J17's can be strong!
Long have I ranted and railed ... and good news!
J17's are now allowed a 7.0m rollout (~90").
An open letter to Minoura Japan
I have two sets, the VIS has heaps, the AIS, NSWIS, Cycing Vic and WAIS all own dozens of them. Hilton owns at least 4 sets, of the Minoura Action roller. Why these rollers in particular? They're not perfect, they have aluminium roller drums with 105mm diameter, which is good, but nasty plastic endcaps that fail with heavy use. The big plus for us is the way they fold up into a small space and they have a reliable, simple bag to transport them. I get to carry them around a lot, and the bag, and the trifoldability, is a BIG win. This is why just about every state track team has heaps of them. 105mm metal roller drums and great transportability. Got it?
Not that long ago they got discontinued. Why? I don't know, the replacement is the Moz roller, same trifold frame, but smaller 80mm plastic roller drums (BAD!) and a fancier bag that has a zip instead of a flap. This is bound to fail in our use-case. We move lots of these rollers (Hilts' van may have a floor lined with 16 sets of rollers when we travel to championships etc) and anything with a zipper is bound to fail.
So, Minoura, please re-release the Action rollers. If you want to make them better, replace the plastic roller endcaps with something more robust, but otherwise LEAVE THEM ALONE!
Well, you know, we all want to change the world ...
Tonight at Spin we tested the Lemond Revolution under Dino.
To paraphrase :
It's much harder to spin up than the Kurt Kinetic, but it's too easy once it's going.
That's Dino's thoughts - given that we care about the acceleration phase, this might be a good thing. It's noticeably less stable than a KKRM, and a LOT noisier (as you'd expect, it's a wind trainer after all, albeit a fancy one). I will try it under a few other guys and see what they think.
I have a Lemond Revolution on order to try out
Ok, we won't get power from it, at least, not acceleration, although it may be calibrated for steady state (enduro) training, but I have one of these coming which will hopefully be in time for this Tuesday's ergo.
Interesting bit of kit ...
We'll review it once we've tried it out. Rumour has it it has a decent flywheel in it, and if so, and direct drive, it might be a game changer for ergos. If they made one with a built in powermeter ...
How hard do you really have to push
There's an age-old question in track sprint, and it's this : "How strong do you have to be?" or variations on that. Why do we care? Because, unlike our roadie and to a lesser extent track enduro cousins, we have to push very hard indeed for a few pedal strokes to get up to speed, on what may be a pretty large gear.
No commercially available power meters give the full picture. Powertap, SRM etc do not report peak torque in a useful way - they report averages (but measure everything, if you know how to ask them the right questions). Averages for torque are nice to know, but don't really answer the question. Peak torque is how strong you are, and that's a very interesting figure to know.
I've been lucky enough to be involved in assisting a study being done around these parts which is looking deeply into the torque requirements of sprint cycling. It's been very interesting so far and we're lucky to have some very fancy torque measurement equipment available to test some of the squad riders on. I might even get a go on the thing myself if I'm lucky and they want to get some junk data from an old guy who's broken at the moment! But anyway, it's proving to be very interesting indeed. We might even be able to answer the question at the end of it.
Especially for junior females
Modelled by Emily, I present the 3T Scatto.
Compare to her using the Easton EC90's, which were 38cm c-c :
Bear in mind that the camera used to take these shots is a GoPro with a very wide lens, so there is a bit of distortion that makes it look worse than it was with the EC90's
Small cameras .. Nifty
Recently I added an extra video camera to the video arsenal. My workhorse is a standard def Sony VX2100. These babies are the ducks' nuts of SD video cameras, the documentary film makers camera of choice up 'til HD took over, thank you Nick Bird for the recommendation! I got myself a little GoPro "Hero HD" for a bit of novelty value after seeing some really good kayaking videos shot with one. If you're into whitewater 'yaking, this is brilliant, these guys have done some good videos but this one's their best ...
Anyway .. To cut a long story short, I've used the little thing a few times at DISC and at Blackburn to record some tutorial-ish video, flying 200 lines mainly, from a rider/handlebar PoV. Today I did some rear-facing stuff on the motorbike at DISC so I could see what the guys in the squad were doing while at speed. My editing is very crude, rough and ready using PowerDirector and I don't spend much time making it pretty, but it's still handy stuff, I reckon.
The lens is a very wide angle (170 degrees in most modes including the default 960p/30fps) so there's some distortion when the subject is close (as they should be when being motorpaced, but SOME OF YOU SIT WAY TOO FAR OFF THE DAMN BIKE! The roller is there for a reason, YOU CAN TOUCH IT!) but even so, it's been quite revealing. We don't often get to look closely at sprinters under load at speed and everything happens pretty quickly. The video I'm getting isn't going to make our coaching service 107.65% better, make you 30-40% faster or any of that other marketing bull, but it's a pretty handy thing to have and I'm going to use it quite a bit, I think.
Hehehehe "more on"
Today my copy of Robb Wolf's new book arrived in the mail. It's another book on Paleo eating (and a little on exercise etc). His style of writing grates on me, but the content is excellent. Many months ago I read Gary Taube's Good Calories Bad Calories, and the whole 'paleo thing' is really an offshoot of, or an implementation of, much of the material collected in Gary's book.
I'm not pure paleo at the moment, but on the whole (80-90% at a guess) I probably am, and it's certainly working for me as it does for many others. I think, as an eating philosophy for sprinters, it's ideal. Unlike our enduro cousins who need lots of carbs, we're not chronically glycogen depleted and we don't need mountains of pasta, jelly lollies and the like. Quite a few of my sprint squad people are going down this path with some significant body-composition changes happening to them. They might call it "low carb", or say "you've turned me into a carnivore!", but it's working for them too.
And after all is said and done, steak .. it's just plain yummy!
Round 1 in 2 days. I'm getting excited! My new tyre is glued up and will be ready, tomorrow we're painting the lines on the track and doing some very short efforts to get our gearing sorted and lines 100% set. It's all good!
Back on the (old concrete) track
Sunday last (3rd Oct) was the practice day for the Summer Sprint Series. I'd spent a bit of time at the old Blackburn roundy-roundy-drome doing some weeding, burning weeds, chopping weeds, sweeping etc over the last fortnight but hadn't done a lap as any sort of speed since the last round last summer.
With a pesky shoulder injury keeping me seated and spinning, I did a couple of demo rides of the two most common flying 200's with a funky little "GoPro Hero HD" video camera attached to my trusty track bike. These little cameras are brilliant. Cheap enough to not worry too much about if they get damaged, waterproof, high-def (can do 1080p at 30 frames/second!) and with a stack of clever mounts. I slapped the camera under my stem, popped on an 86" gear and did some demo laps for the camera.
Here's the video from those two lines
After that, and a warmup sucking the wheel of the ubersprinter for a few laps, it was time to do some practice. I figured I wasn't good for much, so dropped my gear down to 82" and cranked up the cadence. I rode a 14.4s flying 200, which was about a second off my best at Blackburn, but it wasn't a full gas effort and was way off the sort of gear I'd normally ride (when I can get out of the saddle to get over a bigger gear anyway, bugger it!). I'd probably ride 92" or so if everything was working well, and bigger if I felt good and there wasn't much wind. As it is, I'll be happy if I can hold 86" next week without pain interfering with my ride. We all did a few flying 200's, most of us were way off the times we'd been riding last year. With no aero fruit, fancy wheels or helmets etc and a strong nor-easter blowing it wasn't all bad.
I did two practice races against Emily, and one against David Thomas, we were all getting the feel for the slacker banking at Blackburn after a winter's training indoors and on the 42 degree timber banks of DISC. It went well, everyone did improve through the session and I'm looking forward to next Sunday.
Doing big gear starts on a Kurt Kinetic Pro with the big flywheel
We do a lot of high strength work on Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainers. I'm a big fan of these, they work, they're (compared to the BT and Wombat etc) affordable while not being cheap and nasty and there's an option to have a very heavy flywheel. We use the big flywheel for strength work. It fits on the "pro" version of the KKRM. With the Uberflywheel, the total flywheel weight is 18.25 pounds, or a bit over 8 kg. This takes some effort to get going. The Computrainer that all the enduros rave about would blow to bits with the sprint stuff we do, it's limited to about 1500 watts of electro-magnetic braking and I doubt it can cope with high torque applications. The only other thing that comes close is the WattBike, but that's not a cheap bit of kit and it's got its own flaws, most glaringly the wrong Q factor for starters, and yes, that can be fixed, but a $3000+ bit of gear should be right from the start!
Like everything, the KKRM is not perfect. For strength work, we load up with a big gear, for example we sometimes use 53x12 (119") for some efforts. This isn't really what the KKRM is designed for, but it is the best simulation of a standing start I've been able to find. With the superflywheel, it's harder than getting out of the starting gate. Ie: it's good specific strength training. BUT the rear wheel of a bicycle, no matter how tight we do up the tensioner, slips.
Until now ...
When I was over in Adelaide at the NTID sprint camp a couple of months ago, I had a look at what the AIS guys use, one of them has a KKRM, but he'd modified it, presumably for the same reason I have now modified mine. Skateboard deck tape around the roller. This might shred tyres, but it now means next to no wheel slip and a much better initial first three pedal strokes, as the roller starts turning rather than slipping ,which was the big advantage of the BT and the Wombat etc which are directly chain driven. I ducked up to Ringwood and bought a sheet of glorified sandpaper from Ballistyx (which is all deck tape is, it's a sticker combined with sandpaper), cut a bit to wrap once around the roller, stuck it on and trialed it last Tuesday at Spin. Wow. It works really well. We'll happy cope with more tyre wear for this improvement in resistance.
So now my kilo and 500m ITT riders (and team sprint starters, ie: me!) have a harder session when we do big gear standing starts on the ergos.
Our track powertaps are not quite right
I'll cut to the chase (I'm pretty busy working on sprintTracker, my little python program to track sprinters times etc), I'm responsible for some 10 wheelbuilder.com track modified Powertap hubs, two are mine, the rest belong to the VIS, the NTID and Hilton Clarke.
There's a small problem with them involving the chainline. We never noticed it on mine because it's only about 3.5mm out and I'm no great torque machine and both my and Emily's bikes have reasonably long chainstays so the chainline problem doesn't really show up. However, under some of the NTID and VIS boys who have real motors we hear noises at high power outputs, so we investigated the chainline of the hubs.
Best illustrated with a couple of (poor quality!) photos :
| That's what they look like
| That's what it should look like
As you can see, even with my crappy mobile phone photography and quickly cobbled up bit of cardboard measuring device, the PT hub puts the sprocket about 3.5mm (the width of the lockring) too far towards the middle of the bike. I think the guys at Wheelbuilder made a mistake reading the width of the hub and assumed that the sprocket was where the lockring is, which it isn't. Most people would never notice, the 3.5mm deviation is small and under enduro riders would not show up at all, but put them under a big sprinter putting out a lot of torque and it makes noises and runs rough.
The fix is pretty easy, the hubs have a steel axle end cap that you can see in the top picture (with the flat side to allow you to do it up), that needs to be 3.5mm shorter and the other side needs to be 3.5mm longer. Then, all the wheels need to be re-dished. Bugger, most of them were put together by Daryl Perkins and he tied and soldered them, which is a PITA to re-do.
Anyway, these things happen and I'm sure the guys at Wheelbuilder will send us corrected end caps ASAP. They're smart people and proud of the work they do, they'll want to take responsibility for this and fix it. In the mean time we can machine down the existing drive-side end caps and put washers under the off-side ones. It's fiddly and shouldn't have to happen but this is prototype and first generation stuff, we expect a few teething issues. It's the price of being on the bleeding edge.
Enter the Kamm-tail
Everything on bicycles is at least 10 years behind motorcycles and cars. The Kamm Tail was originally developed in the 1930's in Germany.
Our distant cousins over in triathalon-land think aerodynamics matters, and they're right, but it REALLY matters at 60+km/h in sprints. Will this technology make it into sprint bikes?
It runs hot ...
Steel is real!
The current generation of Powertap road power meters (the wireless 2.4GHz ones) mostly come with an aluminium alloy freehub body. After not very long this happens to them. Sucks ... It's because making an alloy freehub that works with both 9 and 10 speed Shimano cassettes compromises the design of the freehub. Of course, the weight weenies want light hubs ... so for the sake of 80 grams (I weighed both the alloy and the steel freehubs today) all but the bottom end Powertap comes with this stupid alloy freehub.
But! For around $200 or so (in Australia, from a Trek dealer) you can get the PT Elite+ freehub, which is steel (and ... yes ... 80 grams heavier) and swap it into your higher end hub and eliminate the problem! Win! It should not cost what it does, but that's not something your LBS can do anything about, wholesale these things are insanely expensive, but they are available and they mean you can swap cassettes with just the one chain whip! Nice .. when something works like it should.
Enough ranting .. My PT 2.4 is now upgraded to a steel freehub and I'm happy about it.
There's lots of crashes at DISC, grip is one contributing factor. DISC has no rules re tyres ...
