STOPP Poor Transition Times!!

By Debbie
June 30, 2015 on 3:51 pm | In Community, From the shop, Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Races, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Lori Sherlock. We’re at that point in the season where it may be hard to drop much time on your swim, bike or run, but what about your transition? Often an afterthought, Lori gives us a few tips to help gain some free time. Follow Lori on Twitter – @tightcalves.

Transition is known in triathlon as the 4th discipline for a reason.  It can allow you to gain time on your competitors or allow your competitors to gain time on you.  These 5 simple steps, plus a properly packed transition bag, can help you to streamline your transitions to make them faster and more efficient.

Transition area

Simplify your Transition

Put a lot of forethought into your transition and don’t put out anything that you don’t need. Including items that you are not planning on using will only elongate your transition times.  You should make all of your decisions prior to your race and mentally review what your T1 & T2 will look like.

Organize

Your transition area should be a well-organized area with everything readily accessible to you as you are coming out of the water or moving from bike to run.  Using a small towel, or transition towel, to mark your spot is always a good idea.  Get a towel that is bright and unique to help you recognize your transition area and set it apart from everyone else.  All of your necessities should be placed in the order you plan to use them to eliminate any confusion from your transition.  Think TYPE A PERSONALITY when you are setting up your transition area.

Organized area

Plan

Every step in transition should be a well-thought-out plan.  This will allow for great execution come race day.  As you are nearing the finish of the swim leg, picture what your transition area will look like and what you need to grab, put on, or eat.  As you are coming to the end of the bike leg you should be thinking about what your next step will be.  Don’t think too far ahead…that can be overwhelming and deleterious to your race performance.  Use mental imagery just as you are finishing each leg to prepare yourself for what is next….bike….run….FINISH LINE!

Practice

As our parents, teachers and coaches have always told us:  practice makes perfect!  This motto rings true about transitions, too!  There is a reason that we call this the 4th discipline!!  We take time to build our fitness, practice our swimming, biking and running, we should also be putting in the extra time to practice our transitions.  The clock doesn’t stop for transitions, so this can end up being time lost in our race.  When you are practicing your transitions, try to mimic EVERYTHING EXACTLY AS YOU WOULD DO IT ON RACE DAY.  Set out your transition towel, your bike shoes, run shoes, socks, helmet, sunglasses, nutrition, gloves, whatever you plan on using for the next A-race so that when you get to your transition you know exactly what you want to do and the order you want to do it.  Consider this “free time” for your next triathlon.

Packing Your Transition Bag:

When you are packing your transition bag, go through your checklist of what you will need from swim-to-bike-to-run.  The amount of stuff that you load up your bag with will probably be dependent upon what distance race you are doing.

A well-packed transition bag

For a sprint triathlon, you should only need the basics:  pre-, during- and post-race nutrition, goggles, swim cap (usually provided by the race but take one just in case), Aquaphor or BodyGlide, bike, cycling shoes (& socks if you choose), helmet, sunglasses, extra tube and the tools to change it, water bottles, running shoes, race belt and hat/visor, Garmin or heart rate monitor (if you train with them).

Olympic/International distance races may require a little more…but not too much.  You would want to add on to your nutrition volume and maybe a wetsuit or speedsuit for the swim.

A half-Iron distance race is going to require a bit more planning and a lot more nutrition.  Your transition bag should include: pre-, during- and post-race nutrition, goggles, swim cap (usually provided by the race but take one just in case), wetsuit or speedsuit, Aquaphor or BodyGlide,  possibly cycling shorts (depending on comfort on the bike), bike, cycling shoes (& socks if you choose), helmet, sunglasses, cycling gloves (for comfort), spare tube x 2 and the tools to change it, water bottles, running shoes, tri shorts if you want to change, race belt and hat/visor, Garmin or heart rate monitor (if you train with them), salt/electrolyte tabs.

Iron-distance races are a whole different ball-game.  Though there are transition areas, your gear is usually in a bag that you have to go through at T1 & T2.  This makes it even more important to plan as you normally turn your bag in the day prior to your race….so check and double check that all of your necessities are in the bag before you turn it in.  Everything that you need for the half-iron distance you will need for the Iron-distance plus a bunch more nutrition and maybe a few more ‘comfort items’.  You will also need a pump (unless you plan on using one provided at the race venue or borrowing one from a fellow competitor) and maybe some chain lube if you want to freshen up your chain before you take off.  You should probably be wearing your racing kit…and maybe some slip-on shoes that could be tossed if the walk to the swim entry is a little rough.  You may also want to pack some post-race clothing or something warm if the weather is threatening.  If you feel like you need someone to go over your list with you can check out www.racechecklist.com

After compiling this load of stuff into one HUGE transition bag, you will need to organize it perfectly at your race site.  Rule of thumb:  DON’T BE A TRANSITION HOG!  Only use the space directly in front of or next to your bike (depending on transition set-up) so that you don’t infringe on another competitor’s transition space.

