Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lyle and I are a Little Different

I've always wobbled in the saddle.  Always.  I've been riding a bike for 25 years and I've always been told that I need to lower my saddle or do this or do that to correct my wobble.

Well I have tried.  Many times.  To no avail.  I studied the issue quite a bit a couple of years ago.  You can read about my ponderings in my 2006 posts: Saddle Height and at Saddle Height/Q-Rings.

A friend graciously reopened that conversation for me the other day.  This time I thought about it some more and decided to check LLD - leg length discrepancy.  I carefully measured my trochanter heights - the height from the floor to the tip of the little bony protrusion on your hip bone.  It's the most lateral protrusion of the greater trochanter in this image:

One trochanter is 35” from the floor. The other is 34.25” from the floor. Hmmmm.  It seems that in LLD speak that's about a mile.

I did some Google work and found lots of people rushing to their doctors and trashing all thier shoes because they had a leg length discrepancy of ¼” or ½”.

I seem to have a ¾” LLD goin’ on.

I’m leaning towards the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it approach; but we’ll see.  I'd like to fix the wobble; and I think the LLD is the likely cause.  But I suspect there's a good chance I'd screw something else up if I started adding shims, et cetera.  And all that would be a pain in the arse, even if only figuratively.

And I haven't had any pain or discomfort, just an occasional snickering teammate.  I can live with that.  Lyle and I don't want to be like the rest of you anyway.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Force Reps

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Base HR Distribution

My heart rate distribution for the past 28 days:

Power distribution for the same period:

The next few weeks will see an increase in Temop and Threshold percentage.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Force Reps

I was just looking at data from a force reps session (each interval is 18-20 pedal strokes at max pedal force in the 53-12). My wattage is typically a consistent 600 watts for the efforts. But the thing that caught my attention was the torque.

WKO+ tells me that my peak crank torque (actually it's virtual crank torque, which is calculated from PT rear hub wattage and cadence) at the max efforts is about 1160 lb-inches. If you divide that by the length of my cranks, 172.5 mm (6.89 inches), you get 168 pounds (1160 lb-in divided by 6.89 inches).

My max squat is just a little more than that. I don't really know my max squat weight, because I never do (and don't plan to ever do) 1-rep max squats. But based on the rep chart in "The Cyclist's Training Bible" I think it's about 190 lbs, which would be about 1.3 time my body weight, which is fairly typical.

The thing that has me a bit confused is that I'd assume most of the pedal force is coming from the down-stroke. If that's the case, I'd only be able to put out a little more than half of my max squat force when pedaling (if you assume the upstroke has maybe 20% of the max downstroke force, it'd be 70% max squat force, or 0.7 x 190 = 133 lbs right?).

I need to think on this one for a while. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments section if I've missed something or messed up the calculations. Am I putting out more force than I think with my upstroke? Am I putting out more than I think with my downstroke due to momentum and body weight factors?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Decoupling Test

Either Friel's decoupling theory* is bogus, or I'm definately ready for the transition to more intense work.

The results of my 2-hour decoupling test at high L2 today: -2.88% decoupling. Yes, that's a negative sign. I guess maybe I warmed up and became more efficient as the ride went on?

*Friel's decoupling theory: if heartrate to power ratio increases (drifts) more than 5% over a long ride, then you need more aerobic development prior to moving out of the base periods and on to more intense training.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Winter Weights and Cycling

Every year this time (base period/off season for most cyclists in North America), there begins a flurry of on-line discussion and argument about the benefits and risks of strength training for cyclists. It's not hard to find well-known coaches and physiologists to argue either side of the issue. Coggan thinks weights are useless and that the fatigue generated by strength workouts can be harmful to endurance athletes because time is taken away from productive training; Friel has always (at least since the '80s) been a proponent of strength training in the base training periods.

I have a lot of respect for some of the folks on Google Wattage (where many of the heated discussions occur) who dismiss the use of weights and/or strength training because “the research does not show that it helps; therefore it’s a waste of time so it hurts.” Research and real scientific results are crucial to learning how to use your training time most efficiently. It’s perilous to ignore the results of multiple legitimate scientific studies. But I think the anti-weights voices are a little too stubborn in their narrow, but very consistent, response: “the research does not show that weights make you faster.”

Maybe they don’t make you faster. But I can tell you from n=1 that they make you feel faster. That’s worth something. They make you feel more confident. That’s worth something. They might make your bones healthier and more dense. That’s worth something. They make you less prone to injury. That’s worth something. They make you look and feel better. That’s worth something. They make winter training less monotonous. That's worth something. And a whole big bunch of very successful cyclists and coaches have reached the conclusion, for a variety of reasons, that weights are worth the time. That’s worth something.

For me, all those minor ‘somethings’ add up to a lot. So I’m sticking with the weights for a few decades until the researchers get it sorted out.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

L2 Rides and November Centuries

This is a good post by Joe Friel explaining some benefits of the long L2 ride. There is no doubt that significant ride time at L3 and L4 are both important for aerobic system development in the winter/base period of the year. But there are things L2 can give you that L3 and L4 don't.

The Aerobic Base Ride

On a related note, I found this statement by Hunter Allen yesterday on Google Wattage; it sums up my thoughts on doing century-length rides in November and December:

"One other point is that longer rides made up of the components above (L1, L2, and L3) can help you make the next quantum leap in FTP. I have seen so many Masters riders that are restricted to 8-12 hours a week and no matter how hard and smart they train, just never are able to get to 'the next level'. Only when they can introduce a 2-3x a month long ride into their training plan that tax both the cardiovascular and muscular endurance components are they able to make the quantum leap. It doesn't mean that every weekend has to be a 100+ mile ride, but 2-3 a month can make a difference even if you never, ever race near that distance or to that level of fatigue."

