Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton

Coach Kurt Chacon's Videos Are Now On Our Webpage!

Click on this link and you will better understand our holistic approach to a better body for better cycling!

Coach Wharton

Texas Time Trials in Glen Rose, September 2014: An Exercise in TEAM BUILDING and EXECUTION.

Anyone who tells me they got where they are on their own, with little or no help from anyone else, is someone I have a hard time believing. We are ALL products of our culture and our environment. Our parents, our friends, our extended families, all interact  with each other and in the general society to affect our outcomes and our probabilities. The theme I love to consider is the allegory "A Butterfly's Flap in Brazil Can Cause a Tornado in Texas." And while it's a metaphor, there's definitely some truth to it all. I'm certainly no exception. 

This weekend's Texas Time Trial event was held in Glen Rose, roughly 80 miles away from Dallas, which is just far enough to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and highways, but is also close enough that you can make a repeat trip, or do a full day's work and still get out of town and arrive before it gets too late. Glen Rose is home to two great events, the Paluxy Pedal, which is coming up in a few weekends, and last weekend, the TTT, which hosts a 1-lap, a 6 hour, a 12 hour, a 24 hour, and a 500-mile event. The course for this past weekend was a 26.5 mile loop, and given the topography of the area, for Texas, it was an incredibly hilly challenge! Each lap covered 1100 feet of climbing, with gradients surpassing 8%, and the condition of the roads, especially in the first half of each lap, was enough to leave shoulders aching and butts sore. Still, over 300 people attended the event, which only grows in popularity, as these "Ultra" events draw larger crowds of people, most of whom are LESS serious, and just look forward to good rides on a great course, with company. Sure, it's a competition, but it's about pushing yourself as much as anything, and letting the environment, your fitness, and your enthusiasm dictate the results. 
I got in to Ultra Cycling at the behest of a friend and client, Michelle Beckley. Michelle is a complete Force of Nature, with a fantastic personality, a bombastic nature, great wit and intelligence, and a level of intelligence and social critique not unlike George Carlin's. Once, earlier this year, she gave me the highest form of flattery, by telling me that I was like the brother that she never had. It made me feel so WARM inside. And honestly, I felt the same way. I've never had a sister, and outside of a cousin whom I was close to in my 20's, I've rarely had female friends that weren't girlfriends. Michelle opened up a new world of friendship, and she came along at the perfect time, since we were both going through rocky times in our marriages and relationships, around 2010, and we started going on these road trips in 2011 that just cemented the friendship, left us laughing and crying and solving the world's problems despite its' best efforts, that the miles just floated by, and the radio strangely never once turned on. 

I crewed for Michelle on two events, and in late 2012, she invited me along to attempt my first 12-hour TT in Glen Rose, which I won through sheer tenacity, since it rained, the ENTIRE time. The next year, as we had all dedicated 100% of our time to the success of the studios, I attempted it again, only to fail, as I was unfit, unprepared, and had no real strategy or plan. After 100 miles (I didn't even succeed in completing four laps), I threw in the towel, and instead gave my support to Coach Tracy as she and another client, Melissa Rodriguez, raced the 1-lap. Still - we fell in love with the event, the course, and the challenge, and I swore that I would attempt it in 2014, better prepared than ever. 

That's where Michelle comes back in to the picture. Michelle began dating a guy in 2012, and through the past three years, we've really come to appreciate Martin's desire not to compete, but to support. Martin brings and Englishman's sense of organization to the entire affair of an Ultra Cycling Event, and his ability to read his racers' mentalities at different times is spectacular! Together, Michelle and Martin have, in the past two years, lent their support, separately and together, to TWO RAAM efforts, a crazy race across the western half of Texas, and of course, the Texas Time Trials. They recently traveled together to England, Martin's native land, and it's been rumored that they held a Celtic Union Ceremony at a Secret Henge, famous for its' cryptic runes and Solstice Stones! :) 
This year's Texas Time Trials was the culmination of four years or more of Michelle and Martin's work. They planned the support for people from around Texas, around the country, and they even ended up providing support to an international Ultra Cyclist, who would have literally been on his own without them. Michelle has been suffering from some hormone and thyroid issues, so her race was placed on the backburner as she did an obligatory lap, and then settled in to her role as partner in Martin's Wonder Tent. Together, they helped almost a dozen athletes, some connected to Cycling Center Dallas, some complete strangers, with food, water, sports drinks, equipment, recovery, cooling, resting/sleep, massage, just about anything one could ask for as they attempted to conquer this course and these times. Here's a breakdown of my own experience with these two, before, during, and after the race. 

