Surprising myself – Xterra West Championships


Contributed by Sian Turner, Silver Sage and O2fit-awesome-athlete!  I love those races when as a result of consistent diligent training (and having fun while we are at it) we surprise even ourselves with our performance and results. Sian did just that this past weekend at the Xterra West Championships taking a much deserved win! Read on…

Every year I say I am not going to go to the Xterra West champs in Vegas, but for the 6th year in a row I found it on my schedule.  The course is a little strange, but over the last 6 years I have become familiar enough with it that I’m starting to like it.  It changes slightly each year, for the better I think and I’ve gradually come to learn how to embrace it’s weirdness and race it for what it is.  I’ve been mixing up Xterra racing with endurance mountain biking for the last couple of seasons – I keep trying to make a decision on which to focus on but can’t quite let either one go.   Last season tuned out pretty successfully by splitting my season up into parts, training as a triathlete through until the Xterra West Champs in April, then becoming a mountain biker for the summer for the Leadville 100 MTB, before hitting the big races at the end of the Xterra season – the Xterra US National Champs, and the World Champs in Maui.  Julie of O2Fitness was on board with this same plan again this year as yet again, while I kind of feel myself being pulled towards being a full time mountain biker, I can’t let Xterra go – I love it too much!

For the last couple of years, I’ve had to work a week long trade show in Las Vegas leading up to this race – far from an ideal situation – and I’ve had pretty flat legs by the time the race came around after a long week; but this year, having exited the world of high tech sales engineering work (for now at least), I had a far more ideal lead in to this race.  I was coming off a solid performance at the Sea Otter Classic MTB XC race the weekend before so knew I had a good bike performance in me, but my swim and run abilities were a little unknown.  Debby Sullivan and I hatched a plan to make the 8 hour drive through nowhereville Nevada, leaving early enough on the Thursday before the race to get to the race venue in time for a post travel ride of the bike course.  This worked out really well; we got to drive in daylight and arrived by 3pm, our legs happy to be out of the car and on bikes for an hour, before finding some dinner and hitting our pillows at an embarrassingly early time even for triathletes!  We stayed with two of my Braveheart teammates – Tammy Tabeek, and Xterra World champ Lesley Paterson, who showed up last minute with a plan to swim one-armed due to a still healing shoulder fracture, but with piles of energy and excitement that she just had to channel into a race – she’d won Xterra Costa Rica with one arm so she could win Vegas too.  I think this is why I can’t stay away from Xterra, however much Mountain Biking pulls me in, I just love the friends I have found in Xterra – it’s the people that make it addictive.

Another pre-ride of the course on Friday morning got the legs ready to race, and we all holed up in our apartment for the afternoon to rest up and get our minds focused.  Race morning appeared before we knew it and we each went about our preparation and headed to transition.  The Pro field at this race goes of 45minutes ahead of the Age Groupers, so I got to watch the Pro swim and be there to help give Lesley some splits on her one-armed swim vs. the rest of the two-armed Pro field.  Incredibly, with a modified two armed style, she was just 50seconds off the main pack exiting the water – they were in trouble – good luck staying ahead of Lesley’s Bike and Run combo!  Watching that performance really gave me the race mindset and when our swim start came around, I was ready to go and see what I could do.  Julie has provided me with the tools for a good race strategy – take each part of the course as it comes, stay in the moment – this works whether you are having a good day or not.  You can only do what you can at each point in time, no point thinking ahead about what is going to happen later in the race, but do what you can where you are right then.  The swim is where I really have to employ this strategy – there is only so much I can do on the swim, having done only ‘just enough’ swim training to have an ok swim; so being smart, sighting well, staying calm and focusing on efficient technique got me out the water in as good a time as I could have expected – 28minutes, ok, respectable, on to the bike.


My legs felt good almost the moment I started pedaling; this could be a good day I thought, but I didn’t let my mind linger on that thought for too long.  While I was planning to ride hard and put down a real race effort on the bike, I kept Julie’s words in my head – pedal smooth, no mashing, break the course into sections.  I had the tools, now execute.  I rode smooth and strong up the first climb, passing numerous other bikers the whole way, but not taking much note of which age groups they were in or who they were, I was focused on what I was doing.  I rode the steep loose parts of the climbs really well, then let loose on the fast downhills, trusting my Scott Spark’s suspension and stability to carry me safely through the loose rubble of the desert.  I rode the first lap clean and fast and when only 46 minutes had passed heading into the second lap, with my body still feeling great, I knew I was onto a good bike time.  Last year’s 1hr50min on this course last year was being crushed and I knew it.  I pushed onto the second lap, still riding smooth and passing a few more girls who had some good time on me out the water.  I was moving well and was soon only finding men out on the course – I wonder which girls are ahead of me?  At the end of the bike I came across a girl in my age group, I made the pass before transition and headed out onto the run ahead of her, but not by much.  I wondered whether there were more in our age group ahead of us or not?  My bike computer stopped at 1hr32 – that’s quite a chunk faster than last year – the course was riding fast and the weather was much more amenable to fast times, but still, nearly 20minutes, I had to be somewhere near the pointy end of the race.

