Lazer Blade Helmet Review

Well ventilated, superlight lid that doesn’t break the bank. At least that’s what a standard Lazer Blade Review will say. And to be honest it’s very hard to argue that. I’ve been using the Lazar Blade in a gloss black and Belgian blue for the best part of 3 years now. I’ve never had a bad off in this time so it would be hard for me to vouch for its primary job, which is protecting your head. But Lazer have been making helmets since 1919, so I’m pretty sure they have the protection side nailed down.

Well Cool!

The most obvious element of the Lazar Blade is its 22 vents. This makes for a very cool and well ventilated helmet. You can really feel the air rushing over your head and keeping you cool. I used this helmet riding around the South of France in 38’C temperatures and it did the job. Don’t get me wrong, I was bloody hot but I couldn’t imagine doing that ride in my aero lid. With ventilation comes less material and with less material comes less weight. Coming in at 220g, I genuinely think you’d be hard pressed to find a lighter helmet at this price point. And if it wasn’t for the slightly awkward retention system, it would almost feel as if you’re riding around without a helmet on at all.

Lazer Blade Retention System

Awkward Retention

I’ve mentioned the awkwardness of the retention system, so I need to elaborate. It comes in a unique system where the barrel adjustment sits at the top of the helmet. However I found it difficult to get the fit right and often found myself readjusting on longer rides. This isn’t a problem I’ve had with other helmets I’ve had. Also the part of the helmet that cradles the back of the head felt a little less supportive. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t ‘confidence inspiring’ and almost gave a perched feeling which I didn’t really like. I must say though that this may bit in part of my massive oddly shaped dome!

Hard to fault?

The straps were fine and highly adjustable. If a little difficult to get right at first, once they were set, they felt comfortable and looked tidy enough. The only other thing I didn’t quite like was the Sunglasses dock. I wear Oakley Jawbreakers and I gave up on trying to hold them in my helmet vents early on. They didn’t feel secure and also the arms on the sunglasses dug into the top of my head.

Lazer Blade Fit

Most Importantly…

How did it look? Well I personally though it looked great, for a bike helmet. Usually in this price range (and often in higher price ranges,) they are bulky and ‘mushroomy’. My head is 60cm so my Lazer Blade was a large, but even in its largest form the Blade looked slick and fairly low profile. It looks a lot like the Z1, Lazers high end offering but obviously at around 1/3 of the price.

In Summary

There are plenty of colour choices in the Lazer Blade’s range and there is also the option to fit an Aero-Shell to save you those extra Watts. This isn’t something I ever used, although its worth mentioning as it certainly increases the versatility of this lid. All in all the Lazer Blade is an atheistically pleasing, well ventilated superlight lid, albeit not perfect. However, at £40 I think you would be very hard pressed to find anything close to as good as this helmet for the same price.

LAZER BLADE HELMET – BLACK/BLUE – £29.99 at ProBikeKit.co.uk 

Get Wife Fit, Part 2

The Get Wife Fit series continues, with Lizzie beginning to get to grips with cycling (indoors anyway)… 

Week 1

Once I’d gotten over the initial shock of the FTP test, and my bum from being so sore it hurt to walk, I really wanted to improve, I’m naturally a competitive person, and like to see progress, so for me to be able to actually see how I have been improving makes me want to keep going!

So Chris had a look and found a short 30 min workout ride on Zwift for me, I did it without dying, and actually felt a lot better during, it felt do-able…

Until Chris started going on about how I need to keep upping my FTP, um excuse me I like my FTP exactly where it is thank you! My problem is I like to do it all by myself, and whilst Chris knows what he’s going on about, I think he forgets that I have literally no interest in racing, or getting a top end bike, I just want to get a bit fitter!

6 Week FTP Training

When I was left to my own devises I was able to find a training plan that seemed to make sense to me, it felt like there was something to aim towards at the end of it, its measurable and tells me what I am working on each day. Perfect!

Day 1 was working on the foundation, it felt like a good work out, without being too hard, I actually…dare I say it…enjoyed it! I was still having connection issues at this point, and kept getting irritated with having to stop, re-load, and start again, so after a couple of false starts I made it through.

Day 2 was strength, I’ve fairly strong legs, I was a runner at school, and as I’ve said before I play netball twice a week (WA/WD/C – the running positions, if you know what I’m talking about!) so I thought I would be fairly OK, if not good at this one. Well I started the warm up, and thought that it was a bit weird, the warm up was trying to get me to do 100w for 10 mins, I did it, but thought I was going to die! I ended up ringing Chris and telling him I couldn’t do it, it was far too hard and I thought I was going to vom! Turns out the FTP from Chris’ ride was still on it, I think he was testing me, or that he’d gone insane!

Anyway, he fixed it and it became a ride I slightly hated less!

Where am I now?

Well, I’m not going on everyday, I try to at least go on twice a week, with Netball twice a week too, thats FOUR whole days of exercise, thats more then enough right?

