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By Lennard Zinn
This isn’t a technical question per se, but it’s still got me scratching my head: why doesn’t Lance have rainbow stripes on his sleeves like all the other former World Champions?
He has had them on his jersey in the past. I expected him not to have them on the time trial suit and on the yellow jersey, but sure enough, he does not have it on his road jersey. I figured that since Nike prepared all kinds of special clothes for the Tour, including new versions of the Swift skinsuit for time trials and the HC jersey for mountain stages, maybe in the rush to produce so many special clothes, this was overlooked. But I just asked Dan Osipow, U.S. Postal’s director of communications, and he said it was “a conscious choice” to leave the rainbow stripes off, and that was all he would say on the matter.
Saeco’s man for all seasons
Beppo Hilfiker has worked with Cannondale and the Saeco team for years, on everything from the marketing of the team, to the details of the frames, to special components for the riders, and to their training and diet. One major benefit to Cannondale is that it uses the input obtained from riders through Hilfiker to improve its bikes. And it is Hilfiker, along with Cannondale and SRM founder Ulrich Schoberer, who makes the remotely-transmitted power, speed, heart rate and cadence information from Saeco riders Gerrit Glomser and Jörg Ludowig during the Tour available live to interested readers at www.2peak.com.
Hilfiker is an energetic man who also runs a training software company in Biel-Benken, Switzerland, and he uses its system to work with Saeco riders, as well as offering it to anyone worldwide. The system is called 2Peak—Your Personal Trainer and is so unique that it cries out for description here.
2Peak provides training tools that allow a cyclist to completely personalize his or her training to their specific needs, whether working with a personal coach or not. If the athlete has a coach, 2Peak integrates the coach’s input while removing much of their grunt work, freeing the coach up to provide more valuable input. For uncoached riders, it provides a way that they can get the very most out of whatever training plans they follow.
The 2Peak software incorporates a method to describe training numerically. Its algorithm tracks all relevant training and physiological parameters to continually recalculate the upcoming six months of training, including adjusting the periodization (alternating periods of increasing training volume with lower-volume periods within the overall trend of the training program) of the training continuously. The system learns from the rider over time to ever more exactly tailor the training program. Combining any physiological information the rider provides, like downloaded SRM files, diet records, data from lactate-threshold tests, training logs, physical data like height and weight, with training log records input online, its picture of the rider comes ever more sharply into focus. The rider logs not only the objective description of each training session, but also the subjective rating of how he or she felt during and after it.
The system’s “knowledge” of the rider can prevent training mistakes. For instance, after the rider gets over a period of illness, rather than jumping back into a pre-set training program and running the risk of getting sick again, the rider specifies how rapidly he or she would like to start back up again, and the 2Peak system recalculates the upcoming months of training based on how much time was missed, how fast the rider feels is appropriate to build back up, and the daily inputs of how his or her body is responding to the training load. Imagine how many cycles of repeated sickness this could have avoided in the past for you!
If you have a coach, his or her time can be invaluable in listening to you and establishing goals and the basis for the training program. However, calculating and recalculating the details of the daily sessions from that framework does not require expertise but can take a lot of the coach’s time that could be better spent in working directly with you. Since the system is online, both the coach and the athlete can view the training program at any time and make changes, from anywhere in the world. Better yet, the rider does not need to lug a computer around when traveling or search for Internet cafes; the system can be accessed via cell phone.
The rider uploads his or her training log entries by sending SMS cell phone text messages to 2Peak. The system recalculates the training program based on those inputs, makes appropriate changes, and sends a text message each day with the day’s training program. This works with the GSM cell phone system, which is used in practically the entire rest of the world other than the USA, but GSM is just now becoming available in the USA as well.
The 2Peak system also can be integrated with the rider’s nutrition plan and makes diet recommendations. Based on everything the system has learned about the rider and his or her current training and racing plans, it outputs quantities (grams of carbohydrate, fat, and protein), and when they should best be consumed relative to training and racing for the most effective uptake of the nutrients. If you input that you want to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time, it will adjust the diet recommendations correspondingly.
Right now, the system specifies only the quantity and quality of macro- and micronutrients for best results, but in the future it will provide menus and even send out cell phone text messages with precise shopping lists. One of the beauties of the 2Peak system is that it is practically infinitely scalable. Once a coach gets beyond a certain threshold number of clients, he or she gets spread too thinly and the coaching quality suffers if the coach does not have adequately prepared assistants. This system, on the other hand, works equally well for one rider as for 1000.
Technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder, a former U.S. national team rider and author of several books on bikes and bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides “ Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” and “Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance.”Zinn’s regular column is devoted to addressing readers’ technical questions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn. Look for his tech reports daily throughout the 2004 Tour de France.