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The Warm-Up: A Critical Start (with Maghalie Rochette)

Cyclocross is an intense sport, requiring 100% effort from the starting gun through the finish tape. For nearly an hour we ask our body to respond to the constant balance of effort and recovery and this requires preparation. So when it comes to warm ups you may be left wondering: How long? How intense? What should I be trying to accomplish? When to start and finish your warm up? What does a ‘cross warm-up look like?

Explore the answers to these questions with Specialized/Feedback Sports Cyclocross Superstar (and recently crowned Canadian and Pan-Am Games Champion) Maghalie Rochette. 

Why Do We Need to Warm Up? 

MR: The main goal of the warm-up is to prepare your mind and body for the demands of a race. Your routine should be long and intense enough to warm you up, but not wear you down. Cyclocross races start really fast, so you need to work hard enough in the warm-up so that when the starting gun goes off your body isn’t left in complete shock. 

I like the warm up to feel like it “opens up” my legs, lungs and heart so my body is ready and accustomed to the effort when the race starts. There’s a textbook of physiology going on in the warm-up, and although I’ll spare those details the objective is to feel like you’re ready to hit the front and stay there!

How Do You Prepare Your Mind?

I find that the warm-up is also a time to get into a good mental space – a time to get into your own bubble and get acquainted with (and enjoy) the effort that’s coming. I listen to music when I warm up. I have a few different playlists with different kinds of music, depending on the mood I need to be in. Sometimes races call for being aggressive and sometimes you simply need to smile and have fun. Either way, I listen to music that makes me happy and find this will get my mindset where I want it to be.  

This is also a good time for visualization. I do pre-rides of the course earlier in the day. David and I find the most challenging points in the course during this recon and my warm-up is a good time to recall these strategic points and what’s needed to perform at my best.

The mix of physical and mental preparation is what truly makes up a warm-up routine!

David is the coach, the mechanic, and the guy who makes it all happen – setting up the trainer is part of the deal!

 

Does the Weather Affect Your Warm-Up? 

MR: The basic structure of my warm-up does not change, though I do adapt it depending on the temperature, or other factors that may affect how I feel. For example, I don’t deal well with extremely warm weather. I tend to over-heat very quickly, so I have to be meticulous when racing in the heat. If it’s hot outside, I’ll change my warm up drastically. 

One of the things I’ll do differently on a hot day is that I’ll skip the trainer and will instead find a road to warm up on – the wind in my face is refreshing. I’ll also shorten my warm up and often I will even skip the “build up to threshold”. I may just go out to spin and do a few short sprints with full recovery between each to make sure my legs are opened up, but that my heart rate doesn’t get too high. It’s difficult to bring your heart rate down in the heat, so there is no reason to bring it up super high before the race starts.

Alternatively, the trainer is amazing when the temperature is really cold! That refreshing breeze from riding the road isn’t so refreshing anymore!  

Fatigue – does your training plan affect your warm-up?

While I won’t divulge the details of my training, there is an ebb and flow to a season’s preparation. Fatigue happens. Fresh legs happen. Some days you feel great, and others you don’t. I remember at the 2018 Bern World Cup, I started my warm up and my legs felt sluggish.  That particular day in Switzerland I felt like the best strategy was to diminish the intensity of the warm up. I did the same routine, but I turned it down 10%. Turns out it was the right call, because I felt amazing during the race. 

There are days where the best way to deal with heavy legs is to do a few solid efforts, and then you start feeling better. Other times, I know my legs are tired, so I just decide to spin easier for a longer period of time before I start the efforts. Pay attention to where you are in your training to decide which is better. 

Unfortunately there is no magic, pro cyclocross racer, top-secret solution to this problem. Making the right call takes time and experimentation and every rider at the start line of a World Cup has gone through the process of refining their most effective routine.

The best advice I could give is to record everything in your training log afterwards. You can write how you felt during the warm up, how you decided to adapt your typical warm-up, and how you felt in the race afterwards. Trial and error is your best friend…

The Details – Give Us the Specifics!

I like to keep my warm-up pretty short. 

During a race day I’ll probably ride on the course 2-3 times, which amounts to about 30-45min of riding time before I actually start the warm-up. I think it’s important to keep that in mind when creating your routine…you don’t want to end up riding two hours before your race has even started (especially if you only train an hour at a time).

Traveling to Europe for a World Cup campaign means we do without a lot of our conveniences, like a warm-up tent!

 

Here’s what my typical cyclocross pre-race warm-up looks like: 

**I do this warm up on the Feedback Sports Omnium trainer. I prefer the Over-Drive version, because it offers progressive resistance the harder you go. This allows you to pedal hard without spinning out. We have some competitors who use the Zero-Drive, and some who use both, depending on where they are in their training!

10 minutes easy

5 minute build up (from tempo to a little over race pace)

2 minutes easy

3 x 30 second build up (from race pace to fast)

2 min easy

Immediately after I finish the trainer session I eat a gel with caffeine. At the start grid and I do one quick start of about 5 seconds. That short sprint is also an opportunity to finalize your starting gear.

