2017 review and looking forward to 2018

I think if I had looked at my overall numbers I achieved in 2017 at the beginning of that year I would have seen them as reasonable and steady but not too adventurous.

I trained steadily doing just over 4500 miles of which around 3000 were on the turbo. One thing I am going to do this year is log how many are outside and inside – the easiest way is to make a note of my Strava mileage now for each bike and then compare at the end of 2018.  I do map each ride in Strava to the correct bike. One thing I have noted this year is that I do not look at Strava very much and whilst after an outside ride I may have a look and see what trophies I have accumulated I am not really too bothered about that.

My focus on numbers is around Training Stress Score (TSS) and try to hit around 400 a week – or I have been doing since October. I monitor TSS from Training Peaks (free subscription) but then I export the data into Golden Cheetah and then from late November onwards into WKO4.

I trialled WKO4 and was really impressed with it. For somebody like me who likes to analyze a session it offers all sorts of functionality and the user group on Facebook is very helpful and there are lots of good information out there. It costs $169 as a one-off purchase but just at the end of my trial there was a Thanksgiving Day sale and I got it with 25% discount.

My monthly TSS numbers show my progression this year and hopefully will continue into 2018.

The first quarter is always quite strong as I do the Tour of Sufferlandia in February which is 10 days of all out Sufferfest sessions.  That came to just short of 4000 TSS and the last quarter was 4852 which was about 18% more. Traditionally I cycle less in summer as I play more golf.

My overall objective was to improve my time trial times for 10,25,50,100 and I didn’t achieve that for any of them and did not even do a 100 miler. Yorkshire time-trialling  was quite badly affected by road works and both the 50 and 100 milers I was targeting as my ‘A’ races were cancelled with very short notice. I did do a 50 but on the day after a 25 and it was just too much for me.

As i have mentioned I have started with a coach and I am pleased with how it is working out. I like him and he is doing everything I want and would expect plus more. He offers good advice and whilst I feel guilty when I miss the odd session I don’t feel too pressured, which is how it should be.

Moving forward into 2018 I have the same targets as I had in 2017 although of course being a year older they become that little bit harder. I have never been one for setting unrealistic targets, in fact I tend to beat  my targets as I have am cautious when setting them. I honestly think that I can achieve what I want but I must admit the 10 mile distance does not suit me that much. Bizarrely in 2017 I did my quickest 10 as part of a 25 mile TT so of course that does not count. If I had to have one main target it would be the 50 and then in equal measures the 25 and 100. I know a few people from Alba Rosa CC (one of my 2 clubs) who are thinking of doing a 12 hour event and I think I could be tempted to have a go at that but I would need to do a lot more road riding before then.

One thing I do intend doing is a lot more stretching along with yoga videos as I definitely need to become more flexible and gain more core strength.

Finally a You tube video which I highly recommend is A Sunday in Hell which is 105 minute film of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix race.  It features Eddie Mercxx along with his famous Molteni team

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Current progress and Big Ring VR

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Training has gone well through November and into December. No big changes to report. I have been completing 5 workouts a week which I am happy with and was my original aim. My FTP improved from 223 to 240 using the new protocol. Well it is new to me in that I have always used TR or Zwift for the test and that has a 5 minute burst prior to the 20′ effort. That was controlled by the trainer so was around FTP.  However I am now pushing 5 mins at almost full effort which really does have an impact on the next 20′.

My TSS in October and November was almost identical at around 1680. In a way it is frustrating as I am very number driven and I have studied all my sessions with the intention of proving that my fitness has increased. However definitive proof has proved rather elusive. That is not to say that I am not feeling fitter and I have lost about 7 lbs since I started with the coaching, although apart from the consistency of training that is not the main reason for the weight loss. Continue reading

Season end – a summary

I didn’t achieve anything I wanted to this season but I am not too down about it.

What I did not do :-

  • Set a PB of any sort
  • Do a 100M
  • Get my CTL as high as I wanted it to be.

What I did do :-

Spend lots of money on a bike, PM, helmet (2nd hand), velotoze overshoes and skin socks.

I finished off yesterday with a 10M on the V212 and had a 27:11 which is a seasons best but nowhere near where I want to be . I did have a 20′ power of 256 which is good for me and I really did think I had gone below 27′  – I dont have elapsed time on my main screen so I have no idea of how I am doing bar trying to calculate average speed in my head from actual speed. If I displayed an average speed and it dropped below what I wanted to do I think I would just ease of.

Now I want to work hard over the winter and try and do something next year. I am going to start work with a coach from the beginning of October and I am really hoping that structured training will help. If I had no self-belief that I can improve I don’t think I would bother but I do think there is hope there.

This was the first outing with my secondhand Giro Selector helmet. It felt good and I was undoubtedly hearing less wind noise which I think is good. It did mist up though so I need to see what I can do about that. It is a popular helmet so I am sure there will be a solution. Hopefully it will not involve drilling holes in the visor.

The same photographer was on the course as last time so I purchased another photograph which I think shows myself in a lot better position. I think I need to gradually lower the front and stretch out more. That was the original position after a bike fit but I struggled to breathe well as I was too compressed. However if I do it more gradually and use the TT bike on the turbo over winter I will become accustomed to the position.

 

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 50M course used around 50% of yesterday’s course and I went out on the first 10M again (same V212 course) at roughly the same effort – or so I thought. 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.

I

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.