Race-to-Race Just in Case Bag:

This is a zip-lock bag that you keep stocked and in your transition bag for all of those just in case moments.

-          Small pair of Scissors

-          First Aid supplies (Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, tape)…just in case

-          Black Sharpie Marker

-          A copy of your USAT card

-          Safety Pins

-          Sun Screen & Lip balm

-          Aquaphor or BodyGlide

-          Extra Nutrition

-          Clean-up kit (travel size soap, wash cloth, deodorant, comb or brush)

-          Extra race belt

-          Extra goggles (one thing that people have a tendency to forget a little too often)

-          Duct tape/black electrical tape

-          Empty water bottle (another frequently forgotten item)

Bike Repair for Triathletes

By Debbie
April 21, 2015 on 11:26 am | In Community, From the shop, Product Information, Random Musings, Tech Tips | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Becky Bader. Let’s face it, as a whole, triathletes are pretty miserable at maintaining our own bikes. Becky gives us a few tips to help prevent the roadies from laughing at us. Check out Becky’s blog or follow her on Twitter – @becky_bader.

Before transitioning into iron distance triathlon, I spent many years racing bikes and occasionally working at bike shops in between jobs that some might consider to be more related to my Ph.D. When I quietly told my bike racing friends and fellow bike shop employees that I was moving to triathlon, I immediately prepared myself for the barrage of jokes related to poor bike handing skills and an inability to do something as simple as changing brake pads. I wish I could say that my years in triathlon have demonstrated to me that most triathletes are incredibly adept at maintaining their own bikes and that my bike racing friends were wrong in their perception. But no, I cannot say this, and I admit to being embarrassed for triathletes everywhere at some of the conversations about bikes I have overheard in the transition area before the start of a triathlon.

We, of course, all have to start somewhere. I was fortunate enough to be taught how to ride by a former professional cyclist who, on the day that I purchased my first road bike, suggested to me that I had better get to a bike shop and figure out how to change a flat.  I completely blew him off and then cursed his name as I took a slow walk of shame back to my car in my bike shoes after getting my first flat.  So I went to the shop, purchased a set of tire levers, had the mechanics show me the best way to get a tire on and off of a wheel in order to replace the tube, and then practiced until I could change a flat in minimal time. I always suggest to beginners or novice triathletes that they take the time to ask a bike mechanic for a quick how-to lesson on things they might need to know out on the road.

Don't be left walking home

Many years, many bikes, and many bike shops later, I have come a long way from just being able to change a flat, and I can now build and maintain my own road and triathlon bikes. Contrary to popular belief, a vast amount of expensive tools are not necessary to get this done, and a complete set of hex wrenches can go a long way. As a rule of thumb, everything should be overhauled at least once per year (chain, cables, housing, and tires).  If you are putting in some heavy mileage, I suggest investing in a quick chain checker, such as the Park Tool CC-2, to better gauge when you may need to replace the chain. This will save you from having to additionally invest in a new cassette more frequently. If you do need to change the chain, this is potentially the easiest do-it-yourself thing there is. You will need to invest in a chain tool; I use the Park Tool CT-3.2.  After this purchase, changing the chain becomes somewhat self-explanatory.  Simply press out one of the pins from the chain you are replacing with the tool, remove that chain, replace the chain, and insert a new pin using the tool again.  Bear in mind that when you purchase a new chain, you will most definitely need to remove several links before putting on the new chain (all you need to do is compare the length of the new chain to the existing chain).

Moving on to the internal routing of cables. Yes, I am willing to admit that this is a huge hassle, but still completely doable. I recommend ordering a complete set of cables and housing that is a little bit higher end rather than using what is available stock at the bike shops.  Shimano and Jag make great products that will keep you shifting cleanly for the entire year.  Although cable cutters are obviously available at Lowes and Home Depot, the ones that are bike specific (such as Park Tool CN-10) will serve you much better. The key to internal routing is to take a string or dental floss and attach it to the end of the cable. If you do this to the old cable, you are left with a string that can be used to pull the new cable through the frame. Alternatively, you can simply attach the string or dental floss to the end of the new cable and then pull that through the frame using a vacuum cleaner (be careful other holes in the bike are at least partially sealed). As for the housing, simply try to cut close to the length of the housing that is being replaced.

