Bird is The Word – Lactate Testing

You may have heard Ryan referred to as “Bird”. At a big bike race years ago, his name was reported in the VeloNews on two occasions as “Ryan Littlebird”. Someone started calling him “Littlebird” and it eventually evolved into just “Bird”. Later on, in trying to come up with a catchy screenname, in a reference to that song that goes “bird-bird-bird, bird is the word” (Surfin’ Bird by the Trashmen), he came up with Word is Bird and it has stuck with him for nearly 20 years.

So why not start a weekly column called “Bird is the Word”.  This week’s installment covers Ryan’s take on why Blood Lactate Testing is the preferred performance testing of choice for cyclists.


We often get asked why we use a blood lactate test rather than a twenty-minute test (or one of the other testing protocols) to determine lactate threshold and to structure training zones.  We could just say “that is what the pros do” and that would probably be good enough. Works for them right?  Really, there are a lot of good reasons for doing a blood lactate test.

First and foremost, a blood lactate test more accurately pinpoints the important physiological breaking point between the balance of lactate production and clearance. Using a twenty minute time trial as a test is physically challenging and mentally difficult. We’d prefer to use that hard effort for a training session rather than a testing session.  In addition, poor pacing during a steady state test, going out too hard or making a hard push at the end, will lead to diluted numbers.  In an effort to make the most of our training time and effort, accuracy is critical to help draw the line where we are doing enough work but not too much.

Second, a blood lactate test offers more insight than simply telling you your lactate threshold. The shape of the curve helps tell how your low, mid and high-end are trained. In addition, comparing lactate test results over a period of time (say monthly) will also tell the complete story on where progress is being made and where work still needs to be done. Since a lactate test is not a maximal effort, or even a 20 minute time trial, we can do them more frequently without impacting our overall training regime.

Blake Vatne is a seasoned pro. He has performed hundreds and hundreds of lactate tests. With a degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Utah, he knows his stuff. To schedule a test with Blake, email him at

Scott Genius 900 Tuned – Julian’s Pick for 2015

Long time Contender Bicycles staff member Julian shows off one of his favorite new items for 2015, the Scott Genius 900 Tuned mountain bike. Julian is into this top-tier Scott Genius 900 Tuned for its extremely lightweight carbon frame, Fast rolling 29 inch wheels and “super hot” paint scheme. The Scott Genius is a popular bike amongst Contender Bicycles employees and customers alike, as such the bike shown here has already sold! Not to worry though, Scott offers a wide range of Genius models with alloy or carbon frames and choice of components. Come on in and take one for a spin.

Check out more details on the Scott Genius 900 Tuned bike.

I Heart My Bike Photo Contest

Get a FREE Contender T-Shirt by submitting your photo to our I HEART MY BIKE photo contest!


Combining Valentine’s Day and a winter full of neglecting your bicycle, it is time to do something special and show us your real love. We’re having a photo show-down to see who has the most love for their bike. This is better than Facebooking about your “steed” or “whip”. We’re looking for great photos of your bike (& yourself if you feel so inclined) that demonstrate the love you have for your bike! Send us a shot or two of your favorite bike loving activities and we’ll kick down one of our new Bike Love inspired T-Shirts.


Every entry receives a Contender Bicycles tee! However only one photo receives the grand prize of a $50 Contender Bicycles Gift Card! So send your pics ASAP! You can email them to or simply submit a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #ContenderBikeLove. (Please note we are only able to see hashtags from public Instagram accounts).

We can’t wait to see all your pictures! Contest ends February 14 (that’s right Valentines Day!) at midnight. We’ll announce the winner on Instagram and Facebook on Monday, February 16. Stay tuned!

**After submitting your photo, please swing by the shop to pick up your t-shirt. Limited to one t-shirt per person while supplies last.



Last week saw the delivery a unique addition to the sports nutrition category in the form of cookie mix by Skratch Labs. Cookies? You may ask. Yes cookies, like when you were a kid. Cookies like you’ve been avoiding in your grown-up attempts to eat “healthy”. Skratch Labs leader Allen Lim believes that active adults benefit from the proteins, calories, salts and sugars that real food provide. That is why his company doesn’t produce any of the over-synthesized ‘power foods’ that are heavily marketed towards runners and cyclists. In turn his Skratch Labs drink mixes enhance hydration with actual, perishable ingredients not chemical rich combinations flavored to taste like such. Also, Mr. Lim would like cyclists to get their energy from balanced meals, rice cakes and now, yummy cookies.



Since I like cycling and cookies, in equal measure, I bought a box of the Skratch Lab cookie mix and headed for the kitchen. This mix does require the addition of a cup of butter and one large egg to make a batch of cookies. The easy to follow directions suggest adding fruit for taste as the sweetness will compliment Skratch Lab’s salty mix. I made my batch with some fresh strawberries and the results were well received. Upon initial tasting you will notice that these are some distinctly salty cookies. Don’t worry though, the salt is there to aid your body’s re-hydration by replacing lost electrolytes. I’ll up the fruit ratio next time to balance the taste profile, and I’m already planning a batch with high cacao chocolate on top. Sports nutrition just got delicious thanks to Skratch Labs cookie mix.


