Sunday, 26 July 2009

Craig vs The Tour

The MapMyRide Le Tour Challenge had me out riding everyday in winter for the first 16 stages of the real Tour de France. Unfortunately, I missed the last five stages with an out of town wedding, and the gentle Wellington breeze gusting at 130km/h, which I felt was slightly excessive to be cycling in. Perhaps I am getting soft, letting the elements stop me getting outside to play?


Certainly, without the reward of logging in each morning to see where I came the previous day I probably wouldn’t have been out there putting those miles in at that time of year. The lure of this competition was awesome motivation.


I had climbed up to 85th in the rankings before inevitably falling down to 186th with no activity logged during stages 17-21.


I never worked out any obvious ways to “game” the system, to ensure better results for myself. My best results were on the mountain stages. I am sure that this merely relates to the lack of flat terrain to cycle on in Wellington rather than my hill climbing abilities at this moment in time. I was delighted with my best placing of 32nd on stage 7.


After a long period of doing more climbing on average than the real tour, as the real Tour hit the mountains I found myself falling narrowly behind on a metres climbed per 100km travelled basis. Including my commuting it was narrow victory to the ProTour – with 1159 metres climbed per 100km travelled to my 1135m/100km.


Craig Vs The Tour
Distance Ascent Ascent/100km
Tour de France: 3324km 38,533m 1159m/100km
(All riding July 4-26):
812.76km 9223m 1135m/100km
(Le Tour Challenge):
493.94km 4150m 840m/100km

Friday, 10 July 2009

Craig vs The Tour – Stages 1 to 5

The Tour is well underway with five stages completed. I have also completed five stages in the Versus-MapMyRide RoadID Le Tour Challenge. It has been a lot of fun and has certainly seen my mileage suddenly increase regardless of dark and cold of the southern winter.


It is always nice to find some sort of measurement in which you succeed. At this point, and before the Tour de France hits the mountain stages I am exceeding the tour on an altitude gained per 100km travelled basis. Ahh, the gently rolling Wellington hills :).


Craig Vs The Tour Stages 1-5
Distance Total time Ascent Ascent/100km
Tour de France: 511.55km 15:07:49 3,422m 669m/100km
(Le Tour Challenge):
96.59km 3:47:46 805m 833m/100km
(All riding since July 4):
269.48km 11:27:03 2,921m 1098m/100km


Surprisingly only 36% of my total ride distance has counted towards the Le Tour challenge so far. One instance of MapMyRide not liking the XML file data from my Garmin Edge 705, although Garmin Connect had no problems with the same data. Last Sunday’s ride also did not count, because it was still Saturday in the EST timezone in which the contest is operating.


I have been having a lot of fun in the Le Tour Challenge, currently placed 117th out of 9000 or so riders. I have no idea how their virtual model works out the results, but enjoy checking the results every morning :). But best of all I am having lots of fun spending more time out on my bike – even if it is winter.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

NZ Open GPS Routing Maps with your Garmin Edge 705 – as easy as cut and paste!

The Garmin Edge 705 is a great device. Although I ordered mine through a New Zealand Garmin dealer, it only came with Pacific Highway base map set. The screen wasn’t nearly as riveting as I knew it could be! A quick look for the an upgrade micro-SD card, with pre-loaded Garmin City Navigator maps, but at NZ$195 I quickly lost interest. I am already the proud owner of over 200 printed, 260 series New Zealand topographical maps so I didn't want to purchase the same information all over again! As we all so often do in this, the Information Age, I turned to my good friend Mr Google.

In New Zealand we are truly blessed to have the New Zealand Open GPS Maps Project. This project produces an electronic map set including routing information for navigating New Zealand roads. This is also updated very frequently, so changes due to new roading projects appear very quickly. So, don’t be shy about downloading updates to the “gmapsupp.img” file at regular intervals in the future.