Attach string to your old cable before removal and have an instant guide for your new cable!

Once the cables and housing have been replaced, getting things to shift correctly can be a tad more complicated. To set the front cable, simply put the shifter in the little ring and pull the cable as tight as possible before tightening the anchor bolt with a hex wrench. For the back, do the same, but then try to slowly shift up to the next biggest cog. If this does not occur, you are going to need to turn the barrel adjustor 1/4th of a turn counterclockwise until shifting occurs (make sure the barrel adjustor is fully turned in before tightening the anchor bolt). Repeat this process for the next cog, and eventually you will be back to a smoothly shifting bike. Slap on some new bar tape, and you are ready to roll.

I will add a word of caution that if you continue down this path of maintaining your own bikes, you may someday end up with a dining room where the table has been turned into a mount for an axle vice for changing free hub bodies, and a living room where bike parts, tools, and bike part manuals cover every available surface. Good luck in keeping everything running smooth this season!

Kitchen table vice (make sure to use your place mats properly!)

Living room workshop

Tri-ing to Fly With a Bike (or Flying to Tri With a Bike)

By Debbie
March 23, 2015 on 3:53 pm | In Community, Employee Adventures, From the shop, Product Information, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by former TriSports Champion Dan Dezess (former only because his wife now works for us and he gets all the benefits of being part of the team, anyway!). With the race season upon us, many people spend a ton of time researching how to travel with their bike. Ship it? Fly with it? Bike transport? Here’s one man’s experiences flying with his bike.

I love triathlons and I love to travel. Who doesn’t? Now put the two together and it could be a little intimidating, frustrating and, not to mention, stressful! Questions about how the bike will fare under the scrutiny of TSA inspections, how much it costs to ship and the horror of “what if something happens to it between point a and point b?” race through one’s mind.

I have done a few “fly-aways” throughout the years and each time I think I have it mastered, I learn something new.

The first time I flew was for the 2010 Big Kahuna Triathlon in Santa Cruz, CA.   I had just bought a Velo Safe Pro-series Bike Box from TriSports.com. I packed it with care, making sure that nothing could move which could damage the bike. Flying to San Francisco was fine. Coming back, however, I found that the company outsourced by TSA to inspect baggage did not re-secure the tool bag I had packed in the box. Lesson learned – do not put excess items in the bike box!  What if it had shifted during the flight or handling and had damaged the bike? Shudder!

TRI ALL 3 SPORTS Velo Safe Pro Series Bike Case

In July of 2011 while packing for Ironman Racine 70.3, I felt like I had a handle on the travel thing. Again the box was packed with care, foam padding and all. After some thought, I also decided it couldn’t hurt to place a nice little note inside asking them to please re-secure the items and thanking them for keeping us safe. A little kindness could go a long way.

All was well until I boarded the airplane. As I sat down and looked out the window, I saw, much to my horror,  the airline baggage handler grab the box (which was upside down on the cart) and flip it end over end onto the conveyer belt, landing on its side and up into the airplane. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I dreaded what I would find upon landing.

Those dang baggage gorillas!

We arrived in Detroit and I anxiously made my way to baggage claim. I found the box and opened it. The bike was fine, but the wheels were no longer secured.  The end result was a nick in each race wheel about the diameter of a pencil eraser. I immediately went to the airline baggage office to file a claim, but was told that I needed to do that at the home airport.  Fortunately, I was able to patch the wheels with fiberglass filler. Meanwhile, my wife and I researched what we needed in order to file a claim. We had all of our ducks in a row, or so we thought.

Back in Tucson, we went straight to the airline baggage office to file. To make a long story short, the airline denied responsibility despite the fact that we had photos showing the box being mishandled.  They stated they were not responsible for damage done due to my lack of making sure it was safely packed. Lesson #2 learned – pack your wheels in wheel bags, or a separate wheel box,  and do not expect the airline to pay for damages.

Playing it safe with a Wheel Safe

Determined to finally master the art of traveling with a bike, I invested in a wheel box and decided to fly non-stop from a larger airport nearby to lessen the number of times the box would have to be moved, and thus reducing the chance of it being man-handled. At baggage check in Phoenix, on the way to the 2012 Ironman New Orleans 70.3, I was happy to see that the workers recognized that it was a bike box and knew it contained fragile cargo. Finally a problem-free trip!

After New Orleans, I read about a product called Albopads in a triathlon magazine. They are re-useable pads with Velcro that you attach to the bike frame during transport.  I decided to ditch most of the worn Styrofoam padding in favor of the newer, less bulky pads.

