Online Training Logs – 3 Popular Approaches

| April 27, 2017 1:56 pm

by Franz Kelsch

It has been nearly 7 years since I wrote previously about using one of the online training logs that utilities a device with GPS to track your rides, runs, swimming and so forth.  Back then I discussed the current state of several options, including Garmin Connect, Strava, Plus 3 Network, Daily Mile, Training Peaks, Ride with GPS and MapMyRide.  Most all of these online services have changed significantly in the past several years.  While I have used them all previously I narrowed my usage to only three of them and therefore I am discussing here only these three:

  • Strava
  • Training Peaks
  • Garmin Connect

It is interesting how all three services have tried to add in popular features from the other services in order to better compete.  They each have advantages and disadvantages compared with the others.   All three offer a free services while Strava and Training Peaks without some features except to paying customers.  In future blog posts I will be comparing these three online training logs with respect to things such 1) how useful they are as a training calendar, 2)scheduling workouts, 3) setting  heart rate, power and pace zones and 4)performance mounting including fitness and fatigue,   If there are other features you wish covered, please leave a comment below.

Online Training Log – Three Approaches

| March 15, 2017 4:48 pm

It has been nearly 7 years since I wrote previously about using one of the online training logs.  Back then I discussed the current state of several options, including Garmin Connect, Strava, Plus 3 Network, Daily Mile, Training Peaks, Ride with GPS and MapMyRide.  Most all of these online services have changed significantly in the past several years.  While I have used them all previously I narrowed my usage to only three of them and therefore I am discussing here only these three:

  • Strava – for the social butterfly with many features included in the free version and some good training tools for premium members
  • Training Peaks – for serious athletic training but the free version is of little value.
  • Garmin Connect – extensive free service for Garmin users

It is interesting how all three services have tried to add in popular features from the other services in order to better compete.  For example Strava popularized the use of segments and social connections so Garmin Connect implemented those two things.  But there is a big advantage of being the first in a space.  Just as Facebook has dominated the space for a social network, Strava has become so entrenched now that it is likely that most of your cycling friends are there, and maybe many of your running friends.

Strava has also implemented some of the performance measurements of Training Peaks but never seemed to have their heart into it.  This was not why most people post on Strava. They post to show their friends what they did and to aid that, Strava supports adding photos of your activity, and focusses on getting kudos, the equivalent of Facebook’s Like, along with comments.   Much of these features are included in the free Strava account.  They have attempted to add more features to the premium version, such as performance monitoring, but they are rather lame.  .

Heart Rate Zones

Even as of now you can only have one setting for heart rate zones in Strava while Garmin Connect and Training Peaks allows you to have separate zones for cycling, running and swimming.  Strava uses only one type for auto calculation, based on Max Heart Rate, while others offer many different well established standard.  Frankly using only maximum heart rate is probably to worst what to get heart rate zones but that is what Strava uses.

Here is an example from a recent tempo run I did. This how things look like on each service.

Strava

Strava shows their famous “Suffer Score” but it looks like I mostly was in heart rate zone 4.  That is because I was using their inadequate method of establishing heart rate zones based only on maximum heart rate and one set for all sports.

Training Peaks

Training Peaks is the ultimate in customization.  I use Joe Friel’s heart rate zones that use the difference between my maximum and resting heart rate (called heart rate reserve) to get me 7 zones, really 5 with the high zone split into 5a, 5b, 5c.  What a different view.  I was pushing my heart rate too much, spending too much time in zone 5c.  I spend quite a bit of time in the range 161-164 bpm which Strava put into Z4 but Training Peaks into Zone 5.  Sure I could figure out things on my own and manually put them into Strava, but why should I have to do that?  Only because Strava is not serious about performance monitoring.

Garmin Connect

Just like Training Peaks, Garmin Connect lets you have different heart rate zones for different sports and it does over many different methods from automatically creating them.  This is what this same run looks like on Garmin Connect. Just like Training Peaks, it shows I spent most of my time in Zone 5.

Fitness, Form and Fatigue

Training Peaks pioneered performance monitoring and developed the concept of fitness, form and fatigue.  Here is Strava’s rather lame approach to duplicate this (offered only to premium members).  It might just be me but I find using this chart rather useless since I also run and swim and unless I am always using a heart rate strap or power meter, it doesn’t count, according to Strava.

Strava

Although Strava has offered their Form and Fitness curve for some time, it is only with some recent changes that I find the curve to be very good.

 

Training Peaks

This is a big focus for Training Peaks.  However it shows that I am at a lower fitness than I was one year ago, highly unlikely since I am peaking for a marathon.  I think Training Peaks gives too much weight to longer workouts, at low intensity, than it does to the intervals and tempo runs I have been doing lately.

 

 

Garmin Connect

This is not something Garmin Connect offers at this time, but then Garmin Connect is a free service and to get this type of chart you need to pay for both Strava and Training Peaks.

