WITC at the Gdynia triathlon, 2013

WITC at the Gdynia Herbalife Triathlon, August 10th-11th, 2013 – by Ken Globerman

August 10th and 11th, 2013 marked an important weekend in Poland’s triathlon history. The Herbalife Triathlon, once a mainstay in the quaint town of Susz, moved to Poland’s north shore – specifically to the tri-miasto city of Gdynia. And of course Warsaw International Triathlon Club was there to participate.

Ready to go...

Ready to go…

Weekend conditions were quite decent, with air temperatures in the high 20’s Celsius, water temperature of 19c and partly cloudy skies. Saturday featured an “aquathlon”, 1000-meter swim followed by a 5k run, while Sunday featured the premiere event – the ½ Ironman distance triathlon.

Ela powering through the aquathon

Ela powering through the aquathon

 

On Saturday, WITC was out to support Ela Skrzypek (Poland) and Xiaopeng Shen (China) participating in this special swim + run duathlon. The race was a great way to get a feel for the Baltic Sea and follow it up with a short run around Gdynia’s harbor and seaside.

Next it was time for Sunday’s 1300+ competitors to pick up race packets and get bikes situated in the transition zone. This was one of the strangest transition zones ever. Featuring only 2 rows for bicycles and 500+ meters in length! And wow, the high-end triathlon bikes were out in style! The field was definitely quite serious.

Ken and Kyle pre-swim

Ken and Kyle pre-swim

On race morning, everyone’s concern for a potentially difficult swim was relieved. The water was calm, clear and warm. The race started without a hitch, and competitors hit the water ALL at once (no wave start). The swim in the Baltic bay was very enjoyable – leading to a swift transition to the bike portion – three 30km laps around an industrial portion of Gdynia. On every pass back into the center, Gdynia’s residents really came out in style; cheering, applauding, screaming and giving out fluids. The atmosphere was alive with music.

The run course was simply awesome – making its way through downtown Gdynia 4 times. Half the circuit was along the main street full of screaming supporters and the other half was along the Baltic seaside. Just a beautiful course. And the race ended on Gdynia’s historic harbor pier. Well done all around and a great race.

Of course WITC was out in style – and the opinion about Gdynia was unanimous among our competitors.

The Gdynia ½ was an excellent event”, says WITC’s Maciej Brzezinski. “A lot of Polish celebrities. I improved my PR from 6:20 to 5:57 so I’m really happy.

A big round of applause to Gdynia!”, says WITC’s Kyle Bowers. “Lots of energy and enthusiasm along the routes. The city, race organizers, volunteers and especially the fans were all great. I was certainly satisfied with the race as a whole for my first half ironman triathlon. The wind was a little annoying during the ride but the temperature was almost ideal. Bring on Chodziez!

WITC PARTICIPANTS

½ Ironman

Adam Piekarski

Emil Truszkowski

Ken Globerman

Kyle Bowers

Maciej Brzezinski

Marcin Maciesz

Pawel Ptak

 

Aquathlon

Ela Skrzypek

Xiaopeng Shen

 

Supporters

Marta Raducha

Agnieszka Fedejko

Several other family and friends of our competitors

You can view the WITC photo album here.

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WITC at the Rawa Mazowiecka triathlon, 2013

WITC at the Rawa Mazowiecka triathlon, 28th July 2013

On a swelteringly hot weekend at the end of July 7, WITC’ers headed down to the town of Rawa Mazowiecka for an Olympic triathlon, some of them doing the distance for the first time.

In the week running up to the event, two key issues had concerned competitors. Firstly, as this race was part of the Puchar Polski (Polish Cup) participants were required to obtain a licence from the Polish Triathlon Union, which meant arranging a doctor’s certificate. And secondly the water temperature in the lake was high so there was a question mark as to whether wetsuits would be allowed or not.

After arriving in Rawa (with some people cycling 25km from Skierniewice station) it was announced that wetsuits are banned as the water temperature is 24 degrees. And as for the licence, some people received it because they “had a nice name” and others were refused it because they weren’t Polish! In the end it didn’t make any difference and everyone got to take part.

And they're off!

And they’re off!

The forecast for the Sunday was 35 degrees, although competitors were given some hope on the morning in the form of clouds in the sky, but unfortunately they wouldn’t linger long.

The swim was 2 laps of 750m, which gave supporters the chance to take great photos of people coming out of the water. Everyone finished the swim ok (even Andy ;)) and with the clouds clearing headed out on the bike course.

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Cristina finishing the first lap

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Alan doing what he does best…

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Andy looking pleased to be coming out of the water

The bike course was a picturesque 3 lap route through the villages/countryside around Rawa, with the local villagers and farm animals there to give participants a cheer or a moo!