It's like the snowsuit on the little kid in "A Christmas Story," only for your bike!

I used the same non-stop flight strategy to travel to Ironman Steelhead 70.3, again with much success. Flying conquered. Piece of cake!

Just when you think you know it all, though, something happens.  I checked in for my flight for the Rocketman 70.3 in Orlando. Not quite a non-stop flight, as it stopped in Saint Louis, but at least we got to stay on the same plane.  All was well until my wife and I had to stop near where over-sized baggage was manually inspected. I was rummaging through my backpack when I overheard the TSA baggage inspector tell the other inspector, “We have a HAZMAT.”

Being a firefighter, I knew what HAZMAT meant and was a very alarmed. I looked over and them standing around my open bike box. Oh no. I wracked my brain trying to think of what I could possibly have packed that could cause such panic. What if the airport was shut down? Yikes!  It turned out it was the CO2 cartridges. They are apparently banned by the FAA from being transported on aircraft.  I had never heard of that before, but now I know not to pack them. Ever.

Just when you think you think you have the game figured out, you get thrown another curveball. Live and learn. I can deal with all that, though, as long as the bike gets there safely!

Recovery: My Version of the Myth

By Debbie
March 10, 2015 on 1:32 pm | In From the shop, Life at TriSports.com, Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Juan Martin Tanca. Recovery is truly a buzzword in the endurance world, but what does it REALLY mean? Check out Juan’s take on it…I think he’s onto something!  Check out Juan’s blog and follow him on Twitter – @jmtanca.

In recent years, recovery has been the most common topic in the endurance world, yet the most ignored and misunderstood by the majority of everyday athletes. My idea of recovery and rest is quite different from what most people do and think. A few months ago, I was reading Matt Hanson’s blog and he was explaining that for him, recovery was a whole day process, not just a single action done after a workout. When I read this, I started thinking more about it and, after some research and discussion with my coach, it made complete sense. If you integrate recuperation and rejuvenation into your lifestyle, the results in training/racing will be evident and way cheaper than getting a new “superbike” or a Star Wars-like aero helmet.

Recovery involves sleep (at least 8-9 hours/night), proper nutrition and fueling, hydration and trying to minimize life stress. We all know that it is almost impossible to have a stress-free life nowadays, but the key is trying to keep balance.

Recovery is seen sometimes as “nice to have,” but in order to be successful as an athlete, resting must be part of your plan. Viewing rest and recovery as a triathlon’s 4th discipline will have positive impacts in your training adaptation, hormonal balance, immune system and overall mood.

Sleep

Sleep is the single cheapest and easiest way to boost your performance. This is where all the training adaption takes place. Sleeping 8-9 hours per night is ideal but 7 will work, too. Power naps in the afternoon are great, as well (10-20 minutes). Sleeping 60 to 90 minutes in the afternoon is not beneficial because it disrupts the sleeping cycle and it will be difficult to sleep at night.

To understand how to heal our body, we must understand what happens to it when we exercise. The body sees exercise as stress, therefore when we are training, our endocrine system secretes stress hormones (Cortisol & testosterone). The downside of this is that for our body, having a bad day at work or an argument has the same result as a hard track session or hill repeats, so if we want consistency and good health, it is vital that we must try to keep a low stress life and have “Athletic IQ.” What is this? Athletic IQ is not having a myopic look at the specific training day, but instead having a long lens view. What I mean is, for example; yesterday I went to bed at 9pm and woke up at 6am. I slept for 9 hours but woke up feeling heavy and fatigued, so I slept in, then went to work and did my workout in the afternoon instead, feeling refreshed and with a better mood. Sometimes forcing a workout with residual fatigue is useless. Tim O’Donnell says “One workout will not make you a world champion but the sum of consistent years of training, will.” By no means am I saying to be lazy, but if you know your body and your fatigue levels you will be able to make the call. Training = stress + adaptation.

You should wake up feeling refreshed

There are other kinds of methods of boosting and balancing your hormonal level. My coach (Matt Dixon) likes us to go for 30-40 minutes runs, but REALLY, REALLY easy. If your running pace is 7min/mile, go for a 10min/mile pace, it will boost your mood and your endocrine system will secrete endorphins that are always awesome. Those easy runs and easy rides (coffee shop rides) will make you feel rejuvenated and fresh and will serve as a bridge for the next day. The key is to differentiate the easy workouts from the hard ones; there must be significant difference in intensity.  To achieve this, it is very important to trust your coach and be brave.

Fueling, Nutrition & Hydration

What we put in our bodies is extremely important. If you want your car to run amazing, it’s better if you put super premium gas in it. Our bodies work in a similar way. Some people do not view nutrition and fueling as important, but they are extremely important. First let’s explain each of them separately.

