Posted on Nov 13, 2013 under Raves | Comments are off
Recently I had to spend, yet another, few days away from home traveling for work. Historically, when traveling for work, I’d find a local masters swim group or YMCA to get my swim workouts. In this recent trip there was no masters group I could find nearby and similarly no convenient YMCA. The hotel had a pool, but it was a pretty typical hotel pool (i.e. super small). I was beginning to think I was out of luck but then I remembered seeing some posts on Facebook and Youtube talking about a tethered swim system called the Bowswim.
From bowswim’s website:
BOWSWIM® Resistance Swimming System manufactures the strongest stationary swimming pole in the industry. The Bowswim® pole is engineered with telescoping technology, and is constructed from reinforced carbon/fiber material.
The pole is designed to be used in the fully extended position, and when used as directed, is capable of safely deflecting greater than twice the static thrust force an Olympic swimmer can generate. It is the only system offering “Variable Custom Lift”with the added benefits horizontal water exercise brings to fitness and rehabilitation. The Bowswim® pole telescopes to 72 inches from 21 ½ inches making it the only truly portable device of its kind. Add the optional Bowswim Ladder Clamp to your system, and never miss a travel related workout.
If your pool or spa is at least 10 feet long and 3 ½ feet deep, Bowswim’s revolutionary technologies can transform your pool or swim spa to a nearly stress free, impact free training environment. With Bowswim you exercise, train, rehabilitate, strengthen and tone, and you do it better, smarter and more efficiently.
Here’s a video/commercial they have up on youtube:
My 1st experience with the bowswim was, as I said, in the hotel tiny pool. After a 30 minute session I felt like I’d been crushed by a 90 minute intense workout. It was CRAZY! Subsequently, I’ve discovered more subtleties of the bowswim.
Sure the bowswim can give you an awesome tethered swim workout, but it can do so much more. The 1st thing you’ll find after swimming tethered for a bit, is that when you start to swim normally again your feel for the water is heightened and you feel the water pushing on the back of your arm during your catch. Let me tell you, this really cranks up your stroke rate. Also, the spring-recoil of the bow is useful for finding an eliminating dead-spots in your stroke: if you’re over-gliding or otherwise wasting effort, the bow will pull you backwards in the water (and if you aren’t exhaling at the time, you get a mild water boarding effect, or at least I do ).
Fortunately, I haven’t had occasion to use the bowswim for rehab (touch wood), but I can see how water running or aquafit-type activities could be greatly enhanced with the use of the bowswim.
I can’t end this review without talking about the customer service from Bowswim: it’s truly second to none. Randy, the owner/inventor, is really great. He’s really interested in making sure that his customers are having a good experience and followed up with me several times after my purchase. Certainly a level of service you don’t get every day!
I have to say, I love my bowswim! It’s become an integral part of my swim training and has already had a notable impact on my times. Awesome!
(Apologies to the reader but I’ve blacked out bits of info here and there to keep some privacy from prying internet eyes.)
MyID is a similar product to the RoadID that I’ve reviewed here before. I’m a big fan of running and cycling with some sort of id, and I think that carrying government issued id (driver’s license, etc.) is risky if you lose it. This is where these types of products really excel. With the MyID you can carry your total medical and biographical info, at least as much as 1st responders would need, in a small wrist band.
The MyID band is a soft silicon band with a watch-style clasp. You can see the MyID band (blue) beneath my yellow RoadID bracelet.
The band comes long, and you trim it to fit your wrist. The kit comes with a sizing guide that gives you a rough indication of how much to trim off each end of the band. Obviously you want to be cautious here, cut it long, and to back to trim if need-be.
The MyID is not pre-engraved with static information for the owner. Instead on the inside of the band is a serial number and pin.
With this information the owner can setup an info page with medical conditions, contacts, name, address, allergies, etc. 1st responders also use this information to access your information page. The web service is pretty solid: the interface is clean and quick, there are areas to enter all kinds of structured information about your stats, medical contacts, emergency contacts, any allergies, medications, medical conditions and then free-form areas for entering “other stuff” that you might wish that 1st responders were informed of if you were unable to speak for yourself. Unlike custom engraved IDs, the MyID allows you to update your info whenever it changes.
There is also an iPhone app to enter and maintain your profile information.
