Featured Stories

  • Team 303 and MS Awareness Week - Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

    From 303triathlon.com

    Thanks for the donations yesterday! We’re now at $4890, just $110 from our MS Awareness week goal of reaching $5000 raised towards our $10,000 goal. Here’s the link to join our team or donate. Of course we’d love to exceed this goal!

    Today’s topic is MS treatments, and it’s a bit of a long post, but I think an interesting one! In order to be treated, somone first has to be diagnosed. Once a diagnosis is made, the patient and their neurologist usually have to figure out the best course of treatment(s). Now, I’m going to step back a bit, as something that I didn’t mention in earlier posts is that there is more than one kind of MS. (Though it’s up for debate if it’s all one kind, just different severities and where you happen land upon the “progression spectrum” when you are diagnosed.)

    Most people with MS are initially diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), which means you might have a flare-up (attack on the CNS), then it resolves (the remitting part) and you may not even notice any symptoms. Then months or even years later, you get a relapse, followed by another remission, though this time it might leave some more lingering effects due to the CNS damage. This course of the disease is a series of relapses and remissions, and the more that occur, the more damage that is taking place to your CNS. The goal here is to reduce or eliminate these relapses so the person with MS goes on with their normal.

    The other kind of MS are called progressive types - where you don’t have the remission phase and symptoms just continually worsen over time. It’s Primary Progressive if this is what you are first diagnosed with, Secondary Progressive if you first went through a relapsing-remitting phase. There are currently no FDA approved treatments for progressive MS, so this is where research dollars really can help!

    Back to treatment of RRMS. I’ll start with the drug therapies. There are 12 FDA approved drugs for RRMS, two of which were approved in 2014. The majority of them are injectable, a few are delivered via infusion, and more recently, oral medications have become available. The first interferon treatment was approved in 1993. That’s really not that long ago! I won’t go into how all these work, but for the most part, because MS is an immune-mediated issue, the medications suppress the immune system in some way. There are also a lot of potential side-effects, so careful patient screening must be done to make sure the chosen treatment is first appropriate for the patient, and second, the side effects are tolerated.

    Treating MS goes beyond just trying to modify the disease course. (The meds are often called disease modifying drugs - recall there is no cure at this time, just hope to slow down the progression.) Often the symptoms need to be treated as well to help with quality of life. Imagine if you had bladder control issues due to MS. You’d probably want to figure out a way to manage that a bit. Also if you have balance or muscle control issues, you might go to physical therapy to work on improving muscle coordination. Or if you were dealing with mood issues, you might see a counselor or therapist. Or if your speech was impacted, you’d visit a speech therapist. The list goes on! And I can’t forget to add that a good diet of real/whole foods and regular exercise also is a recommended addition to any other treatment, not to mention things like massage or acupuncture to help the body feel better.

    Additionally, relapses are sometimes treated with high doses of steroids to help the person regain function more quickly. If you can’t see or can’t walk, it’s likely your doctor will get you on steroids (usually methyl-prednisolone) as soon as possible. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t change where you will end up in terms of symptoms, but rather gets you there faster.

    You can hopefully see how MS is a complicated disease due to the effects of damage to the CNS, and the treatments can be complicated

    More from the National MS Society on Treating MS

    Note from Nicole:
    I’m on one of the new oral treatments called Gilenya. It’s got some side effects (higher blood pressure and it lowered my max heart rate, in addition to the “internal” ones I can’t see without a blood test, such as lowered white blood cell count and changes to liver function), but I hope it’s doing its job! With MS medication, you typically don’t know if it’s “working”, you just have to monitor the number of relapses you have and hope you don’t have as many (or any!)

    To get on this medication, I had to go through a variety of tests to make sure I was a candidate, and being relatively young and otherwise healthy, all looked good. Then to start I had to do a “first dose observation,” where I spent over 6 hours in a contracted urgent care facility to make sure I didn’t have any adverse reactions to the medication. Because it affects the heart, they wanted to make sure my heart rate didn’t get too low and the electrical signals in my heart were still OK. So I got an EKG, swallowed the pill, and then sat in a room where the staff came in every hour to measure my pulse and blood pressure. I had another EKG before they sent me home. Pretty boring, so I invited friends to take shifts and hang out with me, and "borrowed" the lab coat that was hanging on the door!

