Monday, May 26, 2008

Hardcore bike porn...

I got my first tease of the Argon 18 E-114 at Interbike last year and I fell for it -- hard. I immediately told the boys at Argon that I needed to "test" this beast ASAP. By "test", I meant send me a bike to review and then let me keep it for a few months so I can do some races on it. They got me one of the first off the production line this February (Torbjorn got one before me, but I'm not complaining) and for the last few months I've been adding minor bells and whistles. At last I think it's finally done -- enjoy the finished product.

FRAME: 2008 Argon 18 E-114
Group: Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed
Engine: FSA K-Force SL Carbon Cranks with Q-Rings
Wheelset: Zipp 999 (rear), Blackwell 100 (front) with Argyle Wheeltags (
Hydration: Bontrager Speedbottle/Beaker Concepts Hydrotail
Aerobar: Argon 18 AHB5000
Saddle: Argon 18 ARS2000
Power Meter: iBike Aero

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beer review of the week: MGD Light 64

I've been a Miller guy my entire life -- or at least since I started drinking. Growing up in the Midwest, you're either a Bud guy or a Miller guy. I think Bud, Bud Light, Busch and any other beer made in St. Louis sucks and I'll never dignify any of them with a review in this blog.

However, when I saw a billboard advertising Miller's new 64-calorie version of MGD, I was a little worried. I thought that maybe they had gone too far. There's nothing wrong with cutting a few kcals off of their 110-calorie MGD Light, but what's wrongn with 90, or even 80 -- why go as far as 64. I decided I had to give it a try and I was pleased to learn that San Diego is one of Miller's pilot cities for its new brew. The new, uber-low-calorie beer is available across the Midwest, but other than that, it's only available in San Diego, Sacramento and Phoenix. I grabbed a six-pack at my local BevMo, which cost me $5.99, and went home to begin my "review". Here's what I thought...

Calories: **** It's the lowest calorie beer brewed in the U.S., and one of only two 64-calorie beers available (Beck's Premier Light being the other).

Antioxidants: * With less than 3 carbs and only about 3-percent alcohol, there really isn't much in it, flavinois included.

Refreshment: *** Much more crisp, smooth and refreshing than Beck's PL, it's only other competition in the uber-low-cal beer category.

Taste: *** It can't be easy for a brewmaster to craft a beer this light and I give the man props for pulling it off. If it were up to me, I'd do with MGD Light 64 over Beck's Premier Light everytime.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Don't enter a race that I'm in...

I'm beginning to think that I'm cursed. Over the past seven years I've competed in 48 triathlons, and as far as I can remember, 47 of them were hot. I don't mean "hot" in the sense that maybe you shouldn't wear long sleeves, I mean "hot" like even a scorpion would bitch about the temperature.

Last Sunday was no exception. I opted to race in XTERRA West Championship in nearby Temecula, Calif., instead of racing in the even-more-nearby Encinitas Sprint Tri. I have a disdain for sprint triathlons, because I don't think one hour of racing is worth one night off of drinking or one morning of waking up super-early.

When I drove out to Temecula for packet pick-up the day before the race, the mercury was hovering around 105 degrees. The weatherman called for a slight cool-off, but knowing my luck, I figured this would be the one time a weatherman in San Diego was wrong.

Turns out he was right, but barely. By the end of my 10k death-march the temps had already broken into triple-digits and it was only 11:30. I finished in about three-and-a-half hours, almost 40 minutes off my XTERRA PR. I was sure that I would be the last of the athletes in my age group to finish, but it turns out everyone else was suffering equally and I managed a somewhat-respectable third-place finish. I didn't pee until nine o'clock that night...I'm not kidding.

The moral of the story is that you should check the start list before any race to see if I'm entered. And if I am, find another race to go to or just take the weekend off.

Props to Rich Cruse for the photo. Yes, that's me leading XTERRA pro Brian Astell. Before you start to think I'm fast, I should warn you that that picture was snapped about 35 seconds after T1 and that would be the last I'd see of Brian, or any other pro, for the entire day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beer Review of the Week: Yuengling Light Lager

I started "actually" drinking around the age of 16, but for the first few years of my road to adolescent alcoholism I stuck to mixed cocktails, because I couldn't stand the taste of beer. Note: I never actually went down this road, but when you spend your sophomore homecoming dance making love to a toilet instead of a your date, there's reason for concern. I drank gin and Sunkist because I thought all beer tasted like ass. Turns out my presumption had nothing to do with beer in general and it was just due to the fact that the only beer my friends bought was Old Style. It wasn't until I had my first Yuengling Lager during my freshman year of college that I realized why God created beer. I even remember shedding a few tears as the first few drops touched my lips.