I feel like this warm up (less than 25 minutes total) is enough to open me up, but it doesn’t leave me fatigued.

Practice Makes Perfect

As I mentioned, we are all different, so my warm-up routine may not work for you. However, I encourage you to find one that you like and practice it in training to see how it makes you feel. I’ve done the same warm up for the last 7 years, so I know this one works for me. It can get boring to do always the same thing, but at the same time, it brings tranquility and confidence. My body knows this effort and my mind is confident this is getting me ready to perform. 

 

Thanks Maghalie! If you’re unsure of whether to use a trainer or rollers check out Maghalie’s article on that very subject. If you’d like to get to know David Gagnon, Maghalie’s coach, partner, and mechanic a bit better read this quick Q&A here.

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Mechanic’s Corner: Disc Brake Rotor Wear

We’re deep into the riding season, here in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. It’s time to consider the preventative maintenance that can keep your riding free of clicks, creaks and pops. In addition, wearable items are starting to see the effects of your daily mileage. To help maximize your Team Edition and Ride Prep Tool Kits, and any one of our premium bike repair stands, a couple of weeks back we took a look at the most common wear items today we’ll dive a little deeper. 

DISC BRAKE ROTOR MAINTENANCE

With the ever-increasing popularity of disc brakes (hydraulic and mechanical), one of the easiest bike maintenance procedures is to inspect disc brake rotors. This maintenance tip suggests a quick way to insure you are getting the best performance from your braking system.

WHY DO I NEED TO DO THIS?

Disc brake rotors endure a large amount of heat and friction on a regular basis. They can withstand large forces and are responsible for slowing our bikes down, which they do quite well. But as a result of these physical demands, it is a good idea to check them for wear regularly. Disc brake rotors will typically last through 2, maybe 3 pairs of brake pads (pad material and riding conditions influences this), but it’s never a bad idea to add a thickness check to any regular maintenance schedule. 

DISC BRAKE ROTOR MAINTENANCE – THICKNESS INSPECTION

Rotor inspection is easiest with the wheel removed because the minimum thickness standard is etched quite small on the rotor. This print is located on the outer surface and is presented something like  “Min. TH=1.5”. This is interpreted as “minimum thickness of 1.5mm”. Anything less than 1.5mm means it is time to replace (for this particular Shimano rotor). This measurement is not the standard for all rotors – for instance, Hayes is 1.52mm, Shimano is 1.5mm, Sram minimum disc brake rotor thickness is 1.55mm. However, these aren’t guidelines, but rather highlight the fact that there is no universal standard and looking closely at your specific rotors is crucial.  

Use your Feedback Sports Digital Calipers and measure the thickness at the braking surface, ensuring you have as much of the rotor braking surface within the calipers jaws (as seen). With such precise measurements, it’s good to check several points on the rotor, multiple times. 

If your rotors measure above the indicated minimum thickness then you’re in the clear. If your digital calipers measure below, contact your local bike shop (LBS) to purchase new ones. Your shop will have questions, so be sure to take note of your rotor size (140, 160, 180, 200, 203mm, etc.) , mounting style (centerlock or 6-bolt), and manufacturer of your disc brake caliper.

Since you’ve got the wheels out it is a good idea to double check your centerlock lockring or your rotor bolts for torque. The Team Edition Tool Kit includes the Bottom Bracket + Lockring Tool (which can manage standard and over-sized centerlock lockrings) and our Range Torque + Ratchet Wrench can handle 6-bolt, T25 torque specs.  If you’re replacing the rotors, be sure to face any writing on the rotor outward from the hub as pictured. 

Now that you’re confident you understand the mechanical status of your rotors, reinstall the wheels and get back to riding! Or replace them if needed, of course!

This simple check, and so many more to come, can be done with little mechanical experience. As we always say, with the right tools and a quality bike repair stand, anybody can service their bike. 

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Mechanic’s Corner: Q & A with David Gagnon of Specialized/Feedback Sports Cyclocross Team

In our Mechanic’s Corner series we’ve been shining the spotlight on the ones behind the scenes that make racing and riding happen for us, the mechanics. Earlier this week we announced that we would be the co-title sponsor of Maghalie Rochette and the CX Fever team. So let’s get to know her Mechanic, Coach, partner, and skilled baker, David Gagnon.

When did you start working as a bike mechanic and how did you get into it?

I raced triathlons when I was younger and quickly realized that having a bike that works properly is important. I liked working with my hands so I started doing small things on my bikes really young. When I was in university, we started a small bike shop where 3 of us really had to do every single task from building bikes to ordering and accounting, so I quickly learned the proper basics at that moment. That shop didn’t last long. It was a lot of work and we ended up closing after 3 years. From there I worked on my personal bikes but I never worked in a shop.

How did you transition into becoming a race mechanic? How long have you been working as a race mechanic at this point?

