Monday, October 5, 2009
Fall and spring seem to be a little trickier. What do we wear if it is 45 at the start of the ride but it's going to be 65 at the end? Or how about if it's 60 degrees with scattered showers? Wear too little and we risk at least a miserable ride and at worst getting sick. Wear too much and we overheat, which leads to lost power, dehydration, and feeling really cold when we start riding again after a rest stop. Yet we can't prepare for every contingency either. We only have so many pockets in our jersey and we don't want to weighed down by a bunch of clothing that we won't wear or that we will take off in the first 5 minutes.
The simple act of dressing yourself to go riding on some days can be a daunting enough task to keep many riders indoors on what I consider to be some of the nicest weather of the year. So, with the aim of helping you get outside and enjoy the fall weather, here are some tips:
1. Check weather.com. This may sound like a no brainer, but the weather changes fast in the spring and fall, so it's important to check the weather often. Now, with 24 hour weather TV stations, weather apps for our iPhones, and desktop weather on our computers, there's really no excuse for knowing what the weather is going to be. Always look at the hourly schedule, because what it's like now may not be what its going to be like in 2 hours. If you have the freedom to schedule workouts at different times, you can use these tools to make sure that you ride during the nicest times of the day.
2. Use removable clothing. If the weather changes quickly, wear clothes that can be easily removed, placed in your back pocket, and put back on again if needed. A pair of knee warmers, a pair of arm warmers and a wind vest are the 3 most important articles of clothing you will have for the fall.
3. Dress in layers. Wearing many light layers instead of one or two heavy layers ensures that sweat will wick away from your body, which keeps you from overheating, and in turn freezing when you start riding again after a rest stop. Always wear a wicking base layer in the fall and winter as your first layer. There are many different options with base layers: some are lighter, some are heavier, some have wind block material, some have sleeves. Ideally, it is nice to have a few options, but start with the basics.
4. Factor in rain and wet roads. If the forecast is for scattered showers and you are riding, chances are high that you will get wet. Even if it never rains on you, you are bound to ride on some wet roads and have water spray up at you off of your wheels or the wheels of others that you are riding with. It may look silly, but a simple fender over your back wheel can keep your butt clean and dry on days like this. Anyone riding behind you will appreciate it too!
If you need to gear up for fall and winter riding, stop by Cadence and ask to speak with any of our retail associates. We are fully stocked with Assos, Castelli, Capo, Rapha and Zoot, and we'll have you ready to ride in any conditions.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion on the West River Time Trial yahoo group (http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/WestRiverTimeTrials) about how best to improve your time. Many have offered excellent advice about training, equipment, pacing strategy and bike fit. All this discussion piqued my interest about how different factors influence your speed on the bike. Of course, I am by no means the first one to investigate this question. People like John Cobb and Steve Hed have spent their careers developing aerodynamic bicycle equipment. Zipp, Cervelo, Trek, Felt and BMC as well as many others have created products with heavy utilization of the wind tunnel. It is no accident that in the last 15 years, Pro Tour time trial speeds have gone up and up, despite more and more restrictions on equipment by the UCI.
I have no desire to either repeat, replace or negate the studies that others have done, but I did have some questions that I was curious to answer.
Question #1: How does power affect speed in a TT?
Answer: If you want to go faster, you can have 2 choices: either produce more power or reduce the forces that slow you down (aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance, gravity, drive train resistance and braking force). How you might go about increasing power output is subject to opinion, and varies greatly from one athlete to the next depending on their strengths, weaknesses and constraints. I won't get into the details here, but I will say that you can read all the books and articles you want but nothing will replace the value of a good coach. With risk of seeming prejudiced, time trialists tend to be very regimented people and often hesitant to give up control. Getting the most value out of a coach means letting go and trusting them, even when you might not completely understand why they are asking you to do certain things. As the old saying goes, an idiot is defined as someone who repeats the same behavior and expects different results. Without a coach, or without trusting the coach, we tend to work most on what we are already best at and least on what we most need to work on to achieve our goals.
So, let's say you hired a coach, everything has went well and your sustainable power has gone up. If nothing else has changed, how much faster can you expect to go? To answer this question, I used Tom Compton's http://analyticcycling.com/, which allows you to calculate speed at a given power, or power at a given speed. For a flat course with no wind, a 5'10" 156 lb. rider with a 20 lb bike and an "average" aero position (I assumed a cdA of .27) can expect to go about 24.5 mph at 250 watts, which comes out to a time of 20:26 on the 8.35 mile West River Drive TT. If this rider is able to increase his average wattage over that distance by 10% to 275 watts, their average speed will increase to 25.4 mph and their time will decrease to 19:43. Not bad...
Question #2: How much do aerodynamics affect speed in a TT?
Answer: On a flat course, about 85% of the opposing force that riders fight is from aerodynamic drag, so it's pretty significant. There are 2 key components that determine how much aerodynamic drag you will have at a given speed are: 1) Frontal area and 2) Drag coefficient. Frontal area would be altered by the position you hold yourself in and the shape of your body. If you ride in the drops instead of the hoods, or on TT bars instead of the drops, you will reduce this area. For a visual demonstration of this, check out this video I found on YouTube:
Drag coefficient is a little tougher to measure without a wind tunnel, so we have to rely primarily on studies done by others. Luckily there are quite a few companies with a vested interest in ensuring that their products are as "slippery" as possible. Drag coefficient is influenced by riding more aerodynamic wheels, a skinsuit, aero helmet, booties, or time trial frameset. However, one factor that complicates things here is yaw angle, or the angle that the air hits the rider and bike at, which is a combination of the rider's forward velocity and wind velocity in other directions.
Most of the time, wind tunnels are used to study airplanes and automobiles where wind direction is minimal if not negligible. A 5 mph direct crosswind would mean a 0.6 degree yaw angle for a jet moving 500 mph, 5.2 degrees for a car moving 55 mph and 9.6 degrees for a bike moving 30 mph. Different equipment will perform better or worse under different yaw angles. Does anyone remember the final time trial in the 2005 Tour de France, where Lance Armstrong had people out on the course measuring the wind conditions so that he could choose the right wheels? Due to the high crosswinds, Lance chose to ride a Hed 3-Spoke rather than a disc wheel on the rear because of it's better performance in high yaw angles. When choosing aerodynamic equipment and fitting a rider an aerodynamic position, it is important to realize that different conditions may produce different results in terms of what is "optimum". In addition to wind conditions, rider size and shape and course profile may all be influences.
I said earlier that I assumed a cdA of 0.27, which is an "OK" aero position for a 5'10" 156 lb rider. This same rider probably has a cdA of around 0.31 on his road bike, riding in the drops, which would result in a speed of 24.3 mph on a flat course at 275 watts, or a time of 20:37 over 8.35 miles. Getting into a "Really good" aero position might bring his cdA down to 0.23, resulting in an astounding increase in speed to 26.6 mph, or 18:50 over 8.35 miles at the same wattage! For a great article about how aerodynamic changes affect power and speed, check out http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/how-aero-is-aero-19273.
Question #3: How does weight affect speed in a TT?
Answer: On a flat TT, weight doesn't affect speed too much... directly. With all other things being equal, our rider would only add about 6 seconds to his time if he gained 20 lbs. or take about 5 seconds off if he lost 20 lbs. So, with all the effort required to lose weight, the risk of bonking, missing workouts or getting sick probably outweigh the benefits for most. It would only take a 3 watt power loss to negate the direct benefit of 20 lbs. of weight loss. There is, however, one complicating factor: a thinner rider is usually more aero than a fatter rider, so losing 20 lbs. may actually help more because of the aerodynamic benefits than the gravitational benefits.
Question #4: How does temperature affect speed in a TT?
One of the things that I was intrigued by about David's records was that he recorded the temperature each day. Temperature affects air density, which affects aerodynamic resistance. This year, the temperatures at 7:00 AM on Saturday morning have been consistently in the mid 60's since early May, but in past years, the temperatures seemed to range from 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. For every 5 degree increase in temperature, air density reduces 0.0007 lb/cubic foot, which means a 0.089 mph speed increase. This may sound minimal, but a 20 degree increase results in a 0.36 mph increase, or almost 30 seconds over 8.35 miles with all other things being equal. Not taken into consideration, though, is the effect of temperature on the human body. Certainly, extremely cold or hot temperatures will result in significant power loss for those not acclimated.
Though not a variable in this model, altitude change has a similar affect. All other things being equal, if West River Drive were at 5000 feet, average speeds would be about 1.6 mph faster, which equates to an average time savings of over a minute over 8.35 miles. It is no accident that the majority of the all time U.S. track records were set at the Colorado Springs Velodrome, which is 6000 feet above sea level.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
- How many of you had a recovery drink or food within 30minutes to 2 hours after your race? For those of you that did excellent. This will speed up your recovery. For those of you that didn't, remember how you feel right now and compare it to how you feel after your next race when you DO replenish correctly! 30minutes to 2 hours after your event is the "recovery window". Your body will absorb the nutrition quicker and help transition your body from a catabolic state (breaking down) to anabolic state (building, repairing).
- Light muscle massage will help aid in recovery. Treat yourself. You earned it!
- Adding some new technology to the mix in the form of compression socks, tights, and tops are a good way to aid in recovery. They work by increasing the blood flow through your muscles, which flushes out waste and delivers essentials nutrients. There are specific forms of compression made for recovery, so shop wisely.
- Enjoy the Monday rest day. "Recovery days" and "Days off" are the days you strengthen, grow and improve as an athlete. Everyone thinks it's the hard training days that build the fitness. Quite the contrary, it's the days in between that make the difference!
- The Pro's and Elite's recovery days will probably consist of a technique, easy day in the pool or recovery "coffee shop" ride. These rides help flush out all the waste that has built up in the muscles during the race.
VP of Performance, Cadence Cycling & Multisport Center
2003 USA Cycling Developmental coach of the Year
2004 USA Triathlon U23 Executive Cycling Coach
Monday, June 22, 2009
Important FYI... If you don't read anything else here, read my most valuable suggestion...
"If you taper correctly, you'll be a little short fused with everyone and especially your loved ones! Your body has been in "training mode" and now you have this extra energy that should be used at the triathlon and not on your family or coworkers. Compound a little nervous energy in the mix and you have the recipe to explode! Plan something special next week. Make it unexpected. Trust me; this will go a LONG way. No one can succeed without family support."
- Make a mental note when setting up your transition area of where you are located in the transition area. You will probably be a little confused after the swim and having a benchmark will certainly help you find your bike. 2000 bikes is a lot of bikes!! Walk from the swim exit to the bike racks. Note the location. How many racks is it? I have seen balloons and signs marking personal transitions, as well as wash basins, towels for convenience. All of this is a matter of personal preference, and whatever you decide to use be sure you've practiced exactly how to use it! It will save you time but more importantly, make your experience just a little better. And of course, please don't forget the transition racks are very crowded -- be courteous to your fellow racers.
- Go over in your mind the first transition (T1). How will you dress for the bike? Do you need to sit down to take off your wetsuit? Trust me -- no one will truly look graceful. Be smooth and deliberate when you transition. Collect yourself. Strap on your helmet, cycling shoes, and sunglasses before unracking your bike. And think about your nutrition by consuming some calories with an extra bottle or a gel that you have placed in your transition area.
- Walk the transition area to the bike exit. Look at the mount and dismount lines. Plan your second transition (T2) Know where you are going to rack your bike. Where are your running shoes, number? Is your race belt ready?
- Don't forget to cross the timing mat and only remove your helmet once you have racked your bike.
- Allow your body to get into a rhythm when starting the next leg. Pace yourself and don't go out too hard up the first hill during the bike leg. As you begin the run, it may take you a mile or two to find your legs. Don't panic. If you have done the training, they'll come around!
Note to Experienced Racers: Transitions are one of the places where you can make up the most time. Getting in and out of transition not only cuts time on your T1 and T2 time, but it can put you in a better position on the race course amongst your competitors. Less is more in the transition area. Prepare only what you need. Grab any fuels in transition and start moving. You'll want to get most of your nutrition while on the move!
Final Race Preparation:
- Have a bottle of water by your side at all times the week before your race. Focus on drinking 64 oz of water every day. I do not need to tell anyone how important hydration is to performance.
- Sleep. It is most important to get two good nights of sleep prior to the race. The day of the race, I prefer getting up early so I am not rushed and have time to compose myself and deal with any possible "what if's!" 30 minutes less sleep is better than rushing around with your head cut off the morning of the race.
- Socks? To wear or not to wear? Simple. If you trained with them, wear them. No need to find out if you'll get blisters by not wearing socks cycling or running.
- If you are traveling to the race and staying at a hotel find out if they serve breakfast early and the type of breakfast they serve? If you have home field advantage, eat what you normally eat before training on your hard days. I prefer eating 2-3 hours before the race.
- Check the weather and plan accordingly. Lars has promised no rain the weekend of the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon. Have fun and look for us the Cadence Tent! We'll have two mechanics ready to help if necessary but please be cautious, there are 2000 competitors!
VP of Performance, Cadence Cycling & Multisport Center
2003 USA Cycling Developmental coach of the Year
2004 USA Triathlon U23 Executive Cycling Coach
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The swim was a triangle course held in Nacote Creek. The creek was calm and clean but it was a bit chilly due to the heavy rain from the night before. Cadence athlete Steve Delmonte posted a strong swim coming out of the water at the front of his wave. Steve followed his swim with great bike and run legs taking the 3rd place overall.
The bike portion featured a flat and fast, out and back course. Race officials did a great job keeping the roads clear of traffic for all those racing. Cadence athlete Jeff Roma threw down a great bike split averaging 24.1 mph for the 16 mile ride. This helped Jeff finish on the podium for his age group.
