Thursday, 30 July 2015

My Zwift 400km - July 2015

Like most games, Zwift has a number of achievements to unlock as you progress though the levels. Two of these are distance related, the Metric Century (100km) and the Imperial Century (100 miles/160km). Completing these distances will get you two new jerseys added to your virtual wardrobe.

A few weeks ago I'd tapped out a 100km TT in the reverse direction to unlock that jersey, and I did another 100km two weeks later when it was raining on a Sunday again.



Last Friday I set out to complete the 100 mile ride on Watopia, with a twist. I had to always hold a jersey during the ride. Any colour, any segment, any direction. This mixed things up and kept the legs awake through the session. The plan was only to complete the 100 miles. During the ride I was asked on Instagram if I was going to hit 200km, I decided that sounded like a better goal to aim for. Total: 210km/6h:33min. 

Pre 400 attempt ride - On the way to 210km for the day. 

By coincidence, on the same day there were two crazy dudes Michael Schmitt and Tristan Dimmock up in Canberra were completing a 12 hour charity ride on Zwift. I'd seen them on Watopia riding around all day, I didn't know what they were up to until I was off the bike catching up on the Zwift Riders group discussions. Tristan tapped out an epic 320km and Michael topped that with 346km in the 12 hours to set a new Zwift day distance record. Check out Michael's write up here

With rain forecast for Perth on the following Tuesday, and the calendar clear.... you can only guess what I started thinking about... How far could I get in 12 hours on the Watopia course? It'd been 12 months since our group 10hr/303km Sufferfest Knighthood at the VIS. Could I match those numbers alone in our spare room? Could I even get past 12 hours? 


Testing saddles and Twitch streaming on Monday.
Not a lot of space in the Perth apartment pain cave.

400km was the goal. A goal that I didn't verbalise to anyone as it was well beyond my comfort zone even committing to. I didn't go through any dark patches in the 210km ride, surely they'd appear when trying to double that distance and duration. My curiosity of what my limits are was the main motivation for attempting this ride. What would be the first to break me? 

6am kick off, and sprinting for the green jersey at 6:26am. The Zwift Effect in full swing early on. Entertainment was in the form of one full episode of This Week in Tech (2hrs), Gleaming the Cube, then onto the YouTube music videos for the rest of the day. 

What started as just another early morning Zwift session in the dark was slowly being noticed once I'd passed the 200km mark. My Twitch live stream was up and had a number of viewers tuning in. I was joined by pro mountain biker Nathan Guerra for a number of laps. Zwift themselves even gave me a shout-out on their social feeds, turning up the pressure!



At 8hrs56min 294km my day came to a crashing halt! The Zwift application terminated on my MacBook Pro..... In my foggy haze of 9hrs on the bike, I just assumed that was day over and that I'd failed. By the time I'd submitted the crash logs to Zwift I was thinking more clearly. That wasn't day over at all, it was still Tuesday - "Get back on the damn bike and ride!"


My Twitch stream just after the crash.... 

Side note on the crash - I was pushing my Mac pretty hard with Zwfit, Twitch live streaming, and YouTube HD streaming for 9 hours. I'd used 15GB of bandwidth too! The developers love logs and details, it'll allow them to make a more robust application. This is all part of the beta testing process currently underway with Zwift. 

Log submission done - I was straight back on Zwift. The auto-save feature kept 8:50/289.9km, so I had 110.1km to go. It was disappointing not to see the daily total kms on the top menu bar, never mind, I'd join the two files together into one ride for Strava later on. 

The rest of the ride went like this: 346km tick. I'd matched the distance record. 350km tick. 400km, goal achieved! I did a few more kms just to be sure. I rolled out toward Hank's and gave it one final kick though the reverse sprint point, snagging the green jersey with a 12.72. Not a PB but enough to test the legs one final time. And they were still attached. :) I pulled a u-turn at Hank's and rolled easy back to the start to clock 415km. Then one more, 416km.

The hardest part of the day wasn't the physical effort, as I thought it would be. The hardest part was stepping off the bike. I hadn't hit any physical limiters. I felt like I was giving up. We don't train or prepare for 'giving up'. No sport does. We train to be faster, and to go further. Apart from a small foot cramp at 405km that soon disappeared, I'm still wondering when the real limiters would have appeared, and what they would have been. 

After stepping off the bike I lay sprawled on the floor for a few minutes. It felt like I'd just ridden over rough cobbles and had finally hit smooth road again. My arms and legs were in an Endone like fuzz, without the broken bones that accompany those.


