New Pro Tate Meintjes Rides the Carson Epic

Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab is proud to sponsor pro mountain biker Tate Meintjes.  He grew up with the Reno Development Cycling Team and is now studying mechanical engineering at UNR.  He rides for the Bear Pro Team powered by Trek. Check out this blog post by Tate about his first experience racing the Carson Epic in the pro field. 

For those of you that haven’t heard about the Carson City Epic. Let’s just say it lives up to its name: epic. The Carson City Epic is part of a four-race series known as the Epic Rides series and boasts some of the best experiences you can have during a weekend. The organizers have done an amazing job making the event fun, inclusive, and spectator friendly. The main event in the Carson City Epic is the backcountry race. People have the option of choosing to do races that are fifteen, thirty-five, or fifty miles long and are taken through amazing trails with great views in the highlands of Lake Tahoe. The backcountry races are the only competition that the amateur racers get to take part in but racing professionally, I had the chance to race a Fat Tire Criterium (or crit)  on Friday and the Capital 50 backcountry race on Sunday.

The Fat Tire Crit is the biggest attraction for spectators as they had the ability to watch the Pros race through downtown Carson City. The Fat Tire Crit is raced on mountain bikes and the only difference allowed during the crit from the backcountry race is tire choice. So, a bunch of professional mountain bikers, myself included, mounted slicks on their mountain bikes and got ready to race some road.

The crit started with two gunshots that echoed off the government buildings in downtown Carson City. I expected the race to be like short track with everyone going as hard as they could for that twenty-five minutes of racing, but I was wrong, and I am happy about that. The race started pretty slow and not many people were pushing at the front, so it was a good time to move up and try my hand racing with the fastest mountain bikers in the nation. It was one of the most fun experiences I have had on the bike. There were two Olympians, many national champions, and many other racers like me who were young and just joining the professional field.

The criterium zoomed through downtown and the course was lined with spectators going crazy as the field of sixty-five riders cut the corners to get every inch of advantage possible. The racing was fast, and I was able to stay at the front for most of the race. Then the marker came out telling us there were three laps to go. Everyone went full ballistic missile and it was taking everything I had not to get dropped. After every criterium I’ve ever done I’ve come to the finish and thought to myself, “I really shouldn’t have done that much work up front so early on.”  But it was an amazing experience zooming through the streets of Carson City with the crowd roaring the entire time. Once the crit finished it was time to prepare for the real race of the weekend. The Capital 50 backcountry.

Once again, the organizers put together an amazing event. The course went from downtown Carson, over Ash to Kings Connector, up to Spooner Lake, over to Marlette Lake and the Flume Trail, up the Tahoe Rim Trail to Marlette Peak, and then back down to Carson City. The course contained some of the best single-track on earth, breathtaking views, and over 6500 feet of climbing.

This was my first ever serious marathon mountain bike race, and so I didn’t have the best idea of how to race it. However, I put my head down and did what made sense for my style of riding. With such a long race you need to find recovery anytime you can, eat a lot, and drink more then you think you need. I started the race focused on having the best race I could while staying hydrated and eating plenty.

There was a neutral roll out of downtown at 8:30AM, and it was hailing on us. It did not look good for the rest of the day, but luckily the weather cleared out right as we hit the dirt. As soon as we hit the first climb, I had to let the leaders ride away. I followed a chase group of about six guys, and we all worked together until Spooner Lake.  I tested them all a few times on the climb up by launching a small acceleration here and there but it didn’t work, and it tired me out. I had to drop off again. Trying to keep my spirits up I rode by myself for a bit and recovered from the climb until two riders caught up with me. I paced them on the Flume trail which meant there was very little time to look at the views. They were making me work to keep up on the flat but I knew there was a lot of climbing still to be done. Luckily, I stayed with the two guys and followed one of them up the climb to Marlette Peak.