As a 12-hour event racer, I started off waking up around 4am, eating a full Breakfast Fajita from Sonic, two cups of coffee, and then making my way down to the tent. To my surprise, Martin, who had stayed up ALL NIGHT to cover the cyclists out on the course, doing their 24 hour or 36 hour events, was joined by ANOTHER client and friend, Meghan Birmingham. Meghan is a talented cyclist with untapped potential, and upon our suggestion, she took it upon herself to DRIVE DOWN TO GLEN ROSE, AFTER a Friday night commitment (She's a Violist with the Dallas Grand Opera), and she did her part to help Martin get through a long, muggy night. She actually ended up staying until late in the morning or early afternoon, and was a critical element in the first half of my race. 
So here you are, with volunteers, some of whom are family, some of whom are friends, and many of whom are actual strangers, getting together for a common purpose - to ensure that their athletes and family members involved in the event stay fed, hydrated, conscious, are put down on mats to rest if necessary, perform minor to moderate maintenance on bikes, lights, kits, helmets, etc. They have to be on their toes and stay sharp mentally, so that they're ready with every lap. 

Sadly, Michelle only lasted one lap, but she immediately swung in to "Mother" mode, as she and Martin, along with Meghan for the AM and Lee Ann, a friend from Wisconsin, combined resources under two tents, three cars, four folding tables, and EIGHT bike racks, to cover all of these racers. At one point, they had about 12 competing racers that they were assisting. Their payment? Several placings, including my own First Place, followed by multiple high fives, a few thank you's.... and then, like the wind, the majority of the racers simply disappeared, off to their rooms for showers and recovery in prep for the Awards Ceremony. Tracy and I quickly got them regrouped and we all worked to help these two priceless individuals get all the tents folded and descended, get the chairs put away, the tables folded up, and the bike racks taken care of. It really upsets me when people come with expectations that they're going to be coddled. I don't mind that at the studios, where it's my job to ensure that everything is taken care of, from setup to teardown, but out on an event, where help is actually akin to a natural resource, everyone has to chip in and do their part. Martin and Michelle did the majority of it, but NO ONE could have had much success without their willingness to give up a weekend of riding, and instead count minutes, Calories, Ounces of fluid, other racers, monitor radios, provide first aid, and the ever-present encouragement that comes from the sidelines. 

In a word - they COACHED. Martin and Michelle COACHED. They MADE the weekend. They got assistance from Meghan and Lee Ann, but they COACHED. They had clipboards with lap splits. They had a Race Plan for EACH RIDER. They had SEPARATE CONTAINERS OF FOOD AND DRINK. They had us keep our wrappers in our pockets, and when we came in for Pit Stops, they pulled the wrappers, replaced them with more food, and then counted the calories consumed. They recorded average power, average lap splits, Ounces of hydration, etc. They kept me cool with 1-Gallon bags of ice that had the corners nipped, so that when the stuff melted, it would melt down over my back. They replaced my helmet. They replaced a wheel that I felt was giving me too much trouble as the wind grew. They secretly counted the minutes between their athletes and their athletes competitors, and knew when to challenge us, and when to remain silent. They were positive. They took the longer-distance cyclists and put them down on a cot so they could sleep. They TIMED the sleep. They RECORDED the sleep. When a cyclist came in with a bleeding elbow, they pulled out a full med kit and helped calm the athlete while wrapping it up. They were the leaders, the managers, the coordinators, the cheerleaders. They sacrificed mental and physical energy and sleep so that WE could compete. They made it so that ALL we had to do was just... Ride. 
I've been a professional coach since 1993, and have spent many a time in their position, but this may have been the first time in recent history that I truly was on the receiving end of something so powerful. Michelle, Martin, Meghan, Lee Ann, and several others transferred that energy to myself and the other competitors, and in the end, it wasn't just my victory. It was a TEAM victory - I just pedaled. 