Fueling is what you eat 60 minutes before a workout, what you eat and drink during the training session, what you eat and drink immediately after working out (30 minutes max!!). Like Meredith Kessler says: “The workout is not finished until the fueling is done.” During training I like to go with natural foods (Feed Zone Portables recipes are super easy and make training tastier, and Osmo nutrition is my hydration choice). As I said earlier, the body secretes cortisol when we workout, so the only thing that stops it immediately after we finish our training is protein. Having a high protein meal with carbs (4:1 ratio) within 30 minutes of finishing your training will help you to be ready to tackle the next training session feeling better. Avocados are great for recovery, as they have good fats to stabilize your metabolism and reduce muscle soreness.

Feed Zone Portables is a great guide to real training food

Nutrition is what you eat the rest of the time. If you want to lose weight, here is where you want to cut your calorie intake – do not sacrifice your training adaptation by cutting fueling calories. If you have a healthy diet and fuel correctly your body will do its part and will put you at the correct weight. Remember, it is not a linear formula that the lighter you are, the faster you will run.

Hydration is a key component, as well. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated and your body is producing cortisol.

Personal protocol, tips and objective measurement

Immediately after I finish working out I have a pre-set protocol that I try to follow every time:

  1. Rehydrate and refuel
  2. Shower
  3. Dynamic stretching  and hip mobility exercises
  4. Wear recovery boots for  60-90minutes
  5. Rest with the feet higher than the heart
  6. Foam roller massage 2 or 3 times a week.

When I am on a hard training block or I feel that I have not recovered enough before going to bed, I drink Nocturne from Infinit Nutrition. This product uses tryptophan (which is found in cherries) to boost your growth hormones while you sleep so you can feel fresh and rested when you wake up.

An objective way to measure your fatigue level is to use urine strips. If, on the first pee of the day, you have protein in your urine, you are not ready to go. Sleep in and enjoy an awesome day off from triathlon. Urine strips also measure your leukocytes levels. If leukocytes are present in your urine, you might be in an early stage of sickness.

Follow the signs your body gives you!

Recovery is a vital part of every training plan. It is important to understand that recovery is not only taking a day off, but an integral piece of training. It should not be hard to apply in your daily life, and your recovery protocol should not be daunting and should not cause more stress. The key is balance and planning ahead. You can be a successful triathlete with 12 hours of training a week or less. The volume of training (miles-hours) is not a very successful tool for measuring your success.

“Most triathletes are extremely fit but are chronically tired” – Matt Dixon. Don’t be one of those triathletes!

References:

Dixon, Matt. “Recovery.” The Well-built Triathlete: Turning Potential into Performance. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Boulder2014: Velopress, n.d. 35-58. Print.

Eye Care Needs for Triathletes

By Debbie
February 17, 2015 on 2:27 pm | In Community, From the shop, Life at TriSports.com, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Steve Rosinski. We frequently think about protecting things like our head, but how often do you think about protecting your eyes? They’re kind of important. Learn some tips from Steve, who isn’t only a pro triathlete, but an Optometrist, as well! And you thought your schedule was busy! Check out Steve’s blog or follow him on Twitter – @steverosinski.

As a Doctor of Optometry I think about the eyes a lot! And being a Professional Triathlete I think about Triathlons probably even more!  With both of them being such an integral part of my life I want to share my thoughts on the importance of eyewear – whether sun or prescription, goggles and even contact lenses.

Let’s first take a look at sunglasses.  Sunglasses are in every triathlete’s bag of essentials when it comes to training and race day.  They not only make you look extra cool with the latest colors, shapes and designs, but they also protect our eyes from the wind, rain, and dust that we encounter on the road or trail.  If you are not wearing sunglasses or even clear lenses when it is cloudy, I would strongly suggest that you do! I have, on more than one occasion, taken a bug to the face descending at over 50 mph only to have it smack my sunglasses, therefore preventing disaster. As an eye doctor I have had to remove small pebbles, insect parts and have treated people for corneal abrasions (tree branches to the eye) because of similar episodes when people weren’t wearing proper eyewear.  And let me tell you, the eye is highly innervated with nerves, so anytime something gets in there it is painful – don’t let that happen to you…wear your glasses!  Some suggestions for eye wear would be photochromic or “transition” lenses that change depending on the light levels.  They have lenses that go from clear to a grey for people riding at dusk/dawn/wooded areas.  They also have lenses that start at a light grey and go to a dark grey as the sun becomes more radiant.  Popular sunglass companies for triathletes are Tifosi, Oakley, POC and Bolle.  Fortunately many sunglasses can now have prescriptions put into them, from single vision to bifocals (for those ages 40 plus that need to see both distance and your bike computer). For prescription I would recommend going to your local eye care provider where they can put your prescription lenses in the frame correctly.