The transition area was well set up for a quick in from the bike and a short 20 meter run out of the transition area to the run course.
The run highlighted a scenic 4 mile loop around Nacote Creek with several water aid stations along the way. Cadence Coach Jack Braconnier averaged 5:43 miles around the creek for a solid run split.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Cycling: Cycling Strategy
- As you head out of transition one onto West River Drive (MLK Dr.) make sure you have your gearing set in place. Be in an easy race gear that you can accelerate quickly. Get into your aero race position quickly and then shift into a larger (harder) race gear and stay to the right!
- Pacing on the hills. Minimal time is gained on the hills but significant time can be lost at the top. What do I mean by this? Many competitors will almost sprint at the bottom of the hill. Half way up, they are out of breath and searching for their easiest gear, and are then recovering on the flat terrain after the hill. Hold back just a little on the way up, and then accelerate over the top to quickly get back to full speed.
- Pacing. It is a two lap course with hills. Try and negative split (faster on second lap.) When getting close to T2, drink, stretch the back and legs, relax just a little in the last 1/2mile, and coast down that last hill into transition. Your run time will thank you for it!
- Drink while you ride! By the end of the bike leg you should have finished a minimum of one large bottle of water. It's much more difficult to drink while running. Use the flat sections on MLK or Kelly Drive to easily rehydrate if you are an inexperienced rider. For the more experienced, drinking while climbing the hills is best (while you are going slower), or just before the start of a climb while setting up for the turns and decelerating. I also recommend getting out of the aero position and stretching the back every now and again. It can make a big difference in positively setting up your run.
- Concentration is the key to success. Since the bike leg has many twists, turns, and hills you will be shifting constantly. Even on the "flats" along MLK and Kelly Drive, the road undulates and you should be constantly shifting gears to account for the variations in terrain. Significant time and muscular strength can be saved by using your gearing efficiently and not letting yourself get "bogged down" or "spun out" in a gear. Pay extra attention to the terrain around Strawberry Mansion, just before you head back to Kelly Drive. Also be aware on Lansdowne Hill, around Sweet Briar, and down Black Road.
Running Strategy and Tips:
- Get running off the bike right away! Make a quick T2 by using a tri-belt for your race number, and pull-tight or elastic shoe laces so that you don't spend excess time tying your shoes. These small changes can cut large amounts of time to your transition.
- The run takes place on MLK Drive and it is very flat. This is a great run course to PR in the 10k! During the run look ahead to be aware of the curves along the boulevard. Don't follow the crowd or those around you running the course. Take the shortest line through the curve, but be sure to stay on course!
- Almost halfway through the run you will move from running on the street to running on the grass, as you progress around the back of the transition area. The grass won't really change how you will run, but pay extra attention here to any possible divots or mud. One short section will be very wet and slippery as you run past the swim exit. Better to be slow and cautious then risk a muddy fall!
- Once you pass the transition area toward the end of the first 5k you will make your way onto MLK Drive heading toward the Art Museum. This last part of the run course will be out and back all on the drive. Be prepared for it to be hot! Be sure to get some hydration at every aid station, and pour a cup of water on your head if you need it. It's a great way to cool down!
- Once you hit the last turn around at the Art Museum you are approximately 1.5 miles from the finish. This is the time to start slowly building your kick to the finish. Your legs will be tired so concentrate on lifting your knees and maintaining a strong running form. When you can see the finish line, start your final sprint! This is the last little bit of the race so leave it all out on the course!
Enjoy the advice and if you want more information on personal swimming, running or cycling classes, triathlon camps, coaching, and race day equipment and bikes please e-mail email@example.com or call (215) 508-4300.
2003 USA Cycling Developmental coach of the Year
2004 USA Triathlon U23 Executive Cycling Coach
Cadence Triathlon Coach
3 time All American Track and Field athlete at UConn
By Holden Comeau
Holden is a triathlon coach at Cadence Cycling and Multisport in Philadelphia and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is the swim course record holder for the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon with a time of 17:18 set in 2005. He was an NCAA Division I All-American and captain of the Penn State University swim team in 2000, and is now a professional triathlete.
- Get there early! The most unique feature of the Philadelphia Insurance Olympic Triathlon has to do with the logistics of the start. You will ride a school bus from the transition area to the swim start. There are plenty of busses, but the process takes about 15 minutes, and you don't want to rush. Get your transition set up quickly, and catch an early ride to the start!
- Bring only the essentials to the start. Get yourself "lubed and wetsuited" PRIOR to boarding the bus. Wearing your wetsuit just up to your waist will keep you from overheating on the ride the start. All you'll need to bring is you cap, goggles, and timing chip. Some disposable sandals are also a good idea, and personal nutrition is always smart. Race organizers provide water and sports drink at the swim start should you need it, and there are plenty of portable restrooms too!
- Plan for a swim warm up. Entering the Schuylkill River from St. Joe's Boathouse (swim start) couldn't be easier for a good warm up. Just walk down the boat launch ramp and get swimming up-river. The race course progresses straight down-river, so your warm up will not interrupt the race.
- Know the course. The swim course is fairly straight forward. You will progress downstream along the left bank until the final turn buoy, around which you will make a right turn and cross the river to the swim exit -- which is a clearly marked sand beach. Along the way you will pass under a railroad bridge and will have two options for which "tunnel" to swim through. Pick the left-most tunnel closest to the riverbank.
- Pay attention to your equipment. The water temperature typically allows for a wetsuit swim for amateur athletes. Wetsuit technology has come a LONG way in the past few years. If you've been thinking about a new suit, and are thinking about a swim PR (or making a run for my record!!), this is the swim course to do it! Straight and Fast! Be prepared also in the case of a non-wetsuit swim. A "swim skin" is a necessity to wear over your traditional triathlon uniform. You won't want to swim down the river in a loose jersey.
- Check your goggles. You'll want lightly shaded or clear goggles to navigate the murky water and low sunlight on race morning.
- Keep your arms moving! One of the most significant factors that influence a swimmers pace is arm-stroke turnover rate. As you fatigue, the first thing you might lose is the quickness with which you had been moving you arms. In open water swimming -- especially while wearing a wetsuit -- arm speed is extremely important. Just keep your arms spinning!
- Watch where you're going. Though the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon swim course is fairly easy to navigate, there is still plenty of room to swim too far should you not look where you're going. Buoys mark the right side of the swim channel every 300-400meters, and swimming buoy-to-buoy is always a good strategy. Plus, should there be any down-river current on race morning, it will be strongest the further you swim away from the riverbank. Look up quickly to catch a glimpse of where you're going, and do it with frequency!
- Be cautious at swim exit. The exit is abruptly steep, and fairly narrow. The volunteers are always extremely helpful here, and the race organizers ship in lots of sand that creates a soft embankment. Regardless, the bank is steep and the river is deep until you get very close to edge. Keep swimming until you touch the bottom of the river lightly with your hand, and navigate the exit like an athlete!
