3 TT’s in 4 days – bit off more than I can chew

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By a twist of fate I ended up doing a back to back 25 then 50 M TT this weekend. It wasn’t planned like that at all. My three A races were a 50M, followed by a 50M the next weekend and then a 100 the following weekend. The first 50 was cancelled because of road works then the 100 was cancelled for the same reason.

My club was promoting a 25 on the middle weekend (yesterday as I write) and I decided to enter that to get a 25 in this season and thought I would just hang on for the 50 the next day.

Thursday I do a 12.6M local club event and get a PB on my 3rd outing on it (22.0 MPH). Saturday I do the 25M. The first 10M is a TT course in it’s own right – the V212 and I went through 10 in 26:50 which is a season’s best. I hung on to finish in 1:08:49 which is about 2 minutes below my best (2 years ago) but I was comfortable with that. I did feel tired last night and was a bit apprehensive about today’s 50.

The course used around 50% used most of yesterday’s course and I went out on the first 10M again (same V212 course) at roughly the same effort. This time 28:30. I knew it was going to be a long day. I could not get my heart rate up and felt tired on a couple of the climbs. I ended up with 2:28:15 (20.04 MPH) which was beyond poor. Only 15 minutes off my best time.

Lesson learned. I cannot recover quickly enough to do races on consecutive days.

I did learn a few things

  1. I can get a 10M PB if I find the right course and conditions
  2. I am getting fitter as I race more – no surprise there.
  3. I prefer the longer distances to a 10M event. That isn’t a surprise to me really as it was the same when running or rowing.

There was a course photographer out on the 25M course and I bought 3 images from him – only 0.75p each for web sized format.

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I posted them on the UK Time Trialling FB group and asked for comments.

These were very helpful but also one was worrying.

Several thought my saddle was too low as can be seen in the first photograph where my leg is at full stroke but still has a lot of bend in it.

The helmet is wrong for me as my head faces down. That is true as I find it reduces the wind noise if I look down – and I assume that makes me more aero

Maybe lower my stem to get my back up higher – although others thought it had a decent shape to it.

The worrying point was that someone thought my saddle might be too far back and the bike too small. There is a lot of movement either way with the saddle.

Loose top does not help – maybe a skinsuit?? More expense.

Anyway I am going to see a bike fitter tomorrow who I have used before. I did have a bike fit when I bought the bike but the fitter said he didn’t do much with TT setups so he fit it as best as he thought best. Hopefully the bike will be the right size and he can make a few adjustments as necessary. I might be doing a local 10 on Tuesday night so that would be a good time to test it out.

Podcasts I listen to when training

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Firstly I never listen to podcasts outside as it is very difficult to follow when there is traffic noise. I do occasionally listen to music with just one earplug in but not very often.

These days most of my training is indoors and I listen to podcasts for the vast majority of time when on the turbo.

My main go to podcast is  TrainerRoad – Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast. It really entertains me even when discussing Crit racing or gravel riding. Admittedly I get fed up with Nate’s obsession with his sleeping disorders but the overall content is second to none.

My second favourite is Mark Florence – Cycling Time Trial Podcast. Truly excellent, unfortunately now more infrequent and shorter than before. If you want a few sample episodes to try out listen to the Joe Beer or even better the the Tim Ramsden podcasts. They are both coaching related and really give you food for thought.

Others that I follow but don’t listen to every episode include

Rob Manning of Tailwind Coaching. Some really good content and thought provoking ideas around base training.

 

 The Daily Telegraph Cycling Podcast  – quite professional but I must admit I do listen to it as a bit of background noise rather than take in the content.
VeloNews – I have listened to some and will probably start following it on a regular basis now.
When I was using Zwift I listened to the podcast produced by Simon Schofield. Simon is  fellow member of Alba Rosa CCin Leeds , UK and tonight I trained in a top I bought off him. How close is that to greatness. This podcast goes from strength to strength  – obviously you need to be a Zwifter to get the best benefit from it.
I also like triathlon podcasts and these are some I listen to occasionally.
The Oxygen Addict – a weekly podcast that follows racing results and has good interviews
 I have followed Brett on the Zen and the Art of Triathlon for years.
Finally I listened to many of the Legends of Triathlon interviews and just getting the URL for this I noticed there is one for Chrissie Wellington which I need to catch up with.
I hope that helps and please add a comment with any others that you recommend – especially around cycling coaching.