Then as the time reached around 2pm it was time to start on the run, another picturesque course, this time along the lake we swam in earlier, but with no shade and in baking temperatures. Some light relief was offered to runners by the water station and the sprinklers, and it finally gave the WITC’ers the chance to nod, wave or hi/low-five each other on the out-and-back loops.

Despite the insane temperatures everyone finished successfully without getting sunstroke! Special congratulations go out fastest finisher Pierre (for the second time in 2 weeks after his performance in Elk the week before) as well a first time Olympic distance finishers Alan, Cristina and Andy.

Andy got his ass kicked...

Andy got his ass kicked…

Flying Frenchman Pierre had the following to say after the race “35°C forecast, wetsuits not allowed, let’s say that the parameters were not the most optimistic on the Saturday! During the swim I was thinking that a compass is really needed. Had a lot of fun on the bike with the drafting, I felt like I was in the Tour de France or in a GP race when the Ukrainian passed me. Serious things came with the run, no water, no wind to cool you down and the sun makes sure that you don’t forget it. Fortunately the route along the lake was very beautiful. So all in all it was a long swim, a lot of fun on bike, a tough run and finally a race that went surprisingly well for me!

Well done to everyone who took part in this great day!

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WITC roll call

Olympic distance finishers

Pierre-Francois

Kyle Bowers

Igors Berkovics

Arek Kieres

Alan Parsons (you can read Alan’s long blog about Rawa here)

Cristina Moldoveanu

Andy Mossop

Support team

Agata Dubas

Marta Jachimowicz

You can view the photo album here.

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An Introduction to Triathlon with WITC at ERGO

An introduction to triathlon with WITC, Wednesday 24th July, ERGO storeERGO

Alan giving some swimming tips

Alan giving some swimming tips

At the end of July, WITC broke new ground as it held a presentation about triathlon at long-term partner Centrum Biegowe ERGO. 6 WITC members – Alan Parsons, Dominika Piasecka, Andy Mossop, Joanna Radka, Igors Berkovics and Karolis Merkys – spoke about their personal route into triathlon and gave some tips to prospective triathletes about how to prepare for triathlon events.

 

Following this the organisers of the Siedlce Super Sprint, leniwce.pl, gave a short presentation about their excellent super sprint event in August and gave those present the chance to sign up for this sold-out race.

TIMAG0346he whole event was expertly hosted by Ken Globerman and the engaged Q&A session at the end gave an indication of the high level of interest in triathlon.

Ken had the following to say after the event: “The evening was one of the best non-sports events WITC has ever led. We are thankful to our partner ERGO for hosting us and trust we have inspired a handful of runners to give triathlon a TRI :)

Jan Kaseja, Manager of ERGO, added, “It was great fun and huge inspiration! WITC’s idea of sharing their own stories was honest and convincing. It worked PERFECTLY! I really appreciate the effort that WITC has put into preparing the speeches. In general, the whole idea for the evening was great!

A big thanks goes to everyone who took part and came along to watch – with such good feedback it surely won’t be the last time we organise an event of this kind!!

You can view the photo album of the event here

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WITC at the Elk triathlon 2013

WITC at the Elk triathlon, July 20-21, 2013 – by Ken Globerman

On a July weekend on the outskirts of the Mazury region of Poland, 17 WITC competitors, friends and family descended on the quaint town of Ełk. With the race scheduled for Saturday, we all arrived on Friday evening to surprisingly cool conditions. Despite this a few brave WITC’ers still decided to camp out beside the lake!

The race was a rather small one, with about 250 participants in the Olympic distance event, and even less registered for Sprint race. After picking up our race numbers and checking out the orientation and transition zone, our group headed over to a local lake-side eatery, where the locals were wondering what brought these loud foreigners and Warsawians into their small town. After filling up with food and hydration (some of the alcoholic variety), it was early to bed – at least for most of us :)

Pre-race posing

Pre-race posing

 

Ken before being kicked in the face

Ken before being kicked in the face

Race-day started eventfully, as police closed all the roads leading to the start more than 1 hour before the race was to begin – forcing many of us to park far away and walk over 1km to the transition zone. However, we made it with enough time to properly warm up and pose for pictures.

 

The swim was pretty non-eventful, except for when Ken got kicked straight in the eye by a breast-stroker [a complaint he also made in Susz last year 😉]!

 

Tristanbike

Tristan pushing hard on the bike

 

The race got even more interesting when it began to rain at the start of the bicycle section. It absolutely poured down for about 30 minutes, making the 7km cycle course through the town of Elk, with two sharp 180-degree U-turns, quite dangerous. But finally the rain turned to blue skies and normal summer weather – and the race was on!