Wear your sunglasses!

On another note, for those who are active, there is the option for contact lenses.  I am a huge believer in contact lenses when used appropriately. Contact lenses give you freedom and an extra field of view compared to glasses.  But…I still recommend wearing sunglasses when biking and running (to protect the eyes).  Contact lenses are a medical device so they need to be fit by a proper professional and not over worn.  With over-wear you will predispose yourself to eye infections which can be potentially blinding.  Most contact lenses these days do a great job with oxygen transmissibility (the ability of the contact lens to allow oxygen to get to the front part of your eye), which can help reduce the risk of infection compared to contacts of years past.  Most contacts are either a 1- day, 2 week or one month lens. There are contact lenses for people with near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism, but have even developed them for those who need bifocals.  I am a huge advocate of 1 day contact lenses (wear them one day then throw them out) – I wear them myself. Not only are they convenient – you don’t have to clean them – but most importantly, they are the healthiest option.  One day lenses are great for part-time wearers, allergy suffers and swimmers. I would not recommend swimming in contact lenses in general, but if you are going to, you might as well use the best option with one day lenses.  I especially point out swimmers because people who swim with contacts, whether in pools or open water, are predisposed to an infection from an Acanthamoeba. This infection is a very painful and vision threatening one. So in general, don’t swim in contacts, but if you do, only wear one day contacts and throw them out after use.

You then ask, “if I can’t swim in my contacts what can I do?”  There are companies that actually make prescription swimming goggles. The goggles work well and you can see with your prescription in them – now maybe you won’t run into the pool wall!

TYR Tracer Corrective Optical Goggle

Best of luck this season and if you have any questions contact your local eye care provider!

“Go-To” Trainer Workouts

By Debbie
January 20, 2015 on 1:50 pm | In From the shop, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team Athlete Mark Tripp. Embarking on his first year as a Pro, he’s one to watch. Check out Mark’s blog and follow him on Twitter – @trippmj.

For most people, including me, riding outdoors is a lot more appealing than staring at a wall while riding your bike on a stationary trainer. But there are still those occasional cold and rainy days that end up interfering with planned bike workouts.  For these types of days, I am sharing two of my “go-to” trainer workouts. I ride these two workouts regularly and for different purposes.  One is intended to be an endurance workout for strength building and the other is more of an interval speed workout.

I should point out that these workouts are geared towards training for the Olympic distance triathlon, which consists of a 40 kilometer distance bike leg.  For my trainer setup I use a compact crank and my rear cassette has the following gearing: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25.  For both workouts I also try to maintain a 90-95 RPM cadence throughout the entire workout.

Trainer sessions can be efficient and valuable additions to your triathlon training.  I understand that they can sometimes be boring, so to fight the boredom, I recommend incorporating some entertainment that helps the time pass by but does not distract you from your workout goals.  I typically listen to up-tempo music or if the timing is right, watch a football or basketball game on television.  If that doesn’t work, maybe try closing your eyes and pretend you are riding through the Swiss Alps.  Whatever you do, try to choose something that helps pass the time but doesn’t distract you from your trainer session goals. Happy trainering!!

Trainer set-up

Power Workout

I like this workout for early season training when I am trying to simply build strength and endurance.  It is perfect for the spring months when the days are still short.  If I am feeling frisky, I insert another half hour after the first 5 minute recovery that consists of 20 min (L-17), 3 min (L-16), 2 min (L-15), and 5 min (S-17).  If I am feeling less than frisky, I insert a 5 min cool down at 40 minutes and stop.  Note that the gearing descriptions describe the gearing in the form of “crank-rear”.  As an example, “S-17” means small chainring on the crank and 17 tooth chainring on the rear cassette, “L-16″ would be large chainring and 16-tooth on the rear.

Time                        Gearing          Description

5 min                        S-17                Warm-up

30 min                      L-17                Cruise

3 min                        L-16                Hard

2 min                        L-15                Harder

5 min                        S-17                Recover

12 min                      L-17                Cruise

2 min                        L-16                Hard

1 min                        L-15                Harder

5 min                        S-17                Cool-down

Total: 1 hr 5 min

Strava data

Interval Workout

I like this workout for mid-season when I already built a base.  If I am feeling frisky, I’ll drop a gear on my rear cassette for parts 2 and 3 except for the recovery portions.  If I am feeling less than frisky, I’ll only repeat the first two parts twice each.