    So far all seems to be going relatively well, though for all you in my age group, I am a little slower due to the hip surgeries and lowered max heart rate. That’s my excuse anyway!

    And don't forget - ride with us or donate!

  • Team 303 and MS Awareness Week - Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

    From 303triathlon.com

    Thanks for the donations yesterday! We’re now at $4890, just $110 from our MS Awareness week goal of reaching $5000 raised towards our $10,000 goal. Here’s the link to join our team or donate. Of course we’d love to exceed this goal!

    Today’s topic is MS treatments, and it’s a bit of a long post, but I think an interesting one! In order to be treated, somone first has to be diagnosed. Once a diagnosis is made, the patient and their neurologist usually have to figure out the best course of treatment(s). Now, I’m going to step back a bit, as something that I didn’t mention in earlier posts is that there is more than one kind of MS. (Though it’s up for debate if it’s all one kind, just different severities and where you happen land upon the “progression spectrum” when you are diagnosed.)

    Most people with MS are initially diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), which means you might have a flare-up (attack on the CNS), then it resolves (the remitting part) and you may not even notice any symptoms. Then months or even years later, you get a relapse, followed by another remission, though this time it might leave some more lingering effects due to the CNS damage. This course of the disease is a series of relapses and remissions, and the more that occur, the more damage that is taking place to your CNS. The goal here is to reduce or eliminate these relapses so the person with MS goes on with their normal.

    The other kind of MS are called progressive types - where you don’t have the remission phase and symptoms just continually worsen over time. It’s Primary Progressive if this is what you are first diagnosed with, Secondary Progressive if you first went through a relapsing-remitting phase. There are currently no FDA approved treatments for progressive MS, so this is where research dollars really can help!

    Back to treatment of RRMS. I’ll start with the drug therapies. There are 12 FDA approved drugs for RRMS, two of which were approved in 2014. The majority of them are injectable, a few are delivered via infusion, and more recently, oral medications have become available. The first interferon treatment was approved in 1993. That’s really not that long ago! I won’t go into how all these work, but for the most part, because MS is an immune-mediated issue, the medications suppress the immune system in some way. There are also a lot of potential side-effects, so careful patient screening must be done to make sure the chosen treatment is first appropriate for the patient, and second, the side effects are tolerated.

    Treating MS goes beyond just trying to modify the disease course. (The meds are often called disease modifying drugs - recall there is no cure at this time, just hope to slow down the progression.) Often the symptoms need to be treated as well to help with quality of life. Imagine if you had bladder control issues due to MS. You’d probably want to figure out a way to manage that a bit. Also if you have balance or muscle control issues, you might go to physical therapy to work on improving muscle coordination. Or if you were dealing with mood issues, you might see a counselor or therapist. Or if your speech was impacted, you’d visit a speech therapist. The list goes on! And I can’t forget to add that a good diet of real/whole foods and regular exercise also is a recommended addition to any other treatment, not to mention things like massage or acupuncture to help the body feel better.

    Additionally, relapses are sometimes treated with high doses of steroids to help the person regain function more quickly. If you can’t see or can’t walk, it’s likely your doctor will get you on steroids (usually methyl-prednisolone) as soon as possible. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t change where you will end up in terms of symptoms, but rather gets you there faster.

    You can hopefully see how MS is a complicated disease due to the effects of damage to the CNS, and the treatments can be complicated

    More from the National MS Society on Treating MS

    Note from Nicole:
    I’m on one of the new oral treatments called Gilenya. It’s got some side effects (higher blood pressure and it lowered my max heart rate, in addition to the “internal” ones I can’t see without a blood test, such as lowered white blood cell count and changes to liver function), but I hope it’s doing its job! With MS medication, you typically don’t know if it’s “working”, you just have to monitor the number of relapses you have and hope you don’t have as many (or any!)

