April 2, 2010

Training: Base 1,2, and Rest on 3

Filed under: cycling — Tags: , , , , , , , — nekoball @ 4:10 PM

Are you getting bored of cycling posts yet? There are plenty more posts to come! Three weeks ago, I started a more structured training plan and am already beginning to feel some change, psychological or otherwise. I am considered to be in the “Base” phase of cycling training, which includes lots of aerobic (high volume, low intensity) rides. My schedule is off/recovery on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and aerobic rides on all other days. On Saturdays, there are often high intensity team field workouts which include FTP, sprinting, and climbing. I follow up the field workout with an aerobic ride. I also try to work in specific pedal stroke and strengthening drills.

Summary of hours/miles for the past three weeks:
Base 1:            13.0 hours / 192 miles
Base 2:            10.5 hours / 159 miles
Base/Recover 3:    5.0 hours / 78 miles

In retrospect, I may have overdone the hours/miles on week one, but I felt great after the first week. I didn’t feel fatigued and since I worked my riding into my commute, I didn’t even feel like I sacrificed that much time out of the week. During week two, it felt a little harder to squeeze the miles in, but I was still feeling ok. According to Joe Friel, athletes typically do three weeks of training and recover on the fourth, but Clark recommended recovering on the third week, so I duly followed his advice.

After three weeks, it is hard to say whether or not my fitness had improved. After the first week of low intensity riding, I was genuinely impressed at how little fatigue I felt after riding so much. By the third week however, my legs began to feel tight, which meant that I probably needed to stretch more. One thing I can say is that my cadence has improved noticeably. On long stretches of flats, keeping my cadence above 90rpm no longer seems unnatural, but the improvement was even more significant when climbing hills. Spinning uphill at 90rpm was a revelation. I could go faster and longer. For this reason alone, it would seem like I could do say, OLH much faster, but I’m not sure that would say anything conclusive about my fitness. While I can’t say that I convinced of this “going slower to go faster” base training business, I am continuing my training to see how I can improve. After six more weeks of base training, I can do some more testing and move on to the build phase.


March 16, 2010

March PV Field Test Protocol and Jack’s Prime

The first Saturday of every month, the team performs a Field Test Protocol (FTP). This test is another piece of data to help gauge our fitness and to evaluate our training. The goal of the FTP is to estimate our lactate threshold heart rate.

Our FTP consisted of two approximately 6 mile long time trials along Cañada Rd. The starting point was the Pulgas Water Temple, and the turn around point was the Oak tree at the top of the hill heading South on Cañada. The end point was at the top of the hill slightly past the Water Temple. The time trials were ridden as hard as we could maintain and lasted between 15 to 20 minutes each. We rode one time trial, rested for ten minutes, and then rode the same course again.

For the 1st effort:
Avg. HR: 157
RPE: 7
Time Recorded: 16:49
Distance of Lap: 5.68 miles
Time Adjusted: 18:21 (adjusted proportionally from 5.68 miles to 6.20 miles)

And the 2nd effort:
Avg. HR: 151
RPE: 7
Time: 18:56
Distance of Lap: 6.2 miles

During the first effort, I started my lap timer late, so I rescaled my time based on distance. At the end of the second effort, we were interrupted by a group of riders, which messed up the flow at the end of the course.

Based on those values, Clark calculated training HR zones based on the numbers from the two efforts. From the two HR values, he took the average of the two and called that the OBLA threshold (or Z4). For me, my OBLA value was 154bpm. For Z3, he took 86%-95% of OBLA, 71%-85% for Z2, 60%-70% for Z1 and 105%+ for Z5. Interestingly, the Z4 and Z5 were very similar to zones calculated from the lactate test, but Z1-Z3 had lower numbers in the FTP compared with the lactate test. I’m not sure what that meant, but I expected the lab work to be more accurate. This however provided a baseline to compare future FTPs to.

Route is on Garmin.  If you look at the map and compare it with the HR graph, it is obvious where the route begins and ends. The team also rode an endurance ride after the test, but I ended up doing a solo ride at my own pace. To be honest, I was pretty toast after the two TTs.