So here's to the CYCLING CENTER DALLAS TEAM. Thank you for being such great crew and coordinators, thank you for COACHING me through this, and thank you for ALL you've done over the years to make this weekend so successful. A famous quote from Dr. Charles Garfield, a well known Sports Psychologist is, "It's not the night before that matters, but ALL of the nights before that." Martin, Michelle, Meghan, Lee Ann, the Race Directors, and many, many others, made this weekend successful, and it was their consistency and preparation that made the difference. I remain grateful, and I am flattered to have been YOUR athlete and student this past weekend. Here's to MANY, MANY more success stories, with you as Cycling Center Dallas athletes, AND Coaches. 


Coach Wharton

Power First, THEN Cadence -- Training for Climbs at Cycling Center Dallas

You know - in Texas, we're pretty lucky. We have endless miles of roads, most of them flat or rolling, and our idea of 'Hills" or "Hilly Terrain", usually means no more than about 2 or 3 minutes of suffering, max. Sure, if you head out to Ft. Davis, there's a couple of good, steep climbs that will certainly challenge you, but let's face it - we don't live in the Rockies or the Appalachian Range. I WISH we did, but hey. We still have great rides in all the Cardinal Directions, and favorable weather most of the time, to boot. 

However - the course we've selected for next month's "Ride With Richard" Rally, the Paluxy Pedal, has - what could be called in North Texas - Hills. Here's the Vertical Profile.

Paluxy Pedal Vertical Profile

Now, I'm not too concerned with the part in the middle - that LOOONG climb up toward the steep stuff. I'm more concerned with helping you train for all of those LITTLE, SMALL, SHORT, SHARP bumps that are all over the first part of this map, and near the end. Those are the hills that will eat in to you, rob you of precious energy, slow you down, and make you anxious. They're especially mean if they occur early and late in a a ride, like this one. 

Well, let's look at a few things together, shall we?

FIRST - If you've been training with us at Cycling Center Dallas for the last few weeks or longer, you know that YOU ARE GOING TO BE PREPARED! 

SECOND - We are training to help raise your power output, i.e. - your wattage. More POWER means that you'll climb faster, which means that you'll be done quicker. 

THIRD - Remember when we use "COURSE MODE" in our workouts?! Well, we are training for SLOPE as well as POWER. SLOPE, however, requires a new trick, and that is CHANGING GEARS and CADENCE. 

Remember our most fundamental metric - "FTP" or "Functional Threshold Power". That's the AVERAGE POWER that you can generate over 60 minutes. It's on your dashboard. You look at it every time you ride at Cycling Center. When we spend time ABOVE it, we're working on ways to RAISE it. When we spend time BELOW it, we're riding efficiently. MOST of the time, we're working on intervals at higher cadences, and I still believe in cadence work with wattage. BUT, we also need to work with cadence and SLOPE when we're climbing, and fortunately, there's this little web page that can help us understand just what's required, in terms of cadence and power. 

Rob Kitching at has created a TON of great work for cyclists, so much so that we've actually hired him to build our updated Rider Results Page! We've got a lot of plans for projects together that we won't worry about here, but for now, head on over to this page, and have your bike handy...

When you get there, you'll see some great script explaining what the page does and how it works, and you'll have about 7 different blank boxes that allow you to modify the results at the bottom of the page. 

