Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thunderbirds Are Go!

Meet Thunderbird 7:

T7 resides in the spare room, specially cleared out for the purpose.

This new "space age" home built trainer is now set up for some serious workouts. Note the cat killer of a flywheel. Fortunately I don't own a cat. There is a safety cover, it's just not on there yet.

T7 also has inbuilt position adjustability in any direction you like. So I can use it for testing other cat lovers. T7 originated in the minds of some residents of "The Shire", so you can be assured it has some magic about it.

The flywheel gives a very realistic ride. I did my first short workout on it tonight and it felt great. I was able to tap out a much higher cadence and power than on the turbo trainer. A 30-min workout with an average of 169 watts.

The fan blades replicate wind resistance and give a nice cooling breeze as well.

The crank system is an SRM power meter. My buddy Pete helped install it for me. Well actually he installed it and I watched (my definition of helping can sometimes be a bit liberal), although it's not that difficult. But installing an SRM properly requires the right tools and a calibration kit, which Pete has and I don't (well not all the tools - a good torque wrench being the main missing component).

Also note the short crank on the other side. Over time I expect to be able to lengthen the cranks I can use until I'm back to a normal length crank. Next week I get my special bike leg attachment fitted.

The SRM crank then drives a Nexus hub, with an internal 7-speed gearbox (normally built into a rear wheel for commute style bikes). The Nexus hub then runs a chain to the flywheel. This "double reduction" gearing enables the flywheel to turn at very high speeds (in the order of 600 rpm), meaning the fan blades do their job by providing increasing wind resistance with an increase in speed and the rotational intertia of the flywheel replicates the inertia of a rider rolling along at speed.

Here is the T7 flight cockpit:

Ready when you are Virgil....

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hippy Hippy Shake

On Monday I had a new prosthetic foot attached to the end of Schooner MkII (although some of my Aussie friends suggested I rename him "Middy" due to the smaller capacity of the new model).

The foot is quite a complex bit of engineering and is full of carbon fibre plates and other adjustment pieces you can't see and which replicate much of the feedback you get with a normal foot. You can actually "tune" the foot to provide different levels of feedback.

The one function that is obvious to the eye however is the fully moveable ankle joint. This special ball and socket joint replicates much of the joint motion of a normal ankle. It will move in any direction as well as rotate slightly.

This is so much better to use than the fixed ankle I did have as my foot can now move with the variations in slope and camber of surfaces I walk on. Slopes and cambers on a fixed ankle are a right pain in the butt (well back and hips to be accurate).

It also means that my walking motion is progressing even closer to a natural gait.

This is the foot in its normal upright position:

And here it is with my foot out to the side, shoe flat on the floor and leg now at an angle - just like a tennis player ready to receive a serve or a soccer goalie waiting for the penalty shot to be taken.

It is rated to cope with the forces my current oversize backside will put through it but I hope to stress it less over the coming months as my training ramps up.

These things are not cheap however. All up that's now a $12,000 leg. And I'll no doubt need a modified dedicated socket for cycling. I have the pedal attachment sorted and I go in to have all the bike fitting done this coming Monday.

More on that (and my indoor cycling ergometer project) later.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Da PMC is da goods

What the? Nevermind. ;)

My re-introduction to training continues, this time with a 30-minute effort on the bike trainer this morning. So, I have ridden on the trainer six out of the last eight days.

This is shown in the chart below, which assigns a "training stress" score to each day's training as shown by the light blue columns.

The number shown bottom right is my "Chronic Training Load" an indication of how much training I've been doing over the last several months.

Not surprisingly, a CTL of 4.2 TSS/day tells me I've not done much training! Consider that my peak CTL for the last season I raced was 100 TSS/day and I have a long way to go!

But the good bit is I've been able to increase what I do on the trainer through the week, and the half-hour effort this morning is starting to get into the realms of useful aerobic training. I was watching some TdF highlights while riding. 2006 when Floyd Landis cracked on the climb to La Croix de Fer. I wasn't on the bike long enough to see it finish but Rasmussen wa on a solo break away, with Levi Leipheimer pursuing.

