sunnuntai 19. tammikuuta 2020

Tour de Zwift: eCycling has become big

FIN: Jos ePyöräily tai Zwift eivät vielä ole tuttuja, kannattaa aluksi lukea Hesarin mainio juttu Pyörälenkki Lontooseen.

Zwift is big nowadays, and its biggest annual multi-stage event is under way. Tour de Zwift will be ridden on all of the seven in-game worlds. London and Innsbruck done and dusted now, Watopia is next.

There are two different ways doing the stages: "rides" that are marketed as easier fondo-type events, and "races". 

Needless to say, most of us push both of those as hard as possible. Or, to be honest, I haven't puked up yet, so maybe I should try harder.

Last winter I trained more than ever during the off season, and it paid off well. Unfortunately several work trips took place right at the time of the local (outdoor) races and I couldn't cash it in.

So far, training-wise this winter has been as good as the previous one, and I produce at least same w/kg as in last January (find me on Zwiftpower).

Unfortunately I won't travel to some sunny and mountainous cycling camp this time, but doing more and harder indoor races helps to reach the form. As some kind of a proof the Elevate app graph looks pretty much like a text book example:

All in all: thank you my riding friends and foes online! Without you I'd been settling for Z2 commutes. Looking forward to enjoy and to suffer together again tomorrow.

lauantai 14. joulukuuta 2019

Apple Watch tsemppaa arkiliikunnan puolesta

Haluan kehua uutta ystävääni. Kuusi viikkoa sitten hankin Apple Watch 5 -kellon. Sen Aktiivisuus-sovellus tsemppaa kuin ranteessa mukana kulkeva valmentaja.

Aktiivisuus mittaa sykettä, liikkumista ja seisomista. Se analysoi toimintamalleja ja vertaa niitä edellisiin päiviin.

Aktiivisuus puhuttelee kuin valmentaja, joka ei vaadi liikoja, mutta pitää silti huolen, että et pääse juurtumaan kiinni sohvaan.

Arkiliikunta-asetus (tunnusväri punainen) on säädettävissä itse. Siihen kertyy kaikki kellon mittaama kalorikulutus. Olen myös antanut kello-puhelin-combolle luvan hakea pyöräilydatani Stravasta. Arkiliikunnan omaksi tavoitteeksi olen asettanut 1000 kcal päivässä.

Liikunta-asetus (tunnusväri vihreä) on vakiona puoli tuntia päivässä. Kello mittaa itse sen kertymistä. Esimerkiksi reipas kävely bussille ja metrolle kartuttaa minulla näitä minuutteja, mutta löntystely koirien kanssa ei.

Seisominen-asetus (tunnusväri sininen) mittaa oletko seissyt vähintään minuutin ajan kahtenatoista tuntina vuorokaudessa.

Aktiivisuus kannustaa ja kehuu. Kuvakaappauksissa näkyvät ympyrät ja niiden värilliset kehät ovat ajantasaisia indikaattoreita päivän seisomis-, liikunta- ja arkiliikunta-aktiivisuuden tilanteesta suhteessa tavoitteeseen (jolloin koko ympyrä piirtyy).

En osaa sanoa mitä hyötyä Apple Watchista tai Aktiivisuus-sovelluksesta olisi ilman iPhonea. Sen kanssa tiedonsiirto on kuitenkin sujuvaa ja kokemus saumaton.

Yllä olevat kuvakaappaukset ovat kellosta. Alla kaksi näkymää puhelimen ruudulta:

Liikkumiseen, uneen, hyvinvointiin ja ravintoon liittyviä sovelluksia on Apple Watchille paljon. Tällaiseen kevyeen omien rutiinien ja elintapojen seurantaan älykello ja sen appit soveltuvat hienosti. Minulle näihin tarkoituksiin riittää toistaiseksi kolme sovellusta: Aktiivisuus, Strava ja AutoSleep.

perjantai 13. joulukuuta 2019

When you need to ride like a metronome - and when not

You may have seen how Chris Froome stares at his cycling computer during Tour de France. He pays attention to the wattage information, as he knows precisely how much power output he can sustain – and then he rides according to that as much as possible.

Oftentimes it looks dull and boring, but it is effective.