On that climb, I knew that I had made a good decision to save some energy. My small group was starting to catch riders. After reaching the high point of the race, I was hurting but felt as though I could push. I sprinted out of every corner on the downhill and caught two of the people I was riding with earlier. We worked together on a flat road section, but once the single track came up on us it was time to race again. It was chaos. One guy flatted, another guy and I shoulder checked the same tree, and we were going hard. On the last real climb, I pushed, and got a little gap to keep on the downhill, but the race wasn’t done. There were three more riders just ahead of me that I recognized from the beginning of the race. They pushed, I pushed, I closed a little bit of the gap, but it wasn’t enough and they finished just thirty seconds ahead. At the end of the race I was tired, my muscles were cramping, and I had a huge smile on my face.

I would recommend the Epic Rides series to anyone. It has competitions and fun rides that fit everyone and the atmosphere around the venue is genuine and enjoyable. As I said, this was my first marathon mountain bike race, but thanks to the great organizers of Epic Rides, it won’t be my last!

Tate finished 31st out of a field of 52 in the crit and 32nd out of 51 in the backcountry race.  Congratulations Tate!


Lessons from the Masters (and I don’t mean Golf)

I still can’t wheelie,  but I did get to ride with  the 3X road cycling world champ himself, the inimitable Peter Sagan at the Sagan Dirt Fondo.  The off road section included gravel, lots of mud, rocky ascents/descents, and water crossings.  As a newer dirt rider,  I knew this course was likely to be challenging at times for me.

A pre-ride helped calm my nerves even though I almost face planted in the water crossing.  The day of the event rolled around, and what a treat!  There was Sagan and his Bora Hansgrohe teammates,  along with former world and national champions in various cycling disciplines, and plenty of local studs and studettes.  It’s not everyday that the world champ passes you speaking Italian with his team on the local bike path!

Four days later, I headed to U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals in Indianapolis.  One of the coolest things about masters swimming is the age range of swimmers competing goes from 18 – 99.  That’s not a typo.  I was in awe as one swimmer set five national records in the 95-99 age group.  And these weren’t slow times either!

I loved that the ladies locker room was filled with women in the 70+ age groups that were putting on the same high tech suits that the recent college grads were sporting.

So, different sports, but great lessons:

You’re never too old to compete, or to have fun in the dirt.





Lessons Learned at the Ultra Sports Science Foundation

By Dr. Andrew Pasternak, Silver Sage Sports & Fitness Lab

On May 30, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the Fourth Annual Congress of the Ultra Sports Science Foundation in Denver, Colorado. The Ultra Sports Science Foundation was founded by three incredible docs: IMG_3243t theDr. Marty Hoffman, previous research director for the Western States 100, Dr. Volker Scheer medical director for the Al Andalus Ultimate Trail race as well as the assistant sports medical director at the University of Paderborn, Germany and Dr. Patrick Basset, an anesthesiologist, mountain rescue doctor and medical director for the International Paris Marathon, UTMB and stages of the the Tour de France.

This is my third time at the conference  (I unfortunately missed last year in Chamonix, France – still kicking myself!). This one-day conference is packed with incredible information from physicians and researchers throughout the world. I was fortunate enough to present a couple of case reports:  one on a local runner and another with Carol Lindsey from the Castle Peak 100K (so the DPMR premier race has now been presented to an international scientific meeting!).

Over the next few months I’d like to share some of the highlights of the lectures and what I’ve learned at the meeting.  We’ll start with the first two presentations today.

After a brief talk on the participation trends endurance sports (more people doing more events), the first two talks focused on nutrition. The first, by Kristin Stuempfle, PhD was entitled “Sodium Good or Evil in prolonged exercise.” Dr. Stuempfle is a PhD from Gettysburg College in Penn and has a number of publications with Dr. Hoffman including studies from WS100. She had four main questions:

  • Does sodium prevent dehydration?
  • Does sodium prevent nausea?
  • Does sodium prevent muscle cramps?
  • Does sodium prevent exercise-associated hyponatremia?

To make a long story short: Current research does not show that sodium supplementation prevented any of these issues, so there is no need to take salt caps.  She also presented a few anecdotal cases of runners who got into medical problems after pushing too much salt (over 7000mg). While these were just case reports, the idea that too much salt can cause problems is concerning.