Beginning the run, I could not believe how good I felt, no heavy legs, no out of control breathing, I could actually get settled into a good pace up the paved road towards the dirt and think about how to attack the run, rather than just knowing I would find a way to struggle through it.  The girl in my age group I had just passed, re passed me near the start of the run looking strong.  I stayed focused on me, taking each hill on the run as it came; she made a gap initially but it wasn’t getting bigger, I could still see her and I wasn’t going to let her go easily.  I was running strong, even the super steep hills that I’d had to walk numerous times in the past, energy levels were good and I thought about when and how I would try and close the gap.  I knew the run course well so knew how long I had to reel her back in, but I also knew I had made poor decisions in the past about when to make my move.  At Sea Otter just the previous weekend, I had finished 3 seconds off the podium due to not attacking at the right time – I made a pact with myself about halfway through the run that I was not going to let that happen again!  I told myself that passing the girl in front of me was either the age group win, or a slot to the World champs in Maui – I had no idea if that was true, we could well have been running in 3rd, 4th, 5th place for all I knew, but a strong mind was what was going to get me back to her.  Coming into the long sand pit we’d already biked down twice and now had to run down, I got passed by a strong running 25 year old –  I couldn’t hang onto her but her speed did help me pick up a few more yards on closing the gap on my age group competitor.  With a couple of miles to go, the gap started coming down and I knew I had enough left to catch her; I focused on increasing my stride length – every inch was going to count here if I was going to get her before I ran out of real estate.  I drew on coach Julie’s words as well as asking myself ‘what would Lesley do?’ – she’d lay down the hammer, that’s what – no way she’d let her get away!  I was nearly on her heals with just a short piece of dirt, then a quarter mile of pavement left, I came across Jay, our Braveheart Xterra Wetsuits guru, on the final lap of his bike – he could see that I was chasing and it gave me an extra push – I was going to turn myself inside out to make the pass and if I did that and it failed then fine, at least I’d would have given it everything.

About to make the pass for 1st place with Jay from Xterra Wetsuits looking on

On the last stretch of the run, I sat for a few seconds on her heals, gathered myself and set off on a 400m effort down the pavement to the finish line, eyes forward, no looking back – I had no idea if she had come with me or not, I just remembered the 400m repeats I had cursed in training but knew I had survived.  I pulled ahead and made it to the finish without my legs or mind giving up, I’d made the pass I’d been tracking down for the whole run but still had no idea what that meant in terms of my finish position.  Turned out it was for the age group win – something I’d not come close to here before – I was also the 3rd overall amateur and had laid down the fastest amateur bike split, back up by my best ever Xterra run.  I placed 13th overall female meaning that I had surpassed a few Pro times as well.  I’d surprised myself – I didn’t know I had that race in me, but regardless of positioning I was most proud of my mental strength on the run – I could so easily have let it go, and last year’s me quite possibly would have.

Yes, that hurt!

Usually I learn far more from races filled with mistakes and what-if’s, but actually, the lessons here are many as well – I proved a lot to myself and gained confidence for the rest of the season.  The carefully designed training by Julie for the winter, building on a great 2014, is starting to show and the year has barely begun.  Xterra will take a back seat now until US Nationals in September and Worlds in November (it’s a long season this year!), while I head off into the endurance mountain bike world to give Leadville another shot, and also this year the Park City Point to Point race (75 miles of singletrack).

It takes a team to put together performances like this; thanks to Julie at O2fitness for a training plan I trust and most importantly enjoy, my husband Dennis for supporting me in my crazy athletic exploits, my Braveheart team for giving me inspiration and belief – along with a kick-ass Scott Spark with ENVE wheels to race, Xterra Wetsuits, On Running, Oakley, Tommie Copper, and PowerBar.  And thanks to Debby for making the road trip so fun – and even the drive back through gale force winds and torrential rain straight after the race, but it sure was nice to get home that night!  I’m sure I forgot someone so thanks to them too!

Who Needs A Bike Fit?

Contributed by Bridget Webster, Bike Like A Girl RAAM 2015 team member. O2fitness-Silver Sage is the official training partner of the Bike Like A Girl RAAM team, in their pursuit of a course record, and sponsor in their fundraising efforts for world-wide causes.

Throughout my years of bike riding, I would say I’ve had a comfortable experience on my bike. I would often have aches and pains, but doesn’t everyone? Therefore, I never considered a bike fit.


When I was asked to join Bike Like a Girl, an eight woman bike team racing across America, I realized I needed every advantage available to me. Coach Julie Young, a former top U.S. bike racing pro, is one of those advantages. Julie’s impressive background of numerous international cycling wins and years of experience working with leading sports physiologist and coaches easily convinced me to follow her coaching plan and her advice to get a proper bike fit.

The purpose of a bike fit is to sit more comfortably on a bike, which allows for a longer and more efficient ride. If I was going to be part of a team racing over 3,000 miles in seven days through deserts, mountain ranges, and windblown plains, I needed to be as comfortable as possible.

Julie started the process with a pre-fit interview, which included the following questions and my answers:

  1. Number of years riding? A lot
  1. Any previous injuries? No
  1. Any pain while riding? Aching neck, searing toe pain, numb elbow, and knee and hamstring discomfort (Finally someone to complain to other than my poor husband!)


The next part of the bike fit was a flexibility assessment. In addition, my body angles on the bike were measured. As a result, my cleat position was moved back, I needed a wider saddle, my front stem was replaced with a stem that had a more forgiving angle, and insoles were put in my shoes to better support my arch and metatarsal bones. Julie also videotaped me riding before and after the adjustments, placing small sticky notes on my knees, hips, ankles, and shoulders. The sticky notes emphasized the key body parts for bike riding, and helped Julie determine whether or not I was maximizing my efficiency on the bike.

At the conclusion of my bike fit, I received a final detailed report of my before and after positions, the exact measurements of my final bike fit, video analysis of my pedal stroke, and other useful information. The entire process was very personable and thorough, and took about two to three hours to complete.

So, was I more comfortable on my bike after my bike fit?



