Saturday, July 29, 2006

60 Minute TT

Today we did our club time trial over a 19.8 mile course which is very rolling with 2-3 steep hills. I decided to go for an entire hour since I do not have any exact power data at 1 hour, only speculative data.

The time trial goal was to pace myself using my predicted functional threshold of 293watts. My pacings would be 286w for the first 20 minutes, 293-300w for the second and then let it rip as hard as I could go for the last 20 minutes. Contrary to other time trials on this course, I did not use any aero stuff, just my regular bike that I would take out training or on a ride.

Since it was a rolling course, it was very hard to do these pacings the right way since most climbs would put me well over my pacing limit. So I decided to ignore the pacing goal for the more significant climbs and resume once I was at the top of the hill.

The time trial did not start getting tough until the midway mark where we climb a significant hill on Indian Shoals road. I always have a hard time there and it marks the hardest interval on the course since the most rolling parts are after that climb. By the last 20 minutes I was really uncomfortable and coming into the 19.8 mile mark I was behind my PR time of 51:19. I went past in 52.35 but since my goal was 60 minutes, I gave it my all for the last 8 minutes or so and it got very uncomfortable.

I ended up at 60 minutes with 21.7 miles completed and an average power of 290watts. my predicted threshold from a 20 minute and 5 minute critical power test was 293watts so I was pretty close. I was a little dissapointed since i thought I could go at least 295watts for the duration. I think my goal of 320watts by late October is going to be too hard to accomplish but we will see.

The graph below shows the wattage pattern for the entire time trial (Figure 1)

The next figure is the quadrant analysis of the time trial and you can see that a lot of my efforts were done below my threshold power. Most of this is because it was a very rolling course and there were a lot of hills. On a trainer I would suspect that all of the dots would be at or above my threshold. Also, with the pacing I did, at least 20 minutes or so was supposed to be below threshold. I did not want to start out too hard and then fade.

The next figure shows my 20 minute interval power numbers as a judge of my pacing. It is pretty clear that my pacing was not good and you can plainly see my power dropping from the start to about 40 minutes. From 40-50 minutes is where the numerour rolling hills kick in and I cut it loose trying to get up those hills with high watts. The last 10 minutes are mostly downhill or flat with one hill near the end. The good thing is that I was able to still keep the same power wattage for the last 8 minutes that I had done all ride, the bad part is that this is where I was supposed to cranking it out and finishing strong. I was expecting myself to finish the last 5 minutes with around a 300w average and this simply did not happen.

Conclusions to draw from this? I was happy to do the 60 minute effort since it was my first. Clearly the course presents me with large challenges in terms of pacing and being efficient. I speculate that things would be different on a flat course. While 291watts is lower that I had hoped for, it is close to my predicted threshold value and hopefully I can move forward from there as i do more time trail efforts in the next 8 weeks.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Middle Threshold Efforts

Weekly I have been building up my threshold efforts (267-310watts) and having already done one mini-cycle, I am back to do another starting with 30 minutes. I usually do these in blocks of 15 minutes until I have to do a 60 minute effort and then I switch to 20 minutes blocks.

My course is pretty much dead flat so I can maintain a consistant power number within my range. In cyclocross, this will be the bread and butter but unless I am off the front, I probably will not be doing efforts like these continously. But, if I can continue to do these efforts for long periods of time, and I actually raise my functional threshold, then there is a chance that I could attack and break away,something I have never done with success.

Effort #1: The straight line nature of the trend line shows that I was able to hold the effort without a significant drop in power, indicating I was getting tired. My average wattage was 277 for the interval.

Effort #2: This effort was higher in average wattage but the slightly downward slope to the line indicates that I was getting tired as the interval progressed. Average wattage was 285 for the interval.

Critical Power Test (6/27)

Coming off a rest week a few weeks ago, I did a critical power test to check my functional threshold and make sure I was training at the proper power levels.

I did an all out 20 minute TT on a flat course, then did a 15 minute recovery and then another 5 minute all out TT. No aero modification, just the proper road bike, riding in the drops.

I plugged this information into my CP software and came out with the following...

Average Power 20 Minutes = 311watts; watts/kilo = 4.0
Average Power 5 Minutes = 341watts; watts/kilo = 4.4

CP estimation is 301watts

However, after determining my new power levels from these numbers I decided to dial it back a little since I was having a major problem keeping my intervals within these zones. I used a different CP estimation software program that accounts for 1 minute power as well and it dropped me down to a CP of 293watts.

I decided to base the zones on this power for now and I will retest in 8 weeks.

**update** so far after 4 weeks these zones have been working for me and i will restest on the next rest week cycle at the beginning of August.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cyclocross Season is Looming in the Distance

The Georgia Cyclocross Season begins on October 15th in Dahlonega, GA. I have been working very hard this summer to get into shape so that I can perform at my best for the season. I expect this to be my last really competitive season where I train hard for the season.

What have I been doing? Since I upgraded to the PowerTap, I have been doing a modified base training period for the last 6 weeks. This plan starts out heavy on the easy stuff and moves to more intense stuff at the end of August, and hopefully I will be able to start the season with condition ahead of last year.

Since I am going to make more of an effort this year, I hope to get through the season without injury and have a ton of fun at the races, including Nationals where I want to do better than 64th.

Coming off a rest week that included a century on Sunday, I was slated to get back into things by doing some sprints today. I have been dissapointed with my sprinting lately but had to remind myself that as the number of sprints increases, the focus should be on maintaining or improving wattage until the last repetition. In a race it will be important to be able to sprint with the same or better power as the race goes on.

Here are my results today in terms of average and maximum power for each sprint. Keep in mind that my best maximal power in a sprint since March is 1294W.

So, the sprint power numbers are pretty low but they are also consistant. My average power over 15 seconds is around 961W which is not too bad. My standing start efforts were very good as they were not much under the flying starts (20mph) and the lower average power it to be expected.

I will be increasing the sprint numbers from 7-12 in the next 3 weeks. Twleve in one workout is about all I can do without a power loss of 20% indicating it is time to quit. But you figure that you sprint many more times than that in a race albiet not at those wattages.

Tomorrow I will be doing 30 minutes of threshold work that will build to 60 minutes by late August as cyclocross workouts take over. I am hoping to improve my functional threshold to at least 320W by October.