Throw the bike................. NOW!

The Coolest and Most Versatile Camera Ever!!!!!! BUY IT RIGHT HERE!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Comparative Measurements of Maximal Outputs for Cyclists

Below are two  data charts  that both show a wide spectrum of differing abilities of cyclists as athletes with different possible predicted output measurements. Not only do these charts give a snapshot view of the full range of power output of cyclists, but they can be used to help an individual realistically see where they fit into the big picture and help identify what "type" of rider they are (i.e. sprinter, time trialist, pursuit rider, kilo rider, all arounder) 

 The source of my data comes from "Power Profiling"by Andrew Coggan, Ph.D. (data can not be copyrighted, please feel free to copy and share!),  and the Bike Calculator.  A few important points to understand about the first chart (top):  The four data columns of 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute and FT (aka: functional threshold or lactate threshold, which is the maximal effort that you can sustain for one hour plus), and all maximal expected values for that particular level (pro through non-racer).  Every individual cyclist will produce a measure  for each timed maximal effort that will chart them at different levels for that result.  For example:  a world class sprinter can not also be a world class time trialist. This is because of the physiological make up of individual athletes, where sprinters tend to have higher ratios of fast twitch muscle fibers comparative to slow twitch fibers, which favors time-trialing. 

In other words you may have a category 1 sprint, but a time trial of a category 4 or vice versa.  And that's fine, but it would be very helpful to know your strengths and weakness so that you can race tactically correct.    

To see where you personally stand in the field of competitive cyclists you must know a few data points.  Namely your maximum sprint effort as described below in terms of speed or wattage,  and your 40 kilometer time trial effort in terms of speed, time or wattage, or your 5 minute maximum wattage output or laboratory measured VO2 max. 

Maximal Power Output (W/kg) via Andrew Coggan, Ph.D
Click image to enlarge.
My adjusted data chart with additional estimated maximal cycling outputs
Click image to enlarge.

This makes the first chart very valuable because it not only allows comparisons between all levels, it also  helps an individual to use their scores to identify their natural strengths and weaknesses, and to thereby train and race accordingly.

Understandably, many cyclists do not use watt meters and may not be familiar with what wattage they can generate, especially on a watts/kg scale.   I created a second chart (bottom) as a  variation of the first to show speed produced from these differing outputs and an estimate of VO2 max across the spectrum of abilities.   These 4 other data fields help illustrate the differences between cycling abilities (or levels).

I used the Bike Calculator   to predict a maximum sprint speed and a 40 kilometer time trial time result in minutes and also average speed in mph for that distance for each wattage per level.  Again, I think speed is an easier measurement to understand than wattage. 

From personal experience, I have found the Bike Calculator to be very reliable (within several seconds) for predicting 40k time trial results when using full aero gear (helmet, wheels, and bike).    

Note: For my chart above, I  used the following values,  bicycle weight: 15.5lbs, tires: tubular,  position: aerobar, grade and headwind:   0, distance:  24.85miles (40k), temperature: 75F, elevation: 100ft, and transfer efficiency:  95%. 

In order to produce a sprint number that matched my personal experience, I used results from the "bar end" position on the calculator, rather than the "drops" position because the later produced a much too high speed number.  I'm sure that this is simply because it takes much much longer than a 5 second maximal burst to reach the maximum cruising speed of that wattage.

Instead I found that the "bar ends" position matched very well (within a few 10ths of a mph) to my personal experience of doing 200 meter sprints, with a starting speed of around 20mph and sprinting as if 200 meters was the finish line.  However, it's  noteworthy to mention that the world record for sprinting, the flying 200 meters, is actually 46.7mph (9.572seconds; much faster than the top of my chart's world class level) set by Kevin Sireau from France, set in Moscow, Russia, 30May2009.  Still with that said, I would guesstimate his speed would be closer to my chart numbers with the conditions I have previously described.

The bottom chart also has an estimated VO2 max calculation value for each cycling level.   I used the American College of Sports Medicine formula:

VO2 (L/min) = 0.0108 x power (W) + 0.007 x body mass (kg)
I used the  wattage produced from the 5 minute maximum for my calculation of VO2 (L/min) and then
divided that result by the riders weight in kilograms to produce the result in ml/kg/min, which is a standard comparative measurement of VO2 max.

There are several ways in which my method for calculating VO2 max can produce error.  For example:  an unfit cyclists may only be able to ride for 3-4 minutes at their VO2 max and not 5 minutes, whereas fit riders can ride anaerobically above their VO2 max during a 5 minute effort
(most athletes can sustain a power that would elicit 105-110% of their VO2max for this duration).  The first would give a falsely low number and the second would give a falsely high number.

With that said, I still think that this chart has value for guesstimating one's own VO2 max. The only way to get an accurate measurement is in a laboratory setting and measure oxygen consumption during different work loads.

It is ideal to know your physical abilities and where you stack up against your competitors.  And of course it is desirable to have the physical advantage in a competition, but proper strategy and tactics typically (almost always in fact) trump the physical advantage alone.  To learn more about bicycle racing tactics and strategies, click here.
To learn more about aerodynamics in cycling click here.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bicycle Racing Tactics and Strategies

There's not a lot of good material out there on tactics for bike racing, so I thought this would be  a good a place as any to provide some, plus this format is ideal in that readers (and myself) can comment and add or correct points made here.

My first introduction to bike racing tactics came from Greg Lemond's Complete Book of Cycling (no longer in print), then later by teammates, reading countless race articles in the cycling magazines, books, watching many hours of race footage on television and over two decades of personal race experience with hundreds of races completed..  Needless to say, I've learned a thing or two and I'm more than happy to share.

The importance of race tactics can not be understated.  Typically race tactics determine race outcomes far more than just physical ability alone.  The fantasy of beating your opponent by pure brute strength alone is just that.... a fantasy.  One reason for this  is that bike racing is organized by ability (categories), and the other is that proper race tactics will  typically trump a physically stronger rider with poor tactics, because of  nature of bike racing (particularly aerodynamics).

It is critical to understand the role that aerodynamics play in bike racing in order understand race tactics.  For this article I am going to assume that you understand the specifics of aerodynamics and bicycling.  (If you don't, please click this  text-link to read my comprehensive article on the subject).

