Friday, March 14, 2014

The Governor

I was 12 years old the first time I heard of a governor device being installed on a motorized vehicle. But it wasn't on one of my dad's cars. I'm not even sure a Buick Century even had one.

The first time I heard about a 'governor was in relation to a gas powered golf cart.

For those unfamiliar, a governor is a mechanism used to intentionally limit the top end speed of an engine. It is usually done to protect the engine from tearing itself apart by its own centrifugal forces. But they're also applied to intentionally limit the top end speed as a measure to protect the public.

Anyway, I heard about governor devices through my older brother Matt, who was 14 at the time. That summer, Matt had two jobs: 1) lawn boy, and 2) golf course caddy shack grunt. He made good money on his lawn service. He didn't earn a cent at the caddy shack, but he wasn't there for the money. The reason Matt hung out at the caddy shack was to drive the golf carts.

Somehow that summer, Matt managed to earn the job of closing down the caddy shack each night. Among other things, this included maintaining the golf carts: cleaning, servicing (gas/battery) and parking them neatly in the garage at the end of the day. With over 50 carts, he had a lot of responsibility. Yet they trusted him. He even had his own set of keys. Quite remarkable for 14 year old.

More than half of the golf carts were battery powered. They were dogs according to Matt: sluggish and a pain in the butt to tow-in when they died somewhere out on the course.

Surprisingly, the gasoline-powered carts were even slower than the electric ones. That was, with two exceptions: Matt noticed that #66 and 67 out-performed every other cart in the shack.

One day, Matt mentioned his observations to the mechanic.

"Hey Randy, why are carts 66 and 67 faster than the others?"

"They ain't got no govner's" Randy said while hunched over an electric three-wheeler.

"Governor? What's that?" Matt asked.

"That thing that makes them as slow as snails shitting peanut butter. Carts 66 and 67 don't got no govner's 'cause I yanked them. They go purty fast now. Prolly 40 miles an hour."

Matt never missed a night of closing down the caddy shack down that summer. As the evening twilight's last rays were setting, he'd often swing by the house in one of those two carts and pick me up for a joy ride around the golf course. I'm not sure if they went 40 mph or not, but they sure did fly.


I installed a governor of sorts on my cycling recently. A couple weeks back, I purchased Joe Friel's "Power-Based: Olympic Build-Peak-Race" training plan from TrainingPeaks. My hope is to use this as the most direct path to getting into form for hard group rides and triathlon races later this spring/summer.

I will use the plan with the Cyclops Powertap hub laced to an Aeolus 5.0 wheel that I picked up a few years ago from one of my ride sponsors, Shim. The wheelset is carbon and ridiculously fast. Until now, I used them primarily for racing; the Powertap has been merely a toy that came along on the ride.

So how does a Powertap laced to racing wheels fulfill the role of a governor? They don't. The governor is Joe Friel's plan, and more importantly, my compliance to it. Joe's plan will tell me how much wattage I should be putting out per workout, while the Powertap will give me real-time feedback. It's far more accurate than a HR monitor, or judging your RPE. Those are good, but not quite as good as watts per kilogram.

I started the plan this past Monday with a 20 minute power test to get baseline metrics.  I followed it up with another power-based workout on Wednesday: 4 x 9 minutes at theoretical 90 minute critical power threshold (cp90). I'd have to say that the set of four cp90s weren't easy, but they weren't very difficult either. I saw the watts on my Garmin and knew what I was still capable of. I was willing to push harder, and my flesh was able. But just because I could, should I? Not yesterday. At least according to the governor.

Well that's it for now. Thanks for reading.

EZ-GO #66 had a hammer. It'd be perfect to motor-pace behind.



    1.21 gigawatts!!!!!!!


  2. BikeSnob once said that for most people a PowerMeter is like paying an accountant to tell you how poor you are..... but you...fine sir..... will use it felicitously. And I will take the governor off my own golf cart to race you!

  3. I'll take you up on that challenge. One loop around the golf course, after hours?