Traveling With a Bike – Aerus Bike Bag

So far 2 of my races have required me to pack my bike and fly.  I put together a video of disassembly this time around, then when I got home, I decided to do a re-assembly video.  In the near future, I will work on a video of how the bike actually gets packed in the Aerus Bike Bag.

Do you travel for races?  How do you transport your gear?

Pre-Race

Post Race

The Aerus Bike Bag is a great piece of equipment that we have been using and with just a little know how, we were able to figure out how to make this thing work.  My only disappointment up front was having no direction what-so-ever on how the bike fits.

Pioneer Single Sided Power Meter

When I got the Wahoo Kickr Snap, I thought it would be great to get power readings while I trained indoors.  I didn’t really think about not having this for race day, or even for just training outdoors.  But this number became more important to me over time and therefore I decided to invest in a power meter.  The hard part of this decision was figuring out which one to get.  Garmin Vector seemed like a logical choice, but it meant I would have to change my pedals (I use Speedplay).  While they were the number one choice for a while, I continued to read reviews and look around.  I looked at Stages, but alas, then I would be bound to a single sided meter forever.  4iiii seemed like a good choice, but then my bike would be out of commission for a few weeks while it was installed.

Then I came across Limits.  Single sided, but allowed me to keep my pedals and for relatively cheap.  The problem is that it is an Indigogo campaign and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for them.  You can read their updates on Indigogo, but I also recommend that you read DC Rainmaker (Post 1, Post 2) if you plan to go that route.  I have even seen another of these pop up on Kickstarter with a short time frame for delivery.

Ultimately, I ended up on Pioneer.  I am starting with a single side, but it is upgradable if I choose to do so later.  And, with an added Pioneer head unit, a lot of useful data is given to the user.

I have done one ride with it so far, so I want to get a few more rides in before I give a final review, but:

  1. Install was easy (really easy)
  2. First ride shows slightly higher numbers than the Kickr (is it possible I was losing something between crank and wheel?)

I’ll put up a more in depth review in a few weeks once I have had some more time with it.

Garmin Fenix2

In May 2014, it became painfully obvious that if we were going to add sports to our workouts that we would no longer be able to utilize the Nike+ GPS Watch.  It skewed running data because it was only intended to track runs, not running and swimming.  Over the last 8 months, the Fenix 2 has treated me well and my thoughts about the watch are posted below (this is all on the verge of the Fenix 3 release).

First and foremost, coming from the Nike+ GPS watch, I found that Garmin has a far superior system for connecting to satellites.  I had become quite accustomed to a several minute walk around while waving my arms in hopes of finding satellites, but that wasn’t the case with the Fenix 2.  I was quickly picking up my location (within 10 seconds of starting an activity).  This was a relief immediately because in addition to my pre-run walking and waving, there were many times I had to go back into the house, plug in the watch to update the gps data, and then go back outside for more walking and waving.  My understanding of this, is that Garmin uploads geo data to the watch when you connect to the computer so it has some idea of where you are before you walk out the door.

The Fenix 2 also has a great range of activities to choose from, some of which I will never use.  For instance, I am not a skier and I don’t believe I will ever go rock climbing.  There are, however, many that I have and do use.  Hiking, Running, Biking, Swimming, have all had their turn since I purchased the watch.  The indoor feature is quite good too.  The Fenix contains internal accelerometers so that there isn’t any need for a footpod while running, and when paired with the HRM Run, running dynamic information is available on Garmin Connect after the run.

While I haven’t yet used the Multi-sport mode, I have had plenty of opportunities to.  Last summer we were doing quite a few bike/run bricks.  For some reason I never put it together and so I never used this function.

Accuracy is quite similar to any other gps watch I have used, but I will say that Nike tries to snap your run to paths and roads much more than Garmin does.

Form:

Form factor for the watch is good.  The watch itself is quite large, but it does remain comfortable to wear.  Mine came with a fabric/velcro strap as a replacement that I put on for a short time, but decided I preferred the rubber/plastic band.

