Tag Archives: Video

Strava Segment: Pait Is Almost Home!

I freely admit that I enjoy Strava. I do try not to let it go to my head. However, not only does Strava give me a way to scratch my competitive itch, it also gives me fodder for LowCadence.com. If you tried to write something in a blog nearly everyday, you would be looking for subject matter as well!

Having said that, my favorite Strava segment KOMs are not necessarily the ones I’m aiming to get. Today’s installment in the Strava Segment series is a perfect example of that. It is a KOM I am glad I’ve managed to grab because it has my name on it!

I created the segment some time ago. It is a nice little climb up East North Street from Stone Avenue. I didn’t pay much attention to the stretch because it was just a way to get to and from Cleveland Park which is where I spent many an hour when I first began riding on the road.

I don’t even recall what prompted me to create it. However, I do remember the day I got the first KOM. It was a day I took my fixed gear to the park. Perhaps I rode it around to some other spots as well. The thing I do remember was coming home with a huge storm brewing.

The clouds were rolling and the wind was starting to pick up. I’m assuming I had a tailwind. Rain was imminent and I didn’t want to get caught in it. Thunder was sounding very close!

I turned off of Stone Avenue onto East North Street and started to sprint up the road with the fixie. About time I was halfway through the segment, there was one of those lightning/thunder claps where there was little time between the two. If I needed any motivation to keep going, that was it!

I had that track gear humming along and the momentum of the crank being pulled around by the turning of the rear wheel allowed me to keep pace going. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about trying to get a KOM. I was just trying to get home!

Yet, there it was. When I uploaded the data, I found that I had the KOM by 1:39. However, that wasn’t the end of the story.

Because I landed the KOM on a fixed gear, I figured that surely I would be able to get a faster time on my lighter road bike. Nope. It didn’t happen. It wasn’t because I wasn’t trying!

My Strava history has a long list of attempts and a few of them came close. None of them were able to break the barrier. That is until this one.

I wasn’t trying for the KOM. This ride was for capturing video I needed for the Pilot Road Golf Course Climb segment. I then thought I would spin down Main Street Greenville and capture some video of that route. This led me down Park Avenue which crosses Stove Avenue and then becomes East North Street.

As I approached the intersection, I saw that the light was going to be green. “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself, “I might as well use this opportunity to capture some video for a Pait Is Almost Home Strava segment.” Even then, I did not expect to land a KOM. I just wanted to have a good representative effort.

It would appear that the big difference was the speed I was able to carry through the intersection. Rather than turning right off of Stone Ave and scrubbing speed, I was able to come barreling over Stone Avenue and carry that momentum up the lower portion of the segment.

Still, that wasn’t all. I remember having a moment of realization that I was maintaining my power. Yeah, it was hurting a little, but it was one of those instances when you could feel the power overwhelming any pain you might feel. I knew it was going to be a good time.

Arriving home, I was most interested in seeing what would happen with the Pilot Road Golf Course Climb. When I first saw the crown, I thought I had landed it. Then I was surprised to see that the KOM was actually for Pait Is Almost Home… not just that, but I had finished the segment in 1:33. That was 6 seconds faster that my previous one that I thought I would never beat!

Hopefully, that one will hold for a little bit. Other than those instances where people forget to turn off their Strava apps when they are driving home along East North, I think the combination of effort and perfect timing with the light at the start will allow it to last for some time. The closest currently is Chris Uberti at 1:41.

It might fall at some point, but I will have plenty more opportunities in the future and more importantly, many memories of nearing home along that stretch after completing some incredible rides. Whether fast or slow, it is a segment I always enjoy because I am almost home.

Friday Training Race on Zwift’s Watopia Island

Not much to the written blog today. All last night I was uploading a 10 GB file to YouTube. It is a video of the Friday Training Race on Zwift’s Watopia Island. This one is different from others because I did not do a voice over after the face. I did live in-race, real-time commentary. Not sure how well it worked, but you can be the judge.