    To get on this medication, I had to go through a variety of tests to make sure I was a candidate, and being relatively young and otherwise healthy, all looked good. Then to start I had to do a “first dose observation,” where I spent over 6 hours in a contracted urgent care facility to make sure I didn’t have any adverse reactions to the medication. Because it affects the heart, they wanted to make sure my heart rate didn’t get too low and the electrical signals in my heart were still OK. So I got an EKG, swallowed the pill, and then sat in a room where the staff came in every hour to measure my pulse and blood pressure. I had another EKG before they sent me home. Pretty boring, so I invited friends to take shifts and hang out with me, and "borrowed" the lab coat that was hanging on the door!

    So far all seems to be going relatively well, though for all you in my age group, I am a little slower due to the hip surgeries and lowered max heart rate. That’s my excuse anyway!

    And don't forget - ride with us or donate!

  • The making of 60 Minutes of Cycling

    A while back, long time Colorado racer, Kevin Nicol, made an attempt to break the hour record on the track. While not successful, Kevin has picked himself back up and reflects on what it took to come to those 60 minutes of cycling.


    Kevin training on Erie Velodrome

    Hello All,

    Kris is so kind to let me rant on his forum at 303 cycling. I promised Kris a review of my Hour Record attempt long ago and my guess is that Kris and everyone else that was curious, -thought I rode 60min only never to be heard from again!

    OK, I’ve been riding around in circles off and on for many years. When approaching this project of doing an official attempt on the hour, I thought, no problem, I can hold a line, I can ride a fixed gear, I can go relatively fast. The seed was planted some 7-8years ago by Iñigo San Millan, my boss here at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. Iñigo said, “-Kevin; you must go for the Hour Record!” Again, I thought, “-ok, that sounds cool,” - and that was back when you could use an aero bike.

    With due diligence, I studied and watched videos, read all I could find and in particular Michael Hutchinson’s ’06 book “The Hour.” Iñigo’s advice was that I needed to start things in motion a year ahead. He had experience working with Miguel Indurain during his early days as a student intern in Exercise Physiology in Spain. I had some concept as to what a world class athlete was capable of and it is absurd! I’m talking something similar to sitting on the couch watching TV at 50+ KPH. With Hutch’s book I came to understand how crazy hard it is to even try, with the UCI. It is very strict and expensive. I was absolutely demotivated.

    Anyway, I’m not getting any younger, and I’m all about doing fun and interesting things on the bike, such as the latest Tandem escapades with Nico Toutenhoofd; we set some tandem records last season. I began getting serious about attempting the hour last fall and started whispering about my intentions to a close circle of friends. First I needed to figure out a bike and where I was going to do this ride. I can tell you during and after the fact, when you put this much into something you want to control every little aspect and make sure you leave nothing to chance, including equipment, training and location. I have never been shy about if I don’t know something, I find someone who does. I discussed every minutia of doing an Hour record with everyone that would give me the time of day and I am honored to have worked with Inigo, Uli Schoberer of SRM power meters, and Colby Pearce of course. I spoke with Chris Schmidt at USOC who was kind enough to wrench for my attempt and he let me know what they use on the World Cup Circuit for Tires and pressures and such.

    One thing with the Hour, it can suck you in! You start running with your mind and question all the variables. If I don’t do such and such and I miss the goal by fractions, what then? I studied and became obsessed with everything; this is what you do if you are serious, right? Every nut and bolt was considered, I had a special chain prepped by Jason Smith over at Friction Facts, turns out all the top guys use this service and it saves watts!

