Month: April 2014

Spring Training Report – Harry’s Spring Run Off and Paris to Ancaster

As a baseball fan (and proud member of Bucs Nation…let’s go Bucs), spring is often my favourite time of year. Why? Because it’s Spring Training of course! Spring Training is a time for shaking off the rust, trying some new things, and for the players to get their heads back around the daily grind that is the MLB season. It is also the time to get that hands-on practice on an outdoor field of play, something that just cannot be simulated indoors. As a duathlete, my Spring Training is a little bit different. Duathlons don’t start until mid-May, so my “Spring Training” consists of road races, the occasional bike race, and lots of saddle time on the roads, the trainer and at the track. This year I have the added bonus of a early spring A Race at the Provincial Sprint Duathlon Championships in Harrow on May 10, and to prepare for it I raced the Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8k at High Park on April 5, and the legendary Paris to Ancaster 65km bike race on April 27.

P2A Start Wave

My start wave at Paris to Ancaster

After Chilly, Tommy and I flipped over to a bike focus. So my weekly Thursday threshold intervals on the roads turned into tough sustained race efforts on the trainer, and we added in a second long endurance ride during the week. Despite upping the ante on the bike, I still chose to open up my spring at one of my favourite races on the Ontario circuit, Harry’s Spring Run-Off. This race is the season opener of the Canada Running Series, and is held on the traffic free roads of High Park. It is one of my favourite all-time race courses, a course that loops through quiet scenic roads and includes long killer hills during the 4th and last kilometers of the race. The last hill up Spring Road is sure to bust your legs if they aren’t already at that point! I knew the bike focus might have an effect on my result, but Harry’s is always a great way to assess winter running fitness. Emma came along with me, and we made a weekend of it!

Emma and Jesse

Always there for me, even in the cold and wind 🙂

I raced this one from the red corral, where I positioned myself just off the back of a stacked elite field. This enabled me to follow the big dogs out onto the race course, leading to a speedy 3:04 first kilometer. A little hot, but that first kilometer is also slightly downhill (at least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself). After that I settled into a nice pace and just tried to work the hills hard. They aren’t easy, demonstrated by the fact that I likely gave back 40 seconds while climbing them. However, I ended up in 15th place overall in a time of 27:21, an excellent result given the bike focus and the windy and high of 5 conditions of the day. Having only done 2 real short course running workouts since November, this result does give me great confidence that my run fitness is on track for Iron Hawk.

HSRO Bib

27:21 for 15th Overall, 2nd in M20-24

After a down week and a 2 very excellent weekends of endurance-focused training, I entered the biggest training week of h my duathlon career, culminating with the 65km Paris to Ancaster gravel bike race on the Sunday. A great week of training left me a little tired on the line, but this race was about participation instead of competition. It was a chance to experience my first pure cycling race (in all its muddy glory), and to put myself in a race situation with absolutely no pressure to produce a result. If you have never heard of Paris to Ancaster, do yourself a favour and Google this legendary race. 65km of mud, forests, farm lanes, gravel, dirt roads and more mud…one sector of the race is so infamously muddy that it is dubbed the “Mudslide of Death”. Needless to say, it was one that I needed to cross off my bucket list once I got myself a cyclocross bike.

P2A Start Line

The Start Line in Paris

The day didn’t start off great, as I missed my bus to Ancaster and thus had to ride my cross bike 15km up the mountain to Ancaster at 7am…an inauspicious start. But with more than 3 hours until my wave start it didn’t hurt me all that much, and the extra volume didn’t matter much during what was not supposed to be more than a glorified long ride. I also could have done a better job seeding myself, as I like could have shaved 15-20 minutes off my time by starting at the back of Wave 2 instead of the back of Wave 3. That decision led to a lot of soft-pedaling and weaving around slower traffic until it opened up a bit. But once it opened up, I settled in to a pattern of picking up ground and dragging a paceline up to the next group on the tame stuff, then losing it all back in the mud. During the rail trail sections I found myself more than happy to hop on the front and drag an indecisive group along (it’s not like I have a time trial style race in a couple weeks or anything), which was great for the confidence. I ended up walking a lot of the muddy stuff though, as I just don’t have the bike handling skills to pedal through 3 inches of mud. At the finish, I still had the legs to pass 30 people and ride the whole Martin Rd hill, and crossed the line pleased with a good hard day of training!