I no longer need to bring aspirin on a long ride, and my toe, elbow, and knee no longer give me discomfort during a long climb. Best of all, my neck pain is gone. Getting a proper bike fit is the best money I have spent in a long time, and more importantly, I feel more prepared and confident for my upcoming race across America.

“Are you Ready?”

Contributed by Kristin Seibert, member of the Silver Sage-trained Bike Like A Girl RAAM 2015 team.

The last time I was asked this question on a regular basis was two years ago when my belly was swollen with a growing baby girl, and my husband and I were preparing for our lives to be completely turned upside down as we became parents. Were we ready?  Can you ever be “ready” for a baby?


Two years later, I again hear this question on an almost daily basis.  “Are you ready?”  Is our team of eight women (Bike Like a Girl) ready for 3,020 miles and 170,000 feet of relentless climbing?  Are we ready for seven days of very little sleep?  Are we ready to take instructions, make decisions, and work quickly with a crew of 16 others who are also running on very little sleep? Are we ready for constant forward motion, whether in a van or an RV or on a bike?  Are we ready for countless hard efforts on the bike with little time to recover in between?  Can we ever be “ready” for Race Across America?


A few weeks ago, while half of our team was training out west in Reno, Nevada with our coach, Julie Young of O2 Fitness, the other four of us took the opportunity to head just slightly west of Annapolis for a training ride in West Virginia with Ben Reynolds of Bike Doctor Arnold, our local bike shop sponsor.  Ben was on Team Friends Foundation, a eight-man team who finished Race Across America in 2014.  Ben does nothing 50%.  More accurately, Ben does nothing 100%.  Ben does everything at 110%.  So none of us were terribly surprised when he offered to lead us on an “epic Skyline ride” with “just a little bit of gravel”.  More precisely, the ride was 80 miles with 10,000 feet of vertical climbing and 20 miles of gravel.  It was one of those rides that I hate while I’m doing it, but will still talk about it years later as one of my best days on my bike.


I had a great ride.  After months of slogging through endless trainer sessions, I felt like I finally had the chance to prove to myself, my team, my coach, and even to my husband (who has already sacrificed a lot on this journey!) that Julie is training us well.  After hours of SFR’s (slow frequency repetitions) and neuromuscular adaptation in front of the TV, I finally put my slow cadence work to the test in the beautiful outdoors.  There is no “out-of-the-saddle” on a gravel climb, so I ground those pedals over at a cadence of 40 rpm (sometimes even less!), all the while hearing Julie’s voice in my head, “focus on efficient pedal stroke” and  “this is your weight workout on the bike.”  I worked on reducing dead spots in my pedal stroke, scraping across the bottom with my hamstrings, and applying consistent pressure to the pedals as I slowly inched up those persistent rocky climbs.


Equally rewarding was watching my teammates appear around the bend at the top of those climbs.  One by one, we conquered four mountains.  No one left behind.  No one not “ready” for what was given us.  The day brought us more than we asked or bargained for.  And Race Across America will be no kinder, no gentler, no more forgiving than that.


So are we “ready”?  Truly, we will only know the answer to that question when we cross the finish line in Annapolis and can look back at the results of all our training.  What I do know is that Julie’s training has built in us a strength and confidence that allows us to overcome whatever is handed to us:  threshold intervals into an unforgiving headwind, steep grades when the legs are already beaten down, endless miles in the darkest of nights.  This is what we will face.  This is what we are training for.  And this is when we hear our coach’s calm reminder, “endurance is a game of efficiency.  Make every pedal stroke count.”

Thank you, Julie, for your well thought out training.  We can’t wait to make you proud every pedal stroke of the way!

You’ve Scratched the RTO Off Your Bucket List. Now What?

By Julie Young

As the official training partner for the Race 178, running series, we provide, among other things, a series of training articles. Below is an article to help runners better prepare for the upcoming Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. Enjoy the read…

When I was asked to write an article on what to do three days leading up to the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey (RTO), I bristled, thinking, “We’ve missed the point.” In my opinion, this what-should-I-do-three-days-out mentality sends the wrong message and robs us of opportunities. It’s the training to the starting line that presents golden opportunities for lifestyle changes of improved fitness, nutrition, hydration and sleep. These changes will improve your RTO running experience and create traction toward a lasting lifetime of health.

I think too many participants approach the RTO with the bucket list mentality, just grinding and gritting their teeth through it, to simply tick it off the list. But the bucket list training mentality often leads to injury and in many cases, the participant misses out on the great learning opportunities that training properly for events, can afford.


Having an athletic goal, like the RTO, can be a great motivator to nudge you out the door to move more and eat, drink and sleep better. As we have discussed in previous articles, you can successfully achieve these goals in a healthy manner, when you commit to and consistently follow a well-developed training plan.

We are almost a month out from toeing the start line at RTO, so how about a call to action – for the next 30 days make a full commitment to a comprehensive training plan.

In my experience as an athlete and coach, achieving athletic goals is similar to achieving any other goal: it requires consistent commitment, patience and focused purposeful work. As we have noted in our RTO training articles and training tips – an effective training plan improves running-specific strength, power, endurance and efficient mechanics. The training plan also replicates the specific demands of the specific event. Training is essentially a mental and physical dress rehearsal for race day. So as you toe the line on race day, your homework is done, and the fun has just begun.

The physical training also facilitates mental conditioning. Through training, you experience the challenging mental and physical sensations and train to run through these sometimes uncomfortable sensations. As a result of this ability to mentally confront and overcome physical discomfort, you gain confidence and empowerment which fuels you on race day.