    Of course with the Hour, we have over 100 years of history and data records. No, this is absolutely not riding around in circles for an hour. This event is very well defined, and as some may know, you either have it or you don’t, there is no second place or almost had it. Inigo has a protocol he uses to define the capabilities, based on field test lactate analysis. We used this to also dial in my position. We had the super science and I felt very confident about things. I am also astounded when with all the recent attempts I hear those stating they rode the track just a few times and slammed it together a couple weeks before-hand. Perhaps they could have done well with more preparation, despite themselves. I did tons of track training, at least 2X/week for two months which probably surpassed my track time over the past ten years combined and might answer why crazy Kevin would strike off on his own at the start of races this season…. I was doing little Hours. Being a full time guy who works for a living with two teenage kids and a hellish commute most every day, I felt pretty darn good about how things were going. But here’s the dirty little secret, I am not a professional cyclist and sometimes life gets in the way with even the best of intentions. Trying to squeeze in work, family and training time, especially on the track when I’m slotting in between weather, National Team training camps, maintenance, and just getting my shit together to ride takes a whack. I had exceptional support not available to most in terms of access to both the Erie and Colorado Springs tracks and I am eternally humbled by this level of support and belief in the dream, thank you Frank Banta, and Doug Emerson in Erie for babysitting me!

    Also, some may not know, doing an Hour attempt, unless you ride for Trek or BMC at the World Tour level does not come with a staff of 25. Colby can attest to that. You begin as a one man show putting together an event, officials, timing, dancing ponies. My trade team Natural Grocers (thank you Richard Light for sitting out doing splits for my timing), Pat McDonough who promotes professionally to take care of all the details, I had no idea how complicated this all was, Tom Vinson with USOC, Track Manager in Colorado Springs, Mark Tyson to Motor Pace me around the track till his leg cramped up at 55-60KPH and gale force winds after a day with the National Team. Alvin with Castelli, providing the super-fast speed suits and arriving day of with an assortment of wind shoe covers! This is just a small sampling of
    my crew.

    Anyway, the stars appeared to be lining up and this is what needs to happen when you are looking to go 49.4KPH. I was gunning for 50KPH and had the stuff. One other crucial tidbit, clipping along at these velocities is not cut and dry. I can roll all day long at 47.5KPH but as you approach 48, 49 and 50, things change. Your rolling resistance increases, Coefficient of Drag hits you like a brick, go ahead and sit at 60KPH behind a motor and then touch the wind and of course your Lactate levels go from a happy 2.8 mM to 7+mM, definitely not sustainable. In one sense it is not cut and dry but on another plane it is. Ultimately it’s you and the bike.

    Can you ride around the track on the Pole lane, with full aero setup, and not float up and add meters to your ride? You only get credit for your laps and not extra wasted distance by riding high. Let me ask this, can you ride low, with your eyes crossed at a velocity that would send you off the road if you were illegally texting? I had one final word of advice, day of, I asked my friend Andy Hampsten, of Giro fame and my idol growing up; how do you handle doing something that seems so big? He in turn asked Eddy Merckx for me. Merckx’s advice, “just go hard as you can and hold on! “In conclusion, I fell short. I could feel my body slipping couple weeks out for whatever reason and the powers that be. To be honest, I did not consider not making it. I knew while out there after 20min it was not to be, but being the Hour, you simply must honor the event and carry on. I was within 1.5s each lap of my schedule after I was forced to throttle down and did not slow or speed up, but over an hour this is a lot. I didn’t go crazy out of the gate nor do anything last minute or feel unwarranted stress. Of course it’s stressful being out there with the spotlight on you and your family. Yes I consider those who held me up there in the stands, my family. I was very proud for even trying and being me, frustrated at the same time. A few may know, but I did go out that next weekend and gave it another go in Erie, on my own, unofficially with about 6 people out there helping. I felt much better, even though Eddy Merckx said it took years off his career, but I’m no Eddy Merckx, far from it. I’ll tell how that came out another time.

    -Kevin

  • Connor Wood Bicycles - Louisville Slugger Wood Bat Bike

    This year's 2015 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in Louisville, KY March 6th – 8th will feature a bike built for one of Louisville's signature brands, Louisville Slugger. Connor Wood Bicycles from Denver, CO is working with Louisville Slugger to produce a wood bike made from Slugger's ash wood baseball bat billets. Connor's bikes are renowned for their beauty, amazing ride and the strength of their wood. American white ash wood, traditionally in the Louisville Slugger bats is known for both it's strength and amazing striking capability. The same qualities directly translate into beauty and a silky smooth riding experience when used in a bicycle. This customized bike will be a rolling work of bicycle art.