- As always, have fun! Swimming in the Schuylkill River is beautiful. The water is very clean and refreshing, and the course is really like no other. It's a great start to a great race!
by Brian Walton
Bike Handling and cornering are very important aspects for the bike leg of the triathlon not only from the obvious safety standpoint but also from an overall physical efficiency standpoint. Being able to stay relaxed and conserving energy around turns and transitioning into hills will help you decrease your overall time and allow you to save energy for the run.
EYES and HEAD: "Keep your head up and look to where you are going." What we mean by this is keep the eyes focused not down at the road 10 feet in front of you but well past the turn. You'll be amazed at how relaxed you'll be. Just do a quick check every down and again for debris on the road.
BODY: "Keep your body over the bottom bracket." The bottom bracket is the heart of the bike where the cranks are attached to the frame. Don't lean into the direction of the turn. Almost stay upright and lean "away" from the turn.
ARMS and HANDS: Keep your elbows bent and relaxed and hands on the drops of the handlebars for a lower center of gravity. I suggest keeping your hands on the brakes and use the right (rear brake) and left (front) to slow yourself down by feathering the brakes. Always go into the turn in control and at a speed you feel comfortable. The race will not be won in any turn. Only lost...
LEGS: Inside leg should always be up going around a turn. For example if turning 90 degrees to the right, the right leg should be up. Don't drop the knee thinking you are a motorbike racer. All this does is take your body weight further away from bike and the potential for sliding out is increased. The outside leg should have pressure applied to it (weighted). For you skiers, you know what I'm talking about, carve that outside edge!
WHAT TO DO WHEN PICKING YOUR LINE?
Take care and next week we will continue to focus on the bike and add running into the mix.
Safe and happy training,
Friday, May 22, 2009
The camps are detailed through the Cadence home page in the news ticker so rather than get too in depth, here are the basics:
Endurance MTB Camp - June 15-17 (Mon-Wed) - led by coach Mike Kuhn - $450
Contemplating your first mountain bike marathon this summer? Looking to improve your time at the Wilderness 101? Wondering how to best prepare for the Shenandoah 100 or other endurance mountain bike event? THIS IS THE MTB CAMP FOR YOU!
Price includes race entry into Wilderness 101 or Shenandoah 100!
Held in beautiful State College, PA, the home of the legendary Wilderness 101, the Cadence Endurance MTB Racing Camp offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the specific training demands of this challenging facet of mountain bike racing and help you prepare physically and mentally for the task of racing an MTB marathon or 12/24 hour solo. This camp is intended for intermediate to advanced mountain bike riders who are contemplating their first endurance style race and those looking to improve their performance in such events.
Ironman Lake Placid Preview Camp - June 18-20 (Thu-Sat) - Led by coaches Kevin Kall and Holden Comeau - $495
Join Cadence’s nationally acclaimed coaches in scenic Lake Placid for three days of extensive training in all three disciplines including open water swims and cycling on the Lake Placid Ironman course. Each day will feature a dedicated lecture on nutrition, transitions, open water swimming, and race strategy. Participants will also receive a goodie bag! This camp is tailored to half ironman and ironman distance competitors.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
In fact, however, the Sierra Nevada range--the second highest range of mountains in Europe--is tremendously taller than the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains. The reason for this is that the Sierra rise from sea level--literally, from the Mediterranean Sea--whereas the Sangre de Cristo get a nice leg up as they start from a valley floor already perched at a lofty 8,000 feet: the nearest "sea" is the Pacific Ocean which is one-third of the continent to the west. The vertical of the Sierra Nevada, then, is a true 11,500 feet, whereas the vertical of the Sangre de Cristo is on the order of 6,000 feet. In terms of sheer vertical, the Sierra Nevada are nearly twice as high as the Rocky Mountains.
As you head north, away from the coastline, and into the Alpujarras you encounter several lower, but impossibly steep ranges including the Sierra Lujar, and the Sierra de la Contraviesa. The small villages of the Alpujarras are thriving vestiges from the region's Moorish and Berber past, where Muslim sultans ruled until 1492. The last of these Sultans, Boabdil Naziri, surrendered the city of Granada and his palace of Alhambra and, in an uncustomary generous act by Ferdinand and Isabelle, was allotted domain over the Alpujarras from the small mountain town of Orgiva, what today is the center of trade for the western Alpujarras. That act of kindness was short-lived; about as long as it takes to ride your bike through the sparsely populated village.
The obvious impact of the Moors on this area is constantly reinforced through visual cues, some subtle some not. The less subtle cues are the magnificent and impossibly ubiquitous terraces on which almond trees, lemon and orange trees, olive trees, and numerous other fruit bearing species thrive. These terraces were part of a vast, ingeniously engineered water transportation system out of which a network of complex water sharing canals moved the precious liquid from the snow-rich Sierra Nevada to the bleached, water-starved lower elevations. The less obvious cues, perhaps, are in the colorful geometric tiles that adorn nearly everything in the gleaming, white-washed towns clinging impossibly to the steep mountainsides of the ranges demarcating the region.
The Muslims, forbidden by the Quran to recreate the hand of Allah's work through realistic paintings of animate objects, nevertheless celebrated the order of God's impeccable universe through their understanding of algebra and geometry. This celebration is evident in the ridiculously proportionate yet insanely complex symmetrical knots and designs adorning so much of Spain's tile and plasterwork, doors and river stone walkway--and, by long historical extension, that style so often denoted "Santa Fe" or "southwestern." These complex designs are the result of a deep understanding of mathematics and geometry and were seen as profound insight into the universal order of things, as intended by Allah. It's not so different, really, from physicists today who use numbers to untangle the mysteries of the universe, and to point to the existence of things never to be seen by the human eye on both the micro and macro levels.
Another perhaps more subtle reminder of the influence the Moors had on this area is the woeful wail of the region's singers. Even in Spanish, the sorrowful music sounds to me like the haunting call of the caliphate from the highest minaret.
If the Moors had applied their same geometrical fervor to the entirely unreasonable and disorganized roadway system adorning the Spanish mountains we, as cyclists, we be much worse off. Clearly, the Romans had no hand in building the goat paths that are today called paved mountain roads and connect the network of villages that spreads vertically rather than horizontally. But as an old riding partner of mine used to say, "I like a road with character," and in the Alpujarras there are an abundance of characters.
Whereas some riders look upon a 45 or 60 minute mountain ascent as a descent through the seven rings of hell, I relish the idea. 60 minutes of a slow grind at sub-lactate effort is precisely what I require to build the leg muscle my genetics failed to provide. After a very quick 2 km descent from our precipitous perch on Monte los Almendros (the mountain of almonds) where we've rented a villa, I'm on a farm lane gliding effortlessly through lemon, orange and almond groves, smelling mimosa, and forced only occasionally to stop for the herd of strong smelling goats being shepherded from one field to another. Dodging a mine field of remnant goat turds and odiferous splotches of urine, I catch up with a main artery for a bit, trundle through the town of Velez de Benaudalla, am soon at the base of a climb headed for Orgiva, and then well above that, up to the spa town of Lanjaron.
