Swap from rear wheel to KICKR without adjustment

Has this ever happened to you? You have a KICKR, LeMond Revolution or other smart trainers with integrated cassette and every time you change your bike from trainer to wheel you need to adjust the limit screws on the rear derailleur?

You could just put a 30-year-old steel-framed bike and fit spare parts and stuff you were lucky enough to get for free and somehow got working together. But it might be easier to match the alignment of wheel and trainer.

Cassette locknut to axle locknut is the key

The rear dropout presses against an axle locknut AND Shimano 10-speed cassettes have the same spacing; MTB and road.

So the position of the cassette relative to the edge of the axle locknut must be the same on your rear wheel as on the KICKR… or close enough. That means that the cogs will be in the same position above the derailleur in each gear too.

From https://www.sheldonbrown.com/cribsheet-spacing.html

Brand and model Center-to-center
Spacing
Sprocket Thickness Spacer Thickness Total Width
Shimano
10-speed
3.95 mm 1.6 mm 2.35 mm 37.2 mm

Measuring

A vernier caliper makes this easy, but any good metal rule with fine markings will work.

IMG_3783 (2)
Vernier flush against the axle locknut, probe against the cassette locknut – 2.8mm

Measure the rear wheel and then the KICKR and calculate the difference. I used the edge of the cassette locknut, being careful to avoid the taper. You could use the flat of the smallest cog; just be consistent.

Start with the rear wheel

(The rear wheel must be true and centred on its axle.)

Adjust the derailleur for the rear wheel first. Sweet shifting on the road is the most important benchmark. Check that the cage doesn’t interfere with spokes in the lowest gear or the chain stays in the highest.

Space the KICKR’s cassette to match

Add or remove spacers from the KICKR to match the rear wheel closely. Shimano 10-speed cassette spacers are available in 1mm and 1.85mm sizes, though I’m sure I have a 0.5mm one somewhere.

Fit the KICKR and check the shifting

Shifting should be the same on road and on the KICKR. Some fine-tuning at the barrel adjuster  may be necessary

The cassettes can be different; I had a 28T-11 on my KICKR and a 32T-11 on my wheel without a problem. As long as your derailleur can take up the chain on both, it will work.

Marginal gains – little things to try

If the shifting is close but not quite the same, you should look for other differences. For example, I found two other factors on my bike that had a minor effect, including a problem where my long cage derailleur touched the KICKR case in my lowest gear.

Protruding dropout screws

The screws holding the dropout were protruding and pressing against the axle locknut on the KICKR, but not so much on the rear wheel. That millimetre or so was enough to affect the angle of the derailleur cage on the KICKR. I filed the screws down to sit flush. The other benefit is that the locknut now sits squarely against the dropout and not just on a few stress points.

IMG_3779 (2)
Tiny QR skewer nut and the very tiny dropout screws (Trek Domane)
IMG_3781 (2)
Dropout screws filed flush. Note: the axle locknut had been touching the screws

Big, old quick release skewer is more powerful?

I suspect that it takes more effort to close a lightweight QR skewer compared to a big, old QR. So it is easier to put more clamping force on the KICKR than on your rear wheel. I can’t directly measure the difference; I just noticed that the derailleur cage moved inwards more after clamping on the KICKR. A slight reduction in force made a difference without compromising the connection to the trainer.

Or use an old bike

Enough with the advice. Time to play TrainerRoad on my 30-year-old steel-framed ‘ute’ with 10-speed spare parts and free bits.

IMG_3785 (2)
Barely any space between the smallest cog and the dropout adapter!

Fitz’s Challenge – This Fitz just got real

That was a ride and a half!

I knew that the 165km and 3000m of climbing would be a stretch, which is why I entered. I’m not much of a climber yet, but I do prefer long distances to short sprints.

The weather did not help. (Maybe a slight NW tailwind on some of the out climbs.) Early morning rain dampened the road making drafting sometimes splashy. The road was not so wet to be slippery.

Calm, humid and overcast; unusual conditions for Fitz’s. I recorded 12° at the start and about 20° by mid-morning. It dropped to 12° again just before Cotter and the second last climb.

The return was into the teeth of a 35-40km/h NW winds with gusts of 65km/h. Steve drafted me back, but I couldn’t avoid the big hits.

Then the rain. With about 35km to go it started. Big drops right in the face. Shoes full of water, face full of grit, drenched and getting cold.

Personal Records – Climbs

When Dave flatted at the top of Mt MacDonald, Stu and I kept going. I rode ahead to the Gravel Pit (33km) on my own. Steve and Dave wanted to keep rolling, so Stu and I jumped on. Somehow I got to Tharwa first. So I’m quite happy with the PRs I set, including this lot.

  • Pierces Creek 8:37 > 7:26
  • Break My Spirit 14:01 > 12:30
  • Paddys River Rd Climb 9:48 > 8:25
  • Fitz’s Climb 23:39 > 22:41
  • Cotter Climb to Stromlo KOM 27:50 > 26:52

top-of-fitzs-hill

Personal Records – Descents

Since Steve Richardson told me to not attack descents but to tuck and recover, I’ve been posting some of my best times. More importantly, I’ve been able to recover and lower my heart rate ready for the next climb.

It does make riding in a group difficult. I’m slow on the climbs but very fast on the descents. Sometimes I waited for the others to catch up. Sometimes I caught riders who had been minutes ahead. 

On Fitz’s Descent I did a 2:04 at an average of 71.9km/h, for a ranking of 30/2138. For Vmax Strava says 94.3km/h but my Garmin says 95.5km/h, which is the figure I’m going with.

Didi’s granddaughter is all grown up!

No photographic evidence, unfortunately. Photographers appear at the top of a few climbs to catch those magic moments when your heart is thumping and your tongue is hanging out. As if to reinforce these feelings, the photographer on Paddy’s River Road had a companion in the shape of what could only be described as an unfeasibly sexy young lady in an unremittingly sexy devil’s costume, with trident. She whispered words of encouragement as I passed. It may have been a Halloween promotion. Or a ruse from the photographer to get lots of photos of pounding hearts and tongues hanging out.

tour-de-france-devil-didi-diablo-01
This is Didi. He encourages cyclists. His ‘granddaughter’ achieves the same, but with more subtle methods.

Fitz’s is not the only hill

After Fitz’s Hill lies 14km of climbs before the turnaround. The last climb is marked as 2.2km at 5.8%. That belies how steep the climb gets in between the brief flats. I measured 17% a few times. Arguably tougher than Fitz’s Hill.

Then there’s the 1.3km 7.3% climb out of the recovery zone! There were walkers on that hill.

Recovery

I feel better after this year’s 165 than after last year’s 105. Admittedly, hot temperatures take more out of you than cold, but so does the wind. I just rode smarter this year.

My back and knees hurt and for some reason I got up at 5:00 to write this, which indicates a certain amount of discomfort. But my muscles feel good. I’ve just ridden the toughest imperial century in Australia and it feels like a normal, long, hard ride.

l’etape should be a doddle.

Nice things

Roads are not closed during the event and there are no alternative routes. But this year there was a 60km/h limit along the entire length and Police motos for enforce it. There seemed to be less traffic this year and it was generally more pleasant on the road.

Climbing Pierce’s Creek I was overtaken (no surprise!). I looked across to see a girl on a flat-bar bike wearing a school tunic. I was not expecting that! As she passed I saw the poster for ‘bikes for girls in Africa’, who give bikes to girls so that they can go to school much faster and safer than walking. There are several such organisations and I’m not sure which one she was representing so I won’t add a link. Just look for the cyclist wearing a school uniform and going faster than you and ask them.

At the finish I noticed a pregnant woman had also completed the 165km. That will be a great story for the baby book.

The sun came out for a few minutes on the Cotter Road climb. (That’s it.)

210km Fitz’s Epic next year?

That’s a big step up. We’ll see.

 

Fitz’s Challenge – Classic 165km preparation

Apparently one is not supposed ride the 165km Fitz’s Classic as one’s first imperial century. Instead I should find a flat 161km event and pootle around. Something in my favour this year is that I will be riding as a group of four; among which is a 30-time Fitz’s veteran. The support, guidance and morale-boosting will be invaluable.

Well… I missed my 15kg weight loss target by about 12kg. I haven’t retested my FTP since September, but I suspect it has improved.

I have made some effort. I have ridden some famous climbs for the first time, including Red Hill, Mt Majura, Mt Pleasant and a successful summit of Fitz’s Hill a month ago. I’m not overawed by it, but it certainly demands respect, especially as it is after 70km.

Looking back at last year’s post mortem (numbered below), I have some updates and improvements for this year (bullet points).

  1. Indoor trainers teach continuous pedalling.  You can’t underestimate the efforts that your legs, feet, bum and gentleman’s area go through on a long ride without traffic lights and intersections.
    • True that. My legs don’t fatigue like they used to. I can turn for 2 hours without stopping.
    • There is always tension on the chain at the set power level, whereas on the road the freewheel doesn’t tension the chain. Perhaps legs become more circular indoors?
    • Three words: Aussie Butt Cream
  2. Strava arm warmers will also keep you cool in hot weather and free from sunburn.  I have slivers of burn on the tiny gaps between my gloves and sleeves.
    • I found Bontrager arm covers that are thin and cool but SPF50+
  3. I need something under my helmet to prevent “horns” from being burnt into my forehead.
  4. And something to stop sweat pouring into my eyes on descents.
    • Ditto on the skullcap.
  5. Load the course into your Garmin.  Knowing what you are about the face and how long you need to face it is very good for pacing and confidence.
    • Done
    • I would have liked to have trialled the course on my KICKR.
  6. If the course is not downloadable from the ride website, try www.plotaroute.com or similar.
    • I copied it from a friend who completed it last year.
  7. Prepare your bike.  My tyres were new, I degreased the drive-train before full tuning, brakes were tightened for fast response.  My KMC chain doesn’t like my Ultegra top jockey wheel, but at least I never missed a shift.
    • I just discovered that the KMC catches the next cog on the Deore cassette slightly every half-rotation, which explains the noise.
    • Ultegra chain also catches, by to a far lesser degree. Shifting is sweet.
    • Tyres aren’t new, but I found two tyres that were in good condition.
    • Tioga tubes are hopeless. Replaced all around with tubes that lose 1psi per day, not every 5 minutes.
  8. Keep it steady for the first third.  If you feel good, then push it.
    • The group shall.
  9. Ride at your pace.  Jump on a train if you can, but don’t burn up trying to stay on.
    • The group shall.
  10. Eat and drink regularly.
    • I’ve got gels, salt tablets, seaweed strips from the Kyoto Marathon.
  11. Some drivers have no idea about overtaking.
    • Safety in numbers
  12. Motorcyclists have more respect for cyclists than drivers do.
  13. Have fun.

We’ll found out tomorrow. Weather should be OK for the out, but expecting a big NW headwind and possible rain for the return. I’ll earn it.

Time Series Errors in Garmin Activities

The short guide to fixing time series errors

When uploading to Strava you may get an error that the “time series” is missing and your workout cannot be uploaded. This can even happen after Garmin Connect has successfully loaded from the same device; but the strange time and straight-line graphs hint that something wasn’t right.

You can export the TCX file and edit it to remove the error and then upload the corrected version.

The TCX file is in XML format. It may look scary, but there is a simple pattern: each data point is enclosed within a “Trackpoint” tag.  Your recordings will have more or less tags depending on the sensors being recorded.

<Trackpoint>

<Time>2014-03-10T02:36:23.000Z</Time>
<Position> <LatitudeDegrees>-35.30690263956785</LatitudeDegrees> <LongitudeDegrees>149.08046174794436</LongitudeDegrees>
</Position>
<AltitudeMeters>579.5999755859375</AltitudeMeters> <DistanceMeters>59299.0</DistanceMeters>
<HeartRateBpm> <Value>171</Value> </HeartRateBpm>
<Cadence>77</Cadence>
<Extensions>
<TPX xmlns="http://www.garmin.com/xmlschemas/ActivityExtension/v2"> <Speed>5.556000232696532</Speed> </TPX>
</Extensions>

</Trackpoint>

But how do you find the time?

The “Time” tag has the date and time. Sometimes the date can leap into the future. (I’ve never noticed time jumping.)  For example, <Time>2014-03-10T02:36:28.000Z</Time> leapt ten years ahead at the next recording point <Time>2024-05-20T02:36:38.000Z</Time> on one of my rides. It took me 18,000 hours to cross a 100m long bridge, which was the first sign of trouble. 

Fix it

  1. Open the file in Notepad (or similar text editor)
  2. Scroll to the end of the file and look for a time tag and copy the dodgy date.
  3. Scroll to the top of the file
  4. Find (CTRL + F) and paste the date.  Click find to look for the first instance of the dodgy date.
  5. Replace (CTRL + H) the dodgy date with the correct date and replace all.
  6. Save As… select All Files, amend the filename, but keep the TCX extension.  (If you don’t deselect “Text (.TXT)” you’ll get a text file that will not upload to Strava.)
  7. Upload the file to Strava.

Does Garmin Express and Modern Garmin Connect suck? Then this might help

I’ve been using Garmin Connect for several months; firstly with the Garmin Fit iPhone app and later with a Garmin Edge 500.  I have been logging in to Garmin Connect and connecting the 500 by USB for upload.  And then repeat to upload to Strava.  (The 510 and 810 can connect by wi-fi to a phone and upload from there.)

Garmin recently updated the Connect website with spiffy, new features and a clean, new look.  However, it thought best to remove the upload button, apparently to reclaim valuable screen space.  To upload (or sync) to the Modern Garmin Connect, one must install the Garmin Express application.  Since Garmin Express works for my Nüvi navi and handles syncing and software updates in one place, it seemed reasonable to use instead of the old MyGarmin dashboard.

But the 500 worked once with Garmin Express, syncing to both Connect and Strava.

The next time I tried Garmin Express, the time zone software update appeared for installation, even though I had installed it the old-fashioned way with MyGarmin after it had failed.  Sync failures would be explained as the PC not finding an ANT+ adapter, which is applicable to the Forerunner range.  Since the 500 was connected by USB, an ANT+ Adapter is irrelevant.

The workaround was to temporarily revert Garmin Connect to its ‘classic’ view with upload button.  But the classic view won’t last forever.

Was the Garmin Communicator browser plug-in clashing with Garmin Express, as some forums suggested?

The solution came by installing the ANT Agent from Garmin, which made Garmin Express happy.  The ANT Agent will display a warning that it can’t find the ANT adapter.  Ignore this error, since now your Garmin Edge 500 (or other device connected by USB) will be recognised.  Possibly.

Syncing from Garmin Express will upload to Garmin, just as nature intended.

I hope that helps.  I hope it works.

UPDATE: July 2015

Forget all of that.  Uninstall Garmin ANT Agent and any other Garmin plugins and whatnot.  The latest versions work.  Since a few updates ago, the Garmin Connect and Garmin Express combination appear to be working according to spec.  Sometimes it takes its time to recognise my 500, sometimes it forgets to auto-upload to Strava and sometimes it auto-uploading everything twice, but it is working.

I have Garmin Communicator Plugin 32-bit and x64 v4.1.0, Garmin Express 4.1.3.0 and Garmin USB Drivers v 2.3.1.0 (to support a Garmin USB ANT+ adapter).

I cracked the ton! Backwards

For the first time in… not sure… I weigh less than 100kg.  The numbers from the Tanita body composition scale are:

  • 99.2kg
  • 24.3 % body fat (still a bit high, but trending well)
  • 3.9kg bone mass (sometimes 4.0, sometimes 3.9)
  • visceral fat 13 (normal range 1-14)
  • muscle mass 71.1kg (this seems a little low, there’s at least that much in my legs alone)

I should qualify the achievement by saying that this month has been quite stressful (my lost passport was only replaced today!) so I haven’t been eating as heartily as “normal”. But I haven’t been skipping meals or avoiding the odd glass of wine either.

Remember, my numbers from 13 months ago were 115kg and 30%. In fact, I just noticed that on 1 August 2013 I bounced up to 110.4kg and stayed above 108kg until mid-September. No wonder people are telling me I’ve lost weight recently. I’ve been looking across 13 months of slow improvements and not noticing the recent changes.

BTW, I am making no promises about my numbers after 3 weeks of earnest eating and drinking in Japan. Any bets?

Cycling – 12 months on (belated)

For many years my Cannondale mountain bike remained dormant (fallow, having a spell) while I contemplated selling it.  It was fun to ride cross country on rough grass fields, but every time I tried any type of dirt riding I felt like I was too high and too ungainly to be safe. That changed on 31 December 2012 when I ventured onto the fire trails near my house and was hooked. I was very sore, but vowed to keep it up.

On 1 January 2012 I tracked my ride with MapMyRide (since converted and uploaded to Strava) and explored more of Mulligan’s Flat.  The initial fire trail gave way to narrow tyre tracks and loose quartz on steep (to me) climbs.  Despite bursting my lungs and frying my legs I was getting into it.

Mulligans Flat – 12 months on

To celebrate New Year’s I retraced the route from 12 months before.  I probably rode at 80% effort to maintain a steady pace and not redline.  So how did I do compared to last year? About 40% faster!

  1. Kangawallafox Climb 5:52 to 3:55
  2. Mulligan Downhill 1:58 to 1:36
  3. Left Coach to Standup 6:11 to 4:06. Considering that the fast, hard clay downhill section was metalled and had rain bars cut in during September and used to be a top gear run, that’s a very good performance.
  4. Standup 1:12 to 0:38

12 months of change

It’s easy to have huge gains in the first year, especially from a low base of activity and fitness, but that’s no reason not to celebrate:

  • Weight fell from 115kg to 103kg
  • Body fat fell from 30% to 26.5%
  • Visceral fat fell from 15 (bottom of unhealthy range) to 14 (in the healthy range, just)

Fitness gains weren’t obvious until October and my weight plateaued at 105kg.  While my times were getting faster my heart rate remained high even on medium-high efforts.  Suddenly I was smashing out times equal or better than previous bests but with heart rate 10-20bpm lower.  I even rode a very steep section between Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura, hit 195bpm at the steepest section and my heart rate dropped to 170bpm as the slope moderated slightly to the peak.

12 months of learning

Things that you learn, often the hard way.  Fortunately, there’s help around if you ask and are lucky to have willing coaches.

  • Road/MTB: Correct position on the bike is vital.  The wrong position will cause pain, suffering and general hatred of cycling.  Get measured by an expert and take their advice.
  • Adjust gradually.  Don’t make too many adjustments too far too quickly.
  • Road: If you are not a supremely-fit and flexible athlete or sponsored, get an endurance bike.  You will be faster because you will be more comfortable.
  • MTB: Tyre pressure makes a big difference.  I’m still quite heavy so I leave 35-40psi in tubed tyres.
  • MTB: It is the opposite of what seems right, but put weight on the front wheel.  Grip and cornering confidence will result.  The back wheel can work out things for itself.  Often.
  • Road/MTB: Ride with others.  Whether they are faster or slower or at the same level matters not.  Riding with someone else makes the distance shrink, is safer and the coffee tastes better.  You’ll learn from others and learn more about your own riding too.  Just make sure that at least one of you is carrying a puncture repair kit and a pump.
  • Always offer help to fellow cyclists in need.
  • Don’t be afraid to extend yourself.  It’s only too far and too fast and too difficult until you do it.  My longest ride sat at 70km for months until I almost doubled it to 133km on a Saturday morning for fun.

And for 2014?

For 201, I shall be mostly riding, Audax.  Plodding along over great distances suits me more than racing.  So I’m considering several 100km events this year, culminating in a crack at Fitz’s Challenge.  I just have to learn how to climb unremitting hills.

So, what will you be doing this year?

Calculating the ideal weight for cycling (UPDATED)

English: The graph shows the correlation betwe...
The graph shows the correlation between body mass index (BMI) and percent body fat (%BF) for men in NCHS’ NHANES III 1994 data. The body fat percent shown uses the method from Romero-Corral et al. to convert NHANES BIA to %BF (June 2008). “Accuracy of body mass index in diagnosing obesity in the adult general population”. International Journal of Obesity 32 (6) : 959–956. DOI:10.1038/ijo.2008.11. PMID 18283284. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[This is adapted from the article Let there be Light by Selene Yaeger published in the Autumn 2013 edition of Ride magazine.]

What’s an ideal weight?

That very much depends on what you are doing.  Carrying a few kilos is fine for recreational cyclists (in fact, a little fat is usually better than next to none); however, a lower weight will help you become competitive and climb like a tiny Columbian, allegedly.  Since every extra kilogram above my ideal weight will make me 20-25s slower for each kilometre of a climb [Hunter Allen], then I need to figure out my ideal weight.  And reach it.  Here are the 3 methods and 3 rationales to determine ideal weight:

  1. Losing a bit of weight;
  2. Getting lean and a little mean;
  3. Competing at a high level.

What about BMI?

Body Mass Index is a fairly blunt instrument and much older than you might think.  Here is a mathematician tearing into it.

SIR – The body-mass index that you (and the National Health Service) count on to assess obesity is a bizarre measure. We live in a three-dimensional world, yet the BMI is defined as weight divided by height squared. It was invented in the 1840s, before calculators, when a formula had to be very simple to be usable. As a consequence of this ill-founded definition, millions of short people think they are thinner than they are, and millions of tall people think they are fatter. 

Nick Trefethen 
Professor of numerical analysis
University of Oxford
 

The Economist 5 January 2013

Wii Fit using a BMI of 21 expects me to aim for 83.5kg.  Starting from 115kg on 1 January 2013 it didn’t look like that was physically possible.  When I was quite thin about 15 years ago I was 90kg!

Using the slightly more realistic BMI range of 18.5 to 25 from the Heart Foundation’s handy calculator, at 195cm tall that gives a range of 72 to 95kg.  More realistic, but a bit vague. See also New BMI Calculator (below)

There are alternatives to the BMI that are better at determining risk factors of obesity, including two that only need a tape measure.  Or I could use three that are a more accurate.

1. Ride more weight less

The first method assumes that you are riding recreationally, maybe you used to ride a lot or perhaps you are trying to lose some weight to gain performance.  This formula is more advanced than BMI, but not by a lot.

Step Men Women
1 Baseline 48kg for the first 152cm 45.5kg for the first 152cm
+ 1.06kg for each extra cm + 0.9kg for each extra cm

Weight

 kg  kg
2 Frame size  

Height

>165cm <158 158-165 >165

Wrist

14-16.5cm Small <14 <15.2 <15.9 Small
16.5-19cm Medium 14-14.6 15.2-15.9 15.9-16.5 Medium
>19cm Large >14.6 >15.9 >16.5 Large

Frame

3 Ideal weight Small Baseline -10% Small Baseline -10%
Medium Baseline Medium Baseline
Large Baseline +10% Large Baseline +10%
My Ideal Weight (for now) is…  kg  kg

Step 1 is a fairly simple calculation based on averages.

Step 2 takes into account your inherent body shape, good for 10% adjustment either way.  The adjustment for women is more complex by virtue of a bigger range of shapes.

Step 3 is to compare the calculated amount with your current weight.

Based on 195cm my baseline weight is 94kg.  My wrist is 19cm which is a large frame (just), so I can add 10% to take my ideal weight to 103kg.

Interpretation

I’m now 104-105kg (down from 115kg at the start of the year) so what does this mean?  I’m interpreting this as indicating the end of the first stage towards fitness in readiness for more intensity.

And if the weight calculated is less than your current weight, then you need to move to the next formula.

2. Body Fat Percentage

Let’s say that you are riding several times a week, training for an endurance event, you want to change your body composition for more power, or you current weight is below the ideal weight calculated above.

The healthy body fat range is 10 to 25% for men and 18 to 30% for women.  Too little fat can compromise your immune system, so less is not always more.

Step
 1 Measure your Current body fat %
 2 Goal body fat % Male 10-25% / Female 18-30%
3 Current weight x Body Fat Percentage Mass of body fat in kg
4 Current weight – mass of body fat Lean body mass in kg
5 (1 – Goal body fat %) Proportion of lean body
Result Lean body mass ÷ proportion of lean body [step 5] Ideal weight

If I use 27% as current body fat (average of recent measurements by a Tanita BC-522 scale) and 20% as my goal and 105kg as my weight, I have about 28kg of fat, 77kg lean.  From that my calculated weight is about 96kg.

Interpretation

This weight looks like a next step.  Assuming that I reach 103kg (see above) shortly, then 96kg should come with increased training.  That goal seems achievable by not being that far away and would be expected after an increase in training that I was about to undertake anyway.

3. Competitive streak (not bacon)

This is one’s “fighting weight”.  If you are not going for the highest level of the sport, then this weight will be a step too far.  If you focussed only on dropping to this weight you may actually lose power in the process!  But let’s do the sums and see what happens.

