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Committed to Racing

It’s in our name. It’s defines our company culture. And it’s the recipe for how our products have earned the reputation of durable and portable. It’s our commitment to racing.

We put our products in the hands of the World’s most demanding teams, athletes and mechanics. Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Cup MTB and Cyclocross are all opportunities for us to gain Feedback, so our products satisfy the people who use them at home, the local and regional races, and Nationals events.

Our commitment to racing is no more obvious than walking the pits of this past weekends Trek Cup World Cup Cyclocross Race in Waterloo, WI. We started counting Omniums, but at a certain point the number just became “a lot”…

Have a look at a few pics from the weekend – as always, Trek’s dedication to cyclocross showed. The crowds were entertained and the racing was brutal.

Like many amateurs and professionals this past weekend, former French National CX Champion Steve Chainel stopped by for a post-race cool-down on the Omnium Zero-Drive Trainer

 

Helen Wyman navigates the Challenge tent, sharing a nearly infinite amount of wisdom with up and comers Anna Kay, Clara Honsinger, and Sammi Runnels – and of course they use Feedback repair stands and Omnium Trainers every weekend.

 

The newly formed Easton/Giant CX Team runs the same program as most – Pro Elites, Sprint Stands and Omnium Trainers – the portability and reliability of our products is hard to beat, or so we’re told!

 

We love SRAM and Trek Factory Racing, and they love our repair stands and tools! Their entire events program, including neutral support, uses our Pro Elite and Sprint Repair Stands, plus our Team Edition tool kit!

 

See, told you so – SRAM love our repair stands and the Team Edition Tool Kit – they recognize quality of purpose-built, multi-function tools!

 

Sophie de Boer, a World Cup Dutch rider, loves to warm-up on the Omnium Zero-Drive Trainer too!

 

Nothing to see here, except beard. And the beard’s sweet, sweet Pro Elite Repair Stand

 

Maghalie Rochette, Specialized/Feedback Sports athlete makes her way through the course on her way to 5th place! Not that you’d be able to see it, but underneath that mud is the UCI World Cup Leader’s Jersey after her season opening win at Jingle Cross.

 

Katerina Nash – what can you say – 41yrs old and absolutely crushing it with the win – also a sponsored Feedback Sports athlete. And no, it’s not about age…but her experience was definitely a serious contributor to the World Cup win.

 

Maghalie Rochette landed a hard-fought 5th place. Her cool-down provides the space to rest the mind from the busy week spent in the UCI Leader’s Jersey.

 

Our dedication to racing provides the feedback we look for in all of our products. How does weather influence a trainer? How do our stands hold up to a full season, or five? How do mechanics use our tools in the heat of the moment? Do our tools hold up to the demands of techs that use them everyday, sometimes several times a day.

Thanks for looking – and we’ll see you at the races!

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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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Feedback Sports Goes World Cup

Feedback Sports has signed on as Co-Title Sponsor to form the 2019-20 Specialized/Feedback Sports Cyclocross Team. The team consists of seasoned professional cyclocross racer Maghalie Rochette, and her mechanic and coach David Gagnon.

“Feedback Sports products are designed to simplify cycling and are a reflection of our internal passions as racers and mechanics. Maghalie and David are true professionals and offer the level of scrutiny of our products we ask from our sponsored partners”, said Doug Hudson, Owner of Feedback Sports. “They mirror our passion for racing, balanced with a deep love of cycling and an infectious positive attitude. We are delighted to have Maghalie and David representing Feedback Sports in our first title sponsorship of a World Cup cyclocross program. It’s long been a dream of mine to have our logo on a World Cup Cyclocross jersey, and after 15 years, this is the right time and Maghalie and David are the right people. ”

Maghalie got her start professionally in 2014 with the LUNA Pro Team (now Clif Pro Team), primarily racing XCO mountain bike with an abbreviated cyclocross program. 2018 marked the beginning of CX Fever, her privateer campaign to target her truest passion of World Cup Cyclocross. During the 2018/2019 season Maghalie accomplished impressive North American results – making several podiums at key UCI events and taking home the Canadian National Title. While those results alone are a success for some, Rochette also captured her first Pan-American Championship.

Aside from her athletic achievements she’s a wonderful advocate for the sport, passionate wood worker, and cheese lover.

Maghalie commented “When we decided to build this team, David and I wrote down a list of the companies we dreamed to partner with. For us, the best partners are people that we like and that we want to work and spend time with. The best partners are also the ones who make the products we believe in. Feedback Sports fit exactly that profile. The whole team is passionate about cycling, and passionate about making quality products…they want to be the best at what they do and have fun while doing it, which is the same philosophy David and I have towards our racing endeavors. For us, there is a lot to learn from the way they run their company, and that’s inspiring. ”

She added,”We are extremely proud to have Feedback Sports as a co-title sponsor this year. I’m excited to be representing them in the races I’ll be doing. I like the company and I’m seriously proud to have their logos on my kit. Plus, I know that everyone in the company will be watching the races, because that’s how passionate they are about the sport, and to me, that’s super motivating. I have no doubt this will be a fun year working with them! Feedback Sports really has the CX Fever!”

David Gagnon, Maghalie’s partner, mechanic, and coach is a large part of the team. Although we don’t get to see the work put in behind the racing scenes, David makes the same commitment throughout the season as Maghalie. He also has plenty of racing experience himself, formerly racing on the ITU triathlon circuit. He also has deep understanding of physiology, working as Head Coach and Co-Owner of the performance center PowerWatts Nord in Quebec, Canada. Beyond sport, David is also a food lover and is at home in the kitchen or over the grill.
David is excited to be part of the Feedback Sports team, stating “Feedback Sports is an example that it is possible to blend perfectly business, life, family and sport together. Their strong presence and support of the racing scene in the past decade shows how passionate they are about racing and for these reasons, we couldn’t be more proud to be associated with such a great company.”

“When people watch bike races, they see the bike and the rider. But when you look at everything that goes behind the race itself, you quickly realize that there is a lot more going on. Travelling to races, preparing the bikes, warming-up and cooling down from the race and storing your bikes back at home – Feedback Sports products are an essential part of what we need to make this team happen.”

“For us this year, Feedback Sports products are the unsung heroes and we’re incredibly excited to bring them to the front row with us.”

To learn more about Maghalie’s plans for the upcoming season, check out this Cyclocross Magazine interview. And because #crossiscoming, check out David’s top tips for gluing tubulars and see what Maghalie thinks about trainers vs rollers. 

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Trainer vs. Rollers – How to Decide – Maghalie Rochette

Feedback Sports offers a variety of performance products to support your training and racing. We know every cyclist is different with varying needs and wants. Folks often reach out to ask us for our expertise and suggestions based on their individual situation. But why take our word for it when you can take that of an accomplished professional bike racer?

This blog comes from one of our supported athletes and Canadian Cyclocross National Champion, Maghalie Rochette. She addresses two age-old dilemmas: “outdoor elements vs. indoor training” and “trainer vs. rollers” and she does it with a clever 90’s rock reference.

Photo: Courtesy of Ten Speed Hero

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It’s no coincidence that Guns N’ Roses decided to name a song ‘November Rain’. November seems to bring a lot of rain, and more often than not it brings cold temperatures too.

As a cyclocross racer, weather is an element we have to take into consideration when planning the season’s training. It presents its own physical challenges and can certainly raise mental doubt too. Should I use that opportunity to go outside and practice my skills in the mud? Am I risking getting sick?  Can I do quality intensity work in sloppy and cold conditions or should I do that inside?

My experience is that there is no 100% right or wrong answers to those questions. Riding in the rain from time to time is essential to work on your skills for muddy cyclocross races and it can certainly boost your mental preparedness.

Some will say that riding in the rain builds character. But if you’re sick, no matter how much character you’ve got, how much good are you doing?

Riding outside in those conditions requires much more energy than doing the same training ride in good conditions, and that is not to be neglected…even Axel Rose said it: “It’s hard to hold a candle, in the cold November rain.” I’m pretty certain that when he wrote those lyrics, he meant it’s hard to keep the fire alive when riding in the cold November rain. All said, long rides in the wet and cold aren’t necessarily ideal.


It can be tempting to ride indoors when it’s cold and wet, but maintaining cyclocross skills for off-camber, loose terrain requires getting outside and practicing race scenarios. 
How do you keep your training effective without getting sick, without sacrificing your skills and without draining all your motivation?

Balance is the key! Personally, indoor cycling suits my interval training and short easy spins, and I save the outdoor riding for skills training and running workouts.  Intervals keep you engaged, which makes time pass quickly, even when riding inside. And for easy rides I like to watch a cyclocross race to “study” the racing – time well spent, no doubt.

When indoor training calls, trainer or rollers?  They both have their advantages and I use both in my cyclocross training. Below is a summary of my experience training and racing – I hope it helps you make the decision on which device fits your needs the best.


How to improve running for cyclocross? Run… When the weather turns sour, use that time to get outside and do the running that’s required come race day – it’s gonna happen, so be prepared.
Why I choose the Omnium Over-Drive Trainer

  • Small and compact: The foldable and compact design of the Omnium makes it very easy to travel with and carry around. (I usually travel with it as my carry-on item in the plane!)
  • Stability: The Omnium trainer is super stable. That allows me to easily pedal without hands and do high-intensity intervals without concentrating on balance.
  • Standing on the bike: Intervals can be done at maximum effort, even while standing, with full confidence that I’m supported and I don’t have to focus on anything but doing the work.
  • Progressive resistance: The harder I work, the more the trainer works against me, simple. If I go easy, it won’t put up a fight. That’s an awesome feature that allows me to do all-out intervals without running out of gears, but also allows me to spin easy when I need to recover. Having that progressive resistance is ideal for warm-up and cool-down efforts at the races.
  • Smooth and natural: The feeling of pedaling on the Omnium is smoother and more realistic than any other trainer I’ve ridden, but not quite as natural as when riding the rollers.

Why I choose the Zero-Drive Rollers

  • Natural, smooth feeling: As much as I enjoy the Omnium, rollers allow my bike to move like it does when I’m riding outside and there’s something nice about that. You can spin the legs quickly and easily and, in my opinion, time seems to pass a little quicker on rollers.
  • Balance/Skills: The natural movement on the rollers opens up opportunities to work on skills and balance even when riding inside. (For example: one leg pedaling, working on cadence, one hand, no hands, etc.)
  • Standing: You can stand up on the rollers, but you have to be careful. All-out standing sprints on rollers is a bit precarious. I’m typically standing only to change position for comfort.

*When riding rollers, having a bench or wall nearby can make getting on and off a lot easier and something you’ll appreciate if you’re                 new to the free-floating design.


Training is for building fitness and visualizing success – the opportunity to ride indoors on a trainer means your attention is free to explore pain, breathing techniques, and creating mental images of the win. 
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding what works best to maintain happiness, motivation, fitness and skills.

It also helps to have an outside opinion when making those decisions – someone who will be more rational and less emotional. I rely on my coach, David Gagnon, because I know he has the big picture in mind and that he’ll make the most educated decisions.

When it’s all set and done, crank out some Guns N Roses on your speakers and get pumped for those intervals – bring on the November Rain! I promise, you’ll have a good time 😉

 

Note: The Omnium trainer is also available as a resistance-free Zero-Drive Omnium complete trainer, or Zero-Drive sled add-on for your existing Omnium Overdrive – ideal for track cyclists, BMX, or an easier warm-up/cool-down at the races. 

 

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Three Tips to Enjoy and Leverage the Offseason – Chris Mayhew

~Originally posted Jan 24, 2017 – via Cyclocross Magazine /Chris Mayhew

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Coach Chris Mayhew heeded his own advice and took a brief break from cyclocross season’s efforts, but the author, racer and coach is back. Whether you raced 2017 Nationals, have road or mountain bike goals or just hope to improve on this past cyclocross season, coach Mayhew of JBV Coaching has some helpful tips to make the most of the offseason…

What should I be doing? It’s a question I’ve been getting almost every day from new clients, friends, and clients just coming off cyclocross season. Most of us are pretty driven and like to feel like we’re doing work every day so this time of year can feel discomforting. It’s a long way from next cyclocross season but sitting around isn’t something most of us are good at. I have three suggestions that will get you through the next couple of months till the weather breaks.

If you went to Nationals this year, congratulations. That was one for the books, no matter how your individual race went. If you did go, chill out for a month and don’t feel obligated to do anything but eat and relearn the names of your loved ones. Come back to this column in a month or so. It’ll be here.

Conditions varied in Hartford, but if you raced there, coach Mayhew says a break from training is unconditionally mandatory. photo: Snowy conditions greeted racers to start today's racing. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Masters Men 30-34. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Conditions varied in Hartford, but if you raced there, coach Mayhew says a break from training is unconditionally mandatory. photo: Snowy conditions greeted racers to start today’s racing. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Masters Men 30-34. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

If you didn’t go to Nationals then you probably ended your season sometime in mid-December. What’s your next goal? Many people race only cyclocross, so they’re not competing until August or so. Some people race mountain bikes or road during the offseason and will be racing around April in colder climates, or sooner if you live in areas like California, Texas or Florida. If you’re planning on the latter, my first suggestion is to get on some sort of organized plan (created by you or a coach).

Plan out your offseason training and workouts to slowly build back fitness. photo: Justin See

Plan out your offseason training and workouts to slowly build back fitness. photo: Justin See

The journey from offseason to race shape takes three to four months and you’d do well to get started on that now. That’s particularly important if you plan to race on the road, which is not a lot of fun if you aren’t in razor sharp form, unlike mountain bike racing and cyclocross. Keep in mind the words “journey” and “fitness,” I want to circle back to those in a bit.

“If you did go, chill out for a month and don’t feel obligated to do anything but eat and relearn the names of your loved ones. Come back to this column in a month or so.”

If your main goals for the summer are simply to ride, have fun or do Jeremy Powers’ Grand FUNdo, you have a bit more time on your hands, which is nice. That means there’s less pressure on you to get into shape now when riding often means riding indoors or outside in less-than-desirable conditions. What should you be doing with that time? I’d encourage you to do two things:

One is to do things you haven’t done at all, or want to get back to. Cycling takes place all in one plane of movement and involves relatively few muscles. Anything you can do to develop strength in muscles long ignored (or never developed) is great. Plus, your training load is low right now and shouldn’t be focused on cycling, so you can do things that would normally leave you too tired for cycling. Start lifting weights, do CrossFit, go running, go swimming.

The offseason is a great time to try something new, like Crossfit, says coach Mayhew. photo: Artic Warrior / Justin Connaher

The offseason is a great time to try something new, like Crossfit, says coach Mayhew. photo: Artic Warrior / Justin Connaher

Get started on a yoga program or increase your practice by a few days a week. All of those things encourage strengthening and involve movements you’d never do in cycling, which are good things. Moreover, they let you check that box of “doing work” every day which is good for any athlete’s head while developing a sense of self outside of cycling. A lot of us can get depressed around this time because we’re not riding and that can be related to not getting your endorphin fix from exercise. So get moving in some form that’s not cycling.

Second, I realize that we do like to ride our bikes, and so if you are going to ride your bike, there’s one workout I’d encourage you to incorporate at least once a week: threshold training. The classic version of this workout is two efforts of twenty minutes each at lactate threshold, functional threshold power, or however you choose to anchor your intensity level schema or want to define fitness. If you don’t have an anchor, think about doing a steady time trial for 20-30 minutes and riding at that pace in that manner. (Pro tip: start the effort easier than you think you should and try to increase the effort a small bit every five minutes) I think 2×20 minutes is something to work up to. Start with smaller blocks, but no shorter than 8 minutes. Do 2×8 and add a few minutes to each block every week. When you get to 2×20 then you can think about adding intensity to the workout rather than minutes.

Trainer work isn't fun for many of us, but doing threshold work now will pay off later in the form of fitness, speed and results. © Cyclocross Magazine

Trainer work isn’t fun for many of us, but doing threshold work now will pay off later in the form of fitness, speed and results. © Cyclocross Magazine

This work is not that exciting and can be somewhat laborious. But it’s the flour to build your cake in the analogy for which I am so fond of using (see Hiring a Coach and Training for Gravel, Embracing Offseason Training and Turning Down Volume and Upping the Power for key steps to that recipe). It takes a long time to build threshold power, on the order of several months, so you’ll need to do a lot of these, which means you should get started now. This is a workout I think you should do 40 weeks out of the year, give or take.

The hard part about riding your bike right now is that you’re at the beginning of your journey back to regaining fitness you once enjoyed. And for weeks or months of doing threshold workouts, or any ride, you’re not going to be where you were. A lot of people tend to get really down about how fat or out of shape they feel during this time. What they’re doing is comparing where they are or “should be” to where they are right now. I would really encourage you to avoid that mindset. Focus on where you are now and embrace it. Spend your mental energy on figuring out what you can do today, to work towards your goal. No single workout will make or break your season. It’s a large body of work, over weeks and months, that matter.

Think about what you can do today and be happy with yourself when you do that thing. Do you get mad at yourself because you’re not on vacation right now and think poorly of yourself? Or do you figure out a plan of where and when you can go on vacation, look forward to that, and make sure you pack everything you want for that vacation? Look forward to the journey and doing the work. If you’re just looking for results, you won’t last long in this sport because those are far and few between. If you can learn to love the journey and take pleasure in it, you’ll ride your bike for as much of your life as you want to.

“Spend your mental energy on figuring out what you can do today, to work towards your goal. No single workout will make or break your season.”

I think actor/DJ Idris Elba has some good words here in that regard:

Lastly I’d tell you that even if you could get into August form tomorrow, somehow you’d spend all of February thinking you should be fitter or leaner. Learn to be happy where you are and learn to love making small steps to another place, day in and day out.

Have your best cyclocross season ever with all of our Training and Technique Tuesday pieces here from coaches Mayhew, Adam Myerson and Kenneth Lundgren and others. Can’t get enough? See our Cyclocross Academy and Cyclocross 101 articles here. Mayhew expects to contribute Training Tuesday installments every two weeks in the offseason. 

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The Importance of a Bike Fit

Originally posted Aug 1st, 2018 / Gear Tips
Courtesy of Team Holowesko|Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 

Team Holowesko/Citadel racer, TJ Eisenhart putting in the miles on the Omnium Over-Drive.

 

The average pro bike racer is in the saddle around 30 hours for a hard training week, about half that for an “easy week.” The Tour de France covers around 3500 km (2200 mi). If we’re talking about mere mortals: logging 10 to 15 hours a week in your cycling training plan would get you the respectable head-nod within your local racing scene.  Seven to 10 hours/week would keep you fit as a fiddle. But whether your weekly rides total three hours or 30, if your bike doesn’t fit you properly, you could be in for a world of pain.

A poor fit might start with something fairly innocuous like saddle sores, mild discomfort, or a weak pedal stroke, but it can quickly progress to knee and back injuries or worst of all … slower speeds and reduced power!  In short: there’s a long, negative list of very bad things that can easily be avoided with the right fit and accessories.

If you google “How to fit yourself on a bike,” you’ll get plenty of advice. Pages and pages of advice via step-by-step tutorials, videos, etc. But we suggest consulting a professional for several very basic, yet key reasons:

 EVERY ATHLETE IS DIFFERENT

One person’s femur length, hip flexion, arm-reach, core muscles, pelvis width, etc. is quite different than another’s. When things are out of whack (which can be hard to diagnose just by just looking down at your bike/body) your body will attempt to compensate and that’s when folks get injured.

A PROPER FIT ENSURES COMFORT

Comfort leads to enjoyment, which leads to more riding, which leads to puppies and butterflies (or puppies and cyclocross) and World peace.

A WELL-FIT BIKE IS A FAST BIKE

That’s right. If you’re not riding with an optimal fit, you’re likely sacrificing speed and power. Why would anyone ever want to do that?

BIKE PERSONALIZATION

A good fit might mean swapping out certain things like handlebars, saddle, stem, pedals, shoes, etc. This is referred to as “bike personalization” in Fit-Land. If you’ve been a cyclist for a while, you might have an arsenal of spare parts and accessories in your garage. But if not, not to worry! A professional bike fitter can make suggestions, swap out accessories, and make these adjustments for you, right at the shop or their studio so you can “try before you buy.”

There are many types of professional bike-fit methods out there. Some shops and studios may have elaborate in-house bike-fit systems, and others just use a traditional trainer in a quiet corner or a side-room of the shop. One trend we’re noticing is that the Feedback Sports Omnium Over-Drive Trainer is becoming a staple of professional fitters all around the world. Fitters have come to the conclusion that the same features of the Omnium that appeal to pro and amatuer cyclists make it the perfect bike-fit tool as well.

  • Simple fork-mount design: This allows for quick and easy set-up. Ask any racer (or rather a pro-racer’s mechanic) and they’ll tell you just how fast and easy they are. No fiddling with your rear cassette, no need for a trainer-wheel vs. a racing or riding wheel, no derailleur adjustments, etc.

  • Compatibility: The Omnium Over-Drive accommodates Road, MTB, CX, TT, BMX and even Folding Bikes as it accepts QR, 12×100, 15×100, 15×110 (Boost) Thru axles.*

  • Lightweight and portable: At under 14 pounds, the Omnium Over-Drive folds up easily and comes with its own tote-bag. If you’re an athlete, this means hassle-free travel to the races. But its compact nature also makes it perfect for small spaces at home. These same features allow a shop or studio to maximize precious space, and even allow the fitter to take it with them if they wish to fit a client in the comfort of their own home or on the road.

  • Internal Progressive Resistance: Just because it’s small and compact doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a powerful punch. The Omnium Over-Drive’s magnetic resistance is hiding in its two round, aluminum drums. The faster you pedal, the more resistance you’ll feel. But instead of the loud sounds of a wind or fluid trainer, it’s quiet. For athletes, you can hit this trainer with your hardest workouts. If you’re at the races, it’s perfect for warming up or spinning for a cool-down. A fitter will appreciate being able to talk to their client rather than having to yell over the trainer, and she or he will be able to watch your pedal stroke on the spectrum of an easy, relaxed pace, as well as standing up and hammering.

TESTIMONIALS:

“As a professional bike fitter, The Omnium Over-Drive Trainer has been the most versatile and adaptable trainer on the market. With the advancement of through axles, having the ability to use one trainer with different spacing options for all wheel sizes and axle widths has freed me up to focus on fitting. It is an indispensable tool of the trade.”

-George Mullen, Professional Bike Fitter, Peak Cycles, Golden, CO

“Traveling with a team’s worth of equipment is always a challenge. Trying to figure out how to get trainers anywhere used to be one of my least favorite tasks. The Omnium has really been a game changer for us. Light enough to fly with, quiet enough to use in a hotel room, and compact enough to pack out of the way until they are needed. Plus with the massive range of compatibility, you can always lend one out if another team is in need.”

-Doug Sumi, Chief Mechanic, Holowesko|Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources

Chances are you’ll see more of the Omnium Over-Drive in the near future. Look for it in the overhead of an airplane, on the balcony of a hotel, at pro or local races, and of course…at your local bike shop in the hands of a professional bike fitter. For more information about the Omnium Over-Drive, please click here!

*Additional adapters for Lefties and QRx74mm can be purchased separately if needed. 

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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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Pros v. Amos Tri-Style: Featuring Gwen Jorgensen Alicia Kaye and Katie Macarelli

                            Photo: Pro Velo Passion

 

A little back-history of Pro’s vs Amo’s…

These events go back to the summer of 2014 when we had the 1st “Pro’s vs “Amos” contest (“amos” is just a rhyming abbreviation for “amateurs”). There was a chocolate chip cookie bake-off followed by a dodge ball tournament. There was laughter and tears. *It was mostly the laughing and the cookies that inspired us to keep this “challenge” going.

Since then we’ve invited many strong, fun women to join in on the shenanigans. While the cast of women is ever changing (life happens), the spirit of this event never will. This will always be a somewhat silly celebration of the pure joy we all have for our sport.

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Pros & Amos: Tri-Style

In a digital-cyber-y version of 303’s famous Pros v. Amos challenges, we pit famous local “Amo” Katie Macarelli opposite a couple “Pro” athletes you may have heard of… Olympic World Champion Gwen Jorgensen & Professional Triathlete Alicia Kaye! And we’re talking about how Pros live their athletic lives and learn their lessons, compared to Amos… What it’s like as a female role model, mistakes they’ve made, and how they’ve overcome obstacles along the path to stardom… Read on to find out who’s a brainiac with multiple degrees… who hurdles barbed wire fences with ease… and who’s favorite prize ever was 20 pounds of steak.

Here’s some background:

GWEN JORGENSEN
Gwen Jorgensen is a professional triathlete from St Paul, MN. Gwen is a 2x Olympian, 2x World Champion (2014, 2015), and 17x ITU World Triathlon Series race winner. She also likes to read, try new foods, and hang out with friends and family.

Career Highlights:

  • 2016 Olympic Champion
  • 2015 World Champion
  • 2014 World Champion
  • 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Member
  • 2013 USA Triathlon’s Triathlete of the Year
  • 2014 USA Triathlon’s Triathlete of the Year
  • 2015 USA Elite National Champion
  • 2014 USA Elite National Champion
  • 2013 USAT Elite National Champion (Sprint and Olympic Distance)
  • First USA Woman to win a World Triathlon Series race
  • 15-time ITU World Triathlon Series Winner
  • 2010 USAT Rookie of the Year
  • 2010 USAT Elite Duathlete of the Year

ALICIA KAYE
Alicia grew up in Canada and began participating in triathlon when she was 11 years old; she became a professional triathlete at the age of 14. Alicia spent her teen years racing triathlon while juggling her academic studies. While completing her undergraduate degree in Sport Psychology she met fellow triathlete and now husband, Jarrod Shoemaker. Since meeting Jarrod she has began racing for the United States and also completed her masters degree in Athletic Counseling. Some of Alicia’s proudest moments include winning Canadian Junior National Championships in 2001, and winning the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in 2013. In her spare time Alicia works as a mental trainer and runs a skincare company with her husband Jarrod, called Endurance Shield.

Photo: Mountain Moon Photography

And our “Amo,” KATIE MACARELLI
Katie is a Colorado native who grew up on a dairy farm on the Eastern Plains. She got her start in the Colorado cycling scene competing in triathlons for about five years until she realized that running is the worst. She’s a mom of two teenage girls, a year-round bike commuter who hates driving but loves cyclocross. She is currently the marketing manager for Feedback Sports.

Here we go!
1. Have you ever googled yourself? Any oft-repeated MISconceptions out there that you’d like to clear up? Any rumor or tall tale that just keeps popping up on Wikipedia? Here’s your chance to set the record straight. And if not, give us your best pretend fake fact.

GJ:  I’ve googled my husband, Patrick Lemieux, but don’t google myself. I think one thing people may assume is that I come from a running background, however I actually come from a swimming background and didn’t start running until I was a junior in college.

AK: Yes, I’ve googled myself. It almost always just to find an image or to find articles written about a recent race. Maybe once every few years I’ll look to see if anyone is saying something mean or false, but I’ve never found anything truly negative.

KM: ​I work in the digital marketing realm, so of COURSE I have. The only misconception I’ve ever found was an article that listed me as living in Portland. I’ve never actually been to Portland, but it sounds lovely. *I generally disregard everything past page 5 on google, because it’s like reading the comments on Pinkbike. It will just make you mad and/or confused.

2. How has your rise to fame affected your performances? Has there ever been a time when the spotlight really helped you? Or worked against you?

GJ: I am an introvert, so it took some time to get used to the media attention and fans walking up to me. I now enjoy being able to share my experiences, but still need my alone time to recharge.
In 2012, after I qualified for the Olympics I had a bunch of media engagements lined up for the week of a WTS race in San Diego. I did an all day photo shoot along with other media the week leading into the race and I believe this contributed to my poor performance. I think I almost finished dead last.

                Photo: Finisher Pix

AK: I had my breakout year in 2013 winning the Lifetime Series and Toyota Triple Crown. I thought it would be this ultra grand moment where everything would change. But life went on as normal, the money and/ or result didn’t change any of my relationships- we were just able to make a big fat mortgage payment instead;) What was interesting was in 2014 I really struggled to find purpose and meaning after achieving all my goals in 2013, trying to replicate them again in 2014 was an entirely different experience.

KM: I’m not famous, but I do find it hard to get to the start line to any race because I often stop to hug, heckle and/or say hello to friends. As it turns out, missing the start of a race directly impacts your performance.

Click here to read the rest of the article.  A huge thanks to Gwen Jorgensen and Alicia Kaye for playing along with us and of course to Dana Willett of 303triathlon.com for putting this together!