…So to recharge, I met up with Kris to pig out at Jack’s Prime. Yes this is a ride report AND a restaurant review. I don’t even remember what we originally were going to eat, but after that ride, all I wanted was meat. Meat and fire. Kris was shocked that I had never been to Jack’s Prime and insisted that it was good, so in the interested of time, he picked me up in downtown San Mateo and we headed over.

It was a nice day so we sat outside in the sunny, but breezy weather. And the weather would have been just fine had I not decided to order a shake to drop my temperatures. And since I did order a shake, noting the “burgers & shakes” under the Jack’s Prime logo,  I followed that decision by moving us back indoors. I ordered a coffee shake and Kris got a vanilla shake. I must have forgotten that I preferred malts, but the shakes were good. We then ordered two burgers to split.

Maytag Blue Ribbon

Key ingredients for this burger are the Maytag blue cheese and the caramelized onions. As a regular hamburger, it was good. The meat was cooked well and the bun was slightly toasted. As a supposed blue cheese burger, I could have used a lot more blue cheese and onions. The onion rings were just normal.

Phoenix from the Flames

This burger came with pepper jack cheese, poblano chilis, jalepenos, red onions, and chipotle mayo. I chose to have my jalepenos fried and I just noticed that “extra fire” is available option, one that I would have chosen.  I didn’t really have any complaints about this burger and I enjoyed the poblano chili and the fried japapenos.  The fries were also pretty standard.

Although I thought their Maytag burger lacked blue cheese, to their credit, it was also slightly cold by the time I got to eating it. Jack’s Prime did have good burgers and I would come back to try some of their other burgers. Kris also claims that the sweet potato fries were good, but I didn’t want to pig out too much and I don’t really like sweet potato… Anyway, Jack’s Prime satisfies that post-ride meat and fire craving.

Post ride satisfaction:  9/10

March 15, 2010

human dyno or… lactate testing – low on power

I took my Lactate Threshold test at the beginning of the month and have been putting off writing it up. After joining the Peninsula Velo Performance Team, Mark, the team coordinator recommended that I take a Lactate test to see where my fitness levels were and to establish heart rate training zones. I had read much about training zones, lactate thresholds, and other training concepts from Joe Friel, Bicycling magazine, and other online sources, but doing testing would allow me to put all of that advice into context.

The test was performed by Peninsula Velo Team Coach Clark Natwick. I was instructed to rest 48 hours before the test so that I would be rested enough to put in a good effort. I took it easy for two days before the test, but I was coming off a slight fever and did not get too much sleep the previous night. I also had not eaten much that day, so I took a gel before and during the test to make sure I wouldn’t bonk.

The first thing we did was the body composition test. After pinching me all over, Clark came up with a body fat percent of 11.5%, which apparently is not bad. I erroneously estimated my weight to be 140lbs, which was about 6lbs off of what it really was. My body fat and weight numbers were good.

After the body comp, I got setup on the Computrainer and warmed up for about 15 minutes. For the test, Clark used a ramp protocol. The protocol dictated that the rider would start at a certain power level of resistance and the power level would be increased after each interval. During each interval, a blood sample was taken to measure the lactate in mMol/L. Clark started me at 130W and increased the wattage by 30W every 4 minutes. (There was a slight hiccup at 160W, which I did for 8 minutes instead of 4 because my ear refused to bleed.) From 130-190W, I felt good, but at 220W, it started to get harder. At 250W, my cadence was dropping below 80rpm and eventually I couldn’t go anymore. I didn’t make it to 4 minutes at 250W.

This was the raw data captured. The things to observe are:

  • We should have started at a lower wattage to get a lactate reading of around 1.0mMol/L.
  • OBLA (Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation) is at 4.5mMol/L, and by 220W, I was over that limit.
  • My heart rate does not go very high.

This table shows the power generated at each Heart Rate. My power to weight ratio at OLBA is 3.3W/kg.

Conclusion: I lack power and I lack pedal efficiency. I need to work on both of those through drills such as single leg pedaling, hamstring pulls, slow frequency repetitions, and high cadence. Also, since I have not built up a proper base, I should start my base period and hold off on racing until I exit the base period. I gained a lot of knowledge talking to Clark, and still am absorbing it all. My next step is to plan and implement a training schedule.

