Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cervelo Shape of Speed at ATC
Free Science, Free Beer

Next Saturday two Cervelo insiders will be trekking down from the frozen tundra of their Toronto headquarters to ATC Barton Springs. You'll get a chance to learn about the science of bike design, engineering, and aerodynamics directly from a Cervelo engineer. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to ask all those hard, probing questions that have been keeping you up at night, like "How much faster is the P5 than the P3 really?" and "Did it drive you crazy when Garmin rode only the R5 all the time?"  The flyer even promises a glimpse at what Cervelo may be up to next. A P6? An aero mountain bike? Human-powered jets?  Find out in person over free beer and pizza at ATC!

Cervelo Shape of Speed
Free science, engineering, beer, and pizza from Cervelo and ATC
Saturday, March 7, from 6 to 8 p.m.
ATC Barton Springs

Friday, February 20, 2015

ATC Racing's Junior Women Program

by Allison Atkinson

"Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned." - Peter Marshall

I was asked to write a little blog post on ATC's newest, youngest members and how our Junior Squad came about. I wish I had an exciting story, that I could say I'd always wanted to work with juniors, or that I saw a void in the Austin cycling community for the young ladies who wanted to race their bikes and had no team willing to guide them. Well, those thoughts never crossed my mind. This was one of those unintended yet meaningful collaborations that came about through a collection of "small deeds."

Sunday Morning: The juniors and I ride trainers on a rainy day out at Austin Tri-Cyclist 360. We are goofing off during the warmup, blasting Major Lazerthe shop won't open for another two hours. Meanwhile, my mom shouts "Be careful!" to my sweaty five year old son, who's riding hot laps around the length of the shop. The girls' moms hang out while a young ATC employee who just got his USAT coaching license chats with them. The girls tell me about their lives as teenage bike racers.

Estefy Gonzales (16)
Estefy Gonzales

Estefy is one of the loyal participants of my Thursday night spin at ATC360. One night after class she asked if ATC had any openings for junior racers. I admit that I was caught off guard by her interest, yet found myself shaking my head yes and telling her I was sure we could work something out. I was not surprised that the team was supportive. In fact, team manager Marla Briley told me to seek out one or two more juniors.

Estefy's mental toughness is on par with any elite woman. I've seen her brave the coldest and muddiest of conditions to race her bike in cyclocross. She is a natural cyclist, very independent, quiet, and driven. I was surprised by her power the first time I hooked her up to a Computrainer one Thursday night. She races the TXBRA calendar and loves traveling to big stage races like Joe Martin and Tulsa Tough. I'm really excited to see her race with the Adult W4's this Sunday at Pace Bend. Her brother, Alex, also trains with us and "tolerates" being treated as one of the girls, and Estefy's mom, Olga, makes all other minivan moms look basic with her pimped-out support van.

Lily Howe
I came to realize that ATC always wanted a junior team but didn't have time to make it happen. I was already on track towards becoming something of a cycling coach, so leading our juniors would be a good role for me. Within a few weeks the "ATC Junior Squad" became a reality, and I would act as the director/coach with the intentions of keeping things simple and fun for the girls. We quickly added sisters Lily and Hailey Howe to the roster and developed a basic weekly training schedule.

Lily Howe (15)
Lily is a tad more quiet than her outspoken sister, Hailey, but still tough as nails. Polite and poised, she surprised me with her climbing and pack-riding capabilities. She races local triathlons as well as TXBRA events and some NRC events. This Saturday she will race with her sister at Walburg. Both girls run track at Westlake High and swim at Rollingwood. For them, balancing schoolwork with tri training/bike racing while maintaining a fun social life is tough but doable with the support of their amazing parents, Bea and Philip.

Hailey Howe (16)
Hailey, like our entire junior squad, is a regular at the Driveway Series and loves the speed and intensity of crits. She loves hanging out with friends and is rarely seen without a smile on her face. I was impressed with her ability to power up River Hills during our first ride as a team despite having spent the majority of the winter mostly running track. She is easygoing, positive and hard-working. All around, like Lily and Estefy, she is a natural athlete.

