Cycling Parents Family Bike Ride

By Cycling Dad:

After three races over the last two weeks, my body is sending me signals that it’s time for a break. So Alex and I decided to take the kids out in their Chariot Child Carrier and made a short video about it.

What’s your recipe for happy kids?

Specialized Bike Handover and Bike Fitting

By Cycling Dad:

Remember the prize?

You can’t rush nature. I was reminded of this fact again as I missed the 2013 Team Alpecin kickoff event while staying with the family in the final days of Alex’ pregnancy. When Johanna finally arrived, she was six days past her expected date. This came as a big surprise to us, as Alex was already having labour pains around Christmas and last year our first child Konstantin was born five weeks earlier than expected. In the end, everything that counts is that Johanna was born in perfect health and that Alex is recovering well from the Cesarian that could not be avoided… this is first and foremost – all that matters. Johanna and her big brother Konstantin bring joy to our lives every day.

< end of disclaimer, back to the cycling folly :D >

I was sitting, waiting, wishing. Bittersweet agony, looking forward to the birth of our baby girl while being anxious of missing the team kickoff. In my fantasy, I saw myself being expelled from the team for not being there when the big show starts. All of this took place in my head only. The team sponsors were absolutely supportive in finding an alternative to get me on board. It turned out that I could pick up the equipment and get the bike fitting directly at Specialized’s German headquarters at Holzkirchen, which would additionally give me a chance to blog about it. Here’s a big thank you to Daniel at Roadbike Magazine and Sebastian at Specialized for setting up the workaround schedule!

So, after signing up Johanna for Team Cycling Parents and dropping off the family at home, back from the hospital, I took a detour from parking the car…

Specialized Germany Headquarters

Holzkirchen is a charming, tiny village in the South of Germany. Imagine timbered houses among farmhouses and cuckoo clock workshops. Here, Specialized’s German Headquarters and EMEA marketing-hub is located in an old farmhouse, which was converted into a state of the art facility with showrooms, offices, classrooms and a few mounting stations for fixing demo and pro bikes. Let me take you on a quick tour:

Below is the outside view of the location. Notice the big stack of firewood nicely piled behind the building? Love it!

Once you enter the building, you are taken back to the modern world. There are two workstations located near the entrance, which double as visitor reception. Check out the mountain panorama in the background. I wish I had that wallpaper also next to my workstation!

Take a left turn and you walk right into a modern showroom that can also be used as a meeting room. Here, retailers visiting Specialized in Holzkirchen for training can also check out the latest product releases and discuss upcoming marketing activities. There’s also a spacious bar area that seems as if it could serve more than just coffee ;) .

The wall behind the bar gives an impression of what this place looked like before being converted into the Specialized office.

And here’s how it looks today: the cowshed has been transformed into the office section. There are workstations to the right and to the left of the central aisle, which effectively still is part of the showroom. The whole place feels really cozy.

Take another turn to enter a social room that leads to the training classrooms. There’s a tabletop soccer station and spacious changing rooms and showers packed with cycling gear which I think is another perk of this location.

I briefly peeked into one of the classrooms with a training session in progress.

There’s also an extensive warehouse upstairs, where demo bikes and pro team equipment is stored and prepared for action. I only quickly walked through there, as the main reason for my visit was soon to begin…

Specialized Body Geometry Bike Fitting

Meet Sebastian Maag, Technical Marketing Manager at Specialized. Sebastian usually takes care of introducing newly released products to Specialized retail partners and training store personnel in sales and customer services. Today, Seb will give me a professional Specialized “Body Geometry Fit” bike fitting. Seb promises that this will help me climb faster, descend more confidently and ride with less fatigue on my new Specialized S-Works Venge.

Sounds good! Bring it on.

Ah, let’s have a coffee first.

Here’s what my bike setup looked like up to now. The green letters gives my specifications in cm, black are Alex’. We got this note during a fitting session at a Cervelo dealer in Germany in 2012. I must admit that the sheet we used to scribble down our specs looks rather basic. So far, these specs worked quite well.

Specialized’s fitting philosophy goes much further than saddle to crank and saddle to handlebar geometry. They also take a rider’s unique physiological features and acquired pain points (e.g. through attrition) into consideration. Individually matched shoes, sole inlays, gloves, handlebar tapes, saddles and shorts create the playing field for achieving the perfect conditions for every rider. I am really curious if this will help me in my preparations for the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon.

