What's Cool In Road Cycling

Toolbox: More Training Gifts Ideas!

Toolbox: Last week we explored gifts like winter gear for your bike and body to extend your outdoor riding season, along with ways to track and monitor your fitness and training. This week, let’s focus on gifts that can study your cycling biomechanics or just plain knock your cyclist’s socks off.

A pair of PEZ socks perhaps?

Biomechanics in Cycling
In some sports, biomechanics and perfecting a movement is king. Think of swimming, where minute changes in hand position and its movement through the water can lead to major changes in efficiency and speed. Or golf or baseball, where athletes spend years to analyze and improve their swing.

In those sports, while a coach’s trained eye is important, technology to analyze biomechanics is also king. Swimmers, golfers, and baseball batters alike rely on video analysis and more complex biomechanical tools to track and model their motions.

For some reason, despite the proliferation and relative ease of power monitoring in cycling compared to other sports, the actual biomechanical analysis of the pedal stroke in real time remains largely in its infancy.

This, however, may be starting to change, with some interesting options in the realm of biomechanical analysis. While we will have full reviews of these systems coming up, let’s talk briefly about two – The Leomo system and the Bike Fit Fast app. They are not two approaches to the same problem, but rather they address different needs.

Bike Fit App
First up is the Bike Fit Fast app. I stumbled upon it a few years ago while looking for an easy way to capture rider information like joint angles for my bike fits. This is an easy handheld app that offers many of the same elements you’d get from a high-end system like Retul or Dartfish, but it does it for all of $5.00!

Now, I’m not arguing that it is as comprehensive as either of those 3D systems, but it does allow an easy way to get your baseline joint angles and bike measurements so you can see where you’re at and have a record for future adjustments.

It also has an easy to use interface that includes video, graphical overlays, and a really intuitive user interface for optimizing your placement on relevant anatomical reference points. It also allows for exports of the video, including with overlays, and will give you a summary report of all of this if you upgrade to the “pro” level.

On a similar vein of performance improvement, but from a slightly different point of reference comes the “Leomo” system. I’ll have a much more comprehensive review of this system shortly, but did want to give you a quick look at what it can do.

Leomo is a mobile motion capture system that keeps track of the lower back and body during pedaling. Five sensors mount on the sacrum, femurs, and feet to get a picture of your pedaling relative to their proprietary measures for things like Dead Spot Score (DSS), Pedal Stroke Intelligence (PSI) and Foot Angular Range. It also tracks all of the typical metrics like power, heart rate GPS, and speed via a very robust head unit that is, frankly, the best I’ve seen. Below are a couple of screen shots.

PSI and PCD Mapping

The first is the PSI and PCD mapping. These show where exactly, and by color at what cadence, you have your pedaling issues. The PCD map is a representation of where you are most and least effective, again parsed into RPM and power ranges.

DSS and Angular Ranges

For example you can see that this athlete has a noticeable discrepancy between right and left leg pedaling at 81-90 rpm between about 100W and 300W. The Leomo’ system has some huge potential and the category of mobile motion capture is in its early stages, so I am intrigued by what the next few years holds in store.

Custom Bike
Maybe you are looking to hit it out of the park this year!? No problem, I’ve got a couple of really great ideas for you!

Get them a custom frame. More and more custom frames are making a comeback. There is nothing quite like having a hand in the creation of your own bike. From choosing materials and angles, to specifying the components and color of the paint, it is the one truly unique way to stand out from all other cyclists.

Our Toolbox Editor Stephen Cheung jumped the holiday gun and treated himself to a new custom titanium bike before the start of this CX season

Just look at some of the custom rigs in our popular Reader’s Rigs section for ideas. While it might not fit under the tree, will certainly set the bar to new heights on innovation and sincerity!

A “Classic” Gift!
Send them to a classic! Last year I took 10 riders on a team I coach to the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. We spent 10 days riding an insane amount of miles over some of cycling’s most famous roads, we cooked dinner at the house most nights and enjoyed some truly memorable meals out, including at the nearly mythic Carrefour De L’Arbre restaurant at the end of one of Paris Roubaix’s most storied sections of cobbles. It was the trip of a lifetime!

There are many outfits that offer this iconic trip, including mine, and the only question is how much you want to spend. With prices ranging from about $2500 to over $7000 for the adventure, you can pick your level of elegance or practicality and put something way way outside the norm under your tree!

The holidays can be rife with stress and anxiety. What to get for that hard to buy for cyclist shouldn’t be one of them! Ideas abound that will make any cyclists day come December 25th. From an affordable bike fit app to the custom frame or trip, you have innumerable options to create a truly memorable holiday!

About Matt McNamara: Matt is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach with over 20 years of racing, coaching and team management experience. This fall he is once again jumping into the ‘cross game in anticipation of a massive El Nino in Northern California and the arrival of much needed (and anticipated) rain! Matt is the founder and president of Sterling Sports Group. Learn more by visiting him online at www.sterlingwins.com.

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