First ride with Rotor Q Rings
At the back end of last week I finally received and fitted the correct Q rings for my cranks. I’d ordered the wrong rings, the original set did not fit over the Power2max power meter that is attached to my new Rotor 3D+ cranks. Thanks must go to Rotor’s UK distributor, Velotech, who have been more than patient, and who generously did not charge me twice for postage, even though the error was mine and nothing to do with them.
In case you don’t know, Q Rings are elliptical chainrings. Like this:
The basic idea of them is that they are positioned such that the largest part of the ellipse (the major axis) is at the point in the pedal circle where your muscles produce the most power. In effect the gearing is slightly changed at that point to a higher gear, and it reduces down to a lower gear where you’re producing less power. It kinda makes sense. Of course Rotor claim all sorts, increased power, reduced fatigue, etc. I was skeptical about this, but I’m a sucker for technological gimmicks and so I bought them. I had to buy some new chainrings that suited the cranks anyway. Why not try them?
Because of the sportive on Sunday, tonight was the first chance I’d had to give them a spin. I wasn’t looking forward to it, in fact I very nearly put off training. I was riding from work to Kings Cross tonight and really struggling in the wind, legs felt like lead. But I’ve noticed a couple of times, sometimes when you feel crap you can go on to have a good training session, so I saddled up.
Before I say anything more I should point out that I went into the session feeling slightly negative about the prospect of training on the Q Rings. Reading the manual, it says that it may take some time to adapt to them. Not really what I need in this of all weeks. My first proper time trial is on Saturday, so I don’t want anything to impact that, and tonight would be my last turbo session before the race. I’d decided to try them out, and if I struggled, I’d pause the workout and switch back to the old, round ones. Also, the gearing on these is slightly lower than my original rings, which is a small concern, because I sometimes have issues spinning out on the flat, default slope of the turbo, during sprints.
But pretty much straightaway I stopped noticing them. I don’t think I could feel any difference in pedalling, it didn’t feel any different. Maybe slightly. Only when I looked down at the rotating rings, getting bigger and then smaller as they rotate, was I aware of their non-roundness. However, one thing I did notice is that I was going significantly better than I can remember. It’s exactly a week since my last turbo ride, and I was repeating the Sufferfest’s There is No Try as I normally do on a Tuesday night. But I was riding at higher wattage, comfortably. For most of the session I was able to ride around 10 watts higher than the required level. Last week I was struggling to hang on. Perhaps it’s simply increased fitness, or I’m fresher – though it’s only 48 hours since I completed my longest ever ride. Or could it be the Q Rings?
You can see in the image above that most of the time, I was able to exceed the required watts, sometimes quite significantly. At the end of the session I spun through most of the warm down period at around FTP, no problem at all. Never done that before. Compare this with the session from last week, below:
You can see that normalized power is 14 watts higher this week than last week. I got off the bike feeling pretty pleased, and not especially tired. This lack of fatigue might be down to being chuffed at such a good session, I don’t know. Within a few minutes of the end though, I noticed a big difference in the way I felt. I didn’t feel as spent as I normally do. Usually after this ride I am good for nothing but bed. As I sit writing this, approximately 90 minutes after I dismounted, I’m barely aware that I’ve trained at all. Legs aren’t sore, or particularly hot as they would normally be.
One explanation is that my power meter is playing up! Difficult to rule it out, but according to the speedo I did ride over 1mph faster than last week, so if the power meter is misbehaving, it’s doing so by a similar degree to the turbo resistance (a completely disconnected measurement). It’s too early to tell if the Q rings are in any way responsible for this, I could just have hit a purple patch tonight. The next few sessions should reveal all. They’re definitely not making me slower though, are they? 😀