Junior Winter Cycling Clinic with Jeff Louder


We invite all local junior cyclists to join us for a series of indoor riding clinics. Hosted by Contender Bicycles, this series of four clinics will be led by retired professional bike racer, Jeff Louder and are designed to cover basic training principles with the goal of instilling good training habits at an early age.

The clinics are open to USA Cycling junior categories in all cycling disciplines (road, MTB, CX, etc.). The clinics will start at 4:00 PM. Arrival as early as 3:45 is encouraged for bike set up on CompuTrainers. Each clinic will last approximately 45 to 60 minutes and will involve moderate to strenuous exercise.

The cost of all four clinics is $30. Registration can be made HERE on Contender’s site. Space is limited to 25 junior riders. Registration closes at 1:00 PM MTN on Tuesday, February 3rd. Attendance at all four clinics is not required; however, the cost is the same regardless of how many sessions attended.

Clinic Details:


Equipment needed:

  • Any bike that fits on a standard trainer can be used
  • A slick rear tire is required for mountain bikes
  • Rear wheel should have a trainer skewer – can be purchased for $12.99 at Contender if you don’t already own one
  • Clipless pedals preferred but not required
  • Heart rate monitor required

Thank You for Kit Up Africa

All of us at CONTENDER would like to sincerely thank you for your tremendous response to Kit Up Africa. WHILE we had hoped to collect a substantial amount of apparel, we were overwhelmed to have collected over 400 lbs of cycling apparel and footwear.

We are excited to announce that the majority of our donation will be headed to Botswana. Some of the apparel will even go to the national team time trial champions (luckily we collected over 30 plus skinsuits)!

Here is what we collected!

  • 400+ lbs of cycling apparel
  • 425+ jerseys
  • 250+ shorts & bibs
  • 50+ longsleeve jerseys
  • 75+ jackets & vest
  • 30+ skinsuits
  • 70+ pairs of shoes
  • 100+ accessories including baselayers, warmers, socks and gloves
KUA Giordana

Kit Up Africa Update: Loads of Clothes, Giordana/Gita Sporting Goods Join Our Effort!

Let’s talk about our donation drive to help Kit Up Africa. The response has been amazing. Since starting the drive at the beginning of the month, the donations from everyone coming into the shop have been more than we ever expected. It’s unbelievably impressive to watch the piles of clothing, shoes and accessories just keep coming in. We’re so excited to show Adam Austin and his Kit Up Africa cohorts just how generous everyone here has been!

What’s really exciting for us here at the shop is seeing how everyone has rallied around a cause and become excited about donating kits and gear. We did our best to get the word out and it looks like it paid off.

Gita Sporting Goods, distributor of Giordana cycling clothing here in the US reached out to us and sent a box full of BRAND SPANKING NEW shorts, jerseys, and other amazing pieces to the shop to help in our efforts with KUA!

We just wanted to send out a sincere thank you to Gita Sporting Goods/Giordana for their generous gift. Pretty awesome to see everyone coming together to affect positive change in a cycling community across the globe from us.

Thanks so much to EVERYONE who’s donated. And if you haven’t yet, Come on down! Our donation drive will continue through to the end of the year.

Now get outside and go enjoy the snow on a fat bike. There wasn’t one in your stocking? Hmmmm…..maybe you should come see us

KUA bike rider

Help Us Kit Up Africa For The Holidays!

If you’re like us, you have a closet full of old cycling kits that you’re not using anymore – they’re probably taking up precious room in a drawer or closet somewhere. Ever think your significant other would love to reclaim that space? Or maybe you’ve embraced minimalism and are living a spartan life of less (but still, inexplicably, you’re holding onto your 4+ bikes…actually we respect that). Maybe that drawer full of old jersey’s is Fluffy The Feline’s favorite hangout – which means even on the off chance that you do actually wear something from your old kit, you’ll be laughed at for A) having cat hair all over it and B) having a cat in the first place.

Hipsters At DI

The logical step is to drop that load off at Goodwill – and that’s not a bad idea for getting stuff to folks in need, except that last time we checked there weren’t a lot of needy cyclists hanging out at DI waiting for fresh jerseys to come in while eying the rollerblades (so awkwardly tempting – like that 99 cent Will Smith CD you found). You want you’re used tech gear to get in the hands of people that will truly appreciate it. Cycling gear is expensive! Why not make sure your used gear lives a second life with peeps who are stoked on riding and will use the stuff like it was meant to be used?