The creator of the Cycling Bible series coach Joe Friel analysed top cyclists to see what weight they carried per centimetre of height and found this range:

  • Male – 375g to 430g per cm
  • Female – 340g to 394g per cm

This empirical measure can’t explain everything (Cadel Evans is as wide as both Schleck brothers side-by-side!) but with statistical methods and a big sample you get very close. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_the_crowd#Classic_examples

So at 195cm the male weight range is 73 – 84kg.  Sampling the Tour de France squads, all but one rider near 195cm fits in that range:

  • Michael Schär BMC – 196cm 74kg
  • Bjorn Thurau Europcar – 193cm 78kg
  • Laurent Mangel FDJ – 195cm 83kg
  • Johan Vansummeren Garmin-Sharp – 197cm 79kg
  • Olivier Kaisen Lotto-Belisol – 195cm 82kg
  • Mercel Sieberg Lotto-Belisol – 198cm 82kg
  • Stijn Vandenburgh Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 199cm 83kg
  • Jens Mouris Orica-Greenedge – 197cm 91kg (!)
  • Christian Knees Sky Procycling – 194cm 81kg
  • Mirko Selvaggi Vacansoleil-DCM 195cm 73kg

4. New BMI calculator

While its author warns that the new BMI is still just one number, and that he is just a mathematician, the new formula at least normalises for height.

  • Current formula: BMI = weight/height2
  • New formula: BMI = 1.3 * weight/height2.5

Based on the new BMI Calculator I return to the Healthy range at 102.1kg.

Conclusion

It has been interesting to break up weight loss into goals that align to purpose and intensity of an activity.  Telling me to drop to 83.5kg from my former weight of 115kg is just absurd, even if Wii Fit Board is cute when he says that with a smile.  But if I make that weight via 103kg and 96kg, then 84kg seems reasonable; as long as I accept that I will be riding in most of my spare time every week and I’d better start racing to make it worthwhile.  I could ramp up to that.  Or I could slack off and be satisfied with something in the low 90’s and thighs that could break macadamias.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

Mental anguish from a lack of riding

Oh the irony… just as I seem to be making gains in strength and fitness, I’m off the bike because of illness. Not in sub-zero conditions, fog or the exhaustion of exertion, but just at the start of Spring weather.
A bug, maybe two bugs; chest and stomach. There have been so many good rides in the past three weeks and I have had to stay away from all of them. Most disappointing was missing The Berm ride of the Canberra Centenary Trail; 140km in one day. I’m currently missing the first day of a two-day ride of the same trail.
The stomach bug has left me quite crook in the mornings, but generally not too bad. The sniffles and slight asthma symptoms have been annoying rather than debilitating. I suspect that I have greater lung capacity that has compensated for the congestion.
The worst effects have been mental. I am serious missing out on the feelings of pleasure and pain. I am seriously going spare waiting to get back on a bike.
By the same token, staying off the bike has been useful Despite the lack of activity, I’ve lost 1-2kg over these weeks but I’m sure that my leg muscles have more definition.
My first ride will be tomorrow at the Onyabike Giant Demo Day at Mt Stromlo, where I’ll try the 27.5 versions of the Trance and XTC; my first hardtail. I would like to have a few lazy k’s in my legs before attempting a serious ride, but a quick ride tonight is probably all that I’ll get.
New goal: Before the centenary year is out I must complete the Centenary Trail.
No ride, no life.

Keeping track of cycling and training

I’m starting to get a bit serious about cycling.  It’s one thing to ride every weekend (regardless of weather) and put down the k’s, it’s another to establish a training program.

(Spoiler alert: I do not have a fully-fledged training program yet, but I’m getting together the pieces.)

Tracking

A fairly simple step is to track activity.  I’ve used MapMyRide, Strava and now Garmin Fit to keep track of my rides.  My current preference is Garmin Fit because it is easy in Australia to find accessories that are compatible with it, whereas both MapMyRide and Strava work with proprietary adapters. (That’s probably true of the Garmin too, but at least I can get Garmin stuff.)

Sharing with others is not essential.  Websites will not compare your times to others if you mark your rides as ‘private’, so you won’t know where you sit in the pack.  I suggest that you keep rides public.  If you are at the back of the pack, so what!  I tend to be at the rear for climbs, but nearer the front on flat or downhill sections.  What does that tell me?