The Friday races are going to be moving to Thursday which means I will not be able to participate in as many of them. However, I do hope to join the guys on occasion. Also, there are a growing number of other races springing up on Zwift’s virtual world. You can find a time to race — or create your own race. A good place to start is on the Zwift Riders Facebook group.

Ride On!

Past video and last video

Let’s start with the last video uploaded to YouTube. It is commentary on the June 23, 2015 Tuesday Night Worlds on Zwift’s Watopia Island. It gives you an opportunity to see yesterday’s blog post.

Continuing our “Throwback Thursday” theme, I decided to go back and resurrect a video from the past. This is one of the earliest videos I ever made riding a bicycle. The first was a video of the Sunshine Cycle Shop crew climbing Paris Mountain on April 27, 2008.

It is amazing to see how the action camera market has changed since that time! I was using on of the early Contour cameras. GoPro didn’t exist. The Internet has changed as well! The reason these videos are lower bandwidth is because back in that day the idea of HD quality video seemed out of reach.

Of course, this was less than 10 years ago. Much has changed in my life, on the bicycle, and with technology. Even the blog has changed. You’ll notice at the end of the older video that I point you’ll notice I point folks to StackOfStuff.net (that is a time capsule for you). I’m still at it though. On the bicycle, I’ve done more than I thought I could do.

I kind of like Throwback Thursday…

Them there be fightin’ words

The video Zwift Friday Training Race May 8, 2015 on my YouTube channel seems to have been picked up somewhere because just over the weekend it was viewed over 1000 times. I still haven’t tracked down what has driven the interest, but I have noticed that it has also generated a couple of comments. I was surprised at how one of the comments got under my skin.

The first somewhat negative comment didn’t bother me so much. It made me chuckle. Even as I edited the video, I wondered how long it would be before someone made a jab at me.

Factory051 commented: “Britisher? Greece doesn’t have a flag? What on earth is wrong with you?”

Yes, I did say “Britisher” when I should have said “Brit.” However, in my defense I would ask you to do a voice over of a video without a script and see how many times you misspeak! When you are in the midst of a list of “ers” and suddenly have a pattern interrupt, it is hard to break the cycle. Anyway, I just claimed the ignorant American excuse on that one.

Now, as for Greece not having a flag. Of course, the country of Greece has a national flag. What it did not have at the time of the race was a flag for Zwift. As I was doing the voice over, it did cross my mind that someone might be confused. You will actually hear a pause after I said it as my mind was trying to decide whether to try to explain. Bottomline is that Zwifters understand that not every countries flag has always been represented on the software.

It wasn’t that comment that got to me. It was one by Thomas Nigl. He was calling me out and “questioning my manhood.” He commented: “The watts displayed are a joke! Way too high!”

I bristled and came back with an uncharacteristic (for me) challenge, “Come visit me in Greenville and let your legs decide if the wattage is wrong.” Of course, I added a ” ;-)” that I didn’t really mean. For some reason this comment ticked me off.

Why?

I think one reason is that in someways those of us on Zwift — and more so those of us who share these kinds of videos — are placing ourselves in a vulnerable situation. At any moment on Zwift, I can click over to another rider and see RPM, wattage, and heart rate. I can get an instant understanding of the rider’s ability by following his or her watts per kilogram.

Riding on the road allows you to hold your cards closer to your chest. You can telegraph weakness when you are strong and hide tired legs when you feel like you are about to get dropped. Your cycling computer is there for only you to see.

In Zwift, we lay ourselves bare. The numbers are there for everyone to see. Perhaps that is why when those numbers are questioned, it causes us to react more defensively. It is one thing for someone to take a swing at you when you have your gloves up. It is another thing for someone to give a punch when you have your arms open.

Of course, another reason is because of the prevalence of “flyers” who have in ignorance set their trainers up incorrectly or are intentionally gaming the system by false weight entries or manipulation of the trainer. The reaction against these riders by many Zwift is enough to cause anyone to bristle at someone intimating that you might be one of them.