All change – but still on the same journey

Since the beginning of the year I have been pretty busy and I have bought a new TT bike, bought a power meter, rode my first TT of 2017, rode my first 2-up and completed my third Sufferfest Tour of Sufferlandia.

However this post as is about how, as you acquire more technology things often become harder and more complicated. I am specifically referring to the different numbers put out by my smart trainer  -a  Gen 1 Kickr and my power meter – a dual Powertap P1 pedals.

I was very undecided on which power meter I was going to buy, or even if I needed one. I knew it would be pedal based as I have at least 3 bikes (4 actually)  and they all use different crank sets. I was undecided between the Garmin Vector and the Powertap P1. I fancied the Garmin Dynamics you could get with the Vector but was put off by the idea of paying £40 for a torque wrench. I saw a one day offer on ProBikeKit for the P1s with 10% off and I pulled the switch on that one very quickly.

powertap-p1-pedal-03They installed seemlessly, are easy to change around and I am very pleased with them. If I had to start again I would probably buy the single pedal next time as all my rides indicate I am pretty well balanced between left and right feet and as long as the readings are consistent then I am happy.

I was reading about a new manufacturer who is bringing out a PM for £250 and I might buy that and leave it on the TT bike.

My FTP was 252 on the Kickr and and I wasn’t ready to do a FTP test in mid-March because of various illnesses so I guesstimated how my FTP had changed by matching the FTP shown after a TrainerRoad session and that produced by the Garmin. That seemed to indicate that my new FTP based on the P1 readings would be ~235. Not too much of a disapointment as I had always assumed that the Kickr might be on the high side.

The next step was working out how to use the Kickr for training using three different software packages  – TrainerRoad, Zwift and the Sufferfest app. Out of those TrainerRoad is by far the most important to me. The Sufferfest app is good but as I have most of the videos anyway I don’t really need to use the app. I do like the yoga videos that are also available as as they are alll timed around 15 minutes long so they  are quite functional. However I am not likely to use the training plans and there is no workout creator. I have never raced on Zwift but I have done quite a few group rides and I do all my FTP tests on there as I really like the average power display. If I want to get an FTP of 250 then I know I need to keep an average power of ~265 throughout the test.

My FTP is held in four different places. A setting in TrainerRoad, on the Garmin, on Strava and in Golden Cheetah and I would also use it to drive the Kickr from Sufferfest and Zwift. I experimented with Powermatch in TrainerRoad and that seeemed to work well. It takes the P1 power reading and causes the erg to run at whatever power the session requires. That meant that I could adjust my FTP to 235 in the four places listed above. However it does not help with Zwift or Sufferfest as they do not have a similar utility with them. I am pretty certain that I can run the Kickr from the P1 pedals and that will drive Zwift and Sufferfest but as I do not have a current subscription to either I have not tested that.

I am working to TSS now and I would to say I have a CTL of 90-100 but it normally hovers around the low 40s. That is really indicative of my training as I dont go outside that often. Maybe once a week for a 3 hour ride which gives about 180 TSS. As I don’t train on Fridays and miss Wednesdays quite often due to other commitments, hitting 350-400 TSS a week is all I can manage.

That will change in 2019 when I retire.

 

 

5 month catch-up

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I thought it was about time for a catch-up and looking back I have a lot to catch up on.

New bike, a power meter, a couple of events, a dabble with coaching and more.

Looking back to November 2016 I had a target list of equipments wants

My kit needs wants are, in no particular order of cost or aero benefits

  • Helmet
  • Aerosocks
  • Shoes
  • Pedals
  • Skinsuit
  • aero bottle and cage – on the tri bars, on frame or rear seat mount or a combination for the longer events  has not yet been decided
  • Compression style socks  – not too sure of that as yet
  • Shaved legs – no cost
  • Power meter. This is probably the one that will take the most thought – along with the skinsuit.

