Sunday, December 08, 2013

What's really going on with Specialized and the "Roubaix" scandal

First of all, I'm not a lawyer. The analysis below is based on common sense and having a few lawyers in the family. If you're not familiar with the scandal in question, visit Cyclingnews, Velonews or Google it.

Basically, what's happening here is Specialized is defending a dubious trademark. It's quite understandable what they're doing from a business and legal perspective. Trademarking the name of a French city is dubious at best, but they must defend this trademark or lose it. “We are required to defend or lose our trademark registration.” They don't dare go after any of the many, many cycling businesses that use "Roubaix" in their business or product names that have any money at all, because if the case went to court they would lose, and lose the patent. What they do, just like patent trolls, is threaten to sue small businesses that are naive and feel they can't afford to defend a lawsuit, and use the mere threat to make them roll over. Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio is a perfect target. "Richter says his lawyer thinks they have a good case to make, but the fight could cost upwards of $150,000 in legal fees, a price too steep for his small company." Given his battles with post-traumatic stress disorder, it's clear that such a fight would be stressful for the owner.

This is, of course, unconscionable for a moral perspective, but logical from a business perspective. However, as consumers, we also make decisions about cycling products to buy. Choose wisely. Don't choose Specialized.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kitten cam on your Roku instructions (Ustream)

Here's how to get the Feline Rescue kitten cam (using Ustream) on your Roku:

Go to and find the Ustream channel (currently 22).

Click on the link and you will be taken to Roku and prompted to add the channel to your Roku account (if you aren't signed in I imagine you will be prompted for that; might be helpful to sign in first).

On your Roku, you will soon have the new channel. You might want to reboot or go to Settings and check for updates if you're impatient.

In the app, find Search (magnifying glass icon) and search for "kittencam" - currently the Feline Rescue kitten cam is the only result. Depending on conditions and your Roku, it can take a bit to bring up the stream. I have an older Roku on wireless, so it took a while to get going.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

How to export a map from MapMyRide to your Garmin Edge 500

Garmin's Edge 500 offers basic GPS navigation, and it works very well for cycling purposes once you take a bit of time to try it out. This post explains the common scenario of exporting a ride from to your Edge 500 for a solo ride, or leading (or getting dropped from) a group ride. I won't spend any time describing how to use MapMyRide. Once you've created and saved, or looked up a map, you'll see

the option to "Export this Route (GPX, KML)." Export the route to a .GPX file and save it. Next, you'll need to convert the file to a .TCX file that the Edge 500 can use. Go to and follow the easy directions to convert and save your file. Finally, just drag and drop the .TCX file into your Edge 500. When plugged into your computer, you'll see the file system mounted as a USB mass storage device. Browse to the \Garmin\NewFiles and drop the file there. Once you unplug the Garmin and turn it back on, the file will be processed and appear as a "Course." To use it, hold down the Page/Menu/Enter button, select Training, Courses. There you'll see your route. Select it, and you'll see options; select Do Course. It will do some processing, and then display the route profile. Push the page button and you'll come to the course map.
It will be a simple line with a triangle showing you position relative to the course line. Press Start when you're ready to go, and just follow the line! There will be no street names or anything fancy; just follow the line. If you get off course, the Edge will tell you, and once you get back on course it will recalculate and continue on. It works very well, with no fussing around on your part required once you've started the course.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kurt Kinetic power curve vs. PowerTap

The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainer has a well-documented power curve. That is, it takes a fixed amount of power to spin the resistance unit at a certain speed. Additionally, that amount of power is most similar to actual road conditions compared to other trainers, according to Kurt, and I've found that to be true. Several other trainers also have a documented power curve. For fun, since I'm a pretty nerdy guy, I set out to see just how close this "virtual power" comes to an actual PowerTap hub that measures real power using strain gauges.


To make the comparison, I did a set of over/under intervals using both a PowerTap hub and Kurt's power curve algorithm using Golden Cheetah's new 3.0 version. Golden Cheetah is open-source training software. It's also my favorite software at any price; I purchased the very pricey Training Peaks WKO+ software, and I don't use it any more. It's available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The new version has a greatly improved "ergo" mode, which shows real-time stats while you're doing your workout, and is comparable to pricey systems like the CompuTrainer and Tacx products. The goal was to see if people who don't have a Grover Cleveland to drop could also train with power.


