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Friday, December 12, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas from ATC’s Authorities

ATC staff practice what they preach—they’re triathletes, runners, roadies, cyclocrossers, mountain bikers, former or current professional athletes, or a little bit of everything. We asked our resident experts what they’d put under the tree, and they gave us their top picks, from inexpensive stocking stuffers to pie-in-the-sky dream gifts.

Robert Dao's Triathlon Picks


Skratch Labs Feed Zone Portables Cookbooks, $24.95 - For triathletes tired of the same old pre-packaged gels and bars, this cookbook is a handy resource for easy-to-carry snacks. Recipe ideas range from griddle cakes and rice balls to paninis and two-bite pies.

Xlab Torpedo System, $59.95 - No one likes having to reach down to the frame for water when in aero. The Xlab Torpedo puts your water right where your mouth already is. And with the convenient straw mechanism, you don't even have to take the bottle out of the cage. Plus...studies have shown that having a bottle between your aerobars is actually often MORE aero than not having one.

Garmin 920XT, $449.99 - This is one of the best training tools for a triathlete, as it can toggle between all three disciplines (swimming, biking, and running), functions as a GPS watch and bike computer, and can sync to any ANT+ power meter. It’s all the training tools you need tied into one convenient device!

Robert is one of ATC’s shop triathletes and sales staff, as well as a triathlon and running coach for Driven Performance Training. While completing his degree in exercise physiology, he competed four years for the Texas A&M Triathlon Team. Race highlights include 5th place Combined Mens'/Women's Team at the 2011 USAT Collegiate National Championship, 1st place Men's Team and Combined Score at the 2012-2014 South Midwest Collegiate Regional Championship, and 1st place Men's Team and Combined Score at the 2012-2014 South Midwest Collegiate Race Series.

Tristan Uhl’s Off-Road Picks

Blackburn Toolmanator 3 Multitool, $44.95 - Never be stranded again! This 17-function multitool has everything you need to help you help yourself next time your bike starts to act a fool far from civilization.

Maxxis Ikon with Exo protection, $82.99 - These top-of-the-line tires are great for both racing and training. The low-profile tread is fast on the straights and the side knob has just enough bite so you can rail the corners. It's a great all-around tire for our Central Texas trails.

Mavic Ksyrium Pro Disc, $1,249 - Mavic’s new cyclocross/road disc wheel makes a great upgrade from your stock wheels. Lightweight and stiff, these sweet-looking wheels are also blessed with Mavic’s unparalleled durability. Set them up tubeless and never have to worry about flats again.

A pro mountain biker and cat 1 on the road, Tristan started racing bikes at age 5 and  has worked at ATC as a mechanic since 2009. 2014 race highlights include a stage win at the BC Bike Rrace, 1st place pro enduro category at the Transylvania Epic Stage Race, and 1st place in the cat 1/2 field on the Gila Monster Stage at Tour of the Gila. He was voted best all-around bike racer by TexasBikeRacing.com in 2014 and was Texas MTB champion in 2013 and 2014. 

Missy Ruthven’s Swim Picks

Missy models her swim picks
Stocking Stuffers - TYR Tracer Goggles ($15.95) are ultra comfortable and easy to adjust. The Finis Agility Paddles ($19.95) are a great tool to fine tune your swim stroke—if your technique isn’t right, the paddles fall off. Swimmer-specific, salon-quality bath products from TriSwim ($11.50-15.95, available in store), including lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, help remove chlorine and chlorine odor. And for the fashion lover, the Speedo Flowered swim cap ($29.95) is always fun!

Aqua Sphere Aqua Skin Shorty (women'smen’s), $124.95 - If your swimmer frequents Barton Springs or an unheated pool, this neoprene suit provides welcome warmth for practice swims.

Endless Pool, starting at $22,900 - You can’t gift-wrap it, but it would certainly make any swimmer’s day...or decade! The Endless Pool creates a current that’s adjustable in speed, allowing you to swim in place at your own pace. The pool can also be customized with a treadmill, which makes it good for physical therapy or underwater running. (not available from ATC)

Missy has owned Austin Tri-Cyclist with her husband, Don, since 2001. A runner in college, she has competed as a multisport athlete for 25 years and has been a member of the ATC Racing women’s road cycling team since 2012. Missy started from scratch with swimming in her twenties and began formal lessons at 30. Though she’s now a very proficient swimmer and one of the first out of the water in her age group, her background makes her a knowledgeable and approachable resource for any level of swimmer, from beginner to master.  


