Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bike Speak Teck Talk but Interesting I Promise!

I live my life on both ends of the technological spectrum. I appreciate the simple, sometimes crude tools used in glassblowing and the beauty they can bring about but I also embrace the more modern, techie stuff of our time; stuff that relies on strings of 1s and 0s to shape their end product. There was a time when I teetered on the brink of becoming a Luddite but those days are surely behind me.

We were driving through our neighborhood recently on the way back from a session of glassblowing when we happened upon the Google Street View car capturing data from ground level for the rest of the world to see. My first thought was "cool!" but then I began to wonder if the driver had mapped our street already. I parked our car in the garage, grabbed my camera and sat outside waiting for it to come by so I could once again manage to get my mug in Google's images of our neighborhood. No such luck. After waiting 10 minutes I decided to walk to where we'd seen the car but it was already gone.

Technology waits for nobody.

But sometimes we have to wait for technology to catch up to our wants. Such was the case with the latest upgrade to the software for my CompuTrainer. It had been held up in production for more than a year but wait no more! I got my copy in the mail a couple weeks ago and proceeded to cozy up to it. I'm really liking what I'm seeing so far and I haven't seen it all yet.

CompuTrainer is unlike any other indoor trainer I've used and I've used several going back to 1980 just out of the Navy in the basement of my parent's home with my first set of rollers (never one to easily give up on my hard fought gains of a cycling season once the weather turns cold). The problem with most trainers is that they're mind numbing and only the most dedicated cyclists seem to be able to get beyond that and find a routine that works for them.

What CompuTrainer has done is pretty much eliminate the boredom factor. I don't think in my wildest imaginations way back when that I envisioned indoor training could be so much fun and productive. But it is! The beauty of CompuTrainer is the ability to not just put in miles but to be able to grind them out in a way that encourages the rider to push themselves much harder than they may have otherwise without some stimulus to urge them on. CompuTrainer has plenty of stimuli.

Racing against others either real or digitally created is where CompuTrainer sets itself apart from any other trainer I've ever used. The load generator, taking input from the computer, is what provides the resistance simulating a real road experience. In fact, it's necessary to do a ten-minute warm-up ride before your workout to calibrate the data. This is important because of the varying amounts of tire pressure from one ride to the next plus the amount of force used to tighten the load generator against the rear wheel won't likely be the same for any given ride. Very accurate numbers of watts produced and speeds attained leave no doubt about your level of fitness on the bike.

Another fun thing is that there's really no limit to the courses you can choose to ride. You can even load classic climbs from 'le Tour de France' or other routes from races into the brain of CompuTrainer and test your abilities against the pros all in the comfort of your home.

I came upstairs from a workout the other night, endorphins coursing through me on a high I haven't felt in a while. I told Tammy that if this keeps up I may not care if I ever ride outdoors again! No, I wasn't totally serious but I can't imagine a better alternative. I took some video of my workout yesterday to hopefully show in better detail what I'm so excited about.

I have some ideas of what I'd like to see in future trainers but I'm somewhat hesitant to entertain them much not wanting to have unrealistic hopes or so I tell myself. Hah! What I'm using now would've been considered exactly that 30 years ago. But isn't that how this fantastic world of ours works? Someone has a dream and then goes about making it a reality. The rest of us clamor aboard and go along for the ride. This is one ride I'm really enjoying!

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