Posts Tagged ‘Powertap


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Joule 2.0 review, Part 2

To continue the thoughts before I get distracted with a couple of other projects and essays, let’s get back to the bullet points that were not commented on during the original blog post. I covered the first 3. Now, let’s continue.

Here are the bullet points yet to be covered. Honestly, I’m sure I’ll remember some more things at some point in the future. It’s hard to write thoughts down or read them in to your iphone when you’re rolling along, no?

  • A Barometer to read elevation and feet or meters climbed.
  • The ability to switch from bike to bike to bike, using the new ANT+ Sport technology so that each bike’s unique power meter, speed sensor, cadence sensor, and heart rate sensor, could be stored, and called up with a minimal amount of hassle.
  • On-screen torque zeroing and calibration.
  • Customizable screens showing what I wanted to see, and when. Something very malleable.
  • GPS
  • Cost below $500
  • Weight below 200g
  • Either USB upload/download and charge, or wireless upload/download and charge.
  • Easy navigation and intuitive menus.
  • Must be robust enough to withstand the elements, sweat, and crashes.

Let’s cover the points.

  • Barometer – CHECK. The Joule definitely covers current elevation and feet or meters climbed, and while I haven’t tried it, I’m pretty sure it has an elevation calibration protocol. Now, one of the REALLY cool things that the Joule does, that other head units don’t yet do, is that it measures VAM, or “Vertical Ascent Meters per Hour”. This was a measurement of climbing put together by the nefarious Dr. Ferrari, to basically come up with a way to look at how the best climbers fought their way up mountains. At the time of this writing, however, the VAM feature measures VAM for the entire ride, and it does NOT reset with intervals, even though you can see it on interval windows. I’ve brought this to the attention of Cycleops, but have not heard a response from them at this time. It should be an easy fix, though you never know with these firmware developers.
  • The ability to switch from bike to bike to bike, using the new ANT+ Sport technology so that each bike’s unique power meter, speed sensor, cadence sensor, and heart rate sensor, could be stored, and called up with a minimal amount of hassle. – CHECK. OH HOLY COW I CAN NOT BELIEVE HOW INCREDIBLY AWESOME THIS FEATURE IS! SET OFF THE FIREWORKS AND LIGHT THE SPARKLERS! THIS FEATURE IS AWESOME! CYCLEOPS, I CAN NOT THANK YOU ENOUGH!  Now, while I calm down, let me explain why this is sooooo critical. There is a subset of the power meter crowd, and even the non-power-meter crowd, who have more than one bike. There are also folks who have more than one power meter. I know, I know, that’s a seriously small subset, but honestly, when you get in to these things, you start to realize that you may need different cranks or wheels for road cycling, time trials, track, and even mountain biking. The only other head units that are worthy of use right now are the Garmins, and it definitely takes time to ‘find’ the new and unique codes every time for the ANT+ protocol that is the common wireless language for all of these power meters, speed sensors, chest straps, and cadence meters. Heck, even the foot pods for runners use ANT+. Me? Well, you have to look at this in the context of someone who is constantly measuring power for all cycling applications (YES, THAT IS MY JOB… SORT OF), but I have 3 quarqs and two powertaps. All wireless. Until recently, I had a Garmin 705 for the road and TT bike, a Joule 3.0 for the Gary Fisher Simple City, and a Garmin 500 for the mountain bike. So, it’s a lot of hardware and sunk expense to get the convenience I wanted… Probably close to $12k. But the Joule 2.0 (I’ll discuss the 3.0 in some PS or epilogue at the bottom of this or another post) allows you to record the unique speed, cadence, speed/cadence, HR straps, and Power Meters for each of those bikes, and then pull them up for ‘activation’. It takes about 1 minute. I now have 1 unit for four bikes, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier. I’m still keeping the other units for other reasons, but yeah – for now, the Joule 2.0 is a universal data trap.
  • On-screen torque zeroing and calibration. It’s there, it’s doable, and once you know how to navigate the menus, it’s easy. I’ll leave it to the Wattage forum to correct me on the esoterics of things, but suffice it to say that my multiple PM’s show very little drift after the first two weeks of break-in. I’m happy.
  • Customizable screens showing what I wanted to see, and when. Something very malleable. CHECK!!! Again, WOW and WOW and WOW! I love it. I probably should try to shoot some photos to include on this screen, just to show you what can be done, but again, HOLY COW. The OPTIONS are awesome. I can switch the amount of information presented from 2 things to over 8, and I can actually cycle instants, averages, maxes, and other stuff so that the information I want to see can be dead-center on the screen, OR,  on the bottom of the screen in a divided area. I really ought to pull up SnagIt and build you some images, but I wanted to get the words written first. So in a nutshell, HECK YEAH you can modify and alter this thing to no end. You also get options on the amount of time you want the backlight on (don’t laugh but mine’s permanently on,and that’s got a lot to do with why my battery doesn’t last as long) , and how you want the contrast set.  This is a great feature list.
  • GPS – “XXX”. Now, NOT having this feature is interesting. I think it has more to do with cost, with complexity, with weight, and with battery duration issues. And with all the new websites and features coming out that highlight just how awesome GPS is and why it’s God’s Gift to Cyclists of All Ilks and Trades… well, I was sold and thought that it was the absolute best thing to have on a cycling head unit. BUT, there are some real limitations to GPS… First, it doesn’t tend to accurately display “Z” values in terms of altitude, especially when the changes are so minute. Second, it tends to work best at speeds above 25mph, from what I can tell. Third, Anyone using GPS in an attempt to be accurate on distance traveled is going to be disappointed when every time you go over that same piece of road or trail, you’ll get a different value. It’s just not that accurate (nothing is, really. Go read James Gleick’s “Chaos Theory” about how surveyors looked at a border between two countries, at the same time, using the same instruments, and ended up with wildly different values.). So, I’m actually going to hedge my answer here, and say that it’s MOSTLY unnecessary. The only reason I DO still like having GPS is that the Joule is dependent upon Speed or HR to begin and maintain its’ recording. That’s kind of a weakness, since we do stop and sometimes walk away from our bikes while leaving the head unit on the bars. But overall, it’s okay not to have GPS. I would love to have that, but I think I understand why they didn’t…. Though I’m still not sure and I’m definitely a waffle on this one.
  • Cost below $500 – Hmmm. Barely. Internet listings show a cost of $450-$500. ALWAYS add the cost of the head unit and interpretive software when you buy a powermeter!
  • Weight below 200g – Nailed it. The head unit is about 75 grams, the mount is less than that, and the GSC10 is about 50, so you’re in for everything at <200g. Those riding integrated ANT+ kits like those found on TREK bikes and maybe a few others. Needless to say, you won’t feel the weight on your bike. It won’t affect balance or anything else, and the unit can be mounted on the handlebars, the stem, or the frame if that’s where you want it.

Okay – I’m getting the itch to actually break out the Descente kit and go ride. I’ll keep plugging along on this review and will make a solid effort to shoot some photos of the features. My parting comment right now would be to suggest to Cycleops that they duplicate something they did a LOOOONG time ago, with their LYC, and build a Joule 2.0 and Joule 3.0 simulator for their website. It might overcome one final bit of stigma associated with all these new head units – their complexity.

Part 3 to come.


Nailed it! Finally!

Remember how I was talking about windows of Opportunity? Well, Wednesday afternoon, I had one, and I took it.

The day was getting short, and while the weather was gorgeous, I had really wanted to get out and ride with a friend and teammate. But that wasn’t in the stars whatsoever, so I dealt with it the only way I knew how – I headed over to the Cycling Center, threw my #1 outdoor Soloist on the CT, paired up the ptap and the Ergomo, and started warming up for a 20minute Threshold Test.

I allowed myself 10 extra minutes, and it seemed to work. For the record, the Ptap recorded a 297, the Ergomo a 288, and the CT was low, at like a 277. About 20 seconds after the effort was done, left calf went in to a serious cramp. So I definitely gave it my all.

The bad news is that my threshold seems to have stalled. The good news is that it’s still up there, and depending on which meter you believe, then 300 is definitely achievable. I’m going to have to put in some more volume, though, if I’m going to get there. The RaceDay prediction, btw, said 288, and per the Ergomo, I nailed it. As soon as I switch over to the Quarq on this bike (sending one unit back for firmware upgrade), I’ll be pumped to see what it says. Right now, though, the Ergomo is still my favorite screen.

We’re headed off to Fredericksburg today, so I’ll do a mini-camp there, get some good miles in, and see what goes from there. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas or a great Festival of Lights.


Eggnog & Chunks December Crit

Okay – considering that I had not raced a true crit in about 6 months (June?), I decided to enter this because I was feeling fairly strong after some good performances in some rallies in the past few months. I also wanted to use the opportunity to race against some seriously good local cyclists, and finally, to test the Power-Tap against itself, via the Garmin. Apparently, there’s a lot of averaging going on in the Garmin, but the good news is that the Power-Tap is now recording in 1-second intervals.

I’ll go through the race first, then go over the PM comparisons. Needless to say, there’s probably a lot to cover.

I have to preface the event start with what turned out to be a really weird morning. We went to the Bikemart Christmas Party on Saturday evening, got some sleep, and then I got up real early, about 6:30, to go and pick up a Power-Tap wheel from a client who was running the 1/2 marathon at WRL. Now, American Airlines Center is about 2 miles from my house, but I decided to drive down about half way, and then take the Katy Trail, because I didn’t know how bulky the wheel would be, and if I were riding, it’d be risky. I also didn’t know if they’d shut the trail down. I got the wheel, but getting back to the house turned out to be an exercise in incredible frustration. EVERY. SINGLE. F’ING. TURN that I tried to take to get home was blocked, and the cops COULD HAVE CARED LESS. This was the ONE TIME, I wish I’d had my bike, because it would’ve been a 1000% more convenient. I finally got home about 8:30, after driving on to the Expressway, then taking my exit and driving back on a side street.

Ugh. I’d wanted to get back to sleep for a bit, but that wasn’t going to happen, and now I was going to be late if I didn’t get my bike in the car and haul out to Denton.

So, I put the head units on the bike, tested everything, and then threw the bike in the car and drove 45 miles North to Denton, and the race location. The event was .6 miles per lap, and the goal was 50 laps, or 30 miles, whichever came first. I got out of the car and braved essentially 25kt winds from the South, to go pick up my number. The course was really gentle. Flat as a pancake, run around a football stadium, with two 90 degree corners and a gentle sweeper. I’d describe it like a u-bar lock.

I warmed up, said a few hello’s, though no one really responded too much (that was weird, but thank you Troy!), and right around 11, we started the race.

I have a tendency to pop off and attack too early, and since I was among some of the giants of the N. Texas Peloton, I decided to just sit in and try to hold a position mid-pack, for at least 20 minutes. Well, that’s almost exactly what happened. I sat in, covered a few breaks, stayed low to the wind, and generally tried to figure out how the course would play, but right at roughly 20 minutes, I launched a semi-attack to try and take a prime, failed on that (3rd), and sort of ended up launching the winning break of Brett Crosby and Collin Davis, though they were all playing games on the tailwind side of the course. The winds were gusting and stronger on the far side of the course, and were amplified by the buffeting off of the stadium itself, so breaking away or trying to catch a break was really, really, really difficult. Heart rate was stuck in the 180’s and 190’s for the entire event, and even as I tried to catch a break or merge in to one, and then, finally, to just stay on the lead lap (Brett and Collin lapped the field, and another four may have as well), it sort of became an exercise in futility. I then made it my goal to last 60 minutes, and finally, to try and finish without getting pulled. I made the 60, made it to within 3 lapsof the finish before my right calf unexpectedly seized up in a cramp. I cried out, and waved the guys following me through, and then gingerly step-pedaled at a crawl (into the wind nonetheless – I was NOT going to fall over or get off that bike), until the damned part came back to sort of normal. But I was out of any running or Top 10. I rode the next three laps by myself, still pushing, but aware of the calf and the chances of a re-cramp. I came across, exhausted, but happy to have not been pulled.

Later, I learned that I finished freakin’ 12th! 12th? WOW! COOL! You know, if you think about what MIGHT HAVE BEEN…. maybe, just maybe, I would have finished in the Top 10. I mean, there were some animals in there. Wow. And it’s December. Against mostly 1’s and 2’s…. Man, that’s COOL!

Now, I know exactly what caused that cramp, so I know exactly what I need to do to fix that. Ride more and stay more hydrated. Let’s keep on keepin’ on with the intervals, and try to stay off the sodas. Sodas and beer. Sodas and beer and shakes. Oh my. Gotta work on that nutrition side of things. A lot.

Now, let’s play with the numbers….

The Ptap data was recorded on both the Garmin as well as the Ptap head unit, and I still have an Ergomo hooked up to this bike, so I used it as well. I will say that in the whole race, there was NO WAY I could look at the power data coming out of the ergometers. It was too tight, too windy, and I was working too hard. Give me a road race where I can have a look, and I’ll be smarter.

Here are the MMP60’s, 20’s, 5’s, and 1’s for the three meters.

MMP        Ptap/Ptap          Ptap/Garmin       Ergomo

60              264w                  259w                      244w

20              275w                  269w                      253w

5                308w                  296w                      277w

1                 422w                  405w                      375w

5sec          793w                   774w                       764w

BTW – all of the MMP’s in all three files actually looked to be in approximately the same position. So that’s a good sign.

So – what the heck does all of this mean?

Well, for one thing, I’m still convinced that the stinkin’ Ergomo still reads low. K factor was at 198, so if we assume that each K equals 2.5 to 3.5w, then to get it about 2% above the Ptap, I need to raise it, oh, 8 to 9 points. Geez’m crow. Will this ever end? Must. Keep. Reminding self. Ergomo will be gone soon. Ergomo will be gone soon. BUT, it gets worse…. The Garmin is getting the exact same data as the Ptap head unit, yet it’s figuring things wayyyyy differently. Oh boy. Can o’ worms here. I guess the next thing would be to figure out how the Cinqo runs with this, and compare the Cinqo to the Ptap.

If only we could get a more customizable screen on the 705. Hey, that’s what the Qranium is for, right? Oh well.

All in all, it was a good day. I matched some Pr’s in the 20-60mmp range, I finished a race with some strong riders, I did some animating, and generally I grabbed some good data on an easy course that had surprisingly tough conditions.

One more thing – It was pretty neat to watch the three best-represented teams, Metro Volkswagen and Matrix, and a little of TxTough, play the chess game. Not having any teammates, I was left to my own efforts to bridge and recover. I never had the speed or strength to get away, though, and that’s definitely something I need to work on. I was also a bit timid. Gotta work on that as well.  The teams, though, were pretty good at blocking and making other riders work for it. I know I certainly did, and if I hadn’t cramped, I think I would’ve cracked the Top 10, which would have been the icing on the cake.

I better go. I need to drum up some workouts for clients, and get them back on track. I won’t race again until January 17th, and I will be among 3’s only, I’m certain, so that will be a more true indicator of performance among peers.

Well, for one


Ergomo experiments update.

Stuart Lynne is helping me with this one, but while he crunches the numbers for real, here are my eyeball results:

1) Ergomo #1 vs. CT vs. Ptap, MMP5….    282w vs. 280w vs. 292w.

2) Ergomo #2 vs. CT vs. Ptap, MMP4…    238w vs. 236w vs. 249w.

3) Ergomo #3 vs. CT vs. Ptap, MMP4…    276w vs. 265w vs. 272w.

Good enough for nukes and darts, but I’d love to get those Ergomo numbers about 2% above the CT, to account for drivetrain losses. How to do that will depend on what Stuart thinks. He has my K factors for all 3 bb’s, and knows that we can modify those to affect the numbers. He’ll also run overlays to see how linear the relationships are.

Oh, one more thing. The First and Second bikes had Rotor Rings on them. Positions 3 & 4. So what do you think?

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