To add all the streets in New Zealand and support Navman style, turn-by-turn directions and navigation features:
  1. Purchase a micro-SD card. Note, this is a micro-SD. Do not purchase a micro-SDHC card. While these are the exact same dimensions and will fit snuggly in your Garmin device, it will not be able to read from it. Here is one I purchased from Dick Smith Electronics at lunch time.
    [Note: Subsequent to this original post, firmware verion 2.90 was released with support for SDHC cards]
  2. Insert the Micro-SD Card. It lives in the slot at the bottom, underside of your Garmin Edge 705. [Please excuse camera phone blur and lighting effects – there is nothing folding over in the right-hand side]garmin-sdslot
  3. Connect to your Garmin Edge 705 to your PC, via the USB data cable.
  4. Two new driver letters will appear in My Computer, in the example below the internal Garmin memory is set as drive I:, and the micro-SD card is set as drive letter J:.garmin-driveltrs
  5. Create a new folder on your micro-SD card, name it “Garmingarmin-newfldrgarmin-namefldr
  6. In your favoured web-browser visit This is a data file for Garmin GPS’s pre-built by the New Zealand Open GPS Maps Project. Download the compressed .zip file containing it. In this case “20090619 gmapsupp.zipgarmin-gmap-dnld
  7. Open your downloaded file, and copy and paste the data file to the Garmin folder that was created in step 5.garmin-openzipgarmin-copygarmin-paste garmin-copying
  8. You now have the 35Mb “gmapsupp.img” file on your Garmin Edge 705 (yay). This is Garmin speak, for supplementary map. Your Garmin Edge 705 will automatically look for the file when starting up.garmin-copied
  9. Now disconnect your Garmin Edge 705 from your computer. It is best to use the windows safely remove hardware icon to ensure all data has been written to your device first.garmin-safely-removegarmin-removenow 
  10. So now, instead of only seeing motorways and cities like this:garmin-beforeYou can see all the suburbs….garmin-suburbsThe streets…garmin-streets And find useful things, like an ATM…garmin-atms A wonderful new world of navigation possibilities is all yours…

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Sunday Ride: Khandallah, Round the Bays (Mt Crawford), Makara

Ride Data:
Distance: 71.45km 3617 Calories
Time: 3:07:58 22.8km/h
Elevation: Ascent: 581m* Descent: 590m*
  * I'm think the Garmin read low today?
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player MapMyRide
Location: Wellington, NZ 5 July 2009

‘twas a bleak morning but thankfully the moisture was more on the road rather than falling from the sky as we were out riding today. It was once again one of the days that I could have so easily spent the day on the sofa. Certainly on days like this, participating in a local riding group certainly helps the motivation to get out and ride.


We, the Onslow Tarbabies took in a few of Wellington’s gently rolling hills today with Mt Crawford, Brooklyn, Raroa Rd/Kelburn, Makara all ascended, followed by the steady climb up the Takarau Gorge and Ohariu Valley to Johnsonville.


We split into three bunches for the days riding – fast, slow and development squad. I placed myself in the slow bunch and we soon on our way. From Khandallah to the summit of Mt Crawford we were about five minutes than a fortnight ago, and I found myself toward the back of the group on the ascents this time. I have much fitness to gain if I am going to get anywhere near by personal best of 4:58:36 for this years Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. Thankfully, still plenty of time to put in the training, or pretend to :).


The ride was going pretty smoothly, although with dampness around my cadence sensor was on the blink again. Does anyone else have this problem with their Garmin cadence sensor’s in the wet?. That was until Greg picked up a puncture as we were approaching Owhiro Bay. Scott and I played domestique and dropped back to support our team mate. Once we had got back to support him we played the foreman’s role with folded arms watching over him. So quickly, it changed to the self-supporting randonneuring form of cycling :). With the support of the two foreman, Greg soon had his spare tube in place and inflated as the development squad passed us.


We caught about half of the development squad on our way up Happy Valley to Brooklyn, and the rest at the pre-arranged re-group point, just before turning into Owhiro Road and the climb up to Kelburn. At the top of Kelburn I succumbed to peer pressure and extended our ride through Karori and Makara with five others. For some reason the ascent up Makara seemed harder than normal today. By the time we reached the steady climb up to Johnsonville I was falling off the pace :(, and also found my bike getting a little nosier from the dampness washing the remaining lube from the chain. Thanks for waiting for my non-performing hide at the top Marty & Ange :).

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Tour de France; Le Tour Challenge and other competition fun!


Well, the excitement of the Tour de France is now before us. Some awesome competitions going on. I will be trying to get out on my bike everyday during the Tour de France for the MapMyRide contest. The Garmin Edge 705 is going to busy collecting all of those stats for uploading to MapMyRide.


The Le Tour Challenge gives cyclists of ALL LEVELS a chance to compete in the 2009 Tour de France in your own hometown against Lance and the other top pros for tens of thousands of dollars in incredible prizes!  Some of the amazing prizes up for grabs include bikes from Parlee and Cervelo, and a Grand Prize Trek Travel Trip to watch the final stage of the Tour in Paris!*

The Le Tour Challenge is simple:
1. SIGN UP at
2. RIDE your bike on the day of a stage
4. We'll COMPUTE your Virtual Time and give you an ENTRY into the daily prize drawing
6. COMPETE in as many stages as you'd like!

I'm still not quite sure, what kind of prize a trip to the Tour de France is when

* airfare not included

Still sounds like it is going to be a whole lot of fun in any case. Besides, you need an American postal address to win anything. This is awesome, as I will be stateside shortly after the Tour de France is complete. I'll be giving FedEx just enough time to make it with the loot.


It will be very interested to see how competing virtually works. So many variables to decide who wins on virtual time? Plenty of hills here in Wellington. How will they be accounted for? Can I look forward to a polka-dot jersey?


Meanwhile, locally has a competition of their own up, with the first price and sweet ride with a BMC Racemaster up for grabs (pictured right).


And in Wellington,  On Yer Bike have a 10km indoor time trial contest running.


Do the On Yer Bike 10km

Indoor Time Trial

Ever pretend that you're about to win the Tour de France prologue while churning it out on your indoor trainer?  From July 5-28th you can live that dream in public.  While the Tour de France is running we are holding an indoor time trial contest at the Vivian Street store.  You race on your own bike, it costs $2 to enter, and at the end of the month the fastest man and woman on the leaderboard split the total prize pool.  Drop in anytime, or if you'd like to know more (or need some encouragement) call us or drop us an email.


But the real challenge for me is going to be resisting all the yet to be announced sales in the local cycle stores for the Tour de France time period. Can I resist? Or will they win and extract the cash and mothballs from wallet?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Rain, winter, rocks and armadillo tyres

  • What tyres to use for training and commuting?
  • Change to a different tyre for special events/charity rides?
  • Life expectancy of cycle  tyres?
  • Which tyres for which conditions?
With road cycling tyres costing anywhere from $40 to $150, these are questions worth asking. I'm still figuring them out for myself..

Of course, a simpler situation would be to never ride over rocks, glass, nails and any other debris on the roads. Can't always be avoided it seems :(.

To quote Wikipedia:
Thin-walled tires, especially those used in road racing bicycles are particularly susceptible to puncture by road debris, such as thorns, and small pieces of glass that would not affect tires with more substantial tread. The equipment needed to repair or replace a bicycle innertube is comparatively minimal, and frequently carried by cyclists.
Yep, no doubt the king of the annoyances of a road cyclists existence!

For a long time I have been riding on Specialized All Condition Armadillo Elite tyres. I have logged about 3,500km on my most recent pair. The front is still good (some rotation may have been an idea?), but the back tyre was getting toward the worn through state. This is unusual for me, I usually get a gash or slit in a tyre well before this point. This being the reason I have been using the armadillo tyres of commuting, training and if raining duDamaged Armadillo tyre with inner tube intactring one off events or charity rides.There is absolutely no doubt that the armadillo lining prevents punctures from sharp objects piecing or cutting through the tyres. Almost as if to prove a point, I accidentally rode over a rock  and shredded what was left of the rubber on the tyre. Surprisingly, the inner tube remain inflated and the tyre lining in tact. I was fully expecting a "snake bite" and was surprised to maintain inflation. Upon dismounting I discovered the carnage on what was my somewhat worn, but now unusable rear tyre. I am very satisfied, and cannot question the durability and robustness of the armadillo tyres.  Are these the most "bomb-proof" tyres on the market?

On New Zealand roads rain or shine, light or dark, 3,500km is a long durable life for a rear tyre. With other tyres I have used I invariably  end up with a sliced tyre or a whole through the sidewall.

While the armadillo tyres being harder to penetrate or slice, they do not prevent other causes of punctures. I have had a few "snake bites" when I have inadvertently ridden over rocks and debris on the edge of the road. Particularly at night when visibility is reduced. Conventional wisdom is that under-inflation is the usual cause of "snake bites", but at 90-110 psi I don't think this should have been the case. Regardless, I seem to average one every few hundred kilometres, and generally while commuting when traffic lines leave me at the roads edge along with rocks and other debris. On the bright side, I never had a puncture during an event with the armadillo tyres, although I had one at the start line of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge in 2007.

During dry weather for events or charity rides, I have found a preference to ride on Continental Grandprix 4000 S "Black chilli" tyres. These are an absolute pleasure to ride on. Like every tyre they claim to have good rolling resistance, and I can say I have more speed in these tyres when free-wheeling down the same hills - quite possibly something in the claim? But the smooth ride comes at quite a cost if you slice the tyres while commuting.

I was a little short of cash, so for the half the cost I have fitted some Maxxis re-fuse tyres. Like the armadillo's, these tyres have a kevlar belt to increase puncture resistance, but not around the tyre wall, and also not with the enhanced kevlar processes that Specialized explain in the video above, and presumably patented all to themselves. I'm interested to see the both comparative durability, and the "feel of the ride" for these tyres in a training and commuting setting . In theory, without the kevlar in the tyre walls, thus less stiffness there should be a slightly smoother ride. You just don't know until you try.  Hopefully I can find something between the durability of the armadillo's and the smooth ride of the black chillis? The Continental Ultra Gatorskin seems like a good option to consider in the future as well.

The armadillo tyres are certianly not come cheap, but if you are looking for something that is durable and unlikely to cut open then they are probably just what you might be looking for.  The standard addage probably applies once again:

Buy cheap, buy twice

Below is a table summarising my own choices from my own bad puncture luck on which tyres use I would consider using in different conditions. Not really expecting to find anything that will support all conditions perfectly, but you can only be optimistic :). Obviously, not far from comprehensive as I am still very new to road cycling. I'll keep it updated over time. The Maxxis Re-fuse are currently half the financial outlay as the other three tyres listed so far..

Tyre Commuting Training Events/Charity Rides
Specialized Armadillo Elite Excellent Excellent Ok, may be a little slow?
Continental Grandprix 4000 S Not recommended If dry and clean Excellent
Maxxis Re-fuse Evaluating Evaluating Evaluating
Continental Ultra Gatorskin Sidewalls prone to slicing Sidewalls prone to slicing As sidewalls are penetrable, may as well ride a better performing tyre
I have used various other tyres which have, well FAILED to meet my requirements for NZ conditions, resulting in a short useful product life and rapid tyre destruction. I can barely remember the exact make and model as they got so little use. Particularly brutal have been lightweight racing tyres without kevlar or other protection. These are typically sold on new bicycles, even when they are ridden in New Zealand conditions.

Updated: 16/7/2011 - Gatorskins are made of cheese. See