Monday, April 27, 2009

Week of April 20

Coming into the week I've been carrying a lot of load in an effort to continue to drive up the chronic training load. I just hit 100 yesterday after a low of 78 just 5 weeks ago. A nice, steady ramp rate to get back to form. But with the increased load comes some residual fatigue...

Monday - I was simply tired. No motivation to ride and I fell asleep on the couch after work. Body was telling me something...

Tuesday - Still carrying some negative TSB but I think the main point was carryover fatigue from a hard weekend. Intended to do some VO2 work but the legs weren't there.

Wednesday - An hour and 45 minutes of PC riding at a nice endurance/low tempo pace. I have to admit that by the end my hip flexors were barking at me. Still, no problems spinning out for nearly 2 hours.

Thursday - A long tempo ride of 2.5 hours including a stretch of 1:45 at about 260 W. I was dead at the end. The negative aspect of bumping up your threshold.

Friday - No riding due to a ton of rain in the area.

Saturday - Good hard group ride.

Sunday - Ditto Saturday's effort but an extra 2 hours on my own to increase load.

A good week ending up with my CTL at just under 103. The ramp rate is decreasing a bit due to the threshold number getting reset. No personal bests but the form is back to the levels I was hitting over the winter.

PC time this week - 1 hour 45 minutes
PC time to date - 200 hours 20 minutes

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week of April 13

Some new personal bests this week! Yippeee!!!

Monday - 30 minutes of light indoor riding on the PCs

Tuesday - I wanted to do some quality VO2 work on the race bike, but I came into the workout with a highly negative TSB and my legs just weren't there. So instead I carried a mix of levels and rode for 47 miles just to keep the CTL increasing. I had some decent midrange, but the upper end was just flat.

Wednesday - Outdoor ride with the Powercranks just doing some endurance pace work for 75 minutes. Could have gone longer, but the winds were demotivating.

Thursday - Workout of the year. I was debating what kind of workout to do. Should it be 1) threshold, 2) a hybrid VO2 workout that sees some good training benefits, or 3) what I'm calling "300+" where I ride at 300+ W for as long as I can, take a short rest, and hit it again? I decided to go with door #3. I was expecting to have to throttle down after 10-15 minutes, but my legs kept rolling. It wasn't until minute 36 that I needed a break. Unfortunately after that I was a bit toasted, but I set some new personal bests for average power in the 15-30 minute range and normalized power bests in the 20-40 minute range. Mind you I beat my all-time bests by anywhere from 1-7 W, but those bets came a few years ago. After this portion of the workout I wasn't done. I decided to fill in some time with "surge tempo" where I ride at tempo and throw in some half-hearted out-of-the-saddle sprints out of every turn. The workout is shown in the graph below. The horizontal line is 300 W, and my current threshold is ~275 W. All indicators are saying I need to bump that up to 285-290 W (not just this data, but other ride data as well). The dips in the first part of the ride are due to corners on a local 6+ mile loop.

Friday - no riding due to some significant rain in the area. In fact, the rain was so bad that it forced the cancellation of the first day of the MS150 ride from Houston to Austin, the first time that has ever happened.

Saturday - The same weather system from Friday was still in the area Saturday. Pal Alex and I found an open window of no rain early in the morning for some riding. Just rode it hard to get some training load in. It was, however, a rain (lightening actually) shortened 1:45 ride.

Sunday - 4 hour 15 minute endurance ride on the race bike. With the training load I accumulated on the ride, I'm now up to a CTL of 100 and feeling strong again. Good thing as there are some races coming up soon.

I'm extremely happy about the new PBs. The question is why did I set those? I see 4 possibilities (or a combination of these):

1) PCs - nearly 200 hours of use in the last 9 months, using them more and more again after some injury issues in Feb/Mar. PC use has certainly declined compared to the first 6 months but I notice my pedaling style has more variety. I can pull up (hammies and hip flexors?) from 6 to 12 o'clock for significant periods at threshold to give the quads a rest.
2) increased training load and the fitness that comes with that - I'm slowly building my CTL back up over 100. I am running a negative TSB right now, but the higher CTL allows you do dig a little deeper.
3) caffeine - had some of my homemade candy bar of dark chocolate (85% cocoa) and whole coffee beans before the ride - probably about 100-200 mg of caffeine in a little piece. Not so sure about caffeine being the real factor as I've have indicators of improvement for a few weeks now.
4) the type of training I've been doing lately - very long VO2 intervals (sorry, only me and my team know the protocol)

Below you'll see my latest power-duration charts. The red line is the line corresponding to the time since starting with PCs. In both charts (average and normalized powers) note the bump ups in the 15-40 minutes ranges.

Clearly I'm well ahead of last year but still haven't significantly increased my all-time power numbers. I just need to hold the form through the summer so I can have a much better 40k this year than last. It would be nice to hit a low 56 minute 40k or dip into the 55s.

PC time this week - 1 hour 45 minutes
PC time to date - 198 hours 35 minutes

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Riding the Hooker

What??? Riding the Hooker? Has this blog been hijacked by some not so pure thoughts? Nope. After a few years in hiding, my Hooker has made her way back out of the shadows and whipped into action. Before Cervelo, before Trek TTX, before Specialized Transition, and all the other fancy dancy TT bikes on today’s market, a very special bike designed by Gary Hooker of Hooker Headers (for cars) fame was the be all and end all of aerodynamic setups. There’s a great story on the history of Hookers at Slowtwitch -

My Hooker differs from the one highlighted at Slowtwitch. Mine is a 700c version. I was fortunate enough to but it secondhand (or maybe third- or fourth-hand?), though it didn’t come with the entire assortment of Hooker goodies, such as the aerobars of death, the Hooker brakes, and the one-sided Hooker fork. Before I could make the thing race legal I had to find a rear brake (hidden behind the BB shell). I found some Dura Ace AX brakes on ebay and I was set. The rules say you have to have a fixed gear and a brake or two brakes. The rules say nothing about those brakes being functional, and AX brakes really suck in terms of brake power.

I haven’t ridden my Hooker in over 3 seasons, giving it up because while fast as hell, I just couldn’t put the power down. It was no problem averaging over 25 mph on just 250 watts. The problem was I couldn’t take advantage of the ~10% more power I was generating on the road bike. But I need something new. The Ford GT is out, the Dodge Charger is available again, so why can’t I go retro? When I last rode my Hooker, I lived in a different house (so the photo below will likely not pass muster with the Slowtwitch d├ęcor nazis). I didn’t even have a proper TT helmet as the Garneau Prologue was the only “aero” helmet legal in the States.

Today the bike looks the same. Same lousy red fork. Do you know how hard it is to find a threaded 1 inch aero fork? I’ve made the decision to remake this bitch, and a new set of aerobars is on the way – threadless version of a similar set of VisionTechs (great bars IMO). Now I just need a 1 inch threadless fork and new headset and my drag should drop even more. The last 2 years I rode a budget Leader TT/Tri frame with aero fork and integrated Oval Concepts A700 bars. Great, cheap, setup that had me go 56:50 in sea-level conditions in a 40k. But I need something different this year.

Last week I did a head-to-head competition between the Hooker and Leader. After a 70 mile ride on the road bike I loaded up the 2 TT frames in the car and headed to a local park with a 1.45 mile loop completely exposed to wind. Winds were 10-15 mph that day but still not bad enough for some testing. Same wheels were used for the tests – 32 aero busting spokes with lousy tires and tubes. Not a go fast setup.

Below is a plot of speed and power (divided by 5) over the course of 6 laps for each setup. I targeted 3 power levels (2 laps at each power level) for each bike. Note the repeatability in power application and also the peaks and valleys of speed due to the wind. But more importantly look at how the Hooker tests faster, even with that lousy red fork which is as aero as a pig. CdA estimates show the Hooker to be 0.015 to 0.020 m^2 more aero than the Leader. The addition of an aero fork should improve that even more. Expected time savings over 40k is on the order of 90 seconds. Free speed if I can keep the power up to the levels I had on the Leader. Should be a fun year.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Week of April 6

Monday - A new way of making life miserable - setting up the Computrainer indoors with my PC equipped bike and doing some indoor riding. The PCs aren't the problem; the problem lies with the pain of getting up out of the saddle with the PCs while modulating the Computrainer power in erg mode. Needless to say, my 40 minutes of PC riding on the trainer wasn't enjoyable. My rear was none too pleased with the lack of off the saddle rest time.

Tuesday - On the race bike for an intense workout, one that simply can not be done effectively with PCs. It's the kind of workout that is getting me in shape again quickly, and I set several yearly best average powers in the 6-10 minute range.

Wednesday - Wife's 40th birthday, so I stayed home, took her to brunch, museum, movie, nursery, and dinner. No riding. Have to have your priorities straight.

Thursday - Wanted to do another race style workout on the race bike but just didn't have the legs. Still got in about an hour of tempo to bump up the CTL.

Friday - Decided to take Good Friday off from work and rode with a pal. Loads of tempo to keep the CTL growing. Later in the day I headed off to the park for an hour of testing on my TT bikes. It's a new year, and I'm trying to decide which bike to use. I haven't ridden my old Hooker in a few years for fit issues, but it felt great. Have some decisions to make... More on this in another post.

Saturday - Group ride with plenty of spunk despite 4 hours in the saddle on Friday.

Sunday - Felt good once more.

Unfortunately only 40 minutes of PC time. I intended much more but I'm having to fit too many workouts of various types in. One thing I noticed on some of the rides, however, was pulling back and up on my regular cranks more than in the past.

PC time this week - 40 minutes
PC time to date - 196 hours 50 minutes

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Week of March 23 and March 30

Monday the 23rd - 70 minutes of PC riding at an easy pace. I was blitzed from the weekend.

Tuesday - off

Wednesday - still tired from the weekend

Thursday - A quick hour of riding through the 'hood on the race bike

Friday - 50 minutes of PC riding at an easy pace.

Saturday - Group ride with the race bike.

Sunday - Relaxing endurance ride enjoying the weather.

PC time this week - 2 hours 0 minutes
PC time to date - 195 hours 0 minutes

Monday the 30th - nada

Tuesday - Some of my "race winning intervals" (similar, but not exactly like those described in "Training and Racing with a Power Meter") on the road bike. Left me dead tired after the workout.

Wednesday - 90 minutes of solid surge tempo work on the regular cranks

Thursday - day off

Friday - 70 minutes of Powercranks

Saturday - group ride where I hit it hard

Sunday - another hard group ride

PC time this week - 1 hour 10 minutes
PC time to date - 196 hours 10 minutes

Only 70 minutes of PCs this week but an interesting conversation with one of my pals. One of the top Texas racers asked him if I was the guy on his team riding PCs. This top racer was stating that he felt PCs helped him and that I was using them too much. Hmm. On the one hand you have a top racer claiming too much use is a bad thing; on the other hand I'm violating the spirit of Frank's Slowtwitch study and also not improving by not using them exclusively. What to think... I do know I've used them for some 60% of my training volume over the last 9 months and it would have been more except for those injury issues over the last 2 months.