From Lanjaron you stay on the main road, needle your way through a winding field of eco-friendly windmills fed pertually by the relentless wind--a cheerful, modern day salute to Don Quixote as I whisper by--drop slightly down and over the Autovia de Sierra Nevada Motril-Granada, and then plunge down to the reservoir in the valley floor, just below Beznar. Here begins another near hour-long climb first up to Pinos del Valle, and then to a crest in a lush, pine laden valley in the Sierra de las Guajaras called the Valle Lecrin. This unspeakably gorgeous spot is sheltered by the wind and is fed with sparkling streams where tall grasses grow green and thick, bees hum joyously as they go about their business, an array of birds chirps and chases insects, lemons and oranges sun themselves, fig trees are springing to life, mimosa and scotch broom flagrantly showcase their canary yellows, and olives and almonds ripen on their branches. The Arabs called the Lecrin the "Valley of Smiles," and if you visit you'll know why. And you'll smile.
Heading out of the Lecrin Valley the road pitches abruptly upward and you are quickly above the forests. For me, there is a queer and disquieting sense of forlornness when riding in mountains without trees: above timberline in Colorado gives me spooky shivers, and it’s no different in these various, wind-swept and sun-bleached sierras. The sound of unprotected altitude is haunting: it is a disturbing void, a near auditory lifeless world aside from the rustling of the wind. This uneasy feeling is made all the more poignant when riding alone…a creative mind is not a particularly terrific asset at these moments especially as you start to question the sensibility of riding tubulars with no spare tucked neatly away. "Ah, let's see now, when did I last see a car?" "How many kilometers would it be back to Pinos?" "Are there mountain lions in the Sierras?" "Naive American Cyclist Found Dead in Harsh Spanish Mountains." I can just read the story now, people shaking their heads in incredulity that anyone could be so stupid to ride alone out there.
Now, it used to be that I loved descents. Dropping down Molas Pass at 11,000 feet into the town of Silverton, CO in the Iron Horse race from Durango to Silverton was the pleasure that made that damnable sufferfest all worthwhile. The road, closed to traffic, allowed you to cut the corners with no risk of winding up as the hood ornament on some Texas tourist's Cadillac. And at speeds at times well in excess of 50 mph, the sheer exhilaration was--as I can only imagine it--the nearest thing to free falling from an airplane. No. It was, in fact, even better than I can imagine that as the effortless inter-working of body and bike, the harmonious unison, whilst fluidly carving so effortlessly a high-speed turn takes mindless concentration (an oxymoron, I know) that I cannot imagine of any other physical endeavor. To over-think the speed with a singular focus on the apogee and exit strategy of each turn--all the while hoping like hell that you properly glued your tubulars--would be tantamount to slamming on your brakes, pulling over, climbing off your bike, and watching the end of the race as a spectator. Instead, you let your wheels roll, you feather the brake--keep the braking surfaces cool, don't melt the glue--lean, tuck down, back on the brake hoods, squeeze gently, arrrrrrrrrrrrch through the turn, watch that gravel patch, tuck, accelerate, pedal like hell...
That was 22 years ago. I was 20. I was immortal. 22 years later and morality seems to be wagging a finger in my face telling me I better behave. I'd like to tell him to f--- off but the fact his he gave me a gentle reminder of my ephemeral and tenuous presence on this planet about a year ago. It was a distinct and much needed reminder that we are very fragile creatures and that we best learn to appreciate the few fleeting seconds we have in the universal scheme of things. That's what I'm doing in Spain.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The course is everything that the website details, a leg burning grind fest on less than stellar roads. This was exemplified by one of our clients. After cramping near the end of the ride an anonymous rider in our group took advantage of a head start on the last major climb. We came around the corner to find him squatting behind his bike in the middle of the road, as if trying to hide from the hill’s evil. He was unable to stand because his quads had gone into full tetanus! After 10 minutes of crouching they relaxed enough to climb back on the bike and he was able to make it over the rest of the climb (compact gearing next time Ryan, take it from Charlie… ;)
In dry conditions the dirt road sections were not all that bad minus a couple 30-60 yard swaths of “golf ball” sized gravel that layered the road way like sprinkles on frosting (except for Meeting House Road…a proper nasty dirt road just as you would imagine it). Hopefully these gravel sections will be
Sunday was a chance to experience the course all wet, and we rolled out just as it poured. It was not long before getting comfortable but in low 50 degree temps and steady rain it’s riding a fine edge teetering on “just bearable” and “lets go home”. The pace was spirited to keep the blood flowing and the only thing that could ruin it was stopping for a flat...Murphy’s law rules at the Battenkill. After 10 minutes of standing in the rain we got going again and this was the worst part of the ride. At least the Mad Alchemy embrocation kept the legs feeling toasty, if only a placebo, thanks Dave! But we soon got the blood flowing and the rain lessened. Even in the dry the roads seemed to suck your wheels into the earth but in the wet you created ruts and had to negotiate sections of quick sand that virtually slowed you to a stop. For anyone doing the Pro 1 or 2 race the initial “extra” loop may sort things out from the start if it is as wet as it was today. However, as was explained to me later this was a “dark” road and just thawed out from the winter so there has been little traffic this year. By race day the sand should be a little more packed. In the wet the traction was not so bad going up the hills but you had to push even harder because of the “road suck” and on this climb the road “sucked hard”.
Wet or dry the race will be hard, but pray for dry.
Thanks for the great company and riding Dave, Bruce, Bryce, David, Kristan, Ryan, Bryan, and Charlie. Many thanks to Christine Hoffer at the Rice Mansion Inn for helping with the weekend, it was an exceptional place to stay and I highly recommend it if you ever come to Cambridge!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Then the infernal, ubiquitous blue-white smoke of the farmers' valley fires rises to sear your eyes. Depending on the direction of the win--and generally, there is wind--the lazy smoke will turn north towards the mighty giants of the snow capped Sierra Nevada, or it will sway listlessly out over the sea. There is yet a third and rarer option if there is no wind: the wiry thin wisps of smoke will twist like spun cotton and rise ever upwards until the temperature variation traps the ghostly vapors and the valley fills with a smoky haze smelling of burnt earthly refuse.
In all cases, the smoke merges with the dust and other pollutants and particulates—which in the south of Spain are abundant for a number of reasons: the sun-scorched earth and beaches are a constant source of dust and sand; the multifarious plants are in a near constant state of bloom meaning pollen is omnipresent; and in the far south of Europe, where northern European uppityness and love for regulations like emissions controls is flagrantly snubbed, thousands of antiquated Citroens, Peugeots, Seats and Fiats trundle around carrateras and autovias in sundry states of disrepair to lend an (un)healthy dose of unfiltered diesel and gasoline fumes to top off the cocktail. The resultant mixture is a haze that migrates from a pleasing bluish-white at about 7:00am to a poor imitation of slurry brown by 3:00pm.
