Monday, 13 April 2015

How To: Talk Like a Cyclist - Deeper Edition

So you're already a real cyclist, and you have the new socks to prove it. You're across the Cycling Tips family friendly guide of cycling terms here:

Then why is it that you still have no idea what's going on when you overhear race tales told between two mates? Consider the CT article 'base miles', you've got to do them. Now it is time for specificity!

To fully understand some of the more obscure lingo we need to go deeper.... much deeper.

Proceed at your own risk.....

Bunch: Bike riders, not roses. Two very different smells.

Bunchy: Sprinting the grupetto to the line for no valid reason. "That dickhead took the bunchy for 25th.... they paid to 5th"

Boxed: Unable to move to preferred position. Excuse. "I was boxed in the sprint"

Crystal Cranking: Pedalling as if your cranks are made of crystal and will break at any point. Possibly true for some early model carbon crank-sets. 

Cracked: Destroying the soul of another rider. What Porte did to Dennis for the stage win on Willunga in the 2015 Tour Down Under. 

Compact: The art of keeping a secret about your chain-ring size. "Mate, is that a...".. replied with, "No, no it isn't. It's a 52, semi-compact" 

Chop: Nothing to do with dodgy wheels, they're expected. It is about getting in the money. Discussion of the chop always initiated at a handicap by a scratch rider who is likely to be out the arse early on. A verbal form of payment insurance. 

Foxing: Crystal cranking. Rider is looking for an easy sit. Likely a sprinter.

Frothing: Seen on wet rainy days when someone uses too much chamois cream. They will literally start to froth from their backsides and down their legs. Treat the froth like acid, don't come into contact with it. Contains cooties.

Garmin Vector: A scientifically accurate measurement of how much someone knows about power meters and their reliability. "I honestly judge a person harshly if they post a WTB on Buy/Swap/Sell Road Bikes asking for Vector pedals" 

Hitter: Term of endearment, sign of respect. Unrelated to domestic violence.

Iranian Petrochemical Teams: Comedy act. Like the Harlem Globetrotters, but on bikes, and drugs. 

In the Box: Pushed to your physical limits. "I was out until 3 at a 21st last night and I was in the box from the gun. I was out the arse 5k in."   

Out the Arse: Dropped from the bunch. Off the back. 

Pig Rooting: Similar to head bobbing, more extreme. Looking like you're rooting a pig.

Pulling: See working. Also what riders do post race explaining they would have won if they weren't boxed in.

"ROLL": Used when sitting 2nd wheel in a handicap (or in a break) and the rider on the front is tapping. 

"F'KING ROLL!": See "ROLL", used when lead rider didn't hear you the first time.

Rode them off the back: Isolating a rider who is tapping in the bunch. Performed from 2nd last wheel when they're on the back. You drop the bunch, ride them off the back, then sprint back across yourself leaving them out the arse. If they sprint back across, they're foxing and can be called out on it. It is then your duty to shame them into working. "I rode him off the back to see if he was foxing... turns out he was in the box, didn't see him for the rest of the day. I almost felt bad."

Sit: Opposite of working. Sprinters master this art.

Tapping: See crystal cranking and foxing. 

The Gutter: The worst possible place to ride a bike in a cross wind.

The Gun: The start of the race. Out of courtesy, don't attack here. Please. 

Working: Actually contributing to the bike race. Opposite of sit. 

UP UP UP! (Hup for Euro coolness): A call to arms (but using legs) shouted by riders foxing who don't want to chase an attack themselves.

I'm sure I've missed a ton. Add yours to the comment section below. :) 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

South Pacific Veterans Cycling Championships 2015 (M35-39)

The Easter racing carnival in Maryborough is always a solid hit-out just as the winter road season gets under way. I wrote up the event in detail here back in 2013, so I'll keep this write up brief...ish.

Von and I raced with both Central Vets and Eureka Vets in the weekend leading up to the Easter races in Maryborough. "What grade do we put you in?" at Bendigo as a first time visitor there was a welcome change from the usual "Oh shit...". :)

Road Race - Friday 3rd April

SLane and I were in a three man break after 27km, then a two man break at 35km. We cut it pretty fine on the way back into town, with the chasers only a handful of seconds back coming into the the finish straight. I got the jump on SLane and took the cat-and-mouse sprint.