That really came out of necessity more than a transition. When Maghalie started racing cyclocross 7 years ago, there had to be someone for her in the pits and so I found myself working on her bikes and helping he out at the races more and more until it became clear that she was really good at this and that she would need full time support.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a race mechanic? What is the most stressful part, before, during, or after the race?

Honestly, it’s a great job. You have to be very adaptable and flexible with work conditions. You won’t always have the perfect light, the perfect environment and/or the perfect conditions to get the bikes ready, but if you are a bit creative and have the right tools, it becomes fun. For me, I see these different work conditions more as an opportunity to be creative and find solutions more than challenges. The biggest challenge for me is all the driving. Being from Canada, we often drive down to the US for a few weeks at a time and go from one race to another and a lot of times it means a ton of driving. Driving 40-60 hours per week can get hard on the body and mind sometimes.

The most stressful part for me is the first 30-60 seconds of the race. There’s a lot of traffic and if a crash is going to really mess up the race, it’s most likely going to happen in the first few turns. Once they go by the pits once, I’m pretty stress free. Since most of time it’s just Maghalie and I at the races, getting the race bikes ready, building the setup at the races, and packing everything up isn’t really stressful. It’s actually relaxing 🙂

What are some of the most challenging last minute or on the fly repairs you’ve had to do?

Honestly, nothing very exciting here. We come to the races prepared with all our equipment working 100% and spares of everything and Maghalie runs 3 or 4 bikes per weekend so if for whatever reason one bike isn’t perfect, we can usually do without it and I can fix things stress free following the race.

Only one time I remember being a little worried. At Supercross Cup in NY a few years back, it was very, very windy and one of Maghalie’s bikes fell on the ground really hard 15mins before the start – the frame was broken. That got me a little stressed but we ended up using a friend’s bike that we fitted as best as we could in 15mins as a pit bike for Maghalie. That friend was over 6ft tall, and had a 58cm bike, wider bars, longer cranks & a different company shifting/braking system. So needless to say, it was quite the change for Maghalie when she had to come in the pits. It was super muddy so she had to come in every half lap. We made it work and Maghalie went on to win, and sweep her first ever UCI race weekend!

Do you have any pre-race rituals? What are they?

Nope, no rituals. Except cleaning the bikes, do a proper bolt check and double check tire pressure.

How do you balance being a coach as well as a mechanic?

It’s actually great cause I can see the race from the inside and adjust training a lot with equipment testing and such. I only work as a mechanic for Maghalie and a few close friends that sometimes need help at home or at the races so my job is mostly coaching. Working as a mechanic feels more like a hobby and a nice change sometimes 🙂

You work with Maghalie exclusively all season, what sort of unique challenges does that present throughout the season and how do you move past those?

Working only with Maghalie is great, it gives us a lot of breathing room and a realistic amount of work and logistics that leave us enough time that we don’t feel overwhelmed. We do end up spending a ton of time together driving, training, travelling, eating, etc. and that could be a challenge for a lot of people, but we get along pretty well and we actually feel very fortunate that we can both do what we love, together, for a living. There is no one else in the world I would do this with.

You and Maghalie would be what most consider to be a privateer program, what are some of the largest challenges you face as a mechanic/only staff? What are some of the benefits?

You know, it looks like that from the outside, but Maghalie’s family help us out a lot. Maghalie’s mom and dad come to a lot of races and they are always happy to help, whether it’s in the pits or with the logistics of travel. Magh’s dad is a big cycling fan and for him, to have the pit passes and be around that environment makes him really happy and excited.

In North America, cyclocross is a very tight knit world and when the races require a bit more manpower, we’re always very fortunate to have friends at the races helping us. I’m also good friends with a lot of mechanics from North American teams/riders and so we help each other out in the pits. I’ll catch for them when their rider comes in and they’ll do the same for me when Maghalie comes in. CX in North America is a small world and everybody is super helpful. I could go on for days talking about situation where Cannondale Cyclocrossworld carried Magh’s bikes from one race to another or when we drove other team’s mechanics at the airport or used their bike wash area, etc. It’s a big family.

In terms of the benefits of being just the two of us, well, there are a lot. We only book 1 hotel room. We travel in the same car. It’s very easy for us to make or change plans since we don’t have to fit in other people schedules.

Having experienced a lot of different countries and meeting a lot of other mechanics, what are some differences you notice between the way North American mechanics approach a repair and the way European mechanic’s do? Are there differences in the relationships they have with their riders compared to that of North American teams?

The first thing that comes to mind is swapping parts vs. fixing stuff. I feel like Euro Mechanics will spend a lot of time trying to fix things and be very creative making custom tools for custom parts that they custom fixed as where here we’re most likely going to just put a new derailleur on the bike instead of fixing it. I guess that also reflects on  the overall lifestyle and choices of Europe vs. North America.

In terms of the relationship between mechanics and riders, in Europe a lot of riders have their dad, brother, husband, father in law, etc. be their mechanic. It’s not uncommon here in North America to see the same thing, but in terms of team structure, the American teams will most likely provide a mechanic for the riders, where in Europe, the rider has to have his own mechanic, the team will most likely not supply one.

