Cranky's Corner

Give me coffee and no one gets hurt!

First ride outside

Today was the day I finally got outside for a bike ride, unfortunately it is much later than I had hoped. Between TrainerRoad, Zwift & my KICKR I don’t feel the need to get out and brave the cold in the middle of winter, I’m more than happy doing my structured workouts. However once the weather starts to warm up a little and time springs ahead so there is more light in the evenings I like to get outside and breath in the fresh air. That didn’t happen this year for a variety of reasons but I would still find time to do my workouts 3-4 times a week.

Then came a mini vacation to Walt Disney World. No bike down there so I did a little running a couple of those days. Nothing crazy just 5K distances and some intervals thrown in. The weather down there was perfect, coming home was very depressing. It was hard for me to get motivated and I rode the KICKER once the day after getting back and took the next two days off vowing to get outside on the weekend. Unfortunately those weekend plans didn’t come to fruition as my fiancee was involved in an serious automobile accident that Friday evening coming home from work which would derail any training plans I had made. Thankfully, she basically walked away with some minor cuts and bruisings along with a mild concussion but there were numerous appointments and follow up doctors visits that needed to be attended. Between going back and forth to those and back and forth to work I was mentally and physically spent I couldn’t event think about peddling a bike.

Things finally quieted down a bit this past week and I felt well rested and needed to get outside today. To be honest I was a bit apprehensive as I had only spun my legs once over the past 3 weeks and I knew I had lost some fitness along the way. I took an easy warm up for about 10 minutes and then started with a mild climb. The legs felt strong but my aerobic capacity is down for sure. With that mild climb behind me I took on something a little steeper. This one climb I can do in about 2 minutes full gas, so I hit it today and gave it my best effort. I ended up being 22 seconds off my PR but pretty much matched my times from around this time last year, not terrible but not what I was hoping for either. My legs felt great, didn’t need the whole cassette even though I’m riding a bigger mid-compact on my C’dale, but I did have to focus more than usual on my breathing to keep it under control and my HR was 1 beat below my max, but I made it.

All in all it was an OK ride. Nothing significant after that and I sort of took in the scenery a bit. Total mileage was only about 17 miles with 1,100 ft. of elevation. So short by my standards but it was just what I needed. Now I just need to work on getting my aerobic capacity back up to where it should be after a winters worth of training.

On a side note, this was the first time I got to wear my Gabba2 jersey. That thing is fantastic! With a set of arm warmers it kept the cool wind off me and allowed it to breath so I didn’t sweat to death wearing it. It was just perfect for the conditions, what a great piece of kit.

New Kit Day!

Everyone loves new kit, but ever wonder what it would feel like to be a pro and get new kit all logo’d out? Well I sorta do thanks to Competitive Cyclist and their sale on 2015 items. Take a gander what I splurged on…

Dressed like a pro in some Cannonade-Garmin kit!

Dressed like a pro in some Cannonade-Garmin kit!

Now normally I wouldn’t buy a pro team kit for fear of looking like a Fred, but when it’s 50+% off and I ride the equipment in question I just can’t pass it up especially when it’s specific pieces I have always wanted to get but would never pay full price for.

From left to right we have the Fawesome 2 vest, Gabba 2 short sleeve jersey, Aero Race 5.0 jersey and in the center there is the Volo bibs and a pair of matching Castelli socks.

The Gabba 2 jersey has been on my radar for a while, it’s a staple of the pro peloton even for non sponsored teams and it quite the piece of it. It’s essentially a soft shell jersey so it’s great on those cool questionable days without the need for a vest and can be paired with a pair of arm warmers. It also has a drop tail to keep spray off your back side should the weather take a turn for the worst.

The Fawesome 2 vest is made of the same material as the Gabba but it’s obviously in a vest form. This is a huge improvement from my current nylon style vest which despite a bunch of venting still doesn’t breath as well as I’d like it to.

The Aero Race jersey is new for me. I was planning on purchasing the Team 2.0 jersey (it’s they same cut but different material) but my size was sold out so I went for the Aero Race. Fit is as you’d expect but this thing is lightweight! It’s going to get a lot of use during the summer that is for sure.