 

The run circuit was about 3.3km in length and the race consisted of 3 laps along the lake – a very pretty site and flat conditions – leading all of us to very nice finishes. Special congratulations to Pierre who posted the best time result in our group, to Igors for gutting out the finish [ed. according to Ken this means finishing in a lot of pain] on an upset stomach, and to Antoine who completed his very first triathlon (we converted him :) ).

WITC also entered its first ever relay team in this event with Dominika, Marta and Agnieszka each completing one stage of the Olympic distance triathlon – well done girls!!

The fabulous WITC supporters were also out in style, getting great pics of most of us along the way. Big thanks to them! And kudos to the race organizers who had a great deal of nutrition available during the entire race.  Definitely a race to return to.

Congratulations everyone!

Congratulations everyone!

WITC Race Roll Call

Antoine Duquesnay

Arek Kieres

Ela Skrzypek

Hans Koeppen

Igors Berkovics

Ken Globerman

Martin Stagitis

Pierre-Francios

Steve Arndt

Tristan Sakura

WITC relay team:

Agnieszka Fedejko

Dominika Piasecka

Marta Makowska

WITC support team

Joanna Fabijanczuk

Olga Nowokszanowa

Marta Raducha

Marta Jachimowicz

You can view the photo album from Elk here:

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WITC at the Susz Triathlon, 22-23 June 2013

28-29 June 2014. Mark your calendars for next year’s triathlon in Susz!

For the second year in a row, the Susz triathlon was the debut race of several members of WITC, after over a dozen completed their first triathlon in Susz in 2012 (20+ total).

This year WITC had one member in the 1/2 IM (Mark G.), two in the Aquathlon (Ela and Vegard), and 10 in the Sprint (Joanna R, Justyna, Dominika, Arek, Mark P, Steve, Martins, Hans, Igors, and Tristan).

Our campsite at Pałac Bałoszyce

Our campsite at Pałac Bałoszyce

After the 4-5 hour drive from Warsaw, most of the group stayed at Pałac Bałoszyce, about 5 km from Susz, in tents on a grassy field. Since several racers decided only a few weeks before the race that they would compete, it was difficult to find accommodation for everyone, so the group decided to go rustic. The weather was good all weekend, keeping the tents and bodies dry and warm. Everyone managed to sleep through the mosquitoes and the wedding party going on inside the Pałac, which stayed true to Polish form by ending at 5 am. To everyone’s surprise, Martins didn’t end up joining the party (at least not that we know of).

There were a few changes in the event compared to 2012. The swim route turned left instead of right, and the run was a 5.75 km loop around the lake, rather than the 5 km out-and-back of the past. The Polish national championships were also held that weekend, which started after the general race on Sunday. This meant that the elite racers weren’t starting in our “open” group, making it a bit more competitive for all the amateurs. The pasta party the night before the race provided several types of pasta, in addition to traditional Polish favorites pierogi, gołąbki and bigos. We took advantage of the guilt-free carb-loading opportunity by shovelling down several bowls.

On Sunday morning everyone planned to cheer for Ela and Vegard in the aquathlon, but  the start time changed at the last moment, and most spectators missed the start (at least most WITC spectators). Vegard nearly missed the start as well, entering the beach 5 minutes before 10 am, thinking the start was 10:30, as was communicated on all the posters and fliers. Luckily he got there just in time.  Even without a warm up, he and Ela did great in the swim (750 m in the 15 minute range), then finished it up with runs that they both admitted “could use improvement”. Vegard showed sprinter’s speed in the last 100 m of the run, but gave everyone a scare when he collapsed at the finish line out of exhaustion. He was brought to the medical tent (carried probably by at least 80 strong men and a dozen oxen), where he was examined and released.

Vegard or Usain Bolt?

Vegard or Usain Bolt?

He ended up with two personal bests that day – total time in the aquathlon, and a heart rate of over 200. In the end, he was OK, and was able to make light of the situation. He is already looking forward to his next race, and working towards a triathlon. Mark witnessed the final burst of world-class speed and said it looked like “someone had jabbed Vegard with a red hot poker”.

