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Daily Archives: July 3, 2012

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The Ultimate Noob Question… ANSWERED!

The ultimate noob question, the one that has never been attempted to be meaningfully answered to date, is:

How do I look like I know what the hell I’m doing – when I don’t?

Fortunately folks, I’ve been trying new stuff for long enough that I can answer this one fairly easily – because I’ve asked that of myself, on more than one occasion…

The set up goes as follows…  You’re invited to play on a softball league on a work sponsored team.  When you get out to the field for the first practice, you show up in shorts, white knee-high tube socks, a tee shirt with the arms cut off and an old little league ball cap that you wore 15 years ago and dusted off ten minutes before you threw it in a backpack with your shiny brand new outfielder’s mitt…  And you’re wondering why you feel out of place.  In the office, you’re king of the hill – the bosses go-to guy – every one of your subordinates thinks you’re a great guy, so you can’ figure out why you don’t fit in.

Then you look at the infielders.  Their gloves are scuffed up and broken in.  Their ball caps represent one of two things:  Their favorite beer or their favorite minor league team.  They’ve got on actual baseball pants (and you wonder to yourself where they even get those), most are gray, some pinstriped, and they’re wearing the same tee shirts with the arms cut off…

Ok, that’s scenario one folks.  The truth is you’re supposed to feel out of place your first time, even if you did play as a kid – youare out of place, that’s the whole freaking point of trying something new in the first place.  But let’s stay on that path – and let’s use cycling this time.  How do you go from deciding you want to ride a bike to your first group ride without feeling like a noob?

Well, let’s say you buy a brand new mid level Trek Madone, you’ve got 105’s, aero wheels and the whole nine yards.  You’ve got your brand new cycling shorts and jersey, and nice aero helmet…and you don’t even know how to clip into your pedals.  Well, it’s a good thing you have me, because the first time you fall off of that $2,000 bike and scratch it you’re gonna be bummed!

Here’s the trick:  Put about 1,000 miles on that bike before you try a group ride – you’ll be bummed about the scratch anyway, but don’t worry, it builds character.  If you ride enough it’ll only take two months.  Get used to it, practice on it, hold a line (try riding on the white line or next to it – on a dry day, on fairly straight roads!!!).  When you can hold a decent line you’ll be ready.

But that’s not all!  No it isn’t, there’s more – and it’s important…  You’ve got your nerves up, you walk into the bike shop and ask the proprietor about some local rides, he asks how fast you ride alone, and you tell him (in miles or kilometers per hour) and he/she gives you the right info…  You show up on the day and

There’s no magic powder bub, you’re still a noob just like I was (am?).  Embrace that s#!t.

Own it, love it – give it wet sloppy kisses if you have to because nothing is gonna make you look like you’ve been there if you haven’t.

Oh, and be friendly.  Nobody likes an @$$hole.  Two weeks and people will be looking for you.

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624 Miles – Addendum 1…

The fella who goes by the name, iswimbikerunstrong, pointed out a glaring defect in my last post. I wrote this:

Unfortunately Endomondo doesn’t allow the user to separate out the easy efforts from the hard efforts, had that been the case my average pace for running would be in the 7:50 min/mile range, and my road bike average speed would be just shy of 20 mph. In the end, because I can’t separate the two, I end up having to guess – or analyze the data to death, which I do.”

Humorously enough, Mr. iswimbikerunstrong commented, “I’m looking for an app that only records the downhill portion of my bike rides and runs.”

Now that’s funny. I added that maybe we could get them to figure in tailwind too, so we’d have downhills and tailwind averages only…

But that’s not quite where I was going with my larger point, so listen up cycling apps.  I know Endomondo the best, so I’ll start with them.  Currently they have three different types of cycling workouts:  Cycling Sport, Mountain Biking and Cycling Transport.  Each has its own equation for calorie burn, and while the first two are quite obvious, the third is for commuting.  The three are great, but they don’t quite get to what I would like to see.  Within cycling sport, I’ve got four different workout types.  I’ve got my standard all out effort, where I’m averaging between 19.5 and 20.5 mph depending on how the stops at lights and stop signs work out.  In addition, because I ride six or seven days a week, I’ve got the recovery ride which should be between 17 and 7.5 mph (but sometimes – like yesterday – creeps up to a little more than 18 mph) and the enjoyment ride which goes from 18 to 18.5 mph.  Most important is the fourth, the group ride.  I can attain and hold a 23 mph average with the group and that throws off all of my personal bests, because of the ability to draft.

So far, the following personal best times are off because of group rides:  One hour (21.55 miles), 20k (33:18), and 50k (1:31:57).

The group ride and recovery rides are throwing off my historical analysis in terms of my peak performance.  If I had additional cycling workouts, say recovery ride, group ride and max effort, I could weed out the faster times and speeds from the group ride, and the slower times and speeds from the recovery rides to get a better grip on where I’m at in a given period of time.

The question, of course, is whether or not this is too much data to crunch and whether the app becomes too clunky and hard to manage.  There are other possibilities of course.  I can use the cycling transportation setting for my recovery rides, the mountain biking setting for my group rides and the cycling sport setting for my hard effort days, but that’s got a lot of flaws built-in as well.  Because of the nature of commuting, the calorie count for the transport setting are way low (half that of cycling sport).  Also, the mountain biking calorie count for mountain biking (which I’d rather save for the fat tire bike anyway) are higher than cycling sport, so I wouldn’t get an accurate read on calories burned which helps me eat/refuel properly.

It’s a conundrum for sure.

After watching the Strava video review, here, it appears as though they might have a way around this problem (5:50 into the clip), but at $60 for a year’s subscription, there ain’t no way.  To put that in perspective, my Endomondo Pro app (that does almost everything that Strava Premium charges for, except the “Power Zone Analysis” and cross analysis between weight zones), cost me $4 – once.

I downloaded map my tracks and actually considered using that from my cycling anniversary, but I really didn’t like the user interface screen, and they only offer mountain biking and cycling (they don’t offer the commute feature).

To be sure, this is a little bit nit-picky, looking for sub-classifications for cycling, but it would really be nice to separate all of that so I can get a clearer picture of where I am.