Author Archives: Admin

Hack or Bodge?

My house is not large, but it’s dominated by two things. Things that will be obvious when you walk through the door.

The main one is bikes.

Followed closely by guitars.

But mainly bikes.

There are bikes and bike components all over the place. There are at least four complete bikes, two bare frames (one broken, one waiting for a rebuild). There’s a large set of shelves full of random components like cassettes, stems, seatmast caps, seatpins and saddles. There are a couple of packing crates full of old cranksets and derailleurs. There are tools everywhere. Plus workstands, turbo trainers, rollers, bottles and all the other ephemera of the mid-life cyclist.

So I decided to fix the problem, using the problem.

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Say Hello to PowerZwift

PowerZwiftI love Zwift. It allows me to get some kilometres done in the safety of my own home with no fear of rain, snow, hail, sunburn, crashes, cars, trucks, vans or pedestrians with headphones on. Right now, it’s probably my primary source of kilometres.

Of course, using software so often means I’ve started to become a bit of a Zwift power user. I’ve got tweaked configs and third-party add-ons like ZwiftMap. I also run Zwift on multiple computers depending on where I am and which version of The Paincave I’m using, and because I’m a techie I reinstall my Operating system a lot, and doing that manually is a complete pain.

So I wrote some PowerShell code to automate Zwift and make my life a bit easier.

Well, I had a bit of free time last night, so I packaged it up, added some enhancements and uploaded some of it to GitHub as PowerZwift, free and Open Source, for other Zwifting techies to use.

It allows you – at the moment – to:

  • Download and install Zwift
  • Download and install ZwiftMap
  • Start Zwift and ZwiftMap from one command
  • Toggle startup music on and off
  • Switch easily between circuits (“Worlds” in Zwift-speak).
  • Create Windows Shortcuts to start Zwift in a specific World with one click.

If you’re on Windows, you might find it useful. If you’re on Mac or iOS, sorry, but this won’t help you much – but there are lots of hacks for you nonetheless.

 

The evolution of a paincave

There’s a new thread over at Zwift.community asking about people’s current training setups, so I thought I’d go back through my photostream and find some of my recent setups. My paincave has been through more iterations than I care to think about, and luckily I didn’t photograph them all, or I’d be here all day. Read on for pics and ramblings

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Racing and Riding update w/e 16 Jan 2017

So, we’ve made it to 2017 after what can only be described as Year of The Utter Shit, so where are we at?

Well, the start of the new year formed a convenient, if arbitrary watershed to try and re-establish some old, good habits. I’m now attempting to follow a structured training plan from The Sufferfest, though I’ve had to build in some very generous variations due to things like work/on-call commitments and wanting to actually ride outdoors occasionally. Nevertheless, some weight is dropping off and some watts are going on. I’ve had two “new threshold” notifications from Training Peaks in January so far, and my Smart Scale has been congratulating me occasionally. Who would have thought* swapping a quiet beer for an hour of sweat on a bike would be so effective?

Zwift.community has been launched by a good friend of mine and I’ve come on board as an early adopter and admin

In news of actually turning some pedals, I’m racing again two months earlier than expected. Thursday saw me enter a Zwift KISS Race on the spur of the moment, because that’s a thing now, and Saturday saw me racing on dirt for the first time in… ages.

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A quick riding update

If you’ve read my previous post on quitting the road, you’ll know I’ve had some struggles lately with riding tarmac. Well, there’s some good news.

I’ve been working with a psychologist for the last few months, and with some changes of routine and a decent reset, I’m starting to get some kms done on the road bike again.

Gratuitous commute pic

A photo posted by Jason Brown (@thecrankset) on

So, what are the key factors here?

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On quitting the road

Today I quit riding my bike on the road.

I announced this via Twitter, but didn’t write a blog post immediately, for reasons which should be apparent from the tweet announcing it.

 

Even as I’m writing this, about twelve hours after I made the decision,  I can feel my chest tightening and my hands shaking, but I think I need to explain this decision in detail.

And to do that, we need to go back in time a little bit. Continue Reading →

On Being Stateless in Zwift

So I joined Zwift just recently. Sure, I’m a little late to the party, but reasons.

Anyway, while signing up, Zwift allows you to select your nationality, and offers a veritable cornucopia of nations with which you can identify. For instance, you can show the world you’re from  The Faroe Islands, Kiribati or the British Virgin Islands. If you’re a pedalling priest, you can select the flag of the Holy See. Wow. So many flags.

So I went looking for my flags.

