Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Virtual Turkey Burn Reports: Kurt Frank & Ben Doom

The final two Virtual Turkey Burn reports are shorter and with less visuals than Tom's report had yesterday. So, I am combining them together into one post. First up we have "Kurt's Metric Turkey Burn Report" which came in without any images. I'll let Kurt explain....

" Mr. Ted,

I accomplished the metric riding 3/4 days. I traveled pavement, gravel, trail, and no trail in daylight and darkness and ultimately through the snow. I have no documentation because frozen old I Phones tell no tales. They are also useless for navigation and communication which did cause some distress, more so for my family than me. Maybe a person should plan to ride a little earlier rather than a little later in the day this time of year? Thank You for the blog Mr. Ted. You are a prolific and entertaining writer.


Thanks Kurt! Congrats on persevering and getting that metric in over several days! You did better than I did.

Next up we have Ben Doom, a noted long-distance cyclist from Central Minnesota and a Trans Iowa Vet (T.I.v7). He sent in the following images and a bit of text. I noted that we had some snow down our way and I asked how bad it was for him during his long ride. Here's his response with his images following.

" I had no idea it was going to snow!  No ice. Climbing out of the saddle the rear wheel slipped some. It’s time though. Let it snow!"

Bike: Rodeo Labs TrailDonkey 4.0
Ride: long way to my wife's grandma's house for our 2nd Thanksgiving
Weather: First snow! Not much but fun.


Impressive ride, Ben! Thanks for submitting those images for us to check out. That gravel in Minnesota sure looks a bit different than what we're used to here in Iowa!

This brings to a close the 2023 Virtual Turkey Burn. Thanks again to Tom, Kurt, and Ben for playing along this year! 

Monday, December 04, 2023

Virtual Turkey Burn Challenge Report: Thomas Claver

 This is the first of three Virtual Turkey Burn reports I received this year. I VERY lightly edited this where I found a mistake, but this report was sent in formatted perfectly with a lot of imagery and cues as to where to put all the images in the body of the report. I hope that you all enjoy Tom's report as much as I did!

The Setup & Shakedown Ride

I attempted this year’s Virtual Turkey Burner Event on my Crust Scapebot for several reasons. Firstly, this is a bike that I put together less than a year ago, but hadn’t attempted to take it on a century ride. Secondly, later on in the week, as forecasts for after Thanksgiving started to get clearer, it was evident that snow may be a possibility. Seeing how this is currently the only bike I have put together with the widest tires (27.5x3 Surly Knards), the Crust Scapebot just made sense. 

After spending time with family over Thanksgiving, I arrived back in Waterloo on Saturday afternoon. When I got back in town, I promptly started to outfit the Scapebot with how I planned to ride it for the century ride. Some notable pieces from this setup include a Wald 137 basket affixed to a Surly 8-Pack Rack, a Dark Realm Roll-Top Basket Bag, and a half frame bag from Outer Shell. If you didn’t know, leopard print bags make you go faster. Much like racing stripes on a car. 

For lights, I zip-tied a Knog PWR mountain to the side of the Wald basket. This was done because the roll-top basket bag obstructs much of the beam if the light is mounted on the bars. My zip-tie job was ugly, but the shakedown ride proved the mounting solution to be rock solid. 

Taken during the shakedown ride: the Knog PWR Mountain zip tied to the side of the Wald Basket. It’s ugly but rock solid!

I mounted two bottle cages within the inner triangle of the frame. I figured I could store some bottles within the basket bag to prevent them from freezing, as the forecast for Sunday appeared to be below freezing for much (if not all) of the day. 

I trialed this setup on a shakedown ride the night before the turkey burner without much fuss. Everything was tight and felt good to go for the impending long haul I had planned. The shakedown ride ended in the dark while getting snowed on, so I even got to trial a bit of the conditions I’d be riding in. 
Taken during the shakedown ride: The Crust Scapebot in “Turkey Burner” mode.

The Turkey Burner 
I woke up Sunday Morning well-rested and eager to take on the challenge. As soon as I had my morning cuppa Joe, I ventured outside to the garage to tinker around a bit. That’s when I realized that we got wayyyy more snow than I thought we were gonna get! If I had to guess, I figured we got about 2” or so. 

The temperature was forecast to be in the mid-20s to low-30s with a stiff wind from the west. I wore two baselayer pants underneath 3/4 bib tight, arm warmers, a wool long-sleeve shirt, and a gore windstopper jacket. For gloves, I wore (2) thin liner gloves underneath a pair of Burton Goretex gloves. On the head, I wore a skull cap and buff. On the feet, a pair of neoprene wet socks, with a pair of wool socks over those, underneath a pair of Goretex Shimano MW7 boots. 

Once I was all geared up, it was showtime! Around 7 AM, I hopped on the bike and made my way towards the Sergeant Road Bike Trail. The salt trucks had already been out in full-force at that time, and the roads were already full of that yucky brown slush. 

Even pushing through a paved bike trail took an effort. I was averaging about 10 MPH and spinning like a hamster. Being a singlespeeder, I appreciated the 11 gears I had on my Scapebot! Even though it was slow-going, I found my groove and it felt comfortable.

About 5 miles in is when I finally hit the gravel on Hoff Road in southern Waterloo. The roads had been mostly undisturbed at this point. 
The Crust Scapebot at the bridge on Hoff Road.

The plan was to head west until I started to get sick of the wind. No fixed destination - just spin and enjoy the country views! 

I made my way to Quarry Road west of HWY 63. As I was climbing a hill, a car was coming in the opposite direction. The driver was waving at me, and that’s when I realized it was a coworker of mine! He was out driving around looking for deer after responding to an earlier EMT call. He had asked how far I’ve ridden, and that’s when I realized that I had only 18 miles in about 1 hour 45 minutes of ride time. That’s when I realized this was gonna be an all-day affair! We parted ways after some brief conversation. Seeing a friendly face out there was motivation to keep moving forward! 

A few miles later I decided I needed to eat and drink, which was around mile 25 or so. I really hate hydrating during the winter. Drinking that cold water is such a chore, but a necessity. I stopped to slam a bottle and a few gummy worms. I also took the opportunity to snap another image. I couldn’t stop for more than a few minutes at a time because it was so cold. It feels like my body takes another half hour to “warm up” again after stopping, so I tried to be intentional with when I did stop. 

Taken on Quarry Road during a refuel break. Most of the snow was undisturbed like this until about 11 am or so.

I hopped back on the bike and made a decision to ride into Reinbeck. I figured it would be around mile 40 at that point, and I could use the opportunity to warm up and get some real food. 

The sun popped out for a very brief moment around 10 am!

I rode into the Casey’s in Reinbeck and got a sandwich and some chips. Outside the store, I made small conversation outside with a local, and he wished me well on my journey as I started back up on the bike.

I remember this was about the hardest point during the ride. I immediately headed west, right into that howling wind. I was second-guessing what I was doing at this point, but I knew I just had to let my body warm up after a couple moments of rest at the c-stop. Around mile 45 or so, I headed east and into some much forgiving tailwind. That’s when my mood flipped like a light switch! “Game on!!!”, I thought. 

I headed towards 110th Street, a stretch of B-roads that I learned of during the GTDRI 2018. This stretch of road has always been one of my favorites. This ride I found them snow-laden, which proved to be a challenge as these B-roads are often riddled with ruts. I had to ride cautiously even though the tailwind was giving me a very generous push. 

