Monday, December 31, 2007

TT Trunk Angle

Copied from

"Getting the trunk angle lower can have a significant impact on aerodynamics and performance as summarized in the “rule of thumb” table below (values generated using a mathematical model which uses an average power constraint to determine the optimal pacing strategy for a given TT course):

Table 1. Cherry Creek TT performance and how it is affected by trunk

This is how trunk angle is defined.

It looks like I'll need some new bars (and maybe some yoga lessons) to get to 8 percent trunk angle or better:

I know it doesn't look like it in the photo, but this position actually feels very agressive on the bike. It feels like I'm way out over the front wheel. The ninja-dude's position must feel like he's sitting on the front wheel.

The time listed with each angle is the time saved on a 40K TT IF POWER IS CONSTANT. That's a big IF with extremely aero positions.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


This is an overview of my CTL (chronic training load) since Spring 2006, when I started training for bike races:

I read somewhere that for steady, long-term CTL building, you should aim for a CTL each November that equals your prior year's April CTL. Even without specifically trying to do that, I have fit into that pattern over the last two years.

Another interesting item: October was my off month (I rode a little, but didn't train). My CTL constant is set at 42 in Performance Manager, and my current CTL (12-26-07) is 81.6. If I had done a 125TSS workout on October 15th, almost 75 days ago, my CTL would now be 82.1, half a point higher. It's a common misconception that if your CTL constant is set at 42, then only the last 42 days of TSS data will contribute to your current CTL, but that's not true. I believe CTL is calculated using a radioactive decay equation where 42 would be the half-life of the TSS generated in the past. So the older TSS points don't count as much, but they still have an effect. So my October off time is still having an effect on my current CTL.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FTP Improvement

The plan is working..... but can I maintain the progress? We'll see.

(From empirical evidence, I know that my road FTP is 106% of my 45min power on the Computrainer).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What's the Point?

Several folks have asked me: "What's the purpose of your winter training plan? I know it's important to ride lots in the winter, but what exactly are you trying to accomplish?" It's a simple question, but it got me thinking about exactly what I want the plan to do to my body, so here's my best shot at explaining it:

In reading this, it might be helpful to reference the 2008 Winter Training Plan and Coggan's energy systems table.

Winter training goals, sort of prioritized:

