Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Persuit of the "Hour of Power"

In many power training circles you hear about the "Hour of Power" which originated with cyclist Bill Black. Basically, on a trainer go at 90% of your threshold power for 60 minutes and in every minute do 15 seconds or so of increased power. Do this for an hour and you end up with basically the same numbers as an hour of threshold without the mind-numbness. You can do it outside too but the terrain has to be pretty flat to get the full effect.

I want to tackle this at some point and with minimal time to ride today, I set up the trainer in my classroom and worked out inbetween classes. However, I only had 40 minutes so I did "20 minutes of power" to experiment. After a 10 minute warm-up, I held 260w for 20 minutes and then at 45 seconds I surged up to 300w to the minute mark. I was surprised how hard this was and I will have to ease into doing 60 minutes at once. My tsb is pretty negative right now (-11) so that might contribute.

It us a really neat idea and breaks up the monotony as well as providing a nice intense workout if you have little time. If you want to see a better account and a graph, head over to Alex Simmons's blog and check out what he did for the full hour.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bob's Mellow Macabre

Yesterday the weather was beautiful and warm and today it was still beautiful but very windy and cold. So, why not go for a ride? I was sitting in the parking lot of the normal Sunday ride prepared to battle to make it to Jack Pittman and then ride in on my own when 9:58 came and no one was there. The ride was going to be pretty hard solo in this wind (18 mph and 25 mph gusts), so I went anyway. I decided that my Nebraska friends would tisk tisk me for starting with the wind and having a head wind on the way home so I planned to cut out the two major climbs and hold true to my maximum allowable ride time for today which was 3 hours. My assumption was a fast first half and a brutal second half.

I was correct in my assumption, going out to the half way point I averaged 20.4 mph. It was a nice trip and I enjoyed the fast ride trying to just go with it and not use too much power. I averaged 202w (normalized power 230w) to Campton and then someone turned on the fan.

I never, ever use an Ipod while riding but I brought it today to distract me from the wind on the way back and it did a nice job for awhile. The wind was pretty relentless across the flat fields and there were plenty of lean-ins as the wind blew me sideways. At times I felt as if I was going backwards.

My power for the second half was 238w (normalized power 268w) and my speed was only 16.8 mph. In terms of work, I did 925kj on the way out and 1206kj on the way back. I decided to take Bold Springs to the Belmont shortcut over to June Ivey and then do the dirt road that we used to do on this ride until late. It took out 4 miles and in hindsight it did not matter because I ended up back at the parking lot with enough time left that doing either Stock or Jack Pittman or both, I still would have been close.

I was pretty hammered after it was done and I only rode 50 miles. My complete ride stats are: 50 miles in 2:43; average power 221; normalized power (based on what it felt like because of terrain) was 250w; speed 18.5mph; work, 2132 kj, cadence 84rpm!, training stress was 200 which is 20 points lower than when I have done this ride as a group.

Second half shuffle playlist:

15 steps: Radiohead
Whistle for the Choir: Fratellis
Distant Sun: Crowded House
China: Red Rockers
John, I'm Only Dancing: David Bowie
Where you Going Northern?: Game Theory
Canary in a Coalmine: The Police
5.15: The Who
Jungle Boogie: Kool and the Gang
Cecilia: Simon and Garfunkel
Thousand Miles From Nowhere: Dwight Yoakam
The Modern World: The Jam
West Coast: Coconut Records
Upside Down: Jack Johnson
A Few Minutes of Silence: Paul Westerberg
Electrolite: R.E.M
Accidentally in Love: Counting Crows
She's Gone: Hall and Oats
Girls Talk: Dave Edmunds
Wierd Fishes: Radiohead
Every Word Means No: Let's Active
Picture Book: The Kinks
Sweet Jane: The Velvet Underground
Magic Man: Heart
Church on White: Stephen Malkmus

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Snake TT

The Snake TT ATMO is one of the best races around. First of all it is a point-to-point so you have to be shuttled to the start, secondly it is run over a multi-access trail that is really a hiking trail so it is not groomed at all, thirdly it is very, very well run, and lastly over 300 racers each time come together for a very competitive but no-bullshit good time. There is not posturing or ego tripping like in a lot of road races.

Last year I did the 17 mile race and put in a good time, winning the overall. The 34 mile race seemed a bit out of my wheel-house but I wanted to give it a shot. Like last year I chose the single-speed bike and went with a 34x20 gear. I was hoping to start with Shane Shreihart and Robert Kranz but I ended up in the group behind them. They both put in great times and it would have been fun to try and keep up with them.

My race started out in coinfusion since i was one of about 10 who took a wrong turn and burned around 6-10 minutes by the time we got back on course. After that it was about playing catch up. The first 17 miles is muddier and has very little rocks. I liked it but I don't believe it is easier than the last 17 miles. It took me about 20 minutes longer than I had planned and I was pretty beat at the mid-point. I knew what the last 17 miles were like and tried to turn out a good split and ended up just 2 minutes shy of my record from last year. I thin without the missed turn and trying to catch up i could have come in 15 minutes earlier. I ended up with a 3:45 ride time which was good enough for 6th.

My impressions of the whole 34 miles are as follows:

--very tough on the single-speed, probably my toughest experience on it.
--Lots of climbing in the first 17 miles but nothing like the 3 miles of mostly unrideable (for me) rock fields that cover the ridge towards the end of the race. On the single-speed I had to walk more than I wanted to. These were boulders not really rocks and they look cool but after a few miles get on my nerves.
--be one of the first to start. Passing folks was a real problem and it got frustrating, not because people were at fault, it was just that they got in the way.
--I ended up with 35 ounces I did not drink. That was a mistake. I found it hard to eat on the course and while drinking was no problem, I still did not drink enough.
--the 40+mph paved downhill at the end is great payback.

I hope that a lot of other folks will try this series. It is "real" mountain biking and with it being a timed trial it is a great event to start with.