Through consistent commitment to a training plan, you learn mentally and physically just what to expect. This knowing what to expect, reduces anxiety and improves the ability to relax. When you are relaxed you thrive and have a more positive experience.

The training period is also the golden opportunity to dial in all the elements that support the optimal race day experience – including nutrition, hydration, sleep, recovery strategies. This is a 24/7 opportunity, not just hours before, and during, running.


Eat Right

Good nutrition is about making good, mindful choices. These include:

  • Selecting the least processed ingredients possible
  • Preparing an appropriate mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats (there is no absolute on these ratios, ie carbs 60%, protein 20%, etc., but they should be individually determined)
  • Focusing caloric concentration before and after the activity
  • Exercising portion control
  • Staying hydrated

The training sessions are the time to also determine the types of food that work best for you individually. So start experimenting during the training runs and dialing in your foods and drinks of choice.

Recovery is also a key element in the RTO event, and nutrition is a key aspect of recovery. Use your training as an opportunity to fine-tune your post-run nutrition recovery strategy. Hint: chocolate milk is the recovery drink of champions.

Regeneration, including sleep, stretching and soft tissue work, is also vital to athletic performance and overall health. Use your training time to consistently institute these supporting health habits too.

Maximize your RTO experience, and consider it a kick-start toward a lasting lifestyle of health instead of just a bucket-list event. This will enable the new and improved you to go after even more bucket list items!


Julie Young spent the majority of her 12-year career racing in Europe with the US National A-Team where she thrived in stage racing, taking GC victories at the prestigious Tour de L’Aude and Tour d’Aquitaine, as well as numerous individual stage wins and podium places at Molenheike, Tour of the European Economic Communities, Tour d’Epinal and Grand Prix de Quebec. She is now the Director of Silver Sage Sports & Fitness Lab, where she helps athletes of all levels reach their goals. If you would like more information on a training plan specific to your needs, give her  a call at (530)-448-0498. You can also find more information at

Half the Road to Benefit Bike Like A Girl Cycling Camps

Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab and The Reno Wheelmen Present: HALF THE ROAD

Wednesday, May 6th 6:00PM to 10:00PM
The Peppermill, Tuscan Ballroom
Suggested donation of $10 at the door and silent auction Light food to be provided.  Cash bar.
Please join us for a celebration of women’s cycling in conjunction with the women’s AMGEN Tour of California stage race, which takes place in South Lake Tahoe the weekend of May 9th

HALF THE ROAD This documentary film explores the world of women’s professional cycling, focusing on the love of sport and the pressing issues of inequality that modern-day female riders face in a male dominated sport. The voices and advocates of women’s pro cycling take the audience on a journey of enlightenment, depth, strength, love, humor and best of all, change & growth.

Check out the trailer here-


WOMEN’S CYCLING PANEL DISCUSSION Featuring current and past pro racers:

  • Inga Thompson is a Reno native, Olympian, winner of the Coors Classic, multiple US National Champion and multiple World Championship medalist.
  • Julie Young spent the majority of her 12 year career racing in Europe with the US National A-Team where she thrived in stage racing, taking GC victories at the prestigious Tour de L’Aude and Tour d’Aquitaine, as well as numerous individual stage wins and podiums at Molenheike, Tour of the European Economic Communities, Tour d’Epinal and Grand Prix de Quebec. Currently Julie is the owner and head coach at o2fitness and Director of Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab.
  • Robin Farina currently races for the BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental Care cycling team.  She is a founding member and current CEO of the Women’s Cycling Association, which supports the growth of women’s cycling worldwide by advancing policies with governing bodies and creating opportunities to develop new riders and grow the sport.

100% OF PROCEEDS BENEFIT BIKE LIKE A GIRL CYCLING CAMPS All door receipts and silent auction proceeds will be used to help get more girls out on bikes.

This collaborative Reno Wheelmen and Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab sponsored, showing of the inspirational Half the Road, benefits the Bike Like A Girl cycling camps.

This camp concept has been my long-time vision as a way to share the rich life lessons that my cycling life has taught me. These camps will focus on the challenging pre-early teen years, and introduce these girls to the sport of cycling as a vehicle for character development, interpersonal skills and improved mental and physical confidence and empowerment. This program also provides the stepping stone for those girls who express interest in competitive cycling. The ultimate goal of the camp program is to provide the opportunity to ride a bike, to those girls who do not have the financial means. For these girls, scholarships will be provided for these eight-week camps to cover tuition as well as equipment.

The Bike Like A Girl Cycling camps gained momentum and a trajectory course when the stars aligned and like-minds met and partnered. The Bike Like A Girl Team tri-fecta includes – the Bike Like A Girl RAAM 2015 team, an eight-women relay team racing across America, gunning for the course record, while raising money for the Bike Like A Girl camps; and the Women’s Cycling Association, a world-wide organization working toward equality of opportunity for women in cycling.

I hope you can join us for the showing of the inspiring film, Half the Road.

Race 178, Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Training Chalk Talk

As the official training partner for the Race 178, running series, we provide, among other things, a series of training articles. Below is an article to help runners better prepare for the upcoming Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. Enjoy the read…

While the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey is, for some, an opportunity to partake in a progressive pajama party with BFFs and a little running thrown in along the way, that experience will be enhanced and injuries avoided if consistent preparation is in place. Below is food for thought as you embark on this memorable all-night adventure.

The key to improving your experience is having an overall training plan to reach your RTO goals. One priority needs to be avoiding injury.  In our experience, as runners, you insure against injury by investing in consistent purposeful hip and trunk stability exercises, global mobility (joints, muscle length, soft tissues), quality work and quality rest, and a gradually progressive training program.