What is the number one thing home mechanics can do to keep their bike in excellent working condition?

Clean it. Lube it & Protect it with some sort of shine/polish often. And pay attention to the bike when you do so. That way you’ll go over the bike and parts very carefully every time you wash/lube/protect it and you’ll see quickly what there is to fix, change, etc.

The one thing I tell people is make sure your cleaning setup is easily accessible. Leave the pressure washer plugged in water, or keep a hose and a work stand out. That way, it takes a lot less time and you’re not discouraged by the fact that you have to setup before cleaning. You can just come back from a ride, throw your bike on the repair stand, start the hose or pressure washer, clean, lube protect and you’ll be able to keep a close eye on things that need replacement, fixing, etc.

Your Instagram is chock full of phenomenal food photos, specifically loaves of bread and pizza, could you give us one simple recipe for bread or pizza?

Hahaha. I love baking. Pizza & bread are probably my favorite food. Pizza is a very simple recipe that you can make on the BBQ or in the oven at home if you have a baking stone. It’s delicious and it can be healthy if you put good stuff on it. We have a sourdough culture that we use at home, so we need to do something everyday with it or throw away a bit of it, so we try to bake at least every other day.

Quick Pizza, could be done with sourdough too if you have a starter

Dough-

1-Anytime before 2PM, Sprinkle a bit of yeast (like a teaspoon or so) on 400G of +- room temperature water.
2- Add 500G of pizza four (00 type) if you have some or just any flour to the water, a pinch of salt and knead for +-5mins
3- Let it rise for 30-60mins, Go back and knead again a few turns.
4- Let it sit for another little bit, until it +-doubles in size.
5- Take it out of the bowl, fold in a ball one last time on the counter, line a bowl with Olive oil, throw the dough ball in that olive oil lined bowl. Put in the fridge until 1h to dinner.
6- Take it out, split the dough in as many pizzas as you want to make. let it rest on the counter +-30 minutes before stretching it to a pizza!

Sauce –

1- Can of San Marzano Tomatoes. Drain the juice from the can.
2- Put the tomatoes in a bowl, break them with your hands, add a bit of salt & basil to taste and there’s your sauce.

Put in whatever you want on top of that and you have a yourself a nice pizza. I really like just the classic Margherita with a top quality fresh mozzarella on top of that sauce. Never gets old and lets you appreciate the quality of the dough and sauce 🙂

Bon appétit.

 

If you’d like to learn how to glue tubular tires from David, check out this post. 

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The Feedback Sports Gift Guide

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

It’s that time of year!! Everyone is busy playing reindeer games; slogging through the mud and snow, spraying each other with power-washers, picking grass out of chains, and the whirring of an Omnium Over-Drive fills the air like the Carol of the Bells, …wait. We got the holidays mixed up with the peak of Cyclocross season. Let’s try that again.  Ahem. THE HOLIDAYS are UPON US!!  And while our products have been listed in several amazing Holiday Bicycle Gift Guides*, we thought we’d put a little gift guide together of our own.  We asked several co-workers to share what their favorite Feedback Sports Product is and why.


The Feedback Sports Gift Guide

  1. Thomas McDaniel (Product Marketing Manager): “The Dual-Sided Pic. It’s one of those tools that forces you to look at your bike differently. When I put it in my hand I automatically want to slow down and pay close attention to how my bike is doing – in that way it’s one of the most important tools in my collection.” – This says a lot because Thomas’s “collection” is…robust.  
  2. Scott Knight (Western Sales Manager): “The Bottle Opener. Because it’s ridiculously over-built and awesome.”
  3. Jeff Nitta (Vice President): “The Velo Wall Post.  I like its simplicity for hanging bikes when prepping them for a ride.  I have one at the end of my garage so I can pump up the tires, lube the chain and check to make sure the bike is ready to go.  When I’m done with it I fold it up and it’s out of the way.”
  4. Sammy Rutherford (Eastern Sales Manager: “My Omnium Trainer!! Nothing keeps my legs in better cycling shape during the off-season.”
  5. Will Allen (Product Engineer): “My favorite FBS product is the one currently in development.  The products we currently have are all great, but what we’re working on for the future is even better.”  Wow. Well played, Will. 
  6. Mike Guinta (Product Engineer): “Eggnog.”  “Mike, we don’t make eggnog.”  “…Fine. Tools. I like the tools.”
  7. Lisa Hudson (Co-Owner/Accounting): “The Velo Hinge because it maximizes the storage space for my quiver of bikes!

And there you have it–straight from the folks at Feedback Sports.


We wish you a very merry Holiday Season.  We hope you enjoy the time with your family, friends annnnnnnnd, we also hope you get the chance to sneak out for a ride. It’s never too cold. Never.

*And finally, here’s that list of legitimate Gift Guides we mentioned earlier, plus a contest that would make someone’s holiday very Merry, indeed. 

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Want to be a better cyclocross racer? Avoid the avoidable, says coach Chris Mayhew.