Soon after, the sprinters took their spots at the starting line. Susz veterans Hans, Igors and Tristan gave final pointers to triathlon first-timers Steve, Mark P and Martins. The water was a warm 22 degrees, and the organizers suggested no wetsuits. Most of the competitors wore wetsuits, if for nothing than some added protection against the odd colored, smelly water. Hans mentioned that the water smelled “strange”, as it reeked of algae and sulfur, among other things. Steve was a little more direct saying “this is my first time swimming in a toilet”. After the starting gun, the adrenaline blocked out the smell for most of the competitors (except Igors who couldn’t stop gagging). Arms and legs were flying, everyone was pushing, pulling, and grabbing anything and everything. Those who were aware enough to swim away from the crowds had a more pleasant first few hundred meters, while others were caught in the chaos. In my “extensive” experience (3 races, if you can call that “extensive”), I’ve learned to relax as much as possible and to spend a bit of effort to move away from the crowds rather than try to join them or pass them. It allows me to relax in the swim, rather than stress about all the arms and legs that you have to swim through (which isn’t as easy as swimming through just water).

After the swim, the bike leg consisted of two 10-km laps, the same as in 2012. There was a small area of cobble stones and a couple sharp turns, but for the most part the ride was pleasant. There were several places around the route where locals gathered in front of their houses to cheer on the racers with an inspiring vigor, which provided a nice boost. Every time we passed by them, we wanted to put on our best effort. We just had to remember not to give any high-fives while on the bike.

The run leg was extremely pleasant, most people agreeing that it was more enjoyable as a loop around the lake, rather than an out-and-back. Even though it was 750 meters longer than the regular sprint run distance, the scenery around the lake more than made up for it. Statistics-wise, the only problem was that it added a few minutes to everyone’s time, over what the results would have been for a normal 5 km run.

Tristan happy he didn't fall with his new bike shoes

Tristan happy he didn’t fall with his new bike shoes

In addition to the new routes, the race was also the debut of some new equipment. Igors got new running shoes at Ergo (with 10% member discount), which helped him to a very strong finish in the run, Mark P picked up some calf compression sleeves at the expo, which prevented cramping and kept his injured muscles in place, and Tristan wore his new bike shoes and SPD pedals after picking them up at new WITC-partner Kolarski (9-11% discount).

Hans putting the finishing touches on his bike

Hans putting the finishing touches to his bike

But not everyone had the best luck with their new gear. Hans got a new bike frame and fork, and spent a lot of time at the service tent before the race getting everything fixed (as he did last year as well). We think he saves all of his bike service needs for Susz, so he can get it all done there for free. Unfortunately, the guys at the tent said that they “didn’t recommend that he ride this bike in the race” because things weren’t fitting together properly. He was also unable to use his aero bars because of a missing bolt, and had to hold onto the gear shifter the whole time because of what could be considered faulty assembly. Martins’ also had some bike trouble, as the sprockets on his rear derailler broke (also known as the sprockets on Alan’s rear derailler since it was Alan’s bike). It happened when he first jumped on, and had to ride the entire race without being able to shift the rear gears.

Dominika always smiling

Dominika always smiling

Even with the bike troubles, Hans finished an impressive 7 minutes faster than his 2012 race, even though the run was 750 meters longer. Tristan and Igors also improved on their 2012 times, finishing second and third behind Arek, among WITC sprint finishers. Steve finished first among the first-timers, just behind Igors. Everyone else had great times and great efforts. Even with the “strange” water, the general consensus of the racers was that it was a great time. “Awesome” and “really fun” were common words to describe it afterwards. Dominika enjoyed the race, and said that she prefers even longer races, to give her a chance to find a rhythm. She also commented on the importance of starting in more than one race. “In Sieraków (1/4 IM) I went slow and easy, because I didn’t know how my body would react. The experience really helps.”

Steve needs a WITC top

Steve needs a WITC top

Asked about his first race, Steve replied “It was a lot of fun, but we need to work on our manners as a team. Igors passed me on the run, and he didn’t even say hi”. Igors argued that Steve should race in a WITC top to make it easier to see him. Well played sir.

Martins commented on his first triathlon experience: “Thanks to friends I was not stressing too much before the race, I just followed everybody. Swimming was scary, but I kept calm and in the end even felt something like a second breath, so it proved I actually am able to swim 750 meters.” Mark P added “I really couldn’t swim far before, which is embarrassing given I grew up in Australia and spent every day by the beach. The club training really helped”. As far as the finish, Martins beamed: “At the finish line I saw my friends cheering for me, I saw my time 1:50:00 and jumped from the joy. The next day I signed up for two more sprint triathlons this summer. I’m still wearing my wrist band from the Susz race and everyone smiles at me, thinking I am a teenager who had just been to some festival.” He isn’t the only one, as several WITCers still proudly show their race bands (Hans still has from 2012). Check out the video of Martins’ finish here.