Training Calendar

Strava

If you want to keep track for your actual training, such as how many miles you have biked, run and swam by each week, it is pretty much impossible in Strava unless you use a service like velowview.com that pulls your data from Strava and presents it in a lot of useful ways.  Strava only will tell you what you have done the current week and the current year.  None of that is shown on this calendar view that uses a hard to visually method to distinguish between types of sports.

Training Peaks

I love the calendar view for Training Peaks because it offers a lot of information.

Garmin Connect

Garmin Connect is pretty good. You can easily see cycling vs running, but it lumps all the totals together here.

Other Considerations

This only covers a few features of each service.  If I were to cover the social aspect, Strava would rule the world, so if that is important to you then by all means use Strava.  I use it for that reason and I upload all my activities to Garmin Connect and both Strava and Training Peaks will automatically pull that data from Garmin Connect.

All three services offer a free version. With Garmin Connect, everything is free for Garmin device users and most such users will setup things to automatically upload there and let Strava and other services pull from Garmin Connect.  Strava and Training Peaks both offers a free version, but Strava’s free version offers much of the what the social butterflies want.  The premium version of Strava let’s you see things like segment leaderboards by age groups, but you are out of luck if you are much older than 65 since Strava assumes no one should be exercising beyond that.  Training Peak’s free version is rather limited.

Where I am Headed

I have been a premium member of Strava for 7 years now].  That costs $60 a year.  It’s social aspect, including showing your many followers what you have done, and allowing for comments and kudos, and it’s dominate position makes it something that most want to belong to, at least as a free version member.  If you don’t belong to Training Peaks, then maybe being a premium Strava might make sense.  Training Peaks costs $120 a year, twice what Strava. It is used by many who are serious about training, especially those who have a paid coach who might communicate through Training Peaks with established workouts.  If you are not serious about specific workouts, then you might want to pass.  If you have a Garmin device, you should set it up to upload to Garmin Connect automatically and they let your other services pull the data for there.  That way everything is automated.

Tubeless Road Tires End of the Line

| November 12, 2016 7:08 pm
Tubeless Road Tires End of the Line

History of Experiment with  Tubeless Road Tires

I have written a couple posts about using tuebeless road tires. This first post discussed with the pros and cons of tubeless road tires vs tubed clincher tires vs. tubular tires.  In this second post I discussed my tests with the Schwalble One tubeless tire, which was much better than my experience with the Hutchinson tubeless road tires.  All together I tested about 6 tubeless tires, from two brands, on two different wheel sets for well over a year.  It has been a costly experiment that has been quite frustrating.

Why I Will No Longer user Tubeless Road Tires

While the Schwable One tubeless tires proved to be much easier to deal with than the Hutchinson, both tubeless tires suffer from this issues.

  1. Dealing with tubeless road tires has proven to require far more effort than with regular clinchers, even adding in the effort of fixing flats on the road.
  2. Tuebeless tires are very hard to install and seat.  I even took one Hutchinson tubeless tire which I could not get to seat to a bike shop and they could not get it seated either.  It was so hard to get on, I just disposed of the tire since I was not going to try to put a tube in it.
  3. Removing a tubeless tire is sometimes harder than putting one on the rim.  Sometimes I have had to cut the tire to get it off.  That does not speak well if you need to put in a tube on the road to deal with a cut that does not seal.
  4. You need to use a sealant and that can be a mess.
    • Sometimes I let the pressure get to low and the seal breaks and sealant spills out on my garage floor. Happened more than once.
    • Trying to it sealed again can be difficult and sometimes not possible.
    • If a cut does not seal you have to remove the tire and patch from inside using a special type of patch.  I did it twice.  Each time that effort of removing the tire, patching it and putting it back on and getting it to seat took more effort than fixing flats with a tube over the past couple of years.
    • One time I got a slow leak in the rear tire on the way home so I didn’t notice it. The tire sprayed sealant all over the rear of the bike and that stuff is very hard, sometimes impossible, to clean off.
    • I have given up more than once and removed a tubeless road tire and disposed of it before fully worn.
  5. Tubeless tires are much more expensive and the selection is limited.  Considering the expense I went through, not only for high priced tires, but special rim strips, tubeless valves, and how little I got out of the tires, it was a costly experiment.
  6. I notice no improvement in rolling resistance compared with a tire like the Continental Grand Prix 4000s II.
  7. I feel more comfortable being far away, outside of cell phone coverage, to replace a tube than dealing with a tubeless tire should I get a cut that will not seal. I can change a tube in 5 minute but dealing with tubeless tire may take 30-60 minutes and even then I am not sure I could be successful to get a tube inside and the tire back on the rim.  At least with a tubular tire that does not seal, you can ride on them flat, maybe to get into cell phone coverage.

How About Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires?

