Thursday, May 31, 2007
Meanwhile Simoni has taken the tough Zoncolan stage in the Giro, with Di Luca doing enough to stay on top overall. It's looking good for Danilo, but can he hold on? The TT may be the true test.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Now he also said that Ullrich had taken EPO, so I guess this is very hypothetical. But is he saying that if Ullrich had been clean, and everyone else, that Ullrich would have won 10 times?
Frankly it rings true for me. Does anyone remember how good Jan was at the start of his pro career? I do - he was unbelievably good before he rode Le Tour - and clearly a Tour-rider, not a classics-rider in the making (although he was talented enough to do well there if he wanted). So what he achieved in his career was pretty well consistent- no sudden rise to the top - well OK, he did fabulously well at his first TdF - but generally it was obvious that he was someone who could climb, TT and race day after day. He was 'in the mould', as it were, of the past greats. Now is that always true? I guess not, and it proves nothing about those who suddenly converted from OK to above-average classics-rider to stunning Tour rider - but it does make one wonder.
Meanwhile in Catalunya we see Karpets still in the lead over Rogers. By my calculations there's just one stage to go - with 3 cat 3s and a cat2 climb to the finish. You'd imagine T-Mobile will attack at the base of the final climb and launch Rogers to the win, wouldn't you? Yes, but this is T-Mobile, so you never really know. Menchov is also a chance, if the Rabo team can play the tactics right. Sevilla would have to pull off an almighty escape to win, surely.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
I also filled the memory once and have taken to dumping the ride list more often. The unit is still reliable but when analysing the data I suspect (and I cannot prove this) that it:
- undervalues flat-land efforts by 20-50W (ie shows 150-180W when my manual calculations suggest 200W is closer)
- overvalues sprints by a considerable amount - as much as 50% higher (ie shows 1500W when manual calculations point to maybe 1000W) but only for a second or 2
- is most accurate at sustained high or medium-effort climbs, where the output is often within 2-5W of manual calculations based on speed, time and inclination
- lags the actual effort by 10-30 seconds
- loses it's pretty little head in corners and over bad bumps.
- smooth your data and remove 'outliers' such as spurious high-Watt readings
- normalise your data in a spreadsheet or online tool
- fine tune your friction and aero values on the provided USB-link software - this is better than re-doing the "coast" setup, I reckon, but it just may be that I've never done the 'coast' correctly (hmmmm...)
- ride on smooth roads and never go around corners.
Some other quirks are:
- It alters altitude overnight - presumably as the barometer rises and falls - so adjusting it is a good idea fi you want your data to be consistent
- It adds 100kg (or maybe just defaults to a really high weight) when you swap batteries - make sure you check your setup after changing batteries!
Meanwhile a tearful Erik Zabel has confessed to EPO doping in the '96 TdF. He dropped it quickly, he says, due to side effects and was obviously regretful - as you would be. His teammate at the time, Rolf Aldag, admitted at the same T-Mobile press conference (hmmm, funny that Zabel gate-crashed this party, eh?) to more extensive doping and stopped when his haematocrit was consistently over 50. I guess he got a bit worried about (a) getting caught and (b) adverse health effects. I don't balme him, or Erik for that matter. We are all fallible and build our lives incrementally on our decisions, both good and bad. Sometimes we make mistakes - but seeing that it's a mistake and righting it matters. Admitting to doping when you're unlikely to be caught - although there's more than just a slight chance of being given up by the suspect T-Mobile doctor or even one of your ex-teammates - takes a lot of strength. Zabel could have just sat on it and waited but chose to come clean before his name was brought up. Is there a lesson here for other ex-T-Mobile /Telekom riders?
And some good news - Alby Davis takes a win after some close results. He bested both Baden Cooke and Bennati in the Catalunya stage 3 sprint. Tell us again you really weren't involved in Operacion Puerto and Dr Fuentes, Allan. Thinking of which, another rider cleared of Puerto-affiliation - Oscar Sevilla - took a tough stage 4, Michael Rogers taking 2nd. Both riders moved up the classification and will fight it out in the TT. For which I can hardly wait!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Makes me wonder what the "warning" is on the frame, too. Don't get me wrong, folks, anything that helps people get on their bikes is great, but I do wonder about how many ham-fisted amateurs will hack their bikes to achieve their green ends...
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Just to comment briefly on sprinters, there are more ways than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. You can wind up a huge gear behind a train of riders - like Petacchi usually does, although today's parcours didn't suit that approach - and take the risk that you (a) will fade and get rolled at the line or (b) that you aren't as strong as you thought you were and just can't accelerate that huge gear, in which case you get jumped or rolled anyway; or you can rely on rat cunning, sit in and spin a bit more, and either roll the power guys at the end or use your better kick to jump 'em and gap 'em a little earlier on. Of course it's more complex than that as different roads and obstacles arise that may derail your train, or someone else will jump first and gap you. And even a small rise will feel like a leg-snapper in 53x11. You can train to your strengths, like Petacchi, and organise a power train to bring you up to speed, but it's also good to have a range of tricks up your sleeve and be adaptable, because anything may happen in a sprint. And lastly, you have to train both for power and kick. Today Petacchi proved he had that grab-bag of tricks and had done the training. He also had the luck of someone who took a bit of a chance and just went for it...
