An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ultimate weight weenie


The fact that I needed about six terry-cloth towels to sop up the sweat on my recumbant spinning bike in the basement of the Beverly Hilton (where I am auditioning for the part of Laurent Fignon as an obese, Proust-obsessed teenager in a Spielberg vehicle about Greg Lemond traveling back in time to win three additional Tours de France, including 1999, 2000, and 2001) reminds me:

I had a friend who was a pretty serious roadie. He'd recently gotten back into racing. Having been a cat-1 masters racer in his late thirties, he'd dominated local road races in Southern California. But then he hit a plateau where he just wasn't improving anymore, and his results started to slip, and he "left" the sport in disgust. Now that sort of mindset and response to negative stimulus is not common among average genetically impaired, former-cigarette-smoking, mid-pack riders with six-pack love handles like myself, but what's even more offensive is that he came back into the sport after 10 years off for the worst possible reason: A wattage meter. Convinced that he'd topped out due to sloppy training, he felt a wattage meter was the key to his triumphant return. But he was a bit of a pinchpenny too, so he got tremendously excited about this massive Star Trekky device that you attach to your handlebars that looks like a small mailbox.

The advantage of this thing was that it did not cost $10,000 like most hub- and crank-based wattage meters. For the price of a really good bottle of Scotch, this device would crank out the numbers for even the most geeky legshaver. Based, I think, on the weight of the rider, wind speed, and even an internal altimeter and GPS, the thing was supposedly accurate to within very narrow margin of error.

"And the thing weighs 300 grams less than a hub meter!" my friend exclaimed to me, after crushing me up Ohio hill.

"So how can it possibly know your wattage without measuring any actual resistance in your drive train?" I asked.

"Simple. You just program your weight, then it calculates wattage based on speed and elevation. Uh. Look the algorithms are way too complicated for your miniature brain."

"Does it factor in your weight loss during the ride, due to sweating? I mean, it's not uncommon for me to weigh like five pounds less after a long hot ride.¹ That must muck up the data, right?"

There was along moment of silence. And then I thought I saw a few tears trace a line down his cheek.

And then he bawled like a little baby, laying in the street and pounding his fists and his Sidi Dominators into the macadam.




¹Which I promptly replace with large quantities of good American lager and a chili-dog, where available.

10 comments:

mika said...

your blog and photos are so nice
you can visit me at:
http://photostricks.blogspot.com

Raul said...

hi!
ur blog does reminds of a guy frm my college days..though not as desperate..wats a wattmeter by the way..?
http://raulconundrums.blogspot.com
am new to this..any additional suggestions would be extremely useful!

Anonymous said...

Hey Pinchie,

Where in fuck are all the dumb-assed stray comments (with links to blogs that none of us "loyal" readers care about) coming from? We were into you before anybody man! When you were still playing coffee shops and riding in local cross races. Fame really screws everything up. Keep it real bro! Bros not Hos man! Ride and regulate. Hollywood is messing you up!

re: watt meters
I like the hub-based watt meter for bang for buck and accuracy. I'd be willing to wager that nearly every amateur cyclist out there who's not trained with a watt meter would benefit from a few seasons of structured, coached wattage-based training. Of course you have to apply a certain amount of science and dedication to the training program and maybe that is an intangible side effect... Anyway, all things being equal: training hours, motivation, nutrition, etc... I think you add a wattage-based program and use heart rate for instance as a secondary indicator and you'll perform better than you ever previously did working a programs without the watt meter.

-DS

p.s. I don't get how that watt meter without the hub or bottom bracket torque measures can work either? Maybe it's cause the price point is so low that it actually works on the hearts and minds of the riders? Placebo effect?

Bloodclot said...

Hey Man.
What about a Lager-Meter? Cuz, like, the Wednesday Night Rides really tear that shit up.

Now back to your regularly scheduled broadcast...

Katie O'Shea said...

Hey, Pinchie!

You mentioned that you're in LA and that you observed 200% more bikers than last time, i.e. 3 bikers. Dude. There are TONS of bikers in LA. We just don't ride Santa Monica because Santa Monica is shitty.

I say that having ridden Santa Monica last night. Woops.

What neighborhood are you staying in? What kind of bike do you ride? What size? Maybe I can help you find a bike to borrow while you're here. I'd hate for your only experience of biking in LA to be on a spinbike. There's also city rides going on every night of the week, if you're interested in seeing the city at nighttime.

Maybe you know all this already. Maybe everything you've written about biking in LA was for comedic effect. But if it wasn't, write to me at katie.oshea@gmail.com and I'll see what I can do.

Tom S. said...

Very interesting, and pretty funny too. There are so many hub wattage systems out there for thousands of dollars, this seems like an interesting alternative...Come check out my blog about bikes as well at http://tomthebikeguy.blogspot.com/. I hope I can help the industry out a bit by answering some burning questions any of your readers may have.

Bluenoser said...

We must have gone to different schools together at one time.

-B

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