2 July 2011
98th Tour de France
Stage 01 : Passage du Gois – Mont des Alouettes
Peloton at Sunflowers
Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA


If you’re a beginner, or a triathlete that mostly trains alone, chances are you would benefit from group riding.  But, it can be intimidating.  Riding with people faster than you, in close vicinity of you, and sometimes not so forgiving of beginners who make mistakes.  Don’t take that last part too seriously.  Experienced group riders make mistakes too, but the reason they are less tolerant is because there is less room for error on group rides.  Don’t be intimidated by this.  You will benefit from group rides, and I’m going to give you some tips to keep everyone happy, and stay safe out there in a group ride.

  1.  Find the appropriate group.  If you don’t know…..ask!  Ask the distance, average speed, drop or no drop, and find out if the ride has faster or slower groups.  If it’s a drop ride, make sure you have a map!  You will probably average a mile per hour or so faster in the right group.  Keep that in mind when choosing, but don’t get into a group that will be angry if you think you will slow them down
  2. Know your etiquette!!!  Some groups will not allow Time Trial/Triathlon bikes, so find that out first.  If they do allow them, make sure your hands are on the hoods, close to brakes, while you are in formation and riding close to other riders.  Try not to let gaps form, don’t slam on the brakes, call out what your doing and hazards in the road too.
  3. Execute pace lining and echelon formations as appropriate.  Pace lining is when riders in the group take turns pulling in the front, then roll off to the back, in a rotation, when their turn is up.  Don’t forget to speed up as you approach the rear of the group so you can move over and get back in the draft!  Echelon, is basically pace lining on an angle to address a cross wind.  
  4. Know where the most likely places you can lose the group are.  If you are one of the slower riders in the group, your objective should be to stay in the middle of the group.  That is where you will be protected from the wind the least, and most likely to get help from riders behind you if you do open a gap.  So never be the last to leave a stop and stay close to the rider in front of you so you don’t create a gap.  Other places you are likely to be left behind, are in cross winds, up hills, and around turns.  In a crosswind, make sure you are positioned correctly behind the rider in front of you to keep you out of the wind.  That means offset a little to the left or right if you’re in a cross wind.  Hills are difficult, but you need to continue to try and stay close to other riders on the hills so you don’t get left behind when the rider in front of you crests the hill.  Turns are another place you need to continue to try and stay close.  Read my post on bike handling skills if you are having trouble around the turns.  Remember, any place you get left alone in the back of the group is almost certain to leave you dropped!!!  So make sure you are always in position to get back close to the wheel in front of you at all times!!!
  5. Lastly, stay close!!!!  It’s that simple.  Correctly positioned, you can save up to 30% power on the riders in front of you.  That’s HUGE!  The closer you are to the wheel in front of you, the easier it will be to pedal to keep the speed of the group and less energy you will expend to do so.  This makes a lot of you nervous.  So practice!!!  Watch the riders hips in front of you and keep alert of everything else in your peripheral vision.  If the riders hips stop moving, that means they stop pedaling, so adjust your pedaling accordingly.  If you find yourself going to fast, don’t hit the brakes and startle the rider behind you!  step out of the draft slightly to slow yourself down just a bit.

Follow these tips and you will be more than welcome to join the many group rides out there, and enjoy the benefits of riding with others


Coach Meulen,

Head Coach

Tridogz Endurance Coaching



One thing that’s been a topic of discussion this season, more often than I’d like, is bike handling.  Being a triathlete/roadie type, I don’t feel I’m the best bike handler out there.  I’m certainly no Peter Sagan!, but it is an important skill to learn for a number of reasons.  This season, I’ve seen, or heard of, A LOT of team mates falling.  A helmet can save you, partially, but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t fall at all?????  In addition to not falling, having adequate bike handling skills will give you confidence and skills needed to react properly to emergency situations, hold your momentum better on a TT course, and generally make you a better/faster rider!  So what is bike handling and how do we learn it?


