Dangers of Rawhide and Safe Alternatives

No, this isn’t cycling related. As a pet owner and a dog lover, I thought it would be good to share this article.

Dangers of Rawhide and Safe Alternatives (by: Sarah Sypniewski)

Rawhide chews and bones are very popular for dogs. They come in all sorts of sizes, and they are pretty economical to buy. Depending on the dog, a rawhide can last days or even weeks! However, rawhide is extremely dangerous. It is so dangerous, that I am stunned they can still sell it. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA both discourage rawhide consumption and list it among the dangerous household products for pets (next to pesticides and cleaning chemicals). If you still use rawhide, read on to find out more about why you should stop – and what chewing alternatives are out there.

What Is Rawhide, Anyway?

It’s the inner layer of cow or horse hides that has been cleaned and stripped of hair. In order to remove the hair from this layer, the hide must be soaked in chemicals, primarily sodium sulfide. It’s as toxic as it sounds. It’s then washed and whitened with hydrogen peroxide, dried, and pressed into the treats you see in the stores (sometimes they add flavorings or coatings to make them appetizing for dogs). Other toxins, such as trace amounts of arsenic and formaldehyde have been detected in rawhide treats as well. Rawhide is classified neither as a human food nor pet food, so there are no regulations over its production.

Dangers of Rawhide

Choking – Probably the biggest danger of them all is the risk of choking. If you’ve ever watched a dog chew on a rawhide, you know how stringy, soft, and long it can become. At some point, a dog will have worked at it long enough that he’s chewed off pieces small enough to fit into his mouth and even into his esophagus, but that’s often where the buck stops. The rawhide can quickly and easily become lodged in his throat, blocking his airway…..

Continue reading the full article here: Dangers of Rawhide and Safe Alternatives

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New Season, New Training, New Team

The 2017 cyclocross season might have been the toughest race season that I have ever endured. I did a lot of traveling and raced in some of the biggest races in the Northeast. By the end of the season I was whopped. After the Bethlehem Cup, my plan was to just rest and recover until the first of the year.

usgp04After gaining 13 pound in two weeks, I realized that a 6-7 week layoff was not going to work for me. My 12 week training plan that I designed for the off season was about to turn into a 16 week plan to shed the weight that I put on and to get ready for spring riding and racing. The plan is to do four days a week of interval training indoors on the trainer. Two days of HIITs and two days of sustained efforts. My goals are simple: lose weight to get lighter on the bike, and gain speed to get faster on the bike. I’m not too concerned about my endurance, that will be there, especially once the weather is warmer and I’m riding outside. In the first 6 weeks of training, not only did I drop the 13 pounds that I gained, I also lost an additional 7 pound for a total of 20 pounds in six weeks of interval training. Now I’m fluctuating between 162 and 165 lbs with my target race weight of 160 lbs so close.

I am also racing with a new club and team. I have joined the Capital Bicycle Racing Club (CBRC) out of Albany, NY. CBRC has been an active Albany racing club for many years. Riding and racing with CBRC will definitely improve myoverall racing.

My 2018 race plans are a full season of cyclocross racing from September through December. Any racing that I do prior to ‘cross season will be just a handful of road races. It will be strictly for fitness and preparation for cyclocross. My goals are to focus on staying health, no injury, and getting just a little bit faster.

My tentative 2018 races will include: Trooper David Brinkerhoff Memorial Race Series, Lime Rock Gran Prix, Empire State Senior Games, Capital Region Road Race, Rochester Cyclocross, Gran Prix of Gloucester, the full NYCROSS.com Cyclocross Series, KMC CrossFest, Northampton International, and probably a few more mixed in.

During the last season, I really didn’t think that I would or even could race and travel again like I had. But with a strong off season of training, diet change, weight loss, medical improvements, etc, I feel the best that I have in many many years. And now, cyclocross season can’t get here soon enough.



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CX season is just flying by

Wow, it’s November already. Cyclocross has been going since the last weekend of August, and it’s already starting to wind down. With only two weekends of racing left, it’s hard to believe that it’s almost finished…for me. My remaining races are the two days at Northampton International Cyclocross and then winding up at Bethlehem Cup, the NYCROSS Series finale.

Gran Prix of Gloucester

Gran Prix of Gloucester

This year I ventured out to some of the major races throughout the northeast. The year started out in January 2017 with the US Cyclocross National Championships in Hartford, CT to finish out the 2016 season. In the 2017 season, I raced at Rochester Cyclocross, KMC Crossfest, Gran Prix of Gloucester, and coming up next weekend, Northampton International Cyclocross. Added to that, I’ve race to full NYCROSS.com Cyclocross Series with the finale, Belthehem Cup, coming in two weeks, and I raced a few others that fit in along the way. That is a full schedule of races for me.

