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Archive for February, 2012

2012 Australian National MTB Championships

Posted by fenner on February 28, 2012

National MTB National Championships Race Report

Well what a start to 2012 it has been! I have hardly had time to think with a full on race schedule and program to get me into some sort of condition to go and have a go at the Absa Cape Epic. The final parts of the fitness puzzle are in the process of being put into place and after a couple of weeks of volume leading into the National Champs in Adelaide I was starting to feel like my old self.

I backed off slightly the week before the Nats to freshen up a little and at least get my TSB hovering on the right side of zero for race day, unlike a couple of weeks before at Stromlo where I went into the race at  -27 TSB and a little cooked.

The first race was the Teams Relay and with such a powerful squad I felt confident that we could take it out. With Jack Haig leading us out for the first lap we were confident that we could establish an early lead. A bad case of chain suck, however, had other plans and jack had to scoot and run for the final few km’s to limit our losses to the local Adelaide team.

Next out was Billy Sewell and he smashed it off the line catching and passing the Adelaide rider on the first climb and dominating the lap to come in and hand over the Kat O’Shea. Kat again smashed out a cracker of a lap and extended the lead by the time she came into transition and pass the responsibility of bringing it home to me.

I was honoured to be given the final leg and gritted my teeth in the soaring temps to ride a steady but solid lap to bring the Green and Gold Jersey and first Championship medals to the team for 2012.


Team Torq Nutrition


I was up the next day with the Masters National Champs and with a stellar line up it was going to be a very tough race indeed. Anyone of 6 or 7 riders were up for the win and with temps in the high 30’s it was going to be a war on the dirt.

One of the most important things to get right in such hot conditions is your core temperature and for the hour leading up to the race I managed this with ice vests and ice cold towels around the neck during a short warm up. I wore my torq skinsuit and filled this with ice cubes that were melting and again cooling the core and maximising the blood supply to the working muscles and away from being diverted to maintain homeostasis. My idea was to go out hard and fast and control the first climb and therefore the single track. I could then settle into my own pace and manage the riders behind me. I was also sure that we would catch up to some of the slower riders from the race that started before me and I wanted to be able to get past them and maybe gap the chasers putting pressure on them to pass and make mistakes doing so. The plan worked very well and after the first lap I had a 10 second lead over John Gregg in second and a group containing Jeffrey, Rizzuto, Kreilis, James, Klein and current series leader Willmore.

Railing Sunset Boulevard

The initial break had its effect on me in the heat and I could sense someone clawing their way back up to me on the second time up the main climb. On the technical rocky section on the climb midway through the second lap John Gregg attacked and made a small gap. I was unable to respond and at the time I was unsure of the rider and his kit as I was expecting Rizzuto after his strong performance a couple of weeks before at Stromlo. In 3rd place and always a threat was Willmore the series leader and he was trying to bridge across to me the pressure was on. Over the next lap the lead remained just out of touch with Willmore breathing down my neck, getting held up by some back markers and lapped riders was frustrating and any gains made were quickly lost. Out onto the last lap Dean in the pit was saying I was only 20 or so second behind the leader and I had made a small gap on Willmore so I put the pressure on to try and make up the time. It was so hot and riding on the limit was like being in a furnace, my throat was dry and like razor blade sucking in air to supply my working muscles. I pushed and pushed and felt like I toughed out a solid last lap, but, it was to no avail and I came in with the Silver again 50 seconds down on the winner and grinner John Gregg from WA.

Nearing the finish

I was happy to be back in a position to ride for the win, but, gutted that again the national jersey had just eluded me. With 3 Silvers in 3 races entered over the past few years I really wanted it this year, but, on the day a better man won.

Masters Podium

The rest of the team, well what can I say. The medal haul was amazing with Gold medals for Jenni King and Robbie Hucker in the Elite and U23 XC, along with Silver medals for Jack Haig and Billy Sewell in the U23 and U19 XC. Billy took out the Gold medal along with a Bronze for Kat in the short track. It was an epic show of strength for the best team in Australia.

Massive thanks go out to Dean and Gen at Torq Nutrition for the continued support, along with Monza and Sram, LG. Continental Tyres, Sunto and Lezyne who keep us on the trails with the best rigs and gear on the market. Oz-Riders for the best grips and Aussie Butt Cream for comfort down under, you guys rock.

It is all about the Cape Epic now with a few weeks of big volume and long days in the saddle I am frothing to get amongst it.

