Sunday, May 23, 2010

I love my new red bike!

After much deliberation, test riding, and visits to multiple bike shops in Calgary (who knew I'd be on a first name basis with so many young, knowledgeable guys!), I took the plunge...

With the expert advice and assistance of ALL the SPEED THEORY staff - I finally chose an ARGON 18 E112 Triathlon bike. My trusty, little yellow, Cannondale road bike has served me well since I purchased it in Feb 2003. It has some major miles on it, but I was ready for an upgrade.

I love my new red bike.

Choosing a new bike is a process - these are some of the questions I asked myself.....

What is my budget? - include extra for helmet, pedals, computer, possible saddle options, water bottle cages, clip-in cycling shoes, basic repair kit, gloves... the list can go crazy, but some are essential (helmet & pedals). Go for the best components you can afford within your budget.

How much riding do I do? Up to x 3/week through the winter on a trainer (5 - 6 hr/week), and ~7-8 hr/week in the summer.

What is my primary focus? Triathlons and road riding, 150 -200 km/week through the summer.

What are my goals? GO FASTER! I love going downhill as fast as I can to make the next transition uphill less work - Talisman ETS and Triclub coaches know of what they speak! I'm not a "light weight" (although I've lost 52 lb in my 5 years of training - and kept it off), so I do have an advantage on the downhills and really work on the uphills.

My gearing (crank set on the front and cassette ratio on the back) also needed serious consideration. All my test rides included that "evil" hill on the south side of Edworthy Park. I went up and down that hill on a Cervelo P2, Trek Madone 5.1 & 5.2, Cannondale Synapse, and finally the Argon 18 E112. The conclusion was definitely a compact crank set (50/39) on the front and an 11/28 cassette on the back. This meant I was able to give up my "granny gear" (3rd ring on the front), but still not die on hills, or worse - get off and push. The 11/28 cassette is a new option available this year from Shimano. The crank set numbers of the front rings (50/39) refer to the number of "cogs" on the ring, same goes for the 11/28 - smallest ring has 11 cogs and each successive ring has more cogs on it with the biggest having 28 cogs.
Bike frame size/wheel size. My Argon 18 E112 is an extra small frame (I'm 5' 2" tall). All of the bikes I test rode were either 47 cm or 48 cm frame sizes. This limits options in regard to wheel size on some models. For example - Cervelo has a 47 cm frame, but only fits 650cc wheels. This is not an issue/disadvantage, but I have been used to 700cc wheels, so I wanted 700cc wheels on my new bike (really a personal choice). The fit of the frame is what's important. Many manufacturers have frames that are "women specific designs" (WSD), but I was able to be fitted on the Argon 18 E112 extra small frame without any problems (OK, they did have to cut the seat post down even more for me). Argon 18 doesn't make a WSD frame, but I did get a carbon frame!!

Bike fit. I did spend time with Adam Redmond of Speed Matrix. He also works out of Speed Theory. He did a complete bike fit with me using the Retul Bike Fit System. It was amazing. I had my Cannondale bike fitted about 3 years after I purchased it and what a difference it made - not only in comfort, but also in the power I was able to produce, so I knew from past experience how important this component is. Adam is a Kinesiologist with a specialty in Biomechanics, so I had great confidence in him. The "Physio" in me likes the science behind the fit process.

I've had my lovely new red bike for almost a month. I did fall off of it on my first ride outside - "OH MY GOD, I DIDN'T SCRATCH IT, DID I"? No, my butt and my knee saved me, but I see my new carbon water bottle cage is a little "scratched" - oopsy. I was so anxious to get a new bike because I was heading out to Vernon with the Talisman Triclub/ETS for a 4 day bike camp May 4-9, 2010. I think I drove Jon nuts for the 2 months prior to this - is the bike here, did you get it in yet, blah, blah, blah. But it arrived, I had a fit with Adam, and I rode it for 4 days straight ~400 km total. I completed a time trial and NO ONE physically passed me! (There were lots of the "big guns" who were faster, but I was first one off and everyone else went in 1 minute intervals and I got to the finish point just in the nick of time!) This was the highlight of my week - that bike is very fast!

Onward to a great summer of training!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Bit Of History....

Upon reflection on my first blog entry, I thought it was pretty boring.

