Monday, May 31, 2010

Apple Duathlon

The weather was perfect for the Apple Duathlon on Saturday (Sunny, mid 70s, and SE 5 mph breeze).   The weather was probably the biggest factor contributing to me setting a new course record of 1:19:57.   The old record was 1:21 something.  I still had good performance.  I ran similar run splits as previous year, but not having a major head wind on the final stretch of the bike was the key.  Hopefully, everyone was able to set a PR or come close this year.  I don't think we'll be so lucky for awhile.

Here is a quick recap of the race from my perspective.  Justin Hurd and I ran side by side in the lead for the first 5k run (15:36 or 5:02 per mi).  Brooks, Chad, and Patrick were 30 seconds behind.  I was hoping to drop Justin on the bike, but it wasn't a sure thing.  Justin is a descent bike rider himself.  I got a slight advantage leaving T1 on Justin and never looked back, so I can't tell you if there was a desicive moment when a gap developed.  I just kept pedaling hard the entire course.  Hard meaning you can feel every pedal stroke and you want to quit each revolution.  I just told myself each stoke is preventing a more painful sprint finish.  So, I was happy to see no one else in T2 with me.  I still tried to run with a quick cadence the second run, but I settled into semi-comfortable pace (17:02 or 5:29 per mi).  I had a comfortable gap at the finish.  The guys finishing 3rd through 6th had to gut it out.  Partrick, Josh, Kevin and Devin all finish within 40 second of each other.

The womens finish was also tight.  Cathy and Julie finished 11 seconds apart.  Cathy passed Julie in the closing half mile.  My wife, Hannah, also had a good race despite knee problems.  She finished 3rd in her age group.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Felt AR1 - Zipp Sram Training Bike

There is no real need for me to post this bike, but it is one of a kind and nice to look at.  The 2009 Felt AR1 actually came to me as a team bike, meaning it's painted in baby blue and orange argyle colors of the Pro Tour Garmin Slipstream Team.  Notice the Garmin logo on the top tube.  Since, I don't race for that team and red matches the Gear West colors much beter, I use a method of masking tape and red vinyl stickers to convert the paint scheme to red and white.  I also had to cover up all the team sponsors with black elctrical tape as they conflicted with my personal sponsors.  Everyone, who's seen the bike likes the look and hasn't noticed the cosmetic touch ups, unless I told them.  However, it did take me about 6 hours to complete.

Frame: 2009 Felt AR1 56cm
Components: Sram Red
Wheels: Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers - test wheels
Power meter: Sram S975 Quarq Cinqo Saturn
Stem/Handle Bar: Zipp SL145 Carbon, Zipp SL Carbon Bar

Sram S975 Quarq Cinqo Saturn Power Meter

I'm excited to try out the Sram S975/Quarq Cinqo Saturn power meter I just installed on my training bike.

If you're not familar with power meters, read the following.  A power meter a device that measures the amount of power (work per unit of time) a rider puts out on the bike.  Power is the best way to measure performance because it's independent of the environment or the riders physical condition. 
Speed might vary because of wind, hills, road conditions, or tire pressure.  Heart rate might vary because of illness, dehydration, or stress.  Any of these factors makes it difficult the compare workouts  from day to day, week to week, or year to year.  Power measurements are much more standard since the measurement is independent of these factors, so you can compare any power measurement from one workout to any other.  This doesn't mean that a rider's power output won't go down when he/she is fatigued or sick, but the measurement is independent of whether he/she is tired or sick.   Whereas, heart rate could be higher or lower because of physical condition despite the level physical output.

The installation was super easy, partly because I previous had Sram crank set on my bike.  All I needed was a 8mm allen wrench and a bottom bracket wrench.  The drive side bottom bracket cup needs to be removed to install a cadence magnet/washer between the frame and bottom bracket cup.  The installation took 5 min.  If you weren't previously using Sram, you would probably need to install a Sram bottom bracket.  If the pictures aren't clear, the Sram S975/Quarq Cinqo Saturn power meter is a crank set application.  There are other power meters that are in bottom brackets and hubs.  The upside of a crank set power meter is that the user can switch wheels on the bike (training wheels or race wheels) and still get power readings.