Straight Line 300m Sprints - Saturday 4th April

No tactics, just don't stop sprinting until the finishing line. My early qualifying time was the quickest on the day, and I had a good run in the final to take 1st. I had more than one rider come up to me saying they thought I was just a TT rider.

Dale and I with our fastest of the day awards.

Time Trial 15km - Saturday 4th April

Flat out to the turn, then bring it home harder. I took 1st with with SLane in 2nd. I just missed going sub 19 minutes, and the car that crossed onto the wrong side of the road at the finish line...

Car up!

Criterium - Sunday 5th April

Xavier attacked early. SLane attacked soon after. An echidna joined the race. I bridged across to SLane. He wanted to lap the field. We rode flat out for the next 30 minutes. I bid farewell to SLane when he kicked hard up the final rise about 400m from the line. I rolled in 2nd, with both hands on my handlebars... until after the line where I acknowledged the crowd who stayed there watching the final race of the day. I still managed to get in trouble with the officials for taking my hands off the handlebars.... after the line...  crikey. 

Three wins and a second meant I had accumulated enough points to win the overall aggregate to be awarded the 2015 South Pacific Champion M35-39. The aggregate is a nice bonus for the weekend that ties all four events together to reward consistency.

Cec Cripps Open Handicap - Monday 6th April

With a smooth working scratch bunch, we caught block (3min) at 26km, then the next group around 34km. We swept up a few more before catching the main bunch with 8km to go. At this point two cars decided to join (and split) the peloton more than once. Words were spoken, loudly, and very clearly with the drivers. With the bunch of 60-70 riders all over the road I almost pulled the pin. It was getting messy and very dangerous. I had someone jamming their bars into my arse as I kept onto the left side of the road.

The hammer was dropped and the group soon strung out. Limit was two minutes up the road and would sweep up the top places, so it was a race for fastest time.

I attacked solo on the run into town, with the same result as when I pulled the same move in 2013, chased down quick smart. I then latched on to anyone who wanted to hit the wind. With a bunch kick brewing and a TLC lead-out train starting on the left of the road, Eureka Vets' Matt Bowman rocketed past on the right. I went with him as he pulled away from the bunch then kicked off his wheel for fastest time. 

Other Random Things

- That isn't Australian Champion kit, it is Australian National Team kit, which is close but technically not the same. There were a few people riding around in similar kit on the weekend. Current or previous national champions, fans of the sport, or just riders in 2nd hand kit. I'm proud to be all of the above.

- The meals at the Maryborough RSL are excellent.

- Zwift. People want to know more about it after my post about it the other day. If you've got a Kickr, get on it!

- Di Howdan took a lot of great shots of the whole weekend and has them up here:

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Zwift (beta) - Next Level Awesome.

I've been feed flooding my Instagram account for a few weeks with screen shots of Zwift and the shenanigans I've been up to on the virtual island. This has prompted a number of questions from people asking what it is all about. There are a few reviews of Zwift already floating around but I thought I'd put it into my own words... and describe my new indoor training addiction.

I've owned a Wahoo Kickr for almost two years now, and was recently close to selling it. I only held onto it because I knew the potential of the unit was huge. The applications I have used with it to date were bit of a let down.... until now.

What is Zwift?

"Massive, multiplayer video game technology meets the indoor cycling community."

Zwift is an indoor training application/game that plays on all my weaknesses. Indoor cycle training, real-time statistics, real-world opponents, and goals to achieve. Zwift is what the Wahoo Kickr needed from launch.

To get involved you'll need a power meter or a compatible trainer, a computer with enough grunt to run the application (Mac/Windows), a USB2 ANT+ stick, and at the moment an invite to the beta testing pool.

Zwift cover this in a lot more detail here:

Getting Up and Riding...

It is straight forward to get it up and running. Load the app, pair your devices, ride on!

While you can use Zwift with a number of different indoor trainers, it comes into its own when paired up with a Kickr (or other electronically controlled resistance units).

The realisation of just how good this is with a Kicker was on a ride outside last week. As I rolled down a hill and started pedalling faster with less resistance. My first thought was "this fells like I'm on Zwift island". When was the last time riding outside reminded you of an indoor ergo session?

