Friday, July 24, 2009

New Toys

I've been on a buying spree for various bike accouterments lately. My Rig came stock with a rather steep 32 X 18 gear, which I am finally changing to a 19 tooth. This should help for the upcoming 24 hour race. I got at 30W LED lamp as well for said race. I got a 9spd STI to put gears back on my cross bike, for touring and the Fall race season. I also now own real road biking shoes, but they are really uncomfortable (even though they fit fine) and I want to take them back.

I also replaced my broken heart rate monitor with a newer fancier one. Now for me I definitely like my mind free of distractions while riding. Single speed minimalism, without anything beeping, gears to shift, yada yada. In the winter however concentrating on your HR goes a long way at reminding you why you are on a stationary bike. And then there is focused training. The basic principle is that you go on a variety of rides, some intense, some not, in order to improve and maintain your strength best. I'm not a fast rider, so it does not really mater, but I like to pretend. The key thing to this focused training turns out to be helping you not overtrain. And this is where the fancy new HRM comes in. The old way was using HR zones; having the right proportions of different zones over each week is supposed to help the best. But this is sort of contrived if you are riding in an actual place, where the environment dictates the pacing, not a prescribed HR zone/duration. The fancy new HRM instead calculates a more global measure termed the training effect (TE). TE basically integrates HR over duration, as well as the natural variability determined by how you interact with your environment, accumulating in a single number between 1-5. This TE number is analogous to the 1-5 HR zones. So if you want to go out for a maintenance/recovery ride (TE =2) the watch will tell you how long at your average pace you would have to go if you wanted to reach TE=3. If you are going out on a ride for an hour, you keep your average pace low enough so that the time horizon to reach TE=3 is more than the time left that you have to ride home. This sounds complicated, but is much easier to keep track of on the bike than an arbitrary HR zone and it allows you to see the sights better. The watch also logs all the TEs for all your rides in a calendar and determines if you are improving or not.

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