Her bottom line is simple: If you’re thirsty: drink.  If you’re craving salt: eat something salty. As an aside, the one concern I’ve always had with salt tabs is that you don’t taste the salt. There is a thought (not completely scientifically proven) that sensation of tasting salt is as important as the salt itself.  In full disclosure, the folks at Easy Street aid station saw me try some salt tabs when I got cramps during the Broken Arrow. I’m not convinced they did anything!

The second talk was from Trent Stellingwerff, PhD from the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, who is also a very active endurance athlete. His talk was entitled “Fueling for Optimal Ultra Performance:  from high carb to keto-adaptation.” Dr. Stellingwerff reviewed much of the data dating back to the 1925 Boston Marathon on the importance of carbohydrate intake with endurance exercise. In the 1970s and 80s, a number of studies from Dr. Edward Coyle show that carbohydrate ingestion did increase the amount of time that it took to fatigue.

Over the past few years there’s been much more of an emphasis on trying to burn fat more effectively during exercise. The rationale is that if athletes are able to burn more fat, they may not need as much carbohydrate intake during the race and may not have as many GI issues, a common reason people don’t complete races.

A few important points I learned:  to truly become ketogenic, most people had to ingest less than 50 g of carbohydrate per day for at least three weeks.  Also the data on ketogenic diets improving performance are very mixed, in part, because the definition of “performance improvement” varies so much between studies. Finally, Dr. Stellingwerff did point out our bodies are more efficient producing energy from carbohydrates than from fat oxidation.

Finally, he pointed to the diets of some elite athletes:  Kenyan marathoners get anywhere from 67-77% of their calories from carbohydrate. The famed Greek ultrarunner Yiannis Kouros, during a five-day race from Sydney to Melbourne, was able to ingest 11,000 calories a day and 95% of those calories were from carbohydrates including baklava, creamy custard and honey cookies.

His bottom line was that ultimately every person is different and we all need to experiment. Some of these differences are probably dependent on your muscle fiber type. Parts of this are also likely based on your ability to digest carbohydrates during exercise which is incredibly variable from person-to-person.  Finally, for people doing races where they are going to be exercising at higher intensities, carbohydrates are still likely the go to.

One of the exciting things is that because participation in ultra endurance events has been a fairly recent phenomenon, the research is also new and is constantly changing.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more updates!


Turning Adversity In To An Asset

**Disclaimer – this blog post was mentally crafted during a cyclo-cross sprint training session, so excuse its seeming edgy-aggressive tone.

So last year at this time I was in the throes of a torn MCL, ACL and meniscus – the result of a series of events – a couple of encounters with enthusiastic dogs, and the final blow coming at US National Mountain Bike Marathon Champs.


I interviewed four ortho-surgeons, two dismissing the severity, saying, “You’re fine, carry on.” The only logical reason I can figure for this advice, is that it was a case of “Ah, she’s a 40-something and has plenty of stability to push her mini-cart down the Whole Foods isle and load the groceries into her Prius.”

Let me be clear on one thing…I do not drive a Prius 🙂

But honestly, the best thing these docs did for me, is underestimate me. As a result, I decided I was not quite ready to throw up the white flag and curl up in my coffin, and signed-up for surgery with a surgeon who understood and respected my lifestyle.

I mentally had this strange peace with the entire episode – injury and prospect of surgery, the journey back, and all that entailed. I saw this six-month hiatus as an opportunity to push my body’s mental and physical reset button. I also, in a very positive way welcomed this opportunity to rehab, and return to sport as a way to emotionally and physically live every minute detail, that I train and work with others to accomplish. And finally – I saw it as a challenge to return stronger than I had left sport, by placing a more purposeful emphasis on stability and mobility, basically the only things I could do for the first couple months.

Athletes that I coach will tell you, they get sick and tired of me continually emphasizing that the off-endurance work of hip activation, hip-trunk stability and global mobility takes equal billing to the sport-specific endurance work. But I am a sincere believer, because I have experienced the benefits of this consistent investment in my own athletic life.

I took this rehab opportunity as a focused period to develop and improve every little functional stability and mobility fiber of my body. I knew that if I set this foundation in place – when the time came to hop back on my bike, and start running again it would translate in to improved efficiency of power in to the pedals and foot strike, and act as my safety net to help avoid over-use as well as traumatic injuries.