In case you are wondering, do I still use tubeless on my mountain bike?  The answer is yes. The difference is a much lower pressure and a much larger tire that are easy to install and remove.   When you pump up a road tubeless tire to to 80-90 psi it can start to leak, even when it didn’t at a lower pressure.  You run mountain bike tires at a much lower pressure.  With a mountain bike tire I have always been able to get them to seat.  On a mountain bike, the lower pressure you can use for tubeless is a big advantage for handling.

Going Forward

For road tires I now only use tubed clinchers and tubular tires (with sealant) on my road bike.  For most people tubed clincher tires are the way to go.  

 

Age Factor in Sports

| May 10, 2016 12:36 pm
Age Factor in Sports

by Franz Kelsch
If you are new to cycling you may notice that regardless of  your age, you are improving each year. This seems counter to what one would expect because we know that as we age, we lose some ability each year. However for those new to the sport the aging factor is being more than offset by developing the muscles and skills of they new found sport. It seems that this may last as long as 6 years before they start to see the decline. Although I have run most of my adult life, I started cycling at age 53 and yet set some of my best times at age 59.

At some point, we will all experience the effect on our performance due to aging. It turns out much less than most people think.  Considerable research was done by Yale Economic Professor, Dr. Ray Fair.  As most economists do, he studied a lot of data.  In this case of world class running and swimming times for different ages.  Dr. Fair was also a marathon running and did several sub 4 hour marathons so not only did he bring is economic skills to the task, he related as an athlete.  His work was documented in this New York Times Article.

I took his data and plotted out the aging factor for running for men, although I believe it is similar for cycling. The effect due to aging is only about 1% a year, up to age 60, where the slope of the curve increases.

AgeFactor

There is an online calculator . I plugged in my Boston Marathon qualifying marathon run time at age 58, which was 3 hours and 35 minutes. For my current age of 68, it shows a time of 3:52. It is interesting that on my Garmin 920XT multi-sports device, it has a Race time predictor that is rather close to that.  This race predictor is based on my past runs.

IMG_2747

At the age of 68 I still do speed workouts. It seems may people as they move into their 50’s and 60’s start to use their age as an excuse and back off. My observation is that many of them turn more to endurance and neglect speed workouts. There has been some recent research that shows the benefits of short bursts on our health. This article by Dr. Mirkin explains the numerous health benefits of interval training for those of us in the golden years. If you always run, or bike, or swim, at the same pace, you are missing health benefits and you are also working out all the time at your maximum capacity, which makes things hard.

Yes we all age and there is no getting around the fact that our athletic performance will decline as we age, but that decline can be less than most people experience. Too many people I know back off on their training and intensity, or worse yet, give up the sport as they age.

Want to Weigh Less?

| February 6, 2016 7:44 pm
Want to Weigh Less?

I recall hearing a TV Medical Doctor who said that exercise to lose weight is a waste of time becasue it is easier to just eat less.  Upon hearing this realized that this Doctor didn’t know what he was taking about.  Although some people might be able to keep their weight down to a low level without exercise, for most people it will not work.  Sure they can diet for a period of time, lose the weight, but 97% of those people will gain all their weight back, and more.  I believe the secret is to understand that weight loss, or gain, is on the margin.  We have all read that it is a matter of calories in and calories out.  I happen to believe that balance and although each individual might have a different basal metabolic rate, after understanding that it becomes an issue of how many calories you consume compared with how many calories you use and on a daily basis that difference is small, but overtime it means gaining or losing weight

The issue is that we all need to eat to live.  We are can not just go without eating and our very nature will drive us to eat sufficiently for survival and that means until,we are no longer hungry.  Try to fool your body and it will think you are in a time of famine, and will do it’s best to use less calories for your survival.  Some have said the secret to losing weight is to not go hungry.  It sounds like an oxymoron.  If it were easy, then obesity would not be such an issue as it is in the world.

For the past month, I have been using a program called MyFitnessPal.com to record my Calorie consumption.  It takes it’s data for exercise from my Garmin devices, to get the amount of calories consumed due to exercise.  Having a power meter on my bicycle, means that is a rather close estimate.   This chart shows that it estimates my goal is about 1,670 Calories a day.  This is based on my basal metropolis rate for my weight, and my goal of losing 1/2 lb a week.   On the chart shows the Calories consumed each day compared with this goal.

Calories Consumed

You can see on almost all days I am consuming more calories than the goal, which means only one thing, weight gain.  I know from my post experience that without doing something else, my weight would continue to increase until the higher weight would result in a basal metabolic rate sufficient to use up all the Calories I consume.   Our TV Doctor would say to just eat less.  But I am not eating deserts and I am not “full”.  I eat just enough so I am not hungry but always would like to eat more.  It is the margin, the difference between the calories consumed and the calories burned that results in weight loss or gain.  It is the bar above or below the red line and to talk about the entire bar is frankly a waste of time.