Here's a few definitions that the beginner/novice must know to understand cycling tactics:
*Attack:  A swift acceleration designed to separate a rider from the pack
*Breakaway:  An individual rider or a group of riders who have created a significant gap between themselves and the main peloton or smaller group of riders
*Bridge:  The act of closing the distance to a rider or group of riders when they have created a gap.
*Chase:  When the peloton or small group of riders is working to close the distance to a rider or group of riders who are out ahead of the group.
*Counterattack:  The act of attacking from within the chase group immediately after the group has caught the rider or riders whom they were chasing down.
 *Drafting:  a position behind or to the side of a rider that enables another rider to stay out of the wind.
*Wheel Sucker: Competitor who stays behind other racers in their draft and will not move into a lead position and share the work load in order to gain a competitive advantage.
* Operation Drizzopple:  Procedure for getting rid of a wheel sucker by collective gaping off the paceline and sprinting back on until the wheel sucker fatigues and falls off the pace, or begins pulling.  The word drizzopple playfully comes for  a Snoop-Dogg-like blend of the words "dropping" and the beverage "Snapple".  It is always nice to serve a wheel sucker a nice cold bottle of drizzopple.
*Pacelining:  A practice where a group of cyclists are organized to efficiently take turns riding in the wind and sitting in protected from the wind (drafting)
* Echelon:  technique to make maximum use of another rider's slipstream in a crosswind, typically diagonally stacked in a line (variation of pacelining)
*pulling through:  to move into a vacated lead position from second in a paceline or pack.
*Lead out:  The act of riding hard and fast at the front to provide shelter for a teammate and set him up for a sprint to the finish.
*Blocking:  Disrupting the competitors from chasing riders (teammates) up the road.  This can be a subtle art.  Typically it is done by being physically between the breakaway riders and the chasers and simply going a little slower than the lead riders which allows greater separation between the two.   It's subtle because if blocking is done too aggressively (as in riding too slowly), the riders being blocked will simply come around and chase.  (It is illegal to purposely impede the forward progress of  a competitor, especially by swerving).  Another form of blocking is by setting on the lead chasers wheel and not pulling through (wheel sucking).  This form of blocking disrupts the pace and helps the breakaway gain distance.

There are multiple and interactive types of tactics in bike racing, namely psychological and physical, which can be divided into categories of individual and team tactics.  Bicycle racing is typically a team sport (some exceptions may include track, mountain, bmx), but can be done as an individual without teammates.

Bicycle racing, like most sports, is like warfare without the killing.  All racing tactics can be discussed in the context of Sun Tzu's  masterpiece work, "Art of War".  His principles and philosophies can be applied beyond warfare to many areas of life, but here I will apply it to bike racing specifically.

The principles from Sun Tzu's "Art of War" applied to bicycle racing:

The first principle is "Winning Whole".  The idea is to win with your resources and objective intact.   This is accomplished by, one, removing your competitor's hope for victory, two, using all of your advantages, three, exploiting your competitor's weaknesses, and four attacking along an unexpected line.

Applied to bike racing, your resources includes items such as your physical and mental being, finances, and even relationships, while your objective is winning.  I like to equate the idea of "winning" in this discussion with the idea of "respect" because it's one of the fundamental measures of what true or complete "winning" is really about.   Winning by using any means possible, may be prohibited by the first principle of Sun Tzu.  Specifically cheating, which may lead to a victory, but an incomplete or false victory; one that's absent of respect (both from self and others). There is a similar moral code to both warfare, bicycle racing and life in general. 

Below I will go chapter by chapter and point by point how the philosophies and tactics from "The Art of War" may be applied to bicycle racing.

1.  Removing your competitor's hope for victory.
Examples in bike racing:  a.) Gaining a great enough lead that your competitor gives up, such as lapping the field in bike racing.  b.) A lesser example is for a break-a-way group to have enough advantage that they are not visible to the chasing group.  c.) another example is sitting on a competitors wheel when you have a teammate in a break (you (almost) never chase your own teammate).  By sitting on a chasing competitors wheel, you remove some of his/her hope for victory because they know that not only will you not aid them, but you are in a drafting advantage using less energy than them, and you will counterattack them when the opportunity arises (this can have a crushing effect if done repetitively).   Hennie Kuiper put it this way, "Racing is licking your opponent's plate clean before starting on your own." 

2.  Using all of you advantages.
Examples in bike racing:  (Too many possibilities to list all here) a).  Great hill climbers attacking up long climbs, b.) great sprinters sitting in for the finish, c.) superior bike handler attacking a technical course, d.)large dominate teams sending riders away on breaks and then blocking for them, and then counterattacking the chase group if they catch their teammates e.) ability to learn the course by preriding, especially when your competitor can't. f.) getting a great starting position on a technical course because of hometown connections.

3.  Exploiting your competitor's weaknesses.
Examples in bike racing:  a.)  if your competitor has no teammates, and you do, use your teammates to block (position themselves between) him/her in and send your riders away, cover your competitor as he/she chases and then counter attack if he/she catches the group. b.) attack if you see that your competitor has fallen off or is struggling to maintain contact with the group.  c.) if your competitor is an inferior sprinter, try to make sure the outcome is decided in a sprint finish. Tim Krabbe' (author of "The Rider") put it succinctly, "When you see an enemy lying on the ground, what's your first reaction?  To help him to his feet?  In road racing, you kick him to death."

"Know your enemy and know yourself", Sun Tzu warns.  If you do so, then you will win a hundred out of a hundred  battles, Sun Tzu promises. 

4.  Attacking along an unexpected line.
Example in bike racing:  Making a run from behind, not off the front in plain sight. Using tactical variations.  If you typically win by sprinting, try a breakaway win or the opposite (this can work very well if you are  good at both disciplines of sprinting and time trialing)

Another principle of Sun Tzu is "Way of Life".  Engaging in battles you cannot win is a waste of time and resources and not in accord with the Way of Life.  Applied to bike racing, one should generally seek out races that one is capable of winning or at least at being competitive in.  Going to a race above one's ability (happily races are ability/experience based) and getting spit out the back is a waste of one's time and resources.  Getting beat up is not really character building.  Do not let pride overrun good judgement. 

