My Zwift Setup – Kinetic Road Machine + inRide + Wahoo Tickr + iPadMini2

Zwift is a Game but your performance isn’t dependent on how fast you can move the mouse or click the buttons! Zwift is a virtual world for cyclists (coming for runners soon) where they can take a spin at the comfort of an indoor trainer! Since going out for cycling through weekdays was becoming hard for me, I started looking to get an indoor trainer. Another reason was that, I almost never could follow training instructions while out on road.

Kinetic Road Machine: Short review

I was initially looking for a smart trainer, but their availability in India is nil. Smart Trainers have interface for apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad to automatically adjust resistance. So, when you hit a climb in Zwift, it automatically gets harder for you to pedal! Asking someone(from US) to get it for me wasn’t an option because it would weigh around 20kgs! So I picked up the best indoor trainer available over here, Kinetic Road Machine. I had to also buy a small device called “Kinetic inRide” which kind of makes this trainer semi smart by streaming power over bluetooth. Zwift can still calculate “virtual power” if inRide is not present but that would require speed & cadence sensors (Ahh this is getting too technical!). I have been using this trainer for a month now and I’m really happy about it. I’m glad that I didn’t buy a smart trainer, cost difference wouldn’t make up for auto-resistance adjustments. Plus the hassle of importing and not having warranty.

Why iPad instead of a display?

Most Zwift users use their laptop and hook it to a big display/TV, which is something I tried the first time. But using living room TV whenever I desire wasn’t an option since my parents would be watching some or the other program. There was no space in room to accommodate trainer and use my display. I tried to use iPad, and it was actually pretty good. Having the screen right in front of me allowed me to have better readability/visibility and also intractability! Though a big display would give a better experience comparatively, it wasn’t much of a compromise with iPad.

Wahoo Tickr: Read my full review here Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor Review Using With Strava

Video of my setup:

Indoor trainer was bought at Cadence90.in (Disclaimer: owner is a good friend & I race for this team)

Overall, my consistency of being active has increased since having an indoor trainer. Whenever I feel like spinning I can just hop on and do a 10k ride in Zwift! Otherwise, my timing was only limited to morning 6 to 8, beyond that traffic would increase and make it not so fun to ride. I quit gaming few years ago for having negative impact on my life, but this is a good addiction to have for a change!

After all diets failed – One Month into Intermittent Fasting

Before I get into what is Intermittent Fasting (IF), I must talk about other things I tried. I started digging into nutrition and metabolism after LIC rejected my policy because of ‘High Triglycerides’ (850+), basically one of the types of Cholesterol. I consulted a doctor and was prescribed ‘statin’, a drug which regulates cholesterol production. I was never a fan of drugs throughout my life, headache, fever etc I used to just suffer through it without medication. I wanted to take control of my Cholesterol levels without medication.

I was already into cycling by this time & started to up the frequency. Month after month I got my blood tested & the results didn’t change. I completely cut rice and wheat and switched to millets, Triglyceride in blood report remained at 850+. More research got me to know that Carbs (carbohydrates) are the culprits not the consumed fat! This was a big thing since it was exactly opposite of what we have been told, thanks to pharmaceutical companies, they just want us to keep buying their meds!

After I got to know that carbs are the biggest culprits, I started following LCHF diet (Low Carb High Fat) diet. But being a typical South Indian I couldn’t keep up with this diet. I came home tired from office and simply didn’t have the energy to explain a recipe to my mom or cook myself. I was almost concluding that taking medication might be the only option left for me and then I discovered this video on YouTube about Intermittent Fasting:

Unlike diets which one can’t keep doing and eventually give after few months, Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a lifestyle change. Fasting has tons of benefits, go through the above video to get an idea. To summarise:

  • Increased insulin sensitivity
  • Decrease in Triglycerides, Bad Cholesterol (LDL) and increase in Good Cholesterol (HDL)
  • Increase in Growth Hormone Production
  • Improved brain function
  • Decrease in inflammatory markers
  • And many more…

There are three regimes of Intermittent Fasting:

  1. Alternate day fasting
  2. 5:2 – Fast for two days in a week
  3. 16:8 –  Fast for 16 hour every day & eating window of 8 hours

One Month of Intermittent Fasting

I’ve been following the third method for a month now, it was hard for the first couple of weeks and then I got used to it. My eating window is normally between 1PM to 9PM and rest is my fasting window. So lunch is my first meal of the day and dinner is last & I skip breakfast. And no, breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day! I have kept my diet the same which is normal South Indian high carb foods, which I’m not really proud of and will put in effort to switch to ‘high fat’. So the result: My Triglyceride level is now down to 705! Mind you, this is with just IF and not changing diet. I still have carbohydrate toxicity in my body because they constitute more than 90% of my diet!. My goal is now to slowly switch to fats and cut carbs and I will update this post with my progress.

Intermittent Fasting did in 30days what physical exercise, switching to millets couldn’t do for over 8 months! I’m sure I have found something which works to take control of my health.

Reference Book: The Scientific Approach to Intermittent Fasting

My first bicycle race – BBCh Individual Time Trial (ITT) 2017

I was very skeptical about getting into racing, especially after 3-4 months of inactivity. I was in no shape physically and psychologically. With just 5-6 days to go, I was still dual minded about my participation. Looking at last year’s timings was even more demotivating :-/  Because I knew it will be bettered this year. With four days to go I thought I will do a test run and then decide and I managed to finish it with 1.0.8.XX. After finishing that I felt I could push more since I was not fatigued. That gave me some confidence to just go try my leg at it and don’t bother about the outcome. Also, all thanks to Team Cadence90 who always talk positive and motivate others in team.

Race Day:

We reached the venue fairly early so that there’s enough time to get ready and warmup. BBCh was flawless in organising it, at least for the part I was present there. I had to return early to attend a family function (missed opportunity to meet so many awesome people). We were given our bibs, a transponder to track time and a YogaBar(sponsor). They had also arranged bananas & sandwiches (for breakfast). BBCh had created a start list a day before and everyone were communicated through SMS. They started on time skipping those who didn’t make it to the race.

Team Cadence90

Team Cadence90 post race

Individual Time Trial is basically you vs clock, also known as “race of truth” since there is no support from team members. BBCh ITT was about 33.5km stretch where we had to take u-turn at half way point. I started steady and calm and settled in to a rhythm. I felt good and started upping my speed a bit and to my surprise my average speed was at 32kmph at half way point! I thought, if that’s the case, I can try finish as closely as possible to 1 hour mark. But, post u-turn, I started to slow down, thanks to headwinds, it became pretty hard to maintain the desired average speed. I had to face the reality and preserve myself to push last few kilometers. I finished strong with 1:06:00 minutes showing on my Garmin but the official timing was 1:06:07.

Timings aside, that feeling of finishing the race strong felt really awesome to me. It would have been a huge mistake if I had shied away from participating thinking I’m not there yet. So my message to people questioning themselves whether they are ready, just get there, experience it & it will motivate you to do better next time.

A big thanks to BBCh for making this happen, being amateur friendly and sticking to the rules/timings with flawless execution. Race results can be found here: http://bbch.in/BBCh17Race02.htm#BBCh17_02_ITTResult

Wacom Bamboo Fineline 2 Review

With lot of meetings to attend, my notes started getting cluttered and I started loosing some. That’s when I started looking for a digital solution which is as close as possible to normal note taking. Through my initial searches I landed on Wacom Bamboo Spark Notepad. It didn’t make sense for me to put so much money into a notepad. Then I realised that I have an iPad (iPad Mini 2) and started to explore note taking on iPad. Having an iPad was better in meetings since I could also use that to browse and do other research while in the meeting.

With my hunt for note apps on iPad which have good palm rejection, I ended up with GoodNotes. I ordered a normal touch screen stylus on amazon to use with this app. Though it gave a decent palm rejection with “palm rest” feature, it was far from making taking notes natural. With further research, I ended up with Wacom Bamboo Fineline active stylus series. There were other bluetooth active styluses (like Pencil by 53), but the finiline had a thin tip which made it perfect for taking notes/writing. Pencil by 53 would be better option if the usage is more towards art/sketching.

Bamboo Fineline just feels very natural, so much so that you would switch from iPad to paper and try to write! Since it’s an active stylus, palm rejection is perfect. When the Bamboo Fineline is connected, iPad stop taking input from you fingers and palm which makes it perfect. Though this feature is not supported by all the applications, list of applications which support these features is available on Wacom website. Bamboo Fineline also has pressure sensitivity, which was not really important for me since I was just looking to write with it.

Overall, it feels great in hand like a normal pen and palm rejection makes it a great iPad companion for someone who takes notes, scribbles or into sketching/art.

Here is the sample scribble I had done using Bamboo Fineline 2 (pardon my handwriting, it actually looks better here):

Bamboo-Fineline-2-sample

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2jKNzKd

My Gunnar Roadie – probably the third Gunnar in India!

I have been riding since 5 months now and Marin Fairfax SC2 has been a great hybrid bike to get me started. Since I got hooked and started doing longer rides consistently, I decided to switch to a Road bike. After several visits to several shops over a period of a month, I decided on Cannondale Synapse with 105 groupset. But no one had my size in stock and no one was ready to give me delivery timelines. One of the dealers said it could be as late as January 2017! My second option was between Merida Ride and Marida Scultura (Endurance and Race geometry respectively). Since Chethan, whom I bought my Marin deals with Merida as well, I decided to pay him a visit. There I got to test ride a Scutura of a fellow biking friend Pancham Bharadwaj. After riding Scultura I felt that I can adopt to Racing geometry (I started bike search with Endurance geometry in mind). While discussing these points, Chethan showed me his Gunnar and explained me advantages of a steel frame! I just nodded my head telling to myself “this isn’t for me” (expensive!) and went home with lot going in my head.

I wanted to carry out my independent research on steel frames and Gunnar. The more I dug, the more interested I became in getting a Gunnar. All the reviews said ride quality is very smooth on a steel frame because of it’s vibration dampening properties. Gunnar uses air hardened, heat treated steel which makes it possible to make frames lighter with no compromise on strength (normal steel would make them a lot heavier). I had a look at the frame, It was beautiful and handcrafted! Steel is also highly durable as they say “steel frame is for life”. I test rode Chethan’s Gunnar and I could feel the difference and the ride was plush. I went ahead and gave a green signal to build a Gunnar Roadie!

Click to enlarge

Picture Credit: Chethan Ram

I have done around 600+ KM on my Gunnar at the time of this writing and I really enjoy the ride quality i’m getting out of it. I recently went on my first 100+ KM ride on it, more on that soon. Overall, I feel it’s the money well spent!

Since people choose this option rarely and unavailability of the brand in India, AFAIK this is the third Gunnar bike in India unless someone else imported.

Relive.cc – Create Awesome Videos from Strava Rides Automagically!

relive-featured

While exploring Strava third party projects I came across this website Relive.cc. Relive automatically creates a video out of your ride on Strava!

All you need to do is:

  1. Authorise Relive.cc to Strava
  2. Take a Ride
  3. Wait for the mail from Relive.cc with the link to video!

That’s as simple as that! Though there are some limitations for this to happen:

  • This will not work on past rides, it only works on rides you take after authorising Relive.cc. They may change this in future.
  • Activity needs to be public (not private)
  • Activity needs to be longer than 20 minutes and 20 kilometers (and shorter than 12 hours)
  • Activity is not tagged as a “commute” in Strava

That’s all! Relive will continue to send you videos for all future rides unless you opt to unsubscribe.

Update: How to download the video

Relive doesn’t have an option to download the video. I used this chrome extension to download it on Chrome. You can look for similar extension for Firefox if you use Firefox.

Link: Relive.cc

Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor Review Using With Strava

I started Cycling couple of months ago and always wondered whether I’m pushing my limits or taking it easy. I quickly learnt that measuring Heart Rate will intern measure the intensity of workouts. Being a newbie Cyclist, I love Strava and hence I started looking for Heart Rate Monitors (HRM) which work well with Strava. Strava’s store had Wahoo and seemed like they recommend Wahoo Tickr.

Wahoo Tickr is a chest strap HRM and generally chest strap HRMs are more accurate than optical sensors which comes in watches and some phones. Tickr is pretty straight forward to use, just adjust the strap length to comfortably cover your chest and put it on. As soon as you put it on, it starts detecting the pulse as well as starts bluetooth discoverability, I opened Strava on my Android phone, opened “Record Activity” screen and tapped on sensor icon & in couple of seconds it appeared. I just had to tap “Add” and my Heart Rate was already streaming.

Using it with Strava

Strava does real-time recording of Heart Rate streamed by the Tickr. When you are Cycling it shows present Heart Rate on your phone screen so that you know how much effort you are putting in. Once the activity is finished you can access HR in the analysis of your ride.

Strava Heart Rate Analysis

Strava Heart Rate Analysis

Using this analysis you will know your limits and start working towards improvising. One must calculate their Max Heart Rate to make more sense of this. There are multiple formulas (Tip: Google for “Max HR formula”) to calculate Max HR. Simplest (but may not be most accurate) formula being 220 – Age. So if you are 28 years old your Max HR would be 220-28 which is 192.  You can learn more about Max HR by Googling since it is out of context in this article I’m not going to talk more about it here.

Strava Suffer Score (Premium Only)

Once you calculate Max HR, you need to feed it into Strava in “Settings -> My Performance”. Based on Max HR Strava will create Heart Rate Zones. Post activity Strava analyses how much time you were in different HR zones and calculates “Suffer Score”.

strava suffer score

Strava Suffer Score

Next time you plan a long ride, you know which zone you need to stay in to keep going. The more fitter one becomes the less effort it would take to do same workout/ride. Overall Wahoo Tickr is very simple to use and works very well with Strava.

Buy Wahoo Tickr on Amazon.in

P.S: If you follow Tour De France, you can see Team SKY riders using Wahoo Tickr!!

5 reasons why I got hooked on to Cycling

Walking was my first choice of activity to be fit until it became boring. I was doing 45 rounds in a park to finish 5KM walk. You can imagine how boring it can become after few days. Then I tried Gyms, after 10 days even that felt like I’m on a hamster wheel, BORING! After three years of thinking about it (because of high upfront cost), I finally decided to go for it. Thanks to a talk about cycling in Barcamp Bangalore by Raison D’souza and my dear friend Prashanth for inspiring me. It’s been 1.5 months since I started and I have done 404 kms so far and I’m hooked! Here I list 5 reasons why I got hooked to Cycling and why it can happen to you too:

1. Keeps it fresh

Unlike other activities, Cycling keeps it fresh everyday. There’s always a new road you can take and explore. Walking/Running greatly reduces geographic range because of intensity. While in Cycling a 20km ride is no sweat and I’m saying that after just 1.5 months. Though I stuck to single known route for first month to build confidence, I have now started to explore. I follow a simple rule, go anywhere through any road, as soon as I hit 10 – 12 km, return, that makes it 20 – 25 km ride (thanks to Prashanth for this tip).

2. Game mechanics makes it addictive

If you are not on Strava, you are not cycling! Strava is social networking for athletes but what’s more interesting is it’s game mechanics. With all the data tracked you are always competing, either with yourself or someone else. This gives a sense of progress/improvement everyday and you get addicted to it. Every time I finish my ride I spend at least 15 minutes looking at Strava, it’s so satisfying! “How I did in this segment”, “How my time compares to people I follow/people in clubs/etc”

How I compare in a segment

How I compare in a segment

3. Meet new people

The first day I went on the ride, I was a bit nervous since this is all new to me. I saw another Cyclist on the other side of the road in opposite direction. I couldn’t wave since I was tightly holding the handle bar! When I came back home I was wondering if there’s a way to know who that was and connect. To my surprise Strava had exactly what I had imagined called “Strava Flyby”! I connected with him on Strava and after a month he happened to be on same path I was, we had a long conversation.

Starva Flyby Gif

Strava Flyby

4. Communities, Groups to ride along for long rides

There are many groups which are amateur friendly one of which is Cadence90 run by Chethan Ram (he also owns Cycling Experience Store by the same name where I bought my Cycle). When you get the hang of your bike, you would want to leave the city! But there will be some uncertainty running in the head doubting whether you can pull it off. Going in groups is great to break this mind barrier. Find a group in your city and ride with them when you are ready for it. Most groups are open and friendly.

5. People around you will envy you

When I bought the bike, I was shying away from telling the price to anyone. I knew they would make fun of me, going by my historic failure in continuing any activity for more than 2 weeks. They expected to me to fail, but reverse happened and I had proof in Strava! When I say “I went on a 20km ride” on a weekday it surprises them. It may sound like nothing to fellow Cyclists but most people around me aren’t even walking a kilometer a day!

So that’s what is keeping me going and I hope to keep the tempo and do more mile crunching!

Review: Ogle, The Indian Netflix

Ogle India

I got to know about Ogle from my friend @SathyaBhat. I follow many TV shows and majorly relied on torrents to watch them since there was no other way. When I saw Sathya tweeting about Ogle, it immediately caught my attention.

Ogle was in closed beta & I requested for an invite. It took couple of days to get invited. The whole sign up process is quite complicated for an average user since it involes lot of manual work. And hence it took about 2 days to get my hands on Ogle post getting the invite.

Currently Ogle uses Plex to make content accessible to it’s users and hence the setup is little complicated if you need to begin with Plex. For me I was using Plex already which made setup process much easier. Once I was in, it surprisingly had pretty much all the shows I follow. At this moment, I can’t mention the names of the shows, which can result in violation of content rights and Ogle may lose the content.

But yeah, it streams good, catalogue is well updated, I went through few seasons of a show I always wanted to watch without a problem. It’s working like a dream right now.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing Ogle has closed new registrations for beta. You might want to follow them on Twitter to know when it will be open again.