 

Martin Rd

Climbing the Martin Road Hill!

#1023

A muddy 65km in 2:45:45

As always, big thanks to Emma to trooping it out to Toronto for Harry’s and again to Ancaster to see me finish (and take some awesome pictures!) the Paris to Ancaster race. She’s the best! All in all, April was a month of great training and great experiences as I prepare for the Provincial Sprint Duathlon Championships at the Iron Hawk Duathlon in Harrow. It will be my first test of my duathlon fitness, where I will be looking for a top 10 finish against a stacked field and hopefully a personal best sub-60 minute time to start my multisport season off on the right track! Thanks to Ignition Fitness for the continued support, and to Clif Nutrition, Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor for making sure I have all the right tools for success from my April races into Iron Hawk.

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

Advertisements

Equipment Review – 2014 Felt B16 (My New Ride for 2014)

Getting a new bike seems to be one of the days in every multisport athlete’s season that they look forward to the most. I had planned for my next blog post to be either a current issue affecting duathletes, or a race report from my adventures at Harry’s Spring Run-Off…but then my new bike arrived, and I just have this feeling that my readers want to hear all about that first! Please excuse any technical jargon, and feel free to comment on the post with any questions.

My bike splits in 2014 will be brought to you by a 52cm 2014 Felt B16. When Coach Tommy worked out the Ignition Fitness/Felt Bicycles/Wheels of Bloor sponsorship deal in late 2013, it set in a motion the (long) series of events that led to me getting my new steed. The whole process took about 4 months (well worth it, it turns out) that started with listing/selling my loyal Argon 18 E-80 (thanks for two seasons of memories, have fun in Montreal!), and continued through ordering the new one (a sleek 2014 Felt B16), awaiting its arrival from the factory (with a few minor hiccups at customs), making the journey to Wheels of Bloor for pickup and fitting (via 5 methods of public transportation), and finally taking it home to add my own personal touches.

Freshly built and fitted

Freshly built and fitted at Wheels of Bloor

The B16 is Felt’s entry level carbon fibre time trial bike, but comes packed with goodies. You can view the full component spec pictured above here…nothing spectacular, but it will definitely be more than handy once I add my own finishing touches! The guys at Wheels of Bloor were great, as they had my bike built and ready for me to be fitted when I finally arrived at the shop Friday afternoon. The gentleman who fitted me also adjusted everything to match the measurements generated by my latest RETUL fit. 20 minutes of adjusting and 5 minutes on the trainer later, it felt like a rocket ready to be launched. Some of the adjustments included dropping the cockpit as low as it can go by removing spacers and installing a -25 degree stem, moving the aerobars as close together as the stem allows, and tweaking the saddle height for my short inseam. After navigating the journey home, I bolted on my bottle cages, attached my DIY Garmin mount, and strapped on my Powertap in preparation of my first training ride.

Adding my own touches

Ready for the maiden voyage

Most of my own personal touches occurred in the cockpit area. Everyone has their own configuration that works for them…mine is pictured below. For races, I generally only run one bottle mounted horizontally between the extensions. The first incarnation on my previous bike was simply a cage zip-tied to the extensions. Since then, I’ve added an aluminum X-Lab Torpedo mount to the cage, which I find helps ease my mind about whether or not my bottle is staying completely horizontal while riding. Though definitely not necessary, the peace of mind helps. My Garmin 910XT mount is also a custom job: an empty Nuun electrolyte tablet canister cut to size, holes drilled on either side and zip-tied between the shifters. A strip of adhesive Velcro (the soft/”loop” side) keeps the standard Garmin quick release kit mount from sliding around at high speeds. It’s that easy! It’s simple and definitely not the most creative configuration I’ve seen, but it works well for me.