February 22, 2010

Race Report: Ronde van Brisbeen Criterium

Ronde van Brisbeen Criterium
Elite Cat 5,  8:00AM
Team Mates: Dexter, Dean, Martin, Brandon, John, Peter, Dan, Charlie
Place: DNF

I was reasonably prepared for my first real (USCF sanctioned, non Early Bird, and non twilight) criterum at Sierra Point/Brisbane. Last weekend, I rode out to preview the course. Even though I previewed the left turn after the hairpin incorrectly, I had an idea of the flow and bumps of the course, and I knew I would struggle from the hairpin and the two corners following it.

The Men’s E5 race started at 8:00AM, which, luckily for us, meant that we would just miss the rain. I staged close to the front of the start line near the other 8 PV members. Even though the field had a full 50 racers, it seemed small compared to the Sierra Point cross race field of 150 a few months back. The first lap was a rolling, mentor paced lap, and apparently the second lap was the first race lap. I was caught off guard by the acceleration and fell back slightly during the first race lap.

I was very uncomfortable during the first race lap. There were lots of accelerations followed immediately by decelerations, especially leading up to the hairpin and the following left turn.  During the first few laps, I was passed every time I came out of the hairpin. I also felt uncomfortable going through the narrow left-right section after the hairpin. Eventually, I was spit out the back, and I joined a ~5 man group. Shortly after officials pulled us off the course to (rejoin) restart with the pack.

I was not thrilled about the first restart. The officials did not give us the “go” to rejoin the pack until nearly the entire pack was past us. During the Early Birds, we were up to speed well before the pack reached us. The group of us struggled to accelerate enough to catch and stay with the group. Eventually, I was pulled to restart again, and this time I saw teammates Martin and Dan pulled aside as well.

The second restart, they started us before the leaders reached us. This was much better, except I had some trouble getting integrated back into the fast moving group. Although, I got better at hairpin turns toward the end of the race, I was still much slower than most people going into and out of it. I finished the remainder of my laps working together with a Folsom Bike rider.

Overall, I thought the course was technical, but fun. I felt I could have pushed (a lot?) harder, but I felt unconfident making the tight hairpin turn and riding more than 2 abreast through the narrow left-right section. I think I gained a lot of experience for next year’s Brisbane race.

Race mapped on garmin

More pictures on flickr

February 21, 2010

Joined Team Peninsula Velo / Pomodoro + Time Trialing

This season, I have been looking for a local cycling team to join that would develop my fitness and racing. I inquired with Peninsula Velo, Roaring Mouse, and Third Pillar. Weighing my options, I decided to go with Pen Velo. Additionally, I joined their Performance Team to get in on some coaching and skill clinics.

This Saturday, I met some members of the team for a time trial clinic. We started off practicing starts with both feet clipped in (with a person holding your bike). The first try, I started in too high of a gear and found it hard to accelerate. The next round, we rode a 5 mile ITT on Canada Road from 92 to Pulgas Water Temple and back. After being thoroughly wasted, from the wind and the hill, we then split up into groups and rode a 4 man TTT along the same route. The pace was fast, but not uncomfortable. For the first half of the course, we did 30 second pulls. and after the turn around point, we pulled harder 20 second pulls. When we got within 25% to the finish, we did very hard 10 second pulls. Since we were simulating a 4 man TTT, where the third rider’s time is counted, I dropped off before the finish after taking my final pull.

So after we did two TT’s, where we yelled at told to go essentially 100%, we did a 30 mile ride along the normal PV route. We had a mellow double paceline going until we got to Alpine, where our group dropped to six and the speed went up considerably. Coach Clark, made sure I was ok staying with them and I did… barely. I nearly got dropped going up Aratradero Rd, but I was able to hang on all the way back to HWY92… and even contribute to the paceline.

Overall, it was a good first meeting with the team. I thought the clinic was good, and the coach was knowledgeable, and the other PV members were friendly. I got in a nice long ride too, but maybe it was a bit too much mileage the day before a race.

Here is the route via Garmin

January 22, 2010

morning fog

Filed under: cycling — Tags: , , , — nekoball @ 8:24 PM


a morning on sawyer camp trail is less windy and more foggy

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