There should be a clear objective to each and every day’s training session and an understanding of how that relates to your RTO goal. Empowered with this understanding, you will train more purposefully and more effectively.

Here are a few suggestions to improve your RTO preparation and race experience:



  • Training Tips
    • Individualize your training and make it relative to your individual circumstances
      • A training plan needs to be based on your current fitness/past training goals, and then gradually progress as you adapt to the training
    • Toe the start line mentally and physically fit, injury free and hungry for action
      • The key to improving fitness and avoiding injury is a gradually progressed training plan
    • Balance sport-specific training with supplemental cross-training for improved performance and injury prevention
      • Focus on consistent hip and trunk stability, and general mobility
      • Cycling, swimming and hiking are good supplemental cross-endurance training tools that will provide mental and physical variety
    • Vary your training, which provides the opportunity to continue to challenge and improve
      • Once a solid endurance base is in place, systematically and consistently include speed and higher tempo workouts in your training plan
      • Train hard and rest hard – rest should be of equal importance to the running workouts
      • Quality workouts trump quantity
    • Train to meet the specific demands of the RTO
      • Run in the morning, at lunch and in the evening
      • Build up your endurance – include long endurance days and gradually build to the distance you will cover over three legs
      • Train the intensity and terrain of your segment
        • Train at the intensity you hope to hold during the event
        • If you have the opportunity, run the sections you will run in the RTO
        • Simulate this terrain in your training – uphills, downhills and flats all present different challenges
      • Use training to implement your recovery strategies for RTO
        • Use the recovery lessons learned during preparation and incorporate them between your RTO run segments. These might include:
          • Post-run segment recovery drink
            • Believe it not, chocolate milk tops the list
          • Compression socks
          • Stretching and rolling after your segment
          • Movement preparation exercises before your segments
        • Dial in your race-day nutrition strategies during your preparation, not the week or day before
    • Build your bank account of sleep leading into the race


A successful training plan often needs to be custom fit to incorporate all the training components while balancing your life’s work, family schedule and your own physiology. Whether you’re looking to complete the RTO injury-free or you want to set your own personal record, Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab helps people at all levels of ability. If you have questions about any of these workouts or are just looking for advice, email us at

Reno Spring Cycling Camp

Contributed by Sian Turner, o2fitness and Silver Sage athlete,  her Spring Cycling Camp Diary below…

The hidden road cyclist in me jumped at the chance to join Julie Young’s 3-day Spring Training camp in Reno this past weekend.  Comprised of mainly Reno Wheelwomen, plus a couple of brave guys, and me, the 20 of us knew we were in for a tough few days.   The unpredictable April weather cooperated beautifully and we all showed up eager to learn all we could from Julie and get a good boost to our fitness and skills for the upcoming season.


Off-Bike Activation, Mobility and Stability

Julie’s program for the 3 days was expertly designed with purpose to every pedal stroke; no two days being remotely the same, yet equally challenging.  Each day began with yoga mats and mini-bands for an off-bike session comprising of bike specific strength and mobility work.  Julie demonstrated and explained numerous exercises, which when committed to long-term, either stand alone or as a pre-bike warm-up, increase pedaling efficiency, balance out weaknesses in posture or on bike movements, and develop the neuromuscular patterns required for hours and years of happy, strong, and injury-free cycling.


Day 1 – Speed and Power, and Force Development

After our clams, planks and push-ups were done, we hopped on our bikes to ride to our workout location for the day.  Day 1 took us to the infamous Air Center Crit course where we would hone our sprinting abilities, both in and out of the saddle before becoming Renshaw’s and Cavendish’s for the day to practice sprint lead-outs in some friendly competition.  This kind of riding, as a mountain biker, is about as foreign as it gets on two wheels for me, but with Julie’s explanations of achieving good mechanics for both in and out of saddle sprints, it began to make sense how this is hugely applicable to any style of riding.  Generating efficient power to the pedal by recruiting the right muscles, while maintaining strong core posture is exactly what is required for mountain biking and road racing alike.  As we rode round a 1km circle, sprinting the back 200m straight, with high cadence recovery in between, we were given plenty to think about, different techniques to try, and ways to improve each time. Riding round and round in circles was never this fun before!  To complete our sprint workout we pedaled a beautiful low-traffic rural road to add a little climbing to our day – the paved road ended after a few miles and we dirt riders were out-numbered and lost the vote to continue on gravel vs. turning back for home.


Day 2 – Hill Intervals

Day 2 began as did day 1, on our yoga mats with mini-bands taking instruction again from Julie on the off-bike exercises, each of us hoping they would wake our tired legs up ready to tackle the morning’s hill intervals.  We set out to our hill climbing location at a far faster pace than I expected – I sat near the back of our group secretly hoping my legs would come around, or the spritely imps at the front would slow down, or both.  A 30 minute warm up and we stopped to regroup and listen to Julie’s instructions for the workout.  We would be doing sub-threshold or threshold hill repeats between 8 and 12 minutes depending on where each of us were with our training; we would be focusing on smooth pedaling and experimenting with our cadence to get a feel for where our most efficient point was.

A major part of this workout also was mental – focusing on the purpose for the workout so we got the most out of it possible on an individual basis.  Correct muscle recruitment, remaining efficient while the effort increased to uncomfortable levels is a difficult, but essential skill to master for all types of rider or racer.  As a mountain biker, I am usually much happier with a hill to attack rather than a straight to sprint, and Julie’s calm but clear instructions had me ready to hit the workout with purpose, my legs all of a sudden raring to go.  Everyone set off on their own individual mission to conquer the hill several times over the next hour, each with their own goals for the session.  While it was an individual workout, having everyone else there on the same hill at the same time gave added purpose and incentive in supporting each other to achieve their best on the day.