At the end of the day I decided to give it a go, and I am liking it more each time, does this mean I’d go out on the real life road, hmmm I’m not so sure, there is the small problem of having to buy a bike for me. Secretly I have my eye on a matt black one with bright pink accents, spotted from Lutterworth Cycle Centre when Chris was too busy buying his helmet. But, I am really conscious of spending all that money and then not enjoying it?

(this is not the bike, but looked at the website and thought it was lush!)

Let me know if you’ve got any suggestions for a (very) novice rider, thats cheapish, and looks good?

Anyway, if you want to follow my slow, but steady, progress feel free to join me on Strava/Zwift (you can find me by my name Lizzie Ramsdale)

More next week!

Road Grand Tours – Initial Impression’s

If you’ve kept up with my blog journal then you are probably aware that cycling outdoors isn’t an option for me right now. I am currently in a rehabilitation phase after knee surgery, which means that scratching my cycling itch is is left solely to an indoor  turbo trainer. My bike times has mostly been spent spinning away around the island of Watopia in the highly popular cycling MMO, Zwift. However, I’ve recently joined the Beta for a new kid on the block, ‘Road Grand Tours‘, and here are my initial impressions.

 

Road Grand Tours

 

Zwift has always had its competition, for example, a while back I wrote a comparison against The Sufferfest. Then there is Trainer Road which although a more training and numbers focused program, it too has also been kicking around as an alternative to the more gaming centric Zwift. And since the rise in popularity of smart trainers and virtual cycling simulators, other similar Zwift-like programs have begun to emerge including Vitruago and now the Strava heavy Road Grand Tours.

I was put onto Road Grand Tours by a friend, at that time I was willing to try anything in an effort to mix things up a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love Zwift. I love the racing, the workouts and even just jumping on for a quick spin. However, I was happy to have the opportunity to try a new environment and a new world to explore.

Character Creation

I set up an account and signed up for Beta. I instantly received access and loaded up the program in anticipation. Road Grand Tours didnt really offer much in terms of character creation, other than a selection of different coloured Adidas Kits and an 8bar Crit kit, a Laser Bullet lid and a choice between a Ridley Aero bike or different variations of the BMC Teamachine. This is Beta however, so it was probably to be expected. It would be unfair to compare Road Grand Tours content to Zwift which has been making waves a good few years now. Besides, I like the Teamachine in a laser blue.

 Out on Mont Ventoux

There are several courses you can choose to and although I’m yet to try them all, those I have tried are interesting enough. My first destination was the infamous Mont Ventoux. I rode the real thing last summer, so I was interested to see how real life compared to the virtual version. The route on Road Grand Tours isn’t the famous grand tour climb from Bedoin, but the less popular and just as difficult route from nearby Malacene. First impressions were that the graphics were good and the game was stable. There was absolutely no issues with synchronisation between my turbo and the program and I was effortlessly able to jump into the South of France and start riding up a bloody big hill.

The environment was fairly accurate, the game even had the hotel I stayed in last year with the adjacent car park at the base of the Malacene climb. I was impressed at the level of detail. The gradients also felt accurate, as did the few changes in direction. I didn’t manage to go all the way to the top (I’m in rehab remember), but I’d be interested to see how they captured the lunar landscape and meteorological station at the top.  Albeit a short taster, I had no issues what-so-ever, the drafting felt intuitive and the changes in gradient felt instantaneous as my Tacx switch up the resistance in order to replicate the ever changing steepness of Mont Ventoux.

Realism

It’s safe to say that I was interested to try more of what Road Grand Tours had to offer. My initial experience was very good. The program felt polished (certainly for BETA) and in many ways more realistic than its main competitor. Maybe it was the more realistic colour tones that the graphics engine had to offer? But it wasn’t just the graphics and design of the game that felt realistic. The drafting seemed really intuitive, and when riding with my brother up the iconic Cap Formentor. I was able to position my bike and sit on his wheel with relative ease. The amount of times I chase down a fellow rider on Zwift in order to catch a tow, only to shoot past them at twice the speed! This just didn’t seem to be the case on RGT. Add to that a handy percentage value on the UI which gave me an figure for my drafting benefit. This meant I could carefully adjust my output in order to get maximum wheel sucker mode.

London at Night

London, Italy, etc.

The following day I tried the nighttime crit-course of Canary Wharf and also the hilly but short circuit of Pienza, and was equally as impressed. Both were shot circuits, but the environment was interesting enough. Familiar Short sprint sessions with leaderboard tables were a welcome addition to mix up the pace a little bit. They also link to Strava as segments which is a great feature. RGT doesn’t offer the ability to change direction or explore like you can in Zwift, but there is a wide variety of different real-life courses like the previously mentioned bucket list climbs, as well as some more I haven’t yet tried. I’m looking forward to trying out the famous Stelvio and its numerous switchbacks.

To Summarise

You don’t get the scheduled events and racing (soon to be added) or a work out mode either. Also the volume of other riders is significantly lower than Zwift. But when I think back to Zwift Beta, I can’t help but be excited for whats to come in Road Grand Tours. They say the game is close to complete, but I’m sure more would be added to as the platform moves out of BETA. And the future will probably be a monthly subscription model. Right now its free to try and I would certainly recommend it as a welcome alternative.

 

Get Wife Fit

Cycling can be quite a lonely sport, well for me at least it is. Apart from my weekly club rides and the odd jaunt out with a friend, the majority of my cycling is out on my own. Add my hours spent training to my work commitments and it becomes difficult to find barely any quality time to spend with my wife.

So I came up with an idea. What if I got my wife into our amazing sport? I have 2 problems though. She doesn’t own a bike and perhaps the greater obstacle is that she friggin hates cycling! However, I’ve rigged up my old bike, shortened the seat tube and somehow managed to convince her to at least have go. As well as all that I’ve roped her into writing a post series on her experience with the bike! 

Introducing Lizzie

Right, let me first start by saying I really friggin hate cycling, we tried it many (pre-kid) years ago when Chris first got into mountain biking, I had his mum’s 20 year old bike. We’d go on a few bike rides together in the evenings around the village we lived in at the time, but then he got it in his head that we should go on an ‘epic’ bike ride, as in 20 miles…60 miles later with me crying on a bench begging Chris to go and get the car, my hatred of cycling began!

Don’t get me wrong, the day is now something we look back at as a funny story in our relationship, you know ‘do you remember the time you threw your bike on the ground and stropped off’ but I have never forgotten how exhausted, sore and hungry (we ran out of food around mile 30!) and utterly miserable I felt on that bench, also knowing I still had about 5 miles to go to get home, including a fair few hills!

Why now?

Flash forward to now, a baby, a house move and general life happenings, Chris’s love of cycling only increased, and eventually he turned into a road cyclist, and a constant nagging at me to give it a go.

A few major issues with this –

1. I’m scared of riding on roads, I hate the idea of cars behind me, feeling that pressure to move out of the way, or worse, been overtaken too closely etc etc

2. As much as I love my husband, he is one competitive b**t**d, whilst this is good for improving his own fitness, for me it makes me want to punch him in the face!

3. The thought of having to clip in and out is just difficult for me, I’m not the most graceful of people and would inevitably fall flat on my face!

But with all this in mind, I thought I would give it a go, I still have baby weight to get off (can I still say this, or am I just overweight now?) so who best to turn to then my husband, who has been there/done that with his own fitness/weight loss through cycling.

Then he made me do an FTP test

I agreed to get on the turbo trainer, no outside riding for me! Not least because I no longer own a bike, so with a bit of playing around with the old mountain bike I was all set up to give it a go. Then I thought I was going to die, I mean I play netball around 2 times a week, so not totally un-fit, but my god that was an experience!

There were a few teething issues with the connection, but I finished it and came out with an FTP of 60. Pretty darn shameful, but you know what you’ve got to start somewhere!

 

I felt pretty positive about it all, until I woke up the next day and my bum was so sore that I could barely walk (too many innuendo’s!) the thought of getting back on the bike was making the me hate the bloody thing even more. But I got on, I even have a cushion, picture Chris hanging his head in shame, but its what works for me!

I’ve built up slowly, and completed my first week, but thats a story for another time!

 

 

Using Cycling for Rehab from Knee Surgery

Where am I at?

A couple of weeks have passed since my knee surgery rehab began, at least the cycling side of that rehab anyway. Zwift has been my main focus, in fact my only focus since I really struggle clipping in/out right now, so any riding outside is pretty much out of the question (as tempting as it is with this amazing weather). Also I can’t actually pedal while in a standing position, even two weeks on. I’m not sure why, my leg just won’t go while standing.

Progress

The first week was pretty depressing. I could barely spin the pedals and the first 10 minutes were excruciatingly painful. However as time has gone on, things are getting better. My knee is less painful (as is my arse), my leg is bending so much more, my power is increasing and so is my stamina. I’m obviously not attempting any lung busting climbs or balls out racing, so my focus has purely been on getting my legs moving again but I’m definitely noticing a vast improvement.

I want to get out!

I drove past my cycling club last night who were out on a their weekly ride in glorious sunshine. Which was a little depressing. However, the great thing is that my brother who used to cycle up until a few years ago has started joining me in an effort to get fit again. Although his focus is mostly on shedding a few pounds and increasing power output, we are both at a similar level now so it should be good to experience this journey together.

Abus GameChanger

My craving to go out is hard to resist though. So much so, I’ve purchased a new lid in anticipation for when I do get back out on the road and right now I’m looking at some Speedplay Zero pedals as the adjustable float my help my knee out a bit. I’m targeting a jaunt out early next month, on a local flat route I used to do… here’s hoping!