To win whole, you must find the means to keep you and your teammates morale high while you destroy your competitors morale or make it easy for them to quit.   In bike racing this is done by competing in races you can do well in and doing well; winning.  As for making it easier for your competitor to give up, sugar goes much further than vinegar.  Meaning that being courteous and respectful to your competitor takes some of the steam out of their sails; reduces their will to fight.  Remember, in bike racing we tend to race the same people repetitively over time.  Nothing motivates a person more than the chance to defeat an arrogant jerk.  In  bike racing it is far easier to ruin another racer's chance for winning than it is to help someone win.  It's far easier to sacrifice one's chances for winning or placing well by pulling the peloton up to an unliked rider who's in a break-a-way and ruin their chances for a victory than it is to slip away from the peloton for your own or teammates victory.  Again do not let pride overrun good judgement, and don't be a jerk.  

Sun Tzu says to defeat your opponent quickly so that won't become fatigued and lose your strength.
In bike racing the best application of this tactic is in the development of breakaways.  The early efforts of a breakaway should be very near 100% effort so as to either lap the field or at least get out of sight.

Chapter 3, "Attack by Stratagem".
This is the art of winning without giving the appearance of trying or winning with the least effort required to do so.  This is done by drafting when possible and racing technically correct, such as not pulling competitors up hills or into headwinds, remaining hydrated and fueled, and timing effort correctly, etc.  In bike racing, timing is everything!  Starting a sprint too soon will turn into a lead-out and victory for a competitor.  On the other hand, starting a sprint too late will give a good view of the winner. 

Deception can be a major part of strategy, such as appearing strong when, in fact, you're weak, or appearing weak when you are strong.  In fact deception forms the basis for all warfare.  This premise from Sun Tzu applied to bike racing would be as such:  Absolutely never tell your competitor that  that your legs are starting to cramp up, or that you are dying (when this is the case).  Instead present a good poker face and stretch and hydrate  at the end of group out of site.  Conversely when you feel strong do not show it by taking long hard pulls.  Do the opposite, take short pulls, and feign fatigue (hang-dog facial expression, shaking out your quads, head low, verbally reporting fatigue, etc).

Keep in mind if you lie to your competitor that you are unable to take your turn to pull and then later attack, they will of course never believe you again (unless you later convince them that you recovered) and they will have a good reason  to spoil your future races if possible.  Deceit should be used sparely and convincingly.  A bluff should generally never be revealed if possible.

Chapter 5, Energy (or "Directing")
Sun Tzu's book focuses on the use of creativity and timing in building an army's momentum.  This is equally true for bicycle racing.  Pacing oneself and using the proper timing of one's energy leads to success.  For example it is critical to close gaps quickly in order to stay in the energy saving draft of the group, bridge up to critical breakaways, and time one's efforts in the closing kilometers and final sprint finish.  (this generally requires experience).  A poorly calculated effort can result in "blowing up" and having to dramatically reduce your work load just to complete the distance.   Timing one's effort is extremely valuable in advancing one's position within the field of other riders.   It is best to advance in bursts, typically when the pack is starting to bunch up, as opposed to being stretched out single file. 

Creativity often comes into play with bike racing, as being able to look for new ways to solve a problem that kills momentum.  For example if hills are an Achilles heel for you, try altering your training, riding position in the pack, reviewing and preparing for a specific course.  Short punchy hills may only require maintaining one's speed to carry over the top, whereas long hills may require the strategy of starting near the front (drafting going into hills should not be ignored), and pacing oneself even if drifting backwards in pack position occurs.   Try visualization.   It is a very valuable and creative  tool for improving performance.

Chapter 6, Weak Points and the Strong (or "Illusion and Reality").
"Strike the weak and avoid the strong" , wisely advices Sun Tzu.  In bike racing being the first to attack may put you in the stronger position because you lead the way according to how you have chosen.  Sometimes in bike racing it is better to dish out the punishment rather than to be on the receiving end.  Specifically being in the front of a race that has a technical course with lots of turns.  The lead riders are able to choose their lines and generally can go through them cleanly without breaking (slowing), whereas riders in the back tend to bunch up and break into the corners and then have to sprint maximally out of the corners in order to keep up (this is progressively fatiguing) , like a giant accordion.  This effect can lead to gaps and riders getting dropped from the group. Other times it is best to not be the first to attack.  Especially if your competitor is equally your match or your superior.  The advantage goes to the drafting rider.  So if the course is not technical, and the finish line is not near, then it is best to feign weakness or just simply try to exhibit more patience than your competitor.   Try to out wait  them to make the first move, latch onto their wheel and once they show weakness from their effort (letting off) counter attack their move with full effort.  If they are able to ride into your draft, then your counter move will typically be a failure unless their first effort was too long. It's best to place your move with a cross wind or a section that plays to your advantages, such as being a better technical bike handler in a technical section. 

As a rule,  it is typically best not to attack early in a race because everyone is generally still strong.  It's best to get into breakaways and attack near the end of the race when your competitors are at their weakest.  Remember to not start your plate until you have first licked your competitors clean!

Riders who will not "pull through" in a breakaway paceline are called wheel suckers.  These racers often are sprinters and they are conserving their energy  at the expense of their breakaway mates and greatly increasing their chances for victory by using their advantage of sprinting abilities.

The most ideal method for dealing with a rider who refuses to take a turn pulling is for everyone in the break to take turns drifting off the paceline with the "wheel sucker" on their wheel and then sprinting hard back onto the group  If everyone does this repetitively, this will eventually cause the "wheel sucker" to fatigue and not be able to claw their way back onto the group (also called Operation Drizzopple)

Chapters 10 and 11, The Nine Situations and Terrain (also known as  "Situational Positioning")
Use the best position and tactics in relation to the environment and to your opponent.  One of the best tactics in bike racing is to "attack" with a team into a crosswind as pictured above.
Riders 1 through 4 represent a team that have created an echelon,  and riders A and B would be competitors for this illustration.  Riders 1, A and B are essentially all exposed to wind and are riding maximally.  Riders 2, 3 and 4 are in the draft and are using considerably less energy (30-40% less).  Rider 4 is the gate keeper.  His job is stay as far right as possible so that rider A can't get any draft behind him while communicating to rider 3 to adjust left or right accordingly for his draft (helpful because the cross-drafting rider may not be possible to see).  3 tells 2 the adjust as well, who in turn, communicates the same to rider 1.  All riders "hold their line", meaning ride relatively fixed lines with the road (no swerving).    After a short period of time (30-60 seconds),  riders 1, 2, and 3 take turns in the lead position by rotating in a counter-clockwise position.   Rider 4, the gate keeper,  holds his position to prevent non-teammates from entering the draft.  

