Anna Beck was already at the finish line sipping her ice coffee. I came through in 5th place with some consistent lap times.

It was great to mix with the fast ladies and I look forward to the next race.!

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Photo: Race results
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Photo: No race photos of me from today. Here are my dusty legs though after the race.
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Photo: A grade ladies podium. Megan, Anna and Jo. All from Sol-Breads Cyclinic Womens MTB Team. Congrats ladies!

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