Zwifting Time

My people are not athletic. We are Greek, but not Olympians. We win the gold medal in talking, shopping and academic endeavors, but we’re not athletes. A few anomalies exist in the DNA like my cousin Harry Jr., who was amazing at all things gymnastic. There are some cousins who excelled at basketball and baseball, but the girls, not so much. I was always terrible at team sports. I wanted to play volleyball, but the coach just shook her head and said I shouldn’t bother. I’m lucky I passed P.E. at all.  I grew up at a time when girls were not encouraged to be all they could be. Bicycling saved me. As a kid, when I learned how to ride a bike it was a ticket to freedom. Since I commute and ride casually, it’s also been my gym, my meditation, my thing.  I want to put that out there in case someone reads this and thinks that indoor, virtual cycling is only for the avid roadies who do centuries every weekend. I’ve done my share of centuries and charity rides. I bike commute and now, apparently I Zwift!

The Wahoo Kickr Snap was delivered last day of January. On Friday I finally put the whole thing together. It was a snap! We had yet another snow day and I figured it would take all day. But it really was a snap.

When I was researching the trainer I wanted I came across the genre of videos about “unboxing” your purchase. Only a time-lapse. Here I am unboxing and putting the Wahoo together. Pardon the construction and boxes. We’re renovating various parts of the house and the basement is on other side of that to-do list.

Then I took a ride. My avatar! She needs curly hair…, but wow! Hello! Then I was cycling around London like a serious roadie.


Friday, I was trying to get the hang of it all and see how the app worked. I also had to get Strava talking to Zwift which was teeny-tiny roadblock, but today it’s working without a hitch. I rode for a few miles and loved it. Exhilerating is not a word I would have thought I would use to describe any trainer. The Wahoo was incredibly easy to set up and once it paired with Zwift, I was set. Zwifting is a blast. There was a pause in the rain Saturday and I got outside for a real 11 miles, then today, I finished the set up and reorganized some of the cabinets downstairs for more comfortable use of the iPad. I took my cleated shoes downstairs and some water.


This is becoming the biking spot. See the two horizontal drawers above the tires? I pulled those drawers out,  propped up my iPad and virtually took off! I only did four miles but I sweat enough for 20! Mission mostly accomplished. I think I need a fan.

Clearly I was waiting for these trainers to get smarter. It was worth the wait.

Any Zwifting tips? Please feel free to correct me if I’m not using the correct terminology. It’s a whole new world.

Until the next time. Have a great ride, virtual or otherwise.

BG

Wahoo the Winter Away (and anytime, really)

Wahoo! Snap! Eventually it will be delivered. Currently it is out-of-stock and expected to ship on January 30th. I have family in Chicago and today it was in the high 40s while here in the Pacific Northwest we are still snowed in. The temps have been hovering in the teens and I’m a feeling a mixture of cranky and grumpy since I haven’t been on a bike in a few days. I miss my commute! Heck, I miss my job. I can do about a mile or so on the mountain bike which is fun, but not enough. I found a Wahoo Snap at REI online. I thought maybe I’d find it in the store and when I didn’t see it on the shelf I tried very hard to leave and not gaze longlingly at other trainers. Immediate gratification is not gratifying when you compromise on what you want to get it now! There was the $1200 Wahoo, but no… that’s not what I came to purchase. I willed myself to leave. Then my husband took be to another bike shop. I was sure they’d have something, but nada. Seriously! The coolest thing about this experience in semi-impulse shopping mode was I did my homework. I knew exactly what I wanted and why.


The guys (we need more women in this business) at the shop asked me if I needed help and that opened the conversation up to trainers. Immediately they told me about Kinetic which they had one in stock. However it had no “smart” capabilities. They also had a $1200 Cyclops. Nope I said, I wanted Wahoo Snap or Tacx Satori. They didn’t have either but could special order them. Thanks, but I can do that too. No biggie. Surprisingly they didn’t know much and I left feeling like at least I knew what I wanted. I spent another hour this evening watching videos online comparing the noise level and decided to Wahoo. I also think I will ride my road bike more and my husband even expressed interest in trying it out. Let’s do this! 

I ordered the Wahoo Snap and it’s a good thing since it looks like winter has only just begun. Most snow in the forecast. 

Until then, I’ll ride when I can for as long as I can. Outside. 