Martins looking fresh after the swim

Martins looking fresh after the swim

Ewa, who didn’t race, but was busy running around taking pictures and cheering during the race, has some words of encouragement for WITC supporters. “Cheering and taking pictures was hard work, since there weren’t too many of us this time. I need more photographer teamates! I also prefer longer races to give me more time to move around; Sieraków was much easier”. I’d also like to suggest that we work on our finish-line celebrations to make for picture-perfect finishes, either giving high-fives to the spectators, running with “airplane wings” or performing a spectacular jump or back flip across the finish line. Please submit your ideas to the WITC Facebook page.

After the race, Hans chatted with the mayor of Susz, complimenting the city on the race, telling him how much he enjoys coming to Susz, and that we’ll be back again next year. Bringing the subject up on his own, the mayor acknowledged the water smell and offered that in 2 years the lake will be perfectly clean. I’m not sure what that means for next year, but we’ll soon find out.

So everyone get ready for 2014’s race; racers, supporters, and photographers alike. We’ll see you there.

You can view the club’s photo gallery here.

WITC at Susz 2013

WITC at Susz 2013

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WITC at the Sierakow Triathlon 2013

WITC at the Sierakow Triathlon, 1/2 and 1/4 ironman distance, 1-2nd June 2013

The first big triathlon event of the year in Poland was held in Sierakow, featuring both 1/2 and a 1/4 ironman distance races. After such a long wait since the last outdoor tri the club did in Siedlce last August many club members were raring to get out and test themselves at the 1/4 distance. 5 of them – Igors, Tristan, Alan, Andy and Hans – were stepping up from the sprint distance they did in Susz last year while Dominka was making the jump up from the super-sprint she did in Siedlce!

With the 1/4 ironman race on the Sunday it gave everyone the chance to relax the day before, watch the 1/2 ironman race, pick up starter packs and have a dip in the cold water. There was also a technical briefing on Saturday evening (held together with a pasta party probably to make sure people actually showed up!) where they basically tried their best to tell us how dangerous and difficult (but beautiful) the course is. After filling up on pasta it was time to get an early night ahead of the big day…

Some people know how to pose for pictures before the race ...

Some people know how to pose for pictures before the race …

... and some don't

… and some don’t

 

Although the start time of 9am meant an early wake-up call, everyone was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as they posed for a few last minute pictures in their wetsuits. Then it was time to line up on the shore of the lake and wait for the start, trying not to think about how cold it was going to be in the lake.

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The swim went well for everyone with Tristan and Igors finishing first, nearly neck-and-neck. After coming out of the lake there was a steep uphill run leading to the transition zone (around 500m in total) which gave everyone a chance to unzip the top of the wetsuit and even pose for a few photos 😉

Then it was onto the bike. The route was a beautifully picturesque 45km ride though the countryside around Sierakow. Luckily for the competitors, on the Sunday the ground wasn’t wet and the wind wasn’t too strong, which meant that the conditions were much better than the 1/2 ironman race the day before. It was quite a tough 2 lap route with a lot of ups and downs but with their new bikes and equipment all the WITC’ers successfully completed it, with Igors finishing comfortably in the lead ahead of Tristan.

Good hi-fiving guys!

Good hi-fiving guys!

After passing through T2 it was time for the run, which was a 2-lap course through the woods in Sierakow. Again it was a beautiful route but very hilly with a lot of tree roots which needed to be dodged, making it challenging, especially with the tired legs at this point of the race. It was on the run that the supporters had the best chance to see the competitors, and the superb WITC support team did their best to give everyone a lift, passing on information about how far ahead/behind they were from other club members and even giving out some impressive high-fives.

Near the end of the loop there was a tough uphill zigzag section with slogans on banners to inspire the runners like pain is just a state of mind and reminding the competitors that there’s beer and burgers waiting at the end :)

Igors crossing the line in an impressive time of 2h4

Igors crossing the line in an impressive time of 2h49!

The finish line was on the running track which provided a great atmosphere for the runners. Igors had managed to stay ahead of Tristan on the run and finished as the first of the WITC’ers but the day was less about finish times and more about enjoying an amazing experience as everybody successfully completed the event.

First-placed WITC’er Igors Berkovics had the following to say after the race:

These 2 guys were helping people get up out of the lake

These 2 guys were helping people get up out of the lake

Well this time no one kicked me or tried to drown me (since Ewa was not racing) and the swim went quite smoothly, though I noticed every few hundred meters there was a disoriented swimmer who would swim perpendicular to the whole group! Luckily it was not me this time. At the finish of the swim, the guys pulling swimmers out of the water were a really big help. Tristan, who finished the swim a few seconds before me, was the only person I saw from WITC to the moment when I went on the second running lap. And Agata’s phrase that I am 15 min in front of everyone else was a nice boost (actually I was only a few minutes in front of Tristan) or maybe it was a caffeine gel that I took after the first lap that gave me the boost. It’s encouraging to know that a 30 year old bike can beat all the fancy new bikes if you push and pull hard enough. Speaking of which, bike shoes make you go faster if you use them (and don’t just wear them – I don’t know how and what Andy did with his!). Another upgrade I made to my bike, the aerobars, makes biking, especially downhill, a much more pleasant experience. And finally, finishing first is niiiiiceeeee :)

Congratulations to everyone who took part and thanks to the supporters who helped make the day so memorable!!