A snow-covered 110th street!

At this point, I was having a blast. The wind was howling, but at my back. It had started to snow a bit as well. I knew I had to “face the music” with more headwind later on in the ride, but that didn’t matter. I was feeling thankful for having the opportunity to ride my bike.

I crossed back over HWY 63 and made my way towards 115th street, still heading east-bound. I stopped around mile 60 at the rear, gated entrance of Hickory Hills Park. I took the opportunity to refuel and take a video. At this point is when I realized it was snowing quite a bit. I also had to make a push back north into some crosswind, but I was feeling really good at this point. 

Gated, rear entrance of Hickory Hills Park on 115th and X Ave.

After a quick break, I hopped back onto my steed and headed north. The wind was really howlin’ at this point. My rotors were whistling, which is usually a good indication of strong-ish winds! 

At around 2 PM, I had around 65 miles in. If I wanted the full-on century, it was gonna require some riding post-sunset. My experience with how these roads slick up at dark, and that I wasn’t rolling studs, made me second-guess the hundred. I did some quick “bike math” and re-scaled my target to 90 miles. That would get me into town shortly after sunset, while maximizing the amount of time riding during daylight.

I snaked my way back northwest on the gravel. It felt like the majority of the afternoon was gloomy and overcast, but the sun finally popped out over the clouds around 3:30 PM or so. During those moments of intense sunshine, I usually make a point to stop what I’m doing and admire the beauty of it all. 

Taken on Petrie Road. A moment of intense sunshine after several hours of overcast skies. It is during these moments I stop to think what I’m grateful for.

I made my way back north and towards Sergeant Road bike trail, but not without stopping one last time to admire the skies. 

Taken on Acker Road heading northbound, around 4 PM.

On the Sergeant Road Trail is when I realized scaling the ride back go 90 miles was a solid move. The bike trail was slicking up a bit at this point and I could feel my rear wheel squirm and fishtail a smidge. 

I made it home slightly after 5 PM! With over 9 hours of ride time, 80 miles of which on gravel and dirt roads in treacherous conditions, I was super happy with the effort. 

The bike was perfect for the challenge, and I’m thankful for your opportunity to provide me with a turkey burner challenge that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise! Thank you, GT!

The Route.
During the ride, I thought a lot about how privileged I was to have the opportunity to have a nice Thanksgiving meal with my family, and ride my bike afterwards - all for pleasure and self-serving purposes. I used this ride as an opportunity to pledge a donation to the local food bank to benefit others that may be food insecure within the community. 

I appreciate the opportunity, GT! Happy Holidays!

Thanks for reading! 

Tom Claver

End Of Year Announcements

Hey all you dear readers! This post explains what you can expect for the month of December. Many of you long time readers here probably know what is up, but if you are new here, and the stats suggest that many of you are new, I thought this post might be helpful.

I do a few "End-of-Year" type retrospectives during the month which will sometimes be recurring posts and sometimes these are stand-alone posts, but all are December traditions here.

First up, we have the 'Bikes of 2023" posts. This will be a series of posts sprinkled throughout the month detailing my bicycles used throughout the year, when they came in handy, and what, if any, changes were made to them. 

Next up are the "Rear View 2023" posts, which are retrospectives of my cycling/life experiences throughout the year of 2023. These are broken up into four parts, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. I also do a "Looking Ahead" post at the end of the month which will have details on my goals and expectations for 2024. 

Then there will be the "Top Ten Posts of 2023", which will list the most read posts of the year. Number one will surprise most of you, and it isn't even close to the number two post. I will link each post if you want to go back and review them, and I will give a brief commentary on each. 

Then I have my "Top Images of 2023" where I go back and choose an image posted to this blog, one from each month, and post them with no commentary. 

Of course, we'll have a Christmas message on December 25th, and at the end of the month, I will give a rundown of the stats for the year on this blog with a look at what to expect from me here in 2024, which will mark the 19th year of this blog's existence! 

Okay, so that's the road map here for the month of December. Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions. Stay tuned for more.....

Sunday, December 03, 2023

The GTDRI Stories: The 2018 GTDRI - Part 4

  "The GTDRI Stories" is a series telling the history, untold tales, and showing the sights from the run of Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals. This series will run on Sundays. Thanks for reading!

The passage of I Avenue was seemingly going to be the highlight of the ride. I figured we'd ride about five, six more miles, get to Garwin, hit that seedy little convenience store again, and then it would be on to getting the last bit of dirt roads in before we climbed up the nasty hill North of Wolf Creek and back towards Reinbeck. 

But things don't always work out the way you might think they are going to. Usually that is accompanied by a foreboding of misery, bad happenings, or something undesirable, but in this instance it was a wrench in the works that seemed bad at first, but turned out to become the highlight of the ride. 

But let me just tell it how I saw it from my seat. Of course, by this time I was pretty sapped by the malfunctioning SRAM drive train. So, I was laboring up hills in too high a gear trying to catch back on to the main group who were still flying down the road like dogs off a leash. The group ride mentality was in full effect and I wasn't very happy about it, but by this point I wasn't in charge anymore. That much was obvious. 

So, as the few stragglers and I rolled into Grawin from the South, we were expecting to round a corner and find the main portion of the group already at their leisure slurping down Gatorades and munching on convenience store vittles. Instead, all I saw was an empty parking lot. 

WTH?!! Where was everyone?!! 

Just then one of the riders who had been with me had noted a group of what looked like cyclists up the street toward the business district of Garwin, such as it was in this small village. "Hey! I think they are up here!", he cried, and we headed off East up toward what looked like a smallish crowd of people standing in the middle of the street.

And what do we have here?

A bicycle event?

Turned out that the lead group came into town the wrong way, (another reason to wait for the ride leader), and they came across some local Garwinites having a little bit of fun. Seems that the local bar owner had partnered up with a few locals to put on a bicycle race. The start was a mile to the West, just out of town. There were several mandatory "checkpoints" along the way, with the last being a card table set up in the midst of the boulevard section of Main Street, about a block and a half from the convenience store we were supposed to have stopped at. 

The "finish line" was just around the corner at a bar called the Garwin Bull, a bar owned by a native from Wales who, it can be said, had little regard for local laws. See, she had what looked to be lemonade in plastic pitchers on the card table. But the innocent appearance of the liquid was belied by tasting it, which revealed the lemonade to have been spiked by vodka - ie:potato water. 

Several locals and most of my group were now availing themselves of this "potato water" and since supplies were dwindling fast, a few of the women were getting nervous as they had to whip out fifths of vodka to replenish the pitchers. When a car or truck would come by the natives would again get nervous because they didn't have a permit and the county sheriff may not approve of their activities. It was a bit like a teenage woodsy in the middle of a village.  

Eventually we had to leave Garwin and head back to Reinbeck

It was a fun totally unexpected happening and everyone got a kick out of the locals and their hospitality. But we ended up having to move along eventually, and this was when the entire group ride thing was thrown out the window. We had people all over the place and I don't think I really rode with anyone after leaving Garwin for more than a few minutes. 

My balky drive train was the main reason why, and I was really upset about the bike. Overall, I liked it, but specifically to the drive train, it was a nightmare. Turned out to be the fiddly set up of the rear derailleur that SRAM is famous for. There was no time to deal with it on the ride, since my focus was on trying in vain to keep the group together and then after that failed I was in survival mode for about twenty miles. 

