Friday, March 27, 2009

Week of March 16

It’s been a poor couple of weeks. After getting back from Italy it has been one thing after another. I was essentially sidelined for much of March due to weather and planning a large charity ride. With the charity ride out of the way and the weather cooperating, this week was spent trying to regain some of my lost form. I had the most volume of any week in awhile, and hopefully I’ll get a bump from that in the coming weeks or at least rebuild my foundation. My CTL has fallen from 107 in January to 78 last Sunday. Thus, my form is in the tank, PC riding or not.

Monday – I took the day off from work to put a long 3+ hour ride in on the regular cranks. Just a warm-up ride trying to get my sea legs back.

Tuesday – Easy ride on regular cranks.

Wednesday – A fun ride, which meant a mix of tempo up to anaerobic. Still no PC riding – this ride was intended to rebuild race fitness by simulating out of the saddle surges and such.

Thursday – Today was a PC ride. 2 hours of PC riding and the PC layoff caused some fatigue for sure. The first 90 minutes was a snap, but then the hip flexors were a little tired. The good news is there was no ankle pain, so I plan to add some more PC time during my training weeks.

Friday – No riding due to travel to Austin. I brought the race bike with the regular cranks as the goal was to attack the hills hard with plenty of out of the saddle efforts. I would have been racing at Fayetteville this weekend but my race fitness is so bad right now it would have been an embarrassment.

Saturday – Felt great (relatively compared to previous weeks). I didn’t set any average power or normalized power records or year bests, but I was within a few percent of those values. The 3+ hour ride hurt like heck.

Sunday – My legs were beat from Saturday so the way out I took it easy. I had a nice tailwind and I let it push me along. The first 90 minutes I only averaged a bit over 160 watts while averaging over 20 mph with some nice hills in there. Coming back I was hitting the full force of those 15-20 mph headwinds with higher gusts. The return trip was 30+ minutes slower but with powers 30 percent plus higher. Got some good tempo time in there and burned some fat off. Goal met for the day.

A good TSS building week. I accumulated 910 points for the week and pushed my CTL up 8 points. I need a few more of these weeks and I’ll be back to my previous form I expect. While only being on the PCs for 2 hours, it was a pain free 2 hours (except for the hip flexors). I hope to log more time on them this week, particularly on my endurance rides.

It has been awhile since I’ve reported my power data. The curves below clearly show how lousy my March has been. January and February were both great months, but March has been at least 5-10% below in performance for average power. My normalized powers have only exceeded August and September, when I was mostly riding PCs and had some lousy fitness.

PC time this week - 2 hours, 0 minutes
PC time to date - 193 hours, 0 minutes

Monday, March 16, 2009

The last 2 weeks

Talk about inconsistent. Things just haven't worked out for me the last 2 weeks. I was responsible for organizing a charity ride for a local cycling club which grabbed a lot of my time. I'm amazed at how little riding I've done in the last 2 weeks. Volume was about half what I usually do, and my fitness has dropped as a result. Not good going into the busiest part of the Texas racing season.

Over the last 2 weeks I actually got back on the PCs. Here's some recent history:

March 2 - a good tempo ride with regular cranks doing some race type efforts such as out-of-the-saddle sprints and such.

March 3 - 65 minutes at endurance pace on the PCs with no pain! Yippee!

March 4 - VO2 workout on the race bike with regular cranks. Was only going to do 3 minute intervals but felt good enough to extend them to 5 minutes.

March 5 - no riding in anticipation of a race Saturday

March 6 - opener workout on the race bike

March 7 - Raced the 3/4 race at Tunis-Roubaix. Race is 4 laps of 13 miles with 5-6 miles of that on gravel. It was a war of attrition and I survived. The majority of the field went out with multiple flats but I prevailed for a 3rd place finish. The funny thing is I've never felt worse in a race. It was my absolute worst power day in a race. 189 W average and 211 W normalized for the race. I had zero energy, and that may have been dehydration as this was the first relatively warm cycling day. Usually for the duration I'm a good 20% higher in power.

March 8 - 1:40 on the PCs and Saturday's sluggishness followed me the whole day. I felt just as bad today as I did the day before. Again, no pain using the PCs, but just no legs. I'm in a real funk.

Monday - On the TT rig for the first time this year in anticipation of the Fayetteville (Texas) Stage Race. Felt good enough to pop out a 8+ minute threshold effort.

Tuesday - race paced tempo ride on the race bike

Wednesday - Didn't have much time so I hightailed it to a local park with a 1.4 mile loop for a combined workout and aero test day. Got some good data on the TT bike but didn't have a whole lot of energy.

Thursday to Sunday - no riding due to final preparations for the charity ride, bad weather (freaking cold and rainy), and company from Japan. Sucks not getting a ride in.

So the good news is I got some more PC riding in and without pain. The bad news is my fitness is in the tank due to a lack of riding. I'm hoping to regain my fitness in short order to tackle the races coming up.

PC time this week - 1 hour, 45 minutes
PC time to date - 191 hours, 0 minutes

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday evening update - first PC ride in 2+ weeks

I "braved the cold" (ooh, 60 degrees) and did indeed get out on the PCs for the first time in 2+ weeks. Figured I'd just do an hour at endurace pace as I'm shifting my hard workout up a day to Monday.

The good news - riding the PCs was a snap. It was like I never stopped using them for 2+ weeks. No hip flexor fatigue whatsoever.

The bad news - my left ankle/foot pain flared up about 30 minutes into the ride. I cut the ride short at 45 minutes to avoid the pain.

A bit discouraging. I haven't had ANY pain with my race bike setup of Look pedals/cleats (which just can't be used with these PCs without significantly affecting q-factor) and regular cranks. The PC folks have suggested spacers, but I refuse to do this as it may open myself up to even more injuries. The late Sheldon Brown has an excellent discussion of q-factor and the need to keep it narrow - The hip joint is optimized for walking, and in normal walking the footsteps are pretty much in line, with little or no "tread."

PC time this week - 45 minutes
PC time to date - 189 hours, 15 minutes

The Last Two Weeks

It's been 2 weeks since I checked in. Reason is two-fold. The first is that I was in Turin, Italy for work. It's always great heading to Italy and filling up on the best pizza, pasta, espresso, and gelato the world has to offer. I made sure to get my work done but also to enjoy life. My wife came along, and it was her first time to Italy. She loves Japan and bugs me about my next trip there (she's been 7 times, you'd think she'd tire of it but she loves it that much). Italy just made her list now as well.

Anyway, I got back Friday Feb 20 late in the day. Because of that nagging ankle/foot pain I was having, I decided to wait on getting back to PCs. Saturday most of my team was racing in the Austin area. Since I had come off a trans-Atlantic flight not 16 hours earlier, I skipped the weekend of racing. Instead I went long on the race bike and found I was a lot fresher than expected. Throughout the week I focused on just gaining some race fitness back. My upper end and snap have declined due to the extensive PC use so I did plenty of simulated race pace riding - accelerating hard out of the saddle coming out of turns, sprinting, etc. Things that just can't be done well with PCs. The Saturday ride had a slightly reduced crowd due to a couple of folks being out. But for myself the ride was great. Lots of attacking and hard pulling. I feel I'm getting in solid race shape. Most of all I had a lot of fun in training this week. It wasn't a chore. Hopefully next weekend I'll be racing Tunis-Roubaix and making a difference in the race.

I also hope to get back on the PCs this week. I may still get out today for a short hour on them, but the weather is cool and windy (well, not that cool at 59 F). I'm getting REALLY tired of these 20-25 mph winds the last few months. I'm ready for the usual 10-15 mph breezes.

I've spent well over half a year with PCs. I received some slack from the PC folks about "hanging up" the PCs while I get over my injury, claiming I was giving them up. Nothing is farther from the truth as I hope to bring them back in the fold this week. I truly need to be sure to not prolong an injury. Further, I was catching heat for not using them "exclusively" meaning every waking hour on the bike. As mentioned in my last entry, an additional reason for tabling PC use for a short time was lack of motivation. What could is a "training tool" if they kill your motivation to train?

That said, it's interesting to see how my power has progressed since August, when I really started heavy into PCs (I was using them off and on in July). The graphs below show my monthly best average and normalized powers for various durations since August, when I started heavy use of PCs. Note that August and September had some low power numbers. This is due to 2 things - getting used to PCs and also not focusing on serious training. Once late October rolled around I was full into tempo and threshold work. The training season was in full swing. At that time my powers were improving across the board. In other words, you could say my power improvements were due to a change in training load. Of course, you could also say the 2 months of PC use caused the increases. Either way, I haven't busted my historical best power numbers (except for the longer 2+ hour durations). What is of particular interest to me is that with the exception of the month of January (came off a lot of volume on the bike and was running my highest TSS) and August/September, everything is clumped together. I've got my own opinions on this and how PCs, regular cranks, and training fit into it, but I'll keep those to myself for now and let others mull it over.