First off, a lot of being a good bike handler is confidence.  Confidence feeds off itself, and is obtained by practice.  The more you practice your skills the better you become at them, and the more confidence you build in yourself to make a perfect turn, use rolling hills or bumps to maintain or accelerate your momentum, or react to a situation.  So Practice, practice, practice!!!!


To break this down more simply, for the purpose of this post, I’m going to talk about bike handling broken down into three separate skills.

  1. Being comfortable with basic maneuvers on your bike
  2. Cornering
  3. Holding your momentum

Being comfortable on you bike is kind of broad.  The important part here is to be sure your loose and able to turn, stop, stand on the pedals, and sometimes even hop your bike at any given time.  First thing to do is get comfortable with your pedals!  If you’re not doing single leg drills on the trainer in the winter time, it’s time to start!  Get used to clipping in and out when you have to.  The trainer is a good place to practice that safely.  The next thing you need to do is find your center of gravity.  Being centered on the bike makes it stable.  The weight is evenly distributed between the wheels, and maximum traction is achieved by the weight distribution being allocated evenly to both wheels touching the pavement.  Next is maneuverability.  Once you find the center of gravity, it’s good to practice slow turns.  Find that center and turn the bars to the left.  Make some circles as tight as possible while keeping the bike up right.  Then go to the right and do the same.  After that, practice some quick movements left and right.  Set up a cone and go straight toward it moving left or right very quickly, at last second, at greater speeds.  If your really feeling ambitious, at this point, start learning to bunny hop.  It doesn’t have to be high! but sometimes it does come in handy to be able to jump over little obstacles that come up in the road.


Once your comfortable with basic maneuvers, it’s time to work on cornering.  This is a favorite of mine!  Cornering strategy is the same whether your in a race car, on a motorcycle or on a bicycle.  Unfortunately, this is a skill most triathletes seriously lack.  When you learn to corner well you find out quickly how much because you will make up bike lengths in corners, and may get frustrated on the crowded courses where other athletes lacking those skills will slow you down and break your momentum.  However, when the course is clear in front of you, this is free speed!  So how do you master the corners?

  1. Set up your approach.  Before you even get to corner you should be looking ahead to see what kind of turn it is.  Is it a single 90 degree turn?, is it a Chicane?, is on or off camber, or is it decreasing radius?  All of these thing come into play as you judge what speed you come into the turn.  Once you make that judgement decrease your speed accordingly before your get to the turn.  All of your braking is done before you turn.  This goes back to your center of balance.  If your are braking into a turn all of your weight gets distributed to the front wheel.  That means you actually have less traction!!  When you are off the brakes and weight is distributed evenly between the two tires contacting the pavement, with evenly distributed weight, you achieve maximum traction.  You will be able to corner more quickly and not slide out on that front wheel.  A good way to achieve this is by making sure you are centered on the bike and your pedal on the outside of the turn is down perpendicular to the ground.  Most of your weight will be on outside foot, not on the handle bars!
  2. Execute the turn.  Executing the turn means hitting the right line and apex.  Below is a diagram, of proper line around a corner.  Remember!, the apex changes on different corners like decreasing radius, so you have to adjust.  Your eyes should be on the road ahead of you.  Meaning you look through the turn.  Use your peripheral vision to hit the apex, your eyes should stay on the exit of the corner.  You will tend to go where you look.  So NEVER look to the outside ditch!!!  Keep those eyes on the exit of the corner!!


3.  Accelerate out of the corner.  After your apex, and as your drifting smoothly to the outside coming out of the corner, it’s time to start pedaling!  Quickly and smoothly pedal to regain any speed lost by the corner.  You should be almost back up to speed as the road starts to straighten out again.


This leads us to holding your momentum.  I like to think of momentum as free speed.  It’s absolutely true that people who hold momentum better do less work over a course and achieve faster overall times, which is essential in Triathlon and Time Trial racing.  The cornering we learned above is a big part of that, but there are other ways you can hold your momentum over the course.