With the upcoming United States Cyclocross National Championships , we invited JBV Coaching’s Chris Mayhew to share his thoughts on how to prepare for the big race at hand. Mayhew has actively raced for over 25 years – toeing the line at elite cyclocross, road, MTB and time trial events.  He puts on cycling training camps, cycling skills clinics, and rumor has it, he’s also quite the bike mechanic. In other words, Chris lives and dies for cyclocross and has the experience to know what makes a bike racer successful.  Anyone prepping for that “big race” has trained their body to be ready. Chris’s tips can ensure your bike is ready, too.
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You’ve spent months training and analyzing your data, hours researching the right hashtags and filters for your #crossiscoming posts and then on race day all that hard work comes undone from a preventable mechanical. Bummer.

Ben Bergeron says there are 5 things you can control as a racer: sleep, recovery, nutrition, training and mindset. I would add that for bike racing you can also control the initial state of your equipment. That said, I realize it’s challenging to put in the work as a bike racer and then have to be a bike mechanic too. My experience has proven there are two really easy ways to provide the best return on your time and keep your equipment in for cyclocross season.

First, wash your bike.

Bill Marshall (KCCX) getting the job done in fine fashion.

This can take many forms, and it’s somewhat situational dependent. After a muddy ride or race, the minimum you should do is lean the bike up against something and hit it with a hose to knock the majority of the mud off. This will keep your sidewalls and any metal parts on the bike happy along with the cables, if you still have any of those! Spend two minutes on this.

It doesn’t need to be perfect, it needs to be clean enough to lube a chain and see the details of the drivetrain components. The real action happens with a deeper wash, which should happen once a week. Remove the wheels, install a chain keeper, and put the bike in a repair stand. I prefer dropout-style repair stands for washing and detailed work, but also have the luxury of a standard upright repair stand too. Get a bucket, some brushes and some Dawn soap and go to town. This isn’t about being a black shoe, white sock roadie. Think of this as an active meditation with your bike. Clean all the surfaces, making sure some sort of cleaner (soap for the bike, de-greaser for the chain) gets liberally applied and washed off. As you do this, have a close look at the frame and all the moving, rotating and gliding components. Spin the cranks while you clean them and feel for looseness or crunchiness in the bearings (bottom bracket, pedal and derailleur). Think about any issues you had with the bike when you last rode it – the minute I dismount my bike, I seem to forget any problem I had until the next time I ride.

This whole bike wash process should take around 15-20 minutes from the time you fill the bucket until you put the bike back in storage. The main point in all of this is to engage with every part of the bike and catch things like bent chain links or worn cables before they become a problem on race day. This is a great time to quickly check your brake pads too.

So yes, you get a clean bike out of it, but more importantly it’s a bike inspection and preventative maintenance.

In tandem with the above, and maybe even while you still have it in the stand, check your bolts.

You don’t have to do this every week, but once a month run through the stem, seat-post and saddle bolts at minimum. I’m in love with my Feedback Sports Range for this sort of work. You can loosen and tighten any bolt with it (unlike most torque wrenches) and it comes in a very handy little case that keeps all the bits in one place. All my other torque bits are scattered somewhere across my work bench at this point. I’ve taken to just keeping my Range in my race clothing bag as a race day essential.

As I said earlier, bike maintenance is definitely something you can control – it’s called “preventative maintenance” for a reason, and it’s a great use of your time – I’ve witnessed too many races undone by the avoidable. And as with any task, the right tool makes it easier and faster to do, which means you’re more likely to do it.

Racing bikes is hard work, on and off the field. Don’t let all your hours of training and preparation come undone by one loose bolt. Spend some time owning the state of your equipment. Get it clean enough to notice any small issues before they become a race day nightmare. Run through the bolts periodically to make sure nothing is loose and don’t forget the bolts in your shoes. If you want to make all of the above easier  to perform there are some Feedback Sports items that would be worth putting on your wish-list.

Good luck at your races, and remember: you can often make your own luck.

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Thanks for the words of wisdom, Chris! Follow Chris on IG, Facebook and Twitter for more. You can also catch his articles on Cyclocross Magazine. 

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Race-Day Warm-up with Amanda Nauman

Though we all know that warm-legs are fast legs… it’s can be hard to know where to begin. You might wonder, “Should I use a bike trainer or rollers?” How hard should I go before a race?”, “For how long?”, “Should I do intervals?”, “Why is my skinsuit so tight?”, “Is my number pinned properly?”.  While we can’t really help you with the last two questions, we did find some experts to share what works for them in terms of the first four.

We asked our friends, David Sheek (Carmichael Training Systems Coach) and Amanda Nauman (known to friends and the cycling community as “Amanda Panda”) of Team SDG – Muscle Monster for some general preparation tips and a warm-up plan to help anyone maximize their race-day potential.

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~From Amanda and Dave~

Our friends at Feedback Sports have really stepped up the game with a solid range of traveling goodies that are also amazing products to have in any garage. Whether traveling to Europe or chasing events around the United States, Feedback has made it easier to be prepared at home and on the road. A few of our favorites are the Team Edition Tool Kit, Omnium Portable Trainer, and Sprint Work Stand which all fit into the bottom of our cases for travel.

