Getting to Race Weight

One of the main reasons I started taking part on triathlons was to lose weight. During the first 6-9 months, I managed to lose up to 8 kg. Since then, for the past 2 years I’ve been struggling to bring it down further, no matter how much volume I’m adding to my training.

Now I’m trying out a more structured plan following Matt Fitzgerald’s Quick Start Guide. To start off, I’ve listed down to do items for the quick start:
Plan quick start training
Estimate target race weight
Target daily calorie deficit
Calculate daily calorie burn
Create meal plans
Track calorie intake
Track calorie burn and deficit
Measure weight progress

I hope this will be successful.

Canyon Speedmax AL

Get the Most Value from Canyon Speedmax AL 9.0 SL

Canyon recently updated its entry level triathlon bike, the Speedmax AL series, with its 2015 lineup. Similar to the 2014 series, this aluminum triathlon bike comes in 3 variants:

  1. Speedmax AL 9.0 SL – USD 2,669
  2. Speedmax AL 9.0 – USD 2,349
  3. Speedmax AL 8.0 – USD 1,599

The $300 price difference between the 9.0 and the 9.0 SL, makes it a difficult choice to choose between the two. What I can tell you is the Speedmax AL 9.0 SL, though the most expensive, gives the most bang for the buck. The Speedmax AL 8.0 has its own merit, being significantly cheaper than the higher end models.

I used the comparison tool from Canyon to compare the specifications between 9.0 SL and 9.0.

Canyon Speedmax AL Comparison

Comparison from canyon.com

The difference among all the Speedmax AL bikes is  in the groupset and the wheelset. As the contention is between 9.0 SL and 9.0, I’ll be analysing these 2 variants, which comes with SRAM Force + Reynolds Attack set and Shimano Ultegra + Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLS set respectively.

I then listed the components that differ between the 2 bikes. Taking retail price information of each component from Chain Reaction Cycles and Wiggle, I listed all the components which vary between the 2 bikes and the difference in price. For components which has a range of price, I used the median price for reference.

Component Price Analysis

Breakdown of individual component price

Clearly, the Speedmax AL 9.0 SL, is the choice to make, if there’s $320 more in the budget. To be precise, for the price of $320, you get components that are worth $758 more. If you’re like me, with your own beloved wheelset, and would consider selling the wheelset in the resale market, you could get more money back from the Reynolds Attack. At the end of it, the out of pocket costs of the 2 bikes less the wheelsets are virtually equal at about $2,300.

One thing that interests me from the 9.0 SL standpoint is the SRAM R2C bar end shifter. Unlike Dura Ace friction based shifter which stays in position after every shift, SRAM’s R2C shifter will return to the centre position, keeping your hands in the same position before and after the shift. Of course the downside to this is that it doesn’t tell you which gear you’re in.

The SRAM GXP Pressfit BB poses a concern for me as I’m one who likes to tinker with my bike and performs simple mechanical tasks myself. Without a press fit machine, I wouldn’t be able to replace my own BB.

So I hope this helps those who are considering to buy the new Canyon Speedmax AL 2015.

fundraising

Support Me in Ride for Rainbows

I’m taking part in Ride for Rainbows on 3 October 2014, which is a cycling event organized by the Club Rainbow to raise funds for families with kids suffering from chronic illnesses.

Since I’m a regular rider, I thought there’s nothing to stop me from helping to raise funds by doing what I’ve been doing all the time. There’s nothing better than raising funds without having to do any additional things other than signing up for the fundraiser and sending out a few messages to ask for support.

I signed up for the 100 km ride, and to be eligible to ride on the event day, I would need to raise at least $1,000 by 31 August 2014. So the target I had in mind when I signed up yesterday:

  • Bare minimum – $1,000 by 31 August
  • Stretch goal – $1,000 by 31 June, at least $3,000 by 31 August

At the end of the first day, I’ve hit $370 out of of the required $1,000. Looks like the stretch goal is within reach after all.fundraising

Please support me if you can by donating any amount at the following website. No obligations, but any amount donated will be greatly appreciated by these kids.

http://www.rideforrainbows.org/Support-a-Rider/Albert-Salim-9/

 

Garmin fenix 2 Review

The Garmin fenix 2 I ordered from Clever Training arrived in the mail last Tuesday. I’ve been looking for a GPS watch that looks decent enough for daily use and none of the GPS watches available in the market caught my attention. That is until fenix 2 was announced early this year. Not long after reading the early previews, I decided it would be my first GPS watch to replace my old Timex with a half-torn strap. After about a week of use, here is my review of the fenix 2.