I have to admit that I was a little dubious about the merits of an ID and PIN-based ID system. My health and contact info all fit into an engraved tag and I’d always felt that having it immediately available to 1st responders was valuable. With this doubt in mind I talked to a few police officers, several ambulance drivers, and a few folks in ER departments. They agree that a decade or so ago having all the info on your wrist, immediately available, would have made a difference, but today the 1st responders are so well connected that looking up the info online or via a 800-number is just as good, and significantly better if the owner has significant medical conditions.
The MyID offers a good option for an emergency ID that can speak for you in the event you cannot. The web service that collects and presents your information is good. The band is comfortable and durable. The only negative is that the web service and 800-number are available as an annual subscription. Unlike printed bands where your information is totally on your wrist, the MyID service depends on you maintaining the paid subscription service.
I’ve been a long-time user of FirstEndurance’s products and I have always felt in the past that they helped keep me healthy and recovering quickly. Well, the new formula of Ultragen HP has blown my mind!
Seriously, this stuff is pretty amazing. Yesterday I crushed myself with a 45 minute TT at or above FTP. I was totaled after the ride. This morning I woke, before my alarm, at 4:45am ready to crush a tempo swim set and eager to get into it!
Now that’s some serious recovery!
Really, if you haven’t tried UltragenHP, you should! (and I can’t put it any more directly than that).
Posted on Aug 24, 2013 under Raves | Comments are off
In my lead-up to Ironman Mont Tremblant I was given the opportunity to do an extended test of the Kickr bike trainer from Wahoo Fitness. Given that I’d just popped an innertube on my trainer wheel while doing an important intervals workout, the timing was perfect and I jumped at the chance.
2 very obvious differentiators exist for the Kickr: other than the power cable, it’s wireless; and, the bike chain attaches directly to the trainer (rather than a friction fit of a trainer wheel against a spindle). Both of these are major differentiators from, say, the computrainer.
“Wireless?!” you ask. Yup, the Kickr is controlled with either Bluetooth or ANT+. You can control it via software on a smartphone (apple or android) or software on a PC (and maybe a Mac, though I haven’t looked).
Unlike other computerized trainers that come with mandatory, bundled software, the Kickr has an open API that allows any software developer to build software for the Kickr. There is a free ipad/iphone app from Wahoo that provides pretty basic controls of the Kickr, but there are seemingly new releases from various developers weekly. In some ways this is a curse and a blessing: choice is good, but it can make getting started challenging. I historically was using PerfPro for my workouts with the computrainer and was very happy that it continued to work with the Kickr.
Also a big deal for me is that the Kickr works with my mountain bike. The trainer is adjustable in height to match various wheel sizes 29″, 26″, 650′s, 700′s, etc. this means you don’t need a front wheel riser to use the trainer AND you can simulate climbs/descents by changing the trainer height (not the front wheel height).
Here you can see my bike mounted to the Kickr as well as the tyre shreds left behind from my training tyre on the computrainer. Please ignore the sweat stains on the floor
no trainer tyre (rubber mess, flatting tubes, etc)
no loss of power due to tyre slipping on the trainer
no calibration required for tyre pressure on the trainer
open API for developers to build software
more vibration when riding
limited bundled software
occasional (though rare) power dropouts (probably due to reception issues)
All in all, I have to say that the Kickr is exactly what this industry has needed for a long time: a strong competitor for Racermate and the Computrainer. At this point, I’d have to say that the Kickr is definitely just that. At a better price point, with wireless integration using proven standards in the fitness space (ANT+, Bluetooth) and with the open API so that many can release control and training software, the Kickr is now my absolute recommendation for someone looking for a computer controlled bike trainer.
Move over Computrainer, there’s a new top dog in town and it’s called KICKR!
Posted on Aug 23, 2013 under Raves | Comments are off
Like most triathletes, I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my cockpit design: aero advantage, easier hydration and/or fuelling, fool-proof, etc. Speedfil has always been in the forefront of my mind when it comes to these products. I’ve used the original speedfil hydration system and currently use the Speedfil A2. I’d always struggled a bit with the configuration of the A2 because of my basebar/aerobar configuration and desire to have either my Garmin 910xt or Garmin Edge 810 visible when training and/or racing.
Once again, Speedfil to the rescue! Their new Z4 cage with integrated Garmin computer mount is exactly what I’ve been looking for all along! It snuggles my A2 nicely between my arms and puts the computer display where my view of it is totally unobstructed. The Z4 mounts to your bike in a huge variety of ways that pretty much guarantees you can find a good way to secure it to your particular cockpit design.
