As the semester closes I’m faced with a deadline to reflect on my #LearningProject and to be honest, it’s not at all what I expected it to be. You see my plan was to build my race bike for the 2015 season, get more accustomed with a few web tools to help publicize my learning, and become more adept at generally maintaining and repairing my bikes. And although I was a little disappointed with part of the process, I must say I am thrilled with how it turned out.
The #LearningProject began with my first challenge, installing a Stages power meter. Learning how to get the product installed was simple enough as was actually getting it installed and operating properly. I used Quicktime and created a simple screencast in one blog post to reflect on what purpose the power meter serves, another post on the install, and in another post on how training with this new technology had been going.
The real benefit from this first challenge has come with the opportunities training with this new data has offered. Previously I would use heart rate and perceived effort as measurements to ensure I was achieving levels of exertion beneficial for my cycling goals. But as previously stated in an earlier post, these measurements are too subjective and easily affected by a myriad of variables. Training with power has created a consistent measurement that across all variables provides a accurate reflection of force and exertion. The result has been I’ve made some great fitness gains in a manner that has allowed me to adapt well over time. What I mean by this is I am training with incredible efficiency, working hard but in clearly defined and attainable zones allowing for an optimal blend of stress and recovery. I have never felt such a harmony between these two polar ends to the training spectrum. And the results are obvious. This time last season, in my first race of 2014, I finished in 16th place over 4 minutes behind the lead group. In the same race but in 2015 I finished with the leaders and managed a strong kick for 4th place. Needless to say, the reward of learning how to install the power meter extends further than just acquiring the skills to work on my bike. It has filtered in to other awesome aspects of my life.
The second challenge of my #LearningProject came when I needed to repair a nasty creaking noise that suddenly began popping up on my bike. This was an exciting endeavour because it involved buying some cool, new tools, getting some advice from my pals at the bike shop, getting my hands dirty, working on my bike in my classroom, and playing with Explain Everything (my favourite app of all time!). The task was successful in that I was able to locate the problem and fix if long term (it didn’t come back). Further, the skills I acquired through this repair allow me to taken other bike maintenance jobs such as working on and replacing my bottom bracket, accessing and maintaining my crankset, and eventually being able to install both of these parts. I was thrilled that I could turn an uber annoyance (a noisy bike) in to a learning opportunity that has several benefits.
The third challenge of my #LearningProject came when my race bike arrived and I was preparing to build it up. In a nutshell things didn’t go as planned and I was forced to come to terms with adapting my project plan and getting my bike built at my local bike shop. I have been thrilled with this new bike (4th placed in my first race of 2015 says it all) but I must say I would have like to have completed the goal I set out for myself and built the bike up on my own. I have turned the misfortune into another chance to reflect on my learning and have come to a rather pleasingly simple conclusion, one that I am reminded of all too often in my teaching practice: learning is not dependent irresponsive to time. Learning happens when learning happens and deadlines and due dates are rather arbitrary. That being said I look forward to the day where I can build up a bike with what I have learned in the past months as the foundation to allow me to do so.
I can say that I have come a long way in growing my understanding of bike maintenance. My toolkit, both figuratively and literally, has expanded to include many items I didn’t previously possess. My workshop now looks like a workshop whereas before it was a shoebox I’d pull out when needed. My friends have begun to ask me questions and borrow my tools in order to work on their own bikes. And my use of Explain Everything has gone from padawan to jedi master over the past months. Combined with the fitness and racing benefits gained as well, I’d say that my #LearningProject has been pretty successful.