Dog day afternoon…

16 06 2009

Sunday was a long day in the saddle as they say. I knew the Meath GP was going to be the longest race id ever done. It was scheduled for 146km but on my clock i had 160km at the end. I wasn’t too nervous going into it as i didn’t really have anything to lose. I looked back at my winter training and realised i hadn’t done anything over 135km at all as i was preparing for the C races ahead. These are on average about 70km and i was doing usually 100km days so id be ok in the combined races. I never could have imagined doing a race this long with A/B riders only a few months later!

The yank looking smart as always

The yank looking smart as always

We drove out the LONG way (never listen to foreigners directions) and got changed etc pretty quickly. About 15 mins before roll out it starts lashing rain which all of a sudden made the sun cream i just applied fairly unnecessary. I stayed in the car while Seth warmed up. I immediately thought back to last weekends rainfest in Wicklow and thought this just isnt going to be my day. I HATE RAIN. I especially HATE THE COLD RAIN!

This seemed to be different though as it was still reasonably warm out. Through the rain lashing on the window i could see Seth waiving at me furiously. (imagine think American accent) “they are F**kin gone man, get out of the car”. At first i thought he was joking but, NO they actually had gone. I jumped on the bike and had visions of me chasing back through the cars at the start of a terribly long day.

Luckily enough i found a group of lads tipping out to the start so i knew id be ok. After that the rain died off and all was fine. I asked one of the A’s if this was the same course that we did at start of season and he said yes it was. This scared me as i found it very hard first time round still finding my fitness. He could probably see my fear so he tried to cheer me up with “don’t worry though its only one extra lap this time”. I didnt know whether i should tell him that last time in the C race it was only 2 laps making this double the distance!

A starting field of about 45 rolled out and the first 10 mins was pretty hard going. Considering i was sitting in a warm car only a few moments ago its not surprising i found it a shock but it soon settled down when a break got away. My plan from step one was to just sit in all day and survive. I hadn’t ridden this far in a long time never mind raced it!

I felt bad sitting in and letting everyone else do the work but more and more people tried to bridge to the breakaway so it began to get strung out and eventually it came together. Whoever told me before the race that this was flat was clearly born in the alps as it was very draggy in places and some of these would last a good few minutes. Now i may have exaggerated about the hilliness of the race but let me just clarify that it wasn’t flat!!!

Once the counter attack break stayed away things settled down nicely and although i didn’t hear any time checks i can only imagine that it was quite sizable considering when we arrived to the finish line 4 hours after starting i saw the leading group eating tea and sandwiches.

I have to admit i have found an endurance food like no other mid ride. I made a nutella and banana sandwich at home and had it during the ride to break up the monotony of 7 gels and 4 nutrigrains. I promised myself i wouldn’t fail in this race due to bonking.

Because of this it must have looked like i was just coming off a fast due to the amount of food i was eating every few minutes.

Wondering why i dont feel hungry after 7gels and 4 bars?

The ride went well for me (seeing as i only did one turn on the front) and i was happy the legs were ok for that distance. I dont think i could have done much work and finished the race and i think the lads who were up at the front riding hard all day deserve a medal but hopefully someday il be able to contribute to a race of that distance. The group up the road had 13 in it i was told after the race and there was a small sprint for prizes in the main bunch (which was only about 20 riders by now). I got 4th in that and missed out on a prize but with the little amount of work i did i wouldnt have deserved one and was just glad to finish the race. I dont think il be doing too many races that long for a while but at least i know what it feels like. 4 hours racing a bike without talking to anyone goes pretty slowly…

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talented family!

15 06 2009

Have  a read of this

http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=36562

His future looks bright. Gorey wasnt the last title for him

The winner of Gorey will go far!!!

Details on sundays meath GP to follow.

Still recovering from it!





problem after problem!

10 06 2009

Yesterday i set out to Dunboyne with the sun shining and a good days work behind me. It really went downhill from there!

The trip out to the race in Meath was perfect. I rode alone and got there in about 45mins. The race was a bit delayed so it involved sitting around for about 30mins which wasnt too bad as the sun was really shinning now and was quite warm. 

The C vets and Juniors had a 3 min lead and the B’s and A’s headed off together the attackes started reasonably early but it wasnt tough going really. One group finally got a good gap and a few lads kept bridging accross. This is where i dropped my only water bottle of the day. I did one small attempt to bridge accross but afterwards my mouth was dry as the sahara so i decided to sit in a pick up my bottle off the roadside on 2nd lap of 3. When i stopped and got it it was smashed to pieces by a car so i bridged through the cars (much tot the help of Gay Howard) and sat back in the bunch thirsty and thus hungry as i couldnt eat a gel or bar without water. This lasted for 90mins and at this stage i was just waiting for the race to end. 