I understand the 'only train as long as your longest race' philosophy. I just don't agree with it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Walthall Oil Kits

2010 Walthall Oil Cycling kits. Thanks to a great group of sponsors and to Kristy for help with design.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Quadrant Analysis

Here's a quadrant analysis chart of two very different efforts. The one in green is a force rep workout (20-sec of hard low-cadence interval with spinning in between). The one in purple is the 2008 Elberton Crit. All the points above the red line represent segments of effort above my threshold power.

I'm not sure what to do with the information yet, but it's interesting to look at. The most obvious use would be to compare race efforts to training efforts to see if my training is properly race-specific.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

PT Calibration Curve

It's raining, I'm in a rest week, and I needed a break from house chores and work; so instead of a ride today I did a full range of Power Tap static calibration tests, as suggested by Dr. Chung.

I found that my PT is pretty accurate. It appears to read an average of about 2.3% low overall, which is within the advertised range, I think.

The errors are slightly larger than that (up to 4-5%) when I'm in my 25-tooth cog or in my 12-tooth cog (climbing or sprinting, just when I'd like to see big numbers the most!). The errors are slightly lower than that (0-2%) when I'm in my middle cogs (16-19 tooth range). It makes sense that the PT strain gauges might have more trouble measuring torque when it's applied to the very ends of the measuring cylinder (hub body).

Errors that small won't make bit of difference to riders when using their PTs for training. But I can use the information when Chung testing to get more accurate results. I'll just keep the chain on the 17 cog and scale my power numbers back by about 1.5% before doing the calcs.

And I'll run a few tests every 3 months or so to give me confidence that my PM calibration isn't drifting.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chasing Neo

I did an FTP test today on the Cervelo - first of the season - and it hurt. I have a very aggressive position (CdA 0.217). My FTP on the TT bike was 96% of what I recently tested on my Tarmac, but my pacing was terrible (the first 5 minutes was 108% of road bike FTP - my PT head unit was in my back pocket and I couldn't see it). My threshold heartrate - last 20 min ave - was exactly the same as on my Tarmac, 162 bpm, so I know I was going just as hard (it hit 168 during my too-fast first 5 min, though).

But that was 'bout what I expected. Good pacing today might have yielded 98% of road bike FTP. I want 99% road bike FTP and CdA=0.210 by February. A new tri-spoke or deep rim front wheel with 20mm tubular running at 160 psi will probably lower my Crr to maybe 0.0045 also.

I'm going to keep my head unit out of sight so I can learn proper pacing based on perceived exertion. I won't have the PT to help me pace when I mount my Zipp disc aero daddy for the Tundra in Feb. But I think I will mount a Polar CS200 on the stem so I can use HR to prevent overcooking the start.

You'd better add an extra interval tomorrow Neo; I'm coming after you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Power Tap Static Torque Test

I performed a static torque test on my Power Tap at lunch today.

I took three weights:

1 - a 45 lb olympic plate (which actually weighed in at 45.5 lbs)
2 - two 45 lb olympic plates (90.5 lbs)
3 - my body weight

I ran three tests. The instructions say to use 50-lbs or more, which might explain why the first test at 45.5 lbs was off a little. In the first two tests, I hung the weights from the right pedal when it was parallel with the floor and the rear brake was locked. In the third test, I balanced myself in a door jamb such that all my weight was on the right pedal and the front brake was locked. (hanging 90 lbs from the pedal of your bike is more difficult than you might imagine).

It turns out that my PT is DOBA (dead on balls accurate) at the two higher weights. That makes me feel better about my recent testing. Now I need to do the same thing with my teammate's PT to see if I can eliminate a source of potential error with his results.

My results:

Test 1: expected 69.96 in-lbs, measured 63.0 in-lbs (thought maybe I was in trouble here)
Test 2: expected 138.39 in-lbs, measured 139 in-lbs (DOBA)
Test 3: expected 239.86 in-lbs, measured 240 in-lbs (double-DOBA)

Here are instructions for performing the Power Tap static torque test (I swiped them from a wattage Q&A posted by Dr. Coggan):

Technically, the PowerTap cannot be user-calibrated, but its accuracy can be checked using a simple test that is similar to the SRM
calibration check. First, check that the transmission icon is on, and if not, give the rear wheel a spin. Then, enter the torque
mode by holding the “Select” button down for 2 seconds or longer (the “WATTS” designation will disappear from the top line.) Apply
the rear brake sufficiently to lock up the rear wheel. Now, measure torque as follows: with the cranks exactly horizontal (right
crank at 3 o’clock), hang a known weight of at least 50 lbs from the right crank, or simply stand on it – hence the name ‘stomp test’!
Measured torque = (weight in lbs) × (crank length in mm) × (1 in/25.4 mm) × (cog teeth/chainring teeth).
For a 159 lb rider standing on a 175 mm crank, with the chain on the 39 tooth ring and the 23 tooth cog, 159 lbs × 175 mm ×
1 in/25.4 mm × 23/39 = 646 in-lbs. Compare this to the displayed value by calculating % error as
(measured torque - displayed torque)/measured torque.

So if you find your strain gagues are not calibrated properly, there's nothing you can do but send it to Saris for recalibration, I guess. You can rezero the thing yourself (actually most PTs are set up to re-zero themselves while you are coasting), but you can't modify the strain gauge settings yourself.

Ok, Grasshoppa - time to rush home and hang weights on your cranks to see what's up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


My last post presented my nice neat Chung results. Everything turned out exactly as expected once I measured my test hill and input the real numbers.

But now I have a problem. A teammate tested with me on the same hill at the same time. He used a power tap just like me, he weighed in and weighed out after each test segment just like me. The weather conditions were the same. The course was the same.

But when I processed his numbers, the only way I could get the virtual hill to be the right height was to use an unrealistically large Crr, 0.007. That yeilded an unrealistically low CdA for him - 0.190 m^2 (he's 6'3" and about 180 lbs - I don't think he has a CdA under 0.2).

So I looked at all the inputs. Most were identical to my tests as mentioned above. Same spreadsheet, too.

