Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Trying something new (#2)

So (!) .. I was about to call this blog "Trying something new" when I realised that was also the title of my last post... you may call me repetitive... but I guess there is a theme going yes?!

Whilst I have not managed to fight anyone yet at a "body combat" class (they mostly seem to be scheduled during the day time - and the evening one I can go to is a Thursday which means that is out for the next two weeks too...).. anyway, whilst I've not gone to that particular class I did try a new "toy" last week in the form of ........

... If you have found this neat software package before - congratulations... if you haven't and you have some sort of Ant+ technology (like a Garmin HRM and Cadence/ Speed Sensor)... and want to give yourself a bit of a different, more focused experience on your turbo trainer then you simply must check it out!

Over the course of the winter I have been thinking of power training on the bike - but frankly I am no top end, or even middle of the pack cyclist... and power is an expensive business. A friend of mine was looking to sell his Tacx Fortius - and despite hours of installation I couldn't get the damn thing to work, and looking at the forums I see I was not alone - this appears a very unsupported bit of software, which when it works works well, but when it doesn't it simply a waste of cash.... so back to TrainerRoad.com then... well I stumbled upon this really as a result of some comments I saw on a couple of blogs (Wes is full of interesting snippets ... and in fact I have just looked at his blog and he appears to have TrainerRoad graphs all over it!!! I'm telling you we are trendy people..... )..... anyway... having stumbled upon this website I thought about it for a little bit and then took the plunge. This stuff works on a subscription model at $10 per month (first month essentially free as they will refund fully if you don't like it), and you can cease subscription when you like (can't remember the terms of notice)..... The principle is really simple and actually fairly amazing (as a lot of great technology inventions are)... The software takes your Garmin USB stick (or Ant+ stick) and in my talk makes it a live stick whilst you are on your turbo - so whilst you can have your Garmin switched on to record too - whilst TrainerRoad is on your computer picks up your transmissions. It then using some whiz algorithm take the speed convert it to approximate power (if you have a power meter on then it will just pick that up)..... so with little configuration you have the ability to do power based workouts without the need for a power meter (which cost muchos dosh!)... Now TrainerRoad are honest and say that these power estimates are not 100% accurate - however if you keep things constant (like tyre pressure and how hard you attached your wheel to the flywheel) then you can measure like for like workouts. #Amazeballs!

The download of the software takes minutes (even on my crap broadband) and the set up is fairly simple - I had a slight problem with getting my Ant+ USB to be detected. I also set myself up incorrectly and did a HR rather then PowerBased test (which trainerroad kindly helped rework my data so I could get Functional Threshold Power rather then Lactate Threshold Heart Rate), the test can estimate either. 

Now I've done the 8minute test ride (do not let the title kid you - this was a 1hr workout with 2 * 8min full on efforts)... 

The blue part is the workout - the red my HR and the yellow the estimated power output. You can also see a little table of stats at the top of the chart. 

So... ...I now have my FTP which I can now do further workouts on - and in fact if I want to I can follow one of the plans too.... Given I'm a bit of a stato who likes graphs and pretty pictures I think this little app will help get my interest up with my winter turbo training :)

... On another front of trying something new .. I have been baking something different every weekend this year... nothing major; started off with bread, moved to bulgar wheat salad (!), and this weekend just gone tried my hand at Celeriac fondants (!!)... I don't think I'll be appearing on MasterChef anytime soon!