Reboot the noodle

bike at Old GorhamburyOnce more into the fray etc – or, at least, the first time this year into the fray on a drop-bar bike. Not covid, but a somewhat broken back (apparently literally at some point, according to the MRI scan …) and spinal nerve issues etc have been getting in the way. Much physio, some steroid injections and rather more painkillers/anti-inflammatories/muscle relaxants etc later, and things are beginning to get back to normal.

ETA: this is not the same disc issues from the last post – just in case anyone was wondering. Those got sorted out fairly fast and did not cause anything like the same degree of problems – this was a fresh batch in January. Lack of posts last year was due to a global pandemic and generally not doing anything interesting on the bike, not due to back!

I still can’t walk all that far without a cane (but that’s an improvement on crutches) and I did get out on the flat-bar bike a month or so back, but this was the first time out on drop-bars. It has to be this bike as this is the least-aggressively set up of the two options open to me, and I need to be careful on back flexion.

Various things done to try to make this a little safer – I was already running tubeless, but have added Airliners so that, even if a tyre flats completely, I can still ride home/to the nearest train station – the insert reduces the risk of certain types of puncture, and provides enough support etc to be able to still ride. The problem is principally that I’m not entirely sure that I could manage to deal with the tyre/inner tube etc without quite a lot of pain – this effectively adds some security. I’ve also adjusted the stem for height so that my back flexes less, and running the tyres at a little less pressure for comfort/shock absorption. I’m thinking about getting a suspension seatpost as well (the stem already has suspension).

Read more

Now to taper …

The training is done. Last ride – which was more of a spin – was today with my cycling club (who most likely had forgotten my existence, as I’ve been off doing longer rides etc in training). 62.5 miles, to get it to the Rapha #womens100 ride as well.

Read more

It’s all in the details

Details, and some more details, and things like that – I’ve been amusing myself by tweaking parts of the bike. Besides cycling, I also tend to take photographs (theatre productions, landscapes, architecture, random stuff) and I came across these headset spacers in the form of lens rings … which led to an ongoing quest to see how many bike parts I could find, in the form of camera parts.

Read more

Kit assembling

Dynamo wheelset has been completed (Son 28 hub, Archetype rims, DT Comp double-butted spokes) and brought home; now I need to install the cassette and tyres/tubes (the bits you always forget about in costings; I’m too lazy to shift them from one wheelset to the other. The wheels do have rim tape, though). The dynamo front light has also been acquired and the wiring sorted (spade connecters added on, heat shrink tubing shrunk).

I still need a bracket to turn up to fit the light to the underside of the Carradice bag (the alternative is clamping it onto the brake bolt and I refuse to mess with the brakes when they are working!), and I’ve ordered some new skewers for the wheels (yeah, I thought they’d come with, but apparently not …)

Also acquired a bell (a splurge, on the Spurcycles bell), and I’m waiting for some custom bar end plugs to finish the tape install (I’ve added Specialized Bar Phat gel pads and tape in the hopes of reducing some hand numbness; early indications are that it does in fact fulfil that hope).

Things learnt in a 200k ride

  • Lucozade diluted 1:2 with water tastes like Portuguese Tang (the original orange version, not the updated sweetener version)
  • The Wahoo Bolt probably does 14+ hours per charge (23% left after 12 hours, so that may be conservative) – but it chews through phone battery if you leave it talking to the phone (so, turn off bluetooth on the phone, or switch to flight mode)
  • The settings on the Bolt can be adjusted directly, not just in the app – the power button, when tapped, allows (I should really RTFM one day)
  • The Bolt also doesn’t plot the route more than 5k or so on advance – not great when trying to find your way back on a diversion, as the route doesn’t show on the map when you zoom out. However, it picks up the route just fine when you locate it again
  • Turn by turn navigation isn’t great at staggered crossroads and other fast multiple turns – not sure if this is an issue with the Bolt, with ridewithgps, or whether it’s just a feature of turn-by-turn
  • Even so, the turn-by-turn is relatively useful at reminding of changes: with a couple of caveats – the key word is “turn” and not “junction”. It doesn’t notify when the route is straight on over a junction. It also doesn’t notify when the route stays on the same road but turns off at a junction (e.g.: where following the A1000 south of Hatfield requires you to take a left hand turn to come off the road you’re riding on – if you stay straight on, the road immediately becomes the A1001. The navigation doesn’t recognise this as a turn …). With all those caveats in mind, I’m still going to keep using it as the beeping is a useful reminder to look at the map function.
  • The Apidura food pod works – as in, I‘m feeling a lot more chipper than I was after an 80 mile ride recently. Some of that is additional training but I think a fair bit was also that I ate/drank more steadily this time – liquid every 5k (or more often if thirsty), food every 5k or 10k, depending on how I was feeling (but every 10k even if I didn’t want to).
  • Food that works: ‘claws’ blackcurrant & beetroot fruit sweets; mini Babybel light; nakd bars.
  • Drink that works: nuun lemon & lime (2 per bottle); Lucozade Sport Orange (diluted 1:2 with water)

Kit: filofax

filfofaxNot necessarily the most obvious piece of training kit, but useful all the same: a slimline filofax. I’ve had it for years, never quite managing to work out what to do with it.

I’ve repurposed it as my training diary – not entirely a ridiculous concept. I had been thinking of using Day One, or my usual (phone/computer) diary etc, but none of that really seemed to work. My calendar is already a mess with work commitment and adding more detail to it would just make me want to run in the opposite direction.  I do keep an eye on that calendar to ensure that I leave time for cycling etc, but it doesn’t work as a record.

So I dug out the filofax and bought a week-on-two-pages academic diary to take me through to LEL next year (which it does perfectly: ends on the last day of LEL). This allows me to see the week at a glance, to plan out the workouts – my current training plan is fairly simple: keep building endurance until the end of the year, so mostly just riding, plus some gym work and pilates for core. The space allows me to add some detail after the session if I want to, and there’s space at the beginning of the week to add week goals.

Added to that, I have a stash of notes pages at the back with some tabs to separate them – general notes, clothing notes, equipment notes, nutrition notes. This allows me to keep ideas and, later, plan out strategy etc for the ride.

I do keep information electronically – Evernote is useful for stashing ideas from websites etc – but ultimately I need to make some sense of it, and I still seem to find it easier to make sense of things when I can scan them to review them. It’s not as straightforward to do that in an app, for me.

Club ride

Club ride out – 47.5 miles, 13mph, 3:40 moving time, 2,120ft elevation gain.

Good weather, generally – a bit windy – and the ride was good; I’m still atrocious on hills, but that will only improve with time and weightloss.

The new power meter pedals are – thankfully – straightforward to clip into and (more importantly) out of. I need to get some time to put the bike on the turbo and sort out the install angles (it wasn’t keen on doing it at the beginning of this ride) and I must remember to recalibrate after breaks. The power recorded for the second half of the ride, post-coffee stop, is half what was recorded for the first section (where I did calibrate). Looking at the data output, it apparently didn’t pick up one of the pedals properly after the break.

Post-ride: tired, wiped out. Probably need to sort out nutrition again – I may not be eating enough during the week.

Changes & power

First thing to change (after the bike fit) is the pedals – nothing wrong with them, but I’m going to be training on power, so I have acquired Garmin Vector 2 pedals in order to get that power detail. The local bike shop came up with a good deal, so (after acquiring a torque wrench from ScrewFix) I installed them this afternoon.

Installation was pretty straightforward: the torque wrench isn’t critical, but it does help with maintaining consistency on both sides and from bike to bike. Part of the reason for going for this system is that I can move it to the other bike in winter, when the carbon bike goes onto the turbo trainer for winter. As the bikes have different bottom brackets, I can’t use a crank arm system. I did consider a power meter hub, but there’s a similar problem: the carbon bike has disc brakes, the steel bike has conventional brakes. The only one-type-fits all that’s really an option is pedals. Thankfully, the Vectors are Look Keo-compatible, as I’ve been using Keos for years.