Saturday, January 7

Zwift - using Discord for voice and text chat

Until Zwift set up their own voice chat facility, I've tried to encourage riders to use Discord. It's free and relatively easy to set up; however, some have had difficulties with their microphone and/or audio, so I've put together this step-by-step guide for using Discord on the iPhone (it may differ on Android) but it should also be similar for your PC.

Step 1 - download the free App to your phone

Step 2 - join the ZHR server on Discord: discord.gg/bVURRmG and enter your details and nickname

Step 3 - you should see this welcome screen, which automatically shows you if any of your friends are online. Various options are available but, for our purposes, click on the top left icon, with the three horizontal bars. 















Step 4 - you will be taken to the list of chat servers that you have joined. In my case, I've joined the ODZ server as well as ZHR. You should see ZHR's server if you used the invite link in step 2. Click on the ZHR icon to take you to our server.















Step 5 - you will see Text Channels and Voice Channels. Text Channels allow you to send typed messages just as if you were in Zwift, FB or mobile. The Voice Channels are divided into different chat rooms; the General channel is your main "room", with Groups A-F used for Hare & Hounds or events where there are separate groups. Also useful to head in there if you want to chat with just a few riders, not the whole group. Click on one of the Voice Channels. 











Step 6 - you will be asked if you want to connect to this Voice Channel. Click on "Connect to Voice"  

















Step 7 - you are now connected to the Voice Channel, in this case the General Channel. You can also send text messages from here. If you don't see the "Push to Talk" button, don't worry, I'll come to that. On the bottom row you have "Disconnect" to take you out of the Voice Channel, "Voice Settings" that I will explain next, the microphone icon that allows you to mute, the headphones icon that allows you to stop audio, and the speaker icon on the bottom right that I will explain later. Click on "Voice Settings". 










Step 8 - if it's not already set as default, please change Input Mode to "Push to Talk" so that we only hear you when you want us to; otherwise, we hear everything...all the time! Output Volume is up to you, I need to set it on max to overcome the noise of the trainer and music. Switch on all the Voice Processing options, they help with clarity and stability. Click on "Close" to go back to the Voice Channel (step 7) and click on the speaker icon in the bottom right corner.











Step 9 - select from where you would like to hear the audio. I prefer iPhone, which means headphones, but you can set it so that it comes through the iPhone's speaker. If you have headphones with a microphone built-in, I suggest clicking on the iPhone option. If not, you'll have to use the phone's microphone (just like making a call), so you may as well use the speaker. NB - I've found the headphones to be much clearer than the speaker and with better volume; try it out, see which you prefer.

ZHR - now more than just a handicap race

In December 2015, with a series of test races, I set out to create a different type of racing, where it mattered not whether one had a power meter or whether they were Cat A neo-pros or Cat D fighters, and to make it as accessible as possible for everyone to not only enter but also to win, without the need to jump through various hoops to be “allowed” to be at the start line.
It has since developed into a philosophy of creating races of a different mould: in the past twelve months, we've had three Grand Tours, mass-start TT races (which I've brought back as Contre La Montre), the first training rides on Zwift, the first race over the Mountain the day after it opened (we had over a hundred riders, which was a lot back then), underground racing, and the group handicap race that evolved into the Hare & Hounds; now we also have a race for climbers (Up & Down), a fortnightly endurance ride, a weekly sub-2w/kg ride, a Weekend Group Ride and the new Great Watopian Mountain Goat Road Race.
I've pushed the boundaries of whatever technology was available to me but I'm no coder - it's thanks to Zwift HQ and the team behind ZwiftPower that make it easier to think up new challenges.
This is the current line-up of rides and races that I host. Find us on Facebook for more details!

Thursday, November 3

Brexit court defeat for UK Government

Whether you are pro or anti Brexit, this is the correct decision. To have it otherwise would see this country ripped apart like at no time since the English Civil War. The rule of law MUST be upheld, even in the face of 27% of the UK who will now complain about "democracy".
This isn't just about the benefits or otherwise of the European Union, this is about who we want to be as a nation: the multi-cultural, international hub of the world that everyone likes (except maybe Robert Mugabe) or a nationalistic and xenophobic inward-looking quasi-dictatorship. Look at history, at nationalistic governments - when did they ever turn out well for its citizens? Many will say "oh, you're taking it to the extreme, it'll never happen here." I'm sure that's what they said in Germany circa 1928, in Srebrenica, in Zimbabwe, in Rwanda, in the numerous military junta in Latin America, in a Trump-led USA (God help us all!)...
I don't know who is advising this government but the constitutional law is very clear and, in 2010, the law declared that all referenda could be at best advisory, due to Parliamentary sovereignty. They can appeal all they want but this is a legal decision, not a political one.
And, when MPs come to vote on whether to commit suicide - sorry, I mean trigger Article 50 - I hope they and the general public remember this: they are NOT there to represent the views of their constituents but their best interests and those of the country at large. Do teachers do what the children in their care want them to do? Do doctors just go with what the patient wants, regardless of the health implications? No, they look after the best interests of those in their care.
One of two things is happening within government: either the lunatics have taken over the asylum and are looking forward to ditching environmental regulations, labour legislation, human rights, scrapping the NHS, ditching benefits entirely, etc...or this was part of Theresa May's grand plan: to say "I did all I could but the law is the law, it must be respected whether we like it or not". I really hope it's the latter because the former doesn't bear thinking about.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37857785

Sunday, May 8

Giro di ZHR


Giro di ZHR - a twist on the stage race format!

The winner of the coveted Maglia Rosa will be the rider with lowest aggregate time over the next three ZHRs. Qualifying events:

There will be separate male and female categories; depending on numbers, there will be further categories based on weight: 

  • 54 kg and under
  • 55 to 64 kg
  • 65 to 74 kg
  • 75 to 84 kg
  • 85 to 94 kg
  • 95 kg and over
For future ZHR Grand Tours, it may be possible to have age categories too.

Saturday, May 7

Zwift racing and training rides

Zwift Handicap Races and The Richmond Rides kick off again on Thursday 12 May - are you ready?


Saturday, March 19

ZHR Special Edition: Watopia Mountain

IMPORTANT INFO
• Please add ZHR after your name
• Race distance is 1 full forward lap of the new mountain route: https://www.strava.com/segments/11597764
• Please select the correct Flat course option
• Kit - wear whatever jersey you like
• We are on Discord: https://discordapp.com/invite/0noIBY1G06dYFwWT
• Add ZHR when you save your session to Strava
• Please join our Strava Group: https://www.strava.com/clubs/zhr1

DIRECTIONS
Good news is that you only need to make one manual turn:
* Select the Flat course option after login
* Line up at the Forward start line
* Set off with your group at your allotted time
* After the first underwater tunnel you will come to a junction (see photo below)
* Press the left arrow on your keyboard or left turn on your mobile app
* No further turns are required
* Keep riding until you cross the finish line


This is where you need to make the only manual turn, if you selected the Flat course:



I'll use Zwift chat to give you the GO GO GO but, in case of any problems, please use an online clock such as www.time.is and set off at your allocated start time. Alternatively, you can set up your own personal web countdown timer, e.g., http://www.webcountdown.net/ - once set up, you don't need to remember your start time in the heat of the moment - just watch the timer hit zero. When you set it up, you get a unique URL for your timer - just save it to your Bookmarks/Favourites and recall it on race day.

GROUPS (subject to late additions):







Saturday, February 27

Zwift Handicap Race

If you're not on Zwift yet, check it out: www.zwift.com

In case you don't have a Facebook account, I organise the now twice-weekly Zwift Handicap Races. Here are some further details:

NEW RIDERS
Please supply me with your best 3-lap time for Reverse Watopia Hills (Strava segment: https://www.strava.com/segments/10825706) so that I can calculate your handicap and start time. Otherwise, your 3-lap Watopia or single lap would be sufficient. 

NOT-SO-NEW RIDERS
Your handicap for subsequent races will be based on the fastest of your previous three race times. You only need to indicate that you are “Going” to that week’s race and I will include you on the start list.

IMPORTANT INFO
• Add ZHR after your name, essential for timings
• Race distance is 3 laps of Watopia Reverse
• Please select the "Prefer Hills" course option
• Kit - wear whatever jersey you like
• TT bikes only, please
• We are on Discord: https://discordapp.com/invite/0noIBY1G06dYFwWT
• Please join our Strava Group: https://www.strava.com/clubs/zhr1

DESCRIPTION
This is a race with a difference: all riders will be given a time handicap so that everyone has a chance to win. The handicaps will work so that, in theory, everyone arrives at the finish line more or less at the same time, whatever your ability or FTP. This is an event to bring everyone together in a more inclusive race, whether they are ladies, sub 2 W/Kg, Cat A, etc. 
The slowest rider will set off first; the quickest rider chases everyone down. I will set riders off at timed intervals and I will post in advance a list of start times, so you won't have to hang around too long if you're a faster rider. Ride until you go past the start/finish banner, then to a u-turn (using the app or the down arrow key on your computer) and roll up to the reverse start line. Don't cross the line until your start time, as I use the 3-lap times on Strava for timings.
I'll use Zwift chat to give you the GO GO GO but, in case of any problems, please use an online clock such as www.time.is and set off at your allocated start time. Alternatively, you can set up your own personal web countdown timer, e.g., http://www.webcountdown.net/ - once set up, you don't need to remember your start time in the heat of the moment - just watch the timer hit zero. When you set it up, you get a unique URL for your timer - just save it to your Bookmarks/Favourites and recall it on race day.

RESULTS
The winners will be the first across the line and the fastest time overall. There will also be special mentions, especially for the most improved riders.
Race results will be posted as soon as possible on the ZHR Facebook page, followed by a video of all the finishers as they cross the line.
New Riders will have an asterisk by their result to indicate that their handicap may have been inaccurate, whether too lenient or too harsh.