Above view of my cockpit layout

View from above of my cockpit layout

Saturday morning meant my first test ride on the Felt. Maybe it’s just me, but I love to break in new equipment with a long workout…long runs for shoes, and long rides for bikes! So off I went for a 3 hour jaunt around Flamborough County, with a mixture of steady state riding, climbing, flat to rolling time trial intervals, and a few all-out townline sprints…basically a test of all aspects of the ride quality of a new bike. Being the first time I had ridden carbon fibre, I was amazed at the ride quality. Besides feeling very light, it seemed to absorb many of the bumps and gouges of county roads that my old aluminum frame did not. I was also very impressed with its climbing ability (for a TT bike), its quick acceleration to cruising speed, and the ease with which it cut through air once I got it going. The 105 drivetrain shifted crisp and clean, and the Microshift bar-end shifters and stock Felt TTR saddle were a pleasant surprise. Overall, my first impression was that the Felt B16 delivered a truckload of quality in a modestly priced package, great for any multisport athlete who has outgrown the modified road bike and wants a full-blown carbon fibre/aerodynamic experience.

Excited for my first ride

Excited for the first ride

However, there were a few areas of improvement that first ride pointed out. First, some of the cockpit adjustments I originally settled on proved to be too aggressive for me, especially this early in the season. So, upon returning from the ride I adjusted the extensions outward by a millimeter or two, slid the extensions back a bit and moved the armrests slightly forward and farther apart. This allowed me to slide my BTA bottle mount all the way back to the headset, giving me a little bit more room to slide a bottle out without mashing it against the buttons on my Garmin. The end result was a much more comfortable ride, at least for a few minutes of spinning on the trainer. I came away very impressed with the adjustability of the cockpit.

Second, though I thought the shifting and acceleration were excellent, I did find the stock FSA Vero crank a little heavy and slow to respond during hard accelerations (though it would do in a pinch). It came spec’ed with 52/36 gearing, as opposed to the 50 tooth big ring I switched to late last year after reading a great blog post by my friend Cody Beals (who happens to be fresh off a 5th place finish in his pro debut at IM Texas 70.3, great work Cody!). I am a high cadence spinner and I don’t generally put out enough power to push anything larger than a 50 tooth big ring without really struggling, so I had always planned on changing this out. However, I decided to try the larger gearing on the first ride, just to see how I liked it. Turns out I don’t, so off came the Vero in favour of an FSA Gossamer crank I had lying around the office (with custom 50/36 gearing). Due to my very amateur wrenching skills, the ease of an external bottom bracket was another reason to switch. Other swaps I made with existing parts I had lying around were to change the stock SunRace cassette/chain for a 105 chain and an Ultegra 11-25 cassette (11-28 for hilly races), and putting on my Williams S30 Powertap wheels for training rides. For races, I will swap in a Bontrager 50mm carbon race wheel, a disc cover for the rear, and some narrower race tires. As well, I THINK I can still get lower, so I’m on the lookout for a low-rise headset dust cap to make that a reality.

Try not to drool

Try not to drool

All in all, I am VERY excited to start my adventures of training and racing with this bike. HUGE shout-out to Coach Tommy at Ignition Fitness, and my sponsors Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor for setting this all up. I’m slightly embarrassed about the number of hours I spent on all three of these sites the past few months browsing and drooling over this bike, and I am beyond excited to finally have it in my possession. Be on the lookout for some wicked fast bike splits out of me this season on this beauty! Next up for me is a little hiatus from the roads to prep for Paris to Ancaster on April 27 before heading back to the pain cave to get ready for the Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships in Harrow on May 10. Be on the lookout for a Harry’s/P2A race report in the coming weeks, as well as a feature I am working on about an important issue currently facing duathletes in Ontario.

Until next time, keep du’ing it!