Gate keeper's are not always necessary for echelons to work, but it makes it easier for rider 1 to assume rider 3's position, otherwise there can be some difficultly with rider A, who will be fighting for a drafting position.

Tactically, rider 4 is also in a good position to block for his teammates by slowly drifting off.    Or he could drift off and sprint back on to see if they can create a separation.

Another good tactic is to attack before a technical turn.  It's even better when you have a teammate subtly block in response.  The confusion of the peloton in the turn will give you much needed time to establish a break off the front.  

Additionally,  breakaway groups have a slightly better chance of success in wet conditions (the peloton tends to not draft as effectively because of water spray and navigates corners slower).   And breakaways and solo riders have slightly better chances of success with cross-winds and tailwind conditions (both reduce the effects for drafting with larger numbers, as opposed to sections with headwinds and downhills because a large group maintain a higher speed by rotation of fresh riders. 

Breakaway groups with all the major teams represented have a much better chance of success (compared to riders from just one team or a weaker team), and especially so if the team leaders are present in these breakaways.  These are breakaways that you should try to be in.  Not only will their teammates not chase, but in many cases they will actively block for them. 

To learn more about Sun Tzu and The Art of War applied to sport click here.  Or better yet, buy the book and read it for yourself.  There are  more principles that can be applied to both bike racing and your life in general.

To learn other helpful cycling and racing tips see my page above for topics  such as what and when to eat for competitive cycling, psychology for competitive cycling, how to be faster with no additional effort, how to effectively high speed corner on a racing bike, and more. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bicycle Trainers are good for you.

A reader recently suggested that I write an article about bike trainers. I had never thought about this topic for a blogpost before, but I think it's a great one for several reasons.

First, I feel that new riders need to know the value of having a trainer. Many of the "old timers" in my cycling community really hate trainers and speak negatively against them (for reasons that I will address). Some of them wrongly suggest that riding a trainer isn't helpful for conditioning.   As they are set in their ways, I'm afraid it's too late for them, but perhaps I can put some new riders on the right track with some good information.

Actually bike trainers are a great training tool for a serious cyclist. It allows a cyclist to pedal their bike any time of day or night, for as little or as long as they would like and avoid any kind of negative weather condition such as extreme heat, cold, wind, snow, etc. Plus the pedal time is 100% car free, there are no worries of traffic, stop lights, road hazards, dogs, etc, that can alter or halt a workout.  It simply eliminates all geological and  environmental conditions that can interfere with a planed workout.

And the workout can be extremely controlled concerning effort.  Trainer workouts are ideal for specifically timed interval training at specific efforts.  Plus they can be used for warming up for races or used to maintain fitness while recovering from an injury that would ordinarily prevent road riding, and stretching legs out after traveling.  It's also an ideal way to burn more calories and reduce body fat (especially upon waking before eating).  Most importantly it allows a rider to use a stationary bicycle that is properly fitted specifically to the rider (far superior to a gym-cycle).

Before I lose my readers, let me share 3 extremely important facts/tips about bicycle trainers:

1. You must protect your bike from sweat!  Specifically the stem and headset area.  Human sweat  is extremely corrosive to metal parts and will destroy your bearings and such over time.  This can easily be prevented by covering these parts with a dry cloth (change as necessary).  Blam!  I just saved you a few hundred bucks!  (depending on your equipment).  You're welcome!

2.  Riding a trainer is harder than riding a bike on the road.  Literally.  The primary reason is that you hardly ever coast (not pedal for a period of time) on a trainer, but you often do when road riding (5-20% of the time depending)  This means that your muscles do more work, and as a result have less time to recover.  This can be hard on knees (tendons typically),  if they aren't adapted properly over time and/or allowed to periodically rest and be stretched during a workout.  A secondary reason is inertia.  This topic can become rather long winded.  In short, a trainer punishes a rider with a poor pedal stroke compared to a poor pedal stroke on the road.  (It's related to the dead-spots of a pedal stroke and drive-train drag.  I'll discuss it in more detail later along with other considerations).

3.  You need a fan.  A very good fan.  Riding a trainer releases a lot of energy in the form of heat.  Much of that is from your body captured in sweat.  Do yourself a favor and run a fan or two on you as you ride.  You'll be MUCH more comfortable and ride longer as well. 

"So why do old timers hate riding the trainer", you ask?  Well, the primary reason that they report hating riding the trainer is boredom.  And that's legit.  Riding the open road is much more ideal typically.  Nothing can replace the joy of real biking.   I would never suggest trading it for trainer riding just for the sake of it. 

I've already covered reasons for choosing a trainer ride over outdoor riding.  Now, let me discuss how to make it enjoyable or at least bearable:  First prepare your trainer workout.  Set up the fan, get some towels to capture sweat, set up a side table for storing items in easy reach, such as cell phone, music player, tv/stereo remote, bottled icewater, etc.  Watching cycling related videos or upbeat shows can help pass time (for non-intense riding)   Gadgets  such as powermeters and or heart rate monitors are ideal.  They not only provide something to focus on, they help quantify one's efforts, which when applied correctly to training can help a cyclist improve their physical conditioning.   

Keep it short or break it up.  An hour is pretty long on a trainer, but that is an fairly ideal workout period (10 minutes still beats zero though) . I don't recommend longer unless suffering is one of your goals.  Periodically stop and stretch your muscles and ligaments.  Also ride the trainer standing and or change positions frequently.   This lets blood flow back into your nether regions and makes you more comfortable.  Add intervals to your  workout (there are too many combination/variations for this post).  Mentally rehearse bike races or just meditate about different life issues.  The trainer is a great place to contemplate life issues, especially one's that trigger you autonomic nervous system.

