Should I buy a mountain bike?

You know N+1 and all that… So should this all-out roadie get a MTB?

I owned a (very, very) budget mountain bike in the past. I rode it a little off road until it got stolen when I loaned it to a friend (it was secured in a town centre with a lock worth more than the bike). There are hundreds of kilometres of “totally sick” trails around Hobart and surrounds. According to many cyclists around here it’s a mountain biker’s paradise! Of course if I took up MTB’ing I’d have to start using words like “rad” and “shred” and start drinking Mountain Dew… ;-)

xtrek-slash-9-9-5Thrash that totally gnarly trail, bro… (image credit: MBR)

Actually I wouldn’t even know where to start! Not a true MTB, but I kinda like this quirky looking inbred ride from Cannondale:

mg_7623Cannondale Slate Force CX1 – Cycling Tips

So should I buy a mountain bike? Or do I need a swift slap back to my senses? And if I should get one, what should I get? 26? 29? Hardtail? Full sus? Rigid? Single ring? Discs?

Or maybe I’ll just buy a new carbon road bike…… lol

argon-18-nitrogen-pro-2016-aero-road-bike-1Ahhhhhh, that’s better… Argon 18 Nitrogen Dura Ace Di2

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More Meat Mondays?

If there can be such a “thing” as Meat Free Monday to appease the vegans and vegetarians, then I propose we can also have More Meat Monday! So on my all new #moremeatmonday us real humans can pile our plates high with the good stuff – you know you deserve that steak.

Surrey Sportive 2015 by SussexSportPhotography.com 08:29:35But you HAVE to earn it of course. This ain’t no Macca’s drive-thu Quarter Pounder Fatty McFatface value meal jobbie. No sir, More Meat Monday is for those who know how to hammer and sweat!

Grab some buddies, head out and smash the local chain gang (or hit the weights, play some ball or whatever badass activity you prefer) then fire up the BBQ and throw on some REAL meat! Add a few steaks, beef burgers, sausages, chicken wings, a rack of ribs, etc and chow down on that deliciously flame grilled muscle rebuilding animal protein goodness.

Get on board, you know it makes sense. :-) Say it loud! More Meat Monday!

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Don’t succumb to being a kale munching tofu touting salad bar nancy. Put down that wheatgrass infused spinach and soy smoothie. Be alpha, be awesome, be top of the damn food chain! Be a meat eating machine. Ain’t no mofo gonna mess with you because you’re not somebody’s prey! After all, vegans taste like bacon!

trexT-Rex would high five you for being so awesome, but he’s extinct (and has really small arms).

Once you’re done asserting your awesomeness congratulate yourself for working hard, exercising harder and fuelling your recovery the badass way because you sir or madam, are the real deal.

#moremeatmonday

Train by numbers: Feeding the Golden Cheetah

I love riding/training with power. It’s not for everyone, you need to love numbers and be a bit of a geek at heart. Other training metrics such as average speed, Strava segments and heart rate are variable and dependent on outside factors, But with wattage you either make it or you don’t. At the end of the day 200 watts is 200 watts.

trwpmNew to power? First click this Cycling Weekly article for the basics then take a look at some Golden Cheetah videos on YouTube. If you’re not put off by that, buy the book Training and Racing with a Powermeter and read it cover to cover. If you STILL want to delve into the world of power, go ahead and pull the trigger!

This year so far I’ve completed a majority of my training on rollers and Zwift, giving me a widespread data bank of power files from my PowerTap G3 hub. Having all my rides logged with power means I can easily track fitness improvements and monitor training load over time.

IMG_1638Ride with power, and train hard – but remember to enjoy the journey!

For me it’s about that continual improvement. I use Golden Cheetah to track my keep tabs on my long term (chronic) and short term (acute) training loads. It gives me a good indicator of how fresh or fatigued I am within a training cycle. Looking over my data shows positive power level trends as both my short and long term training loads increase. Golden Cheetah is not the most user friendly software available but on the plus side it’s free!

goldencheetah2017It takes time to get your head around the many GC graphs and data points.

Like I said, it’s certainly not for everyone! You can very easily get sucked into the black hole of endless data sets, which can drain the fun out of cycling. The trick is not to get bogged down and just keep an eye on the metrics that are important to your particular cycling goals. For me it’s a solid way of tracking real progress. Never forget to just ride for fun every once in a while too!