The Otso Waheela S I rode in the 2018 GTDRI

I made it back to Reinbeck, had a couple of beers and drove home. It was a tiny bit anti-climatic, to be honest, but with what happened in Garwin, there was not much of a chance that anything would top that experience. 

The ride, overall, was an unqualified success and again - the best GTDRI ever, in my opinion. I did not like that many took to running the end of the route like it was their personal training ride and that they left the "no-drop" mentality in the proverbial trash can. Again, afterward I had my feelings confirmed when I heard rumors that this ride was a great "training ride" for some of the attendees and that put me in a really sour mood. The GTDRI was a lot of things, but "training ride"? No. Absolutely not. And I was ready to quit inviting people if that was where it was going. 

But again, even with all of that, the ride was awesome. To me it represented the then new complexities of the gravel scene. On one hand you had the explorers, pioneers, the riders that were in it for the ride. Then you had others coming in that were making it all about Strava and competitions within what used to be "just riding a bike". You know, ya gotta be training for something! Big events, bucket lists, and all of that....

I get it. there is room for everyone, but the times had obviously changed. 

Next: the fall-out from the 2018 ride.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Beyond Comfort Zones, for Performance, Well-being, and Longevity


John Ingham

Note: This article is concerned with preventing adverse consequences associated with endurance cycling while maximizing performance and health benefits. Do not take anything I am saying here as medical advice for self-care of existing conditions.

In my own training, I’ve been taught to look for the gaps: the gap at the end of
each out-breath; the space between thoughts; the naturally occurring,
nonconceptual pause after a sudden shock; unexpected noise; or a moment of
The fleeting moments of no-big-deal me, no internal conversations, no frozen
opinions, are very simple yet powerful. The utter freshness of just being
present introduces us to unshakable confidence: a lionlike pride that refuses to
buy into any negative or limiting story lines.

--Pema Chodrin, The Pocket Pema Chodrin (Shambala, 2008, p. 103).

Free your mind and your legs will follow. Your mind is your worst enemy. Do
all your thinking before you start riding your bike.  Once the pedals start to turn,
wrap yourself in the sensations of the ride – the smell of the air, the sound of the
tires, the feeling of flight as the bicycle rolls over the road.

--Rule # 6, The Velominati: Keepers of the Cog.

I have often shared my view that the gravel experience, despite the pain and suffering - or more likely, because of them - is good for our physical and spiritual well-being. I have even suggested that cycling long and hard puts us on the path to awakening. This is not a perspective that some cardiologists and psychologists would endorse, however. James O’Keefe and his collaborators think that longevity gains level off and begin to decline with more than five hours of exercise per week. Extreme endurance exercise, they warn, increases risks for sudden cardiac arrest; atrial fibrillation; heart remodeling; myocardial fibrosis; and arterial calcification.1  Psychologists partial to this view—called the “reverse-J curve hypothesis” (or the “extreme exercise hypothesis”) ² - portray ultra-endurance exercise as an “addiction” seriously in need of psychotherapy. One dyspeptic psychologist - perhaps having nothing better to do - even opines that eating healthy food in support of high levels of exercise is also an addiction!

David Tubman and the author finishing the 2018 Filthy 50. (David Markman)
I’m not convinced. O’Keefe and his co-authors exaggerate the risks and underestimate the benefits of endurance exercise. The implications of a reverse-J curve in some studies may not be what they seem to be. Adverse effects occur, but they do not outweigh the benefits of high levels of exercise. Moreover, O’Keefe and his co-authors are too incurious about why adverse effects occur and what can be done to prevent them.

It has been noted in reviews of the extreme exercise hypothesis, for example, that adverse consequences may reflect low levels of vitamin D and magnesium (common in athletes), and an overactive parathyroid gland,3  problems that can be easily remedied without giving up strenuous exercise. Magnesium supports muscle strength and endurance generally. Among other things it facilitates transport of electrolytes to heart tissue and uptake of vitamin D. Exercise depletes magnesium, and anti-nutrients in grain-based high carb/low fat diets interfere with magnesium’s absorption; vitamin D needs magnesium and fat for absorption. 4  At the same time, high fructose corn syrup and possibly other sugars, common in fueling endurance athletes,  degrade vitamin D. Resulting vitamin D deficiency can cause blood calcium to fall, which in turn can cause the parathyroid to produce additional hormone (PTH). While this prompts bones to release calcium into the blood stream, it also causes high blood pressure, left ventricle enlargement, heart arrythmias, and calcification of heart valves and arteries, that is, the very adverse effects the proponents of the extreme exercise hypothesis attribute to exercise. 5 This hypothetical scenario, interesting it itself, alerts us to the possibility that there are yet other ways adverse health consequences may not result from exercise per se.


Evidence for the reverse J-curve occurs in inherently unreliable self-report studies. Moreover, samples drawn from the general population tend to be under-powered for assessing high- volume aerobic exercise. The percentage of people who exceed moderate exercise is small and the number logging ten to thirty hours per week is vanishingly small. In contrast, studies based on cardiorespiratory fitness (VO 2max ) and athletic accomplishment are together more objective and sample a wider range of exercise volume. Such studies find little or no evidence for an upper limit to the benefits of exercise:

  •   A study at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington D.C. that included 750,302individuals of both sexes, various ethnic groups, and many individuals in their seventies and eighties measured cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) on a treadmill. It found a strong correlation between the objective measure of physical fitness and longevity; individuals with the least physical fitness had a mortality risk four times greater than that of extremely fit individuals. There was no increased risk associated with being extremely fit. 6
  •   A 2017 study by the Cooper Clinic looked at moderate to high CRF and triglyceride/HDL ratios in 40,261 men in relation to longevity. It found a significant positive relation between higher CRF and longevity and a significant negative correlation with triglyceride/HDL ratios, although a high level of CRF remained protective even when triglyceride/HDL was high. 7
  •  A 2018 study of 122,007 patients with an average age of 53 years tested for cardiorespiratory fitness on a treadmill. The researchers found that fitness is inversely correlated with mortality risk “with no observed upper limit of benefit.” “Extremely high aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival.” 8 
  •  A study of 5,107 middle-aged men from the Copenhagen Male Study found a strong, positive linear correlation between CRF and longer life, the benefits of fitness extending into later years. The maximal life extension of nearly five years was observed among the men with the highest CRF. 9 
  •  A study of 2,613 Finnish athletes who had participated in at least one international event found that most of them lived longer than a control group of non-athletes. Among various types of athletes, the Nordic Ski and long-distance runners had the greatest gains in longevity—about six years and tended to be free of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as they aged. 10
  •  A study of 834 cyclists who participated in the Tour de France between 1930 and 1964 found they lived 17% longer than matched people in the general population of France, or 81.5 years instead of 73.5. According to the authors, cyclists should not fear harm from riding to exhaustion when they are well trained. 11
  •  Another study compared ages of death with general life expectancy for the first twenty runners who broke the four-minute barrier for the mile run. Eighteen of the 20 surpassed expected life expectancy by an average of 12 years. 12
  •  A meta-analysis of 165,000 male and female elite athletes found that male endurance athletes have a 31% reduction in mortality risk and females a 49% reduction. The authors conclude that there is no evidence for a reverse J-curve in their data. 13

There is a caveat. About 50% of VO 2max or cardiorespiratory fitness is inherited, and VO 2max alone may be the best predictor of cardiovascular disease. This suggests that elite athletes live longer simply because they have better genes. This is no doubt partly the case, but genes are not the whole story. For one thing, the usual estimate that exercise accounts for 15 to 20% of VO 2max is probably too low. Alan Couzens has found in his lab that large volumes of zone 2 exercise produce an average increase of 24%, with some individuals achieving as much as 40%. 14

Moreover, VO 2 max is not the biggest factor in elite performance. A high VO 2max is a prerequisite for above average endurance, but it does not ensure outstanding performance. Elite performance depends on lactate threshold, which is determined more by exercise volume. And consider that VO 2max varies by a factor of about two, from the sedentary to elite athletes, whereas exercise volume varies by a factor of 20 to 30. If adverse effects of exercise were simply a result of high volumes of exercise, elite athletes would not be living so much longer than most people (see Genes).


