Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Blizzard Biking: what not to do!

With Devon’s Blizzard Bike Race fast approaching, Jan and I thought we would head out into Saturday’s Blizzard for a little singletrack. The trails were in good shape and we managed to get in a pretty hard 1.5 hours of resistance training, while hopefully honing our winter bike handling skills, and working out the kinks in our system.

For the most part, aside from maybe the first 5 minutes of the ride, our fingers and toes were warm enough, and the rest of us were a little too warm.  We saw only one other rider while out on the trails, he was wearing a down jacket and looked as if he were training for the Iditabike rather than taking his dog for a run.  By this time, I was already working up a sweat, and Jan looked like he was melting.  In the end, I think it was a confidence booster, to get out and feel fit and fast on the trails, and also there was at least two technical lessons learned on my part.

Lesson 1 : Mittens make it difficult to use the breaks and to hold on to the bike at the same time.  I elected to mitigate this difficulty during the ride by trying not to use both front and rear breaks at the same time; that way I could at least hang on with one hand at all times.  The irony of this situation was that at the times when I most needed to break with both wheels, I also needed to hang on with both hands.  Life is like that.

Lesson 2:  Rx insert glasses do not work very well in blizzards!  Everyone has difficulty with eyewear fogging up in the winter, but really, Rx inserts are twice as bad because two layers of glass fog up, making it twice as difficult to see.  Not convinced? It’s even worse than that, since it was a blizzard, snow was falling and being blown around constantly, and it got caught and built up  in the space between the two layers of glass.  So, in flat light, in a mostly white landscape, I found myself trying to see through two layers of foggy glass, and a tiny little snowdrift, while trying to gap Jan in the technical singl-track.  Sad thing is, I could still see better with the glasses than without.

Prescription inserts, two layers of fog and a tiny snowdrift.


What Has Happened to Stefan???

After so much racing, so much success last year, quite likely you have been wondering what the heck has happened to Stefan.  Well wonder no more.  The following update has just come in from Stefan, himself:

It’s been a while since I contributed to the Fiera Race Team blog but here I am again. I was dealing with a long lasting Achilles tendon injury which finally, after about 6 months, eases off. It was a truly depressing and very painful time. Running wasn’t possible at all, however, since about 6 weeks I am able to run again. It still does hurt every now and then but it feels like it is getting better. But on the other end I also had a very wonderful time when Sanja and I got married in Germany on July 16th.

The wedding was absolutely amazing and we even had some people from Edmonton there (Simmon Hofstetter, Andrea and Darren McGregor, Robin Braconnaire and her boyfriend Joe Baker). The rest of the time we spent cycling, eating and travelling. We also had a little one week honeymoon on the lovely island Dugi Otok in Croatia where we met up with Andrea and Darren again. We had some really fun times cooking fresh fish, scuba diving and cycling; and it actually was on this very island when I started running again.

At first it was only a couple hundred meters but after a few days I made it up to about 3km. My Achilles tendon didn’t hurt at all during this time and I thought it was finally over – but it wasn’t. Once we came back to Edmonton it started to hurt again and swelled up badly. I was totally desperate and decided I will just start running again – through the pain – because if I not start doing anything soon I can erase IM Cozumel from my calendar. “Hop or Top” became my motto. I know it’s crazy to do such a thing but what did I have to lose? My time was running out and the pain persisted for 6 months now even though I did things like “eccentric calf muscle strengthening”, stretching in general, massaging etc. but nothing seemed to work. The first runs were painful and I wasn’t sure whether it’s a good idea to just keep running, but, believe it or not, after about 10 days it got better. You might say now it could be a coincidence and the injury just healed up during the same time when you started running again but I don’t think so. Whenever I had a few days off running it would hurt more than during periods in which I ran more frequently. The really funny part of this story is, however, that when Sanja and I were in Serbia her uncle Boban (a marathoner himself) told me “Run 30k straight through and it will get better”. At that time I couldn’t even think of running because it was so painful and I told him “If I would run 30k straight I probably won’t be able to run at all anymore”. Apparently, he knew better.

So, that was a brief summary of what happened to me in the past months. Now what are the plans for the rest of the year?

After finishing IM Hawaii last year I told myself you have to come back here and try better. There is still so much room for improvement. As you may know from previous blog contributions I focus on one sport every year with the long term goal of becoming an overall good triathlete and making it into the top five in my age group in Hawaii as well as going sub 9 hours at some point along my Ironman “career”.

Last year was all about running and doing bricks, whereas this year is in the sign of swimming. In November 2010, I started swimming 3 to 4 times per week and moved up to about 7 km on some training sessions in early summer of this year. Honestly, I have no idea how much this will give me in terms of minutes but I am sure the swim will at least feel better.

I also had to stop cycling due to my injury when it was really bad. With the first races coming up I decided to just do them and see how the Achilles tendon will respond. To get into some sort of a shape I did a few of my “one hour all out workouts”. Of all the races I did this year, the Banff Bike Fest was by far the best!! This was the most amazing cycling race I ever did here in Canada. Beautiful and fast with a whole bunch of great people! I can only recommend it. If you have a road-racing license, then definitely do it next year!

For Cozumel I spend all my time on the trainer. I do 3 to 4 trainer workouts a week ranging from 60min during the week and up to 240min on the weekend. Even though these longer rides are at a relatively low intensity the do kick the fudge out of me and I am usually trashed for the rest of the day. Here’s a nice quote from world class Canadian triathlete Peter Reid: ”I get the same intensity out of a 90-minute workout on the trainer than I do from three or four hours on the road.” I totally agree and if time is the limiting factor for you give it a try! Especially during the long cold Canadian winter 😉

As for running the first half of the year was pretty devastating due to my Achilles tendon injury, as you already know. Now it’s great again and I am very happy. I am now in training week 6 (out of 14) and I am super pumped for Cozumel. My training results, particularly for running, are awesome! I can hardly believe it myself. The reason for that must be due to the fact that I was running lots last year and not only quantity but also quality. That means I spent most of the time doing speed and threshold workouts on the track. This year when I started running again I went back on the track and did a 2 by 20min threshold run to see where I was in terms of running. Amazingly enough this test resulted in an average pace of 3:48min/km for the first 20min and then a 4:10min/km for the second 20min. This totally blew me away and I couldn’t believe that without running for 6 months I am still able to pull that off. Sure, the second 20min were way slower and that must be due to lack of training but it showed that my running investment of last year wasn’t lost. Long story short, I believe that, if staying consistent for the next few years, I will be able to reach my goals.

Here is a little summary of my results and what still is going to come:

Place   Race                                       Category         Date
?            Ironman Cozumel             M30-34          11/27/2011 
DNS    Challenge Roth                    M30-34          06/10/2011                                        
45       Banff Bike Fest – RR            Cat 3               06/19/2011                                     
8          Banff Bike Fest – Crit          Cat 3               06/18/2011                                  
4          Banff Bike Fest – ITT            Cat 3               06/18/2011                  
8          Pigeon Lake Road                 Cat 3               05/29/2011                                 
12       Velocity Stage Race – Crit   Cat 3              05/15/2011                               
5          Velocity Stage Race – ITT   Cat 3             05/15/2011                            

That’s it for now! Stay tuned and talk to you after November 27th.


FSA cranks recalled

Heads-up that FSA has recalled their Gossamer BB30 crank sets. 

According to info on the Health Canada website, the cranks are on a bunch of Cannondale bikes.  The affected cranks can also be  identified by the product numbers, which are found on the inside of the non-drive crank arm:

  • Gossamer Pro BB30 CK-OS6021;
  • Gossamer Pro Compact BB30 CK-OSC6021;
  • Gossamer BB30 CK-OS6020; or
  • Gossamer Compact BB30 CK-OSC6020.

You should be able to bring your bike back to where you bought if for a free replacement.

Fiera’s Final Fling for 2010?

