Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sunday Dirt

I'll be doing a 2- to 2.5-hour mountain bike ride on rural dirt roads between Monticello and Macon on most Sundays at 2pm from November to February. I'll change the route from week to week. Anyone comfortable with a 12-14 mph pace (steady, but not hard) is welcome to join me. I'll post each week's details at E-mail me at to let me know if you plan to ride. Some Sundays it'll just be me, some days there will be others.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tick Tick Boom

The 2007 season is a goner.


7242 miles, 243,576 kilojoules, 394 hours, 28 opportunities to podium, lots of good rides, and very few that sucked.

My 2006 to 2007 progress was good -- I can't expect to repeat that from 2007 to 2008. But I will find a way to tweak a little more speed from this bag of bones. Maybe hypnosis?

BBQ Bass Ride

Jake with his Daddy in Rome

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Cycling is the best sport I've found, and I've tried quite a few; but there's a boatload of bullshit in cycling. Most of it comes from marketing folks who greatly over exaggerate the benefits of this or that upgrade. But I've also found that a lot of it comes from folks who study exercise physiology or the physics of cycling. It's a complicated subject, and a little knowledge can be dangerous. It's easy to sound smart but not know what the hell you're talking about.

As I said in my last post, I've been trying to figure out exactly when to put L2 workouts in my plan to do me the most good. After a lengthy literature search, I couldn't find an answer that satisfied me. So with some hesitation, I decided to place a simple post on the Google Wattage discussion group (not the best place to go with stupid questions).

The thread bounced around a little but finally got down to one simple question: "For base training when does it benefit me to do a 3-hour L2 effort (TSS=133) instead of a 2.2-hour L3 effort (TSS=133)?"

I expected some long-winded sermon about mitochondrial density increase. But instead, I got a straight, honest answer from Dr. Coggan: "I don't know, and I don't think anyone else really does, either."

I'll have to admit that I was surprised and impressed by his candor. He could have gotten away with a bullshit answer, but he didn't try it. The greater part of wisdom is knowing what you don't know. And if he doesn't know, I can guarantee you that no one else reading this does.

So ride lots, experiment, and try to find what L2/L3 combination works best for you. And ride Peach Peloton pace as much as you want during the base training months, just make sure to recover properly so you can hammer in the Attack Zones.

I think I was wrong

My last post praised an article in Pez that basically said: Don't do too much L3 (tempo) riding. Try to ride more L2, L4, L5, et cetera.

Although the article was not completely off base - some people, mostly those who don't structure their training, get in a rut and do L3 ALL the time. That can cause problems. First, it might keep you so fatigued and mentally fried that you can't do your higher-intensity workouts properly so you don't get the full benefit. Second, riding L3 all the time, day after day, might put you in the position of not getting enough recovery time and then you can't get the periodization effect working in your favor. So there was some merit in the article.

But then I studied this chart again:

If you take a good look at all the aerobic training zones, L1 through L4, they all impact the same metabolic systems. As you increase intensity from L1 to L4, you get more training effect per minute of workout for every aerobic adaptation (except you get more muscle glycogen storage response at L3 than at L4), but the effects are the same for all of those levels. There are limits to how long you can train at L4 (probably more mental than physical), so you have to throw some lower level (L2 and L3) workouts in your plan to stress your aerobic systems adequately for base training adaptations to occur.

L1 training days are better than taking an off day because they increase blood flow to the legs and accelerate your recovery process without adding additional fatigue. But why is it important to train at L2? Don't we get the same metabolic benefits by training at L3 in a shorter period? Wouldn't that allow us to stay mentally fresher for those dark basement trainer rides? Why not do all aerobic base training at L1, L3, and L4?

I have posed that question on Google Wattage, and so far, no one has really answered the question. I'm beginning to think that there is no specific reason to do L2 work instead of L3 work as long as you carefully track ATL, CTL, and TSS and include proper recovery.

I guess people ride L2 because it's harder to maintain L3 effort for long periods. But unless any of you haven't noticed, bike racing is hard.

I'm still looking for answers. And if I find any, I'll update this post.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Avoiding Zone 3 Syndrome

This is good stuff:

Riding Peach Peloton on Saturday is great training -- but mix it up on the other six days of the week so you don't get in a rut.

