Some Tacx, Zwift and turbo training learnings

Having used the Tacx non-smart i-Genius turbo trainer for a while, I have also been using my Tacx smart Flow trainer a lot recently.

The Tacx Flow is great value, the lowest price Tacx trainer that is fully smart, i.e. ANT FE-C and Bluetooth bidirectional. Thus the trainer software (Tacx films or 3rd party like Zwift, on laptop or handheld device where applicable) will control the Flow brake, and the Flow sends all speed, power and cadence data to the training software.

You can also control a smart trainer like the Tacx Flow with the Garmin x20 series, i.e. such as the 520 or 820 that have the right data protocols.

At this low end of the Tacx range, you are limited to 6% uphill simulation and 750W power, but I don’t find this too much of an issue. Because it doesn’t have a motor to help simulate downhill freewheeling (like the I-Genius I also have) you work harder downhill to make up for it being easier at 7% uphill and above because the resistance is limited to simulating 6% max.

The Tacx Vortex does 7% and 950W but not worth quite a bit extra price in my opinion. I have published quite a bit on all this on Facebook to my cycling Club I have also described how Zwift offers the option of increasing what they call “difficulty” from the default standard 50% to something higher. This increases resistance on hills, lowering cadence and speed and leaving power the same.

Tacx have something called “virtual speed” which decreases reported speed uphill and increases it downhill to compensate for the maximum simulated uphill and downhills on trainers like the Flow and Vortex.

The much more expensive Tacx Neo, Genius and Bushido don’t need that.

DCRainmaker always offers good information, especially his “all you wanted to know…” page which is at
32 minutes ago

A visit to the Westerham Cyclery

Having seen this excellent blog post on Facebook about the Westerham Cyclery,

Westerham Cyclery at the Green

Westerham Cyclery at the Green

and linked to it from there – I thought I should add my own pictures and very positive comments, having been hosted into hosted by their very friendly staff!img_6246 I went there to meet up with a cycling Glasgow Green Cycle Club friend, Susie Goodwin, and then to ride one of the climbs back over the North Downs.


The cake options, with second piece of bread pudding!

The highlight of my visit, I have to own up to, was the (two pieces of!) bread pudding, but they have all sorts of cakes and drinks, plus a well stocked bike shop, a very safe place in the courtyard to park (and lock if desired) the bike, and tables and seats in that courtyard for

My first helping of bread pudding

My first helping of bread pudding

a quiet al fresco rest.

img_6244I am based near Glasgow in Scotland, but now, added to the Spitfire café in Biggin Hill, Westerham Cyclery will be at the top of list for my next ride south of London when visiting family. The café garden is a great place to meet people and relax.

img_6336From a riding point of view, there are quite a few climbs back over the North Downs, including Chalkpit Lane which I rode on another visit. My first return was via the signposted route from Westerham to Croydon, which is a more gentle climb that anyone can manage, so go ahead and make a visit!

North over the Crow and south over the Tak

A very good 50 mile ride yesterday with Douglas Beattie. We took the Drymen road to Carbeth, down the Cuilt Brae, and over to Lennoxtown to go over the Crow Road to Fintry. Then the horrible surface of the Carron Valley Road to Carron Bridge, up the Tak (through a flood at the bottom) and down to the Boathouse in Kilsyth for well deserved scones and cream tea! A gentle ride from there to Twechar and thence via Torrance to Bearsden completing our 50 miles. Along the way we met some interesting people – Paul at Carbeth walking with his lovely, friendly bull mastiff Zenden, and also his hawk Ruby who was eventually seen on top of a telegraph pole waiting for us to leave so that she could return to Paul’s glove. Lots of chat about dogs and how to drink whisky! Then, at the top of the Crow, we met Alec, 88 years young, who had run quite a few marathons (he says New York is the best, by the way, with great goodie bags!) and lots of other running. His athletic life showed in his healthy and fit demeanour! The only surprise of the day was not meeting Alex, Natalie or Andy of West Coast Velo at the Tak ma Doon car park! Altogether a great day out on bikes!

Tak ma Doon climb from Carron Bridge to viewpoint

This is the easier side of the Tak, but there are some very steep little ramps, limited to 10-11%, which is a critical 2% or so less than the north side, where the steeper parts are also longer. On this side, however, there is plenty of less steep road where a rest can be taken, back in the saddle. I have been up a few times on my geared bike, and also single speed but only on 46/18, 69″ gear. i think that is a sensible maximum for me! There is a ford about half way (surprisingly there is a loch, not at the bottom but also half way up) and at the top the views from the car park viewpoint are all the way over to Grangemouth, the Forth Bridge and the new crossing. Very much worth the climb!!

Crow Road climb, south side from Lennoxtown

This is the side of the climb I have probably done most often, and also quite a few times just up to the car park, about 1/2 way. It’s about 2.5 miles for the full climb. The car park is pretty much the finish of the Glasgow Green Cycle Club hill climb course; going for the full climb, for me, requires holding back a little to the car park as the steepest parts of the second half of the full climb are just after the car park, and after a short relief, again just after that. It flattens nearer the top (the whole hill is pretty much convex like an upturned pudding bowl) and I can spin up a 69″ gear quite nicely. Eminently do-able on my 46/18 fixed and single speed (69″), and also 46/17 73″). I chose 54″ for the last hill climb event (which turned out to be too low, I think) and did it in 8:38 (approximately to the car park) and with 69″ my best is just on 10 minutes. i would think a 62″ or 66″ gear might be best for me. The full climb is a little over 20 minutes for me. The thing that makes this climb a little easier, given its maximum steepness, is that there are flatter sections here and there where I can get back in the saddle for a bit!

Crow Road climb, north side from Fintry

Another climb I do frequently on my 46/18 single speed, a little longer than the south side of the Crow Road, and no car park half way up if a rest is needed! It’s about 3.5 miles, and I have also done it on 46/17, a 73″ gear. That demonstrated it is a little harder at its steepest points than the north side from Lennoxtown