Recording

The parameters that you record will have a big impact on what you can analyse.  The combination of parameters may even influence the accuracy of the analysis:

  • Speed, distance and time can be recorded on a classic cycle computer for a few bucks.  You could fiddle and produce an upload file for analysis, but just buy a GPS device instead.
  • Using GPS gives position at a given time and therefore speed, distance and time second by second.  You also get elevation over time, which means slope or grade. With grade and distance you can see climbs in terms of category.
  • Cadence is the rotational speed of your pedalling measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).  Most cheap cycle computers have cadence.  Knowing your cadence on a road bike is especially useful when attempting endurance rides, where a high cadence usually means longer endurance.  On a mountain bike cadence is trickier to maintain because of the variation in terrain and speed.
  • Knowing your Heart Rate is very important for training.  Understanding which heart rate zone you are in will have a big impact on the effectiveness of your training.
  • Power is useful, but very expensive to monitor.  Some indoor trainers can be used to measure power as a function of speed, load and cadence.  But to measure on the bike, you are looking at $1600-2000 for pedal, crank or hub sensors.

Analysis

If you rode the same route on a few occasions, then your best time would mean the fastest and the best ride, right?  But what if one day the traffic light faeries were smiling, the traffic was light and you didn’t have to stop or even slow down.  The total time taken is not a reliable guide.

However, your times on a defined section of road (or track) are comparable and often give a good indication of performance.  As you improve from fitness or technique, you’ll find yourself beating old times or matching old times with

MapMyRide, Strava and Garmin Connect all have graphs and averages and maps and stuff.  It is up to your taste which one suits you.  I liked MapMyRide, but the website was clunky (since improved).  I used Strava app on iPhone until I bought the Garmin ABT+ adapter that it wouldn’t recognise.  So now I use Garmin Fit on iPhone and upload the GPX files to Strava with premium membership.  The extra features are just about worth it, especially if you have a heart rate monitor and/or power meter.

BTW, using Garmin Fit as my app means that I can’t see live Strava segment times.  Probably for the best that I just ride steadily and not try to beat a particular time.

Yes, but how did you feel about that?

I’m starting to record how I felt during the ride as a score out of 10.  This can be more useful than time.  If you feel crappy, then there may be something wrong with your training, position on the bike, clothing or general mental well-being.    Some days you should stay off the bike and some days being on the bike can make it better.

Hint: I get cheered up whenever a warm breeze blows, as one did on an otherwise cold and calm Canberra morning last Tuesday (scored 9/10).  The trick is to keep up there even when the breeze turns cold.

Recently I’ve been up and down in how I’m feeling but my times have been my best or close to my best.  And I’ve re-based the score so an old 10/10 is now 7.5/10 to give me a bit more room at the top.

Coach

As luck would have it, my boss is not only a racer on- and off-road but also a level 2 accredited cycling coach.  It has been great to discuss my weekend’s riding and get expert analysis.  Every week I’ve been able to make a little change or notice a subtle difference, whether it be maintaining high cadence or knowing what part of a climb to attack.

I also subscribe to http://www.cycling-inform.com for tips.  I haven’t bought any of their training packages yet, but the combination of a Kirk Kinetic indoor trainer and training DVDs seems a good way to learn.

Noticed anything?

In the past two months I’ve noticed a real improvement in my fitness.  I’ve been slowly improving my times since 30/12/2012, but the recent changes have been fairly dramatic.  Sections that used to knock me out are now covered much easier.  Climbs that had me redlining at 195 bpm (or higher!) are now peaking at 180-185 bpm.  On a very steep and loose section I briefly hit 199 bpm but my heart rate started to fall, even though I still had a few minutes left on that climb and averaged 175 for a very tough section.  And I rode the whole thing.

When I ride with my colleague, I can converse with little effort while he is struggling for breath and I spend most of my time in zones 1 and 2 (or 2 and 3, if you use the Garmin zones).

It seems that the endurance riding I did during Winter never allowing my legs to get lactic is paying off.  I recently completed some steep climbs nearby at a 95% effort and didn’t feel any soreness afterwards.  The theory is that low-intensity distance riding builds capillaries throughout the muscles and if you get lactic during that time, the capillaries burn and the effort is lost.  When your muscles have dense capillaries, you can feed and remove waste much more easily.  Therefore it is easier to push harder without the burn while you’re riding or the pain afterwards.

There’s still a way to go.  But seeing the green shoots of fitness and some further weight loss is more than enough encouragement to aim for longer and harder challenges.  Such as riding the 140km Canberra’s Centenary Trail in a day next weekend or attempting a 200km Audax.

Measure for measure