Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stepping Stones

Happy Valentines day! This weekend we saw Rob and Monica complete the hypothermic half mara-thon. The weather was far from being hypothermic, probably because Mary was not running in it. :)

Ironman Canada is Rob and Monica’s main goal this year and this race was a stepping stone towards Penticton in August. I really like having my athletes do these small stepping stones as it gives many benefits.

#1: You are guaranteed a workout. I like to sign up for half marathons as this guarantees me a run of 21 Km.

#2: This is a great chance to measure your fitness and see how your training is going.

#3: Motivation. This can work both ways. If you have a great race you will be motivated to train to see further improvement. If you have a poor race you will be motivated to train so that you will race strong-er at the next race (I have done this before :) ).

#4: Race strategy. Test races are great ways to try out new race strategies. You can test out many things like pacing, maintaining a specific HR, nutritional or even different shoes. Having a slower time at a test race is OK as it is a chance to learn.

#5: Racing is fun. You get to see familiar faces and catch up with people you only see at races.

#6: It is hard to push yourself in training as you do in racing. We all need to experience this once in a while.

#7: Racing will give you something interesting to talk about. :)
I hope everyone picks some interesting stepping stones towards their goal this year. Some upcoming stepping stones are listed below.

Upcoming stepping stones:
St Pats 10 Km, Ice breaker 10 Km, 1500 Timed swim, Around the bay, Police and Calgary half's.
No Limits Swim video class March 6

Training Camps
Hawaii 70.3, IMC Calgary camp July 15-17, IMC Penticton camp July 29-31. Details soon!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Customed made Guru - Experienced by Mike DeLuca

When people are considering buying a bike and ask me what they should get or what to look for, I consistently tell them the same thing every time…fit! Bike fit is the most important thing when it comes to buying and riding a bike. Think about it, when you buy a pair of running shoes, you make sure they’re going to fit you perfectly. You certainly wouldn’t spend $200 on a pair of running shoes that don’t fit properly, or that might give you blisters, knee pain, back pain, etc. If you do end up buying shoes that don’t fit properly, you won’t enjoy running. That pretty much applies to most things, if you swim it’s a proper fitting wetsuit or goggles. If you’re tall, buying a Smartcar or Mini Cooper could get uncomfortable pretty fast. If you’re planning to take that car on a long trip, it’s exponentially worse. The same logic applies to bikes. If your bike is too big or small, that’s obvious…to most cyclists…but what about those bikes that “pretty much” fit, or are “close enough?” We tend to only have the option of stock bikes and have to find ways of adjusting them accordingly to make them fit.

This bit of wisdom came to me over years of learning about biking, but more so by trial and error on my own. So when it came time for me to get a new bike, I promised myself I would take the appropriate time and effort to make sure I bought the bike that fit me best. I figure, if I’m going to put in the financial commitment into a new bike and if I’m going to have this bike for a long time, it should be ‘right’ for me. After I’d painstakingly figured out which bike I was going to get, I contacted a friend at a bike shop and I was going buy it through him. After a little while he presented me with another option on bike fit that I’d never considered. A custom built frame, specifically designed for my unique body shape and needs. After doing a little more research, I decided to practice what I preach and go with buying a custom frame and so I decided to do this through Guru. So when Lino (my buddy with the bike shop) told me that we could go directly to the factory for a sizing appointment, and he was able to get us a factory tour, I jumped at the chance!

Figure 1 Mike and Lino on the tour.
I knew about Guru and that they made a great bike, were small, Canadian, but I wasn’t aware of their ability to build custom bikes. I figured they were just a smaller, high end bike company. Was I wrong! Although they build stock bike frames and sell completely built bikes, and yes they are quality bikes, they’re mainly a custom bike company. I was completely unaware of the specialty service they provide! High quality is one thing, there is an oversaturated market of high quality bikes out there. But there are very few custom bike builders out there. There are even fewer that can provide the quality and service, with the international reach. When you mention custom bike I automatically think some hobbiest in his garage, building metal framed bikes for a local market. But Guru is providing hand built, custom designed metal and carbon fiber bike frames to an international market. Pretty unique in my books.

Figure 2 The Photon

Figure 3 The CR.901
Over a weekend visiting Lino in Orleans, Ontario (just outside of Ottawa), we took the 1.5 hour drive to Montreal to visit the guys at Guru. Our day started with a coffee and the drive. Pulling into the parking lot of the head office and factory, you’re presented with an understated yet elegant looking building. Perhaps an indication of things to come. Guru are known as a company that focuses on quality first and the appearance of their head office and factory building reflects that. We were greeted at the entrance by Mike, the Guru rep that Lino deals with through his store. He’s a high energy and friendly guy, who provided us with genuine kindness and hospitality. Another trait I realized later that is pervasive throughout everyone at Guru. The cliché term would be to say Guru ‘family.’ It’s a small group people of sharing the same enthusiastic attitude about bikes that gives you a definite family sense. This was confirmed when within a couple minutes of meeting Mike, I was offered (and accepted) a very tasty cup of espresso. A sense of the Italian ancestry that is part of the founders of the company. At one point I was expecting to see someone’s Nona in the back making some pasta! How could I not feel at home.

