Kevin & David Climb Mt. Lemmon

Photo by Lars Hammer CC BY 2.0

We’ve been holding down the fort up here in Long Lake while Kevin ‘Frozen Fingers’ and David ‘Saddle Sores’ attend a training week with SRAM/Zipp in Arizona. The shop is doing great and we are having a heckuva February, but it looks like the two boys are having a good, painfully cold, time in Arizona.

What are they doing while in Arizona you may ask?! Well, take a closer look at the EPIC climbing they did on Tuesday the 12th….”A Cold Ride In Hell!”

Wow, that is some beautiful landscape and some BIG efforts. Nice job guys, you make us proud (and mildly jealous). Looking forward to having you back in the shop, but enjoy your Arizona stay while you can.

Ride Specs

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013

We were pushing the envelope of tough or stupid, but that’s what makes an epic ride.” DKT

Ed–This reminds me of a recent quote I found while ice fishing up north:
“If you’re gonna be stupid, you better be tough!”

Temp at the bottom 55 F – start of climb

Temp at the top 19 F – star of descent

Total ride: 109 mile, 8 hours Mt Lemmon Climb to base of Mt Lemmon Ski Valley Road Turn off: 25 miles ~6000 ft of climbing ~9000 ft Altitude (Mt Lemmon observatory is 9157 ft)

The Quest for the Perfect Aero Road Bike

This spring we were excited and impressed by the arrival of Cervelo’s new flagship aero road bike, the S5 ( The bike arrived on the tail end of some stellar online and print reviews, but we were interested in how it performed first hand. As most customers know, online or print reviews can work more like advertisements, with the manufacturer paying for a favorable write-up of the new product. When Troy Johnson was one of our first customers this summer to hop on a new Cervelo S5, we naturally wanted his review (positive or negative). We are pleased to hear that he is loving every second on this bike. Check out what he has to say in our brief interview below.

1)      Why did you want / need this product? What attracted you to it?

My only other bike until now was my Felt tri bike (2011 B2R).  I wanted to have a quality road bike primarily for training purposes and for use during group rides.  I was hoping having a road bike would more endear me to the roadies who dislike tri-bikes.  During the winter months – my tri bike goes on the trainer and I also wanted to have a bike that was ready to go when spring riding season arrived.  Once the race season began – I then put the Cervelo on the trainer and keep the tri bike – race ready.

2)      What type of riding have you done with it (sprints, long rides, climbs, etc…)?

My riding has been primarily training and group rides as I use my tri bike for all races.  A forty plus mile training ride would be typical and the bike remains comfortable and fun to ride.

3)      What does a typical weekly cycling routine look like for you (time on bike, terrain, tri vs. road bike etc…)?

I am preparing for my first full Ironman triathlon so I am training in three sports.  I typically ride at least three days a week.  The variability of going from a road bike to a tri bike during a week of training is a nice change and the convenience of always having a bike on the trainer and another in the garage helps me make the most of my training time.

4)      What Pros have you noticed (what did you like or what surprised you)?

The bottle configuration allows for one or two bottles and the positioning is good.  The bike comes with high quality components and works flawlessly.  Shifting is smooth and precise.  Overall the bike is elegant but remains simple to maintain.

5)      Have you noticed any glaring performance gains since purchasing this bike (increase in avg. speed, increase in top speed, less road fatigue, etc…)?

My training times have improved but difficult to quantify precisely.  Hell – I think I’m even faster when I have the Cervelo S5 on the stationary trainer.  Seriously – I have noticed that when on group rides and while coasting downhill – I am still passing other riders – who are often pedaling.  Many variables can cause this but I have no doubt the S5 is noticeably more aero and efficient than other road bikes.

6)      What Cons have you noticed (What didn’t you like or would you change, why)?

Nothing really – maybe make it yellow?

7)      What is your general consensus on the bike? Was it worth the sticker price?

To be candid this bike’s performance is greater than my own ability but I am happy I made the purchase and have had no “buyer’s remorse”.  There are many technical advantages to this bike that I have not mentioned – they are more accurately described by the real bike experts.  In my opinion – the S5 looks and feels really fast.  It handles very well and gets lots of attention during group rides.  Bottom line – I would buy it all over again.

One of the best things about my experience with this bike is the staff at Gear West.  Brett spent a lot of time making sure the fit was right and that this was actually the bike I wanted – never any pressure in the process just the same great service that I have come to expect from the best bike dealer in Minnesota – bar none.

Interview with Kris Swarthout: OptumHealth Performance Tri Series

1)      As the tri season is rapidly approaching, how are registration numbers looking for Manitou, Minneman, and Twin Cities Triathlon?

Registration is up from this point last year. This is really encouraging since we have made some serious strides to incorporate athlete feedback to correct mistakes of the past. It is also encouraging to see since last year so many races took a big hit with lower than expect participant levels.

2)      What is the registration capacity for each race?

We are going to cap Manitou and MinneMan at 600. TwinCities Tri is another story. Harriet Island could legitimately hold 3000 athletes with no problem. This year we have not set a cap, but we are shooting for around 750 racers.

3)      Last year was the Inaugural year for Twin Cities Triathlon and it was a hit.  Will participants see anything new on the swim, bike or run this year?

For starters, the river will be flowing at a lower level. 2011 saw the river at 5 times the normal water level. There will not be any more 14 minute 1.2 mile swims, sorry. The sprint swim start will move to the St. Paul Marina gas pier, about 100 yards upstream from last year’s start point. The swim course this year will be marked with a single line of buoys and athletes will simply keep the m on their right. This should eliminate any confusion in the swim course. The bike stays relatively the same. Ohio Street is epic and changing that would be a crying shame. The Sprint will have a small course change based on construction, but basically remain the same. Right after both bike courses converge, athletes will now continue straight downhill on Butler to Concord. This is a slightly steeper decent, but a safer course than last year’s trip through the neighborhood. We will also be closing Wabasha Ave. from where it intersects with Cesar Chavez St all the way to Kellogg Ave. This will make the turn onto Plato as safe as possible and a fun corner to watch the elites take at about 25mph! The run stays the same.

4)      Minneman will have an Olympic distance race this year. Can you speak about that a little bit and maybe tell us the thought behind bringing this distance to Minneman?

I have personally always hated when I hear people say “I am just doing a sprint”. If you have seen how hard DKT or DP or KO or CY run sprints you will agree that they are not JUST doing a sprint. With that I always like to put my own touch to a race and wanted to give those that are prepping for a mid-season half or longer something new. People like to experience something new at a familiar site and I think this will give people that new added flare. I believe that races with multiple distances on one day also serve the tri community better as a whole.

5)      Since you are adding a different distance for Minneman, can it also be expected that a Pugsley fat tire wave will also rise up at one of these races?

Maybe, but I think I might save that bit of fun for another date or season.

6)      Most of these races have excellent prize purses for the top three men and women. Since OptumHealth Performance has numerous coaches that could make it to the podium, do you set any regulations on how they spend their prize earnings?

Manitou pays 5 deep on both sides and the other two pay three deep. As far as how our coaches use their money, that is truly up to them. I can say that my desk has no shortage of Soy Lattes in the week after a good race. I will also accept Jimmy John’s #12 with no mayo and Chipotle Chicken Burritos. Hint, hint, wink, wink.

7)      Speaking of reaching the podium, there was a small little rumor that you have the nickname of Kris “Podium” Swarthout. Please enlighten us on how you earned this rock star status amongst your fellow peers.

Back in “The Day” I was at Turtleman, hitting the food line for the third or fourth time during the awards. My partners at the time were John Shelp and Dan Cohen (SCS Multisport). Jerry McNeil was the MC and in rare form. During the awards I hear John and Dan get announced to the men’s overall podium followed by “John and Dan are 2/3rds of SCS Multisport, Kris Swarthout is the other third, but we usually don’t see him up here on the podium.” Of course Kevin has never let that one die and so from that point on Kevin has nick named me “Podium”.

8)      We have heard that the Junior Draft Legal Race will not be taking place at Manitou this year. Does that provide any benefits to the age group athletes out there as far as race-day logistics?

I think that we did a good job of integrating the two events last year and we heard some good feedback to that extent. As far as athlete experience this year, the only real change will be less skinny little kids running around and an 8am start time as in previous years prior to the draft legal event.

9)      As race director, what is the number one thing that has you excited about each of these races this year?

Manitou-the increased participation in the corporate challenge. I love to see people trying triathlon out for the first time in the safety of their co-workers. MinneMan-the Olympic distance race winner will set a CR guaranteed and I can’t wait to see who it is. TwinCities Tri-watching this race grow to be the iconic race I envisioned it to be. It is also nice to know that so many of the small kinks are going to be gone. It will be great to see all athletes experience this race.  Also for all three- Breakfast Burritos can’t be beat! Nobody does better post race food that we do.

10)   Since you are also an awesome coach over at OptumHealth Performance, can you close out the interview with a little coaching advice? In your mind, what is the top thing that should not go overlooked in February as people begin spending more time training for specific races?

Don’t skip the base work. Training in HR zone 2-3 can be boring to say the least, but without it you are setting yourself up for failure. I told an athlete last week that they need to do the foundation work because no one lives in a tree house and skipping the base work is no different from building a house with no foundation. So go out and build those basements people!!!!

Meet Claire Bootsma: The Latest GWB Team Addition

We are VERY excited to have Claire Bootsma join the Gear West Development Team this fall. Although the race season is winding down, Claire will be a smiley and talented addition come race season next spring. Read more about her unique childhood, athletic background, and goals below!

Where did you grow up and where are you living now? Do you have family nearby?

Both of my parents are Canadian and grew up in southern Ontario. I was born in Malawi, a small country in Eastern Africa. My dad is a researcher who studies fresh water biology and has an affinity for the African Great Lakes. Growing up my family lived on and off in Malawi with stints in Ontario, Manitoba, and Michigan in between. When I was 13, we moved to Milwaukee which is where I went to high school and where my parents still reside. I have three younger siblings, a sister who is studying physical therapy at UW Lacrosse, one brother in undergrad at UW Stevens Point, and another brother who is a senior in high school. I moved to Minneapolis in 2005 to attend the University of Minnesota and I still live in the cities.

Tell us about your athletic history; High School, College, Post College:

When my family moved to Milwaukee is when I first participated in organized sports. I swam competitively year round for a club and for my high school team. As a high school senior I joined the track team at the urging of my gym teacher who was also a track coach. Distance running came more naturally to me than swimming had and I was able to walk on to the CC and track team at the U of M. I competed for the U primarily as a miler but also ran the 800, 1000, and 3K. My junior year of college I bought a road bike for cross training purposes. I competed in two sprint triathlons while I was still in college and had modest results. After graduating from the U I spent my first post collegiate summer training for the Twin Cities Marathon. That experience lead me to the realization that very long distance running is not my cup of tea. I did my first post collegiate tri in August of 2010 (Maple Grove sprint). It seems to me that I have found my athletic niche in tris. I have so much fun racing and training for multi sport. The different disciplines keep me from getting bored and are wonderful overuse injury prevention. I also love the tri community; it is a competitive environment but much friendlier than D1 running.

What did you study in College and do you use that degree in your current career?

I graduated from the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing and am a registered nurse. I currently work in long-term care, but obstetrical nursing is the field I am most passionate about. I love being a nurse, every day is something new and I have the privilege of working with people during difficult and transition periods of their lives.

You smile a lot and we really like that about you. What takes the smile off your face? Racing hard certainly doesn’t.

Let’s see…flat tires (especially during a race)…and I’ve been sitting here thinking for about 10 minutes and can’t come up with anything else :0)

You have had great success in your early racing career. Do have any specific short-term or long-term goals you would be willing to share?

This season was my first full summer racing and has helped me benchmark goals for next year. I’m super excited to race next season with another year of experience under my belt and to get in my first winter of triathlon specific training. My race goals for 2012 are to win the Pigman Sprint (and take down Dan Hedgecock in the gender equalizer), win Lifetime Minneapolis, and place top three at Age Group Nationals. Specific time goals are to break 20 in an Olympic swim, break 36 in an Olympic run, and set a course record at Manitou. My final goal is to just keep learning more about how to race, I am definitely still a tri newbie. As for the long-term, I’m going to give myself more time exploring triathlon and seeing where it takes me naturally before I am ready to commit to long-term goals.

What made you decide to represent GW Bike & Tri at the races and beyond?

Gear West is synced with my approach to both competition and life. Having your best race is important; but ‘best’ means more than really fast, it’s making sure you have a good attitude, recognizing that everyone having a safe fun race is way more important than winning, and definitely not taking yourself too seriously. I know with GW I’ll be in the company of people who are both fast athletes and conscientious individuals. I’m super excited to race in a uniform that represents these foundations.

Most importantly, what do you do in your free time? Any interesting hobbies?

In my free time I read a lot; I love novels and short stories. Painting is a hobby I love but which I don’t make enough time for. I also really enjoy cooking for people and trying new recipes, usually from my monthly Canadian Living magazine. When I have enough time for a vacation I spend it camping, canoeing, or backpacking.

Do you have any unique talents that you try to hide from the general public?

Not that I can think of, but if I did have a unique talent that I usually try to hide I wouldn’t divulge it here.

New to the Development Team: Meet Brian Sames

(Photo Credit: TommieSports)

Brian is the latest addition to the Gear West Development Team this fall. After running for much of his life, the three sport variety has grabbed Brian’s attention as a possible diversion from solely pounding the pavement. Brian has some awesome potential coming from a running background and has thrown down some fast PR’s since his running days at St. Thomas (1:09 Half Marathon @ Grandma’s 11′). Brian’s attitude and love for racing makes his talents that much greater. Even though he needs to spend some time chasing the center line in the pool this winter, we think he is going to be an awesome addition to the community and Gear West’s Development Team.

To formally introduce Brian to the community, we figured we would do the oh so serious GWB interview!

1.  Brian, can you tell us where you grew up and attended college?

I grew up in Shakopee, MN and graduated from the Shakopee high school in 2005. From there, I attended Saint Thomas University and graduated in 2010 with a double major in Electrical Engineering and Business Management.

2.  Can you give me the “cliff notes” version of your athletic background?

In high school I competed in cross-country in the fall, basketball in the winter and track and field in the spring. While at Saint Thomas, I started off playing basketball and running track for my first two seasons. Eventually, I figured that I should stick to running and joined the cross-country team and continued with track for the indoor and outdoor seasons. My focus in track was middle distance races, specifically the 800m and 1600m. 

Today, I continue to run and play basketball whenever I get the chance.

3.  What was your first triathlon? Did you have any good learning or embarrassing moments as a triathlon rookie?

My first triathlon was in the summer of 2007. I had not swum over 10 laps in a pool, my bike was an old mountain bike but I figured I would give it a shot anyway. Well, I almost drowned in a half mile swim, took over an hour to bike like 15 miles and my legs felt like rubber for the entire run. My first tri showed me that anyone can accomplish this event; however, not preparing for it can make it a miserable time.

4.  Do you have a coach? Would you mind enlightening us with what a typical week of training tends to look like for you?

As of now, I do not have a coach and I am basically picking up training workouts from email threads and discussions online. Since running has been a major part of my life, I tend to run around 90miles a week and play basketball whenever I get a chance. Now that I am really looking forward to seriously competing in triathlons, I plan on biking and swimming multiple times a week.

5.  What triathlon based goals do you have for next season? Are you doing any other races this fall?

So far I have only competed in a few sprint distance triathlons. I am hoping to put some serious training in this fall and winter and come out next spring and be able to compete in the Olympic Distance. Hopefully I will be able to complete my first half Ironman in the next year or so and finish a full Ironman eventually down the road.

I have the Twin Cities marathon in a few weeks. It will be my second marathon and I am aiming for sub 2:30, it should be a good time

 6.  So I have to ask. Last time you came into the shop you had a pretty shameless mustache in preparation for Twin Cities Marathon. What’s the motivation behind that?

Hahaha, my cross-country team grew out our mustaches in preparation for our Conference, Region and National meets. I figured since I have put some serious miles in the past year for this marathon that it is only necessary to carry on tradition. A few of my buddies from UST have also misplaced their razors and are looking exceptional to say the least.

7.  Is it true you had to dye it to make it legit? Is your girlfriend annoyed at all of the ladies swooning over you for this graceful look?

Unfortunately yes, the mustache is dyed. For some reason, my mustache hair is blond…like dirty blond. If I didn’t dye it, I don’t think I would be allowed to watch my sister’s high school volleyball games.

My girlfriend is very disappointed in me and cannot wait for the marathon to be over so the mustache will finally be gone…until ‘No Shave November’!!!

8.  In all seriousness, other than us asking you, what made you want to race for the Gear West Tri Team?

I wanted to be part of a successful team that is well-known in both the racing and multisport community and respectful and encouraging to all athletes. I am hoping that this group will help me in my training and give me plenty of advice along the way.

9.  Other than participating in endurance sports, what else do you like to do in your free-time?

To be honest, during the fall and winter I play in 4-5 basketball leagues outside of training. So there isn’t much free time there. However I am a big Call of Duty fan. Modern Warfare 3 coming in November!

10.  Do you have any unique talents that you try to hide from the general public?

Nope, what you see is what you get.