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!)


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Zwift on a Budget - zPower Fury Road!

The first Mad Max movie in the quadrilogy started off as a fuel shortage, that resulted in a breakdown in law and order. The fiction has become the poster child of the 80's post-apocalyptic genre, now called The Apunkalypse.

Fast forward 35 years and still in the Aussie wastelands, we're facing a shortage of Wahoo Kickrs. With all the hype around Zwift and no Kickrs, we're again on the brink of a breakdown in law and order. Demand is higher than ever yet nobody can get their hands on one. Let's hope the supply issues are resolved before we're faced with The Kickralypse.

"I'm just here for the gasoline.... and the Kickrs."

For those waiting for the Kickrs to arrive on our shores, or for those on a budget, there are alternatives to get yourself set up and flying around on Zwift. 

The three setups are Basic, Flexible, and Premium, as detailed below: 




Today tested out the Basic setup after pulling my Zwift compatible CycleOps Fluid2 out of storage.




The only two additional items needed. An ANT+ speed sensor, and the USB2 ANT+ Stick. The speed sensor and USB2 stick are around AU$50 each.
Spoke magnet and speed sensor.

Fluid trainers are notorious for changing their stripes while they warm up, so I fast-tracked warming it.

Optimal pressure is ~100PSI.
Clean tyre, clean roller, and enough tension to prevent slippage.



After selecting "Speed" and pairing your sensor, Zwift asks you to choose your trainer type.

In action.... also Socks for Nepal by Hells500 - Get yours here! 



The Ride

I've been spoiled by the dynamic resistance of the Kickr as you ride up and down the changing gradients, however that is only one component of the Zwift effect. The biggest difference is the lack of inertia compared to the Kickr or the LeMond Revolution that I use on a regular basis.

Everything else on Zwift worked a treat. The zPower calculation wasn't too far off my Quarq and allowed me to chase people down, sit on wheels, attack up the climb, and go for sprints.


zPower

Behind the scenes isn't a simple 'speed -> power' curve calculation to give you your zPower wattage. Official support forum posts indicate they're implementing a system that replicates real-world riding (accelerations, coasting, etc)... and they're still refining this during their beta period.


One Lap Results

Quarq is in yellow, zPower is in red.

It appears the CycleOps Fluid2 zPower takes a continual dive throughout the whole lap. I'll speculate on a few reasons why this may be the case shortly, for now average power between them both was very close:




(Strava Tip - TCX Export (with full data): Strava allows you to export .TCX versions of your activities. Just add "/export_tcx" (without quotes) to the end of your activity page URL). This can now be imported into WKO/TrainingPeaks etc.)


Review

Was zPower good enough to #rideon and enjoy the Zwift experience? For sure. Was it as accurate as the well fed, well looked after, and well calibrated Quarq? No, but that is partially my fault....

The tyre size I used in this test was a 23/25, a hybrid sized tyre that will be a little larger than the standard 23mm, and it would have an impact on the zPower calculations which are based on a 23mm tyre (2096mm).

My Fluid2 trainer. It is at least 5-6 years old now and although I warmed it up up before starting the test, I should have spent another 10-15minutes at the target wattage on it before starting the test.

Testing is good training, so I'll see if I can get my hands on other zPower trainers and put them through similar tests, while correcting the above discrepancies in my testing protocol.


Conclusion / tldr; 

You don't need a Kickr or high end smart-trainer to enjoy Zwift for your indoor sessions. A compatible trainer, PC/Mac, USB2 ANT+ stick, and ANT+ Speed sensor will get you up and running.


Monday, 25 May 2015

Garmin USB2 ANT Stick In-Depth Review

 
The world of indoor training with techno-devices is moving forward at an alarming pace. Gone are the days of staring at a clock on the wall while on the trainer, we're now hooked in live to whatever application we choose that can take advantage of a multitude of sensors. Heart rate, power, cadence, speed, all flying through the air ready to be captured, displayed, and analysed.

While the competing standards of ANT+ vs Bluetooth Smart (4.0) grows, at this point in time we need to get ANT+ signals into our PCs and Macs to take advantage of these next gen applications.

Using my love for technology, DC Rainmaker, and creating content that is pretty useless, I thought I'd do an in-depth review of Garmin ANT USB2 sticks.

Unboxing:

Mine didn't actually come in a box. It came in a little plastic baggy.
Baggy opened. The unboxing is taking shape.
Success!
Endless opportunities to store small things awaits.
Garmin USB2 ANT 'Stick'... or is it?
What we've really got is a Dynastream Innovations Inc ANTUSB-M

Side view. I'm still at least 34 photos down on DC Rainmaker at this point.

I've had the original 'stick' version of the USB2 key for a few years now, so that box is long gone. Just imagine all the excitement of the above unboxing occurring again, with more stick.