When you're ready, enter the numbers like this...
  1. Enter your FTP in the box for "Sustainable Watts".
  2. CdA stands for 'Coefficient of Aerodynamic Drag" - basically, it tells you how much air you're displacing when you're moving. Use the drop down and switch to 'Hoods", which will move the box next to it over to '.350'. 
  3. Now, this part is metric, but if you'll take your body weight, add twenty pounds to get an estimate of your bike's weight with bottles and such, and then divide that number by 2.2, you'll get your weight in Kilograms. Round up or down, and enter that value. 
  4. For Chainring, take a look at your bike first. Look at the INNER chainring. It's usually either a '39' or a '36' or a '34'. MOST of the bikes these days come with 39-tooth chainrings up front on the inside, but shine a light on your bike and look for a number stamped in the metal. Enter that value in the next box.
  5. For Tyre radius, most of the world uses 700x23, but you can look on the side of your tire to get specifics. 
  6. Crank length is critical, so look REALLY HARD at the bottom of the crank, near where the pedal attaches, for a number, like 165, 170, 172.5, or 175. Place that number in the Crank Length box.
  7. Finally, show output in "Cadence". 
  8. Then, click "Calculate"!
What you'll get is a VERY detailed analysis of your SPEED (in Km/Hr) and CADENCE, based on SLOPE. You'll also notice that it starts at 5%, and this is because that's the incline where gravity really starts to take over for speed and inertia, and you end up spending more energy fighting the hill, instead of fighting air resistance. The steeper it is, the slower you'll go, and the more energy is spend on slope.

Here's one that I did, just to get us started on an example. 

Notice that at 6% slope, depending on where my chain is on the rear cassette, I'm pedaling at between 68 and 87 rpm. If the slope goes up to 8%, then my cadence drops to between 54 and 69 rpm. Now, think about the intervals that we do when we are in what I'll call 'Fixed Gear' mode. We're usually at about 80-100 rpm. The intensity is the same, but the cadence is MUCH higher. However, when we hit slopes, which are 'real world', well, cadence comes down. 

Let's take this even further, shall we? 

Let's play with the Sustainable Watts. We'll be climbing at 120% of FTP or more, so let's add some real intensity to the climb. Let's also use a more realistic crank length for me, which is 170mm, and see what that does for us. 

Notice how my cadence at 6 and 8% went up? Notice how my speed rose as well? Now - remember how long those INTERVALS AT 120% were, the last time you attempted them? You KNOW you can do the INTENSITY, now, let's use our GEARS, to get the best CADENCE, so you can climb it at the smartest VELOCITY!

You can also use this page to play a LOT of 'What If's', like figuring out what can happen when you increase your power, change crank lengths, lose weight, change tires, move positions... all of it. Me? Well, yeah - like everyone, I want to lose a little weight. Let's say 6 pounds, which is about 3 Kilos. Let's see what that does...

Cadence goes up, as does speed, although you're a lot more likely to feel the cadence than the velocity. But yeah - it does matter. 

Go ahead and play with the gears, chain rings (it just occurred to me that maybe some of our lower FTP riders may have a prevalence of 34's...), and write down the cadence values or print the screen and bring them to class. We'll then come up with plans for the rolling hills of the Paluxy Pedal, further helping you roll your way over hill and dale, with greater Stamina, Strength, Speed, Skill, Confidence and Competence. All courtesy of your coaches at Cycling Center Dallas!!!

Coach Wharton

Listen to Your Heart, but WATCH Your WATTS!!!

Take a look at this chart. We've got a good workout from Paul Dybala, a client at the White Rock Lake location. What's interesting is that if you look at the red line, which displays heart rate, you'll see a minimal trend of rising intensity, but it sort of plateaus, both on range and max/min for each interval. However, if you look at the Watts, in light blue, well, it goes UP, and UP, and UP! But HR doesn't show you that. 

For decades, Heart Rate was viewed as the primary indicator of fitness. Zones were developed, based on good science, to indicate levels of intensity and fitness results. But with HR, intensity was just too vague to account for quantifiable values. Again - look at the chart. Heart rate range between intervals was pretty similar each time, and yet, wattage went up - significantly. Not even cadence changed all that much for the intervals themselves.... 

What does it all mean??? Well, for one thing... While you can get a good idea of your workout intensity from Heart Rate... you'll get a more acute sense of your work, with Wattage. Secondly - while Heart Rate Monitors can be purchased for around $50, Wattage meters, which WERE once in the stratosphere in terms of cost, continue to decline in price, while remaining both accurate and consistent. This image shows the successful merge between the Physics of Wattage, and the Physiology of Heart Rate. You can't have one without the other, but it's the Wattage that determines the success of your workout - with heart rate alone, you're just not getting the full picture. 