Speedfil has been getting a lot of accolades for the Z4 and rightly so: they’ve made the product that so many of us have been trying to piece together with tape and elastic bands and done a really solid job of it. Well done Speedfil!
Posted on Aug 22, 2013 under Raves | Comments are off
I race in, train in, and absolutely love my Rudy Project sunglasses, so when Running and Cycling Enterprises, the North American distributor for Rudy Project, offered me the chance to try out and review a set of Runnng and Cycling Enterprises’ new, affordable, in-house XX2i line, I absolutely jumped at the opportunity.
Affordable is an appropriate adjective for these shades: discount, entry-level, etc. all imply a poor quality product and these sunglasses are definitely not inferior quality or limited in terms of buyer options. Besides a large variety of frame styles and colours, you can get lenses that are polarized and/or have reading diopters built in and of course different lens colours and coatings. I haven’t done the math, but I expect that with all the permutations there are hundreds or maybe even thousands of sunglass combinations that could be built.
So let’s unpack them and checkout the kit.
The 1st thing I noticed was the exterior packaging: a zippered hardcase with LIFETIME GUARANTEE emblazoned in the forefront. This gives a hint at what’s within: you can’t offer a lifetime guarantee on something that’s going to fall apart if you look at it wrong.
Opening the case, I was shocked at how PACKED the case is. All the components are packed in dense foam to stop things from bouncing around.
In the case we find:
2 sets of extra lenses
extra arms and nose pieces and a screwdriver to aide with the part swap
cloth cases for the lenses and for the sunglasses
a safety strap/neck strap
some XX2I decals
These sunglasses fit my face very well right out of the case, but like all Rudy Project glasses, they are pretty adjustable and have the (very important) adjustable nose so that you can have them sit well when you’re down on the aerobars.
One problem I’ve had with (other) sunglasses that have exchangeable lenses is that the retention system is flimsy and the lenses aren’t held in place well. I can’t say I have a huge amount of experience with these, but in my limited experience this doesn’t appear that it will be an issue here. The lenses are held very snugly into the frame and take a fair bit of strength to swap out.
Finally a word about the optics, the true indicator of value of a sunglass: “el cheapo” sunglasses have poor lens quality that distort and in the worst cases cause headaches. Not so here, these optics are pretty incredible: no headaches, no distortion, no fogging. Further, I’m pretty hard on sunglasses and frequently end up with scratches on the lenses pretty quickly: these lenses seem pretty “Rick Proof” at least so far and, of course, if you did manage to scratch them, you could just replace the lens and not the whole set of sunglasses.
The XX2I offerings have been winning awards all over the place like Gear Institute’s “Best Value” award and Outside Magazine’s “Killer Value Award” and it’s not surprise to me. These sunglasses are pretty amazing! If you have a late season race, maybe you’re getting to Kona, and you want to treat yourself to some nice optics without breaking the bank, definitely try out the XX2I Optics. You won’t be disappointed!
Posted on Jul 21, 2013 under Raves | Comments are off
GU’s Chief Endurance Officer (CEO), Brian Vaughan, has embarked on the 485 mile, self-supported Colorado Trail Race, which travels from Durango to Denver, CO.
This is the next frontier, if you will, in his racing/riding career, and is an adventure that he has been training for all year. Beyond his goal of hoping to finish in 6 days, he hopes to bring awareness to an epidemic that is sweeping our country: childhood inactivity. One of the organizations that he wants to help raise funds for is the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) , a high school mountain bike organization that IS getting more kids throughout the country to move and make healthier choices.
Way to go Brian! You can track his progress here and here. If you want to help with his fundraising goals you can go to NICA’s home page which asks people to donate to become part of their Booster Club. All donations will receive a special gift from GU: http://www.nationalmtb.org/boosterclub/.
Posted on Jul 16, 2013 under etc..., Raves | Comments are off
Slightly off topic, but recently I had the opportunity to trial a set of Wicked Reverb Headphones. For those of you who haven’t known me for a long time, I used to be a DJ. I played out occasionally at clubs and spun electronic music: psytrance for the most part. I don’t DJ more, but still love music and quality sound, so I decided I’d take up the offer for the trial.
When the headphones arrived and I unboxed them, I have to admit I was pretty dubious. Understand, mind you, that headphones I’ve used in the past while DJing where designed to be very sound insulating (so you didn’t have to blow your eardrums out trying to cue, mix, etc.) and as a result were pretty heavy. The Reverbs are, in contrast, very light. No, you wouldn’t use these in a club as a DJ: they don’t have the sound insulation required for that, but they aren’t built for that task.
The Reverb is, however, a very solid contender in the consumer headphone space and at a price that’s extremely attractive (quick google searches show prices in the $20 area). For $20 you may not expect much, but the Reverb may surprise you there. In terms of sound quality and reproduction, they easily compare with $200-$300 headphones that I own, and their weight means you won’t get fatigued just holding them on your head. As a kid, the bullies always made fun of my ears.. perhaps they’re a little large, I dunno.. but the ear cups built into these headphones was certainly comfortable for me.
So wrapping it up, I have to say I was pretty surprised by these headphones: they produce really quality sound even at high volumes with little to no distortion and are still capable of reproducing quiet and subtle nuances, they’re lightweight and comfortable and seem to be pretty well constructed. At the price point, I think these headphones would be hard to beat!
Now for the Giveaway
While these headphones are pretty sweet, I have so many headphones and earbuds and wireless, bluetooth, etc. etc.. headphones that another pair are just going to gather dust. Wicked has given me permission to raffle them off rather than return them. So here we go: I’m going to try a rafflecopter giveaway for these as a new mechanism, rather than my historic labor intensive “names in a hat” method. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Livermore, CA – (July 10, 2013) The innovative swim company, FINIS, impressed a 37-member jury of design experts with their newest product, the Neptune MP3 Player, to receive the “red dot award: product design 2013”. The international jury only awards this sought-after seal of quality to products that set themselves apart significantly from comparable products because of excellent design. The jury members received 4,662 entries in 19 different categories in this year’s competition, and the Neptune came out an award winner.
Well done Finis. I’m not surprised. Definitely deserved!
Posted on Jul 03, 2013 under Raves | Comments are off
What do I have in common with Marcel Kittel, Argos-Shimano and Jamis Hagens Berman at Le Tour De France? Watts/Kg? Heh, yea right Peak power? 2s maybe on a good day, but no.. Bike selection? Nope, no Storcks at LeTour.
Ok, ok.. it’s not that big of a deal. We all use Ogio bags. Yea ok, it’s kinda lame, but kinda fun too and probably the closest I’ll get to LeTour.
Last year I bought myself the Ogio Flex Form L bag. They don’t sell this bag anymore, but it’s my goto: It’s a really well thought out bag that I use frequently when I’m setting up for a big training day.
It’s built like a tank, has shoe compartments on either end (one for running, the other for cycling in my case), the main compartment is massive with plenty of room for helmets, nutrition, and has an expanding side compartment for those days when you need to pack the kitchen sink.
But like I said, you can’t buy this bag anymore… well maybe on ebay or retailers that still have stock, but Ogio no longer lists it on their site. The bag they’re using on LeTour is the Endurance9.0. The Endurance9 is definitely well thought out (again) and purpose built with the endurance athlete (us) in mind.
The Endurance9 is just a bit larger than the Flex L (78.6L vs 70L for the flex), but more importantly, the Endurance9 makes better use of that space. Here are some highlights:
Molded EVA “Tech Vault” protective electronics interior pocket
H2O resistant wet/dry clothes storage compartment
360 degree air flow ventilation gusset in wet/dry compartment
Fully adjustable ventilated pack style shoulder straps with ventilated back panel padding
Ventilated shoe compartment (holds two pairs)
Expanded Lycra helmet storage interior pocket (this is just brilliant!)
Changing mat storage compartment
Nutrition specific organization panel (I especially love this – keeps things separated rather than just a big jumble. I was just using a big freezer zip-lock bag, but this is much more elegant.)
Large main compartment with additional end storage pocket
Two insulated hydration bottle pockets
Transparent race day/work out check list sleeve
Staging area hanger clip
Hide away interior zippered pockets for valuables
This bag is a really solid performer for any athlete, but especially for triathletes setting up for a big training day, or for prepping your transition area for race-day.
I'm a triathlete, software development leader, renovator, and rock climber. I love big hairy problems that force wholistic thinking. I'm an "up to the elbows" type, I don't dabble: either "in" or "out", never 1/2 way.