Chuck Duvall’s Running Picks


Swiftwick Pursuit Socks, $16-20 - Winter in Texas: One day the weather is frightful, the next day it's not. Put some wool on your runner’s feet. Our favorite at ATC 360 is the Swiftwick Pursuit. Sustainable, soft, and moisture-wicking, Merino wool keeps your feet warmer on cold days and cooler on hot ones. Four lengths are available: zero, one, two, and four inches.

Addaday Type C, $40 - Winter in in Austin means one thing—marathon season! Unfortunately, training miles can take their toll. Take five minutes before and after each run to work out the kinks with the Addaday Type C Roller. While it may look like a stick, it’s a 21st century precision-engineered achy leg weapon.

Hoka Clifton (women’smen’s), $129.95 - The smooth-riding, ultra-cushioned Hoka Clifton is also unbelievably lightweight. "If you want to take the feeling of running on grass with you to the concrete jungle," this is your shoe.

Trip with Rogue Expeditions, from $2,050-4,650 - A running trip to exotic locales like Morocco, Patagonia, or Kenya with Rogue Expeditions would definitely put some holiday cheer in your runner's step. (not available from ATC)

Chuck Duvall is the sales manager of "Boom town" running, located within each of our Austin Tri-Cyclist locations. Chuck completed his first Ironman race in Boulder, Colorado, this year and is looking to continue his multisport training and racing in Texas in 2015.


Brandon Smith’s Road Cycling Picks


Louis Garneau Tuscan Merino Socks, $14.99 -  A good pair of wool socks goes a long way in keeping a rider comfortable on the bike. Wool is an incredible insulator and can retain up to 70% of its warmth when wet.

Serfas CP-R3 Headlight/Tail light Combo, $90 - With the short winter days, a lightset like this is a must-have for any cyclist. It features a 305 lumen front light that will fully illuminate the road in front of you and a 35 lumen red LED tail light that is crazy bright. Both lights have four settings, including a flash.

Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset (frontrear), $2,725 - The ultimate upgrade to a tri or road bike, this time-proven wheelset will benefit anyone from a weekend warrior to a top-level pro. From Kona to the Tour De France, Zipp 404s have won too many races to count. They weigh in at only 1640 grams, with a 58mm deep full carbon rim and braking surface, 24mm rim width for increased tire air volume, and the stylish looks of both black and white decal options.

A cat 2 in both road and mountain biking, Brandon works in sales at ATC. He was raised in Yakima, Washington, (yes, like the racks) and has been cycling for 11 years, spending seven of those years pedicabbing and six years racing. Committed to being a lifelong bike commuter, he doesn't own a car by choice. 

Chris Warren’s Bike Maintenance Picks

Rock N Roll Extreme Chain Lube, $9.95 - Winter is here...and with it a lot of cold, rainy miles. With this long-lasting lube, keep your chain clean and your shifting crisp through all the rough riding ahead. Designed for wet and dirty conditions, the Extreme formula tests very fast too.

$100 gift certificate for Half Iron Overhaul - Having mechanical issues beyond your skill or comfort level? ATC's tuneup structure matches tri distances: $30 sprint, $60 Olympic (normal tuneup), $100 half iron overhaul, and $200 full iron overhaul (full rebuild). With the half iron overhaul, bring your bike to ATC and let us fix everything that goes "squeak," "grind," or "pop."  ”

Park Tool PCS10 Home Repair Stand, $199.95 - This collapsible repair stand lets home mechanics service their bikes like the pros. Tackle bike washes, chain lubes, flat repairs, wheel swaps, and more without laying the precious baby on the ground.

“Getting down and dirty since 1987,” Chris Warren started riding in Central Florida, splitting his time evenly between road and mountain bikes. He has a long mechanical background, teaching himself automotive maintenance via the restoration of a first-generation Camaro. He began working for ATC as a mechanic in 2012 and in 2013 led the extensive build-out of ATC’s 360 location. In 2014, he won the in-shop competition at the Cap-Tex Sprint and has since turned his attentions to cyclocross racing. (Look out!)



ATC’s Locations
Avoid the holiday crowds, shop local, and get your athlete something he or she really wants and needs! Visit one of ATC’s retail locations on Barton Springs or in Davenport Village, or order online.

