SRAM Force 22 “Hold

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Buyer’s Guide | Groupsets -

It was an early morn­ing ride along the Queen Kaahu­manu High­way on the Big Is­land of Hawaii and Pask­ins had set me up on a road bike to try out the new sram Force 22 group set. We’d turned a cor­ner and, while I was still in the big chain­ring, I shifted to my eas­i­est cog. At the top of the hill I looked down and re­al­ized that I had just done some­thing that would have made all kinds of noise on my five-year- old group set at home.

“The new Force has Yaw,” Pask­ins replied to my ques­tion, once he’d caught his breath from the climb.

“Who?” I replied, won­der­ing if Pask­ins was sud­denly ac­quir­ing a Texas drawl due to a lack of oxy­gen.

“Yaw – the same ro­tat­ing front de­railleur we have in Red.”

Sud­denly it oc­curred to me that for the first time in re­cent mem­ory a mar­ket­ing rep hadn’t put me on his com­pany’s top- end prod­uct when given the op­por­tu­nity to show off his com­pany’s best prod­ucts. Be­ing able to use gears I wouldn’t nor­mally have ac­cess to sud­denly made me re­al­ize that this group set might be a game changer.

sram’s Force gruppo has al­ways been known for its great value and dura­bil­ity, of­fer­ing many of the per­for­mance of high- end groupsets, but for con­sid­er­ably less money. For the last few years the team I work with has specced the bikes for its ju­nior road rid­ers and triath­letes (who aren’t ex­actly easy on their equip­ment) with Force com­po­nents, and the group sets have per­formed and lasted well.

When it comes to com­po­nents, some­thing needs to be sac­ri­ficed to jus­tify the dif­fer­ence in cost be­tween the var­i­ous groups. In years past those who saved money by pick­ing Force in­stead of the top of the line Red were adding some weight to their bikes and miss­ing some of the lat­est in­no­va­tions. This third Force it­er­a­tion, Force 22, has set a new stan­dard, though, of­fer­ing all the de­vel­op­ments from sram’s flag­ship Red gruppo. That means you get the in­no­va­tions of sram’s top groupset, in­clud­ing 22 us­able gears, for a lot less money and only 160 g of weight.

As I learned in my Kona test ride, I can em­pha­size us­able be­cause Force 22 in­cludes a Yaw ro­tat­ing front de­railleur (first in­tro­duced on the 2012 Red gruppo), which en­ables the chain, crankset and chain­rings to work to­gether as a unit. Re­mem­ber the days when you tried to use your eas­i­est cog with your big­gest chain­ring (or hard­est cog with your small chain­ring), only to hear and feel the chain rub­bing against the de­railleur? They’re gone. Un­til sram came up with the Yaw sys­tem you could only en­joy that ben­e­fit in an elec­tronic sys­tem like Shi­mano’s Di2. Now it’s avail­able in a mid-level me­chan­i­cal sys­tem.

The car­bon fi­bre crankset has an alu­minum spi­der, mak­ing it a bit heav­ier than the high- end Red ver­sion, but it seems to per­form ev­ery bit as well and looks very sharp. The beefed up alu­minum chain­rings are very stiff – even the big­gest gear- grind­ing triath­letes won’t have any prob­lems get­ting max­i­mum per­for­mance from them. The bot­tom bracket is com­pat­i­ble with the Red ce­ramic ver­sion, which is a great up­grade for those want­ing to shave off some weight.

The rear de­railleur of­fers ex­tremely quick ac­tion. Dur­ing my ride and with our re­view gruppo, the Force 22 bar- end shifters weren’t avail­able, so we tried things out as a road setup with sram’s dou­ble-tap brake/shift levers. If you haven’t ever used the dou­ble­tap sys­tem be­fore, it takes a bit of get­ting used to, but once you have the hang of it you’ll find it’s pretty easy to move up and down through the gears. Short taps on the lever move you one gear harder, while a long press moves you to an eas­ier gear. Hold­ing the lever in will move you up a num­ber of gears at once, which is a nice fea­ture for those days when you come around a cor­ner and find yourself on a steep climb – as I did that morn­ing in Kona.