I looked at weight: he tested using two different bikes, so his weight was actually about 2 pounds different between runs, but the two runs still yeilded exactly the same Crr. That tells me the weights were right (and we used the same scale).

What about distance/speed? We both calibrated our Power Taps using a three-revolution weighted rollout, averaging three rollouts, before the test. And I checked the distance measurement of the hill versus both of our data sets and everything matches there. So I don't think the problem is distance/velocity.

That leaves the Power Tap power measurement as the only other source of error I can think of. I thought I had a culprit. To obtain a data set that would give me a Crr for him on my hill near the expected 0.005, I was required to lower all of his power numbers to 95% of their measured values. That got the hill height right, but his CdA would still be around 0.210 on his TT bike and around 0.260 on his road bike. I don't believe his Power Tap is wrong AND he has an unrealistically low CdAs. I'm stumped - but only temporarily - I'll figure it out.

My next steps - let him do runs using my Power Tap and put him on my calibrated Computrainer to see if the Power Taps read the same. Then we'll go from there.

Chung TT Bike Results

This plot shows the results of my recent Chung Method aerodynamics testing with my Cervelo P2K. I wore full aero gear (skinsuit, TT helmet, shoe covers, aero front wheel), but used my standard Powertap wheel on the rear.

Because there is very little air resistance on an 8% climb at 150 watts, I was able to accurately discern my Crr using the climb side of the virtual profile. Then with a little iteration, the descent side of the profile, where CdA greatly overwhelms Crr as a force against the bike at 43 mph, allowed me to determine my CdA. I found it to be very close to the CdA result I got about a year ago when I did extensive coast-down testing on a 1/2-mile 3% descent. I found it to be 0.232 then, and this week's testing shows0.230. That's a pretty good number, but I'm not a big guy (5'9" and 146 lbs) and I ride in a very aggressive position, so it's not completely unexpected.

The first set of runs is with the setup I used for most of this season. For the second set of runs, I moved my aerobars from 4" apart to 3-1/4" apart (moved each of them inward 3/8", or 9.5mm). It was definately enough of a change to feel on the bike. I felt narrower. I didn't expect to see a difference in CdA from the Chung testing, but I did. My next task is to do repeat runs on different days to check precision/repeatability.

I trimmed all my data away except for the climb and the descent for each run, and I reset each run's virtual elevation at the known elevation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Chung Method is No Joke

I did TT tests yesterday at my Brookhollow course. When messing with the data last night, I came to the conclusion that my test hill must be four feet higher than the 83.1 vertical feet it was designed and staked out to be. Increasing the vertical drop by 4 feet was the only way I could get everything to work out with reasonable Crr and CdA numbers.

I couldn't stand the suspense, so I took a survey instrument (my trusty Topcon GPT-3000 W, shown at left) out there this morning to check it out. Guess what? The contractor built the road with 3.51' more vertical drop than it was supposed to have according to my design (I guess he wanted to save some cash on fill dirt).

The Chung Method is definitely no joke if you use it right. I don't know what Garmin Slipstream pays for tunnel time, but I think I have a comparable tool now for free.

I moved each of my aerobars inward by 3/8" yesterday, and apparently I was able to discern the difference in CdAs from that tiny change (which, by the way, would mean 11 seconds in a 40k TT). If I can see that type of change, this process is going to be fun (and fruitful).

More details to come.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chung Spreadsheet - Better Acceleration Calculation

The CdAs I calculated for my road bike seemed a little lower than what I would have expected. After reading 106 miles on my Power Tap odometer yesterday for a Claxton Century course that was advertised as 104 miles, I figured the problem might be my PT odometer. I did a very accurate 3-revolution, weighted calibration of my PT wheel this morning and found the circumference to be dead on 2100 mm. I had had the PT programmed to 2098 mm. That means I'm going 2100/2098=1.00095 times as fast/far as I'd thought. Not only is that probably insignificant, it would LOWER my CdA calculations, not raise them. (A quick check revealed that my fastest CdA - when I was in the drops - was lowered by 0.001 m^2 by accounting for the PT circumference change). So I can scratch that as a significant source of error, although the fact that I picked up any change in CdA at all from a 0.095% change in speed is surprising - this method really does provide incredible data resolution).

Then I read Dr. Chung's comment on my last post: He noticed that I had used a simple approximation of acceleration in my Chung Method spreadsheet. To calculate acceleration, I used: change in velocity from T1 to T2 divided by the time interval a = (t2-t1)/dt.

That seemed correct to me. But he suggested I use a more robust approximation suggested by Adam Haile: a = (t2^2-t1^2)/(2*t2*(t2-t1))

As you can see in the highlighted columns in this screen shot of my spreadsheet, the two methods result in very similar, but differing, values of a.

It turns out those differences are enough to change my CdA calculations significantly. My road bike CdAs for hoods, horns, and drops changed from 0.310, 0.245, and 0.240 to 0.338, 0.258, and 0.255, respectively. Those numbers seem more realistic, although they are still lower than I would have guessed.

My Crr changed from 0.0054 to 0.0055 (a difference that is probably not within the resolution of the method).

I think I have everything ready now to do some baseline TT bike tests. Then I'll begin to tinker with my position and see what happens.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chung Method Aerodynamic Testing

I've always wanted my own wind tunnel. Now I sort of have one.

A couple of years ago I read Robert Chung's presentation, "Estimating CdA with a Power Meter," on aerodynamic testing using nothing more than a known road profile, internet weather info, a bathroom scale, and a power meter.

I remember finding it interesting at the time; but I didn't follow up because I didn't have a power meter on my TT bike. And I didn't really care what my CdA was on my road bike.

A few weeks ago, I read about Colin Griffiths's recent Chung testing in the UK. I now have a Power Tap wheel that I can easily move to my Cervelo TT bike, so re-enter Chung testing.

Basically, Robert Chung took the equation for all the forces acting on a rider: power, air drag (CdA), rolling resistance (Crr), and gravity:

w = wrr + wPE + wKE + waero
w = Crr m v g + s m v g + a m v + CdA ρ vair 2v / 2

and he solved the equation for slope:

s = w/(m g v) – Crr – a/g – (ρ CdA v2)/(2 m g)

Then he used slope and known horizontal position at each time interval to build a virtual profile (using a spreadsheet). By adjusting values of CdA and Crr until the virtual profile matches the real world profile, you are able to solve for both.

Lucky for me, I'm an engineer and a surveyor (lucky in this example, anyway - most of the time I'd rather be a rocket scientist or the base player for the Stones). And lucky for me, a few years ago I designed and staked out a new subdivision street about a mile from my house, so I know the EXACT profile of the road. And lucky for me, the developer has barely sold a single lot in the subdivision, so there is ZERO traffic. And lucky for me, the profile is a perfect U shape with cul-de-sacs at each end so that I can turn around at both ends without touching the brakes. And lastly, the road is very well protected by tall pines, reducing any minor breezes that might interfere with my results.

So as a test run, today I Chung-tested my Tarmac, and I got perfect results. Here's the procedure:

  • Get on the web and get the temperature, pressure, and humidity for the test location.

  • Dress for riding and weigh yourself with your bike, bottles, everything.

  • Ride a known profile (really all you need to know is the elevations of the high points and low points).

  • Keep EXACTLY the same position on the bike for the duration of the test.

  • Do not ever touch the brakes - the formula can't account for deceleration due to braking).

  • Record several runs over/through the known profile.

  • Return home and record weight and weather data again and average start/finish numbers.

  • Set up a spreadsheet to plot a virtual profile of your course using the Chung Method.

  • Adjust the CdA and Crr until you get a constant amplitude and crest height.

  • Here's a screen shot of the spreadsheet I created to do all of this. Download it from my eSnips account if you want a copy.

    It worked like a charm. I did three runs of the course in each of three different positions: 1 - on the hoods; 2 - on the "horns" (hands wrapped around the tops of my Shimano shifters and elbows sort of low; and 3 - in the drops.

    I did a trial-and-error adjustment the CdAs for all three positions to get an almost perfect and consistent profile. What little profile variation I saw was likely due to a very light breeze or hitting a rock in the road. A little tweaking of the Crr (rolling resistance coefficient) got the amplitudes right.

    Here's what it looked like when I was done. Remember, this is a VIRTUAL profile. It's not measured elevations, it's calculated elevations assuming all the different forces on the rider. It looks to be so accurate and precise that I could literally use it to perform asbuilt surveys on finished roadways (Causey will find that idea intriguing, I think).

    The fact that it worked is cool enough. But now comes the fun part: using the new technique to play around with different positions and equipment on my TT bike.

    I also learned something very interesting and useful that I will use while training and racing on the road bike. I've always wondered how much more aerodynamic it was to ride in the drops as compared to on the horns. On the horns is so much more comfortable and seems more powerful, too. I turns out that my CdA on the horns is a LOT lower than on the hoods (somewhat expected), and only very slightly less aero than riding in the drops (I was surprised the difference was so little).

    So there will be no more training or riding in the drops for me. The almost immeasurable benefit isn't worth the more aggressive, less comfortable position. I'll just ride on the horns. I guess I'll only use the drops for standing and sprinting.

    Monday, November 09, 2009

    Trainer vs. Road

    Ok - this is a work in progress. I don't have as much data as I'd like to have, but the general trend is clear. The problem with collecting additional data is that my aerobic system is improving, which makes establishing a true best-fit line a little like trying to hit a moving target. But you'll get the gist of it. The magenta line is a best fit for trainer data. The red line is a best fit for road data.

    The not-so-surprising result: it's harder to ride the trainer than to ride on the road at the same power (all the power data was collected using my Power Tap). For now I'll target my training zones on the trainer using a target heartrate along with the trainer curve to get a target power range. Later I'll do a CP30 test on the trainer, set up power zones from that and see how they compare to the first method. I find it interesting that the difference in NP vs AHR is lower close to threshold than at lower efforts. I would have expected the opposite effect.

    Gotta do something to keep the trainer workouts interesting, right? But I have discovered a new indoor toy for indoor rides: I downloaded the new Computrainer scenery pack. Now I can ride cyclocross trails through downtown Atlanta scenery. That's different.

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    2010 Annual Training Plan

    Here's my plan for 2010. Those of you familiar with various popular training approaches will recognize this training philosophy and structure as Joe Friel's. I used a Friel plan in 2006, but that doesn't really count because I didn't start training for cycling exclusively until April 2006. So this will be my first full year on an Friel-based structure.

    The most significant changes from my 2008 and 2009 plans are:

    • A greater emphasis on macroperiodization -- base1, base2, et cetera as shown below.

    • An increase from 425 training hours per year to 505 training hours per year.

    • A greater emphasis on weekly microperiodization (rest weeks following work weeks).

    • Re-introduction of strength training. I lifted for 10 weeks in winter 2007/2008.

    • Strength maintenance work throughout the season.

    By May I'll know once and for all if Friel's philosophy works.

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    New Title Sponsor

    I'm pleased to announce that Georgia Cycling, Inc., formerly racing as Security Bank Cycling Team, will race in 2010 as Walthall Oil Company Cycling Team. We are excited about our new sponsor and can't wait to see how the new kits turn out.

    The Peach Peloton

    It will be good to get back home to my fourth year of the Peach Peloton.

    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Macon Cyclocross Race

    I bought a Redline Conquest Pro cross bike last fall to use for winter dirt road training. We have a million miles of dirt roads in Jasper County. It's a size too big, but with a short stem it works quite well for winter training. But I havent' raced the bike until this past weekend in Macon.

    The race was every bit as fun as I had been told to expect. The racing was crit-like intensity with a laid-back atmosphere. I loved it.