So, I'm going to try again. Like most triathletes, I have a background in sports - mine was figure skating (grades 1-11); I also worked as a Lifeguard; (Oh, and I was in swim club in grade 3). Sport has always been in my life, and I think that's what led me to Physiotherapy as a career. I'm a bit of a late starter, as I graduated from U of A in 1994 when I was 30 - a "mature student".

I've always been drawn to individual sports, so triathlon has been a good fit for me. I enjoy the camaraderie of training and mutual support, but ultimately, it's your race. The other thing that brought me to triathlon was the variety of training - always something else to work on if you're "wounded". It's the variety of the 3 disciplines that has kept my interest since I did my first sprint triathlon in 2005 - Stanley Park, here in Calgary.

The lead up to that race was rather traumatic for me. My mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma in April of 2003 and passed away in Sept. 2003. Our family is very close and I was especially close with my mom - I lost my best friend. The other thing that we shared was genetics - apparently there is only so much weight the females in the family (ie: my mom and I) can lose; she lost 60 lb while sick - I gained 60 lb! Hmmm, an emotional eater - do ya think? Then a family ski trip resulted in a torn ACL, MCL, meniscus and a chunk out of my femur - shouldn't have been skiing in the 1st place (refer to 60 lbs above). Now I'm definitely the "physio who needs physio". So the crash was Christmas 2003, surgery was June 2004, and rehab continued until about Dec, 2004. My knee made a great recovery, but I really needed to reevaluate my lifestyle. All that weight doesn't come without it's own issues - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, borderline diabetes, always tired and lethargic.....

Enter the Talisman Centre. My dad gave me a gift of a 1 year membership in Jan. 2005 and some personal training sessions. I signed up for a bunch of Endurance Training Systems (ETS) classes - I especially love the bike classes. They make so much sense to me - get objective data ("evil" time trials on the bike) and train yourself throughout the year to those zones and watch the numbers improve as you produce more watts and get stronger. I worked on my running, swimming and biking throughout the winter/spring leading up to Stanley Park in the various classes I signed up for. To be realistic - I started at the bottom, literally. I couldn't run 5km, but I could certainly walk/run 5 km. I knew I would do OK on the swim (750 m) and bike (20 km), so off I went. I finished the race and loved it. I was 2nd last (... not last). My nephews couldn't quite see the accomplishment in that, but they're young (and skinny) - what do they know about fat girls? I knew I wanted to continue this sport. I love the training. I love my bike and everything is moving forward.

I have continued to increase my knowledge in talking with other athletes, (hot tub after swimming is so worth it), coaches and just learning by doing. I find it's a great community and supportive of the newbies/amateurs. I will probably have to wait until I'm in my 60's or 70's before I ever see a "podium finish" as an age grouper, but I might just be stubborn enough to hang around that long. So the journey continues and I'll keep adding to my blog as I learn more about the sport of triathlon because fellow athletes/coaches continue to share their knowledge (plus, I ask alot of questions). I want to share a perspective from a dedicated athlete's point of view, even if I'm not an elite athlete!

Cheers, Cindy

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcome to my new blog.

Hi, my name's Cindy and I'm a triathlete. I did my first Sprint triathlon in July, 2005 after having knee surgery to repair a torn ACL in 2004. I decided I needed a significant change in my physical health after this surgery because I was grossly obese! I've been a spectator at triathlons and thought I'd like to give it a try - I'm a pretty good floater, I can ride a bike, and I can walk 5 km. It's all in a straight line and shouldn't aggravate my knee and I needed to get moving. I was off and running (well walking fast...) and I completed my first race. I was hooked and had started losing some weight and feeling better. I spent a lot of time at the gym and signed up for a lot of classes - swimming in the early am, weight training for triathlete's, cycling for endurance athletes. I was becoming a class junky, but really enjoyed the training and still do. The next season I hired a coach and continued my classes. 2006 - first Olympic distance (running's getting a bit better, down 30 lb.); 2007 - 3 races; 2008 - 200 mile cycling event (Seattle to Portland in 2 days) with 9499 other riders (down 40 lb); 2009 - Viterra 70.3 Ironman in Calgary (hit 50 lb weight loss). 2010 - Viterra 70.3 Ironman in Calgary (1.5 hours faster than last year).