In ad­di­tion to all the other me­chan­i­cal in­no­va­tions, sram has spent a lot of time di­alling in the er­gonomics of the lever hood in this gruppo. Paired with sis­ter- com­pany Zipp’s Ser­vice Course SL-70 han­dle­bars, the hoods form a straight line off the edge of the bar for an ex­tremely com­fort­able hand po­si­tion. The large pad­dles are easy to get at and the long brake levers are com­pletely and eas­ily ad­justable, so even those with smaller hands will be able to find a com­fort­able fit. The 11-speed cas­sette uses an alu­minum spi­der with steel cogs. It of­fers the same spac­ing and spline as Shi­mano, so var­i­ous parts will be cross com­pat­i­ble. Brak­ing is easy and smooth thanks to the dual-pivot brakes.

We’re anx­iously await­ing the ar­rival of the tri-up­grade for the gruppo that will in­clude bar- end shifters and some larger chain­rings for the Force 22 group set, which is due as we go to print with this is­sue. That is sure to make this a pop­u­lar op­tion on mid-range tri bikes. ( We’ll make sure to post a fol­lowup on triathlon­magazine. ca when we do.)

There was a rea­son Pask­ins hadn’t felt a need to set me up on sram’s more ex­pen­sive road gruppo. When it comes to per­for­mance, there’s not much more you could ask for that what you get from sram’s Force 22. For the price it’s amongst the high­est per­form­ing and light­est me­chan­i­cal group sets around.– KM

$150 With a 59 litre ca­pac­ity and ev­ery fea­ture you could ever want, the En­durance 9.0 is like the Cadil­lac of tran­si­tion packs. Made with light­weight and durable rip- stop ny­lon, the En­durance 9.0 eas­ily con­verts to a back­pack with ad­justable shoul­der and ster­num straps, but it can also serve as a great over-the- shoul­der weekend bag. There are sep­a­rate com­part­ments for all your needs in­clud­ing a large main com­part­ment and an additional end stor­age pocket with a lock­able crush-re­sis­tant moulded eva ar­moured pocket on the top that pro­tects sun­glasses. Ogio has pulled out all the stops with this bag, in­clud­ing an ex­pand­able hel­met pocket, a wet/dry com­part­ment with 360 de­grees of ven­ti­la­tion for sweaty gear or wet­suit, a sep­a­rate ven­ti­lated shoe com­part­ment ( large enough to hold both bike and run shoes) and two in­su­lated hy­dra­tion bot­tle pock­ets. An in­te­rior Tech Vault keeps your phone and elec­tron­ics free from harm and a hanger clip lets you hang your bag while set­ting up tran­si­tion.– TMC

Sig­nited when he took part in the youth triathlon se­ries Kids of Steel. Could Mer­rell’s Schools in Mo­tion in­spire the new Whit­field? Mer­rell and Triathlon Que­bec bring triathlon to kids who might never en­counter the sport, much less take part in it.

Schools are selected based on their ac­cess to a pool for race day and train­ing, and the pro­gram re­lies heav­ily on ded­i­cated triath­lete teach­ers who vol­un­teer to coach the stu­dents and cheer them on through­out the race. Schools in Mo­tion has put to­gether an ex­ten­sive guide that out­lines ev­ery­thing host schools need to know, from how to set up tran­si­tion to how to se­cure of­fi­cials. Mer­rell and Triathlon Que­bec both sup­ply two staff mem­bers for race day. Mer­rell also sub­si­dizes most of the event in­clud­ing a truck­load of com­pe­ti­tion es­sen­tials such as the fin­ish­ing arch, way-find­ing signs, cones, fenc­ing, and bike racks for tran­si­tion. Cana­dian Tire even do­nated bikes for those kids who need one – these, like the fin­ish­ing arch and race day gear, are shipped from school to school for each event.

“We be­lieve at their age it is im­por­tant to make the sport about par­tic­i­pa­tion rather than com­pe­ti­tion. It’s about get­ting to that fin­ish­ing arch which the kids love be­cause it makes it very of­fi­cial. It’s amaz­ing to see the self- es­teem we are build­ing in those kids who never thought they could do some­thing like this,” ex­plains Tri­quet.

In the pool and on the race­course our var­ied cul­tural be­liefs and dif­fer­ing so­cio- eco­nom­ics can co­ex­ist and this, Tri­quet in­sists, is just one way triathlon is trans­for­ma­tive.

