Tag Archives: Training

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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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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Getting back in

All has been on the quiet front here and it’s probably a good time to kick start things again.

Being able to ride my bike has been absolutely brilliant. Another is going back to rekindle an old flame with my first love, rowing. I haven’t got around to getting back in a boat, but the erg has definitely sparked something. They say looking back isn’t particular helpful in moving forward. I do however believe in never forgetting your roots and to always have the people who have stood by you, close to your heart.

I’m excited to pilot Row Revolution‘s technique workshop class, where I will be sharing with you the little experience I have gained throughout the years with all my amazing rowing team mates and coaches, and hopefully help you to row better on the ergo.

Capture

Row Revolution, Singapore first and only indoor rowing studio is a great platform to experience and give indoor rowing a go. With 12 Concept 2 rowing ergs, it is also an excellent venue for crossfitters to get in a solid rowing workout with your squad.

Their class timetable is available here. The technique workshop will kick off on 8 May, 2019, at 7pm.

I will also be taking the regular workout classes pretty soon! Ping me if you want to find out more!

 

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Camp and the rest of it all

Went into camp with a positive frame of mind, both physically and mentally. The bulk of the work has been done and what I needed more was familiarity, with all the elements of the track, equipment especially. I probably should have psyched myself a little better because by the third day in, I was beating myself up pretty badly for the lack lustre times. Somehow I’ve always managed to screw things up between the ears. Maybe I’m not as mentally tough as I think I am. Okay, obviously I’m not.
As our host starts to prepare itself for the Bangkok edition of the Track Asia Cup, I can’t help but sense that the feeling of elitism is very much still present. I miss having that team element. Hell the last time I ever felt like I was in one was back in 2010, 2011 with Mercs.
It was great to touch base with my mentor and to hear of some awesome news. Words of encouragement from people you trust goes a long way.

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Is it a level playing field

In sports, often or not, it’s unlikely a level playing field. At an elite or high competitive level, where top honours is at stake, the intrinsic or sometimes even tangible advantage is usually the make or break. Perseverance and determination is the building block for a tough athlete. But let’s face it, in this day and age, there is no middle ground. You either make or break. Your pat on the back is forgotten as quickly as the pat itself.

If you’re deemed to have natural talent, you’ll be served up on a silver platter. That’s talent ID. You’ll have all the resources at your disposal to develop that talent. That’s as good as a 30m head start in a 100m race. I was going to say 50m, but let’s be as objective as possible. How you choose to run the rest of the race is besides the point. The talent to suck up to people is also a talent by the way.

Getting into recreational sports and fitness, like competitive sport is all about how deep your pocket is. Gym memberships, exercise classes, proper coaching, injury prevention, equipment, use of facilities, going to races.The budget competitive athlete and/or recreational go-getter is tied to whatever budget he/she has. So if you’re born to a silver platter, but is a late bloomer, you still have a head start. Again, how you choose to run the rest of the race is besides the point.

The rest who are not and don’t display signs of natural talent are basically left with the message: Spend your life earning the big bucks and you’ll be able to afford whatever toys you want in the future and your kids might have a chance to be an elite athlete.

Even when we look at it on a global scale, depth of pocket is one of the major factors in elite performance. The more money you pump in, the higher the chances of bringing back silverware. Again, how you choose to run the rest of the race is besides the point.

The against-all-odds stories gives people a sense of hope. But it should not be used as a primary source of motivation because these cases are far from being the majority. Not only that, its effect varies across different sporting cultures and environment. Hard work pays off. Its how you choose to run the rest of the race. If you start the race 30m behind, is hard work going to be enough? What are the chances that everyone else you’re racing against isn’t working their butt off? Because at the end of the race, your hard work will be forgotten as quickly as the hand shake you get.

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Just ride your bike

After a slight mishap with a vehicle on the road three weeks ago, everything is back in full swing. The scabs have all fallen off, the bruises have faded away. I’m glad I walked away from that. No matter how light the accident may be, never take it for granted that you’re able to get back on the saddle.
The new 11-speed components are pretty swanky. Though just minor improvements, the gains are pretty significant, in my not-so-professional opinion.
With sponsor’s commitments, riding hours are limited to before 12pm. You can do heaps before 12pm, if you’re up at 5am. Four hours on the road and still have time to make eggs and a second cuppa. Or a lung bursting, leg screaming sess on the wind trainer plus two hours on the road before heading into work. Or some big squats and deadlifts. Less of the bench presses nowadays.
Not getting too caught up with marginal gains. I’m keeping it simple: HR monitor, cadence sensor, get it right between the ears. Counting down to the Wintet GP.

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4 weeks on

It’s been one heck of a roller coaster the past 4 weeks. I have had time to reflect on my time back at the CCC Shuzenji training camp but recently I find myself trying to keep my mind free of anything training related when I have any bit of downtime. Maybe it’s because there hasn’t been any exciting developments to talk about, just plenty of what-ifs.

I definitely kicked some goals at the end of my two weeks at Shuzenji. We were fortunate enough to be allowed by the JBCF to do a flying 200 and kilo time trial in an actual race setting. Having to go through the proper race proceedings was good practice for me. The result however left me quite deflated. I was all over the place in the kilo and couldn’t hold my line. My flying 200 was just as disappointing. I made used of that second week to nail those key aspects of my riding that really needed to be addressed: posture, leg speed, handling. I stuck at it, and my training times consistently went down as well. At the end of it, I definitely came out a better rider and I have the coaches at CCC Shuzenji to thank for that.

Coming back to Perth was a good test to see how far I have come. I started out at the Speed Dome, and the locals will be able to see if there is any improvement, or not. The first thing that hit me was that the pace has definitely stepped up a lot from the last time I was here. I had a quick catch up with Travis the first few nights at the track and he mentioned it as well. It took me about a week to find my race legs as well as get used to bunch riding on the track again, which meant I didn’t do too well in the Keirin at the State Championships. Disappointed yes, but I knew I had focus on the coming couple of weeks. I started the week really well, kicked plenty of goals at track sessions and was looking forward to the weekend to finish up state champs with something to cheer about. But my luck ran out and I had to wake up in the middle of a Thursday night scrambling for lacteol fort and panadol. Friday was a complete wipe off as I slept the entire day, waking up at 3 hour intervals just to eat and take meds. Fortunately, all was not lost. I still rode the sprint and the kilo. Though I was still a little woozy on Saturday.

I’ve got another week of track sessions and a Wattbike test with Andrew on Wednesday which I’m really looking forward to. Apologies for the lack of photos. When you travel to train and race solo, it’s not quite as convenient to go around snapping pictures with my phone. But I’ll try to get some cool visuals up.

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