Winter store hours: Monday-Friday 10a.m.-6p.m., Saturday 10:00a.m.-6p.m., Sunday noon-4p.m.
Open Christmas Eve 10a.m.-3p.m.
Closed Christmas Day

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Atc 360 Spin Class

The winter doldrums—it’s cold and dark outside, maybe even raining. There’s no race on the near horizon to get you motivated. Your once-impressive leg muscles are wasting away. Your suitcase of courage has been replaced by a suitcase of guilt. You can curl up on the couch like a very large, very grumpy cat to hibernate for the next two months...or you can put your bike and trainer in the car and make your way to ATC 360 in Davenport Village for the Winter Chill Spin Class. It’s free!

Every Thursday at 6 p.m., join fellow fitness-seekers in ATC 360’s fit studio for a one-hour spin class led by ATC Racing’s Allison Atkinson. The atmosphere is fun and social, but also focused—you’re guaranteed to get in a good workout. Simple, classic intervals will keep your heart rate up, and the upbeat playlist will keep your legs moving. All fitness and experience levels are welcome, from recreational cyclists to veteran racers. It’s recommended to arrive 30 minutes early, especially if you might need some help getting set up.

What you need: Bring your own bike, and your own trainer if you have one.  ATC does have a number of trainers available, but these are first come, first served. You’ll also want to bring a towel, water bottles, and possibly a change of clothes. Sometimes the group goes to a restaurant together post-workout.

Fun extras: Participants in the class get 20% off any trainer in stock—current models include the Blackburn Tech Mag 6 and Kinetic Cyclone. You can also request a free fit assessment and safety check. ATC staff will help out with minor mechanical issues like shifting, etc, at no charge. Again, arrive early!

Workout for 12/4:

  • 5 minute warmup 
  • 5 minute single-leg drills
  • 3 x 10 minute intervals alternating between low and high cadence (45 seconds low, 15 seconds high), with 5 minutes rest between each set


 About Alllison Atkinson:

Allison has over 10 years experience as a group fitness instructor. Her rise in the ranks of Texas racing stemmed from years of teaching spin and strength classes. Now, with experience racing among the best women in the country, she brings power to the Texas peloton riding for Austin-based women's team ATC Racing. Allison works at Austin Tri-Cyclist and teaches at PureAustin Fitness, where her unorthadox teaching style has gained popularity among casual cyclists, triathletes, and bike racers alike.

www.facebook.com/atkinson.allison
Instagram @wattage_cottage

Check for spin class updates on ATC 360's Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Color Fun Fest Austin 5K


Run purely for the fun of it on the "most vibrant 5K course around." The Color Fun Fest 5K will be held in Austin on Sunday, January 11, 2015, with a day wave at 5 p.m. and a night wave (with blacklights!) at 7 p.m. The idea? Walk, run, skip, or whatever you'd like through color stations at each kilometer, with a finish-line finale that includes all the colors of the rainbow and a New Year's Celebration festival. The festival features live DJs, vendors, and food.

The event is held rain or shine. Strollers are welcome, but dogs aren't allowed. Register kids 12 and under online by January 10 and the only charge that applies is a $5 service fee (per child) on the ticketing website.

Color Fun Fest 5K supports Just Care More, a Dallas-based non-profit that aims to provide underprivileged youth with the opportunity to experience fitness-related activities.

$75 event-day reg., $60 regular online reg.
Register before Nov. 30 or enter the promotional code TRIFUN for $20 tickets.





Thursday, November 20, 2014

All About Road Bike Tires

by Jack Mott

Cycling lore is a funny thing. Question an accepted principle, and often you will get a "This is just how things are done." Or more often, some vague explanation based on "feel." Intuition plays a large part in racing and is a good basis for some equipment choices—but when it comes to tires, you should set aside the stone tablet and think about the science.  

Josh Poertner of Silca shared a story on Slowtwitch about his experience introducing Zipp 808s to a pro men's team in the 2004 Tour. He describes the scene on the morning of the prologue when he arrived: The pro mechanics and riders were in the midst of a shouting match, unable to figure out why the 808 rims were "blown up like blow-fish" and jamming the forks of the new BMC Time Machine. Nothing was making sense until Poertner discovered the fact that the pro mechanics were inflating 20mm Continental track tires (with helium!) to 280 psi. Team leadership was insistent that their choices were correct; after much argument, Poertner was able to talk them down to "only" 220 psi, but the riders were plagued by punctures and crashes in the TTs and had a near-phobia of their TT bikes by the end of the Tour. "It was ultimately the impetus for us to start a real educational process with the mechanics and directors on not only what wheels for what days, but also tire choice and the importance of pressure," Poertner writes.