Active Recovery Rides

On the first two days, Julie also led a late afternoon active recovery session; explaining that spinning out tired legs both aided recovery and added an element of endurance to the day.  Those that joined these rides definitely felt the benefit leading into the following day.  Not to exclude the social aspects of the sport of cycling, on the Saturday evening we all gathered for a team potluck meal.  This was a great opportunity to get to know each other better and discover more about what each our cycling goals were.  We had a wide range of cyclists present at the camp; from the Bike Like a Girl RAAM 2015 team working towards their massive task of racing across America as only the second ever 8-woman team this June, to experienced road racers and time-trialists, a couple of token mountain bikers, and a host of century riders with focused goals of increasing their endurance and skills as committed cyclists.  The evening was relaxed and incredibly enjoyable, but petered out early with a third day of riding scheduled for the following morning.

Metabolic Efficiency Training Talk

During our off-bike warm up session for day 3 – an endurance focused day with some on bike specific strength built in – we discussed whole food diets and metabolic efficiency.  Some in the group already ate ‘Paleo’ and/or knew the concepts of metabolic efficiency, some had had great results already with dietary changes for themselves, while for others these were completely new concepts.  It was a great opportunity to impart information and learn from others and everyone left on their bikes with new ideas and more questions on this and related topics.

Day 3 – Specific Cycling Strength via Slow Frequency Repetitions and Endurance

Day 3’s ride began with some hills with a difference – so called SFRs (Slow Frequency Repetitions); performed primarily at endurance pace (for today anyway), in a big gear providing just enough resistance to slow rpms to between 40 and 60.  The purpose of the workout being to highlight and work on weaknesses in the pedal stroke and to smooth everything out while performing what effectively is a functional strength workout on the bike.  This was a new concept to some who hadn’t been part of Julie’s training programs already, while for the rest of us it was a good refresher on the focus of these weekly workouts.

After SFRs were successfully completed, we split into groups for our endurance ride – one group was to hit a flatter rolling loop around beautiful Wahoe Valley, another to the top of Geiger grade (an 8mile 2200ft climb) and back, while the third would take Geiger Grade over the top to Virginia City, loop to Carson City and back to Reno.  I joined the long ride – a loop I had never done, and with nothing I’d rather being doing the rest of the day other than riding my bike, the longest loop possible seemed the way to go!  A group of us headed out up Geiger (at a pace I’d argue wasn’t exactly ‘endurance’), and, leaving some to turn around, 5 of us headed over the top to one of the weirdest (sorry, I should say, most ‘unique’) destinations in Nevada, Virginia City.  Virginia City is an original silver mining boomtown from the 1800s, which somehow has all the original buildings (and some of the people it seems to me!) from the era, including the Saloon; it’s quite the tourist destination.  Swiftly moving through the wooden boardwalks of the main street, we descended out of Virginia City with sweeping views of the Carson Valley, and before we knew it were pedaling through the back roads of Carson City (past some more very unique Nevadan landmarks!) on our way back to Reno.  It was the perfect ride to end our 3-days of cycling immersion.


Getting Ready to Race Across America 2015

Contributed by O2fitness and Silver Sage Uber-Athlete, Michelle Faurot…

I’m part of the second only 8 women team to compete in the Race Across America (RAAM) this June.  As planning for RAAM goes, we were late to the gate, deciding to put together our team and crew this past summer.  Administrative and logistical work immediately took its toll on workout time.


One of our first key items was to ask Julie Young of O2 Fitness to be our coach.  There was never any doubt in my mind who we wanted.  Julie’s palmares as women’s national cycling team member and international pro are incredibly impressive.  So is her approach to coaching.

Functional strength and mobility:

With workout time limited, I decided to fully embrace Julie’s foundation workouts: trunk/core, hip mobility and activation, and rotary strength.  During my training in the spring and early summer, I had treated these as optional workouts, if I had the time and the inclination (which wasn’t often.)  I didn’t do them enough to remember all the nuances and checking the web site took even more time. But my triathlon racing season had been mediocre at best.  I had suffered a tear to the fascia over the gluteus medius and minimus during the summer of 2013, and it was clearly causing problems.  I began to realize that there was some very solid reasoning for doing these exercises.  I started to “embrace the bands” and made those my priority when training time was limited. No surprise that my injured hip started to come back to life and firing!  One day when I was on the trainer doing slow  frequency revolution training, I concentrated on driving the pedal stroke from that injured hip. How rewarding to see my power average jump 30 watts without increasing intensity level!  I was even more sold on the bands and other strength workouts that Julie was assigning.  I have continued to make these workouts the cornerstone of my training.  Some days they might be a little abbreviated, but they remain my top priority.

Metabolic Efficiency:

The second thing Julie encouraged me to do was work on metabolic efficiency.   As a USA triathlon certified coach, I had attended a seminar on this subject.  I pulled out my course info and began to think this was a good idea.  I had developed a bad habit of eating up to three Clif bars per day.  Sometimes prior to or during training, but often because I was too busy, and they were easy to grab, And lets face it, I liked the taste!

