We all know what time of year it is in the USA, its indoor training time for much of the country. Most cyclists avoid using the trainer like the plague. Trainer sessions are usually very boring, and its very difficult to gauge your efforts. In the past people used TV or cycling training videos like Spinevervals to make trainer rides bearable, but even that didn’t help too much. When the Spinverval guy said do a 9/10 effort, what does that equate to for me? Even if you knew, it was easy to cheat yourself in a training session by just going slower. There was no real record of your efforts.
In the past two years a few products have come out that have transformed indoor training for me. The first product is TrainerRoad.com, which is a software tool that allows you to execute structured workouts and display real time performance data including an accurate estimate of power, even if you don’t have a power meter. TrainerRoad connects your computer to ANT+ devices via the Garmin ANT+ USB dongle. You can pick up a Garmin ANT+ stick for $25 on Amazon. It picks up the data from your heartrate monitor and ANT+ speed/cadence sensor.
If you have a powermeter it will pick that data up as well, or you can use the calculated power which is very accurate on the trainer. On real road rides, power calculation is notoriously inaccurate because there are multitude of variables that a power calculator cannot take into account, most notably factoring in wind resistance. There are less variables with an indoor trainer, when I go 20mph on my Cyclops trainer, TrainerRoad can make an accurate assessment than I’m pushing X amount of watts.
The Sufferfest is a great collection of downloadable videos which feature footage from protour races. Its way more entertaining than the old Spinverval or CTS vids of looking at people ride trainers. Plus TrainerRoad has complete integration with Sufferfest workouts.
Strava has finally listened to some of my earlier gripes, and has introduced better power metrics and visualization tools. Once you complete a ride in TrainerRoad, you can export it to .TCX file which is importable via Strava.
Why is AppleTV on this list? People generally like to display TrainerRoad on a larger display such as TV. Dealing with cables and wires to share your screen can be a pain in the ass. AppleTV has a technology called Airplay Mirroring which allows you easily share your laptop screen and sound with your TV.
Like many avid cyclists, I’m a huge fan of Strava, the social training tool which keeps track of cycling performance via cycling computer data and phone applications. Strava has been around for a few years now. It started out as a pay service with limits on uploads for free users, but last year they introduced a “Premium” offering and removed the free upload limit.
The premium offering gave cyclists some addtional features. Probably the most notable was SufferScore, a feature which gives your ride a numberic score of effort based on a number of factors. There were also addtional power visualizations and the ability to sort leaderboards by weight.
Many loyal Strava users went for the premium offering just to show support for the service. The addtional features were not very compelling, but people wanted to support Strava. Its been over a year now, and premium users are starting to get disatified with the lack of updates. Sure, Strava has made enhancements to the service. Most notably, improvements to the mobile apps and a running offering as well.
The vast majority of premium users have a Garmin device making mobile enhancements irrelevant. When the premium offering was introduced, people assumed Strava would gradually add more training and analysis tools. As it stands now, Strava is a lot of fun but its not a serious training tool.
For serious cyclists, they have to use other software offerings in order to get detailed analysis of their rides. Training with power meters is becoming much more common, and Strava’s power analysis is extremely weak. You get a number for average power and some visualizations of power output over time. People who actually train with power meters are forced to use another service like Training Peaks in order to get any true insight into their training data. Strava doesn’t even provide the most basic functions such as power zones and normalized power metrics.
There is definitely an increasing backlash to Strava premium due to the lack of development. The lack of development is especially alarming when you consider the amount that Strava has grown over the last few years. I assumed by now that Strava would have much more serious ride analysis and training tools.
The Garmin Edge 800 is Garmin’s latest GPS enabled cycling computer. I decided to pick one up last fall when they came out, after being the satisfied owner of two previous Garmin cycling specific models. (Edge 305 and 500) Garmin tends to always release new products in the Edge line with beta quality firmware at best, which I totally understand. However; the Edge 800 firmware can’t even be called beta, its more like alpha at best. I’ve owned the Edge 800 now for 5 months, and Garmin has had one lousy update. All of the rave reviews somehow missed the major bugs with some of the most basic use cases for the Edge 800.
One of the most basic features of the Edge 800 is the ability to give you turn by turn directions with a map card installed. Plot your course on mapmyride.com, export it to the Garmin, and you’re on your way. Amazingly, this feature is completely broken with the Edge 800. Turn by turn directions do not work without doing a laborious workaround.
Another basic use case that’s completely broken with the latest Edge 800 firmware update is plugging your device in to a computer. With the 2.1 firmware version, plugging the Edge 800 into a mac does not initiate USB drive mode. The workaround is to hold the reset button while plugging in the USB cable, then releasing the reset button.
How such a bug got through the most basic level of QA is beyond me. Many users are experiencing rides where suddenly the Edge 800 reports that they went 3000+ miles. I experienced this the bug the other day ruining the data from my ride.
I think the Edge 800 has a lot of potential, but the current firmware is just too buggy to actually recommend the device at this time. Garmin’s lack of timely updates to their flagship cycling device is simply inexcusable.
I’ve definitely been suspicious and critical of Lance Armstrong in the past, but its clear that the whole “Showergate” scandal is way overblown.
I was very excited when Lance Armstrong announced that he was going to return to professional cycling, and attempt to win another Tour de France. A few weeks later, Lance started throwing curveballs to the press, indicating that he might not ride in the Tour de France.
Now, Lance has confirmed that he will be riding in the Tour de France, but in a supporting role? I’m sorry, but if his true goal is bring as much awareness to cancer as possible, than his best bet is to not bother with the Giro and race to win the Tour de France.
In the past, Armstrong famously ignored the other major cycling events in order to concentrate on winning the tour. If Armstrong is not going to race to win the tour, than he might as well not bother showing up. Nobody wants to see an over-publicized parade lap.
I’ve never been a fan of Lance Armstrong, but his now confirmed comeback plan is huge for cycling.
If he is semi-competive at his age, it would be impressive. If he actually wins the TDF, it would probably go down as the greatest athletic accomplishment, or at least in the top-5.
This time he would have to win clean, since the drug testing has really stepped up since Lance was destroying the competition a few years ago. If Lance were to win in 2009, every accomplishment he did before would be considered legitimate.
“And, granted, I’ll be totally honest with you, the year that I won the Tour, many of the guys that got 2nd through 10th, a lot of them are gone. Out. Caught. Positive Tests. Suspended. Whatever. … And so I can understand why people look at that and go, Well, [they] were caught — and you weren’t?” he told Vanity Fair. “So there is a nice element here where I can come with really a completely comprehensive program and there will be no way to cheat.”
Now all we need is a Landis comeback, and I will book my tickets for France.