Learn how you can access the key physiological metrics for your athletes by utilising a simple GPS running watch or even just split times on the running track. ➡️ Join us, the team at INSCYD, on Sept 2 as we take a look at GPS based metabolic testing, the protocol and the data.
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The physiological capacities of an athlete – such as aerobic capacity, lactate production and clearance, running economy, fat combustion and carbohydrate utilisation – determine the running performance of an athlete. The goal of an efficient training program to improve these capacities.
However, in the real world of coaching, assessing those metrics in an athlete precisely and monitoring their progress within the process of training can be challenging – at best. Join our webinar on September 2 & learn how INSCYD can help!
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New in the family and joining the rollers, is the ThinkRider X5 Neo Smart Trainer. Didn’t take long before deciding to settle for this one, when there was absolutely no supply of any others at the LBS and a 6-month wait seemed to be the default take-it-or-leave-it response. It’s within my price bracket, the order process was seamless and shipping took 4 days to get to the door.
I’m definitely late to jump onto the smart trainer bandwagon. Late in getting one of my own. Having been involved in high performance settings as well as at a commercial indoor cycling studio, fixing blown fuses in the CompuTrainers seemed like a necessary skill to have back in the day. Just a few years back, turbo trainers definitely did not get the same reception by the local community. (Same with strength training and lab testing. Knowing your weakness can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes). Now it seems, even in pre-pandemic times, the turbo trainer has caught on. Better late than never.
A 22kg piece of machinery, assembly of the flipper-like legs were as straight-forward as bolts and hex allen key. Thru-axle compatibility is also available. Download the ThinkRider app for firmware updates and trainer calibration, plug it in and it was good to go. ThinkRider is compatible with Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, FullGaz, Bkool, PerfPro. Zwift was the choice of software.
There is always going to be chatter about the accuracy of smart trainers, just like power meters. We each have certain things that we can be particular about, which sometimes, will appear very selective. We may tend to or tend not to believe accuracy reports from manufacturers and we should put on our critical thinking hats. If you are one who has absolutely no clue at all, the advise would be to keep it simple. Lay out the outcomes that are most important to you. For me, would I have problems pairing it to Zwift? That did require me to trust the manufacturer’s word for it. I would like it to be reliable, i.e. produce similar power resistance on erg mode every time I use it. That is fairly easy to conclude whether I can tick that box. Neither am I expecting it to have a 5-watt variability. Day-to-day individual variability alone can be 5 – 6% (Gardner et al., 2007; Laursen et al., 2004; Possamai et al., 2020). So far after 24 hr of use, it has been consistent enough for me, based on the session I’m doing and what I am expecting to be putting out. Lastly, are they going to bail out on me, when after-sales service support is required? These days it’s a hit-and-miss. Imagine getting told to repair your broken treadmill yourself.
With so many options out there, accuracy claims as a form of marketing seems to be unavoidable. Bear in mind, as a consumer, unless you request for the precise protocol, equipment, testing conditions and environment, our attempt at user validation can swing both ways. I prefer to spend time learning how to interpret and apply the data appropriately.
In summary, a pretty solid direct-drive smart trainer. If you’re keen to have a go, give the guys at Bike Domestique (FB/Instagram) a shout out. What smart trainer are you using? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Gardner, A. S., Martin, J. C., Martin, D. T., Barras, M., & Jenkins, D. G. (2007). Maximal torque-and power-pedaling rate relationships for elite sprint cyclists in laboratory and field tests. European journal of applied physiology, 101(3), 287-292.
Laursen, P. B., Shing, C. M., & Jenkins, D. G. (2004). Temporal aspects of the VO2 response at the power output associated with VO2peak in well trained cyclists—Implications for interval training prescription. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 75(4), 423-428.
Possamai, L. T., Campos, F. D. S., Salvador, P. C. D. N., de Aguiar, R. A., Guglielmo, L. G. A., de Lucas, R. D., Caputo, F., & Turnes, T. (2020). Similar maximal oxygen uptake assessment from a step cycling incremental test and verification tests on the same or different day. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 45(4), 357-361.
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
If you’re looking to start cycling, getting your first bicycle should not be a daunting and mind boggling task. The thought of having to deal with the technicalities might be foreign to you and the preconceived idea that it could be a hefty investment may be a few of the contributors to procrastination. But with a little focus and some support, it could turn out to be something you might enjoy in the years to come. Here are a few things you can think about which can hopefully help you make the decision.
It could be getting your kid started, an alternative mode of transport to work, a form of family activity or exercise, having a clear idea on what you want to use it for helps to get the ball rolling.
Bicycles are usually grouped into 4 broad categories: Road bikes, City/Leisure bikes, Hybrid Bikes, Off-Road bikes. These can be further divided into subcategories, for example, Mountain Bike, Cyclocross and Gravel bikes are usually considered Off-Road bikes. The name typically suggests what the bike is designed and/or should be used for. For example, if you are looking for a bike to primarily get around town, to the shops or to work, start by looking at bikes in city/leisure, road or hybrid category but that’s not to say you cannot consider a Mountain bike either. Whereas, it is going to be very very difficult if you want to ride a full mountain bike trail on a road bike, or complete a Grand Fondo on a city bike.
It depends on how much detail you want to go into. For example, mountain bikes may have a slight weight penalty on the tarmac but the wider, knobby tyres make it easy to get through the narrow drain openings along the park connectors, compared to traditional road bike tyres. The more specific you are on the type of riding you want to do, the easier it is to narrow down the categories.
Then comes a list of other factors to consider: budget, comfort, size, weight, space constraint, durability, aesthetics, after-service. The key is to prioritise and be honest. If you absolutely do not have space in your residence to park a full-sized bike, or if you plan to take it up the trains and buses, folding bikes are an option. We also have to be honest with our expectations. I have had many conversations with people asking me what type of bike they should get to start doing some leisurely rides. Similar to taking up any new hobby or exercise, there will be a change in your existing lifestyle and it can be difficult to predict whether we will stick to it, drop out after a week, or go on to become a regular enthusiast. How much time are you going to spend on it? Where will it be on your list of daily priorities? Do you have a buddy to help get you started? If you already have a particular look in mind, you want the flash, or feel the heavier mtbs or hybrids are too slow (slow is relative and can be a function of not your bike but your fitness level) for your liking, you have to bring those up as well. People tend to leave certain information out for fear of being judged.
Unless it is in your nature to always go all in right from the start or have a bottomless budget, the common and recommended approach is to gradually progress with your equipment. Don’t short change yourself either by starting right at the bottom. The more you spend does not also necessarily mean the better your chances are that you will stick with it. Get out that checklist of criteria and be honest with how much effort you are willing to try.
Everyone should get a chance to have a go at all sports and that includes cycling. Even though cycling has a bit of a reputation for being an expensive sport, if you don’t get sucked into all the flash and glam, you can definitely still enjoy the sport without short changing yourself. Don’t be overwhelmed when you walk into a bicycle showroom. Have a clear idea what you want it for and be honest with yourself on what your main considerations are. Don’t feel shy to ask questions. Speak with someone you personally know who you think has similar buying habits and considerations. If circumstances allow it, try out the bike. If it’s your first bike, it would be a really tricky task of getting it online without trying it out. Nothing is worse than riding a bike you don’t feel comfortable on. Take your time, don’t rush it. When you have decided on one, don’t second guess yourself.
Now go out there and enjoy the ride.
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.
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
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.