Category Archives: Meta

Stuff about the blog. Site news. That kind of crap

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, steamast 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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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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Race recap: Tour of Sufferlandria, Stages 1-5

Yes, it’s the greatest grand tour of a mythical country on earth, the Tour of Sufferlandria. As a Knight of Sufferlandria, my participation is compulsory – noblesse oblige.

A huge, feisty peloton lined up for the start of Stage one on Saturday, taking in Elements of Style and The Long Scream, race director Grunter von Agony wishing to have a well-turned out and stylish race. Which he could then rip to ragged shreds in the ensuing 30 minutes.

Elements is a goodie – I reviewed it here – but does have a habit of taking your mind off your effort level as you concentrate on your form. It’s easy to go into the red by mistake, but today everything -just -went to plan. And then the last half-hour hove into view.

Between you and I, I’d never completed the Long Scream until this stage. It’s deceptive, being “only” an extra shot video of 35 minutes duration. However a solid thirty of those minutes are spent at or around Threshold. Until this stage, every time I’d switch it on, I’d go out of the start gate way too hard and end up cracked and dying by the last third. But these days I run a power meter and keep close track of my FTP, so for the stage I was able to dose my efforts with unprecedented accuracy, holding FTP, dipping below or rising above as the video demanded. A look of relief crossed my ashen face as I finally got my PhD in suffering. At last.

Day one done. I was feeling nicely toasted after this stage, Sufferlandrian holy water running forth untrammeled. And yea, verily did the race reports roll in on the ToS Facebook Group. Sufferlandrians all over the globe were checking in with their experiences. And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Also beer.

My start time on Stage Two, Blender, was held over to Monday after an aborted start on Sunday- entirely within the rules I might add. One tiny false start on Monday for a forgotten towel and we were off. Monday was Australia Day, a public holiday. What better time to sit on a turbo trainer in your own house in front of two fans and a laptop while outside all is stifling heat, blind patriotism, drunkenness and boganry? Blender is one of my favourite videos, taking in as it does MTB, mens and women’s road racing, time trialling, cyclocross and even downhill MTB. But at 1h40m it’s a long ride in the heat and the Aussie peloton was in sore need of rehydration afterwards. But no beer yet, because a few hours later… Stage Three: Fight Club

This one’s a scrappy affair, attacks coming thick and fast, breaks needing to be shut down and an overall effort level somewhere far north of sensible. But again, Determination pays dividends, as does the knowledge that when this is done, beer may be had. And so it came to pass. The breaks were shut down, the legs were turned to jelly and the beer was cracked.

Happy Australia Day

Tuesday. Back to work and the restricted free time of the weekday grind. I still kept a window open for Nine Hammers, the latest offering from Sufferfest Studios and one with a fearsome reputation. Featuring nine big efforts at – and above – threshold, This video is an FTP stretcher if ever there was one, and one where I’d again be relying heavily on the power meter – though the numbers flashing by didn’t stop me being tempted to add a few percent  here and there. I was left feeling exhausted, but with a sense of achievement.

And so we came to Wednesday. The first day in the high mountains, where we’d go to meet the Angels.

There was crazy talk among the group about maybe doubling up on the two editions of Angels, but as it transpired I was badly pressed for time and opted instead to go all-out on the original, longer version. My legs were a little sore, but Angels is at once an old friend and an ancient nemesis. I knew where the attacks would be made, and was able to counter each and every one, even if it was through a mask of pain.

Here’s how it looked from the Suffercam, deteriorating form and all.

And so here we sit, Five days into a nine-day tour, with all to play for and the Queen Stage yet to come, and with a huge sting in the tail to follow that. Who will make it to the finish of ISLAGIATT on the hallowed slopes of Mount Sufferlandria? Who will be punted out the back into the autobus to be swept up by the minions and who will double down for Honour, Glory and Victory come Sunday?

Tune in to find out. Oh, and if you could throw some money at the Davis Phinney Foundation, that would be excellent too.

 

I went to the office xmas party dressed as He Who Must Not Be Named…

… and I didn’t even get drug tested.

Thanks, UCI

ArtOf2 Designs - www.artof2.com

 

Also, I’m pretty sure the guys next to me would be totally disqualified if they tried to ride the TDF. Totally.

Park Bikes Training Camp Day Three: Bowral to Sydney

Day three began with some tired bodies and interesting tan lines (tip: POC helmets let a surprising amount of sunlight in). Everyone had opted for the full ride back to Sydney, even though an option of a short ride followed by a train trip was offered. Today’s menu started out with a fast ride down the Hume Highway from Bowral to Picton, then a main course of Razorback, followed by a dessert course of rolling highway back into Sydney.

The first 40 kilometres were knocked over in under an hour. The terrain is mostly flat but with frequent downhill sections, which got everyone warmed up very nicely. The pace, and spirits, were high. Before too long we were off the highway and heading for Picton, at the foot of the Razorback climb.

It’s a short climb and not in the same league as the two previous days, but some of the bunch – me included – were sagging. We regrouped at the top, and took the left turn towards the Old Razorback road. We would only be descending this one today, but it’s a climb I’ll definitely be going back to do in the near future.

The descent is a little rough, quite winding but fast. My Fly6 tail camera captured some nice video on the way

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