But none of this, not the ceaseless smell of burning palm leaves, not the afternoon brown cloud, not the choking fumes of derelict vehicles, not even the eardrum shattering din of 49cc motorbikes heralded by testosterone crazed 16 year olds can detract from the destabilizing beauty of this remote corner of Andalucia.
Salobrena lies roughly 90 kilometers to the east of Malaga and equally as far south from Granada. Within the confines of the points which form this triangle is some of the most strikingly beautiful and inhospitable land in all of Europe. But the abundance of water from the Sierra Nevada, the fertile coastal plains and valleys of the southern Mediterranean, the natural ports and ease of access to north Africa made this such an attractive destination for numerous historical peoples including the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Visigoths, and eventually Arabs and Jews impressed upon al-Andalus a glorious and lasting infrastructure and culture that resulted in such masterful works as the Alhambra and a sinewy network of irrigation canals and an unprecedented lattice work of trellises and sublime stone terraces.
In addition to all this, the cities of Cordoba and Granada were unrivaled centers of modernity providing scholarship and learning where Europe's first universities were founded, and where advances in medicine, art, architecture, and mathematics flourished. These ingenious advances carry dramatic influence on our contemporary, everyday life (including algebra and algebraic geometry). Public waste removal, public and private plumbing, sewage systems, hydro-powered water mills, and even street lighting were for the first time introduced in Andalus in the 9th Century.
What was accomplished in Andalus between the 8th Century and end of the 15th Century was earth shattering in the history of human development. But it was arguably undone--or at least, unravele--when Los Reyes Catolicos took control of the political reigns. In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabelle unified Spain and, in a rousing display of historical irony, ruled it from the glorious Moorish palace, Alhambra. In short order their initial semi-tolerance for Arabs and Jews was betrayed by the declaration of Reconquista, the zealous reconquering of the existing and harmonious geo-political-cultural landscape with their own brand of divisive and intolerant Christian ideals (in reality, a thinly veiled attempt to steal the wealth of non-Christians and to set off about the "New World" looking for gold under the holy subterfuge of spreading the word of the Christian God).
Religious intolerance is a remarkably common theme.
But forget about that: I'm in Andalucia, more precisely in the provincial town of Salobrena, to do what I love most, ride my bike. One could do much worse than land on their feet in this part of the world only to climb on two wheels for some much needed spring training.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Balancing Theory with Craft;
A Forum with Allen Lim
March 15, 2009
Presented by CRCA, New York, NY
A Re-cap by Ann Marie Miller, MA
What a thrill to be able to spend an afternoon discussing the latest advances in training and cycling with the mastermind behind the Garmin Slipstream Cycling team, Allen Lim. Recognized as a leader in the study of training with power, and his work with Powertap power meters, Allen has been the mentor to many of the world’s top cyclists.
John Eustice, 2 time US Pro Champion and promoter of the Univest Grand Prix, served as moderator for the presentation and discussion with Allen Lim. The afternoon started with a review of what had been a stellar week for the Garmin-Slipstream team on the European circuit; with stage wins at both Paris-Nice (Christian Vandevelde) and Tirreno-Adriatico, including a breakthrough win by Tyler Farrar over uber-sprinters Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, et al. Allen feels like it is no surprise the team is coming together; he could see from testing and results on training that they have the potential for these wins and even bigger things.
Although Allen is known for crunching numbers and analyzing Power files, the presentation focused more on the intuitive side of training and progression. Allen continued to emphasize the importance of applying science individually, and how his method isto ask riders how they feel after workouts and races to teach the athlete how to interpret these sensations along with the data they collect form these rides.
He noted how other aspects of fitness, such as body awareness, flexibility and core strength contribute to improved performance. Even body weight strength exercises, like squats, push ups, etc., can aid in overall muscle efficiency. He believes strength training, even just body-weight exercises like 1 legged squats, and core work with a physioball can make a huge difference in a rider’s integrity and performance. He cited the fact that Christian Vandevelde suffered from back problems for years, but started a core training regime using physioballs, and does not have those pains anymore. He claims Christian keeps up a maintenance routine even when they are racing in season! He said the Garmin team looks like a traveling circus checking into hotels with their physioballs, foam rollers, and other fitness accessories! (Good news for me – everyone makes fun of me for doing strength training year round. Not to mention my “aerobic warm-up” packed with squats, push-ups and core work of all manner).
Allen noted that strength training was a catalyst to improved performance, and emphasized strength training for Masters’ Athletes, to maintain fast-twitch muscle fibers. He admitted not having worked extensively with the Masters’ population, but reiterated the studies that show Masters’ athletes tend to maintain slow-twitch muscle fiber over time, and that those who continue to exercise don’t show much of a loss of cardiovascular fitness, but the fast twitch muscle fibers are the first to go with age. Strength training and plyometrics can delay the decrease in fast-twitch muscle performance.
Since gains from strength training show a steep decline after 6 weeks of de-training, he advocates maintenance strength training throughout the year, if possible.
He reviewed the periodization calendar of the Garmin team; riders peaking for the Classics in March-May do high volume training in December; those aiming for the mid-season and the Tour De France train for volume in January, while riders peaking for late-season and the World Champiosnhips might not start volume training until March.
He believes in focusing on skills and easy pace for early-season training, and says your body will only do what it can handle, so start slowly.
Although Garmin does extensive testing, he does not prescribe exercised in terms of “Lactate Threshhold”. Although they don’t use LT to prescribe exercise, he said it is valuable to teach athletes to identify their limits. Rather, they start with intervals such as 20 minutes at a steady pace, then break the 20 minute segment in to halves, doing “negative splits”, then quarters, using a “hard/easy, hard/easy” approach. Then they proceed to motorpacing, using “watts/kg” as the criteria for intensity. They break the levels into 2-4 watts/kg pace, 4/6 watts/kg pace, 4-6 watts/kg, 6-8 watts/kg, and as unthinkable as it sounds, 8+watts/kg. In my dreams!!!
He discussed some of the adaptations the Garmin team had to make as Americans racing in Europe. Basically, they did best by maintaining their identity as Americans, rather than trying to convert to European culture. They cling to American-style eating and lifestyle habits.
I expected his philosophy would be strictly scientific, and I was pleased to see how he married science with the humanity of the sport. He uses a lot of intuitive application in exercise prescription; some riders respond to certain training or stimulus; others need another approach. They try to give the riders as much information as they can accept, in a way they can deal with it; he doesn’t hit riders over the head with facts & figures. He admits he has no proof that the scientific information is helping the riders, but he uses is because it is the best evidence they have.
He expressed reservations about taking the results of LT testing too literally because he believes the stages in a typical LT test are too short. He claims that LT results would be very different for most riders if the stages were longer, and that these stages that are too short may over-estimate an individual’s LT
Working one of the preeminent physiologists who served on powerhouse squads like ONCE Allen says the data from the Garmin riders suggest they are as strong, if not stronger than the ONCE athletes had been, so he has high hopes for their performance this year.