Recently, I've begun to internalize the benefits of this kind of riding when I've started to stare at my readings, provided by my Favero Assioma Duo pedals.

Many races on the virtual Zwift platform are around an hour – like the stages of the current Tour of London.

If you know your FTP, or functional threshold power, you know how many watts you are able to produce for 60 minutes.

As there are hundreds of riders spread across the course and a strong double-draft effect, and as I'm competing for a position, say, 150th/1000, there is not very much reason to try break-aways.

I rode the second stage of Tour LDN yesterday. First I chose spinning music mix on Youtube to make it easy to maintain 95-105 RPM. Then, I chose suitable gears to keep on producing 270–300 watts.

Some bridging took extra power when I wanted to catch the group in front of me, but mostly I kept it steady. Same gear, same cadence, same watts.

No excitement of bold moves and hard uphills, as I kept the the power no matter what: ascending, descending, flat.

At the finish of this Stage 2, I felt more fresh than after the more animated Stage 1. Back then, I felt like dying. Now, not very bad. Also, my average watts were a tad higher now.

These big events organized by Zwift itself are more like team time trials in a bunch than road races.

Smaller user-organized races with a substantially smaller number of riders provide more fun and more varied training, as tactics play a bigger part there.

Below is a screen shot from BMTR Fundo. Pay attention eg. to the power fluctuation at the bottom of the picture.

So, it's all about the goal: it's one thing to finish as fast as possible, and another to use the race for some sort of training, eg. over/under, intervals, or such.

keskiviikko 11. joulukuuta 2019

MET Trenta is aero and also airy

Finalmente! A courier brought the crash replacement today. Salutati!

MET Trenta 3K Carbon is a good looking beast, just like me. Thus, MET helmets fit my head perfectly. Trenta has left my good old MET Stradivarius to play second fiddle, so to speak.

Trenta is like someone said: aero and airy. Light and sturdy. It looks cool even on our cat's scratching post.

It took 21 days from contacting MET Helmets on Facebook to have courier knocking on the door.

If you want to take advantage of the crash replacement program, forget their online instructions on contacting the local distributor. FB chat is the remedy.

Their price for the carbon reinforced replacement was 150 €. The basic version would have cost 120 €.
To make this racing piece suitable for ordinary commuting I bought also the MET USB LED rear light.

It has the usual blinking and continuous modes, as well as an intelligent auto-ON night safe mode. It is quick to charge but lasts only 2.5 hours on steady light or 4 hours on a flash mode.

Only that... one of the six LEDs is dead. Not a biggie, but after all this hassle... Still one more email to Via Piemonte. Pazienza!

sunnuntai 24. marraskuuta 2019

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

It's one hundred years since the murder of Rosa Luxemburg, the socialist who wrote that title quote.

The quote has its double meaning only in English, not in original German. Sure, Rosa meant ideological chains but I'll turn that into a cycling-related t-shirt print as soon as I'm back home in Helsinki.

I googled about Rosa as I took a tram from Berlin Velodrom to Rosa Luxemburg Platz. Next to it was my destination Rapha Clubhouse, in the Mitte area in the former East-Berlin.

One poster on the wall of the Clubhouse is about Friedens Fahrt, or Peace Race. It fits the place well.

Friedens Fahrt was a major bike race of the socialist countries, from Berlin to Warsaw and to Prague. I happened to listen The Call of The Road today and learned its history as well.

My intentions to visit the Rapha shop were purely capitalistic. I don't need to own any more cycling gear but usually I can't resist getting some hobby related souvenir. This time it was the Rapha Berlin collection cycling jersey and cap.

The spirit of Rosa was more present at SpinningWheelz, a small bike mechanic shop serving mainly the Mitte area bike couriers. I enjoyed chatting with the owner Andreas who seemed to live and breathe the bike courier freedom philosophy.

I had tried to enter Berlin Velodrom track but found the doors closed. From Andreas I learned that it is accessible only for big track race participants, local club (serious) riders and young school kids who have the luxury of visiting and riding there a bit. His own son was about to visit it, too.

The marriage of capitalism and socialism manifests itself finest through the city bike system. The public and private parties of die Hauptstadt have done their best to provide a cheap and sustainable form of transport. 

