Use the Five, Pedalwan.

Use the Five, Pedalwan.

On Rule #74: The Targeting Computer

by / / 38 posts

I could feel the power in my body as I breathed in the warm Spring air and pulled lightly on the handlebars; strength flowed from my lungs and shoulders into my chest, through my hips and down to my legs which churned over with alarming ease. With every change of gradient, I either stood on the pedals to maintain the rhythm or shifted into a bigger gear to gain speed, depending on whether the slope increased or decreased.

This was Gibralter in Santa Barbara County, California; the climb had put me to shame some fifteen months before, causing me to suffer much more than I was prepared to do but on this occasion she repaid my training with nothing but total grace. The Man with the Hammer was clearly on a mission on some far away slope, leaving only his wife, La Volupté to watch over me. It was one of the best rides I’ve had on a bike, feeling The V flow through me so elegantly despite the difficulty of the climb.

The question came up after the ride as to how quickly I had completed the climb, but since I rode the climb using only a V Meter and nothing that tracked any trackable sort of data, there was no tangible evidence to indicate how quickly I’d ridden to the summit. Yet, the sensations I felt during the climb were all I needed to know; the experience was mine alone to experience, a secret held in confidence between rider, road, and mountain.

Riding without data is the equivalent of Luke Skywalker putting away his targeting computer and using The Force instead to aim his proton torpedoes at the Death Star exhaust port. Data and Strava are useful and enjoyable tools by which to quantify our efforts, but we should never allow them to obscure the beauty of our labors.

Vive la Vie Velominatus. 

Thanks to @blackpooltower for this inspired idea.

// Accessories and Gear // La Vie Velominatus // Technique // Tradition

  1. AMEN.

  2. Nice. I love that feeling, although I have to go a ways back to remember it.

  3. I only recently got to experience this for the first time since I bought my bike computer, 4 months into cycling. Between a HRM fault and my Garmin falling off it’s mount seconds before starting a TT, I literally threw the Garmin aside and plowed in. I paced myself to the burning of my lungs and the eventual vomit onto the podium.

  4. Some of my favorite rides have been in November, after dark with a handlebar light riding roads I have ridden hundreds of times before. Darkness adds many a dimension. Your little cone of light out on the country roads does not illuminate upcoming climbs or crests or descents. You merely ride by the feedback in the pedals and the V in your veins.

    (Mind you these rides are with a headlight, and taillight and high reflective ankle band, be seen not stupid)

  5. @frank Luke may have put his targeting computer to one side but did he at any point try swap out the other members of Red Squadron as they failed to hold his wheel?

    If he had we wouldn’t be talking about him 40 years later. VSP rest day swaps cause a much greater disturbance to the V than using data.

  6. @R2C

    A-Merckx. Please let’s stick to the approved nomenclature.

  7. @chris

    Porkins would’ve been the first one to be dropped…

  8. @chris

    @frank Luke may have put his targeting computer to one side but did he at any point try swap out the other members of Red Squadron as they failed to hold his wheel?

    If he had we wouldn’t be talking about him 40 years later. VSP rest day swaps cause a much greater disturbance to the V than using data.

    This.

  9. @R2C

    A-Merckx!

  10. @frank

    seems you have been training properly for the upcoming Hour. Any updates on links for live streaming? In that sense:

    Hora est, ViVat Festum Prophetae and may the Vorth be VVit you

  11. But now it didn’t happen, its not on Strava.

  12. Seven years now riding with no data. I did recently add a small piece to my wrist to make sure we start and finish on time though.

    TID

  13. @universo

    Going techy, are we? Your knob is on the left side though, that’s interesting!

    @Vbikes: The advantage of riding in the dark is that you cannot read the display so you cannot rely on any data.

  14. Not about the bike, but I’ve spent our downtime on holiday introducing my 4 and a half year old to Star Wars. It’s been emotional. His reaction to ‘Luke, I am your father…’ was sensational: ‘He’s not, is he? Is he, Daddy? It’s not true is it?’.

    Also, I’ve discovered lego Star Wars – fucking brilliant!

  15. @RobSandy

    I’ve discovered lego Star Wars – fucking brilliant!