If you're from west of the Mississippi River or north of the Mason-Dixon line, you've probably never experienced Yuengling. The Pennsylvania-based brewery is clearly very selfish and they only distribute their delicious nectar along the Eastern Seaboard. It's almost impossible to get unless you're within a stone's throw from the Atlantic. However, after a month of trying, the dedicated staff at my local BevMo was able to score me a sixer of Yuengling Lager and another of the Light version. I had never tried the Light variety and I have to admit that I was a little nervous as I opened the first bottle -- could it possibly live up to the standards set by it's big brother? Here's what I thought...

Calories: *** Until I come across a sub-100-calorie Porter, I can't think of a better way to spend 98 calories. It's got a body that rivals any light beer on the market and twice the flavor of a Bud Select (which also has 98 calories).

Antioxidants: ** Nothing to write home about, but then again I don't expect any lager to cure cancer.

Refreshmant: *** I typically stick to ales if I'm looking to quench my thirst after a brick workout, but the "hopiness" of this lager is relatively light and it goes down smooth.

Taste: *** All things considered, it's a great beer. I would've given it four stars, but it's still not quite on par with Yuengling's classic Lager -- and I didn't expect it to be.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ask the Tr-i-diot: Why don't I drink enough water?

In addition to the "critically-acclaimed" weekly beer reviews, I'll also be answering one reader's question each week. What makes me qualified to answer you tri related questions? Absolutely nothing. I have no degree or other framed sheet of paper that says I can speak intelligently about any matter of health, fitness, or life in general, but I have learned a lot about such topics during my endless trial and error sessions -- so maybe I can help.

The first question comes from George, in Tennessee, who sent an inquiry via last week...

"I have kind of a weird problem. I never seem to drink enough water when I'm riding. I know I should and I know it will help prevent cramps and what not, but I just never think to drink when I'm on my bike, unless it's really, really hot. Sometimes my stomach just feels a little off and the thought of even a sip of water repulses me. I need to drink more. Any suggestions?"


You're definitely not alone. I know of a lot of cyclists, myself included, who have had similar problems. Exercise and electrolyte depletion can cause minor stomach pH imbalances, which can often cause minor to severe stomach distress.

I would just jack up the amount of electrolytes you're taking in, either with an electrolyte tab, or try a drink that's loaded with electrolytes (Gatorade Endurance, First Endurance EFS, etc). I go with Hammer Endurolytes on mild-temp days, since they offer a solid balance of all four electrolytes. If the mercury really heats up, I use Succeed S! Caps. Each cap packs about as much sodium as a Stoffer's TV Dinner and they work great when you're pouring sweat.

Hope this helps,


If you'd like to have your question answered send an email to

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Beer review of the week: Paulaner Hefeweissen Light (Hefe-Weissbier Leicht)

Paulaner is a legit German brewery, located in the the beer-guzzling capital of the world, Munich. Light beer is a bit of an anomaly in Munich and brewing a lackluster light beer within the city limits leaves one open to public humiliation, excommunication, and in rare cases, execution. Okay, that last one may be a bit of an exaggeration; but you get the point. Paulaner has pulled it off...sort of. The light version of their renowned Hefeweissen sacrifices almost nothing to it's bigger brother when it comes to taste, but they did strip it of quite a bit of alcohol -- which can be a drawback -- depending on what your motivation is for drinking. It only packs 3.2 percent alcohol, similar to what you'd find in a typical American light lager. Nonetheless, it's one of the only "hefe" beers in the world with under 100 calories (99 to be exact), which is quite an accomplishment for a robust wheat beer. Here's what I thought...

Calories: **** Don't tell Paul (I have to assume that the dude who brews this beer is named Paul) that hefe has to have at least 150 calories.

Antioxidants: ** Hefe gets most of it's flavor from wheat, which doesn't pack as many antioxidants as it's floral counterpart (hops).

Refreshment: *** I find hefeweissens to be among the most refreshing beers in the world. This is a light hefe, so you don't need citrus to cut it (i.e., a lemon wedge).

Taste: *** Amazing for a sub-100-calorie hefe.

