Thursday, July 29, 2010

WTNC - very very fast, off the back

This weeks WTNC Cat4 group was very fast. We averaged slightly over 45kph for laps 2 and 3!

The first lap or two was fast because someone got off the front and got us moving, and then we could see the Cat3 group which tends to act like a magnet :-)

Anyway, I managed to keep up for 16 minutes, at that point our average speed was 42kph, and I was whacked. So just drifted off the back. Was going to try and stay with the Cat3's, but they caught me at the SW Marine Dr to Stadium Rd corner, so I had to sit up to let them pass, leaving me with no speed to stick in at the back.

But shortly after Ryan Cousineau caught up with me and we did a couple more laps at a high enough speed to at least look like we where in a bike race.

Strangely, it seems like the Cat4 group eventually did slow down as the Cat3's re-caught them in the last lap.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Comox Weekend

Another fun weekend over at Comox with Emil Marcetta and George McLoughlin, slightly marred with a crash the first day in the B Category Crit.

Saturday we had a Prologue, about 5.5km 2% uphill time trial, with the last 500m at about 8-10%. I managed 11:15 on my road bike. Bill Yearwood brought over his TT bike and full aero kit, and managed about 35 seconds faster. I think full aero + TT + being in better shape, should allow for 10:15-10:30. Which is just under what Bill did.

The second race Saturday afternoon was the Crit using a 4km course near the Dove Creek RR. This was supposed to be 35 minutes plus one lap, but the bell was rung after about 32-33 minutes. Caught me unaware as I was expecting another two to go and had sat at the back getting ready to push for two. Left us all scrambling to get to the front. After the final corner there where still some of the slower riders at the front leading us out and as the pack was passing them about 200-300m from the finish someone got bumped and went down. I was just in front of him on his right and may have bumped his bar, didn't feel anything though, just heard the crash.

Sunday was the Dove Creek RR at 8:30AM. Much nicer starting then compared to 11:00AM last year. Cooler and didn't run out of water. The race nicely kept together until the end and then I just followed Bill Yearwoods wheel for the last few km. He got a nice lead out, with Mike Secov following. I had a brief problem with another rider which cost me two pedal strokes or about 20-30m before getting onto Mike and Bill's wheels. Didn't quite catch them and one other rider, they still had about 5m at the line. Still it was fourth overall.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Versus Tour Tracker

I forked out the $29.95 US for Versus Tour Tracker this year. And other than some hiccups with their use of a streaming plugin (autobahn) for the first two days I'm really enjoying it.

What you get is the full TDF video feed in HD downloaded and viewed in your browser via a flash plugin. This means from the race roll out to the end of the podium awards. For Sunday's stage one this was six hours compared to three hours.

This is not the same as the Versus broadcast. You get Phil and Paul's commentary, mostly, but it is not the same commentary you get on the over the air (cable) version. I still have my PVR setup so I compared the two versions for todays feed. For some portions the video and commentary are the same, with either or both Phil and Paul doing commentary. But in other portions they split up and you get different audio.

For the most part this is when they need to do a sponsor blurb, or a replay of something missed in a commercial, etc. One of them continues with the tracker commentary and the other does the over the air commentary. More kudo's for Phil and Paul, they are doing a lot more work than we realize.

For the parts of the feed prior to when Phil and Paul are available, i.e. for when they would be doing the over the air version, there is another commentator. So on Sunday we got him for the a little over three hours and Phil and Paul for the rest.

Another strange difference, for the over the air broadcast you get the audio portion of the video feed. At least what I presume is audio from the race, crowd noises, cheering, etc. That is missing from the tracker feed.

For the first two days they where using Autobahn which is a plugin which was supposed to improve streaming. I had a lot of trouble keeping this happy. Especially trying to stop / restart, skip, replay etc. Todays video was a bit slow in becoming available and there was a short lived announcement that autobahn was removed so that streaming would improve. I think the bit rate I was getting with autobahn was better. The quality seems to be slightly less today. I need to play a bit and see if I can figure out how to improve the download bit rate.

As a bonus this also works on your iPhone. Login and you can watch the video in full screen mode there. Note that there is also a Versus iPhone app for $14.95 which may be slightly better, but that won't allow you to watch on your PC. The free Versus iPhone app is pretty cheesy. It just does standings, results etc and mostly devotes a lot of screen real-estate trying to sell you the $14.95 version.

The bottom line is I think that the tracker version is worthwhile. While you can get Versus in HD in the US we are stuck with the older non-HD feed via OLN up here in the frozen north. I have been saying for the last two years I would cancel my cable and signup in a minute for anyone who would get me HD feed for the tour. And this is doing that at a reasonable cost, only about a buck and a half per stage... maybe about $.25 per hour ...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Heritage - L4 hill reps

Tuesday the WTNC was a bit slower than last week. Average speed was under 39kmh. Compared to 40.5 last week and over 41 a few weeks back. Made it much easier to keep up and I was right with the pack at the end trailing it into the finish by only 10's of seconds.

Tonight I was on on Heritage. Didn't feel up to any intensity, and the weather was threatening to change to rain so didn't want to get to far from home. So just did L4 hill reps. Tried to average about 280-300 for 2:50-3:00, with 2 minute rest between. Did a dozen repeats, then wandered around doing some more L3 short climbs to round things out to two hours and get back for supper.