Taking them in order, apart from looking I have done nothing with the first 3 but having bought a pair of Powertap P1 pedals I have no option but to move over to the Look Keo cleats as I will be moving the pedals around on my bikes as I ride them.

Nothing on a skinsuit and it definitely will not be this season for that as I dont want to do too much too soon. Bought a Elite Cronos bottle and cage for training and 25M TT runs and I am looking for something like a X-Labs cage holder for my new bike.

Possibly going to pull the trigger on Aerocoach trip socks but they seem to be out of stock all the time.

Not shaved my legs and don’t think I will be doing soon. I doubt the world could cope with the dazzzle and hopefully the aero socks  – full shin length – will negate much of the benefits.

Onto the bike. I have purchased a new 2016 Cervelo P3 – 54cm from the LBS. I had it fitted at the LBS and it seems OK. I have done 142 miles on it including two 10 mile TT rides. The bike feel comfortable but I do suffer from chafing on the undercarriage on the r/h side. That is not the fault of this bike because I have had the same issue on my road bike when in the TT position and using clip-on bars.

It is fair to say that I was ready to sell the bike, at a big loss, after my first TT. I worked really hard but knew my average time was not going to be much above 20mph and I was really struggling on some of the inclines. A time of 29:16 did not make me feel much happier. However I did up my FTP from 230 to 239 so I quite pleased with that. I will explain why my FTP was 230 when I had reported it as ~250 throughout 2016

My next outing 3 weeks later was better. I rode much stronger and really worked hard. I improved to 27:43 which I think is very close to the age related standard for a 60 year old. However I do want to get 26:xx this year. I also bumped my FTP again from 239 to 250

Probably enough of a catch-up for now but I will provide another update very shortly when I will discuss the P1 pedals, how the PM mapped to the Kickr power and my mini venture into having a coach.

2016 review and looking forward to 2017

From a cycling perspective 2016 wasn’t a good year. I lost motivation mid-way through the year and struggled to get my mojo back until October. That story was related in my annual mileage which at 3800 was almost 2000 miles lower than 2015. Only 1000 of the 3800 miles were outside, the rest on my Kickr in the garage. The graph of TSS by month makes pretty miserable reading – after the event. At the time it was fine with me despite the nagging guilt that I wasn’t training.

tss_2016

My weight went from 12st 10 to 13st 9. However I am back on it now. I picked up from October onwards and my Golden Cheetah PMC summary for 3 months looks much more positive.

Cgc_090117

Now my weight has dropped to 13st 4 and I am trying to train most days and including more outside biking on club rides.

My training pattern at the moment is outside twice a week, Zwift a couple of times and either Trainer Road or Sufferfest videos.

I think I will be doing the Sufferfest Tour of Sufferlandia in early Feb and I have booked the week off work to allow me to fit it in. I have done it the last few years and it is a really tough 9 days. This year I think I read that the total TSS is over 1200 if you do the efforts at 100%, which is normally what I try to do.

My biggest frustration at the moment is that a friend I ride with, who I was always stronger than on the hills is beating me hands down. He did over 10K miles last year and is now retired so I know I have no reason to be fed up but I do need to get closer to him. He knows who he is.

I have been looking at TT events and I have entered 3 50 milers and a 100 miler.

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Power profiling and Golden Cheetah

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I purchased the book that gains the most kudos when looking to understand training with a power meter. The appropriately titled Training and Racing  with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and  Andrew Coggan. It is a full of good information and a worthy read.

I thought it would be good to look at my power profile with a hope that it would show an upward line from bottom left to top right. That is the profile a time trialist should have.

power_profile

I then looked at my best power for 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minute and my FTP

The numbers converted to w/kg as follows

5 secs 601 /85.7 = 7.01   (10.08 = 823 watts)
1 min 420  /85.7 = 4.90  (5.64 = 483)

5 min 323 /85.7 = 3.76

FTP 252 / 85.7 = 2.94

As always, there is good news and bad news. I cannot even get on the page for 5s and 1M but I do have the right shape for the other two. I have put in how many watts I need to get the lowest ranking for a man – and that makes me untrained. I could probably get my 5s a bit higher but I think 823 is probably unreachable and I am not even going to try.