The next chart shows the exercise I did during the same month.  It is from running and biking and since I have a power meter on my bike, the estimate is probably much better than most people will get.  I realize that most people are not going to be able to burn as many Calories as I do since time demands don’t allow it, but the principle is the same.  It is also true that to some degree the high level of exercise means I probably eat a bit more than I would if I did not exercise, but I mean only a small amount.  The last day of the month had no exercise and even on that day, I ate more than my basal metabolic rate.

Calories Burned

Combine the charts and you get this chart of Net Calories.

Net Calories Consumed

On the above chart you can see that on most days I am below my goal.  So how did I do?  I have lost about 1.5 lbs, close to my goal.  If I removed all my exercise, I would have gained 3 lbs, which means I would be nearly 5 lbs heavier.

 

A Better Road Tubeless Tire – Schwalbe One

| November 9, 2015 8:23 am
A Better Road Tubeless Tire - Schwalbe One
by Franz Kelsch

The Past Trials of Using Tubeless Road Tires

I have been using road tubeless tires on and off for the past year, on two different bikes.  Although they offered some advantages, the frustration of installing and removing the tubeless tires lead me to a decision to give up on road tubeless tires.  I have been using Hutchinson tubeless tires, both their Fusion 3 and Intensive models.  To get the tire on the wheel I had to use a great deal of effort with multiple strong tire tools. Then getting the tire inflated was another ordeal.  I have an air compressor, but even with removing the valve core to allow for maximum air flow, sometimes it would not inflate.  So I would have to revert to using a CO2 cartridge to get the air flow rapid enough to seat the tire.  Last time I had to go through 3 CO2 cartridges and only when I put a strap around the circumference of the tire did it finally seat.  Later when I got a cut that did not seal with the sealant, getting the tire off when I was back home, was equally hard.

Considering this, it gave me no confidence that should I have some issue out on the road that I would ever be able to put a tube inside the tire to get back home.  That lead me to feel that using tubular tires was a better approach and I wrote about this in this other blog post.

The Schwalbe One Tubeless Road Tire

I read about another tubeless road tire, the Schwalbe One Tubeless and the reviews showed it was easier to install.  I decided to give tubeless one more try and ordered one tire.  It turned out to be much easier to get on the wheel than any Hutchinson.  Although I had to use tire tools to mount (something I always avoid with a regular tubed clincher), I was able to get the final part on with my bare hands.  Then I tried to inflated the tire, without removing the valve core.  It seated without any issue.  I left the tire inflated for a couple days without putting in any sealant and it was still fully inflated.  It was such a better experience that I ordered a 2nd tire and installed the other wheel and my experience was just the same.

With a Hutchinson, should I need to add sealant later on, I was facing a major issue of getting the tire seated.  No problem with the Schwalbe One, that seems to have no problem to inflate and seat using my air compressor, even with the valve core installed.  Some report they can just a floor pump.

Note that Schwalbe has now released a Pro One Tubeless tire which is lighter yet and supposedly easier to install [see this review].  We will be testing that tire in the future but this report is for the Schwalbe One Tubeless (not Pro).

Performance

I have not ridden enough to say how well they wear.  I have pretty good confidence, but not 100 percent, that should I have a problem on the road that I will be able to install a tube and get home.

On my other wheelset I run Michelin Pro Race 4 tires and the Schwalbe One seem to handle just as well, although I have not tested on wet roads.  I am inflating to about 85 psi and riding on chip sealed roads seems much smoother than with my regular clincher tires (which I run at 100 psi).  The Schwalbe One seems to have low rolling very smoothly on smooth pavement as Schwalbe claim.  That seems to bear out by this article that shows a rolling resistance of 12.5 watts at 18 mph, 100 psi with a 42.5 kg load.  This puts it in between the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II with a latex tube at 11.1 watts and the Michelin Pro Race 4 Endurance version 2 at 14.9 watts.  These values are for one tire and considering the front tire has about half the load of the rear, multiple these numbers by 1.5 to get the total for both tires.

This other article gives different values but uses a 25 mph speed, 50 kg load.  It shows a comparison with the No. 1 ranked Specialized S-Works Tubeless.  Here the the Schwalbe One Tubeless ranked 9th place with a rolling resistance of 38.2 watts.  In comparison, the Fusion 3 tubeless tire ranked 25th with 46.5 watts. Those numbers are per tire.

Sizes and Weights

This tire comes in three sizes.  I bought the 700x25C and weighed them before mounting and they weighed very close to the claimed 340 grams (compared with 320 for the Hutchinson Fusion 3).

