Miles of Life ~ My life as a donut Kylie Donia

Archive for the ‘PowerTap’ Category

first cycling race

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

This Sunday Mike and I headed to Piru, a bit north of the LA area, for our first cycling race: a 20k Time Trial. I needed to do another FTP test, so this seemed like a good way to do it.

Dark and early we packed up the bikes and headed out, only forgetting the trainer, which made it hard to warm up (plus we only have one!). We found the site pretty easily, and soon learned that the basically flat route we for some reason thought we’d find wasn’t so flat. It is a regularly used course, and experienced riders were talking about the steady climb section on the way back, and the rollers both ways. We had heard though that it would be not a question of if there was wind, but which direction it would be going.

We got registered, and learned to pin on our numbers for this sport (on your side, sideways, with the bottom of the numbers toward your belly, and using a pin at each corner, the leading and back edge, and on the top). We also learned how hard it is to pin a number on a trisuit that leaves little to the imagination 😉 But I do like my new outfit! Super comfy.

I was to start at 9:18, and Mike at 9:18:30. We waited around the start once things were moving, and soon I was up. The guy at the line held my seat, and they told me to hold my breaks and clip in. Then they gave me a warning to start putting pressure on the pedals, and to release my breaks, and I was off! Ok make it hurt time.

So I did. I pedaled hard. It hurt. I pedaled some more. I wanted to keep that pain in my legs and that pressure on the pedals. I stayed aero the whole time. And I flew. When I looked at my PT data later I found that for the out part of the 20k I averaged 24.7 mph, and 152 watts. And the 6.13 miles took me 14:52 (I missed the first bit since the PT had fallen asleep). And Mike (who passed me about 2 miles in) was only about half a mile ahead – results of my ability to realize the downhill/wind and push a bit harder than he does in those cases.

That was the tailwind and net downhill direction. After the turnaround it no longer seemed like my work was paying off quite as much. And it was definitely a bit climbier, to where I did sit up once or twice, and I did use my easiest gear in the back (but never needed the small ring in the front). So I just kept focusing on how close I was to the finish. Heck the whole bike race was shorter than my run race the previous weekend… how bad could it be? 😉 A turn, and the end was in sight. Pleased and with sore legs I pushed through the line, and then was onto the brakes and done.

As a testament to the course and the wind, for the second half I only averaged 16.7 mph although I averaged 167 watts. And those 6.24 miles took me 22:23. All said and done, my official time was 37:40something I think. 1st place in the women’s public division. From the PT: 12.38 miles, 161 watts avg (166 norm), 19.9mph, and 37:17.

It was a nice, small, family feeling race. I hope to go back and do more of their 20ks and maybe 40ks once they start up later this year.

so many watts I broke my bike

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Yesterday’s schedule called for a 15mi time trial test on the tri bike. I knew of a loop that I thought would be great for it, and that I pass on the way to work, so I headed out there. It’s a 4 mi loop that is basically flat and has a single stop sign I have to really pay attention to, plus 2 that are a T intersection. So by going the right way you can really sit at a consistent number and “git ‘er done”.

It was my first time trying to hold a set and hard power number for that long. It was tough! But finally I got to the part with instructions “for the last mile try to tear the cranks off the bike” and I begged and pleaded with my legs — “Just one more mile, and then I promise I’ll back off, and shift, and you can have a nice easy spinny loop before we head off to work” and they did it, just for me!

I cruised for a bit, and started downshifting. KAPABLAM! The rear shifter exploded in my hand. Well, it hadn’t felt like it was shifting well during the test, so I was mostly just thankful it waited til after my 15 miles to poop out on me. But it did mean that I couldn’t shift, and of course with the lack of tension on the cable the rear derailleur moved to “hardest to pedal” gear. And then the front was like well, no, I don’t want to make your life easy, so if you shift to the little ring I’m going to not catch.

So after all the promises I made to the legs, and how they held up their end of the bargin, I didn’t get to give them the nice easy spinny part they love. And instead had to have a very low cadence and make it back to the car that way.

But at least I suffered for the prescribed 15 miles first. And legs, I know I don’t always keep my promises, but I was trying — really! I’ll make it up to you. How about a swim this evening?

Removing the PT computer

Monday, February 11th, 2008

As we got the bikes out of the car to race this weekend, Mike’s PT computer fell off his bike. It was in the bike mount cradle well, but that whole cradle fell off the part that is zip-tied to the bike. He snapped it back on, and we thought nothing of it.

Then in the race after a rough patch of road mine did the same. Luckily it was a small loop, the PT was on the left edge of a VERY low traffic road, and the race would still be going once I finished my race, so I left it and just rode the loop again after I was done to pick it up.

However when I got it the bottom of the slider where the cradle goes onto the zip tied part was broken, and it won’t go back on my bike. So I have to get a new bike mount for it. And on inspection at home it looks like Mike’s might be breaking in the same place.

Our thoughts are that it might be from the aero bottle pressure, or more likely that it is from how we have been taking the computer piece off to upload to the computer. We are thinking that in the future we need to be careful to hold the mount in place more while we remove the computer. Has any one else had this happen?

PowerTap — losing signal

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

So one of my favorite rides includes a stretch along a dam (flat and wide bike trail). Unfortunately something (perhaps in it) turns out to be one of the only places in about 100 miles of us where PT often loses reception at least for a bit, as Rich of Wheelbuilder let Mike and I know. Oh well, it’s still part of a great ride — the end of the dam and back is just over 20 miles for me a good quick morning ride.

