Video Review: Speed & Power in Italy

photoI know.  I know.  You missed me – and wondered what I’ve been up to.  Would you believe I rode my bike the whole way to Italy?  Sure the water was deep crossing the Atlantic – but it had to be done.  Actually, it’s just been a busy few weeks.  Work.  Daughter’s Nutcracker performance (see some of those non-bike-related tweets).  Father’s surgery.  Busy.  Busy.

I did get the chance to try out another DVD from the folks at Global Ride.  This is the second one I’ve reviewed this year.  In case you missed the first one, here’s a handy link to the review of the Hawaii ride.

Now, I have to say that I did this DVD about a week ago – and started to write my review on it – but never quite finished.  I guess the folks at the Sufferfest just ruined these rides for me.  It’s hard to go back to something like this after The Wretched (sort of like being pulled from major league to go back and play on the farm team).  C’mon Christmas!  Get me some more of those Sufferfest workouts!!!!

Anyway, I still owe you a review of this DVD.  So here goes:

Speed & Power in Italy is a ride separated into four parts.

PART ONE – Warmup

photoThis is really nothing more than a warm-up.  You don’t really have any virtual riding at all – just a photo slide show of some scenes around Italy.  It is kind of weird to be on a bike while watching photos of the watery streets of Venice.  While some cool shots, it was a little unnatural to be riding on top of the water.  I think the warm-up lasted about 5 minutes.

PART TWO – Blasting Through Bracco

This part is categorized by a relatively flat section that does give you some nice ridge line views.  It’s a relatively fast section that is really just some fast spinning.  The scenery is nice (beats some other DVD’s I’ve done) and it moves along pretty quickly.

If I’m remembering correctly, this section featured some tunnels.  It’s weird, but I looked forward to going through the tunnels.  I’d be watching the screen as the tunnels came into view… closer….even closer….ready to enter….and……..cut scene.  Pick up again on the other side of the tunnel.  It did that on every tunnel (enough that I was overtly grumbling about it) until the very last one.

I can only guess the video editor cut out the majority of the tunnels because of the light balance issue (hmmm… best friend/professional photographer will probably correct me on my poor use of words).  When going through the last tunnel, the screen gets incredibly bright coming out of the other side (which, in actuality, is quite like it is when you really ride through a tunnel).  I say – Leave ’em in, Editor!!

PART THREE – River Running

photo 2More quick spinning through some Italian towns.  I enjoyed the views on this part of the virtual ride.  It did make me add “Ride bike in Italy” to my bucket list.  The narrow roads lined by European buildings is really awesome.  While the riding in this section wasn’t too memorable, the scenery was.

PART FOUR – Rockin’ to Rocca

This is only my second DVD in the Global Ride series – and it ended similar to the first one:  climbing!  You complete 45 minutes of quick spinning before this section, then the climbing begins.

There are a few switchbacks on the climb – which are fun to stand and corner (while, of course, imagining you’re doing a stage in the Tour de France).  The camera work is a little weird, though, as the camera keeps focusing on the corner (rather than the road) as you go around it.  It’s hard to explain – just think of that amusement park ride (called “the Whip” around here) where you get flung around the corner while watching the corner as you go around).  It makes you feel like you’re skidding sideways the whole way around that corner.  It really messes with your mind.  Get past that feeling, though, and it’s actually kind of fun.

General Thoughts

I opted for keeping the voice coaching feature ON (even though I’m still using my loud CycleOps trainer which keeps me from hearing too clearly) – but it turns out that it didn’t really matter anyway.   I didn’t obtain much benefit from the onscreen coaching.  As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for the titles of the songs (which still showed on the screen even though I left the music feature OFF), the coach couldn’t think of much to say.  He’d just reference the song title and try to “inspire” you with the title and/or the words in the song (that I couldn’t hear anyway).  Other than that – he didn’t say much productive at all.

I’m still a little spoiled by the gear ratio and rate of perceived effort that Coach Troy (see my Spinervals reviews) does in the Spinervals series.  Sure I can figure my own gears out – but it’s just nice when someone takes the time to put together real-feeling ratios that make you truly feel like you’re getting more of a benefit from the ride.

So, it’s certainly not the worst virtual ride I’ve done.  The scenery alone helps the hour along immensely.  Having four distinct sections also keeps boredom at bay.  I do long for my next Sufferfest video – which I suspect is not far away!  🙂

Ride on!

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