its all good mental training

Ok so this is not directly cycling related but bear with me…

It all started with a book – “How bad do you want it” by Matt Fitzgerald. Without over selling this book it changed my view on exercise, diet and performance and I now recommend it as standard fare for everyone I coach. Do yourself a favour and pick this book up – you will not be disappointed. In a nutshell this book reviews different ultra athletes and their mindsets – and concludes that our muscles are NEVER the inhibiting factor, only our minds. After devouring this book I started to see what else I could find and came across a book in a similar vein – “what doesn’t kill us” by Scott Carney. Ironically I read this book while on a overnight train across China to get into North Korea to run my first half marathon (with zero training and coming off antibiotics for bronchitis a day before). Also a great read but the book centered around a crazy Dutch guy named Wim Hof and his “method”.

This book piqued my curiosity about Wim Hof and remembering that my brother had done the course years ago (i thought him nuts then!) I chatted to him – he felt it was legit. I downloaded the free app and set to trying it out.

The Wim Hof method involves three pillars – Breathing, commitment and cold. But for me they are “all good mental training.” (nod to Matt).

Breathing: involved a hyperventilating of sorts – basically hyper oxygenating your blood stream for 30/40 breathes and then a full exhale and hold for as long as you can. Repeat this three times and then on the fourth time try to see how many push ups you can do without air.

Commitment: This is about stretching (which I hate, but need to do as per bike fit…) and strength exercises such as plank.

Cold: just like it says on the tin – get out there and get exposed to the cold. Cold showers, ice baths, semi clad snow angels – whatever you can to get your temperature down.

It was at this stage a few years ago that I concluded that my brother was nuts, but here I am drinking the same Kool aid and I will forgive you if you think the same but bear with me.

Benefits of cold showers aside (here, here, here, here or here) I like the logic that Wim talks about in his promo video here. So watch this space, its a 10 week course and I plan on writing one blog a week about each week.

Disclaimer: I know there is a affiliate program for Wim Hof but Im not signed up for it -these are just my musings.

Everesting

So its come to this…

After months of talking about it I am going to start officially planning an Everest attempt.  Im even nervous writing this post because it means I’m committing to this insanity – This page will be forever archived on the web – There will be no putting this toothpaste back into the tube…

Before progressing much further its key to have my families support – gleaned via a brief conversation and follow up text.

 

 

 

 

 

In short at Everest it is the insane concept of picking one hill and doing repeats until you build up a total climb of 8848 metres – the height of Mount Everest.

Check out the website for more info here. Oh and you need to complete this challenge within 24hrs.

Let me just put this in perspective – to do this on:

Suikerbossie (the Argus climb) you will have to do it 71 times.

Boxhill (UK) 61 times

The Alpe D’Huez – 9 times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any way you slice it that is alot of climbing. I have chosen this hill – it is a hill that overlooks the Presidents house in downtown Seoul.Here are its vital statistics:

 

 

 

 

That translates to 14 hours on the bike – The elevation graph reminds me of a bed of nails – no doubt what my saddle will start to feel like in the coming months!

I will be doing this in aid of a yet to be named charity and hope to secure company sponsorship in aid of this attempt – I will continue to write updates about this mad attempt in the coming months. Watch this space and wish me goodluck!!!

Awesome Bike &Trek Precision Fit

If you like me research things before buying them and came across this post while deciding whether to do a bike fit let me shortcut it for you. The answer is yes. Cycling is a repetitive non impact (except with tarmac, trees, other things and dirt) sport so even the smallest refinement can have a big gain, or head off a repetitive strain injury. After this fit I will do this every year in at a minimum.

When I first started cycling years ago I came off my bike quite hard and bent the rear left of my saddle. New and Naive i decided not to replace the saddle but rather just to ride with the bent saddle as i planned to upgrade the bike the next season. 2 years and 2 bikes later when I started getting more serious about my riding I started noticing a pain on the top of my knee after about an hour in the saddle. My wife (lucky man!) bought me a bike fit for my birthday and off I went. First alarm bell should have been finding out from the fitter that “in my 20 years of working with athletes i have never come across a shorter pair of hamstrings” – Great, my first claim to fame is having the flexibility of firewood. But the really interesting part came later. There was something he could not put his finger on – my style just was “wrong”. After an hour of him walking around me and checking every angle known to Pythagoras he stood behind me and explained “I’m going to put my finger on your arse, dont jump”. Umm, these are not the droids that I’m looking for… Picture it – bright eyed and busy tailed new cyclist decked out in form fitting lycra goes to see jaded jedi master of cycling who wants to touch his arse… So I did what any man would do – “ok go for it”. Wow that finger was right between the cheeks. But thankfully there was a higher purpose, and it wasn’t catholic in nature. He then left his finger on the saddle and I got off the bike. Long story short I was almost riding side saddle.

Early shot of me on my bike after the bent saddle

My tail bone which should be in the middle of the saddle was almost 1 inch to the right! The bike fit ended there and i started 6 months of chiro to realign my hips and spine. I never got back to the bike fit but the pain in my knee went away.

Fast forward a few years and Im racing on the Korean Amateur circuit. A friend (thanks Tim At Han River Riders) hooked me up with BJ at Awesome Bike for one of their precision fits.

Before we go further I would like to specify that there was no specific reason for me to do a fit – i was not sore or feeling any pains while riding – I just “felt” like I wasn’t in the groove so wanted to see what the numbers said.

It starts with a core questionnaire about riding style and expectations (MOAR POWER!!!) and then its onto the… couch?

Flexibility tests (i failed all of them – not giving up that firewood mantle without a fight!) and core challenges. Ha! 90 seconds of plank – easy. Buuuut, enter small print stage left – its not about muscling through the plank but rather the clock stops when you start to shake, even a little. Man my fitter (Min) was ruthless. 5 second he stopped the clock on me. The shame.

Right lets look at your arches. Apparently Im cold blooded as i has to warm my feet on a heater so that their arch tool can get a reading – Eventually we got a reading and I need some serious arch support. Then the saddle – My current saddle is a work of art – A Selle San Marco Aspide Superleggera open. This 103 gram (yup my one came in a whole 6 grams less than the advertised weight) razor blade is my go too saddle. It only likes Assos bids and I love it. its 130mm wide and apparently these child bearing hips need a 135mm – well fuck it. That is one piece of advice I’ll be deselecting – except for the up and coming 204 kms Grandfondo with >4500m of climbing… methinks a saddle swop will occur in advance of that race!

Right, onto the bike fit. Min measured my bike and replicated it exactly. This was the point of departure.

Min setting the bike fit up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I then processed to do 3 fits. After each fitting we stopped, watched the footage together, discussed how it felt and made adjustments accordingly. Here is a snippet of the three sessions next to each other. Take a look at the differences in body setup.

The magic: Ive tried to capture the progress for all the major changes below. Ill also try and explain what is ideal and why. There will be three shots, 1 is how my bike was pre fit. 2 is after the first adjustment, 3 is after the second adjustment.

145 – 155 for a road bike is considered optimal. I went from 134 degrees to 147.

 

 

This one I struggled with – for me the lower the more aero therefore the better. But as Min points out low requires with flexibility, otherwise the aero gains are more than offset by increased fatigue. Hence we went from 39.0 -> 34 -> 37 degrees. Now here is finally a reason for me to stretch!

Here are the guidelines – My goal is 30 degrees by next fit.

  • Novice: 45-60 degrees
  • intermediate: 40 – 40 degrees
  • Advanced: 30 – 40 degrees
  • Elite: 25 – 35 degrees!

In case the measurements are not clear: 1 – 144, 2 – 146.6, 3 – 163.

Arm angle for me is interesting. Guidance is that it should be around 165 degrees – so 180 – 15. We got me to 163 degrees with is good, but I felt like I could go lower – what was interesting is that my first measurement – 146 resulted in a less aero position as my third position with much straighter arms. This is the benefit of the fit – we moved the stem forward so for the same bend I will get much more aero.

In case the measurements are not clear: 1 – 71, 2 – 80, 3 – 86.

Ideal for elite riders is 90 degrees so we are close after the third iteration. This can exceed 90 degrees as flexibly improves (again watch this space!)

Nothing really to see here – ideal foot angle is between 15 and 30 degrees – More important here was that I didn’t exceed 30 degrees after my saddle was raised.

Net impact:

  • Saddle raised by 2.5 cms (massive!) and stem extended from 90mm to 110mm.
  • I went for a a ride on the new steed the other day and while its anecdotal I really felt much stronger on the bike. I was easily sitting at 37km/h and am super excited to see what this means on my next MCT race on the 25th of March!
  • Super impressed with Min – it is a 30 minute drive to this shop and Im sold. Ill be doing this once a year at least and if the mechanics are like the fitters (which i hope) then ill be moving all my maintenance there too.

I will try and upload a side by side video of the three sessions for you to see what it looks like…. Watch this space. If you have made it this far then well done!

BJ, Tim and Min thanks for the fit. Check out the facebook page  of the Han River riders if you are in Korea here and Bj’s awesome bike shop

Feel free to post any questions below..

 

 

 

Masters Cycle Tour Korea Race 1 – Gangjin

Back home in Cape Town – the concept of having to drive more than 1 hour to get to a race offended me. If was as if I had an imaginary boundary further than which no one day event was good enough… Oh how I was spoilt. Once move to Korea later and I’m driving 6 hours – literally across the entire country – for a 78 km road race. If I only knew then what I know now.

“3 loops of 26km, including one longer climb not too long after the start. The climb is not too steep, but is long enough to make the peloton break up early in the race. Decent roads and no real tricky sections to worry about.”

This is how previous riders described the route – after the required strava stalking of previous strong riders I realised that I would have to put out ~400w up the climb to stay with these skinny homesick angel climbers. Thank fully as it turned out “only 350w” was required – and it turns out I am a better descender so I am proud to say that I was able to stay with the lead group for most of the race! 🙂

I really enjoyed the pace – averaging above 42km/h on the flats and ~ 2- 25 km/h up the hills. I realise that my indoor training has been a tremendous help but I need longer rides – as i flagged in the last 8 kms of the race – conceding 2 minutes to the lead pack and dropping down, down

down

down

To 78th place.

I will lick my wounds and come back fighting next month.

getting the best out of Strava for free

Hi my name is Luke and I’m addicted to Strava.

My ride ritual does not finish until I have had my recovery drink and reviewed my strava data. Advances in Garmins mean that my fenix3 and my 510 both push the event to strava automagically so by the time I’ve gotten into the shower its there in all its KOM glory. In fact – having a waterproof case means that I don’t have to wait until the shower to pour over the data… Im on the 3rd iteration of my lifeproof case – each replacement sent at no cost by lifeproof and each case having saved my phone from drowning in sweat (when in my back pocket) or from the sticky paws of my toddler spawn.

But we digress – Strava Premium – I’ve been a member ever since they started comping 3 months of Zwift subs. The day they ended that partnership I said goodbye to that subscription (premium NOT zwift!). While the year subs runs out – I’ve been looking for another tool to support my insight hunger – and I think I’ve found one. The obvious one is Stravistix – a chrome plugin that gives you more data that you know what to do with – provided you are on a desktop and running chrome. Good for post zwift race analysis but no real help in the shower…

Enter wattsdashboard. This handy little site pulls your strava data and gives you all the views you need on tap… works really well on the phone too. Below are some of the views that I like – I especially like the ave power against Coogans cat ratings 🙂


Sign up and let me know what you think in the comments below. I still need to find a way that I can get strava segments on my garmin once the premium subs run out – It a great motivator to push when a segment pops up on the screen!!!

 

Ode to good gloves

So over a few drinks at Christmas lunch we decided that we had not had enough winter rides… Being a southern hemisphere lad I always followed (before Seoul) the rule that if there was a “-” next to the temperature one should stay in bed, of if you really felt committed – get up and get onto the trainer.

No.such.luck.

After a rather bad night (or so my garmin F3 tells me) I dutifully got up and was suited, booted and gloved in my cycling ninja uniform (my 4 years olds words not mine – but ill take it) I was ready to go. Turn on the garmin and watch with joy as my lighting system (varia) wakes its self up and turns on.

We met a the usual spot for our Namsam hill training session and one of the mad three remarked “I guess apple got it wrong again it’s not that cold”… As you can see below we went from Gung ho to frozen.

The mad three and Dr Evil…

But onto the real saviour of the day… My Outdoor Research Strom Tracker gloves. I owned a pair of these a few years ago and they managed to find their way to the place that all useful items of clothing and single sock do.

As a result after a particularly cold ride last winter, one that I had to use all 4 fingers to pull the brakes on (not fun when you are riding on a DH track…!) I found these gloves online – AND THEY WERE HEATED! Winner winner chicken dinner – until $250. Ouch. Thankfully Amazon had an overstock/returned pair in my size that were a more palatable $70.

I have come to realise that my fingers do not generate heat. Put them in normal gloves no matter how good and they do not get warm – gloves are merely windblockers for me – so I was very excited to try these heated gloves. Today would also be an interesting experiment in that I had not charged one of the gloves and so I had a great control group.

In short – the heating is subtle but definitely there – not strong enough to make your hands sweat unnecessarily (the hills do that well enough)  but strong enough to keep you comfortable – even at -9,6 degrees. (note the snow in the pic below)

 

 

Would I buy these at $250? Probably not. But if you can find them on sale then get in there – and just replace the batteries for $20.

 

Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

A couple of years ago I saw a sports camera on sale.  I decided to buy because I thought of my cycling was good enough to put onto YouTube and show the world… Oh, how wrong I was!

There is nothing more depressing than watching hours of your own footage an realising that “nope” I don’t have any material. zip. nada.

Fast forward four years and I’m riding everything that I can get my grubby little paws onto – and having a go at this blogging stuff so when I saw that Garmin had released their new VIRB – the Ultra 30 I thought I would give it a try. After my first ride, I confess I did get some post purchase dissonance because I felt the battery life was too short. Like all things male, after consulting the manual I realised that voice control, Bluetooth, wifi and Garmin ANT remotes mode would have an adverse effect on the battery life.

Last Saturday was my first opportunity to really test the Garmin – the lads were going Shuttlin! Shuttling is where you take turn at driving the vehicle down the hill to pick up the riders and then play a suitably random game such as ching chong cha to decide who drivers next. It means you get around 5-8 runs (depending on length and fitness) a day. Totally oppose to the “earn your descents theory”

So lesson 1 – Garmin image stabilisation is good, but it is stretched to the max when you mount the camera on the handlebars.

Obviously measuring cadence on a DH bike is pointless so for G metrix only had HR. HR overall was pretty low for the day, but this is only the third time I’ve done these runs after breaking my shoulder, 5 ribs and getting blood in the lungs (SO last year) – You will understand we I was a little skittish. (ok disclaimer over now onto the video.)

The day progressed all that separated me from my glorious video revival was a 30 km ride home into a 22 kt head wind…

Come Sunday evening I settled in to edit the video. Being a big fan of Zwift I thought that I could merge these two exercises – and so did a Z1 ride on the trainer while editing the footage. Wow, I still don’t have it. 45 mins later and while I’m sweating from the riding, the video is still, in a word, Boring.

Wait a minute… what’s that option “auto create video”?

Click, choose the type of video, then the activity, then the music and “go”.

about 30 seconds later Im looking at a perfectly edited video of the day – and the super smart part is that the software uses the metrix to decide what are the best bits! Hang time/Speed?elevated HR/ G force all are flagged and then the vide is built around them – complete with fancy transitions and timed music.

WIN.

In conclusion the battery life as with all cameras could be better and I could have been smarter with my mounting, but the G metrix magic that the software offers is above and beyond, and I think reason enough to buy this smart little camera!

Le Tape Korea – or as I like to call it – FROOOME!!!!

WHAT an awesome day!

froome

So last race I got talking to a team mate – Yohan (I didn’t mess with him) and he told me about this Le Tape Tour by TDF. On the surface, it sounded like something that would be written into the TDF winners contract – “public appearances” at these races around the world. To his credit, he endured it really well – and we Koreans are know for a selfie or two… Running the numbers they had 3000 entrants at $90 a pop. not a bad days work, considering the monster sponsors of Samsung Gear and Lotte too.

So back to Yohan – he gave 2 specific instructions for registration:

  1. Make sure you mention our team name “TSR” because a team of 5 will win tickets to next years TDF.
  2. When choosing your average speed (ie self seeding) select >35km/h – that way you will start with Froomy and the Korean National cycling team (a.k.a his bodyguards)

That being done I waited for the goody bag. It arrived and it was good. Sunblock good enough to use on my kids, an evoc bottle and a $50 voucher for Lotte. WIN.

Blah blah, race prep, hydration, beetroot juice, sleep and fast forward to the start line.

Seeing only one prep tent at the start I decided to pop in to have a look  around – Yep it was his tent. Dogma attached to his new Kickr (at least he has taste in trainers 😉 So did what was expected. Snapped away…

The race start was uneventful, Froome was a little better than the Velitas brothers with the Korean translator – or maybe he just had a better translator. But before we knew it BANG! and we are off…. I said we are off… super rolling start – I mean we hit 25 km/h after about 2 kms. I started thinking this will be a long 130kms. Oh how wrong I was.

Froome dropped something so his guards dropped back with him to pick it up, so I pulled ahead with the leading peleton. The pace quickly picked up averaging around 40 km/h – and despite my best wheel sucking, I took my turn off the front, and our group was overtaken by the Korean team and Froome – It was like we were standing still. Redline HR and tuck in for a train ride at around 50 km/h. Awesome, ill be home for lunch!