  1.  Learn when and how to shift your weight to the back wheel.  In mountain biking, you learn quickly that it’s faster going over bumps leaning back and being light on the handlebars.  Same applies on the roads!  Instead of gripping your handlebars tightly when the road gets bumpy, you need to grip them only enough to keep them stable and straight.  Lean back to shift your weight backward and let that rear wheel take the brunt of the bumps.
  2. Learn to use the downhills.  Another thing you learn mountain biking is how to use rolling hills to keep momentum.  With short rollers in the trails it’s possible to maintain a speed, or even accelerate, without pedaling at all!!!  You simply put a little bounce in the pedals at the start of the hill to make yourself light going up it (almost like a jumping action), and press hard down and lean slightly forward on the downhill to accelerate your momentum.  It’s called a “pump” track when you have several rolling hills in succession that you can maintain speed on without pedaling.  On the road, the rolling hills are rarely that small and short that we can achieve what mountain bikers do on a pump track.  But, what we can learn from this is that accelerating on the downhills actually helps us go uphill easier by the momentum we build. What we can do is not coast!!  I see so many triathletes coast downhill.  It’s important to keep a constant power on the uphill and the downhill.  Using that downhill to build momentum may help you crest that next roller with very little effort at all.  So…use a constant power on the downhill to build momentum, then downshift downshift downshift!!! on the uphill as many times as you need to in order to keep that momentum and constant power on the uphill.  This will make course with rolling hills soooooo much easier when you practice and perfect this!!!
  3. Use your cornering skills!  Use those cornering skills, discussed earlier, to kill your next TT course!!

Mastering these 3 things will definitely make you a faster rider.  It will give you the confidence you need, and rid you of anxiety of new and challenging courses.  It will even save your legs more for the run!!!  The best part is though, it’s fun!  It’s a lot of fun to hit the perfect corner, hit bumps and come out the other side with your momentum in tact, or hit rollers with so much authority you barely have to pedal while other athletes are grinding up the hill because they lost momentum.  So PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!!  Be safe, and have fun doing it!




As we end another great season, it’s time to start thinking about the next!  When you do, be sure to reflect back on what worked for you this season, and what did not, including time management.  For a lot of athletes, one of the biggest challenges is time.  Jobs, family, relationships all take their priorities.  So we struggle to fit in our training, and even have trouble taking the time for proper recovery.


So what do we do?, how do we plan?, and how do accomplish our goals within our time constraints?

  1.  Set realistic goals.  Be honest with yourself on the time you can set aside to train.  Long course, like IM/HIM/Marathon, takes enormous time commitments to train for safely.  Don’t get over ambitious.  You’ll either be miserable trying to find the time to fit in workouts, or be unprepared for race day.  If you don’t have the time, choose shorter races and strive to excel at those.
  2. Work on your support system.  The people in your life are important to your successes and failures.  Surround yourself with supportive people.  Talk to your family, before you make decisions on big races.  Make them aware of your time commitments, and be mindful of the expectations of relationship.  Relationships are work too!  They take time commitments.  Make sure you leave enough time for the people important in your life!
  3. Search your current habits for wasted time.  Maybe there are changes you can make to current habits to create more opportunities to train, or something you can switch around so you can train and spend more time with family/friends.  Is there a gym by your work you can go to and squeeze in a run before you head home, or at lunch?  Can you get a swim in before work?  Can you do your bikes/runs early in the mornings on weekends to leave time for other things?
  4. Don’t be a workout Nazi!  It’s ok if you have to miss something every once in a while.  The world won’t end!  Make sure you’re there for your family and friends for the important things
  5. Be flexible.  Situations change.  So when you plan your workouts, or work with your coach, don’t get too far ahead of yourself.  Take it a couple weeks at a time and make changes as they come up to adjust.

Remember!  most of us aren’t getting paid to race.  Keep your priorities in perspective.  Sometimes keeping your support system happy will allow you the time you need to fulfill your path to success on your own goals.  Plan well,  Perfect your time management, and Perform well!!


Coach Meulen- Head Coach


Hey everyone!


Today, I’m writing to you on a bit of a high.  It was just an incredible day at the Naperville Sprint Triathlon yesterday!!!  I couldn’t imagine things going any better than they did yesterday!  I need to thank a lot of people and Sponsors for their support to make this happen.