Tires are the single most important part of your bike. Whether you're seeking comfort, grip, or pure speed, no single change will make as much of a difference as your tires. We all love to obsess over the latest frames and wheels, but it's the tires that dampen the bumps, hold the bike to the corners, and transmit the power from our legs to the road. While the latest frame or latest wheels might save you one minute or so per 40K thanks to their slippery aerodynamics, a tire with good rolling resistance might save you four or five. Similarly, a frame with a carefully engineered carbon fiber layup might dampen harsh road vibrations a small amount, but a well-chosen tire will have a hundred times more impact on comfort.

What Makes a Tire Fast (And Comfortable!)

It isn't the weight! It's the rolling resistance. As you bike along, your tires are constantly deforming as they come into contact with the road. Each inch you move forward on the road brings another inch of tire to the road, and the rubber has to squish a bit. This process is where energy is lost, and it can be a lot. This is also what makes some tires more comfortable than others. A tire whose material is more supple will waste less energy as it deforms and be more comfortable. These properties can be objectively measured by using a power meter and rollers. Handy tables of rolling resistance results are available online, such as this one from Tom Anhalt.

Another consideration is aerodynamics. While not as important as rolling resistance, the shape and size of a tire can significantly affect the overall performance of your wheel. A wider tire will have less rolling resistance, all else equal, but also more aero drag. So, for instance, for a time trial you wouldn't want a wide tire on the front. Some tires, such as the Continental 4000S, Attack, and Force, also have bonus aero properties due to their textured sidewalls.

What's the Catch?

The downside to fast tires is that they tend to be more delicate. The easiest way to reduce rolling resistance is to remove material from the tire—for example, to use less rubber and remove any tough, puncture-resistant layers. With some options, however, you can find a very effective compromise; some tires offer reasonable durability and puncture resistance along with very good rolling resistance. (See "Suggested Tires" below for specific models.)

Tubes


The properties of rolling resistance that apply to tires also apply to tubes. Standard butyl tubes soak up significant amounts of energy as they deform along with the tire. Fast tubular tires use latex tubes instead of butyl, which can save as much as two to four watts. This is also why tubulars feel so plush. But you can get latex tubes for clinchers, too, and have just as fast and plush of a ride as any tubular. (ATC stocks Vittoria latex tubes, a good choice.) The only downside is that you must install latex tubes very carefully, as they're not as forgiving as butyl. Read our 2013 post "Tips to Avoid Flats" to avoid common installation mistakes. Once installed properly, latex tubes are just as durable as a regular tube and work better with sealant.

Pressure


Proper pressures are the final piece of the speed and comfort puzzle. Many athletes crank their tire pressures up as high as they can, thinking this will reduce rolling resistance. At first glance, it seems to make sense: higher pressure means the tire deforms less, so less energy is wasted. The catch, however, is that the imperfections and rough texture of the pavement mean that at some point higher pressure actually causes more energy to be wasted to vibration than is saved from the tire. Optimum tire pressure will be a function of how heavy the rider is, wide the tire is, and bumpy the road is. This chart by Michelin gives you an easy starting point. Keep in mind, most people find that pressures that are too high feel faster, but that is misleading. Field tests have shown this not to be true. A fast tire at optimum pressure may feel "squishy" or "dead" to riders accustomed to using higher pressures. If that describes you, stick with it and just consider it a sign that you're soon going to notice more grip and more speed.


