Looking for longer rides?

Try Randonneuring!!

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Traditionally styled randonneuring bike Flickr


What is that crazy word? Randonneuring (pronounced ran-don-NAY [ing]) is long-distance, unsupported, noncompetitive cycling within prescribed time limits. This Randonneuring originally started as day-long events in late nineteenth century Italy called an Audax. Back then, “challenge” sports became popular and participants aimed to cover as much distance as possible to prove themselves audax (“audacious”). The first recorded audax cycling event took place on June 12, 1897, when twelve Italian cyclists attempted the challenge of cycling from Rome to Naples, a distance of 230 kilometers (140 mi), during daylight hours. Eventually the sport became very popular in France and the name became Randonneuring, which can roughly  mean a long outing, trip, or a ramble in the countryside.

rand 2Imagine 140 miles in one day on this built in Chicago 1897 Gormully & Jeffery Rambler Light Roadster


The events—called brevets—are 200km (13.5 hour  time cut-off ), 300km (20 hours), 400km (27 hours), 600km (40 hours), and 1000km (75 hours). Grand Randonnées are 1200km and riders must finish in 90 hours or less. There are also events called populaires, rides longer than 100km but less than 200km. Permanents are another type of brevet but they do not have set dates and can be done at any time the rider chooses.


Once a brevet begins, the clock runs until the rider crosses the finish line, no time chips or time starting once rolling across a start line. There are no allowances for inclement weather, mechanical or bodily breakdowns. Eating, resting, navigation, bike repairs, and of course, cycling, must be done efficiently enough that the rider finishes within the time limit. Because these brevets are unsupported, riders carry everything themselves: tools, food, lights — and if they get support anywhere but the official checkpoints, they’re disqualified.


Non-neutral support may only be taken at a contrôle (“control” in English), or checkpoint, which are typically about 50km apart. At a control, some of which may be secret, the rider has their brevet card stamped to show passage though the control within the prescribed time limit. The card shows that you have followed the route and completed the entire event.

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A completed brevet card Flickr

In addition to a cut-off time for the event, each control has an “opening” and “closing” time and a rider must pass through the control between those times. These controls are used to keep the rider on a prescribed route which the rider must follow exactly.


The rough route is usually posted on a club’s website but most times the exact route is not known until day of the event when you are handed a cue sheet. The cue sheet lists each turn and road along the route along with its associated distance along with food and control stops. This means you will need a bike computer that tracks mileage such as a simple Specialized SpeedZone or even a Garmin. The cue sheet will also indicate the opening and closing times of controls. The cue sheet only helps if you can read it. You can put it in a zip-top bag and attach it to the bars or use a handle bar bag with a clear cover on top. GPS is allowed but should be used as a secondary navigation aid, not as a replacement for the official cue sheet.


Now that you know about how the ride works, what bike should you ride? The answer is any bike that is comfortable for you. You will see people on aluminum, carbon, steel and titanium bikes in race, comfort, endurance, sport, aero and touring configurations. ‘Typical’ randonneuring bikes have long been somewhere between dedicated road-racing bikes and a touring bike. Traditional bicycles usually have lightweight steel frames with rack and fender attachments, drop handlebars, relaxed, comfortable frame geometry, medium-width tires, broad gear ranges, and the capacity to carry lightweight luggage. Fenders and lighting systems are also common, and may be required for some events. Great Specialized bikes for this are the Roubaix and the Sequoia.


Specialized S-Works Roubaix. Photo by John Watson

Specialized Sequoia

Flikr Photo by John Watson on www.theradavist.com


There are a few ways to participate in these rides. There are clubs & rides all over the country, which can be found through the Randonneurs USA website search function. The closest randonneuring club to Amphibian Multisport starts in Delevan, WI. Most clubs require a membership, that ranges to $5-$25 for the year. The rides usually cost between $15-$25, much better than paying north of $80 for club century rides on roads you already ride for free. If you cannot do a planned ride put on by a club, there are rides called permanents. These permanents are like a brevet but you can arrange to ride it any time, not just on one specific date established by the organizer. You can also use a club website as a great resource to find new routes for your own enjoyment since these local clubs know the most bike friendly routes in the area. It also helps, and is more fun, to do these rides with groups of people, whether you know them or not. There is nothing in the rules against pace lines or riding in a group but eventually a group of people may split up based on rider fitness.