-De Soto Sports for getting us our Jerseys

-Trinity Designs for the eye catching art work and Jersey design

-Who Wants to Pawty for booth support and EVERYTHING else!

-Live Again Animal Rescue for bringing more booth support and bringing more teams of racers out to race with us

-My cousin Chloe for putting on a costume in the heat at our booth!

-Spokes for the incredible eye candy of a bike to showcase at our booth

-and everyone else that I’m sure I have forgotten!!!


Admittedly, I was a little bummed going into the race since a freak accident put me out on the sidelines.  I had trained hard for this one and REALLY wanted to do well.  But, having so many great athletes on the TriDogz roster doing the race, it was easy for me to shift my focus to you guys instead of feel sorry for myself.  After the race I actually thought to myself that I would of missed out on a lot had I not been there to set up the booth, take pictures during the race, or cheer on my teammates!!  So maybe, it was just meant to be.


The morning was busy!  Rushing around to get the booth ready and meeting with athletes to make sure they know what to expect and calm their nerves before the race. We got the booth set up early and Heather, and Anna held down the booth with the Live Again peeps while I went out to support our racers at the start.


The start was amazing!  As I stared from the crowd watching athletes to start the swim, it was EASY to spot the TriDogz Team Jerseys!!  They were just so pronounced!!!  And, apparently, the TriDogz presence in the crowd was pronounce too!  Anna, and Anne had spent the good part of a couple of nights making signs for our TriDogz fans to hold, and the man on the P.A. certainly saw all the TriDogz signs in the crowd and the noise we made for our team.  He made a HUGE mention of how pronounced that presence was!

The TriDogz were easy to spot coming out of the water…

and tearing up the course!…

At the end of the day, I was jumping for joy!  As a small team, I would have been happy with a single podium from our athletes.  But we had 3 Athletes on podiums and another that was pretty darn close!!!  Congrats to the TriDogz women’s relay team, Anne and Kelly for 3rd place!  Congrats Gordon for 2nd place AG!, Congrats Jonny for a 6th place AG!  Congrats to Andi for continued success and improvement and new PRs almost everytime out!  Congrats to our partners from Live Again Team Cupcake for their first relay and solid finish, and Team Lucky To Finish for their first time out at a triathlon event!!


I’m proud of all of you and your efforts out there!  You guys are incredible.  Podiums aside, perhaps some of the most fun was had with all the team members and friends that came to the booth to hang out after the race, and all the support you guys showed for each other.  This team is truly inspiring and great!  Congrats to all of you!!!!!



Hey TriDogz!


I wanted to blog about this race because it was really important to us here at TriDogz for a couple reasons.  First, it was a very important local race and some of us been training to show off our TriDogz Elite team.  Secondly, it was really the first race of the season I have been at, as coach and participant, and we were able to present TriDogz more publicly.  Lastly, We got a call from the Tribune Local about doing a piece on what we do here at TriDogz, and it was an incredible opportunity to tell our story, and possibly get it in print!


So, TriDogz Elite members have been training for this race throughout the winter.  We had some ups and downs in our training.  All 3 of us struggled with different things this year be it life, injury, or health.  So the 3 of us racing had something to prove.  We knew PR’s were not possible after our struggles this winter, but we were focused on hitting the goals we set for ourselves relative to our training.  All of us had a great deal of success with this, and I’m proud of our efforts!  Jon struggled with time commitments this winter, and had a couple of issues getting sick during the training process.  He was still able to finish around the 1:40 mark and pull off 14th in his AG.  Gordon killed it!  He nailed down a 10:55/mile pace for the 10k and took home the TriDogz FIRST EVER 1st place in his AG.  At 67 years old I’d say this is quite an accomplishment!!!  Congrats to Gordon!!!  For myself, I considered this my come back race.  I had a top 10 finish here back in 2012 with a 1:32:10, and have since struggled greatly with plantar fasciitis in both feet.  This year was the first year I’ve felt good enough to actual “race” a half marathon.  While it wasn’t anywhere close to a PR for me, it was a finish almost exactly where my training has led me to so far in my recovery.  I came in around 1:45.