He noted that yes, it IS possible to have breakthrough performances after utterly “bad days”. In truth, if an athlete bonks, or reaches glycogen depletion, and then restores the muscle glycogen, there is a “Supercompensation effect” that allows the muscles to increase their capacity to absorb glycogen. This is basis behind the old “carbohydrate-depletion, carbo-loading philosophy, in which athletes would limit carbohydrate consumption while training, and then increase carb intake while cutting their training load to max out glycogen storage. (Can’t imagine how cranky I’d be craving a chocolate chip cookie if I had to restrict my carb intake!)
Some of the most innovative approaches they use concern recovery methods. They use pneumatic compression devices (developed to promote circulation in lymphodema patients) applied to the legs after races to gently “pump” blood through the muscles. He said a key to recovery was to lower the high core temperature to stop the catabolic processes.
Although icing can reduce inflammation, it constricts the capillaries and reduces local blood flow to the muscles, so they prefer the pneumatic devices for recovery.
Acknowledging variation between riders, he said people with different LT values can get similar performance results using different mechanisms; there are many ways to get a good result – different bodies rely on different systems and physical mechanisms.
He said physical asymmetries were the biggest injury problem for pro cyclists; and correcting these problems had to be done off the bike, “fix it in the gym first”, in real life, and then on the bike.
He does not believe in IV’s for rehydration after long endurance events; he will not let his athletes “take a needle”. He says if the IV solution contains glucose, you miss an important step in muscle glycogen storage because when glucose hits your small intestine, it stimulates a hormone which aids in glycogen storage.
Also, the bolus of cold water hitting your gut aids in cooling & minimizing muscle catabolism.
Since Allen is the stage racing expert for the team, I asked what the local amateur racer could learn from his Grand Tour experience and apply to shorter stage races like Fitchburg, Green Mountain, etc. He offered these tips:
* Weigh before & after each stage & replace the amount of fluids lost as soon after the race as possible. Many riders sink into a gradual state of dehydration from day to day in stage races.
* Eat a recovery meal consisting of carbs & some protein immediately after the race; and fuel adequately later as well.
* Increase your sleep by 1-2 hours the week prior to the event.
* Get off your feet as soon as possible after the race, & STAY off your feet as much as you can.
*\36-48 hours before a prologue, the Garmin team does a “Hot workout” in an elevated temperature to induce profuse sweating. This releases a hormone to improve aerobic performance by increasing blood plasma volume. For our purposes, the workout could be 1- 1 ½ hours long, with at least 20 minutes high intensity.
To avoid burn-out, he suggests taking a break in the middle of your season for a week or two, so you are “hungry” to return to training.
Since his name is synonymous with power meters, he encourages riders to train with power to create greater awareness. But he asks his athletes to fill out manual “training logs” & comment on how they feel when training to compare with actual power output data. He is developing software to allow an athlete to record their physical sensations and feelings and compare to power output.
Allen’s likable boyish approach and blend of the most advanced scientific information with sensitivity to the individual’s personality is most appealing and a good model for any coach or mentor. Next time, I’d love to have him spend a day leading a training session!
Monday, March 9, 2009
5 Questions for coach Brian Walton and rider Dominique Rollin:
1. Now that you have moved from a top level North American team to Cervelo Test Team, one of the top teams in Europe, what is your role and responsibility on the team?
• DR-"Well it changes from race to race depending upon which race I am doing. This year is all about learning. Learning the courses, learning from Thor and Carlos, learning from our Director Sportif's, tactics and where I fit in but I will have my chances!"
• BW-"My job as the coach is to have him ready for when the team tells me! And an important aspect of Dom's role will be being a domestic or team helper during the races. Sacrificing himself for the team and team leader. Dom will play a very important part of Thor Hushov's lead-out."
2. What are your early season goals?
• DR-"Stay upright, learn, finish the early season healthy and do well at Paris Roubaix!"
• BW- "In his first year the early season goal is the classics and Paris-Roubaix. Dom is built mentally and physically for PR and the Spring Classics. Coaching is not just about the numbers, especially in his first year. It's about helping the athlete at adapting to a new environment on the bike, within the team, and off the bike in Europe."
3. How was the start to the European Classic Season for you?
• DR-"Man it was tough but I loved it! My first Classic was the old "Het Volk" in Gent, Belgium and Thor won the race! I flatted with 60km to go and it was really the end of the day for me. The next day we had another 200km classic, Kurnne-Brussels-Kurnne. I felt good even after the race the day before. My pack positioning or placing ok, not the greatest. I lost my concentration for a couple of minutes and ended up at the back and out of contention. I need to work on staying calm while fighting for position. I get shoved too easily. I missed the front group because of that and not because I couldn't be up there, got slowed down by other riders and couldn't bridge after the Kwaremount!"
• BW-"For me it was a great start to the season for Dom. He is where he should be physically at this point in time. He has not done the racing that he did last year at this time but then again his goal race is a little further into the season. He made a few rookie tactical mistakes in Belgium but Dom is very smart and will only make these mistakes once!"
4. How is it different than the Tour of California?
• DR-"Tour of California was ugly this year, rain and cold for the first half of the stage race! Last year I had my best day on the bike as a pro when I won Stage Four and attacked George Hincapie at the end of the long stage. This year I was strong but it was my first race of the year. I was there to help Thor and we did that when he won Stage 5. This year the stage race was all about preparation for Europe."
• BW-"As Dom said this was his first race of the year this year. Last year I had Dom go to Mexico for a week long stage race and also a couple of road races in California before ToC. It was his goal of the year. To showcase his talents in front of the top teams in the world. He pulled it off perfectly! A stage win and the green sprinters jersey! This year, learn, stay healthy, and use the hard stage race as a solid training foundation for the early European season."
5. What is a typical training week during the Classics?
• DR-"I'll leave that one to the coach. He tells me what to do! I give him feedback if I have not recovered from the racing and traveling or if I am feeling run down. I may change a recovery day here or there or lessen the miles if something comes up but for the most part, what he says goes!"
• BW-"That's what I like to hear! Dom is very coachable and not because he listens to me. He is a very smart guy and the training feedback he gives me is invaluable. We are a great team and I could not build a training program without his knowledge and support. As for a typical training week during the classics season…Man it's tough! This is where I earn my keep. Race, rest, recover and still fit in true workouts…It's crazy and we are constantly tweaking the training. A quote I like to use is "Less is More" and this is especially true when an athlete finishes an 8 day stage race, travels back to Europe and then has two races the following weekend. Sometimes you need to throw tradition out the window. Dom's heart rate may come back to resting rate and I may give him a couple of intervals after three days but if he can not get his heart rate and wattage up into the correct zones Dom has the green light to shut it down."
Next up for Dominique Rollin on Saturday March 7th is the 190km classic in Italy, Eroica. With over 50km of dirt and gravel…on his Cervelo S2 road bike.