Here’s a short video about the “Bike Geometry Fit” service from the Specialized website:


Below is a photo from the bike fitting room. This is where Specialized retailers get their training for offering the “Bike Geometry Fit” service to end customers. As you can see, the bike is fixated on a static trainer. There are two cameras connected to a computer workstation. One is taking the front view, the other the right-hand side view. Also, there is a measurement chart on the left hand side of the wall that is used for measuring flexibility and a number of physiological features that are relevant to your position on the bike, for example static and dynamic knee positioning. You can also see a selection of shoe inlays in the middle of the picture that can be used to correct said foot and knee positioning.

And this is the moment when I first put my hands on my dream machine for the 2013 cycling season. As full carbon wheels and static trainers don’t get along well, the back wheel was changed to the standard Roval wheelset that comes with the S-Works Venge. I will write a detailed review about the bike soon. Today’s post is about the bike fitting.

After taking some measures from my body and asking me about my general riding experience on the bike, Seb first took care of my main pain point – the saddle. On my Cervelo S1, am currently riding a Selle Italia C2 Gel Flow, which has a width of 136mm. It worked great for me on shorter rides up to three hours, but gave me sores on longer rides beyond three hours. I already tried chamois cream to help ease the pain, but this only helped marginally.

Seb first measured the distance between my sit bones, using a gel-padded scale for me to sit on. The bones leave two indentations in the gel pads, marking the areas where the pressure on the saddle is highest. Here’s an anatomical mockup of the pelvis. You can clearly see the sit bones on the bottom.

Seb’s recommendation for me was the Specialized Romin Evo Pro Team with a width of 155mm. The picture below gives you an idea of how the sit bones ideally should rest on the saddle, to ensure an even distribution of pressure. If the saddle is too narrow, it will put pressure on the sensitive perineal area, causing discomfort and sores. Upon trying the new saddle, I must confirm that it feels really comfortable without compromising on weight or design. I am curious to see if this new saddle remains comfortable on longer rides. During the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon, I will most likely spend around ten hours in the saddle. It will be the ultimate test.

Now that we solved the first problem, Seb swiftly moved on in the fitting. Next up was alignment of the knee. For this, I was asked to step on the Arch-O-Meter. As the arch of the foot flexes under pressure, it can cause the knee to rotate in movement. This costs precious energy and can lead to fatigue during cycling. As you can see from the color of the footprint (probably triggered by the distribution of pressure), I have a medium to high arch. Today I learned something about my feet – there’s a lot of flexing going on…

Seb told me not to worry and quickly came up with a pair of supportive insoles (pictured below on top). You can feel the difference once you step from the original flat insoles (pictured below on the bottom) onto the supportive insoles. They snuggle under your arch, giving your foot support when it needs it most – on long mountain climbs.

What followed next was a series of video sessions, where Seb asked me to get on the bike and pedal with a little bit of intensity. Seb first adjusted my cleat positioning, then he adjusted my seat height by a stunning 50 mm upwards, aiming to achieve the ideal 145 degree knee angle (pictured below). Before, I was cycling with a 134 degree knee angle as recommended by the Cervelo dealer in the last (basic) bike fitting. And I have to approve – the new position indeed feels better. The picture below is not the final positioning, but rather a quick snapshot that I took during one of the video playbacks. Seb pointed out that I should bend my arms slightly in order to attain a more comfortable and dynamic position on the bike. I did this instinctively when I was a younger rider, but sitting in an office chair every day clearly has taken its toll..

At this point Seb was almost happy with the results, but he still noticed my right knee slightly rotating inwards during the pedaling movement. He put me on a bench and did some more physio-therapeutic testing, diagnosing the need for a valgus-adjustment in my forefoot. This can be achieved by introducing shims under the insoles, (pictured below), which help move the foot into the ideal position.

The result of the 90 minutes Bike Geometry Fit session is simply stunning. The bike feels super comfortable under my hands, feet and bum. I could hardly wait to get out on the road and give it a test, which by the time of writing this article had been done: 2 x 100k rides on the Easter holidays – feeling perfect, with no unusual signs of sores or fatigue whatsoever. If the professional bike fitting holds up to its promise, this will make a huge difference during the upcoming cycle marathons. If you are curious about getting a Bike Geometry Fit session for yourself, head to your nearest Specialized retailer. It is amazing what these folks can do for you!

But for now, time had come to thank Sebastian for his help, load up all the 2013 Team Alpecin equipment into the car and head home to Vienna. What an amazing experience this was!

