Seek Out Cycling

Seek Out CyclingLast year I posted a review on Seek Out Cycling‘s indoor bicycling videos. To summarize the review: I enjoyed using the videos because they encouraged me to exercise more, push myself harder, and, most importantly, enjoy indoor bicycling exercise.

I am 67 years old. I am a plugger. I have heart issues. I hate to exercise, and indoor exercise in particular. Last year Seek Out Cycling‘s bicycling videos helped me mentally and physically prepare for a self supported bicycle ride across the United States. This year I am getting ready for a ride from Billings MT to Prudhoe Bay AK. Based on the successful results from using their previous products I decided to take a look at two of the newer sets: Colorado Springs and Boulder.

I was pleasantly surprised right off the bat. These products came in standard size DVD boxes, which store more easily in my video rack. The earlier products came in nice CD type boxes, but I like these much better. The cover/back printing is larger and overall I feel the packaging looks better. Ah, but on to the videos themselves.

The Colorado Springs set consists of 4 videos: Cheyenne Canyon Fitness Test, Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and Columbine Chutes. The Boulder set also consists of 4 videos: Flagstaff Mountain Road, West to Nederland, Foothills and Flatlands, and Off Road in Betasso Preserve. All of the DVDs, with the exception of the Fitness Test, are an hour long.  I was happy to see that the videos were ‘standardized’ around one hour, which is about right for me.

As in previous videos, each of the rides feature various intensity levels.  “How do these levels relate to me”, you might ask. The 45 minute Cheyenne Canyon Fitness Test actually helps each rider develop a personal gear/cadence or heart rate for each intensity level. In my case, the Fitness Test results tracked very closely to my own heart rate levels that were developed in a professional gym setting. In addition to a discussion about intensity levels, each video begins with a nice discussion of the ride using a topographic map, an elevation profile, and an intensity level profile.

David Kriegshauser, owner of Seek Out Cycling, continues to provide guidance and encouragement during the videos: stand up, pedal faster, you can do it, change the intensity to . . . , only a few more seconds. These and other instructions help vary the workout to make it interesting, taxing, and extremely realistic.

I found the video quality and background music on these DVDs to be better than the earlier ones in my collection. The images are sharper and seem to be better stabilized (no vibration). The earlier videos are not bad, and I continue to use them, but these are noticeably better.  The background music seems more dynamic and fits well with the various intensity levels which helps me  ‘keep with the pace’ of the ride.

David uses two methods to show the intensity levels: bar chart and level box. The bar chart, located in the lower center of the screen, ranges from 65% to 105% with the appropriate level being circled. The level box appears in the right hand corner with the appropriate numerical level displayed. Personally, I prefer the level box, but either method works fine. Sometimes a count down timer box appears to let you know how much time remains at a given intensity level. I really like the count down timer and wished it were used more frequently.

The videos feature very life like rides: scenery, traffic, people, other cyclists and pedestrians, and various paved and off road conditions. I find myself getting zoned in on the ride and wanting to make a turn or swerve to avoid an obstacle.  Most of the time there is a lead rider in the video which I enjoy; it provides someone for me to chase.

If you want something to buildup/maintain your fitness level and take the boredom out of indoor bicycling then I highly recommend these two sets from Seek Out Cycling: Colorado Springs and Boulder. They certainly work for me, and I feel sure they will work for you.

Garmin Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin MonitorI have waited for about a month to write this due to the number of internet comments regarding the strap on the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor malfunctioning.  Well, afer about four weeks of use mine is still working.

One possible issue with so many failures may have to do with not washing the strap off after each use.  The manual says to do this, but many comments indicate that people don’t do it.  I used a Polar unit prior to the Garmin monitor, and it, too, says to wash the unit strap.  Anyway, I rinse the strap off in luke warm water after each use and then hang it up to air dry.  Between the Polar and Garmin monitors I have three straps and never had a failure in 2+ years of use.

I like the Garmin monitor because it allows me see my instantaneous heart rate on my Edge 800 along with the Garmin Cadence sensor.  Several of my earlier posts focused on training within specific heart rate zones.  Between the heart rate and cadence being displayed prominently on the front of the Edge 800 I am able to maximize the results from my indoor and outdoor training rides.

Linking the heart rate monitor to the Garmin Edge 800 was not difficult at all.

  1. wet the heart rate strap, put it on, and snap the sending unit in place
  2. turn the Edge 800 on
  3. select Menu
  4. select Setup (small wrench in right hand corner)
  5. select Bike Settings
  6. scroll down to Heart Rate and select
  7. select ANT+Heart Rate,
  8. select Heart Rate Monitor
  9. select yes
  10. back out to the previous screen
  11. at this point my unit picked up my heart rate signal automatically, if not
  12. select Search, this should pick up the signal
  13. select Sensor Details, this will give you the Sensor ID of your unit
  14. back out all the way to the main screen

Garmin Menu 1I elected to place the Heart Rate and Cadence on the main screen at the bottom left and right respectively, and the Average Heart Rate and Average Cadence on the second screen.  The process for doing this is fairly simple:

  1. press down on the lower left of the screen with your thumb until the area turns blue, you don’t need to press down too hard and it make take 2-3 seconds to change color
  2. when you lift your thumb a selection of items will appear, scroll down to heart rate
  3. select heart rate
  4. the screen automatically jumped back to the home page and Heart Rate was shown at the lower left
  5. repeat the process to place cadence at the lower right
  6. scroll to the right to screen #2
  7. repeat the above process to place the Cadence Avg on the top bar and Heart Rate  Avg on the bottom bar.

Garmin Menu 2Keep in mind that the instantaneous numbers will appear whenever the Edge picks up a signal, but it will not calculate the average numbers until you start the timer.  You can put whatever numbers you want to track in any of the locations; these are the ones I track for training purposes.  There is a lot more information in the Garmin Instruction Manual.

The nice thing about the Edge 800 is you can customize your screens depending on what activity you are currently doing.

I upload all of my training and outdoor riding to Garmin Connect.  This keeps everything in one place and makes comparisons somewhat easy.

Cycling Videos

Seek-Out-CyclingI hate indoor bicycling: boredom, BOREdom, BOREDOM.  I tried watching videos; can’t concentrate enough to follow the storyline.  I tried listening to music; noise in my ears but the mind was not engaged.  I tried watching biking videos by Seek Out Cycling; they work for me.  Before, I was struggling to do an hour of riding; now I find myself doing 2+ hours (multiple videos with 5-10 minute ‘rest’ between).

Put In Context: Their videos are somewhat close to a real bicycle ride with training tips and intensity levels thrown in along the way.  I am not a high speed die hard gear shifting sprint busting road racer.  Rather, I am 66 years old, somewhat overweight and somewhat under exercised, ride a recumbent, am planning on doing a self contained 4400 mile ride across the US this summer, and needed something to get me engaged enough to ride my trainer equipped bicycle indoors for the next 2-3 months.

Good things: Their videos move right along just like a regular bicycle ride, there is an intensity scale at the bottom of the videos with recommendations, the author occasionally throws in a few comments regarding where you should be in intensity, and there is music in the background.  At times I find myself so tuned in to the ride that I have ‘tried’ leaning into the curves and once turned my handle bars to miss another cyclist.

Not so good things: There is music (possibly from a synthesizer) in the background that tends to be somewhat repetitious.  On a large screen TV the image is not as sharp as I would like (possibly made from an older helmet mounted camera).  You should really know what your particular heart rate zones are to make the most from this video so you can more properly adjust your riding to the video intensity scale.

One thing I do enjoy is the variation within given rides and between given rides.  For me, anyway, it caused me to change my pace which provided much needed mental and physical engagement with the training.  Another thing I enjoyed was the different types of rides available: recovery, spinning, and hill climbing off-road just to name a few.  In my case, my spinning is up from about 80rpm to 90+ based on the encouragement from the videos.

I have now tried out five different videos: Breckinridge to Copper Mountain, Boulder Creek Bike Path, Keystone to Breckingridge, Sante Fe Bike Path, Great Plains Group Ride.  They all have intensity scales, a few verbal comments, background music, and the obligatory ‘not my fault if you kill yourself’ disclaimer.

Some reviewers have commented that the scenery is dull and did not provide sufficient interest.  I believe these videos represent the types of rides that I am familiar with; there is good scenery, pedestrians, other bicyclists, boring scenery, cars passing by, and other parts that make the rides seem real to me.  I have seen videos made from rides through Europe; they were georgeous, they were truly professionally done, and they were expensive.  These videos fit my need and my pocketbook.

I initially rented these videos from Amazon through their video library program to see what they were like and how they would work for me.    Anyway, I will be buying them when my rental time is up.

Works for me!  Yes, they do!