Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nice Training surprise….

How often do you take the winter off, jump back on the bike and can produce mid June wattage stats? Ok, maybe you can’t take the full winter off. But with the undoubtly busy work life… (see blog or two entry below for a clue as to why) not to mention probably the coldest weather in Northern Wisconsin in a decade. It’s not exactly contributed to a vivacious endurance training program. That’s not to say I wasn’t training smart or at least contrarian to commonly accepted training protocol.

For those of you who know me to be a bit zealous about cycling, I did jump on the waxed sticks more than a few times this winter and glide my way through the snow. That was at least until I plowed my head & shoulder into the hard packed trail on a less than graceful wipeout during the Ashwabay Summit race held in Bayfield at the end of January. That rung my bell more than I’d like to admit and curtailed my CX skiing enthusiasm by the end of January.

But really I plowed through getting in reasonable training on the bike & a mix of skiing from the end of cyclocross season & the Iceman right through mid January. At about that time I got a cold/flu and the weather turned ridiculously cold and it was the perfect break of sorts. It led to 2-3 weeks of very little time on the bike or ski’s and for the first time in months I finally felt truly refreshed and energized again.

The entire time however, or I should say since Oct I’d been incorporating 3+hrs each week to a program of core training and rehabbing a chronically sore back. That was a magic elixir. I had no idea how out of whack my body had become with stiffnesses, imbalances, to the point I was a very fit unhealthy person. (Amazing the difference between being fit and being healthy.) Honestly I don’t care if or how that improves my racing this upcoming season because it’s just a beautiful thing to wake up in the morning and fell sprightly & agile versus having to cling to the railing to walk down the steps after I waking up in the morning. Core performance & resistance stretching don’t knock it until you tried it.

Which brings me to that month of February, when winter should be turning the corner. Well, work got even more hectic and my time more limited so I’d either sneak in a long 4hr ride on a rare occasion or knock out something short but in the neighborhood of fairly challenging threshold like intervals workouts. Generally getting in 30-40minutes of harder intensity stuff.

So the last day of Feb, for whatever reason I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve got a 4x10min session of sweetspot intervals that coach Josh Powers put on the training calender. Because I’m into using a PowerTap meter hub that actually measures the power producted recorded in watts, it provides an excellent tangible means of measure current workouts with previous ones. In a way it’s like lifting weights you measure your effort in pounds, this likewise gives numerical means of assessing effort. I use it along with heartrate & perceived exertion to know I’m targeting the desired energy system (aerobic, anaerobic, lactate threshold, etc). So I crank out these “sweetspot” intervals, download the results afterwards and every one is over 300watts – what does that mean? I’ll get to it later. In the meantime, my mind is telling me that’s a pretty decent number given the numbers I’m familiar with. I check against previous similar interval workouts and find that it’s about 1 ½ % less than what I able to down in mid June ’08 --- that floored me! I don’t know how the rest of you do it but generally your mid to early winter numbers don’t come anywhere near those June numbers. Be it that I’m ahead of schedule or have somehow been able to hold such a reasonably high level of fitness, I don’t really care. It is however a very nice surprise to see and with any luck could be a promising upcoming season.

Ok, the watts, what all do they mean? Or what I commonly hear --- what’s a good number? Well, folks, in my opinion it’s nothing like what the bench press is in the weight room. Every number is unique to you as rider/racer. What’s more important than the raw wattage number is the watts to weight, or power to weight ratio. That better defines how well you can actually move the oversized winter rump while climbing a hill on your bike. High power is good but not entirely necessary if you’re more lightweight. My coach & I will joke from time to time how if I could have his weight with my power or he could have my power with his weight we’d be stars on the Pro Tour and it’s true -- we’d match then match the power to weight ratio’s that you see of many pro riders. It’s sufficient to say if you’re in my weight range 160’s, something close to 400 watts for a sustained effort would be ideal for absolutely top end racing. I’m in the 320 to as high as 376 depending on the duration of the effort. If your more or less than that weight your ideal wattage would be proportionately different.

If you’re into the numbers and science of cycling or fitness, getting a power meter can be a super helpful training tool as well as give you a regular tangible ongoing means of measures your improvement.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Steinbeck had to be talking about Charlie Farrow....

Ever read that perpetually smiling guy's blog? If anyone considers me to be a bit overboard on the cycling... it pales in comparision to C.F. Only he could verify if the below quote speaks volumes of his character.... I'm somewhat suspect, but given his recent years of ultra endurance efforts, it does provide a sliver of credence. What do you think Charlie?

"For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness."— John Steinbeck, “Travels With Charley”


Despite the bumps and bruises from the occassional falls when that February thaw occurred, and weather since that's far colder than it should be -- mid winter biking seems to be pretty much on track.
With any luck the coming weeks should make for some awesome sno-mo trail riding. Warm days & cold night will pack down that surface and make for some blazingly fun conditions.
I'll get a bigger posting coming up one of these days soon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

If I hear another Facebook comment…

I understand everyone & there brother is on Facebook. Good. I’m happy. I’ll peek over someone else’s Facebook shoulder to see what you’re up to in the crazy third person way of saying things.
If you want to track me down…. Try Google. I’m here.