Being Prepared: Pre-Event Warm-up

A pre-event warm-up is designed to increase muscle core temperature, start the body’s cooling processes, and activate energy systems. Here’s a step-by-step guide to activating your body for a great performance using the Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer.

Warm-up

It’s pretty common for a warm-up routine to be 45-60 minutes. You need to spend some time at lactate threshold and throw in a few high-intensity efforts to activate the processes related to producing and processing lactate, but you want to do as little as possible to achieve those goals. A generic warm-up includes 15-25 minutes of spinning, 5-10 minutes at LT, and two 1-2 minute VO2 max efforts. Variations of that will typically get the job done. A long warm-up is likely to generate more heat so weather and other variables are taken into consideration.

The nature of your event also plays a role in your warm-up. If your event is going to start out relatively slow, like a road race, then you can minimize the warm-up activities. If the event is going to start hard, like a cyclocross race, then it’s important to activate your energy systems and lactate processing systems.

Variations on the Weather

There is a fine line between activating your body for a great performance and hurting your performance through overheating in your warm-up. After warming up some higher energy systems, your muscle temperature and core temperature are elevated and primed to race. In warmer temperatures it is recommended to cool down for about 10 minutes before going to the start line to avoid any chances of overheating. In cooler temperatures it is recommended to add clothing layers and maintain that elevated core temperature en route to the start line.

Go to the Start Line

If you’re going to be standing on the start line for a long time before you start, as is often the case with cyclocross races, you’re going to be standing still. In this scenario, try to go to the line wearing enough clothing or layers to stay warm. Plan to hand your clothing off to someone with a few minutes to the whistle.

The focus on staying warm during and after a riders’ warm-up routine pays off because you will be ready for action right from the start. Keeping your core temperature at an optimal level enables you to start faster, get to the front of the race, and stay there.

Taking the proper steps to activate all your energy systems through a proper warm-up, all starts with the right trainer routine. It’s difficult to find an event that allows for sufficient open road to correctly hit the warm-up zones that your preparation requires. Traveling with the Feedback Sports Omnium Over-Drive guarantees the freedom to create and execute a routine around an ideal warm-up that will set you up physically and mentally for success.

TimeCTS ZoneRating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) 10-Point Scale
10 minEndurance Miles (EM)4-5
2 minTempo6
2 minEM4-5
2 minTempo6
2 minEM4-5
2 minSteady State (SS)7-8
2 minEM4-5
2 minSS7-8
2 minEM4-5
1 minClimbing Repeat (CR)8
2 minEM4-5
30 secPower Interval (PI)9
2 minEM4-5
30 secPI9
5-10minEM4-5
Off Trainer – Head to Startline
10 min Active Cooling2-4

*Amanda is currently rocking the cyclocross and gravel scene. She and David clearly know a thing or two about race-day preparation. Thanks for the tips, David and Amanda!  We’ll see you (and your Feedback Sports Race Day Essentials) at the Cyclocross Nationals in Kentucky! #pandapower

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CX Fever #1 – Gluing Tubulars

Maghalie Rochette – CX Fever Racing p/b Specialized

We’re thrilled to announce our support for an athlete we’ve already been working with for a few years–Maghalie Rochette. Maghalie is amicably leaving the CLIF Pro Team to start her own cyclocross program. Why? She’s got the fever. The fever for cyclocross. 

She’ll be racing cyclocross in North America until November then Europe for 3 months to finish the season strong. Maghalie’s partner David will be the mechanic. Or as she puts it, “The mechanic and the ‘doer of everything’, like he always does… I’ll do my best to help him. At the races, you will be able to find David and I under a Specialized tent that we will be sharing with the TSH/Specialized Team crew.”

You’ll see the tent decked out with Feedback Sports products. Feel free to ask Maghalie and David about them. Get your hands on the tools. Check out our trainers and rollers. They are happy to give you the low-down on what makes our products part of their “Race Day Essentials” as well as some pro-tips on bike racing and wrenching!

And speaking of…check out David’s tried and true 8 step method of gluing tubulars. 

Gluing tubulars

Every year, it’s a long process we have to start over. Here is the step by step method that David uses to ensure our tubulars are always properly glued.

  1. Pump the tubular. Apply a layer of glue on the tubular and a layer on the rim of the wheel. Hang and let dry for 24h.
  2. The next day, apply another layer of glue on the rim. Let dry a few hours.
  3. Put some double sided glue tape on the rim. Remove the paper from the tape.
  4. Apply a second layer of glue on the tubular tire and a layer of glue over the tape.
  5. Right away, deflate the tubular. Verify the direction of the thread and carefully install the tubular on the wheel.
  6. Pump the tire and adjust the position of the tire on the wheel to make sure it is straight.
  7. Let dry for at least 24h before using.
  8. You are ready to shred!!!

**Pro tip: A few days before you start this process, it helps to stretch the tubular. You can either set it on a dry wheel for a few days, or simply stretch it with your hand.