SchwalbeOneSize

Pros and Cons of Tubeless Road Tires

As with all tubeless setups you don’t save any weight becasue the tires weigh as much as a regular clincher plus tube.   Based on my experience with this tubeless tire, I have revised my pros and cons as follows:

 Advantages

  • Almost eliminate flats when using sealant
  • When there was a leak that does not seal, the leakage is usually slow and you can usually make it home.  Some punctures will seal as the pressure goes down and you can still ride the tire with low pressure.
  • No pinch flats so you can run at a lower pressure, making for a more comfortable ride.

Disadvantages

  • Likely more weight since the tires tend to be heavier plus the weight of the sealant.
  • Difficult to get the tire on the wheel.  Tubeless tires are made so there is no stretch in the clincher bead.  The Hutchinson brand tires were almost impossible to install and to get inflated.  The Schwalbe One was harder than a regular clincher tire but doable.
  • If you have an issue on the road with a cut that does not seal, installing a tube would prove to be almost impossible with the Hutchinson (and other brands that my friends have tried).  However with the Schwalbe One I think it would be possible since they are easier to get on and inflate.
  • Getting the tire to seat was difficult with the Hutchinson.  Even using soapy water on the bead, it is hard to get air in fast enough to seat the tire.  Using a compressor did not always work.  One tire required I used a CO2 cartridge, even went through three CO2 cartridges to get it to seat.  I had to put a strap around the tire and cinch it down to help.  I had a very different experience with two different Schwalbe One tires, which inflated right away, even with the valve core installed (using a compressor).
  • Tire are expensive and the selection is very limited.

This video goes over some of the advantages and disadvantages using the Schwalbe One tubeless tire.

My Take

After going through the hassles of tubeless tires, I had about given up on them. However my experience with the Schwalbe One is so much better that I am back to riding tubeless part of the time since we live in an area prone to many flats.  I still feel the modern tubular tires, with sealant, are a good way to go but you need tubular wheels.   I also have a wheelset with regular clincher tires and I can change a flat in 5 minutes without too much effort so if flats were infrequent this still might the best approach.  Hopefully there will be continued improvements in the design of road tubeless tires, but the Schwalbe One seems to have found a good approach.

 

Tubular, Tubeless or Tubed

| October 28, 2015 3:34 pm
Tubular, Tubeless or Tubed

For the the past 10 years I have used the more typical configuration of a regular clincher tire with a tube inside.  Recently I have put some carbon tubular wheels on my bike.  I have also used tubeless tires on this bike.  This post is to share some of my experience that the reader can use in deciding what type of tire to use.

When we moved to a new area my old approach of the regular clincher tire with a tube (and no sealant) didn’t seem to work very well.  My lightweight tires (Michelin Pro Race 4 Service Course) were getting flats frequently from goat heads that seemed to be everywhere.  Sometimes I would even get two flats on one ride.

One approach was a thicker, heavier and more flat resistant tire.  However on my wife’s bike I had installed Continental Gatorskin tires, known for puncture resistance.   Although not experiencing as many flats as I was experiencing, she was still getting too many flats.  I needed to do something.

Tubeless

Our new bike came with tubeless ready wheels so I bought some tubeless rim strips from Trek that custom fit into the wheel, along with tubeless valves.  For tires, I selected Hutchinson Fusion 3 and Hutchinson Intensive tubeless tires.  It seemed like a great solution since I have been using tubeless tires on my mountain bike for some time with great sucess.  My experience has not been very favorable, even after going through 5 tubeless tires on two different bikes.

Advantages

  • Almost eliminate flats when using sealant
  • When there was a leak that does not seal, the leakage is usually slow and you can usually make it home.  Some punctures will seal as the pressure goes down and you can still ride the tire with low pressure.
  • No pinch flats so you can run at a lower pressure, making for a more comfortable ride.

Disadvantages

  • Requires tubeless ready tires
  • Likely more weight since the tires tend to be heavier plus the weight of the sealant.
  • Difficult to get the tire on the wheel.  Tubeless tires are made so there is no stretch in the clincher bead.  The Hutchinson brand tires were almost impossible to install and to get inflated.  The Schwalbe One was harder than a regular clincher tire but doable.
  • If you have an issue on the road with a cut that does not seal, installing a tube would prove to be almost impossible with the Hutchinson (and other brands that my friends have tried).  However with the Schwalbe One I think it would be possible since they are easier to get on and inflate.
  • Getting the tire to seat was difficult with the Hutchinson.  Even using soapy water on the bead, it is hard to get air in fast enough to seat the tire.  Using a compressor did not always work.  One tire required I used a CO2 cartridge, even went through three CO2 cartridges to get it to seat.  I had to put a strap around the tire and cinch it down to help.  I had a very different experience with two different Schwalbe One tires, which inflated right away, even with the valve core installed (using a compressor).
  • Tire are expensive and the selection is very limited.

My Take

After going through the hassles of Hutchinson tubeless tires, I had given up on but after using the Schawlbe One tubeless tire, I am giving them a second chance.