Aesthetics

The watch sports a white on black display, with a red backlight for illumination. During the day, the display is very clear and easy to read. Surprisingly, the information shown is still clearly visible even when submerged in water. Reading lap times in during a swim is a breeze. Now I could quickly glance at the watch to know my split times during swim intervals.

Garmin fenix 2 first look

Garmin fenix 2 first look

Aesthetically, it’s a good looking watch, although it’s on the larger end of the size spectrum. It looks fine on my wrist as I have large wrist and hand, but those who are smaller sized may find the watch large and bulky. I have not seen any scratches on the glass yet, thankfully, however I would appreciate a deeper recess for the watch face so the glass could be more protected by the bezel.

Buttons

There are 5 buttons in total, anti-clockwise from the top right: Light; Menu/Up; Down; Back/Lap; Start/Stop. It took some time to adapt to these new button layouts as I’m accustomed to Timex’s button layout. The Light button is self-explanatory. It only has one function which is to switch the backlight on. The Menu/Up button either scrolls the display up to the next page, or moves the cursor up when in a menu. The menu itself is activated by holding the Menu/Up button. The Down button does the opposite.

Red backlight

Red backlight

The next button is the Back/Lap button. This is used to go back to the previous menu. When there’s an ongoing activity, it serves as a Lap function to record splits or rest time. This button has a hidden function as a shortcut, which is activated by holding the button. In my case, I’m using it as a shortcut to the Timer function, which I use as a reminder to drink some fluid.

Side view

Side view

Finally, the most important button of all is the Start/Stop button. It has a red ring around it to set itself apart from the other buttons. This is the button to start all activities, including Swim, Bike, Run and Multi Sport. I will not be going into details of these activities in this review as I have not gone through all the functionalities.

Functionality

The display of the watch consists of multiple pages. The main page is the time display as shown above. The Up and Down buttons will scroll through the various pages of the watch. As this watch is also designed for navigation, many of the pages are more useful for people who need the navigation functions.

Compass

Compass

Altimeter

Altimeter

Barometer

Barometer

Temperature - it's a hot day

Temperature – it’s a hot day

One of the most useful features to me is the Bluetooth LE connectivity. With this, I don’t need to spend extra time plugging the watch to my Mac to upload the activities. The watch could connect to the Garmin Connect app on smartphones and sync the data via Bluetooth. Subsequently the smartphone will upload it to Garmin Connect. The Bluetooth sync could be done automatically with persistent Bluetooth connection or manually when triggered from the Menu. I choose to sync manually to save battery both on the watch and on my phone.

Another neat feature using the Bluetooth connectivity is the notification. What this does is show notifications from my phone on the watch. The content of the notification depends on the phone’s notification settings. So if your phone is set to display the content of a message in the notification, the same will be shown on the watch. Otherwise, it would just state something like there’s a new email or message from a particular app.

iMessage notification

iMessage notification

The drawback of this feature is that there is no way to control the notifications that will be shown, and the watch will end up vibrating every time the phone receives a notification. I wish there could be separate control on the notifications that will be shown on the watch to limit it to important notifications such as phone calls and text messages. Another down side of the notification is that there will be a huge counter displaying the number of unread notifications, which essentially blocks every other important information that should be shown on the watch, like time.

Notification counter - what time is it?

Notification counter – what time is it?

Battery life is surprisingly good in my opinion. This is my first GPS watch so I don’t have any other reference to benchmark against. Nevertheless, a single charge was sufficient for 7 hours worth of activities in a week. I was expecting a need to charge every one or two days like a smartphone, so this clearly exceeded my expectation.

7 hours of activity

7 hours of activity

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the watch and I think it’s worth the money spent. This wish list could probably make the experience with the watch better than it already is:

  • Black on white display instead of white on black
  • Redesign of the notification counter
  • Customized control for notification
  • Easier access to the timer functions without having to use the shortcut

It would be great if some of these could be incorporated into future software updates.

The Hipster Triathlete

After a lengthy discussion with the group on the commercial impact of the Ironman brand, I began to think of a hipster triathlete persona who is unlike a typical Ironman obsessed age grouper.

The definition of hipster from urban dictionary: a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie rock, creativity, intelligence and witty banter.

So let’s take the first 2 characteristics: independent thinking and counter-culture, and apply them to triathletes. What would it be like to be a triathlete who challenges the norm, shun mainstream triathlete conventions and dares to be different?

Let’s meet Joe, the hipster triathlete persona, and learn 3 things about this hipster triathlete: Joe’s biography, the races he participates and of course his gear.

Photo credit: http://bikesandbuildings.blogspot.sg/

Joe, the Hipster Triathlete

Who is Joe?