The Volo bibs are also new for me. I have several pairs of Free Aero Race bibs in different kits and they are alway comfortable with the Progetto X2 chamois. I have read reviews to stay away with from bibs with the KISS chamois which is what the Volo has but I figured since they were on sale and the Aero Race bibs weren’t available in the team colors I’d try them out. So far I am pleased with them. Fit is like the other bibs and the chamois is comfortable at least on the hour trainer ride I did. More testing still needs to be done but I think they will be fine for longer rides.

Overall I’m very impressed with these pieces of kit. I’ve always been a fan of Castello kit and have several others in my closet. These items are just the icing on the cake now!

Free TrainerRoad!

trainerroadlogoIt’s no surprise to any of my readers that I’m a big fan of TrainerRoad. I’m using it for the second year during the winter to get stronger for the spring, instead of having to suffer for a month or so before you get your aerobic system back in shape.

Anyway, TrainerRoad has given me 2 free months of their service that I can give to my fellow cyclists. So if any of my dedicated readers out there (all 3 of you, lol) would like to give it a shot drop me a comment and I’ll send along the invite for one free month.

Not sure you have the right equipment? All you really need is a “dumb” trainer along with a speed sensor. Heart rate and cadence sensors are optional but recommended. If you have a smart trainer like a Wahoo KICKR then that’s even better but not necessary. If your sensors are bluetooth capable then you should be able to use your mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android) or your PC/Mac if it supports bluetooth.  But if your sensors are ANT+ then you’ll need a USB dongle for your PC/Mac.

Here is the “Getting Started” page which describes everything much better than I could:

Any questions feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer, but this is a great way to give structured training a shot. It has given me motivation to ride on the trainer and I can’t wait to workout again.

GURU Bike Fit

GURU Logo Last week I finally got around to making my appointment for my bike fit on my new CAAD10. Now I had been fitted before on my last bike and while it was mostly in tact it had evolved ever so slightly over time (mostly handlebars getting lowered 2cm). The shop offered to transfer the fit from one bike to the other over (well I could have done that) and while I’m comfortable with that fit I chose to go through a whole fit session just to see where I am today. The CAAD10 is more racy than my TriCross so geometry differences could mean a slightly different fit.

My last fit was done at a Specialized shop and was a standard BG fit. The fitter videoed me on the bike, used some on screen tools to get angles, made changes to the bike and then rinse and repeat like a half dozen times. All in all it was only about a 45 minute process, either I was that easy of a client or the fitter was that good. All in all, like I said it hasn’t changed much only the bar drop with my flexibility.

This particular shop uses the GURU fit system if you haven’t already guessed from the big logo at the beginning of this post. The difference here is that your bikes measurements are entered into the computer and then you ride this “contraption” and the fitter is able to make adjustments in real time as you pedal. I was excited to try this out and it is a weird feeling to feel bars moving and saddle going up and down as you pedal but you can really feel the difference as it happens. It was cool to see what a 100mm stem felt like, it felt great at first but as we kept going it tired out my shoulders, I was too stretched out, so a couple of button clicks and back to 90 we were. Same when for when the saddle got too high and I could feel myself start rocking in the saddle.

Besides the adjustable bike, the system also takes a video of you to figure out your height, joint lengths and a bunch of other dimensions. This allows you to see on the screen your knees tracking etc… It’s all very high tech. On the low tech side of things the fitter still checks leg angles, cleat position etc… Nothing short of thorough.

Here is a video produced by the shop highlighting the fit process.

Once I was happy with my fit on the GURU bike the computer spit out a report with the exact measurements that needed to be transferred to my bike. My bike was mounted in a Cyclops trainer so that I could test out the changes on my bike and make any fine tuning adjustments. None were needed in my case so we were good to go.

All totaled I was there for about an hour and a half, which included spinning on said trainer for about 15 minutes prior to getting on the GURU bike (while it was being set up to match my bike). One thing that is desperately needed is a FAN, because even at low intensities I was working up a sweat with the stagnant air in the shop.

