My Rides

Monday, January 31, 2011

FitDay Account

Been looking for something a little better than a spreadsheet to track nutrition, and found:
Very cool site.  Lets you log what you eat (choosing from their database, or adding your own food), and totals Calories, fat, protein, vitamins, etc.  Also lets you track your activities (i.e. cycling), and weight loss goals.  Appears to make cool reports & summaries (plots don't look like much with only 1 day's entry).  Apparently it also lets you track your mood & body measurements - I'll track happiness, clarity, and bicep size next year for all the ladies (shhh, don't tell Amy).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Saturday: Used to be a day to sleep in...

That was before kids, and before the older kid said:  "Daddy, when I'm big I want a big tummy like you!"  Now it's a day for 2.5 hours on the bike, with 60 minutes of intervals.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coming Soon: 1/X Games

T-shirt design coming soon!

First Ride: Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

Good eye!  Yes, those are "The Feynman Lectures on Physics" on the shelf, as well as a book titled "Random Data." 
Wow!  What a difference from the Trakstand Ultra.  Smooth and consistent.  The power curve starts & stays a little higher, but it's a very good fit for my gearing (22-32-44 Front, 12-36 Rear).  My workouts, so far, are done in the middle (32) ring up front, and the highest 3-4 gears in back (12-14-16-18).  With the Trakstand I was jumping into the big ring (44) for intervals, and back down for spinning - without a great chainline in either case.

Although the flywheels are similar mass, the Road Machine just feels smoother around the stroke.  Maybe it has more to do with the power curve progression (Road Machine is a little slower than the Trakstand), or a difference in how each type of resistance responds to the acceleration in my stroke.  With the Trakstand, after an interval I'd shift down, and would be bouncing in the saddle and have a hard time doing a smooth stroke.  Needless to say, at my weight bouncing in the saddle leaves my rear-end sore (I just tell myself the pain is a motivator to not be this weight).  With the Road Machine it's nice and smooth (it may be new-toy-bias, but I stood less in the ride to relieve pain, and feel better sitting here now).

Each interval I rode felt the same.  I felt a lot more confident in the number I saw when I looked from my speedometer to my power vs. speed chart taped to the wall by my bike.  On the Trakstand, assuming no glazing was present when I noted power, I was spinning at around 105 Watts.  On the Road Machine, which I place more trust in, I am spinning at 150 Watts (of course there could be some I-want-to-think-I'm-faster-bias).

The Road Machine also seems more stable.  On the Trakstand I always felt a lot of motion in the back, and heard creaking no matter how I adjusted the cones (that clamp the bike axle/quick-release into the trainer).  With the Road Machine it's "in there like swimwear" as long past co-worker liked to say (don't ask what that may mean, I never really got it - it just rhymes).

So, if the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is correct, today (week 7 of my program):

  • Endurance Miles (spinning):  135-155 Watts
  • Peak-Fade Intervals:  220-340 Watts

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trakstand Ultra Service

In my previous post you'll see I had trouble with my Blackburn trainer.  I missed most of my Saturday, and all of my Sunday workout & ordered a new trainer so I won't miss my Tuesday (tomorrow) workout.  Their customer service e-mailed the following recommended service.  I had been performing most of these steps, but I thought I'd pass on their advice because it's not part of the manual, but apparently something to be done "periodically." (I've organized/formatted into a bullet-list, and added my comments/observations)

  • Unbolt the RU (resistance unit) and clean the surface between the friction pad and flywheel with rubbing alcohol.
    • also check the friction pad for any shiny spots that might indicate "glazing" of a high spot that could be reducing friction. If there are any shiny spots, take a bit of medium grade sandpaper and wrap it around something flat and lightly sand them down. 
    • (below is what glazing looked like on mine, note the 3 "waves" - more on this later)
    • (I used 400 grit on a wood block, and wiped with alcohol after sanding, as well as before)
  • Remove the flywheel and clean the axle, and add a layer of grease on the shaft of the RU
  • Check the side with the 3 bearings to make sure there is only a light amount of grease on the balls and that they move freely in the ramps. Too much grease could cause uneven pressure, or changes in resistance, as the unit heated up. The balls should only have a light film of grease on them 
    • (When I disassembled mine, a second time, I noticed black rings in the ramps, and some black discoloration on one of the balls - I think things got hot, and a ball got stuck, causing the 3 waves of glazing...  I didn't want to apply "grease" if they can really get stuck so I put a light film of 10W-30 on the other set of balls, to use in a 2nd set of ramps to increase resistance, that come with the trainer)
    • (I cleaned the ramps with alcohol and a q-tip - I can still see some light rings - you can sort of see this in the picture below)
  • Look at the silicone rubber covers on the 3 pins that stick out of the Aluminum drum. The covers should be trimmed so that they are about 3-5mm shorter than the pins and push them on as far as possible.
    • (my covers were not 3-5 mm shorter than the pins - I trimmed them with a razor blade)