Congrats to all of our Team TriDogz Elite members this weekend for a job well done!


This was the first race Team TriDogz was able to really debut.  We started TriDogz in the winter.  While we were still growing a small member base we were mostly in doors training.  This was the first time we got to wear our logo’s on our t-shirts proudly, and tell the endurance sports community what we do.  We met some new people here too, both on and off the race course, and we were proud to tell them what TriDogz stood for.  This was REALLY exciting for me, because my wife Anne and I really believe in what we are doing with TriDogz.  We are passionate about it.  We feel we have found a way to take things we enjoy, in endurance sports, and use them to raise money for local animal shelters.  I can’t say enough how proud I am of our members, friends, and family who have supported us in helping animals.  Anne and I were extra excited when we found out we would get a chance to talk about what we are doing with TriDogz to the local papers.  It gave us a chance to reflect on what TriDogz is, and what we stand for.  So here is what we believe TriDogs is…


TriDogz was really a number of things in the making for some time in our lives.  It’s a branch of Who Want’s to Pawty LLC, which is a Pet Sitting and Dog Training business Anne started a little more than 3 years ago.  Anne was always passionate about animals, and left a career in banking shortly after we were married 15 years ago, to pursue a career working with animals.  After a long career as a Veterinary Assistant, she decided to venture off on her own to start Who Wants To Pawty.  While Anne was still a Veterinary Assistant, I was focused on my job as an Equity Trader for a mutual fund company.  At some point I decided sitting in a desk all day was taking a toll on my health, and started getting involved in fitness.  True to my personality of jumping in to things head first, I quickly progressed from evening neighborhood bike rides, to mountain bike racing, and later to triathlons.  In pursuit of learning more about fitness and training I completed a coaching certificate, as well as other fitness certificates I gained as a requirement of my part time job as a cycle instructor at one of the large national gym chains.  It was last year, though, that the ball really got rolling.  We had adopted our 3rd dog.  There’s a whole story about another dog that I fell in love with, and I was going to rescue from a broken home, but in the end we didn’t get that dog.  So Anne started searching local rescues for another.  Our other dogs were getting so old, and we figured a puppy may perk them up.  All I remember was how sad she got while seeing how many animals needed homes just in our area.  We, eventually, found Petey and fell in love.  He is a 1 year old beagle lab mix pup.  But Petey was just the beginning of the story.  It was then we started thinking about what more we can do to help animals.  Then it all came together.  I was coaching a few friends and family, and one of our friends approached us about his charity work for a local rescue.  He asked me to think about coaching a team of runners he was putting together for benefit of the Live Again Animal Rescue.  I took that as an opportunity to start TriDogz.  What a perfect way to blend the things Anne and I are passionate about, and what a perfect opportunity to help all those animals that need homes.  So I decided to offer the rescue a free basic training plan for their race, and discounted my personal coaching rates for the runners participating in the charity event.  I then decided we could do more by starting our own Team TriDogz.  Every member who signs up is able to choose the rescue which TriDogz will donate a portion of team dues to every year.  It was very exciting to me to be able to write these checks for the charities!  We then contacted Petey’s Foster mom who now is fostering for Magnificent Mutts.  We are hoping to work more with these rescues in the future, and attract other rescues who use endurance sports to raise money for their rescues too.


So there we have it!  This weekend has been personally one of the most rewarding to me.  After all the exhaustion and stress of racing this weekend I have an incredible feeling of accomplishment, and Anne does too!  We feel we are doing something great, and leaving our impact on the local animal and endurance sports community.  Our team members and personal coaching clients are getting stronger, and we’ve been able to put together a company that gives back to local animal rescues.  We hope that others will see our passion and join us too.  We hope to help more athlete’s reach and exceed their goals, and we hope to be able to support local animal shelters more and more as we grow.