Today though both our PTs were having issues regaining signal after we were through that section and a couple miles from it. While mine was dropping signal and finding it again, Mike’s gave up. However, I remembered that holding down both buttons for a second will make the screen say “FIND” and it will do what appears to be a stronger refresh of the signal – after doing that on his, I don’t think he had any more issues, and I stopped having them as well. We just had to be careful: if you hold down both buttons, it scrolls through “FIND” (what we wanted) and then “- clr -” which will reset all the data on the PT (definitely not what we want), and then into a setup screen (which is weird to get out of).

One of my biggest PT annoyances had been that once it lost your HR it didn’t look for it again. So go pee, and no more HR. ARG! Today I realized that the “FIND” will also rescan for the HR strap! So I now know how to get it back. Much better!

PowerTap — using it and uploading to computer

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

For now I’m just riding with the PT and seeing what I see. While riding the PT is pretty easy to use — the buttons are easy to press in gloves, and once you get used to how they scroll through screens it becomes pretty easy to see the information you wanted to see. It is very much like a regular cycling computer (too bad I haven’t used one in years).

When it came to time to read the data, first things first: I wanted to know what would happen as I uploaded things since I have this fear of losing data. Even if I don’t yet know how to read the data.

So what I learned:

1. Plug the PT into the computer and upload it into the software that you have choosen. This does nothing to the information on the device.

2. If you hold both buttons down on the PT until – clr – is displayed, it will clear all the data on the PT. Do this only after you have the data, since it doesn’t just clear the display but also removes all the data.

3. There is no way to reset the PT display without also removing all the data: so if you want to do 2 rides back to back, you have to either upload to your computer and do a clr of the device (steps 1 and 2) or leave all the data in place and have a time and a distance that is the total of the rides still on it. So not my favorite solution, but I’ll get used to it.

Ok so on first glance the PowerAgent 7 software that comes with the PowerTap is a bit… well, sucky. It appears to break every workout up based on every pause. Bleck! A day later I noticed though that as you upload it you do have a merge option. Oops. So it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. I’m still not sure if I like it, and I’ve heard such good things about CyclingPeaks that I downloaded the trial version of that to test out.

Again, CyclingPeaks was a tough program to figure out. But I think it is easier to use and has a better interface (and that’s probably just because that is what I’ve heard about it). However, it has issues with my computer. It doesn’t always correctly read my PT. I still am not sure why it sometimes can’t find it and then a second later can. This is on a Vista machine, so perhaps it has something to do with that.

PowerTap night 1 & day 1 — the setup & the first ride

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Santa came early and dropped off PowerTap SL 2.4 wheels (the wireless version) for Mike and me! A number of people have expressed interest in our learning process with them, so I’m going to blog our progress of getting up to speed and learning to make the most out of them in our training.

We got them set up last night. Not too big of a deal — Rich (of built up awesome sexxy wheels so we just had to move over our cassettes, tubes, and tires. Then we added the computer mount to the bikes.

Here are the wheels before we got started:

I will post the full bikes once we have our new black front wheels on them as well.

We then spent the evening reading the manuals and playing with the computers: setting the time, learning a bit about what was displayed where and how to see different things. Definitely not straight forward, but actually pretty simple once you read the manual. I guess it is actually fairly similar to a regular bike computer like a cateye, but as I haven’t used one of those in a long time (and was just using my Garmin Forerunner 301) I’m not used to that interface right now.

This morning we got up bright and early and took them for a ride. It was fun to see the numbers and wonder what it all meant. I’m such a geek — I’m excited to have my first file to upload and (with the help of Coach MarkyV) learn from.

However that brings me to my first sticking point, and I have done some limited googling to no avail so far. It seems the PT manual is missing the info of what to do once the data is collected:

  • Once I have a trip in the PT computer, do I have to upload it to my computer before doing the next trip, or will it save multiple trips? How many will it save?
  • Once I do upload it to my computer, how do I reset the trip to start a new one?
  • While Saris does provide software for use with the PT, I know there are a number of websites that are popular for coaches to be able to give feedback, etc. Which one should I use (and yes, I’m waiting to hear from Marky on that one)?
  • If I upload the file to my computer, is it then gone from the PT? Or could I upload it a number of times if I needed to?

Right now I’ve put an email in to Marky, and I’m sitting here with a computer full of data just waiting to be looked at! And at home I have the highly recommended book Training and Racing with a Power Meter just waiting for me to keep reading it 🙂

Oh, and here is a bit of background on how we came to be the proud parents of new PowerTap wheels:

So why did we get power? Because we’ve heard such good things about how it can help you improve on the bike, and in particular make the best use of your time. As I’m going back to grad school part time in January (with full time work) I’m going to need to make the best use of my training time for sure!

And why PowerTap, not Ergomo or SRM? All of them seem to be reliable and useful, but we have multiple bikes: Mike has a road and a tri bike, and I have a tri bike and hope to add a road one as well soon. So we wanted something easy to switch between bikes, and we didn’t want to spend a fortune getting both bikes set up with it. It’s expensive enough to have to buy two of them! No need to up that to 4! Plus Rich at Wheelbuilder is a good friend, and he uses one as well as being a dealer of them, so we’d have him to learn from.