Hailey Howe (center)
I remember being a bit older than these young women when I became interested in cycling. My bike racing days (like a lot of women I know) started later in life; though I've always played sports, there were no cycling clubs at my school. After all, in the late 90s bike racing seemed like something really hard to get into. The only women I saw racing were on television in the Olympics. I never thought I'd be lucky enough to race a bike, and I'll never forget my first race and how happy I felt. Having grown up in Austin, it's like one of those "circle of life" things that I'm working with these young ladies. ATC Racing will continue these local "small deeds." We look forward to doing our part to encourage more women to ride or race bikes in the years to come.

Dad Philip Howe rides along with his girls on our Sunday training ride

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Race Report from the 2015 Race Around Austin

"Elbros" with ATC Racing's Allison Atkinson
and Sammi Runnels at Checkpoint B
Jack Cartwright, elite triathlete, former professional mountain biker, and longtime ATC customer, got roped into two difficult tasks this winter: one, racing the 85+ mile, ATC-sponsored Race Around Austin on January 24, and two, authoring a race report for us about the experience!

Jack joined a motley crew of triathletes and roadies on a team that also included Mike Minardi (ATC Racing), Patrick Healey (ATC Racing), Kat Hunter (Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise 4 Good), and pro triathlete Chris “Big Sexy” McDonald. At the end of the day, they finished fifth overall on RAA’s final timing sheet behind teams Team Cycle Progression 2, ELBOWZ Racing, Shred Monster, and La Mancha Driveway Series Racing.

Winner winner, jambalaya dinner - the Cycle Progression 2 team 

A total of 20 five-person teams participated in the event, and if the good-humored crowd can be used as evidence, it’s clear that the day was a success. RAA is definitely in the running for coolest after-party ever, with homemade jambalaya (vegetarian and non-vegetarian options!) made by the ladies of ATC Racing, cornbread and peach cobbler from Terry Black’s Barbecue, locally brewed beer and cider from Independence Brewing Company and Austin Eastciders, and other fun extras like RAA pint glasses and massage from Michelle Hittner’s Austin Massage Company.  At the Sharing America's Marrow table set up for Amy Cottrill Marsh,  more than 175 people joined the national bone marrow donation registry. (If you missed out that day, you can still register online!)

Jack Cartwright’s Race Report:

Team Big Cat was not much of anything a week prior to the race, and it was a strange email from Mike that introduced the race to me and asked that I help find some strong riders to help complete the team. Scramble time! I immediately went to my teammates on Team BSR, as well as my old training partner, and to one of my athletes. My requests fell on deaf ears or were refused based on conflicts, so I went back to Mike with a note that did not express confidence in fielding a team. After some further haranguing (and some great work on Mike’s part), I managed to convince Big Sexy himself to join us, even though he was planning to race the 3M Half Marathon the following day (pushing a double-wide stroller no less!).  Mike pulled in Kat and Patrick and so Team Big (Sexy) Cat was born with 72 hours to the race.

Masterminds of RAA2015, the women of ATC Racing:
Christie Tracy, Sammi Runnels, Katie Kantzes, Missy Ruthven,
Anne Flanagan, Marla Briley, Mina Pizzini, Allison Atkinson.
The Race Around Austin is a first year race inspired by prior years’ Ultra Provocatorios (read the 2011, 2012, 2013 ATC race reports), though RAA is more along the lines of a scavenger hunt. We were given three secret locations (which were revealed the night before the race) that we had to check into as a team and then make our way back to the start/finish point at Austin Tri-Cyclist Barton Springs. We had the option to check into locations in any order that we decided, which made the race quite a strategy event as well as one of physical endurance. The total distance to get to the three points was estimated to be 85-90 or so miles, so it was not going to be an easy race. The ATC Racing women’s team organized it all, and they did an amazing job with the logistics, the checkpoints, food, and other support. Thanks y’all!