As you can see, the car was absolutely packed with all the goodies to take home…

4 hours later I unpacked everything and spread my new possessions out in the hallway. This is madness – the cream of the crop in cycling equipment and everything you could ever wish for as a cyclist! For the complete list, head back to my post introducing the call for applications to the 2013 Team Alpecin.

We already ‘unleashed’ the CyclingParents.com testing team and together, we’ll review each piece of equipment in the team kit over the next weeks and post the reviews here. The Specialized S-Works Venge will soon receive a very special place, but details will follow in another post. By the way in the background you can see Alex holding her hands in her lap, staring at my new bike in awe ;) .

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Product Review – Pedal Systems: Shimano Dura Ace PD-9000 vs. Time Iclic Carbon

By Cycling Dad:

Verdict (if you are short on time and simply indecisive as I was)

Both systems are rock-solid and have huge fan-bases. Like all Dura Ace components, Shimano’s PD-9000 pedal system is the paradigm of quality, with ultra-smooth bearings and a superb finish. Unless they get obliterated in a really nasty crash, the PD-9000 will likely last a lifetime. The Time Iclic Carbon pedal system does not quite leave the same impression, but also delivers performance right where you need it. At 286 grams including cleats, the Dura Ace pedal system is 12 grams lighter than the Time Iclic Carbon (298 grams), but you have to be ready to pay roughly twice as much for Shimano as for Time. It is a tough decision, but one thing is certain: in combination with the Lightweight Meilensteins, Time will look decidedly more devilish on Cycling Dad’s new S-Works Venge. Spinning Mum can have the Shimanos ;)

We gave the pedal systems to our highly trained testing department here at CyclingParents.com secret world headquarters. Below is the full review.


Time vs. Shimano

Is it a sensible thing to compare Shimano’s 2013 top-end pedal system with the not quite so fresh 2011 upper mid-range model from Time? Tough call, but we did not really have much time to think about this question upfront. At the end of February, I received a call from one of the editors at Roadbike Magazine, telling me that I had been selected for a position in the 2013 Team Alpecin which, among other benefits, provides the opportunity to ride a EUR 10k+ Specialized S-Works Venge for an entire season. The only thing not to be provided in the team kit would be the pedals, as most riders gravitate heavily towards one certain system of their choice. I can deal with that :) .

I have been riding Time since the 90s and loved them ever since. LeMond, Indurain, Pantani, Ullrich, Boonen – they all rode Time… so these pedals can’t be too shabby. And as I am planning to use my Cervelo with the entry-level Iclic Racer pedals on rainy days, it was an easy choice remain faithful to my existing system. There are more upscale models in the Time product range, for example the Xpresso 12 at just 217 grams per pair (weight including cleats), but clearly these come at a price. Also, I got a good value for the slightly dated Iclic Carbons.

The Dura Ace PD-9000 entered the scene when Alex finally decided to give a proper road pedal system a try. She’s been riding the touring-style SPD PD-A520 system until now, but with her new BMC racemachine RM01, clearly a matching pedal system was required.

The incumbent: The Time Iclic Carbon pedal system

The Time Iclic Carbon system comes in an aggressive-looking cardboard box. Included in the set is a pair of cleats and the usual manuals.

The pedal itself looks rather spaceship-like and comes with a matt carbon finish, slightly rough to the touch. It is stunningly lightweight and provides a rather large surface area for the shoe to make contact. This is important especially on long rides and cycle marathons as unequally distributed pressure on the pedal can lead to “hotspots” on the soles of your feet. Remember that any detail that may nag you after three hours may turn into a source of excruciating pain after six hours. As I am aiming for a finishing time around ten hours on the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon, every detail counts. I know that the Time system works for me, so no experiments here.

Time claims that it’s Iclic pedals are the fastest pedal system in the world. This is because the closing mechanism works like a ski binding and automatically builds tension in a carbon spring when stepping out of the pedal. This tension is released when you lower the shoe onto the pedal, securely locking the cleat into position without any additional effort required from the rider. The pedal system allows you to alter the Q-Factor (the distance between the foot and the crank) by circa 2.5mm per shoe, simply by swapping the sides of the (offset) cleats. You also get to enjoy a lateral float of 2.5mm on the pedal and +/- 5 percent angular float, which is an asset if you feel discomfort and/or pain in your knees from long bike rides.

Does the Time pedal system live up to the marketing claims? I’d say it does. When I was a teenager, my knees hurt a lot after riding the (then still fix-positioned) Look pedal system. Part of the discomfort in the knees must have been attributable to growth, but once I changed to Time with its (then unique) float, the discomfort vanished. I still hold a grudge against Look and obviously cherish Time until this day, even though most (all?) pedal manufacturers offer float in their current systems.