It also annoyed me because I know what my abilities are. I have YEARS of data showing that these numbers are not abnormal for me. They are consistent with what I do on the road and here on Zwift. They can be attested to by my riding buddies and my one-time coach.

Finally, it annoyed me because even though this guy thought the wattage was too high. It still wasn’t high enough! I’ve never come close to winning one of these Zwift races. Just because you can put out average to above average wattage for a given period of time does not mean that you can do it long enough.

Weighing in on a skinny day at 170 and a normal day around 174, I HAVE to put out the wattages seen in the video in order to stay up with guys 20 and even 30 pounds lighter than I am. The good news is I can actually do it for about 20 minutes. The bad news is that I can’t pull it off for an entire race.

Here I was suffering to try for a good finish. I even manage to make the podium. Someone comes along and questions my result.

Okay. I know. The ultimate answer to my problem is pride. Does it really matter what Thomas thinks?

On the other hand, this shows another unique aspect of the Zwift community. We really are exposing ourselves when we honestly roll up to the line. We can have more insight into the abilities of the riders around us. There is something about that vulnerability that forms a bond.

And so, in Zwift, as in other aspects of life, honesty becomes a foundational component of good relationships. I’m proud to be a part of the community and the relationships I have formed there. It is important to me that my participation be honest.

So, the gloves are up to those who might question, but my arms are open to the great friends I’ve enjoyed riding with — both racing and recreationally — on Zwift.

Strava Segment: Pilot Road Golf Course Climb

The Pilot Road Golf Course Climb Strava segment is one I have ridden many times, but one of which I have never paid much attention. It got my attention about a month ago when riding with my pals from Sunshine Cycle Shop on a Saturday morning shop ride. Then my attention was sealed when I saw John James give it a good effort. I knew I would have to go for the KOM.

The first time I noticed that a segment existed there was when Neal Herring attacked me that Saturday morning. Zac Webb had suddenly upped the pace and I jumped on his wheel. I was pretty tired having just raced on Zwift the day before. Then Neal came sprinting around me and I was left dragging myself behind them.

I made my plans to go back to the location and give the segment a try. Before I could do so, I noticed that John James tied for the KOM. I got to thinking that he might have been out to give Neal his comeuppance after attempting to attack on the shop ride. He bested Neal by over 10 seconds on his attempt. Now I was intrigued.

I wanted go into my first attempt turning the pedals with purpose. Needless to say, I took the KOM, but also opened a can of worms. My winning time was 10 seconds faster than John’s. You can read about it here: Strava App of Garmin. I knew immediately I was going to have to try it again to vindicate my effort.

So it was that I took off at lunch on Friday with plans to head up to Asheville with the Beautiful Redhead. Saturday was our 23 wedding anniversary and we figured a trip up to the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway was in in order. The temperature was nearly 10 degrees cooler there.

However, I had a window of time to jump on the bike and go out to Pilot Road to give the segment a try. I was curious to see how it would go. It was hitting 90 degrees and the sun was bright. I had only ridden once this week… so I could be fresh or I could be sluggish.

There was only one way to find out. I followed the same route I did the previous week when the Strava phone app recorded a 46 second time. This time I was running both the Strava app and the Garmin.

My purpose was to 1) see if the Strava app was consistent — if wrong, and 2) compare the two options to see in which one I had the most confidence. Of course, that would only work if I could replicate my earlier effort. The ideal situation would be that I would ride an equivalent route and get a similar time on the Strava app while getting a time close to that on the Garmin.

My legs were feeling good and I was ready for the test. I let the terrain help me build momentum after turning onto Pilot Road. I kept looking for the break in the trees and then the tree line that indicated the start of the segment.

At that point it was time to just put my head down and push. Right off the start I knew I lost some time as an off camber right turn caused me to let up on the wattage. I got back into it up the graduate climb into the left turn that indicates the start of the steeper grade.

This time as soon as I started to feel the resistance building in my drivetrain, I hit the shifter to ease on my gears. It didn’t really seem to matter as the grade still made my cadence drop. I kept pushing until I thought I was nearing the segment end. With my heart rate hitting 180 bpm, I let off and coasted.