As a general rule, intensity of an exercise is more valuable than duration alone (this is a future topic to be discussed, a balance is required).  For a specific set of intensity exercises on the stationary bike trainer see Selene Yeager's article, "How to Ride Inside:  Indoor Trainer Workouts for Cyclists".

Without a doubt, the greatest tool for making a stationary trainer ride more enjoyable is music. However, one problem with trainers and music is being able to hear it. Many trainers become progressively louder. I've used some that sounded like a jet was taking off (or at least a mower). The solution is to use noise isolating earbuds. I have used many including the top of the line by both Bose and Shure (both are good but pricey) and I can tell you that the absolute best sounding earbud for it's price is the Koss KE29S Steel Isolating Earbuds, who's slogan is, "Hearing is Believing" and they got that right.  They are freakin' awesome!   

Unfortunately, I have destroyed every earphone set I've ever owned. Riding on a trainer is one of the ways, particularly due to sweat.  Happily, the Koss earbuds are nearly waterproof. I've even machine washed and dried a pair that was accidentally left in a jersey pocket and they still worked! Do yourself a favor and buy one. I'll help you out...... just click the Amazon ad and they'll send it you to. You're welcome!

One reason that "old timers" list  hating trainers is that they don't provide a real road feel.  This is true and is mainly due the laws of physics.  This is largely because the  trainer is more difficult than the road due to inertia differences.  Specifically, the trainer produces a more constant drag on the wheel/chain  as the cranks rotate.  Whereas a bicycle on the road will continue to move forward when power is removed, whereas on a trainer the wheel will come to a stop rather quickly (the trainer/wheel has less inertia).  This becomes a big deal if a rider has a poor/inefficient pedal stroke.  Specifically poor muscle firing (or contracting) during the revolution of the crank.  The top and the bottom of the pedal stroke is the point of particular concern.  An ideal pedal stroke should have a small amount of push over the top and pull at the bottom.  Just the right amount, not too much, and should feel natural.  Lemond describes the bottom stroke as wiping your feet off on a carpet.  I would describe the top stroke as a floating slide.  Please do not over exaggerate either, as doing so will become inefficient, the pedal stroke should feel natural.    Dr. James Martin has done research showing that pulling up during a pedal stroke is not efficient (oxygen use for watts generated) for cycling.  An exception would be sprinting, in which case you should use every muscle fiber in a properly timed fashion all the way to  your facial expression. 

I should probably mention the subject of cadences (crank rotations per minute) regarding trainers.  It has been shown that lower cadences are more efficient (oxygen used per watt generated) specifically 60rpm is superior to 100rpm (this is going to upset the old timers).  But I am going to throw the old timers a bone.  Higher rpms such as 90 are much easier on the knees.  Sprinting cadences are best in the 120rpm range.  I would suggest mixing up rpms as you ride to keep things from getting boring.  Also periodically stop  and stretch your muscles and ligaments.  (You can read more about proper crank length and cadences here)

I embedded the below video for a couple of reasons.  One it is informative about several good trainers from the industry leader in trainers, and the other is that it is narrated by Robbie "The Rocket" Ventura.  I've actually raced him a few times .  Plus the trainer I purchased came with a dvd video of Robbie racing at Downers Grove.  It was meaningful to me because I recognized several riders in the video (Joe Hill namely).  The video was clearly pre GoPro era because Robbie was wearing a backpack just to film the race.  Pretty funny from today's perspective. 

Anyway, these are great trainers and I highly recommend the CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer.  It's an extremely good trainer and is the quietest one that I am personally aware of. 

Below is another video that Robbie Ventura is in (sorry CycleOps), discussing the Lemond Revolution Trainer:
I find the design of this trainer to be nearly ideal.   The rear wheel is removed in order to connect the bike directly to the trainer.    This is ideal because this method doesn't wear out tires like traditional trainers do and will not produce any slippage from jump starts like some trainers can.  Additionally it eliminates the potential damage that can happen with certain skewers (or just poor clamping) with traditional designs.   My only hesitation on giving it a perfect rating is that it is not quiet when in use.  In fact it becomes pretty loud during higher efforts.  Still it's among the best. 

Of course the "old timers" probably wouldn't forgive me if I didn't mention rollers.  Instead of describing them in great detail you can watch the below embedded video that shows some exceptional riding on rollers. 

Riding rollers is pretty cool if you have never done it before.  The primary advantages of rollers are that they are not so boring.  It is necessary to pay attention so that you don't fall off, and they replicate a more realistic road feel because of the inertia of the wheels. 

The down side is that is very difficult to stand and pedal (which is important in my opinion) and very difficult to do a good sprint effort.  And of course you can fall off and go boom (sweat can make the rollers slick).

I can both ride rollers no handed and one legged (probably not combined).  I've also ridden rollers on a ship that was rolling (best to line the trainer forward/aft against the ship's rolls), and on a flat bed trailer pulled about in a parade with nothing to grab ahold of (I had to have help starting and stopping). 

If for some reason (superflurous use of parenthesis) you want to purchase rollers, here you go: 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time lapse from bicycle

I'm just finally using one of the cool features on my GoProCamera HD Hero.  Namely the time lapse photography mode of the camera.

I find it fun to experiment with.  It's as if I have a new camera again.

I think this format would be cool to quickly showcase an area or capture some interesting scenes such as a sunset, rapid weather scenarios, low tide/high tide, etc.

I look forward to experimenting. 

The above video was shot with the settings of photo ever 2 second mode and mounted to the handlebars of my mountain bike.  I rendered the video at 7 frames per second.

I rode at a fairly slow pace of maybe 5-7 mph along the MKT trail in Columbia Missouri and traveled through campus and ended in front of a water display and tiger sculpture at the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle.

Below is a video produced by some students from the University of Missouri that briefly discusses some of the history of many of the buildings that I passed by in my time lapse video.  

 The below video isn't time lapse, but it was made by me.

I must say, that I find the campus to be beautiful. 

The campus has seen tremendous improvements over the last decade.  Averaging about 100 million dollars per year in improvements, or 1 billion dollars total.  Not too shabby.

Of course all of these improvements where done after I graduated :-( 

The forward aft camera perspective gives a unique mobile view of  parts of the campus.

