Category Archives: training updates

Choosing your bicycle Part 2

After 47,992 km, 2 cracked steerer tubes and 1 broken derailleur hanger, it was time for me to go through the process of getting a new rig. The frame might have lasted another 12,000 kms or more, but having almost no chance of obtaining bits of spares for the frame like cable guides, cable stops etc was the nail in the coffin.

Unlike the professionals (some, not all), most of us are not regularly issued equipment. I classify myself as a heavy user, based on the number of tyres, chains and handlebar tape I go through. So knowing that I can prolong and/or extend the lifespan of my equipment at minimum cost sits quite high up the priority list. One of the important factors for me is after sales support and availability of spares. And yes, I wash my equipment regularly.

I started by going through the UCI-approved equipment list, which you can find here. I didn’t want to get caught up at equipment checks during races so if you don’t intend to race, you have a lot more options.. It is also interesting to see some new frames already on the list that have yet to be launched.

I knew it was going to be an interesting process to narrow down my choices. Price is definitely the main consideration for me. I also had to stick with rim brakes because a complete disc brake bike is not within my budget. With local bike shops (LBS) limiting walk-ins, some only by appointment and the majority with almost no online presence prior to Covid-19, it was almost impossible to see what past season models were still available. I also wanted to explore the Taiwanese/Chinese options. I sit more along the side of practical over brand names. So I would actually ride the bike, rather than look to resell it in the near future. With that said, I also wouldn’t say no if someone gave me a new bike.

Other than price, I also look at frame size geometry and where my current setup sits in the sizing chart.I started by going through the frame geometries of what I could find online and I filtered out a handful of options. After a number of messages online with a few manufacturers, I settled with this:

With only a slightly higher stack, the Memil Hanshi has very similar frame size geometry (Stack and Reach) to my current setup. It runs a direct-mount brake on the front fork and Pressfit bottom bracket, both which are on my existing setup. That’s three ticks right there. What was most impressive was the communication I had with the guys. They were prompt, detailed and professional in helping with the process of building up the bike. They have been extremely helpful not just in getting the frame over, but making sure that I had no problems putting it together.

Not forgetting the sick paint job.

 

Looking forward to seeing how this rides

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Talking indoor trainers

I don’t know any one person who hasn’t been affected by the pandemic that is happening at the moment. Countries are handling it differently, people are reacting and responding differently as well. In Singapore, our idea of a partial lockdown, the Circuit Breaker, has recently been extended for another 4 weeks along with additional measures, which is hard to keep track because of the ambiguity of some of the measures and there seems to be additions every other week. How has your riding/training been affected? Let us know in the comments section.

If you haven’t already set up your pain cave or at least started thinking about alternatives to your training/exercise regime, now is probably a good time.

Having alternatives in your workout bag empowers you to be adaptable. It does not necessarily mean you have to permanently add them to your routine. In any case, your routine has probably gone out of the window. It’s like having a 9 or 12-piece allen key set, instead of just carrying around the 4, 5, 6 mm.

Depending on the movement restrictions that have been imposed, and the situation going on at home (Work from home, kids on home-based learning etc), if you are now unable to ride outdoors as much you would want to, the next questions are: What turbo trainer should I be getting? And what sessions do I want to be doing? It’s like going through the same decision-making process when you were getting your first bike. You can’t really be sure if you are going to continue using the turbo trainer after the restrictions have been lifted because you might realize that you hate riding the turbo all together.

Wheel-on trainers are cheap these days. Not the smart ones of course. It’s straight forward, wears your rear tyre out, fast, unless you have a spare rear wheel with a trainer tyre. Will it get the job done? Yes, if you have a power meter on your bike and some inclination on how to efficiently plan your own training, because there will be some specific workouts that will be difficult to execute with a wheel-on trainer. Or if you just want to turn those legs over, burn some calories, nothing fancy, and want to save the coin for that beer afterwards. Chances are, you won’t be using it very often if you can go riding freely.

Direct-drives are gaining popularity due to the increasing range of products and it’s falling prices. Once viewed as only for serious/competitive cyclist, in recent years because of the affordability of the non-smart direct drive trainers, it’s become a choice for riders who are drawn to the social aspect for virtual riding platforms such as Zwift, Bkool, Sufferfest, TrainerRoad, FulGaz etc. Most offer a 14-day free trial (Some less), followed by a monthly or annual subscription if you wish to carry on.

