The Wahoo Kickr Climb?!?!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “you know what, turbo training needs a bit more realism, I wish my bike would change angle according to the virtual gradient on the screen.” Well now thanks to Wahoo you can have your wish granted.

Introducing Wahoo’s latest trainer innovation – the Kickr Climb. Now you can not only have automatic resistance changes, but you can have the front of your bike simulate climbs (and descents) with this new device automatically raising or lowering the height of your front end! We’re talking raising your front end to simulate up to 20% climbs and lowering for “realistic” 10% descents.

Now, I’m all for realistic indoor training, but I’m not sold on whether this would actually add all that much or just be a distraction. I would however LOVE to try one out. It’d be interesting to see how quickly, smoothly and seamlessly it can react to gradient changes in Zwift – through the Watopia rollers it can switch very quickly. Check out this little taster video from Shane Miller:

The release price is £450. Now that’s an awful lot of coin for a device that doesn’t actually change your training all that much. That price is also over and above the cost of a KICKR2 trainer so you’re talking around £1500 for the complete setup. Ouch.

I don’t see a huge benefit in terms of indoor training. Okay, so you can train your climbing muscles a bit better and get used to the changing angles when you hit some real hills. That’s about all I can think of.

Gimmick? Maybe. I bet it’s kinda fun at first though!!

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Climbing faster, getting fitter (or taking the #ZwiftEffect to the streets)

I’ve hardly ridden any road miles in the past couple of months, a combination of a chilly Tassie winter and weekend commitments meant that outdoor cycling has taken a back seat. Finally last weekend I got out for a decent spin including a local climb.

Mount Rumney (can you pick it from the route profile? lol) is a Cat 3 rated climb and number seven on Hobart’s Top 10 Climbs list. The full climb is a fairly consistent ascent averaging 5 percent for just shy of 6km. It allows to you get into a good seated rhythm for the most part, with a few steeper sections to test you out of the saddle.

On my fastest previous attempt I was actually gunning for a PR and was pretty gassed by the top. This time around I wasn’t aiming for a good time – simply enjoying the ride and fresh air – and I managed to knock 30 seconds off my previous best! I still had plenty left in the tank and was going to bang out another rep, but ran short on time before needing to be home. Instead I took a quick photo at the top…

…before descending back to the base. There’s actually nothing else at the top of this climb besides the nice view towards Hobart and only one road up the mountain.

I know I bang on about Zwift a lot, but it really has saved my cycling over the past couple of dark and cold months. There is no way I’d be as fit as I am or as motivated as I am right now without it. Bring on Spring and Summer!

Paul Pritchard: Adventure Trike Rider

I get to meet some awesome people in my line of work. Today, one of those incredible human beings was Paul Pritchard. He came in today so we could kit him and his team out in our merino wool thermals and active/outdoor wear in preparation for their upcoming cycle expedition!

Paul is a life-long adventurer. Back in 1998 while climbing the Totem Pole (one of Tasmania’s most famous rock formations) Paul was struck on the head by a falling boulder. He lay on the cliff ledge for over ten hours, bleeding and broken, as his climbing partner ran 8km back to base for help. The accident left him a hemiplegic and changed his life forever. He basically had to learn to walk and talk all over again.

But he has never let his injuries curb his adventure spirit. Years of recovery and rehab later, he has since completed a trike expedition across the Himalaya from Lhasa to Kathmandu via Everest Base Camp and most significantly, returned to the rock which almost finished him – to finish what he started – succeeding in climbing to the top!

Tasman Peninsula rock formations, including the Totem Pole

Next month Paul and his team will set off on a 2100km cycling challenge which will see them pedal their trikes from Australia’s geographical low point (Lake Eyre) to it’s highest, the peak of Mount Kosciusko! Not only that, he’ll be doing it on a TANDEM trike – accompanied by a blind stoker – alongside his team of other disabled adventurers. People really are amazing.

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…

Bike packing like a boss

So you’ve got a fancy road bike, you’ve racked up some training miles and now you want to go explore pastures new. Maybe even tick off a few epic Cols. Well unless you’re hiring out there, you’re going to need to pack your bike!

img_2732In my opinion there’s no substitute for a proper hard case bike box. Sure soft bags are lighter and usually slightly smaller, but if you want the best peace of mind for your (probably quite expensive) road bike then it’s GOT to be a hard case box. Nobody wants to arrive at their destination to find a snapped derailleur or worse, a crushed carbon fibre frame!

My favourite is the Bike Box Alan. It’s got plenty of padding, Velcro straps to hold everything in place, anti-crush pole plus loads of extra space for all your other gear such as helmet, clothes or nutrition. While not the cheapest and at a shade under 11kg not the lightest, in every other way the Bike Box Alan really is a cracker. Mine has protected my bike when flying across the globe and also when moving house.

img_2734Foam protective layer sits between frame and wheels. Note the anti-crush pole.

Yes, I bought a bright pink one! ;-) It’s taken some hard knocks along the way and there’s plenty of scratches to the outer case, but everything inside has always arrived in perfect order exactly how I packed it. You can’t ask more than that.