So how did this fit compare with my last? Well surprisingly saddle set back and height were pretty close within ~2mm of each other. Saddle to bar drop is the biggest difference with the CAAD10 being ~2.5cm lower than the TriCross. Going in I expected this to be the biggest difference, although knowing height and setback were so close was reassuring as well.

I haven’t been out on the road yet with the new fit but have been on the trainer for about 7.5 hours over the past week and it feels great. Hours on the trainer will really make you feel any fit issues.

Overall I was impressed with the fit and the attention to detail given to it. It is certainly a better way to try all sorts of options on the bike while feeling the results real time.

It has been a weird winter + updates!

What a strange winter it has been with unseasonably high temps for the past couple of months. Yesterday was the first snow/sleet/freezing rain we have seen and it is just about all gone now and is forecast to be 60 degrees F tomorrow on Dec 31st. This warm weather means I have been able to still ride outside on occasion. Not as much as I’d like because it’s usually almost dark by the time I get home but I have been able to get my new Cannondale CAAD10 out for about 120 miles or so over the past month. When I bought it I figured it would be mounted in the trainer by now and I’d have the CX tires on the TriCross for the mid winter jaunts. But instead the TriCross is still in the trainer, speaking of which…

I’ve had a trainer of some sort for the past 15 years. 2 years ago I upgraded the cheap magnetic trainer to a nice Kurt Kinetic Road Machine fluid trainer. Boy what a difference that made in feel! Last year I took winter training to a whole new level with Trainer Road. It really helped me improve my fitness over the winter and come spring I wasn’t gasping for air at the tops of climbs as had been the case in previous years. Then early this year Zwift came along and I was in heaven between structured training via Trainer Road and fun rides on Zwift – all will still being indoors. So coming into this winter knowing I would be spending a good amount of time on the trainer again (and looking forward to it) I decided to up the ante and purchase a Wahoo KICKR. What a game changer that machine is. There is no slacking on Trainer Road, which is good, plus you can really work on your cadence w/o having to worry about shifting gears and finding that perfect combination. Then with Zwift the climbs become real! Resistance increases as the grade goes up and you’ve got to react with gear changes and even standing like you would in real life. The KICKR is certainly an investment but I’m on it at least 5-6 days a week and has been really beneficial to my training. Plus with two bikes now I’m likely to leave one mounted in the trainer year round for rainy day training sessions.

Now some of my astute readers I’m sure will be quick to point out that Zwift has its own workout mode now, so why am I still using Trainer Road? Honestly, while they are some good workouts on Zwift, I just don’t think Zwift’s workout mode is that mature yet (it is still “beta”). I think for the casual rider who has never done structured workouts before it’s a good step but Trainer Road offers so much more with their plans and metrics. Yes you can get some of that with Strava but not completely. I still use Trainer Road and Zwift at the same time like last year, as it provides a nice distraction instead of just staring at numbers and charts on the screen. Recently I’ve also been catching up in the Trainer Road podcasts while riding so that’s another distraction as well. Although last night I listened to one while doing my FTP test and I really don’t remember any of it… the podcast that is, I certainly remember the test… ouch! (but hey FTP increased by 8%!) I just started my second phase of Sweet Spot training and then will probably get into the Sustained Power build phase and then either the Climbing or Century specialty phases. I don’t race and the biggest thing I have planned so far is an 87 miler with almost 6000′ of elevation so I’m undecided at this point which may suit me better keeping in mind I will be doing other centuries (metric & imperial) over the season.

On to other things… I know earlier in the year after purchasing my Garmin Edge 1000 I mentioned I would do a more complete complete comparison of it against the Magellan Cyclo 505, but honestly I don’t want to waste my time. Software updates to the Magellan have been non existent and there really is no comparison at this point. Garmin continues to update and improve the Edge 1000 with frequent software releases. The biggest complaint about the Garmin is its navigation but in my testing when using the open source maps it has been adequate. Is it as good as routing as the Magellan, probably not, but it has never failed to get me where I’m going either. As for all the other features the Garmin wins hands down.

Well since this will likely be my last post of the year, I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year! And hopefully old man winter stays indoors for us Northeastern’ers and I can continue to ride outdoors on the weekends!


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