Archive for the ‘cycling’ Category


Product Review: Phonak PFE – Perfect Fit Earphones

February 4, 2010

So I got an email the other day that went something like this…

Hey Jamie, remember the Phonak pro cycling team?”

“Yeah! Floyd Landis is the man! What a BAMF!”

“Agreed. Well Phonak primarily makes hearing aids, but they have some pretty sick earphones. Wanna test ’em out?”

“Heck yes I do!”

Unlike last winter when I was still teaching spinning classes a few times per week, I’ve been spending a TON more time listening to music by myself on the bike trainer (and even more once I really ramp up my running) so I thought this would be the perfect piece of new gear to review. Soon I got a nice surprise in the mail and started putting ’em through the SwimBikeRun product testing gauntlet.

Introducing the Phonak PFEs.

Phonak Perfect Fit Earphones

PFE stands for “perfect fit earphones.”

For such tiny little earphones, they sure promised a lot (a perfect fit and and incredible sound quality – without the distraction of ambient noise) so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. After poking around and finding some pretty impressive reviews, including this one from CNet, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I tried to stay as unbiased as I could and give ’em a fair shake.

Continue reading the full review here:


Training Weekend 2009

May 19, 2009

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Training weekend totally beat me up this weekend.

After making the road trip up to Franconia, NH on Friday, I woke up bright and early and headed out with the team for a hard 90 mile ride with a belly full of fruit and pancakes.

Last year I stuck to the 60 mile route, but decided to step it up this year and go for the long route. It was definitely a good decision. There were 4 or 5 different groups that started along the same route. I was able to keep up pace with the “A” group for a while, which was a nice fitness test.

Up through the first climb, descending down the other side at around 49 mph (which was pretty slow because of all the wind) and half way through the climb up the Kangamangus, I was able to hang on to the caboose of the”A Train” led by speed freak Toby Wells. I even felt pretty good hanging on the back as we climbed, but once the climb started to get really steep, my HR got dangerously close to my lactate threshold and I had to drop off. Mile 30 is way too early to blow up on a 90 mile ride.

While I love the company of my teammates for the whole weekend, one of my favorite things about training weekend is the views from the road. Surrounded by snow capped mountains, waterfalls an moose crossing signs every few miles, I couldn’t be happier.

While the route was already hard enough, the wind made it pretty brutal. It was gusting around 30 or 40 mph at some points. And when you are heading up the side of a mountain at 12 mph, and a head wind gusting down your throat drops you down to 7 or 8, you just have to do anything you can to stay upright and keep the rubber side down.

Eventually we did get a few headwinds to take us home. We closed it off with just shy of 6 hours in the saddle. I averaged around 15.5 mph, which seems slow, but it sounded like the A group averaged only around 17 mph, so I didn’t feel so bad.

Views from my 90 mile ride:

The next morning me and hardcore climbing machine Andrea headed out to test the waters for a “swim.” Ther wasn’t much actual swimming involved. It was more of just splashing around until the nerve endings in my face died and stopped screaming in pain. Yeah, the water was somewhere between 50 and 52 degrees. And yes, that is snow on the top of the mountain behind us.

Eventually once my face went numb, I was able to keep pretty normal form. It was less for building my swim fitness and more of just getting used to racing in cold water, but it was definitely a success. This was my first time ever breaking out the booties for a swim. They made a HUGE difference. I love ’em, but I can’t wait for the water to warm up and I can leave them in the car.


The obligatory super hero flexing pose.


Andrea and I discovered this megaphone on the side of Echo Lake.The sign below it says:

“This megaphone was originally used by guests of the profile house around the turn of the century. Removed after the 1938 hurricane, the only one ever to come inland in N.H., it was discovered and reestablished in 1981. Listen and you shoudl be able to hear two distinct echos.”

Funny how people entertained themselves back in the day, eh? I could actually hear three distinct echos bouncing back from the mountain across from the pond. Fun times.