By Josh Krabbe

December 23 was the last race of mine for the 2010 season. I believe some folks are planning to race at a loppet on Jan 2, so hopefully this blog will get rolling again with news from aboard the skis shortly. In other news, the Christmas season is the season for a slightly different kind of racing. It’s not universally popular, but in some small circles it is deemed to be the highlight of the racing season. 15 people lined up this year for the fourth annual Nog Jog, and I believe for 14 of them it was the only racing they did in 2010. The thing about people who don’t race very often (i.e. once a year in late December) is that they don’t realize that to race well you’ve got to put in the training. I’ve been urging my competition to do some training but they didn’t do all that much, and so they were handily beaten for the second year in a row.

And so you ask “What is this Nog Jog?”

It’s a rather simple race, you down some nog and go for a jog. One final stipulation: Once you slurp the nog you can’t burp on the jog. The egg nog must be a full fat version of whatever your favorite grocery store has on sale during the Christmas Season and the volume must total 2 liters. We’ve historically been flexible on the brand so long as the calorie count for the carton rings in at more than 2000 calories, although 2500 is the norm. Light Nog is contrary to the holiday spirit and is echte verboden (dutch trans: really forbidden). After downing the nog, either directly from the carton or out of a bunch of glasses or cups (straws are not allowed) the jog begins. The length of the jog has historically been 730 meters although this year a slight change of location allowed us to run two laps in a more spectator friendly arena and yielded a total of 710 meters. Costumes were encouraged.

I don’t believe there is much mystery in how such a race plays out. Most people can’t do it, but fortunately it doesn’t stop them from trying. The footage was compiled and I’ve included it below, you’ve been forewarned before you click “play” I already told you that most people can’t do it. I’ll also warn you that even for those who can do it, they don’t like to spend the rest of the evening in agony with an aching belly and so decide to empty their stomachs following the race. I should have had the reporter shooting the post-race interview zoom out a bit to show off the Fiera logos I was sporting post-race, hopefully The Boss doesn’t fire me, I promise to do a better job next year.

My splits were as follows:

  • 2L Chug: 46 seconds.
  • First lap including a little wipeout on the ice: 1:19
  • Second lap: 1:20

This was a 17 second PR for myself on the duration of the chug and I also ran faster this year than last by approximately 10 seconds once the difference in distances is taken into account. I’ll attribute this success to my high volume run weeks throughout May and June, I think they really paid off this year.

I’ll be attempting a three-peat in defending my title next year, you’re welcome to come on out and test your mettle, the race has tentatively been scheduled for the 23rd of December at 6pm.

Weekend ‘cross forecast & Friday Poll: Muddy with a risk of awesomeness

Looking at the forecast for this weekend’s Alberta provincial ‘cross championships, looks like you Alberta types might finally get your jerseys dirty.

Meanwhile, out East, we will be sampling  what the new course has to offer in the picturesque village of Perth Ontario.

Which leads me to this week’s  Friday Poll: Muddy corner edition.  In the figure below, what is the best line for the rider to take through the soggy, muddy corner?  Bear in mind the following: it is not a high speed corner (you enter at mid-speed and get slower as you exit the corner), it is soft (wheels sinking into 3cm deep ruts), the edges are less chewed up than the middle, and the corner trends slightly uphill (meaning that traction isn’t great and you definitely have to remain seated).

“Embrocation” – What’s up with that?

One of the reasons I was keen to join the Fiera Race Team when Joe and Shari suggested it, was that I hoped to glean some wisdom from more experienced racers on some of the finer, less obvious points of racing.  Mostly, this is in the hope of not looking like too much of a dork (hence my earlier question on bike helmet visors: cool or fashion faux-pas?).  I guess a secondary objective is that some of this experience can also help me go faster… which actually I guess should trump the first objective since a lot of what cyclists and runners and triathletes do kinda looks silly (spandex? really?)…

Which brings me to embrocation… what’s up with that?

If I wiki it, I get redirected to “Liniment“; which is apparently “especially useful in hot weather to help a hot horse cool down”.

However, embrocation obviously has some role to play in cycling, given that when you Google it you get this and this.  And last year before the Ontario provincial cyclocross championships I saw some guy putting something like this in his shorts.

Can anyone explain?

Get this guy some liniment!