Distance: 416.2km Time: 12:41:31





One thing I have to mention is the online social community that has embraced Zwift. Who'd ever have thought that riding indoors would be so social! All day I received many +1 RideOns in Zwift, messages in the Zwift groups, and tagged posts on Instagram. All interactions that made a world of difference getting though the day.

It's only a matter of time before someone rolls beyond the 416km mark on Zwift. Hopefully I'll get to do a lap or two with whoever does. Looking over the stats of my ride, that was easily the biggest daily effort I've ever done on a bike. A breakthrough day training wise, both physically and mentally. All while cramped up in an otherwise boring spare room in an apartment on a rainy day.

#RideOn



Ride Nutrition:

5-6L of water/mix.
3 coffees.
3 bananas.
3 Cadel Winners Bars (like Cliff bars)
4 choc chip muffins.
500g of sourdough olive loaf bread (nice and salty)
1 Red Bull 250ml
50g jelly lollies (Cadel's Winners something-or-others)
Tray of fresh fruit (500g)
4 small biscuits with honey
2 Turkish Delights (40g carbs)

All spaced evenly throughout the day. I started with a bowl of Nutri-Grain and a coffee prior to the 6am start. The only point I felt hungry was chasing a KOM at 11hrs where I quickly reached for the sugar hit of the Red Bull. Other than that, the above menu was spot on for me. No stomach problems keeping that amount of calories down either.


Equipment Used:

2015 MacBook Pro 13 inch. (OSX 10.10.4)
Zwift (Build 1.0.5796)
OBS - Twitch broadcasting software.
Wahoo Kickr - Set to Max/100% on Zwift.
Quarq Power Meter.
S-Works Tarmac road bike (10spd SRAM Red)
S-Works Power Saddle - 12hr ergo session tested and approved. :)
S-Works Bibknicks (SL Pro)
S-Works Shoes.
My 55mm aero Sicasso front wheel - Worth a few kms on Watopia for sure.
Quad Lock Case for iPhone - Very handy addition for ergo rides.
Audio Technica ANC9 Headphones



Tuesday, 14 July 2015

ATTA Winter By The Lakes - Champion Lakes July 2015

My third ATTA event this year, returning to the same 20km course as we raced in May at Champion Lakes. I'd packed the clip-on bars and TT helmet again for this trip over to WA, so it be interesting to see how much difference they'd make on this course.

Pre event... I won't say how cold it was.... #bloodyfreezing

Making what I have as fast as it can be. #clipons #proas
The Sicasso wheels came in handy! #AsSeenInRideMag
Post event, watching everyone roll in.  

The conditions were almost perfect, except for the wind. There was a slight Easterly which means crosswinds and a slow course. Brad Hall has a great explanation of why here: Time Trialing and Power Meters: When the ‘Race of Truth’ is False


Power pacing was spot on where I wanted it. Passing people on the course caused a few dip/spikes. 



Thanks to the aero add-ons and a nice pair of 55mm wheels, I knocked 48 seconds off my time and set the fastest time of the day with a 26:46. Hoping to get back on a 'fast day' to see how close I can get to 26 flat.... stay tuned!

Full Results

Post race reward - The biggest coffee I've ever had!  



Later that day...... 


I had the privilege of sharing a few insights about 'going faster' at Women on Bikes 2015: A showcase of women's cycling in WA. I thought they were worth sharing here too.

1 - There is no shortcuts. No helmet, wheel, or new gimmick will make up for lack of preparation. There's no secrets either, just hard work and preparation.

2 - Pacing: Go hardest when you're going the slowest. Wind, hills, getting up to speed from corners.

3 - Learn how to 'be fast' on any equipment. TT bike, road bike, razor scooter! Tony Martin swapped bikes with another team mate at the Tour and ended up winning the stage solo, on someone else's bike that wasn't his size/setup. As a TT champion he applied his extensive knowledge of speed to win the stage. Low, narrow, good pacing. This ride put him in the yellow jersey.


And a shout out for the ace wheels I'm rolling around Perth on..... 



Friday, 10 July 2015

TIL - QuadLock iPhone6 Bike Kit

Welcome to the first of a number of TIL posts. TIL - Things I Like (or Today I Learned if you're a fan of Reddit and you find these posts informative).

TIL will be reviews, views, the good/bad of things I use on a regular basis. They'll be things I buy, sponsors gear, or product I've been asked to demo. Whatever the case, they'll be products that I use myself or have a lot of experience with, and where possible I'll include discounts/mates-rates on the product(s) because everyone likes a good deal.

Long time readers will know I'm not a fan of gimmicks, so there will be a few things that'll never get a mention. Maybe they will.... if they're something you should stay clear of.




First up - The Quad Lock Bike Mount for iPhone 6 

The guys behind the QuadLock saw my Zwift addiction and knew their product was a perfect match for using the Zwift Mobile App. Within 24hrs I had an iPhone 6 Bike Kit in my hands ready to test out. Impressive since I was on the other side of the country. 

The story behind QuadLock is pretty cool. Have a quick read here if you have a minute. 

OK - Onto the kit itself.....

Three-in-one Kit - Bike Mount, Case, Poncho.


All the kit. 
The kit, flipped.
 The iPhone 6 case and the removable 'Poncho' (or rain jacket)
Here's an added bonus. The box magnets are prefect size for SRM/Quarq! 

Similar mounting bands as a Garmin mount (Zip ties can be used for a more permanent set up)

Ride On! 
And onto the bell ringing in Zwift..... RING RING!

Details: 

- Only takes a minute to set up and get mounted.

- The case itself is sturdy and nice enough an iPhone case 24/7. In fact, the whole kit is well made.

- The Poncho is quick to put over top if you're going to be working up a sweat. It covers all holes/buttons making things effectively water-tight, or officially 'weather resistant'. As expected you lose the ability for the thumbprint unlock, and a little of the sensitivity though the Poncho. Both a small price to pay to protect your $ iPhone.

- The mount is rock solid. My handlebars would fall off before the phone does.

- It is easy to unclip with one hand if you want to grab the phone and tap out an SMS, iMessage, Zwift group message, etc.

- You can mount it horizontally too. Handy for apps that use landscape mode.


Summary:

This solves a problem for me - Having quick and easy access to my phone for Zwift/ergos and during TT warm ups. It'll also be my backup if my Garmin goes flat before a ride (Strava App). 

The product range they have for mounting phones to almost anything* is pretty comprehensive. Arm bands, car mounts, even out-the-front bike mounts! (*No alpaca mount, yet).


Discount Details:

The QuadLock team have set up a 'lama discount' of 30% across their entire range. Shoot me an email/direct message or join up the Zwift Oz Facebook group for the details.



Official Link: http://www.quadlockcase.com/products/iphone-6-bike-mount-kit

Monday, 15 June 2015

ATTA Serpentine TT 20k - Hire Cars and Clip-on Bars

Any excuse to escape Melbourne at this time of year! Von was over in Perth again for work, so I followed along for the second time in four weeks. The weekend schedule aligned and we had the chance to sneak in another race with ATTA. Being out-gunned with just a road bike last time, I'd packed some clip-on bars and my trusty old TT helmet so I wouldn't be too far off the pace this time around.



The clip-ons were a butchered pair of ski-bends that are perfect for the road bike. I've finally got the front end balance just right for a makeshift TT rig. Add in a skinsuit, TT helmet, and 55mm wheels, it was all systems go for the 20km category.


Hot Tip: The rego/parking area for the Suerpentine is 800m south of the circuit on Hopelands Rd.





Fast roads, almost pancake flat, and a stiff headwind for the first section of the course. Head down, go go go, and don't hit anything was the plan.

20km Top 10:
1 Shane Miller   0:13:03 0:13:18 0:26:20.7 44.98
2 Lee Bolden     0:13:10 0:13:37 0:26:47.7 44.22
3 Troy Coulthard 0:13:37 0:13:49 0:27:25.7 43.20
4 Luke Howe      0:14:28 0:14:36 0:29:04.0 40.77
5 Kieran Scott   0:14:46 0:14:51 0:29:37.0 40.01
6 Simon Copp     0:14:31 0:15:12 0:29:43.8 39.86
7 Julian Krohn   0:15:02 0:15:18 0:30:19.6 39.07
8 Jenny Sammons  0:15:47 0:15:24 0:31:11.1 38.00
9 Rhys Wilson    0:15:52 0:16:01 0:31:52.3 37.18
10 Myles Allen   0:16:34 0:16:32 0:33:06.4 35.79


Full Results

The team from ATTA always put on good events. No fuss registration, electronic timing, lap splits, a coffee cart on site, and results up before we had a chance to cool down. TT bike or not, I encourage anyone to roll up and 'clip' a number on if you're in Perth.

I've uploaded the full ride and data through to Kinomap so if you're keen to come along for the ride on the indoor trainer, lets go!



Other Random Perth Stuff

Dave Kelly was born here, on this very spot. I think.  
Lunch and a very very small car driving past. #iphonepanoramadrama 
Perth hills! This was Zig Zag Road. 

Perth hills... just like Adelaide minus the Commodores.
A zig in the road. 
And the matching zag. 
Magic winters day. Bike paths that stretch on for days!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Kinomap Wahoo Kickr Challenge 2015




The indoor trainer competition scene has kept me busy over the last month. The potential of the Kickr and other smart-trainers is finally being tapped into.

In comparison to other smart-traner applications Kinomap falls into the 'Training Tool' category. The videos are simply you against the clock, something I'm known to enjoy.

Anyone keeping an eye on my Strava rides might have seen a few references to the Kinomap Challenge rounds and final that were completed between late April through to May.

This was the first world-wide challenge run by Kinomap. There would be four qualifier rounds to complete over four weeks, where the top 16 qualifiers would be sent Wahoo Tickr HR strap to use in the final to ensure the integrity of the rides. I'll do another post on the challenges faced in regard to data integrity/accuracy for these types of challenges, in this instance Kinomap used a crafty twist in the final to ensure they could verify the efforts when there was something significant on the line.

I always need a carrot to chase in training to keep the motivation up, and a shot at a free heart rate strap was all I needed to sign up to this challenge. Stephen 'SLane' Lane was also up for a shot at qualifying for the free HR strap too, so it was game on for the both of us!



Qualifying 

Round 1Cyclosportive Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx-Andenne  21.9km

I had no plan for the effort, I just cranked out the power from start to finish. Grinding up the hills and spinning out on the descents. Time: 32:29.

SLane completed Round 1 the next day and made an important observation on how to ride the course. It wasn't all about cranking as much power as possible from start to finish. Like outside, the descents didn't require stomping the pedals to maintain speed. As we were able to submit as multiple rides for each qualifying round (the best time counting to our total), I kitted up and gave Round 1 another shot.


Round 1b Cyclosportive Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx-Andenne  21.9km

Using SLane's pacing strategy I set out again and knocked another 34 seconds off my time. Time: 31:55.


Round 216 Mile Loop Gillis Falls Climb Fest 26km

Knowing what it took each week to get the effort right, I set out to give the following rounds just one shot, all out, nailing it first time. Time: 38:13


Round 3Foggy PV Ride 39.2km

This round was one of the hardest things I've ever done on the indoor trainer. 25 minutes of rolling hills into 10 minutes of climbing, then another 20 minutes bringing it home. Time: 54:38 at just under 360W, ~5W/Kg.


Round 4 - Amgen Tour of California 2015 ITT 24.1km

3..2..1... Go! The video was a recon of the proposed AToC TT which was changed at the last minute for the actual race due to snow. Time: 33:02



Qualifying Results



1st place! Yeah! SLane rolled in 4th in the qualifiers and also had a Tickr sent his way. Great to see four Aussies in the top 11 places.

Side note - Note the name in 2nd place. That's Karl Zoetemelk. French National XC Champion 2002, and son of Joop Zoetemelk (Vuelta winner 1979, Tour de France winner 1980). We were in good company and I was a little worried what someone like Karl would unleash in the final!



The Final 

On the line was an entry to the Haute Route of your choice ($1,100-$1,600) and $500 travel expenses. The Haute Route events are a whole week of epic mountains during August-September. By epic they're all around 20,0000m of climbing over 800-900km. I already had my qualifier prize, a Tickr HR strap for the 2 1/2 hours of indoor TTing, so I was competing in the final just to see where I'd end up.

I was expecting a horrendously difficult 90 minute video for the final and once it was released I was surprised to see Kinomap choose the same video as qualifying round 2. Crafty! They had a data baseline from everyone on the course already so could use this to help verify the integrity of the rides.

The final challenge was a one-shot only affair, no second chances. Once complete, ride data was then submitted to the Kinomap team for review before being posted to the final result sheet.

With the five previous efforts in my legs and the experience with how best to pace the route I knocked off a few seconds on the 16 Mile Loop Gillis Falls Climb Fest 26km video in the final and submitted that over to Kinomap.

At 1am on May 27th my phone beeped with an email from Kinomap. They'd verified my data and had confirmed I'd won! Hah! Wow!

Final Results



After looking into the return flights and transfers from Melbourne over to the Haute Route events, I had to turn down the major prize. The team at Kinomap were understood my decision and with my ok they passed the Haute Route opportunity down the qualifying list. With Karl also unable to attend 3rd place getter from Canada is on his way and looking forward to the experience.

Kinomap kindly suppled me with an almost-lifetime access to Kinomap, and sent out a neat trophy (thanks guys!)