Some Suggested Tires
  • Continental 4000S II Clincher - The ultimate jack of all trades. Great rolling resistance and great aerodynamics combined with good durability. You can train on this, race on this, time trial on this, anything at all. ATC just received a shipment of these, so they're in stock at both the Barton Springs and 360 locations. 
  • Continental Attack/Force Clincher - This is perhaps the best overall time trial setup. The narrow Attack is used on the front for aerodynamics, while the wider Force is used in the rear, where aerodynamics don't matter as much. These tires still have puncture protection, though not quite as much as the 4000S. This is the tire ATC Racing used to clinch the Texas State Time Trial record.
  • Continental SuperSonic Clincher - For those who need those last few seconds no matter the risk, the Continental SuperSonic is for you. No puncture protection layer is included at all, but rolling resistance is among the best in the world. Available in 20 and 23mm widths, this tire can make the ultimate time trial setup. While the SuperSonic Clinchers aren't suitable for regular training, professional Ironman triathletes like Thomas Gerlach do use them regularly in racing with success. If you find yourself just a few seconds from your goals and road conditions are good, give this option a look.
  • Fortezza Senso (Tubular and Clincher) - Available in Xtreme Weather, All Weather, and Superlight varieties (in increasing order of speed), these are one of ATC's most popular tires and can make a good dual purpose race/training tire and a great winter/rain tire.
  • Michelin Pro4 Clincher - Michelin offers many varieties of the Pro4, most of which have good but not great rolling resistance, falling a few watts short of the 4000S. They do make for a very nice training tire, though, with decent flat protection, comfort, and speed. They also make a "Grip" version intended specifically for wet weather grip.
  • Vittoria EVO Corsa (Tubular and Clincher) - These tires come in a few varieties as well, the CX and CS, and all are very fast. They rank among the very best in rolling resistance, just shy of the SuperSonic but with a little more flat protection. Plenty of people train on them, but they are somewhat delicate and will need to be replaced fairly often. They make a great race tire but don't have the magic aero properties of some of the Continentals, so you might avoid using them on front wheels for time trial purposes. They also tend not to fare well in wet weather chip seal areas. If you have a rainy road race, you might switch to something else.
  • 2015 Zipp Tangente (Tubular and Clincher)- Zipp has a new line of tires, and they offer some excellent choices, in various widths and levels of flat protection. Look for them to be offered in store very soon. They are optimized both for aerodynamics and rolling resistance, as Zipp was squarely targeting tires like the 4000S when they designed them.
  • Continental Gatorskin - While this tire is so slow it will make a Zipp race wheel slower than your training wheel, it does offer incredible flat protection. If you are looking for a training tire that offers flat protection and aren't concerned about comfort or speed, this is a great tire that will last a long time. They also stand up well to trainer duty, so you can use them on the trainer and on the road. Another bonus, if your significant other is faster than you like mine is, you can have her use Gatorskins so that you can ride together!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Returning to Toe Cages
A Brief Bike Experience in Monterey, California

by Kat Hunter




Ever traveled to a place that had amazing cycling routes but didn’t bring a bike with you? Day 1, a wistful stare at every bike and lycra-clad rider you see. Day 2, the deep need, like a nervous tick, to explain to the world that you too ride bikes, that you are “serious” about cycling. Day 3, true desperation sets in. Can you commandeer a road bike by force, by persuasion?

In mid-October I was in Monterey, California, on assignment for an article for a lifestyle magazine. The press trip had a busy itinerary, much of it centered around food and wine. While I was a vegetarian in a region best known for its fresh seafood, Monterey County is also called the “salad bowl of the world” for the bounty produced by its inland agricultural areas. Area restaurants emphasized sustainable and locally sourced ingredients, and I was eating some of the best dishes I’d had in a long time: heirloom tomatoes, fresh artichokes, inventive salads, creamy risottos, desserts that ranged from a simple flan or plain chocolate to a seemingly bottomless trifle filled with whipped cream and a dozen delicious mystery ingredients. I’d sampled many, many glasses of the region’s legendary pinots, chardonnays, and ros├ęs. I’d seen otters, seals, and sea lions by kayak in the bay and by pontoon boat in Elkhorn Slough, and at the Monterey Bay Aquarium I’d looked on in awe at giant kelp forests, shimmering funnels of anchovies, and flower-like gardens of suspended jellyfish. I’d sat around a bonfire on the white sands of Carmel Beach watching the sun go down, wine glass in hand. The weather was perfect, nothing but clear, warm days and cool nights. I was having a great time, but I kept hearing about what I was missing on the bike.
      
Monterey County is the location of the Sea Otter Classic, a popular and long-standing stage race in April that hosts mountain, cyclocross, and road events, as well as a gran fondo. Also, this year Stage 4 of the pro men’s AMGEN Tour of California, said to be the most scenic of the seven stages, started from the city of Monterey and traveled along the dramatic seaside cliffs of Big Sur to finish in Cambria. I’d neglected to do my homework prior to the trip—while I was familiar with both events, I hadn’t connected them with where I was going. Here I was staying in the heart of prime cycling real estate without so much as a pair of bike shorts.

Recreational Trail & Fisherman's Wharf
Lesson 1 for a cyclist traveling on a non-cycling trip: plan ahead. Two days of the trip, my group wasn’t scheduled to leave the hotel until after 10 a.m. Long before I stepped on the plane, I should have filled the gaps in the itinerary with “BIKE” in big block letters. Lesson 2: if you know you’re going to be obsessive about cycling, go ahead and pack pedals, shoes, jersey, and bibs even if you’re not sure you’ll have an opportunity to ride. If there’s space, I’d also add lights, a flat kit, and an Allen wrench.