 

 

 

You would at the least require a ANT+/Bluetooth speed/cadence sensor. You can still get on without a smart trainer, but it would be fair not to expect the full experience. If you already have the necessary hardware, you could consider signing up for a month to see if you enjoy it and determine for yourself how likely you are to stay on.

The new standard for virtual group rides/races removes the reputation indoor training/cycling has in the past as being mundane. Gone are the days of staring at block graphs with target numbers and a timer. Before you jump onto the virtual bandwagon, have a think on whether there is something in your training/workouts you had wanted to work on, or think you should work on. Sometimes the simplest of set ups, paired with an appropriate workout focus, can reap alot more benefit.

Photo by Velo Velo Singapore

Rollers are the not so popular sibling in indoor training, for various reasons if you speak with different people. There is a reason why there are much more roller-fail clips going around than there are of turbo trainers. When you add an additional element of staying upright, putting down the power or holding an effort isn’t as straightforward anymore. In fact, pedalling hard and putting down power is not straight forward at all. Saying they are not able to provide enough resistance for your workout is possible but a HIIT or a smash-fest is not the only way to skin a 45min session on the bike. If you’re stuck with what type of session you can do to benefit you the most, it’s probably worth speaking with a coach to help you look at the bigger picture.

Ultimately, it would be nice to see more people continuing to ride their bikes outside when the situation improves, and learning to ride their bikes properly and safely. You are much better cyclist and considerate road user if you can ride smoothly, in a straight line, keeping close to the side of the road (If sharing with cars), then needing to be in the middle of the lane, trying to mash the pedals and going in zig zag all over the place.

What is your indoor set up like? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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Curve ball

2020 isn’t off to a flying start for many, me included. The current global health crisis is affecting the lives of people around the world.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there will be things that are outside of your control and to channel your energy into the ones that you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was set to start out a new coaching gig in Phuket. Unfortunately, that all went downhill very quickly as they decided to cancel the contract the same week I was meant to fly due to the global health crisis. It was certainly a setback. Look on the bright side, I reckon I dodged the bullet because it would have been much worse if I had gotten the flick when I’m there.

So what’s next? How do we deal with setbacks? How should we react? How do we approach it? How should we respond? I have been unfortunate and fortunate enough to learn by practice. For me, it’s about keeping a positive, realistic mindset. We’re not done yet! Keep trudging along. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s getting back up everything single time and moving forward. A line manager at work once said to me that I shouldn’t be such a perfectionist. What he failed to understand is that me constantly striving for perfection is not the same as being a perfectionist, as long as I have defined my expectations. I think what he probably was trying to say was that don’t set targets that are much higher than his. So keep moving forward, even if it requires you to first take a step back.

I’m certainly no stranger to setbacks, but every time it seems to require a slightly different approach to get back in. Different stages in life, different motivation. Things might not go as plan, but I find a positive mindset drives the motivation from within.

Photo by Velo Velo Singapore

Not everyone will be there to lend a hand, so I’m grateful for those who are and glad to know who are the ones who aren’t. It’s in times of crisis that we are able (not limited) to see what someone’s true values and morals are.

So other than re-building my indoor cycling setup, because I sold my turbo while preparing to move, I’m back on the job hunt. If anyone has anything available, I’m more than happy to explore. Even happy to pick up new skills. In the meantime

ttfn

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Sigeyi powermeter

A few developments building up over the past couple months. More to be done. In the meantime, a little more about the Sigeyi powermeter which i’ve been using for about 6 months now.

Like most equipment, if it isn’t broken and it ticks all the boxes for you, stick with what you have.

If you haven’t used a powermeter before and want to give it a go, put the AXO Spider down in your list of consideration. Unless you’re after a scientific powermeter for a specific reason, this does what every other powermeter does, for what I perceive majority of the cycling community is after in a powermeter.

I can’t validate the accuracy of the readings because I don’t have anything else to compare it with. But it was pretty much spot on when I had a go on the Cyclus2 ergometer. Good enough for me.

As for the battery, I could go for 4 weeks, with an average of 15 hours per week of riding without charging and it still had around 50% battery.

There hasn’t been any problems to be honest. Auto-calibration, it has gone through multiple home washes, bike shop washes, ridden in rain and grime build up, without any issues. However I don’t have one on the mtb and not a hardcore enough mountainbiker to tell you if it can take a cake a mud.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve updated the firmware 3 times and the app is now even on App store and Google Play.