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You can see the club’s photo gallery of the event here.

1/4 Ironman distance finishers:

Igors Berkovics

Tristan Sakura (Tristan’s blog about Sierakow will soon be up here)

Alan Parsons (read Alan’s blog of the race here)

Andy Mossop (read Andy’s blog of the race here)

Dominika Piasecka

Hans Koeppen

 

WITC Support Team:

Ewa Smiechowska

Mark Poczman

Asia Fabijanczuk

Agata Dubas

Darek Dros

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Pimp your bike part 2 – By Hans Koeppen

Following on from last week’s introduction to bike upgrading, in the second part of the article Hans Koeppen now looks at ergonomics, mechanics and last but not least appearance!

Please note this article contains opinions and views which are solely the author’s. Bike fitting is highly important and difficult to do on your own. If you are not very familiar with bike maintenance, consider seeking the advice of a professional to help with seat positioning and general bike fitting.

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Pimp your bike part 2 – By Hans Koppen

Step 4. Ergonomics

The major item here is your seating position. While you can find the optimal combination of your body height and bike frame size on many websites, there is always extra flexibility gained from the saddle and seat post. I suggest you buy a new roadbike saddle anyway. The modern ones have just much better padding (gel) and shapes than anything old. Do not buy anything expensive, though. After a season you may want to change for a different saddle again, and might not use the first one anymore.

The saddle and seatpost let you change not only the height but also can be adjusted forward and backwards. This is very important when bending over on an aerobar or finding the exact knee-bending angle. You will probably do a lot of test rides, and adjust it everytime afterwards until you find the optimum position.

Another ergonomic item is the position of the gear levers. Usually with old roadbikes they are on the lower tube, meaning you have to reach down to change gears. My estimate is that in a tri race you change gears at least every 2 minutes. Wind, inclines, quick sprints etc all require gear changes. Hence consider: is it worth reaching down every time? The alternative is a combination of brake- and gear levers. They are just great as your hands never need to leave the handlebar. Though a bit tricky to mount (each has two Bowden cables going in), they are worth the hassle and money.

HanspedalsFinally, consider whether you want pedals that click to your biking shoes. A stiff connection between shoe and pedal allows for a much better power transmission (pulling up AND kicking down) – while cheap alternative are these contraptions:

Although from the last century, you still should be able to buy used ones. You pre-set the strap and when starting just slip in your foot. Very important for triathletes: you can ride in your running shoes and save time in the bike-to-run transition.

Step 5. Mechanics

hansmechanicsThere is nothing wrong with old gear shifters. W40 spray usually helps to get them going again, and they are already in the right position when you get your used roadbike. Then again, new ones look good and start at quite low prices:

 

At the latest when you get new wheels, you will also replace the gear wheels (“chain pinions”) and the chain. Even if you keep your old wheels and tyres, you should change the gears and the chain. These things just go together. An old chain will not work with new gear wheels or a new shifter. A special tool is required to fix gear wheels to the wheel hub, so let that be done at a bike shop.

Another thing to be done by an expert is changing the bottom bracket, i.e. the ball-bearing/axle that holds the pedals in position. Strong forces (your legs!) are at work here, and these things get worn out. So you should always have the bottom bracket changed by a mechanic when you start to renovate a road bike. Usually you can keep the pedals and the forward gear wheels (chain pinion) and just change the bottom bracket.

Step 6. Appearance

Hey what with all the mechanical and ergonomic crap, looking good is just so much more important, hehe! Items like handlebar tape or coloured cables can go a long way towards a nice face-lifting. The hardcore option is of course to strip the frame of everything, have it sandblasted and powder-coated in a great new colour. I know places in Warsaw where this job is done surprisingly cheap.

Step 7. Shopping for parts and advice

In my experience it is best to look for shops that advertise bike parts instead of just bikes. The people there will answer questions as best as they can, and will usually not make you feel inferior. One place I can recommend it at ul. Gibalskiego in Wola where there’s a true bike wizard in his little old shop, while another good shop is on ul. Nowowiejska. Above all WITC’s partner skleprowerowy.pl also offers bike fitting and advice.