How tough is Xena? This is a woman who pow­ered her way through a 4:34 bike split at the Asia- Pa­cific Iron­man Cham­pi­onship Mel­bourne two years ago (rid­ing with the sec­ond men’s pack, no less), on her way to an 8:35 fin­ish time, mak­ing her the sec­ond fastest woman ever over the Iron­man dis­tance. At last year’s Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship in Hawaii, St­ef­fen was strongly favoured to win the race, but ended up get­ting sick.

“Your girl isn’t go­ing to fin­ish,” Craig Alexan­der told her boyfriend on the course. “I just saw her throw­ing her guts up on the Queen K.”

Xena war­riored on, though, run­ning an in­cred­i­bly quick last 20 km of the marathon to move her­self back to fifth.

As tough as she is in races, there’s also a rea­son why her for­mer coach, Brett Sut­ton, used to em­pha­size the “princess” part of her nick­name. Chat with her away from a race and she’s in­cred­i­bly soft- spo­ken. De­spite all the time in the spot­light, the 35-year- old is quiet, unas­sum­ing and shy. Sen­tences are punc­tu­ated with a smile or a soft laugh. Even if you’re a fan of one of her com­peti­tors, a few min­utes with her and you can’t help but like her.

Spend over an hour in­ter­view­ing her and you start to re­al­ize that in ad­di­tion to her quiet dis­po­si­tion be­fore the gun goes off, St­ef­fen is, at some lev­els, a hope­less ro­man­tic. How else do you de­scribe a young woman with barely any English get­ting on the phone to her em­ploy­ers at the road en­gi­neer­ing firm in Switzer­land, where she’d worked for a decade, to say she’s not com­ing back af­ter a train­ing camp in Aus­tralia be­cause she’d met a guy, Aus­tralian David Del­low. (If you think that call was hard, imag­ine the one to her par­ents.) When she met Del­low her English was so weak she could barely un­der­stand him, but it be­came pretty clear that he truly be­lieved she had the abil­ity to be­come one of the world’s best.

“Dave gave me this chance,” she says. “He said, ‘ I be­lieve in you and we’re go­ing to stick to­gether and do this.’” They have.

DELLOW­know she had. Even now, with four Iron­man ti­tles, a Chal­lenge Roth win last sum­mer along with two itu long course ti­tles, you won’t get her to ad­mit that there’s any nat­u­ral abil­ity.

“I’m just fight­ing,” she says. “I keep push­ing my­self. I don’t give up. If I had more talent I’d be even bet­ter with the work that I do. I have to work re­ally hard to get the re­sults I have.”

She’s al­ways ex­celled by out­work­ing those around her. Af­ter chas­ing her older brother and sis­ter around for years, as a child her mother put a mo­tor­cy­cle hel­met on her head on the ski hill be­cause she would go down the hills so fast with­out turn­ing. Those years of out­stand­ing swim­ming? Two-a- day work­outs for 10 years. On the bike she was an aer­o­bic ma­chine, of­ten be­ing des­ig­nated to work as a do­mes­tique for her team. One day when they told her she could go for it and not have to work for any­one, she took off half­way through the race and cruised to her first pro win.

Be­fore that bike ca­reer, though, there was some multi-sport suc­cess. Af­ter wak­ing up one day and re­al­iz­ing she didn’t want to swim any more, St­ef­fen took a cou­ple of years off sports. Then she en­tered a crossSwitzer­land race that in­cluded swim­ming, moun­tain bik­ing, in­line skat­ing, road bik­ing and run­ning. Af­ter leading through the swim, she found her­self in dead last dur­ing the in­line skat­ing be­fore mov­ing her­self up through the ranks on the bikes and run to fin­ish fifth. Re­al­iz­ing her strength was in the wa­ter, on two wheels and then run­ning, she looked for a triathlon she could make as her next chal­lenge.

“What’s the cra­zi­est thing I can do in triathlon,” she asked her­self. The Iron­man Switzer­land race in nearby Zurich was the quick an­swer. Her 9:58 fin­ish­ing time net­ted her sec­ond in her age group and qual­i­fied her for Kona, where she fin­ished third and rode an im­pres­sive 5:12 bike split on a road bike with­out aero bars.

