Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is Your Next Race?

What is your next race?  What are you training for?

The summer season is coming to a close.  Many of us are looking at getting our kids ready for the next school year.  With the impending hustle and bustle right around the corner, it's time to think about yourself for just a moment and make your health/fitness plan.  After all, we teach our kids to create goals, why shouldn't parents set a good example? 

New semester ---> Homework ---> Ace exams

 New season ---> Follow training plan ---> Complete event

Whether you are a triathlete, cyclist, or runner, there are countless events in your area to choose from as your goal.  It's a good idea to consider hiring a coach (expert in their sport) to help you choose your event and create a training plan.  A coach can really help you with accountability and keep you from risking injuries due to over training or doing too much too fast.   They will also know which event/races would be best for you, so that you have a good experience and feel good about what you have accomplished.  As you begin your training, remember that it might be challenging at first.  Be patient!  Within a few weeks, you will start to see some results, whether physically or mentally.  You may want to pick at least one or two smaller events to complete during your training phase to see if you are where you need to be in training to reach your final goal. When race day arrives, be confident in your abilities.  Completing your goal through hard work sets an awesome example for your family and friends!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cervelo S5 Review from a "regular guy"

My love of riding my road bike hit, what I thought, would be an all time pinnacle when I rode my slc-sl. I loved everything about that bike, and never thought riding could get any better.
Then I rode the S3 and realized it was possible what I thought was the perfect riding experience even a little better. And that thought, has prevailed all the way, until today!
I rode for the first time Cervelo's new S5 and couldn't believe how perfect the machine brought together the elements of aerodynamics, energy transfer, compliance, and comfort. It was short of an absolute out of body experience. I don't know how the wizards at Cervelo did it, all I know is that the riding experience I enjoyed today, was second to none. If you haven't test ridden this bike yet, and you're really serious about enjoying everything an incredible road bike can deliver, you owe it to yourself to give this bike a try. It's absolutely incredible!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Cycling

All my training this season has been in preparation for competing in the Tour of America's Dairyland, 12 consecutive days of cycling races in the Milwaukee, WI area. I have done well in these races in the past years, so I had a certain level of expectation coming in. My fitness was on target, and my Cervelo bicycle, Zipp wheels, and equipment were top of the line. I would be racing composite for a strong local team, ISCorp, and life's affairs were in order for me to take off for the races.

As the days have racing have progressed, my results have not been what I was hoping for. Twice I have been happy to finish. The prize money is good, so some professional racers have come in and won the vast majority of the money. Rainy, cold weather has been less than desirable and made some of the courses really dangerous. Additionally, my brand new car broke down, and I have gone through a family emergency that will need considerable attention immediately upon my return.

I have considered feeling sorry for myself and have definitely experienced a lot of frustration, but at the end of the day I have a lot to be thankful for. I have the best travel partner you could ask for, my bike has worked to perfection, and my teammates are a great group of women. I have had the opportunity to mentor some beginning racers, enjoyed meeting the couple who hosted us, visited with old friends, been encouraged by Outspokin friends at home, and maybe even lost a few pounds!

All in all this trip has encouraged me to refocus and remember that even though I am very competing at the highest level, cycling is still a hobby. Cycling has given me the opportunity to meet many great people and see parts of the country I most likely would never have seen. There are only three days of racing left, and I plan to give it my all. Maybe I will have some great results and maybe not. Either way, I will be home soon, resume my life, and start training for the next race!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Go Fast Goodies

I have been very fortunate lately getting to test out some of the coolest new time trial products on the market. I am not sure how much faster they have made me in the “Race of Truth,” but I am fairly certain they helped.

The first product is the Hincapie Time Trial Suit. No, this is not your run of the mill 3 piece suit, it is actually a highly specialized, wind tunnel tested superman suit. Will it make you faster? The resounding answer is yes! In most wind tunnel tests the item that attributed to the most drag other than your body position was your clothing. This suit is definitely slick, it has different materials throughout to take advantage of static movement, your upper body, and fluid movement, your legs. Fit is extremely important in these suits and I would recommend ordering one size down from what you typically wear in bib shorts. You want this tight, modesty be gone! Although this is probably one of the most aerodynamic pieces of clothing you can buy, it isn’t perfect. The shammy is definitely not meant for the long haul, which since it is designed for race day, shouldn’t be a problem and for some reason the cuffs on the sleeves near the wrists are actually slightly loose. It could just mean I just have really tiny wrists, who knew? If you want to go faster in your next time trial or triathlon, this suit will transform you into superman, or superwoman.

Part Duex, I get to race with the new Louis Garneau Vorttice time trial helmet. This is the new evolution of time trial helmets. It has a cut off tail, is extremely light and is also well ventilated. I have been using long tail time trial helmets for years, but recent tests done in the wind tunnel show that a short tail may be more efficient if you keep your head down. Check out the helmets at last years Tour de France and most of them were variations of the short tail. I have worn this helmet twice and both days were pretty hot, mid 80’s, and did not notice it overheating at all. The helmet has one center vent, but it is pretty large, channeling air through the inside of the helmet like a jet port. I also really like the included visor, although I would like a dark version so I don’t have to wear sunglasses with it, plus look all Terminator like. The helmet surface has different diameter dimples and air flow channels which are supposed to aide in the aerodynamics. I don’t know if they work, but they sure look cool. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to stick with this helmet, but after 2 wins I think it is pretty safe to say I will be bringing this bad boy to nationals with me.

The final piece of hardware I want to review is FSA’s brand spankin new Metron shifters. FSA appears to be finally jumping into the shifting market and if these shifters are any indication of what is coming, I am pretty excited about a 4th component choice. In my opinion, the coolest thing about the new Metron shifters are that they don’t look like shifters at all. They look more like shorty break levers on the end of your aero bars. To shift into a bigger cog, you pull the lever in, to shift into a smaller one you push the top of the unit with your thumb. It does take a little bit to get used to, but after a while it becomes natural. These shifters are perfect for those of us who use aero bars with a slight bend as your hands naturally rest where the shifters are and are very comfortable to use. Unfortunately, those that use flat aero bar extensions may strain their wrists a little trying to shift with these. The shifting performance is good if not great, there is a light feel when shifting up that is very different to most “normal” time trial shifters on the market now. Installation was also fairly easy as the levers came with the cables pre-

installed which made things go by much faster. I had a little problem getting the front derailleur dialed in, probably more from a lack of a cable adjuster than the actual product. I plan on sticking with these throughout the year as long as I continue to use an s-bend extension. If I move to a flat extension, Zipp’s new shifters may be the way to go.

As always, if you have any questions about these great products feel free to drop me a note. Now stop reading about bikes and go out and ride yours!

Monday, March 28, 2011


When is the last time you tried something new? By this I mean a new product or a new race. So many of us become set in our routines and products that we are unwilling to try out new things. I am definitely guilty! Technology changes, better nutrition becomes available, and new races to challenge ourselves are everywhere. I think it is very important to step off our well-worn paths of life and try a different route. It doesn't have to be anything drastic, just something different!

So far this year, I have tried a few different things. I didn't make these changes, because I was unhappy, but rather because of opportunities, and well, why not!

1. A new bicycle brand - Cervelo to Orbea
2. New components - Campy Record to SRAM
3. Taking regular vitamins - B12, Multi-vitamins, and Fish Oil
4. Working toward eating organic and gluten free foods.
5. Working on my time-trialing -YUCK!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Your First Bike Race!

It has been a very long time since I lined up for my first bicycle race, but I can still remember it like was yesterday. The nervousness, the excitement, the unknown, they were all there. For me being 14, it was a whopping 3 miles where I rode away from my small group and won the race solo which got me eternally hooked to the sport of bicycle racing. There is nothing quite like a bike race, it is a ball of kinetic energy ready to explode with the strategy of a well played chess match. If you ride a bike, I fully recommend you trying a race. I will admit up front, it is a very intimidating experience, but if you dive head first into the deep end you will either love the feeling of the speed and competition, or a life guard will jump in and pull you to the side, either way you will survive. Here are my tips to make your first race as fun and as little nerve racking as possible.