I’d been jogging each day on the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, a paved pedestrian and cycling path that winds along the coast for 18 miles from Castroville to Pacific Grove. Most days I trotted northwest from my hotel near Fisherman’s Wharf toward Pacific Grove, completing an out-and-back of four to six miles. My off-season run training has been spotty at best, and these were some of my longest and most successful runs to date. The cool ocean breeze and the scenery were big motivators. Waves crashed, boats bobbed in the wharf or motored far out in the bay, other tourists and locals walked, ran, and biked along the path, scuba divers strapped on their gear, sea lions barked from their perches on jetties and docks. Just off the beach, harbor seals balanced their sausage-like bodies on half-submerged rocks and looked at me with their big, wet eyes in a casually interested way, as if to say, “You’re not from around here, are you?” The trail also passes through Cannery Row, a historical sardine-packing district turned restaurant and tourist mecca. Usually I turned around somewhere near Lover’s Point, a picturesque jumble of rocks that juts out to sea in Pacific Grove.

On my next-to-last morning in Monterey, a Saturday, I saw a group ride leave from the road alongside my hotel at the same time I started my run. Solo cyclists passed me on the trail. The weather, characteristic of Monterey’s Indian summer, was achingly perfect, and what I wanted most in the world at that particular moment was to donate my running shoes to the fish and continue on two wheels, seeing more of the Recreation Trail and beyond.

With a few phone calls back at the hotel, I figured out I’d have just enough time to ride the next day if I picked up a rental bike from Adventures by the Sea the day before and kept it in my room. The biggest setback was that our group wouldn’t be back from the day’s activities until late that night, long after the bike shop had closed. I explained all this to the concierge at Portola Hotel & Spa as the van of journalists idled outside waiting for me. I hadn't realized the bike shop had a location directly next to the hotel, which probably made my request seem that much stranger. The concierge took it all in stride, though, and late that night when we returned to the hotel the bike and helmet I had rented were waiting for me in a lobby closet.

I set my alarm and got up early the next morning as excited to roll around for a few hours as I would have been to race the Sea Otter Classic itself. I’m usually very exact about my equipment and fit, and now I was about to embark on a Fuji Gran Fondo with toe cages and half my foot overlapping the front wheel. I was wearing a T-shirt and yoga pants. The flat kit I’d been given was the size of a small suitcase, designed to strap onto the handlebars with velcro, and contained a mountain bike tube. But I was thrilled. I put the flat kit and my heavy DSLR in a backpack and set out as soon as the sky started to lighten.  

The whole idea was so last-minute, and the coastal scenery and pre-dawn sounds of the ocean so exotic compared to my typical ride, that I was filled with a spirit of adventure. This is what travel is about: making do with what you have to explore new places, stepping out of the ordinary, regressing from bike racer to a state so Fredly that you no longer even recognize yourself. I embraced my role as tourist and made half a dozen stops in the first few miles to take photos of the sun rising above Monterey’s mist-covered hills and rocky shoreline.  Where the trail ended at Lover’s Point, I paused for a moment with a scattered group of eerily quiet onlookers, many with cameras and tripods, who must have been waiting for the exact moment the sun broke over the horizon.    

From that point I was in new territory. I took a quiet road through Pacific Grove to Sunset Drive and along the lovely, wind-swept Asilomar State Beach, the most natural and undeveloped beach I’d seen in my visit to Monterey County thus far.  I continued from there to 17 Mile Drive, still marveling at the ocean views. I was virtually the only one on the roads, and there was a dedicated bike lane for nearly all of it; the route would be very comfortable for families or inexperienced riders. There were so many places to stop along the way that I started watching the clock and limiting myself, wanting to get a workout in along with my sightseeing. The last time I stopped to take a photo of the water, a runner with an Ironman shirt offered to snap a picture for me. I almost declined, not sure I wanted photo evidence in the rental ensemble, but how can you refuse a smiling Hungarian named Zoltan?

A true explorer never consults a map once the exploration is in progress. I missed some sightseeing when I covertly followed a non-Fredly rider who turned left onto Spyglass Hill Road, but I did find the first elevation of the day. The hills were nice and steep, like some of my favorites in Austin, but many were longer. Again, there was very little traffic. Where I was riding seemed to be part golf courses, part residential neighborhoods. When I lost the riders I’d been shadowing off and on—or rather, they lost me—I was no longer sure where I was and how I’d connect back to 17 Mile Drive. Although there was frequent signage, I found it confusing, often not certain if I was twisting my way back in the direction of Pacific Grove or farther on to Carmel. Now the clock was winding down.

