Saturday, 23 July 2016

Top 5 Mandatory Bike Servicing

Bike servicing knowledge is often overlooked by riders. Pushing the bike into the bike shop and let the mechanic perform the servicing does not guarantee a good servicing. On the other hand, knowing which part to service will make the bike faster than it was new. Tips of this month, team2ndskin athlete Chan Jun Shen will share some of the very important bike servicing tips which covers more than just cleaning the bike.

1. Wheel Truing

Cyclists bang into pot holes and uneven roads during training and racing, there is no way to guarantee a 100% smooth A properly trued wheel last a long time. It also helps better transfer for energy from the frame to the ground through the wheel. The spokes are tightened and aligned by using a spoke wrench. 

2. Derailleur Tuning

A faulty derailleur gives the cyclist a lot unnecessary stress when the gear change fumbled. Get the front and rear derailleur tuned for correct shifting. A well tuned derailleur should not cause chain jump, and also able to do back pedal smoothly. In my opinion, all cyclist should learn derailleur tuning, because this is one of the most often mechanical failure occur in racing.

3. Chain Check

The life span of a chain is subject to riding environment and riding style. Most importantly, it depends on how well the cyclist maintain the chain. Some riders rides with low cadence big gears instead of high cadence low gear, so it puts a lot of strain on the links. Over time, it stretches the links and causes lost of power through poor energy transfer. One of the earliest indication is the loose links seen at the big chain ring. To better confirm this problem, Park Tool makes a very convenient chain checker. Optionally, use a ruler to measure the links. 8 links should be 8 inches long. If it is longer than 8 inches, it is time to get a new chain. Don't forget to clean it after every ride and put in new layer of lube.

4. Bearing Regreasing

There are many bearings in the bike components. Front and rear wheelset bearings, bottom bracket bearings, and pulley bearings. If rolling performance is a mandatory requirement for your PB, get everything stripped down and pump in fresh grease. A newly greased bearing will perform better than a poorly maintained bearing. I stripped down my bike, use different type of lubes and grease for different purpose. Check your OEM manual to confirm type of grease or lubes suitable for your bike parts. 

5. Torque Check

It does not matter whether your bike is a carbon or an aluminium one. There is a reason for manufacturer to etch torque requirement on the bike parts for the mechanic to comply. Putting too much stress by tightening the bolts too much can cause crack in the bike parts. A good engineering practice always impart mandatory torque check to ensure the bolt properly secured, not too lose and not overtighten. 

One of the best example, 5Nm to tighten the stem. Very often this reading goes unnoticed. 

Hope this tips helps=) A well maintained bike is a safer bike. 
Stay tuned for more monthly tips from team2ndskin.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Kerian International Duathlon 2016 - Team Athlete Chan Jun Shen Race Report

Kerian International Duathlon is the race which I signed up and forgotten about it after a while. I am just too occupied with my work at Air Wing, I hardly have any time to check for races. Every time I log on to my pc, I will sign for multiple races. The very same weekend, I have Garmin Clinic and also OP Running Clinic on Saturday morning. How am I gonna split myself like an amoeba and be at 3 places at the same time? I managed to merge the OP Running Clinic and Garmin Clinic, it turned out to be the right decision! Killed two birds with one stone. I drove back from Lumut to KL. I woke up to a rainy (no thunderstorm) Saturday morning, the Garmin clinic participants' attendance was around half of the class' strength! Well, not all runners are "All Weather Runner". Thanks to all the OP Running Clinic participants who filled up the lists and made the clinic really happening. The HIIT session mainly focuses on the program, running dynamics and benefits of understanding the data in Garmin devices. We concluded the clinic at around 1030H, I called up a few friends to pick up my race kit in Kerian just in case I can't make it in time.

Sharing with the participants on High Intensity Interval Training.
Pics courtesy Limite Art. 

3 hours of self driving is so boring! I came to KL from Perak and in less than 24 hours I am heading to Perak again. I met my UPNM juniors at their homestay and collected my race kit from them. Not knowing what to do, I conducted a 3 hour triathlon training class to kill time.
 During my cadet years, my seniors were not very knowledgeable, not many truly understood the training data given by heart rate monitors. Bike fit knowledge was almost zero. But they were a bunch of awesome seniors who guided me with all the knowledge that they had, whatever they had to offer me, they made sure to get it delivered to the juniors. Prior to my maiden Long Course Triathlon, I only knew that I will be bulldozing over 2.1km open water swim (like washing machine), 90km of cycling and finish up the race with a 21km run. Little that I know that aero bar is so important. My senior Kapten Salman and the gang, helped me to find an aero bar and got it fitted on my bike. Later on they got commissioned, the last word they told me, "Chan, jaga kelab kita baik-baik". Now that I am already a 5 X Ironman Finisher, whenever I meet the UPNM juniors, I will teach them and bring their knowledge to the next level. 

