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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The Big Green Meanie: Jealousy

1968-Jaguar-E-type-Roadster-Front-940x636
Facsimile of a 1968 Jaguar XKE Roaster (4.2 Litre) that I purchased as a 17-year-old. Mine was nearly identical, including the wire wheels with tube-type Pirelli tires; silver with black interior.

If there is one thing that human beings struggle with, almost on a daily basis, it is jealousy. In our tendency to be self-centered, we honestly believe that the whole universe revolves around us. When things do not go our way, and we begin to feel cheated in life, envy and the big green meanie on our shoulder suddenly appears – jealousy is made manifest.

Anyone that claims that they do not wrestle with jealousy, from time-to-time, in it’s many overt and covert manifestations, is in my opinion, either delusional or a compulsive liar.

Of course, some people struggle far more with jealousy than others. I think that jealousy is both a learned response (nurture) and a deeply imbedded feeling and/or response within our human makeup (nature).

The Bible tells us that jealousy is like cancer to the bones and is not wisdom from above, but rather earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. Proverbs 14:30 NLT

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:14-16 ESV

It is interesting to note that the latter part of the verse “...disorder and every vile practice” can rightfully be translated as “…disorder and every evil thing” referring to the invoking or welcoming of demonic spirits into our personal lives or the church community because of unchecked jealousy and selfish ambition.

As a father of three beautiful girls (now adults), I am well acquainted with the petty jealousies and squabbling that can go on amongst girls over just about anything. It is harder for me to admit that, I too struggled with petty jealousy when my wife poured her heart and life into our children, sometimes leaving me feeling isolated and left-out of the process. Something that took years for me to openly admit or confess to my wife much later in our marriage.

The empty-nest experience tends to bring out a whole new dimension to relationship in marriage.

Sometimes, jealousy over someone else’s possessions can lead to very hurtful actions. Permit me to relate a story to you concerning how jealousy perpetrated against me as a 17-year-old, led to a very painful initial consequence and a life lesson learned.

Just after high school, I was fortunate enough to land a well-paying seasonal job in prospecting and mining exploration in the far north of our province. It was an eight to ten hour day, seven-days-a-week, remote, camp-type job where I was isolated for months at a time along with a small crew, a pilot, engineer, and a camp cook. Most of our work was done many kilometres from camp and necessitated being flown in daily to our cut lines via helicopter or float plane.

I worked really hard that summer, battling adverse weather, hordes of mosquitoes, black flies, horse flies, and other nasty critters including the occasional massive black bear that would invade and destroy our camp. I saved almost every penny I earned in order to buy a nice sports car of some sort. Upon returning home to Saskatoon later that fall, I took out a modest bank loan and purchased a beautiful nine-year-old 1968 Jaguar XKE convertible. The fine British-made automobile was a real looker and attracted a lot of attention wherever I went – my pride and joy, the fruit of my labour.

One late Saturday night, a friend and I stopped by a popular Italian food restaurant on 8th Street (Tiffany’s) to grab my favourite snack, spaghetti and white mushroom sauce, before heading home. We bumped into a couple of friends there and we talked through the early morning hours until closing. When I came outside to start my car, I noticed someone had run a jagged key or serrated knife alongside the entire length of the car, from bonnet to rear trunk, leaving a horrible deep gouge in the original paint, effectively destroying the appearance of the car.

At first I was really angry, and then bitterly disappointed, nearly in tears. Some mean-spirited vandal, obviously jealous of someone else’s possessions, had nearly destroyed a beautiful classic sports car. That indignant, big green meanie, full of spite and jealousy was to later set me back a significant amount of money in careful bodywork and repainting the entire car.

I learned a very hard lesson or two through that experience that may surprise you:

  1. Don’t put too much emphasis on personnel possessions – where your treasure is, your heart will follow.
  2. Don’t be envious of other people’s possessions or blessings.

I was to later sell the car for a handsome profit and purchased my grandfather’s old putrid green, four-door, Ford LTD of 1969 vintage. The car served my purpose for a couple of years, the painful memory of a cruel act of jealousy had cleared my system, and I moved on to bigger and better things in my life.

Fancy sports cars no longer had a hold on me or a place in my heart. Someone else had got a hold of my heart, a beautiful young woman that I married roughly a year later 🙂

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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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Update: Gun Culture, Bicycles and the Law

Rather Bizarre
Unidentified road cyclist with semi-automatic firearm. The image may have been photographed somewhere in South Africa, circa 2014.

via The Ethnocentricity of America: A Gun Culture That Must Change — EclecticChoices

Well…apparently a member of the Montana Highway Patrol was in error to detain me on the Interstate highway (Route 93) just south of Hamilton, Montana. As far as I understand current statutes, it is lawful to bicycle on the shoulder of an Interstate highway in Montana, as long as a cyclist does not impede traffic.

I am not certain why I was singled out on that particular scorcher of a day a few years ago, but, in my opinion, the actions and words of one particular Trooper was clearly out of line.

My recommendation to fellow cyclists, especially Canadian road cyclists, who venture through the Bitterroot Valley corridor on Route 93, is to immediately comply with any police authority, and then file a formal complaint later with all those concerned.

And, no, don’t do something stupid like the guy in the picture, even if it may be theoretically legal in certain countries and US states to do so.

The choices we make today become who we are tomorrow…

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The Ethnocentricity of America: A Gun Culture That Must Change

Sometimes, Americans can be so ethnocentric. It is difficult, for more than a few, to appreciate anything else different upon this great blue marble. All that one sees is their own interests within an ever-shrinking worldview.

I don’t hold that against them. After all, your average American appears to be indoctrinated, from an early age, with the notion that the US is the greatest nation on the earth. There is considerable truth to that idea. Unfortunately, any individual or nation that just happens to disagree with that sentiment, in whole or in part, is invariably considered irrelevant and/or a threat to their American Way of  Life.

Strong words? Perhaps…but my point of view is quite prevalent amongst many Canadians, the Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, the EU, and a good deal of the rest of the world.

The questions remain. Is the aforementioned viewpoint or opinion valid? Is there some truth to this? Are Americans ethnocentric?

As an American, please do not allow your insides to get all tied up in a knot over mere words and opinion. Many Canadians have family, friends, and associates in the US, and visit various parts of America on a regular basis. California, Arizona, and Florida are filled with wealthy Canadian snowbirds and retirees. We are joined at the hip to Americans socially, culturally, economically, and so forth.

It is out of my own travel experiences, that I have come to some of my conclusions.

Sometimes, when I travel to the beautiful State of Montana, I am reminded how different we are as Canadians in some aspects.

I am frequently asked the question, “Where are you from?” in reference to my apparent accent and choice of vocabulary….eh?

Funny thing is that your average cowboy in Montana, dressed in Wrangler jeans, a plaid western-style shirt, a black Stetson, pickle-stabbers (cowboy boots), and adorned with a pearl-handled revolver in a ornate leather holster, often just does not get it.

Do they realize how difficult it is for people like me to grasp their unintelligible western drawl (strange pronunciation of English words), and seemingly threatening appearance (the gun-thing)? Just visit one of the local watering holes that many tend to congregate around as human beings and you will understand my dilemna.

You can talk about almost anything…just don’t talk about the politics of gun control in Montana.

I do love the warm hospitality of the people of Montana State, but their general preoccupation with firearms and apparent gun culture does make me a little nervous.

I have cycled through a significant portion of the Bitteroot Valley and some of the passes that traverse the majestic mountain ranges towering over both sides of that long corridor. What troubles me though, is the few occasions where I came across dangerous situations, i.e., people using firearms inappropriately in public spaces including National Parks.

It is a bit unnerving to be climbing the Skalkaho Pass on my road bike and come across a couple of guys rapid firing their Beretta 9mm* and Colt 45* pistols against a rocky outcrop, barely a few meters away from us.

The potential of something going haywire, perhaps a ricocheting bullet, could prove to be life-threatening for any of us within the immediate vicinity.

Unbelievably, on our return leg, descending the mountain at considerable speed, we came across a second group, this time several teenagers, not much older than sixteen or seventeen, carrying two semi-automatic AR-15’s* amongst them.

Wow…is all I could think to myself. Has everybody gone loco around here?

I knew this was the July 4th weekend, but does that justify the open-carry and discharge of firearms alongside a public highway in a National Park?

I wanted to stop, get off my bicycle and raise a little hell with those kids concerning their questionable and rather dangerous behaviour.

My cycling partner, a big, burly American, and native of Eugene, Oregon, strongly suggested that we just keep moving along.

“Locals around here do not take kindly to the suggestions of strangers, let alone Canadians, concerning what constitutes responsible firearm use.”

I get that…I truly do. I do not want to challenge anyone’s viewpoint on US Second Amendment rights and responsibilities.

But, seriously, a little common sense should apply here.

Canada, as a nation, has moderate gun control laws in comparison to the rest of the world. The events that I experienced on the Skalkaho would be considered extremely inappropriate and definitely in violation of various laws in Canada.

A few days later, I ventured solo up the same Skalkaho Pass with almost no one in sight. I think I was passed by only a handful of vehicles during the entire time I rode up and down the mountain.

So quiet and peaceful…

I decided to head home to our place of lodging via the shoulder of the Interstate highway, rather than the longer, and much more convoluted bicycle path that stretches from just outside the southern edge of Hamilton all the way to Missoula. A member of the Montana Highway Patrol drove up behind me, hit the siren and lit up his lights. He pulled off the Interstate rapidly, exited his patrol car, and made a cautious beeline towards me, his hand on his holstered weapon.

What the foosball? Now what? What did I do this time?

The police officer basically instructed me to get off the “damn” highway and onto the bike path. When I tried to explain to him that I often see cyclists, especially fully-loaded touring cyclists, pass through town via the Interstate, his demeanour immediately changed from irritable to down-right hostile.

He lectured me for a while and then demanded to see my ID. I carefully reached into the back of my jersey pocket, explaining to him what I was reaching for behind my back. I reiterated that I did not know whether or not it was legal for cyclists to ride on the wide shoulder alongside the Interstate highway, and apologized profusely. After my identity checked out, and a very stern warning, I bolted out of there as fast as I could.

It was a disheartening experience to be approached by an armed State Trooper, who was obviously having a bad day (or just did not like cyclists). I stood there sheepishly in the 27C heat for over twenty minutes, sweating profusely, dehydrated, and obviously exhausted from my 16+ kilometre climb. I was beginning to feel naked and vulnerable in my spandex cycling attire, wondering if I was about to be given a ticket, or worse.

Was I really in the wrong? Or was that experience just “business as usual” in an American State where guns are everywhere and just a part of everyday life?

The choices we make today become who we are tomorrow…

* My knowledge of firearms comes from being a former hunter, competitive target shooter, and biathlete.

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The De-evolution of the Bicycle — EclecticChoices

Modern society has evolved from travelling on open terrain to creating paths; from paths to cobblestone and gravel roads; and from gravel roads to pavement. Meanwhile, the bicycle and the bicyclist has taken an odd path of de-evolution. In the beginning, someone decided to build some sort of self-propelled contraption on two wheels. Eventually, after […]

via The De-evolution of the Bicycle — EclecticChoices