Speaking of Rasmussen, check out this You Tube clip of a commercial featuring Rasmussen. It's pretty funny. But you gotta understand why. It's not in English (well not much) but anyone who follows cycling will get it.

Here is the pic of the power meter file for this morning's ride. 144 watts total and a 20-min max of 156 watts. I reckon that's a pretty encouraging start to my training.

Bring on that new cycle leg attachment and look out!

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Just a little bit more

Well that chart above just about says it all. A 20-min effort on the trainer today and a little harder than on Saturday. Last 5-min at 158 watts.

It will be really interesting to see what difference being able to click into a pedal will be like with the prosthetic. At the moment just plonking my prosthetic foot/shoe on top of the flat bed pedal, while OK on a trainer, doesn't do much for power. I have been placing my "heel" on the pedal to simulate the position the pedal attachment will take.

And I have a suspicion I might be able to try a longer crank than the 100mm shorty I have on there at the moment.

First time in 15 months I've got the HR moving!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

15-minutes of fame

Not much to say other than since I have a new leg, I thought it about time I tried to turn a crank over on the bike (on the home trainer).

Here is the file from my 15-min effort.

A combination of very low fitness, new leg, pedalling a 100mm crank with a flat bed pedal on the left and my normal 175mm crank on the right. Combined with the PT's aliasing "feature" it makes for a funny saw-tooth power line.

Anyway, who cares what the line looks like, it was a ride right? :)

I was pretty sore before starting as the day before I had been on my feet a lot and actually managed to climb a couple of flights of stairs with full leg steps and no hands to guide me. That's something I haven't done for over 14 months... I think the ride loosened me up a bit but here's hoping I can start to get those exercise endorphins flowing before long.

Still working on the bike leg attachment.

Having done this 15-minutes though, I have the feeling a dedicated bike riding socket will be in order as I suspect some subtle (maybe not subtle) changes will be needed to the socket design. Time will tell.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Schooner rides again!

I have a new leg. Finally!!

So today will be lots of pictures of Schooner Mk II - the new and improved version.

I went back to see George at the Appliance and Limb Centre last Wednesday and have now picked up the final product. And what a relief. After only a few days, already the pain and discomfort of using Schooner has gone.

The new leg is very comfortable but it is also provides a far greater freedom of movement for the knee. Hence I am not super steady on it yet and I need to build up the strength required to walk with a natural gait and improve the finer balance control that we take for granted. That will come with use and exercise.

So here we go with the picture tour....

Of course this is all in fashionable black and the socket is carbon fibre. What else for a post modern cyclist?!!

Notice the shaping at the top of the socket in particular. This is a unique design, in the sense that it is completely custom made for me but also in the sense that this style of socket is only made by one person in the world. There are only six of these socket types in existence!

The big difference in this design from other sockets is how low cut it is. This is to enable a lot of freedom of motion for the knee joint (which is exacly what I'm going to need when riding).

Here is the lower section connecting the socket to the foot.

Inside the socket, of course, goes my leg. But my leg has to have two special liners "rolled" onto it first.

The first, the "Distal Cup" is not shown and is a silicone like cup shaped liner that sits over the lower part of my leg. It creates a uniform shape out of the lower part of my leg.

Then this lovely lilac liner is rolled over the top. It is like a thick compression sock, with a metal pin sticking out the bottom.

Here is a shot of the pin - see the shape - it is designed to "click" into place and the notches hold the liner and via that, my leg, securely into the socket.

I then put the leg inside the socket and the pin fits through a hole in the bottom of the socket and clicks into place. Max of seven clicks!

When I want to remove the socket from my leg, all I do is press this button in and the pin is immediately released and Schooner MkII comes off instantly! No stuffing around holding onto liners and using my other foot to pull Schooner off and wince as the socket compresses my knee joint on the way through.

And this is what it looks like when I stand in it!

Next up are two more projects:

- Finalising the cycling leg attachment, and

- Getting a funky new prosthetic foot attachment, with a ball and socket which simulates the motion of the ankle joint.

These are happening over the next few weeks.

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