If price and availability are a couple of your key decision factors, they now have a online store.

Have a look through and if they don’t have a spider for your existing setup, drop them an email. They’re quite prompt in their replies.

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Year end racing

As the year draws to a close, so is bicycle racing here on the sunny island. Road racing was capped off with the second and last round of the URA car-free-Sunday criterium. Somehow, someone forgot to block off the adjacent roads to the course, allowing a lorry and a motorcycle to come onto the course when racing was live. Considering many cyclists here are already used to vehicles trying to take them out, everyone handled it pretty well and racing still managed to go on safely. There wasn’t much action on my part as I stayed out of trouble and enjoyed the atmosphere. Good job on the recovery by Cycosports and the commissaires.

I then took the plunge into the other deep end by getting in on the final MTB race of the year. It wasn’t elegant riding, there was plenty of walking and it most definitely was NOT fast. Considering I’ve only actually ridden a proper mtb trail less than a handful of times, there were certainly some jitters before the start. I got through it without any broken bones, and cleared alot more obstacles than my first attempt at the course. Then again, I didn’t set the barrier very high on my first go. Cheers to the boys for the support and my mate Malek for the pre race prep. I definitely need to do this more often.

That’s it this year for pinning numbers. I have quite a bit to think about for next. More as I gather my thoughts in the next few days.

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Let’s show some love

It’s the world road cycling championships. It’s the time where pros swap their work colors for country colors in bid for honour and glory.

There is sometimes a mixed reception to world championships. Not just in cycling, more often in professional sports.

A non-professional sport is when the world governing body does not have a professional league/circuit of any sort. Rowing is an example. There isn’t the equivalent of the WTA, NFL, PGA, NBA, UCI WorldTour etc.

This insta post came up that is absolutely heart wrenching and almost brought me to tears.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B26WoKqnj8T/?igshid=tjmjjigp49vo

This should be what it means to wear your country’s flag on your shoulder. This should be how much you really cared.

I don’t talk much about the journey I embarked on 12 years ago. It brought back some memories. The feeling of complete helplessness, is absolutely heart breaking. I know what it’s like. I can remember every minute of it, all 3 different occasions.

It’s hard to find such passion these days. Certainly not in this generation of athletes I have come across. As sad as I am to watch it, it’s encouraging to know it still exist.

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Road Nationals

Sometimes you think you’ve ticked most of the boxes, but still, fall miles away from the drop zone.

There was certainly more preparation done this year than last. The course is different but I didn’t take much of it. Probably one important box I should have ticked. I had a slight hunch I was in trouble at lap 3 but didn’t instinctively take action to get out of it. I couldn’t do anything to help our main man get onto the top step.

It was still time well spent with the boys. From good banter to the serious topics on and off the bike, we learn something about ourselves by hanging around people we trust.

We’ll keep trying. There will always be that amatuer, self-proclaim pro rider out there who will tell you that you won’t make it. There’s a difference between professional bicycle racing and amateur bicycle racing. It’s not rocket science why the even the amateur bicycle racing community continues to have an extremely elitist image. None of us are after a pro contract.

Great job to all who pinned a number on. Keep at it and enjoy the process.

Big thanks to the team from Recovery Systems for the awesome snaps.

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Data-driven? Or data collector?

It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t feel good after realising they have achieved what they have set out for or gone better. Most of us enjoy the feeling of going that little bit faster, finishing that extra rep, setting a new PR, hitting that target you have set for yourself.

It’s also fairly easy to convince yourself that you’ve gotten fitter and faster. Technology has certainly played a massive role in helping us with that. You can now monitor speed, heart rate, power and even your position in real time. If you just started diving in on output measurement, take your time to understand what the numbers really mean and the assumptions that might come with some of them. It’s easy to convince yourself that you now have the physical ability to ride constantly at an average speed of 35km/h when you were sitting in the bunch the entire time, just as an example.

There is also the option to dive a little deeper to find out how your body is responding to physical activity. What used to be only accessible to really highly competitive and/or professional athletes, physiological testing is now more readily available to the masses. But because of its perceived elitist status, it still hasn’t quite caught on with the age-groupers.