  1. Make sure the bike you are racing on is in top mechanical shape, best bet is to bring it to the shop about a week before the race for a tune-up. Chain should be lubed, shifting should be precise, wheels should be true, and tires free of any slices or cuts.
  2. Make sure you are in your best shape possible or at least feel good that you can comfortable finish the distance the race is going to be.
  3. Get a good night sleep 2 days before the race. If you are racing on Sunday, make sure you sleep well on Friday. It is actually more beneficial and important to get a good nights sleep 2 days before the event than the actual night before.
  4. Don’t skimp on eating the week before the race to reach some weight goal. You don’t want to run out of fuel during your event, but only eat high quality food that your body is familiar with.
  5. Clean your bike the day before the race, a clean bike is a fast bike.
  6. Pack a cycling bag the day before the race, you will need the following: matching jersey and bibs, socks, cycling shoes, gloves, helmet, sunglasses, water bottles, towel, and a change of clothes to wear after the race.
  7. Pack your car with your bike, bag, pump, and extra wheels if you have them the night before your race.
  8. Print the flyer out with directions the night before the race and figure out how long it will take to get there.
  9. Morning of race, wake up early enough to have a small but familiar breakfast. If you race is later, this is not as important, but make sure you hydrate and do not drink or eat anything unfamiliar to your body.
  10. Try to arrive at the race at least 90 minutes before your start.
  11. When arriving go to the registration table and sign up for your event, don’t forget to pick up pins.
  12. After you receive your number, head back to your car and pin your number on your jersey and get dressed.
  13. Take your bike out of your car and pump up your tires and place full water bottles on your bike.
  14. Hydrate, you want to be sipping on water or sports drink all morning.
  15. Make sure you know where the start of the race is, but find an area to ride around and loosen up your legs, you will see others doing the same.
  16. Arrive at the start about 15 minutes before your race. It is always best to try and start near the front.
  17. Time will go by fast, but try to relax and take it all in. It is going to be fun.
  18. Once the race lines up and the whistle is blown, clip into your pedals and go. Try to stay near the front of the race, it is usually the safest place to be. This could be the beginning of a wonderful relationship.

Footnote: Your goal for your first race should be to finish and not crash. I know these are not lofty goals, but you can shoot for the win on your second race, but most of all HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Looking Good on and off the Bike, Cycling Style Guide

I will admit, I like nice clothes both casual and cycling. There was a time in my life where $100 jeans were the norm and my clothing budget wasn’t a budget at all. However, just because I have calmed down in my regular clothes purchasing doesn’t mean that my cycling wardrobe has skimped at all. I literally have a closet of cycling clothes and I routinely donate or sell stuff on a yearly basis. There is stuff in my “closet” that I will probably never wear on my current bike, reason behind that is my current bike is white, red, and black and a lot of my older clothes are white and blue, which just so happens to be the color of the bike I raced on last year. Here is a very important rule people, match your jersey and bibs, notice I didn’t say shorts more on that later, to your bike. Some of us have team clothing that we can’t help if it doesn’t match our bikes, but for the love of God, if you buy clothing to wear while cycling please make sure it matches each other. I really love the Rabobank jersey with the Liquigas bibs, wow that is a look that will make your eyes bleed. Also, you will look less like a freak riding down the road than we already do, even if I happen to take pride in my freak status. If you have the means, try to match your helmet, sunglasses, socks, gloves, and shoes to your kit and bike. Nothing looks more “Pro” than everything matching. Look good, feel fast, be fast should be your motto. Now on to the aforementioned shorts vs. bibs contention, please invest in some good bibs. They fit better, will be more comfortable and most importantly will prevent any other riders from having to look at that bare section of your skin where your jersey doesn’t quite cover your lower back, conveniently preventing a very unsightly tan line there. Also, bib straps are to be worn under your jersey, not over them, I don’t care how many times you have seen Borat and his insane bib bathing suit! There is also a proper way to wear a helmet, the front of it should fall just above your brow and be securely in place. It is not a yarmulke sitting on the back of your head even if you did miss service that week. Clothes also wear out people, just like tires. If you wouldn’t ride down the road with a big hole in your tire, you shouldn’t leave your house with your clothing held together with safety pins. It is just not a good look… on anyone! That about covers on the bike, in summary; if you can match your clothing with your equipment with your bike, you are golden, at the minimum try to match your clothing with your equipment keeping one color scheme across the board.

Now the fun part, off the bike, yes I know we are all very guilty of these infractions at times, but let’s try to move past them. Before I get thrown under the bus, I have a little disclaimer, I used to race Triathlons so I know the culture and that almost every race gives you something to wear in the goody bag, BUT please, please do not wear your race t-shirts on the same day of the race. They are souvenirs and should be worn when you get home or at a future race, do not become a clone of the masses all wearing the same shirt hanging out after the race. Here is a recent phenomenon, one of my favorites, do not wear compression tights, socks, gloves and any other compression thing in clear view of the public. It is just not good, you can wear them, just strategically hide them under a warm up suit or jeans or anything for that matter. Be proud that you are an athlete, but there is no reason to make it so obvious that you are going to a race or are leaving a race that any casual observer can pick you out of a crowd. Be yourself, your appearance on and off the bike should reflect your personality. I have been guilty of all these crimes in the past, but I have seen the light and hope that my words reach you too.