    The Louisville Slugger Bat Bike will be shown at this year's NAHBS in Louisville, KY March 6th – 9th. Following the show it will installed at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, in downtown Louisville and will be used as an interactive display at the museum. Visitors to the museum will be able to see the bike, spin the cranks and hear the familiar sound of a baseball card flapping in the spokes.

    Customization of this bike starts with the frame, which is made entirely from baseball bat billets. Connor received raw billets from the Slugger factory and machined them into a fully wood bicycle frame. The frame has just returned from the Louisville Slugger factory where it was branded with the signature Louisville Slugger logo and sprayed with the same durable finish that is applied to its bats. The assembled bike now showcases a Gates belt drive, wood handlebars wrapped with Slugger's bat tape, and a customized leather saddle made from Slugger's baseball mitt leather. Completing the build are 29' custom wheels with a drum brake hub and carbon fiber forks.

    A wood bike, really?
    Connor Wood Bicycles founder, Chris Connor points out that “Wood is a natural choice for bikes; think of its toughness and vibration dampening properties when used in sledge hammers, baseball bats, skis and snowboards. And when cared for, wood will last and stay strong for decades. If you showcase the beauty of the material with flowing lines and curves you can create something with a look unlike anything out there." The uniqueness of wood isn't just limited to its beauty, the wood frame absorbs vibrations from the road and makes a uniquely luscious ride. Says Connor, “Why do you ride? If you do so for the love of the experience, there's no better way to appreciate riding than on something so beautiful and with such an amazing ride quality. You just can't beat it.”

    Lots of people wonder if wood bikes are heavy -- which they're not. The frame weighs around 6 lbs, which is about 2-3 lbs heavier than exotic lightweight frames but lighter than many made from steel and aluminum. Connor's mountain model weighs in around 24.5 lbs (with a suspension fork and 11-speed drive train). Most of his bikes weigh less than traditional bikes averaging between 24 and 29 lbs. The e-bike, of course, weighs more sporting it's electric motor and battery pack. Wood bikes are strong too. Connor's wood and Kevlar reinforced frames have been tested and shown to have greater rigidity than even some titanium bikes and his wood handlebars have even supported the weight of a car. Connor's bikes have demonstrated their strength and durability by competing in Colorado's Leadville 100 mountain bike race -- one of the signature off-road bike races in the world.

    Connor’s attention to detail and deep understanding of wood can be seen throughout all his bikes. This is most evident in the beautiful simplicity of the design and in the craftsmanship in the walnut laminates, finger joints, and bowed, Kevlar reinforced stays that add to the frame’s dampening ability and durability. Protected with a marine varnish, they endure the elements and stay beautiful for years to come.

    About Connor Wood Bicycles
    Connor Wood Bicycles was formed in 2013 by Chris Connor. Chris brings 20 years of experience working with wood construction for high-end classical acoustic guitars, furniture, and boats. Launched from his suburban Denver base, Connor brings a passion for good design to practical application and has created “art that moves you.”

    Each Connor Wood Bicycle is sold as a complete rolling bike and made to order in small, medium, and large frame sizes. Custom fitting is available in each build for the ultimate riding experience. Woody Cruisers start at $3,500, and can cost as much as $10,000 in top of the line mountain bike form.

    Photos (below) by Devon Balet // devonbaletmedia.com

  • Local Bike Lawyer speaks out on Bike Safety in Outside Magazine

    Great and very detailed piece about bike safety, bike law and more with a lot of content from one of Colorado's top cycling lawyer, Megan Hottman.

    VERY much worth the Read on Outside Magazine

    Megan has written many cycling related articles for 303cycling, check them out in our search on the right side