In a few short days I head back to Toronto, and am looking forward to a few things, like being cold. Crazy but true, the idea of having to put on a sweatshirt seems pretty appealing about now. The other day at 8 am my computer said it was 31 degrees Celcius, and by 3 pm it was 44 degrees. So a little bit of a chill in the air is going to be a very refreshing experience. Then again that novelty will wear off very quickly I am sure. That’s why I will stick around for only a day and a half, and then fly to St Croix to test out the “sold out legs” at the half ironman there.
Archive for April, 2010
Okay with the race season fast approaching I thought I would talk about some of my race specific gear that I will be using. A new product I have this year is the Speedplay Nanogram pedal. They are from one of three families of pedals that Speedplay makes; the Zero, with the other two families being the Light Action and the X Series.
I have used all three versions of Speedplay over my long 15 year career starting with the X Series. I switched to Speedplay from Shimano SPDs when I moved to the big city. With all the stop signs and lights on our rides I found myself spending a lot of time struggling to get clipped in, and getting dropped by the boys when they sprinted after a light turned green. With Speedplay pedals being double sided I no longer had to search for the right side of the pedal. Also I did not have to worry about doing the classic “toe in and heel down” movement. With Speedplays all you need to do it get your foot near the pedal and step on it which I found great for the transition from swim to bike. There are often so many people mounting their bike all at the same time it’s great to be able to keep your head up and focus on the road. People that are looking at their pedals are always the ones that crash into other athletes. I was instantly in love and I have used Speedplay ever since.
A few years ago I switched over to their new pedal, the Light Action. It’s very similar to the X series in that it takes very low force to clip into which was nice. Some people worry about clipping out prematurely but I have never experienced that even during hectic dismounts from the bike into T2. My main reason to change was that the Light Actions came in cool colours; red, blue, pink, white and black which helped to accent my bike. You have to look good you know.
Most people switch to Speedplay because they want to take the strain off their knees and for this purpose they are the best. They have more float than any other pedal with the Light Action and the Zero being a non-self centering float. With this much float there is no science in setting up the cleat. Anyone can do it without fear of having them maladjusted or causing problems. When you are not limited in the amount of float you have your foot can move through its natural range in response to your natural knee movement. When your knee is going in towards the center of the bike your heel is free to rotate outwards. When your knee going outwards, you heel is free to move inwards. Everyone is happy.
Some people think that too much float is a problem or that it wastes energy but think about it this way. Having fixed cleats it is like having your foot planted firmly on the ground. With your foot firmly planted in this position try moving your knee inward and outward. How does your lower leg feel? If your foot is fixed your muscles and tendons take up all the stress and energy. It does not go into the pedals so it is still wasted. You are not saving energy. For those that feel like they are walking on ice that feeling will go away with use. Once you start strengthening your stability muscles (muscles that you were ignoring before) you will find yourself using less range of the float. You will end up only using the amount you need.
So that brings me to this year; I have just switched over to the Zero pedals. They have the same action as the Light Action but have a little stiffer engagement “click” but as you use them that gets easier and easier. My main reason to switch was to take advantage of the new Nanogram pedal. Speedplay has created this as a race day pedal. It uses a lighter titanium axle with a 6 mm allen key hex inside the pedal axle instead of the classic 15 mm wrench flats on the outside of the spindle. It looks cleaner and means I don’t have to travel with my big heavy pedal wrench any more. They also use ceramic bearings which help reduce the bearing friction. When pedals are turning 80-95 rpm it’s a smart idea.
Lastly the “bow ties” are aluminum and the fixing bolts are titanium to save weight. The aluminum “bow ties” wear a bit faster than the steel ones which is why they are considered race day pedal but if you are using them only for races they will last you a life time and a half. Plus they are replaceable.
Since pedals count as rotational weight I want to save as much weight as possible to have as much advantage as I can. The Speedplay Nanograms are the lightest version of the best pedals out there. The only down side is that they only come in black ☹. For this reason my training bikes are equipped with red Speedplay Zeros which match both my black and red P4 and my P3.
Training camp is all about being tired. After the first two weeks it seems like there are just different degrees of tired, but always tired. The stairs are usually a good test to see just how tired we are. If you have to hold on to the railing, if you have to stop on each floor for a little rest, if you have to make subtle moaning and groaning noises every few steps, then you know training is going well.
Maki, one half of our Japanese warrior couple, speaks only a little bit of English. Usually we swim in the same lane, and share a few laughs, in between swimming.
Maki has definitely been working on her English, and is trying to chat with us all a bit more. The other day we were heading out for a tempo run together, and before we started I asked how she was feeling. She shook her head, smiled, and pointed to her legs while shaking her head. “Me too” I said, “ my legs are very tired”.
“Sold out” she said, pointing to her legs. Hmm, I don’t know that expression I thought, but ok, sounds interesting. You go to the store, looking for some fresh, lean legs that will crush a 180 km bike ride- you ask the sales clerk if they have any of those, “sold out” he says.
Ok, how about some legs that are just a little tired, but can still hammer out 100 km, “sold out” says the clerk. Ok, how about some wobbly, tired spaghetti legs, “ plenty of those around”.
The next day after swimming Maki and I were walking on deck after a super tough swim; she looks at me, points to her arms and says, “sold out”.
Yup, I couldn’t agree more.
Here is a little game for you. Here are a few pictures from last year’s first camp, while killing time during a photo shoot we did some serious leg modeling. Can you match up the legs with the person? These are the easy ones to guess by the way.
Rebekah Keat, Coco ( Erica), Wongstar (Jocelyn), Maki, me (Tereza), Doc (Brett).
Feel free to post your answers on the forum.