USB2 stick. More like a stick than the other one. The Dynastream Innovations Inc ANTUSB2-OEM.
Comparison.
ANT no mountain high enough.

Naming Convention:

Now here is where things get confusing. The original USB2 'stick' was somewhat stick shaped, like a lot of early USB devices. Along comes the not-so-stick shaped USB...er...plug/adapter thingy and it still gets branded a stick!?

Similar, kind of.
Not similar.
With a modification of the stick to stick-m, it isn't too far off.

The two Garmin USB2 ANT Sticks are different products, with different device/product ID codes. They both should do the exact same job, and should draw the same current. I'll look into wireless range tests in the near future. 




You're less likely to stub your toe on the ANTUSB-m.

Driver installation is taken care of automatically on both Windows and Mac platforms, assuming you have a working Internet connection. If you're reading this, you do. Gone are the days of having to throw out the supplied compact disc of outdated drivers.


Field Test:


In true DC Rainmaker style, I strapped both USB sticks onto my arm and ran around the block. A pointless exercise as this isn't their intended use.

What they both successfully did was resolve this when loading Zwift:

This ANT a problem any more with either USB device.

Comparison Table:


Function/Feature  ANTUSB-m  ANTUSB-OEM 
USB2  Yes  Yes
ANT+  Yes  Yes
Stick like No Yes
Likely to lose it Yes Maybe
Weight  1g 7g
Waterproof  Not willing to test it   Ditto


Further Info:

The Suunto Movestick Mini stick has the same form factor as the ANTUSB-m, but is an ANTUSB-OEM cut down to size (Device/Product ID 1008). Has exact same function as the other two Garmin branded products.



Beware of potential confusion when ordering a "Garmin USB2 ANT stick" without knowing the product code. Below is a Garmin iPhone ANT adapter...not USB.




Sunday, 17 May 2015

Zwift Down Under Challenge - Melbourne & Sydney - May 2015


We've just arrived home from Sydney after an amazing whirlwind short notice tour competing in the Zwift Down Under Challenge. Not in a million years would I have imagined being on a plane with a large trophy between my feet and a giant novelty cheque in the overhead luggage.

Back in early April I wrote about Zwift and my experience with the new world of online interactive cycling: Zwift - Next Level Awesome. Since then a few things have changed. Zwift is now on a new and improved island (Watopia) and the code geniuses have added more features (and a mobile companion app). Things are progressing at warp-speed with events such as 'Ride with Jens', partnerships with the Tour of California and Tour de Pier, just to name a few. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what's coming. They've also just gone to 'open beta' which now allows everyone to get involved.

When the team at Zwift announced they'd be coming to Australia to host events in Melbourne and Sydney, I was keen to catch up with them and get an insight into the company and what we can expect in the future. Oh, and to tell them how addictively fun they've made indoor riding.

They'd seen my posts online about using Zwift and were also looking forward to catching up with a passionate (and obsessed) Zwift user. They invited both Veronica and I to their Melbourne base the night before their launch at Bike Gallery for a meet and greet.

We'd planned to spend only a few minutes to say g'day. Two hours later, after many questions, stories, and a few good laughs, both Von and I left them to continue their event preparation, both wearing Zwift t-shirts! As I posted to the Zwift Riders group on Facebook, catching up with these guys was inspirational.

Me (Zwift addict), Eric Min (CEO), Mark Riedy, and Tomas Hrbek.

It was great to meet the team behind something that is going to be pretty big in cycling. I speculated on the potential of what they could do with the platform back in April. It turns out they're already three steps ahead, in every aspect. I left there with my eyes wide open and mind spinning faster than a Kickr flywheel.



Bike Gallery Melbourne Zwift Launch - May 13th 2015

The setting for the Melbourne launch was perfect. Cam and Lincoln have a showpiece store and pump out quality coffee to match.



Not only was the launch to demo Zwift to the local cycling community, there was an added incentive to set the fastest male and female times around Watopia (9.1km) for a winner-takes-all $500!

They'd taken fun and turned it up all the way 11 (speed)!

The pressure was on from the start, I'd been ranked high enough to be one of the last riders off. Even the online Zwift community were talking up my chances at the $500. International pressure, and eyes from all over the world were on this event.

Veronica set a huge PB on Watopia with 14:47, which was leading the women's category until Seda Camgoz flew up the climb and around the course to set the winning women's time of 14:08. Amazing times from both ladies.

Veronica (Von) looking strong and stylish all at once. #hammertime
I kept a nervous eye on the leaderboard all night until it was my time to take on the Watopia challenge. The heat was on, literally, from the start. I'd gone out hard and was soon calling for water. Thankfully I had Stephen Lane and Veronica by my side as assistants. While Veronica was pouring water on me, MC Scott McGrory (OAM, Olympic Gold Medallist) was on the mic pouring on the pressure.