The risks associated with large volumes of exercise are serious, but they may not be as high as the supporters of the extreme exercise hypothesis would have us believe. Evaluations of the hypothesis by medical experts note the following: 15

  •  Sudden cardiac death triggered by exercise is extremely rare.
  •  Heart enlargement and myocardial fibrosis are found in some endurance athletes. How much is a reversible effect of training and how much is pathological are uncertain, as are long run consequences.
  •  Increased artery calcification occurs in many older endurance athletes. Calcification is usually a good marker of cardiovascular risk but not in endurance athletes.
  •  Risk of atrial fibrillation increases as exercise becomes extreme, perhaps two to tenfold,a concerning finding since atrial fibrillation increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.
  •  The benefits of high levels of exercise outweigh the risks. Overall, the evidence for a reverse J-curve falls short of establishing an upper limit for aerobic exercise.


Coaching and training ensure adaptation to stress. Pro cyclists and many amateur cyclists have coaches and follow training regimes that include large volumes of low intensity riding; intervals; ample sleep and recovery time; care to prevent over-training; healthy diets; and adequate fueling and hydration. Endothelial dysfunction and oxidative stress or reactive oxygen species (ROS) are at the root of cardiovascular problems in extreme exercise. Progressive training with adequate rest and recovery improves endothelial function and the body’s mechanisms for detoxifying ROS. The point at which oxidative stress becomes harmful is what is at issue in this and other discussions of the extreme exercise hypothesis. 16

Some weekend athletes may be trying to improve fitness too quickly at counter-productive intensities. A recent article in Cell Metabolism finds that daily or near daily HIIT exercises or intervals cause mitochondria to become dysfunctional, resulting in glucose intolerance and insulin insufficiency. The same pattern was found in a sample of world-class endurance athletes. Interestingly, though, systemic oxidative stress did not increase, and glucose sensitivity returned quickly to normal levels with less intensive training. The authors do not recommend against HIIT or interval training. Occasional intervals promote mitochondrial function and beneficial nitric oxide. The temporary mitochondrial dysfunction in the study may be part of how physiological stress, within limits, is a normal part of training. The authors interpret their results as suggesting that athletes should be careful about not overtraining, not as an argument against intense exercise. 17

HITT and intervals can raise VO 2max quickly, but bigger gains can accrue more safely over time from large volumes of easy aerobic exercise. This is so because high volumes of low intensity exercise increase cardiac stroke volume and because peripheral mitochondria increase in response to the number of contractions, not to the intensity of exercise. 18 These findings support polarized training where large volumes of training are devoted to zone 2 and a much smaller portion to intense cardio workouts, say in a ratio of 80 to 20. The large volume of zone 2 exercise supports performance in all zones because it improves the shuttle of lactate in fast twitch muscles to slow twitch muscles, thereby reducing fatigue from all-out efforts while providing additional fuel for the slow twitch muscles. Zone 2 exercise supports not only performance but also cardiovascular health and longevity (Inigo San Millan).

Participating in ultra-endurance events with insufficient training can also have adverse consequences. The high DNF rates in gravel races suggest that too many gravel riders are ill- prepared for ultra-distance events. Long gaps in training weaken strength and resilience, more quickly than one might think. And this is especially true for cardiorespiratory fitness. VO 2 max, for example, can drop about five percent in a one-week layoff.


Diet and fueling may be the big elephant in the living room when it comes to adverse effects of high levels of exercise. Much of the obfuscation no doubt results from the Diet-Heart Hypothesis that has informed cardiology and national diet guidelines for fifty years. Tim Noakes, the author of The Lore of Running, the “bible” on carbohydrate loading and fueling for endurance sports, now regards his book as a huge mistake that was influenced in part by the Diet-Heart Hypothesis (Noakes).

According to the Diet-Heart Hypothesis, dietary fat causes high cholesterol and high cholesterol, especially high LDL, causes cardiovascular disease. Statins became the treatment of choice for high cholesterol despite their side-effects, which include muscle weakness, increased risk of diabetes, and in the long-term, possibly hardening of the arteries and cardiomyopathy. 19

In fact, the Diet-Heart Hypothesis is in trouble. Since the 1960s studies have shown that
consumption of saturated fats increases cholesterol but not the incidence of heart attacks. 20
The 18-country PURE study found that carbohydrates are associated with all-cause mortality
whereas fats were associated with lower mortality; total fat was not associated with
cardiovascular disease or heart attacks. 21 A meta-analysis of recent diet research confirms that
carbohydrate restriction improves cardiovascular risk factors. 22 Recall from the Cooper
Institute study that a low triglyceride/HDl ratio was associated with lower heart disease risk. In
fact, a low triglyceride/HDL ratio is one of the best markers of a healthy cardiovascular system.
The ratio is made worse by a high carb/low fat diet and better by a low carb/high fat diet. A
recent meta-analysis of LDL-cholesterol and statin studies in the Journal of the American
Medical Association found that statins have only a modest ability to prevent cardiac events and
that lowering LDL with statins has little or no benefit. Putting the statistics in terms of “numbers needed to treat” makes this clear: to prevent one heart attack, it takes treating 77 individuals with statins for 4.4 years. 23 (The small benefit of statins may result mostly from an anti-inflammatory effect and from the way statins promote calcification over soft plaque.) A telling blow to the Diet-Heart Hypothesis is emerging in a study underway by David Feldman and colleagues that is measuring cardiovascular disease with the CT Cardiac Calcium Scoring test, one the most objective and accurate ways of measuring the extent of coronary artery disease. They are evaluating athletic, super lean men and women who are responding to low carb/high fat diets with extremely high cholesterol and LDL. Yet preliminary results are showing that these lean body-mass hyper-responders have little or no coronary artery disease (Feldman). 24 It appears that Timothy Noakes, Jeff Volek, and Stephen Phinney were ahead of their time when ten years ago they suggested that high consumption of sugar and carbohydrate may be why some endurance athletes develop heart disease. 25

The latest iteration of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis argues that red meat is harmful to health, especially cardiovascular health. According to this view, everyone would be better off on a plant-based diet. A recent meta-analysis of large-sample studies that investigated risks associated with red meat, however, finds that the evidence impugning red meat is so thin that it probably should not affect dietary choices. 26 In fact, red meat contains various vital nutrients absent in plants.