Maghalie is in good hands with some other stellar companies.  SpecializedCLIF BarRovalSRAMTenSpeed HeroOakleyChallenge TiresGiro Cyclingand Horst Engineering are supporting Maghalie, too. We’re all going to be working together throughout the season to spread the CX Fever!

You can check out her preliminary schedule for the 2018/19 season here. Go get em’, Maghalie!

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Q&A with Slopestylist, DJ Brandt

Slopestyle rider DJ Brandt sits down for a Q&A with Feedback Sports
At only 23 years old, Colorado native, DJ Brandt has already ridden and raced all over the world.  His main discipline is Slopestyle (having loved it since day one) but he’s just as happy getting on the DH bike whether it be Freeride or race courses. He loves it all. DJ’s joy of riding seeps into a dare-devil skill-set most of us couldn’t dream of having.


In light of this, you can imagine how hard it could be to get him to slow down enough during racing season for an interview, but we did it!  Read our short and to the point Q&A below from DJ.


1. Give us a quick history of your riding/racing career. I started out BMX-ing at the skate park, tried a friend’s dirt jumper, then bought a dirt jumper. I rode my first Slopestyle event 6 months later and have been hooked on big air since!

2. What’s your favorite (or best) race? Colorado Freeride Festival.

3. What’s your least favorite (or worst) race? Fise Cheng du. For many reasons.

4. What’s the craziest trick you’ve pulled off? Double flip or something. (We feel this answer was down-played due to DJ’s natural affable, humble nature). 

5. What’s been the craziest race scenario you’ve ever witnessed? Racing through a city in the middle of Mexico with 50k fans screaming and cheering. You look around and think, “Who is here? It must be someone big. Then you realize they are all there to watch the race and cheer for you.”

Photo: Nicolas Switalski/Altius

6. Do you have any advice to a younger, less experienced rider? Do what you like if you want to be happy. Don’t do something just because you think other people want to see it.

7. What’s coming in 2017? This season will consist of more Slope events, DH races and Freeride events across the globe.

8. Finally, what’s your favorite Feedback Sports product?  The Scorpion stand is pretty sweet but then again, so is everything else they make.  (Aw, shucks. He made us blush.  Truth be told, Feedback Sports is happy to provide DJ with the products he needs to keep his bikes dialed.

*You can follow his gasp-inducing fun on social media: IG /@djshreda, Twitter /@djshreda, FB /@deejboyy .

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The Feedback Cup (a.k.a. Our Version of the World Series)

It’s just about here.  Do you hear it? Listen!  In the dusty Colorado distance you can hear the ringing of cowbells and sizzling of bacon–all in preparation for the 4th Annual Feedback CUP!!! That’s right.  THIS Saturday (November 5th) is the big day! And while the history of this race might not go back to…oh, say that of the World Series (go Cubs!)  we still think it’s pretty special.  It is our World Series, so to speak. It’s therefore fitting to continue with that comparison for this blog.

History:

The inception of the World Series goes back to 1903 (although it began as early as 1884).  The first Feedback Sports Cup was in 2013 but our cyclocross racing spirit goes back years before that. Race director, Lee Waldman elaborates on the course and its race history, “When I was with Red Rock Velo we were looking for a new venue.  At that time, my wife (Caren) was the director at Lookout Mtn. Youth Services Center and she offered the venue to us.  We took it and ran with it.  At first it was just a stand alone weekend event and then about 5 or 6 years ago Chris McGee, who was Executive Director of BRAC at the time, came to me with the idea of a mid-week series.  That’s how B2B began.”

In 2013 Feedback Sports decided to piggy-back on this stellar course.  But faced the challenge of keeping the course fresh.  With Lee’s direction and the input from our team and community, we were able to pull it off and have been doing so ever since.

Home Field Advantage: 

Any sports aficionado knows the home field advantage is not a myth. Did we build our office specifically to be within a mile of this course?  Of cour-hor-hor-ourse not. (…awkward silence…) That would be silly (voice rises several octaves).  But Feedback Sports owner/founder, Doug Hudson admits, “The Feedback Cup is great because it’s in our hometown of Golden–about 1 mile from the office.  Our Feedback Sports racing team (and race director/team-mate Lee Waldman) puts a lot of time into making sure the race runs smoothly. The Feedback Cup course is staple on the local CX scene as it also hosts a Wednesday night series (late August through mid-October) in addition to our race so we are very familiar with all the sections. My favorite part of the day is seeing some of my neighbors come out to see what cyclocross racing is all about.”

This year’s course: 

Want to know what to expect this year?  The course is open to pre-ride, but for those of you who can’t make it, Lee’s added a few new features this year to keep things interesting. “The differences may be minor, but people who ride the B2B series will notice. The climbs are a bit different, some of the turns have different turning radiuses and slightly changed entries and exits,” says Waldman.  He adds,  “There’s a balance between technically challenging sections, more flowing pedaling sections and sections that require riders to be strategic in line choice, tire pressure, etc.  It’s turny, and technical, physically challenging, but a lot of fun at the same time.  I ride it at least 2 to 3 times a week and never get bored.” (Home fiellllllllllld advannnnnnnnnntage.)