Time                               Gearing          Description

5 min                               S-17                Warm-up

Part 1 (repeat 3x)

1 min                               L-18                Moderate

3 min                               L-17                Cruise

1 min                               L-16                Hard

2 min                               S-17                Recovery

Part 2 (repeat 3x)

2 min                               L-18                Moderate

5 min                               L-17                Cruise

1 min                               L-16                Hard

2 min                               S-17                Recovery

Part 3 (repeat 2x)

1 min                               L-16                Hard

1 min                               L-15                Very Hard

1 min                               S-17                Recovery

Part 4

4 min                               S-17                Cool-down

Total: 1 hr 6 min

Deserving of the Crown

By Eric M.
October 16, 2012 on 1:29 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, From the shop, Races, Sponsorship, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Leanda Cave - World Champion

No longer an underdog after her 3rd place finish in Hawaii last year, Leanda Cave is one of those athletes you root for because of her work ethic, and because she’s just plain nice. If you live in Tucson you can see her out on the roads and trails, putting in the hard work day after day, like Rocky Balboa. It’s not always the best man or woman who wins; sometimes it’s the ones who are willing to play dirty or sometimes it’s that annoying team with all the money. Leanda, however is not only one of the hardest working professional triathletes, but also one of the nicest professional triathletes I’ve had the honor of meeting.

I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to her in the TriSports retail store, shortly after I moved to Tucson and started working here. It was my first time meeting a pro outside of a race setting. When I was introduced to her, the person introducing us mentioned that I was training for a marathon. I noticed that she seemed to be friends with everyone in the building, but figured that it was just because they had been there for so long. However, the very next time she came in, not only did she greet me by name, but she asked how my marathon training was going. Getting to know her on a few training rides and on a few social outings solidified my belief that she is a kind, down-to-earth woman.

Because of the wonderful person she is, the entire TriSports triathlon community was behind her on race day. I was, quite literally, on the edge of my seat as I watched the final miles of the marathon unfold. To be honest, I was a little worried at one point; I had never seen Mirinda Carfrae catch another athlete and not pass her. When Leanda held strong and then began pulling away, everyone in the room went wild. She made us believe, as she must have all along, that she could catch Caroline Steffen and win the race.

Sitting in the TriSports Tempe retail store is Leanda’s trophy from Ironman Arizona. At the beginning of the year our staff, along with some of our best customers and sponsored athletes, wrote resolutions for the New Year. Below is a picture of that trophy and Leanda’s resolution; that’s how the mind of a champion works, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the title Ironman World Champion. It was such a thrill watching our friend and sponsored athlete win the most important and exciting race of the year, becoming the first woman to win both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championship races in the same year. Leanda, you continue to amaze and inspire us, and we thank you for another great year. Congratulations, champ! Your win was hard earned and well deserved.

Chain Maintenance

By Mark L
October 12, 2011 on 6:00 am | In From the shop, Tech Tips | 1 Comment

By Mark Lee

The modern bicycle chain is a marvel of technology.  Each link is comprised of two outer plates, two inner plates, two rollers and two pins.  Each plate is chamfered and beveled to optimize shifting.  The forces exerted on a chain during hard efforts are enormous and yet they last for thousands of miles IF properly maintained.  Here are some basics principles of chain wear and maintenance.

A chain is designed to roll precisely between the teeth of the chainrings and sprockets.  In order for this to happen, the distance between each link must be exact.  When a chain comes out of the box, the distance between each pin is ½”.  As the chain wears or “stretches”, the distance between the links increases and shifting deteriorates.

In this first picture we see a partially extracted pin in pristine condition.  The mirror polish is what makes a new chain feel so smooth.  (You can also see the specially shaped edges that improve shifting.)

This is the chain pin of a worn chain.   Many things cause chain wear.  As the chain pivots at every link, the metal erodes a tiny bit.  Metal upon metal friction causes faster wear.  A good chain lube will get in between the different chain parts and act as a friction barrier.  Less friction = less chain wear.  This chain was poorly maintained and there was no lube on the inside of the links.

Dust and dirt will also increase friction in a chain and rapidly accelerate chain wear.  The problem many people have is that too much chain lube will attract dust and dirt.  So the benefits of the chain lube are offset by the increased crud on their chain.