Since the power meter is in the crank set, use either a Garmin head or add on a ANT+ speed sensor to get speed and distance measurements on a Joule head.  The battery life is about 500 hrs or about 10,000 miles @ 20mph, so I expect it to be a reliable, durable, and low maintenance setup I can ride everyday rain or shine.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gear West Duathlon

Thanks to everyone who competed or volunteered at the Gear West Duathlon.  We greatly appreciate it.  Everyone seemed to have a good time despite the hot and humid weather, which is abnormal for May in Minnesota.  If you haven't done the race before, the run course is a cross country course around the Orono School grounds.  The bike course is 18 miles around the rolling countryside of Orono and Medina.

In the end, I managed to win my 6th Gear West Duathlon.  Cathy Yndestad won for the women.  I believe it was her 3rd or 4th victory here.  Despite the warm weather, conditions were excellent for fast bike times.  Usually there is a 20mph wind or rain.  However, everyone had to deal with sweaty helmets this year.  The run is always slower than you want because of the hills, grass, mud, and uneven surfaces. 

In the race, I lead into T1 followed by Partick Prish, Chad Millner, Brooks Grossinger, and Dan Hedgecock.  On the bike, I pulled away, but it was hard to tell because of other cyclists out riding around.  I looked back a couple of times after corners to see someone there.  Once I got out onto the second run, I could tell I had a comfortable lead, which was nice.

1. David Thompson  1:13:27
2. Patrick Parish  1:15:39
3. Brooks Grossinger  1:16:00
4. Joshua Riff  1:16:12
5. Chad Millner  1:16:47

1. Cathy Yndestad  1:26:10
2. Jenny Wilcox  1:27:11
3. Catherine Lee  1:27:45
4. Julie Hull  1:28:46
5. Marlo Crosby  1:28:54

Friday, May 21, 2010

Zipp R2C Shifters

R2C stands for return to center.  The idea is that the shifter is more aero if it's pointed straight ahead all the time.  On other bar-end shifters when a shift is made the position of the shift lever changes.  In either the highest or lowest gear the lever may be pointing straight down or up, making it less aerodynamic.  I have fairly large hands, so compared to the size of the levers I think my hands wash out any aerodynamic advantage.  However, I think best aspect about the R2C shifter is that the shift lever is always in the same position so it's more comfortable.  You can also adjust the return or set position of the lever to your most comfortable position.  In a long race, small things can become annoying.

Suggestion: Use a steel cage front derailleur with the Zipp or Sram R2C shifters.  A steel cage (Sram Rival or Force) front derailleur won't flex as much as a lighter titanium cage derailleur.  This will give you the best front chain ring shifting.

2010 Felt DA Triathlon Bike

Here's my race set up for 2010.  The 2010 is almost identical to the 2009 DA.  The only difference beside the paint scheme is the for removal of the internal cable guide for the rear derailleur to accommodate an electronic shifting setup.  This bike is a 54cm.  I'm 73 inches in height if your wondering.

Frame: 2010 Felt DA 54cm
Seat Post: Felt forward positioned post
Stem: Felt 120mm-ish
Handle bars: Zipp Vuka Aero
Shifters: Zipp R2C
Components: Sram Red
Crank: Zipp Vuma Chrono 175mm 53x39
Saddle: Prologo
Rear Wheel: Zipp Sub9 Tubular Reflective Black Decals
Front Wheel: Zipp 808 Tubular Reflective Black Decals
Weight: doesn't really matter in a triathlon.  I'm sure it's under 20 lbs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rev 3 Olympic Knoxville

It wasn't the performance I hoped for, so it was just a good training day. However, the Rev 3 Knoxville race was quite impressive. The swim was a fast point to point course in the Tennessee River. The bike course was challenging, technical, scenic and fun, similar the Rev 3 Half bike course in Connecticut. The hilly Knoxville area put the bike back in this triathlon. The run course was a run course, but nothing to complain about. The highlight for spectators and family was the "jumbo-tron" TV and inflatable play area for Kids in the finish/expo area.

As for the race, I swam hard, but I still need to do more training. This is normal for me this time of year. The bike leg is where I didn't show off my potential. I don't quite have my "mojo" yet. Hopefully, It's just a little early and some fatigue from 3 consecutive weekend of racing. Going into the run, I didn't set myself up to finish the run in a good position. I finished 13th in a competitive field of 35 male pros, but not where I would have liked.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Escape From Alcatraz

This was my 5th consecutive successful escape from Alcatraz.  The conditions were perfect today.  The ebbing current facilitated the swim and the bay was relatively free of chop or waves.  The fog and clouds which are normally present were absent, and the wind didn't pick up until the afternoon.  Before I going into my race report, I want to congratulate Thad Ingersoll and Gabby Keller, who both finished their first Escape today.  Both are fellow Gear West triathletes.

