March 2015 Rider of the Month, Rick Bienias
This month, we are proud to honor Rick Bienias as our March Rider of the Month! After a month of serious riding (both on the ElliptiGO and bicycle), it was an easy and unanimous decision to give Rick the ROM honors. Even though he’s just getting started, he has already accomplished so much.
Rick not only earned the title of King of Mountains at last month’s St. Paddy’s Palomar Punishment, but also took 1st place in the CCSD Dirty Devil Ride – that’s 127 miles at 12,000 ft elevation! His wife took Queen of Mountains honors at St. Paddy’s, showing that this is a ElliptiGOing power couple. Congratulations, Rick! Keep up your training, and good luck on your future events!
Quick Facts About Rick & His Accomplishments
1. Recently, you took KOM honors at the St. Paddy’s Palomar Punishment event. Tell us a little bit about this ride/effort. Was KOM a goal of yours before-hand or a nice surprise after?
It was my longest and biggest climbing ride. I thought top five in the KOM competition would be really awesome since there were some good cyclists, so getting the KOM was a surprise. We had a good group of ElliptiGO riders there and started together among all the regular cyclists. There were about 20 miles warmup before the KOM climb. Then I gave it a good effort, but tried to stay below the threshold so I had enough left in the tank for the remaining 70 miles. It was a very long, hard day, but quite successful since my wife also got QOM riding her road bike this time. She has been training on her ElliptiGO and it has enabled and improved her road cycling substantially, as the results show.
2. What kind of prep/training did you do for this ride, and what type of training would you recommend for people looking to improve their hill climbing ability on an ElliptiGO?
I do a lot of hill repeats and make sure to taper down a week or so before a bigger event. I find, to improve my climbing, I just have to climb more. You want to have a good fitness base before starting hill workouts to not overstrain your body right away. Find a hill with a steady incline (4% to 7%). It is key to record your time, pace and heart rate of your workout repeats so you can monitor your progress, set new goals and see what changes to your bike setup, ride position, stride, etc. make a difference. (Strava for example is a great training tool for keeping track your riding stats). I think if you really want to improve, it is not just putting in miles and climbing, and besides a healthy diet you also need to spend time experimenting with bike setup, ride position and stride to find an efficient setup for yourself.
Setting reasonable goals can keep you motivated by either improving on your own PR’s or trying to beat somebody else’s time.
3. Shortly after St. Paddy’s Palomar Punishment, you entered the CCSD Dirty Devil Ride (127mi, 12,000ft elevation) on your road bike and took home 1st place. How would you compare this finish/effort/time to other events you did before using ElliptiGO-integrated training?
I was really surprised how good in shape I was for my longest road bike event ever, without training much on my road bike. At least 70% of my training has been on the ElliptiGO. I was worried not having enough real “saddle” time for such a long ride in the saddle, but it was the opposite. It really proved to me again how well cross training with the right equipment can work.
Usually before the ElliptiGO I would not want to get back on the bike the next day or two (or three) after a hard ride, but now I am looking forward to get back on the GO the next day for a comfortable cruise spinning the legs out, not having to sit down and being hunched over.
4. How do you feel the ElliptiGO has influenced your cycling abilities on a traditional bike and would you recommend other cyclists integrate the ElliptiGO into their training regimen?
I have had the ElliptiGO now for a year and it has given me the ability to be competitive on the bike again. I would never be able to train on the regular bike alone at this level anymore. It would be too much for my knees and back and also not as fun anymore, getting burned out sitting in the saddle hunched over all the time.
The ElliptiGO is now my favorite bike to ride and even with a 70% ElliptiGO, 30% road bike training ratio, my road cycling still improves, so it also keeps it fun.
Recently, I am doing more overall miles and rides than I ever have and truly enjoy it, maybe more than I ever have in the over 20 years of active cycling. I am beating PR’s now that I set over two years ago when I thought that’s the best I can do at my age.
I would definitely recommend and almost guarantee one can improve their cycling by cross training on the ElliptiGO. It is much easier and fun to keep an overall higher mileage and intensity training level because you are switching bike styles and giving your knees, back, neck a break when riding the GO, but still getting a complete leg, core and cardiovascular workout. I used to climb always seated on my road bike and did not sprint so well, but have made significant improvements in my out of the saddle and sprinting on the road bike, I think due to the upright riding position on the GO.
For a competitive cyclist (road or MTB), you still have to put in enough regular bike miles and training to keep and improve on certain skills, but I am convinced and it shows in my results, the GO cross training has been an advantage for me. I believe it also can prevent overuse and over train injuries since there is less strain on mainly knees, back and neck with the smoother motion and riding position of the GO.
5. What’s next for you and what are some of your ElliptiGO-related goals for the next year? Will you be back to challenge for the ElliptiGO World Championships again this year?
I feel like I got my youth back and very excited to keep raising my limits with the GO.
My next event will be the Belgian Waffle Ride (135mi, 12,000 ft climbing). Bill Pinnell is the pioneer and first to complete this ride on an ElliptiGO two years in a row. Since he is training for the epic PBP event this year, I will fill in for him and hopefully also complete the event successfully. Then there is the Death Ride (129mi, 15,000 ft climbing) and Pikes Peak where I will try for new ElliptiGO records.
A one mile and 100 mile record on the GO is also on my wish list.
The ElliptiGO World Championships are very competitive. I am sure it will be another record breaker and I am looking very much forward to be in the battle for it.
I am quite thankful for my wife and myself to have ElliptiGOs, enabling us to enjoy staying active and fit outdoors. = Happy !
If I could only keep one of all my different bikes, it would be the GO for sure.