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.