And remember that brutal head wind that I mentioned? Unfortunately not all of my Wheelworks team mates weren’t so lucky to keep the rubber side down. On the 60 mile ride, a big gust nocked down Natalie, and Sara went right into, and over, her. She ended up taking most of the impact to her face, but thankfully she ended up a lot better than the damage looked.

She had the best attitude throughout the whole thing. All smiles (or as much as she could muster up through the swelling) and jokes. And the whole team rallied around to help her out like a huge family. I love my team. 🙂

For the whole story, check out Sara’s blog post here. She is Bad Ass! She even had Natalie shoot some video of her on the backboard ad the hospital.

Crash Damage


Climbing and Descending

May 14, 2009

This weekend is the Wheelworks team training weekend. One of my favorite times of the triathlon season.

This year, I will be trying my luck with hardest bike workout I’ve ever attempted. Ninety miles along the Kancamangus Highway and over 5,000 feet of climbing.

kancamagus highway

I did a section of this course last year, but topped out at 60 miles, but the most fun part was the descents. I maxed out at 57 mph and can’t wait to fly down those hills again.

I even just outfitted my bike with new shifter cables and brake pads, just to be safe. So if you don’t hear from my by Monday night, come find me. I might be hanging off the edge of some cliff somewhere.


Rev3 Bike Course Cue Sheet

May 13, 2009

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As I mentioned in my last post, I bummed a cue sheet off of a friendly stranger when I rode the Rev3 bike course. She said that the cue sheet that she from the Rev3 peeps  who were organizing the ride was slightly different from the cue sheet on the Web site. There was just a minor edit that gets you around some road construction. So just in case you are planning on riding the course any time soon, here is the the new sheet.

No word on if this is the version of the course on race day, or if the construciton will be done by then, but I’ll see if I can clear that up. Until then, here it is. It is a pretty easy course to follow, and somehow I managed not to get lost at all, so I was even pumped about that.

  1. Right out of transition at Quassy
  2. Right on Tuttle Road
  3. Straight (sort of) on Cat Swamp Road
  4. Right on Middle Road Turnpike
  5. Left on Quassapaug Road
  6. Right on Route 6
  7. Left on North Street
  8. Left on Route 63
  9. Right on Route 109
  10. Left on Route 6
  11. Left at Light on to 254
  12. Left at Center Street
  13. Left on Route 254
  14. Left onto Route 118
  15. Left on Chestnut Hill Road
  16. Right on Camp Dutton Road
  17. Left on Route 63
  18. Right on Route 61
  19. Hard Right on Alain White Road
  20. Continue on White Wood Road
  21. Turn around at Plumb Hill Road
  22. Back on White Wood and Alain White Road
  23. Cross Route 109
  24. Continue on Route 61
  25. Cross Route 6
  26. Straight on Quassapaug Road
  27. Straight on Watertown Road
  28. Straight on Tranquility
  29. Right on Route 64
  30. Right Into Bike Transition At Quassy

Another blogger, Chris, aslo wrote up a report on the bike course. Unfortunately, he got stuck in the rain storm that I missed, but he also picked up on a lot of little pieces of the course that were just a blur of pain and sweat. Check it out if you are interested.


First Lactate Threshold Test of ’09

April 26, 2009

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With a last week as a rest week, I took it nice and easy, focused on settling into the new job and got ready for a FITNESS TEST! Woot Woot! After a few much needed days off to let the legs freshen up, I headed out for a nice hard 30 minute ride.

Coach Brett has me doing this lactate threshold test every three weeks or so as a benchmark of my fitness. To get some more info on the science behind it, super coach Joel Friel blogged about it here. The plan was that I warm up nice and easy then go all out TT style for 30 minutes, but reset my HRM and bike computer after 10 minutes, so I only collect data for the last 20 minutes. The average heart rate for that last 20 minutes is my lactate threshold heart rate, the point where my body produces more lactic acid than it can break down and it starts accumulating in my blood. The plan is to repeat this test every three weeks or so so that I have a pretty standardized way to track my progress.