Function:

Each activity offers a wide variety of screens for the athlete to see how they are doing.  For running I choose to look at my pace, HR and Cadence.  For me they are the most important parts of my run.  I have a second screen that has vertical oscillation, I review this from time to time since I tend to bounce more at a slower pace.

For swimming, I compared the Fenix2 to the 920xt.  During 1000 yards, the 920 was pretty consistent with measuring the correct distance and the Fenix2 picked upon extra 50 yards somewhere along the way.  This could have been an issue of wearing them on different wrists, but I can’t imagine that my right and left arms were moving that far out of sync that the fenix would sense a direction change, but the 920 would not.

Cycling tracks important things for me, Cadence and Speed.  I also tend to watch HR on this as well, but for the most part, I am watching cadence.  I watch this a lot for indoor rides and almost neglect the speed since I am focused more on consistency than how far I have gone (plus indoor rides are pretty easy to get a lot of mileage because there aren’t any hills on my trainer).

The Fenix2 actually has something on it that I miss on the 920xt.  The Altimeter.  I am sure this is because the Fenix2 functions as a hiking kind of watch and the 920 doesn’t have that same focus, so altitude isn’t likely as big a factor, but I do miss it.

Battery Life

Garmin claims 50 hours of battery life with the GPS on.  I can’t say I have come anywhere close to this, but I can say that I have gone a week without needing to charge it using it for running, cycling and as a daily watch.

Other Features

Garmin has started to build in smart watch features to their multisport and running watches.  If you are reading this and haven’t read my 920XT first look or my Garmin Vivosmart review, or even my note on the new Apple Watch, you can see the same opinion there.  I don’t need to see everything that is coming through to my phone all the time.  It is distracting . . . even more distracting that the phone going off in my pocket.

Verdict

I really like the Fenix2, it is a great watch and has a ton of really great features that aren’t available on every sport watch out there.  For my first foray into a multisport watch, it was perfect.  It did everything I needed it to do and then some.  The large form of the body leaves something to be wished for, but I do not notice it a lot during my workouts.

Wahoo Kickr Snap

If you are reading this, you probably know that we live in Wisconsin.  If you didn’t know that, you do now.  Living here makes winter training incredibly difficult.  First, motivation to workout inside for 5 months is tough to find.  Second, a whole new set of equipment is necessary to complete workouts.

When we moved here, we invested in some cheap trainers just to get us going.  I actually thought at the time that these would be the trainers we used for years.  I was wrong.  The two different brands that we bought were very well constructed, however the orange one provided ZERO resistance and the blue one was about as loud as a jet engine.  If spinning is your intent, the orange one is great.  I don’t recommend the blue one to anyone, unless you are training to be deaf.

Orange Bike Trainer Cruddy Blue Trainer

The downfall of both of these led us to seek out a new trainer.  After some research, I had settled on the Wahoo Kickr Snap.  It arrived and I was up and running in about an hour (this included dragging the trainer to the basement and changing out my wheel).

Setup was very quick.  I connected via bluetooth to my phone and to my iPad (iPad since there are some cool video connected apps that I wanted to use).  After a quick spin down, I was cycling . . . in my basement . . . in front of my television . . . with resistance . . . without feeling like I was quickly losing my mind from the noise.

The first very noticeable change for me was the noise level.  I could hear the tv, I could hear music.  I was no longer fighting to maintain my sanity.  Truthfully though, I find that the Snap makes hardly any noise at all, and the noise that is present during my rides is due to my gears and chain.  This is a huge improvement over the previous trainer.

Second noticeable attribute, it is much higher than my first trainer.  I really have to reach to get on the bike now.  This isn’t a deal breaker, but it does seem to be significantly higher to the point where it would be nice to have a step-stool, since I am not very tall.

