My indoor setup … 🚴🏻

I have setup a “pain cave” as an indoor cycling studio.

I don’t like riding in the cold or wet weather. And, I don’t want to return to the gym anytime soon. As long as it was sunny and dry, I welcomed riding outside, and training in the local parks. Now that the weather is changing, and we are experiencing an uptick in Covid cases, I’m happy to stay home.

But I need more equipment. I have some dumb bells, an exercise ball, and a mat. This is enough for strength training. But what about indoor cycling?

I decided to purchase a smart trainer. You know, one of those direct drive ones where you remove the back wheel, and connect your drive train directly. I have an extra carbon road bike I can dedicate to the cause, and space in my den – a converted walk-in closet – to set it up.

Which trainer?

There are so many to choose from. I began asking around, and calling the local shops. In the end, I chose the Wahoo KICKR CORE. I’m a big Wahoo fan 😃 It gets excellent reviews for reliability, features, and noise. And, it was available locally for a good price. I had it setup in a day.

Now, what software to run on this smart baby?

Until I started researching, I didn’t realize there are so many apps to choose from.

I was familiar with Swift. Everyone seems to be using it. But I don’t like the virtual reality aspect. It’s not real enough. It’s like a video game. And, I never liked video games 😂 I know the social features are popular, but that’s not the type of cycling I enjoy.

That’s where I had to start. What kind of cyclist am I, and what do I expect from an indoor trainer?

I’m not a racer. I enjoy century events and Gran Fondos, but I do them for the experience, never expecting to win, or even compete, except maybe with myself. I prefer solo rides to group rides, and I like to train with structure. Despite my age, I still think I can improve, become more efficient, and get stronger. I want my indoor experience to be like my outdoor road rides.

This helps.

Given that, Swift is out. Sufferfest is more for racers. The videos actually put you in races. That’s not for me. TrainerRoad gives you all the stats you need, but is visually uninteresting.

I want a more realistic experience.

Two apps come strongly recommended. FulGaz and Rouvy. Over the next 1-2 weeks I’m planning to test them out – they both come with a 14 day free trial – and select one for the winter.

Stay tuned 😂

PS – If you have experience with either, let me know your thoughts.

One last thought about STRAVA … 🤦🏻

I have one more thought about STRAVA.

When I first began using the app, I didn’t think of it as a journal or training log. For years I kept a spreadsheet detailing every workout, and training goals. At some point along my STRAVA journey, I realized there was no need. STRAVA actually keeps a more detailed record of every workout, helps me set goals, and monitors my progress. I use it to record strength workouts, walks & hikes, indoor smart trainer sessions, in addition to outdoor rides. Everything all in one place.

When I first began using STRAVA, I underestimated its usefulness. Now, years later 😂, I understand it’s value and potential for athletes of all levels.

Give it a try, if you haven’t already ✌️

Thoughts on STRAVA … 🚴🏻

Unexpectedly, STRAVA has opened new doors for me.

I never appreciated the social features of STRAVA as much as I have since the start of the COVID lockdowns.

I have a new set of cycling mates 😂 I actively follow local cyclists that get out regularly to learn new routes, and share “kudos” and messages of encouragement. Since all of the cycling events have been cancelled, and group rides discouraged, I look forward to sharing rides with my new friends.

I follow men and women of all ages that live in the area, that have cycled 3,000+ km to-date this year. I’m surprised how many serious cyclists live nearby. And, I’m surprised how strong, and fast some of them are. Stronger, and faster than me ☹️ Some are a real inspiration. One woman gets out EVERY morning at dawn for a walk and coffee posting beautiful pictures of the sun rise. Another young woman, who just returned from Europe after completing her PhD, completes all of the local routes in record times. One fellow, a local cycling coach, climbs all of the local mountain regularly.

My new mates are an inspiration. They get out regularly, and encourage me to do the same. I actually feel I’m letting them down if I don’t ride 🤷‍♂️ And, they don’t just post rides. They also record swims, walks, SWIFT sessions, and Peleton workouts.

I walk a lot these days, taking every opportunity to get outside, and have begun to record these as well. A walk is a workout, right?

If you aren’t already using STRAVA’s social aspect, I encourage you to check it out.

The Wahoo KickR Core … 😃

During the cold, wet winter months, I usually train at a public gym making regular use of the spinning bikes. I would use all of the equipment – free weights, cable systems, the landmine, and squat rack – but mostly I enjoyed the social aspect. I like meeting people, and learning from them. But because of COVID, I’m not anxious to return. They are open, with limitations, but I’ve decided not to go back for at least another year, maybe never.

Instead, I purchased a smart trainer, a Wahoo KickR Core, and setup a corner of my room for it, and one of the bikes.

I’m a big Wahoo fan. I train with the Wahoo Bolt computer and can’t say enough about it. It provides all the stats I need, and then some. It has a long battery life. The setup is on my iPhone which makes it much easier and more convenient. And, it integrates seamlessly with STRAVA. So, when I was considering a smart trainer, the KickR line had to be a consideration.

I spoke with a lot of people, and even reached to STRAVA followers using SWIFT regularly to ask what setups they preferred. Three trainers were mentioned most often – the Tacx Neo, CycleOps H3 (Solaris), and Wahoo KickR Core.

I would have been happy with any one of them. But supply was an issue. They are a hot commodity as the winter months approach. Only one shop in town had any, and fortunately it was the KickR Core. Because of my experience with the Bolt, it was the one I preferred. Within a few days I had it setup, and paired with the Bolt.

I’m working my way through all of the options – Bolt workouts, FTP tests, GCN YouTube spinning classes, virtual rides, and lastly SWIFT. Like the BOLT, I can’t say enough. It’s quiet, feels like a real outdoor ride, and feature rich.

In posts to come, I’ll share the experiences.

Where have I been 🤷‍♂️

I have been remiss.

I haven’t been on this platform for 3 months. I don’t have a good explanation, other than COVID has rearranged my priorities.

And, a few bad habits have appeared ☹️

I didn’t get to Camp PedalWORKS this year, the 1st time in over a decade that I haven’t spent at least part of the summer there. Each year I look forward to the solitude, and less travelled, rural roads. It’s a time to refocus, train, and simplify. It didn’t happen this year.

During COVID I stopped reading and began watching more TV. Every morning I’d get up, make coffee, and watch the morning news, anxious to follow COVID developments, and the government’s economic responses.

What I miss most about Camp PedalWORKS is the simplicity. There’s no TV, and no internet. Instead, it’s a place where a lot of books are read, and many cycling miles are accumulated.

I still train. Harder in some ways. Fewer kilometres, but more climbing. I’m stronger and fitter than this time last year. It’s inevitable in these mountainous parts. But there’s something missing.

I’m going to hit the reset button, and stop some of the COVIDian habits. Less TV. And more reading.

Instead of watching the morning news, I plan to read, or write. It’s what I do when at Camp PedalWORKS. I make a cup of coffee and get back under the covers until I’m ready for a ride, or workout.

That doesn’t sound difficult. Does it?

Reset.

Done 😂

☕️ ✍️📚 🚴🏻

New Strava PRs & #1 rankings 👏

At the end of each month, I rest for 2-3 days, and then re-test myself. When the gyms were open, I’d complete an FTP test on a spinning bike. These days, I time myself up the steepest, most challenging, local hills. I’m fortunate to have 4 right out my back door. They are not long (1.5 km), but have grades ranging from 5-13%. These are my new monthly test.

Yesterday I climbed them all in succession. My objective was to set a PR on each, and claim the #1 ranking for my age group if possible. Surprisingly, I did both 😃

I have been climbing more this past month, and have been feeling stronger, but I didn’t really expect to claim all of the top rankings.

I’m ready for the local mountain climbs next 😂

Training to failure … 🤔

I’ve had to change my strengthening routine.

With gyms closed, I make due with a couple of 15 pound dumb bells, and a series of body weight exercises. Once or twice a week I do 3-4 sets of 15 full-body exercises, gradually increasing the # of repetitions. The 1st set is a warm up doing ~ 10 reps. The 2nd I do 15-20 reps. And the final set I continue until I fail. Until I can’t do another rep. That might be 40-50 reps for some of the exercises. The entire workout takes ~ 90 minutes, and I’m left fully spent.

This week I came across the above video that outlines the use of strength training to failure. It can help to break through plateaus, and build strength. Even with light weights.

I suppose I could purchase heavier dumb bells. I might still. But I realize heavy weight is not the only method to improve strength, and endurance. High reps with pauses, and slower reps increase the time muscles are under tension, which has a similar effect as high weight and low rep workouts. It may even be better. There is less of a chance for injury.

During the summer months when I cycle more, I intend to continue with this approach. In the fall when I’m inside more, I may consider purchasing more weights.

What do you think?

“The Worst Retirement Ever” … 😂

I’m spending too much time on YouTube, but it has its benefits 😂

Phil Gaimon was a professional cyclist. He retired in 2016 to find a real job (he wasn’t that good apparently), and developed a YouTube channel called The Worst Retirement Ever, where he travels the world trying to earn KOMs on the worlds toughest climbs. A formidable task, and the worst ever retirement.

Or is it?

I learned of Phil when he visited my hometown to attempt the Triple Crown. We have 3 local mountains, and each year there is a race up each of them in succession. Phil attempted to KOM each of them. I don’t know if he was successful or not. I haven’t found the video yet but it got me thinking.

I identify with Phil.

I’m retired, and all I really want to do is train, and cycle. I’m nowhere as fit, or fast, but then again, I’m also a lot older. By a long shot. And, I never raced professionally. No, I’m a recreational cyclist with an obsession. Instead of chasing KOMs around the world, I chase local PRs. It’s encouraging to see that even at my age, I can improve.

So maybe my blog needs to be renamed from PedalWORKS to The Worst Retirement. Certainly most people my age are not interested in pushing themselves physically the way I do. But I look at it differently.

What is more important than your health? My health?

Nothing.

Cycling gets me out the door, challenging myself, and engaged. What more could I ask for?

There is something.

Warm weather all year round. When we are done with COVID-19, I hope to spend the summer months at Camp PedalWORKS, and the winters in Arizona 😃

Pictures. Not words.

This past month, I have shared a lot of videos.

Why?

Well, I have been researching how to become a better cyclist, learning more about HIIT, polarized training, fasted cardio, intermittent fasting, the benefits of drinking coffee, optimum pre and post workout meals, indoor training workouts, core training exercises, Everlasting, and why oatmeal is the perfect food.

As a result, I have revised my training schedule. I train 6 days a week, fast 16 hours a day, complete 90 minutes of cardio while fasting, eat oatmeal with a banana and blueberries every day, complete two HIIT workouts each week, train indoors mostly using a power meter and heart rate monitor, drink 3 cups of black filtered coffee a day all the while contemplating my next cycling adventure.

This week I’m heading to Scottsdale, Arizona with my carbon road bike. I’m looking forward to the warmer, dryer weather, and cycling outdoors again. We have experienced one of the wettest Novembers on record, and I have not had many opportunities to cycle outside. I have never been to Scottsdale but understand it is a cycling friendly city featuring epic dessert rides.

I can’t wait. If you are in the area, let me know 😂

Packed … 😞

Well, I’m packed.

It’s a bitter sweet moment. I’m sad to leave, yet pleased to go home.

I have been at the cottage for 2 1/2 months, mostly on my own, without TV or internet. Few would think this would be much of a holiday. No amenities. A lot of cycling. 200-250 km a week. A lot of reading. 10 eBooks – biographies, historical and mystery novels. And, simple, wholesome meals.

Time alone helps me focus. I train better. I’m more sensitive to what needs the most attention. Cycling is different in these parts. The terrain is flatter but there is a relentless north-westerly wind almost every day. I ride on the drops mostly, and stay on the small ring when fighting a headwind. I eat better. I prepare simple vegetarian meals – vegetable wraps, frittatas, salads, sandwiches. No desserts. No sweets. And, I sleep better. To bed at dusk and at sunrise. This is the recipe for successful training, and why I have begun to refer to the cottage as Camp PedalWORKS.

On the side of my bike travel case, I have an oval sticker of a cyclist heading down a windy road. What do you think? Would this make a good tattoo? And, if so, where would you put it? On the forearm where it can be readily seen and enjoyed? On the back of the calve so those in hot pursuit know you will not be easily passed?

What are your thoughts?

I’m serious about this. I figure it’s about time. While I was packing my bike this afternoon I began looking more carefully at this sticker, and thought, it is me. It is how I enjoy cycling most. Alone on quiet, rural roads. It would make the perfect tattoo for a cycling enthusiast like me.

How appropriate! The perfect tattoo 😏