With nothing to race for and i could focus more of my attention on the noise coming from my rear wheel. It was a noise i hadnt heard before and sounded like a mixture of a whirring, a rattle and a grinding? I soon realised that my cassette had actually come loose and was shaking about. Looking back on it i should have stopped to avoid further damage but with my recent run of DNFs i had to plough on. When i stopped at the finish line and took out the wheel the cassette actually just fell apart. Lucky i did stop so! I was delighted that one of the cars had a cassette tool and i tightened it up but the noise still continued on way home. If i just leave it alone maybe it wont get any worse…???

Couldnt download the powerfiles as my PC decided to stop working! but the race was 90mins with avg power of 230 (i think)? so pretty tame.

For the day i did 5h with another effort of 60mins at 240 on way home so pretty hard going. My aim of racing on wednesday too ended when i only got in at 1045pm. 

 

A quick pick from Howth Summit

A quick pick from Howth Summit

 

 

One hour up Howth this morn and the club race tomorrow should make for a good testing week.





Good article on why power is the way forward…

9 06 2009

from

http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/?pg=fullstory&id=7141&status=True&catname=Latest%20News

Toolbox: Coaching with Power
Tuesday, June 09, 2009  5:52:40 AM PT

  The majority of athletes who train with power recognize the benefits of using a power meter as a guide during workouts. What most cyclists likely do not recognize are the many benefits that training with power has for their coach. In this article, I will give you a glimpse through my eyes as a coach, regarding how your power meter helps me to better coach you.

By: Matt Larson, USAC Level 2 coach

First, let me briefly describe what I see as the primary advantages of power training:
1) Power allows you to train with great specificity.
2) Power responds immediately to rider input.
3) Power training zones can change dramatically over time with both improvements in fitness and as a result of detraining (losing fitness either planned or accidently).

Each of these advantages have “behind the scenes” benefits for your coach, so let’s review each of these in some detail from a coaching perspective:

Power allows you to train with great specificity
In our training methodology at AthletiCamps, we utilize 7 heart rate and/or wattage training zones based on an athlete’s lactate threshold heart rate and wattage. Each of these zones has fairly sizeable and therefore real-life practical, range, for example, our Medium Endurance (Tempo) zone can have about a 10 bpm range (e.g., 150-160 bpm) for HR, and a 20 watt range (e.g., 225-245w) for power training. While I will frequently assign an athlete a workout that asks them to do multiple intervals in this zone, I’ve found it much easier for athletes to stay at a given wattage than it is to stay at a given HR, partly because HR is less accurate of an indicator of effort than is power.

With power, there’s a greater ability to fine tune workouts in a way that’s very difficult to do with HR. For example, I can ask my athletes to ride at 275w for 10 minutes, while the best I can do with HR is to ask that they stay within a 10 bpm range. While it is true that moment-to-moment wattage varies much more than with HR, I find that at the end of a block of time, riders will average within 5 watts of what I’d specified, a level of precision that’s much harder with HR.

For our “progressive intervals” where we incrementally increase the difficulty of the interval every minute (as an example), or “over/under” intervals where we have the athlete spend blocks of time immediately above and below their lactate threshold, prescribing a wattage target for these workouts is generally much more successful than prescribing HR ranges because of significant heart rate lag (by the time you’ve recovered from your “over” lactate block, your “under” lactate block can be ended.)

Power responds immediately to rider input
As anyone who has used a power meter knows, the watts we see displayed on our bike computers have an almost immediate relationship with the amount of force and/or cadence we’re putting into the pedals. With HR, there is potential for various lag times between effort and change in HR. Imagine climbing a hill at either 170 bpm or 300 watts. Once you crest the hill, your HR takes quite a while (depending on fitness) to return to recovery levels. With wattage, the moment you crest the hill and start soft-pedaling your wattage drops to zero. 

From a coaching perspective, this allows me to tailor workouts in a much more delineated way. If I ask my athlete to spend 5 minutes at 300 watts and then recover at 100 watts for one minute, I know that their power output can be altered almost immediately. With HR, it is much harder for the coach to really know how much time an athlete is spending in a given zone because of this lag between rider input and HR. 