I didn't qualify for the Velodrom, but it was fun enough to do a small ride on a city bike.

Upon her arrival, Rosa said “Berlin has made the most unfavourable impression on me.” Because of the progress towards gender equality, democracy and empowerment, and because of the strong alternative culture, I bet Rosa would have had a more positive take on this city today.

tiistai 19. marraskuuta 2019

After sales marketing as a Time Trial of three Italians

A lot of my cycling gear comes from Italy. My dearest bikes have been designed by Edoardo Bianchi and his staff, and my feet turn cranks mostly in Sidi shoes.

Lately I have had after sales issues with three Italian brands: Favero Assioma, Elite and MET Helmets. Their "time trial" started one after another, and some have made it to the finish already. Let's see how they performed.

Static weight test.
My Favero Assioma Duo pedals took hit when I fell off the bike in September. All of a sudden they started to show different power levels than my Elite trainer. I contacted Favero by sending the online form (actually, did it twice before getting the automatic reply "We’ve Received Your Request").

I was impressed by the attitude and dedication of Assioma customer support. It turned out that they are able to check certain pedal parameters remotely, certain values read when the Assioma app synchronizes (battery, the result of the latest calibrations and the values of some internal sensors). That helped a lot in the process.

Some further calibration had to be done, but now the sensors give correct data. The scratches on the pedals only give more road-credibility.

Favero: useful replies the same or next day – absolutely a podium place.

The belt is wider in new models.
Elite Direto is my third indoor trainer by the same company. After two wheel-on "turbos", this no-wheel direct drive model is a step up. Unfortunately it has a belt that snapped after some 6,000 km.

I sent email to Elite. They asked me to send a picture of the broken belt and promised to send me a spare one with instructions. In less than two weeks I had gotten it.

Elite: quick replies, no hassle – another podium finisher.

MET Trenta helmet was damaged in the same crash as the Assioma Duos. Unfortunately I had bought mine from Wiggle, and the MET crash replacement program advices to contact the MET distributor of the country where I bought the helmet. So, I found the email address for MET UK and wrote them on 24th October. Nothing happened.

I sent an inquiry again on 5th November, this time to the headquarters, too. Nothing happened. I resent that inquiry once more, 18th November. Niente. No reply.

MET Helmets: no reply in four weeks, not even an automatic one – still along the course, and yet to be seen whether it ever makes it to the finish.

tiistai 5. marraskuuta 2019

Snapping a belt and losing a chance to ride in Colombia: indoor cycling woes

El Giro de Rigo when things were still going strong.
I had followed the smart indoor cycling fad for some time before buying my first turbo trainer.

I decided to get on the bandwagon as soon as the standards (like ANT+ FE-C) and the products (trainers, virtual training software) had matured enough to focus on riding, not on data engineering.

I've had two rather stress-free years until now.

After the crash (outdoors! see Aftermath of a crash) I noticed that my Favero Assioma Duo pedals didn't align with the Elite Direto trainer power meter readings.

Their power readings used to be almost identical:

Now it had generated a difference:

Which was correct? I was quite sure my fitness level was up to Direto numbers and Assioma Duo pedals were incorrect - particularly as they took a hit in the crash.

So, I calibrated the pedals. Still same difference between power readings. Next, I did Static Weight Test for the pedals. Still the same. (Albeit it corrected the measured imbalance of my left/right feet and shows now that I pedal 50/50 ±1%)

Elite Direto calibration test showed the trainer power meter is still as accurate as new.

Something does not compute when every test show correct readings and yet the curves have drifted apart.

I heard that Elite could take a Teamviewer session and change some settings in order to sort this kind of an issue. That would be the thing to do next week!

Unfortunately the belt of Direto snapped during El Giro de Rigo on Sunday. Bloody hell! DNF means I did not complete the entire event and thus lost my chance to win the Grand Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Colombia to ride in the 2020 El Giro de Rigo alongside Rigoberto Uran.

Currently I ride with my old wheel-on Elite Qubo Digital B+ (terrain interaction with Zwift) and Assioma Duo pedals (power & cadence). Two service-part belts are already on their way, one from the local vendor and one from the manufacturer. At least I'll have a spare part.