Joe is a young man in his late 20’s, with some experience in triathlons of varying distances. He has finished numerous Olympic Distance triathlons, a handful of 70.3 distance races and has just completed his first Ironman. Being a hipster, Joe looks forward to opportunity to set himself apart from his peers, including in his triathlon pursuits. Now let’s take a look on Joe’s typical race day.

Where does Joe race?

Being a hipster, the world class Ironman or Challenge events don’t fit well with Joe’s taste. He prefers a race more indie, with less association to established franchises. His triathlon of choice is none other than the Wildflower Triathlon, the Woodstock of Triathlon.

Wildflower Triathlon

Wildflower Triathlon – Photo from http://triathlon.competitor.com

For shorter distance races, Joe makes his way to Lobsterman Triathlon, for the famed lobster bake post race meal.

Lobsterman Triathlon

Lobsterman Triathlon – Photo by Boston Triathlon

What gear does he use?

The first thing a triathlete needs is a tri suit, for the convenience of wearing a single piece of clothing in all three legs of a triathlon. For Joe, he prefers to go even simpler. Padded shorts get in the way of Joe’s run and tri singlets are too tight for his liking. So Joe’s outfit of the day: a SPEEDO and a SINGLET.

Speedo Brief

Speedo Brief

How about goggles? Joe is well adapted to water and doesn’t mind water going into his eyes. NO GOGGLES needed. For timekeeping purpose, Joe doesn’t need the fanciful GPS and heart rate monitor functions of a Garmin Forerunner 910XT. Instead, he uses a trustworthy classic CASIO F-91W.

Casio F91W

Casio F91W

Coming out of the water, Joe goes into T1. His minimalist speedo dried quickly. He puts on his shoes, a pair of ONITSUKA TIGER ULTIMATE 81 running sneakers. No cleats, because cleats are too cumbersome and they go against Joe’s principle of keeping things simple.

Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81

Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81

Joe quickly straps on his helmet, a MELON URBAN ACTIVE HELMET. In Joe’s opinion, the smooth surface gives him comparable aero advantage to aero road helmets such as the Giro Air Attack.

Melon Urban Active Helmet

Melon Urban Active Helmet

For eyewear, Joe ditches the ubiquitous Oakley Radar for the classy RAY-BAN WAYFARER sunglasses which provides his eyes plenty of protection, during and after a race.

Ray-Ban Wayfarer

Ray-Ban Wayfarer

All geared up, Joe is now ready to set off for his bike leg. His hipster lifestyle calls for a bike more organic than the fastest carbon bikes such as the Cervelo P5-Six, so Joe opts for none other than the BAMBOO ROAD BIKE by Calfee Design.

http://calfeedesign.com/products/bamboo/

Midway through the bike ride, Joe needs to replenish his fuel tank. His nutrition of choice is a simple bottled iced espresso for caffeine and scones with jams for some carbs.

Finally, entering T2, Joe only needs to take off his Melon helmet and replace it with, not a Headsweats visor, but a HABANA PANAMA FEDORA to cover his head on his way to the finish line.

Habana Panama Fedora

Habana Panama Fedora

Basking in his finish line glory, Joe needs to capture the moment with his finisher medal and t-shirt. Instead of a GoPro Hero 3, Joe’s chosen lens is the KONSTRUKTOR 35MM DIY SLR.

Konstruktor 35mm DIY SLR

Konstruktor 35mm DIY SLR

After a long day of swimming, cyling and running, Joe takes a few gulps of CHOCOLATE MILK to aid in recovery.

Recovery Chocolate Milk

Recovery Chocolate Milk

Joe now looks forward to his next hipster triathlon race.

Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya 2014 Race Report

If there is one word to summarize this race, it’s HOT! SCORCHING, SEARING and BLISTERING HOT!! Most of the participants struggled with the heat during the bike and run legs, resulting in slower finish times. I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya quite late, in February to be exact. It was a replacement race to Challenge Philippines which I could not go. Signing up for this race meant that I would be joining Justin and Jason again on another quest for a 70.3 finisher medal.

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PRE RACE

The drive to Putrajaya was my first time driving to Malaysia at night. I left Singapore at 3am, entered Malaysia at about 4am and was greeted with speeding demons going at 150 km/h on the highway. After getting used to the high speed traffic, the drive went into steady drive with rest stops every 2 rest areas. I reached in time for breakfast at the Pullman hotel.

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The key activities for Saturday were a swim practice in the morning, followed by race registration and bike check in. Swim practice was well organized, with safety kayaks marking the 500m route. I had my first taste, literally, of the brownish fresh water. It felt a little disgusting at first, but I put it behind me and just focused on the swim.

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Bike check-in was routine, the only highlight being an unknown “Team Crowie” bike parked at the #1 rack. We were left wondering why would Crowie be riding a non-Specialized road bike and non-Shimano wheels. Only the next day we would learn he’s only taking part in the swim leg of the relay race.

RACE DAY

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Participants were grouped into age group waves to start the swim. It was a deep water start where we need to jump off a pontoon into the canal and swim a short 15-20 m to the start line. The water was relatively calm with a slight current along the longest portion of the swim. The wave start proved to be beneficial, spreading out the 1600 or so participants. This was probably the first race where I didn’t get kicked in the stomach, clawed over, or slapped on my face. The swim was a rectangular one loop route. After the first few minutes of getting into rhythm, I started pacing myself and managed to keep my direction easily by sighting every 10 strokes. The only problem I had was that I sighted the wrong buoy after the first U-turn, which probably resulted in additional 100 m of swim. Overall, I still managed to clock 55 mins for 1.9 km, all in freestyle.

The bike leg was made up of two 45km loops around the highway circling Putrajaya and the surrounding suburbs. The initial part within the small island where the race venue is located was pretty flat. Beyond that, the highway was a series of long gentle slope followed by long downslope, perfect for aero position. The uphill climbs proved to be more difficult than they looked. Despite the gentle gradient, the distance of each climb was enough to tire even the strongest riders. One memorable climb had little cards with words of encouragement placed along the sidewalk. The first loop went well for me, averaging 30 km/h. By the second loop, the sun was out in full force heating the tarmac and I began to suffer. The pain reached a climax at one of the major climbs around 70km mark where I had to stop for 10-15 minutes due to cramps in my entire left leg. After that, the race went downhill for me, figuratively, as I did not dare to push myself any harder, fearing more serious cramps and possibility of DNF. The bike leg was completed in 3 hours 37 mins.

On the run, I was too drained by the heat. I could only muster a couple hundred metres of run before my legs began cramping, so I resorted to mostly walking, running only whenever I can and struggled to maintain 10 mins/km. The run turned to be a socialising opportunity, giving me the opportunity to chat with other struggling participants. Luckily, the sun went into hiding during the second loop, making the run more bearable. t this point, Jason caught up to me and we run/walked together for a few kms before I had to take toilet break and he went on his way. After that, I found another Malaysian buddy to suffer with, and we shared our stories throughout the last few kilometres. A 3 hours 28 mins half marathon ended the 8 hours 10 mins long torture.

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It was not a very good timing, but I was happy to have finished the race, since I did consider not starting the run after the major cramp. It was a well organised race by Ironman Asia Pacific. The only regret I had was missing the opportunity to take photo with Crowie.

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Foldio – My First Kickstarter Backing

One of the dilemmas I face when taking photos is deciding whether to use my smart phone to quickly snap a photo or taking out my DSLR set up. When I want photos quickly, such as taking photos of products I wish to sell online, a smartphone camera gives me quick result, ready to be posted online. The downside to this is the poor lighting on the product, making it less appealing to potential customers.

Foldio seeks to solve this problem by providing a mobile studio set up tailored for smart phone cameras. The Kickstarter project was started some time last year and when I came across it, it didn’t take me long to decide to back this project. On Kickstarter, visitors could choose to donate any amount of money to help the guys behind the project take their idea into reality. Higher amounts of donation entitle backers to some rewards, including a Foldio mailed to their homes. I decided on the full Foldio package with a few background sheets. The backing process was quite seamless, but at times filled with some uncertainty whether the project is progressing. Nevertheless, the Foldio team regularly posts updates on the project and how close they are to delivering the final products.

To cut the story short, a few days ago I received a notice to collect my Foldio delivery from the post office. So after collecting it today, I quickly unwrapped it to find my own Foldio set, complete with colorful background sheets.

Foldio - in folded state

Foldio – in folded state

Colourful background sheets

Colourful background sheets

Foldio is made of a piece of flexible plastic, with magnets attached at specific spots to hold its structure when it’s folded into shape.

Foldio - fully assembled

Foldio – fully assembled

The job to light up the mini studio is done by a strip of LED lights powered by a single 9V battery. The numerous white LEDs along the strip did well in providing even lighting across.

LED lights

LED lights

Here are some test shots of a Munchkin bobblehead and a toy car using Foldio. Both shots had the LED strip turned on. The only difference is that the second shot was taken with the iPhone flash turned on.

Test shot without iPhone flash

Test shot without iPhone flash

Test shot with iPhone flash

Test shot with iPhone flash

As you can see, the LED lights are positioned above the object nearest to the phone. The high lighting creates shadows in some parts of the Munchkin and soft fill light is needed to lighten up the shadows. The iPhone flash is way too strong, creating harsh shadow behind the objects. Perhaps I should consider placing another LED strip at the bottom of the box for fill, and maybe rig up a simple voltage divider to control the brightness.