Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Critérium du Dauphiné 2019

Thursday, June 20th, 2019 | Distractions

The Critérium du Dauphiné is considered the main warm-up event for the Tour de France. This was a write-off from start to finish for Team Chris.

I misread the stages. It looked like there were lots of mountains and not much for the sprinters. So, I didn’t even take a sprinter. Turns out this was not correct. The hilly days were not hilly enough to drop the sprinters and there were only a handful of mountain days, all of which were mopped up by the breakaway.

Froom suffered a horrendous crash, for which he is still in hospital. Kruijswijk also dropped out due to illness. That left Fuglsang, Pinot and Quintana. They managed the overall win, 5th and 9th between them that did a lot to boost my points, but the gap was way too big. Froome being out meant that Woet Poels would then race for himself, which helped the other teams.

Congratulations to Bogdan, who takes his first win in the de Mezzanine

Women’s Tour of Britain 2019

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019 | Distractions

The Women’s Tour of Britain is a 6-day stage race. It doesn’t receive the same level of coverage as the men’s events: you can’t watch it live on TV, for example, but it’s growing rapidly. Superstar Marianne Vos lead out my fantasy team.

It was all going so well. D’Hoore took the early sprint stages and Vos and Deignan were mopping up the GC points. After the first couple of stages, Team Chris had an 800 point lead, that at the time seemed unassailable.

Alas, it was not to be. Vos crashed, and despite Deignan taking the overall win, Team Chris was eventually relegated to last place.

Giro d’Italia 2019

Thursday, June 13th, 2019 | Distractions

For cycling fans, May marks the arrival of the first two grand tours of the season: the Tour de Yorkshire and the Giro d’Italia.

It was a polarised race this year. The first week and a half had no hills in it. The route was made up of flat sprinter stage after sprinter stage. Then it went uphill and almost never stopped going uphill. It also had three time trials.

John thought his race was over when Dumoulin had to abandon early on. However, an amazing ride by Masnada kept him competitive for the entire race. Bogdan took the early lead scoring big points with Viviani. Viviani never won any stages, but as the only sprinter any of us had brought, some high-placed finishes did the job. Like many of the sprinters, though, Viviani then went home as soon as the race went uphill.

Team Chris was not without its troubles, either. López continued to have bad luck, including getting knocked off his bike by a spectator. The UCI concluded that the punch he threw at the guy was a “human reaction” and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Mostly, it was plain-sailing though, as Carapaz spun to victory, becoming the first Ecuadorian to win a grand tour. It was so important in Equador that the government paid for the final stage to be moved from paid satellite TV onto a free-to-air channel.

The Flat 100 2019

Thursday, June 6th, 2019 | Sport

The Flat 100, formerly known as the Flat n Fast 100, is a sportive that starts in South Yorkshire and takes in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Last year I achieved my longest ever ride when I rode the 100km (technically a 106km) route.

This year, I was aiming for the 100 miler, which would make it my equal longest ride with the one I completed just five days before.

It was a busy event: 1,300 people registered a time. This meant the queues were big, too. I arrived at Thorne shortly after 7am but between queuing for the car park, queuing to register (the S-W surnames line was way longer than all the others) and then queuing to cross the start line meant that I didn’t get on the road until nearly 9am, almost two hours after arriving.

It was colder than expected. Foolishly, when I checked the weather, I had put in “Thorpe” rather than “Thorne”, so was surprised when it started raining. Luckily, it did so just as we arrived at the feed stop and stopped just as we were leaving. After that, it brightened up and I had to re-apply suncream at the second feed stop.

I rode with Bogdan for the first 80km before he peeled off onto the medium route. After that, I surfed a few wheels. One group kept yelling “Chris, are you there?” until I was forced to answer “yes” before pulling alongside them and explaining that I probably wasn’t the Chris they were after.

I clocked in with an average speed of 26.7 kph, which is a good pace for me, especially as I rode fairly conservatively for the first 100 km or so. The whole thing took less than six hours of cycling and 6:39 including breaks, which bodes well for The Yorkshireman.

100-mile bike ride

Thursday, May 30th, 2019 | Life

My training for the Yorkshireman has been a bold one: I would spend the winter and spring building power and then the late spring and early summer bringing together the endurance side of things. That meant that if the endurance wasn’t coming together, I would probably find out too late to do anything about it. That suddenly felt very scary when we arrived in May.

Luckily, it has been coming together. I completed the long route of the Tour de Yorkshire earlier this month and on bank holiday Monday I set out with the vague idea of riding somewhere between 160-180km, or shorter if I wasn’t feeling it. That isn’t a great way to structure your training but I had a 100-mile sportive booked in for the weekend after, so I wasn’t too worried about getting the distance done.

I started by meeting Cat. We went for a tour around the World Triathlon Leeds bike course and had a lovely chat. After that, I headed up towards East Keswick, not really knowing where I was going: just setting out with a map and a pocket full of dreams.

I made great process heading out towards York which always makes me suspicious: if you are going faster than you expect, it is often because you are benefiting from a tailwind you haven’t noticed. As soon as I turned back I ended up hitting the ever-present headwind which made it much harder going.

My back was giving me all kind of grief and by the time I hade it to Otley, my legs were fed up. They cried every time we got near any kind of incline. I made it as far as Golden Acre Park before refilling my bidons with coke for some sugary caffeine energy. Finally, at the bottom of Kirkstall Road, I hit the 160km mark (100 miles).

Tour of California 2019

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019 | Distractions

The Tour of California was always going to be a difficult race on Velo Games. Bogdan had discovered our secret tactic, “always take Sagan”, so it was up to the team to perform in other ways.

That started well with Tejay Van Garderen taking the race lead in the early stages. But he crashed on stage four and ended up 54 seconds down. It seems like it was all over. But hours after the race had finished, the officials announced that as Van Garderen had made it back to the bunch before being held up by another crash, he would be awarded the same time as the main peloton.

This made no sense. He was off the back because of his own mistake and the crash he got caught behind was outside of the 3km cut-off, which is where the rule comes into effect. But there is no appeal process so the stupid decision stood.

After all of that, it didn’t matter too much: the next day was in the high mountains and Van Garderen cracked again. Worse still, Uran, who I also had because I thought he would be EF Education First’s other GC contender, then went back to help Van Garderen, clearing the way for others to win the stage.

Luckily for me, the eventual winner, Tadej Pogačar, wasn’t in anyone else’s team either, and the highest placed rider on the day was one of mine: George Bennett. EF Education First held onto the team classification, giving a juicy bonus to three of my riders.

Tour de Romandie 2019

Saturday, May 25th, 2019 | Distractions

The Tour de Romandie is a 6-day stage race that takes place in Switzerland. I went with Zakarin, Roglič and Thomas for my fantasy team. John had also taken Roglič so it was a two-up spring for the win.

Despite a good performance by Gaudu for Team Ventolin, the couple of minor points picked up by Viviani and some of the Jumbo-Visma assists just edged it for Team Chris.

Velo Games Spring Classics

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 | Distractions

This year’s Velo Games fantasy cycling allowed unlimited team changes between the Spring Classics races. This made for quite a commitment: optimising our teams between each race.

Luckily, John and I have a simple tactic: take Sagan and then work out what to do with the handle of points left over. This proved to be a good tactic even though Sagan had a disappointing start to the season. Coming fourth is still worth a lot of points.

Alaphilippe was the dominant ride of the spring. This was often bad news for Bogdan who took up to three Deceuninck–Quick-Step riders and someone didn’t pick the DQS winner. It was not a tactic without merit, though: Štybar and Gilbert both took a victory.

As we entered the final race, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, it was neck-and-neck between Team Chris and We Didn’t Inhale. Luckily for me, we both had a pretty terrible race with only one serious point-scorer between the two squads: Fuglsang for me.

Wahoo RPM speed and cadence sensors

Saturday, May 18th, 2019 | Video

The Wahoo RPM speed and cadence sensors are easy-to-install bike sensors that provide data by both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connectivity.

They are small and don’t use magnets, which is a massive improvement over the bike sensors that you have to fiddle around with to line up. They are easy to install, too: you take the sensor and insert it into its rubber housing then strap it around your wheel hub (in the case of the speed sensor) or cable tie it around your crank arm (in the case of the cadence sensor).

The battery lasts for ages. I’ve been using them for over six months now, and they still have plenty of battery left in them.

The speed sensor is a bit of a pain to install, though. You have to stretch out the rubber and spend ages trying to get your hands inside the spokes to hook it around the catches that keep it secure. Luckily, it only takes a few minutes, and you only need to take it off when you need to replace the battery.

The data seems mostly reliable, but I have seen some occasional spikes where an unrealistic speed is reported. I found the data slow on Zwift: anywhere from 3-10 seconds behind the power, I was putting down. Outside, it consistently responds within a few seconds on my Garmin head unit, so I think a large part of the problem is Zwift rather than the sensor.

In this video, I’ll show you both of the sensors, and I’ll also show you a close-up of me installing the speed sensor on my back wheel.

Stages Power L review

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019 | Video

The Stages Power L Shimano 105 is a single-sided power meter that replaces the offside crank arm on your bike. You pull off your existing crank arm and fit the Stages Power drop-in replacement to get some power measuring data.

Stages produce a full range of different versions for each groupset, so you need to match the correct one. In this case, my bike has a Shimano 105 groupset, so I needed that version. As it is the offside crank arm, chainrings are not important, but if you want the dual-sided one, you will need to match your chainring as well.

The beauty of them is that they plug in and go. You don’t need to change your pedals, and if you are comfortable taking it on and off, you could even swap it between bikes (if you had another with the same groupset).

The unit transmits on both Bluetooth and ANT+. In the past, there have been issues with drop-outs between Garmin and Stages. I haven’t experienced any of this; it has worked perfectly with my Edge 1030 and with TrainerRoad on my iPhone. I have had some drop-outs on Zwift, though, but I’ve had a lot of problems with Zwift regardless of setup.

Battery life is reasonable. It takes a 2032 watch battery which has lasted me about six months. The battery is easily accessible so looks simple to change.

Without calibrating it against another power meter, it is difficult to say how accurate it is. But, on the turbo trainer, it has worked like a dream. Outside has mostly been fine, too, although I have occasionally got spikes of power way higher than I would expect.

I’ve also had a bit of squeaking. Whether it is because the crank arm has come loose or because there is an issue with the bottom bracket on my bike is not clear.