Some points about chain maintenance:

1)  Some people will use a degreaser to remove the factory lubrication from a new chain and replace it with what they think is a “better” lube.  What they don’t realize is that these chain parts are actually coated in a special grease before being assembled into a chain.  Here is a picture of the guts of a new chain.  You can see that there is grease even in the innermost parts of the chain.  This original lubricant is the best for breaking in a new chain.  If you want to take the excess grease off the outside of the chain, just take a rag soaked in degreaser and run the chain through it.  But there is no need to degrease a brand new chain.

2)  We often see bikes come in with black chain lube specks all over the rear of the bike.  The chain is wet to the touch and jet black.  If you run your fingers through the sludge on the chain it will be slippery but it will also feel gritty.  Too much lube!  The oil slick on the chain attracts dirt and the dirt gets sucked into the chain parts and your chain wears out much sooner than it should.  Its like pouring sand into your car engine.

3)  We are often asked, “How many miles should I go before I lube my chain?”  Well, that’s an impossible question to answer.  Different riding styles, riding conditions, types of lube, and cleaning are all factors in how long a chain lube will last before needing to be refreshed.  The best solution is to listen to your chain as you’re pedaling.  A new chain or newly lubed chain should be fairly silent.  As soon as chain noise becomes apparent its time for some lube.

4)  The other most often asked question regarding chains is “What is the best chain lube?”  The short answer is that which lube you use isn’t as important as how you use it.  At the moment, our service shop is using Dumande Original, Dumande Bio, and I’ve just begun testing Dumande Lite.  My previous favorite was TriFlow, another good all around lube.  There are many more out there and each particular lube has pluses and minuses based on the  type of use, climate, and degree of maintenance you are willing to put up with.  We may consider a review of different chain lubes in the future but for this article we’ll focus on maintenance.

How to lube a chain:

So you’ve had a new chain installed by the professionals at TriSports.com ;) and you’ve put some miles on it.  Things don’t seem as smooth and quiet as when it was new.  Its time for some lube.

1)  The first step is to clean your chain of the old lube(Remember, this is not a “new” chain but one that has been broken in already).  Lubes work best when they are not mixed with different formulas.  Pick one and stick with it for the life of the chain.  You can either remove your chain and clean it in degreaser (Citrus based or something like Clean Streak) or use an on-the-bike cleaning tool like the Finish Line or Park Tool offerings.  Be sure the chain has had a chance to dry off before going to step 2.  Wipe the chain through a dry rag until the residual degreaser is gone.

2) With the chain on the bike, apply ONE drop of lube on each roller of the chain.  I like to do this on the lower section of the chain as it sits on the bike.  This way, the lube is already where it needs to go and won’t get flung off the outside of the chain as it spins around the first time.

3)  Turn the cranks for a minute or so (or ride the bike).  Is the chain quiet now?  Can you hear yourself think again?  Now run your finger along the top edge of the chain.  You should see a slight wetting from the fresh lube working its way through the chain parts.  If its still totally dry, repeat step 2.

4)  Take a rag and wipe off the excess lube from the length of the chain.  This is VERY important!  Repeat this until a clean rag comes away mostly clean.

5) Go ride!

So how about you?  How do you clean or lube your chain?  Any chain lubes that you think we should try?  What problems do you have with chain maintenance?

Custom Internally Routed Shimano Di2 Scott Plasma Premium

By Mark L
September 6, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Employee Adventures, From the shop, Product Information, Tech Tips | 6 Comments

Its always a challenge to be on the cutting edge.  Like the mad scientist, your results can make you a hero or an expensive failure.  When Trisports.com was asked to build one of the first Scott Plasma Premiums with custom internal Di2, we cautiously jumped at the chance.   Judging by Facebook comments and comments from coworkers who witnessed the bike in person, the TriSports.com service team came out with hero status with one of the country’s first Scott Plasma Premiums with custom routed Shimano Di2.

What made this project a challenge is the fact that the stock Plasma Premium frame is not set up for internally wired Di2.  For this build we didn’t want exposed wires running along the outside of the frame.  Everything would have to be routed internally, which meant heavy modifications both to the inside and outside of the frame.

There is a saying in the medical field, “Do No Harm”.  That applies just as much when modifying a $4000 carbon fiber frame.   Literally hours were spent drilling, grinding, sanding, and soldering in order to make this frame a reality.  Great care went in to keeping the structural integrity intact and untouched.

The result is one of the most satisfying bike builds to come out of TriSports.com.  Since there is no manual for this type of build, everything was planned and executed by us.  We are not afraid to brag that it came out beautifully.  The Di2 is integrated seamlessly inside and outside of the frame.  The bike is as clean as anything you’d see in the pro field and is a perfect example of what Di2 is capable of.  We look forward to doing more cutting edge builds for you in the near future.

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