When I eventually found the coastal road again somewhere around Bird Rock, I booked it. It was my first time trial in toe cages and a T-shirt. Part of the rush was that I thought I’d have to turn in the bike on Cannery Row and jog about a mile back to the hotel, but when I got there an employee explained that Adventures by the Sea has multiple locations on the Recreation Trail. I dropped it off at the the shop location downstairs from the hotel, with ample time to spare for a shower and a quick breakfast before another active day with the group exploring Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and Big Sur. I’d gotten about 2.5 hours of ride time.

One day I'll return to Monterey. I want to take my son to the aquarium, my husband to the fish tacos. Next time I’d also like to try some of the routes in Fort Ord National Monument, possibly by mountain bike, and a few area group rides. But in truth, for this trip I was probably happier with the impromptu, casual ride than I would have been if I’d been prepared and fully equipped with my own gear. The Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s slogan is “Grab life by the moments,” and as corny as it sounds, I think the bike ride was mine. Sometimes as a “serious” cyclist your training starts to feel more like a job than a hobby. Riding like this, you recapture something of the feeling that made you start in the first place, just a kid with tasseled handlebars and training wheels playing in the sand.


Links:

Top 10 Bike Rides from the Monterey CVB 

Bike rentals in Monterey -
Adventures by the Sea
Bay Bikes
Blazing Saddles



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hoka Halloween Run


The Wednesday ATC run was a little spooky this week—runners ran 4- and 6-mile loops en masse and in costume on the Town Lake trail, and HOKA ONE ONE and 2XU were on hand for demos and costume judging.

Costumes ranged from Snow White to dragons to an unidentifiable green thing. ATC Racing’s Marla Briley, president of dog-rescue organization GSP Rescue, arrived as Cruella Devil with the slightly spotty Nikita by her side. Patrick Healy made a convincing Aquaman, and the Skinner family represented the Land of Oz: little Adelyn a pint-sized Dorothy, Leah a scarecrow, and Gray a creative “tornado,” bravely running with a conical plant cage wrapped in toilet paper and dry leaves over his neck. Some costumes were so creative that we’re not even sure what they were, and other runners simply came as themselves. Tim Dove’s annual 21st birthday was also part of the celebration.

Running in HOKAs may be uber comfortable, but running in costume is not! When planning your “spirited” run wardrobe, several important matters should be taken into consideration for overall safety and comfort: Visibility! Because it’s important to be able to see when moving rapidly in a forward direction wearing a sheet over your head. Heat levels! Because Big Foots and other furry monsters aren’t always happy and healthy when it’s 80 degrees. And, last but not least...Durability! You want whatever you put on to stay on, especially if it was minimal to begin with.  

Happy Halloween from everyone at ATC!



Join the Wednesday Run: The group leaves from ATC Barton Springs every week at 6 p.m. Anyone is welcome for the run and/or beers at the shop after.

Follow Austin Tri-Cyclist on Facebook to get the latest info on other fun events, demos and more. 




Friday, October 24, 2014

An Interview with National Champ “Fast Freddie”

By Kat Hunter

Frederick Ferraro has been saying he’ll race “one more year” for so long that no one believes him. “My friends just look at me and shake their heads and laugh,” he tells me. “But my body’s had enough. I’d like to move to Florida and start a harem.”
2014 National Championships

Both of us are on speakerphone, and I pause a beat, thinking maybe I’ve misheard, but no, Freddie’s just got a sense of humor. And maybe a fair bit of confidence.

“If you’re going to race at this level, you’re a single guy,” he explains. “You don’t have much of a life outside of triathlon. So I thought, lots of single women over in Florida.”

Everyone in the triathlon community calls this dapper 65 year old “Fast Freddie.” Retired from a career in advertising, Freddie has devoted most of his time and energy the last 12 years to triathlon. He currently lives in Southwest Austin (though he’ll be moving to Dallas in a few weeks) with his two cats Thomas and Grayson, who have offered companionship without complaint throughout what he refers to as the “triathlon era.”

On August 9, Freddie won the USAT 64-69 age group Olympic distance national championship in Milwaukee with a time of 2:16:57. Previous years at nationals he’d placed second, fifth, eighth, and ninth, but had never crossed the line first; this win, the culmination of years of hard work, came on the heels of many frustrations and disappointments.

