My friend, it is time to come out of the closet…

The Closet Christian
“I am a closet Christian. At least, I was until now. Because in my circle, nothing is more embarrassing than being religious.” Ada Calhoun, Salon Magazine

We have every controversial group in America coming out of the closet, but many of you Christian men (and women) are still hiding in there with the light switch off and the door locked. Here you are receiving all of God’s truly remarkable blessings, and you still won’t swing open that closet door and tell the world who you are.

Tony Evans, Th.D

This post is dedicated to my friends and associates, the individuals that I have had the pleasure of participating with in cycling, swimming, running, cross country skiing, and rock climbing and mountaineering over the last couple of decades.

Continue reading “My friend, it is time to come out of the closet…”

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Just for Giggles: Road Bike Position Video Analysis

The Story Behind the Story

As a former competitive Nordic skier and Biathlete, I grew accustomed over many years to video evaluations, the content ranging from both classic and skating technique to shooting position and technique. Under the watchful eye of a qualified coach, I learnt a lot about my visible strengths and apparent weaknesses throughout the duration of the competitive ski season.

Often, in early season on-snow junior/master XC camps, my coach would put together a funny video of unintentional mistakes and epic crashes made by athletes over the long weekend. Everything from inadvertently planting an uber-expensive carbon fibre pole between skating skis, leading to the infamous face-plant in the snow and frequent whining and crying over a broken pole, to horrific blowouts on technical downhill turns. The most famous of those downhill crashes is subject material for another post.

Sometimes, just to aggravate or irritate my coach, I would literally fly through the camera field of view, double poling like a madman. The subsequent video would just show a colourful blurred image blasting across the video screen. Thus, my nickname, “the Flash” stuck with me on the domestic racing circuit of western Canada.

My acquired knowledge from video tape analysis for Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon led me to start video analyzing my road bike and time trial bike position and pedalling technique while on a trainer or out on the road, especially while hill climbing and sprinting.

In some ways, this analysis has proven to be far more helpful than paying a bike shop an exorbitant sum of money for something similar.

The Problem

As I grow older, my flexibility over the cycling season often changes for the worse (very tight hamstrings and lower back muscles). I find that comparative before and after video analysis, while on a trainer, can clearly reveal those weaknesses in pedalling inefficiency and upper body overcompensation. Tight hamstrings, butt muscles, and lower back muscles often lead to pretty weird knee alignment in multiple planes over the entire pedal stroke. Left without some form of correction for muscle tightness and possible shoe/cleat/pedal alignment readjustments (including subtle saddle height adjustments, saddle fore/aft positioning, and stem adjustments), this problem of obvious improper pedalling mechanics inevitably leads to knee pain, calf/achilles tendon injuries, and SI joint inflammation and dysfunction sometime in the cycling season. None of us are perfectly symmetrical, thus, I tend to suffer from problems with my slightly longer and stronger left leg than my right. Paradoxically, the SI joint inflammation and discomfort that I experience is predominantly on my right side.

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Video analysis of bike position and pedalling efficiency (BCR; out-of-saddle climbing position) ©2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

The Solution

I have developed a much more sophisticated approach to video analysis than when I first started out. In the early days I used a DV tape-based camera with questionable video quality under poor natural or artificial lighting. Today I use a multi-camera setup utilizing a Garmin Virb Elite (1080P) in conjunction with a Panasonic G6 (1080P) with a Zoom lens set to the same field of view as the fixed lens in the Garmin. Normally I use at least a two video light setup indoors (much clearer video and no shadows).

In this particular video, I did not use any external video lighting because I find the lighting runs just too hot for an hour long training session. A good warm-up of at least 20 minutes is essential to providing a clear indication of true body position pedalling mechanics.

The approximately one-hour long video was edited in DaVinci Resolve on a MacBook Air, the end result is a comparatively short clip demonstrating both my body position(s) and pedalling efficiency in a multi-camera viewing environment. The edited clip is then evaluated on my iPad utilizing the various measurement tools of Dartfish Express, a sport video analysis app. All training metrics including power, speed, distance, cadence, and heart rate are recorded simultaneously on my relatively ancient iBike Pro head unit and within the VirtualTraining app on my iPad mini.

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Dartfish Express for iOS

As you can see, the lighting in the video is sub-optimal, but still useful for evaluation. Shooting at a wide angle in 1080P allows me to crop in and output at 720P for further analysis in Dartfish. I made the error of securing my rear wheel too tight on the trainer (a big no-no on a carbon fibre framed bike) and was having trouble shifting my rear derailleur while in the big chainring in front. My normal cruising cadence of 90-105 rpm (on average) is a little slower in the video due to pushing a pretty big gear. For those in the know, I utilize a narrower handlebar (42mm) for better aerodynamics in a rather upright and relaxed position suitable for longer distance cycling like Century rides. You might notice from the back viewpoint, my relatively wide shoulders are rolled in somewhat, possibly accounting for more-than-usual upper body fatigue and sternum and collarbone pain on rides longer than 2-3 hours. For enhanced breathing (worse aerodynamics) I could easily use a 44cm or 46cm bar and a slightly longer stem. Unlike the tendency of many Pro Tour riders, small frames and stupid-long slammed stems are not for me – that simply affects bike handling and comfort in a negative way.

A Comical Side

The video itself is rather comical, especially for the uninitiated, all decked out in my Old School (circa 1970’s) cotton handkerchief headband and modern black-framed funky glasses. The black kit (t-shirt and cycling shorts) does work well though, providing a stark contrast against freshly painted white walls. Our former family room/rumpus room had recently been renovated, devoid of normal furniture and pictures on the walls.

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Red Bull Racing: The Excitement of Formula 1

 

Red Bull Racing, also known as Red Bull or RBR is a Formula One racing team, racing under an Austrian licence, based in the United Kingdom. It is one of two Formula One teams owned by beverage company Red Bull GmbH, the other being Scuderia Toro Rosso.

The team won four successive Constructors’ Championship titles, in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, becoming the first Austrian licensed team to win the title. The team also produced the quadruple world champion driver of 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, Sebastian Vettel.

Managed by Christian Horner, the team has used Renault engines since 2007. Red Bull Racing then used TAG Heuer-branded Renault engines starting from the 2016 season.

Wikipedia

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Tamiya TRF 102: Red Bull Racing
© 2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

There is nothing more exciting in the world of automobile racing than Formula 1. Red Bull Racing has been a large part of that excitement since November of 2004, over thirteen years of fabulous racing on the F1 circuit worldwide.

In all sincerity, I cannot think of another commercial sponsor/owner, like the beverage company Red Bull GmbH, that has generated more interest in F1 Racing.  It is also important to acknowledge that Red Bull has been directly involved in many other types of motorized racing, notably the Red Bull Air Race Series.

The trickle down effect of motorized racing has led to some of the most beautiful and fast  automobiles, motorbikes, boats, and planes in the world. In my opinion, society would be awfully boring if design and manufacturer of domestic and foreign automobiles, etc.,  was left to socialist governments, pencil pushers, bean counters, brain-dead environmentalist wannabe’s, and the ranks of mind-numbing state-controlled engineers. The Lada’s and VW Beetles of yesterday are a prime example of the aforementioned.

When the minds of men and women are allowed unrestricted creativity and limitless exploration in design and engineering, the fruit of their labour is Formula 1 Racing.

Update

As mentioned in several previous posts, I am slowly building up a race worthy 1:10 scale radio controlled F1 car and accessories. Life has gotten in the way of some of my grandest plans, but things are coming together quite nicely. Some of you may be involved in the sport of 1:10 scale F1 racing on indoor carpet track or outdoor paved tracks scattered around the globe. You are aware of the time and cost to build up a competitive platform, not to mention the precision driving skills necessary to put up a good fight on a tricky course. With time and dedication, I am certain that all these things will come to fruition.

I have been blessed with a very generous family, and I am aware of a few special items that will be waiting for me under the Christmas tree this year. Hopefully, those items will include a slick Futaba transmitter and receiver, a pro-level AC/DC charger from SkyRC, and a nice selection of lithium batteries to power the transmitter and car.

Extra tools (quality specialized tools are really expensive), spare tires & wheels, and miscellaneous spare parts will have to wait until sometime in the new year. Ideally, sometime in 2018, I would like to build from scratch an identical Tamiya F1 car, or perhaps something new from XRAY X1 or the RC10F6 Factory Team car from Team Associated.

In the final analysis, my new hobby is rapidly approaching the economics of purchasing and maintaining a quality road racing bike and a time trial bike. That is the problem of being a creative and imaginative person with many interests – I need to be looking constantly for ways to reduce my general interests down to the ones I love the most 😉

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Toyota Helix Bruiser

Ok, that’s just weird. Toyota builds a full-size replica truck to commemorate Tamiya’s 1980’s 1:10 scale, radio-controlled, Toyota Bruiser 4×4 pick-up.

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We save a lot of money spending money we don’t got…

The Consumer, Stompin Tom Connors.

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F1 Racing: A Proper Foundation

Tamiya TRF102
Tamiya TRF102 1:10 chassis for F1 racing.

Over the years, TRF (Tamiya Racing Factory) has established itself as one of the elite R/C racing teams in the world, with its drivers taking numerous championships at both the national and international levels. Fans all over the world can enjoy the fruits of their labor with this TRF Series and arm themselves with these products infused with TRF’s expert knowledge.

Tamiya

There has been only a few times in my life where I stumbled upon a deal that I could not pass up. Thus was the case a few weeks ago when I just happened to notice a completed, 1:10 scale, Formula 1 class RC car sitting on a shelf in the back of a local hobby shop.

After two inquiries with the shop owner, I broke out the Visa card and made, what I consider, an equitable purchase. If I revealed what I paid for the pièces de résistance, it would bring tears to the eyes of those in the know.

The truth is that there is not much market, in our Queen city, for F1 cars intended to be raced on a indoor/outdoor track only. Only a select few individuals actually race in F1, mostly at a Western Canadian Championship level, the 1:12 scale Touring and Modified Touring classes being much more popular.

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Tamiya TRF 102: Red Bull Racing © 2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

Did I start out with the idea of spending big bucks on a chassis, body(s), tires and wheels, electronics, and spare parts for indoor racing? Absolutely not! But, I clearly understand that in order to be competitive in F1, the chassis of the car is of prime importance.

In the real Formula 1 world, the folks over at Red Bull Racing would wholeheartedly agree.

Assuming my driving skills will develop over time to a more competitive level, I am looking forward to the challenge. Now, if I could only nail down some sponsors 😉

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RC Racing: Why Formula 1?

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Tamiya TRF 102: Red Bull Racing
© 2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

It is interesting to note that, almost without fail, whenever I start on another time-consuming project in life, specifically Formula 1 class RC racing, the naysayers, those that discourage, and the envious show up.

What is it with people that they cannot be encouraging towards someone starting out (a newbie) in a new sport or hobby?

If I had a dime for all the negative and envious people I meet day-in and day-out, I would be an extraordinarily rich man.

In the words of Rhett Butler (Clarke Gable) in the 1939 motion picture “Gone with the Wind”:

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Continue reading “RC Racing: Why Formula 1?”