Monday, May 14, 2007
McEwen had good form earlier in the year, indeed he said he was climbing better than he ever has (being not a noted climber, of course, but better at it than 90% of the rest of us). Then he got sick. He always does. Somehow he gets enough form to hang in there on the first Grand Tour Giro stage, when the likes of Hushovd and Haedo are dropped and the bunch is thinned to a top 30 or so. Somehow his team get him into that selection, they grind back the gap to the breakaway and deliver him to the last 2 or 3 kms. He takes it from there, just sittin' in and waiting for Petacchi's train to leave the station. And then jump off, just in time to take the win. CN report here.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Luckily it let go at the end of a 40km lap of Brisbane Water, after one final effort up my local hill. It just quietly stopped. I knew it was all over, as I was suddenly freewheeling in my driveway, even when I was pedalling. Without looking I knew that I had I had broken the pawls (or the springs?) that are meant to engage when pedalling forward, rendering my 9 speed a freewheeler in both directions...
It's time for an audit. Excluding bones and teeth, what have I broken (not just punctured or worn out) in roughly 31 years of bike riding? First off, my brother's mirrors. Didn't like 'em anyway and they made a mess when you rubbed them on the road at 30kmh. (It was his bike, but hey, they just weren't cool). Then I snapped my first spoke. First of many. It taught me to carry a spoke key, at least. Later I snapped the bolt that holds seat to seat post. I rode 60km with a saddle just hanging - literally - on that post. Which is to say I rode 60km out of the saddle. Great training.
I also snapped the expanding bolt inside the headtube, the one that was meant to keep handlebars and front wheel aligned and steerable. Let me tell you it makes a mess of the steering feel if that one lets go (luckily they make 'em differently now, eh?). I haven't snapped a chain - yet - but a mate did. Not pretty. And I saw some handlebars snap on a track bike - they let go at the stem, so he still had one handlebar that "worked".
After years of perfect gear changing I managed to finally put my rear derailleur into my back wheel - just 30m from home. That bends some bits and breaks others with a satisfying tinkling sound. And I've snapped a few brake and gear cables, too. With a snapped rear derailleur cable you get to experience your smallest cog, irrespective of terrain. (OK, ok, I wasn't actually maintaining that bike at all. And I had stopped using it on the road, too! It's 'old rusty', my Hopkins crit bike that now sits on an indoor trainer - outdoors, of course.)
I have also managed to break the bolt that holds the seat tube to the frame, too. The seat slowly slides down into the frame... luckily I only had to ride out of the saddle for 20km that time. I've broken wheels, but everyone's done that. And as I've shown you previously, I managed to snap my seat post. So it's only natural that I've now broken a freehub. I mean, what else is there to break? Oh yeah, the frame... hmmm.
P.S., I dented a steel frame once - does that count?
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Now I'd like to think they are all innocent and that it's all done in error - but that seems a forlorn hope. Maybe some errors were made - and maybe there is some truth in some of the conspiracy theories. But not all. I know from my own amateur racing career that some riders popped caffeine pills and some visited gymnasiums for reasons other than weightlifting. And some got upset when they got "the wrong banana" at race end. Whatever. It's a tough sport, we all want to get through it without too much pain and without too many injuries, and we all want to win. So we are all tempted to greater or lesser degrees to "aid" our recovery after hard training, to "assist" our return after injury and to do "what it takes" to win. It's human nature to cheat, as humans are cunning and deceptive creatures, and it takes a great deal of willpower to resist temptation, no matter what that temptation may be. When it appears that the culture of this sport - or any sport, and I think some are in this same boat - is biased toward "assistance", we have a problem.
I think we still have a problem. What do you reckon?
Well for around $US400 from iBike itself it's a bargain, so you'd allow for some rough edges. But so far it hasn't shown too many. Get it set up right (it's not hard to do) and allow for its obvious limitations (such as it relies on barometric measurements of air pressure coming in through that little slot in front, so anything that distorts airflow - like turning sharp corners, sudden dips or objects blocking the air intake - will also distort the power calculations. And of course it won't work on an indoor trainer... yet) and it's a powerful tool that gives accurate figures. I have back calculated and verified my iBike data against some basic, manual calculations and it falls within a few percent of what I'd expect, given speed, weight and inclination (that's hill slope, not my inclination).
It has given some doubtful results that appear as spikes in the data. I've seen 1495W once in a sprint - possible but I thought unlikely. I calculated it was closer to 750-800W, so manipulating the .CSV file eliminates that spike. I have since then sprinted at a maximum (and believable) 800-1000W many times with just one other sprint appearing doubtful at 1466W. I had already re-done the "coast" test because of the 1495W spike, and I'm confident that the coast-down is now correct. So either I really did put out 1466W for a second or there's something else going on. Strangely enough both spikes were in the same location... like exactly in the same spot. I'm thinking there's a dip in road or some other strange factor I'm missing here...
So out of over 500km of testing it's so far given me 2x 1-second spikes of doubtful data. The rest of the data looks good, with a steady improvement in wattage from an average of 168 over about 45 minutes to the current best of 210W for 60mins. When I remove the "zeroes" from the data it "normalises" to 230W over 1 hour (and 220W over 90minutes). Given that I'm not racing at the moment (which I imagine would lift those figures substantially) I'm satisfied that the iBike is working and also that training-by-power is effective - if only because it has re-motivated me!
Friday, May 04, 2007
- too many "zeros" will lower your average power. By simply minimising my freewheeling I have cut the zeros from around 12% to under 8%. Alternatively you can just remove those zeroes from the CSV file in a spreadsheet
- So I began around 168W average and now have it up to 190W average (over an hour). Removing all of that freewheeling has helped but I am also getting fitter and stronger
- My peaks have declined from over 900W to low 800W but my 20 minute average is up from 230 to 290W
- So is it still making sense?
Which at least suggests I'm in the ballpark... hope you find power training useful. I guess I'll have to test it out in a race soon...
OK, OK, the Giro comes first, at least chronologically. Meanwhile Petacchi is getting close to form, McEwen has struggled and played it safe but clearly has some form, and Boonen is off on his post-classics rest. And the Giro approaches... bring on the Italians!