Then I started playing with iPhone and iPad apps.  This is where I think the Snap shines.  The Wahoo Fitness app gives you control of the resistance through a couple of different methods, but the two that I tend to use the most as ERG (where I can set a specific power that I am looking to consistently achieve) and Resistance (which provides a percentage scale of what the trainer can do and allows control in increments of 5%).  ERG is cool when my workout calls for me maintaining a specific power throughout an interval or for the entire workout, even when you shift the trainer re-establishes the requested power output.  Resistance is nice for when I am doing standing drills, I crank this up to 40% or 50%.  This allows me to stand on the pedals and not just pedal through.

The other two modes are Level and SIM.  Level is a resistance level from 0 – 9 which essentially equates to a hill grade.  SIM allows you to simulate resistance based on slope and wind speed.  I just don’t find these as useful.

Other apps, like CycleOps, allow you to pick real courses from around the world.  During the ride, the resistance changes based on the hills on the real course.  This is kind of a fun mode for getting variation in a ride.  Even cooler than that is that some of the courses integrate video and you can watch the course as you ride it.  Overall the app integration is really nice.

Overall, the trainer is really well built.  It feels solid and holds up well to anything I have thrown at it.  Standing drills scared me on the old trainer.  Now I don’t have any issues.  I don’t have a lot to compare the Snap to, however, I do think that spending the extra money on something like this is a good idea if you have to (or just want to) ride indoors frequently.  Don’t cheap out and get a $70 trainer because it seems like a good deal.  You won’t be sorry you put a little money into something that gets used as frequently as it does.

Snap 1 Snap 2 Snap 3 Snap 4 Snap 5

 

 

Garmin Foot Pod Review

In December, my Garmin fenix 2 began miscalculating my pace on the treadmill.  Thus, skewing my data on Garmin Connect, including my VO2 Max.  Read more about it in my Unboxing post.

I ordered the Garmin foot pod at the end of January and after I calibrated it outdoors, I began running with it on the treadmill.  I used the Garmin foot pod as well as the Nike+ foot pod on the runs to compare the data.

Below are the distances calculated for 25 runs – 4 were outdoors and 21 on the treadmill.  The differences were mostly negligible.  There were a few runs, including the most recent, that had a difference of nearly 0.2 miles.  Although, over the course of the 25 runs, the Garmin calculated 1.33 miles more than the Nike+.

Date Run Type Fenix2 Nike+ Delta
1/29/2015 Treadmill 2.02 1.95 0.07
2/1/2015 Treadmill 3.11 3.15 -0.04
2/2/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.92 0.09
2/3/2015 Treadmill 1.76 1.77 -0.01
2/5/2015 Treadmill 1.37 1.30 0.07
2/12/2015 Treadmill 1.30 1.27 0.03
2/16/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.96 0.05
2/19/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
2/22/2015 Treadmill 3.10 2.98 0.12
2/23/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.97 0.04
2/26/2015 Treadmill 2.01 1.94 0.07
2/28/2015 Treadmill 5.01 5.16 -0.15
3/2/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
3/3/2015 Treadmill 2.01 1.90 0.11
3/5/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
3/8/2015 Outdoors 6.21 6.22 -0.01
3/10/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.93 0.08
3/16/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.94 0.07
3/21/2015 Outdoors 8.01 8.08 -0.07
3/23/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.91 0.10
3/26/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.87 0.14
3/31/2015 Outdoors 3.10 3.07 0.03
4/4/2015 Outdoors 8.01 7.98 0.03
4/13/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.87 0.14
4/22/2015 Treadmill 1.48 1.29 0.19
TOTAL 59.61 58.28 1.33

As far as ease of use, the Garmin foot pod connects much more quickly to the fenix 2 than the Nike foot pod connects to the watch.  The Garmin is also nice in that it uses a replaceable CO2032 battery which can be purchased just about anywhere for a couple of dollars.  Whereas the Nike foot pod does not have a replaceable battery, you have to purchase a new foot pod, costing around $20.