Figure 4 Getting a coffee from the VP.
Right after introductions to the office staff we were treated to a guided tour of the factory. It started where the bikes start; a room where sheets of carbon fibre are outlined with stencils for cutting. Once the fabric has been outlined, pieces are cut out by hand and placed into the appropriate mouldings. Normally when I hear handmade, or hand crafted, I would consider this part to be automated. Nope, not these guys. It was at that point that the level of detail Guru puts into its products really started to sink in. We moved from there to a room filled with carbon fibre tubes; head tubes, top tubes, seat tubes, bottom brackets…well, you get the point. This is where the bikes are ‘assembled.’ Or as Guru puts it, “building bikes one soul at a time.”

Figure 5 Carbon Fiber being hand cut.

Figure 6 Mike showing off the seat tube and bb of a CR.901
Guru uses a 30/70 resin to carbon fibre ratio. When the fabrics are place within the mould, Mike explained that they go in at 35/65, but during the process 5% comes out. We were treated to a seat tube and bottom bracket being removed from its mould. In the modern age of automated factories, even the process of removing the excess resin is completed by hand. The frames are then sanded and smoothed for priming and then painting. It’s at this point that all bikes, both metal and carbon fibre, converge.

Figure 7 A frame getting ready for painting

Ever damage your bike and figure you’re going to have to buy a new one, or if you have the determination contact the bike company and hope they will help you out. Maybe only charge you for the shipping or painting, but in the end you pray they will help repair (or most often) replace it! The guy at Guru will gladly repair you cracked or broken frame and do their best to repair your bike. Whether it’s carbon fibre or metal, they will repair or replace the broke piece (stays, top tube, etc.) and at the same time examine the frame and refurbish it to new. Yet another uncommon service provided.

Figure 10 A frame being fixed.

We had focused mainly on carbon fibre fabrication, but Guru also makes steel and titanium bikes. The option of custom frames is also provided for these materials. We stood for a while were the titanium and steel frames were built and admired the smooth and clean welds. After having numerous metal framed bikes, I’m accustomed to very solid, strong welds that have thick but good looking beading. But when you’re presented with such clean looking weld points, you realize the Guru difference yet again. Okay, I don’t mean to gush, I’m not a welder but those look pretty darn good to me! One of the options that steel provides is having flexibility in the designs. For 2011, Guru has added some flare and a special touch to their titanium frames.`

Figure 12 Special touches on a titanium frame

Once the tour was over (and we were done drooling over the buffet of bikes), it was time for the bike fitting. I was looking to get a Guru Cr.901 and Lino was getting fitted for a custom titanium road bike. The unique part of a bike fitting with Guru is their proprietary Dynamic Fit Unit (DFU). It’s a specially designed, completely automated and computerized bike fitting unit. The DFU doesn’t much look like a bike, more like a metal bike box with handle bars, a saddle, and crank set. Attached to the back is a flywheel which is set up with a Computrainer. On the wall in front of the DFU are two TV screens, one is the computer monitor showing the DFU software and the second shows the Computrainer outputs.

Figure 14 The DFU

The fitting starts with taking a series of body measurements and entering them in the accompanying DFU computer software. Along with measurements of inseam, torso length, shoulder width and arm length, they also enter parameters such as back flexibility, history of injuries, type of pedalling (i.e., spinning or mashing on a scale from 1 to 5), intended use for riding (road, short triathlon, long triathlon, etc.), and so on. I’m sure there are some parameters I’m forgetting, but that just shows how much information is taken into consideration.

Figure 16 Getting the handlebars just right.
Once all the parameters are entered, the DFU sets itself to the appropriate bike settings specific to the person getting fitted. The DFU puts you to approximately 95% to the proper sizing fit. Then it’s time to finally get on the bike and start riding. From there the rest of the bike adjustments are made to the millimetre by entering the changes into the computer. Once the new coordinates are entered, the DFU does all the work while you ride! I’ve never had such a better bike fitting. We ended up defining 5 position settings that were best for me, while observing my power outputs and spin scan from the Computrainer. Along with how each position feels, we looked at my spin and power to determine which position was optimal for me. In the end, we decided on two positions, one slightly more relaxed and one more aggressive, that would eventually be the design for my bike frame.

Once a set of position coordinates are selected and entered into the system, they are sent to the Guru factory and stored on file. That way, should I choose to buy another bike in the future they have the positions already on file for me to pick from. The most interesting part was when I cooled down from my ride and they were getting ready for the next bike fitting, Mike went off and designed my bike frame. Within just a few short minutes I was provided with a schematic of my bike frame with its geometry and another schematic with the appropriate saddle height and stem length and angle.

After just 3 short weeks, my bike was sitting in Lino’s store in Ottawa. Now I’m just waiting for the remaining parts to come in and I’ll be riding my new, custom built, CR.901. Can’t wait!

Figure 21 Coming at wopping 3 pounds!

Figure 22 Personalized!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Swim Video Class set for March 6

The next Swim video swim class is set for Sunday March 6.

A great way to take your swim stroke to the next level.

Click here for details


Travelling Newton

For 2011 Todd Malcolm has joined Athletes for a Cure and Newton running to help raise money for prostate cancer. His goal race is Ironman Canada. This will be Todd's 6th time racing Ironman Canada and his goal for this race is to raise $5000.

Leading up to Ironman Todd will have a number of different ways to raise money.

The first is the Travelling Newton. Newton will be traveling from place to place en route to Penticton. Follow Newton's travels by viewing photos sent in. These will be updated weekly or as the photos are sent in.

Newton's starting Location: Todd's Kitchen

Where will he go next? Stay tuned!

To make a donation click on my fundraising webpage: