Posts tagged ‘equipment’
Before I go into the equipment meltdowns I had a couple weeks ago, I want to give a huge shout out to John and the rest of the mechanics at Bob’s Bikes who have kept me up and running even when I put extreme loads on all of my equipment to the breaking point. They get me back up and running again every time!!!
Also, I’m reviewing an iBike sports product below. I believe these guys have put together a product, the iBike Dash plus Power, that gives data junkies like me everything they could ever want to know about their rides and their training! Here is a review of my initial experience with the iBike Dash plus Power after a couple weeks usage and the essential features that I am using day in and day out. First, let me point you to this Velonews article which has much better pictures of the iBike. Here are my pictures: (yes, my bike is filthy, but it is supposed to rain tomorrow and what point would there be in cleaning it up before it rains!!!)
The wheel speed sensor mounted on the front fork.
The cadence sensor mounted on the non-drive side chainstay.
Setup was super easy. You simply slide the iphone into the phone booth, and the iphone automatically connects to the Apple appstore to download the free app which is the display for the power meter. Make sure you either have a phone signal or are connected to a wireless network before inserting the iphone.
You can customize each of the training screens, but I primarily keep mine on the power gauge screen shown above. This has the most important statistics for me: power, average power, speed, slope, max slope, cadence, and heartrate. Note that power and heartrate are both color-coded based on user-configuable Functional Threshold Power and Maximum Heartrate. Also, note that these statistics are completely customizable in very much the same manner as any of the Garmin bike computers.
Downloading and analyzing the data is accomplished via email. Click on Options, click on Send Ride Files, and then click Send next to the ride file you want to send. The iBike stores the email address so you don’t have to type it in each time. Once you receive the data file, save it to your computer, fire up the iBike software, and then click open. Browse for the .ibd file that you just downloaded from your email. iBike automatically reads in the file and saves it to a .csv file compatible with Trainingpeaks. Or you can analyze the ride file from within the iBike software. I personally think that the iBike software has the best graph layout of any software on the market! Here is a screenshot of a typical ride file:
iBike software ride view from top to bottom (power, speed/wind, elevation, slope)
Comparison with iBike Generation III
Prior to switching to the iBike Dash plus Power, I was using the iBike Generation III power meter. The Generation III meter is smaller, less expensive, and lighter than the iBike Dash plus Power. The larger size of the iBike Dash enables it to have more accurate wind sensor readings. Also, it allows the iBike Dash to have a beautiful large easy to read user interface. The older Generation III had an acceptable user interface, but there was no backlight so you couldn’t read it after dark.
NOTE about my iBike Dash plus Power setup: I am using my wife’s old iPhone 3G with no cellphone account activated on it, but it still works great recording all the GPS information and transferring files when connected via wireless network. But one of the big complaints against the old iPhone 3G is its slow processor, and you do notice that when running the iBike app. I would definitely recommend using an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, which have much better processors than the old 3G. Having said that, I am using the iPhone 3G and can put up with the slow response time especially when switching between windows.
Summary If you are a data junkie or looking for a more affordable way to measure power, the iBike Dash plus Power is the way to go. You get a sleek user interface, a handy carrying case for your iPhone, and all the data you could ever want. Contact me if you have any questions about the iBike Dash or shoot me an email to setup a ride with me where you can see it in action.
AND NOW ONTO THE EQUIPMENT WOES…
Here is a bulletted list for what didn’t make it into the picture:
- Sunday 4/3 – Broken front derailleur – I was climbing a steep grade and all of a sudden I hear a clunk/ping. I continue the climb but notice that my chain is rubbing on the front derailleur. On closer inspection at the top of the climb, I notice that there is a rivet missing from the front derailleur and so the whole derailleur is essentially split into two halves with the bottom part rubbing on not only the chain but also the front chainrings. I rode home very slowly trying not to ruin the chainrings. I ended up swapping out bikes and riding my old Trek after a little bit of work on it to make it rideable again and ended up just doing tons of climbing near my house – http://app.strava.com/rides/387911
- Monday 4/4 – Double flat – I was enjoying a slow, easy, wandering commute home with a ton of climbing when I started down the descent of Hackberry. I hit a small rock and heard the hissing sound of leaking air. Well, it turns out that it was a pinch flat (probably from not having pumped up the wheel in a week). I patched the tube and pumped it up to as high a pressure as I could with my frame pump (maybe 80psi?). I continued on my way home and then at the steepest part of the descent, which I was doing slowly, the tire went flat again. I was only a couple miles from home so I called Kristine to come pick me up, and she and Josiah came to my “rescue” a few minutes later! http://app.strava.com/rides/390412
- Tuesday 4/5 – Broken spoke – I was riding an old Cane Creek wheel because my Mavic training wheel was in desperate need of an internal hub cleaning to the point that it was no longer safe to descend at above 40mph without pedaling fast enough to keep the freewheel from spinning. The Cane Creek wheel was in pretty bad shape to begin with, but held together well on my Monday ride. Tuesday, though, I broke a spoke at the farthest out point of my ride. The rest of the wheel still had enough tension for me to ride home slowly. http://app.strava.com/rides/393157
- Wednesday and Thursday passed without incident.
- Friday 4/8 – Another flat tire – This was a puncture flat from a 10 week old tire with about 3600 miles on it. This was a rear tire which hadn’t worn through to the threads yet so I was surprised to puncture. I patched the tire up and made it home with no problems. http://app.strava.com/rides/401319
- Tuesday 4/12 – Another broken spoke – I was climbing up a hill in Mountain Brook and as I pulled over to a shady spot to pull out a powerbar from my backpack, I heard the familiar sound of a spoke breaking. I looked down and sure enough, I had another broken spoke. This one really put the wheel out of true, and I had to ride very slowly home to keep the tire from rubbing the frame. Definitely time to say good-bye to the Cane Creek wheel. $5 or best offer. Needs new spoke. Other spokes are frozen in place if you are looking to part out the hub you may need to cut the spokes off. http://app.strava.com/rides/419270
- Wednesday 4/13 – Extra wheel ride – All of this brings us to me riding home with my Mavic training wheel strapped to my back (photo above). And hopefully my run of bad luck / equipment breakdown is over for a while! http://app.strava.com/rides/424389
After hearing about all my equipment woes from the previous week, Roger hooked me up with these sweet Michelin racing tires, which I used for Dothan and Mississippi Gran Prix. Next up for these tires is Barbers this weekend and then USA Crits Speedweek (Athens, Roswell, Spartanburg, Dilworth, Sandy Springs). Also in this pic are the Rudy Project strydon sunglasses that I won from the January KOM climbing competition on Strava.
So that about sums up things, and randomly, here is my 4 year old mountain biking through the woods in our neighborhood. Check out those skills and no training wheels!
Amazing cleat story here – after two and a half years and at least 25,000 miles I had to replace my speedplay zero cleats this morning. I knew that there was a problem about a week ago when the right cleat was loose even with the tension screws closed all the way down. It turns out that I had sheered off a plastic tab that helps hold the locking mechanism in place. It’s hard to tell in the blurry picture, but you can wiggle the locking mechanism with your hand even though it’s supposed to be secure. So today I installed a replacement cleat, and I thought the warning message was hilarious in light of the miles that I had on the shoe. It says to replace the cleat every 5,000 miles! Mine lasted 5x longer than that! Tonight’s the Charlotte Criterium (Presbyterian Invitational) and I’ll be posting my race report sometime tomorrow – hoping to get more points in the USA crits series to keep my top 10 standing (I’m currently 7th by 1 point).
So it is definitely the off-season. One way I know that is because of the number of projects that have managed to make it to the queue for processing. I am working on the development of two different websites in addition to creating a toolkit for monitoring Ajax performance as part of my academic research. I haven’t been riding a ton, but there a few things to note:
- The 2008-2009 BBL season is underway! I am managing the website for the series, and we have really stepped it up this year with organization, prizes, etc… I rode the inaugural weekend but was then out of town last weekend for a conference, and this coming weekend we will be on our way back from Thanksgiving with family in Northern Indiana.
- My Garmin Edge 705 bike computer / GPS unit arrived in the mail yesterday morning. I brought it with me here to Indiana where I am sitting in a coffee shop trying to get caught up on a few things while Kristine and the kids nap. I will write up a detailed review of my experience with the Garmin after my first few rides with it. On an interesting side note – I am writing from Rocky Mountain Cafe – a very cool coffee shop in La Porte, IN. My large mocha was a bit expensive ($4.50), but I have unlimited access to free wireless. This is compared to the other wifi hotspot that I tried – Temple News Agency – where I had the option of paying $4.25 for a large mocha and then paying not $1, not $2, not $3, but $4 for one hour of wireless connectivity. Hmmm, let’s see – $4.50 plus free wifi or $8.25 plus the opportunity to sit in a small cramped building with somebody smoking inside it. I’m glad I just smiled and said “thank you” and left the first spot!
- Finally, it looks like I’ll be doing a couple days of cold-weather riding up here on snow-free roads surrounded by a beautiful snowy countryside up here in La Porte, IN! They had a lake effect snowstorm that dropped about 10 inches of snow a few days ago and all of it has melted from the roads which are completely dry and yet the fields are still covered in snow! It doesn’t get any better than that for a biking southerner who doesn’t get to see snow very often!
A little bit disappointing with how the season ended today – but I am glad I was even able to finish the race after my power meter cable came loose and was getting caught in my gears. I had to shift around in the back as it was jumping around to try to physically push the cable out of the way with the chain or get it to rest on top of the chain. I ended up trying not to shift much in the last few laps and then sprinting in the middle of my rear cassette spining like mad for the finish. All things considered, I will take 13th to finish up the season and start my off-season with a nice easy week of commuting!
With two flat tires in two consecutive days, I thought it was worth posting about my bad luck. Yesterday on the way into work, I had not made it a mile from my house and my rear tire was flat. I didn’t hear a popping or deflating noise, it just went flat so I thought I could fill it up with my CO2 cartridge and then book it home to change the tire. Turns out it was a pinch flat so I wasted a CO2 cartridge trying to fill it up since it deflated just as quickly as it would inflate. I rode home slowly on the flat tire.
Today, on my way into work, I got another flat – this time as I was climbing Shades Mountain (see map). This time it was my front tire, and I had left my saddle bag in my backpack at school during the Tuesday world’s ride. So with no way to change the tire, I rode it the 4 MILES down the mountain, across the valley, and then up to my building at an average speed of 10mph. Whew, hopefully no more flats for a while!
I went ahead and purchased a new front wheel. I read an article about a Zipp carbon fiber front wheel that failed catasrophically after being “fixed” with carbon epoxy. Basically what can happen is that the crack will deepen underneath the epoxy and you won’t be able to tell because it’s hidden by the epoxy.
I went with a Neuvation tubular carbon fiber 50mm wheel. Even though this has been my best season ever (and I’m quite happy with it – although it’s not over yet!), I haven’t quite had the monetary success to be able to afford a $1000 Zipp wheel or $600 American Classic. The Neuvation will weigh about 100-125 grams heavier than the American classic that it is replacing at a cost of just $279. As long as it is stiff, corners well, and rolls smoothly that shouldn’t be a problem. I will definitely report back on how it goes!
Also, I replaced my rear training tire today. I got a good deal on the Forte Pro DC tire, and I got about 4500 miles on them before the rear one started to shred. The front one is still going strong – probably another 2500 miles left in it.
Also, with my Polar power meter purchase, I got a gift certificate for a free Road ID. It’s very handy, comfortable, and I’m not sure why but it reassures my wife about my riding and training. I know from how badly my eyes burn during workouts that my sweat is pretty caustic. After only 3 weeks, the lettering on the ID is starting to fade. Fortunately it’s a lifetime warranty so it looks like I’ll probably be sending it back in for warranty replacement before the end of the year!
First, let me start with a question. If this was your expensive carbon front wheel, what would you do? This happened during a crit when I heard a loud pop and thought I had blown a tire. I was able to finish the race with no apparent problems, but the clicking I heard during braking was the outer layers of carbon fiber getting caught on the brakes. The crack is only to the outermost layer of the carbon, and it is peeling off like layers of an onion. I am planning on taking it by Cahaba Cycles later today to get a recommendation, but I am wondering if anybody out there has had a similar problem.
Also, I’ve been meaning to post these pics for a while, but I recently had to update some equipment on my bike. First, my speedplay x-series pedals were wearing out, and I was wanting to move to something with a little less float so I used my store credit at Cahaba Cycles (thanks guys!) to purchase a new set of Speedplay Zeros. These pedals allow you to adjust how much float you have, and they are awesome! Finally, after 15 months and at least a thousand (maybe two thousand) miles of hard racing, I had to replace the tubular tire on my rear American Classic racing wheel.