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!
It’s been a long winter this year in the northeast and I’ve been making the most of it with my Trainer Road workouts. As I write this post I’m in week 14 of using Trainer Road. The first 12 weeks were part of the “Sweet Spot” base phase and now I’m in the “General Build” phase. To say I’ve seen an improvement is an understatement. My FTP is up 15% from when I started back in November and I find it funny now that my tempo workouts are at/around that original FTP number. Finding Trainer Road has been a changer for me and I am always motivate to get on the bike and do my next workout.
Now to compliment my Trainer Road workouts I also have Zwift! I was accepted into the beta program a week ago as a Mac tester (there have been Windows testers since Oct/Nov of last year). I don’t think I can do the Zwift experience any justice here, but it is a lot of fun and even if you just want to take an easy ride around the island you inevitably will find yourself going for one of the jerseys, closing the gap or just dropping other wheel suckers! I believe they call this the Zwift Effect. The best part is that I can use Trainer Road along with Zwift. I just do my normal TR workout while tooling around the island – trying hard to ignore the “competitions” and focusing on the workout but it does provide some relief and distraction from just watching numbers on the screen. Plus I have a good playlist that keeps me motivated as well.
Here is a screen shot from one of my first rides on the island. There was a bug this session and it seemed I was all alone on the island so it wasn’t hard for me to capture the orange jersey!
Zwift has become so popular that people are scheduling group and century rides. Also keep your eyes peeled while you are on the island because you may see the likes of Jens Voigt, Laurens Ten Dam and several other pros riding the island!
I can seriously see myself Zwifting during the warmer months if the weather turns foul or for an after work ride if I don’t beat the sunset.
Last but not least, I got me some new cycling kicks! I’ve been on the hunt to replace my current shoes for a while, not that there is anything wrong with them but I was looking for something more “road” oriented and a bit lighter. I was currently wearing a pair of Pearl Izumi X-Alps that I had from my mountain bike riding days and I stayed with SPD pedals on my CX bike so I just continued to use them. I do like the 2 bolt SPD system, it makes it easy when all bikes use the same type of pedals, so I wanted to stay with that system but with a less aggressive sole than most 2 bolt MTB shoes have. After a long search and a lot of research I decided on the Giro Empire VR90 shoes.
The styling of these shoes drew me in and I couldn’t get away. This shoe is essentially the same as the Empire road (3 bolt) shoes with a Vibram rubber lugged sole attached. The original Empires were developed by Giro for Taylor Phinney and has essentially become their flagship model with several other pros now wearing them. I was a little skeptical of the laces, but after a lot of research I put those fears to rest. They shoes just form to your foot, the laces don’t loosen up and once tied I have never felt the need to stop and readjust. They actually seem to get more comfortable each time I wear them. Weight for a size 42 is 315g, which makes them pretty light among cycling shoes. Along with the shoes comes a nice carry bag, 4 spikes with a wrench and 2 pairs of different sized arch supports (a third is in the shoes) so you can totally customize their fit. I’m enjoying these shoes so much I only wish I could wear them off the bike as well!
Since my last post I have been enjoying riding in 50-ish degree weather with the occasional dip into the high 40s with a bit of wind. Nothing that some arm & knee warmers, along with a good wind vest/jacket and some embro for the exposed legs couldn’t handle.
That was until this weekend when the temps dropped and the high of the day was about 39 degrees, although the rides started much closer to the 35 degree range. This mean full leg warmers, long sleeve jersey, warm jacket, toe covers, gloves and skull cap.
Saturday I managed about 20 miles with a midway stop for some hot coffee. I actually rode to a nearby park which has some open fields and single track in the woods to practice some ‘crossing skills. It was a bright sunny day out so it really didn’t feel all that cold out when you were in the sun.
Sunday, however, was a different story. The temps were about the same but the sun was hiding and it really felt brutal cold out there. After about 13 miles my toes were protesting, the light insulation of the toe covers just were not cutting it sans the sun. I called it quits earlier than anticipated but it was still a good ride exploring some new roads and climbs. This the highlights my need for some proper insulated shoe covers as well as insulated gloves. I have windstopper long finger gloves with a light insulation but while my digits weren’t suffering like my toes they could of been warmer.
Today we are supposed to be back into the 40-50 degree weather but it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Monday is usually my rest day anyway so no great loss. Unfortunately the temps wont stay that high for long as tomorrow the “real-feel” temp will be in the teens. When it’s that cold I’ll pass on the outdoor rides and will be hitting the trainer instead. I have a DVD of a century ride in CO which is fun to ride to, but I really can’t wait until I can use Zwift!