Taurine, a sulfur-based free amino acid found in animal food and fish is one of the most interesting of these nutrients. The body gets most of its taurine from meat and fish, although it has a limited ability to synthesize taurine from proteins found in plants as well as animals and fish. A landmark paper in the June 2023 issue of Science suggests that the usual decline of serum taurine with age in mammals (including humans) is a principal driver of aging, and that supplementing with taurine might extend life. Of particularly interest to here, the paper that includes a study that finds that exercise increases serum taurine, and suggests that this effect may partially explain the longevity benefit of aerobic exercise. 27 A few studies with animals and small-sample human studies also suggest that taurine improves muscle strength, muscle recovery, and time to exhaustion in aerobic exercise, although the results are mixed and inconclusive. 28 As one might expect, these findings have drawn skepticism, especially from Diet-
Heart Hypothesis/plant-based diet advocates. It will be interesting to see whether more human studies provide more clarity about taurine benefits.

Anthropology supports and illuminates these findings on diet. We surmise from recent hunter- gatherers that our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors rarely suffered from cardiovascular diseases despite large volumes of long-distance walking and running and omnivorous diets that were often much higher in fats and lower in carbohydrates than most modern diets. Since they often depended heavily on game animals, their diets would have contained ample amounts of taurine and other nutrients found only in animal food. The diets often included smaller amounts of tubers, nuts, seeds, fruits and honey but lacked added sugar, high glycemic, highly refined grains, and inflammatory vegetable oils. In other words, they were also included plant micronutrients and yet had small amounts of the phytates and lectins in grains and legumes that can block absorption of micronutrients. Unlike corn- and grain-beef, their grass-fed game contained large amounts of K2, a vitamin that activates proteins that guide calcium away from artery walls and other soft tissue and into bones and teeth. Paleolithic meat also had fewer inflammatory omega 6 and more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids and a healthier mix of saturated fats.

Diets clearly took a big turn for the worse with the agricultural revolution and, even more so, with industrialized and processed food in the last hundred years or so. Sugar-heavy and refined flour diets increase the risk of heart disease by about 30% and stroke up to nearly 50% (all carbs turn into glucose after digestion). Sugar causes immediate acute dysfunction in the endothelial linings of blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction can then lead to chronic processes that result in atherosclerosis. Hyperglycemia also promotes artery calcification. Spiking blood sugar together with exercise-induced stress may be especially likely to promote arterial calcification. 29

As noted above, many long-time endurance athletes have more than the usual artery calcification. Ordinarily, arterial calcification indicates cardiovascular risk, but this is less so in endurance athletes, probably because they have less soft plaque under calcification (a possible mechanism here may involve higher levels of HDL resulting from exercise. HDL can absorb some of the LDL in plaque and return it to the liver). Even so, it would be better to have no plaque and no calcification. 30 Aerobic exercise at moderate intensities can mitigate endothelial dysfunction. 31 But the time required for exercise to level spikes in blood glucose while the body is under stress may be when fueling with carbs and sugar is most harmful. My guess is that carbohydrate loading and fueling with sugary drinks and gels are at least partially responsible for the plaque and arterial calcification seen in some endurance athletes.

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is another serious concern, but in its case too there are reasons to suspect that exercise is not the real culprit. Electrolyte imbalances may play a role, especially too little magnesium. 32 Some evidence implicates oxidative stress from sugar and purines in atrial fibrillation. Purines break down into uric acid which can trigger AFib. Fructose breaks down into purines (orange juice is high fructose, while beer is high in purines). 33 Oxidative stress may be the final common pathway to Afib. Various studies have found that elevated oxidative stress is significantly associated with AFib. 34 Both magnesium deficiency and sugar cause oxidative stress. The uric acid produced by purines is antioxidant in plasma, but it has pro-oxidant properties in cells and, in fact, is associated with cardiovascular disease. 35 The increasing cardiovascular risks associated with higher levels of exercise could be an artifact of how healthy and sufficient training, sleep, recovery, diet, and fueling become more consequential as exercise volume increases.


Racing is a social sport. The start line of the 2023 Filthy 50 (David Markman)
Many nutritionists agree that the best diets avoid added sugars, refined grains, vegetable oils, soft drinks, and processed and junk food generally. As we have seen, there is also an argument for more fat and fewer carbohydrates, although you might not have known it given the pushback from diehard supporters of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis and pressure from big pharma, agrobusiness, and the processed food industry on governmental guidelines. An animal food  version of LC/HF would include grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and wild fish. A plant-based version would add fats from olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.

Many exercise nutritionists still promote sugar and carbohydrates for athletic performance. The contention that carbohydrates are better than fat, however, is hardly overwhelming, and it typically ignores what is now known about the health risks associated with sugar- and carbohydrate-dependent diets. While carbohydrate loading and fueling may have an advantage at maximal effort, fat-adapted athletes do quite well at sub-maximal effort. Research also shows that they burn fat very efficiently even at the highest levels of effort, and that they can switch to fueling with carbs without compromising fat burning efficiency. 36 The debates about whether carbohydrate or fat is better for performance are heated, but they are a bit like a tempest in a teapot for most gravel riders and racers—many studies show that there is little performance or VO 2 max difference between the two macro-nutrient strategies. 37

This said, it is hard to go without sugar and carbs in endurance events. Even ketogenic athletes find that they need sugar at some point in ultra-endurance events. There are ways, however, to reduce the risks of sugar and carbs during training and races. One approach reduces high glycemic carbohydrates during training but allows them during events. An endurance sport supplement company boasts about the maltodextrin (a refined carbohydrate) in its gels, while damning fructose and table sugar as unhealthy. This sounds good but in fact maltodextrin spikes blood glucose and insulin even more than sugar. Big spikes in blood glucose are better avoided by simply spreading sugar out in smaller amounts. Or we can try fueling with low glycemic carbs. And we may need less sugary fuel than we imagine. Timothy Noakes finds that falling blood glucose is the proximate cause of bonking, not muscle glycogen exhaustion, and that only 5 to 20 grams of sugar per hour are required during performance to maintain normal blood glucose levels. 38

Oxidative stress and inflammation during intense exercise can also be moderated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory snacks, drinks, and supplements (e.g., blue berries; red grapes; tart cherry juice; nuts; dark chocolate; coffee or tea; vitamins C, E, and A; CoQ10; magnesium; taurine; n-acetyl carnitine; quercetin; resveratrol; curcumin; melatonin, etc.). 39 Antioxidant supplements, however, can interfere with adaptation of muscle tissue to stress, so it may be better to take them in small amounts or not at all during training. (Note: Some nutraceuticals interfere with medications; follow dose recommendations and consult with your doctor if you have a medical condition.)

After an engaging review of the relevant literatures, Alex Hutchinson concludes that performance depends not only on training, diet, and fueling but also on elusive mental qualities like grit, courage, confidence, etc. 40 They may be critical for health and longevity as well. Stress was once thought to be uniformly bad for emotional and physical health, but more recent research is exploring how it can be good for us, that is, how stress can prompt “hormesis,” a process of becoming stronger and healthier during adaptation to adversity. Whether stress is harmful or beneficial can turn on positive emotions and attitudes, including I will suggest on how much we transcend egocentric preoccupations with the self. 41 Putting matters this way poses fundamental questions about the nature of mental, emotional, and spiritual health.