I headed out to Concord to find some nice quiet roads and not worry about traffic, and hit it hard. I felt pretty quick, and even buzzed past my old pal Chris, who I hadn’t seen since the Rhode Island 70.3 last year. Unfortunately, there was no time to stop and chat. This guy was on a mission!

The last five minutes definitely hurt. It was a good sign that I was putting in a hard effort, but I may have dropped the pace a little. Maybe next time I’ll start a little easier to keep the pace a little more even. In the end here are the stats for my last 20 minutes.

Avg HR (Lactate Threshold): 173

Max HR: 181

Distance covered: 6.75 miles

Avg Speed: 20.3 mph

Max Speed: 31.2 mph

I’m no exercise physiologist, but my avg HR seems pretty high, in a good way. If the point where my body starts to accumulate lactic acid (173) is only 16 beats away from my max HR (around 189) that has to be pretty good, right? I’m a little disappointed that I only barely broke the 20mph barrier, but I guess it is still only April. I have plenty of time to build up some more speed.

Given that the 220 minus your age rule is crap (and there is no way that I can get my HR up to 195) I redid my HR zones based on these percentages that I got from my coach’s coach at Mike Ricci at D3 Multisport. Here is where I land now.

Zone 1: Recovery – 112-145 bpm
Also known as: Overdistance
Intensity: Very Low
% Lactate Threshold: 65%-84%
Zone 2: Endurance – 146 – 157 bpm
Also known as: Extensive Endurance
Intensity: Moderate
% Lactate Threshold: 85%-91%
Zone 3: Lactate Threshold – 158 – 164 bpm
Also known as: Intensive Endurance
Intensity: Moderate Plus
% Lactate Threshold: 92%-95%
Zone 4: VO2 Max Intervals – 165 – 173 bpm
Also known as: Anaerobic Threshold, Race/Pace
Intensity: Race/Pace
% Lactate Threshold: 96%-100%
Zone 5a: Threshold Endurance – 174 – 176 bpm
Also known as: Superthreshold
% Lactate Threshold: 100%-102%
Zone 5b: Anaerobic Endurance – 177 – 182 bpm
Also known as: Speed Endurance
% Lactate Threshold: 103%-105%
Zone 5c: Anaerobic Capacity – +183 bpm
Also known as: Power
% Lactate Threshold: 106%+

Stay tuned. I’ll be back on the same route three weeks from now to see how I’ve come along. Apparently the LTHR is completely different for running too, so I’ll have to test that seperately too.

And in case you want some more info on lactate threshold. This article was pretty good too.


Build Phase = Twinkie Nutrition

March 29, 2009

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The snow has melted (almost), it actually rained this week instead of snowed and I heard thunder for the first time this year. Not only does that mean that winter is gone and spring is starting to bloom, but it is time to move from my base training phase to the build phase! More volume. More intensity. More hurtin’!

I am moving past that 5-10 hours per week to that 10-15 zone and it hurts. These past two weeks have slowly and systematically been tearing my legs off from my body. I’ve gotten two 50 mile rides in and it isn’t even April yet. I normally don’t get in this much riding this early in the season, but then again I don’t normally plan on doing a half ironman in the beginning of June. I guess it is at least good to know that my training is matching my race schedule. Makes sence, right? Haha.

During my long ride this weekend I cruised through one of my favorite routes from Concord, MA. Nice quiet farm land and cool little stuff like this old mill.

Besides wearing my calf compression sleeves almost constantly, and refilling the ice bucket repeatedly for another round of ice baths I’ve found that the build phase makes Jamie HUNGRY! My mid-workout nutrition is usually pretty good, but it seems like I just can’t take in enough calories during the rest of the day. I’ve cut back on a lot of things since losing my job, but food has not been one of them. I just couldn’t justify trying to get fitter and training for triathlons, but downgrading the fuel that I feed my body to keep it performing. It is almost like buying a new sports car and refusing to put anything but 87 grade gas in it, right?

But after multiple trips to the local butcher and Whole Foods in one week, I still am struggling to get in enough food. A whole box of chocolate chip cookies, a ton of fruit and enough PBnJ sandwiches to choke a donkey just aren’t cutting it. It even got to the point on Saturday that after a 55 mile tempo ride, I had to skip my swim workout because I was busy stuffing my face for so long that by the time I was done, the pool was closed. What gives?!