.... and this was just the warm up. :)
The jersey soon came off as I was into the final few kms of Watopia. There had been some great times ridden already, if I could push hard from the sprint banner to the finish line the time should be well under 13 minutes.




Posted by Eric Min on Wednesday, 13 May 2015



It was. 12:31. A PB around Watopia after giving it everything I had. A late charge by Fergus Sully had me biting my nails until his lap time was locked in with a solid 12:47. Another phenomenal performance by a Zwift first timer.


That is a really big trophy. And Eric has really bright Zwift orange shoes.

A highlight was near the end of the night when James Werner was true to his word - if Fergus rode, he'd set a time in a TT helmet and tri-kit. The entire place was in hysterics, then he battled through and set a very reasonable time!



This is what happens when you drink too much!
Posted by Eric Min on Wednesday, 13 May 2015


After the event we had dinner with the crew from Zwift and Bike Gallery, where both Seda and I were invited up to Sydney to be a part that launch. They wanted the Melbourne champions to compete against Sydney's best. Both Seda and I were not going to pass up this unique opportunity to be involved, so we were going to Sydney! Women's 2nd place getter and Team Lama better half (my wife Veronica) was also invited along.

Time to rest up and #rideon in Sydney! Wahoo!



Rapha Cycling Club Zwift Sydney Launch - May 15th 2015


After a rest day and a long 800km transfer stage, Team Melbourne were ready to take on whatever Sydney could serve up.

Team Melbourne arrive in Sydney!

Rapha Cycling Club HQ
The three of us were enjoying the night so much at Rapha HQ we almost forgot we were there to compete in the challenge. In just a few hours I'd caught up with Matt Keenan (Commentator/The human cycling wikipedia), Philip Gomes (Editor/producer at SBS Cycling Central), Peter Rox (Transitions.com.au), and countless others who wanted to know about Zwift.

8pm soon rolled around and MC Paul Craft started talking up the Melbourne vs Sydney rivalry. As there were different ergo equipment used in Sydney (CycleOps) the times on Watopia were a little faster than we saw in Melbourne. I'd seen both Peter Moore and Tom Sacre set impressive sub 12 minute times. I didn't think I was in for a chance, so it was all or nothing.

In the women's challenge, personal best efforts by both Seda and Veronica weren't enough to match Sydney's Lynne Clarke (who I hear loves a time trial). Lynne time trialled her way around the 9.1km course in 12:49 to secure the $500 and women's title.
Von and Seda enjoying the night.

Finally it was me time to kit up and #rideon. I need ride 11:33 or faster for the lap, almost a minute faster than Melbourne. To put that into perspective, 11:30 was the fastest time on Watopia on Strava.

My extended warm-up involved getting lost in the immersive Watopia world, which isn't hard to do with a giant screen and other riders to chase down.

From the starting gun I had to make this ride count. I knew every inch of the course, every turn, and even where I could get into an aero tuck on the descent, much to the amusement of MC Paul Craft when I did. :)

The crowd noise grew throughout the lap, and went off the charts when I passed the 200m to go banner and my lap time came on screen. 11:15... 16.... 17... I buried my head and chewed handlebar tape until I could hear it was over.

11:25! I had to double check the screen. 11:25? It was official. The fastest time on the night, and a new world record. It took a minute or two to sit up on the bike after that. Lost for words from the effort and from the surprise at taking back-to-back wins.


Eric Min was first to shake my hand and congratulate me, that was a moment I won't forget. To be able to show the CEO of a company their product working in full flight, with the MC going crazy on the mic, people cheering, talking cycling, and enjoying themselves made for a memorable night in Sydney.




I've also been set a challenge.... first at Rapha in Sydney, then on national TV. Looks like I'll be clocking up some serious kms when the Richmond world championship road course is released on Zwift.





Zwift have set out to make indoor cycling fun, and for me they're right on the money. They've taken static ergo sessions and made them dynamic, interactive, and have created a virtual world where you can meet people from all over the world for group rides, races, and events. Something you just have to experience yourself to understand how much of a game changer this really is.


A huge thank-you to everyone involved:

- Zwift: The team who came to Oz and everyone else behind the scenes throughout the world. Special mention to Dave and Tom who did a lot of heavy lifting and the drive from Melbourne to Sydney on Thursday.

- Bike Gallery and Rapha Cycling Club for hosting the two events.

- The cycling communities of Melbourne, Sydney, and beyond who turned up on the launch nights or followed along from afar.

- Von and Seda from Team Melbourne who travelled to Sydney and back. Great company to share such a random and rewarding experience with.


If you see Zwift launching somewhere local to where you are, I encourage you to go along, you'll have a blast. You never know, maybe I'll be there too. In the mean time, download Zwift and let me know what you think.


Zwift Links:


#rideon


Complementary lollies at the hotel..... time to fill up the cup!

Heading home. Giant cheque and boarding passes!