The next two years were spent on the cy­cling team be­fore she de­cided once again it was time to

head back to triathlon. She signed up for that fateful triathlon camp and hasn’t looked back since. Well, maybe for a while dur­ing her in­tro­duc­tion to Sut­ton, who spent the first few days at their first train­ing camp to­gether in the Philip­pines vir­tu­ally ig­nor­ing her and just tak­ing notes. When they fi­nally started to talk, though, the re­sults were im­pres­sive. Her pro­fes­sional de­but in Kona in­cluded a run­ner-up fin­ish to Chrissie Welling­ton. A year later, af­ter dom­i­nat­ing in Frankfurt, St­ef­fen fin­ished fifth in Kona de­spite to a foot in­jury that ham­pered her run train­ing. Then came the 2012 dis­ap­point­ment, where St­ef­fen led for much of the run, only to find her­self passed by Le­anda Cave in the last five kilo­me­tres.

“It was like giv­ing a choco­late bar to a kid and then pulling it away and say­ing it’s not yours,” she said of the race, where she would fin­ish sec­ond by just 65 sec­onds. “It was hard to get over it.”

Af­ter an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally slow start to the 2013 sea­son, St­ef­fen’s build to Kona seemed to be go­ing per­fectly. She won Chal­lenge Roth and then, fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar plan to that used for Welling­ton be­fore her first win in 2007, cruised to a full- dis­tance win in Bin­tan, In­done­sia six weeks be­fore Kona.

“In the lead up [to Kona] I felt re­ally good,” she says. “All the times were bet­ter than be­fore. I was re­ally con­fi­dent with all the work I did be­fore the race.”

The day be­gan per­fectly, too. She swam with the large lead group, then found her­self in a group of nine that f lew through the first half of the bike, reach­ing the turn­around in Hawi at an aver­age speed of 40 km/ h. Not want­ing to lose time to that group, St­ef­fen missed her spe­cial needs bag and couldn’t get the two bot­tles she’d pre­pared with her own drinks, which might have been why she started to feel sick through the rest of the ride.

“I thought about stop­ping in T2,” she says, “then I stopped one km into the run. Le­anda came by and en­cour­aged me, so I started to run with her.”

She strug­gled through the first 22 km of the run, then had the epic throw-up ses­sion that Alexan­der wit­nessed. From there she felt bet­ter and ran well, fin­ish­ing the last 10 km faster than she ever has in Kona.

“It was a les­son,” St­ef­fen says. “I learned a lot about my­self. I am still sure I can win this race.”

All of which pro­vides some so­lace, but …

“Isays. “That’s what keeps you go­ing.” Then comes that smile and a bit of a laugh as she fin­ishes the thought. “And I al­ways pic­ture my­self look­ing back to make sure no one catches me.”

Wel­come to the life of be­ing a rab­bit. When you’re amongst the strong­est swim/ bik­ers the sport has ever seen you spend a lot of time run­ning with a tar­get on your back. When one of those chasers, like 2013 Iron­man world cham­pion Mirinda Car­frae, is ca­pa­ble of a 2:50 marathon, you in­evitably find yourself look­ing back a lot.

“If she’s go­ing to run a 2:50, that means I have to ride a 4: 40,” St­ef­fen says. “She im­proved so much on the bike, too – she was so strong rid­ing on her own. Her 2:50 was game chang­ing. Even on my best day I would have been sec­ond again. I have to step up an­other level to beat her. It’s great for our sport.”

Mov­ing up an­other level, though, won’t be easy in 2014. St­ef­fen had de­cided that she was go­ing to leave Team tbb in Au­gust, but planned on con­tin­u­ing to be coached by Sut­ton. In ad­di­tion to the dra­matic news last Novem­ber that Sut­ton was also leav­ing Team tbb, he had some more news for St­ef­fen: he wasn’t go­ing to coach her any more, ei­ther.

The upside to that news is that St­ef­fen and Del­low won’t have to live out of a suit­case chas­ing their coach from Asia to Switzer­land to Mex­ico for six months of the year and can now en­joy some time in the house they re­cently bought on B.C.’s Sun­shine Coast. The downside is that she’s now in need of a coach. Even if she can’t find some­one will­ing to take her on, though,

she’s not overly wor­ried.