These brevets and the “sport” of randonneuring are great ways to get yourself some more miles this year, try new roads, see new scenery and push your personal limits. Now get out there and log some miles.




8 Rules to Do Everything Better

Reposted from https://www.outsideonline.com/2272621/8-principles-do-it-better 


The most important rules to grow your body and mind

“Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life,” writes investor Ray Dalio in his bestselling book, PrinciplesDalio focuses on skills like decision-making, investing, and managing organizations. While reading through it, I became inspired to put together my own list of principles that I’ve devised after more than five years of interviewing and coaching elite performers in sports, business, and beyond. Like Dalio’s, these principles are a foundation for a better you.

1. Stress + Rest = Growth

Whether you want to grow your body or mind or get better at a specific skill, you need to push to the outer limits of your current ability, and then follow that hard work with appropriate recovery and reflection. Decades of research in exercise science show that this is how you get stronger and faster, and the latest cognitive science shows that this is also how you get smarter and more creative.

2. Focus on the Process, Not Results

The best athletes and entrepreneurs aren’t focused on being the best; they’re focused on constant self-improvement. When you stop stressing about external outcomes—like whether you win or lose, attain a certain promotion, or achieve some other form of validation—a huge burden is lifted off your shoulders and you can focus your energy on the things you can control. As a result, you almost always end up performing better. Research shows that concentrating on the process is best for both performance and mental health.

3. Stay Humble

Humility is the key to growth. If you don’t maintain an open mind, you’ll severely limit your opportunities to learn and make progress. The best athletes trust their training programs but are also constantly looking for new ways to improve. Same goes for the best thinkers and creatives; they tend to be confident but not arrogant, and they check their egos at the door. Knowledge is always evolving and advancing—if you want to evolve and advance with it, you need to keep an open mind.

4. Build Your Tribe

There’s an old saying that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Turns out that’s true. A large and growing body of behavioral science research shows that motivation (or lack thereof) is contagious. One study, “Is Poor Fitness Contagious?Evidence from Randomly Assigned Friends,” found that up to 70 percent of your fitness level may be explained by the people you train with. Other research shows that if you work on mental tasks with people who are internally driven and love what they do, you’re more likely to end up the same way. If, on the other hand, you surround yourself with people who have a negative attitude and are focused solely on winning the rat race, you set yourself up for a less fulfilling experience.

5. Take Small, Consistent Steps to Achieve Big Gains

Habits build upon themselves. If you want to make any kind of significant change, you’d be wise to do so gradually and over time. In Stanford researcher BJ Fogg’s behavior model, whether someone takes action depends on both their motivation and their ability to complete a given task. If you regularly overshoot on the ability side of the equation, you’re liable to become discouraged and quickly flame out. But if you incrementally increase the challenge, what was hard last week will seem easier today. Put differently: Small and consistent victories compound over time, leading to massive gains.

6. Be a Minimalist to Be a Maximalist

You can’t be great at everything. Regularly reflect on what matters most to you and focus your efforts there. In the words of Mayo Clinic researcher and human performance expert Michael Joyner: “You’ve got to be a minimalist to be a maximalist; if you want to be really good at, master, and thoroughly enjoy one thing, you’ve got to say no to many others.”

7. Make the Hard Thing Easier

Willpower is overrated. Rather than relying completely on self-control, intentionally design your environment to make the hard thing easier. For example, if you (like everyone) are constantly distracted by your smartphone, don’t just turn it off—remove it altogether from where you’re trying to concentrate. If your challenge is eating healthy, instead of relying on your willpower at 9 p.m. after a glass of wine, simply keep the brownies out of the house. This applies to everything. Don’t just think about how you’re going to accomplish your goals; think about how you’re going to design for them.