So however you may be cycling this weekend. Ride hard, ride safe and pedal on!

How does the real Box Hill compare to the Zwift version?

It’s a question that comes up quite a lot in the Zwift community! How does the real Box Hill compare to the Zwift version? Will riding London Loop on Zwift help me train for Ride London? I’m lucky enough to have ridden both climbs numerous times with the same power meter (a very reliable PowerTap G3 hub) thus have some  meaningful data to compare the two. This weekend I got number crunching.

First up a bit of real life riding:

Box Hill Roundabout to Cafe (2.8km @ 5%)
https://www.strava.com/segments/1450512

Watts: 237W
Time: 8 min 50 seconds (cadence 81rpm)

boxxxxxxxThis particular effort was in the middle of a stark British winter on a 115km club ride with Woking CC. I was rugged up in a lot of warm clothing and had already climbed Staple Lane followed by Ranmore Road (both Cat 4 climbs) in the Surrey Hills before hitting Box.

I was still pushing hard of course with a small group to get to the top for some steaming hot coffee and home made cake. As you can see from the photo it was a pretty bleak looking day for a ride! Cold, wet, foggy and grimy. Ahhh those romantic hardcore UK winter rides before we all got soft…

Now for the VIRTUAL version:

Zwift Box Hill Real KOM (2.9km @ 5%)
https://www.strava.com/segments/13812242

Watts: 230W
Time: 8 minutes 10 seconds (cadence 79rpm)

Ridden as part of a Zwift race where I was trying to stick with a small group of 4-5 other racers at the time, this ascent of the virtual hill was actually a PR for me. My setup is Elite rollers with my PowerTap measuring wattage. I was pushing hard, but pretty gassed after the SUPER HARD start that makes up a Zwift race. I didn’t use any power-ups during the climb.

zwift-london-5

Evaluation of real life vs Zwift life:

With pretty much the same cadence I averaged a 7 watt difference over the two efforts, which is well within an acceptable margin of error for measurement.  As you can see there is a 40 second difference in favour of the Zwift climb for me (the virtual segment is also around 100 metres shorter). This is roughly what I would have expected from the data I have collected and my percieved efforts over both of the segments. On a fair summer’s day (with less clothing, lighter bike, etc) I would knock a chunk off the real Roundabout to Cafe segment – and have done – thus getting closer to my virtual time.

woking-cycling-club

So what can you take away from the data? Training for Box Hill or similar climbs by using the Zwift virtual Box Hill climb would actually be pretty effective, especially if you have a smart turbo that changes the resistance settings for you. Time-wise you can expect to spend a bit of extra time laying down wattage when you get out to Surrey for the real thing. Also the Zwift climb finishes past the National Trust cafe! You’ll definitely want to pull in there for the best treacle tart in the world… :-)

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END NOTES: For reference I weigh in at 60kg so was climbing at just under 4w/kg. I’m no powerhouse. I chose these two segments rather than the Zwiftblog verified one as they were the two closest matched ones for distance I could find on Strava.

EXTRA TIP: Don’t ride over the squiggly white line painting when you do the real Box Hill climb. It’s actually pretty bumpy and will kill your speed…

Ten Percent

That’s right folks, 10% of 2017 has already passed you by…

What have you achieved?

img_2978I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve been pushing at work for more control over the web development and Photoshop side of the business. That has meant I’ve basically created a new job for myself, instead of the work being outsourced. This has taken me from three days per week up to five. Working part time since leaving Sigma Sport has been great, but it’s time to step it up again.

My cycling has been going strong with a mix of road and virtual. I’ve been getting in a bunch of regular evening Zwift sessions. Team WBR have weekly group training rides that include tough intervals, sprint training and races. It’s a great way to clock up some really intense time in the saddle. On the road I’m still seeing the positive results from all that hard work.

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I hope 2017 is falling into place for you all too. Those “up North” must be starting to feel the end of winter approaching now with thoughts turning to Spring and warmer, brighter outdoor miles! :-)

How NOT to maintain your bike?

I’m sure there were a lot of very good maintenance tips in this GCN video, but I couldn’t take my attention away from Simon’s luscious Canyon Aeroad with SRAM eTap groupset, Rotor power meter crankset and Zipp 404 wheels…

“….that’s the bolt that’s stopping my face from hitting the
tarmac, so I better make sure it doesn’t come loose!”