In the UK, at the Manchester velodrome, they have rules about what tyres you may use on the track :
So ... I don't agree with the contents of the list, no Veloflex Records or Vittoria Diamonte Pro Lights
- Use Continental, Schwalbe, Tufo or Vittoria clinchers or tubulars (black tread only), 21 mm wide or better.
Recommended clinchers and tubulars
S3 Lite 135
22 and 25mm
22 and 25mm
Pista EVO CS
Pista EVO CL
- Tyres must be inflated to 8 bar (119psi), and the pressures, and tyre condition checked regularly. Do not use Michelin tyres or any dual compound tyres or tyres with coloured treads. Other tyres and tubulars may in future be recommended after analysis. Do not use tub tape to fix tubulars to sprint rims – use proprietary rim cement.
- Do not use brand new tyres on the track without first preparing them thus; rub the surface with alcohol or white vinegar or other degreaser before use. Ride the first three laps on the Cote d’Azure or bottom of track.
(which we use), but as a general principle, I think it's a good one. There's far too many low speed crashes on the boards at DISC and I strongly suspect that poor tyre choice is a significant contributor to this. I was watching one of the NTID lads trackstanding on the bend last night doing skills work, on a Diamonte Pro Light. Try that on one of those crappy Michellin Pro3's ... Manchester bans them! :
· Only use Schwalbe or Continental clinchers or tubulars (black tread only), 23 mm wide. Do not use Michelin tyres. · Do not use brand new tyres on the track; rub the surface with alcohol or white vinegar or other degreaser before use. Ride the first three laps on the Cote d’Azure or bottom of track.
You can see the full Manchester recommendations here. Worth a read.
Many of you know, and if you don't, you do now ... I'm a bit of a fan of Trek bikes. For a long time they've only had an aluminium frame track bike (the T1). It seems they now have a carbon one .... It looks like an Equinox TTX with track dropouts. Interesting ... I have our local Trek rep on the job to find out more.
Unfit for purpose!
I wrote in my last blog that, amongst other things, it's not about the equipment.
Except sometimes it is ...
It is when the equipment is a limitation.
If you don't trust your equipment, especially in a sprint situation which demands 100% commitment, you cannot perform at your best, and then it is about the gear. When your equipment is a significant limitation, change your equipment.
I have an FFWD 5 spoke front track wheel. It is being returned to the local distributor for a refund. I don't trust it. The first one I got about a month ago, Pete and I glued on a Tufo S3 lite tyre, I took it to DISC and jumped on after some quick photos for Ride magazine. It immediately launched into a resonating tank-slapper as I got onto the bank. I took it off, put on the old Bonty front and got back to training and coaching for the day. Later, Nathan Larkin and I pulled it apart and found that the bearing/axle fit was fractionally loose, and there's no way to adjust it. Ok, send it back to FRF (local distributor), they send me another one. This one's still got a little bit of play, but it's better than the last one. Glue it up, wind it up at Blackburn at round one of the aSSS for my flying 200, I'm 100% committed to this effort and am going absolutely as fast as I can in almost perfect conditions.
At full speed, it does the same thing the last one did, almost putting me over the fence. I was very lucky not to crash.
We had a look at it afterwards and the bearing/axle interface has play, enough to allow a resonance it seems. What a seriously brain-damaged design this is. A ~$3,000 retail wheel which has no way to alter bearing tightness. The Mavic iO has adjustable bearings, which means manufacturing tolerances (and wear!) can be adjusted out. Not so this design. It's a POS. Don't buy one unless and until they redesign the hub such that you can adjust the bearings.
Not that you probably need one anyway, I don't need it, I need something I can trust, which isn't this wheel. If you're thinking about it, think again.
I'm very happy with this piece of equipment
I know I've banged on about this before, and I'm going to bore you again with it. We debut'ed the new powertab wheel last night at DISC. I'm no stranger to training with power, I've had a Powertap SL 2.4 in a road wheel for a couple of years now and it's a great tool there, but my emphasis these days is track and once you've trained with power, it's very frustrating to not have it.
After a bit of show and tell as a few of the Sunday Roast diners had a look at it and asked me a bunch of questions I either didn't know the answer to (How much will it cost? How does it work? "same as all the other PT's!" Is there a Zipp 1080 option? How much is that doggy in the window etc) or wasn't at liberty to discuss (How much did I pay for it?!) or wasn't going to answer yes to ("Can I borrow it next Sunday?" No, but you can hire it!) Nath showed up with the valve extender and we put air in it and I slapped on a 17 tooth sprocket.
As with any new toy, I was a bit mesmerised by it, doing the warm up on a damp track (yes, DISC still leaks .... the irony of an indoor velodrome that gets water on it when it rains!) we had to dodge a wet spot (cue the jokes, now ..) at the end of the finishing straight and I had to pay attention to riding, not looking at the computer all the time. I wasn't going to be the first to test the hub in anger though, that was Emily's job. After we warmed up she was set to do a 500m ITT and we popped the gate on the track and the wheel in her bike (and the computer up her sleeve!). A 10 count, and she's away at full torque for 500m (two laps of DISC). She rides a great time on it which would have won her last summer's JW15 state titles again, but by more (2 tenths faster than her Vics winning time last summer). No worries.
Our sprint training for the day is low speed jumps. This'll show if the guys over on FGF's fears about axle slip are real. I'm matched up with Rob Tidey, on 91.8". From 6km/h to 50km/h in 10 seconds, peak power 1501 watts, peak crank torque 199.6nm. No movement. No worries!
To be sure, we did this 4 times. Still no movement. I'm very far from the strongest track sprinter around, in fact I'm a 'never was' and a hack at best, but that was a pretty good test and it passed with flying colours. Arr, it's nice to have power again!
The rest of the session went well, except we cut short the finish as the track was slippery and damp and we had a tumble during a practice sprint. Everyone was toast anyway so no-one felt like they wanted more track time.
I took the laptop to Nandos and grabbed the data. Here's what my 4 low speed jumps looks like
I can't show you Em's data, that's confidential, but I can say that the meter allows us to see where she's really strong and what we need to target to get her faster much more than we've been able to with simulated stuff on the road Powertap on an ergo.
The device isn't perfect though - rare indeed is it to have a version 1 of something that's 100% sorted. It comes with bolts instead of the more standard axle and nuts and these can be a bit fiddly to do up when setting chain tension. I spoke with Rich from Wheelbuilder today and he's going to address this with a set of studs and he tells me we'll have the first ones to test out. Also, and this is nothing to do with the track adaptor Rich made, Powertaps do tell you cadence, but in the same sort of 'random number generator' sort of way that Polar and iBike do power - ie: not reliable. If you're interested in cadence and can't be bothered working it out from speed and gear, get the Cyclops cadence sender as well.
I'm not going to make a fuss about the rest of the wheel, it's an Edge Composites 68 carbon clincher laced with 32 Sapim CX-Ray spokes by Wheelbuilder as per our spec (build it strong, Rich, it's going under heavy sprinters!). As I'd expect it was stiff and felt fast. With a Veloflex Record at 140psi it felt just as good if not better than the tubulars I run on my regular indoor track wheels (Bontrager carbon track rims with Tufo S3 Pro's). It may be faster, it certainly looks fast and feels as stiff as anything else I've ridden except the disk wheel. The White Industries sprockets look solid and feel reassuringly heavy.
So, overall, I'm very happy with this device. At its first outing it's providing us with very valuable information which will help us all to go faster and that's what we want to do, and it's around half the cost of an SRM crank system here in Australia. For us, this is a win, thankyou Rich Sawiris!
The wheelbuilder.com Powertap track wheel has arrived. It's the only one in Australia at this time and one of the very first of this version in the world. Wheelbuilder did a fixie adaptor for the first generation of Powertaps but they've been unavailable for quite a few years now.
Now we can swap wheels on track bikes and get power readings. From now on, a laptop comes to every track training session and we're no longer guessing. I need to work out a hire price structure for it. It's a very nice wheel, Edge 68 clincher rim (60mm deep carbon clincher), Sapim CXray spokes (32), Powertap SL+ hub with Rich Sawris's fixed gear modification and White Industries sprockets and carrier. We chose a clincher so that we can quickly and painlessly swap tyres for indoor and outdoor use, it'll have a Veloflex Record for DISC and probably a Bontrager Race-Lite for outdoor use.
For some time my Saturday racing has been even worse than I expected it to be. I didn't think to check the bike, after all I keep getting faster during sprints. But, on Saturdays I use my old wheels, for sprints I use the bling bits. Adam needed to borrow a wheel on Sunday so I passed him my old back wheel, only to have him say "I'm not using this, it's seized!" or words to that effect.
Sure enough, it was. I guess it had been like that for some time. It could be turned, but not by hand at the axle. Very tight indeed. Hrm.
I put new bearings in it today and set the locknuts correctly which might help a bit! Look out Dino, I may get a km/h faster in our warmups now the bike hasn't got the brakes on. Woohoo!