Monday, March 2, 2009
02/22/09 Desert Classic Duathlon Bec 2nd
03/08/09 ITU Ecuador
04/26/09 St. Anthony's
05/09/09 Iron Girl Las Vegas
05/17/09 Columbia Triathlon
06/14/09 Eagleman 70.3/Alcatraz
06/20/09 ITU World Champ DC
06/27/09 ITU World Cup HyVee
06/28/09 Philadelphia Tri
07/11/09 Life Time Fitness
07/25/09 Uberman Sprint Tri
07/26/09 New York City Tri
08/02/09 SheROX Philly
08/23/09 Iron Girl Columbia
08/30/09 Chicago Tri
09/13/09 70.3 Muskoka
09/27/09 Westchester Tri
10/04/09 Los Angeles Tri
10/11/09 U.S. Open Tri
10/14/09 70.3 World Championships
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I'm not exactly in top shape yet, but it felt good to push myself again after months of not racing. I lost the lead in the second half of the bike, but felt strong the whole way. Kim Loeffler, a long distance triathlete training for next month's Ironman China, won the race. We've been doing some training together over the last few weeks in Tucson.
It's back to hard training now, we're trying to make the most of our last days in the warm sunshine. Today we did a 5k swim, right into an hour run. After a short nap we went up Mt. Lemmon to mile 14. Now we get to relax by the pool!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
What brought me to Cadence…
The first race I ever ran was an all out 100 meter sprint for St. Kevin’s grade school. My prerace activities included tying my shoes as tight as I could. Much has changed since then; I now take 30 minutes setting up my transition area and tread water for 3 minutes waiting for the gun. I am a runner turned triathlete that has been competing in triathlons for 3 years. I ran for Cardinal O’Hara high school competing for the cross county and track team mainly as a middle distance runner. I actually raced mostly as a quarter miler and even a sprinter at times. Never would I have thought that after college I would become an endurance athlete.
As an athlete for O’Hara I earned many honors competing on the track, the greatest being named All-American three times. After graduating from O’Hara I continued my running career as a University of Connecticut Husky competing in the Big East. I enjoyed greater success on the track then I ever had while running for UConn. After one cross country season with the Huskies I was bumped up to the 800m run on the track. My greatest honor while running for UConn was being named All-East in 2005.
During the summer of 2006 I was introduced to my first triathlon at the Jersey shore. I was so pumped to compete but I lacked some of the proper gear and training to actually say I was ready for my first tri. I had no wetsuit and the bike I was using was a road bike my grandfather gave me that was over 20 years old. I finished in 386th place for that first triathlon and absolutely loved it. I realized that in order to be able to compete with the leaders I was going to need to learn how to swim and I was going to need a new bike. I purchased a used tri bike and competed in a second tri a few weeks later having some greater success and taking 2nd place in my age group. After that race I became completely hooked on triathlons. My training completely changed to endurance work. Since that first summer of triathlons I have completed 4 marathons, one being Boston in 2:56 and I have been fortunate enough to go undefeated in my age group during my last tri season.
This is what brings me to Cadence. Since my first few races as a triathlete I noticed many of the top finishers were Cadence athletes, proudly wearing their Cadence gear. I got the opportunity to meet many of Cadence’s top athletes working for Tancredi Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center and all of them spoke so highly of the staff and coaches at Cadence. I felt that to be able to reach the next level in the sport of triathlons Cadence would be the crew that would help get me there. They are clearly the premier triathlon facility in the Philadelphia area. I am so excited to be a part of the Cadence team and to be one of their athletes proudly wearing their gear.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Let's dissect this for a moment: for high-performance bikes--like great bottles of wine--we can all agree that there are fundamental objective criteria we look for in determining a better from a lesser ride. For instance, we know that bottom bracket stiffness and power transfer are absolutely critical qualities. In addition to this, head tube stiffness is essential for sure-footed handling. None of us would prefer to ride a bike that is wholly inefficient at transferring power or is unsafe on windy, high-speed descents.
Then there are the admittedly subjective criteria: ride quality and road feel are among them. A bike that feels "smooth and buttery" to one rider may feel "harsh and jarring" to another, and vice versa. Some riders prefer the solid, rugged feel of aluminum, others prefer the soft feel of titanium and steel, and still others like the snappiness and lightweight of carbon frames.
So here's the dilemma: given the hodge-podge of the objective criteria we can all agree upon and the subjective criteria we're likely to disagree upon, how do we all agree that one bike is the perfect bike? Surely this problem isn't as difficult as, say, sorting out whether or not a sub-atomic particle has a determinate state! We're talking bikes, after all!
Here's where we stand. For 2009 two bikes are standouts. In fact, these two bikes may just be the best damn bikes we've ever ridden. From an objective standpoint, both bikes are phenomenally stiff with lightening fast acceleration, and both have massively oversized and stiff head tubes for rock solid, precise, and confidence inspiring handling, sprinting, and cornering. As for subjective criteria, we have consensus on our side: those who have ridden both bikes sing effusive praises for the uncommonly smooth and solid feel of these framesets. So what bikes are we talking about? The 2009 Wilier Cento Uno and the 2009 Cannondale SuperSix.
These bikes are good. Amazingly good. Reports on the Cento Uno range from "as good as a bike gets" to "quite possibly the perfect ride;" ironically, reports on the SuperSix are nearly identical! The remarkable thing about both these bikes is that they are extremely light: the Cento Uno size medium just tips the scales at 1100 grams, but that includes its integrated seat mast which, on other super light frames, would add an additional half-pound of weight! Light as it is--light as both these bikes are--they ride with a weighty, confidence-inspiring assurance that one would only imagine possible on a steel or titanium frameset.
Where do these bikes differ? The Cento has a kind of plushness to its ride that is immediately belied by its uncanny willingness to jump to life as soon as you put power into the pedals. On a steep ascent where you want to accelerate, or just getting going off the start line, the Cento Uno will dumbfound you with its remarkable power transfer. Let off the reigns a bit, though, and the Wilier is as docile and comfortable as your grandfather's Cadillac. The Cento Uno seems a mix of conflicting qualities, but ride one and you're likely to agree. The Cannondale, on the other hand, may lack a bit of the Wilier's road-going finesse, but that's not to say it's any less of a bike. The ride may not float over bumps and macadam like the Wilier, but it eats up the road so fast, so solidly, and so confidently that you'll not want to ride home...ever. The Cannondale leaves no doubt that racing is in its blood, but it does so without the constant reminder in your jaw that you're on a thoroughbred. Like the Wilier, the SuperSix jumps to action at the slightest provocation, but if you think the SuperSix is harsh or rough, think again: it too provides a remarkably compliant, comfortable, and fatigue-staving ride--exactly what the pros on Liquigas need!
At the end of the day, choosing between these two bikes is a really difficult proposition. The Cento Uno provides a sublime ride with oodles of power; the Cannondale provides a race-inspired, solidly compliant ride with oodles of power. In a perfect world you could have both. It's not a perfect world, but at Cadence you have the chance to ride both in our demo program!