It was officially offseason for me, so I decided to go for it in the fall of 2014.  I eliminated all potatoes and grains from my diet.  I made myself eat fruits and vegetables at every meal.  Training food was real food, ie bananas, almonds, mini frittatas.  Those were my guidelines.  I added a lot more fat to my diet:  cheese (mainly sheep and goat), bacon, olives, nuts.   Breakfast was a huge three egg omelet filled with veggies and topped with avocado. Mini frittatas baked with bacon saved me on training rides and traveling.  Gone were my nightly helping of tortilla chips post dinner along with dark chocolate candy bars.  I admit that this took some getting used to.  I was the carbo queen!  But the initial results were very encouraging.  My hypoglycemic hunger swings were gone.  I could go for hours without eating!  This was huge for me – not having to worry about getting the “hangries.”   The other encouraging item was that I was getting leaner.  Overall I dropped more than ten pounds, and I’ve kept it off.

My focus training wise was base building, endurance paced workouts, perfect for fat burning as the fuel source.  And I was slow (and I mean slow!) initially, but I was okay with that.  My fat burning efficiency was about NIL.  (Not surprising after all the Clif bars I had been feeding myself.)  I reminded myself that my training had a long term purpose.  And it was working.  After a month I could make it to a hard swim practice in the early morning, with only a cup of coffee in my stomach.  My cycling efforts were getting stronger.  It was so nice to see real progress!  When training ramped up in January I started adding more potatoes and non gluten grains around intense workouts, but MUCH fewer carbs than I ate previously.  I have now eliminated most processed food.

The experiment worked for me.  I developed a workable approach to address my weaknesses in nutrition.  I was never maniacal about following it and didn’t give myself a hard time if I ate some cake at a birthday party. But for me, removing so many processed carbs and improving my fat burning efficiency has made a visible improvement in health and training ability, and therefore easy to stick to for the majority of the time.

Rest and Recovery:

My third area of focus on in preparing for RAAM was to actually pay attention to Julie’s rest days and rest weeks.  As a driven athlete (speaking to the choir here I’m sure) I was focused on getting the workouts and hours in.  As a coach, I knew rest and recovery were the key to progression, but it was easy to rationalize that I didn’t need to worry about that.  We all struggle with how to fit training in our busy schedules.  I decided to honor the rest days, even if I hadn’t completed all the training.  This forced me to plan better for the week ahead.  Sometimes I couldn’t finish the entire workout, but I went with the approach that something is better than nothing. And if I didn’t have time for a training session, I didn’t beat myself up over it and let it go.  Slowly my consistency improved, and I could feel the results.  When the rest weeks come, I take full advantage!  I can’t over emphasize how important rest and recovery have been to my training.


This was the focus of my fall training mid September through December.  I had one week of 100 cycling miles in September and a big week of 200+ miles in October when RAAM team member Kristin and her husband came to visit.  Even including those big weeks, my cycling mileage for the fall averaged about 60 miles per week.  Most of my long endurance workouts were hikes or snowshoes.  By December I was down to 45 miles for the month.  What kind of shape would I be in when cycling training ramped up?

January was the start of Julie’s training plan for our RAAM team.  It was time to see how my preparation would play out.  The RAAM team decided to join other local teams and Julie at a weekend long training camp in Death Valley in January.  Conditions were hot and windy with 15,000 feet of climbing.  It was a perfect test for our RAAM team, and I was really pleased with my performance during the camp.  No physical issues, and I was able to maintain consistency throughout the camp.  And my performance in relation to my compatriots was hugely improved compared to last fall – I could keep up!


 My strength and endurance have continued to improve.  My time up Geiger Grade has dropped 25% from last September and my time for a mock race around the 7.7 mile Franktown TT loop dropped 10% from last May.  My average weekly riding volume has slowly edged up:  90 miles per week in January, 104 per week in Feb, 190 in March, and 200+ miles per week in April.  And importantly, I’m not racked out after tough workouts like I was last year. This is key for RAAM as our race plan is 20 minute pulls at threshold every hour for 10 hours.

Julie has been an incredibly motivating coach for our team, and I can’t wait to get out there to set some new RAAM women’s team records with her help!


The NG (New Guy)…

Contributed by Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab sponsored, ProjectHero athlete Shay…

So I’ve been a NG several times in my life, if you don’t know what a NG is…welcome, because you’re a NG to the NG world!!

Thursday, March 26th at 0400 the alarm clock wails, time to load up and head down to San Diego for my very first Triathlon! Well almost my very first! I had back surgery 5 weeks ago, so when I told my doctor that I was going to participate in an Ironman 70.3 she was less than thrilled. I asked if it would be okay if I was on a relay team and only did the swim portion, she agreed!


Race day was fantastic with fog covering the water at Oceanside Harbor in Southern California, and a cool 60 degrees outside with the water temp not being much higher! This was an open water swim, that started off very mellow! But when the horn blew it was anarchy, arms flailing, kicks flying…it was great!! When we headed out to open water, that’s when the swells started and it got very choppy! I could hear seals yelling at us to either get out of their backyard or play with them, either way, I just wanted to get it over with, so I put my head down…got in the zone…and ran right into a buoy! I looked over and the guy swimming next to me was laying on his back laughing his butt off! A lady at T1 said she was laughing so hard that she forgot how to swim and almost drowned!

During my portion of the race, my back locked up with spasms 3 times, I never for a moment thought I was in any trouble or distress as the water is my second home, with the sky being my first, the others follow!! What did freak me out was losing time because my legs wouldn’t work! I know, in the swim portion it’s mostly arms, but when you cannot rotate your body left and right while trying to freestyle, it gets frustrating…well for me anyways! So instead of fighting it, I just rolled over and did the backstroke until my legs got feeling again! For the 1.2 mile swim, my time was somewhere around 50 minutes…I think, as I forgot to look or listen for the time, as well as I forgot to hit stop on my watch! My pool time is around 35 minutes, so 50 minutes or so in rough seas…with Sharks, Sea Serpents and Mermaids…I’ll take it!!