The music is Beethoven (btw). 
Symphony # 7 in A major, OP 92 II. Allegato , Artist: Philharmonic Cassanova

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This American Bicycle Race

This post is all about "classic American bicycle racing".  Ladies and gentlemen, My World From a Bicycle presents for your viewing pleasure, "the criterium".

This type of bicycle racing is by far the most common form of licensed/sanctioned road bicycle racing here in the States.  It's the easiest venue for race promoters to produce/organize.  Criteriums are born from the necessity of having to operate many different categories of races (juniors (under 18), women, men, ranked categories (professional thru level 5 amateur), and masters (typically 30, 40, 50, year + ), and obtaining permits for race operation and street closure, combined with safety concerns of securing the course from cars entering, and placing crowd barriers and covering fixed objects (such as fire hydrants and electric poles) with straw bails etc.  All racers are licensed and insured through the governing body, USA Cycling.  The rules of the sport can be read here.

I would like to point out that the below series of videos were actually made possible from a sum mountain of technology.  Beginning with digital technology of computers, internet, YouTube, Blogger, HD Hero cameras, SRM wireless watt meters, several computer software programs, carbon fiber, etc.    And get this........ it's free to view, pause, rewind, jump around and skip, share with others (please do), comment on, or........... *gasp* ignore.

It's my thinking that this race is particularly worth viewing (in part or whole) because of several reasons including:  1. The forward and aft camera perspective gives a more complete view and understanding of the race activity.  2. The embedded speed, wattage, and cadence data.  This information really shows how much a criterium is a "gas-on/gas-off" style of racing.  (for the non-informed, this is fast and hard racing), 3. The level of competition is very high.  In fact, unusually so.  This particular race is typically a regional amateur/professional level race, but on this day it was very much a national level race.  In fact, this race had at least 4 current National Champions including David Henderson, Jonathan Jacobs, Eric Young and Daniel Holloway (current USA Professional Criterium Champion - he's wearing the yellow leaders jersey), and other former National Champions and at least one former World Champion (Steve Tilford).  4.  This race is viewable in it's entirety, and to my knowledge, this is the first and only place that this has ever been done (in this viewer friendly format)

This race took place on Saturday Sept 4th, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri and was the 2nd race of a 4 day race series.
click here to link to the race site

Race results can be found here. 

I would like to point out that I have a music player device that you may activate at your liking (located on the right column, 2nd item from the top).  The embedded video's audio can be muted or the volume can be controlled with the tool bar settings under the video.  Additionally the video can be "full sized" by clicking on the expanding arrows on the toolbar and the video quality level can be controlled as well..

This is a lot of video time (the entire race is about 90 minutes) and I know most people won't have time to view the entire series, so I plan on writing  a summation of the key points under each clip with a time point, so that viewers can skip to or choose which section might interest them.

The above video (first of 12 part series) opens with all of the racers at the line and the announcer calling up the top race leaders of the omnium series to the line, including 4th place Chad Cagle from team Park Place Dealerships, 3rd place Brad Huff from team Jelly Belly (professional cyclist), 2nd place Rob Bush from team Kenda Pro Cycling Team, and onmium race leader Daniel Holloway from Bissell Pro Cycling.

1:10 officials race instruction, 2:20 message from City Alderman Donna Barringer and introductions to Jimmy Mcevoy @ 4:10 who sings the National Anthem (well done btw).  The race starts at the 6:00 minute mark. 

(above video 2nd of 12 part series) I quickly advance around the pack @1:12 and bridge up to 3 riders @1:43.  Daniel Holloway (in yellow leader's jersey)  can be briefly seen returning to the field @2:25 (? possibly returning to the field after taking a flyer for a prime?)

I briefly take the race lead @2:41.  Jonathan Jacobs pulls by me (too fast in fact) @3:30 and the peloton recaptures me @4:09.

This clip above (3rd part of 12 part series) opens with me advancing to the front of the chasing peloton (there are 6 riders off the front and out of camera view.  This is noteworthy because the previous video footage doesn't show that riders have gone off the front of the field because of me riding in heavy cycling traffic.  I am aware of a break-away because I can not see the lead pace motorcycle).  I make a full pass @0:52.  Daniel Holloway blows past me @ 1:01 (note how fast he blows past me.  I'm at full throttle).  I claw my way back onto his wheel @ 1:40 and I slide off his wheel to draft off the 3 riders who were drafting off of me (James Stemper #111 Kenda Pro Cycling, Jonathan Jacobs #61 Nuvo Cultural Trail, and Eric Young #131 Nuvo Cultural Trail.

I am completely red-lined (suffering hard) and I try to recover by skipping a few pulls.  My next pull is @3:16.  My chase group of four catch the lead break-away of 6 riders @ 4:09  Colton Barrett #120 Texas Roadhouse, Nicolas Coil #22 Tradewind Energy, James Stemper #111 Kenda Pro Cycling, Alex Wiesler #119 ISCorp Cycling Team, Robert White #106 Kenda Pro Cycling, and Josh Ginningham #122 of ISCorp Cycling Team. 

From 7:40 to 8:00 is a good view of the newly formed winning break-away group.  Note that we are riding single file and absolutely flying.  This is the most ideal way for a group of this size to motor. 
The effects of aerodynamics is HUGE in road racing, time trials, criteriums, and even sprinting.  Drafting can reduce oxygen costs by 25 to 40 percent.  Here's a great illustration of the effects of aerodynamics and drafting:  a world class track team time trial riders can produce the following average wattages in a pace-line.  First rider will produce around 607 watts, 2nd rider 430 watts, 3rd rider 389 watts, and 4th rider 389 watts.  Notice that there is a decreasing advantage drafting in 3rd position over 2nd, but no further advantage after 3rd position. (See my post on aerodynamics for more information on the subject.)

The most interesting occurrence in the above clip (number 4 of 12) is @1:47, when James Stemper (#111) of Kenda Professional Cycling, sees me falling back, out of the rotation so that I can skip my turn pulling (I'm suffering pretty badly at this point from earlier efforts and I'm trying to recover a bit.  I'm not certain that I am going to be able to hang.)

Mr. Stemper informs me that if I try to just sit on and not take my turn pulling, he is going to ride me off the back.