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Nearly a year to the date of my decisive injury last year, I lined up for US National Mountain Bike XC Champs, and finished what I started, to take the victory. And like with all of our endeavors – the riches and lasting benefit was not on that particular day, but all that I had experienced, learned and gained along the way.

So it goes, seeming set-backs can be turned in to invaluable opportunities.

Importance of Fit for Junior Cyclists

As title sponsors of the Reno Tahoe Junior Cycling team, we have the opportunity to support the team, in their pursuit of excellence, with bike fitting, physiologic testing, as well as provide advice on training and recovery strategies. Below is a post from the team’s director, Trevor DeRuise on the importance of bike fitting for his athletes.


Cyclists are very well known for going to incredible lengths to squeeze a little more speed out of their bikes. Shaving a few grams off of a competitive bicycle can literally costs thousands of dollars and deliver such marginal improvement that it’s easy to wonder if the investment is really worth it. Curiously, one equipment upgrade that so many people overlook is a professional bike fit. For a fraction of the cost of a new carbon wheelset, a professional bike fit improves performance, comfort, and protects riders against overuse injuries.

While any cyclist can benefit greatly from a professional bike fit, I would say this service is exceptionally important for junior cyclists. The reason is that junior cyclists are constantly growing. With this, their fit is constantly being altered even if nothing on the bike is actually changing. In order to both prevent injury with their young joints as well as maintain optimal performance and comfort, having fit assessed throughout a junior cyclists season is paramount.


As the 2015 season nears for the Reno Tahoe Junior Cycling team, we were privileged to have our athletes visit Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab for pre-season fits, with Julie Young,  before training really got underway. Having come off a 3 month off season, it was apparent that several athletes were already in need of raising their seat height. This was just the tip of the iceberg though, as every angle of the athletes body was then measured and analyzed in order to create optimal muscle recruitment through every pedal stroke, prevent overuse injuries in the knees, and provide optimal comfort for long rides.

During the fit process, other fundamental yet incredibly important things like pedal technique were also taken into consideration. Focusing on all of the small things that are often overlooked like this early in the season can help young athletes create good habits and allow them to get the most out of their training while minimizing injury risks.

I understand how challenging junior racing can be for families from a financial standpoint. With this, I’ve never been one to recommend “buying” performance in the shape of fancy carbon parts or new bikes every season. Instead, I recommend finding the potential of your rider’s current setup through a proper fit and analyses. At the junior level, the most important thing is keeping the rider safe, efficient, and letting them fall in love with the sport.

Pasternak Named Family Physician of the Year

Reno, NV (January 31, 2014) – Dr. Andrew Pasternak, owner of Silver Sage Center for Family Practice and Silver Sage Sports Performance, has been selected as the Northern Nevada “Family Physician of the Year” for 2013 by the Nevada Academy of Family Physicians.

The Nevada Academy of Family Physicians considers the Family Physician of the Year based on the following criteria:

  • Provides his/her patients with compassionate, comprehensive and caring family medicine on a continuing basis;
  • Is directly and effectively involved in community affairs and activities that enhance the quality of his/her community;
  • Family physician is a credible role model professionally and personally to his/her community, to other health professionals and residents and medical students;
  • Family physician can effectively represent the specialty of family medicine and the AAFP in public speaking;
  • Family physician is in good standing in his/her medical community;

“It’s an incredible honor to be selected as the Family Physician of the year by the NAFP,” said Dr. Pasternak. “Any award is always special, but to receive an award from your colleagues is quite humbling. I’d like think this really reflects the overall care our patients get at Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine from all of our physicians and staff.”

Dr. Pasternak founded Silver Sage in 2005. He is board certified by the American Board of Family Physicians. He is also an assistant clinical professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and serves on the board of directors for the Washoe County Medical Society, Access to Healthcare and the Nevada State Health Information Exchange.


The mission of this organization is to promote excellence in health care and the betterment of the health of the citizens of the state of Nevada. For more information, visit

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