Setup was mostly straightforward, if you're somewhat technically inclined, and I'm sure it will be even simpler once the 3.0 version of Golden Cheetah makes it to final release. Download the current build for Windows, Mac or Linux here. You'll also need any ANT+ speed (or better, speed/cadence) sensor set up on the rear wheel. An ANT+ heart rate strap is very useful for training, and for this experiment, the heart rate output served to calibrate the readings for the PowerTap hub and the Kinetic Trainer, since it was common to both setups. To record the actual power, you'll need any ANT+ computer, such as Cycleops' Joule or any number of devices from Garmin. In order for your computer to grab the speed from your bike and translate it to power using the Kurt Kinetic power curve, you'll need an ANT+ USB stick. The Garmin stick is currently available for $28.88, shipped, from these guys.

Power curves are available for other trainers as well. Currently, GC also supports the Kurt Kinetic Cyclone, Cycleops Fluid 2, LeMond Revolution, and some others I'm not familiar with. Here's the article for setting things up in GC. Currently, the software expects a speed/cadence sensor, and didn't like that I had a speed only sensor. However, I found out from GC's support that you can manually specify the ANT IDs of your devices. In the Device Profile field I specified the heart rate strap and speed sensor IDs as shown.


With everything set up, I hopped on the trainer, cued up a Spinervals video and some music, and started pedaling. The Joule recorded the PowerTap data, and Golden Cheetah recorded the virtual power. I did a warm-up, a set of over/under intervals (2 minutes just under threshold, 1 minute just over, repeated three times without rest), and a cool-down, for a total of 30 minutes. I exported both of the resulting files to .CSVs so I could manipulate them in Excel. Since both devices were recording the same heart rate data (apparently at different intervals, because the numbers didn't match up exactly), I could use that to line everything up in Excel.


I was quite surprised at how well the virtual power and the actual power lined up. You can see that there's a little more fluctuation in the actual power, since power put into the pedals doesn't all go instantly to speed due to loss in the rubber tires and inertia in the flywheel. However, it's remarkable accurate. A needed feature in GC is the ability to specify tires size; it's currently hard-coded to a 700x23c tire, and I'm currently using an old 700x25c tire. So the virtual power is off by about 10 watts, but it's a very consistent 10 watts.


Power-measuring systems that do what this setup does easily cost many hundreds to thousands of dollars. Training with power is very valuable, but with a little effort in setting up and configuring equipment that most serious cyclists already have, you can train during the winter like a pro. The Golden Cheetah software supports virtual reality videos and workouts just like the expensive systems, many of which don't even use actual strain gauges either.

There is no doubt that the expensive systems have value, in terms of ease of use, polish, support or the ability to be used outdoors in real riding situations. But if you want to be ready for next season and can't afford an expensive power training system, this is a great way to go. I'll also mention another inexpensive subscription-based system that works similarly and just hit the market: TrainerRoad.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Bike wheels and wheelbuilding

So I've had some adventures with wheels and wheelbuilding over the last year. Several people have asked about the wheels I've been using lately. Since I'm physically incapable of doing anything productive after today's long ride, I thought I'd share some thoughts, and hopefully allow others to learn some things I've learned the hard way. Pretty much everything here is my opinion and ramblings from personal experience and research, and others will have different opinions for sure.

It all started when I wanted to build a Powertap wheel on the cheap. I'd already built up a couple of wheelsets, so I got the hub, Cervo electronics pack, cheap alloy rims, and spokes and misc. supplies from various sources online. I built up the totally conventional 32 spoke wheel using the great Sheldon Brown's directions, and everything worked nicely. The problem came when racing. There's useful data from racing with a power meter, but when you're barely hanging on with regular wheels, racing with a three pound flywheel means not hanging on, which is not helpful.

The next step was to see about lightening things up. A lot. The best way to do that would be with some mid-depth carbon tubular rims. Of course the whole idea of trying to do things on the cheap is quickly going out the window, but I really enjoy learning how to build things myself, so I procured myself some generic rims from Asia, which turned out to be excellent quality. You learn much more about a carbon component by looking on the inside, not the outside. In any event, this wheel built up to be the same weight as my previous alloy "race" wheel, with the added bonus of the weight being at the hub instead of the rim.