8. Remember to Experience Joy

At first, this may sound crazy. Who doesn’t want to experience joy? But many Type A people are so driven to keep growing and progressing that sometimes they forget to be fully present for special moments or neglect to pause and celebrate their milestones. Don’t fall for this trap—it’s an especially dangerous one. “Moments of joy don’t just give us happiness—they also give us strength,” says Adam Grant, author of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. When things aren’t going well, we can fall back on happy memories to give us the resilience to move forward.

There is nothing fancy about any of these principles, though they do work best when all are applied together. Build them into your life and they will help you do it—whatever that is—better. But my list certainly isn’t exhaustive. If you have other principles that work for you, let’s keep the conversation going. Please share them with me on Twitter.

Brad Stulberg (@Bstulberg) writes Outside’s Do It Better column and is the author of Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success.


Training Tips From Trey

Coach Trey has put together 4 Tips for you to keep in mind when training this time of year…..


1. Be Safe

There is no shortage of cold and darkness at this time of year. The most important thing is to be visible while out running especially if out running in the morning before the sun is up or in the evenings after sunset. For me this means lots of reflective gear. I always wear a reflective vest and I run with a headlamp and have a red rear blinky (they’re not just for cyclists you know). Also, remember to dress in layers and to keep skin exposure to a minimum. This is a great time of year to treat yourself to a new pair of gloves, a warm hat, a neck warmer, a new set of pants/tights or a jacket. Just because it may be cold outside, doesn’t mean you have to be too.

2. Have a Goal

This is the time of year where most of us reflect on the past year (2017) and what we want to accomplish ahead (2018); a sort of New Year’s Resolutions for endurance folk like us. I hear a lot of people talk about working on one of their weaknesses or putting in a specific block of training for one of the three triathlon disciplines. Whatever your goal may be, write it down, share it with your friends and teammates and put a plan in place to achieve it. Side Note: If you need help putting a plan together, don’t forget about the stellar coaching staff (Robin, Trey, Jason, Diane, Marty and Kristin) at Amphibian. We’re happy to help you and make 2018 a great success.

3. Add Variety to your Runs (or Bike or Swims)

Success later in 2018 will be easier if you lay a good foundation with basic training principles now.  It can be easy this time of year to have every workout turn into an easy one. While it’s okay to not have the same level of  volume that you may have leading into a big race later on in 2018, it’s still important to add variety to your weekly runs. I work hard to make sure to still have easy days and to also have hard days in my training. This is the perfect time of year to add in hill repeats, fartleks, and tempo runs. If you are running 4 days a week now, I’d suggest having one recovery run, one tempo or hard brick run, one hill repeat or fartlek run, and a weekly long run. It’s okay to to get in your runs when and where possible whether it’s outside or on the treadmill. Mix it up!!

4. Don’t forget about Hydration and Nutrition

We often forget how important it is to stay hydrated at this time of year, especially when it’s cold outside. Don’t forget to be hydrating throughout your day, to be drinking water or an electrolyte replacement drink during your workouts and to eat or drink something within 30 min post workout. Remember that after a workout, your muscles are damaged, depleted and biochemically primed for nutrient uptake. Ingesting a roughly 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein with 20-30 grams coming from protein can help replenish glycogen stores and shuttle protein into muscle for optimal repair and recovery. This will help you recover more quickly and set you up for better and more consistent training throughout the winter months. This is also a great time of year to try new or different fueling strategies for your marathons or Ironmans later on in 2018. Amphibian has a multitude of nutrition options available for sale.

Shared Suffering Makes Trainer Rides More Tolerable

Coach Kristin recommends reading this article about group indoor training that was posted on Triathlete.com.    Why suffer inside alone when you can suffer inside with a much of Frogs!!!



By Susan Lacke

Indoor group rides in winter = PR in spring.

