Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ditches

The township cleaned the ditches this week. I guess I should be pleased that the mailbox is still in place.

The ole mailbox is looking pretty rough after being run over a couple times, hit by boom mower, thrown in the creek, thrown in the neighbors woods, and now had a ditch spun in front of it.

And, just when my ankle was almost its normal size, a wasp stung me just just above my sock. Result = cankle. Grr, wasps are jerks.

And since Ohio (as a lot of the country) is experiencing multiple rounds of weird winter weather and I still can't seem to get many rides outside, I am still using the indoor trainer. Last summer I bought a slightly used Tacx Vortex Smart. Fully controllable with BTLE or ANT+ (depending on the software and device). Here are a few thoughts on it and on a few of the available training software packages out there. The iOS Tacx apps work fine for calibration and firmware updates as well as just setting a power or slope point and rolling. All the weird issues and quirks seem to be with desktop apps for riding a virtual course. Depending on the software it may or may not use BTLE, it may or may not need paired again every time you use it, it may or may not work if your old iPod Bluetooth is turned on and sitting upstairs, it may or may not work is some Garmin software is running, oh, and the software support is pretty bad. The three packages I tried (Tacx, BKool, Rouvy) apparently are all translations from other languages to English, judging by the weird grammar, and have instructions like "pair the trainer".

Tacx was the easiest to pair to the trainer, as it should be, but I only successfully did a ride with it once. Instead, the app would regularly crash, without error, it would just disappear. It also needed to have ride videos pre-downloaded. These were big, multiple GB. And after downloading 3 GB only to have the app crash and the video disappear, let's say I was done using it.

The second app I tried was BKool. The challenge pairing with this was that it needed to use ANT+. But, if your Garmin software is running in the background it will prevent the connection, even though it can see it. And if anything BTLE is trying to connect to the trainer, ANT+ won't pair. This took me a while (days) to figure out. The software itself was stable. Browsing all the videos and routes was a little labored but I wasn't overly picky about the ride as long as it hit the time frame/distance/climbing I was looking for. I also don't use it as a game and ride with/against friends so I don't have any comment on that nor did I use it for structured workouts. I actually subscribed to BKool for a couple months and used it a couple times a week. The rides and videos were great and terrible. I got to ride in Moab, in Spain, New Zealand, etc. Some videos were well produced. Some were almost dizzying. Some were in beautiful mountain areas and some on city streets loaded with cars. Not a refined package, but solid. I would not hesitate to use it again.

Finally I started using Rouvy (Virtual Training). Again, terrible instructions with weird grammar. I can use BTLE but only after you make sure every other device isn't trying to connect to the trainer. Also the trainer must be connected in Windows Bluetooth devices and then you can finally connect in the app. Oh, and when you restart the app you apparently have to re-do the Windows paring/connecting and then reconnect in the app. Supposedly an issue that Rouvy knows about and says that it is Windows' fault and the solution is to buy another BLTE dongle or repair each time. Not sure how much I buy in to that since the Tacx software paired fine. The software itself is much more refined than BKool. It has been very stable thus far too. I can stream the videos as I ride and don't have to use 4K either. I like the interface. This morning I rode in Red Rocks, so that was cool. Again, I have not tried any races, and structured workouts, or self created routes. I can subscribe monthly for about $8 so I may likely use it for a couple months.

Indoor trainer riding is hard mentally. Last year I rode more miles on rollers than I had ever in the past. I doubled that this year. Much more entertaining. I wasn't sure if a smart trainer would be worth the cost but will say that if you ride inside, it is.

So what's spinning? Been listing to a couple things lately. I got an Amazon Unlimited music account so I have listened to a lot of different stuff including some Grateful Dead. Actually listened to a live version of Dark Star that lasted so long it finished just before I got home on my half hour commute! I also really like the new U2 album, Songs of Experience. Some of their best of recent years. Check them out. Looking forward to the new Jack White hitting tomorrow.

Rock on.
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