The Trick

I was prepared to tighten the cassette and grease the cassette body as per this instruction from Tacx to deal with the strange noise coming from the Neo.

I did not have the tools to tighten the cassette ring and so I dropped by my friends at J&J Cycle to pick them up. They insisted that they would do the work on the Neo for me.

We pretty much followed the guidance from the Tacx support page and the Shane Miller video on basic maintenance for the Tacx Neo.

The cassette was a bit loose when we took a look at the unit. And, upon removing the cassette assembly, part of the freehub had never been greased.

A good cleaning, followed by a thorough greasing of the requisite components and a firm tightening of the cassette, and then the big test.

I rode “The Trick” on Sufferfest this morning. A tough ride and one that puts a lot of load on a trainer.

Everything was smooth and quiet.

Problem resolved.

Tacx Neo Strange Noises

Normally, the Tacx Neo is a very quiet trainer. But not today. Today it made these sounds:

I reached out to my friends on the Tacx Neo Owner’s Facebook Group. Very helpful feedback from everyone there.

I had the following suggestions: index the rear derailleur, tighten the rear cassette, and contact Tacx support. I did send Tacx support a note along with the above video. This was their response:

Dear Richard,

We’re sorry to hear that.

This is a very strange sound.

Do you hear this sound as well if you stop pedaling and let the flywheel run out? If you do not hear this sound while not pedaling then we suspect the sound may be caused by your chain or cassette. Please make sure that the cassette is locked tight and maybe do some maintenance.

https://support.tacx.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000457629-Maintenance-and-care

If the sound still persists even when not pedaling then the noise might come from inside the NEO. Could you then send us a new video (<20 mb) of the sound?

We will then want to investigate your NEO further at our factory.

The trainer is relatively new. I put it into service in June of this year. I ride about 8-10 hours a week on the trainer. My bike’s drivetrain is basically new as well — as in new chain and cassette — and very quiet out on the road.

I don’t mind doing the maintenance check on the rear cassette although I do not have the tools for tightening the cassette. But I suppose I can at least check for any potential slippage. It seems a bit early to have to worry about lubrication for the cassette area but who knows. Worth a try. The chain? Well, it is new and tight and I keep it well maintained. I don’t see a need to swap it out.

The last thing I want to do is send it back to the factory with just a few weeks to go before we head out in our coach.

I trained for many years with wheel-on trainers. Never any issues.

Seems like the direct drive trainers are a bit fussy.

Hopefully I can get this resolved locally.

Full Frontal

I have done FTP tests numerous times over the years. It comes with the territory if you are interested in improving your performance on a bike. FTP gives you a number and you base your training effort against that number.

I hate FTP tests. They are really awful. You ramp up through a progressive warm-up and then you go as hard as you can for twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes, full out on a trainer, pushing hard watts, can seem like an eternity.

The Sufferfest, my preferred service provider of pain and agony, introduced a different fitness test called Full Frontal.

I did the test on Sunday.

Makes sense that I am a “pursuiter” rider type. I do chase other cyclists when I am out on the road.

The Full Frontal test exceeded my expectations for pain and suffering. It was the hardest thing I have done on a trainer. Ever.

I’ll now start a new 12-week training program based on the four dimensional power profile — as if training by FTP alone wasn’t hard enough.

Here are the gory details about the fitness test in case you are interested.

BigRingVR

I do a lot of indoor riding. Even now with the weather finally improving after a pretty brutal start to Spring. Weekdays usually see me entering the pain cave around 6:30am for an hour or two.

I had been relying almost exclusively on the Sufferfest and Zwift for my virtual rides. I decided to give a couple of others a try. I have really been enjoying BigRingVR.

They do something very clever in that they pair a high definition video source of an actual ride and manage to create an eerily realistic feel. So close to being out on the road. There are now over 200 rides from Europe and the U.S. to choose from.

As Lorraine and I will be touring Norway in a couple of months, I’ve decided to focus my BigRingVR trial period with Norwegian rides.

I took it a bit easier this morning and the map below shows you how the ride follows a stunning part of the country. Although the elevation on this one is nominal — most of the rides have much tougher elevations — all of the ups and downs feel just like the real thing.

These rides make you work.

I spin about 15 – 20 minutes before tackling the actual ride as most of the routes on BigRingVR have pretty steep climbs right from the front. I also take about 5 minutes at the end of the ride to spin out the legs.

These rides are proving to be just as challenging as the Sufferfest and Zwift. Unlike Zwift, which has a strong social element, BigRingVR is more like Sufferfest with a strong focus on solo riding albeit with no formal training overlay.

All three have strengths. After spending several years with the Sufferfest, I am welcoming the variety that BigRingVR brings to virtual cycling. Having the world go by in high definition video creates more of a realistic feel to an indoor session. I download the full videos before launching the ride and I experience a very smooth video feed. BigRingVR also supports streaming.

And, most importantly, BigRingVR uploads to Strava.

If you do a ride and it isn’t uploaded to Strava then it never really happened.

Here is a sample video without the comprehensive dashboard.

Massive Relative Effort

I must admit that I hadn’t noticed this feature on Strava before now. I think it might be new.

I had a tough ride this morning climbing most of the way up the Alpe Du Zwift.

I followed the Road To Sky route. This visual gives you a bit of a sense as to the challenge of the Alpe Du Zwift. It is a nasty one.

I can’t get that route done in an hour. Second attempt and I was only able to get to signpost 7 — short about 4 kms. I’ll have more time to spend on the route this weekend. Feels like it might take me about 90 minutes to finish. Such a tough climb.

Must get to the top though!

At my age, my theoretical maximum heart rate is 159 although I can sustain efforts above that heart rate.

When I checked my heart rate stats after the ride, I was above 150bpm for the entire climb. Strava confirmed what my body had already told me: I had suffered.

Massively suffered.

Tour of Sufferlandria Results

The Tour of Sufferlandria posted the prize winners for 2018.

And there I am. On the winner’s list!

This does not mean that I won the tour only that I won a prize for being part of the tour. My prize is a BMC Team USA long sleeve cycling skin suit similar to the one in the above picture. The kit is made by Assos, a premier manufacturer of cycling clothing based out of Switzerland.

I am still suffering from the tour. It made such an impact on my immune system that I am down for the count with a nasty virus. Day 5 and little relief in sight. I am flying to Las Vegas on Sunday and hoping that I am on the mend by then.

Kitchen Sink

All through the day Sunday I felt the fatigue. Major fatigue.

I really was not looking forward to this particular test of endurance. But there it was: stage 9. Everything and the Kitchen Sink.

I dialed the intensity to 80%. Which turned out to be a wise decision. By the time I got through the second hour, I wasn’t sure that I could ride this stage out to the finish.

And the intervals in the last segment, the toughest part of the Downward Spiral, was simply cruel and unusual punishment.

Every minute seemed like an eternity.

But I wasn’t going to quit. And I did not.

I crossed the victory line. Battered and broken. Which I guess was the point of this tour.

I’ll recover. A few days off the bike now. Basking in the glow that comes from taking on a particularly challenging target and seeing it done.