Thanks for all your help. 

Have a great week of riding!

BG

Riding Interrupted

I am a creature of habit when it comes to my daily ride. It feels like I’ve veered off into the ditch of doom when I don’t get my daily spin. The biggest obstacle with the start of the 2017 year has been wind, freezing rain and snow. I ride through most weather conditions, but ice is not nice. I got out yesterday on the fatty bike since we had something more than a dusting, but less than an inch of the white stuff. A short, cold ride was totally worth it until I couldn’t feel my hands or take pics, but then today the freezing rain started and the wind is about 38-45 mph and the temps drop to the teens and I’m spending time researching Zwift and smart trainers. I can’t go out and buy something because of the aforementioned snow and ice, but I am learning about some of the desireable features.


Please feel free to tell me what you think in the comments. I’d appreciate constructive feedback on trainers and Zwifting. My budget is $550 or less. I am not training for something other than life, y’know. Being a healthy, fit person. I like to ride everyday and when weather derails the day, I want a back up. Truth be told: I will always be a slow poke. I have an active imagination, but I know the podiums exist only in my imagination. I don’t care! I do enjoy the competition I see on the Zwift boards. I mean it doesn’t matter to me if I am on a ride and I’m dead last. I’d prefer being alone and going at my own pace. Now I hope my performance doesn’t adversely effect the peloton, but from what I can see I can have a nice workout and enjoy some interesting scenery. It won’t be the same as outside, but I’ll have a ride which isn’t compromised by the weather.

My list and musings:

Smart trainers under consideration:

TACX Satori Smart Trainer  gets decent reviews and price point is okay.

Kinetic Road Machine Smart Trainer  is one I’ve seen in bike shops. It costs a bit more than the Tacx and that’s about all I can see that’s different besides the look of it.

Elite QUBO Digital Smart B+ comes in at about $250, but gets low marks on its Bluetooth connection.

KickR Snap by Wahoo is very cool but it’s over budget. I’m also considering the usual suspects like Cyclops and giving up on the resistance training. But then I stop and consider the resistance is probably one of the big selling points of indoor training. Maybe it would be a motivating factor for me to ride more, train harder and actually have a different riding experience. Less utilitarian and more endurance.

I already have Strava Premiere subscription, so I’m not factoring that into my budget. There’s space in the house for me to dedicate a spot to Zwifting. I even have a yoga mat I could use for the mat that everyone seems to show as well.

Months ago when I talked with someone at a bike shop about trainers, there was a deluge of details about the back tire. Seriously! I couldn’t handle the info. By the time I heard about changing my back tire and rim, I was done. I don’t want to get into that. Get me to the Zwifting start line and if I’m using it so much I wear out the tire, well, I’ll deal with that when the time comes.

Frankly, there are two potential bikes I could use on the trainer. One is my actual road bike which is a lovely carbon fiber Cannondale Synapse sweetheart.

img_6344

She’d love to be on a trainer. Poor dearie, doesn’t get much time at all. I am skittish as a kitten on ice when I’m on a road bike. Rollers are not an option. But we’ll talk about that in another post. I know I need about $100 for the incidentals like the Ant and other bits, but am I missing anything other critical parts?

Here’s a great video from this guy, Shane Miller,  I found on YouTube. This was extremely helpful. Shane goes through a set up from start to finish. I have checked CraigsList for a Cyclops or even someone’s cast off. I’m still in the research phase. I need to try out a few trainers and see how they work and feel.

If you got out today, good job! I’m hoping we have some warmer temps in the forecast this week, because bottomline, I don’t like having my rides interrupted.

Here’s to you! Thanks for reading.

Get out there and ride or… Zwift.

BG


First Day of a New Year: Ridesolutions

  Thirty seven degrees outside and it looked like it wanted to rain, but I was undeterred. I wanted to get in 10 miles on the first day of the new year. Today’s ride gives me 87 miles for the week and 10 for the start of the year. It was good! I even saw a hawk. The light was spectacular. Check out those trees! It’s as if they were dipped in white paint. The contrasts of the green grass and steel gray clouds, baby blue sky and the sun bleached trees. What a visual feast!

Do you have any ridesolutions? I wanted to hit 3,500 miles in 2016. I was on track to do that without too much trouble until June. I pulled a muscle in my left leg and I was sidelined for about two weeks. I hated it and it put me behind. Most of July I was pampering my leg and working on a project for my father’s birthday. I had one of those amazing rides on my road bike and pushed too hard too early.  In the summer I tend to ride more, but rest assured my commuting miles take me from Fall to Spring with a minimum of 12 miles a day. I don’t want it to be a job. I want my ridesolutions to be milestones for my year of riding. Even if I ride one more mile over 2016, that’s good by me. 

Here are my stats:


If I have a goal for 2017, it’s 3,388. I hope to be injury free and above all safe and seen. We probably all want that. I also don’t really utilize Strava as much as I should. Meaning that I don’t know everything it can do. I see the routes of others and yet I don’t know how to copy them or use them for my own riding. I need to get better about using the features of Strava or I need to go back to MapMyRide. In any case, here’s to another year in the saddle, enjoying the world on two wheels! 

My other big goal for the year is this blog. 

Get out there are ride!

What are your ridesolutions for 2017?

BG

Going E—lectric, in Style

ME: Hi, my name in Connie and I’m addicted to bikes.

YOU: Hello Connie.

There are worse addictions. Spening money on bikes is an investment in your own power and the environment and I’d like to thank the Academy. I’m always looking at bikes. I’m obsessed. It doesn’t matter if they’re new or antiques, cargo or BMX, banana seat or Brooks: I love bikes. That’s my story.

The whole thing started when my guy and I were discussing a trainer sort of bike system. I looked into the Peloton and with the price tag and subscription I was immediately turned off. “That’s the price of a really good brand new bike!” I lamented. Last year I looked at rollers (been there, failed at that) and other trainers. The weather improved and I didn’t have to make a decision, but here I was again.

I have been watching for the Faraday Cortland for awhile. Not like, years-awhile, but since June.  There were hints about a belt drive. I have been interested in a belt drive since 2009. But that’s another post. I think that an e-bike is a great way to get out and about whenever, but specifically in comparison to an exercise stationary bike why not put that money toward a bike that can at least go somewhere. Yes, I know, those simulations do look amazing, but I prefer being outside and in the thick of it all. I like my exercise to be part of my day. That’s me.

Another selling point: the racks. I can carry cargo without feeling like I need a separate cargo bike. The front rack mounts to the frame and for me that means I can Faraday my cargo away. I have several decent hills near my house. An 8% with cargo and no assist is hard on my knees and frankly I just don’t like it. The Faraday assist is what I think a rocket booster must feel like. I feel very Jetson about switching into a level 1 or 2 pedal assist. Yes, pedal assist means you need to be pedaling to get the assist.

My rig doesn’t have the matching racks at this writing, but as soon as they are available I will add them. I’m most interested in the front rack, but I think it makes sense to have both.

Can we talk about the color for a moment? My favorite color is orange, but the copper crayon in the crayola box was my absolute fave.  I didn’t really think much of this color. I knew I didn’t want the white, because well, white in the Northwest doesn’t seem like a good idea. In person, this blue is exquisite!  It has some magic added in the mix and in the right bit of sun it is opalescent. How did they come up with this color? I didn’t think I’d like it from what I saw online, but in person—it’s heavenly.

The Cortland doesn’t remotely look like an e-bike. Another aspect that earns it points. What an elegant bike with lines drawn simply and gracefully enough to feel like billows of fabric and tiny birds should follow my trails. If Snow White had a bike, this would be the one. If I was getting married, I would ride this down the aisle. Yes, my friends, this bike is sheer beauty. Oh, and the belt drive means I’m as quiet as shadow. All you can hear is the breeze and your tires on the pavement.

There have been a few complaints about the creamy tires and again, I live in the Northwest, where it rains more than suns. The owner of the bike shop, Clever Cycles, mentioned that the disc brakes mean there’s less junk to rub up on the tires. I was out for a short ride today, so I’ll get back to you on that topic, but I don’t care. That’s a minor issue. I think when I do replace the tires, I’ll go with gray or black, but I don’t need to worry about that now.

Bamboo fenders are chic, eco-conscious  and they look so good.  Will they hold up in the rain? I don’t know yet. I will wear them out and put on hammered metal fenders at some point. Bamboo looks amazing so we’ll see how they wear.