The night before the race, our team met at ATC to get the location details and work out our strategy. As Big Sexy and I bantered and let the others do the thinking, a plan emerged that had us go to the point in Cedar Park first, then southeast to the point near the Driveway, and then finally southwest to the third point in Buda. We all left to get our last meal and sleep, and it hit me that with the wind and the way the city was designed, that it made more sense to go east to the Driveway, northeast to Cedar Park, and then south to the Buda-ish point. My reasoning was to take advantage of the good cross route across the city (and my knowledge of the midtown routes), as well as ride with a cross-headwind from the Driveway to Cedar Park. From Cedar Park to the southerly point, we had a strong tailwind that would help us on the longest segment. From there, it was mainly downhill to the finish on Barton Springs Road.

The final plan agreed, we set a time to meet in the morning and all chat ceased. The next morning found lovely, if brisk, weather and loads of teams at ATC. For some reason, I failed to estimate with any accuracy how many people would be keen to do this race and so it looked like our Triathlete/Cyclist/Old Guy team structure might not have been the best compared to the proper cycling teams. Our team was the fifth or sixth team to start (each team started with a three-minute interval). Since our team had distinct neighborhood knowledge by each person we naturally let the most knowledgeable lead, so Kat and Patrick got us moving east to the first point. One of the first things I noticed was how hard we accelerated after every stop (which were many as we crossed the city on two segments), and it gave me pause to wonder just how the hell my non-sprinting legs would feel later in the day.

Our route was pretty straightforward, and we only had one misdirection catch us out after leaving the first checkpoint. We also had two punctures over the course of the day, which was surprising considering we were riding on roads that had seen lots of rain in the prior days and weeks. Getting to the second checkpoint was my area of knowledge, so I took the team on a cross-city meander that had them all wondering if I had lost my mind. Once onto Anderson Mill, we got into a bit of a paceline and quickly made our way to point 2. From there it was a long journey south and for me a point where the legs were definitely feeling the work and the accelerations. Patrick, too, was beginning to show his limits and so the group became a bit less fluid as we worked our way over the hills of 360 and further south into areas I had never seen. Kat and Chris kept us on the right path with no further stoppage and the final point was found a bit quicker than I anticipated. From there it was a short downhill run back into the city to the finish, and loads of Saturday afternoon traffic to greet us.

Rolling into ATC at the end was a great feeling, and I remember being struck by how much fun the overall day was, despite the challenges of the punctures or directional moments. I definitely plan to do this race again in the future. The idea is a really great one—it fosters exploration of the city, and it was very well supported by sponsors.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Castroville TT Series

Time trials are both a good and a bad thing, something along the lines of your most-hated vegetable: they’re good for you even though they’re often hard to swallow. A little-known, somewhat informal TT series in the small town of Castroville, Texas, is just what the doctor (or coach) ordered if you’re looking for a good way to improve and measure your bike fitness. It's a great way to practice for the State Time Trial Championships, for example, or to test threshold power.

The Castroville TTs are held the second Sunday of each month from March to September, and the dates for 2015 are March 8, April 12, May 10, June 14, July 12, August 9, and September 13. The 20K/40K course, typically very fast, is a relatively flat out-and-back on FM 471 with a nice shoulder. A police officer is in place to assist with oncoming traffic at the turnaround.

From Austin, the drive to Castroville is about 1.5 hours. The first 20K rider starts at 8:01 a.m., and the first 40K rider leaves no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Start times are assigned by category and time of arrival to the gym on race day.  

The event was formerly known as the Iron Haus TT series. Note that the start is in the same location, but the gym’s name has changed to the Fitwell Medina Valley Fitness.

Start/finish location:  
Fitwell Medina Valley Fitness
842 FM 471 N
Castroville, TX 78009

Preregister via Bike Reg or register on race day beginning at 7:15 a.m. at the gym ($5 late fee applies).

For more info, contact Melissa Briton at or 210-313-6199.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Living with Latex

by Jack Mott

A lot of cyclists still swear by tubulars, claiming they offer improved performance and comfort. A common way to describe the difference between tubulars and clinchers is that tubulars are "more luxurious." While that nebulous feeling is quite real, it's not for the reason you might think. The better ride is not a result of the tire being glued to the wheel, but rather the latex tubes that are sewed up inside the tire.    

