vive le france…

8 07 2009

Well im back a week now from France. It was my 3rd trip there and we almost had the crew from the original trip. We were staying in

and i think we would all recommend it. It fitted 4 people perfectly. One or two more would be a push but for 300euro for the week between 4 people it was a bargain! Perfectly located at the top of Les deux alpes which takes anywhere from 27mins (anto) to 40mins+ to climb at the end of each day.

Preparing for the trip to alpe d'heuz. The jacket was for the descent but wasnt neccesary at all!!

Preparing for the trip to alpe d'heuz. The jacket was for the descent but wasnt neccesary at all!!

This was obviously a bit daunting considering you would usually of done one or 2 cols already and would be fairly shattered but it always made you have a dang at your time. The climb has 10 switchbacks and is pretty steep too. Avg speed up it is about 15km so its reasonably fast compared to the Alpe d’Heuz and Sarenne.

Pantani holds the record up in from 1998 and there is a statue in his honour up there commemorating it.

Il pirato the record holder. (not me sadly!)

Il pirato the record holder. (not me sadly!)

Its a great climb as if your not doing it in the middle of the day it can be sheltered with some trees but if its in the midday sun its a scorcher! no where to hide!!!

In this video Anto and Colin are coming back from a dirt road ride up to an altitude above 2500m. We were late picking them up from the bottom of the alp and got them with 3 switchbacks to go. They were flying! It gives you a good idea of the gradient and the look of the area. It doesnt look that steep but this would be a flatter section at about 6% some of it is about 9% id say with avg about 7.5%? Colin had to do the Marmotte (190km) the next day so was not impressed (he rarely is!). It was 9pm at this point so not much sun but its easier to go hard whens its not as hot thats for sure.

Coming up next we will take a look at our trip up the Alpe D’Heuz. A day that had 3 punctures, one person blew up and another got stranded! A real treat!

Good article on why power is the way forward…

9 06 2009


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.

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!

testing is hard!

5 06 2009

Well i did my testing last night. I warmed up for about an hour which was nice. I headed out to Garretstown with the lads who were racing and found a nice section of rode.


Isnt it great to him back on the bike

Isnt it great to him back on the bike



Then did 3 warm ups at 100rpms. This was nice and easy until i had to do the 5 min max effort. This was shocking and i held 360watts for it. I started off a bit hard and have learned my limits from it. Its good to do it once to know how to do it better next time. 

Then i did 3 30 sec max efforts to et my max 5 second power and then 3 max 1 min power efforts. these are tricky as you really need to pace yourself. I learned that starting with a max sprint and trying to hang on is not fun!!! pacing it worked alot better and i did 530watts i think for the best one.

Putting this info into the PowerProfile chart tells you how you shape up to others based on your power to weight. Mine numbers said i was a fred! I am a 4th cat sprinter and 1 min chaser. thats not good news!!! My 5 min power was for a cat 2 which i didnt expect at all? Its strange how power can make ur life terrible too! ha

I then did a good 20mins threshold effort home sandwished between 30 mins of recovery riding.

Seth would get a good 6th place

Seth would get a good 6th place




A good session and another 110km locked away. Legs sore for race on sat but good to build some form for later when i recover in a few weeks. Im looking forward to a recovery week but the days keep coming thick and fast. I think il do some hills on sunday again.

Is testing harder than racing?!

4 06 2009

Taken from

This is the monthly text i have to do to see how im going and set my markers. You get most of these from racing etc but its still neccesary to do them alone. I am considering doing these tonight instead of racing. 

The Monthly Test: 20minute warm-up, which is just riding along at a moderate pace, about 65% of your max HR. Then do (3) fast pedaling efforts for 100rpm for one minute each with one minute between each. Then 3 minutes easy.. Then Go for it – (1) 5minute all out. Punch it and hold it! Make sure that you start at a high pace, but not soo high that you die at the end. You should have a little in reserve to kick it to the finish line in the last minute. Then 10minutes easy, then (3) 30 seconds “Super Sprints”. Jump as hard as you can and then Sprint like a crazy for 30 seconds. REST 3minutes between each. WAY EASY! Then time for (3) 1 minute all out efforts. REST for at least 4-5 minutes between each. Finish the Ride and cool down. Again, you are trying to produce the most average watts over the entire period. It’s not a good test, if you go out too hard and then just explode and limp home…Cool down, and then download the computer!

You need to do a separate test on another day for a solid 20-minute effort as hard as you can go. Same warm-up as above, including the fast pedaling intervals, but now just do the 20 minute Time Trial.

What these tests do is that they gather some information about your fitness in different time periods. Because, although you may think you are fit for that upcoming time trial, you may test very poorly in the 20 minute test, in relation to the 5 minute test. So, from that info, you can change and tailor your workouts, but more about that later. This test also is your first test with a power meter and there is a little learning curve, so it’s nice to have a test from the beginning that isn’t too involved and you can get an idea of how to pace yourself better for upcoming future tests.

Example of power file from net.

Nice little session

3 06 2009

I was up early today alone for a 20min threshold session. It was nice outside and at first the legs were pretty sore. I realised that i will need a leg loosener on Friday before the weekends activities. I think i need to re test my threshold power as i did 20mins at 282watts which is 99% of threshold and i was pretty fine doing it.

Its funny how you try to get into a rythem pedalling and if you look down your watts drop so easily. You really need to keep working all the time to keep it at FT power. 

Id say i could raise it by a bit when i test again but i really hate them tests. I guess your only hurting when your going hard and your only improving when your going hard. Im going to look for a chance when i can do those tests but its difficult with legs being sore after racing etc. I guess il just have to man up! 

Tomorrow club race…

Aint Wicklow great (in the summer!)

2 06 2009

Well after a tough day in Wexford racing we had a nice relaxing recovery ride ahead of us. Anto said it would be zone 1 recovery and he didnt mind where we went. we rode through town and met seth at yellow house pub at 10am. 

The scene was set for a beautiful day relaxing and easing the legs out until we hit the bottom of first climb and all hell broke loose. I dropped off back hoping they would slow down but to no avail. Then i pedalled back on and it rose up again get faster and faster until it was at avg of 330watts for 10mins. this after a tough day racing. (i always find it tough!!!).

Taking a break

The lads motoring!
Sallys gapSo in the end i rode with them to the top of the climb feeling good and knowing it was gonna ease off in a moment at the summit. Well we turn the corner and BANG off goes anto again. i let them go for 10 mins and have a coke and a bar and catch back up when they slow up. Then off we go again up the Gap and same wattage again. Seth drops off a bit i sit on anto and when we crest the hill he keeps on going. Seth come back on and when it hits a downhill he slips into the drops and must be putting out 500watts down the hill!

The video from me sitting at the side of the road will soon follow… (tough day)

Fridays winter reminder!

29 05 2009

A new weekly post is our Friday “reminder of winter” post.

This is where we look back at the times when you did the “hard” miles.
If you finding it hard to motivate yourself to ride in May then just remember what it was like back then…

Winter racing