Tubulars were a learning experience by themselves. In short, the best solution was simply using tubular tape. This made a messy, difficult job easy. Basically, peel off the backing from one side of the tape and stick it to the rim. Mount the tire, get it nice and centered, which is easy because the backing is still on the outside-facing side of the tape. Once everything is lined up, peel off the backing (which is plastic and just pulsl out from between the tire and rim), inflate the tire to max pressure to settle it in, ride around a little bit to further ensure good contact, and you're done!

Important tip: choose the right tire for your rim. Vittoria tires (and Zipp Tangente tires, made by Vittoria) have a slick latex coating on the base tape that doesn't stick to the tape. Continental tires do not. Also, make sure the tire and rim profiles match. Some rims have an indentation in the center, designed to accommodate the stitching below the base tape of most tubulars. If the rim does not have this profile, then the new Continental GP 4000 tubular, which is vulcanized instead of stitched, has a smooth, flat base tape. Be sure your rim and tire profiles match, or your adhesion will be seriously compromised.

Another tip: the deep sections of carbon rims are great for aerodynamics, but it's important again to match the tire to the rim. Traditional rims are made for 21-22mm tubular tires or 21mm clinchers. Recently, though, 23mm tires have become the norm for good reason, but it throws off the aerodynamics of the wheel. This is the whole reason behind advanced rim shapes from HED and Zipp. They are designed around today's 23mm tires. If you're using conventional V-shaped rims, though, simply using 21mm tires will give you some of the benefits of the advanced, wider rims.

Having the experience behind me, good and bad, of the Powertap wheel, I built up some 50mm carbon clincher wheels. These were laced with 20 radial spokes in the front, and 24 two-cross drive side/radial non-drive side in the back. I used Sapim Race spokes, and Sapim Polyax nipples. These spokes are very strong, and look great because they're stainless steel and always shiny! The Polyax nipples work very well, since they can come out of the rim at the various angles of the spoke, and help prevent spoke breakage from being kinked at the nipple. From another experience building a 650c Powertap wheel, I've learned that round spokes are the way to go, and the aero benefit of bladed spokes over aggressively butted round spokes is minimal.

The deeper rim depth, and the extra material required for the clincher hook and stronger sidewalls adds weight over the tubulars, but without the Powertap hub, the package was still a bit lighter. The amazing thing, though, is the benefit of the very deep rims. This is what prompted me finally to post this, because I really noticed it today, and at a couple races in the last few weeks that I've used these wheels for. At speeds above 20mph, the aero benefit of the 50mm rims is very noticeable! It really is quite amazing. I noticed it today on our long ride that averaged over 21mph: cruising along at speed was noticeably easier! At Opus and the Target Crit, not only was it much easier to hang on at those speeds, but it also left me fresh enough to make some moves and go faster that I ever could! On these rims I'm using Zipp Tangente 21mm tires by the way. Going downhill today, every time I had to coast and ride the brakes to keep from running into everyone else, who were pedaling!

It seems like the aero benefit of 38mm wheels goes up to about 18-20mph, and above that the 50s come into their own. I'm not fast enough to realize the benefit of the crazy-deep 80mm rims, but I'm sure they would come into their own at pro-level speeds.

The other nice thing about these wheels will be using them for cyclocross season. Being clinchers, changing to cyclocross tires will be easy. From experience, open tubular tires (basically made just like tubulars, handmade, not vulcanized, but not sewn together at the end) with latex tubes yields a ride very much like tubulars. The deep profile will prevent mud from sticking, I'm light enough that I can run the tire pressure pretty low, and clinchers aren't going to roll off the rim very easily, and not having to deal with gluing tires is priceless! The tape method above is great for high-pressure road tires, where the tire pressure alone is enough to keep the tire on the rim, but would not be good for low pressure cyclocross tubulars, which are also subject to much more extreme lateral force.

A final note on economics: if you're building wheels because you're trying to save money, that's a totally lost cause. It's cheaper to buy a pre-made wheelset, and if you're new to wheelbuilding, probably safer too!

So, a few personal experiences and ramblings on carbon vs. aluminum, tubular vs. clincher, rim depth, spokes and nipples, tires, and tape vs. glue.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I love this crazy sport

I love this photo that Todd Butcher took. It paints what I love about cyclocross. I've just powered through a mud pit and am (relatively speaking) speeding toward a staircase runup. There were a lot of people at the mud pit and the runup cheering, and both were really hard and required bike handing skills to navigate efficiently and quickly. There's mud on me and the bike, the scenic venue is in the background, there's pain and yet FUN written on my face. This, for me, is what cyclocross is all about.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday Night Cyclocross

So we have a sweet midweek cyclocross series here on Tuesday nights in a park right near town. $15 to race, insured and officiated, and each week the course gets changed up. Pretty sweet deal! Just like the Tuesday night crits, it's a good chance to get some practice racing in, low key, and a chance to hang out with teammates and friends and enjoy the beautiful Indian summer while it lasts!

I've done the last two, and I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised with my fitness. Normally by the second half of the race I'm gassed and riding backwards through whatever's left of the field. Now, I'm passing people and feeling good the second half. Most likely the training has finally paid off, and I'm also benefiting from not going so hard from the gun and blowing up. The technical skills are still fine, despite not really practicing. It's really like riding a bike (pun intended) - you don't forget. Nevertheless, it's hard, as cyclocross should be, and by the end I'm wiped out. There's no training like actual racing!

A big part of cyclocross racing is not crashing, not having mechanicals, and not getting caught up in pile-ups. So far that's worked out well too; probably a lot of luck involved there!

So I'm pretty pleased so far, and looking forward to the rest of the cyclocross season.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Watts per kilo

So I'm looking over info from this past season, seeing if I can figure out why I sucked in terms of results. I'm well aware that I don't have a high wattage output at threshold, but I'm no Thor Hushovd either. So I figured out my watts per kilo and compared it to Coggan/Allen's table that ventures to correlate the figures to racers of various categories.

According to this table, I should be a Cat 2 racer, given my 20 minute and 5 minute peak power outputs! WTF? The 1 minute and 5 second outputs confused matters more, since those figures put me at Cat 3 and not even quite Cat 4, respectively. This is confusing because I'd been suspecting that my power at threshold was my weak point, since I wasn't making it to the end of the race with enough gas in the tank to contest the finish. These figures would lead me to believe that I should be able to ride away from the field!

They do, however, confirm something I've suspected: I don't like to suffer. Theoretically I have the power to hammer, but once I get into the pain cave (lactate threshold), I can't will myself to stay there, even in a race! But wouldn't a "Cat 2 racer" be cruising easy in a Cat 4 pack?

I think I just need to worry less about the numbers, and more about riding more. One hour interval workouts are time efficient and effective for what they are, but it seems there's no replacement for just getting out and suffering for a few hours! That will entail shuffling some priorities to make the time. Already thinking of next year and cyclocross season has just barely begun!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Road Less Travelled

Did another sublime ride today. Again a nice loop that can only be done with some fatter tires because of the rural roads, but it was gorgeous! The weather was mild, the sun was shining, the views were stunning, and the pedaling was easy. This loop went up and over Ute Pass and looped back via the Williams Fork Reservoir and the Green Mountain reservoir. I even witnessed a cattle drive, complete with cowboys (and a cowgirl) and sheep dogs driving the herd right next to the road. 63 miles, almost four hours on pavement and increasingly unimproved rural roads.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boreas Pass adventure ride

The mountains of Colorado are not conducive to road rides that are anything but out-and-back, and I much prefer loops. In my quest to do a loop, I plotted out a ride that included a dirt road over Boreas Pass out of Breckenridge. Unfortunately I only brought my road bike with narrow tire and caliper clearances. Fortunately I was able to find some 700x28 hybrid tires that were on clearance for half off that just barely fit! I asked around and heard that the road was very do-able; it follows a former railroad grade, and is all hard-packed dirt.

I was pretty excited to make this ride happen, and I'm glad I did. Boreas Pass Rd. offered amazing views, and it was a very non-technical road. I was able to cruise along nicely on the road bike, and got quite a few looks from hikers and mountain bikers as I zipped by. The descent was a lot of fun too; nice and straight and gradual, and very do-able in my highest gear. Right near the top was a a section that would be bad for those with vertigo, as the road narrowed and the side dropped straight down!