However, I must point out one weak spot from my experience with the Iclic system. With the cheaper Iclic Racers, every now and then the cleat does not seem to engage the pedal quite as smoothly as it should, requiring me to step out of and into the pedal one more time. Not a big deal as I am not racing criteriums that tend to be fast directly off the starting line. I am curious to see if the Iclic Carbons will behave differently from the Iclic Racers in this aspect.

Time claims a weight of 225 grams per pair, which I wanted to put to the test. Our scale must be off by 9 grams…

To be honest I was a bit surprised one cleat alone comes at 32 grams. 64 for a set is more than one-fourth of the weight of the pedals. I also forgot to weigh the screws and screw fixtures which surely may add another race-deciding five grams per shoe.

Dear Time Sports, is there no way these cleats can be made less bulky and/or more durable? Remember the good old Time Magnesium Equipe pedal system? I know from today’s perspective they look dull, but hell – spaceships looked like that in the 80s!
What I loved about them is that they came with metal cleats that worked perfectly and would last forever. From an economical perspective, I understand that the latter meant that the system needed to be replaced… but… can’t it just come back with a fresh design?

 

The Challenger: Shimano Dura Ace PD-9000

Shimano sends its top-line pedal system to the starting line packed in a slick, highly glossy cardboard box. They put an attractive middle-aged man holding an iPhone camera on the front of the packaging. It’s modern, it’s flashy. Kind of makes you want to get on your bike and ride. Oddly enough, his head seems to melt into the area right next to the Dura Ace product family brand logo.

Once I opened the box, I had a flashback to my first business trip to Japan. Packaging is important and perfection is the goal. I had interviews with managers of foreign companies in Japan who told me about deliveries of industrial chemicals being rejected by the Japanese customers because a single barrel in an entire delivery was dented or scratched. The appreciation for your customer’s business and your dedication to serving his requirements shows in the packaging. It does not matter if you’re selling candy, cosmetics, industrial equipment or bicycle components. There is much we can learn from Japan. So I was gazing at the individually packaged pedals, the right-hand pedal in a blue sachet labeled R, the left-hand pedal in a red sachet labeled L. Poka Yoke at work.

The Dura Ace PD-9000 pedals feel good to the touch, and they look fast! The release tension can be manually adjusted from soft to strong to match your individual preferences. One thing I cannot show you on the photo is how incredibly smooth those bearings are turning. They also appear to be sealed pretty well from water and particles to enter. Perfection.

Look at this contact surface. It’s huge! Pressure hotspots? Not with Dura Ace!

 

At 248 grams, the Dura Ace pedals certainly are not the lightest in the world. Quality comes at a cost. However, things are put back into perspective when adding the weight of the shoe cleats….

At 19 grams, Shimano managed to shave the weight of its cleats by 13 grams compared to Time’s Iclic… That’s 13 grams – per shoe! 26 grams on the entire system. I also forgot to include the weight of the screws and fixtures here, but even after adding a few grams on both Shimano and Time the difference remains the same. In the end, Shimano’s Dura Ace pedal system is 12 grams lighter than the Time Iclic Carbon (286 grams compared to 298 grams, both excluding screws and fixtures).

I am curious to see how fast Shimano’s cleats will wear in comparison to Time’s. We live on the outskirts of the city, so most riding takes place on rural roads without the need to step out of the pedals a lot, e.g. at traffic lights.

We will give both Time’s Iclic Carbon and the Shimano Dura Ace PD-9000 a thorough test over the coming months and post our summaries below at the end of the season.

Ride safely and stay tuned.

Ride your dream bike with Alpecin and Roadbike Magazine

By Cycling Dad:

Alpecin, purveyor of male-oriented hair care products, has teamed up with Roadbike Magazine to assemble a team of hobby athletes for the 2013 Ötztaler Cycle Marathon.
As a regular visitor to the Cycling Parents Blog, I am sure that you are aware that this coincides with my season’s goal and social fundraiser for 2013.

When I first hit the Team Alpecin website, I was instantly blown off the saddle.

I’ll keep it short and relevant – this is what you get if you are among the chosen few:

And here’s the slightly longer list of goodies:

TEAM ALPECIN EQUIPMENT

•    Specialized S-Works Venge**
•    Lightweight Meilenstein Wheelset**
•    Campagnolo Record Groupset**
•    Rotor Crankset**
•    Schwalbe Tires
•    Seat Position Analysis by Specialized
•    Team Clothing by Assos
•    Helmet and Glasses by Uvex
•    Specialized S-Works-Shoes
•    Casual Clothing by Engelhorn Sports
•    Squeezy-Nutrition Package
•    Polar Cycling Computer**
•    Tools by Specialized
•    Muscle Stimulator by Compex**
•    Training Camp in Mallorca at Robinson-Club Cala Serena*
•    Performance Diagnostics by das Radlabor*
•    Personal Coaching by das Radlabor
•    Complete Race-Weekend with a starting position at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon*
•    Starting Places for Preparation Races*

* excl. traveling cost
** borrowed during time of team affiliation with privileged purchase option

Okay, let’s take a deep breath and regain our composure. What do you have to do to get in? Sell your soul? Wash your hair twice daily with Alpecin? The answer is yes.

On top you have to fill out this questionnaire and pray daily to be selected on some ominous internal selection criteria. Would you qualify as a middle-aged, overambitious but slightly under-skilled Austrian-based blog scribe? I don’t know, but I am determined to find out. The application period ends February 20th.

One thing I do know since today is my personal baldness age, thanks to Alpecin’s baldness calculator. It turned out my personal baldness age is 43. Luckily I still have a few (albeit not many) years left and Alpecin is here to help. Is this a good or bad indication for my application? My son Konstantin will turn one soon and there’s still not much hair up on his head. Again my humble question is will this affect my application to Team Alpecin?

So, I hereby extend a gesture of friendship towards Team Alpecin and gladly offer my service in the equipe. Remember, either you’re with me or you’re against me. It is up to you, Team Alpecin, to pick the sides.

How to get access to the Ferry Dusika Cycling Stadium

Dusika Stadion Vienna
Photo: Florian Ertl

There may be quite a few cyclists out there who are wondering how to get access to the Ferry Dusika Cycling Stadium. I am not just talking about residents of Vienna and its suburbs, but also those of you living close to the Austrian border in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. For all of us, I have assembled the following step by step guide – so you don’t have to go through the research or struggle with translating the available resources, which are mostly in German.

The address of the stadium is Engerthstraße 267-269, 1020 Wien, Österreich.
Here you can find it on google maps.

Getting to the Ferry Dusika velodrome is quite easy. I you are already in Vienna, you can get there with metro line U2, the station is called ‘Stadion’. The much larger Ernst Happel stadium is right next to the velodrome, so look out for the Ferry Dusika Stadium. If you come by car, please note that you can’t park directly at the stadium. However, there are paid parking lots available at the Stadion Center shopping mall, just across the street.

In order to get access to the track, you have to hold a valid UCI racing (or track training) license, which can be obtained from most amateur cycling clubs. With the license, you can apply for an access card to the velodrome, which costs around EUR 50, and gives you access to the track for a full calendar year (Jan-Dec). Contact persons can be found on the website of the ÖRV – Österreichischer Radsportverband. Hedwig Weisz or Christian Langhammer are the right persons to contact. They will also be happy to help you with any English inquiries.

You will need to bring a track bike as there are no rentals available at the stadium, which is a shame and on my list of topics to discuss with ÖRV. Track cycling is a lot of fun, and it would be nice to give more cyclists a chance to give it a try. Shop around for used track bikes on bikeboard.at or other cycling forums. There are also great track bikes available from Dolan, but spending EUR 600 for equipment that you may only want to use from time to time is a tough call. Bikes can be stored at the velodrome, but you will be asked to remove it prior to major events, which take place every couple of months. One last thing, make sure to check out the track schedule before heading out.

Looking forward to seeing you on the track, or on any of the Cycle Marathons in my event schedule (top of the page).

Keep in touch!

A new family member has arrived

By Spinning Mum:

Remember my last post about naming a bike? Well, it is now time to find yet another name for our newest family member and motivation for 2013: My brand spanking new BMC racemachine RM01.

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure, whether it makes sense to invest in a new ride while not knowing if I will be able to free enough time to hit the roads with two kids on my lap and all the chores that come with the package but Cycling Dad was of another opinion. In order to encourage me to accompany him on at least some of his marathon endeavours (and probably to make up for taking over my gym membership once my baby bump prevents me from seeing my feet), he was determined to put me on a lighter and faster bike.

While he was presumably talking about renting a top-notch model, I took him at his word before he could change his mind justifying the expenses by telling myself that whereas other women are dreaming of receiving diamonds as a birth gift, I might as well wish for something made of carbon but in a slightly different appearance.

Good for me that the year was slowly coming to an end and a lot of dealers were trying to meet their bonus targets by granting generous offers. Thus, I started to look around a bit, defined my budget, made a list of specs and features I wanted my new bike to have (full carbon frame equipped with an Ultegra Di2 compact groupset and not exceeding 7.3 kgs) and screened through a gazillion of reviews about the 10 different models which would meet my idea of a sweet ride. At the end it took me two weeks and a pregnancy-related nervous breakdown to finally come to a conclusion and only two of the bikes I was interested in actually withstood my criticism.

Unbelievable that some manufacturers tried to convince me that they put an Ultegra or even Dura Ace group set on their bikes whilst at a closer look they simultaneously install Tiagra or Sora parts. Yes, I am talking about you Specialized and Trek! When I am prepared to spend an incredible amount of money on a decent bike, please do not fool me into thinking, I am buying a top-level groupset when some of its parts have been replaced by cheaper and heavier components. Thank god, that some reliable online retailers accurately depict every single screw mounted.

So, the Madone and S-Works models I had in mind failed my examination like a couple of other rides which were either too heavy, received only mediocore test scores or were already no longer available in their 2012 dresses. However, eventually I managed to downsize my list to three bikes:

1. The Merida Scultura Pro 907-E
2. The Scott Foil 15 / Contessa Foil
3. The BMC racemachine RM01 I eventually took home

Though I am usually a very brand loyal consumer and the Merida frame is one of the lightest available, I decided against it. Partly because I wanted to try another brand and partly because the price of the 907-E was still a tiny bit too high.

The Scott Contessa Foil as well as its male twin the Foil 15 were my favourites for an entire week. The 2012 Contessa looked sexy, received killer test results and had all the right specs. Unfortunately, it was already sold out at the beginning of December so that I had a closer look at its brother the Foil 15. To be honest, it did not turn me on much in the beginning as I did not like the black and silver paintwork (Well, what to say… I am still a girl…) but small details such as the Dura Ace bottom bracket, the beautifully integrated Shimano Di2 and the tremendous discount I was able to negotiate convinced me so far, that after a quick test ride I was ready to order it from Bernhard Kohl – my dealer of trust (http://www.bernhardkohl.at).

I was literally just about to submit my downpayment online, when I ran a final research on the Foil (http://www.roadbike.de/rennraeder/test-scott-foil-15.621495.9.htm) only to find out that it did not receive the same good grades as its twin sister (http://www.roadbike.de/rennraeder/test-scott-contessa-foil.685112.9.htm). Totally devastated I could not quite understand why the test results were differing in such a vast way, though the frame and composites were actually the same.

Thus, I once again turned to Bernhard for his professional advice and an offer for the last model on my list. A couple of days before I had the chance to test different BMC models at his shop and really liked their stiffness and responsiveness. (At this point feel free to take a minute to picture pregnant me cruising around the bike shop on some first class race material – surely a sight for the godsl^^) Having a close relationship to BMC and riding this brand as well Bernhard of course wanted to convince me of the RM01 and actually made the decision for me by offering the 2013(!) model at a price I could not resist :)

And so it came that my sparkling new ride is now standing in the hallway waiting for me to get back into the saddle. Right now I am 30 weeks along and unfortunately no longer able to take my latest attainment out for a real spin, so please stay tuned for my review coming up some time in spring!

 

 

 

 

We love to hear from you!

By Cycling Dad:

Today’s post will be a bit different from what you have read previously on cyclingparents.com, but I wanted to share this story with you.

In a nutshell Joachim, a cycling parent from Canada, has found our blog on the net and sent us valuable feedback and input for our further training. His message matters a lot to Alex and me, because Joachim is a person whom we have never met first hand, who still felt inspired by our blog to share his experiences on the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon with us. It is part of the true spirit of cycling and we immediately felt connected with Joachim. With Joachim’s consent, I have attached the first two emails of our conversation.

We love to hear from our readers. Who are you? Please leave a short comment below.

________

Here’s Joachim’s first email:

Hi Cycling Parents,

Just wanted to wish you good luck with the Oeztaler plan! I am a cycling parent in Canada now, but I lived in Vienna for a few years and did that event 3 times. I just wanted to share 3 things with you, just to add to your arsenal of information, and help you prepare:

1- you really need a powermeter (you can get second hand wired Power Taps on ebay, www.bikeboard.at‘s sale forum, etc etc). This will let you monitor your progress accurately so you aren’t just riding around, or thrown off by low pulse from undertraining or overtraining, etc. It shows you whether your training is actually working, so you can adjust it as you go, and aren’t just following a plan that works for somebody else’s bodytype but not yours. It will teach you a ton as you progress towards your goal (which will be good information to know for the future too). And it is fun watching your efforts for certain climbs and rides, especially on the indoor trainer (3, 5 or 20 minute efforts become like a video game). I can’t recommend this investment enough! (more helpful than light wheels, fancy carbon parts).

2- I had the sense that most people in Austria were a bit behind in training theory: I did better each year at the Oeztaler by riding less and less, and then moved to Belgium and raced for 2 years on even less riding, while stronger than ever. You can train your “Functional Threshold” by going out for 6 hour rides, doing shorter intervals (like your 5minute ones, or even mild intervals that train your cardio, like 14x 1 minute at tempo pace), or 2x 20 minute time trial intervals, or just 2-3 hours at a brisk tempo pace. Much more fun, and doesn’t eat up all of your time. This is all explained here http://www.biketechreview.com/performance/supply/47-base-a-new-definition. (Comment Cycling Dad: The link to Bike Tech Review seems to have a problem… I can recommend Chris Carmichael’s book on interval training instead: http://www.amazon.de/The-Time-Crunched-Cyclist-Powerful-Athlete/dp/193403083X)
My best Oeztaler happened while doing no rides longer than 3 hours, aside from one other Radmarathon (Deutschlandsberg) the week before Oeztaler, just to get some practice sitting on the bike for many hours. Because you used to race, I think this would work for you too.

3- Having knowledge/experience really helps at Oeztaler, so talking to others and learning from them is great (Jurgen Pansey’s blog, bikeboard forums, www.jimmisteiner.com/?q=node/269, my first attempt www.joachim.ca/test/?p=38, my last www.mountainbiker.at/de/mlr_racers/show_report?id=598). It doesn’t matter if others are a bit faster or a bit slower, as the goal is the same (to finish strong, safe and healthy).

Sorry for the long email- this is stuff I learned through trial-and-error and from a coach that I wish I knew when I was 19 years old. I’m now living in Canada, and have a 2-year old, so no more Oeztalers, but I look back on that as the highlight of my cycling career!

So good luck in your preparation- I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. Reading about your training rides around Wien and Moedling in the snow bring back great memories.

All the best, Joachim

________

and my reply:

Hi Joachim,

Thank you so much for your email. Alex and I were very surprised to receive feedback from someone whom we did not drag onto our mailing list in the first place ;) .

You are the first ‘outside’ visitor of our page whom we get to know. Nice to meet you!
Your message gives us motivation to keep training and blogging. Both has become a bit harder lately, with Alex’ pregnancy going into the third trimester, work keeping me extremely busy with the final sprint to the end of the calendar year, and Konstantin starting to crawl all over the place, wanting to be looked after.

Thank you also for your advice in preparing for the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon. The recommendation regarding the powermeter meets my open interest and I have been looking around a bit already, especially as the Garmin is ANT+ enabled. The link to Bike Tech Review that you sent along sums up the main benefits of threshold training quite well. As cycling parents, all of us are very time crunched. So getting most out of the limited time we can spend on the bikes is crucial.

And last, but not least I enjoy any personal story about the Oetztaler that I can find. Kudos for your 277th place in 2006 and especially the 50th in 2008!! I have visited all the blog links you sent along and have been to Juergen Pansy’s blog a couple times before. I also love Cervelover’s blog for all the detail he provides about his personal experience on the Oetztaler. If you can read German, here’s the link: http://cervelover.blogspot.co.at/2012/08/climax-beim-otztaler-radmarathon-2012.html. His placement most likely is closer to my own performance to be, if I can manage to finish the distance and altitude gain at all, which of course is my prime objective.

I have two questions that I would like to send back to you. The first: Are you still cycling these days? What is your experience today, trying to combine family, job and cycling? The second: Would you mind if I post this conversation in the blog? I really enjoyed your message, and would love to receive more feedback, also from other readers, in the future. Please do keep in touch.

Will keep you posted.

All the best,

Kai

Why Spinning Mum’s bike has a name

By Spinning Mum:

You might have been wondering why I always refer to my bike as ‘Julie’ though normally I  do not belong to those people who refer to their dish washers as Harry or their cactuses as Emanuela.

Not that I do not like how some of my friends personify their cars, computers and vacuum cleaners, but my creative powers simply always ceased after finding witty names for our hamsters, so that the only non-living items in our household carrying names are probably the infamous Billy book cases available at a Swedish furniture store.

Okay, I am wandering off the point… So here is the story why my ride got a name:

I decided to get my own bike after only three times out on different rental racers I borrowed from Riders Pro Bike Shop in Tung Chung. When I returned my last ride – a well used but oh so smooth running black and yellow GIANT roadie which reminded me of the most likeable Transformer ‘Bumblebee’ – our dear bestower and co-rider Andy had the perfect entry level road bike on offer: a MERIDA ROAD RACE HFS 904-COM. I could score a good deal because it was a previous year model and could save some extra cash by changing the original wheels to Kais old set of Gipiemme rims.

 

Shortly after I took my precious new birthday gift home for some further adjustments the curious rookie rider in me wanted to check what I actually invested in. I tortured google and found out that MERIDA’s girly versions all carry the epithet “Juliet” to distinguish them from their brothers. Though I actually got the Romeo-version, somehow this info got stuck in my brain and when I took a first test ride around the airport later on that rainy day, I unconsciously started to call my new ride ‘Julie’.

This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and I took Julie out to the streets around Hong Kong Disney Land almost every day. Given the fact that I spent at least one hour a day in the saddle, this quirky behaviour became a habit soon. Partly because I absolutely treasure my bike and partly because I think that we are a good team speeding around and pushing up steep hills. You won’t believe how often I catch myself thinking: “We will make it up there, Julie” – true to the motto a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved :)

That’s it – plain and simple and maybe a bit loco, too.
How about you? Has your bike a name?

 

I love my Garmin Edge 500

By Cycling Dad:

I could not wait for the weekend to arrive so I could take my brand new Garmin Edge 500 out for a ride. Today’s tour was 110k and my verdict is that this is the best bike computer I have ever owned…  it surely is also by far the most expensive cycle computer I have ever owned.

So far the Garmin has cost me a bit more than EUR 2 per km and it is clear that I need to work on these figures to justify the purchase. I’ll leave the maths to you. But look at the wealth of data this contraption provides about today’s ride (click on ‘view details’ on the bottom right corner to see the full pony show):

This is what you get: at 48x69x22mm, the Edge 500 is not exactly the smallest bike computer on the market, but at 65g including mount, it sure is still not too heavy. In fact is snugs right in the space between your handlebars and fork top screw. Included in the kit is a heart rate chest strap, a wireless cadence and speed sensor as well as two base mounts so you can use the Edge 500 on a second bike. In fact you don’t need the sensor on the second bike as the 500 will compute the speed from the GPS data, but it is essential for the cadence and I understand from the manual that the sensor will increase the accuracy of the speed readings. Setting up the system is super easy and I was done within 10 minutes. Here’s a size reference:

The Garmin Edge 500 is charged and data synchronised via a USB cable that comes with the box. It has a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery that lasts for around 15 to 18 hours on a full charge. Before going for the first ride, all you have to do is set up the custom screens you want to use. You can have up to five screens to cycle through and each screen can be loaded with up to eight data fields which can be configured freely to display a range of information about your ride. From the usual speed, distance, time, to more sophisticated heart rate, cadence to useful bonus features incline and alt difference there’s nothing left to wish for. All information is available as per actual, average and lap. You can even connect the Garmin Edge 500 to ANT+ enabled equipment such as static trainers and power measurement cranks and hubs, but I will leave that for next season. One key feature that I have not tested so far is the option to display a pre-set course by GPS coordinates. While the 500 will not display the surrounding environment on a neat map (you have to get the bigger brother Garmin Edge 800 for that), it is supposed to display the route in a breadcrumb trail and tell you when to make turns to find the way. I am curious to find out just how well that works, but it may become a key asset for the longer exploration rides with Alex in the summer.

Also included in the package is software to enable synchronisation of your Garmin with Garmin Connect, an online portal to store and share all your cycling tracks. This is cool because it gives you a complete overview of your training performance over time. Transferring data between Garmin Connect and the device is fast and very easy.

Both thumbs up for the Garmin Edge 500.

I ordered my Edge 500 at Chain Reaction Cycles, my trusted purveyor of cycling goods. CRC is also my recommendation for a wide range of other cycling equipment, so make sure to order your gear from them and please support me by clicking on the link below before making the purchase :D .

www.chainreactioncycles.com

Stay tuned for more product placement ;)