The author by the St. Louis river contemplating Lao Tsu's "Flow".(Mary Grove)

Cardiovascular damage during extreme exercise may be less likely when it is not just about personal success, and when the ride itself is enjoyable, when we ride with friends, and when we are riding in beautiful places. The 80-year-long prospective Harvard study has shown that living with a beloved partner and having many friends have a huge effect on well-being and longevity. By the same token, exercise in groups is more beneficial than exercising alone. 42 Numerous studies find that being in nature also improves health and well-being. 43

These observations make sense in view of human evolution and how the mind is organized. Neuroscientists have identified two opposing but interconnected neural networks, the Default Mode Network (DMN) and the Task-Positive Network (TPN). The two networks are mutually inhibiting;  when one is active the other is inactive and vice versa. Roughly speaking, the DMN supports the ego, whereas the TPN supports attention to tasks and the outside world.

The DMN is active during mind-wandering and dreaming. Thoughts are self-referential, featuring memories about status or reputation in social situations, regrets about the past or forebodings about the future (“self” here refers to thoughts and stories about the self, not to consciousness, which is sometimes referred to as the “true self”). The DMN’s basic function may be constructing and updating automatic unconscious responses to recurring situations and events, especially perhaps  approach/avoidance conflicts. A few years ago, I published a paper about dreaming in which I argued that dreaming is an evolved system for working out solutions for emotional conflicts, especially those between love and danger. 44 Whether such solutions in dreaming and daydreaming are fearful, or hopeful may depend importantly on what the DMN has been learning in crosstalk with the TPM. At its best, the Default Mode Network underlies wisdom and judgement in dealing with life’s conflicts, dilemmas, and conundrums. In so during, it supports creative thinking and underlies myth, literature, art, and philosophy. It tends to be a bit moody, however, especially when it lacks input from encouraging experiences of the outside world. When overactive and unrestrained by the Task Positive Mode, its moodiness can lead to addiction and depression. 45 Depression in turn is linked to various chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease.

"Non-Racing" racing. Toilet Stop on the 2023 Filthy 50 course. (David Markman)

The Default Mode Network is oriented toward self-preservation. The Task Positive Network copes with external danger also, but rather by transcending the self and grabbing the bull, as it were, by the horns. It copes with external stress by leaning into it with courage rather than withdrawing from it with trepidation. Transcendental experiences involving deactivation of the DMN, 46 unfold on a continuum from flow, to awe, and finally to awakening.

Flow is effortless action that occurs at boundaries between maximum challenge and risk of failure, on the one hand, and full use of skillsets and intense focus and purpose, on the other. The autobiographical self disappears as one becomes engaged in the task at hand. Flow is an end itself; any ulterior purpose remains in the background. It is often recalled as the most satisfactory experience people have ever had. Flow was described by Lao Tsu, an ancient Taoist philosopher. Among other things, he called it  “effortless effort.” He likened it to water flowing downhill.

Awe also occurs on the transcendental continuum. One is moved by majesty and natural beauty in nature, sometimes with a touch of trepidation—awe-inspiring places are often dangerous and daunting as well as beautiful. In the presence of sublime scenes and spectacles, self-importance can vanish as we realize that society and nature are much grander than ourselves, and as beauty overwhelms our fears and self-concerns. Evolutionary psychologists speculate that the extraordinary human capacity for awe expresses an evolved sense of gratitude for community and nature.

Awakening can happen in a momentary flash of brilliant light or, more often, little by little. Movement toward awakening is more likely in what Buddhists call “the bardo” moments. Bardo can take the form of commonplace “gaps” when nothing is happening, or our minds go blank. Life-transforming bardo is more likely in unfamiliar situations like near-death experiences, catastrophic loss, long pilgrimages through unfamiliar countryside, or when in forests, deserts, or high mountains.

The principal features of awakening are dissolution of the ego and, by same token, a sense of deeper connection with other people, nature, and the cosmos. The state is also associated with openness, curiosity, courage, compassion, tranquility, pain tolerance, and in some cases greatly reduced fear of death. It is not difficult to see that these additional qualities may be facets of reduced preoccupation with the self and increased sense of connection with other people and nature. After a period as a wandering monk that deprived him of the comforts and attention he had acquired as a revered teacher, one Buddhist likened his waking up to “being in love with the world.” 47

Effortless effort resembles what I have called “non-racing racing” or “racing that is not racing.” It happens when we are focused less on personal achievement and more on riding itself. Paradoxically, this transcendence of the self is more likely to improve performance than not. It is the optimum state of matching skill to challenge. The qualities of calmness, courage, and pain tolerance associated with the transcendental continuum also enhance performance.

Gravel requires mental toughness, resilience, confidence, and the like, but it may also be that gravel nurtures the very qualities it requires. The long, demanding ride can facilitate elements of awakening. During a long ride, we slip in and out of flow, and there are moments of awe, and bardo-like moments, as when we make a wrong turn in the middle of the night and find ourselves utterly lost, when  exhausting effort in extreme cold or heat leave us feeling completely humbled, or when intense pain and suffering take us into very dark holes. These experiences may dissolve the self by promoting humility, by encouraging compassion for ourselves and other riders, or by enhancing consciousness and perception. In so doing, they strengthen bonds with companions and enhance connection with the world. At work in bardo moments, too, may be how adversity makes us stronger and healthier when we confront it with determination and courage.

“Falling in love with the world” on the path to awakening is more than a metaphor. The “love” hormone oxytocin supports pair-bonding, parenting, and friendship, but it is relevant here in other ways as well. Along with a handful of other feel-good hormones, it is elevated in the flow state and when viewing natural beauty or works of art. It increases with exercise, and it is the trigger that shifts the mind from the Default Mode to the Task Positive Mode. Oxytocin increases as we cope successfully with stressful situations and then energizes us to cope with further stress with even more courage and resilience. 48 Love can even mend a broken heart, literally as well as figuratively. Ordinarily, when heart tissue dies from lack of oxygen it becomes fibrous and dysfunctional. In human beings the endogenous mechanisms for healing a damaged heart are strongest when people are feeling loved. Oxytocin is by far the most powerful hormone that can move stem cells from the periphery to the center of the heart
where they can seed renewal of damaged tissue. 49

About two million years ago the earliest humans went through evolutionary changes that enabled persistence hunting, and strenuous foraging for plant food, not just by young men, but by females as well as males, and by young and old alike (not coincidentally, both males and females are capable of long-distance walking, jogging, and running into early old age). The primeval diet supported this active lifestyle. But there is more to the story. About six to seven million years ago, as widespread forests were drying up in Africa, a group of anthropoid apes split off from the chimpanzee-like Last Common Ancestor, came down from the trees, and began foraging on open ground. The more open woodlands and the wide-open savanna were full of big cats, huge snakes, and giant baby-snatching raptors. Early hominids were small but survived by becoming more loving, social, cooperative, courageous, clever, and alert than the ape cousins they had left behind. As they foraged farther from camp, an evolving bipedal locomotion made carrying babies, plant food, and butchered game easier. Much (but not all) of the aggressiveness, sexism, selfishness, and promiscuity of the Last Common Ancestor gave way to pair-bonding, paternal recognition and care of offspring, ramifying kinship relations, and mutual support and food sharing between genders and families. 50 No other species comes close to this degree of love, sociability, and cooperation. We were born to run (or cycle) long distances, but we were also born to explore the unknown despite its dangers, to eat wholesome food, and to love, share, and cooperate. And we were born to experience awe and connection with more than ourselves.