In our previous article on road bike tires, we touched on the benefits of latex tubes. Because of their flexible, supple material properties, latex tubes improve both comfort and rolling resistance by a substantial amount over a normal butyl tube. Careful testing by Tom Anhalt has shown a power savings of around 3-4 watts per tire at 25mph, along with better comfort and handling. A good clincher tire with a latex tube can offer the same or better rolling resistance and comfort as a tubular.

But as always, there's a downside. First, latex tubes leak air faster. You will need to pump up your tire every day. Not a huge issue for racing purposes, perhaps, but a bit of a hassle for training. They also leak Co2 even faster, making latex unsuitable for use in a flat kit.

The biggest issue, however, is that latex tubes are a pain to install. Most people who have switched from butyl to latex have blown up a tube or two before either giving up or mastering the process. The good news is that once you do get them installed perfectly, they can actually be more flat resistant than normal tubes, and they work much better with sealant. Below, we outline the steps you can take to make the learning process go smoother:

Why is latex so tricky to install?
  1. If there are any installation problems the tubes will fail very quickly. If a spoke hole is exposed, they will blow through it very soon, whereas butyl might last a few weeks. If they are pinched between the tire and wheel, they will blow, whereas butyl might survive for a few days.
  2. Latex tubes are both sticky and extremely supple, which makes it very likely that a bit will end up outside the tire when you first put them into the tire and mount the tire on the wheel.
  3. Because they get sticky and leak air after a day or two, latex tubes can often move rim strips around over time as they deflate and re-inflate, causing spoke holes to become exposed.

How to solve these problems:
Stan's Rim Tape
The inevitable tube peeking out on the first try
  1. Use Stan's No Tubes rim tape (two layers), in the proper width for your wheels. Stan's tape is sticky on the inside and extremely smooth and glossy on the outside. This prevents latex tubes from sticking to it and moving it around. Pick a width that fills the inside of your rim perfectly and you will be safe from exposed spoke holes. Use two layers to prevent deep dimples over the spoke holes. Most shops will stock a few rolls of this in different widths.
  2. After initially getting the tire mounted, use your thumbs to press the tire bead inward and check for any latex tube peeking outside of the tire. Check both sides! If you see some tube peeking out, you can usually massage it back in with your thumbs, or use a tire lever to pull the bead out and the tube will get back inside
  3. Pump a tiny bit of air into the tube, and then do step #2 again.
  4. Tubes usually ship with a bit of talcum powder on them when new. If your tube is old, put it in a ziploc bag with some baby powder and shake it up. This will make the tube less sticky and install a bit easier.
  5. Because latex is so supple, it doesn't matter how thick it is. A thick latex tube is just as fast as a thin one, and a little more resistant to installation mistakes. So use brands like Vittoria, which are a bit thicker.  
With a little bit of care and knowledge you can reap the big energy savings of Latex tubes without the stress and risk of flats. Enjoy the watts!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Donate Bone Marrow for Amy Cottrill Marsh

Cancer seems impossible until it happens to the strongest, nicest, youngest people you know. Amy Cottrill Marsh, an Austin-based pro triathlete and close friend of many at Austin Tri-Cyclist, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) on December 23. Treatment requires a bone marrow/stem cell transplant, and doctors are still looking for a suitable match.

Sympathy is often a helpless emotion. Words can’t ever truly express it. You can never take someone else’s pain away, or share it, or even understand it. For Amy, however, we have the rare opportunity to individually and directly help, and in doing so, to show how much we care about her.

A bone marrow donor drive in Amy’s honor is being held this Saturday, January  24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Austin Tri-Cyclist (Barton Springs location). With a simple cheek swab, you join 11 million people on the national donor registry, and if Amy or someone else is a match, you’re notified and told how you might be able to help save that person’s life. According to organization Sharing America’s Marrow, seven out of ten patients must seek a donor match on the national bone marrow registry, and less than half receive the transplant they need.

Proceeds from Race Around Austin, a gran fondo event put on by ATC Racing this Saturday, will  benefit Amy. If you’re racing this weekend, consider making an extra effort on Amy’s behalf and join the bone marrow registry, donate to Amy's YouCaring site, or check out the Team Marsh blog for other ways to help. ATC is also donating $20 from every run shoe sale through the end of February.