  • Slide the flywheel on and wipe off any excess (be sure not to get any on the resistance pad).  Reassemble the RU  per instructions. This should be done periodically.
    • (In my response I asked what to expect "periodically" to be, since the manual does not prescribe any periodic user service)
General notes/observations:
  • These are heat-related issues, glazing of the pads, and "scorching" of the bearings/ramps.  The friction plate has a lot less thermal mass than the flywheel, and lacks any heat-sinking (the friction plate is stationary).  I would suspect a 120mm CPU fan aimed at the friction plate and/or some simple CPU heat-sink(s) would help dissipate heat, and be a good work-around.  As far as heat in the fly-wheel - maybe it's reduced if the friction plate is cooler, maybe it needs its own fan.  I hate to re-engineer power dissipation on a product whose primary purpose is to dissipate power.
  • Except for the 1up USA Trainer (on which this one is based and/or the RU came from), I can't find other trainers that use this method of resistance.  Blackburn does not currently offer a model that uses this method of resistance.  Perhaps this is why.  You can see "evolution" of the current 1up Trainer's RU, so it seems to me some lessons were learned...  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Trainer

In the past couple of weeks, my aerobic speed went from 14 mph (80 watt - if the published power/speed data is to be believed) to 16 mph (>100 watt) on 1-2 hour Endurance Miles (EM) portion of my workouts.  I had read about my trainer (Blackburn Trakstand Ultra) having some varying resistance and therefore inconsistent power vs. speed behavior.  While still in the aerobic/lactate threshold part of my training, I took the trainer apart, inspected & cleaned (alcohol) the friction plate, and greased the drive-shaft as recommended by internet sages.  Before and after spins told me that my unit was working fine (no difference noted before/after)...

Since being reassured that my trainer is A-OK I've started my peak intervals (at/near VO2_max).  The promise of the training is that these peak intervals improve aerobic speed/power...  Well, after a week where I thought I was seeing rapid and very significant  improvements in my aerobic speed - I was riding at 21-22 mph (>200 watt) for an hour at heart-rate of 120-130! I decided to take apart my trainer, again, and double check that it's me making more power and not the trainer dissipating less.

I made this realization about my potential lack of awesome-ness about 15 minutes into a ride.  So, I dismantled the trainer, and noticed pretty obvious/visible glazing on the friction plate.

I wiped both the flywheel and friction plate with alcohol, then sanded with 400 grit paper on a block, from the center outward (seemed to make sense), then re-wiped.  After drying, everything looked like new.  After reassembling, sure enough my aerobic speed dropped back to about 16 mph.  Oh well...

After an hour of aerobic spinning, I started my intervals - 12 minute over-unders - Alternating 2 minutes @ lactate threshold (LT), 2 minutes climbing repeat (near to slightly above LT, but low cadence).

  • My speeds for the first 2 min / 2 min block were 21-22/22-23 mph.  
  • In the 2nd block, for the same heart-rate & perceived effort, speeds were 17-18/19-20 mph (OK, maybe things change after warm-up, no big deal).  
  • In the last 2 min /2 min the resistance severely dropped, and I was doing 25-27 mph and couldn't even do the climbing repeat (well I could, but it was no effort) - I was in the highest gear on my bike (44-12) and spinning 105 RPM @ 30 mph with my heart-rate dropping, when I'm supposed to spin @ 70-85 RPM (and I struggle to keep my heart-rate below the max).  
I slowed to my aerobic pace, took a bathroom break, and returned, hoping to find resistance had returned (and maybe I just needed a fan pointed at the resistance unit).  Nope, either I'm Lance Armstrong or this thing passed warmed-up to burned out...  (I was no Mellow Johnnny at this point)

I cleaned and re-assembled the unit, again, but same thing - the friction plate quickly glazes at speeds over 16 mph.  I put in the extra bearings (to increase the resistance, in spite of the glazing), but at this point my workout was upset, and I don't have the patience to try to re-engineer the thing to maintain my workout schedule.  Maybe I'll find some help from Blackburn's customer service...

I'd like to move to training with power (vs. heart-rate) for all the reasons experts advise.  I know I can't expect great absolute accuracy without a power-meter, but I should at least be able to expect some consistency...

A little research reveals the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is very accurate/repeatable, as well as reliable.  They state:  "Only fluid trainer with measurable, repeatable power curve."  You can click the word "power curve" and actually find a power curve.  Elsewhere on the site, they offer the formula, with coefficients, their trainer is calibrated/designed to follow.
"...using the following cubic function: P = (5.244820) * S + (0.01968) * S3. S=speed in miles per hour, P=power in Watts"
Not that this formula is anything new or mysterious - you can find it on wikipedia - but finding it actually published, and easy to find, by the people making a product is reassuring.  Getting the same for my Blackburn took considerable hunting and downloading to find.  I ordered one today, and it will be here for my Tuesday workout.  Hopefully Blackburn can help me at least get my former trainer in good shape as a back-up.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interval Workout Charts

Made a program in octave that lets me input parameters of a workout from Chris Carmichael's "Time Crunched Cyclist", and it gives me these cool plots to use so I can see, at a glance, my target heart-rate and cadence during the workout.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wheel Building

Built my 2nd wheel a couple of weeks ago.  Cycling, for me, is as much about the adventure and exercise as it is about the "tech hobby" part of it.  There are things to tune, tweak, adjust and "improve."  Components to upgrade & put on lists.  There's modeling and simulation (I hope to put together simple sims of power required for a given pace based on elevation profile).

Wheel building is something I was close to doing back in college (14 years ago).  I got Jobst Brandt's book "The Bicycle Wheel", and then it just sat on a shelf.  A box fell off a shelf in the garage and put me in the position to need a new wheel.

I stressed about not having a truing stand, but couldn't bring myself to:
  1. Spend $200 for the Park TS-2
  2. Spend 1/2 that for the others that didn't seem as well engineered (from the limited glimpse online)
I set out to follow the book's instructions to get to the stage of truing by tone, and then take it into a shop for final truing.  The whole process of lacing and tensioning was pretty simple and logical.  The only mistake I made was not lacing the outbound under the last spoke (30 minutes to correct).

When I got to that stage, I dropped it in my frame, and noticed that the frame is symmetrical, so I ran to the garage and got a small combination square.  I centered/trued it up using that, and still thought there was enough slop that I wouldn't be happy (and I'd either need a shop, or a stand).  I got out my biggest tire - a Schwalbe Big Apple 29x2.35.  It rubbed the frame on the sprocket side, so I had to re-center the wheel 1-2mm, but after that I'm pretty happy - I have the same 2-3mm either side of that fat tire...  I've ridden that wheel for a season with only minor truing (1/2 turn or less).  I don't know that I've got it up to the tension/strength the rim will support.

BOM for wheels built so far:

Off-Road Monster

  • Salsa Gordo 36H
  • Shimano M756 (XT) 36H
  • Wheelsmith DB (288mm) Spokes
  • Wheelsmith Brass Nipples
  • Velox Rim Tape (22mm)
  • Shimano 11-34 cassette (will change to 12-36)
Trainer-Road Wheel

  • WTB Dual-Duty FR 32H
  • Shimano M475 32H
  • Wheelsmith DB (288 & 290 mm) Spokes
  • Wheelsmith Brass Nipples
  • Velox rim tape (16mm)
  • Shimano 12-36 cassette (love these ratios)

I love the look of the black rim & hub, and the silver/stainless spokes & nipples.  I'll post some pictures and some recordings of the "plucks."

Friday, January 14, 2011


Planning to enter several mountain bike races as a beginner this spring/summer/fall.  This is my health/fitness outlet - long overdue.  Got a Cannondale 29er hard-tail a few years ago.  Rode each summer without any plan, determination or structure, and had some fun.

Now it's time to turn the corner and get in shape, and have some serious fun.  Been watching Lance in Le Tour, and in Leadville and got motivated.  My goal, since last year, is to ride in the Leadville 100 ( mountain bike race in August 2012.

As I get into a structured endurance cycling training program - from Chris Carmichael's "Time Crunched Cyclist" - and start to look at local races to prepare me, I realize that it may be a little further away than 2012.  We'll see.    There are some pretty cool local endurance events that I expect will leave a "clydesdale" like myself pretty satisfied.

I'm 6 weeks into Chris' "New Competitor" program and already my aerobic pace (at HR 120-140) my speed on the trainer has increased from 12-14 mph to 15-16.5 mph.  I'll have to get power data on my trainer to know what that means.

So, events planned for this year:

A quote/saying I invented:

I don't mind helping you juggle as long as you don't mistake me for a clown.