Cycling and Hearing Damage?

The subject of hearing loss from wind noise has always played on my mind. When you’re bombing around at 20+ mile an hour in the paceline, flying down your favourite descent or just battling a strong headwind – the noise from the resulting wind rush can get quite loud. Sometimes you notice it, sometimes you don’t, but it’s there. Should we be worried about it?

Huh? What did you say? Time for cake?

Ever been sitting somewhere and seen a bunch of cyclists ride by having a good old chat to each other? They need to raise their voices quite a lot just to be heard clearly by one another! Here’s an interesting article from Cycling Tips discussing the issue:

https://cyclingtips.com/2017/08/listen-cyclists-risk-hearing-loss/

About to head back down the mountain, should I pop my earplugs in?

On my motorbike I always wear hearing protection (disposable foam earplugs rated at 30 decibel reduction). Even with a full-faced helmet the wind noise can easily reach damaging levels, enough to cause permanent hearing loss as well as increasing fatigue and distraction levels.

Wearing earplugs is not something I plan on doing while out cycling. I haven’t heard any reports of pro cyclists suffering hearing damage, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Maybe future helmet technology will focus on reducing wind noise? My aero road helmet (Bontrager Ballista) is noticeably quieter than my heavily vented Specialized Propero, so there’s definitely something in it.

From TT to Road bike: Aero topped handlebars

A little update on my winter project! As outlined previously I wasn’t getting enough use out of my Planet X TT rig so over the winter (still very much winter here in Tasmania) I’ve been fettling away to convert it from time trial weapon into a fast road machine.

Since my last update, I sourced a set of 3T Aero Nova handlebars. These are aero topped carbon fibre drop bars with internal cable routing. Sexy as hell I gotta say!

This was my first foray into internally routed cabling and it was quite the job. Luckily the bars came with hollow plastic tubes to help feed the cables though which made the job easier, but certainly not easy. The cables were fine, but there was a LOT of poking and prodding and swearing involved to get the fatter housings fed around the tight bends. It took the best part of an afternoon to get right.

Hoods pulled back and cables run through the feeder tubes.

Once fed through and seated properly, finishing the cables to the brakes and mechs was a breeze. The Planet X is old school so externally cabled – it may not be as pretty but it made my life much easier. To finish the job I went with my favourite bar tape, Lizard Skins 3.2mm DSP wrapped to just past the hoods. Classy.

The black colour of the bike and the bars don’t quite match, mildly annoying!

My first test ride was only a short 35km local loop just to dial in my position, index the gearing and get my head around SRAM DoubleTap shifting. Not sure I’m a huge fan of it yet, I guess it doesn’t help I’ve been rocking Ultegra Di2 for a bit! I’ll pass judgement and do a comparison to Shimano 105 further down the track. It still needs a little more fine tuning to get the shifts spot on.

The bike on the other hand is dead set awesome! :-)

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.

Throwback to the 2012 Olympic Road Race!

I can’t believe this was FIVE YEARS AGO now! It really does seem like yesterday I was cheering the guys on as they hammered their way up Box Hill nine times! I was also totally in awe at the speed at which the peloton flew up the road. The wind rush of a 100+ strong peloton flashing by inches away from your face is also quite an experience.

Unfortunately that day Team Sky Team GB couldn’t gain control of the race and deliver Cav to the line first (even with the current TdF winner and a future one in the team).  In no great surprise, none of the other countries wanted to work with them in order to reel in the break. They spent a lot of time riding on the front.

Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan (and of ASTANA blood doping ban infamy) took the gold medal, with Rigoberto Uran and Alexander Kristoff rounding out the podium.

Along with Wiggo’s Tour de France win, it was this event that lead to a huge cycling boom in the UK and in particular Surrey and the home counties. Thousands of guys and gals dusted off their road bikes (or bought shiny new carbon ones) and got back into shape, logging thousands of miles racing along thousands of Strava segments.

It was certainly an event that got me motivated to pedal a lot harder!

Cycling Tips eFondo #3 London Pretzel

It’s still very much mid-winter here in Tasmania, with many a frosty start to the day and snow settling about half way down Mount Wellington. So when the third event in the CyclingTips eFondo series rolled around, I decided to jump on again and ride the virtual sportive bandwagon!

This time it was over the shorter “London Pretzel” course. It’s only 55km yet covers all the roads on the Zwift London Map in both directions – so about 32km of rolling road followed by “climbing” Fox Hill and Box Hill before descending back into London for the finish.

I didn’t plan on smashing myself over this one as I’d been slacking in the training department, but as I sat in the virtual holding pen warming up with 300+ other Zwifters, that plan went straight out the window! I dialled up over 400W and launched out the gate in order to make the front group. No matter what the event, the starts are always a smash fest so I knew the drill. Sprint hard out the gate, keep it above threshold and hang on for the first five!

As a bunch formed I tried to hold it at FTP wattage with squirts above to keep my place in the group. The pace finally “settled” and the initial selection saw our 50 strong peloton put a minute or two into the rest very quickly  – we were bowling along at 42+ km/hr average all the way to the foot of the first climb.

As soon as we hit Fox Hill the group shattered as expected. I’d been riding at or above threshold for the best part of an hour so was doing my best to keep pace with the depleted bunch around me. It wasn’t to be my day though and right at the crest of the climb my head was shouting PEDAL HARDER but my legs had other ideas. Tank empty. I was shelled quicker than a boiled egg at breakfast…

Luckily the descent down the other side gave some respite – although the pace was still high as I tried to latch onto any other rider I could. The rest of the ride was spent trying not to lose too much time – a short flat section back through London swapping turns with five other riders and then straight up Box Hill (the less said about that the better) before hammering it down the other side to the finish.

Passing under the banner I was spent – hardly anything left for a final sprint – but somehow I’d managed not to embarrass myself too badly coming in 39th place from 320 starters, six minutes down on first. I’m a fan of these events now, they really do push you hard and the motivation to keep pace with those around you is strong! A great way to keep those legs turning through the winter. #RideOn

The secret to getting stronger on the bike!

Here it is folks – the secret that all pro cycling teams and the fastest guys on your club ride have been hiding from you for decades. The reason they’re decimating you on every hill climb and leaving you in their dust on every town sign sprint. They know it, they use it, they repeat it, they live by it.

So here it is. Your secret to speed. Your recipe to rip it up. Your key to crushing it. Listen up and pay attention. The ultimate way to get faster, beat your mates and become a stronger cyclist is to…

PEDAL HARDER!

Or to expand on that concept slightly:

Pedal harder. Eat well. Rest. Recover. Then pedal even harder next time! :-)

But of course, don’t forget to #enjoytheride