With a good set of headphones you can notice the level of detail they've gone to in making this virtual world very realistic. The faster you go the more wind noise you'll hear. It is only subtle, but you'll almost subconsciously know when your speed has changed. The visual representation of gradients, corners, and speed are also nicely done. 

The triple jersey!

Trainer X has done this for a while...

Just as there were touch-screen phones before Apple came along and did it right, there is similar software and set-ups that do similar-ish things to Zwift. And like Apple, Zwift have nailed it, and they're still only in beta! (*replace Apple with Android if you're that way inclined) :)

Zwift Island....

The Island itself is a real place (Jarvis Island). When you upload your ride to Strava it has a real location, elevation, and all your stats. You can even use tools like Strava Labs Flyby to see who else you were riding with at the time. The Strava KOMs are there, and somewhat messy, the real KOMs are transient on the Island within Zwift where they all expire after 60 minutes.

The Potholes...

Like most things, it isn't all roses. There are very simple ways to cheat the system that can ruin a jersey chasing session. The developers are well aware of this and have a massive pool of equipment data to work with, I expect cheating will be at a minimum soon.

A 6:38 lap is around 420W at my current weight (72kgs). 5.83k/kg. A 5:32 lap, taking into account the virtual wind resistance would be pushing boundaries never seen in the pro peloton.

A lot of ergo workouts are focused on specific efforts that may be difficult to replicate within the Zwift world, for now. A standard 5x5min at FTP is interrupted by that damn hill, every time. Once more roads and options are paved in the application, I expect there will be more than enough terrain to use for any kind of training.

The Potential...

Is mind-blowing. Real-time races, Gran Fondos, replication of classic climbs, races, you name it. Zwift-Roubaix with virtual cobbles? 21 virtual switchbacks on Alpe d'Zwiftez? They could even mix it up with muddy virtual CX races or single-track MTB routes.

Imagine paring a Sufferfest workout with the Zwift world to create a parcours that visually matched the workout. Sprint signs, hills, virtual pro riders popping up on course to chase, and/or other riders completing and competing in the same workout in-real time.

Maybe they could replicate a classic stage of the Tour with a virtual peloton of pro riders you could mix it up with.... I'm sure we'd all love to sit on Floyd's wheel on Stage 17, 2006.. then teaching him a lesson by rolling him at the end.

For now... Get on it (request a beta invite) and get riding! 


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Bike Cameras - Free Data Overlay with Garmin VIRB Edit

My reaction to seeing an on-bike video of a local race with GPS and ANT+ data overlaid on the screen was "Oh this cool". I believe it was a video by James Dunn of the Kew criterium.

The video itself wasn't anything new, people had been sneaking sports cameras on bikes for a while, it was the data overlay that brought it to life. With info on the screen showing speed, power, cadence, elevation, heart rate, the viewing becomes immersive. You're no longer on the sidelines or flying above the pack, you become the rider.

Add in live streaming, this is the future of how we'll watch cycling. The UCI are on board, and an approval process for cameras on bikes has been implemented by Cycling Victoria. Excellent progress.

Now, how to bring raw footage to life with data overlay....

When I first looked into how to add data overlays to videos, and it wasn't easy, or free. That's changed. Garmin VIRB Edit (PC and Mac) is free, and pretty easy to master. VIRB Edit is designed for combing video footage from their VIRB action camera with data from a compatible Garmin device, a bonus being you can use footage from anything that uses the MP4 video format. I've been using a GoPro Hero 3 and combing the data from my Garmin 800 head unit.

Import Other.... not just for VIRB cameras!

Choose your data sources / gauges / customise them. 

GPS sync can be tricky to begin with, nothing a bit of trial and error won't resolve.

That's pretty much it. Add titles, tunes, export the video, and you're done. Now there is no excuse for posting raw #forverbutt videos from your Fly6, Fly16, GoPro, Garmin VIRB, Shimano Sport Action cam (once the video is converted to MP4). 

Other Tips

iMovie on the Mac is handy for joining/chopping/converting raw footage from cameras. It has a number of edit options, and basic stabilisation.

Stabilisation - A necessity for the roads we're on. ProDrenalin looks to be the best and easiest to use, although it isn't free. It can also remove some of the fish-eye effect that is common with sports cameras.

