Review: Strava app

I got a new Android phone recently and I’ve been curious if the Strava app can replace the aging Garmin 500 altogether. As it turns out the app does 90% of the things I need.

  • Starting recording is dead easy with the record widget. There is no annoying wait for catching the GPS signal either
  • I can record ant+ data from my power2max via Viiiva bluetooth heart rate strap
  • There is no more need to spend time uploading files to strava.com anymore
  • If I run out of phone battery the recording stays and the app really does not use that much energy anyhow so battery life really hasn’t been a problem
  • The app keeps running in the background even if I take mid-ride photos
  • You can pause the recording, but there is no minimum speed option so it keeps recording during breaks if I walk around
  • I never had need for turn-by-turn navigation anyway so I haven’t missed that. I can use Google Maps if I need help with navigation
  • I’m missing some kind of audio warnings for exceeding power threshhold or heart rate zones as I’ve just kept the phone in my back pocket
  • In the app there should be some countdown (not just a beep) for start and end of Strava segments and I should be able to choose segments in advance
  • In general there is lot of promise. In the future the app could give instant feedback and encouragement based on virtual coaches data.

So all in all I’ve been pretty happy with Strava app and already I sold my Garmin 500.

DIY: Bike wall rack

20170712_165427.jpgStorage space is always a scarce commodity. I decided to build a wall rack I can hang my vintage steel bike on. Basically the construction consists of two 30cm long table legs mounted with screws on a brick wall. It is nothing fancy, but I’m quite happy with the sturdiness and end-result in general. I already have some pipe insulation as padding, but I might still wrap some tape or cloth on top to pretty it up.

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Training with power meter

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The old wisdom is you can only improve something you can measure. I had the opportunity to measure myself at the HULA ergometer lab last year. I got lot of fancy charts on lactates and CO2 levels, but the main recommendation was that I should be riding more light endurance training (under 135bpm) instead of constant Strava segment induced intervals.

The three key metrics were the following:

  • Aerobic threshold (AeT) 130W 127bpm
  • Anaerobic threshold (AnT/LT) 210W 170bpm
  • VO2max 292W

Essentially the key take-away was that I can ride little over 200W for extended periods without worry as AnT translates to FTP pretty well. I was bit disappointed in the numbers, but it is good to know the baseline. Knowing you are going too easy or hard is important especially on longer hills or doing  time trials. I don’t do much of either so it is more a question of pacing myself in right training zones. Continue reading

Trip report: Scotland

IMG_0555In May we spent a week traveling around Scotland in a campervan. The scenery was amazing and we drove almost 1400km. I did not bring along my road bike, but after seeing how the locals drive and how the road shoulders are almost non-existent I don’t really mind.

Some of the highlights of our trip:

  • Climbed Arthur’s seat in Edinburgh
  • Seafari wildlife tour to Corryvreckan. Thanks Claire!
  • Seafood stand on the Oban pier
  • Hired a downhill bike and rode the Red Giant trail on Ben Nevis range
  • Coasteering adventure in Skye with Skye Adventure. Thanks Sarah and John!
  • Driving up Bealach na Ba road to Applecross

We also did some of the must-see spots like Eilean donan castle and Loch Ness, but my experience is that they necessarily were not worth the time. The best time we had wondering on the secluded beaches and taking the less beaten track in general. Next time I want to walk up some Munros and maybe attend a closed-roads cyclo sportive.

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One bike to rule them all

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I bought a Planet-X Pickenflick titanium frame to replace the crashed RT-90. The idea was to build one bike to rule them all. I have now few hundred kilometers under my belt and the bike seems to be performing well. TRP brakes (Hy/RD and Spyre) have worked well. Even with 28mm tyres the cheap chinese carbon wheels do bring aero benefits that are truly noticeable, especially at higher speeds. I keep smashing personal records on Strava despite just having a single 38t oval chain ring up front. Good results could be due to carry over from playing hockey all winter, but I can’t blame the bike either.

Hockey and cycling

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I picked up ice hockey again year ago and it is such an amazing fast-paced sport. The 1,5 hours in the ring really flies by and you are absolutely drenched in sweat afterwards. The next few days your thighs are burning and you sure know you have really worked out. Now from cycling point of view hockey makes lot of sense as it is a great lower body workout and improves your balance.
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Reality check

munkkikoski-004I had big plans for 2017, but I hurt myself ice skating month and a half ago. I was literally on the sofa for two weeks and out of sporting action for a month. My right leg has visibly shriveled during that time. I went for the very first pleasure ride yesterday and took it easy. Still the hurt leg was sore and aching afterwards. I truly dread the first time I will see the left-right leg balance numbers from my power meter. The spring is coming soon and trip to Belgium had to be cancelled, but hopefully I can recover during the summer.

Carbon wheels from China

img_0113I have been riding alloy wheels on my chinese carbon fiber bikes. Many others started their venture into chinese carbon fiber via wheels instead. Now that I moved to a titanium frame I thought it would time to check out what wheels are available. While hand-built option is tempting at least the following vendors offer ready made wheels:

In the past I have steered away from vendors on auction and chinese e-commerce sites. Having had good experiences with cheaper seat post purchases this time I went ahead took a gamble on a pair of wheels from a lesser known vendor. Time will tell whether this decision proves smart or one of the poorer ones. Continue reading

Plans for 2017

TdH preli 011So 2016 was more or less the same than the years before. For 2017 I thought I would mix things up a little bit.

So to keep up there has to be plenty of off-season training in the spring and start on the road early. In addition I will try to ride plenty on the track (incl. Velorution) and fixed-gear crit (Hellsinki crit cup). Continue reading

VCLS-like seatposts

Canyon came up with VCLS seat post to soften the ride on harsh roads. Chinese carbon fiber manufacturers have been quick to copy the concept. The idea is great and the posts look great. The downside is that under a fat bloke (86-92kg) like me the seat post has the tendency to slip and tilt the saddle. The situation can be handled only with generous application of carbon paste and quite a bit of torque. The problem is of course that you would not really like to crack the fragile carbon by over-tightening the clamp bolt.

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