    Here's a video Dan Coy made at the first barrier in the first lap in the CX4 race. I started at the back of the 63-rider group 'cause I had no idea what to expect and didn't want to pull a rookie move and create a big pile of 4s in the first turn. So I had to soft pedal a while while it thinned out. I think I was about 30 seconds back from the front group after half a lap! I come through in the video at about 23 seconds - notice my flawless form, particularly on the re-mount. I think that needs a little work, ya think?

    Unfortunately my 2010 training schedule won't allow more of these this year, but I may have to shuffle things around to accomodate at least a short cross season next fall.

    Sunday, October 04, 2009

    2010 Georgia Road Racing Schedule (preliminary)

    Here's the preliminary bike racing schedule for 2010 as discussed at the Georgia Bicycle Racing Association meeting on October 3rd:

    Feb 13 - Tundra Time Trial - Rockmart
    Mar 6/7 - Albany (omnium/stage?)
    March 13/14 - Perry Roubaix Omnium
    March 20/21 - Union City Stage Race (new TT course)
    March 28 - Newton County TT
    April 10/11 - Chattanooga Stage Race (hilltop finish on 1-mi climb this year)
    April 17/18 - Sunny King/Cheeha(sp) RR
    April 24/25 - Twilight Criterium/Roswell Crit
    May 1 - Aarons 'Cross Crit
    May 2 - Sandy Springs Crit
    May 15/16 - Tour de Gaps Omnium - Dahlonega
    May 22/23 - Elberton (omnium/stage?)
    May 28-31 - Tour of Atlanta (TT and three RRs included)
    June 5 - Cherokee RR
    June 6 - Cycle for Parkinsons crit
    June 12/13 - Rome Stage Race
    July 10/11 - Gainesville Stage Race
    July 31/Aug 1 - Marietta ?
    August 21 - Macon Crit
    August 22 - Grant Park Crit

    There will also be a time trial series with 8 or 10 events not listed here.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    Why didn't I think of that?

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Three Years of Tuesday Worlds: AP vs NP

    I've had some discussions with a teammate recently regarding Average Power (AP) vs Normalized Power (NP). Although the data shows that for most time intervals my maximum average power hasn't changed drastically, I posed to him that I believe I can repeat the hard efforts more frequently in race-type situations. He responded that "it's probably just NP busters messing up your data due to different types of interval sessions you're doing this year." I thought he might be right, so I've developed a way to check.

    I wanted a way to compare apples to apples so that variations in my training plan (different types of workouts) would not affect the result. I have power data for at least a portion of each of the past three seasons of Tuesday Worlds group rides - 2007, 2008, and 2009. So I made mean maximum power (MMP) and mean maximum normalized (MMNP) power charts using only those rides for each of those years. They are shown below. As you can see, 2008 was a crappier year than I thought. But more importantly, look at the huge jump in my MMNP in 2009 relative to the jump in MMP. I've sacrificed FTP by doing more L5 intervals and fewer TT training rides, but it's definately benefited my ability to repeat hard short-term efforts in RR (or crit) type events. That's the only conclusion I can draw so far - I'll keep pondering it.

    Next year the goal is to move both lines to the northeast while maintaining a good aerobic engine for TTs also.

    Monday, September 07, 2009

    Negative Decoupling at 175 Watts

    My 225-watt test showed 8% decoupling in a 30-min test. (later determined that it wasn't really 8%, more like 3-5% if I used the correct calculation method). I wanted to see the results of a lower wattage test, so I did an 80-min decoupling test at 175 watts.

    Not only did I not find any evidence at all of decoupling, the result was NEGATIVE 2%. First 37 min: 176w at 123 bpm; Second 37 min: 177w at 122 bpm. Go figure.

    I'll do the 225w test again to see if I can repeat the 8% decoupling result. If I can, then the next step will be to see at what wattage the decoupling effect starts to occur. Will it be at an abrupt wattage or will it gradually decouple?

    If I find that it's an abrupt point, will additional aerobic system training raise the 'decoupling point?' Will additional aerobic training lower the 8% decoupling I see at 225 watts? Lots to investigate; but that's ok - I have until Spring.

    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    More on Friel's Decoupling

    Friel has a simple summary of his decoupling thesis at:

    I'll summarize it even more: He says that for serious cyclists, aerobic fitness is best developed by riding at 65% to 75% of FTP. That puts me at about 200 watts, or upper portion of L2. He says if I'm training for longer road races, my decoupling should be less than 5% for 2 to 4 hours.

    Calculate it by taking NP for the 1st half of the workout and dividing by average HR for 1st half of workout to get (NP/HRave) = A. Do the same for the 2nd half of the workout to get B.

    Then check the percent increase by taking [(B-A)/A] x 100. If this percent decoupling is greater than 5%, aerobic fitness is not fully developed (unless heat or improper hydration have played a role).

    I'm going to try a longer, slightly lower power test today (maybe 200w for an hour) to see how the decoupling looks.

    Tuesday, September 01, 2009


    Joe Friel has written lately about decoupling. That's when you're exercising aerobically (at sub-threshold) and your heartrate is not consistent with your power output. I used to use a coupling test when I was training for triathlon. I'd hold my heartrate constant while running on a track. The further I had run after 20 minutes, the more aerobically fit I was. I was amazed at the variation throught the trainign season back then (2001).

    So I decided to do a coupling test on the bike yesterday. I put on the heartrate monitor, warmed up, and did 30 minutes at tempo (225 watts for me). I felt nice and steady for the whole interval and was on Hwy 11, which is flat. Wind was minimal.

    The ride felt very consistent, so I was surprised to see later that my heartrate gradually rose during the interval, starting in the low 140s and finishing around 150. My threshold HR is about 160. I sort of had a plateau in the middle, but it didn't last.
    Supposedly this means that my aerobic system is not well-developed at the moment. I look forward to doing more aerobic work during the fall and winter to see if I get a more coupled 30-min tempo result. If that does happen, maybe I can use this very easy test throughout the season to monitor my aerobic fitness and do more aerobic work when I see things start to "come apart."

    Saturday, August 15, 2009


    Friday, August 14, 2009

    TTT Pacing

    Below are some interesting charts related to TTT pacing. Two very similar teams (only one rider different on a 4-man squad) did the same course (at least up till mile 17.5) under very similar conditions about two months apart - both in competition. The first time we went out much too hard and had trouble at the end. The second time we might have gone out too easy - it's hard to say for sure. On the second attempt (August), we were lagging behind the first attempt (June) pace until very late in the race, when we easily caught and 'passed' ourselves.

    The course was more difficult in the second half, which makes the interpretation a little more complicated.

    More consistent speed in August:

    Making up major time toward the end (10-20 seconds per mile):

    Course was tougher in 2nd half, but not too much speed was lost in August:

    Thursday, August 06, 2009

    Ready for the Mountains


    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Fall Training Plan

    This'll take me through the end of the season:

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Macro Periodization

    If you saw me race in the Gainesville crit last weekend you'll know the obvious: I didn't get my ass handed to me, I got it thrown at me. It was very ugly. And the worst part was that my legs were fine and my power was decent. I was just outclassed by my competition in an 8-man masters field with nowhere to hide.

    Anyone who's read anything about training is familiar with periodization. You work harder and harder for two or three weeks, then take an week so the body can supercompensate.

    Well I guess I've sort of unintentionally done that on a macro scale. We'll call 2001 through 2005 my base period. I was a triathlete then and probably averaged about 75 to 100 miles per week on the bike - mostly at tempo. I got stronger on the bike each year, but never got very fast.

    In 2006 I discovered bike racing. I'm not sure how it happened, really - I guess I'll go back and read my blog - that's why I starting writing this stuff, anyway - so I could see trends. I delved into all sorts of training literature and worked pretty hard to get better. And I did get better. I trained with structure for three years, 2006, 2007, and 2008. I could barely hang onto the back of the cat5 pack when I raced in Gainesville in spring 2006. I catted up to cat 4 for 2008, where my biggest achievements were winning the Tour of Atlanta and getting a 2nd in the Elberton road race in a 40-mile break. I think I was on the cusp of getting some real results.

    Then in fall 2008 my power meter crapped out and I didn't replace it. Then 2009 started out poorly - I had a bad crash at my very first race in early March that messed me up for a while and caused a bad back that lingered for a couple more months. The end result is that I really have not 'trained' this year at all. I've ridden a decent amount, averaging about 8 hours per week since February. But I've done no intervals and had no training structure. Basically, I've taken the year off from training. So we'll call this my recovery year. Also, my Tarmac SL downtube cracked for no reason that I know of and Calfee is working to repair it (it really has been a tough year). And to make it just a little bit tougher on myself, I catted up to 3 (a move of true genius, I see now).

    But through all this year's problems, I've still gotten a little stronger. A friend loaned me a SRM for the past month with a loaner frame when mine cracked. It has confirmed what I felt - that my MMP curve has moved northeastward even with no structured training (I'll post the curve later). I'm slightly stronger in almost all time intervals.

    So now I guess it's time for me to start another four-year cycle. Last week I created and initiated a training plan to take me through October (I'll post that later, too). Today I ordered a Power Tap which will be here by mid-week. Since I catted up to 3, I figure I have no choice but to get stronger if I want to continue enjoying racing.

    So it's time for me to get stronger.

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    BBQ Bass 2009

    Thanks to everyone who joined us for the BBQ Bass ride on Saturday.

    At Hog Wild BBQ in Hillsboro

    Betty Jean lobbies for "BBQ Bass Banana Ride"

    Bill explores the mysteries of his new Blackberry.

    Monday, June 15, 2009

    Macon Race Weekend

    There's far too much to try and say in one blog at 8:30 on Monday morning about our Macon race weekend; so I'll let the words ease out over the next week or two. But I will say it was a tremendous success. Thanks so much to our volunteers for frying in the sun for two days to make it a great success. And thanks to our sponsors for their support of cycling.

    Here are a few of the many great pics from the weekend:

    Our new 55+ Crit State Champion

    The Masters State Champs

    Chad's rewarded for his 2nd state champ jersey in as many months.

    My sister with her family watch their first bike race.
    Security Bank riders called up for the Masters Crit

    Drew with two of our fabulous podium girls.

    My wife, Betty Jean, and I warm up for the Prologue.

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    Macon Criterium State Championship

    Security Bank Cycling Team (Georgia Cycling, Inc.) has been in existence now for two seasons. Since the start it's been our goal to host a quality event in Macon. We'll take a shot at it on June 13th and 14th when we partner with Georgia Cup to bring the Georgia Crit Championship along with a prologue and road race to Macon. The courses are great; we'll have Chad Andrews as announcer; we have customized medals for the crit winners; we have Harleys and Mustang convertibles as lead vehicles; Nu-Way Wieners will provide hot dogs at the crit; we'll have champagne for the cat 1 podium; and we have podium girls. Lots of good stuff.

    We couldn't do it without these folks' help. Thank you sponsors:

    Friday, May 29, 2009

    Caught Some Breaks

    On my last post I was bitching that I can't catch a break. Well yesterday and today I caught several of 'em. Just as I was about to cancel my Dahlonega race weekend plans, a friend loaned me a frame. The guys at our sponsor, Bike Tech graciously dropped what they were doing and moved my components over to it.

    But wait, there's more: my Specialized BB wouldn't fit the loaner frame (a Blue RC-7). I was offered an SRM BB/cranks to get me by temporarily.

    Then I realized the bike fit was perfect except for a slightly long reach. A teammate offered to drive out to L.H. Thomson Co, another sponsor, and pick up a shorter stem for me, then drop it off with yet another teammate who will bring it to Dahlonega for me.

    Now that's what I call catching great breaks. Huge thanks to all involved.