Most of us find Endurance Sports with some sort of goal in mind, whether it be to lose weight, have some fun, enjoy the outdoors, or to qualify for Kona or Boston.  If your just starting in that journey, chances are you have a lot of questions on how to train.  You may even not know the questions you are supposed to ask.  There may be things you’re doing, or not doing, that can easily be changed for added success.  If you want to improve, and take it to the next level, it’s time to ask yourself if there is low hanging fruit in your training!  I’ve outlined five possible areas of low hanging fruit I sometimes find when people come to me for coaching.  Do any of these things deserve a closer look for you?  Grab these areas of low hanging fruit and step up your training!

1.  Time/Consistency

I’m always surprised when I talk to new clients with big goals and they balk at how many days per week I want them to train, or they don’t want to start the training just yet.  That works for people who want to have fun, and run a 5k every once in a while, but doing long course races and making meaningful improvements takes time and consistency.  There are no short cuts.  What a lot of people don’t realize is the need to build consistency before adding training load.  It doesn’t do you any good to go from couch to high intensity track workouts in a week.  That will almost always end up in injury.   I always tell my clients “consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat” in that order!  So take a look at your life and daily schedule.  Align your goals with your time realistically.  Shift things around where possible to find more time needed to stay consistent.  I’ve been know to make home improvements that require less maintenance to find more time in my schedule.  If you have the means, maybe hire someone to cut your lawn or clean your house to free up time.  Find ways to train when the weather isn’t ideal.  Remember to make the proper amount of time for consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat, that aligns with your goals.  It will take you a long way in keeping you injury free and setting PR’s for your next race!

2.  Nutrition

I can’t stress enough how important Nutrition is to Endurance Sports.  Especially once you’ve already built a strong engine!  The old saying “Garbage in Garbage out” applies here, because the majority of us can’t out train a bad diet.  Some people are better blessed in this area with genetics, but deep into those long efforts nutrition still matters.  So whether looking at nutrition for you means cleaning up your diet and losing some extra weight, or finding the best way to fuel your training and races for the best results, ask yourself some questions about your current nutrition.  Be honest with yourself here!  Because fooling yourself is not going to get you anywhere.  If you don’t know enough about nutrition, ask someone to help you!

3.  Form/Fit

Some things are really this simple, and it’s very difficult to judge for yourself if you’re doing something wrong.  There’s no doubt getting help with your form can make a huge difference in swimming, but it can also make a difference in your running or cycling.  Take a good look at your running mechanics and bike fit.  Sometimes we focus so much at the pain and suffering to realize we don’t have a proper forward lean running, or we don’t realize we are breaking plane with our knees while we pedal the bike.  Get someone to help you look at these things and work on them.  They may help you avoid an injury, or even add a bit of power to your pedal stroke.  Either way, it’s an easy mechanical change you can make to help you keep training more and go faster!

4.  Injury prevention

This relates back to 1 and 3.  However, it’s worth talking about a little more in depth.  Staying injury free increases the time you have to train and race.  So in addition to keeping your form and fit in check and following the consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat mantra to stay in the game with your training, here are some other things you should make a part of your training to keep you going and add to your success.

-strength training

-foam rolling and/or yoga

-proper warm ups and cool downs

-proper rest

-keeping up with maintenance of prior injuries

Keep yourself in the game and able to train!  Pay attention to keeping yourself injury free!

5.  Long Term Progression

This is an area a lot of people don’t understand, and it’s difficult to have a broad enough outlook to do this on your own.  A lot of people hire a coach for this reason.  Especially, if you have multiple races per year, it can be difficult to know when the best time is to add in the hill or speed workouts or know what distances need to be built to at what point in the plan for the next race.  Doing these things successfully can really make a difference though.  If your not ready for the hills on your next race, or your not fully rested for your most important race, it can create havoc for you physically and mentally.  Getting these things right will make a big difference to your success.  So take some time at the beginning of the year to do this, or hire a coach to do it for you!

Do any of these areas deserve special attention for you?  Take hold of the low hanging fruit in your training.  Make positive changes to your training and have more success!


Coach Meulen






Well…. The latest beast is back home after its first ride. 

So I’ve been wanting a new road bike for quite some time now. My old one was one of the first bikes I ever bought. It was used when I bought it, and I put quite a lot of miles on it over the years.  I replaced everything except the frame and fork somewhere along the way. So this year I finally pulled the trigger, and I knew the guys up at Spokes in Wheaton, Il were the guys to go to.   

After all my research I decided on the Tarmac. I had contemplated the Venge as well.  However, what sold me was that the Venge did not have a similarly equipped bike with UDi2 and I kind of had my heart set on trying out the electronic shifting. So I ordered the Tarmac, and Alex at Spokes sized me up and fit me. You should know that process couldn’t have gone smoother with the guys up at Spokes. 

Now, I’m not exactly a stranger to higher end bikes. I have a higher end TT bike that I’ve been training and racing with. But some of the technology today was new to me.  The Tarmac itself is just a great bike. There’s no doubt!  So what I’ll be focusing on here is the UDi2 group set, the disc brakes, and the Roval wheels. 

I’ve had the pleasure of riding a lot of different group sets. I’ve ridden red, 105, and some campy over the years. The UDi2 was completely different for me. In my experience Shimano was alway a clunky definitive shift, SRAM was much smoother, but not as definitive. I always liked the smoothness of the SRAM but on a TT bike I wasn’t always sure I went one gear or two. With Shimano there was never a doubt, especially on the TT shifters. To be fair, the SRAM double tap on a road bike might be more definitive than I know.  Either way, I would describe the UDi2 as smooth like SRAM. As for definitive, it definitely is definitive by default, because with every touch of the button it always shifts without fail. It took a little getting used to the two buttons for up/down, but by the end of a 50 mile ride I had it down pat. It really was incredible. The mechanical shift was the norm for so long, and it worked well. But this electric shift is just REALLY nice. I can’t say that I “need” it.  But now that I have it I don’t know how I’m going to like going back!

I have a similar feeling about the disc brakes. I’ve ridden hydraulic disc on my MTB. So I knew they would be good on the road bike, and they were!  Stopping power is greatly increased, and I know from the MTB there will be added benefit in a variety of riding conditions.  I would imagine this is the way the industry will go in the future as well. I can see all kinds of doors opening for wheel and bike design since the area in the frame where the mechanical brakes mount don’t have to be reinforced, and wheels don’t need a braking surface. I would look out for more advancements on this in the near future. The only complaint I would have is the pads do vibrate a little at times, but barely noticeable unless your on a really rough patch of road. I imagine there is a slight disadvantage for weight and aerodynamics too. However, I don’t see it as enough of a hinderance to worry about it over the added benefits. 

Lastly, I wanted to mention the Roval wheels since there’s always a lot of emphasis put on wheels, and most people change the wheels that come with the bike at some point. In short, I won’t be changing these wheels.  In the car world they always refer to the noticeabilty of increased power gains as “the butt dyno”. I think that applies here too I don’t have any fancy equipment to test this stuff in a wind tunnel. However, I have seen differences in wheel upgrades on my other bikes and I know what my butt dyno tells me. Especially from aero differences. The wheels on the Tarmac are 45mm deep. IMO that’s just deep enough to see some aero benefit and added stiffness, but not deep enough to make them unmanageable in windy conditions. The day I took the Tarmac for its first ride was very windy here in Chicagoland, where it frequently gets that way!  Not once did I feel the wind blew me out of control. The wheels felt just as stiff and responsive as other non-deep wheels I’ve ridden, and definitely stiffer than the set of Jet 9’s I have on my TT bike. I really noticed the difference anytime the road turned up to a climb. The bike as a whole was more responsive than anything else I’ve ridden. They ride smooth and feel like they cut through the wind well too. So I have no complaints on these wheels at all!  

Overall, I’m thrilled to be riding this Tarmac this season. My road bike always seems to see the most use of all my bikes, and I’m glad to finally have a great bike for all those miles. The Tarmac itself is a stiff, responsive bike. The flat black paint is perfectly awesome. The thing looks fast just standing still!  Just look at it!  Thanks to the guys at Spokes Wheaton for the great service and support!  I’m looking forward to a great season on my Tarmac!

