TRIATHLETE'S BLOG

  • Matt Fisher

Dodgy pedals, a broken wheel and a busted ego

Last night was supposed to be a real ego boost; a chance to prove I’m not as unfit as I tend to make out. Having set a 25-mile TT PB and a 10-mile course PB on H10/3 recently, I wanted to have a go at setting an outright 10-mile TT PB. The target would be my first sub-22.

I admit, it’s an ego thing. I have friends that I regularly beat in races who have 21:xx 10-mile PBs while I’m stuck over 22. The Castle Combe motor racing circuit, with its silky smooth traffic-free tarmac, seemed like a good venue for the attempt.


Unfortunately, mechanics, weather and my only-too-obvious lack of fitness didn’t get the memo.


Mechanics

Swapping my Garmin Vector 2 pedals from the Giant TCR SL roadbike over to the Trinity on Tuesday evening, the pod on the left pedal decided to throw in the towel. It started to refuse to believe that it was attached to a pedal (whether left or right) and no amount of troubleshooting would bring it back to life.


I’ve been equally praising and critical of Garmin’s power pedals for as long as I’ve been using them (I had a pair of the original Vector 1s before these 2s). I love the portability. With two main road bikes and a time trial bike, I can’t really afford or justify having three power meters. So, the idea of a single set of pedals that can be swapped from bike to bike is a great idea in theory. In practice, the Vector 1s were pretty troublesome, with connection issues and (in my case) even coming off the crank arm (twice!) in the middle of a 50-mile TT (still managed sub two hours…).


Castle Combe 10-mile Time Trial

The Vector 2 design was much improved (no separation issues with these) but the promise of greater accuracy and tolerance to different torqueing levels seemed to not hold up. I would regularly notice power variations between bike to bike that just didn’t feel right (for my PB-setting TT ride, the Garmin Vector 2s recorded a power output lower than my FTP and 30 watts lower than a similar ride on the same bike last year).


The left pod giving up the ghost seemed like a good excuse to upgrade to the Vector 3s. But having done some searches on the internet, it seems early versions of these are also experiencing some fairly major issues. So I’m not sure I’m ready to splash out £900 for yet more Garmin kit that is potentially going to cause more issues than it solves. Instead, I’ve stumped-up the £50 for a replacement Vector 2 pod. We’ll see if it fixes the issue.


Nevertheless, riding without power last night can’t have helped.


The weather

How many times has a TT rider claimed that the weather was worse for them on their ride than any of the other 110 riders on course? Well, make that +1. The wind just seemed to get stronger and stronger last night, and being in the last 10 riders I think I got the worst of it. A strong wind coming out of the South West meant that (according to MyWindsock) I was into a headwind for 67% of the 10-miles.


I guess that’s the nature of a motor racing circuit, wherever the wind is coming from, you’ll both benefit at some point and pay a price at another. Unfortunately, last night the wind was just about in the worst possible direction (Despite a hugely strong ride, the winner was some 80 seconds off the course record).


Aware that my position on bike (especially my head position) leaves a lot to be desired, I really tried to concentrate on getting as aerodynamic as possible, really tucking my head in out of the wind. Looking at the photos, I seem to have had mixed success. More practice required (I find it so disconcerting when I can't see the road ahead!).


A general lack of fitness

Embarrassing as it is to admit, I even had an easy few days before last night’s TT. Or at least, I thought I did (less than three hours over the two days and less than half of that at any kind of threshold-type effort). But whatever I did, it didn’t work. Maybe I still haven’t recovered properly from the Mallorca camp and subsequent Australia/New Zealand work trip. Maybe my training lacks the intelligence it needs.


But whatever it is, the body just feels tired and lethargic.


Last night, I was mentally ‘up for it’. I maybe warmed-up a tad too enthusiastically, but not ridiculously so. On the start line, despite the weather and the lack of power data, I was ready to go. Perhaps too ready and in hindsight, I think I went off too hard (something a power meter might have prevented) as the first leg was straight into the prevailing headwind and slightly uphill.


Looking at my splits, my first lap time was ahead of a number of those who ultimately finished in front of me. By lap two, I was dying. My breathing was ragged but I just couldn’t get my heart rate up into my VO2 max zone. There was nothing more to give (or if there was, either mind or body wasn’t willing to give). Rookie riding at its best.


So, no new 10-mile TT PB. I have another chance (weather permitting) in just under a month on the P881 course in Hampshire. Hopefully enough time to both fix the Garmin Vector 2s and get some decent training in.


Dodgy wheels


As any regular readers of my blogs know, I wear my heart on my sleeve and call things as I see them. That’s why, despite my appreciation to Giant for their support, I’m going to call bullsh*t on their decision this week not to replace a broken SLR0 carbon wheel.


The wheel broke recently when I was replacing the tyre, admittedly using a plastic tyre lever. Somehow, the carbon around the brake track failed and splintered. Now let me say it again, I was using a thin plastic tyre lever. In my head, that tool should never cause this kind of failure in the wheel construction.


And it’s not the first time an SLR0 wheel has had such as issue. A friend with a similar bike and the same wheel had exactly the same thing happen last year. And on that occasion, Giant also refused to honour the warranty and the friend in question ended up buying a set of Zipp 404s (which have since been trouble-free).


Well, I can’t afford a set of Zipps right now. And frankly, I feel that I shouldn’t have to.



Despite buying six Giant bikes, don't expect good customer service

Sorry, Giant, but I feel really let down by you on this occasion. I've bought and paid for SIX bikes from you in the last four years and you can't even replace a wheel (or offer a replacement at a discounted price) that obviously has a manufacturing fault?


I know Giant isn't alone here. Friends have had similarly bad experiences with Canyon and other brands, but having spent so much money (even with team discounts) on Giant bikes in the last few years, it's a real shame to see such crappy customer service. I expected better.


So another frustrating week. I feel torn about racing Eastleigh 10km on Sunday morning. As I sit here typing at the kitchen table, my body is sore. No doubt then that I was trying hard last night (despite the crap result), but the soreness and lethargy is making me feel that Sunday could be even worse for the ego than last night was (and I know it’s normal to feel lethargic during a taper week, but this feels a bit different). Maybe I’ll feel better towards the end of the week.



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