Riding and racing gravel recoup features of the ancestral hunter-gatherer way of life. They involve endurance exercise, challenge, comradery, and they take us into nature. With all due respect to well-meaning proponents of the extreme exercise hypothesis, their misgivings should not dissuade us from riding long and hard. Having found a way back to the garden and the better angels of our nature, we are not about to give up our bikes for walking the dog around the block, at least not yet. We are willing to take some risks. Life is an adventure after all. Encouraging each other while moving into the difficult unknown, is our birthright. It is who we are.


1 E. L. O’Keefe, N. Torres-Acosta, J. H. Okeefe, et al. Training for longevity: The reverse J-curve for exercise.
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2 Imagine a graph with increasing mortality on the vertical axis and increasing volumes of exercise on the bottom
axis. The line runs down and to the right but then begins to curve upward with increasing volume.
3 T. M. H. Eijsvogels, P. D. Thompson, and B. A. Franklin. The “extreme exercise hypothesis”: Recent findings and
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4 A. M. Uwitonze and A. M. Razzaque. Role of magnesium in vitamin D activation and function. J Am Osteopath
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5 J. S. Brown, M. D. Ruppe, and L. S. Tabatabai. The parathyroid gland and heart disease. Methodist Debakey
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6 P. Kokkinos, C. Faselis, I. B. H. Samuel, et al. Cardiovascular fitness and mortality risk across the spectra of age,
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7 S. W. Farrel, C. E. Finley, C. E. Barlow, et al. Moderate to high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness attenuate the
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8 K. Mandsager, S. Harb, P. Cremer, et al. Association of cardiorespiratory fitness with long-term mortality among
adults undergoing treadmill testing. JAMA Open Network (2018) 1:e183605.
9 J. S. R. Clausen, J. L. Marott, A. Holtermann, et al. Midlife cardiorespiratory fitness and long-term risk of
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10 S. Sarna, J. Kaprio, U. M. Kujala, et al. Health status of former elite athletes: The Finnish experience (1997) 9:35-
11 F. Sanchis-Gomar, G. Olaso-Gonzalez, D. Corelia, et al. Increased average longevity among “Tour de France”
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12 B. J. Maron, P. D. Thompson. Longevity in elite athletes: the first 4-min milers. The Lancet (2018) 392; p. 913;
13 A . Runacres, K. A. Mackintosh, and M. A. McNarry. Health consequence of an elite sporting career: Long-term
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14 A. Couzens. How ‘trainable’ is VO2 max really? —a case study. Simplifaster
15 G. Parry-Williams, S. Gati, and S. Sharma. The heart of the aging endurance athlete: the role of chronic coronary
stress. European Heart Journal (2001) 42: 2737-2744; B. A. Franklin, P. D. Thompson, S. S. Al-Zeit, et al. Exercise-
related cardiovascular events and potential deleterious adaptations following long-term exercise training: Placing
the risks into perspective—An update: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation
(2020) 141: e705-e736.
16 S. K. Powers, R. Deminice, M. Ozdemir, et al. Exercise-induced stress: Friend or foe? Journal of Sport and Health
Science (2020) 9: 415-425.
17 M. Flockhart, L. C. Nilsson, S. Tais, et al. Excessive exercise training causes mitochondrial functional impairment
and decreases glucose tolerance in healthy volunteers. Cell Metabolism (2021) 33:957-970.
18 A. Couzens, ibid.
19 P. H. Langsjoen, J. O. Langsjoen, A. M. Langsjoen, et al. Statin-associated cardiomyopathy responds to statin
withdrawal and administration of coenzyme Q10. The Permanente Journal (2019) 23: doi: 10.7812/TPP/18.257.
20 J. A. Wali, N. Jarzebska, D. Raubenheimer, et al. Cardio-metabolic effects of high-fat diets on their underlying
mechanisms—a narrative review. Nutrients (2020) 15: 1505; doi:10:3390/nu12051505.
21 M. Dehghan, a. Mente, X. Zhang, et al. Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease
and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): A prospective cohort study. The Lancet (2017) 390:
22 T. Dong, M. Guo, P. Zhang, et al. The effects of low-carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors: A meta-
analysis. Plos One (January 14, 2020) https://doi.org10:1371/journal.pone.0225348.

23 P. Byrne, M Demasi, M. Jones, et al. Evaluating the association between low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
reduction and relative and absolute effects of statin treatment: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA
Internal Medicine (2022) 182: 474-481’
24 For a readable summary of how scientific thinking is shifting from blaming cardiovascular disease on fats to
blaming sugar and carbs, see “Ending the war on fat in Time: https://time.com/2863227/ending-the-war-on-fat/.
25 T. Noakes, J. S. Volek, and S. D. Phinney. Low-carbohydrate diets for athletes: What evidence? Journal of Sports
Medicine (2014) 48: 1077-1078.
26 H. Lescinsky, A. Afshin, C. Ashbaugh, et al. Health effects associated with consumption of unprocessed red meat:
A burden of proof study. Nature Medicine (2022) 28: 2075-2082.
27 P. Singh, K. Collapalli, S. Mangiola, et al. Taurine as a driver of aging. Science (June 2023) 380, eabn9257.
28 See for example, S Kamine, T. Miyazaki, K. Ishikura, et al., Taurine supplementation enhances endurance capacity
by delaying blood glucose decline during prolonged exercise in rats. Amino Acids (2022) 54: 251-260.
29 L. Zhang, H. Sun, S. Liu, et al. Glycemic variability is associated with vascular calcification by the markers of
endoplasmic reticulum stress-related apoptosis, Wnt1, gelectic-3, and BMP-2. Diebetology & Metabolic Syndrome
(2019) 11: 67 (https://doi.org/10.1186/st3098-019--0464-4).
30 L. F DeFina, N. B Radford, C. E. Barlow, et al. Association of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality with high
levels of physical activity and concurrent coronary artery calcification. JAMA Cardiology (2019) 4: 174-181; G. J.
Canevazzi, F. S. Almeida, A. Boiteux do Carmo, et al. Cornary arter calcification in endurance athletes: a narrative
review. Review of Medicine (2022) 101: e-191536.
31 S. P. Kurti, H. Frick, W. S. Wisseman, et al. Acute exercise improves glucose and TAG metabolism in young and
older adults following high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal intake. British Journal of Nutrition (2022) 127: 687-695.
32 P. Severino, L. Netti, M V. Mariani, et al. Prevention of cardiovascular disease: Screening for magnesium
deficiency. Cardiology Research and Practice (2019): https://10.1155/2019/4874921.
33 M. Ding, N Nguyen, B Gigante, et al. Elevated uric acid is associated with new-onset atrial fibrillation: Results
from the Swedish AMORIS Cohort. Journal of American Heart Association (2023) 12: e027089.
34 P. Korantzopoulos, K. Letsas, N. Fragakis, et al. Oxidative stress and atrial fibrillation: an update. Free Radical
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35 Y. Y. Sautin and R. J. Johnson. Uric acid: The oxidant—antioxidant paradox. Nucleosides Nucleotides Nucleic
Acids (2009): 27: 6080619.
36 P. J. Prins, T. D. Noakes, J. D Buxton, et al. High fat diet improves metabolic flexibility during progressive exercise
to exhaustion (VO2max testing) and during 5 km running time trials. Biological Sport (2023) doi:
37 See references cited by Noakes, footnote #34.
38 T. D. Noakes. What is the evidence that dietary macronutrient composition influences exercise performance: A
narrative review. Nutrition (2022) 14: doi.org/10.3390/nu14040862.
39 C. Simioni, G. Zauli, A. M. Martelli, et al. Oxidative stress: the role of physical exercise and antioxidant
nutraceuticals in adulthood and aging. Oncotarget (2018) 9: 17181-17198.
40 On this point, see A. Hutchinson’s excellent book, Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human
Performance (HarperCollins, 2020).
41 K. McGonigal. The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It (Penguin Random
House, 2015).
42 R. Wadinger and M. Schulz, The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness
(Simon & Schuster, 2023).
43 F. Williams. The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative (W. W. Norton, 1017).
44 J. Ingham. Dreaming about love and danger: A holistic bioevolutionary perspective on personality, politics, and
culture. Ethos (2015) 43: 221-246.
45 M. Pollan. How to Change the Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness,
Drying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (Random House, 2018).
46 M. Woollacott and A. Shumway-Cook. The mystical experience and its neural correlates. Journal of Near-Death
Studies (2020) 38: 3-25.