But you know what, I wasn’t there to beat a time, or anyone else for that matter! I was there for rehabilitation, to rehab my body, mind, and spirit! I met some fantastic people that were truly there to help, and all it took was for me to open up just a bit, and let someone in! I cannot thank the fine folks of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and the many supporters, sponsors, and volunteers for their generous donations that allow this program to thrive! And let me never to forget Mrs. April Wolfe who steered me to this new avenue in my life, for setting me up with a Champion athlete, Mrs. Sian Turner! But most of all, believing in me!! Thank you!


I was asked by one of the administrators, what my future plans and goals were! I told him that I wanted to share my experiences with others who are in the same boat, that I wanted to be an Ironman Triathlete and go to Kona, Hawaii! That I wanted to go to the Paralympics! I guess they liked what they saw and heard in me as they have invited me to attend several Challenged Athletes training camps over the next few months that are geared towards Kona and the US Paralympic Team!

So now I’m back in town, it’s Monday morning and I’m at the surgery center…with my son, he’s getting his tonsils taken out…thank God! I’m also reflecting back on a weekend that allowed my wife and I to become closer, for me to compete and train, for me to come out of my shell! I learned so much this past weekend, it was simply AWESOME!!


March NorCal High School League Races

Contributed by Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab sponsored Reno Tahoe Cycling Team members, Tate Meintjes and Austin Smith.



March has been an amazing month for the Reno-Tahoe Composite team. It started out with the first of the famous NorCal series. These 6 races host the fastest kids not only in California, but on the west coast. So, for the second year in a row the Reno-Tahoe Composite team made the commute to the first race of this series in East Garrison, Fort Ord. The goal for everyone was podium and we proved that a small team from Reno, Nevada is a force to reckon with.

The race was on Sunday, so the entire Reno-Tahoe Composite team packed into the team Suburban and headed down to pre-ride on Saturday. The drive, however long, was definitely fun. We don’t call ourselves teammates or friends. What we are is a family. We had no trouble sharing a cramped car, or making embarrassing jokes with each other because of the bond that this team shares. Even when we finally got to the race, the jokes didn’t stop. They didn’t stop until it was time to pre-ride. This is when it got serious.

Along with riding the course to get a feel for it, we also had training to do. We started out riding together for the warm up, but we all knew the different speeds we have in our group. When everyone had completed their training, we met back at the Pits, drank our GetReal Nutrition active recovery mixes, and headed off for the hotel. The team met for dinner later on that night. We normally try to eat as healthy as we can in order to maximize our performance for the next day. Our coaches have taught us about the consumption of carbs as our main food group, not just before races, but all of the time. A good source of carbs is the gluten free pasta we all ate for dinner that night and it showed the next day.

The team car picked everyone up from their hotels early in the morning so we could drive to the race and watch our youngest rider, Aubrey Milner, race in the freshman category. Being her first race in a high school league, no one knew what to expect out of her so the pressure she had was very minimal. However, now she proved to us that she can race competitively in the front group.

Aubrey pulled out a strong 4th place in a stacked category of 24 girls.


In the sophomore category, we had three racers:  Austin Smith, Zach Waymire, and Tate Meintjes. They also exceeded the expectations of our coaches as well as parents.

Austin Smith powered himself into a 6th place out of 54 riders.


 Zach Waymire pedaled himself into a 5th place podium finish.


Tate Meintjes had a strong race getting first place and receiving the leader’s jersey.


In the heavily competitive Varsity category, we had Ian Meintjes racing against some of the fastest kids in California. Ian wasn’t feeling well because of breathing issues, but he still had a great race.

Ian Meintjes secured 23rd place in the stacked varsity category.


 The second NorCal race of the series took place in Granite Bay, California. Theses trails were much more familiar to us because we have ridden and raced there previously. We all had high expectations going into this race because we were comfortable with the course. With that being said, it was a record setting 85 degrees come race day. After a 6th place call up at the starting line, Austin Smith maintained that same position with another 6th place finish. Aubrey Milner moved up a podium spot to take 3rd place in the freshman category. Tate Meintjes ended with a strong 2nd place finish. Sophomore racer, Zach Waymire, and varsity racer, Ian Meintjes, were unable to finish the race.

On March 28, 2015, the team loaded into the team Suburban to make another trip to the 3rd NorCal race at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey. We drove down all day Saturday to make it in time for pre-ride. After we rode the course and did our workout for the day, we headed to our hotels. Our coach, Trevor DeRuise, made time out of his busy race schedule to come down and cheer us on. The next day was full of excitement. We got to the venue early to set up our Silver Sage Sports and Fitness sponsored tents and banners. The first race of the day was the girl’s freshman category that Aubrey Milner was racing in. We went to cheer her on. After her race everyone else got ready for their own race. One of our team moms planned a lunch which was well needed after our hard races. The finishes were very impressive by everyone. Since our team had such great placement, we went home with a 3rd place in team points.

Camille Syben and Aubrey Milner finished with a 1st and 3rd place, respectively.


Zach Waymire and Austin Smith finished with 3rd and 5th place finishes, respectively, out of 49 racers.


Tate Meintjes finished with a solid 8th place out of 49 racers.


Ian Meintjes finished with a 14th place out of 22 racers.


Dylan Syben finished with a 16th place out of 22 racers.


March started out really well for the team and it is only going to get better. With riders in almost every category, the Reno-Tahoe Composite team really represented their sponsors well. Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab, Massage Envy, Audi Reno-Tahoe, Cuore, and Specialized have something to be proud of with this young and growing team.