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Wow, thank you Hans for some great tips. With the first big triathlon of the year in Sierakow just weeks away now, upgrading your bike could be a good way of gaining an advantage over the competition :)

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Pimp your bike part 1 – By Hans Koeppen

In the next of our Member’s articles we take a look at bikes with Hans Koeppen. The bike is by far the most expensive piece of equipment for triathletes, and the cost can put prospective triathletes off. In the first of a two part article, Hans explains that upgrading an old bike can be both inexpensive and fun.

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The tri bicycle – if you can’t buy it, PIMP it! By Hans Koeppen

So, you’re a good runner, the weather is getting warmer and there are all these tempting triathlon events coming up. But spending upwards of 2,000 PLN on new cycling equipment is not really an option for you, especially now that you’ve bought all the fancy WITC dresses that Ken talked you into.

So maybe you’re thinking of doing the races with a used bike? It could be your mountain bike or touring bike? Well, the solution is none of the above. You can’t really compete with such bikes on tri-events held on tarmaced roads. The upright position creates too much wind drag, and the wider tyres add to rolling resistance. It’s a shame to waste your excellent swimming speed and superfast running by using a bike not fit for road racing. You just need an aerodynamic sitting position and thin high-pressure tyres.

The solution is to renovate and pimp an old road bike! This is a project in phases, where good results can already be achieved in the first steps, and once you get the hang of bike mechanics, you can go on further and really create a racing beauty. Here’s how:

Step 1: Weight

Once you’ve found your old roadbike on Allegro or in the cellar of your parents, it will probably look something like this:

hansbike1

So shed weight and get rid of all the fenders, lights, bottleholders, luggage racks and so on! To loosen all the old screws, and also later during the project, meet your new best friend: WD40 spray, a magic formula that does away with all rust and grease [other lubrication products are also available :)].

After you are done with throwing away all the unnecessary parts, your bike weight should be around 10 kg. Further weight-shedding is possible by using modern components (see below), so after a successful pimping you might even end up with around 8 kg.

Step 2: Safety

Safety means brakes. Your old road bike probably has this setup:

hansbrakes

These brakes are “mid-pull” brakes, where the Bowden cable pulls symmetrically in the middle between the two brake jaws. Keep them for the time being. They fit to the holes in your old frame, and they are very reliable. Also it is easy to get and change brake pads. The downside: adjusting them is a bit fiddly, and they just don’t have “the look”.

If you want to spend a bit, you can try this type of modern road bike brakes:

hansbrakes2They are easier to adjust, and just need one hole to be mounted to the frame. But their dimensions must fit your wheels (if the brake jaws are too long or too short, the brake pads will not grip the wheel rims). So it’s best to wait until you also decide to get new wheels (see below) before buying new brakes. It’s best to take your bike to a parts shop and check the fit of the new brakes there before buying. See below on bike shops.

Step 3: Speed

The biggest speed-improving items on your bike will be the wheels. The old wheels on your used bike will probably be OK, but good new ball bearings and new high-pressure tyres will let you feel an immediate improvement. There is no sense in assembling new wheels from a set of spokes and rims (unless you like to solve unconventional puzzles). So just buy modern wheels complete with tyres. This will do wonders not only for speed but also for looks.

The wheels will have “fat” rims and quick-release screws, giving you the feeling of riding a nearly professional bike.

The next item that effects speed is the handlebars. The position of the handlebars dictates your aerodynamics on the bike. The usual roadbike handlebars, both old and modern, looks like this:

hansbike2Your used roadbike will most likely already have handlebars like this, so you only need to improve its looks with new grip tape (see below). By gripping the lower ends while riding, you achieve a good bent-over aerodynamic position, less drag and more speed. But then again: I’d be a rich man if I got a Zloty for each roabike rider who grips the handlebar on its UPPER part, like on the picture above (thus ruining aerodynamics). It is just uncomfortable to ride with your hands on the lower position for a long period of time. So why not go the full distance and get yourself a modern tri handlebar with aerobars (another optical wow-effect!).

These handlebars are usually a separate set (you can also buy a fixed assembly of aerobar and handlebar, although adjustments are now possible). And when used it looks like this:

hansbike3The support under the elbows is much more relaxing than the lower grip on a roadbike handlebar. Others might object that a tri handlebar and aerobar cannot be used on a roadbike frame, but this simply not true, see below under Ergonomics. The downside of a tri handlebar is that it does not easily combine with normal brake levers.

You need patience and maybe some extra investment to get a working combination of handlebar and brake levers. A good compromise is mounting an aerobar on normal roadbike handlebars.