Coach Meulen

Brian VanderMeulen



Contrary to what the recent two snow storms tell us (at least here in Chicagoland), Spring is around the corner!  We will soon be able to get outside, pound out some miles on the bike, run in shorts and a t-shirt, and enjoy the weather!!!

In anticipation of that, lets go over a few things to think about before we start pounding out those miles.

1.  Maintenance.  Make sure you look over your bike, and do the proper maintenance so it’s ready to put in all those miles.  It’s been sitting all winter, so lubrication may have dried up.  Things may have gotten bumped or damaged while it was sitting in your garage.  Tires could have dry rotted, or you may have forgotten you needed now ones before you put it away for the winter last year.  Check your running shoes, and make sure they are road worthy, along with any other gear you carry with you on your runs/bikes.  If you’re not sure how to properly perform maintenance take it to the nice people at Spokes, in Wheaton, for a spring tune up!!  Check over your bike helmet too.  Make sure it’s in good condition and has no cracks.

2.  Clothing.  Watch the weather reports and be ready for any drastic changes in temperature you are going to experience while your on the bike or out running.  Make sure you are warm enough for the coldest parts of the day and that you can peel off the clothes so you are cool enough when it warms up.  Check over your bike helmet too.  Make sure it’s in good condition and has no cracks.

3.  Hydration.  The amount of water you consume may increase in warmer weather.  Be sure you take enough with you if the day will get warmer while your out, or plan out a route where you can stop and re-fill.

4.  Coordination.  Be careful out there!  Typically, we spend lots of time on treadmills and bike trainers over the winter.  Our skills for dodging cars coming out driveways, or jumping over logs on a trail run, have diminished.  Take your time and ease back into to things slow to get your reflexes back.  Trying to set a PR on your favorite Strava mountain bike segment probably isn’t the best idea right out of the gate!

5.  Safety.  One thing a lot of us don’t think about, but we should!  Every year, there are more and more attacks on cyclists and runners.  Whether it be an angry motorist, or a predator looking for an easy target on a remote not so well lit trail, we as athlete’s sometimes can become targets.  So don’t be afraid to take measures to protect yourself!  Have a plan, make sure someone knows to about when to expect you back, and carry a cell phone for emergencies.


Happy Training!

Coach Meulen

How to start Running With Your Dog

I’m honored, today, to also be writing for and in conjunction with, Who Wants to Pawty LLC, a pet sitting and dog training business that operates in the west suburbs of Chicago. They’ve asked me to write a blog post to help their clients realize the considerations of running with their pets.
Running is always more fun with a partner!  There’s probably no one more willing and ready to head out for a run with you than your beloved dog. Lots of people run with their dogs for companionship, safety, or even just to wear Fido out so it’s better behaved!
However, there is a lot to think about before heading out for a run with your pet. You need to consider your safety, the safety of others, and the safety of your pet. So what should we consider before running with your dog?
Firstly, your dogs age. Running with a puppy while its still developing can lead to permenant damage. You should consult your vet to determine if your pet is developed enough to run. The earliest is usually around 8 months, but larger breeds can sometimes develop more slowly. Even then you need to start slow and keep the distance down. Just like us, your dog needs to build to a distance slowly to keep from getting injured.
Secondly, consider training. While your dog is young teach it to walk properly on a leash. Take it to a trainer and work on obedience and basic commands. There’s nothing worse than an uncontrollable dog pulling its owner down a trail, lunging at innocent bystanders, or worse, darting out into the street.
Once, Fido is fully developed and is a well behaved pet walking on the leash, start building those run miles slow. Make sure to carry enough water for both of you on your trek’s!  Enjoy your time with your buddy!  It may soon be the most favorite part of your pets day. If you happen to take a hiatus make sure you build the miles up slow again for you and your dog. Running distance takes some getting used to, and you need to start over again when you haven’t done it for a while.
Keep an eye on Fido’s health and well being just like you do your own. Keep regular check ups with your vet, and take notice of any limps or changes in behavior. Remember, they can get running injuries just like you, and are not indestructable.
Happy Running!
Coach Meulen