Wednesday, February 9, 2011
If there is one thing that I really love about the sport of cycling, it's the continual need for industry to keep pushing itself further in to new realms of advanced technology and lightweight materials. Manufacturers and consumer alike will never be satisfied with what is currently available which means that the arms race will keep going and going and going, who knows what will be released next week, next month or next year. These advances in technology have opened amazing new doors for cyclist of all types, we can cycle further thanks to 5 panel, multi density, anti-bacterial, contoured bib shorts, we can shave seconds off of our 25 mile PB thanks to sub 1000g full carbon 58mm deep section wheel. Most importantly for coaches however is the ability to quantify and accurately monitor acute and progressive training load whilst having the ability to train without the influence of external factors and uncontrollable variables thanks to the advancements and developments in the very competitive world of on board power measuring devices, this is the thing that really gets my blood flowing and always looking forward to the next update from the newest power measuring company on the block. It really has turned in to a race to see who can develop the most accurate, reliable, repeatable, user friendly, lightweight and indestructible power meter on the market and now it's really hotting up. Now I could make this entire post in to a full historic run down of the development of the power meter but this ground has already been covered numerous times can be searched for on the web at any time. Instead, I want to give you an account of my experience with powermeteres and how using the technology has advanced the way in which I train and ride my bike in general.
This is why a few months ago I decided to try another brand of PM and splashed out on a Quarq SRAM chainset. Expensive but well worth it. I got the new power meter for a few reasons, one being due to having a spare for clients and just in case one goes wrong and the other reason is because a crank based system is better for on my racing bike due to being able to use my race wheels and not having to worry about chucking my PT wheel in to the follow car if I happen to get a puncture in a race.
My initial impression of the Quarq is one of marvel; its lightness is the thing that impressed me the most with it only adding a few grams to the existing chainset. Set is simple, as simple as putting on any other chainset; bearing in, greased up, chainset popped through the frame, other crank arm on, torqued up, job done. The only extra thing that you have to do with this chain set is to fit the cadence magnets to the bottom bracket area, this is what triggers the reed switch and wakes up the power meter. There are 2 options for this with the first being the easiest; the cranks come with a bottom bracket mount with a magnet attached, simple put this behind your external BB before tightening it up. The second requires a bit more creativity and is the option I had to use due to owning a Trek which used push fit bearing. For this they give you a poxy which you use to stick the magnet to the frame but would also suggest the use of super glue and gaffer tape just to make sure it is nice a safe.
Comparing the Quarq and the PT is a hard thing to do as they are both great pieces of kit and both have their pros and cons. The PT has been very reliable and is pretty user friendly and easy to set up, it's also the most affordable option out there at the moment with the most basic hub costing around £500. However, its biggest flaw is the terrible bearings that Powertap keep putting in to their wheels. Your first set will last you around 6 months before needing to be sent off to be replaced as it's not something that you can do yourself due to the fragile internals of the hub, this means that you will be without your wheel at some point. The other obvious down fall is only being able to use that wheel which means you have to decide whether you get it laced it to a nice expensive carbon race wheel or a mile crunching training wheel. Pretty hard choice when it comes to crunch time.
The Quarq again has similar things going for it; easy to set up, user friendly and currently the cheapest crank based option there is with the basic model costing around £1000. However, keep in mind that the Quarq does not come with a head unit so you will have to factor this in to the price as well but even if you brought a Garmin which is around £300, you are still looking at a quality set up for an awful lot less than an SRM. Also as I have mentioned this is the better option for race day as it means you can use whatever wheels take your fancy and it won't add much weight to your bike unlike the PT. The actual downsides to the Quarq are quite hard to come by, there is nothing drastic that comes to mind that would put you off buying one. Switching t from bike to bike is a bit of a longer process than the PT but still possible and only if you happen to get one of the badly manufactured batches will you suffer any real problems; this will eventually be resolved as soon there will be none left in circulation. The only thing I can see being an issue at the moment is the fact that Quarq will be continually updating the firmware in the cranks as they develop and they can only update existing Quarq at their factory in the US which means that non US residents will have to box up there cranks and ship them off, however the updates are free and I should imaging service centre will across Europe will soon be able to do this in due time.
So overall, I am very happy with my new purchase and look forward to using it during the racing season. If you were looking to get a power meter then my suggestions would be to do you research and ask around for varying opinions, even test some if you can. It's a big investment and one that you want to get right. In my opinion I would say go with a PT if you are on a tight budget and are mainly looking for something to use for training and not fussed about wheel choice for races. However, if you can afford it my top choice would be the Quarq as it's a solid piece of kit that will last its user an awful long time.
In the last year the biggest power meter advancement to date has been in development, the battle to produce the first pedal based PM.
Garmin and metrigear have teamed up and Polar and look have also paired and both are working on their own designs which apparently will be available in quarter 4 of this year. I for one will be keeping up to date with the developments of these amazing pieces of technology and may even have to begin saving up for one very soon!
Monday, February 7, 2011
Stratford CC Reliability Ride, 6th February 2011
Route – 54 miles around a hilly loop through the Cotswold's
The concept of the reliability ride is simple; a club organises there ride by planning a route, usually around 60 miles, promote via word of mouth and online forums and rent out a HQ. Simple. Riders turn up choose a group to go in depending on how fast they think they can do the route, grab a map and set off with the aim of completing the ride within there chosen time band. As these rides attract a whole variety of riders from complete novices all the way up to elite road riders, the groups always split and most participants do the ride a lot faster than originally intended and the faster groups pretty much become an informal road race, this can make them great pre-season events for racers to test their legs and perform some unstructured yet very specific training.
RPC’s local club, Stratford CC, have been running there February reliability ride for as long as the club has been going and is always run over the same route. Every year it seems to achieve a bigger turn out which is great seeing as how all profits go to the Warwickshire Air Ambulance Service and this year was no exception with an estimated 150 riders turning out to tackle the 54 mile loop. This was also great for us as this was a great chance to hand out some of our new leaflets and promote RPC at some local events.
The route itself is a great mix of short punchy climbs, long drags and fast descents while taking in some stunning Cotswold's scenery. The first half is the toughest as it climbs from Stratford all the way to the half-way point which is situated at the highest village in the Cotswold's, Stow on the Wold. After this point the ride becomes more undulating as it meanders its way back to Stratford through quaint villages and smaller roads. The route contains around 3000ft of climbing most of which is in the first 20 miles and can be considered a pretty ride on any day, but today is was made an awful lot harder due to the Gail force winds that have been sweeping across the county in the past few days but it looked as if the rain might just hold off.
Soon the bunch had whittled down in to a more select group and we continued to work together to keep the pace up. For me this was a nice group as it contained to riders I knew very well, one of which was Mark Heath who I used to race on the same team with and train a lot with on our clubs Tuesday night bash. We ride well together as we can sense when to take a turn and can ride with confidence behind one another. As we began the final series of climbs toward Stow, I was feeling great and soon found that I was riding my group off of my wheel on every climb, although this filled me with glee as it’s something I haven’t felt for a while, I decided to wait each time as I didn’t see the point of riding solo in what I intended to be a social ride.
Once we hit Stow and turned back in the direction of Stratford, the head wind became a tail wind and the fun really began; Fast, fluid riding with no real effort, love it.
Once me and mark had rode off the front of our group in order to get a gap so we could stop for a nature break, we had passed pretty much all of the other groups out on the road and not too far from the village of Halford, me and mark put the hammer down again, this time with the purpose of starting some race like antics. We took one other rider with us and the 3 of us worked together to get away and soon we were long gone. Turning off of the Banbury road towards Loxley, one last hill was up ahead and with a nice tail wind I hit it with some pace and continued over the top, I saw that I had gapped the other 2 with mark in the middle. I began to wait but then decided to put my head down and make him chase for the last few miles, good training and good fun if nothing else. Initially it looked as if mark was closing but soon I began to extend the gap and I rode back in to the HQ on my own but not before extending my ride accidentally by a mile due to taking a wrong turn!
Distance – 55.34 miles
Ave Speed – 19.1 mph
Ave Power – 192 watts
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The aim of this blog is to keep you up to date with the latest advances in cycling and coaching techniques and information, as well as giving you an insight in to what we do, who we have been testing and coaching, give you an inside look at some of the events that we attend, supply you with some tips and tricks and also express how our w training and racing is going throughout the season.
This should hopefully be enough to keep these pages updated regularly so will hopefully keep you coming back for more.
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So first things first, let’s give you a bit more info on what we are all about. At RPC our overall goal is to provide a real one to one coaching experience where relationships are built and developed over time in order for us to provide you with training that suits you, your lifestyle and your physical makeup. Everybody is different so everybody’s training should be different, this is basic but there are so many cases where coaches just dish out the same training for various people just because it worked once for one person. One to one coaching doesn’t work in this way so we aim to provide the real deal. For more information on our monthly coaching packages just checkout the website.