My first Rouvy ride … 😃

If you have been following this blog, you know that I am evaluating different indoor training apps. I’m down to two – FulGaz and Rouvy. I have already dismissed Swift, Sufferfest , TrainerRoad, and a host of others because my primary selection criteria is to make training indoors like cycling outdoors with real video footage of epic rides.

Today I had my first Rouvy ride, and must admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

First, it was quick and easy to download, install, and setup the app. It immediately recognized, and connected all of my sensors – Wahoo KickR Core and Heart Rate Strap – and the user interface is friendly, intuitive, and feature rich. I had all of the numbers I would ever need – speed, power, cadence, grade – and the ride profile showed where I, and other riders, were positioned on the ride. The app introduces augmented reality, graphic avatars superimposed on top of the high quality video of the ride. I didn’t think I would like this feature, but as it turned out, it more than anything made the ride real. There were other cyclists on the road. Other cyclists to chase down, and race, just as I would do on the road.

I have a lot of other features to check out, but I give Rouvy a 👍 for this first ride.

If you have experience with the app, I’d like to hear from you.

The glutes are key … 🚴‍♂️

About Cori

Cori Lefkowith has helped me workout better, and more efficiently at home during Covid.

I discovered her website quite by accident. Somehow it showed up in my YouTube feed. The first video of hers that I watched outlined a number of pre-workout dynamic stretches. I wasn’t doing much stretching at the time, certainly not before training. Today, I incorporate a number of her suggestions before every workout.

After that first video, I watched many more, subscribed to her channel, and even reached out to her via email, as she suggests. I couldn’t find any cycling specific workouts, and wondered if she had done any. She responded quickly saying:

“So no. I don’t really have any specifically for cyclists. In general I focus on unilateral glute activation, ankle mobility and thoracic mobility.”

This didn’t mean much to me at first, but once I understood what she was talking about, I realized her approach is relevant to all sports, and in particular cycling.

The glutes are the largest, most powerful muscles in the body, and are key to a powerful, efficient pedalling stroke. Cori has taught me how to activate, strengthen, and stretch these muscles (there isn’t just 1 but 3 of them. I discovered mine were underdeveloped, despite years of cycling.

And if you cycle, you know that ankle and thoracic spine mobility is essential. The better your ankling technique, the more powerful your stroke. And the more flexible your lower back, the more aero position you can hold and maintain.

Imagine if I had focused on these things 25 years ago 😂

Since incorporating Cori’s stretches, and strengthening exercises, I have become notably more flexible, stronger, and confident. My posture has improved. I’m more balanced when walking. I have less right hip, and lower back discomfort. And when I ride, I’m more conscious of my glutes being engaged, resulting in a more efficient stroke, and I can get into, and hold a more aerodynamic position.

Phil Gaimon taught me how to chase local PR’s during Covid. And Cori Lefkowith taught me how to better activate my glutes, pedal more powerfully, and hold a more aerodynamic position.

I’ve learned a lot during the Covid lockdown.

This is how I do it … 🤷‍♂️

This is how I do it.

This is how I make decisions. I talk with as many knowledgeable, experienced people as possible, and I watch a lot of YouTube videos 😂

The above video did it for me.

There is no doubt in my mind that Swift is not for me. Putting Swift up beside FulGaz tells the tale. Kudos to DC Rainmaker 👍 It’s a brilliant idea to match the apps this way. It answered all of my questions.

Swift is not realistic at all. Not the scenes, and certainly not the cyclists. On the other hand, FulGaz is the real thing in every way.

My single most important criteria in selecting a smart trainer app, is to bring my rides inside. I want them to look and feel like what I experience on the road.

This morning, I rode one of my favourite local rides on FulGaz. I know this ride well. It is an iconic Vancouver road ride that I have trained on for 30 years.

Yikes. I hate to admit it has been that long ☹️

FulGaz did it right. The effort, and speed were bang on. And the video reminded me of my early morning summer rides!

If the rest of FulGaz’s rides are similar, I’m won’t be disappointed training with it.

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 ✌️

This is what I mean about STRAVA … 🤣

Yesterday I mentioned how the social aspect of STRAVA has opened doors for me.

I outlined how I strategically follow men and woman of all ages that live in my neighbourhood (loosely speaking), and cycle regularly (3,500+ km year-to-date) – road cyclists like me that love to train, and race (sometimes).

Yesterday I had an interesting experience. I headed out in the morning to ride a familiar route with a few climbs, and a long gradual descent. 35-40 km in total. I was stopped at a traffic light. When it turned green, a young woman passed me in the intersection. She was keeping a good pace, and I could see she was experienced. She had a smooths, efficient pedalling stroke, and used hand signals regularly. I could tell she was an experienced road cyclist accustomed to riding in groups. I got on her wheel 😃

We kept a good pace for the first 10 km, averaging 25-30 kph to the base of the first long climb. I’m a good climber and thought I would pull alongside her to chat a little. Well, she put me in my place. She dropped me almost immediately. She was strong. She powered up the hill, and I never saw her again ☹️

Later, while going through my STRAVA feed, I realized we followed one another. I messaged her and we had an interesting exchange. We may never share a ride – I fear she is much stronger than me – but I hope to have more cycling discussions with her. I have a lot to learn from her.

This is the strength of STRAVA.

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 😂