Tubed Clincher

The next approach I have taken is to return to using regular clincher tires and put a sealant inside the tube (you need a tube with a removable core).

Advantages

  • Wide selection of tires and reasonable prices.  A high quality racing tire is half of what a tubeless tire costs
  • The sealant usually deals with the flats.  When it does not, it is easy enough to put in a new tube
  • The most reliable setup for riding far from home.  A spare tube and a tire boot will almost always get you home.

Disadvantage

  • The sealant tends to coagulate inside the tube, depending the sealant used.  I started out using Stans sealant and found it render the tube nearly worthless after just a couple weeks.  I switched to using Bontrager TLR sealant and it seems to be working better and went I removed the tube after 40 days, the sealant had not coagulated like the Stans.  Click here for a test of sealant in tubes.  I have pulled out many goat heads and the sealant sealed the tube in all cases using the Bontrager TLR.
  • You still get pinch flats so you need to run at a higher tire pressure than in the case of tubeless or tubular.

My Take

For most people this is probably the best approach.  Whether you want to put a sealant inside the tube is really a function of the area where you bike and how frequently you get a flat.  For amateur racing where you don’t get some follow car with a mechanic to do a wheel swap, it can make a big difference.  On a recent time trial race, a friend was hopping for first place, but flatted.  If he had sealant in the tube, it might have sealed and allow him to finish with a great time.  Many triathletes use the sealant in tube approach for racing.

Tubular

Tubular tires have been around long before clincher tires. Today all pro cyclists use tubular.  The modern tubular tires are not like before where it required sewing up a tire around a tube, making a repair complicated.  Today’s tubular tires resemble more like a garden hose.  In the past the ritual of gluing the tubular tire to the rim, was enough to make most people want to avoid tubulars.  Now many people have found using a special double sided mountain tape installing a tubular tire almost as easy as a clincher tire and much easier than a tubeless tire.

Advantages

  • Almost eliminate flats when using sealant.
  • When there was a leak that did not seal, the leakage is usually so slow you can make it home
  • No pinch flats so you can run at a lower pressure, making for a more comfortable ride and potentially lower rolling resistance.
  • Much easier to install than a tubeless tire
  • Far wider selection of tires compared with a tubeless tire but not as wide of selection as clincher tires
  • You can get a far lighter wheel-set using using a tubular tire since the wheel does not need to hold the clincher at high pressure. The wheels in the above photo are only 1210 grams, even though they have a depth of 45 mm.
  • The lightest tubular tires are lighter than a lightweight clincher tire plus a lightweight tube.
  • Many prefer the ride quality of tubular tires.

Disadvantages

  • Requires tubular wheels
  • If a leak does not seal and the tire goes flat before you get home, you are pretty much dead in the water unless you brought a spare tubular tire with you.  On the road you can install a new tubular tire and if you pump it up to a high enough pressure and are careful on turns, you should be able to make it home even without using new tape or glue.  There are lightweight tublar tires that weigh only 215 grams, so carrying one as a spare is not out of the question.
  • Tires are more expensive than clinchers
  • You need to use tubular wheels to use tubular tires.  However Tufo has introduced a new tubular tire to use with a clincher rim, but I have not tested that and can not recommend it at this point.

My Take

If one wants the lightest tire setup for either racing or training with near flat protection, a tubular tire should be considered.  Since most individuals will not be able to put a tubeless tire on the road, my thought is you might as well use a tubular tire and gain several advantages over a tubeless tire or go with a regular tubed clincher.

 

Shimano Di2 – Dura Ace 9070 vs Ultegra 6870 Weights

| November 7, 2014 7:26 am

During the process of buying a new bike, I decided to try electronic shifting this time. In the past I have always used Shimano Dura Ace mechanical components so I thought maybe I would order with Dura Ace Di2. However for the Trek Project One website, that change would cost nearly $2,000. With Di2, how much different could the shifting be? So it seemed that the only real gain you were getting was a weight saving. I decided I was not interesting in spending $2,000 to save one pound of weight. Someone then mentioned to me that half of that was the difference in the crankset. That got me curious so I did some research to find out where the weight differences were and how much each of those cost. Turns out upgrading the crankset would be poor investment. The prices are roughly what I could find buying the components online at discount and not the list price. You might find some prices even lower and can use that to make your own comparison. The weights were the best I could find, either on a vendor’s website or better if I could find some cyclist who actually weighed the component after they received it. For another view, this website lists many of the weights but came up with some numbers that a bit difference but the delta weights are in the same ball park. I didn’t try to figure out the difference in the wiring harness. The battery is the same between the two.

The dollars per lb weight saved are assuming you have not already invested in the Ultegra component. If you already have a new Ultegra 6800 crankset and are thinking to replace it with the Dura Ace 9000 to save some weight, it will cost you around $500 and you will only be saving about 60 grams.