  1. Increase L4 - FTP (functional threshold power). During the racing season, and particularly towards the end of the racing season, I usually find myself either recovering, riding 1 to 2 hour hard group rides, or doing short, intense races lasting from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Recovery is a requisite, and there are many benefits to hard group rides and races, but neither is great for increasing FTP. By late season my aerobic engine needs maintenance. By the end of my off-month (October) this year, my FTP had fallen by about 20 watts to 260 watts from my season peak of about 280, which occurred in July or August. Nine base weeks of mostly L2/L3/L4 work including at least one long (3.5-4.0hr+) group ride will rebuild my FTP. Since November 1st, I've measured a steady FTP increase of 2.25 watts per week. If I can keep up that rate of increase, I'll be back to last year's peak of 280 watts by the end of the nine-week winter base training period. I'll start the year with last year's peak number - a larger base on which to build the season.
  2. Build Chronic Training Load. My CTL had dropped to about 70 TSS (total stress score) at the end of October. I want my CTL to be at least 100 when the racing season starts, and I probably should build it to around 110 if possible before the 5-day, 8-stage Tour of Atlanta in May. One of the best ways to increse CTL is by doing 4.5-hour Peach Peloton rides every Saturday that routinely deliver between 250 and 350 TSS points. TSS=(NP/FTP)^2 x 100 x hours. A good rule of thumb to make steady year-to-year progress: raise CTL each November to the level of the prior April.
  3. Regain/maintain endurance ability (L2/L3). The absence of frequent long rides during the season might diminish my ability to ride comfortably at L2 or L3 pace for 4 to 6 hours. The long Saturday rides in my winter plan reestablish and strengthen whatever biological systems enable me to do that. To be honest, I'm not sure exactly how those endurance systems differ from the ones involved in 45min FTP workouts, but I'm sure there are differences. (Probably fat burning ability vs glycogen burning ability?). Being able to ride comfortably at L3 for 5 hours isn't critical for a cat4 bike racer who's races rarely exceed 40-50 miles in length. But the BBQ Bass Ride and the Six Gap Century are more than 50 miles long and I'd like for them to be fun.
  4. Maintain/develop L7 - neuromuscular (NM) sprinting ability. I'm no sprinter. But I've recently learned that a little sprint training goes a long way. I've increased my sprint from about 950w max to 1160w max in 10 weeks with only eight 15sec sprint intervals per week. I think most of that increased power comes from establishing muscle memory and NM adaptations. If you've ever started lifting weights from scratch, you know how much progress you can make in the first month or two - an awful lot. Most of that initial increase comes from teaching your brain and nervous system how to lift the weight - not from larger or stronger muscles. Your nervous system has an automatic governor to prevent you from injuring yourself (you've read about crisis situations in which people display almost superhuman strength - their brains have temporarily turned the governor off). As you do sprint intervals, your NM system slowly raises the level at which the governor will kick in (the adrenaline rush at races does the same thing). That lets you put out more wattage with the same legs. Doing one L7 workout per week during the base period maintains those adaptations so you don't have to learn them again in April. It also does a tiny bit to maintain your ability to tolerate lactic acid.
  5. Maintain ligament and tendon strength. Very simple - sprint workouts keep your ligaments and tendon's strong through the winter so they're ready for the more intense work in spring. I think this makes injuries less likely.
  6. Maintain VO2max and anaerobic systems (L5/L6). The November and December 4-hour Peach Peloton rides on Saturdays often have 20-minute attack zones. The AZs are a good way to keep the anaerobic engine from atrophying over the winter. Too much L5/L6 work in November/December and you won't have the legs or time to develop the aerobic side properly; but I think a little each week will make it easier to kick-start the VO2max (build) and anaerobic workouts in January and February.
  7. January L5 -VO2max. This is transition territory. The 5-minute interval workouts at 110% FTP in January continue to build your aerobic system, but also begin to strengthen your lactate tolerance as speed skills gradually revisited. See training level 5 in Coggan's table. L5 is not that much different that L4, but lactic acid tolerance is initiated.
  8. February L6 - Anaerobic. There is a dramatic difference in the way your body is powered when putting out L6 power compared to when it's putting out power in the L1-L5 zones (see Coggan table above). That's why you can't stay powered at L6 for very long. The 1-minute interval workouts in February develop your L6 (anaerobic/lactic acid buffering) system and prepare you for the intense race efforts required during the season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Training Plan Changes

I've made some winter training plan changes - just tweaking mainly. I've been pleased with the plan so far.

See an image of the new plan to the left. I've posted it for download in Excel format at 2008 Winter Training Plan R2 in case anyone would like to use it as a template or modify it as you see fit.

So what changed?
  • I've corrected an error in the week numbers.
  • In weeks 7, 8, and 9 I've thrown in a 20-minute interval at L4 between two sets of 4 x 15 second sprint intervals. (most of my TTs are 20-min length)
  • I changed all Wednesday 2hr L2 workouts to 1.5 hours of L3 (I'm convinced the benefit is the same or more and it saves time).
  • I changed all Monday 1hr L1 workouts to 45min at L2 (same reason as above). If I feel that I really need the recovery day, I'll just take the day off.
  • In weeks 10-13 I've moved my FTP tests to Thursday and included a FTP test every week instead of every other week.
  • I updated some of the TSS numbers for Peach Peloton rides to be more realistic. I was assuming 225 to 250 TSS for those rides and I've routinely generated over 300 TSS.
  • I added the Pine Mt. Challenge
  • I added the Race Around Macon
  • I added the Tundra Time Trial.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Winter L4 work on TT bike - yes or no?

I'm of the opinion that alternating from road bike to TT bike for my weekly 45-min power test is a good way to improve my power on the TT bike for spring. And even if my power is slightly lower in TT position, I think I still get great benefit from a physiological perspective.

A few contributors to Google Wattage and a friend of mine have very different opinions. They say that I'm wasting my time by riding the TT bike in December when I should be using every valuable minute of L4 winter training to increase road bike FTP. They say I should be on my road bike for every L4 workout until February.

I think I'm going to be stubborn and continue to do every other week in TT position because I think the benefits outweigh the costs. If you have an opinion, enter it into the poll on the upper right corner of the blog.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Agony, Agony, Agony

Some days you just don't have it. I suffered through my 45-min test in TT position on the Cervelo last night. I never felt comfortable, constantly looking for the right cadence and getting weaker as I went. The experience was quite unpleasant. It sucked - 228 watts (that corresponds to a FTP of 242 watts for my aggresive TT position (for a variety of reasons I can generate about 6% more power on the road). Maybe next time will be better.