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Thursday, June 1, 2006

Garmin ForeRunner 301 review (301 vs. 305)

Garmin ForeRunner 305With the release of the Garmin ForeRunner 305 GPS Training Assistant, I though it would be a good time to review it’s 301 predecessor and take a good hard look at weather shelling out nearly 150$ for the latest and greatest is such a good idea.
The ForeRunner 301 really changed the way I train. I practice mostly speedskating and running, I also rarely run or skate on regular tracks. The ForeRunner enabled me to run freely off track, and still log the mileage I was aiming for.

While runners can use pedometers, or other cheaper solutions - a GPS receiver is almost the only way to measure speed while skating. Knowing how fast your going is very important, as you can rarely tell the difference between skating 27Kph and 30Kph. Knowing your speed can help you improve you technique.

The ForeRunner was also my first heart rate monitor. If you’re already experienced with such devices, I don’t have to tell you the difference they make. A heart rate monitor can help you get the most out of your workouts - especially in interval training.

So - the ForeRunner 301 gives us speed, distance, heart rate and other valuable training statistics - what more does the ForeRunner 305 have to offer?

Garmin ForeRunner 301The 305’s main improvement upon it’s predecessor is in design. While the 301 is slightly bulky and comparable in size to two wristwatches, the 305 is much smaller and could almost pass for a wristwatch. This has been achieved by repositioning the GPS antenna to the side of the wrist, rather than up the arm. This is also said to improve GPS reception due to the fact that the antenna is facing skywards while in a standard running position.

My 301 seems to get a strong signal even with both my hands behind my back, and under my skating pack - so it doesn’t seem that there was much to improve upon as far as reception.

The second major difference is the new heart-monitor strap and communications system. The strap is said to be more comfortable, and the communication between the strap and unit to be more reliable and secure.

I must admit that the 301 has the occasional heart rate “glitch” - making your recorded HR jump to 220 or drop to 50 for no apparent reason. This is annoying, but doesn’t happen very often.

The finally addition to the 305 are the extended custom data screens. The 301 allows one custom data screen per sport (3 screens total), displaying 3 chosen parameters. The 305 allows 3 custom screens as well, but with up to 12 chosen parameters per screen.

The 305 is an unquestionable improvement of its predecessor - but with the 305 retailing for over 300$ and the 301 retailing for just over 150$ you must ask yourself: Is a sleeker design, a slightly better heart rate monitor and small firmware update really worth twice the price?

Compare and Buy Garmin ForeRunner models on Amazon.com


Monday, April 17, 2006

What are ILQ bearings?

ILQ BearingILQ is the brand name of a non standard type of inline skating ball bearing manufactured by Twincam.
ILQ bearings feature a 6 rather than 7 ball construction, the 6 balls are slightly larger those found in standard 7 ball inline ball bearings. Twincam claim that the 6 ball construction can handle greater loading rates and run with less friction due to the larger size of the balls.

Twincam successfully attempted to parallel their new line of bearings with the ABEC standard by branding their low end bearings as "ILQ-7" (comparable to ABEC-7) and their high end bearings as "ILQ-9" (comparable to ABEC-9) .

I must stress the point that ABEC is a standard while ILQ is a brand name. a Twincam ILQ -7 bearing is not necessarily better or worse than a bearing from a different manufacturer that conforms to the ABEC-7 standard. For more information see: Busting the ILQ myth.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

First Official Israeli Inline Downhill Championship

The First Official Israeli Inline Downhill Championship took place in Givat Zeev this Firday.

The event included Pro and Amateur Downhill competitions, a Speed Slalom competition and a grueling uphill competition.

It was an exciting competition, especially since it was the first event of its kind. Unfortunately it was overshadowed by a serious injury in the Amateur downhill competition - a female skater fell and broke her jaw (see amatuer downhill competition below).

Speed Slalom

Speed Slalom The Speed Slalom competition started off the event. Pros and amateurs of all ages mingled in a head to head elimination contest. Zeev, also know as "Unicoder" was in the lead from the start with perfect runs, scoring better times than any other contestant. I surprised the contestants as well as myself, by taking second place since I do not usually practice slalom.
Medalists were:

  1. Zeev "Unicoder"

  2. Boaz Arad.

  3. G'enia

Pro Downhill

Photographing a Downhill SkaterThe Pro-Downhill competition was the main event. The course decended 140m over 1.4km and skaters reached speeds of nearly 90kph.

Natan Lakoshnik, the reigning champion and Israeli downhill Guru, was the favorite. Most, if not all, of the participants in the competition had learned downhill skating with Natan.

Each contestant downed the course twice by himself in a “best time” competition. As it turned out, the students surpassed the teacher- With Leon Taobes(age 19), the youngest contestant, taking the Gold medal. Nir Cohen pushed the Former Champion Natan to the third place.

Pro downhill participants were required to wear full protective gear including full-face helmets and crash pads. Even so, a skater nicknamed "Dudi" fell during one of his runs and broke his arm.
Pro Downhill Podium

1. Leonid Taobes (19) 2. Nir Cohen (23) 3. Natan Lakoshnik (30)

The female downhill section also gave a good show. Medalists were:

  1. Hila Amichay

  2. Miryam

  3. Tal "Sleep"

Uphill Racing

UphillAfter everyone was done skating downhill, it was time to get back up again. Seven skaters set out to climb the hill that only minutes earlier had propelled skaters to nearly 90kph by the force of gravity alone. The outcome of the competition seemed predetermined. Three of Israels top speed skaters (Eyal FInk, Adam Shalit-Ilan and Myslef) were expected to compete mostly among themselves. Adam, having recently completed a running Marathon in Rome, was a good candidate for first place, but after starting fast he fell behind, making way for Ofer Filiba.

I conquered the 140m hill in 7:43 minutes.
Medalists were:

  1. Boaz Arad - GPS Data

  2. Eyal Fink

  3. Ofer Filiba

Amateur Downhill

The last event was the amateur downhill competition. Competitors were requiered to wear full padding and a helmet. A short section of the hill was skated by less experienced skaters in groups of three. Inbal, a female skater, fell and broke her jaw while taking a turnpast the finish line . She was taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance and will require surgery. Fortunately, the helmet she was wearing prevented a worse injury. A full face helmet might have mitigated the Injury. The Israeli Inline Community wish Inbal a speedy recovery.

Hopefully, the injuries we saw in this competition will be the last, and this competition will be the first of many. Personally, I hope that within the year, the first Israeli Inline Marathon will take place.

Additional Pictures available in the Photo Gallery.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Busting the ILQ bearing myth

Twincam have been manufacturing "ILQ" rollerblade bearings for the past few years, they claim them to be superior to ABEC rated bearings. Here I will explain the true meaning of ILQ, and how they relate to ABEC rated bearings.

What is ABEC?

ABEC is a bearing standard set forth by the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee. The ABEC standard mostly measures accuracy in production. It does not measure bearing durability, or how well the bearing functions under a load - two aspects that are very important for assessing the quality of a rollerblade bearing.

What is ILQ?

ILQ is simply a brand name, as opposed to ABEC which is a standard. Twincame has successfully created the illusion that ILQ is a "standard" by rating their quality on a scale similar to the ABEC scale (ILQ-7 bearings compared to ABEC-7 bearings and so on). Other than the fact that an ILQ bearing has 6 balls, as opposed to the 7 in a regular ABEC rated bearing - Twincam has published no standard for ILQ bearings. We are forced to take their word that ILQ-9 bearings are better than ILQ-7 bearings.

A Grain of Truth.

Twincam rightfully claim, that a bearing could have a very high ABEC rating - but be terribely unsuitable for skating. A cheap ABEC-9 bearing from an unknown company is probably much worse than an ABEC-3 bearing from a trusted manufacturer.

Also, most professional rollerblade race bearing manufacturers never even apply for an ABEC rating for their high-end bearings.

The Bottom Line

ILQ in not a standard, it is just a brand name. An "ILQ-7" Bearing could be better than one companies ABEC-9 rated bearing and it could be worse than a differant companies ABEC-5 rated bearing.
I, for one, do not appreciate Twincams attempt to sell their impression of a "better standard" to inexperience skaters.
On the other hand - Twincam is an experienced and respectable bearing manufacturer. Having skated on them myself, I can testify that ILQ-9 bearing are pretty good bearings. On the other hand I'd say that my Kryptonics ABEC-7 bearings are just as good.

So don't rule out ILQ bearings - just treat them as you would treat any other unrated bearing from a professional inline bearing manufacturer.

The true meaning of ABEC in rollerblade bearings

What does the ABEC rating mean?
does a higher ABEC rating nesicarriliy mean a faster bearing?

Meny people are familiar with the ABEC rating, and realy on it while purchasing rollerblade bearings. Only a small precentage of these people actually know the true meaning of the ABEC standard, and how it affects your ride.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Three Borders 10k Inline Race

The annual three borderes race took place on the 10th of April. This year, a 10 K inline category was added to the traditional 10 and 21K running categories.
3 Borders Race Start

The race started off at the "Kings city" amusement park in Eilat, and ran through the city towards the finish line at the "Taba" Eygyptian border crossing.
3 Borders Race Route

The race was an amazing event, and it's a shame that only such a small group of skaters made the journy to participate.
Hopefully, this will be the first of meny such events in Israel.
Official race times were:

1. Boaz Arad : 20:31 - View GPS Data
2. Eyal Fink : 20:36
3. Roi Ronnkin : 21:06 - View GPS Data
4. Ofer Filiba : 21:52
5. David Lederman : 21:54
6. Liron Rogel : 22:26
7. Nati Dinur 23:36
8. Natan Lifshitz : 23:36
9. Maya Faran : 25:30
10. Yossi Shvartztuch : 31:49
11. Vivian Raz : 31:49
Eilat 10k inline podium

This was my second inline race, and my first gold medal.