Stay tuned, though. Cycling Center Dallas is working with a MoxyMonitor, to measure Muscle Oxidation levels and Total Hemoglobin, which, when combined with wattage, will yield a TRULY complete picture of the cyclist, inside, and out, in real-time. 

Curious? Come by for a visit, or register at for your first class - it's free, and you'll leave smarter, and more driven, to achieve your fitness goals with us. I promise. 

Coach Wharton

Those Critical First 15 Minutes After a Workout - Post-Exercise Recovery: Nutrition

That's Our Motto! "Leave With Nothing Left!"
Everyone here knows our motto reads, in bright green Neon letters... 


The workouts are hard, they are based in scientific theory and application, and they lead to great results. But until recently, Cycling Center Dallas was not placing much more than a verbal emphasis on the importance of a good, nutritious, calorie-dense, recovery. 

Recovery from exercise is almost as important as the exercise itself, because it's in those critical minutes, when our body begins to back off metabolically, that it realizes the effects of the workout. When we work out, we create trauma. It's not a bad thing, it actually helps us develop more and better muscles, it helps us keep our bones from getting too brittle, and of course, it keeps the mind sharp. But the key is in the recovery - microtrauma begets muscle repair and improvement, so that the NEXT time, and the NEXT time, and the NEXT time after that, doing that same level of work, will be easier, and won't be as stressful. If you want to ensure that the NEXT time you ride, you'll be even more prepared, well, you need to do take advantage of two windows of opportunity: the first 15 minutes after a workout, and then the first hour after that. We'll focus on the first 15 minutes, because that's a harder goal to achieve. 

Getting quality protein, fluids, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids back in to the body quickly after a workout is the key to progressing from a state of Catabolism - where your body kinda eats itself and robs itself of minerals and nutrients from one organ to another - to Anabolism, where it begins to repair, recover, and figure out how to make that muscle BETTER for the NEXT TIME it's used like that. 

But what's the best mix of carbs, protein, minerals, vitamins, Amino Acids, etc.? Well, it starts with Carbs. Research has shown that ingesting about 0.5 to 0.7 grams per pound of body weight. So for me, at 160 lbs or 72.7kg, that's a whopping 80 grams of Carbs, at least! Then, look at protein... you'll want maybe half as much protein as carbs. So 40g of carbs would work. 
Think about it - you're at the studio, or you've just rolled up to your car after a long, hot, hard ride. It's hot. You've got salt rings on your jersey. There's nothing left in your water bottles. There's snot on your bike gloves. You're cooked. Everyone wants to either stand around and shoot the bull, or hang out and maybe talk about the ride, but the clock is already ticking. It's time to ACT.
Start off by ALWAYS being prepared. Pick up one of these blender bottles at your local health food store. I prefer this brand, but it doesn't matter. You just want something that will allow you to shake up a quick drink. 
Igloo coolers with blue ice are great for recovery drinks
Then, think about that old cooler that's stuck in a corner of your garage or pantry. It doesn't have to be large, it doesn't have to really work all that well - it just has to keep things cool enough that they won't spoil for the duration that you're out on a ride, and the interior of your car gets hot. Fill it with your blender, the recovery drink powder of your choice, and an 8-16 ounce container of water, milk, almond milk, rice milk, or chocolate anything, and then get one of those blue ice thingies. Boom, you're done. Take it with you when you travel to to a ride, and as soon as you're done, open up, and start playing bartender. 

We trust Stacy Sims and OSMO Nutrition.
Now, if you know me, you know how crazy I am about Stacy Sims and her product line, OSMO nutrition. Stacy's got stuff for pre-ride hydration and cramp prevention, she's got a drink mix that you can use when you're on the bike, and she's also got a recovery powder. I trust her research, I trust her production, I trust her team, and I relay that trust to my clients, both at the studios and around the world. So the next time you come to the studio, pick up a bottle of OSMO Recovery Drink, and try it with chilled almond milk. You'll feel better knowing that it's the NEXT STEP NECESSARY to better workouts and improved performance. 

Recovery Immediately With Osmo Acute Recovery and Almond Milk. YUM!
In fact - I've taken a leap here, and decided that this is just too important a step to ignore. I'm now offering, at the Richardson location first, CUSTOM BLENDED OSMO ACUTE RECOVERY DRINK, AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY, POST-RIDE. So as soon as your eyes uncross from that last interval, and you're able to clip out, you'll have the option, for $3.25 with tax, to suck down 12-20 ounces of OSMO ACUTE RECOVERY, mixed with chilled almond milk. It's what you'd do after a ride outside, and it's what we'll be offering from here on out at Cycling Center Dallas. 

We'll be discussing other things around recovery post-ride, so stay tuned.

Coach Wharton

Looking at the PerfPro Dashboard, Part Two.

PerfPro Shows Watts, Goal and FTP

Okay - when we left off at the last posting, we were learning that for John Cyclist, 107% of 150 watts equaled 161 watts. So, if the CompuTrainer is giving you a LOAD or TARGET of 161 watts, well, you need to GENERATE WATTS at, or near, 161 watts. 

Now, if looking at numbers just isn't your thing, well, you're in luck, because Drew Hartman, the developer of PerfPro, has made it even easier to understand just what you need to focus on. Take a look...

A Full PerfPro Lap Dashboard
Here's a dashboard from a recent ride. Take a look. There is a LOT of STUFF going on!!!! But if you look on the LEFT side, you'll see "LOAD", which is the Power pushing AGAINST you, and you'll see "WATTS", which is the Power you're pushing back. LOAD or TARGET Wattage will never change color. BUT... "WATTS" can and will. Furthermore, if you look FURTHER DOWN, you'll see a HORIZONTAL BAR that is the SAME COLOR as the "WATTS" value. Do you see the Copper colors? 

PerfPro's Horizontal Bar is another way to display WATTS.
WATTS are displayed on the dashboard in both NUMERICAL and BAR CHART FORM. Depending on how far ABOVE or BELOW you are in terms of RANGE or PROXIMITY to the goal wattage, it will change colors. For kicks and giggles, here's an image of the range itself. 

PerfPro Cadence and Wattage Bar Colors and Ranges

So if it's GREEN, you're close enough to the goal. If it's COPPER, you're a little too hot, and if it's YELLOW, you need to pick up your effort a bit. BUT HERE'S A LITTLE SECRET...


PerfPro Horizontal WATTS bar in Copper or ORANGE.

Now - there's a little bit more to look at here, so bear with me. Do you see a small triangle on this image? That's the LOAD or GOAL wattage, identified by the pipper. 

PerfPro has a Pipper to symbolize LOAD or GOAL

As LOAD changes, the pipper will also move around. When the Horizontal bar is GREEN, it's right on top of the pipper. So as you go through your intervals, watch your power bar as it fluctuates near the pipper. As you become a better cyclist, your ability to hold wattage, and "STAY GREEN", will improve!

Average Watts per Interval is HERE.

Continuing down the list. THIS is something you should look at, because it displays the cumulative average power PER LAP or INTERVAL. In this example, the rider is generating 189 watts, but her LAP or INTERVAL average, is 175 watts. This HAPPENS to be 119% of FTP, which you can see in WHITE at the bottom. Furthermore, if you look to the right, you'll see...

PerfPro also shows average wattage per lap as at % of FTP.

SO... Going back to the countdown timer, if we look at the GOAL in terms of % of FTP.... 

PerfPro clock and timer

Well, in this case, the rider's AVERAGE POWER per LAP or INTERVAL, is about 3% above their goal. As a result, the HORIZONTAL BAR is COPPER colored, which means that they're a LITTLE HOT, and the CompuTrainer will be doing stuff behind the scenes to help the rider keep their wattage closer to the target. 

OH yeah - remember RRC? Well, when you calibrated... it saved the information, and it's presented, HERE.

