lauantai 23. toukokuuta 2020

I lost my form, and I blame gardening

As the outdoor races, fondos and other cycling events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 situation, I've let my best fitness fade away and done some gardening.

I've built some new compost bins, shoveled 2.500 litres of compost soil from the old ones, created new garden paths and scenery, and planted a bit this and that, etc.

Another spring that I've been on such top form that never before after the winter. Another beginning of a summer when I can't capitalize my form.

Happily, I don't feel bad with it any more. I almost feel gardening as my other hobby now.

tiistai 24. maaliskuuta 2020

Zen-like flow of road cycling at home: BigRingVR

As transport and outdoor exercise are currently restricted in many places, athletes have found virtual cycling platforms their safe haven for keeping fit.

Naturally the biggest platform has benefited most. For example, there were almost 23,000 people on Zwift during my ride there this evening – more than double compared to February.

Zwift has done many things right: The gamified structure allures us to reach always the next something (level, badge, virtual bike). The social aspects make us feel as part of a community. All the racing and other events spur oneself to push always a bit more. No competitor can offer these like Zwift.

Look at the map on the upper right corner. Quite crowded!
Then again, after having ridden the virtual ride from Taurito to Maspalomas on BigRingVR just prior to my Zwift visit, I understood that Zwift offers just certain nice aspects of virtual cycling. BigRingVR covers a very different, yet as important field.

BigRing is less about bells and whistles, and more about the zen-like flow of road cycling. There isn't stuff happening all the time – it's you, the road, the bike. Onwards.

I almost lean when taking the curve.
Compare the screenshots of the two platforms. Very different takes on cycling. Both have their strengths, and neither is perfect.

BigRingVR really shines when you want to re-ride memorable roads, or reconnaisance certain mountain climbs before actually travelling there.

I've done that stretch from Taurito to Maspalomas in real life a couple of times two years ago. It was on a very special week, dedicated solely for cycling. Now, on the virtual platform I felt like living it again. These kinds of affections related to IRL riding are something that Zwift doesn't cover.

So, maybe you need more than one virtual cycling platform.

sunnuntai 8. maaliskuuta 2020

Pro riders flock to Zwift, but I went out and got confused

For Arnaud Démare, David Gaudu and Ignatas Konovalovas of Groupama-FDJ it's not harsh winter that keeps them riding indoors but coronavirus Covid-19. It has forced them to stay in quarantine in their hotel after the discontinued UAE Tour.

Finally they were able to race – albeit inside their hotel rooms, as they took part in the Danmarks Cykle Union cup race at Innsbruckring on Zwift this morning.

Also Mitchelton-Scott team halted racing due to the corona virus situation. I went online to take part in their "BikeExchange – Where the World Rides Series" event on Zwift today. Daryl Impey was the leader and Annemiek van Vleuten the sweeper.
Screenshot during the oddly named "BikeExchange - Where the World Rides Series"
The real-life sun was shining appealingly. Temperature was some degrees over zero (C), so the roads wouldn't be icy. I quit the virtual event and harnessed my cyclocross bike.

Now some interesting comparisons between indoor and outdoor riding.

This two-hour ride averaged 213 watts (see on Strava). Having 320W FTP that should be child's play, a picnic. Yet, I felt it being a heavy workout.

Now, the confusing part: using the very same Assioma Duo power pedals (calibrated), 210-220 watts is like nothing on the trainer.

This virtual ride in Watopia has very similar specs to the IRL ride today. Virtual ride length is 71% of the IRL ride – but "relative effort" is only 42% of the IRL ride. And yes, it felt like an easy ride, which the IRL ride today didn't.

The culprit could be different weighted/normalized average power. That would show the virtual ride was steady and IRL ride with all small up/down, stop/go required more power variation. But no, also these numbers are similar.

Therefore, don't rely too much on your indoor power zones when planning outdoor race tactics.

To mess with my head, I went to compare these two rides on According to it, these are actually very similar efforts.

Leave a comment if you have some idea on all this excessive data! Meanwhile, I just ride.

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!