Outside, the sky is dark, the weather is dreary, and the roads are not at all rideable. But for thousands of riders each year, their best training happens in these weeks. Thanks to the growing trend of indoor group rides, more cyclists than ever are breaking through training plateaus in the off-season. These bring-your-own bike rides at shops and club headquartersfeaturing stationary trainers, upbeat music, lots of sweating, and the occasional bout of smack talkprovide a more appealing alternative to setting up a solitary pain cave in the basement.

“The camaraderie shared in these rides makes getting up and out of bed to work out in the winter much easier,” says Jay Ridgeway, CEO and Head Coach of Pacific West Athletics in Berkeley, Calif. “It’s good to know you’re not alone in your suffering.”

And suffering, there isthough there are indoor social rides that exist simply for a fun spin, many are helmed by a coach or instructor whose job is to push riders through the workout. Ridgeway’s classes, for example, utilize Wahoo Fitness KICKR trainers and specialized software to keep tabs on every rider’s effort level.

“All classes are pre-scripted, with a specific goal and purpose and tied to a master 52-week macrocycle periodization calendar,” says Ridgeway. “The KICKR Studio multi-rider software does a great job keeping everyone focused on their individual performance, using their unique ‘green, yellow and red’ output meter, while our instructors keep the class atmosphere fun and engaging.”

And that might be the best reason of all to join an indoor group rideno one gets dropped. For those who struggle to keep up on the roads, taking a bike and trainer to an indoor social ride can be hugely motivating; to see and hear what those around you are doing encourages you to level up your own riding skills. Who knows? By the time spring rolls around, you might just be able to hang with the peloton.
Read more at http://www.triathlete.com

Creating a Powerful, Smooth Pedal Stroke

Leg strength is critically important for cycling, but it’s important to use that strength in a manner that creates a smooth, efficient pedal stroke.  Our knees are maximally flexed at the 11 o’clock position which means that your knee starts to extend as your foot comes over the top of the pedal stroke.  Therefore, you should be thinking about pushing the foot forward as it crosses over the top of the pedal stroke which engages the quad muscles.  Start by pushing at the 11 o’clock position instead of 12 or 1 o’clock.  This results in a smoother, less choppy pedal stroke.  It helps your leg get a head start on the down stroke and it helps smooth out the dead spot at the top and bottom of the pedal stroke.
As your foot goes down through the down stroke you are engaging both the quads and the glutes.  You really don’t have to think about this as it comes naturally.  But keep in mind that most force is generated at the 3 o’clock position as the force is perpendicular to the crank arm.  When you get down to the 5 and 6 o’clock position, you are pushing mostly parallel to the crank arm and very little force is being used.  So don’t continue mashing down on the pedals once it reaches the 5 o’clock position.  You should be thinking about “pulling back” on the pedals.  To pull back you engage your hamstrings and it’s commonly referred to as scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe as you are pulling back through the bottom of the pedal stroke.  This helps visualize the feeling in your hamstrings.
Practice one legged pedaling to strengthen your hip flexor muscles and help your pedal stroke.  When you first start pedal with only one leg clipped in won’t take long before your pedal stroke becomes jerky and you have trouble getting your leg back up on the upstroke (try each leg for 1 minute and then repeat 5x).  This is because of weak hip flexors.  When riding two-legged, we get lazy and let the downward leg push the upward leg back up – we are overusing our quad muscles.  One legged pedaling does two important things: it strengthens the hip flexors and it also provides neuromuscular training so the pulling up motion becomes more automatic when pedaling with two legs.  It helps balance our your pedal stroke.  Use the off season to work on intervals of single leg drills and create a better pedal stroke.
– Diane

Be Nice to Your Chain

Chains are one of the fastest items on a bike to get worn down. If you’re not a mechanical type of person, you may be wondering how a chain wears out or why you should care. You should interested if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t perform preventative maintenance on your bicycle. Chain wear will lead to poor shifting and lost efficiency. Additionally, a severely worn chain is weaker and there’s nothing fun about a snapped or skipping chain under power.