In PerfPro if RRC: is GREEN, then it is GOOD!

Finally, take a look at this workout profile. It shows the workout, and the intervals as they rise and fall. LOAD or GOAL wattage will rise and fall for you, based on percentage of FTP, and it will be based on YOUR FTP. 

PerfPro Workout Profile
As the red line moves from left to right, your LOAD will increase and decrease, and you'll need to generate an equal number of WATTS, in order to achieve the training effect. 

That's about it for now - all you really need to remember is that MOST of the time, you just need to pedal. The CompuTrainer and your Coaches will do the rest. You'll be challenged like you wouldn't believe, but you'll also be able to literally watch your fitness improve in real-time, and you'll get the feedback you need to continue your improvement. When we revisit PerfPro, we'll talk about some of the other dashboard screens, and how you can use them to check on your results, progress, and reasses your goals as you raise your ability to pedal faster, pedal harder, and pedal longer than ever before!

Watts per Kilogram! 

-Coach Wharton

Coach Wharton

What To Look At, and What We Look For, on the PerfPro Dashboard, Part One

When cyclists come in to the studios, they're often quickly overwhelmed with the information they get, what it means, and how it affects their workouts, current, past, and present. I'm going to take the time today to show you one or two of the dashboards, and help you understand what's going on. 

First, remember - the workout is almost always PRE-PROGRAMMED. This means that most of the time, all you have to do is just warm up, calibrate (see previous post), and then PEDAL. As long as your speed is between 17 and 25 mph, which is where the Load Generator tends to work best, then the computer is in control, and soon you'll be breathing harder, pushing the pedals, and working to keep up. In fact, this is a GREAT place to start!

PerfPro Load Described
When the workout begins, you'll see a LOT of numbers doing a LOT of things. Let's try to Simplify them in order of importance. In Column 1, Row 1, below your name, you'll see EITHER the word "LOAD", or "GOAL". This is the WATTAGE that is being placed against the tire. It's the amount of POWER that you'll need to overcome. This is the LOAD or GOAL Wattage of each Interval.

PerfPro Watts is the Power that you Generate Against the Load.

One Column over, still in Row 1, you'll see "WATTS". This is the Power, or WATTAGE that YOU are Generating AGAINST that "LOAD" or "GOAL". Think of it this way: When "LOAD" is 100, you've got 100 watts pushing against you, and then you'll have to generate 100 watts. When "LOAD" goes to 150, YOU have to go to 150. 200? 200! It's a 1 to 1 ratio, and it ALL hearkens back to Sir Isaac Newton, and the THIRD LAW OF PHYSICS....

Which is....

"For Every Action - There Is An Opposite, and Equal, RE-Action!"

So when the Load Generator Generates a LOAD.... YOU must Generate POWER!!! 

Now, don't be upset if your "WATTS" end up fluctuating here and there. Humans are really NOT that great as engines, and keeping your "WATTS" in the "GREEN" Color, is not that big of a deal. Beginning cyclists will be a bit high, a bit low, repeat ad infinitum, until they become more adept as cyclists. This is ONE area where the cycling training that you do at Cycling Center Dallas, can give you an advantage. The LOAD is the same, all the way through the pedal stroke, and you can learn how to ride with a steadier power output, with fewer surges, over time. 

So remember - "LOAD" or "GOAL" is the Challenge, and "WATTS" shows you that you're meeting that CHALLENGE. 

Let's continue....

PerfPro Works best between 17 and 25mph.

I'm going to pass over RPM and HR, which stand for Revolutions Per Minute (or "Cadence"), and "Heart Rate". Those have their importance, but it's harder for us to get that information on the dashboard all the time, and they're such individual values, that I'd like for you to leave it up to us coaches to help you better understand what they mean and how to use them.

Instead, let's look at "MPH", or "Miles Per Hour".