    Now I need to ride hard this weekend and catch a different sort of break. And then try to stay there.

    Saturday, May 23, 2009

    Can't Catch a Break

    It's been sort of a frustrating spring. Nothing terrible, just a bunch of annoying things.

    First, I was hit head-on by another cyclist while I was warming up for a prologue. For a few mintes I thought that one might go in the 'terrible' category, but luckily not. That put me out of commission for a couple of weeks and broke my HED tri-spoke front wheel and TT helmet.

    About the time I began to feel normal again. I strained my back lifting something stupid. Two more uncomfortable weeks. The back is almost normal again.

    Last week my eye became infected somehow and I battled that for a week or so.

    I've been able to train and race through much of the spring, so my form is pretty good. I was happy to finally be training and racing pain-free this weekend.

    On this morning's ride I broke a rear derailleur cable about mid-ride. Shimano cables need frequent replacement and I didn't do a very good job of it. Oh, well - a good excuse for some good muscle tension training.

    After the ride I went to Bike Tech to get a new cable installed. While replacing the cable, Lou found a big crack in my Specialized Tarmac SL frame! It's on the downtube about 2 inches above the bottom bracket (about where the internal lug would connect to the tubing). It couldn't have been there very long because I'd have seen it while cleaning the bike. It looks like the type of crack that could cause a serious problem if it decided to suddenly fail. It would be a cat's ass trophe for sure.

    Now I'm not sure if I'll be racing on Monday and don't really have a plan for what to ride in the immediate future. If I'm lucky, Specialized, a first class company from what I can tell, (are you reading Specialized? You guys are the best. A really, really great outfit. Best damned bike company in the world is what I always say.) will replace the frame. I haven't crashed it since I bought it. If not, I'm screwed. Guess I'll be riding the black 1983 Cannondale 3.0 series I have on the trainer in the basement. It has Suntour Superbe Pro components! And down-tube shifters! Eight gears, I think.

    Here she is, but this one's a lot better looking than the one in my basement:

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Great Form

    I have no idea why, but my legs are super this week. Mondays hill repeats were easy and I broke all sorts of personal records on my little test hill. Yesterday's 90min tempo ride was a no-chainer. Today I got on the computrainer to do 1-hr tempo. My last 45 minutes normalized power was 265 watts. Thats an IF of 0.92 based on what I thought my FTP was (I'm now sure my recent estimates have been low).

    This is the sort of week that sends you to your training log to see what the heck caused it. I couldn't find anything significant. I've had a solid spring, but nothing exceptional. On Saturday I raced in the masters Georgia state championship RR. It was pretty well attended by strong riders - more than a couple strong cat 1s and very strong masters veterans. I had my arse handed to me, making a short day of it (90 min - some of it at pretty high intensity).

    My best guess is that the old rule that to taper you need to cut back on volume and keep the intensity high is accurate. That's sort of what I've done lately. Problem is, I'm not trying to taper for anything. Guess I'll just enjoy the good form on training rides.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009


    I just noticed this is my 200th blog post - interesting.

    Checked my season mileage a minutes ago. Last year on May 12th I was at 4399 miles. This year I'm at 4362. I need to find 37 miles somewhere to catch up.

    Friday, May 08, 2009


    If TT stuff interests you, then you'll probably enjoy this blog post by Alex Simmons. It describes his coaching of Jayson Austin, a masters athlete, for the Australian 1-hour record. Bradley McGee holds the Australian record, but Jayson established the 2nd best distance with 10% less power than our man Chad Davies can hold for an hour. Chad, maybe there is a record attempt in your future if you can turn your self into a human bullet and afford a front Zipp disc?

    Alex was a strong time trialist when he hit a newly installed and unmarked bar-gate on his regular training route a couple of years ago. He lost his leg due to the crash but has battled back to ride again.

    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    A Cure-All for the Hypochondriac

    It appears that I'm guilty as charged: hypochondriac. Twice in one week, no less.

    On Thursday of last week, I was reaching out to lift my bike out of the back of my XTerra and I tweaked my back. At least tweaked is what I thought at first. Two hours later I was dreading walking to the coffee pot at work due to the severe pain. Thursday night I barely slept because every time I moved I woke up.

    Friday was a little better, but I was extremely doubtful that I'd be able to get into TT position and put out any kind of power for Saturday's time trial in Juliette. Saturday morning things felt OK. After 45 minutes on the trainer, I loosened up. The back didn't bother me much during the race. I had sort of been cured by the bike, I guess.

    Sunday morning I performed the ultimate stupid move. I picked up a big 50-pound potted plant and carried it to the truck (a task I would have thought impossible 48 hours prior). It didn't hurt much at first. But throughout the day it got worse. By Monday morning it was worse than the prior Thursday morning. By Tuesday morning it was a little better. A painful, short, easy ride Monday afternoon confirmed that Tuesday Night Worlds was probably out of the question for this week.

    Arriving at TNW I still thought I'd have to tool around with a slower group. But with eight teammates there, I had to at least start out with the group, right? As I rode, my back started to loosen a bit. As the effort increased, the pain did not, so I kept riding - staying seated and maintaining a high cadence to minimize torque, both of which seemed to help minimize what by then was only minor discomfort. By the end of the ride only a hint of soreness remained. My back felt better than it had since Saturday.

    So I confess to being a hypochondriac regarding my back, I guess. I really did think I couldn't ride both times. And both times I was cured by the bike.

    Ron Hill doled out a little nugget of his aged wisdom as we started out on Tuesday. When I said I didn't want to ride hard enough to mess up my back, he said, "It's hard to mess anything up on the bike." Wisdom - and truth.

    So add "bad back" to the long list of mental and physical ills that can be cured by the bicycle. But it would still be a good idea to avoid large flower pots.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Ah Ha!

    I feel dumb for not figuring it out before now. Over the winter I made some TT position adjustments, but nothing drastic. I lowered my bars about a centimeter. And I switched stems - same length and angle, but went to a Thomson stem, which has a much narrower witdth at the handlebar clamp than my old one. When I was switching stems, I thought, 'this would be a good time to flip the little clamps that hold my aerobars to my base bars.' That will allow me to move the aerobars closer together and narrow my position.

    So I did both. I added a narrower stem and flipped the clamps. I used to be able to sit a water bottle on the top of my front tire while warming up on the trainer. My aerobars were just the right distance apart and just the right height above the tire to hold the bottle. After the adjustment, I couldn't even come close to getting a bottle between the bars, but it felt ok, so I went with it.

    Well, I think the narrow arm position, while aero, I'm sure, limited my leverage at the front end and drastically reduced my power output. Think about trying to crank out lots of wattage if you can only grab the stem on your bike with both hands while pedaling. That's an extreme example, but it's sort of what I was trying to do.

    I haven't done any power testing, but based on how I felt on my first TT ride after widening the bars, I think I'm onto something. Wider bars, 1cm higher bars, and seat forward 2cm to open my hips a little more: hopefully those changes will combine to bring my TT mojo back. I hope so, because it really sucks being slow.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    I am a Homosexual Communist Yankee.

    Where to start?

    First, I’ll say that the stretch of Silver Comet Trail between Rockmart and Cedartown is a rare gift to cyclists that I had not before experienced. A 10’ strip of concrete laid out among some of the most pastoral landscapes in Georgia. I rode it on a 75-degree sunny Thursday afternoon when there was rarely a soul to be seen on that stretch -- just cows, squirrels, and the occasional sluggish snake. I’m going to go back there – it was too good a ride not to repeat. I might also call the Path Foundation to find out who was most responsible for establishing that section of trail. They deserve a thank you letter.

    Now for the other part of my afternoon tale:
    “blah, b-blah, b-blahblahblah, FAGGOT COMMIE” from the one in the passenger seat. “Go home YANKEE BASTARD” from the one in the truck bed. Wow. Impressive. Perfect images of redneck anti-cyclists were made flesh before mine eyes. They were either more quick-witted than the average fat rubes or had practiced the insults in the mirror of their F-350 for weeks to get it juuuust right. Whatever the case, I was surprised and amused all at once as they hauled ass away, delivering enough black smoke out of the 6” tailpipe of the monster truck to prompt an edit of “An Inconvenient Truth.”

    I’d like to investigate the motive, but first allow me to address my accusers.

    Homosexual. I readily admit that from time to time I am overcome by the bulging, ripped, muscular gluteus maximii of my Security Bank teammates, covered by only embrocation and a fraction of a millimeter of lycra, ripping up Pate Hill. But I really, really, really like girls. A lot. So I think the gluteus thing must be more power envy than desire to bed a Banker. I’m sure there are homosexuals in the peloton, but as long as they don’t grab my ass or half-wheel me in a group ride, I really don’t care who they snuggle up with afterwards.

    Communist. The guy must have been over 40, because I perceive “commie” to be a very 1980s flavor of insult – you know: Reagan, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” and all that? Well, there was the time that, after a half bottle of Jack Daniels, I thought about giving all my crap to my neighbor, riding my ‘cross bike to Crater Lake, starting a bike taxi service, and living on Gu in an abandoned school bus. But when I sobered up, I realized that I really like all of my stuff and would like very much for it to remain mine. I might even like to have more stuff one day. A die-hard capitalist with moderate tendencies? Yes. A communist? Not so much.

    Yankee. Hmmmm. That one’s pretty funny. I do live north of Macon. But I’ve heard tell that my great grandfather went quite a bit out of his way during the (not so) Recent Unpleasantness to kill as many Damn Yankees as he possibly could before turning 17 and enduring reconstruction eating sweet potatoes three meals a day in a 2-room dirt-floor cabin after Bill Sherman made his brutal march and killed all the family livestock. In 2009 Monticello may be a lot of things, but a Yankee hangout it is not. So I think I’ve established that insult as more than a little hollow.

    So why was I the target of the unprompted verbal salvo by the big bubbas? I wasn’t even on THEIR road – I was on a prissy little big-city funded side trail and completely out of their precious way. Funny thing is, I can shift pretty smoothly from cyclist to redneck when I want to. I guess that makes me a double agent? I hunt, drive a truck (sort of), eat cornbread, drink sweet tea, and can talk real rural like. I think Lewis Grizzard was great and that the SEC can kick the PAC 10’s ass. So what’s the root of his hostility?

    Maybe they saw my chiseled calves and thought I’d steal their women? I’ve got news for them: I’ve got a woman that is, by observation and by definition, smarter and finer than anything they could ever lure into the black hole of enlightenment they call existence. So there’s no threat to them there.

    Maybe they want all the 2010 earmark money for more lanes on Highway 278. Maybe they thought I might use my faggot wiles and communist trickery to successfully lobby for more miles of trail, taking their tax money and limiting them to four lanes, requiring them to slow to 80 mph the next time three people decide to drive from Rockmart to High Point in the same afternoon.

    Or maybe they are simple prudes. Maybe the sight of my gleaming bare flesh and the bulges in my bibshorts reminded them of their mothers’ beating the crap out of them for looking at girly magazines before they turned 35 and finally moved away from home.

    Hmmm. I seem to have mentioned glutes, calves, and bare flesh a lot – maybe I’m seeing a common thread here?

    Whatever the reason, they can both kiss my narrow ass, because although there are many that feel and act exactly as they do, the fact that I can ride from Rockmart to Cedartown and beyond on a path dedicated to cyclists and other non-motorists, built partly with our precious transportation funding proves that they are beginning to lose the battle. There are people in Polk County, even a few heterosexual capitalist southerners, who like the Comet; they appreciate it and support it. Thanks goes out to all of them. I know it’s not so easy to be on that side of the argument. And I don’t mean to pick on Rockmart and Cedartown. The situation is similar throughout these parts.