I am also interested in following my TSS numbers as a means of managing weekly effort, rather than focussing on mileage. With having used the turbo exclusively for the last 3 months I wanted a good way of measuring the effort I have been putting in.

I did have a Excel spreadsheet where I have entered all my workouts since 1/1/16 and that gives me a current CTL of about 42. I then installed Golden Cheetah and imported all my files (which come from Strava as a mass download).

One problem I had was that the load would get stuck and hang, sometimes even on only a single file. I then realised that within the zip file from Strava were a lot of tcx files with 0 bytes. I deleted them and the mass upload went well.

My PMC chart for the last two months from Golden Cheetah is shown below

pmc_271116

It is clear that I am growing my CTL – now at 31.5 and I am probably reasonably tired. I don’t understand why it starts at 0 but I didn’t do much through the summer. I want to get my CTL to over 50 before spring and I have no race planned until at least April so no concerns at the moment. Therefore I am just focussing on TSS for each week and trying to hit between 350 and 450 weekly. That should get easier as I am recovering from a broken wrist and should start to put in at least one outdoor ride a week shortly.

I have been watching a few GC videos on Youtube but I must admit I not familar with what all the charts mean.

 

Equipment choices to be made

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As I stated in my original post I will be purchasing a bike at the beginning of the 2017 season and I have a few ideas on that but I have not settled on a budget yet so that will be the subject of a later post. However I can start ‘investing’ in the kit I want between now and then. My target section will be midrange cost or slightly higher.

My kit needs wants are, in no particular order of cost or aero benefits

  • Helmet
  • Aerosocks
  • Shoes
  • Pedals
  • Skinsuit
  • aero bottle and cage – on the tri bars, on frame or rear seat mount or a combination for the longer events  has not yet been decided
  • Compression style socks  – not too sure of that as yet
  • Shaved legs – no cost
  • Power meter. This is probably the one that will take the most thought – along with the skinsuit.

I am assuming that whatever bike I buy – and it will probably be new – will not need tweaking in any way. I am not prepared to spend ~£2.5K and then need to invest in new wheels.that will be the spring 2018 upgrade if I feel I have done well against my own benchmarks in 2017.

I have a aero helmet already – a Bell with a long tail. Second-hand and I have used it a few times and never felt that it was aero for me. I feel I have a head-up position normally and it always seemed to me I was hearing more wind noise in that position than with my head buried in the stem. Of course one of the difficulties is trying helmets to see which suits best and even if I borrowed one putting controlled tests together is quite difficult – especially at this time of the year. My current likely helmet will be the Giro Aerohead MIPS at a cost of ~£220. I have read up on it a lot, it seems to get a lot of very good comments on Slowtwitch, which is a triathlon forum but has a lot of cycling posts and information.

The shoes I currently use are Diadora Ace Racer and I have just weighed one shoe – with SPD cleats 350g, without 315g. I know one of the most recommended shoes is the Giro Empire SLX but I think they look horrible and I certainly would not want to be messing around with laces. One pair I quite like the look of is the Specialised S-Works Road 6 .

sworks-works6

The review in the link looks is very positive. I suspect those are above mid-price at £280 although the 2015 shoes are available at ~£170. There are significant weight savings  – my shoes weigh 315g each  – these weigh 215g each

Pedals will be probably Speedplay. I have 3 bikes all with Shimano SPD pedals which are pretty much bottom of the range but for my TT bike I can have a different set of pedals and shoes. I would probably end up getting two sets one for the TT bike in summer outdoors and winter indoors and one set on my winter road bike for summer indoor workouts. Again not sure which model of Speedplay. More research to be done.

I try to share an interesting find in each blog entry and whilst there are many articles about the benefits available by changing various components there are two Youtube videos produced by GCN which I came across the other day. Neither are long but they are helpful.

Which is faster – An aero bike or a lightweight climbing bike

Aerokit – how much does it help

Enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do I want to achieve?