“I know what I did the last four years,” she says. “It might be a good op­por­tu­nity to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and get it done.”

“It” no- doubt means the win in Kona. She’s also likely to fi­nally take Abu Dhabi, too, where she’s fin­ished sec­ond, third and fourth over the years. Un­like coun­try­woman Natascha Bad­mann, a six-time Kona cham­pion and the old­est Iron­man cham­pion ever, St­ef­fen has no in­ten­tion to stay in the sport for an­other 11 years.

“If I am 46 and still on my bike, please just pull me off,” she laughs. “I don’t know how she does it.”

So how long can we ex­pect to see “Xena” rac­ing? The an­swer comes from Caro­line, the non-war­rior.

“I’ll do it as long as pos­si­ble. I like to swim, I like to ride my bike, I like to run. The rac­ing is just a bonus. I don’t train to race, I train be­cause I love it. If I wake up one morn­ing and de­cide I want to stop, I’ll stop. I did the same when I swam, I did the same when I was on a cy­cling team. If I don’t like it any­more I’m not go­ing to do it.”

Un­for­tu­nately for her com­pe­ti­tion, once the gun goes off a dif­fer­ent Caro­line St­ef­fen seems to ap­pear. One who takes no pris­on­ers, who will do ev­ery­thing she can next Oc­to­ber to come off the bike with a 12-minute cush­ion so that she can run a three-hour marathon and still have some time to en­joy the fin­ish line as she runs down Ali’i Drive.

Will that be enough? Can all that hap­pen with­out Sut­ton’s guid­ance? Stay tuned for this year’s sea­son of Xena. Dur­ing its four-year run it’s been quite a show. Sea­son five prom­ises to be ev­ery bit as ex­cit­ing.

a panacea for in­jury preven­tion pro­vided you have enough to per­form the goal task.

A great way to tell if you have suf­fi­cient mo­bil­ity for swim­ming is to talk to your coach about your form. Are you strug­gling to get into the po­si­tions you need? Per­haps you lack shoul­der range of mo­tion but make up for it by arch­ing your back. These in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances might help us de­ter­mine where stretch­ing is valu­able and needed. Stretch­ing or other means of in­creas­ing mo­bil­ity may hold value when we eval­u­ate and pre­scribe mo­bil­ity in an ath­lete- spe­cific man­ner and look for ath­lete- spe­cific mis­matches.

It may seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive, but stiff­ness is good. Stiff­ness is free mus­cle en­ergy. Stiff­ness is the re­sis­tance of a mus­cle-ten­don to stretch. Sur­pris­ingly an ath­lete can be stiff and also f lex­i­ble. When this is the case, ath­letes have good range of mo­tion but mus­cles and ten­dons act like strong springs that take en­ergy to de­form them. In sports that have repet­i­tive mo­tions (run, bike and swim), we load up the springs and re­lease en­ergy dur­ing ev­ery step, pedal or swim stroke. In re­search, we see elite ath­letes with stiffer joints than their sub- elite peers.

In­creas­ing lev­els of stiff­ness are as­so­ci­ated with im­prove­ments in run­ning and cy­cling econ­omy and power de­vel­op­ment. In­ter­ven­tions that tran­siently de­crease stiff­ness can lead to deficits in some mark­ers of per­for­mance. An ar­gu­ment can even be made that heavy re­sis­tance ex­er­cise, ex­plo­sive ex­er­cises and ply­o­met­ric ex­er­cises work to in­crease per­for­mance by mod­i­fy­ing tis­sue stiff­ness rather than only in­creas­ing strength. En­durance sports don’t re­quire huge amounts of mus­cle strength, yet we see im­prove­ments af­ter strength train­ing in run­ning, cy­cling and swim­ming ef­fi­ciency af­ter strength train­ing. Could it be that it’s these pas­sive changes in mus­cle stiff­ness (i. e. free en­ergy) rather than just a stronger mus­cle that drive the per­for­mance en­hance­ment?