Catch ya on the trails



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Sram Quarq Quatro MTB

Posted by fenner on February 8, 2012

A very welcome new addition to the power meter market in the last month or so has been the Sram Quarq Quatro MTB power meter. Up until now for the MTB crew to be able to really quantify training load and fine tune the real demands of racing on the MTB it was a case of a Power Tap rear hub or the very expensive SRM. Both units worked fine, but the Power Tap was a little heavy and for races most of my clients prefered to use their lightweight wheel set and save nearly 400g’s. The SRM although a fantastic crank based power meter, cost and the not so user-friendly battery replacement issues put it out of the range of most athletes wanting to really dial their training and racing on the MTB.

The new Quatro follows a very similar design to that of the road based Quarq, but, with some subtle differences. The battery case has been beefed up and made from aluminium which takes out the possibility of smashing the plastic case on a rock and losing the cover and therefore the battery. The whole spider set up is more compact to allow for the smaller chainrings and it all looks more robust and solid. This more industrial look and feel doesn’t come with a weight penalty, however, as the cranks are only 50g or so more than the standard XO units making running a power meter in races a no brainer now.

Sram Quarq Quatro MTB

The set up of the Quatro could not be easier, as with most crank based power meters it is simply a case of plug and play these days with ANT+ wireless technology there is no messing about with fiddly cables and wires it is just so easy. A cadence magnet needs to be attached to the bike to activate the reed switches on the power meter and allow for the cadence to be measured. In the case of the Quatro, Sram/Quarq have given the user multiple options for cadence sensor placement to allow for multiple BB configurations. I simple GXP BB has a cup washer with magnet attached that is simply placed on the BB cup threads and screwed onto the drive side of the bike, With the magnet placed facing backward to avoid shipping a chain into it, set up could not be easier. The Quatro also comes with some placement putty for BB30 or press fit BB’s and it is again a simple case of mixing the two-part adhesive putty together and placing just behind the BB shell.

Cadence sensor ring

Cadence sensor ring

Once the magnet has been set up it really is just a case of putting the cranks on and syncing it in with the head unit of your choice. I use my Quarqs with a Garmin 500 and they work really well. I have all 3 bikes Road, Time Trial and MTB all set up as different bikes on the head unit as each power meter has a different code to eliminate picking up power from another device. I will not go into detail about the head unit set up because there are other great sites out there to help with this. If you are interested try the following for detailed Garmin head unit set up info.





With the Quatro on the bike there is nothing more to do than get out there and start training. The data from races and training on the MTB will enlighten you as a rider to the real demands of the discipline. Simply going out on the road bike for km’s simply doesn’t target the specific demands of riding the MTB and after your first quadrant analysis of a MTB race compared to a road race you will be shocked;o)

They might still be an investment, but, compared to a uber light rig they are still very good value and I would say over time as an athlete you will get more reward from using power than any new piece of bike kit you could think of.

See you on the trails soon



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Back in the Game

Posted by fenner on February 7, 2012

The condition is coming and slowly day by day I am finding the legs again. It has been just over 3 months now since I was able to get back onto the bike and start the journey back to fitness and prepare for the Absa Cape Epic and to date things are going better than I had hoped. I started back with shorter hard threshold based efforts of no more than 1 hour and this built up to 2 hours by the end of 6 weeks. My FTP which started out at 280 watts with a 20 minute effort of 299 up a local climb quickly climbed up to a 20 min of 360 just before Xmas. Into the new year I rode the Jayco Bay Crits with my new road team Torq/Bss and finished in the leading bunch in 2 of the 3 races and felt ok. I was lacking the intensity and race legs to be competitive, but, I was racing and getting through without any back issues. I was and still am getting pain down my left leg, but, it is residual nerve damage and may last for some time, so, I just put up with it and get on. After the Bay Crits was the National ITT Champs and again I rode ok about 40 watts down on what I have held for PB’s and 20 watts down on what I had set for myself and I think I was still suffering a little fatigue from the Bay Crits as my CTL was still very low and my ability to recover and back up hard sessions compromised by my lack of base condition. I came in 28th with a time of 53.12 and I think with my best numbers another 2 mins could have been taken from the time putting me up to around the top 15 where I finished 2 years ago.

Back in the Game

I have just competed in the Buller Nats round on the MTB, Wildside and this weekend at Mt Stromlo for another Nats round before flying down to Adelaide in 2 weeks time for the MTB National Champs. I am starting to find the legs and won a local Road Race here on Sunday with a breakaway and feeling strong and ready for the volume to start in prep for The Cape Epic.

I would like to say a massive thank you to all my sponsors for their continued support through the tough 2011 season for old Fenz. A big shout out to Dean and Gen from Torq, Hayden and Guys at Monza, Hidtech, Ozriders and AussieButt Cream. Look out 2012 because I am hungry for a big year both on the dirt and on the road.

Catch ya on the trails soon


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