The Die-Hards:  

Like the World Series, the Feedback Cup brings the heat when it comes to enthusiasm. Whether it’s the racers, the fans, co-sponsors, our announcer (Larry Grossman) or the food vendors, you can be sure everyone brings their A-game.

 

A prime example of this would be Feedback Sports racer (and in-house engineer) Will Allen. You can find him leading sunrise laps Wednesday mornings, riding the course at lunch and working on the course over the weekend.  Will loves racing cross, but it ties into his day-job more than one might think. “Racing gives me the opportunity to observe how consumers are truly using our products.  This helps push improvements to current products and can also drive developing new products, offering a solution to a problem we didn’t know existed.”

When asked what Will’s favorite part of the course he replied in true engineer fashion, “The section a little before, then through, and after the stairs.  Not sure how else to describe it.  I could answer this question better with a picture or GPS coordinates.”  We’ll settle for the course-preview video, Will (coming soon).

**SEVENTH INNING STRETCH.  Get up from your monitor, (or put your phone down) and sing along with the legendary Bill Murray.

The Sponsors: 

Fun World Series fact to wind things down: before the era of championship rings, triumphant players took home…timepieces. That’s right–as in pocket watches. We won’t be giving either of these items out to race winners, but we will have equal pay-outs, and a TON of other cool things. For the second year, all pre-registered racers will be entered to win an Omnium portable trainer.  Winner will be chosen Friday morning and presented their Omnium at the race on Saturday.

John Shearer from Finish Line / White Lightening has been instrumental in making this year’s race-day prize list better than ever! Spot Bicycles has graciously provided a Rallye frame set to raffle off on race day.  Crank Brothers has given us almost $5000 worth of product.  Jinji Cycles and Golden Bike shop are going to be on site providing technical support. We’d also like to give a special shout-out to The Amy D. Foundation.  As Lee Waldman noted, “They’ll be there on race day and simply thinking about who they are and why they exist reminds us of Amy’s dedication to the sport. And that’s a gift.”

In closing, we hope to see you there.  It would really mean…THE WORLD to us (sorry, couldn’t resist).

 

 

 

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Track Racing with Lucas Clarke

With the USA Masters Track National Championships in full swing (Indianapolis) and those “games” currently happening in a country that rhymes with “trio”, we figured it’s the perfect time to talk about track racing. We’ll admit that we’re a bit fuzzy on this subject, so we asked one of our favorite local track racers (and avid Omnium user) Lucas Clarke to tell us a bit about it. Read below as Lucas demystifies all things track to this company of commuters, roadies, Cx racers and MTB aficionados.

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  1. Name / Team / Years racing:  Lucas Clarke / Primal-Audi Denver / 9 years racing, Cat 2 on the Road, Track, Cat 3 Cyclocross.
  2. Your favorite race: My favorite race on the Track is the Individual Pursuit which is a 4k time trial on the track.  You vs. the clock, all out for 4000 meters.
  3. How do you integrate the Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer into your training and racing? It’s virtually impossible to find a stretch of road anywhere near my house to do 3-5 minutes sprint efforts holding 900-1100 watts safely.  Those are the bursts you need for road and track racing. With the Omnium I can do that in my basement before the sun event comes up–no cars, no stoplights. On race days at the track, you’re parking and walking, juggling your bike, your bag, all your gear, etc. The Omnium just makes it all easier.
  4. Top Speed on the track: My top speed at Track Nats this year was 40.3 mph.
  5. What’s up with those brakes? What brakes? We don’t need brakes. It makes the racing simple, fast and a bit dangerous (cue Kenny Loggins).
  6. How long do you have to track stand on that one race? The match sprint is notorious for the awesome track stands.  You try and out fox the other sprinter to get them to lead you out and then make your JUMP.
  7. What are your gear ratios and how often do you changes throughout the races and why? I typically like to run smaller gears in the Points race (where the speed is often going up and down a lot) 50 x 14 (96.4 gear inches) and for more steady tempo races like the Scratch race I run a larger gear, 53 x 14 (102.2 gear inches).  You want to be able to spin and get  “on top” of the gear without destroying your legs.
  8. Do you ever get dizzy and/or have you thrown up during a race? Not really, you really get in the zone by following the black and red lines and you immerse yourself into the race.
  9. Track racing seems so “dignified”.  Do you extend the courtesy of saying “on your left” when you pass during a race? All passing on the track should come on your right, passing on the left is only allowed if you are above the blue line.  This keeps the races safe so no one is pushing you off the black line (sprinters line).
  10. So…no? No.

We’d like to congratulate Lucas on another solid season of track racing. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter for more fast (and slightly dangerous) bike action. Picture everything above come Fall but add a Cx bike…and brakes…and take away the track. 

Related links: 

*Intentional vagueness of the intro sentence can be attributed to Rule #40 and Coca Cola.