Cycling Equipment of the Plant-Based Cyclist
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Up to this point, I’ve written all of my blogs about the ‘Plant-Based” side of my internet alter-ego. But this blog will cover the ‘cyclist’ side, more specifically the equipment I use every day. Even though, in my opinion, this is an area that matters the least, it’s the area that I get the most questions from. Keep in mind, I am not sponsored by any company but I do see a discount on one item, which I will tell you about below. With that said, I’m going to give you my honest opinion of the items I describe and use every day.
My Bike: I currently ride a carbon fiber Raleigh Militis 3.0 with Shimano ultegra components. It does the job. I’ve ridden 4 different frames in the past 10 years, 3 of which were carbon, and to a certain extent, I can’t tell the difference from frame to frame. Perhaps if I rode a high end frame every week for a couple of weeks, I may be able to tell the difference. This frame is good, nothing special. And as a Cat. 3 road cyclist with a limited budget, this is exactly what I need. Something that won't break the bank, that's tough and that is a good value.
My Wheels: I have 2 sets of wheels. My training wheels are HED Belgium hoops on DT Swiss hubs. Again, nothing flashy, just bomb-proof training wheels. Spoke count: high. Weight: high. I also use a separate pair of wheels for races. They’re Planet-X, roughly 60mm carbon wheels with an aluminum braking surface. Not sure of the exact model name or number. I bought these used a couple of years back and they are much faster than my training wheels. They do the job, but they’re not top of the line and I did not buy them because Planet-X has a stellar reputation or because I had a passionate affinity for that brand.
My Power Meter: This is the first time I’ve gone into detail on my power meter since selling my Stages a couple years back. I’ve been training with a new power meter that, at the time of writing this, is not on the market yet. The brand is DynoVelo and it is a crank-spindle based power meter. Yes, it’s mounted within the hollow crank spindle. It works by measuring the deflection of the crank spindle and then computing that into wattage. It’s really cool technology and works very well. And the best part, it’s significantly more inexpensive than the cheapest power meter on the market now. Keep an eye out for it. Or I may write another in-depth review of it in the future when it comes on the market. I cannot emphasize the importance of using a power meter. If you’re not training with power, you’re guessing.When you’re just starting out in Cat. 5, that may be OK; just go out and push the pedals hard. But as your competition gets faster, you training needs to get more specialized and exact and a power meter is a necessary tool. Imagine baking cookies without measuring cups. You could guess, and the cookies may be OK for your dog, but to get it right, get some measuring cups, or in this case, a power meter.
My Training Software:
If you’ve been following me for the last year, you can probably guess what I’m about to say. TrainerRoad is a cycling training software that runs on your computer or smart device and integrates data from your power meter and heart rate monitor to provide specific and focused workouts depending on your unique goals. From road to mountain to cyclocross to triathlon to ultra endurance to recreational, they cover all of the disciplines and have something for anyone who wants to get faster. Within each of TrainerRoad’s training plans are 3 unique phases, a Base, Build and Specialty phase. Each workout within each phase is based on your FTP, or Functional Threshold Power, which basically means each workout is tailored to your fitness level. So, if you get fitter over time, it adjusts automatically. So, as Eddie Merkyx said, the training never gets easier, you just go faster. Someone who is just getting off the couch or a competitive category 1 cyclist can use the same software and benefit from its structure and specificity. Each phase has its own purpose in the grand scheme of making you faster, and being on my second year of using the software, I can say with 100% confidence I am as fast as I’ve ever been.
In becoming a faster cyclist, TrainerRoad is the most influential training tool I have used since taking up competitive cycling.
Disclosure: I am given a discount on the yearly subscription to TrainerRoad. If you'd like to try TrainerRoad for a free month, contact me and I'll send you a customer code for a free month trial.
My Stationary Trainer: The piece of equipment that I’ve been using for the longest time has to be my trainer. It’s a workhorse with, probably, thousands of miles on it by now. I use a Cyclops Fluid 2 Indirect drive trainer. Because it’s the only trainer I’ve ever used (10+ years) I can’t really compare it to the feel or quality of any other trainer. But, I would highly recommend it or any trainer from Cyclops. It’s a quality brand and it provides a relatively quiet, high-quality resistance that makes my workouts extremely productive.
My Shoes: I wear Specialized S-Works shoes with Boa laces, carbon fiber soles that integrate into Shimano Ultegra pedals. They do the job.
Wish list: If I had to buy all of my cycling equipment all over again right now, what would I replace with no substitutions? And what would I replace with little regard to brand? The bike I am using is not anything to drool over. There are so many bike brands out there, I do not feel an overwhelming desire to get another Raleigh. But I would build up my new frame with Shimano components. I have used SRAM before for several years, and I like Shimano much better. Wish List wheels, Williams or Boyd Carbon 60mm. Power Meter; although I did help the company work out some bugs over many months, I really like it. It's small, light, aero-dynamics is not a factor and it's inexpensive. Training software: I would 100% reach for TrainerRoad again, it's that critical. Stationary Trainer; Although my trainer has been a steadfast workhorse, I would upgrade to a smart trainer. Cyclops makes one, Wahoo makes one and several other companies do too. Surprisingly, I would reach for my Specialized S-Works shoes again because of feel, fit and adjustment.
Let me address something I said in the opening: Why does equipment matter the least? If you go from a 1980’s, steel frame, down tube shifter, cracked rubber tire beater bike to a Carbon Fiber 2017 Trek Madone with deep carbon wheels, yeah, you’re going to get faster, instantly. That is ‘bought speed’. And if that’s financially possible for you, go for it, just don’t race against me. But for most of us, we don’t have $10,000 sitting between the couch cushions to drop on a better bike. What I do have is time, commitment, attitude, consistency and average equipment that does the job. When I look around at the starting line, it seems like 90% of the guys I’m racing against have better equipment than me, and I can’t do anything about that. What I can do is train harder with the equipment I have. If you want to get faster in your respective discipline, don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades. Buy quality equipment and wear it out. Ride your ass off, focus on your training structure and consistency, focus on your recovery and you will get faster and feel good about it. It’s not about the bike, it’s the engine.
Stay healthy and get faster,