Freddie suffers from Atrial Fibrillation (often referred to as AF or AFib), an irregular heartbeat that can lead to other complications, including stroke and heart failure. The condition is fairly common among veteran male endurance athletes, and some studies point to a causal link. Freddie has been involved in athletic competition for most of his life. He swam on a scholarship at the University of Texas in Arlington, and in 1985, he won a national championship in Hobie Catamaran racing. Over the years he also qualified for nationals in swimming and judo.

In all the sports he competed in, however, Freddie says triathlon was where he showed the most natural talent. In 2002, at 52 years old, he fell headlong into the sport, focusing on sprint and Olympic distances. He quickly hired a coach; for the last nine years, he’s worked with cogniTRI’s Stephan Schwarze. In 2005, Freddie had his first experience with AFib at the world championships in Hawaii, but he thought he might just be feeling the effects of dehydration. When it happened again at nationals the following year, he went to the doctor and found out about his heart condition.

The irony is, of course, that the habits of the life-long athlete—which likely led to the condition in the first place—don’t die any easier when the diagnosis is made. Freddie continued racing, though he says in recent years he starting going by “Not-So-Fast Freddie.” The condition and prescribed medications significantly hampered his ability to compete.

In 2007, he had an ablation, a type of surgery that destroys or isolates the structures responsible for triggering abnormal electrical signals in the heart. Unfortunately, as is common with this type of procedure, the arrhythmia reoccurred about a year and a half later, and he was back to square one. Afterward, he raced for two more years taking pills designed to keep his heart from going into AFib, but knew they were affecting his performance. He also felt that his heart was being pulled dangerously in two different directions during race efforts—the pills slowing it down while his body was trying to push it to its limits. In September 2013, he had a second ablation, and this time the treatment worked. On the same course and under roughly the same conditions, he was able to finish five minutes faster at nationals in 2014 than he had the previous year when he was still taking the pills.

Often the venue for nationals changes each year, but 2015 will be the third year in a row that Milwaukee will host the event. Freddie says of all the nationals he’s been to over the past 11 years, this is his favorite venue. Though the swim often becomes congested as competitors pass beneath a narrow bridge, the hilly bike course suits him, and Freddie says the city “rolls out the red carpet” for race participants. He plans to return to nationals again next year. One more time, he says.

Last year was supposed to be the finale, but his good result at nationals was tempered with an equally bad experience at the August 27 world championships in Edmonton, Canada. He came out of the water first in the swim, but then his body locked up in the cold temperatures, which hovered somewhere between 41 and 45 degrees. Cold and miserable, he didn’t finish the race. He decided he couldn’t go out on that note.

Freddie moved from Oregon to Austin in 2002 for the training opportunities and the warmer weather. He’s been a customer and friend of ATC shop owners Don and Missy Ruthven for more than a decade. “He trains like a pro,” Missy says. “Whatever he tackles, he tackles in full force.”

A common descriptor used for athletes—triathletes in particular—is “intense.” I used to worry when meeting someone for the first time who had been described in this way. I would imagine a recovering drug addict with the shakes, or one of those perpetually angry people who can’t drive a quarter mile without a road rage incident. When used for a triathlete, however, “intense” seems to describe a unique and admirable brand of overboard, a characteristic that’s essentially a prerequisite if an athlete plans to pursue the sport at an elite level. To be successful, you have to obsess about aero details and training plans; your day and your workouts must be fanatically regimented. For Freddie, triathlon has long been a full-time job.

What’s interesting about Freddie, maybe even a little refreshing, is that he doesn’t wax on about how wonderful the sport is. I think anyone who takes any type of activity to the highest possible level, whether it’s cake-making or multisport training, and can still love it day in and day out...well, good on them, but my guess is that they’re not pursuing it to the degree they could be, or they’re just plain crazy.

“It’s nothing but pain and train,” Freddie says of triathlon. “I can’t say I’m going to miss anything about this sport except the friends I’ve made and the people who’ve supported me through the years.”

I don’t know Freddie well, but I’m not sure I believe him. It’s true that at a certain point there’s more labor than love in competition, but when you devote years to a sport, it’s impossible to separate yourself from it without a little nostalgia. It’s a part of who you were, and in many ways, who you always will be.

Of course, with Freddie, the first question is whether he’ll even stop competing. If I was one of those lovely Florida ladies in contention, I think I’d jump the gun and meet him at the finish line in Milwaukee.