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Winning things has never been my big motivation. I have always wanted to feel that I am improving and that I am competitive with myself. In many ways I do not even need to enter any time trials, I am only using the event as a reason to train and focus. Therefore I am not too hung up about breaking the hour for 25 or other key barriers. I have also always been a small steps person. Small achievable bites then we tick that one-off and move onto the next one.

At the two extremes of the spectrum I would like to break 25:00 for 10 (current 25:59) and undoubtedly improve seriously at 100 (4:48). Out of those two the 10 is way down on importance and the 100 is much higher with maybe improving at 50 being the key marker for me (2:13).

How will I do that? – what is my plan.

Very simple really, a two-pronged approach with a third (forming a trident maybe) being weight loss. The first and most important prong is getting fitter, having a higher FTP, driving better training sessions, having a higher CTL – using a TSS target instead of chasing mileage. The second prong is looking at improving equipment – to a moderate level. I have only used a standard road bike so far  – a Scott Foil fitted with SRAM Rival kit – a Shimano 105 equivalent. I will be investing in a TT bike and dedicated tyres, pedals, helmet, overshoes – maybe even a skinsuit eventually.

I am lucky in that my mindset allows me to work hard on a turbo and enjoy it. Last winter much of my mileage was indoors and this year – which has been poor for me – still has had a lot indoors.

My tools of choice will be a Wahoo Kickr, Trainer Road and Sufferfest videos. I have a Zwift subscription but I prefer to train using Trainer Road and a focussed session. More on those tools in my next entry.

I intend linking to something I have found interesting or helpful in the world of podcasts in each blog entry I write.

Today it is a YouTube video which is produced by Trainer Road and features Justin Rossi who is a top amateur USA time trialler. It features his build up to the 2015 National Championship. Enjoy

 

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The mandatory introductory first post

I have decided to start this blog as a means of self-motivation – and I do recognise I need all the help I can get.

I have dabbled with time-trialling in 2015 but for about 6 months of 2016 I suffered quite a loss of motivation and struggled to do much. Each day I did not train I would kick myself and feel guilty but once you get into a rut it is hard to dig your way out.

My over-riding aim is to work hard over this winter, buy a TT bike in spring and then try and get PBs at each of the distances I have completed at so far – 10,25,50 and 100. Next spring is a big one for me as I turn 60. Probably a bit late to be starting a new sport but heck – why not.

In this entry I say a bit about myself and follow that up with a couple more entries on targets and training plans.

This will not turn into a daily blog where I detail every training session but more of a progress update and comments on interesting things I discover as I dive into the time-trialling world.

So a bit about me. I have run since the age of around 28 when I stopped playing football and I absolutely love running. I would drop my other 2 sports (golf, cycling) immediately if I could be guaranteed to run without suffering calf injuries. However I have not run for 2.5 years and I have had very few injuries in that time so I don’t think I will be continuing running into the future.

I was a pretty reasonable distance runner when marathons and ultra-marathons being both my favourite events and the ones I was better at. I have cycled all my life but never been a club member or did it competitively until a couple of years ago. I have completed in a few triathlons and running was my best discipline. I don’t know the terms as they were called then but they were shortish distance 400m swim, 25M bike 5 mile run and a longer one 1K swim, 40K bike, 10M run. This was quite a lot of years ago.

I did move into indoor rowing for 5 years from 2001-2006. I rowed in the English, European and World Championships (anyone can enter these) all at 2K – which was never my best distance. My best time was at the worlds in Boston USA where I had a 7:01. However I also did a marathon (42K) and my time (2:47) was one of the best logged in the world that year in the 50-60 age group. Obviously elite athletes were not logging their time.

In 2015 I got into time-trialling and I improved from a first 10M of 28:30 to 25:59 over 5 efforts. Nothing exceptional and let’s be clear I will not be appearing on any leader boards or high up in results lists however well I do. That is not a reason not to try and improve though. My other key times were 2:13 for 50 and 4:48 for 100 miles respectively.

That is probably enough for an introduction for now. My next entry will talk about what my ambitions are and how I intend to keep myself motivated