The Garmin foot pod connects directly onto the shoe with it’s included lace clip.  I typically leave it on my shoe and have not had any issues with it falling off.  The Nike+ sensor is not standalone.  You either have to wear shoes that accept the Nike+ foot pod or buy a pouch to connect it to your shoe.  The sensors are approximately the same size.

Garmin and Nike Foot Pods

Garmin and Nike Foot Pods

Overall, I am satisfied with the Garmin foot pod.  It took one outdoor run to calibrate and I haven’t had any issues since.  My Garmin Connect data, including VO2 Max and pace, are back to normal.

A Quick Note on the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Collection

Folks, I have been torn for the last several months on the Apple Watch.  I wanted very badly to want one and use it for lots of great things.  I love watches.  I have read a lot of reviews and posts that have discounted watches, “they are no longer necessary”, “people use their phones to tell time”.  But not me, I like having a watch on my wrist.

Ultimately all the stuff that I review on this site, I buy for personal use.  It has to be something with at least some lasting value to me, and I just can’t say that for the Apple Watch.

With the exception of my running watches, I don’t get the impression that any of my other time pieces will go obsolete at any point in the near future.  My Seiko and Invicta automatics won’t even go obsolete when the battery makers decide to no longer make watch batteries.  The GPS watches will eventually have Li-Ion battery degradation.  Eventually new satellites will be launched rending them useless, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Plus, the Fenix2 and the 920 have incredible battery life to begin with, so even degrading battery life won’t effect my usage.

My Watches

On the other hand, the Apple Watch will be obsolete soonish.  Eventually Apple’s iOS will no longer support the first generation watch.  Eventually the 18 hour battery life will degrade to 16 hours, then 12 hours, and eventually be totally useless as an everyday watch.

Watches are fashion pieces, and Apple very much understands that.  They are marketing them that way.  Why else would someone buy a watch for $10k vs $350 with identical functionality.  But some fashion lasts, it isn’t intended to be on a short term obsolescence schedule.

One last thing that I will say is that the Fenix2, the 920, and the Vivosmart all act as smart devices.  They will display texts and incoming phone calls.  I quickly turned this feature off on all of them because I just don’t need to see everything that hits my phone the minute it gets there.  Sometimes a little anticipation is good.

As I am sure you have concluded, I am not in the market for an Apple Watch right now.  Maybe sometime in the future.  I just don’t think that this current generation has lasting power to justify the purchase.

By the way, I know the title of this post and how much I wrote don’t sync up.  Sorry!

Learning to Swim – The Prequel

As stated in my original Learning to Swim Again post, I am not afraid of the water.  Actually, I am pretty comfortable in the water.  In my quest to further my knowledge of swimming, I checked out another resource from Total Immersion.

Happy Laps is sort of a prequel to the Freestyle: Made Easy DVD.  The DVD gets you acquainted with being in the water.  Much like the Freestyle DVD, it is split into lessons and has drills along the way for you to practice in the water (most of them are with a buddy).  It teaches you to get your face wet and to not be afraid of the water.  You then move on to holding your breath underwater, floating, and completely submerging yourself underwater.  Finally, you begin swimming drills (some are very similar to the Freestyle DVD) to help with form.  While the DVD teaches you drills, you do not actually learn to “swim freestyle”.

Happy Laps is intended for novice swimmers – maybe you are afraid of the water, do not know how to swim, or are scared of sinking.  If you are  comfortable being in the water and holding your breath underwater, but (like me) need help learning to swim freestyle, I would start with the Freestyle Made Easy DVD.

While this DVD wasn’t necessarily beneficial to me, I believe it can definitely help those who are ill-at-ease in the water.

This is part of a series of posts of the Total Immersion DVDs:
For those comfortable in the water with basic knowledge of swimming and looking to improve form on your freestyle swimming, please read Learning to Swim Again as an Adult and Beginner Triathlete.