Despite not improving on my 2nd place finish from last year, I was pleased with my race today.  I laid it all on the course.  I swam with the lead group for about a third of the swim, loosing someones feet as we same through the choppy section in the middle of the bay.  However, I still might get a bit of TV coverage out of the swim because I lead the group containing the lead women the rest of the way.  As normal, I was about 2 minutes down to Andy Potts exiting the water.

The technical descents and corners of this bike course are my forte.  I managed to move up to 5th on the bike, passing Chris McCormick on the final downhill to transition.  I wasn't able to produce a bike split on par with my previous best 45:14 in 2007.  Today, I could only manage 46:45, which is still descent, but not going to win me the race.  Looking back to 2004, the next fast time to my best is Craig Walton's 45:45 in 2005.  Anyway, I wasn't in a great position starting the run.  In the past, I've been in 2nd place and only down about 30 seconds down on 1st starting the run.

However, I fought hard on the run today.  For context, here is the layout of this difficult run course: flat 2 mile start on crushed rock, 300 ft of stairs up to Golden Gate Bridge, rolling hiking trails, 300 ft descent on asphalt and gravel, 1 mile beach run, 300 ft up the infamous sand ladder, back through the rolling hiking trails, 300 ft descent, flat 2 miles to the finish on crushed rock.  I was 30 seconds down on 4th place starting the run and 10 seconds up on 6th.  Francesco Godoy of Spain was in 4th, and Chris McCormack was in 6th.  The play by play might get confusing, but here it goes.

Chris caught me about 400m into the run and gapped me before mile 1.  I managed to close the gap shortly after mile 1.  Then, I drafted of Chris for the next half mile as we were running into a headwind.  Leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge stairs, I took the lead as we started to work together because we were catching Francesco in 4th.  I lead up the stairs until we were passing under the Golden Gate Bridge when Chris made a move to drop me.  He worked open a 20 yard gap on me and close on Francesco through the rolling hiking trails over to the top of the sand ladder.  On the descent down to Baker Beach, I closed the gap to Chris as we simultaneous caught Francesco in 4th as th run spilled out onto the beach.

Now, 4th, 5th, and 6th were running together with me leading the charge to catch Andy in third.  The beach run leads you away from the sand ladder to a turn around.  At the turn around, Hunter and Bevan's 1st and 2nd place positions looked secure, and Andy's 3rd place looked like a difficult catch but a possibility.  We continued together until the sand ladder where I tried to separate myself from 5th and 6th and did get a gap, but they both manage to fight back as we ran back through the rolling hiking trail.  We all switched back and forth jocking for position.  Chris tried to control the front leading into the final stairs going down.  He suspected I would try and make a move again, and I did.  I took some risks leaping 5 or 6 steps with oncoming runners coming up the stairs.  I could only get a small gap, which the they closed staring the flat 2 miles to the finish.  I wasn't going to wait for a sprint finish and went to front and pushed the pace as much as I could, hoping to drop someone.  With a mile to go we could see Andy Potts in reach, and Francesco made a move.  I could only follow for 50 yards before Chris came around me too.  I managed to stop the bleeding (growing gap) at about 50 yards, but I couldn't produce any more last minute heroics to reel them in.  Andy managed to hold off Chris who dropped Francesco.  Its was a tight finish from 3rd to 6th; everyone was in the finishing shoot together (Andy 2:02:02, Chris 2:02:08, Francesco 2:02:12, DKT 2:02:35).

In closing, I'm happy with my race.  I didn't sit around and wait.  I played to my strengths. When your ears are ringing and you're defecating blood,  you did all you could that day.

Past Escape from Alcatraz Results:  7th 2006, 6th 2007, 4th 2008, 2nd 2009, 6th 2010
Top 2 fastest bike splits:  45:14 DKT 2008, 45:41 DKT 2007, 45:45 Craig Walton 2005, 45:57 Craig Walton 2004  (according available records online)