Chains are made of basically four parts as shown below.

Chain 1

The main way a chain wears out is from being stretched. A brand new chain has a pitch of 0.5 inches. This means that each pin is 0.5 inches away from the next and a full link of chain is 2x pitch, which equals 1 inch. Elongation due to wear is a normal phenomena during drive operation. The rate of wear is dependent on several factors;  proper lubrication, load, and the frequency & degree of articulation between pins and bushings.

chain 2

There are a few tests you can do at home to determine chain wear.

  • Lift Off Chain ring

Simply lift the chain off the front chain ring.

Shift into the smallest cog on the rear and largest chain ring in front, then lift the chain off of the chain ring. If you can see a significant amount of daylight under the chain it is probably time to replace.

chain 3

  • Measure With A Ruler

This method is probably the most effective and shows wear the best. With the chain in the same position as before, pick a pin and line it’s center line up at the zero mark on the ruler. Look down to the 12 inch mark of the ruler. If there is a pin directly at 12 inch then your chain is fine If that pin is past the 12 inch mark by more than a 1/16 inch, your chain is stretched to the point of replacement. Here are two closer photos of chains. The chain on top is new and the one on the bottom has stretched out a little past the 1/16 inch mark.

chain 4chain 5

What should you do if your chain is worn? Replace it! A worn chain can eat away at cassettes, chain rings & even derailleur pulleys.  All of which cost more to replace than a chain itself. This happens because a chain that is stretched will start to ride up the teeth instead of sitting snugly in the grooves, chewing away at the areas with less metal and support. In the image below the worn chain is riding higher on the cog because the pitch has stretched or ‘grown.’

chain 7

Here is an example of worn chain rings, cassettes wear similarly. The other photo is of derailleur pulleys which the majority are made of a hardened plastic. In both cases the teeth start to ‘shark fin’ as the metal or plastic is eaten.

How do I prevent this from happening? You can’t really do anything about chain stretch but having a clean drive train is the best way to prevent early detonation. Clean the chain regularly, especially if you ride in muddy (cyclocross) or dusty conditions such a gravel/limestone trails or even a few times during the winter trainer seasons. The same applies to the cassette and derailleur pulleys.


Here is an example of how to clean a chain pretty well from the Rivendell Reader, a small bicycle newsletter.

chain 10

You should finish this sequence by dripping lube directly onto each of  the rollers of the chain (refer to earlier photo.) You do not want oil on the outside of the chain or directly on the cassette because it will collect dust and grime. Pinch the top and bottom of the chain with your thumb and index finger and pedal backwards, moving the chain through your fingers to help the oil soak in. Once it is in, gently wipe the chain with a rag to collect any excess.

When it comes to replacements, some modern chains are installed with a special connecting link that comes with the chain (SRAM), most models require a special tool, not surprisingly called a “chain tool,” for removal and installation (Shimano). We know how all the special links work and are equipped with the right chain tools for every type of chain so you may want to bring your bike in for us to replace the chain. It’s a quick job for us in most cases.

If you prefer to do the work, please bring the old chain into the shop for us to find an exact match. If you can’t do that, the following information will help us provide you with the right model:

  • Brand, model and type of the old chain, such as Shimano (brand) Ultegra (model) 11-speed (type).

  • Chain length. For this, simply count the number of links on the chain.

  • Type of bicycle, such as road, mountain, hybrid, etc. While this information isn’t critical, it can help if there’s any confusion on what you need.

  • If you can’t tell what brand and model your old chain is, count the number of cogs on the rear wheel. Most modern bikes have 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 cogs, however older models could have 5 or 6. Also, you might have a beach cruiser or BMX with only 1 cog.

Now you know how your chain wears out, how you can prolong its life and when to replace it. Hopefully this information keeps your bike rolling for a long time and if you have any questions just ask and we’ll be happy to help.


-Mechanic Jeff