Adam Hansen column: First Ride with LEOMO TYPE-R
Earlier this year Adam Hansen asked RIDE Media long to a function to explain a training tool created by LEOMO. We documented his presentation, and now he has some more observations he’d like to share…
(This is the first of what he says will be an ongoing column about training for cycling.)
Today I am writing about the first training ride I did with the LEOMO TYPE-R, a system that comes with five small, lightweight rechargeable sensors, each with its own three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer.
Worn on the thighs, feet, and pelvis, the TYPE-R’s motion sensors record a rider’s movement at 100 data points per second, sending the data in real-time to the head unit. So, for a tech geek like myself, it’s a fantastic tool that I fell instantly in love with.
Now, the particular ride explained in this column was actually my first ride back after the 2018 off-season, after a long holiday in the Himalayas that I did once my racing obligations were over for the year.
It was 20 November and I did this ride and used the LEOMO TYPE-R for one hour with a constant cadence. I did not look at the display of the TYPE-R; I didn’t want to see any of the information nor feedback it normally provides the user throughout the ride – I didn’t want it to influence my ride. I wanted to do things as per usual and see what my norm was.
Now, have a look at this graph – it’s pretty simple:
(Note: this is not a paid promotion.)
In the image above, you’ll see that cadence is mostly constant, power increases every two minutes at the end: 170 watts, 200 watts, 240 watts, 280 watts… and my heart rate increases with it.
It’s nothing special, but for a first ride back after a decent hiatus, it was not the easiest either, so I expected some leg fatigue towards the end.
But, I wonder, can you tell from the graph above that I was experiencing leg fatigue? No.
This kind of graph is what I have been looking for many years as a pro cyclist, before I got my hands on the LEOMO TYPE-R. Cadence, power, HR… nothing else mattered to me before. But, having these LEOMO Sensors attached on me showed a little more what my body was doing during the ride.
So, let’s look at the next graph:
FAR(Q1)? What is FAR? I had no idea at the beginning of the early session… but then I just hovered my mouse over the “?” and it explains it very simply as follows:
Imbalances? Wait? If my SRM power meter shows me to a close 49.3% / 50.7% ratio that’s pretty well balanced, isn’t it?
Well, I thought it was.
I had 23.9 degrees angle change in my left ankle and 24.7 degrees change in my right. That’s pretty close. Nothing to worry about, I thought. Not perfect, but okay.
So, what’s going on in this next graph:
The two-degree difference in the FAR(Q1) from left to right has changed.
There is a more of a difference in the FAR graph, more than 7%. That, I surmised, is a lot.
Having a closer look, the longer the session goes on, this gap widens between my left and right foot. Even when I did those ramp intervals that gaps widens even more!
That last two minutes have an Average FAR of 50.0 for the left foot and 60.7 for the right foot. That’s more than a 10% difference.
Here I was thinking that I still have a very good power balance between my left and right legs with my SRM power meter pedals. Where, in fact, at the time of this ride with the LEOMO sensors, it looks like my legs are doing things very differently to get that 50/50 power ratio.
Let’s move forwards a little… I want to see more and get to the bottom of this.
Here’s the next graph:
LAR? What is LAR? Again, move the mouse over question mark – and, voilà, I get some answers:
Okay, so LAR is the total change of leg angle going up and down.
We know that, doing a squat the highest point is the easiest part – and, for example, starting lower is much harder. So, obviously we want this LAR numbers to be pretty high without knee pain or pelvic rotation. But, looking at the graph again, I see that my LAR copies the FAR a little.
The LAR starts off almost the same as the FAR for the left and right leg… and then, as the ride goes on, it expands – just like the FAR. That makes sense to me: the seat is always at a static point and the pedals cannot go any lower than the lowest point.
So, in some ways, these angles that the TYPE-R reads out must add up somehow. I mean if the foot is connected to the leg and the heel is very low, the leg has to compensate and go lower with the heel. This would mean as the FAR increases – because the heal is dropping lower – the LAR must increase because the leg must go lower as its connected to the foot via the ankle.
So, logically, while my FAR changes with one of my legs, I kind of suspect the LAR to change with it.
I do see some 10% difference in a couple of those two minute ramp sections. So, are we talking about a leg that does not go as high as the other by 10%?
What amazes me with this is that the angle range is 10% less than the other leg. So, the legs are doing different workloads and still maintain a good 50/50 power output ratio. In my opinion, that means one leg is working a lot harder than the other to still achieve that 50% to 50% balance in power?
Remember, power is just the load on the crank and pedal. It doesn’t know how hard your body has to work to get that power. So, I conclude, something is not correct with me: it seems I am not well fitted to my bike or I am compensating for some reason that I have not discovered yet. Maybe some muscle imbalance…
But let’s not stop after making that hypothesis. Let’s consider some other graphs…
DSS? That’s ‘Dead Spot Score’.
For this ride, I scored a 6.9 DSS with my left leg and a 20.8 DSS with my right leg.
I don’t know, at this time, what is a good or what is a bad score with the DSS but what I do know is my right leg is 300% worse than my left leg. This, surely, is not good.
I could have kind of guessed it though because when I looked back at the major differences to my non-symmetrical body sitting on my bike, the right FAR was the biggest difference between the two and, when I hovered my mouse over the question mark, the description says:
To me, this clearly shows that my DSS is not the best in the world. I’m not surprised, I kind of guessed that from the beginning.
Reading the graphs on FAR and LAR, I knew there was a difference. If you just recap them again to break it down from the beginning. My right foot FAR Q1 had a higher number compared to the left, very little but not the same.
The object for the FAR and FAR Q1 is to have the lowest numbers as possible. So, my right foot loses out big time.
Then, moving onto the FAR graph, it clearly shows that the right and left FAR stays close together, however, the right is a tad worse of the two.
As the ride goes on the right foot moves further and further away from the left FAR to more than 10% difference. Now the LAR is a mimic of the FAR – they start almost the same but as training goes on and the body fatigues a little, the right LAR moves again as the FAR does in the right foot.
What I find interesting is, when it gets tough for me at the 240 watts my FAR goes so bad my LAR compensates to maintains the power. But as soon as this effort is over if goes back to being bad again.
So, from everything I have discovered on my first ride with the LEOMO TYPE-R, I have found out that I have a pretty big imbalance between the two legs and a power meter did not pick this up. It is all reinforced by the DSS score. I almost didn’t need to read this graph because the FAR and LAR showed this already to me. Still, having a true number of measurement to go by, I am now focused to reduce my DSS to become a better cyclist.
* * * * *
My job now is to play around with my position a little to get my body as symmetrical as possible and to see if this reduces my DSS so I can improve my cycling performance.
There is one sensor I did not mention in this story and that’s the pelvis sensor. I will save that for the next column because that will play a very import role in deciding if a change in position is going to work out for the best… or not.
Also, the other graphs are more useful when doing some serious training. Stay tuned…
– By Adam Hansen