47 Y. M. Rinpoche. In love with the world: A monk’s journey through the bardos of living and dying (Random House,
48 Y. Takayanangi and T. Onaka. Roles of oxytocin in stress responses, allostasis and resilience. International Journal
of Molecular Sciences (2022) 23: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010150.
49 A. H. Wasserman, A. R. Huang, Y. R. Lewis-Israeli, et al. Oxytocin promotes epicardial cell activation and heart
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50 J. M. Ingham and D. Spain. Sensual attachment and incest avoidance in human evolution and child development.
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Friday, December 01, 2023

Friday News And Views

Virtual Turkey Burn Reports Start Soon!

The response to last week's Virtual Turkey Burn Challenge has been surprisingly good. Thanks to everyone who sent me a note, pictures, or both. 

My plan is to start running the reports next week starting on Monday. Two will be combined together and one will run singly due to their length. 

This was a lot of fun and I hope that you all that read the reports find some inspiration and shared experiences as I roll these out next week. Tomorrow will be John Ingham's long-form paper, and Sunday will be the typical place for the GTDRI stories. So, stay tuned for Monday and see who took up the challenge and where they rode.

A Note About My Review Work:

As of today, I have brought all my reviewing work over to "Guitar Ted Productions". I won't be writing reviews for the time being anywhere else. That may change in the future. I don't know.....

I'm doing this for several reasons, and at this time, that's all I am able to say about that. I can tell you that this has been something percolating for some time and that it has been a very negative experience for the last year and a half.

So, you've likely noticed an uptick in reviews posted here and now you have some clue as to why that might be. I may designate certain days to be review days here so I still have to sort through that as I get into 2024. 

That said, I suspect that reviewing opportunities will dwindle as I am not associated with any "official outlets" at this time. That's fine with me. I've been caught up in that scene since 2006 and that's quite a long time when I think about that. So, as of now I've no idea how this will all pan out here. Things could change and maybe they won't. I just wanted to give you all some kind of notice here that this may be happening (and already is, actually) and to expect a bit more of the review stuff to continue on at least in the short term. However it all pans out, I am excited to carry onward. 

Geometry drawing courtesy of 3T

3T's New Extreme Itlalia: A Study In Geometry:

You may have noted several online purveyor's of cycling industry press releases showing off this new 3T Extreme Italia model. (3T's site on the bike is HERE) I won't get into all the technical aspects of this "aero-twenty-niner" gravel bike. It takes biggie tires and looks crazy and is uber-expensive. 

No, what I wanted to focus in on is the strange geometry choices 3T made for this bicycle. I have perused the geometry chart from 3T's site and I have some observations. You will have to scroll the page waaaaay down, but I have the chart linked HERE so you can check this out. 

First, you might note a couple things. There is no standover height listed and the largest frame size is listed as something that should fit riders from 6' to 6'5". That's a wide spread! I suspect that stand-over clearance is tough to give when you have such a wide range of tire fitment as well. Still, this is odd to leave out. Especially for a frame/fork that costs over 5G. 

Elsewhere in their marketing spiel 3T claims to be using an extreme fork offset of 61mm - 73mm coupled with what 3T says is a "slightly slacker headtube angle". So, I read that before I got to the geometry chart, and I was left thinking, "Wow! They must have gone with something far less than a 70° angle there." Nope.... Their head angles are relatively conservative, in terms of a gravel bike, using 70+ degree angles for the three largest sizes with only the smallest size under 70°. Make no mistake, the smaller sizes are slacker because they are trying to avoid toe-overlap. Period. 

The offset then becomes concerning. That's going to result in a pretty low-ish trail figure, which on the largest size with a 72° head tube angle might be pretty twitchy. Perhaps 3T is making concessions for a loaded front end here in terms of bikepacking weight, but that is not specifically spelled out, and unloaded, this would make for a bike that I wouldn't be all that interested in, in terms of potential handling issues. And for its price, I'm certainly not going to be interested in taking chances. 

The bottom bracket drop is also fairly conservative, again owing perhaps to the thought that this bike might end up being used more in a MTB-light application. But I would point out that many similarly purposed bikes have deeper bottom bracket drops for the bigger tires meant for those bikes. 

In the end, I find the asking price and the design to be a bit of a negative. Other concepts of the bike I have no issues with, but I do think mixing aero road, gravel, and MTB is s stew that is perhaps best not eaten.

New "Shorty" Stem For The Gryphon Mk3:

I am testing out those new Tumbleweed Big Dipper Bars and when I initially set the Singular Gryphon Mk3 up with those handlebars I realized that the rear cable run to the brake was on the "tight" side. 

I was using an 80mm long stem so I figured since that stretched me out a wee bit too much on that bike that a shorter stem might kill two birds at once. So, I ordered a 60mm Whisky No. 7 silver stem.

I received the stem this week and stuck it on the Gryphon. A test ride with a front bag loaded down showed that it was fine, in terms of handling, the brake strain is relieved somewhat, ( but still not 100% gone), and my position on the bike seems much improved. 

I guess I could live with the results, but that cable being a touch too short yet still bugs me. I could replace the entire full run housing and cable, or..... 

I had an idea as I was working on this post. Stay tuned and we will see if it worked or not. 

It May Not Be Much, But It Is A Podcast!

Since I host my podcast on Spotify, I get a "Spotify Wrapped" overview of the last year, (December doesn't count?), and a lot of stats to go along with that. 

Of course, since the "Guitar Ted Podcast " essentially started at the beginning of 2023, all the stat lines look impressive. But really, this isn't a big deal. The podcast, that is. I mean, we don't move the needle in comparison to many other sports and cycling related pods. 

But the point I wanted to make is that some of you do listen,and for that, I am very grateful. With all the media blasting out all around us, the fact that some folks choose to listen to myself and N.Y. Roll have banter is amazing. It really is. 

So, the numbers are the numbers. You can laugh, scoff, or make fun all you want. I don't do the podcast for "numbers". I do the podcast because N.Y. Roll and I have fun doing it. When that ceases to be the case, or if some other unforeseen thing comes along, we may stop doing recordings, no matter what the numbers are, good or bad. 

Again, if you listen, that's awesome and I appreciate you very much for doing so. The latest podcast, which is an "end-of-year" retrospective, can be listened to HERE or wherever you get your podcasts from.

That's it for this week! Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions.