It’s cyclocross season people! Did you even know that? As the seasons change here in the ‘great white north’ the cycling does not need to stop, nor does the racing, not even the training. You want to sharpen your cycling skills and stay on top of your endurance game as we head into the cold, dark winter? The cyclocross, gravel riding, and fat bike events will be flooding your Facebook feed and Twitter page soon enough. So let’s keep it real…if you love riding your bike, there is no good reason to stop once the days get shorter and chillier. That’s the best time to begin, some might say!
So, let’s take a closer look at the aforementioned cycling options, then you can decide which might be the best fit for you:
Cyclocross — (sometimes cyclocross, CX, CCX, cyclo-X or ‘cross) A form of bicycle racing. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter (the international or “World Cup” season is October–February), and consist of many laps of a short (2.5–3.5 km or 1.5–2 mile) course over a pre-determined period of time featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount. Cyclocross is high intensity, red-lining action. Non-stop power to the pedals from the get go. Fun for all ages! There are options and categories for just about anyone who wants to give it a go.
Here is a link to give you some in depth information about the upcoming Minnesota schedule of events:
The fun begins this weekend (September 27th & 28th 2014)…check it out.
Gravel Riding — Taking road bike racing to the outer limits of the urban and suburban world. There is no real definition for gravel racing/riding…the simple truth is you can race it or simply go out and enjoy it. Many of the rides are free of charge and you receive a printable route description with turn by turn directions to get you from the start to the finish in one piece. What you don’t want to do is make the mistake of NOT taking in the backdrop of some of the most beautiful scenery there may be to offer. Ranging in distances, you may find yourself riding anywhere form 30 to over 100 miles. It just depends on the venue.
You can ride almost any style of bike on gravel but having the right tires is key in some instances. Generally you will see cyclocross specific, flat bar recreational (hybrid), fat tire, and mountain bikes traversing through the country roads. Now, of course, there are gravel specific bikes too. A wider tire with some ‘knobbies’ or deeper tread are the key to a safe and secure gravel ride.
Fat Bikes — BIG tires, rugged frames. Many people would agree; riding a fat bike is a party on two wheels. We, at Gear West Bike & Tri, agree 100%. Fat bikes were ‘invented’, or intended, for use on unstable ground. This could be mud, sand or snow…or a mixture of any of those things and much more. Throughout the last few years the increasing trend of fat bikes has shown that many individuals choose to ride these machines all year long on any terrain, including pavement. They have become lighter, leaner, faster and meaner. The fad, that turned into a trend, is now a monstrous reality in the bike industry. Fat bikes are here to stay, and you should own one so you can smile a lot. Felt, Surly and Trek build fine fat bikes. They look to be shipping late fall so check in with us and see about coming by and riding away with one of your own.
It’s Minnesota! We are one of the top ranked bicycling communities in the nation. We didn’t get that bike love because we hibernate in the winter, did we? Time to embrace the cold, the snow, the good days and the bad…but remember this, there are bad days…but a day on a bike makes any day better!
The Chisago Lakes Triathlon is one of the most affordable, professionally run triathlons in the Midwest for Half Iron races. If you have it on the burner, register before next Mondayto take advantage of early bird pricing on both the half iron ($95) and sprint ($45). If you stop by Gear West Bike, we have registration codes for both races that will save you $10 off the half and $5 off the sprint instantly!
2011 Quintana Roos are slowly arriving at the shop which is exciting news. So far we have received a handful of CD.01 Ultegras and a few Luceros. During our trip to Interbike last fall, we were very impressed by the new modifications that QR made to their frames and the component specs of each model. Additionally, the Lucero is back by popular demand, offering plenty of bang at a modest price. Here are some of our thoughts after receiving and building the new Lucero and CD.01 Ultegra.
With an MSRP of $2650, this bike hosts some pretty impressive features. The Lucero’s drivetrain consists of mostly Ultegra 6700 components, including the crankset which is a pretty killer deal for under $3K. The rear derailleur and bar-end shifters are Dura-Ace, making shifting that much more precise. Overall, the drivetrain offers a vast amount of precision and performance, with none of the headaches of a third-party crankset entering the picture. This is a huge plus.
Like all of QR’s bikes for 2011, the fit should also be more accommodating for all athletic abilities and body geometries. QR has lengthened the head tube of each size by roughly 1.5cm, which has us excited to put one up on the fit stand. QR decided to lengthen the head tube a touch after consulting many fit experts around the nation. Other additions to the frame are sleeker seat stays and a different seat clamp, producing less drag in at every wind direction. The Lucero’s carbon frame is much like the 2011 Seduza’s, just with different component specs. The new graphics are modest, but give the bike enough flair to stand out amongst others.
The wheelset and aerobar set-up round this bike out to be a true contender. Shimano’s RS30 wheels have moderate depth and offer excellent durability to handle all the training mileage put on during the year. Vision’s clip-on aero extensions provide plenty of adjustability for all types of triathletes. In summary, we think this bike could be a hot ticket this summer and it is nice to see another well-built mid-level full carbon bike on the floor.
QR’s premier bike is back again and better than ever for 2011. In the past year, the green machine (2010 Ultegra version) has gone through some upgrades and has come out in a new digitized camo scheme. It would be par for the course to offer a bold paint scheme to go along with this sleek aero-rocket!
The main idea behind the CD.01 frame is a 18mm off-set in the downtube that diverts airflow away from the drivetrain side of the bike, producing an aerodynamic advantage the is unmatched by other tri bike manufacturers. The frame consists of premium modulus carbon fiber which is stiffer and lighter than the carbon used in models below the CD.01. With well hidden front and rear brake calipers, this bike is extremely sleek.
The drivetrain is also fairly impressive on the mostly Ultegra CD.o1. The Vision Tri Max crankset does not heavily detract from the shifting performance of the 6700 derailleurs which is a large plus. Like the Lucero, this bike has Shimano RS30 wheels and a Vision alloy aerobar set-up. Not to be forgotten, is the addition of an ISM Adamo saddle. QR has done away with rigid stock saddles and has chosen to go with the leader in eliminating numbness and stimulating blood flow. Since the Adamo’s popularity has sky rocketed amongst triathletes at GW Bike, we are excited that QR has chosen such a great saddle to put on their bikes.
At a price point of $3300, the Ultegra CD.01 offers some true aerodynamic advantages that are hard to match. If your goal is to shave time off the bike portion of a triathlon or throw down an impressive time trial time, this may be your ticket.
An important note is that this bike can also be purchased with an upgraded set-up, featuring Dura-Ace components, different frame graphics, a nicer Vision cockpit, and upgraded wheels. If you want to pull out all the stops, read more about the CD.01 Dura-Ace.
Come in and try one of these new 2011 QR’s. We are eager to put one on the fit stand!
Remember your first triathlon? The nerves. The questions. The fear of not knowing what’s to come. Most people are just hoping they can finish. Jenny Shaunhnessy’s first ever triathlon was this past June at the Buffalo Sprint Triahtlon… and she won. It takes a special talent to win your first triathlon outright, on a road bike no less. She then shows up at one of the most competitive races in Minnesota and Best of the US qualifier, the Waconia Triathlon, and proceeds to win that as well, essentially leading wire-to-wire. Along with Dan Hedgecock, Jenny is one of those triathlete’s who we can unflinchingly say, will go as far as she wants to in triathlon.
Jenny is only 1 year removed from an outstanding collegiate swimming career at the U of M. Since she won’t brag about her times (as you will see in the interview) I will. She holds 6 school records at the U. 1:44.73 in the 200 free (yes triathlete’s, that’s 52.3 per 100 yds). 1:55.41 in the 200 back, 1:57.18 in the 200IM and 4:06.37 in the 400IM. Four NCAA appearances, First Team All America honor and Academic All-Big Ten honoree among many other honors.
Along with the athletic accolades, Jenny also happens to be a genuinely nice and humble person. That’s just the type of person we want racing for us! I wanted to ask her a few questions so we could all get to know her a little better.
CW: Other than us asking, what made you decide to race for Gear West Bike and Tri?
JS:Being a complete newcomer to the sport, I’ve been so impressed by the
genuine kindness shown to me by each member of the GW team that I’ve met
over the past few months. I can’t imagine a more helpful and welcoming
group of individuals. Equally as appealing to me are the values emphasized
by GW. The focus on sportsmanship and healthy development of athletes and
the surrounding tri community is something that I entirely support.
CW: Obviously, we know you come from a swimming background. What are you most proud of from your swimming career?
JS: Tough question! I guess I’d have to say I’m happy with the fact that I
was able to keep it all in perspective over the years and finish without
any big regrets. I’m grateful that I was surrounded by so much support
from family, coaches, teammates, and friends. Balancing school, swimming,
and life’s other demands (eating and sleeping, to be precise) would not
have been possible without help from an incredible support system. As my
swim coach, Kelly Kremer, often told us, “Family first, school second,
swimming somewhere after that.” I think adopting that attitude made me a
happier and healthier athlete.
CW: Looking at your Gopher Sports Bio I see you have a number of family members that were high performing athletes. Did that put any pressure on you athletically growing up?
JS:Absolutely not! My parents, both former collegiate swimmers, are definitely
not the “crazy swimmer parent” types. I received nothing but positive
encouragement growing up. If anything, I loved the fact that they
understand the sport and could relate to what I was going through, provide
advice, and even follow my overly-detailed accounts of the latest
fun-filled sets from practices! I think they made it to just about all of
my meets, which I am really grateful for. I’m also lucky to have an
incredibly supportive extended family, including several successful
athletes who continue to inspire me.
CW: Did you ever run competitively before triathlon? Did you know you had talent there?
JS:I think I did two random, very short races when I was in grade school, does
that count? Haha. And I’ve seen a few photos of my 3-or-4 year old self
running on a track. That just about sums up my running career. I did a
little bit of running to supplement my swim training in college, and even
enjoyed it so much that I dipped into a short period of overtraining before
backing off. Turns out that too much of a good thing can actually be a bad
thing! Wonderful learning experience, nonetheless. While I really enjoy
running, and probably would have taken up running if the sport of swimming
did not exist, I’m still at the point where swimming 6 miles feels more
comfortable to me than running 6!
CW: What was your first tri, and what inspired you to do it?
JS: The Buffalo Sprint Triathlon this past June was my first race. During SCUBA
diving class this past semester (yes, a college class! I would highly
recommend it), my cousin – who had already signed up for Buffalo –
convinced me to sign up as well. I had been considering triathlon for quite
some time, but needed that extra nudge. The Buffalo crew put on such a
great event that I was completely hooked.
CW: I’ll ask the same question I asked former D1 runner turned triathlete Dan Hedgecock. It seems that so few D1 athletes come out of college and start in with triathlon. Why do you think that is?
JS: While I’m sure it all depends on individual circumstances, I think 2 main
factors are to blame. First, it seems that a lot of D1 athletes are simply
‘ready to be done’ after 4 years of rigorous training and competing.
Some admit to feeling burned out, and I think others just want to sleep
past 5:30 am! Second, a lot of former athletes find themselves too busy
with grad school, traveling, or searching for jobs right after graduation.
If only there were a few more hours in each day.
CW: Do you have a coach? If you don’t mind telling, give me an idea of a typical week of training.
JS: I’m currently writing my own workouts and training mostly on my own.
I’m actually having a lot of fun with it. The variety of swimming,
biking, and running is exciting and new, and I’m able to modify things
based on how workouts are going. I’ve always loved training, probably
more so than competing, and I’ve had quite a bit of time for it lately.
When school starts in a few weeks, I may need to rearrange the schedule a
bit! Over the past 4 months or so (ever since I’ve had a real bike), a
typical non-race week has included 6 swim workouts – 3 with intensity and
3 on the lighter side, 5 or 6 rides – mostly inside on the trainer, 2-ish
sessions of running supplemented with elliptical if need be (lots of
trouble with medial shin splints, a bit of trial and error at this point),
3 sessions of weight training, along with a good core workout most days,
and lots of stretching!
CW: How does that training compare to what you were doing for swimming at the U?
JS:Training is different than it used to be, but fortunately there is quite a
bit of carry-over from swimming to tri training. Training while I was
swimming at the U called for a bit more pool time. So much pool time, in
fact, that my sense of smell is almost nonexistent! I trained in the
mid-distance group and we were in the pool for 3.5 hours 3 days a week, and
2 hours 3 days a week. We lifted weights 3 days per week and incorporated
cardio 3 or 4 days per week. We trained year-round with about a week off
after each season. A good portion of our swim volume focused on kicking and
IM work, whereas now I do much less kicking and focus less on non-free
work. While I do miss all the kicking, freestyle is definitely my favorite
stroke to train.
CW: For me, I’m a better pool swimmer than open water swimmer as I have relatively good flip turns and streamline. How does open water swimming compare to pool swimming for you?
JS:I can completely relate. My short course swim times were always better
relative to my long course times. I’m a big fan of turns and
streamlining. I also find comfort in the unwavering presence of that black
line on the bottom! Open water swimming has been fun, but much different.
The run-in still terrifies me a bit (I’m a fan of those dives and lane
lines as well). As a swimmer, I’ve always been one to count my strokes
and pay attention to details – probably too much for my own good. I’m
excited to work on just relaxing and swimming toward the next buoy.
CW: What are your racing plans for the rest of the summer/fall. Any thoughts on next year?
JS:I just re-located to Durham, NC to start in Duke’s Physical Therapy
program. As for the rest of this summer, I’m doing a race down here next
weekend – it’ll be my first international distance! If I survive the
heat (it is REALLY hot here), I may do a sprint up in Virginia with my
brother. My plan, if school allows, is to race in the Best of the US in
October as well. Next year, I’ll be here for most of the summer (school
is year-round for the next 2 and a half years), so I’ll most likely do
some racing here, and it’d be fun to possibly get home for a race or two!