Looking back I realize that I let off sooner than the line. That — and the problematic left turn — probably caused me to land the 47 second time that showed up on my Strava app. However, that was only 1 second off the earlier Strava app time.

My first question was answered. It appears that on this segment the Strava app was at least consistent. It was yet to be seen if the Garmin would match.

I loaded the .fit file to Strava and awaited the result. There it was… 49 seconds. So, the Garmin recorded a time 2 seconds slower than the Strava app.

So, the bad news was that my 46 second time was taking advantage of wonky mobile phone GPS readings. The good news was that I still landed the KOM! It was nice to be vindicated by getting the top spot, even if it was slower.

48 seconds? I think I could do it. When I look at the video, I can see a couple of places where I left time on the road. I think I could do it faster…

It also means that someone else could probably do it faster.

Watopia: Six Jersey Challenge

It didn’t start out as an obsession. It started as just another opportunity to visit Watopia and check out the new update, but once you get the taste of the challenge it is hard not to go back for another serving. The question is, “Will you taste victory or will Watopia chew you up and spit you out?”

The new feature of being able to drive the Zwift engine from your power meter while allowing Zwift to control you smart trainer is a welcome addition. The setup was easy and I had my Quarq crank based power meter connected in no time. I then brought my Wahoo Fitness Kickr smart trainer online and I was ready to go.

Now my Quarq was telling Zwift how fast to take me along the course. Zwift was then telling the Kickr what resistance to provide my drivetrain. This allowed me to avoid the negatives of the Kickr (primarily due to how it deals with inertia) while enjoying its advantages in making the online experience more true to life. Combining the two really is the best of both worlds.

I started out the ride in social mode. However, when I reached the original Green Jersey sprint zone, I just had to give it a go. The 26 second leader’s time was just too tempting. I took on green with a 23 second time.

Then the thought began to creep into my mind… “What if I go for a Green/KOM reverse KOM/Green jersey combination?” I wasn’t thinking Orange at this point. That seemed too far out since I could see the Orange Jersey leader’s time was somewhere around 13:50.

So, I went for a second lap and gave the Polka Dot Jersey a good go. Yes! It wasn’t a PR, but at 107 seconds, it was pretty respectable. I now owned two of the jerseys. It was now time to turn around.

I went back to my black Century Jersey as I completed the turn. This was going to be a lap at speed. By this time, I was getting greedy. No longer was a quadruple jersey enough. I wanted more. I wanted five jerseys!

Everything went as planned. By the time I finished the reverse lap I had the Green Jersey at under 12 seconds, the Polka Dot Jersey at just over 4 minutes, and the Orange Jersey with a time of 14:34. Five jerseys were now mine.

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You know what that means.

I just had to go for one last attempt at the Orange Jersey on the original direction course. It would mean a non-assisted PR for me, but if I didn’t at least try… So, I pushed the reverse button and lined up for my attempt.

I barely got rolling when a notification popped up on my screen. Someone had stolen my KOM jersey on the segment I was about to climb! What!?! How dare he take my jersey! To make matters worse, he crushed me by a full 7 seconds. Talk about adding insult to injury!

Well, no matter, I was probably going to have to land a fast time up the climb in order to obtain a sub-fourteen second full lap. I’d just have to go up there and wrestle it away from this interloper to what was rightfully mine! Who was he to stand in the way of my ambitions!?!

I hit the base of the climb “turning my pedals in anger.” I could recover on the other side, but this was do-or-die. If I didn’t get this jersey back, it wouldn’t make any difference if I got the Orange one.

I’ve done this one so many times, I know where I need to be at each little marker along the way. I could see that I was tracking for a very close one. At the final marker, my heart race increased… not just because of the effort, but also because I could see this would be success of failure by a hair!

I put my head down and gave all I had to the line. My Six Jersey Challenge attempt all rested on these last few meters. Would I make it?

You’ll have to watch the video.