I do have to admit that I’m not sure if I was totally ready for all the racing that I have done. And I didn’t fully know what to expect at Rochester, KMC and Gloucester. By mid-October I was whooped. I ended up taking a week completely off and did nothing with the bike or with running. A good rest was definitely needed, and I never before felt as exhausted as I did. That’s when I reworked my training plan to incorporate better rest periods during the week.

However the season goes for me, I have fun each weekend of racing. That’s what is all about for me, fun…fun and fitness. Any result above the last few is a bonus.

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To Run or Not To Run

bethlehem_cup_04_jhThat does seem to be the question when it comes to training for cyclocross. I think everyone will have a different opinion on the matter of incorporating running into you cyclocross training. And I’ve said it many times before, I dislike running very much. Every year I get older it feels like it gets harder. But, I will say this…after including running in my training plan for one day a week, my overall cyclocross riding has improved. I’m not going to say that the run-ups are easy, but they are definitely easier. Where I use to struggle on the run-ups after the first lap of a race, I now shoot right up, struggle free, and hop right back on the bike. No stopping. No resting. No need walk my bike to catch my breath.

It’s all about training your muscles for the running motion. If you don’t, you will feel it when you have to dismount and run. I’ve incorporated one day a week of running 1.5 to 2 miles. It’s not training for a marathon, it’s not even training for a 5K. It’s just training you muscle memory for the short runs that come up in cyclocross.

You may or may not agree with me. But for me, it definitely helps. And for the record, I still dislike running.

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First Full Weekend of Cyclocross

The first full weekend of cyclocross racing is complete.  The opening race of the NYCROSS.com Series, Kirkland CX, was held Sunday at Kirkland Town Park in Clinton  NY. Kirkland CX is traditionally the NYCROSS opening race. It always a fun and usually a fast race course through the field and trails at the park. This year seemed to be a little dryer than usual, but the park still hold the same wet spots throughout the course. With this race being the second race of the weekend for me, I was more tired than I thought I would be. But overall I rode pretty well and rode each lap pretty clean. Even the long run-up was clean and right back on the bike at the top of the steps. That didn’t happen in past years. I always had to keep running (or walking) up the little hill at the top of the stairs. I finished -1 lap in 18th. I wanted a better result, but I’ll take whatever I get.

The weekend started Saturday in Rochester, NY with the Rochester Cyclocross event..the season opener for UCI points for the pro’s. The amateur racing was on the same course, one that I had never raced on before. I wasn’t sure what Genesee Valley Park had to offer, and I was not disappointed either. It was a fun, fast, flowing, rolling terrain course with stairs, two run-ups, a run-down, and just about everything that you would want in a cyclocross course. It was also in a region of New York that I haven’t raced in before, so the majority of the other racers were new to me too. As hard as this race was for me, I rode well and had a great time racing in Rochester. I finished -1 lap in 27th place, and probably a little better than I expected.

There’s also one thing that I noticed with my racing this weekend..none of the run-ups hurt. I didn’t struggle with any of them. As much as I dislike running, incorporating running into my training 1 time a week has been a huge improvement for me. Now, if I can just knock a little bit off my lap times…

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‘Cross Is Here! #crossishere

It’s the end of August and fall is just around the corner. It’s my favorite time of year. Why?? Because cyclocross season is finally here. The 2017-18 season has started, with ‘cross racing at Blunt Park in Springfield, MA. It’s a low key, non-sanctioned race that’s close by and a good race to get the cobwebs out. However, that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s still has many of the usual guys that I race against each weekend throughout the season. With the first NYCROSS Series race only 2 weeks away, the Blunt Park race is a good warm-up race to see just where I’m at in the beginning of the season. And I’m right where I expected to be..near the bottom. But there was one big improvement for me, I did finish on the lead lap. Racing with the “really fast old guys”, that doesn’t always happen. It always feels good finish on the lead lap and I just hope that that’s a precursor to my season.

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Less Than 2 Weeks

With the start of my cyclocross racing right around the corner, less that two weeks away, I feel a little more excited about it each day that it gets closer. I think what excites me the most is that I’m more ready than I have ever been for cyclocross. Now, don’t misinterpret what I’m saying here, I know exactly where I stand in the Master’s category age groups…way closer to the bottom that the top. But I’m still excited and more ready than ever, both physically and mentally. I’ll be jumping right in with 4 race days in the first 3 weekends of the season. Then two weeks of no racing, easy training rides, and rest. And then…every weekend up to Thanksgiving, with most being double race weekends. My goals are the same as last year: finishs a little better than the previous season, bigger races, and move up in the NYCROSS Series overall.

And again, I can’t wait.

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Cross is coming: #crossiscoming

It’s mid-summer and the hash tag #crossiscoming has been prominent in all my social media news feeds. Let’s face it, ‘cross IS coming. And pretty quick too. My traditional season opener is the last weekend in August…CompEdge ‘Cross @ Blunt Park in Springfield, MA. This race has a special meaning for me as it’s the race that introduced me to cyclocross. It was my first cyclocross race…ever.