The base phase of my winter training specifies 3-5 hrs of L3 (tempo) riding on Saturdays. But then I have a couple of hours of dirt L2 on Sunday, a little L1 on Monday just to get the blood flowing to help recovery, some L4 training/testing on Tuesday, L2 on Wednesday, L7 on Thursday, and rest on Friday. (See the plan in "New 2008 Training Schedule" in the September archives).

If I do it correctly, I'll be ready to include L5 and L6 workouts later in the winter when I've finished concentrating on FTP development.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Upgraded and ready for winter

I've been aware for a while that there was new firmware available for my Ergomo power meter, but I didn't want to mess with it during peak season. Yesterday I upgraded the firmware. The biggest change is customizable screens. Before now, I'd have to press a button to scroll through various screens to see averages, maximums, NP, AP, distance, et cetera. But now I've put all the stuff I need on one screen. My main screen now looks like this:



Ride Time----Ride Dist

It's set up from a PC using software that lets you move the numbers around:

I also upgraded my Computrainer software. Computrainer now inlcudes Normalized Power, Intensity Facotor, and Total Stress Score information. I guess they purchased the rights to that stuff from Dr. Coggan.

Lastly, I upgraded my coaching software (it runs ERG files on the Computrainer).

Computrainer and Coaching software now both have a customizable aero factor so when I'm riding my TT bike on the CT, I'll get more real-world speed numbers.

Now I'm ready to upgrade my legs to the 2008 version.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Middle Georgia Cycling Map

Every year I explore more routes, mainly in Jasper, Monroe, Jones, Putnam Counties. And once in a while I update my map with the new routes. The map below is the current version. The best road bike routes are shown in a solid green line. Usually those are smooth-paved, low-traffic, county-maintained roads. In general, green and yellow mean good and ok; red means avoid if possible. A continuous line means smooth pavement and a dashed line means rough pavement. Dirt roads are shown in gray.

I've also shown a couple of 2-hour dirt road routes in pink (Wayside 8 and Round Oak-Stanfordville) that I plan to frequent this winter at an endurance pace on Sunday afternoons at 2pm if anyone is interested - more on that later. If anybody wants a better-quality pdf version of the map, just e-mail me and I'll send you one (

Most of my recent additions are between Monticello and Gray and north of Hwy 83 in northern Monroe and southern Butts Counties. There are lots of paved county roads in that area, but it's a little difficult to access from Monticello.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Breaking the Hour Barrier with Geometry

When I modified my TT bike setup a couple of months ago, I pushed the saddle back and lowered the bars a little. It was more aero, but it bothered my back and I didn't feel any more powerful (I thought I would with the saddle further back.)

Here's my July position with angles depicted:

Notice the 87-degree hip angle. That's too acute according to TT position experts - and I could tell that it was too acute becasue my back hurt after a hard 90-minute effort and I didn't feel powerful.

My latest position feels super. I'm as powerful as on my road bike and I'm lower and more aero than I was in the previous setup. Even though I lowered my bars about 4 cm to achieve the second setup, moving the saddle forward about 6cm actually opened up my hip angle and allowed me to breathe better. The 90-degree hip angle and the closer-to-90 shoulder angle also both feel more powerful.

I won't mess with my position much more, because this one works. This summer's position changes have lowered my 40K TT time from 1:04:30 to about 59 minutes, even though my road bike Functional Threshold Power has barely changed. That kind of improvement is worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Six Gap Century power data

Here's my data from Sunday's Six Gap Century in Dahlonega.

Neel’s – AP258, NP260 18:34 3.3mi
Jack’s – AP242, NP259 25:02 5.5mi
Unicoi – AP242, NP261 13:24 2.2mi
Hogpen – AP228, NP238 42:54 6.9mi
Wolfpen – AP228, NP230 20:52 2.8mi
Woody – AP201, NP230 20:52 1.5mi
(AP-average power; NP-normalized power)

Power and elevation graph scaled by distance:

I found the Unicoi power trend interesting. Jake hit the climb hard early and I gradually and very steadily ramped up my effort to finish with him at the top.

Power and elevation graph scaled by time: