My Terrifying, Expensive Journey into the Hour Record. Bikefit – Worth it? Reviews: Wheelworks Derby XC Wheelset + Biomaxa Lube and Chamois Cream + Tailwind Nutrition: Also latest Fitlab Test Results

OK, Let’s start with this. On 22 August 2015, I’ll be attempting to break the World Hour Record in the Master 1 age group category.   Sit back and I’ll tell you about it. Here’s the thing. Because I’m not Bradley Wiggins, and my pro team (Fitlab) has withdrawn funding after I bought those gold boxer shorts…  I -meaning, mostly my wife – have to pay for all this. I have been very graciously supported by Biomaxa, Tailwind nutrition and Capital Cycles, but to do this thing, I’m doing 3 or 4 trips to Cambridge (13 hour round trip each time) + + 1 trip to Wanganui + paying for track time + accommodation + drug testing + UCI Commissaire + the bike + skin suit etc etc. You get the picture. I’ll estimate around 3 or $4000 NZD total. I’m not supposed to, but I’ll give you more details below because I’m naughty. Here’s my wheels for the attempt. It’s cheap but it works and I’m going to ride the living bejeezus out of it until I explode.Or it explodes. Well something’s gonna explode. I’ll explain below with prices and specs.   IMG_3081 The current record is 48.317km. It’s held by an aussie guy called Jayson Austin. He did it in 2009 at the Dunc Grey Velodrome in Sydney. His coach, Alex Simmons, blogged in detail about his 2 attempts at it and it makes fascinating reading, and a super resource for me. It was quite motivating for me when I found out that he only averaged just over 300 watts for his attempt – one watt less than I did for my Hour record in Wellington. The reason I originally got into time trialling and this Hour thing is this well worn post from cycling  and also the excellent comparison tool on Cycling Analytics that compares your power profile to the rest of the (male) database. It looks like this for me: Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.35.50 pm One of the reasons we use Cycling Analytics at Fitlab, as our coaching software, is that it provides great feedback on an athletes innate abilities in the ‘statistics’ section. You see, once you have a decent database of power data from your riding, it automatically shows you how you compare to the rest of the population. So, if you look at me, you can see my real top end power that I can produce under around 1 minute is only in the top 30% or so, but as time goes on, I can produce relatively high power for longer periods. You can see I’m in the top 5-10% for power in the 3 – 45 min. It made me think that frankly, I’m just not built to be a sprinter, but maybe time trialling is worth a shot. Ignore the 1 second power. It’s an error in the data from a misreading on the Stages power meter. I only push about 1100Watts max in afterburner. I won’t be snapping cranks anytime soon… So, that’s been super helpful to me, and if you sign up for a coaching plan with Fitlab (from $25/ week) you get a Cycling Analytics account, and I can help you discuss your own innate strengths and weaknesses and maybe decide on a different direction for your own cycling who knows. email me if you want a test: For $150 you get a full scientific 2 hour lactate test, set up with power and heart rate monitoring, plus report and basic training plan. If you sign up for an ongoing coaching plan you get the Cycling Analytics account, Fitlab Kit, weekly Skype or phone consults and daily training plans emailed. You can select the coaching plan and sign up for testing by emailing me or via Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.47.34 pm My Supporters: I’ve been supported hugely from the start by Andrew Jamieson, my partner at Fitlab. He’s my coach and has spent lots of time talking through and planning everything with me. It’s a team effort and it’s great to have him with me. Rachel my wife is being so supportive it takes a lot to look after the family while I’m away riding in circles. Thank you Capital Cycles especially Paul Davies, you are very supportive about this madness and bent over backwards to get my Stages power meter sorted for training. Also, David Lovegrove Biomaxa are kindly supporting me thank you so much. I wanted to use Biomaxa to get every tiny advantage – I need the extra couple of watts it might be the difference. One more – Tailwind Nutrition Their drink is totally different to other sports drinks and I’m converted to it completely.   Fitlab-Jersey-Front-400x400BiomaxaInterbikeLogo001-logo-1407303865169093_1408234265671_6047674_n   tn-logofinal


OK, I’m going to be brave and share some of the most important numbers for this thing. I’m doing this because when I started this blog, I wanted to be open and honest because that makes it more interesting I think. Also, I really appreciate the data that was made public in the blog about Jayson Austin’s attempts, so I’m doing this partly in the spirit of paying it forward… Look, this thing comes down to how many watts I can push, and my drag coefficient. That’s pretty much 90% of it. Here’s how it plays out, on current, verified numbers vs the incumbent. Jayson averaged 302 watts, with a Cda of .18. I’m currently pushing about 320-330 Watts at threshold, with a Cda around .21.  302 Watts + .18Cda   VS     330 Watts + .21Cda In classic car terms, think of it kind of like a Torana GTR vs Charger E49. I have some old non cycling mates who’ll appreciate the analogy.     Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 8.52.05 am Torana               I’ll save you plugging in the numbers – we come out pretty even. It’s like this – I probably have some more power but that power has to push more meat through the air. I can’t get much more aero, because when I do, my hip angle reduces to a critical point, where my threshold power nosedives. Believe me…I’ve tried it…That’s the balancing act that this event is all about. Now, understand that that wattage figure is also verified by blood lactate testing. When you are interpreting the data from your blood lactate, for this event, I really want to know my maximum steady state wattage (also OBLA or Onset Blood Lactate Accumulation) You see, there is a point at which blood lactate begins to accumulate exponentially at a certain rate of work, and that’s pretty much 4mmol per litre. Anoraks out there will rightly point out that this is a bit arbitrary, which is true, and that some people do have both genetic and trained lactate tolerance and usage advantages, but, really, changes happen so fast from the 4mmol point that it’s 99% of what you need to know. This is why for time trials, the golden rule is DONT START TOO FAST. That’s because you want to quickly build to your OBLA, and sit there finely balanced. Push too hard and you’ll fry. Even 10 watts can be the difference. It’s really interesting to see how threshold power reacts to position. Raising the base bar height by 30mm, resulted in about 15-25 more watts at threshold, and that’s due to the hip angle change. Of course it’s less aero by a little bit, so you have to test these changes on calculators, but then also on the track in  the real world and that’s a mission. I’m running 53 x 14T drivetrain with 1/8 chain and Dura Ace 1/8 Sprocket + Ultegra 6800 crank and ring and KMC Z710 gold chain. I’m trying to figure out a way to take off the small ring but it’s all kind of integrated these days so it might have to stay on there unfortunately. This gives me a target cadence of 103RPM for the World M1 Record, and 107RPM for the NZ outright record so I’m pretty happy with that. I think its a good balance of not too fast but I shouldn’t get bogged down either. My Wellington record was set at 100RPM. Oh yeah, the Tri – Spoke. Yes, I know all the big riders use a front disc. Well here’s the thing, I’m trying to save money by buying a front wheel I can also use on the road for TT’s. The data indicates that at low yaw angles (evidently a velodrome isn’t zero degree yaw) – a tri spoke is pretty much as good as a disc. That, and I’m a cheap bastard. Track time: $215 per hour at Avantidrome. I’m paying for 1 and a half for the event.  For testing, I roll up in the open sessions and hope no-one tells me off. They are $30/ Hour. I usually get told off. Drug Testing: $650 plus EPO test (I don’t know how much the EPO test is yet) Hongfu FM126 Frame Fork and Headset: $595 USD ($890NZD) Many many lactate test strips, alcohol swabs, finger prick lances. $50-100ish There is a neat app called Fast Bike Fit reviewed by DC Rainmaker here:   You can use it for position analysis including working out some of your drag data from the old pixel method. I really like it. You can use the data from frontal area, and the calculator here: to figure out Cda You can use this calculator which I find super accurate to figure out speeds. Here’s the calculator for working out gears vs cadence vs speed Cool paper on aero data: Cool article on aero wheel testing

 Jayson’s BT vs my Hongfu FM126.OSC_1519IMG_3081

Interesting bits and bobs

Along the way, I decided to test a couple of ideas. I tested lap times at the same wattage to test some aero concepts and just for giggles.

Aero Helmet: Tested my Giro Atmos (My usual road/ MTB helmet) vs Giro Selector (TT/ Hour Record helmet). At 308 Watts, the Atmos was 1.4 sec slower per lap!! That’s the equivalent of 224 seconds or about 3 and a half minutes in a 40K TT!!!

I also tested socks vs no socks (No difference)

Also tested taping over the valve hole in the rear disk (no difference)

One more thing – tried different versions of starts. The fastest thing for the Hour, accounting for a fast start but not blowing seemed to be a decent effort, standing at say about 400-450 watts, till about the 125 meter mark, then straight into the aero position, to about 400 watts, so that by the time the lap is up you are at target pace. That gave me start laps all around the 25 sec mark.

Bikefit – Worth It?

About 9 months ago I went to a highly recommended guy for a bike fit. He was highly recommended as in everyone I spoke to recommended his services. i.e. the 5 people I regularly talk to at the Wednesday Worlds…What I wanted him to do was adjust my TT and Road bikes in such a way that it would make me amazing. I spent over $500…Disappointed. It didn’t make me amazing. Bummed. Lemme ‘splain tho… MARGINAL GAINS. This, my friends, is what you name the minutiae that gets you part of the 10% gain that separates jackasses like me and you from dirty old Froomey hauling up Alpe D’ Huez  – it’s  quite a lot less than you can exert with your little finger if you pushed on his saddle. I know, I know – there’s other, ahem, pharmaceutical assistance that helps the top pros, but I did say PART of the way. That last 5% you have to inject… article-1031953-0142F5EF000004B0-891_468x369 One of the best things to learn about spending money and time on bike stuff is diminishing returns.  You can go 80% as fast for 20% of the investment or something like that. So, for the Bikefits, what did I get? More power. Nope not really. More comfort well, nope not really. More aero? Nope not really. So what was the bloody point of the $500 then? Well  you have to understand firstly that from riding bikes for 20+ years, I’ve got a pretty good sense of what is right and wrong about my setups. If there’s a lesson, maybe that’s a good one. Listen to your body and go through a rational process when making changes. i.e. one thing at a time. Wow – earth shattering news huh? Now, the power bit’s a bit hard to assess, because, well how would you really know? I think the best answer is that I reckon I got maybe 1% more power in say a long mid steep climb in the saddle. Why? Well because in the – very marginally different – position – I’m talking about the roadie here – was a little more comfy. I think that the bike fit improved weight distribution with some very minor tweaks and well, yes that helps. You get the idea, its a bit hard to objectively assess it all without lactate testing all the different tweaks. He did give me good start point with my TT position I must say. For something a bit specialised like a TT position then it’s probably worth it because it’s hard to get things like weight distribution and cleat placement right without a lot of experience. Look, I’m rambling, let’s sum up. For $500 I got a few mm tweaks to my saddle height, bar angle etc. Hard to stomach, but then again, considering how much time I ride it does improve my comfort, which is magnified by how much I ride…you get the idea. It’s like paying a plumber – you are paying for the years of experience and expertise rather than just the basics of messing with your pipes… That’s just my experience. It would probably be totally different if you were new to cycling and maybe really really valuable then or if you maybe had unusual morphology. In short – good if you are setting up a bike that’s a discipline you aren’t used to. Not worth it if you’ve already got an OK position, that you’re happy with in a discipline you do all the time.

Review: Tailwind Endurance Fuel

IMG_3113 I first tried it for an hour in the turbo trainer cave in hour record position. Really nice. 60mg caffeine – not a crazy amount just enough to notice it a little and the flavour wasn’t at all over sweet – could definitely drink it all day. It had 200 calories, which was 50gr carbs from dextrose and sucrose and it kept me fuelled nicely. Also has 606mg sodium – right in the middle of the recommended dose per hour – I’d definitely use these again, especially since the flavour wasn’t overpowering. I ordered another big bag of the raspberry caffeine one. Next up, I tried an experiment. Quite a tough ride 3.5hrs with 6 FTP ascents of Blue Mountains. The big selling point of Tailwind is that it’s supposed to supply enough calories (200 per hour) and trace minerals, plus be palatable enough to drink all day. The idea is that it’s “all you need”. Well, it turns out to be true and saved buying food along the way. I filled a couple of baggies with Tailwind Raspberry Blast (the one with caffeine) and re-mixed with a pump water from the shop. One bottle per hour. Actually pretty impressed. Thanks Tailwind. You can order it online here.!shop/chkn

Review: Wheelworks Derby XC Wheelset

IMG_3004   Here’s my review of the Hope/ Derby 29er carbon wheel set from the delicious team at Wheelworks Handcrafted Wheels. I tried them out for a week. Gav, Jesse and Tristan know I’m a complete skeptic when it comes to fancy gear – I ride cheap carbon open mould frames from China, and until now have been unreasonably dispassionate about my hoops – I’ve been riding Stans Arch EX/ Hope Evo2’s (bought built up from Wiggle) and more recently Crank Bros Cobalt 3’s. I figured they were fine. They went round in circles and didn’t break. How different could the Derby’s be? 

They are same weight 1790gr but much wider than the Crank Bros, so I wanted to see how they would be on a steep climb like Mt Climie, where traction is sometimes an issue (up and down). Because you get a wider tyre profile the traction was noticeably better and I enjoyed them so much I rode to the (very) top, taking Jesse’s Strava KOM on the way. Sorry Jesse blame the wheels. On the way down I did a PR for the descent too – good start! I also took them for a good thrash around my favourite Makara Peak trails, to see how well they compared, and I really noticed that they tracked so straight and stiff through rocky sections – that was pretty impressive. Last, I rode them for 9 laps of the Wainui Worlds, which was 3 hours of nice fast single track bush riding. They felt great the whole time and I was really confident they would stay true and strong and they did, picking up a victory. When I picked them up, the Wheelworks team showed me how they measure each rim, and cut every spoke and roll every thread to spec. It’s disgustingly fastidious but it makes the spoke/ nipple interface perfect and in years they have had a tiny number of spoke breakages – and that’s only from manufacturing – not building – issues. In fact that’s why they use aero spokes and alloy nipples all the time, because they explained that if you actually build the wheels with care, there is no reason they can’t be just as strong as traditional stainless/ brass. If you get a chance, you have to see the spoke cutting/ thread machine. It makes THE BEST ‘THUNK’ sound ever – trust me. WW also do custom, coloured logos. They just look fast as hell and that’s a big thing too. Look, ultimately I was pretty impressed. I loved the attention to detail and the way they rode and honestly believe these are truly top level wheels I loved them. Thanks Wheelworks! Check out Wheelworks delectable MTB selection here:

Review: Biomaxa Lube and Chamois Cream

IMG_3079 This lube is actually really totally different to a normal lube. The way it works is that you totally clean your chain, and then smother it in Biomaxa before leaving it to cure for 24 hours. You then totally wipe it off – that way all the carrier dissolves away leaving a super resilient film of lanolin based lube inside the chain. 2 things make it better – it lasts about 3 times as long as a normal lube (its kind of sticky and ‘tough’ – hard to describe) plus it doesn’t attract dirt. Kind of like the best of both worlds of wet and dry lubes. This photo is after 2 + hours, riding Makara Peak in average muddy winter conditions. You can kind of see that the chain is a little dirty, as you’d expect, but it doesn’t really have any kind of moist, muddy layer caked on it or anything like that. The lanolin keeps it lubed but it’s dry in a way that it doesn’t attract any more dirt inside the rollers. That’s worth a few watts right there, not to mention reduced cleaning. If this was a regular wet lube, the chain would look dirty and the wet film would have attracted dirt into the rollers, and if this was a dry lube, the few puddles would have washed it off making it dry and grindy. IMG_3111 The chamois cream is a whole new thing for me. I never used to ride with it, but I tried it and I’m NEVER going back. Look, I don’t have anything other than vaseline to compare it too as I haven’t tried any other brands, but I’ll tell you this, I reckon it makes any long rides about 10% more comfortable, seems to reduce saddle soreness and also improves your position, because you don’t end up shuffling around reducing saddle pressure and that’s better for power. It comes in 2 flavours – “Ultra Ride” (cheaper/ thinner) and “Pro Ride” (More $$ but thicker). I’m happy with both of them to be perfectly honest. When I’m perching on the nose of the Hour Bike, it honestly makes a real difference. Biomaxa is made in NZ too. Capital Cycles has it in stock.


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