Di2-Weight-Compare.xlsx

Ultimate Interval Training

| May 29, 2013 8:19 am
Ultimate Interval Training

Since there was not nearly as much study on interval training for the bike as there has been with running, I adapted my running training over to the bike. For marathon training I found mile repeats and half mile repeats to be a good workout, while doing 400 meter repeats for a short race. So on the bike I used 7 minute or 3.5 minute intervals followed by half that time for a rest interval, and would repeat 4 times. Many cyclists use a much short interval length. Of course the length of the interval, it’s intensity, and the rest interval, will all be a factor on what aspect you are trying to improve. Some research suggests an Ultimate Interval length based off your T-Max.

Before I get into the details, let me first make a case of why you should have a power meter to do this, although at the end I do offer some suggestions for those who do not have a power meter.

Use a Power Meter

With running, it is easy to see your progress by watching your pace for the interval splits. But with a bike, your speed is dependent on much more than just how much effort your are putting in. I tried to use a repeatable, mostly circular course to cancel out the effects of wind and incline. I figured if I averaged my speed during all the intervals that would be an indication of my fitness. However since I started to train with a power meter, I see that my prior approach is not sufficient. Take a look at this graph of four workouts done during the same year. If I based my estimate only on speed I would have thought I had declined during the last interval workout, but I actually improved by looking at the average power of the intervals.

Power Intervals

The Ultimate Interval

Now that I have the advantage of using a Power Meter, I can change the interval approach and not try to just do the same course and interval length. Some studies point to what is referred to as T-Max interval as the basis for the ultimate interval. See this article in Bicycling Magazine.

Find Your T-Max

1. First you need to determine your Peak Power Output (PPO) by starting out cycling at 100 watts, increasing your power by 30 watts every minute until you reach exhaustion. You can go by your own feeling on what that point is, or some use a benchmark as when your cadence drops below 60 rpm.

2. Rest for one or two days, then after a warmup, start your timer and ride at your previously determined PPO until you can no longer sustain that power level. The amount of time you were able to hold your PPO is your T-Max. For most people that is around four to six minutes.

3. For the Ultimate Interval, use 60% of your T-Max for the interval length and twice that for the rest interval. So if you were able to hold your PPO for 6 minutes, you would use an interval length of 3.5 minutes followed by a rest interval of 7 minutes. This is the opposite of what I have been doing.

4. When doing the intervals take your power to your PPO and hold it there for the interval length (60% of your T-Max), then rest for twice the length, letting your heart rate decline down to about 60% of your maximum heart rate.

5. Start out with two to three intervals, doing two sessions a week. Try to build up to six to eight sets twice a week, with at least two days of spinning or rest between.

No Power Meter?

Without a Power Meter you will need to just use a nominal interval length, in the range of 2.5 to 3.5 minutes and a rest interval twice as long. When doing the intervals take your heart rate to 95-100 percent of your maximum heart rate. The recovery period should be at 60% of your maximum heart rate. My maximum heart rate is 176 so for the interval I would try to get over 167 bpm and for the rest interval I would be at 105 bpm, which is pretty much how I have been doing intervals.

 

Team Turbo Dog Finish Hoodoo with New Course Record

| August 25, 2012 2:45 pm
Team Turbo Dog Finish Hoodoo with New Course Record

Assembling the Team

Team Turbo Dog already held course records for the Hoodoo 500, including two person mixed team and two tandem mixed, so it seemed like a great idea to try to set a course record in another category, the 4 person mixed team.  David and Deb Hoag contacted Franz Kelsch to see if he would join the team and he was excited to do so.  With Franz’s age, we had a lot of flexibility on getting a second female on the team and still be in the 50+ category.  Lonni Goldman has not competed in these type of events before but had recently completed some difficult double centuries very well.  She was excited to join the team.   The four of us met together and felt we would be able to break the existing 4 person 50+ mixed record, which was over 33 hours and maybe even the overall 4X mixed record, which exceeded 32 hours.  David even was bold enough to suggest we could break 30 hours.  Why not?

High Altitude Training

We asked Guy Batistia to crew for us and fortunately  he accepted.  Guy proved to not only be great at crewing but he is also a great photographer and took many of these photos.  He, along with David and Deb were able to come up to the Kelsch’s Utah home a week before the event.  Anne Kelsch was a tremendous help, not only hosting the team for several days, but riding with us and helping us work out our plans and get organized.  We were also able to do some high altitude training.  Our fist outing was up to Mirror Lake.

After reaching the summit at over 10,700 feet, David and Franz descended down part way on the other side to see the lake.

The next few days included some more riding and hiking.  On Tuesday Franz and David joined the Utah Velo club for their hill climb ride.  When David saw everyone wearing the club jersey he decided to  buy his own.  Unlike some teams that go to great efforts to have some custom jersey made, we didn’t really have a common jersey, so why not just get a couple more of the Utah Velo jerseys.