The route between the end of Boreas Pass and was not particularly pleasant; 285 was a busy highway with no shoulder, and Hwy 9 was also busy with an annoying "bike path" beside it. Because of a stiff headwind and no shoulder on Hwy 9, I used the bike path into Alma. There were a couple nice views, and Fairplay had a fun sign that showed Kenny from South Park pointing to some local businesses. Fairplay is the town in Park County on which the South Park show is based. Nearby is an historic town called South Park.

In Alma I met up with Sascha who had come there over Hoosier Pass from Breckenridge. After some coffee we headed back to Breckenridge over Hoosier Pass, which is on the Continental Divide. A fun and scenic ride today!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


It would seem that I can't take the heat. How do people exercise when it's over 90? Gatorade seems to help push out the inevitable shut down, so electrolytes/hydration seems to be the right track, but I really seem to struggle.

Two weeks ago at the State Fair crits I DNF'ed, Monday during an especially hot and humid hot yoga class, I spend almost as much time resting as anything else. And yesterday at the Summit crit I could only hold on for a couple laps before I shut down. It's not like everyone else wasn't racing in the same heat, so it seems like I'm doing something wrong, since I held on with the same racers last week just fine.

Maybe electrolyte pills as well as Gatorade? Drinking more in the hours before? Better warm up? Not going as hard at the start?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Final State Fair Crit race report

This was an eventful race, so I thought I'd update this neglected blog. I decided to use the Powertap for this race, even though there would be hard accelerations every lap out of the hairpin turn. Turned out there was also a rise out of that turn, making it even more challenging! I seriously debated whether I'd do the 4/5 race because of the potential danger of that course. In the end, I decided to do both the 4/5 and the 3/4. I joked to Lynne that I'd probably get crashed out of the 4/5 race, so I always had the 3/4 race to fall back on.

I was just kidding. Really.

After a good warm up, I lined up with 67(!) other racers. The first lap I made sure to be right at the front, and the first time around the hairpin was fine. Things were fine for a couple laps, and I kept near the front, but then a rider slid out in front of me at the apex of the hairpin, causing me to ride right over his bike and get my foot stuck in his wheel. Grrr! No one was hurt, and I went to the pit for a free lap. Back in the race, I made every effort to keep at the front. After a while I was drifting back, but I was boxed in and didn't have much of a chance to move up. Coming up on the hairpin, a rider tried to pass between me and the curb and took us both down. Now I was really pissed! I decided to give up on the 4/5 race at that point. The second rider (Gopher Wheelmen) apologized after the race, which was very sportsmanlike. Interestingly, both of those riders were on orange BMCs!

The 3/4 race was great. Intention was to hang on as long as possible and salvage the day with a good workout. It was mostly safe riding, no crashes, and I felt really good. Not sure if it was the warm up in the other race, adrenaline, or just good fitness, but I stayed with the main group for the whole race. Most of the riders in the field were people I knew, so I felt more comfortable too. Photo from cycleture.

It was a really nice day; temps around 70, mid-summer evening sunshine, friends to hang out with. Although it started out crappy, everything was good in the end. Here's the power graph for the 3/4 race (the big spikes are coming out of the hairpin). This race reset my peak 0-2 second power.

Sunday is Northfield, next Tuesday is the Summit/Dakota series, then it's off to Colorado for two weeks.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


"Chevron Corp. has come out swinging in its fight to continue drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, arguing that not all oil firms should be tarred with the brush of BP PLC's Deepwater Horizon disaster." Meanwhile, "Emergency workers believe they have stopped a 21,000-gallon oil leak [from a Chevron pipeline] from reaching the environmentally sensitive Great Salt Lake, one of the West's most important inland water bodies for migratory birds that use it as a place to rest, eat and breed. But the spill has taken a toll on wildlife at area creeks and ponds, coating about 300 birds with oil and possibly threatening an endangered fish. The leak began Friday night when an underground Chevron Corp. pipeline in the mountains near the University of Utah broke. The breach sent oil into a creek that flows through neighborhoods, into a popular Salt Lake City park, and ultimately into the Jordan River, which flows into the Great Salt Lake."