The Culp Diet (like Atkins, only more bad-ass)

After exactly one week of trying this whole "low-carb" thing, I'm calling it quits. The verdict is that it simply does not work for a serious athelte -- at least not during the season. I still think it may be a great off-season idea, but testing that hypothesis may have to wait for a few months. It's simply too hard to maintain consistent energy levels with no sugar in your body. My morning workouts didn't seem to suffer much; but I had little motivation and almost no energy for any afternoon workouts. My intensity dwindled to that of a 70-74-year-old age grouper and my body simply wasn't recovering fast enough.

All that being said, I'm not giving up completely. I refuse to go back to the routine of shoveling as many sugars into my gut as possible at all hours of the day. The human body can only process so many carbohydrates, so trying to constantly carb load is not ideal; for both athletes and coach potatoes alike.

For the next week, I'm going to re-introduce carbs to my diet, but I'll attempt to refrain from eating any "starchy" carbs. By "starchy" carbs, I'm referring to bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and any other form of grain. While it may seem like that list encompasses every carb on this planet, it does leave room for fruits and the entire legume family (beans and other things that look like beans). These two varieties of carbs are fortified with a good deal of fiber and therefore should have a minimal effect on my blood sugar, while still provided the energy needed for intense workouts. Of course, whole grains also provide fiber, but devouring half a pot of whole wheat pasta would still cause a tremendous blood sugar spike, as any carb-based meal simply provides too much sugar at one time. Instead of making carbs the base of each meal -- as I've done in the past -- I'll strive to make carbs an accessory to my protein-based meals. I.e., I'll eat a big piece of salmon along with some kidney beans and a piece of fruit.

Keep checking in to see if the next week is any better than the last.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

People in SoCal need to grow some chest hair...

I don't mean to rag on my new home of Southern California, but people out here really need to grow some chest hair...except for the ladies...that'd be disgusting. Here's my problem...

As I headed out for my typical 90-minute morning ride this morning, I noticed a little bit of drizzle coming down. Back in my former Midwestern hometown (shout out to River Forest, Ill.), this kind of drizzle may have passed unnoticed, but in SoCal, it's treated like the Apocalypse. I decided I would actually toss on a pair of half-finger gloves, to keep my hands from sliding off the bars, but other than that my morning plans went completely unchanged. I rolled through UCSD's campus and noticed it was eerily quiet, even for a college at 6 a.m. You'd think a few nerds would be scurrying to the library at that hour.

I coasted down the mile-and-a-half-long hill at Torrey Pines State Reserve and then turned around to begin the first of five hill repeats. I performed my first climb in complete solitude, which any San Diego cyclist can attest to as being a rare occurrence. San Diego is one of the riding capitals of the world and Torrey Pines is where just about every North County athlete logs their hills repeats.

After another 30 minutes of having the hill completely to myself, I caught up with another athlete "suffering" through the "rain".

"This is terrible," the solemn-faced rider remarked.

I silenced the Fall Out Boy that was blasting through my iPod, so I could hear him more clearly.

"It could be worse," I replied as I was reminded of why I hate riding with other people.

"It's days like this that make me want to move to the desert," he said and lowered his face as though the drizzle was stinging his skin.

Yes, that's the solution, I thought. Move to the desert because six inches of rain per year is just too much to take.

That was the only other rider I came across all morning. The scores of triathletes and cyclist who usually line the coast from La Jolla to Oceanside must've been hammering away on their trainers or using the drizzle as an excuse to cancel a workout. Come on SoCal -- grow some chest hair.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Beer review of the week: Beck's Premier Light

I truly hope nobody is reading this blog to learn anything about triathlon. You certainly won't get any smarter by reading this stuff. If you're looking to boost your Tri-IQ, I suggest you navigate over to our Senior Editor's blog ( Consider this more of a lifestyle blog. In keeping with that theme, I've decided to offer up a once-weekly beer review, as I scour the aisles of BevMo in search of the perfect beer for triathletes. What makes a beer perfect for a triathlete? To answer that, I'll be rating each beer on four criteria:

1. Calories (Triathletes have to keep it lean)
2. Antioxidants (More is better)
3. Refreshment (Nothing is better after a hard workout than a cold, refreshing brew)
4. Taste (The last three criteria aside, a beer has to taste good if you want to enjoy it).

Every beer will receive 1-4 stars (*) in each category; one star meaning that it really sucked it up in that category and four stars meaning it kicks serious ass.

To kick things off, the first beer I'm reviewing is Beck's Premier Light; the lowest calorie beer available in the U.S. It may be the most "lean" beer on the planet, but with so many microbrews in Europe, there may be one that's lighter. Beck's PL only has 64 calories, about as much as a shot of vodka, and about 30% less than most light beers. Each bottle contains about 3.9 grams of carbs and only about 3.0% alcohol. Those scant numbers mean that you could drink 50 of them and probably die of hypoatremia instead of alcohol poisoning -- but I can't verify that -- I only had six. Here's how Beck's PL stacked up:

Calories: **** It's hard to top the lightest beer in the country in this category.

