Starting Rollers Cycle Training

I was fortunate enough to loan the Elite Parabolic Rollers from a club mate  (Basingstoke Tri Squad – Yay!) to get a feel for rollers before committing. Since I was nervous about more capital outlay before knowing they were right for me.

I decided that I had to try rollers out when faced with the horrible prospect of loosing my early morning week day rides, a result of winter, and once again being confined to the turbo. Turbo-ing while it does meet a base need is a horrible brain numbing experience, and I am not entirely convinced of the merit of the style of cycling this training encourages. That would be a worthwhile follow up study!

Some friends had given me good advice advocating rollers instead of the turbo trainer. However l had witnessed some horrors on YouTube that made be reluctant to dive right in boots and all (the normal). So I loaned this (Elite Parabolic Rollers) rather well used unit. I will follow up with a review of the unit itself later, since being well used and worn it is in the perfect state to assess.

Getting Started

Firstly I cautioned the family to expect a trip to A&E, and redirected everyone to the YouTube funnies of people getting rollers wrong (an act I think). Permitting them the benefit of humour at someone else’s expense and not my own! I then gave it a “five minute whirl” outside of any training window This sent my 13 year old scurrying to get her video phone to record my demise (a sympathetic and concerned family I have).

Steps Taken:

  1. Use the rollers in the door frame away from stairs etc. with the immediate area clear of anything dangerous.
  2. Make sure the bike is fitted to the roller correctly i.e the front wheel axle is directly over or just behind the front roller (simple physics)
  3. Animals removed from vicinity for safety.
  4. Grip door frame and spin lightly one handed, for feel.
  5. Concentrate on a viewpoint ‘down the road’ instead of straight down on wheels, it is easiest if you follow an imaginary line down the road.
  6. Try to relax and not be too anxious!
  7. Keep the first session short allowing time for the skill to percolate in the mind.

Impressions

That was pretty much it, after which I was okay during my next session which was a full hour and a half. Although initially one does feel like a brick on an ice rink, I found using a medium gear on the big ring and keeping a moderate cadence (~80 rpm) the easiest way to achieve a stable ride. Leaning lightly against the door frame at first (position rollers) gave me the additional confidence I needed during the infancy of my skills. Astonishingly I was amazed out how much I steer using my pedals.

I can vouch for the realistic feel of rollers, making the turbo redundant. I can’t wait to master being able to stand on the pedals etc. I do feel like my technique seems to be becoming more polished creating smoother pedal circles, and more controlled.

Close

So my final advice on the matter would be go for it, the learning curve is not particularly steep and well worth any bruising of the ego, or elbows! Most importantly the mind is fully occupied, maintaining focus on balance etc. so the brain numbing activity that is the winter week day turbo session is removed from your life.

Zoot Z-Pack Training Bag Review

Initially I thought I would hold off on writing another review any time soon, but I think considering the number of products I have used and use I probably have some insight to offer. What I think differentiates my reviews from any magazine offered data is firstly I have bought and used something till it is falling apart of the product was any good, at which point I may replace it with the same, and two I have no loyalties to suppliers etc.

http://zootsports.com/spring2010/product/z-pack-training-bag?category=mens%2Fbags

General

After re-reading the Zoot web site for this backpack I do feel slightly incensed since it is touted as a training bag, while up until that point I was willing to forgive it since I fully believed it to be a transition bag. While the bag fulfils the role as a transition back with ease, the long-lived ruggedness of an otherwise well designed product is completely undermined.

Design

The size of the bag is perfect for transition, which is typically a space confined area, the bag accommodates a wet suit and other essentials comfortably. The helmet storage panel is particularly useful if you do not own an aero helmet with a visor! For day-to-day use the bag is a little on the small size resulting in some squeezing. You will find yourself leaving the pull buoy at home in favour of your lunchbox and/or shake bottle. That said the top pocket is very convenient and the inside mesh pockets very useful, and the ubiquitous wet compartment a must-have.

The external mesh pocket is perfect for a decent sized water bottle, which remains firmly gripped. I have yet to use the rubber head phone jack on any of the bags I have ever owned so I view that ‘feature’ as pretty useless.

The ID window is actually a hard plastic card upon which you can scribble your details which I have dutifully done, and is a nice little extra.

Comfort

The shoulder and hip straps work well together clamping the bag down in place. Making it practical for cycling and the occasional sprint for a bus or train. The bag is slung fairly low on the bag making for a stable carry position, especially when fully loaded.

Durability

Sigh, so we saw this one coming. How durable is this rather cool well designed back pack / transition bag? Well sadly despite being fairly well cared for, mine does not seem to have survived even a full year of daily use. Which is very unfortunate since the practicality of the bag is so clearly thought through. I would cite the weakness of the grey/silver carbon looking nylon material as the failure. Which frays and pulls away from the shoulder straps over time. And unfortunately the top of the bag too, looking rather unsightly. Making a classy product look fairly cheap and nasty. The final nail in the coffin for me was the zip pull for the wet compartment that broke earlier this week, I think the zip itself was too thin in places.

Zoot, I am gutted! I loved my transition bag, get it together!

Affordability

A high end price so I would have expected good durability and long life from the bag, I have to score down the affordability in terms of cost per days use. So unfortunately at $100, you could find better value me thinks.

Overall

A product that would have been dearly loved were it not for some serious durability issues. The infuriating tag line for the bag on Zoots web site is “Looking for the ideal bag to use for your day to day workout bag? Look no further than the Zoot Z-Pack Training Bag“, which suggests it should withstand day to day life of a triathletes two (to three) training sessions a day.

Affordability 2/5, Comfort 4/5, Durability 2/5, Design 3.5/5, Overall Verdict 2/5

Blueseventy Nero Race Goggles Review

This is my first review ever so please be patient!

I write this review after having used these goggles for 12 months or so, and so feel that they have been well used and I am qualified to give an accurate view of my experience using them.

General

In terms of affordability these goggles are towards the upper boundary of what I am prepared to pa for a pair of goggles (£23). Due to frequent losses, damage and general depth of fundings. So my expectations have been high. For the most part they have not disappointed being more durable than other goggles I have bought in the past at the same price point. Fending off regular exposure to chlorine and other anti fog chemicals. I have for the most part used them through all my training sessions, both pool and open water based and through several races this season.

Fogging

Regarding fogging I found these goggles to be the same as any other goggles I have owned at this price point. In that the factory embedded anti-fog layer wears after a view months after which you have to rely on your own mechanisms (gob etc).

Visibility

Relating to visibility I have used these goggles many times in open water and they seemed to fair well. Brighter conditions being well suited to, darker days are perhaps less ideal. But considering the lenses are tinted I always felt this was an acceptable compromise.

Durability

In terms or durability I think I am quite satisfied the goggles have lasted me a long time, and are only finally wearing now in terms of sealability, where I think the rubber is hardening from prolonged exposure to chemicals. And the elastic head band which started to crack recently. This is after circa six hours use a week minimum!

Comfort

Comfort is a huge factor to me since I typically swim for a hour and a half at a time. For the most part I have no issue here until the very end of the session when the edges on the socket cups do seem to feel like they are cutting their way into ones skull. But well within accepted limits considering it is the tail end of a long swim session, and these are touted as race wear. But something to consider when choosing the goggles for either the half IM or full IM swim!

So would I buy them again? Certainly would, I suspect issues with comfort and sealing to wards the end of the life of the product explain the former issues.

Image

Overall

Affordability 4/5, Comfort 3/5, Durability 4/5, Overall Verdict 3.5/5