Useful links:
Information on Saturday’s event from Sharing America’s Marrow
Team Marsh Blog, where you can read Amy's story and updates on her care.
Brandon Marsh’s “How Can I Help?” post 
YouCaring donation site 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

#RAA2015: Allison Atkinson Interviews Allison Atkinson

by Allison Atkinson

Numerous questions surrounding #RAA2015 have surfaced lately. So just chill.  All your FAQ's are about to be addressed because I went through the awkward but amazing task of interviewing myself. Hope you find this helpful...

AA: I'm fairly new to social media. What does #RAA2015 stand for?

AA: ummm what?...Race Around Austin in the year 2015???

AA: Is this a team-only event or can I race as an individual?

AA: It is TEAM ONLY. Who wants to ride 100 miles solo anyways? If you don't have a team, post a comment on the FB event page like this: "Single and ready to mingle." Offers will be rolling in. I'm sure a team will totally add you out of pity.

AA: Ok thx for the dating advice I might try that. Is it $80 per team?

AA: $80 per TEAM ($16 per person)

AA: Do I need a USA Cycling License to participate?

AA: No. Licenses are not required for Grand Fondos. Individuals will need to sign a waiver at packet pickup, which is Jan. 23, 3-7 p.m. at Austin Tri-Cyclist Barton Springs. Riders may also sign their waivers before the 9 a.m. Saturday start, which is also at ATC.

AA: Is this a mass start event?

AA: No. Teams starts are staggered by two minutes, like a time trial. Start order is determined by registration order.

AA: What is your favorite animal?
Allison finally meets her spirit animal

AA: Favorite animal or spirit animal? Whatever that Grumpy Cat is...

AA: So...a cat?

AA: No I'm not really like a cat at all. This is making me think too much about my life. Next question plz...

AA: So I'm a bit of a planner. Can you tell me the general route? I'd sleep a lot better if I knew what to expect.

AA: Lame! Plan on lathering your chamois with a good schmear of euro-style butter. Expect to ride your bike a lot. Three checkpoints will be disclosed at packet pickup, but it'll be around 100 miles. ONE HUNNID!!!

AA: Wow. Okay... So will there be support?

AA: Sort of. Each checkpoint will have bathrooms, food, and water, but the rest is up to you.

AA: I only have a TT bike and aero helmet. Can I still participate?

AA: You totally have other bikes but whatever. TT bikes are fine. As far as the helmet, wear one. Oh and obey all traffic laws. Basically don't ride like a jerk.

AA: Can I draft off other teams? 

AA: No. Just like any other TTT, if you ride up to another team pass them quickly or keep a good distance if you are riding about the same pace. If you do pass, please do so on the left and watch for traffic. You also MUST heckle the opposing team.

AA: Why do you need to heckle them? 

AA: To crush their spirits.

AA: Whoa. Sounds fun. Where do I register? What's the link?

AA: The first 12 teams to sign up will get #RAA2015 commemorative pint glasses!

AA: What if we lose/drop a rider? Do we need to finish with all 5 teammates? 

AA: YES you need to finish with your entire team. Why would you drop your teammate? Don't include weak riders on your crew and you won't have those doubts in your mind... Of course, mechanicals and such happen, so if you come in without your full crew we'll still give you a pat on the back at the end of the ride. (I guess.)

AA: Dang girl...that's cold, but at least you are keeping it real. Anyways, WILL THERE BE BEER?

AA: Yes there will be beer from Independence Brewery AND cider from Austin Eastciders for the gluten-free people! We will also have food (meat, vegetarian, and gluten-free options) at the finish. You will finish at ATC.

AA: Independence Brewery? I'm in! Let's do this!

AA: Hold up, slow yo roll...look, you can't race because you need to work one of the checkpoints and help out at the finish and stuff. Don't you want to be there to congratulate people???

AA: Who's asking the questions here?

AA: ....

AA: Well this has been weird but informative. I'm totally looking forward to this event, Allison. Girl, you are the BEST!

AA: I see what you did there and I liked it ;)

AA: Word.

See YOU Jan. 24th at #RAA2015!!!!

More links: 
Race flyer
Facebook page

And many thanks to our awesome race sponsors!: