Sunday, January 28, 2007

Slow January TTs

It's natural to want to compare recent time trial or wattage tests to results from older tests to track your progress. Some of my recent testing TT results didn't make sense to me when I compared them to numbers I got on the same course about 6 months ago. But after accounting for temperature effects, they look better.

I found that for my 10.66-mile time trial course, a decrease of 45 degrees Farenheit increases the air density enough to slow me down and increase my TT time by about 50 seconds. That's a very significant amount of time that has to be accounted for when comparing summer and winter outdoor timed tests.

The extra clothing worn at 45 degrees also would obviously increase my drag coefficient as well, and would result in a small increase in my weight (although not as much as January's proximity to Christmas). It wouldn't surprise me to find that the combined effects of January air teperature, drag coefficient, and weight combine to slow me down by 2 minutes or more for a half-hour TT when compared to the same course in July. That's something to think about when the numbers aren't so great for the winter tests.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Q-ring time trial pacing

Since I had a comment about my pacing for the Q-Ring time trial, I thought I'd elaborate. After reviewing the data from the 1st time trial on December 19th, I determined that I'd started too hard to optimize time and maybe average watts, too. But my primary goal in the two time trials was not to optimize time or wattage, but to get a direct comparison between circular and elliptical chainrings.

So when I performed the second time trial earlier this week, I made an effort to match the pacing of my first time trial as closely as possible. I intentionally went out too hard again (my first 5-minute power average for both time trials was a little over 300 watts). It's a little hard to see that in my wattage plots on the prior post because I used a lot of smoothing to see the power trend. My percieved exertion was the same for both rides, and my average heartrate was almost identical (161bpm for the December ride and 162 bpm for the January ride). My average heartrate for the 1-hour TT I did on Dec. 2nd was also 161 bpm, so I know that's my threshold heartrate. I didn't take a look at my average wattage until the very end of the TT.

In summary, I'm about as confident as I can be in the results that I've posted.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rotor Q Rings test Results

After taking a couple of weeks to let my legs adjust to the Q Rings (I didn't notice any difference after about 10 minutes), I've performed another 10.66-mile time trial (the first one with circular rings was on December 19th). I saw a 6-watt increase in average power over the prior time-trial. December 19 - 235 watts; January 24th - 241 watts (a 2.5% increase).

That's not enough for me to continue using the Q-Rings. My decision is based on the following reasons:

  1. 2.5% is within the range of expected accuracy of my Ergomo power meter.
  2. As shown in the graphs below, my improvement came primarily in the last one third of the time trial, which is probably a result of increase stamina and training effect from long rides in Macon over the 5-week period, and not from the Q-rings.
  3. Most of the Q-Ring studies that I have read found an increased average power of between 4 and 10 percent. I realized from the beginning that they might not be beneficial for everyone who tried them, I was just hoping I was someone who could benefit -- evidently not.
  4. If I decided to use Q-Rings, I'd need to place them on my time trial bike, my computrainer bike, and maybe my tandem. I'd need to see a pretty significant result to be worth all that.
  5. Although the shifting wasn't a big problem, it's less smooth than with circular rings.
This graph is a smoothed plot of my December 19th time trial. Notice the decay in power in middle and toward the end of the ride:

This graph is a smoothed plot of my January 24th time trial. The power is pretty consistent throughout the ride, even though I tried no new pacing strategy:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dusting off the TT bike

Last weekend's ride was extra tough on me for some reason. It was a long one (97 mi) with a 9-mile hard charge at the end that ended up as a 2-mile sprint and a 7-mile time trial for me. I never felt strong the entire day, and it's taken me much longer than usual (3 or 4 days) to fully recover.

I figured since I was going to take an easy week for recovery, I might as well make use of the low-watt hours in the saddle to begin re-acclimating to my TT bike position for the Tundra Time Trial next month. I mounted my Cervelo P2K on the computrainer on Monday, and it seemed like I could barely turn the cranks. I think I average about 135 watts for half an hour. My calves, hamstrings, and back ached for a day or two after the first ride. But after 3 or 4 days of gradually increasing my efforts each day, I'm feeling much more comfortable in the TT position.

Last year I created a model of the Siver Comet Trail 9.5-mi TT course on my computrainer including slope, normal wind patterns, etc. Based on my most recent ride on the course, I'm already approaching my last year's competition time without a full effort (about 210 watts ave). I'd like to ride the CT course at 240 or 250 watts average before the TT. That should put me somewhere in the mid 24-minute range (last year's ride was 26-something) and give me a shot at the top 10 in my category. Mostly, it will give me an indication of how much improvement a year's training has made.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ergomo repair/Performance Manager update

About a week ago, after a couple of very wet rides, I found that every time I plugged my Ergomo computer unit into my bike, it locked up. I suspected moisture problems, but the tech guy in Charlotte said they almost never have any moisture problems with the units. Anyway, I sent my computer unit to Charlotte, but they said it was fine, so I then sent my bottom bracket unit. I'm awaiting a reply.

In the mean time, I've been estimating my TSS based on prior rides, which has become pretty easy for me to do. An easy recovery ride has an IF of about 0.6, which give me 36 TTS per hour. A regular easy ride with my wife, IF=0.7, so 49 TSS per hour. A Macon Saturday ride, IF=0.85, so 72 TSS per hour.

Below are my latest performance manager charts. I'm already at a chronic training load equal to my peak of last year, which occurred in August. I hope that bodes well for this year. Either that or I'll just burn out early!

January 2005 through current (blue line is CTL, pink is ATL, and yellow is TSB):

Here's this season (started on November 1, 2006):