Perhaps because he knows that I'm filming this (I don't know), he is extremely polite about  how he tells me this and I acknowledge him accordingly, and we do a sort of low "five hand" in a sporting gesture of acknowledgment. Based on his smile, I think he finds the whole thing amusing.

Note:  The most ideal method for dealing with a rider who refuses to take a turn pulling is for everyone in the break to take turns drifting off the paceline with the "wheel sucker" on their wheel and then sprinting hard, back onto the group.  If everyone does this repetitively, this will eventually cause the "wheel sucker" to fatigue and not be able to claw their way back onto the group.

I don't believe there is yet an official name for this procedure, so for the sake of discussion, hence forward, let's all agree to call this activity of getting rid of a wheel sucker, Operation Drizzopple! 

So if you hear someone say, commence operation drizzopple on rider so-and-so, you will know exactly what to do.   

In the above video (number 5 of 12) I skip a couple pulls, still trying to recover and begin pulling again (too hard from the looks of it).

Meanwhile @2:26 Holloway is trying to commence operation drizzopple on the Kenda rider James Stemper.  In my reviews I was surprised to see how many times these guys were bumping heads.  Also I now see the irony of Stemper warning me not to wheel suck. 

@ 1:20 Texas Roadhouse rider, Colton Barrett gives a friendly hello wave. 

Above video (number 6 of 12) is fairly routine.  Most notable items are at 3:10 when Holloway jumps hard around Nicolas Coil who allowed a gap in front of him in the rotation (probably due to fatigue).  Also the rider James Stemper is not only just sitting on, but also screwing up the paceline when riders are trying to get on the back of the train after taking a pull.  This is evident at the end of this clip and running into the next below. 

There is some cool moto/cameraman action @ 6:26 (above video, number 7 of 12).

Some riders get gaped off @ minute 7:32 by one rider slipping off the pace and causing a gap.  Two of which are Nicolas Coil and Colton Barrett; they don't make it back onto the lead group.

James Stemper of Kenda Pro Cycling starts pulling. 

Everybody is pulling hard.  Very hard, and fast. 

(Above video is number 9 of 12).  @6:16 I sprint for and win a prime.  I didn't plan on going for it, but I was in the lead position coming out of the final corner because of the natural order of the rotation.  I went as hard as I could go and won the prime prize. I thought it was either $100 or $200, but it turned out to be a free night in a studio suite at The Residence Inn, Marriot, in St. Louis (I haven't used it and most likely never will).

Even though I was dying from the prime effort, I kept my speed up so that they wouldn't surge past me and drop me.

Incidentally, Josh Ginningham (#122) of ISCorp Cycling Team was dropped from the surge during the prime.

(Above video is number 10 of 12).  I skip a couple rotations in this clip because I am way over threshold and I was feeling like I was about to die.

The rotation is quite smooth otherwise and of the group there are two teams with team-mates, Kenda Pro Cycling and Nuvo Cultural Trial.  They almost always stay together in the rotation order, which is advisable.  If an attack or opportunity to attack occurs, they can work together. 

Above is the last video of this series; also the last 5 minutes and 51 seconds of the race for me.  By the completion of this race we've covered 70 kilometers or 43.496 miles in 1 hour and 25 minutes and 35 seconds, averaging 46.884 kph or 29.1 mph.  I averaged 317.5 watts.  With out a doubt my personal best effort in my entire bike racing experience.  I;m super glad that I was able to record this race as I have.

@ minute 2:15 of this video with 1.75 laps to go Jonathan Jacob takes a monster pull with me on his wheel and the rest of the remaining members of the break-away in tow. The riders include myself, followed by Daniel Holloway (Bissell Pro Cycling), Eric Young (Nuvo Cultural Trial), James Stemper (Kenda Pro Cycling), Alex Wieseler (ISCorp Cycling Team), and Robert White (Kenda Pro Cycling)

@ 2:46 I pull out of J.J's draft because of his monster pull.  I didn't want to have to immediately "pull through" with the finish being so soon (especially after his surge).  I wanted to get back in the draft.  As a result, this created a gap that nobody closed and J.J. was gone for the win.

Keep in mind that J.J. had a team-mate, Eric Young, in the break and he's an outstanding sprinter.  Eric certainly wouldn't pursue his own team-mate  I wouldn't pursue for the previous reasons mentioned and additionally J.J. is personal friend.  Other than me winning, I would choose him to win every time (and Brad Huff...... he's super cool).  Daniel Holloway certainly didn't want to give chase and pull Eric and the others with him, only to be beaten in the final sprint.  He probably thought as I, that J.J. wouldn't hold us off for the finish (which of course he did). 

@ 3:25 Holloway makes his bid in response to the Kenda Pro Cycling rider James Stemper's attack (just before the 1st turn).  We quickly make the catch and I produce a classic textbook counter attack @ 4:18 by launching a full effort through the inside of the 2nd corner of the course.

I cross the finish line @ 5:31 with riders quickly closing my gap, but not in time for the finish line. 

To learn more about the camera that I use to film from my bicycle click here.

To learn more about the bike telemetry that I use click here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Zipp 1080 Front Wheel Tubular

Comparing the H3 to the Zipp 1080

Update:  January 31, 2011:  I was researching the Zipp 1080 tubular front wheel on Google so I could answer an Ebay buyer's question and surprisingly I found this very post to be ranked pretty high in the search results.  So as a result I have decided to take this opportunity to change this post's primary purpose of being solely as supplemental to selling this wheel on Ebay, to a site that informs my readers about this amazing wheel (Apparently I am biased, but at the same time I try very hard not to make crap up).

To read about the details/specifications of this wheel see Zipp's website here.

To learn even more about the history of this wheel and it's manufacturer see wikipedia's information here.  

Now here's my experience with this wheel.  It is a fast wheel period.  Under certain conditions it is the fastest front wheel ever produced (no single wheel is the fastest in all conditions)  Yet it is a specialized wheel.  It's sole purpose is for speed through aerodynamics. Aerodynamics can not be understated in the sport of cycling.  To be sure, read my post on the effects and the variables related to speed and aerodynamics here.