My Step by Step Process: 

- Capture raw footage on camera (720/1080).
- Record ride with Garmin 800.
- Import movie file(s) into iMovie, trimming start/end points, export to a single MP4.
- If required, stabilise raw video with ProDrenalin, export to MP4.
- Load Garmin VIRB Edit, load stabilised video, adding overlay template, then match up GPS/data sync.
- Export final video to MP4, upload to YouTube. Done!

You might be able to skip the iMovie step and import direct into VIRB Edit, leave a comment and let me know if this works fine, or any other ideas for getting the job done.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bobridge Hour Attempt - Round One

Bobridge's credentials to date have already established him as a champion. That can't be debated, and barring any catastrophic incidents in the future, he will always be a champion. With that said, let's not talk about how his attempt at the hour was a success. It wasn't. He failed. Failing is ok. Without the risk of failure, there is nothing to celebrate in success.

He's a professional athlete in a sport where the majority of the time you don't succeed. This is his job. It requires sacrifice, compromise, and pain. But show me a job worth doing that doesn't.

As for the effort itself - We've all seen the graphs comparing his hour effort to the other two recent ones:

Voigt holding pace and lifting at 35km with a super human effort we've come to expect from old Jensie. Brändle went out holding a slightly higher pace, then fading at the same point Voigt lifted. Brändle had enough in the bank at the 36-37km mark that even with the drop in speed, he still took the record. Two different pacing strategies, both which succeeded.

After Voight effectively set the 'new rules' hour record, the goal posts moved. They'll continue to move as riders set new records. This means the every single box has to be ticked for anyone attempting the hour.

There isn't a lot published about the technical side of Bobridge's attempt. I think they gambled on a the weather being a lot warmer for the attempt. DISC is only 60m or so above sea level, so they needed all the atmospheric and environmental advantages they could get. They lucked out on a uncharacteristically cold summer week in Melbourne, and an even colder day. Pumping the velodrome full of hot air in the hours prior would have helped, but not as much as having everything nicely slow roasted up to a warmer temperature in the days prior.

The skinsuit he was wearing was also said to be custom made for the attempt. It looks like they borrowed some fabric tech from Rapha/Sky looking close up. It is hard to tell without handling it. A marketing shortfall here is not using (or offering) a skinsuit that people could purchase from Tineli themselves. Is their standard offering not fast enough? Does making a 'fast suit' cost too much? There are significant aerodynamic differences in skinsuits and materials used. If Tineli offered a 'BobbersSuit' I'm sure people would be all over it. Although since he failed at this attempt the marketing spin would be a little tougher.

What about the helmet he used? It was different to the one he set the Pursuit world record in. Was the Kask a sponsor requirement? Did they test a number of helmets with his somewhat more relaxed than normal aero position to determine what was optimal? I would assume so, but wind tunnel time is VERY expensive. Regression testing at a velodrome can be mildly expensive and time consuming. I didn't see any wind tunnel time promos or believe they would have had enough time between Nationals and Tour Down Under to collect data from the velodrome. Maybe they did....  I don't know. 

The loop thing hanging out his nose? There is no independent / peer reviewed studies showing these devices work, so that has zero to do with sports performance. I assume it is there to pay the bills. This hour attempt costs money. Much like how professional tennis players reach for their wrist watches for any post game interview. Endorsements pay the bills. Unfortunately for Rhinomed, the attempt didn't work out.

Finally back to his pacing. His coach and mentor, Tim Decker, is undoubtedly THE BEST person to be standing trackside for Boberidge on the day. A champion in his own right, with more experience and mental toughness than we could imagine. With pacing/timing tape markers planted trackside and Decker watching him like a hawk, there was no reason to deviate from the plan.

"The first 20 minutes I was riding to what we wanted to do", Jack Bobridge.

So what we're seeing in the graph was the plan. Bobridge used the same approach as Brändle to bank a lead and hold on. Unfortunately it didn't pay off. At 10km he had a clear lead, but from then on he was unable to dig deep into those special physiological characteristics that separates him from the rest of us and set a new record.

The Science of Sport summed it up perfectly, "Physiology is a reliable 'debt collector'!"

Would he have succeeded with a different pacing strategy? We will never really know. What will be interesting is to see what changes are made if he has another attempt at it. He has our support, and a lot of data collected from his first attempt to work with. Fingers crossed we get to support him again for round two!