The good thing is that I’m at least not gaining any weight. I got a little worried once I ran out of fruit and veggies and started hitting the cookies, Ben & Jerry’s and danishes as if my body ran on fat and sugar alone. I guess that means I’m at least burning all those junk calories that I’m taking in, right? I also made the mistake of walking by the wall of snack cake deliciousness while at Target today. Twinkie the kid was calling my name and I couldn’t resist.

I inhaled three before I even left the parking lot, and another one on my way out the door for a 6 mile run. I was really expecting a stomach ache by mile 2, but it surprisingly worked out pretty well. I think they may be new replacement for GUs and Clif bars, I’m just saying….

Thankfully this next week is a rest week. Hopefully my eating habits don’t continue or else I’m going to blow up like a baloon and they’ll have to roll me across the finish line.


Indoor Time Trial Time

March 23, 2009

This weekend me and two of my Wheelworks Multisport teammates signed up for the indoor computrainer time trial at the Multisport World Expo in Cambridge.

Coach Brett and I decided that this would be a good test of my fitness that I could hopefully use it as a benchmark for how I’m responding to all the training through the rest of the season. It also gave me a good idea of how much I could actually blame on my bike. My road bike isn’t exactly built for speed and it was a great way to get myself on a level playing field with other guys who are rocking carbon tri bikes that cost thousands more than my bike and weigh half as much. This race was all about legs and lungs baby!

But the thing about the indoor time trial is that it isn’t just some spectators, a few other athletes and me sweating our brains out for 10k. It is right in the middle of a huge multisport expo floor! So if you bonk, finish miles behind the rest of the riders in your heat, or make the mistake of wearing that pair of tri shorts that chlorine has eaten all but a few strands of spandex and bare your back side to a few hundred very close new friends, everyone knows. Instantly. All of your data is projected on a big screen for everyone to see. Watts. Speed. Distance behind the next rider. EVERYTHING.

Pic stolen from my Wheelworks team mate Sara. I’m not in this heat, but it at least gives you an idea of the setup.

Normally I’m not all that self conscious and have gotten used to most of my friends seeing me in varying amounts of spandex on a regular basis, but having all my stats broadcast onto the big screen instantly was a bit uncomfortable. But by the time the butterflies came, it was too late to even pay attention to them. I saddled up and before I knew it, we were off.

My feet started flying and I was really pushing the cadence. That was until one of the guys that was running the race came over and let me know that apparently the computrainer works better with a lower cadence around 85. After a few gear shifts and coming down from closer to 105 rpm, I was settled in to a good pace and found myself in fourth place out of eight. I was completely clueless about pacing for such a short race, but decided that for such a short race, if it didn’t hurt at least a little, I probably wasn’t going hard enough.

After some rolling hills and switching up my wattage, I figured anything under 275 didn’t hurt enough, and stuck with that as my target. I tried to only pay attention to that, mainly because there were a billion other numbers on my performance being projected on the screen and I could have gone into overload. Eventually, I realized that I was only a little while back from third place, and had him in my sights. He looked like he was hurting a lot more than I was, so I kept pushing it, took him down and held it through the end.


I didn’t have any expectations for this race, but just wanted to to give a really hard effort and analyze some of the stats. Given that I got a new max HR and that if the race was a mile longer, I would have thrown up everywhere, it was a good day. Here are my race stats.

Distance: 6.03 miles

Time: 15:56:09

Avg speed: 22.7

Avg watts: 283

Place (overall): 25 (74 overall)

Avg HR: 174

Max HR: 189

While I can’t prove it, I am sure that I wouldn’t be able to finish that strong this time last year. I’m totally psyched to start racing OUTSIDE!

UPDATE: Apparently I beat Karen Smyers by 20 seconds according to the official results. I can only imagine that she wasn’t giving it her all, but either way, it is a nice ego boost. 🙂 She is pretty hard core.