Realistically this wheel is only valuable for the discipline of time-trialing (it's rim is too deep for the quickest accelerations and best bike handling comparatively).  The 1080s single biggest Achilles heel  is strong, gusty cross-winds. I would like to say from personal experience this wheel handles very much like a tri-spoke wheel.  Both are spooky to time-trial on with gusty cross winds.  For strong gusty cross winds I would advise running a shallower rim depth such as available by any of the major manufacturers such as Easton, Bontrager, Hed, Ritchey, Campagnolo, Lightweight, Zipp, etc.  I've seen recent performance studies and they are nearly all a wash, with Hed and Zipp being slightly superior to other brands.  That being said, Hed's website
claims/shows that their Stinger 6 being superior in aerodynamics ($2100 per pair) compared to Zipp's 404 ($2,400).

I'm throwing in this link because it has some really really cool graphics of what air looks like as it is passing this wheel when moving at 40kph

I'm throwing in this link because it has some really cool images of some time trial machines, wind tunnels and top riders (otherwise it's a bust from my point of view).

Here's a link to Zipp again, only this one is about the dimpled surface of the wheels and it's effects

You might notice that I have a sell ad at the top of this post to for a Zipp Tangente tubular tire.Zipp Speed Weaponry Tangente Tire - Tubular One Color, 700c/21mm  A couple of things about that:  Many bike shops don't carry them, so that is why I installed a Vittoria on my wheel, but Zipp says their data shows that this tire is the best for performance.    At anyrate, I always recommend buying from your local bike shop if possible, but if not, then you should buy off the links from this site.  (Hey, I have my own store at the bottom, y'all!)

 Now back to the selling post
This should be a fun post.  I'm going to share with everyone all the fun that goes with Ebay and the questions and answers that come from it when selling an item.

Be warned all correspondence related to the sale of this wheel will be public knowledge. 

First my actual ad, it can be found here:   Basically it's the above wheel for sale.

Here's my first two responses in the first few minutes:

Pretty funny Mr. Tenterelli!  This is an inside joke. A friend of mine who I'll allow to remain anonymous, suckered me with a joke with the punchline "tenterelli".

The joke is as such:  I saw a dent in a bike frame and asked my friend about it.  He said the dent was actually caused by a bullet. 
Incredulously I said, "No way.  You're joking."
Sincerely he says, "No, I wish I was." and then he goes on with this long detailed elaborate story about how at some recent  bike expo thing that was held outdoors behind the Hearnes Center (here in Columbia) under tents, there was a bizarre incident involving some thug kids who got into it with some vendor and next thing you know, shots were fired!  It was a bizarre thing and one of the bullets actually ricocheted off the top tube of his bike.

He went into great detail, and even seemed to be a little upset recalling it. 
He even had evidence.   The top tube of his bike looked exactly like what I would imagine a small caliber bullet might do to a bike tube, with a glancing blow (I used to target shoot as a kid, so I had supportive experiential reference).

So he goes on with his story and says that during a police interview about the shooting he learns from the police that this incident is related to a group that travels around the country harassing and  trying to extort money from venders, specifically outdoor venders that operate under tents.  

I was hanging on his every word until he told me the name of this group of thugs.

"They call themselves, the Tentarellis."

I'm going to guess that Mr. Tentarelli isn't going to be the final high bidder.

Here's what I've gotten so far on facebook:

I'll update as I go.  I may or may not delete this post after the auction.  It depends on how good this gets.

The auction will end @ February 5, 2011 12:34:25 Central time (United States)

Good luck buyers!

Quick update:  Sat. 29th, 6:20pm and I'm up to $5.50.  Lookin' goooooood!
On my ebay description I clearly indicate no international shipping, but I've just received a request for me to reconsider.

It's not that I'm against international shipping because I'm a xenophobe.  It's that international shipping is very expensive and I feel my risks go up concerning having a bad exchange.

Check out the image below of some Specialized Tri-spokes that I sold overseas (Hong Kong) last year.

You are probably thinking, "Why in the heck, did he package them like frozen pizzas?"  The answer is shipping costs.  If the box was even an inch wider,  the shipping cost would have doubled from $50 per wheel to $100 per wheel. 

I find it a huge hassle to ship large items overseas, the boxing, the long time shipping, and thereby long time clearing of PayPal fees.  It's not my cup of tea.

With that said, I recently sold my sub-nine wheel, got the same question (during auction) to allow international shipping, saw that the buyer had a perfect feedback score, so I said sure.  Of course he didn't end up with the final highest bid.  I've noticed that folks who ask questions almost never end up with the final  highest bid.  I don't know why, but it's just something I noticed.

My suggestion:  If you really want to win the auction don't ask any questions, just bid really high (waiting until the last 5 seconds doesn't always work out).

Update January 31,2011 11:46am:  Here's my latest questions and I provide my answers immediately following:
ski4ever:  As per my Ebay ad:  I bought this wheel used.  My research tells me that it can not be older than 2008 because Zipp did not manufacture them before this date.

Really the manufacture date is inconsequential for several reasons.  1. It isn't a perishable item (time/age has zero effect on it's performance)  2. The manufacturer hasn't made any changes in it's design since releasing it  [correction:  the 2008 model had internal spoke nipples and therefore my wheel is a 2009]3. How the wheel was treated/used is the critical factor as to it's value, not age of manufacture.

As I've said in my ad, this wheel is pristine and hardly used.  A wheel of this quality can literally be ridden for tens of thousands of miles before the bearings have significant wear.  I've ridden it around a hundred miles and have given it the highest care.  Typically timetrial wheels like these see very low use and mileage because they are so specialized to just time-trialing. 

I would like to make the point that my used wheel is literally superior to a brand new one.  Why?  Because the wheel is of the exact performance and quality of a new one (possibly better with "broken in bearings".... not quite as tight) and most importantly it has a nearly new tubular tire already glued on.  My wheel is ready to race right now!  Not only does it's buyer not have to purchase a $100 plus tubular to ride it, but mine is correctly glued on with the most ideal valve extension.  To be sure see my link on how I glue on tubulars.

To a1950fan:  I never sell items that I put up for auction outside of Ebay's policies.  In other-words, I will not stop an auction so I can cheat Ebay out of fees.  My ad does have a buy it now price, so I've already indicated what I'm willing to sell the wheel for.  Good luck bidding. 


Related Posts with Thumbnails