Now, I carry two flags on my bikes.For the uninitiated, the flag on the left is the bleeding eyes of Sufferlandria. Black for Suffering, White for Purity of Suffering and Red for Suffering.

I didn’t really expect the Sufferlandrian flag to be available in Zwift. It would have been a nice little easter egg bonus, but I didn’t expect it. Nevertheless I did feel a mild stab of disappointment when I couldn’t find it.

So obviously I went off hunting for my other flag – the actual flag of the actual country in which I was actually  born. Wales. A Red Dragon on a field of white and green.

This flag

article-0-0E594C4B00000578-538_468x286You know what? It’s not there.

A country of 20,779 km2 and over three million people. Just not there. A country that has its own damn wikipedia. A country with its own legislative assembly, national anthem and capital city.

But I can’t select that flag. Oh no. I can select the flag of “Neutral Zone”, whatever that is, but not Wales.

I can select the flag of The Falkland islands, a flag which actually has a sheep on it. Jesus, you’re just trolling now, aren’t you?

Zwift, you need to get your shit together. Seriously.

 

 

(Update: Apparently, Zwift use ISO 3166 and ISO places Wales under the UK. Apparently. But not The Falklands. Which is a British dependency.)
(Update 2: There’s also no Scottish flag, no Ulster flag, and no European stars. But you can select the flag of Pitcairn, a tiny island nation with fewer than 100 residents)

The Hills Are Calling

Back in April 2014, I had a crack at Everesting Garie Beach Hill in the Royal National Park. That particular attempt was aborted when my front light cut out during a fast, windy descent, which resulted in me hitting a pothole, puncturing, nearly dying of an adrenaline overdose, then calling it due to actual objective danger.

The switch assembly on the light, it transpired, had vibrated itself loose, and since I was carrying charging equipment but no actual spare light, there was no going on.

That was, as far as I know, the first attempt at an Everesting on Garie. I’d selected it for proximity to Sydney, a nice constant gradient, and a manageable number of target laps – 44. It really is – aside from the rough surface – an ideal Everesting hill.

In September 2014, Pat Dellagiagiacoma and Paul Karis completed the first everesting of Garie as a pair, a fine effort and worth some applause.

Now, in September 2016, the 8848 Royal National Park event will see a mass participation Everesting attempt on this hill in aid of The Cancer Council. This is a fantastic cause to ride for, and since it’s a supported event you won’t run into the problems I (and others) have run into. There’ll be mechanics, medics, food, drinks, support and other riders on your shoulder all the way. The road will be closed, so you won’t have to deal with any traffic. You don’t even have to do the 8848 solo, since there’s a team option. You should totally do it, if you can scrape together the entry fee. Do it.

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On the unthinking marginalisation of women’s cycling

I pretty much missed the finish of last night’s Fleche Wallonne. Why? I was having an argument with Velonews. You see, they’d posted this tweet, which was greeted by a not-altogether unjustified response:

start

I, naturally, retweeted this. It’s common shorthand to think first of the men’s race, but this is a strong point. Marianne Vos has won Fleche Wallonne five times. So Velonews’s tweet is factually inaccurate, but colloquially, it mostly gets the point across.

Is this really a problem though?

Well yes.

You see, it’s lazy, and laziness does nothing to help rectify a situation of historical marginalisation. Women’s cycling has played second fiddle for years , but we’ve had some recent, though hesitant steps forward. La Course is a thing now. We get coverage – partial, it’s true, but coverage nonetheless – of the women’s race at De Ronde van Vlaanderen. We see the women’s world champs on TV. We got a smattering of coverage from the women’s race last night, and even got coverage of the women’s podium on the global feed. What we need right now is an active response to keep the momentum rolling.

So lazy journalism was always going to be noticed.

But what really particularly irked me was the response. Observe.

response

Yep, instead of just holding up their hands and issuing a clarifying tweet, Velonews decided to blame the character limit.

I copied their original tweet. There were fifty characters to spare. FIFTY.

It had nothing to do with the character limit. Besides which, you’re a journalistic publication. Words are your business. Make it work.

Such responses are as lazy and unthinking as the original tweet. Velonews, you fucked up. To use some deliberately ironic, lazy and sexist language: You need to man the fuck up and admit it.

And pull up your damn socks in future.

 

Improving Fly6 footage

I have a hypothesis. It goes like this.

Fly6 crash footage can always be improved by fading to black with a mournful piano soundtrack.

So I performed an experiment. Tell me what you think