    We have LEGO Day Cogals at our house being that that is all we are about that day. Twelve years ago we began having our annual LEGO Day — starting with the Millennium Falcon.

  16. Two years ago we recovered all the pieces of that original LEGO Day Falcon { pieces were robbed and disassembled } and rebuilt it on the 10 year anniversary. My kids were crawling through a pile of LEGOs to find small stuff — like the holographic game board. We took it to another level by substituting from our junk yard of parts.

  17. Rule #74 is brilliant, worthy of being ingested, metabolized, and integrated. Like @universo, I only ride w/a watch stuck on my stem (need a reminder to drink every 10). The freedom and joy of the sans-data-state is a powerful motivator. Would be hard put to go back.

  18. @universo

    Chapeau to you for spelling LEGO the way god intended (i.e. not Lego or – shudder – Legos). The equivalent of Rule #89 for awesome toy names.

  19. I flat out really, really dig Garmins and the GPS ride maps. I’ve been meaning to get the new little Garmin 25. I did enough riding around on my bike as a youngster w/o Garmins. And I sure wish they had this tech back then. Ya’ll been watching the Strava rides from the Giro being posted? Yowza. These cats are incredible. About 16 or so racers are posting their rides including Krujswijk. 230+km’s miles in 5:45? Damn.

  20. @Oli

    Nice. I love that feeling, although I have to go a ways back to remember it.

    Same here. I am currently in the middle of a training block. Every ride has a set agenda with specific intervals and power numbers. Every ride hurts the legs and lungs. I have a recovery week scheduled to begin on June 13th. Usually, the following week I have a few days that feel effortless and I am flying. By week two of the new block, between racing and training, the guns begin to burn again with most efforts. It is the nature of the beast if you want results.

  21. I don’t get strava. It flys in the face of the longstanding tradition of cyclists being abject liars about their training come race day. It’s kind of hard to say this is not one of your “A” races if someone is posting their training and everyone can plainly see if you’ve been tapering or not.

    Unless of course you fake the data…

  22. @universo

    That is brilliant. I still have all my LEGO collected over a lifetime that is now being handed down to my 5 y/o son. He is also developing a magnificent stroke, thanks to time spent on the trainer.

  23. @Randy C

    I flat out really, really dig Garmins and the GPS ride maps. I’ve been meaning to get the new little Garmin 25. I did enough riding around on my bike as a youngster w/o Garmins. And I sure wish they had this tech back then. Ya’ll been watching the Strava rides from the Giro being posted? Yowza. These cats are incredible. About 16 or so racers are posting their rides including Krujswijk. 230+km’s miles in 5:45? Damn.

    I hear that. I also enjoy the data from my Garmin, I trained and raced plenty in to 80’s without such conveniences, and trust me, we would have killed to have had a Garmin and Strava in those days.

  24. That’s why climbing is always the truest test of riding. Your legs, lungs, and heart tell you everything you need to know. Your computer is worthless … other than verifying that you just suck.

  25. I have to say that I love Strava. I like knowing what I rode up, how fast I rode up it, and how that compares to previous rides. I like seeing the plot points trend ever-so-slightly upwards (so far). I keep it in my jersey pocket, though — focus on the ride and leave the analysis for later. I almost always know when I’ve done my best or had a really good day before I see the numbers, but it’s nice to know that I wasn’t just feeling on top of it. I actually was.

    I also like it for connecting with other folks on my team, friends that I’ve ridden with even just once or twice, that sort of thing. People are out there going on amazing rides; I like to see ’em do it.

    I know it’s a different rule all together, but what I don’t get is having earbuds in — I used to wear headphones when I ran, but then I realized that I prefer to hear my breathing and my surroundings. Much more centering. A ride without the wind, click of the freewheel, and tires on pavement wouldn’t be the same.

  26. Fine work, sir Frank. Just returned from a 40-or-so km ride ‘sans’ bike computer, Strava or whatever. Struggled and slogged for three quarters of an hour, but then found my legs and rejoiced as La Volupte gently kissed me on the sweaty brow. No idea how far I went, or how fast – and don’t care.

    Beautiful day here in Denmark – in the wake of a couple of weeks with WAY too much work and loads of grey-ish and nondescript weather. See below for a sample of how my training loop presented itself today:

    Here’s a little Haiku 4 U guys:

    Summer day. The sense

    Of sun screen applied to my

    Freshly shaven legs.

    Have a good weekend, all

  27. @chris

    @frank Luke may have put his targeting computer to one side but did he at any point try swap out the other members of Red Squadron as they failed to hold his wheel?

    If he had we wouldn’t be talking about him 40 years later. VSP rest day swaps cause a much greater disturbance to the V than using data.

    Fucking Spot on! Got to love the VSP swap accountability!!!

    And as for Strava, it is like some evil virus. I established an account four or five years ago and would upload my “big” rides occasionally. Then it spread to where each ride was uploaded but not analyzed to death. Then it went to the point where I would do my 5 or 10 minute warm up and clear the garmin so it would not “screw” up my overall ride data on strava. Then the same with cool down. Then about two years ago, I was fuckin paralyzed by strava. Sacrificed way too many little gray cells on its alter.

    Then, epiphany! I realized that I could just delete my strava account, which I did. Holy shit, all of a sudden, I was enjoying my rides again so much more. I did not even realize how caught up in the strava rat race I was. So so so liberating.

    I still ride with Garmin but usually in the back jersey pocket. I track time and heart rate. No longer speed. I have never felt better, enjoyed my rides more or lost as much weight as I have over the last year going strava-less.

  28. @Buck Rogers

    I’m going to keeping banging on about rest day swaps but I’ve got to admit that I do like Strava.

    It allows me to see what a bunch of people around the world are getting up to, people from here and other friends dotted about the place. I may not get to ride with them often but I can see what they’re up to, take a bit of inspiration or give them some nipple lube after a big one.

    I also get caught up in the competitive side of it but only really against myself – if I look at segments it’s only comparing my efforts and generally only to confirm what I already know: I’m not as fit as I’d like to be/as I was two years ago. I haven’t had speed showing on my Garmin for years, just HR, cadence and, er, power.

    I’m also a big map geek, it probably goes back to when I was a kid and we sailed a lot as a family, I always wanted to get the charts out ans do the navigation. I don’t really care whether they’re paper or electronic, I could spend hours with an atlas or google maps.

    Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

  29. @Ccos

    I don’t get strava. It flys in the face of the longstanding tradition of cyclists being abject liars about their training come race day. It’s kind of hard to say this is not one of your “A” races if someone is posting their training and everyone can plainly see if you’ve been tapering or not.

    Unless of course you fake the data…

    You can always make rides private. If you know someone is studying your Strava feed for training honts you can really fuck with them by showing some of your training but not all of it.

  30. I was thinking about this post the other night and I realised that although I tend to always ride with my garmin on the stem the only numbers I really pay attention to are distance and time, because I tend to always ride within a strict time deadline so knowing how far I’ve been and how long I have left to go is pretty important.

    I like to analyse my ride afterwards; to know I’m improving rather than just to feel it. Because your mind and body play tricks – sometimes when you feel like you’re flying you absolutely are. And sometimes when you feel like crap and your lungs are about to emerge from your throat and you can barely pedal, you realise when you look at the data later that it was because you were turning yourself inside out and you were actually riding stronger than ever.

    And I do use HR a lot – now I’ve been riding with HR for about a year that little number gives me a lot of information; it’s a guide to make sure I don’t cook myself on long rides, it makes sure I do cook myself on short rides and training intervals, and it even lets me know when I haven’t eaten enough and am on y way towards meeting L’Homme (i.e. when you are slogging your guts out but your HR wont go up).

    I have speed on my Garmin but it’s not that important – effort in is the key when training, speed should be the output.

    I’m rambling.

  31. Being too gianormous to climb – When I started racing again, I had to be concerned with cutoff times in some of the races and I used it to hold myself accountable. Average speed was my stopwatch. Don’t go too fast and burn myself up, but don’t go too slow and miss the target time. It became a habit in my training rides to check that I was staying on track. I race MTB and never the double track hell of Leadville so my eyes are on the trail and rarely glance at the computer.

    When I have a ride without specific objectives the computer is totally transparent to me, completely ignored other than pushing start and stop. What I like about it is that sometime much later I’ll be looking through strava for something and see “that” ride and it’ll bring me right back to a good time.

    In terms of Strava, I do like to see the change over time. Last season I went to a whole different level of training to prepare for the Breck Epic and I was absolutely crushed at times of proper training. I mean I hadn’t seen a PR on a segment in months and was wearing an HRM to sleep to monitor for over-training, which was kicking in on the last few days of each block. At one point, I was kinda losing it and took a short break from structured training rides and BAM! PR on everything. To be able to see the effort pay off is what its all about.

    But VMW is much newer to cycling and has learned to trained properly, but doesn’t like the computer much and doesn’t seem to be able to ignore it. We’ve had to work on technique, especially managing cadence and effort, so she has had to live with it sometimes. But she’s a happier camper when it is in her jersey pocket, and I’m happiest on those rides with her too.

  32. @RobSandy

    And I do use HR a lot – now I’ve been riding with HR for about a year that little number gives me a lot of information; it’s a guide to make sure I don’t cook myself on long rides, it makes sure I do cook myself on short rides and training intervals, and it even lets me know when I haven’t eaten enough and am on y way towards meeting L’Homme (i.e. when you are slogging your guts out but your HR wont go up).

    When I did my first 100 MTB race HR was a trip. After about 70 miles my HR just kept sinking and sinking. By the finish it was about 50bpm below my max. I was riding up this 3500ft pass and looking down at the computer going UP! UP! UP! It went nowhere. Strange, strange sensation. The man with the hammer clocked me good about mile 70, but I bounced back.

    I started riding with power meters a couple years ago when I realized I had to figure out something to climb faster, looked more and more into it and that the only equation that mattered was Power divided by Weight. I’ve worked very hard on both sides of that equation. But man that number next to W lays bare your weakness.

  33. Ya’ll see the photo of T Phinney putting e-tape over his SRM display just before the start of his winning TT performance at US Nat’s? The force is strong with that cat.

  34. @Vbikes

    Some of my favorite rides have been in November, after dark with a handlebar light riding roads I have ridden hundreds of times before. Darkness adds many a dimension. Your little cone of light out on the country roads does not illuminate upcoming climbs or crests or descents. You merely ride by the feedback in the pedals and the V in your veins.

    (Mind you these rides are with a headlight, and taillight and high reflective ankle band, be seen not stupid)

    I love riding in the dark (although my rides are in the morning before sunrise). Just you and your cone of light (and suicidal rabbits running towards it). Very special feeling! And really easy to just really go! (however, to be completely honest, the garmin is there and loging it all, it’s just too dark to see it. And to be even more honest, a lot of those rides are actually specific training rides, so the thing beeps at me at regular intervals. But still, me and my cone of light! Best rides!)

  35. I like my garmin and strava and veloviewer and stravistiX and I have no idea why. I don’t hurry to load my rides up, I don’t really look at anything except the nice graphs that sometimes appear and I don’t really compare except with myself.

    But a lot of the guys I ride with these days, come from accidental encounters (and great rides, with a bit of show-off, obviously) along the river, a little extra ‘congrats and thank you for the ride’ on Strava afterwards and before I know it, we meet up again. So at the very least I owe Strava a thank you for some of my cycling friends.

    Generally I ride with HR, time and distance. Seldom speed, I don’t see the use of it, it doesn’t tell you anything since it’s too dependent on terrain, wind, group, traffic… Even afterwards, the average speed is just disappointing, since the ride to get me out and back in the city lets the average easily go down with 4 or 5 km/h compared to my ‘cruising speed’ (which is why I prefer stravistiX, it gives me a 75% percentile)

  36. I used to have a relatively simple, wireless speedometer/cadence computer but the sensor is quite ugly on the bike so, I took it off. I was riding for a while with only a “V Meter” but found that it was hard to hold a (very) specific speed at the front of the group, unless riding two up with a partner that was willing to set the pace.

    So, now I have a little Garmin on the stem – no ugly sensor, just the ugly unit on the stem. [I think a quill stem would look pretty weird with a computer on it, no matter how discrete.]

    As for Strava, I think it can be pretty anti-social when you’re riding with a friend and, all of a sudden, he takes off to log his time on a segment however, it is nice to see how many kms I’ve ridden – or not ridden, on a cumulative basis.

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