Well friends, we here at Contender have the perfect solution…

Clean Out Your Cycling Closet, Bring It To Contender, Donate It To Kit Up Africa

Since it’s the season for giving and we know a lot of you need to make room for all the new garb you’re gonna rake in, we thought we’d team up with a little outfit called Kit Up Africa, an organization that delivers donated cycling kits, clothing and shoes to cyclists in Africa who love to ride just as much as we do. It’s a great way to support cyclists and racers that truly need good gear in a growing bike community half a world away! Check them out on Facebook

The Backbone Of KUA – Adam Austin

For just setting up his nonprofit this past January, Adam Austin, KUA’s founder, has already made a huge contribution of clothing. Adam is an avid cyclist with roots in and around the Los Angeles area. He’s a long time racer who decided that he could piggyback his idea of donating used gear onto the already awesome efforts of Mike’s Bikes Foundation, which, since 2007, has collected and shipped donated bikes from California and distributed them throughout Africa. It’s an impressive bit of cycling centric philanthropy for sure; one that truly makes an immediate impact.

We’re extremely proud to partner up with Adam and Kit Up Africa for the Holidays. And we’re excited to see our donations deliver indispensable, functional gear to contenders and podium dreamers, just like us, a continent away.

Kit Up Africa is a non profit organization to get used cycling kits (and clothes) to the growing cycling community in Africa

Kit Up Africa is a non profit organization to get used cycling kits (and clothes) to the growing cycling community in Africa

 So, Here’s How It Works

For the entire month of December, bring in an old jersey for donation and get 20% off a new jersey.

Bring in an old pair of bibs and get 20% new bibs.

The same goes for shoes, jackets, arm warmers, gloves, etc. – really anything you think is donation worthy and not full of holes or road rash rips.

We won’t be accepting old helmets, however.

Basically, we’re doing a donate like-for-like deal. Whatever you bring in to donate, you’ll get 20% off a matching piece. Pretty simple? We think so.

We’d also be amiss if we didn’t say that everything should probably be laundered and not freshly pulled from your race-day bag that hasn’t been opened since the RMR crit season ended. ;)

Let’s Kit Up Africa, Contender!

What an excellent way to make sure your old kits, cycling gear and cycling shoes go to folks who will not only appreciate it, but use it!

Let’s show Kit Up Africa how generous Contender Bicycles is. Like them on Facebook, look for us as one of KUA’s partners on their website and, most importantly, drop your donations off in our bin here at the shop!

And Happy Holidays!


The Best Trainer Ever? Introducing the Wahoo Kickr – Kick Winter’s Butt! (VIDEO)

Too Cold Outside To Ride?

We almost agree. Although the right clothing makes a difference between freezing your tail or enjoying some time in the saddle during winter, sometimes it’s just too damn icy to suit up and head out.

That’s Where Trainers come In.

They’re a great way to maintain cycling fitness in the wintertime (the best way, of course, is signing up for our awesome Computrainer Camps)

And the best trainer we’ve seen (and carry) is Wahoo’s Kickr Power Trainer.

In fact, not since global warming have we found a better way to kick winter’s butt! The Award winning Wahoo Kickr will woo you with it’s instant, accurate power measurement and controlled resistance that’s managed via your iPhone, compatible Android devices, iPad, BTLE enabled Mac Book Pro or ANT+ enabled PC. The Kickr also supports open third-party software options, which means Kinomap, Virtual Training, and TrainerRoad all easily integrate Kickr data. And Wahoo says there’s more coming.

The Kickr's large flywheel and electromagnetic resistance is the key to it's realistic road feel

The Kickr’s large flywheel and electromagnetic resistance is the key to it’s realistic road feel.

Stop Driving Your Family/Neighbors/Dog Nuts.

And if you’re tired of (or you’re spouse is fed up with) blowing out eardrums when you’re spinning and watching a movie because the trainer’s loud and the movie needs to be louder, you’ll be happy to know that the Kickr is just as quiet as a fluid trainer – so no shouting over the Lord of the Rings trilogy at full blast is necessary (for proof, listen to Julian as he pedals in our video above). Plus, space-saving collapsible support arms keep it compact when you decide to head over to a friend’s house for a spin session. Like your friend with the really big TV and exotic stereo in the basement – and a wife who took the kids out for errands. Those collapsible arms come in handy when you finally decide to put it in storage too (synonymous with the term “March”).

The Kickr is simple to set up, just take your rear wheel off and attach your bike to the Kickr's cassette and skewer. All your data is transferred wirelessly to your iPhone, iPad or Android.

The Kickr is simple to set up, just take your rear wheel off and attach your bike to the Kickr’s cassette and skewer. All your data is transferred wirelessly to your iPhone, iPad or Android.

Compatible with all road and even mountain bike wheels anywhere from 24″ to 29ers, simply take the back wheel off your bike and connect it to the Kickr, download the Wahoo App or use your favorite third-party software and get riding! Choose from 10-speed or 11-speed models to fit your drivetrain. And if you ride glorious Campagnolo, Wahoo has an adapter that’ll get you on the Kickr as well.

As always, if you have any questions or want a demo of the Kickr in action, stop by the shop or give us a call.