Mike Woods is one of the leading riders on American WorldTour team EF Education First. Woods has many achievements on his palmares, including third place in the 2018 World Championships and stage victories at the Vuelta a Espana, Tour of Utah, and the Herald Sun Tour.
Amp Human partnered with EF Education First at the start of 2019, so we thought we’d check in with Mike to see how he’s finding the PR Lotion, and pick up some tips from the top on how to recover like a pro.
“Before I was switched on to PR Lotion, I was using sodium bicarb before time trials and hated it,” he says. “The process of getting it down was a chore and really added to race-day stress,” he continues, referring to the noxious taste of sodium bicarbonate.
However, the biggest issue for Mike wasn’t the taste, but the physical side effects of sodium bicarbonate.
When on a grand tour, the calorific intake required to fuel 5-6 hours of racing a day is enormous, and when combined with a high intake of sugary sports nutrition, it can place your stomach on a knife edge.
“I found it was a real burden on my GI system,” he says. “On stage races and particularly grand tours, your system is under so much strain already that it felt like a risk drinking sodium bicarb; particularly as I’d also have some caffeine before a time trial, which was when I’d be using the bicarb. It felt such a risk using it that I eventually just stopped,” he explained, preferring to go without the lactate buffering advantage of sodium bicarbonate in order to be safe in the knowledge that his stomach was settled.
However, since our partnering with the team, Mike has become a total convert to our PR Lotion. Whereas he previously used sodium bicarbonate for time trials, he now uses our lotion for these short ‘races against the clock’. And because he’s so confident in using our lotion, where there’s no risk of stomach upset, he’s also layering up with PR Lotion for shorter, more explosive road races.
“I’ll always use the lotion at a race where I know there will be a lot of explosive efforts at the very start and very end of a race,” Mike explains. “I was using it a lot in Australia this year, at the Herald Sun Tour, where I won a stage.” In that race, Woods took the win from local favourite Richie Porte in a move that required two short but extreme efforts; one to break away with Porte, and the second to sprint for the win. It’s those types of short punchy accelerations that most rapidly flood the muscles with lactate, and that’s where our special formula really does its work.
“It can be mentally really tough to deal with when you’re getting signals from your legs to stop, but you just need to push on,” says Mike, talking about the searing pain in the muscles that comes from the lactate buildup inherent to pushing your body to the edge. “But AMP PR Lotion really mitigates that awful burning. For sure I can push through that without the lotion, but it’s a lot easier when I am using it, and it frees my mind to concentrate on the performance.”
At the WorldTour, training techniques and team technology is so advanced, that riders are becoming more and more equal in their performance. And with that, the need to seek every little advantage is key, as much for the mind as for any performance outcome it may produce.
“I do a lot to try to maximise what I can achieve, and some of it is just the mental edge – knowing that I’m doing everything in my power to maximise my performance,” Mike says. And for him, one of those things is the regular use of PR Lotion for racing and training. “I really notice that if I’ve layered up with PR Lotion there’s a slight dulling of the pain in the legs. It’s not making me empirically better, but it’s better mentally, and that helps you push harder.”
For Mike, seeking out every gain possible extends to his recovery process, and PR Lotion has become fundamental to that. “I always apply it straight after the shower, after a ride. And when I’m with the team, the masseuses rub some in as they work too” he says.
“To be at my best every day, I do all I can to boost the recovery. I try to get a recovery drink in right away post-ride. Fuelling is so key, getting the right amount of proteins and carbs straight away. I also try to minimise all other stress and things going on in the day, it’s amazing how having chores and other issues can impact how you feel the next day. As well as that, I try to get a bit of foam rolling and stretching done too. And now, the PR Lotion has become another mainstay of the recovery process.”
Mike is racing the Criterium du Dauphine in France this June. We’re stoked that we’re helping him train and race to his peak potential day-in-day-out, and wish him and the EF Education First team lots of luck! And rest assured, a big box of PR Lotion will be going with them to France.