Setting up their bikes before sleep. 

My initial plan to camp in the car got cancelled as the juniors invited me to stay overnight with them. In return, I paid for the whole team's dinner. As the night fall, the mosquitoes flew in stealth and quiet like the B2 bombers without us realizing and started the "blood donation campaign". After setting up the mosquito netting (I carry mosquito netting in my car) in my room, I dozed off really quick. To my surprise, I did not feel any pre race jitters. Knowing that this race is full of potential winners, I do not see myself competing at the first pack after two weeks of disappearance from the training ground.   
How the cadets sleep. Save money for more future races, so we cramp together in a homestay. No complain, this is much more comfortable than sleeping under the poncho.  
RM50k worth of bike equipment in a kitchen.

0500H, I can't remember the last time I got awaken by the rooster because we do not have rooster in the Naval Base! If the rooster make noise in the morning, those desperate survival training trainees would hunt them down and make them KFC in the jungle. This time, I find it really annoying. Haha. The rooster never stop making noise every single minute! By 6am, I was already at the race area setting up my transition. 0700H flag off, huge crowd sprinting in the front pack. I was just running at my own sweet pace around 4.10mins/km along the straight long stretch next to the waterway. The top 10 gone missing by kilometer 4, I couldn't see them despite the straight stretch! A few UPNM cadets were chasing the front pack with their impressive running speed, not sure how long are they gonna last though. My transition was a quick one, fly mounted and caught a few UPNM cadets who ran ahead of me. They should really buck up their transition skills. Until now, no drama yet. 
Average pace : 4.06mins/km
My Garmin Connect data shows a good pace management with no significant pace drop, the heart rate was at Zone 5 for 94% of the time to keep my high cadence of 174spm and good stride length. To my surprise, my average stride length is 1.42m, my height is only 1.62m so it is already 88% of my height! My stretching shows significant improvement in my flexibility and agility.  
Flat and long running route.

40km of cycling on a flat terrain sucks. I never liked flat courses because I will be beaten by the super bikers on their TT bike, I rather climb hills. First 20km, I rode with the UPNM cadets. We took turn to pull before Richard Tang blazed past us with no mercy. He is another veteran with balls of steel, one aggressive rider! Got off the saddle and drop a few gears to bridge the gap. Then the Sungai Udang Commandos overtook us, trying to command the peloton but nobody bothered. By now, more than 20 riders in the peloton but only 10 power horse. The rest were suckers. Two young 16 years old riders really have the cycling legs, I even thought they represent Malaysia in Duathlon. 10 more kilometer to the transition, Sayuti smoked my peloton and then Fariz came by with a huge "ATRAZ" on his backside. Cut short the long story, my peloton is a tortoise peloton with a few riders who NEVER pulled the peloton throughout the race. I entered the transition with 20 over riders! As I fly dismount and pushed the bike, the muddy entrance got so congested that my aerobar stuck to Fariz's back bottlecages. Hahaha. 
Average pace : 36.8km/h

The fluctuating pace caused by the confusing moves of riders in my peloton. 84% of the time I was riding in Zone 4 heart rate and 16% in Zone 5. Pretty intense. The race was too fast for me to look at my watch, my focus was to stay accident free and stay with the pack. 
 Flat course and no flat tyre. Thank god. 

The cramping tingling feeling started as I ran out of the transition area. Oh Not This Time Please! Shorten my stride a little while maintaining good cadence, stay focused and keep the cadence high. Please don't cramp now! I saw a few UPNM cadets in front of me, but I just couldn't catch them. I burped all the time because of the feeling of throwing up. My diaphragm started to cramp which further restrict my breathing. Kilometer 4, the breathing starts to get more synchronized with my running rhythm. It doesn't get any easier though, because I wanna chase down the UPNM cadets! Hahaha. Kilometer 6 on wards, I pumped my arms to keep the legs going. I am really lack of training, that is why I suffer so much. Padam Muka. When I approached the finishing arch, I didn't know if I will make it to podium. Then Razlan the commentator shook my hand and said "Hey Congratulations Bro, You're No 5!". 5th placing is the very last spot for podium. 
Average Pace :   4.29mins/km

 Picture Courtesy SpeedDemon TM.

 The fluctuating heart rate and stride length was caused by my "Cramp Symptom Damage Control". My average stride length dropped a little compared to my first run, but still it was a good run of 1.25m. Cadence is still under control, averaging 180spm. 65% of Zone 5 and 36% of Zone 4. I gave everything I have. 

 Razlan announced my name to collect my Men Open 5th placing prize. "Chan Jun Shen, a proud product of UPNM and bla bla bla...". Out of nowhere the tears start brewing (not because of winning the race). Knowing Razlan for so long, he has been the one who announce my finish since my RMC and UPNM triathlon races. So when he said "proud product of UPNM", I felt a bit touched to recall how far have I come. I wouldn't say UPNM is the best place to study, but UPNM made me into who I am today. I did Ironman during my cadet years to relieve some of my stresses I got from the regimental routine, it was triathlon who saved me from quitting. We had Instructors who scored flying colours in courses and also another bunch who were put in "cold storage" for disciplinary action. Life was never peaceful for us. So I always tell the juniors, never give up in delivering the best of our ability as a young officer. Kelab Sukan Lasak UPNM has a very special place in my heart.

 Another podium finish for this year. 
Group photo with the UPNM Cadets.

Working is not an excuse for not being competitive. I highly recommend this race for athletes from all level because of the well marshalled roads and clear signage, ample water stations and punctual race start. The fees is relatively cheap compared to other Malaysia Races so you should expect huge crowd with lots of fast athletes come to test their power.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Garmin Vector 2S Review - Tri Stupe

An extended write up from Tri Stupe on Garmin Vector 2S after Jun Shen's previous entry. Both of them have been comparing notes and this time around, Stupe provide a more lengthy entry touching on installation of the unit and a few important metric for Power training. Here you go!

For cyclist or triathlete, training using Heart Rate Monitor or HRM seems outdated with the availability of "more affordable" power meter. Power meter can cost a fortune especially when you factor in the pricing of the bike and gears you already invested in this (already very expensive) sports. Why aren't HRM enough? Like many others, I've toyed with the idea, and wished I could afford one - or rather, for the technology to be more affordable so it's possible to get one, or two (or depending on how many bikes you may have ;-))

Vector 2S
Athletes comes in all different level of fitness and capabilities. Even ourselves, our heart rate differs everyday depending on our rest, performance and even the weather. So, to be training at "10 beat per minute" more than yesterday may very well meant different level of effort if you had a tough day or an easy day (at work or at training). However, having a consistent benchmark such as power, which is a function of force multiply by distance over time. It sort of provide a number where you can use to benchmark your training against. The level to generate 100Watt (W) when you are fresh or tired is the "same" to the power meter. But to get your heart to work to generate that 100W when you are tired, may meant busting your heart rate at Lactate Threshold than when you are fresh. 
An analogy I could use would be to compare Heart Rate to a vehicle RPM while Power is the capacity. A car going uphill may require higher RPM (HR) to generate the same climbing power and definitely lesser RPM (HR) when you are moving on a flat ground. Now imagine if you can train at a given Power irrespective of your HR... you will become a more efficient cyclist or triathlete!

Garmin Vector 2S
Lucky for me, the good people in AECO Technologies, which is the authorized distributor of all Garmin products in Malaysia has been kind to provide myself and Chan a unit of their latest power meter to be used for our training. Chan has provided a write up on why in the team's blog. We both have been using the Vector2S and has compared a few notes on training. Among others, we soon found out that I can churn out more power compared to him. Question was - am I a stronger cyclist because I can fire up higher power? Now keep this question in mind while I continue today's review of the 2S.
First up is the Garmin Vector 2S itself. It is a pedal-mounted power meter. Other variations available in the market (for power meter of other brands) are crank mounted, bottom bracket mounted, hub mounted and crank-spider mounted. My exposure and knowledge was nil until the Garmin Vector 2S. This review will be specific for Garmin Vector 2S; until I manage to (afford???) another different type to compare. 
The Garmin Vector 2S (I will call it 2S from now onward) is an upgrade from the original Vector where the older pod appears to be a ring (O) that goes through the bike spindle versus the newer Vector that has the pod coming as a clamp (()). The plus side? Easier installation. Meaning, You can remove the pedal and re-install it on another bike faster and easier. Ideally, I would think for such investment, you may unlikely remove the pedal and the pod. That is unless you decided to do so (or use a different bike setup like a road bike vs a TT bike) for race reasons. 
The closer look of the Pod clamp
Vector 2S is single sided pod aka on the left pedal while the full fledged Vector 2 is both pedal - which gives you better left-right accuracy where power generation is concerned. On the "left" only power meter such as 2S, the total power are multiplied to provide the reading. While some of you may now argue the accuracy of a one-sided unit - I believe manufacturer like Garmin would had factored in this when building the algorithm to compensate or to correct the readings. For that, Garmin units has function of "Smoothness" in percentage (%) which could mean how smooth your pedaling motions are, and these translate to efficiency. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Why Should I Get A Garmin Vector 2s Powermeter - Team2ndskin Athelete Chan Jun Shen

The technology to assist athletes in improving performance has gotten to a very advance state. The invention of heart rate based training monitored by the chest strap heart rate monitor seems so yesterday compared to the new optical heart rate offered by Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Garmin Forerunner 225 and so on. All upgrades can be made, having another latest innovation in our race gear inventory is good, but how many of them provide USEFUL data in our training. After all, data is useless if not interpreted into information for us to digest. Recently Garmin Malaysia in collaboration with team2ndskin provided Tri Stupe and I a set of Garmin Vector2s, a powermeter. Installation was brisk, simple and no mess. Plenty of video available on Youtube.

More than a month after training with powermeter, I told myself that I should have gotten it long time ago. To put it in a simpler word, cycling with a speed cadence sensor and heart rate monitor only tells me how hard was my heart pounding and how fast was I going. Somehow riding on an indoor trainer does not accurately translate the power out from my legs to the pedal. I would not know how hard I was pedaling. In most races, heart rate and speed is not enough to measure my effort. In windy and hilly condition, I would be riding slower. There are so many unmeasured parameters. By having a powermeter, all the data I can ever imagine is being transferred to my Garmin Forerunner 920xt providing all the necessary information.

The Data that I have in my Garmin Forerunner 920xt is :
Heart rate, avg heart rate, max heart rate, %HRR, training effect, time in zone, avg speed, max speed, avg power, cadence, avg bike cadence, max power, max avg power (20min), normalized power, Intensity factor, Training Stress Score, Functional Threshold Power, Calorie burn and many many more!

To start off with a power meter, learn this 3 things :
Functional Threshold Power :
Maximum power you can maintain while the body can still remove lactic acid. Similar to 1 hour time trial effort.

Field Test :
Achieved through a 15 minutes warm up, followed by 20 minutes of time trial. Resulted Power output is the Functional Threshold Power.

Training Stress Score :
TSS is a measurement of workload as a function of duration and intensity. The harder and the longer you ride, the higher the score.

#click this LINK for more reference. Training peaks did a great job in explaining! =)

To analyze yourself with another athlete:
Watt/Kg solves all the kiasu issue. Divide your wattage with your Weight in kilogram, let say my average power output is 178watt and my weight is 56kg. So my Watt/Kg = 3.18Watt/Kg. Another rider weighing 80kg is hammering the pedal with the power output of 200watt. So his Watt/Kg = 2.5Watt/Kg. So I would be faster on the road for having 3.18Watt/Kg compared to his 2.5 Watt/Kg. This is much more accurate than comparing average speed with other riders riding in other environment.

These are the very basic information gained from powermeter, the best ever investment made in cycling gears. The information given is a key to better understanding of training effort. Never too late to get one! This Garmin Vector 2s is upgrade-able to Garmin Vector 2 which measures power on both sides of the pedal! More information means better training quality=)

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Skechers GoRunRide5 review - Tri Stupe

Apologies for the long silence as I've been busy with work and travel. Currently trying to recover from a recent +2GMT trip, returned back to +8GMT and now at GMT. Lost many weekends of solid training and many more races that I've wanted to sign up and race. 

I now consider myself to be in semi-sabbatical when it comes to racing - BUT, training continues; because it's an active lifestyle I've committed and very much ingrained with the family. The lapse of blog entry also meant my writing skills are getting bad. Pardon the lesser than usual details. 

This time, a long overdue review of the Skechers GoRunRide5 (GRR5) which was given to me around Christmas last year and never seen the light until mid-January. Since then, this pair which precedes GRR4 (duh!) has been my mainstay running shoe as I work the miles (or KM if you are SI-inclined). No less than 150miles on these babies since January and here is the report.
GoRunRide5 Profile
The GRR5 was a total change from GRR4 both outsole and upper. To start with the upper, the new diamond mesh provide both medial and lateral support. Coupled with a 3D printed overlay it provides support to toe box. here is a closer look of the overlay and the diamond mesh. Note the silver thingy is the reflector and the blue crash pad has been made bigger/higher when compared to GRR4. 

The 3D synthetic overlay runs around the shoe providing support to critical part. This include the heel and the mid portion where it provides very good and secured fit.

As mentioned, the outsole has been revamped. Evidence of the differences between GRR4 and GRR5 is seen in the photo below. You can see that the GoImpulse pods has been moved to be more centric around the forefoot and the mid-sole received larger area to counter wear and tear for mid-foot strikers. The GoImpulse pods at the back of GRR5 has been moved slightly further downwards nearer to the heel-strike area. This may (when I received the GRR5) help manage premature wear of the GoSeries and it was convincing (now, after 150miles) that Skechers does some change to ensure wear and tear is lesser of a worry for runners. (Scroll to the bottom to see condition of the GoImpulse pods after approx 150miles)
Outsole differences between GRR5 (left) and GRR4
From the photo above you may noticed that the pods has been re-designed as well to resemble a 5-petal shaped instead of the chevron(<<) style in GRR4.

No changes to the midsole as it is made with the same lightweight flexible proprietary Resaltyte® injection molded compound for impact protection and response. However, you may noticed that the thickness has been increased as shown in the photo below. Despite this, GRR5 is very much a 4mm drop shoe (without the removable insole). Stack height is 16-20 Fore-Rear configuration.
Obviously taller, by a fraction
Increase to the Resalyte® compound made the outsole look a lot bulkier than its predecessor. What surprises me was that the GRR5 is a much firmer feel shoe compared to GRR4, and surprisingly more responsive as well. Those of you running on the GRR (original) to GRR3 will know the shoe to be less than responsive. The previous GoRunRide series main purpose was to offer better cushioning compared to the GoRun series. 
Thicker Resalyte. A 16 mm front and 20mm rear gives a 4mm drop 
I may not be the only one that say this, the GRR5 gave me the feel of the GoRun series (in this case, GR4). The firmness and responsiveness was very GR4 feel. Makes me wonder if it was the same shoe sometimes.

Continuing on the review is the presence of the Quick Fit loop at the back that functions to allow you to wear the shoe a bit faster without unlacing. I find it to be useful after doubting the function in the GRR4. While it caused the rear part to be higher than usual, some user does complain (of the GRR4) to cause some chaffing when they run at the Achilles area. Lucky for me, it's not an issue.
One nice touch I noticed on the GRR5 is that this same area where the Quick Fit loop were has a new material treatment that potentially may reduce your chances of chaffing at the heel area. It was microfiber like when compared to GRR4. As you all may know,l I run sockless and has no issues with Skechers running sockless. 
If you noticed from the photo above, the GRR5 has a very breathable upper. Those of you worry about hot shoe when running in mid-afternoon will be happy to note I've not had that feeling when running. But when wearing socks (in-flight, during travel transit) does heat up a little. When compared to GRR4, the tongue of the GRR5 is slightly thinner (not noticeable in photo, but it's obvious when you feel the material in real life)
GRR4 on left vs GRR5 tongue thickness
No changes were the lace type that is flat (not-round). A second pair (white) was included with the GRR5 with the blue-black as standard to match this pair of GRR5. Weight wise, the GRR5 comes in not anymore heavier than the GRR4 despite the additional cushioning material. 240grams or roughly 8.5oz for US11. No issues as it is still light compared to many traditional trainers.
On the run, the shoe did not disappoint as it provide quick response and good grip in various weather. I've so far ran the GRR5 in typical Asia weather (rain or shine, and hot), cooler Johannesburg with loose sand/gravel conditions and colder London where it can get wet and slippery when you least expected it. it has been holding well and my mainstay for this quarter. 
Skechers for Work and Leisure

After 150miles, the condition of the outsole/pods is per what you can see below. Pretty impressive I would say with even wear all around. Skechers could had gotten the formula right this time around with good balance of everything a runner would want - support, weight, durable and nice color ;-)
Noticable more wear on the heel portion - a reality check that I am not mid-fore striking as much as I should be. 

Note: This pair of Skechers GoRunRide5 is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkinThe Skechers GOrun Ride 5 retails at RM439 for the men's and RM399 for the women's. It is available in store (Malaysia) now. Last checked, not launched in Manila until May 2016.

Opinion in this write up is my own and not influenced by Skechers Malaysia