Watopia: The Other Way Round

Here it is folks! Your world on Watopia has been turned around. But wait! There’s more! With the latest release you can choose the way you wish to ride… at any point on the route. Can you say Climbing Repeats?

I woke up this morning to find that the Aussies were already getting a shot at the new update. I was scheduled to ride with a business associate. We were going to use some time on the bicycle to talk through a joint project. So it didn’t look like I would get a chance to try it out until the evening.

However, the morning brought rain and we decided to take a raincheck on our meeting. Suddenly, I had about an hour to spare before I would need to be in the office. “Jonathan!” I heard the voice from my basement… “Jonathan! Come to the island… acheter cialis avec paypal.” Well, I was already kitted out for my outside ride… “Jonathan! Now is your chance… Come to the island….”

And so I did. Direct link to YouTube.

If you want to see Watopia in the other direction, check it out here.

Strava Segment: Piney Mountain Road Climb Eastside

Last week I told the story of taking back my Strava segment on Lowndes Hill Road. I’m still waiting for Chris Uberti to show up and strip me of my KOM. Don’t worry, I don’t have a big head about it. Someone took care of that on the Piney Mountain Road Climb Eastside segment.

This is another segment that I created. It was added to Strava back when my then coach Jim Cunningham had me doing repeats of this climb in preparation for the River Falls Race. I held the KOM for sometime. Then my time fell to a rider by 10 seconds!

Winston David is well known in these parts. If for no other reason, he seems to be the perennial first finisher of the Gran Fondo Hincapie. He is a pro rider with the Lupus Racing Team. You’ll see he owns his share of Strava KOMs — including Caesar’s Head (full) and Skyuka Mountain Road Climb. He is also a level 2 cycling coach and pretty much all around good guy.

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Photograph by Justin Keck

Lest you think this comes easy, you should check out Winston’s activities on Strava. It is obvious his ability comes from blue-collar-hard-work. As I was prepping to write this report, I took a look at one of his recent workouts. It confirms that fact.

At first I thought I was looking at a broken record when I saw the number of repeats he did of the first kick up Paris Mountain’s Altamont Road. How about 8 of them and then throw in a couple climbs of the mountain and a loop out around northern Greenville County and then topping it off with another climb up Altamont. It was only 83 miles and nearly 9000 feet climbing.

So, it should come as no surprise that back when Winston first came onto Strava, he put the hurt on me with a number of segments I was holding close. This was one of them. As a matter of fact, he crushed me so badly that for a couple of years I didn’t even attempt to take it back.

My good time on Lowndes Hill against Uberti emboldened me to go out and give it another try. My PR and the top time for several months was one minute and fifty-nine seconds. Knowing how hard I worked to get that time back then, I just didn’t see how I could overtake Winston’s time of one minute and forty-nine seconds.

Not only would this show me how I compared to Winston, but it would also tell me how I was riding now in 2015 compared to how I was back in 2012. So I started out for the ride with two goals… 1) get a PR, and 2) get as close as possible to Winston’s time. I honestly did not think I’d accomplish either.

I hit the start hard averaging about 600 watts for the first half of the climb while spinning at well over 100 rpm. Looking back at the effort comparison, I see that I was staying neck-and-neck with Winston to that point. Even at that moment, I was feeling strong and my confidence grew.

Then the real teeth of the climb started to bite down on my legs. You can see it in the video. My wattage and cadence began to drop. Now I was doing between 400 and 500 watts with my cadence around 85 rpm.

I could sense I was losing momentum, so I attempted to give myself a shot. Like the heart rate of a dying man on an operating table after getting hit with a defibrillator, my power rose for a moment before falling. While I never flatlined, my power slowly diminished for the rest of the attempt. Even as the road began to level off, I could only muster a top of 400 watts.

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There in the last third of the climb I lost six seconds. However, on the good side, I did land my PR by besting my previous time by four seconds. I can’t help but think there is another second or two I could gain… I’ll likely try again, but I do think Winston’s time is safe for awhile!