On Thursday we drove from Orem Utah to St. George while our 4th team member, Lonni, flew to the St. George airport.  Being a 4X team, we did not have to start the race until 9 am on Friday.

The Race is On

Franz took the first section, that included 9 miles of a neutralized start and another 8 miles of racing.

He was surprised that as soon as the racing started, he was quickly passed by everyone going up an incline.  Figuring it was the excitement of the moment, he kept his pace and eventually passed all but the lead two riders and nearly caught the young rider from Team Chubby before the first rider switch.   David then took the next segment because like the first, you could not have SAG support during part of it.  It was then cat and mouse with Team Chubby, passing them, then getting passed, depending on who was riding from each team.

We then went into a four person rotation, with the plan of 30 minutes for each rider.  Being the daytime the van would leap frog the rider, then wait for the rider to pass.  When it approached the time for a rider swap, Guy would go ahead of the rider far enough to give the next rider time enough to get ready. The new rider would watch for the approaching rider and then try to come up to speed before they overlapped wheels. The 30 minutes were a bit more like 25 minutes, but even that seemed long enough.

The route took us down into Arizona, then back into Utah and through the town of Kanab for the first time station which we reached at 1:17 pm.  It was then up Highway 89 with a right turn up SR-12 towards Bryce Canyon.  There was a bike trail we needed to go on, and with the 3rd place where no SAG support would be available, David took this segment while the rest of us enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.

At the end of the bicycle trail, at time station #2, Deb took a turn at 5:12 pm.  The route actually does not go to Bryce Canyon, but instead continues straight.  Deb had the chance of making the first of the long descents toward Escalante.  Next it was Lonni’s turn, passing through Escalante at 7:40 pm, where there was time station #3.

As we approached Boulder, it was starting to get dusk and we were headed into what seemed like a long period of darkness.  We passed through Bolder at 10:50 pm, then there is a long sustained climb up to an elevation of over 9,500 feet.  We reached the summit just before 11 pm, where David took the fast descent.  It was past midnight when we finally reached time station #5 in Loa, where we had another climb.  Franz took the rotation as we approached the summit since there was a turn at the bottom of a fast descent that he was familiar with.  Plus Franz had this super bright light so he could go 40 mph without the need of the headlights from the van.

Riding in the darkness is kind of a daze.  When you are off the bike you are trying to get some sleep but no one was able to really sleep.  We gave Guy a break from driving and he went to the back to sleep, but he was so excited he kept talking!  Later in the evening, he took a 2nd break and this time, he might have got some rest.  Franz started to calculate how many more times he would need to take a rotation in the dark.

We were moving so fast that unlike prior years, we reached Hwy 89 in total darkness and it was dark the whole 30 miles to Panguitch for time station #5, which we reached at 6:10 pm.   David took the first rotation out of there where we started the biggest sustained climb of the route, that would eventually take us to over 10,000 feet.  We decided to reduce the rotations from 30 minutes to 20 minutes for this section.  It was great to see the sun rise as we were climbing up SR-1478 toward Cedar Breaks.  The temperatures at night had gone down to 45 degrees, but the sun was starting to warm the air as we were climbing higher.

David, being such a great descender, was elected to take the fast descent to Cedar City, while Franz took a rotation before reaching the town since he knew all the turns.  It was a good thing because the street was blocked for a local celebration, but Franz knew Cedar City well enough to take a slight detour.  Then he headed out SF-56 while the van arrived at time station #6 at 10:10 am.  That was so much earlier than other times when it was usually afternoon and people in the van wanted to stop and get some lunch.  This time the van continued on and we all felt like we were on a mission.

We continued in our normal rotation of 30 minutes each while Franz was calculating when we might be able to finish.  At that point we had been averaging about 17.2 mph, which would put us into the finish slightly over 30 hours from the start.  So our idea of coming under 30 hours started to become a reality.

The last segment, from the top of Snow Canyon,  is about 14 miles to the finish and usually teams all ride in together.  But we wanted to break 30 hours so we decided to have David do that section ahead of the rest of us.  Franz took the final section before Snow Canyon, trying to give us as much cushion as he could, and everyone was surprised when he reached the last time station at 2:04 pm, just over 29 hours from the start.  From there David took off by himself while Franz, Deb and Lonni followed (Franz was still trying to catch his breath).

We knew Team Chubby was not too far ahead of us because their support van was pulling out of the parking lot at the top of Snow Canyon just as our van was arriving.  David was able to catch them during this last segment and all decided to have a gentleman’s tie at the finish.  Lonni, Deb and Franz arrived at the finish line 7 minutes after that.

We finished the 517 mile race in the early afternoon of Saturday, with a total time of 29 hours and 35 minutes, setting a new course record for 50+ mixed, actually setting a record for a 4x mixed team of any age.

Time Station Splits

Photos

See all the photos here.