Cur­rent stiff­ness and flex­i­bil­ity re­search em­pha­sizes strength, ex­plo­sive and ply­o­met­ric train­ing rather than stretch­ing for per­for­mance im­prove­ments and in­jury preven­tion. Stretch­ing and mo­bil­ity regimes should be re­served for in­di­vid­ual cases when the mo­bil­ity de­mands of the task are not matched by the mo­bil­ity of the ath­lete. Putting Ply­o­met­rics to Work At its sim­plest, ply­o­met­rics are a form of jump train­ing. A ply­o­met­ric ex­er­cise con­sists of a rapid length­en­ing then ex­plo­sive short­en­ing of a mus­cle. The aim is to pro­duce as much force as pos­si­ble in the short­est amount of time. Imag­ine, for ex­am­ple, the high jump. Just be­fore take- off the an­kle, knee and hip bend quickly and then the ath­lete ex­plo­sively straight­ens the launch­ing leg. Ply­o­met­rics re­quire the abil­ity to pro­duce force quickly.

The ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects of ply­o­met­ric ex­er­cises for en­durance ath­letes have been demon­strated for decades. Ply­o­met­ric train­ing leads to in­creased run­ning and cy­cling econ­omy and ef­fi­ciency, and in­creases in over­all strength and power. Stud­ies have also shown that ply­o­met­rics de­crease the al­tered and

Beginners can mod­ify these ex­er­cises by merely do­ing some of the move­ments (squats, one leg squat, split squats) quickly with­out launch­ing into the air. Ad­vanced ath­letes could in­cor­po­rate weighted jumps into their ply­o­met­ric rou­tine. An ex­am­ple would be per­form­ing a dead­lift/squat type mo­tion with a Trap bar with an ex­plo­sive move­ment leading to a jump.

Ply­o­met­rics are a great way to add strength and power to your rou­tine. They don’t re­quire a gym and can be per­formed as a com­ple­ment to your strength train­ing regime. If you do add ply­o­met­rics work with your coach on man­ag­ing the loads and stresses you place on your body.

How to Get Bet­ter The main way to im­prove is to spend more time out­side on the bike. Too many ath­letes spend too much time rid­ing in­side (usu­ally from Oc­to­ber to April). This means it’s very hard to progress from sea­son to sea­son. Change that by go­ing to a quiet park­ing lot and use the painted park­ing lines as a guide to help you prac­tice 180 de­gree turn­arounds ( like the ones you en­counter in many races). Pick a point to turn around and prac­tice stay­ing with the lines. As you get bet­ter, you can make the turn­ing space nar­rower and nar­rower un­til you can do a 180- de­gree turn within the width of one park­ing spot. To prac­tice cor­ner­ing on your own, find a quiet street with a 90- de­gree cor­ner that you can see around and pro­gres­sively build speed as your com­fort in­creases. Line The best line for cor­ners is to start wide then cut in at the apex of the cor­ner then out wide to exit the turn. Of course it is es­sen­tial to keep eyes on traf­fic and never to cross the cen­tre line , ei­ther head­ing into or out of the turn.

The bike can han­dle far more than we tend to think it can. A great ex­er­cise is to ride on the grass with some friends and prac­tice bump­ing and touch­ing el­bows to see how that feels while go­ing slow and with a softer land­ing should you hap­pen to go down. The key is to keep arms bent and loose so that any bump­ing is ab­sorbed by them.

Even bike main­te­nance plays a role in mak­ing bike han­dling eas­ier. Make sure that your bike is in good work­ing or­der. Good brakes that are set up prop­erly make a huge dif­fer­ence; it will al­low you to brake with con­fi­dence and let you carry more speed into cor­ners and on de­scents. Group Rid­ing In or­der to ride safely the group needs to work to­gether and you should be rid­ing ei­ther sin­gle or dou­ble file, but never three or more abreast. Be pre­dictable and al­ways hold your line. The per­son leading sets the tone for those be­hind. Drift­ing back then hav­ing to ac­cel­er­ate to catch up, or weav­ing side to side, will en­dan­ger other rid­ers, par­tic­u­larly when there are cars around. Good bike han­dling skills can make a big dif­fer­ence in per­for­mance. They help rid­ers be more en­ergy ef­fi­cient and con­fi­dent. With no pur­chase re­quired, it re­ally is free speed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.