“Why would I want to know how efficient my body is in delivering oxygen throughout my body?” If you’re serious about preparing for an event and time-crunched while doing so, it might not be very efficient use of your time if you aren’t working on an aspect which might be holding you back. It’s not often you meet someone who high-fives at the thought of doing something they aren’t particular good at. More often, there is a greater inclination towards the feel-good factor.

With the help of technology, we can now easily get a whole bunch of numbers. But if it was that easy to make any sense or put those numbers into reliable perspective, for them to be of good use, everyone would be a world-class coach or sports science practitioner.

What’s your approach? Are you data-driven? Or a data collector?

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Training, Coaching, Exercise

The number of exercise and/or fitness programs has certainly increased in recent years. Along with our society promoting greater accessibility for an active and/or healthy lifestyle, it’s so much easier now for someone to pick up a new sport and/or a new fitness regime.

I don’t have the figures, but I’m fairly confident that just based on your social circle, the number of people who is a member of a gym or part of a fitness/exercise group of some sort now as compared to just 5 years ago, has drastically increased.

We all have our reasons for partaking in exercise. Again, with no figures for verification, my assumption is that the vast majority are on the path of active lifestyle or as a social activity, or both. There is the growing minority who have set themselves slightly more tangible goals. It could be an aesthetic goal: to slim down, build muscle etc. It could be a competitive goal: to prepare for a sportive, race, etc. It could be a quantitative goal: to lose or gain X amount of weight, lift X amount of weight, run X distance in X amount of time. It’s easy to transit from one to another to another and back to where you started.

You hear ‘I’m going for training’ being used often. If you have a competitive or quantitative goal, you are training for something. But if you aren’t, you are exercising. Describing your time in the gym or your run session as training to have an active lifestyle can be slightly exaggerating. Your body does need time to adapt to increased physical activity. But I would hardly consider that a training regime.

From 2007 to 2011, I was training to qualify and compete for the Olympics. The goal was crystal clear. So were the short and mid term goals. I fell short of that. To be precise, I was never given that chance in 2011 to attempt for qualification. When I switched to racing bicycles, the goal was not crystal clear and I didn’t have the short and mid-term goals. In short, it was a complete mess. I made the huge mistake of not getting a coach on board, primarily because of the costs involved. I began straddling the line until the grey area got too big that I went no where.

It’s not just about telling your mates that you’re going for training or exercising. Knowing where you are on the spectrum affects a bunch of other factors in your life: lifestyle and diet choices, work and/or study vs life priorities. If you have goals you are working on achieving, and serious about it, I strongly suggest getting a coach on board.

A coach should not only be giving you a training program to follow, you have to trust him/her as a life mentor. There’s much more to do between the ears than most would expect.

There’s now a whole bunch of cycling coaching groups/companies out there. If you don’t know where to start, give Kristján Snorrason, aka Snozza, a ping through his website:

Cyclingtraining.CC

His knowledge and experience in sport, along with his people skills, naturally steers people to put trust in him. Trust that he will get the best out of you, trust knowing that he has your best interests at heart.

After all, it’s still a two way street. There is no template to find out who you trust your personal goals with. But if even we ourselves aren’t sure what they are, no amount of training or exercise is going to get us there.

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OCBC Singapore National Road Championships 2019 – Team Time Trial

Last weekend kicked off this year’s Road Nationals with the TTT. Plenty of buzz leading up to it, with heaps of fancy TT bikes getting serviced and riders getting TT-fitted on social media.

It’s a discipline about numbers. How much power can you put out against the drag against you. You can pretty much buy the least amount of drag you’re up against with the best bike fit and the best equipment suited for you. What amount of power you can put out, well, money can’t buy much of that. But if you’re handicapped in one aspect, you can only hope others aren’t as strong or as aero as you.

The cyclingtraining.cc boys lined up in the quad to lend our support for local racing. I’ve never had a proper go at time trialling, even though rowing was a lane racing sport. But that was a long time ago. The few subpar IPs i’ve done on the track should not be mentioned as well. But it’s a good 40+ min effort, so I put my hand up.

Photo credit: Kelvin Liew Fu Lin

Coming out of it, it’s clear I need more work on my position on the bike. I would love to get a professionally/scientifically done $500+ bike fit, which everyone seems to be getting but my athletic goals don’t justify that. I remember clearly when I just started to have a good go on the track, that I thought a bike fit would do me some good. A couple of experienced local riders snuffed and suggested I should just ride more first. The culture has gone a long way.

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