Sunday, September 22, 2013

How does your gear rate...when it breaks?

I've been meaning to blog about something other than race reports, so here it goes.  I am always looking to find what quality products have good customer support to back them up.  I don't mind paying a little more for a quality product, but IF there is a problem with the product I want the manufacturer to back it up.  Yes, I know everyone has their favorite brand of shoe, or bike, or watch, etc.  I am just offering a few of my own experiences that might help others break the tie if they are can't decide between brands.  
My first notable experience had to do with my Garmin 910xt.  I bought it used, but purchased the Premium HRM Transmitter with soft strap through in May of 2012.  In
January the HRM  starting giving erratic data and I went online searching for answers.  I checked all the normal blog sites and Garmin  FAQs.  I followed the troubleshooting procedures and even changed the Transmitter battery, but it was still giving erratic and erroneous data.  In February, I called the Garmin customer service line and explained the details, and was told to email a copy of my receipt from Heart Rate Monitors USA.  A quick Garmin reply was received the same day that a new Premium HRM Transmitter with soft strap was being shipped to me.   The only caveat to this warranty service was that I could prove purchase of the HRM was within the 1-year warranty period.  That is customer service!

Item number two was a set of the Profile Design AirStryke Aerobars purchased
in March of 2012.  The flip up design seemed like the way to go, despite some of the reviews that mentioned the spring on the flip up arm rests being problematic.  I have been very pleased with the Aerobars and the AeroDrink Bracket.  I can easily switch between the 32 oz. AeroDrink and the 50 oz. Aqua Cell which makes a difference on longer unsupported rides.  As expected one of the springs on the armrests did eventually break.  I called the Profile Design warranty line and explained the problem. The customer service representative took my name and address and said he would ship a replacement spring kit out right away.   This is too easy.

Item number three was the Saris CycleOn Pro bike rack.  I purchased the CycleOn Pro from in May of 2012 and then the 2 bike add-on a few weeks later from   With the 2 bike add-on it is quite heavy and is not something you want to take on and off every day.    I looked at different stand-up carrier options and this one seemed to be the right rack to carry all of the family's bikes.  The damage occurred in May of 2013.  Driving out from
the greenway parking lot my wife's bike fell over while in the bike rack.
I attributed it to the arm that holds down pressure on the front tire becoming loose and the numerous potholes in the green way parking lot. Thankfully, the bike remained in a horizontal position on the bike rack.  However, it was heavy enough that when it fell it damaged the arm that holds the front tire in place.  I reported the situation to Saris Cycling Group, and I was planning to buy the replacement arm myself.  I assumed that this type of damage was not something they would cover under the warranty.   After explaining the situation, they sent me a new arm.  The only cost was that they asked me to ship the damaged one back to them.  I probably could have gotten them to send me a shipping label to cover this cost, but I felt they had been more than accommodating already.

The last item that I had to make a warranty claim on so far this year is my Louis Garneau Tri-Lite shoes.  I purchased them in Aug of 2012 from Birmingham Bicycle Company (BBC).  In July of this year, I noticed that the heel cap had come unglued from the sole of the shoe.  It was barely hanging on by the rivet on the heel of the shoe.  A phone call to Birmingham Bicycle Company and they requested I email them a picture of the damage.  They contacted LG who sent them a new pair of shoes and then BBC shipped them to me with a return label so I could send the old shoes back. This was very convenient and avoided driving to Birmingham to pick up the new shoes.  Again their stated warranty period is for 1 year, so I can't say what the outcome would have been after the 1 year period.  However, they didn't question the purchase date or even ask for a copy of the receipt.

Sure, some of you are probably thinking that I should buy better equipment.  Granted you would like to buy things that never break, but I have been completely satisfied with the performance and value of the items I described above.  Things break, maybe I'm a little hard on my gear, but when the manufacturer stands behind their product it keeps me coming back.  I will continue to buy products from these companies because of my personal experience with their customer service.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Frantic Frog 2013 Race Report by Brenda McGovern

Frantic Frog Triathlon is, for most triathletes, their seasons' last event, and there are some who still have a month or two to go. But this event is also commemorative for me, as it is during my birthday month.  In 2010, it was on my birthday (9/11).

I arrived, my usual early, only to find that everyone else did too! Parking was conveniently located across from transition in the grass.

For a sprint-distance race, I only take into transition items that I need for that race, and nothing else. It's something I learned at Worlds and they will DQ you if there's clutter. So, helmet on aero bars with race number and sunglasses inside. Only run hat on ground secured with run shoes on top. No Towel. My swim cap and goggles were in my Tri kit.

After usual sprints to bathroom, off I go to run/jog 10 minutes, then down to the water to get swim feel and mark my sighting areas. The swim path was amazingly raked  for athletes (thank you Mountain Lakes ) and minimal milfold to contend.  Time to line up.

The dock was loaded with athletes (record number 600?) this year. This is non-USAT venue, so your race number is just that. Didn't matter where in line you were, but out of courtesy to those stronger swimmers, I stayed where my swim time/number would place me.  It turned out #469 was good place to swim 600 or so.  I always start wide to avoid rapid heart rate, then tangent towards turn buoy. Didn't have any stutter stops or swimming over, under, or around people (haha... like I'm good enough to do that). No one swam over me either. Out of water with short lushed carpeted run to bike.
T1 was quick, but slower than last year. Mount bike with shoes already clipped in, as I always do, but had difficulty this time getting feet into them. Concentrating with lots effort to point, I found myself falling in slow motion because I was going so slow. Fell right by my car, in the grass
Lost time untangling myself after the fall, so I worked my way through the bass fishing tournament traffic, out of Goosepond. Finally able to ride. Managed around 19mph. It was slower than last year.

T2 pretty quick and off to favorite part ...the run. Temps and humidity were cooler, so the run was more enjoyable. As I was on the trail part of the course, toward finish, I could hear, "Good job Josh!" This couldn't be photo bomb Joshua Pierson. So I pick up the pace some.  I was correct, it was Joshua, and he was saying "Don't let me pass you!" And he didn't...but he was close enough to photo bomb at the finish line. Thanks for the push. You know you've raced when you lose cookies at finish.

Time was slower due to longer swim and crash on bike. But solid event 4 weeks after Worlds. I will take that. 1:29:10 and 3rd in my age group. 40th female, but 2nd place in my AG was only 6 seconds ahead.

Brenda McGovern
Fleet Feet Triathlon Racing Team

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fleet Feet Team Members Create Big Presence at Frantic Frog

Fleet Feet Racing Team members won several awards this weekend at The Frantic Frog Sprint Triathlon, in Scottsboro. Among them were team members Jessica Ahrens (AG), Dianna Cioppi (MOA), Christopher Clements (AG), Wes Johnson (OA-CLY), Brenda McGovern (AG), David Rawlings (AG), Jeff Schertz (AG), Brent Sherman (AG), Dink Taylor (MOA), Carrie Wilson (AG), and the terrific trio of Will Barnwell, Mark Freeman, and Donnie Holmes for a sweep of the the male 35-39 age group! The team had a definite presence at the race, and fun was had by all.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Race Report by Mark Hudnall - Frantic Frog 2013

Frantic Frog Triathlon, 7 Sept 2013 
400m Swim, 24K Bike, 5K Run

This is my tenth triathlon of 2013.  I always like to mention what went on the day before a race.  It’s very rarely relevant to racing, although sometimes it can impact the race day performance.  I think it’s important to enjoy the sport and be competitive, but still enjoy the rest of your life.  Some of “us” (me included) can occasionally let our triathlon training take over our lives.  I haven’t met anyone lately who is making a living doing triathlons, and “triathlon” will not shed a tear when we are gone.  So keep it real and have fun racing. 

Rocketman 2011
Callaway Gardens 2012
On that note, my Friday night was spent watching local high school football.  Later that night the Bius Family drove up from South Mississippi to spend the weekend with us.  Great to see friends and looking forward to racing with my good friend Joel for the third year in a row.  He is the one to blame for my triathlon habit, since he talked me into doing the 10K as a relay team with him in 2011. 

A late night made race morning came early since I wanted to get a bike rack near the bike in/out.  Normal morning routine and I even shared my superstition nutrition with Joel.  Since he has been short on training time this year, I knew he could use the boost. We departed home at 0500 hours. 

As we arrived at Goosepond, it was evident that two cultures were trying to occupy the same space.  Bass fishing and triathlons…interesting mix.  Just for the record, most of the bass fishermen were there long before the triathletes began to arrive.  I enjoy bass fishing when I have the opportunity.  But I can honestly say I never got up at 3:00 a.m. to fish!  Wish I could say the same for triathlons.   

Even though we arrived at 6:00 and went straight to the bike racks, we still weren’t the first bikes to claim a space.  Packet pick was nice and simple, as always at this race.  Then I had time to set up my transition area and enjoy the time catching up with lots of folks at the race.  Got a good warm-up on the bike, but took longer than I normally do.  This resulted in no run warm-up, and I missed the team picture.  

Frantic Frog with Joel Bius 2013!!
I made it to the dock as the swimmers were lining up.  My bib number was 18, even though I think I was closer to 30th going in the water.  No, I’m not that fast, but I had to be back in Madison to coach a soccer game that started at 11:00 so I took a “few” seconds off my estimated swim time.  Added bonus of being at the front of the line was seeing all of the fast people at the beginning of the race, instead of while they were finishing as I started my run. 

Last year, I was putting my goggles on as I jumped off the dock.  This year I was goggled up and ready.  Unfortunately, my right goggle must have been over my swim cap and filled up with water almost immediately.  I can swim with one eye, but at the turn buoy, the left goggle fogged up.  I should have emptied them and resealed, but (for some unknown reason) I didn’t.  Since I started at the front, there weren’t very many swimmers to follow in, and I couldn’t see anything but swimmers going the opposite direction.  I tried to stay towards the buoys and keep the outgoing swimmers in view.  This resulted in swimming back towards the starting dock and then angling over to the swim exit.  My gps track showed I swam 543 meters in 10:11.  Last year’s swim time was 07:41, so I’m thinking the swim might have been a little long this year.  I also compared some of the top swim times and most of them were approximately 1.5 -2 minutes longer this year. 

I made it to the shore eventually and jogged into T1.  This run felt a lot longer than it really is, but in and out.  It is a psychological boost to see all the bikes in transition as I’m headed out.  Who cares that it’s a time-trial start, I like the mental boost.

Right out of T1, Will Barnwell comes by me doing warp speed…mental boost gone.  Overall bike seemed to be a very fast course this year.  I passed a fellow age-grouper around mile three.  Since my calf sleeves cover my age, I politely let him know (as I passed him) that if he needed any motivation that we were in the same age group.  It must have worked because we proceeded to pass each other about 6 times for the remainder of the bike course.  This may have helped him, since he was 8th in our age group and I came in 11th, but it helped me to push harder on the bike, too.  My average bike speed was 22.3 mph compared to last year’s 21.8 mph. 

T2 was quick and my fellow age-grouper and I departed on the run at the same time. 

I introduced myself and enjoyed the first ¾ mile with Jeff Summerlin-Long.  He told me he usually runs about a 7:15 pace and I knew that I couldn’t keep that pace on the winding, rolling Frantic Frog run course.  He ended up running a 7:03 to my 7:22.  Another PR for my 5K pace in triathlons this year!  I also owe part of that time to Dink Taylor.  He started to pass me in the woods a few hundred yards short of the finish.  Yes, he started the swim way later than me, and is a fast bike and crazy fast runner, but out of principle I couldn’t let him pass me at the end.  I can say that I crossed the finish line ahead of a 6-time Alabama 50-miler state record holding runner.  He ran a 6:15 pace and finished in 1:09:20, great job Dink!!

All of this made for a great day and I still got to coach my younger daughter’s soccer game and watch my older daughter play soccer later in the afternoon.  Shout out to my pastor and friend, Andy Wulff, for completing his first road triathlon.  He beat his goal time by 4 minutes.  Great job by Doug Wright today, he also exceeded his goals for the race.  Fleet Triathlon Team took 12 of the top 50 overall places and 12 podiums.   Scottsboro Trisport Club puts on a quality race with great after party.  Looking forward to racing in the 40-44 age group here next year.  David Rawlings captured the 1st place podium this year in the 40-44 AG, and he only beat me by 9 seconds.  Maybe I won't have to ride a mountain bike in the rain to get a podium next year.

I mentioned in my last report how important it is to be fast in Transition.  Almost prophetic, since this race I was 57th, 63rd, and 53rd in the respective race events.  However, due to my  transition times I ended up 39th Overall.  Four weeks and “a taper” remaining before the Goosepond 70.3 grand finale!