100th day of the Global Corporate Challenge!

This is my pedometer.

My close friend and hated enemy for the last 100 days.  We’ve gone through the joys of reaching new personal bests.  The disappointments when my daily step count has been so low that it’s screaming at me to do more.  Even going to sleep in bed with it sometimes accidentally!

Back in May this year, my workplace signed up to be part of the Global Corporate Challenge – basically a workplace fitness and health program with 2 main aims – get employees fit and healthy, and raise money for some charities (The Iganga Babies Home – http://igangababies.org/ and the Foundation for Chronic Disease Prevention – http://www.chronicdiseaseprevention.org/).

Entry money was covered by my work, so the real personal challenge was doing at least 10,000 steps everyday for 16 weeks.  Whoa… at the start I thought that this would not be possible.  My job is in the IT industry – sitting at the desk for practically the whole day.  I reckon days could go by and I wouldn’t do walk more than 3,000 steps.   So to get to 10,000 would mean I’d have to do something… each and every day.   And to do it for nearly 4 months!   1 month I could probably adjust temporarily for… but for 4 months, this is almost like they want this to really change daily habits!

Well, a few of us signed up in our group here, and we started really enthusiastically.  Instead of sitting at our desks for lunch, we actually went out and walked.  It was liberating getting out of the office.  I joined a local cycling club and started doing rides every Saturday morning so that I could relax my step count for the rest of the week.  But unfortunately, lately our team has been hit by a few travel trips, a few cases of the cold, rainy weather – and my average and the team’s average has dropped.

Being an engineer, I started to take note of routes and how many steps I would do on each.  Nothing like being able to get out for a quick 15 minute walk and raking up a couple of thousand steps :) 

And of course, the computer nerd in me meant that I had to create a spreadsheet where I tracked steps, cycling kms, and so on.  Even down to how many kms I’d need to cycle to catch the next team ahead of us.

Now we’re 2 weeks from the end and my average is currently 15,466 steps.  Not bad, but it has dropped since I started when it was hovering around 17,000 steps. 

But the great news is that the consistent exercise and getting out on the bike combined with eating less has resulted in weight loss!

Now I’m on my 100th day with less than 2 weeks to go.  I was looking forward to the freedom of not having to clip on the pedometer one morning, but the fitness bug in me has decided to sign up for another work fitness challenge – another month of wearing the pedometer!

The mess of bike tire sizes

My road bike has 700x23C marked on its tires.  

Last week, I was curious and Googled 700x23C to see what it meant – of course, so I could figure out what my tire diameter and circumference is to put into the bike computer.  And thus I stumbled upon the mess that is bike tire size designations!

There seem to be various ways of designating tire width.   I think the Wikipedia article here summarises the ISO, Inch markings and French designation very clearly with a nice diagram:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_5775

For my wheel (which is a very common racing wheel size), 700 x 23C is an old French desingation broken down as follows:

700

This used to refer to the overall inflated tire diameter.  However, I think it’s lost its meaning/accuracy over the ages, and 700 now means a rim diameter of 622mm (across the bead set).

The French system can also append a letter code here to designate the width of the tire.  The common “700″ tire is actually 700C.  Much more info here courtesy of the extremely knowledgeable Sheldon Brown:  http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

23

The second number is meant to be the tire width.  Since bike tires are nearly circular when pumped up, one can estimate that the “height” of the tire is the same as the width – in my case, 23mm.

C

I think this last letter refers to the type of rim.   C means Crotchet-type, whereas SS means Straight-side and HB means Hooked-bead.

Putting it together

If I assume that my bike tire is circular when pumped up (so the “height” is the same as the “width”), the overall diameter of my bike tire is 622 + 23 + 23 = 668mm.  This makes a circumference of 2098.58mm.  This sort of matches the range in various bike computer manuals.

Of course, it’s probably easier and more accurate to just marki a spot on the floor and your wheel, make sure your tires are pumped up to the right PSI, sit on your bike and roll it a couple of revolutions, and then measure the distance to work out the circumference :)

Oh, one interesting blog I discovered on my travels today – the Lovely Bicycle – great photos, stories and articles on vintage bikes and cycling – http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/

More info

ISO Standard – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_5775
Tire Sizing – http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html
Rim Sizing – http://sheldonbrown.com/rim-sizing.html

LiveStrong’s article on Bike Tire Sizes – http://www.livestrong.com/article/336406-explain-bike-tire-sizes/
Mysteries of Tire/Tyre Widths – http://www.tricktrack.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5566&start=0

Sigma 1909 HR STS Bike Computer Review

After a year of serious cycling, I have finally bought a bike computer.  So far, I’ve been getting by by using TrailGuru on the iPhone for post trip analysis, or asking my fellow riding friends during the ride, “How fast are we going?”.  Not very scientific or useful.  Sort of like driving a car without a speedo, or having a bank account without transaction history.

Yesterday, my eBay purchase of the Sigma 1909 HR STS arrived! 

This little computer does speed, cadence and heart rate – all wirelessly too!  I definitely wanted speed so I can maintain a good pace which is useful when cycling in a pack.   I heard that cadence was useful to make my cycling more efficient.  And heart rate should be useful to improve my fitness.

First Impressions

I was worried that the screen would be quite small, which would make it hard to look at when cycling.  But no, when I unboxed the Sigma, I was happy to see a large clear display!

The wireless sensors seem a bit big, but I’ve heard that they are smaller than the Cateye wireless ones, so I’m not complaining.

Packaging all looks professional, instructions were very clear, all good!

Nice things about the Sigma package is that you get O rings as well as zip ties – you can choose which way to secure the parts to your bike.  It also came with a sample tube of Buh Bump heart rate monitor electrode cream!

Installation

The Sigma website actually has videos showing you how to install the sensors on your bike.  You gotta see the video once – it’s useful, but moreso because it’s all done in cheezy simulated slomo.  The actor must’ve had a ball recording this.

Mounting was pretty simple thanks to the clear instructions.   I just had some problems with the magnet on the front wheel.  It seems if it was mounted the correct orientation, the magnet jutted too far out and kept hitting the sensor. I couldn’t move the sensor any further away from the spokes.   So I’ve temporarily mounted the magnet facing the other way on the spoke.   Not ideal but it’s still registering OK.

Very small gap between magnet and sensor

One nice feature about the sensor – it seems to make a small clicking sound everytime the magnet goes by.  Not sure if this is the magnet relay inside the sensor or an actual click from a speaker, but it makes it easier to tell whether the sensor is working or not.

The cadence sensor was quite easy to install and didn’t seem to get in the way of my shoe at all.

Sigma cadence sensor

Operation

At first I wasn’t sure how to turn the device on or off!  But it seems to be always in standby, turn on when it detects movement from the sensors, and goes back to standby automatically after some period of not being used.

Speed and cadence worked fine for me.  Actually, I noticed I ended up pushing myself more on my ride to work today because of the computer!  So it must be doing something right :)    And it was nice to see the cadence so that I could keep it around 80-90rpm.  

The speed and distance sort of matched up with TrailGuru on the iPhone.   Yeah I know, a pretty short commute to work and “slowish” because of traffic lights, intersections, etc :)

The thing that didn’t work for me though was the heart rate monitor.  I had it strapped on, and I did wet it before I started (and it was pretty wet when I finished), but it didn’t register anything!  No heart rate.  I’ll need to investigate another time – maybe it was in the wrong location on my chest, or maybe the shape of my chest is not conducive to strap on heart rate monitors.  Hmm..

So for AUD $129 off eBay, the Sigma 1909 HR seems like quite a bargain.   Especially when a Cateye RD400DW double wireless without a heart rate monitor goes for the same price on eBay and the Polar CS400 and CS500 ones with heart rate monitor go from $349 to $399.

I’ll need to try different positions for the HRM strap and see if it makes any difference…   and try that sample Buh Bump cream!

More info here: http://www.sigmasport.com/en/produkte/bikecomputer/topline_2009_wireless/bc1909/

Think I’ve worked out the Tour de France scoring scheme

Yay!  Even more sports on TV to watch – now that the World Cup is nearly over, the Tour de France has started.  A chance for me to get inspired by these lycra wearing machines.  I can’t believe they do stages of over 200km day after day, up massive hills, and with overall average speeds over the whole tour of around 40km/h.  This is absolutely crazy.  I can just barely get up to 40km/h as my top speed now!

Mornings of 0 to 2 degrees Celcius have unfortunately stopped me from riding as much as I’d like too. 

Along with the Tour de France comes my total confusion on how the scoring works.  Now that the Tour has just started, I thought, what an ideal time to try and figure out how the different competitions work.   I know there’s different jerseys like the Yellow, Green, Polka Dot.  I know that some are for the total cumulative time, some for points.

So as of today, I know that there’s been the Individual Time Trial, and 1 stage so far.

According to the standings, Cancellara is leading the Yellow Jersey with a time of 5h, 19’38″ but Petacchi is the Green Jersey leader with 35 points.

How can this be if there’s only been 2 races?   I was thinking – if Petacchi crossed the line first, then shouldn’t he have the most points AND have the shortest time at the moment?

Looking at the Stage 1 standings, Petacchi came across the line first, and thus scored 35 points.  Points are given to the first 25 to cross, so Cancellara didn’t get any points on stage 1.   However, I noticed that all the top 184 riders all have a stage time of 5h 09’38″, including Cancellara. 

And that’s where something clicked for me – Cancellara AND Petacchi have the same time for Stage 1, but Petacchi got 35 points but Cancellara got none.  It seems points are handed out to riders in the order they finish, but the times for riders are deemed to be the same the gap is less than 1 second – basically, all the riders in a peleton that cross the line get the same time.

So, Cancellara missed out on points for Stage 1, but got 15 points for winning the Individual Time Trial.   Whereas, Petacchi didn’t get any points on the Individual Time Trial, but got 35 points for winning Stage 1.  So this explains why Petacchi is winning on points.

But as for times – since the whole peleton was registered with a time of 5h 09’38″, the time for Petacchi and Cancellara is the SAME for Stage 1.   So the only differing factor so far is the Individual Time Trial where Petacchi was 48 seconds slower than Cancellara’s 10’00″.   So Petacchi’s overall time is 5h 09’38″ + 10’48″. 

All make sense?   Or have I made a mistake?

Some useful links:

The overall Tour de France Standings – http://www.letour.fr/2010/TDF/LIVE/us/100/classement/index.html
Wikipedia’s Tour de France page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_de_France
Wikipedia article on Tour de France point classification – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Points_classification_in_the_Tour_de_France
Tour de France FAQ – http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/article/tour-de-france-rules-frequently-asked-questions-17218