Fun with cycle training rollers and SWIMTAG

After several months, I finally decided to pump up the tyres on my road bike and take it for a spin. However, I wasn’t too keep on going out on the road and didn’t fancy the turbo so before I sat in the saddle, I bought some cycle training rollers. I went for the Tacx Antares as a few friends had recommended them and they were reasonably priced. I’ve subsequently read that there may be a design fault which means that the bearings get noisy quite soon in their life so will be keeping an eye on that and potentially purchasing some spare bearings if outside warranty from Simply Bearings  and following the advice on John’s Cycling Diary.

Having ordered the rollers, they arrived the following day and I waited until the evening to try them out. Having heard of many a fall from grace on people’s first attempts at using rollers, I made sure I was nestled up close to a wall and with a chair on the other side just in case I needed something to grab hold of. Wise move!

Of course, the first challenge was getting on the bike once it was on the rollers. This involved balancing precariously on a stool in my cycling shoes. That was almost an accident waiting to happen in itself. Fortunately, I managed it without breaking an ankle and I could maneuvere myself onto the bike, clip in and then hug the wall for dear life before starting to pedal.

At first, all the bike would do would slip diagonally away from me as I slid down the wall. However, by resting on my elbow, I could get the bike upright and start pedaling… and pedaling and pedaling. If you stop pedaling, showtime is over – unless you’re videoing yourself for You’ve Been Framed or YouTube!

It certainly took a little getting used to using the rollers and there were several whoa moments. I rode off the rollers a couple of times and was saved by the carefully placed chair. However, I did get the hang of it and managed to roll (?) for 20 minutes and cover about 9.5km (average speed 28.3kmph).

It’s fairly clear where I had my ‘whoa’ moments below!!



14-03-2014 22-56-16



I enjoyed being in the rollers far more than the turbo. Trying to keep balanced was quite a challenge and it meant much more concentration was required. Holding the handlebars loosely also helped as did looking ahead rather than down.

After I got off the bike, I did a 25 minute run on the treadmill; my first brick session of the year.

Today, I decided to make up (partly) for missing Wednesday morning’s STC swim session (due to feeling the onset of man-flu) by going to the pool. Halfway there, I realised that I’d forgotten my Garmin. I have been known to turn around and go home but thought that it was worth carrying on anyway and swimming naked (e.g. without a Garmin!) However, I then remembered SWIMTAG which is a wristband with similar sensors to Poolmate and Garmin Swim which Fleming Park have recently introduced which gym and swim members can use whilst, er, swimming.

The SWIMTAG captures many of the same metrics as the Garmin Swim and 910XT but has no start/stop or lap buttons and no display. At first, I thought that I’d miss seeing my pace, etc, but soon changed my mind.

Having got changed, it was time to get into the water. It was nice not to have to worry about setting up the activity mode and tell the Garmin I was indoors, I simply got in the water with the SWIMTAG and started swimming. It worked out what my stroke was, how many strokes I was taking, when I got to the end of the pool, etc, etc. It also worked out when I was stationary and therefore taking rest breaks. On the Garmin, you have to set a rest period by pressing the lap button at the start and end and it then works out from the fact that you’re not accelerating/decelerating or taking strokes that you must be on a rest break. The SWIMTAG worked this out without needing to be ‘told’.

Because I couldn’t see the stats (as the SWIMTAG has no display), there was no opportunity to get excited about a fast lap or disappointed by the slow laps. I could just swim and not worry. It was actually quite liberating. Using the Garmin 910XT (or Garmin Swim) can be quite a faff. Remembering to set the right mode, setting the pool length, remembering to start it, pause it, stop it, hoping it’ll work out what stroke I’m doing all detracts a little from the swimming. I have been known to forget to start the Garmin, push off from the wall and then stop swimming so I could start the Garmin and try again. With the SWIMTAG, that wouldn’t happen. Far more opportunity to concentrate on swimming whilst still having stats to show progress. The only downside is that the SWIMTAG doesn’t record the data in a format that is compatible with Garmin Connect so I’ve had to summarise my swim stats for that. However, as I’d forgotten the Garmin anyway, at least I have some stats.

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