Last season was a very good season of cyclocross racing for me. Sure, I’m still finishing near the bottom of my masters category, but that’s ok. My skills have improved, my training has improved, and yes, my overall results have improved a little bit too. I ventured out to some of the bigger races. I even competed in the Cyclocross National Championships. The highlight of the season for me was finishing 11th overall in the NYCROSS.com Cyclocross Series in the Masters 45+ category. This was a huge improvement over past years  overall finishes in the 20’s.

This year I scrapped mountain bike racing to fully focus on cyclocross. I did, however, race the Wilmington/Whiteface 50K the beginning of June. On July 1, I 100% transitioned to cyclocross training. I’ve designed pre-season and in-season training plans for myself, that fit in with my work schedules. In just 3 weeks I can already see myself faster. I’m working hard on sustained efforts…let’s face it, cyclocross is a 45 minute sprint. An equally important improvement that I’ve also made is my diet. Smaller portions with more protein and more greens (salad). In other words, I’m eating healthier and not overeating.

Here is my planned cyclocross race schedule for 2017:

  • Aug 27 – CompEdge ‘Cross @ Blunt Park – Springfield, MA
  • Sep 3 – BCA Cyclocross – Pittsfield, MA
  • Sep 9 – Rochester Cyclocross – Rochester, NY
  • Sep 10 – Kirkland CX – Clinton, NY (NYCROSS Series)
  • Sep 29 – KMC Cyclocross Festival – Thompson, CT
  • Sep 30 – KMC Cyclocross Festival – Thompson, CT
  • Oct 7 – Uncle Sam Cyclocross Gran Prix – Troy, NY (NYCROSS Series)
  • Oct 8 – Uncle Sam Cyclocross Gran Prix – Troy, NY (NYCROSS Series)
  • Oct 14 – Gran Prix of Gloucester – Gloucester, MA
  • Oct 15 – Gran Prix of Gloucester – Gloucester, MA
  • Oct 21 – Salt City Cyclocross Spectacular – Syracuse, NY
  • Oct 22 – Salt City Cyclocross Spectacular – Syracuse, NY
  • Oct 28 – Saratoga Spa:CX – Saratoga Springs, NY (NYCROSS Series)
  • Oct 29 – Wicked Creepy Cyclocross – Bennington, VT (NYCROSS Series)
  • Nov 5 – Cider Cross – NYS CX Championships – Lafayette, NY
  • Nov 11 – Northampton International Cyclocross – Northampton, MA
  • Nov 12 – Northampton International Cyclocross – Northampton, MA
  • Nov 18 – Supercross Cup – Suffern, NY
  • Nov 19 – Bethlehem Cup – Delmar, NY (NYCROSS Series)

It is a pretty aggressive schedule, but  for me it’s mostly about the love of the sport, race as much as I can, and enjoy it. I don’t take vacations throughout the year like most people do. I save the majority of my time off for September through December…for cyclocross.

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Cyclocross, A Break And A New Season

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted anything here. I was hoping to post throughout the cyclocross season, but that just didn’t happen…racing almost every weekend and, of course, working.

Cyclocross season went exceptionally well for me. No, no podiums…not even top 50% finishes. But that’s not me in cyclocross. I raced the whole NYCROSS Series and finished 11th in the overall Series in the Masters 45+ category. That’s a huge improvement from the previous years finishing 20 something overall. I also raced many more races including some of the bigger races in the northeast..Cycle Smart International, SuperCross Cup and USA Cycling National Championships. 2016 was the season that decided to focus my racing on cyclocross. I do other racing through the spring and early summer, but it’s all training for CX.

After nationals, I took a month off from everything for rest, recovery and eating. Training has started again with 3 days of at or near 70 degrees…in February. It felt good to be out on the bike again after a good rest.

I injured my planters fascia back in May 2016, and it’s still not 100%. But, I’m back to running too. Today was my first run in more than 8 months and it feels surprisingly good. Sure, it was a short run, but I’m not going to make the same mistake again and do too much too soon. So, bike 3 to 4 days a week and run 1 to 2 days a week is starting to sound like a good training plan.

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Kirkland CX: NYCROSS.com Series #1

This past weekend was the start of the NYCROSS.com Cyclocross Series. Race #1 was Kirkland CX held at Kirkland Town Park in Clinton, NY. Heavy rain overnight turned the course into a very soggy race course, which isn’t all that unusual for this race. I’m not sure if I’ve ever raced there when it was dry. After a two hour drive and registration/number pick up, I was able to pre-ride the course and get in a good warm-up. I’m trying to pre-ride a lap each race, which is something that I haven’t always done in the past. It definitely makes a difference in my racing.

I had a decent start, although I did start at the back and it was the typical fast Masters start. I rode pretty well and I managed to pass a few riders along the way. I ended up finishing in 10th place and also finishing on the lead lap.

Next up is back to Connecticut for Hop Brook Cyclocross in the CT Cyclocross Series.

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