Things evened out a bit here and I got a good 2 minutes with Chris, (yep, first name now…) and thankfully, CycleTV caught all of it in HD glory – video below. No idea what they are saying, but I caught my name at the end…

We analysed the future of cycling and how investment houses are moving in (I’m looking at you pinarello!) and why he has a rhino on his bike. After that I pulled back and let the Korean team close him in.  I hopped onto a train and we headed off. The rest of the race was pretty average – super cramps (I blame the beetroot juice!), dodging an ex team mate at 45km/h, insane KOM’s and equally insane descents. Through very tactical group riding I came in at 4:06. the winning time was 3:40.

komnear-miss

descending pain-shakes

Because the draw was only a couple hours later I settled into exploring the race village. The Bitelli rollers caught my attention. I hopped on and after a white lie “yes Ive ridden active rollers before” was off (well nearly, thankfully there were elastics that prevented me from being launched into the 12 year old rocking the rollers next to me – GRRRR.) Note to self – Rollers work better if your weight is on the back wheel, not the front.

Wow – What I like about my Kickr is that i can shut down, focus on the pain – repeat IWKMATTBYT and get through whatever workout or Zwift race Im doing. Not possible in these rollers. You have to be 100% attentive! and when the road goes up 10%, so do the rollers. And when you descend at 70 km/h, the fans crank up to 70 km/h. Super realistic, but I still feel like IDT and outdoor riding are different beasts. I train indoors to ride outdoors, and my focus on the IDT is simply pain and gain, not realism. An awesome experience absolutely, but I’ll keep my kickr thanks.

bitellu

Queue disappointment stage left. It had the perfect recipe! Samsung Gear, VR, Oculus Rift, a 4D rollercoaster thing and mountain biking! Yep – There was a concept of a 4D experience where you “experienced” mountain biking in VR. I had 5 mins on it, but had to get off after 2 as was feeling too nauseous – Im not sure what it was but I couldnt take it. It reminded me of ninties disneyworld – “honey I shrunk the kids”.

gear

With enough time killed I joined the team for the draw. no ticket to Paris, but I did win a new Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Whoop! However it doesn’t play well with apple, so right now its on ebay for a steal…

In conclusion I would say if ever you get the chance to do a Le Tape Tour, DO IT! over commit to your average speed and talk smack with the worlds best!

 

 

eBay and toddlers

So I’ve decided that I’m no longer safe on the road – crazy drivers (ok in korea there is some truth to this – I think their drivers license requires replicating scenes from mad max). As such there is only one answer. Radar. Like what helped the allies defeat the Germans in world war 2, on my bike. Awesome. AND, it doubles as a light. AND the technology was developed by a fellow South African. Win.

BUT, I’m not interested in paying retail – after all only snobs pay retail. Enter eBay.

I’m told that great deals are to be had on cycling gear on eBay, and the idea appealed – set my upper limit for what I’m willing to pay for a piece of kit and then my app goes into a one up battle with your app – and hopefully because I have  slightly (and I’m talking cents) deeper pocket, I win the item, get the girl and live happily ever after. Well I’m half way there, I got the girl so now I just need the gear.
Oh how naive I was. I think there is a thesis waiting to be written about eBay bidding behavior – Brinkmanship and late nights. 

After losing out on my first 3 varia radars, it just kills me to see that you lose out by a pound or a dollar. I’m sure the winning bid had set their limit higher but they only need to eclipse your max. Ok to be honest I probably could have tried harder but being in Seoul all my auctions ended at like 4 am – and I’m afraid for my safely but not THAT afraid.

So another varia went up, I controlled the bidding for the first 3 days and it had settled on £80 (retail is £150 or so…) then no one really bothered. While there were three other bidders in the mix I was cautiously optimistic.

Fast forward 2 days and I was still in tr lead. As usual with 8 hrs to go I went to bed. 

Come 4am our 2 year old decided it was cuddle time “huggy” she says. I walk her back tone and take 10 mins to settle her. As I lie down again I remembered my auction and curiously logged in. 

5 minutes till close!

Score, I bid and immediately was trounced. Ah so there was someone else at play. Game on. We danced while the time dropped and at 40 seconds to go we were at £92. I bid 94 and se did my mysterious challenger. They got in a second before me so even though the leading bid was 94 they had it.

10 seconds to go. 

Rapid typing ensured and suffice to say I secured a new varia radar for 96 pounds – and somewhere someone is frustrated. And tats why the fuel of this post is eBay and toddlers.

I’ll post a review of it once I get it 🙂 thanks for reading…

Update: just snipered a Asia winter jacket for £54. Must stop.