Boy Scouts from Troop 121 in Colorado Springs, CO, participated in the training program of top cyclists at the US Olympic Training Center. The program includes as much as 22 hours of cycling per week, along with advice on diet and riding technique.
Full Text :COPYRIGHT 1997 Boy Scouts of America, Inc.
Life Scout Scot Gilmore, 14, furiously pumped the cycle's pedals. His heart beat so hard it seemed it might burst from his chest. Fiery pain shot through his leg muscles while a burning sensation singed his air-starved lungs.
Faster, faster, faster, he thought, pushing his body harder.
"That's enough," Brice Jones said.
Scot stopped the training cycle at the United States Olympic Training Center (USOTC) and caught his breath. He and eight other Scouts from Colorado Springs, Colo., Troop 121 had come to the USOTC this February day to learn how America's best athletes train, from eating to exercise.
When they arrived, they saw the sign reading: "Welcome to the U.S. Olympic Training Center. America's Olympic Dream Begins Here." Now Scot shook his head, and said: "Riding 25 miles on a bicycle? That's more like a nightmare!"
"That's just the beginning," replied Brice, 18, a Junior National Champion and U.S. Cycling Federation (USCF) resident athlete.
Brice said he had pedaled three hours and 60 miles the previous day. "A long training week is 21 to 22 hours," he added. "An easy one, 10."
"Ugh," Lane Schoendaller uttered.
`Pedaling a Brick Wall'
Such schedules are common for athletes like Brice. From long workout days to detailed personal diets to developing strong and healthy bodies, the USOTC delivers top training.
"The biggest riding error is poor positioning on the bike," Brice said. The trick to winning, he added, is to "get real aero."
Aero is short for aerodynamic--cutting through air with the least amount of resistance.
"Riding wrong," said six-foot, 165-pound Brice, "is like pedaling a brick wall."
After getting aero, riders use their bodies at peak performance. Brice showed the Scouts how tests check an athlete's "lactate threshold."
Working muscles create lactic acid. At low levels, the body absorbs it. But at an intense workout level, too much lactic acid causes a burning sensation. Athletes strive to improve their performance before muscles produce too much lactic acid.
USCF coaches and athletes spend day after day in the world's largest wind tunnel, where computers check a rider's every move. The faster and longer an athlete can pedal before fatigue hits, the better the racer's chance of winning.
Brice showed the Scouts equipment that tests how much oxygen athletes use at peak levels. Another test vehicle, the one-wheel cycle called an ergonometer that Scot Gilmore rode, measures how much energy an athlete burns.
"Every three minutes you add more weight," Brice said, showing how weights make pedaling harder. "At 15 minutes you are ready to die."
Ride Right, Eat Right
Brice told the Scouts that he burns about 700 calories an hour when riding. (While you read this magazine, you burn about 1 calorie a minute.)
Diets are personalized for each athlete. Some coaches say athletes need more protein and less sugar and starch, adding that stuff like pastries and soda pop hurts performance and recovery.
"I have to eat right or my body will not work," Brice explained. "It's like not putting good gas in a car--it won't run without the right fuel."
What does Brice use as racing fuel?
"Pasta for carbs [complex carbohydrates, which a body burns better than junk food]. Vegetables, fruits, plus lots of fluids. I won't eat real fattening fries and burgers and stuff before a race."
The track records of USCF riders prove the methods work. U.S. cyclists have taken 12 Olympic medals and 15 world championships in the past 10 years.
And the USCF is gearing up to train new athletes--including kids. Its national championships, say USCF officials, are where "the spotlight of being as national champion shines as brightly on a 12-year-old as it does on an elite or master rider."
National champ Brice Jones proved that to the Scouts. "It's hard at first but worth it," he said. "You've got to work hard at anything you do."
RELATED ARTICLE: Fight Drugs: Save a Life
Make no mistake: Whether it is a neighborhood kid sneaking puffs on a cigarette or a family member with a drug problem, it badly affects you.
"Drugs are embedded in most of the serious problems we face in this country," say officials with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
All Boy Scouts pledge to be fit. That includes, of course, taking care of the body, from a proper diet to plenty of exercise. It also means no illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Troops picking next month's suggested Health Care program activity will help fight drugs and promote good exercising and eating habits.
You can educate the public by setting up a health care and drug awareness display in a shopping center or mall. Display food groups--from vegetables to junk food--and explain their good and bad effects on the body.
Demonstrate simple fitness exercises, like bike riding. Pass out the BSA's "Drugs: A Deadly Game" pamphlets. For materials and fees, contact: "Drugs: A Deadly Game," Boys' Life, S202, P.O. Box 152079, Irving TX 75015-2079; (972) 580-2376.
For other information and handouts, ask law enforcement agencies, public health departments and drug and alcohol abuse services.
And check out the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's Internet home page at http://www.drugfreeamerica.org/under.html.
Butterworth, W.E., IV. "On the right track: Scouts ride right with top tips from a U.S. Olympic Training Center supercyclist." Boys' Life June 1997: 16+. Popular Magazines. Web. 20 Dec. 2009.
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