Power training zones can change dramatically over time with improvements in fitness
Once an athlete is relatively fit, their HR zones change little or none over time regardless of changes in fitness. However, if an athlete continues to get fit, their power zones will continue to improve (i.e., more power at a given HR). Thus, after a relatively short period of time, it is extremely difficult for a coach to utilize an athlete’s HR to track changes in fitness.

With power, however, changes in fitness are easy for the coach to see. In looking at an athlete’s power files over time, the coach can notice whether the athlete is producing more power at a given HR. If this is the case (and we all certainly hope this happens for a long time!) the coach can modify the wattage training zones and thus easily recalibrate the athlete’s training.

With HR this is literally impossible. Every athlete has a functional maximum HR (usually seen during racing). For younger athletes, that max HR won’t change for many years. For much older athletes, that max HR will slowly drift lower over time. Similarly, Lactate Threshold HR stays fairly stable in fit athletes. Whether the training program prescribes workouts based on threshold or maximal HR, either way, there’s no reason to alter those zones once an athlete is fit. Thus, the only way to see improvement is in race results (where a lot of external variables are present aside from fitness), field testing (where there are also external variables that can influence performance) or lab testing (which can be relatively expensive or inconvenient to do with regularity). 

Riding with power yields more and better data for the coach to analyze
Most coaches whose athletes use power, also use software to help them analyze the data. There are several terrific programs out on the market, but a review of the software itself is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, if the coach wishes to do so, they can perform a pedal-stroke by pedal-stroke analysis of their athlete’s ride data. While this level of detailed analysis is rarely needed, having the option to really drill down into the ride is a very powerful tool for coaching. There’s much a coach can learn simply from looking at a basic summary of the ride: whether the athlete followed the workout, whether they were able to “hit their numbers”, whether there’s an overall trend towards improvement in wattages, and whether the athlete is in danger of overtraining. 

A critical side-note: athlete files are useful to the coach only to the degree that the athlete “marks-up” their ride file. While not every software program allows this to happen, every athlete can, at minimum, create a new “lap” or “interval” when they switch from one portion of the workout to the next (e.g., from hill intervals to recovery mode). 

Riding with power creates a greater opportunity to expand the coach-athlete relationship
This point is directly related to the previous one in that being able to analyze power files gives the coach much more information with which to help guide their athlete. It also opens the door to having significantly more detailed conversations about training. For example, in reviewing a power file, I noticed that one of my athlete’s wattage dropped when they were above and below a certain cadence range. Having made this observation and pointed it out to the athlete, we were able to get into a conversation about natural cadence. The athlete had been trying to stay within my prescribed cadence ranges in the workout, but these were not successful for him. After a review of the data and discussion with the athlete, we were able to revise his use of cadence and increase his overall wattage production.

Summary
There are several notable benefits for your coach when you use a power meter as a training tool. Almost all of these benefits are related to the immediacy of changes in wattage as related to pedal force. From a coaching perspective, while HR is a tried and true means to train (and one I still use along with power), the specificity of training with power cannot be beaten. Of course, all of these benefits are moot if the athlete doesn’t send power files to their coach on a very consistent basis. In fact, the way to maximize what your coach can offer you in terms of power training is to make sure that your coach has all of your power files!

Bike coaching is unique amongst sports coaching endeavors primarily because of the availability of power. While this article is not meant to discourage anyone from using HR as a training tool, from a coaching perspective, power is the way to go!

May you produce ever more watts!





Back on the bike

9 06 2009

Tonight will be first day back on the bike since the drowning of Saturday Roundwood race! Lets see how the legs respond.

Sitting in will be the order of the day and lets see what the power file says. Its nice to race with it on but a bit tougher on the legs due to the extra weight and the wheel bieng only a training one. 

I would definitely consider getting a racing powerTap as the data is essential from racing. Its where you do your best/worst efforts!!!





a day on the sofa

8 06 2009

Well after saturdays exploits i tried to do nothing yesterday but a gym workout and my muscles feel like i havent done one for about 4 months. Thats because i havent done one in 4 months and im sore all over. So much for a rest day. 

I did however spend some time with the bike on sunday. I cleaned every little bit of it after the wicklow wipeout of the day before. All my training wheels are even cleaned and greased now. 

Tomorrow il do the Leinster 3 day and the club race on Thursday too. Lets hope the legs work again!!





The transport of the future

6 06 2009

 

Ushers Mobile changing room

Ushers Mobile changing room

One bright spot of the day was the van parked beside us with fitted leather couch, bottle holders, Carpet, bikerack etc etc…

The Usher lads are lucky with this purpose built pimp my bike wagon.

I would have got dropped even faster if i knew i had this to come back to!

Wheres the female masseuse?