Can we talk about the whole buying-the-bike experience? I went to my Faraday dealer, Clever Cycles. I love this shop. If I had a bike shop, it would be Clever. They all know their bikes and they are there to support the daily ride. It’s like Tiffany’s for bikes. Plus, the bikes they sell are for a biking-centric lifestyle.   I went in to test ride the Cortland, not really knowing what was available.

IMG_8490.jpgClever had the gray one and it was a blast. I rode it around several blocks getting a feel for the shifting and the assisting.  The chain drive was great, but I couldn’t help thinking about the belt drive I saw online. I didn’t know the blue, belt drive was in the shop. I had seen the blue one online, but not in person so I was starting to assume that only the gray one was available. Until… There was one and they brought it up for me to try. It was for another customer, but the test ride made me even more confident that the belt drive was what I wanted. I didn’t take that one for a test ride since . They could have another one ready for me to try out by the weekend.

Clever Cycles built one up and gave me a ring. A winter storm rolled in and I didn’t get to test ride it until Saturday. Despite the slick streets I had a fun test ride and was smitten from about the fifth pedal stroke. Belt drives are ninja quiet. Once I got back to the shop, the owner asked me how I liked the ride. I can’t remember what I said, but I think I said it was spectacular! My fate was sealed in that moment.

I got a new bike for Christmas and my birthday and possibly next Christmas and my next birthday. An E-bike. E stands for exciting, excellent, entertaining, exhilarating, exceptional!

It’s a Faraday Cortland. Yes, I think it is electric— perfected, just like Faraday says. But I’m calling her Lulu.

More about my first 30+ mile ride with Lulu.

Until then. Get out there and ride!

BG

Insight into Illumination

bikeyRolling into another season of commuting, I wanted to pamper my commuter rig. I gave my bike the gift of dynamo lights. It’s one of those upgrades I’ve wanted to do for quite some time but always found an excuse. Mostly it was cost. I have a vast array of USB lights and a few others which take batteries. I had more than a few occasions  last year when I neglected to recharge my lights at work and ended up with only the blinky light on my helmet to find my way back home at night. Something is better than nothing, however, I was doubting my ability to remember to charge my lights before leaving work this year so at the end of the summer one of my favorite bike shops posted a picture on Instagram of a Kona bike with these awesome fenders and dynamo lights and I felt compelled to get it done. Sadly, the bike mechanic said the fenders wouldn’t work for my bike, but the lights were a go!

Naturally the next part is the immense regret and heavy burden I bear for not having the wherewithal to install the lights a long time ago. What was I thinking? This is the best thing I’ve ever done on behalf of biking and commuting! What are you waiting for? If you don’t have dynamo lights and you are on the fence about getting them—get off the fence and get it done! Talk with your mechanic about what it will look like and how it will be mounted and then choose your lighting system. I wanted the safest, brightest light I could get without taking out a second mortgage.

img_7116

I did spend some time getting quotes from three shops, but service and willingness won out. I was going to be out of town for a week and I opted to leave my bike at the shop for a few days. The hubs and rims needed to be rebuilt and I needed new rims anyway, so it all worked out. Be prepared for spending $400 to $600. It might be less, but I didn’t realize how much I needed to rims. While it was there I had the break pads done and a few other little tweaks. My final bill was $560.

After. The first thing you’ll notice if how liberated you feel. Pure unfettered biking with little regard for time. I can go to Happy Hour and still get home without worrying about the whether my LEDs have enough to get me home or if I will get plunged into darkness and need to catch a bus. Those days are over! I feel like I’m in control, not the lights.

My first encounter with integrated bike lighting was in 2009 when I rented a bike in Potsdam.

dscn0825
My bike rental in Potsdam, Germany in 2009 had a lighting system that was bulking but effective.

 

The other great thing is that these lights can be taken off this bike, in the event that I ever replace the Kona, and installed on another bike. Personally, I can’t imagine buying a bike without having a dynamo system installed. I commute 50-70 miles a week and there are days when I’m at a meeting which goes a little too late compromising my ability to get home safely. Dynamo lights on my bike mean I can think about loftier issues and not worry if I’m going to make in home before it’s pitch dark.

img_5598

What do you do for lights on your bike? Do you have a dynamo or similar system?

Be safe out there.
Happy riding,

Bike Goddess