Antioxidants: * If you can see clear through the beer, chances are there aren't too many flavnoids floating around.

Refreshment: *** It's pretty much purified water spiked with a little alcohol and hops, which makes it quite refreshing.

Taste: ** I was going to give it only one star, but the taste is actually halfway decent, considering it has about as many calories as two unflavored rice cakes.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The cinnamon challenge...Seriously, don't try this at home

Fridays tend to be the most relaxed day of the workweek at Triathlete Magazine and I'm sure it's the same at most offices around the country. Today seemed particularly lax, so myself and Oli, our graphic designer, spent a good bit of the afternoon scouring YouTube for hilarious videos. We stumbled upon a series of videos depicting the "Cinnamon Challenge" and decided someone in our office should give it a try. It's a simple challenge really. All you have to do is swallow an entire tablespoon of ground cinnamon. To get an idea of just how difficult that is, check out this video:

I ran across the street to CVS and picked up a jar of cinnamon and then lobbied the rest of my coworkers to partake in the challenge with me. Much to my surprise, the only person who agreed to do it was our publisher, John Duke. We decided it would be best to attempt the challenge in our parking lot, as many of the YouTube videos concluded with the "actors" puking their guts out.

Both John and I dug our spoons into the 99-cent jar of CVS brand cinnamon and had at it. John only lasted for about 15 seconds, during which time it looked like his head was going to explode. I struggled with the cinnamon drying out every square millimeter of my mouth for about five minutes, but eventually I was able to get it down. My stomach, throat and sinuses have never felt worse. And in case you were wondering, no, cinnamon does not have any carbs.

Getting ripped...sort of

I've been living la vida low carb for three days now and to be totally honest, I really haven't noticed any positive changes (by the way, that picture to the left is definitely not me). My weight is down two pounds, which sounds amazing in such a short period of time, but stripping your body of carbohydrates also strips your body of a ton of water, so I'm attributing the fluctuation to lost water weight. So far, the only change I've noticed has been negative. My energy levels during workouts have taken a noticeable dip and bringing my heart rate over 150 bpm has become a completely futile endeavor. I've considered calling it quits, but giving up on anything after only three days feels like a waste. I remember my first relationship -- I wanted to get out of it after about 12 hours, but I stuck it out for a week. If I could put myself through a week of suffering as a seventh-grader, I think I can handle it now, so I'll stay away from starches for at least four more days.

Aside from feeling completely useless, the other drawback of trying to live sugar-less is the lack of food variety. Today's breakfast consisted of a Jim's PermaLean protein shake, followed two hours later by an EAS Carb Control Bar and a tablespoon of no-sugar-added peanut butter. Note: The only workout I've done today was an easy 5-mile jog before "breakfast". I may get in a 4,000-yard swim later, but it's going to take a lot of green tea to get through that one.

I'll let you know if I make it to day four.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My homemade energy drink: Watch out Red Bull!

The energy drink market has always fascinated me. The gas station down the street from our office has two industrial-sized fridges dedicated entirely to carbonated caffeine. I just walked down the street to take a count -- they have 14 varieties. How the hell can so many companies selling the exact same product survive? They all have an almost-verbatim list of ingredients and more importantly, the active ingredient is the same in each one -- caffeine. The same caffeine you get from coffee, chocolate, or my favorite, green tea.

I actually hate the taste of green tea, but the way I see it, if you want caffeine, green tea is the healthiest way to go. It gives you a pre-workout energy boost and I'm sure it'll pay off somewhere down the road when I don't contract skin cancer after all the hours I spend in the SoCal sun (pounding on wood). Now, many of my fellow employees think that I have serious issues, because a cup of my green tea packs a little more punch than most. I use four bags and steep them for about 10 minutes. While that may seem a bit insane, it still only yields about 150 mg of caffeine, which is less the half the "caff" of a venti cup of startbucks. I find that the "buzz" is rather mild, perfect for a run, and it's more sustainable than the rush delivered by a quadruple-shot espresso. If you've got the stomach for it, I suggest you give it a try. Otherwise, you could head to your local gas station and pay $3.50 for some crazy energy drink with a skull and chainsaw on the can -- it's up to you. My "energy drink" costs me about 12 cents a serving.