So that’s it for this week’s installment of tips. Don’t forget, Hans will be back later this month with some more upgrading tips so keep an eye on the website!

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Martin Pape on orienteering

One of WITC’s strengths is its support of activities outside of swimming, cycling and running. Several of our members participate in sports which complement triathlon such as cross-country skiing, cross-fit and the topic of this article: orienteering. This latest article features WITC’s Martin Pape, who explains about orienteering in the rain and running with his fantastic dog Aza …

Getting wet and muddy – by Martin Pape

Sometimes you have to take unorthodox routes

Sometimes you have to take unorthodox routes

One more step and I was standing in muddy water up to my hips, in a rush I pulled up my jacket, as I remembered my phone in the lower pocket. Something like 25k still to go and run. When you’re this wet it means running to get dry again.  We were lucky the rain had already stopped a while ago and it was not as cold as it could be in Poland in the Spring.

Alan, Aza (my dog) and me were doing something we do a few times a year – an orienteering run. This time at an event called “DyMnO” about an hour north of Warsaw. In Polish orienteering runs are called “biegi na orientację” (in short BnO). This running activity stands a bit outside of our club canon of running, swimming, cycling and of course partying – so it’s time to shed some light on it.

Orienteering races involve 3 disciplines: endurance, using your brain and having some fun. I can’t say exactly what my motivation is, but it might be the drive to find out what is behind the next corner, to spend some time outdoors with friends and Aza. As a child I grew up in a small village and orienteering in fields and forest was a no-brainer for us.

Martin and Aza at one of the Warszawa Nocą events

Martin and Aza at one of the Warszawa Nocą events

At the start of such race you get handed a map which is normally quite detailed. On this map checkpoints are marked and your task is to find all these checkpoints (often in a certain order). These checkpoints are described using symbols (like on a peak or in the south-east corner).  On longer races the optimal distance from start to end with approaching all points is 50k or 100k (yes, this is not a joke, people do this). Shorter sprint races (like the “Szybki Mózg” series from the UNTS club in Warsaw) are below 5k.

During the race you are on your own, which means you have to take care of food and drinks (and in my case your dog as well), so a backpack you are comfortable running with is a plus. Also each team should have a simple first-aid kit and a mobile phone. You will get wet sooner or later in most of the races, so essential are one or better two pairs of dry socks. I also like short gators to keep sand and debris out of my shoes. Some people use rubbish bags to kept their feet dry.

Depending on the kind of race, you either start in teams or individually. Even with the second option I like to team-up. The mental challenge of not giving up if it gets wet and late or you can’t find the checkpoints is not to be underestimated.

Not only are the maps sometimes out of date, but the descriptions are rather unhelpful...

Not only are the maps sometimes out of date, but the descriptions are rather vague at times

To locate the checkpoints you use the map, a compass and – your brain. No GPS allowed! It helps to know the length of your stride as counting steps is required sometimes. Still, finding checkpoints in the middle of a forest can require more luck than brains sometimes. The checkpoint itself is marked by a neon coloured sign and as proof that you found it you either have to stamp a card or scan an electronic device. The shortest route between two checkpoints might not be the best one, if for example a river or swamp is in your way. You regularly leave the roads and paths just to go cross-country. Sometimes maps are not up-to-date so you need to estimate if the young patch of forest you see could have grown in the time since the map was published (if you’re lucky, you get told the date).

Last autumn I made several mistakes in one race: I did the run without a buddy so I lost confidence, I did not read the rules properly (not all checkpoints had to be tagged) and I misread the map (crossing a river without a bridge in November). Also the race went into the night and thick fog made it tough to navigate through forests. But each race gives you something to analyze afterwards and possibilities to improve.

If you want to find out more about orienteering in Poland, consider of joining one of the short races organised by UNTS or talk to me (Martin Pape) or Alan Parsons.

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WITC at the Run for Boston

Following the tragic events in Boston, WITC changed its Tuesday night run to take part in a “Run for Boston” event in Park Skaryszewski in a show of solidarity with fellow runners in Warsaw. Club founder Ken Globerman had the following to say about the event and the Boston tragedy:

“In light of the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon, Warsaw International Triathlon Club (WITC) gladly supported “Run For Boston”, and applauds the organizers who put it together. It was heart-warming to see Polish citizens uniting to commemorate a truly international incident. Let’s continue to make this point to the world: The bonds formed by sporting competition will always be stronger than the threat of terrorism.”

WITC also supports the fund set up to assist the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. If you would like to make a donation to this cause please visit the One Fund Boston page.

WITC at Park Skaryszewski for the Run for Boston

WITC at Park Skaryszewski for the Run for Boston

 

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