Aerobic Metabolism 101, Openers, Tahoe Trail 100 and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 212

Join us for a livestream of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast! We’ll be discussing the basics of aerobic metabolism and how you can use it to make you faster, the physiological and psychological effects of openers, analysis of Coach Jonathan’s Tahoe Trail 100 performance and more!

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Episode Notes:

Coggan’s Physiological Adaptations from Training in Power Zones
TrainerRoad’s New Sauna
• Coach Chad’s Cellular Respiration Diagram:


This is my first cyclocross season and it will not be a priority, but just something to try. My plan is to be in my base phase and I want to try traditional base to gain a good strong aerobic base. Is it okay to do a cyclocross race every few weeks during this period? Or will this be a detriment to what I’m building in traditional base?

I heard something about fake maurten, can you elaborate on that? Is it a homemade type thing?


I’m confused about the anaerobic energy cycle. If you only get 2 ATP out of the anaerobic cycle, what does it mean to be an anaerobic athlete or to have a big anaerobic engine?

love you guys, but mitochondria don’t have nuclei : )

"The anaerobic energy system turns over really quickly, so those 2 ATP (net) happen over and over and over and… while the aerobic cycle is turning out its 30-32 much, much more slowly. So you trade speed of energy delivery for efficiency of energy delivery.

Which is why if you slow down and shift your energy demand to more aerobic muscle fibers, you can literally go all day on almost no (none at all) food/fuel.

But if you work really hard, you blow through your glycogen stores and run out of gas."

– Coach Chad

Good question. I hope that helps!

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Thanks for the reply! So basically if you have a big anaerobic engine, you’re anaerobic cycle is faster?

I’m also waiting to hear the recipe for fake maurten :joy:


Even with a huge anaerobic engine, at any power over say 5 seconds the anaerobic contribution to your power is an increasingly small component of your power output.

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For what it’s worth, for an experiment I bought:

So, mixing about 60grams of the Maltodextrin with 30 grams of normal sugar (so, fructose) should get you to the 2:1 ratio of the Maurten/BetaFuel stuff. Add a few drops of Cherry, or whatever flavors you prefer (the lemon extract wasn’t good-- don’t try that! better with lemon juice I’d think) and a tiny amount of citric acid for bite, tiny amount of salt, and you’re good to go. Tasted fine, much less sweet then the usual SiS mix I use (I think the artificial sweeteners are much more sweet to the taste). I throw it into a good blender, not sure how well it’d mix just with a shake.

Only tried it a few times, as I picked up some freebie mix from one of the recent SiS deals-- but seemed just fine. Will start using it more when my stocks run low, or for major long rides. The alginate you see in some ingredients helps make the liquid thicker-- I actually prefer it without (the BetaFuel stuff feels a bit thick to me, I wonder if it’s to actually mentally make you drink it slower).

Seems to me most the science comes down to making it dissolve easily and achieve a specific taste profile.

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I wonder if @Jonathan was just referring to the unlabeled Maurten?:

saw him mention this on IG.

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No, he was definitely talking about “fake maurten” so just buying plain ingredients (maltodextrin, fructose, etc) and mixing them. That stuff is real maurten, just in unmarked packaging. Supposedly so that people sponsored by other companies (GU, Cliff, etc.) can use it without getting in trouble.

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This site provides a pretty good basic ingredient list for making your own sports drink. I’ve always wanted to know more about how the ratios were determined so if anyone can point to any additional sites, it would be much appreciated. Ideally in metric units as they actually make sense.

I tend to use glucose vs maltodextrin. A bit easier to mix in water


I thought the “secret sauce” with Maurten was the aliginate / pectin that form a gel at the pH of your stomach that helps with gastric emptying rate, and therefor allows higher carb rates (g/hr). That’s what the marketing says, anyway. (And based on the “unofficial Maurten” site, I’d say those guys are pretty good at marketing.) That seems light it would be harder to DIY than simple Amazonable things like maltodextrin and sodium citrate, although I haven’t really looked into it.

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In reality its not, all of these are made of simple basic ingredients, but it is the ratio and packaging that makes them appealing. All of them pride themselves on being basic, we just don’t know the formula.

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Something that wasn’t really talked about on the podcast (or else I wasn’t paying attention…) is how much Jonathan’s ability to ingest all those carbs was linked to the fact that he was riding a bit within himself instead of on the rivet. My experience has always been that the closer I am to my max (over any given duration), the less room for error there is with the quantity, type and timing of nutrition. Racing at a slightly lower power than you’re capable of, even if it’s only 5%, seems to free up a bit of bandwidth from your body that enables it to digest a bit more, or deal with a less optimal mix of nutrients, or correct any small gastric issues that might cause serious problems on a day when you’re pushing your limits.

A follow up question re Openers …

Assuming you’re not tapering for example racing your weekly Crit then is a day before opener still necessary? If you’ve had a normal training week and did intervals or a long ride 48 hrs before the race would a rest day 24 hours before be preferable? I understand the answer would be yes if you’re carrying lots of fatigue but assume fatigue at normal level.

It so happens my racing night is always Tuesday so after 6 days on the bike (my rest day is Monday) then I take my normal Monday rest.

I’ve had quite good success with doing my normal gym workout the day before. Nothing mega but certainly haven’t shy’ed away from leg work.

Sorry for the delay to getting back to your question!

You can absolutely race through your base. Nate, Jonathan, and Chad, have talked on the podcast before about how some of their best results come from racing during base. Getting in the intensity and mindset of doing races will only help push your performance later on in your training!


Thanks for this! From what i remember the mixup came from a quick comment one of the presenters made. That said, we should definitely make sure to watch for things like that in the future!

For reference, @millerclimb is right, mitochondria do not have nuclei. :slightly_smiling_face:

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