I've said before that for a CompuTrainer, the Load Generator tends to work best between 17 and 25 MPH. To get to that speed, all you need to do is make sure you're in your BIG chain ring up front, and you're somewhere in the MIDDLE of the REAR CASSETTE in back. Remember - COMPUTRAINER SPEED IS NOT INDICATIVE OF THE REAL WORLD. IT MEANS NOTHING IN REGARDS TO YOUR FITNESS. WE DO NOT MEASURE DISTANCE TRAVELED OVER TIME. WE JUST USE MPH TO MAKE SURE YOUR LOAD AND WATTS ARE CLOSE TO 1:1, AND YOUR CADENCE IS RIGHT FOR YOU!!!!

Sorry to use all caps, but this is important. GEAR SELECTION is what determines SPEED in the studios at Cycling Center Dallas. Furthermore, for those of you who really think you're HOT DOGS and that RULES don't apply to you, well, we have a TRAP to ENSURE that you'll comply!!!! 

If MPH gets above 27mph..... well, no matter what your LOAD said the moment before.... the PerfPro Software get's ANGRY, and ADDS A TON OF WATTS to your LOAD!!! It will KEEP THIS LOAD ON THE WHEEL until you drop your WATTS back down a good bit, and to DO THAT, you'll need to SLOW DOWN. It's a GOVERNOR, to keep you compliant. GOT THAT? 17-25mph is best, and anything over 27 means you'll end up dragging cinderblocks until you break down and start weeping. 

Now - let's take a moment to look at another part of the Dashboard...
PerfPro FTP means "Functional Threshold Power"
Look to the RIGHT of the area where your name is. Do you see that acronym "FTP", it stands for "Functional Threshold Power". FTP is the ESTIMATED power that you can generate over 60 minutes. FTP is the UBIQUITOUS value that we focus on raising when we train. The more fit you get, the more watts you can generate over different and varying periods of time. Wattage Intensities that are ABOVE FTP, can, over different durations and levels above FTP, RAISE FTP. So ---- where are most of our intervals at Cycling Center Dallas performed??? You guessed it - AT or ABOVE FTP!!! If you don't know your FTP, well, don't worry. We test for FTP about every 2 months or so, and like the guys at the State Fair who can accurately guess your body weight, we've developed a keen eye for determining fitness and FTP. 

Now - here's one thing you need to know. If we're in Fixed-Gear mode, and shifting is not necessary, but you feel that an interval may be too hard or too easy, USE THE PLUS "+" or MINUS "-" buttons on the LEFT SIDE OF THE CONTROLLER, to RAISE or LOWER your FTP. FTP determines the intensity of each interval, and you can modify that value with those buttons. Now, you may ask... "What are we really changing with the raising and lowering of the FTP?" Well, that can be found, right HERE:

On the PerfPro Clock, % of FTP is what determines your "LOAD" or "GOAL" wattage
This is going to require a little juggling with the eyes, and maybe a little math, but have a look at this image. If Joe Cyclist has an FTP of 150, and the interval that he is performing has a "LOAD" set at 107% of FTP, then he's got to GENERATE... 161 WATTS for 2 minutes. The option for cadence is also there, but remember - Cadence is a bit personal, so we'll look at it on a more individual basis. Instead - look at the % of FTP, look at the remaining time, and then look at the "LOAD", and watch your "WATTS". As long as the "WATTS" color stays GREEN, more or less, you're ACCOMPLISHING the GOAL set out for you by the coaches. If the interval feels too tough... press the "-" button on the Controller, and DROP YOUR FTP a bit. If you want to challenge yourself, FIRST TALK WITH THE COACHES, but sure, go ahead and hit the "+" button a couple of times, and RAISE your FTP. 107% of 165 is... 177. Try THAT for 2 minutes, and then see how you feel!?

There is a LOT more information that I'll be sharing with you over the next few days and weeks, but let's call it a day for now. Remember that "LOAD" is the resistance the generator is placing against your rear wheel, "WATTS" is what you're generating against the generator :), and "LOAD" is based % of FTP, which you can control with the "+" and "-" keys. If your "WATTS" are more or less colored GREEN, then you're doing the workout properly. And remember - if you speed PAST 27mph.... the program will lay down some serious punishment until you back off. 

Until then, have fun, enjoy the workout, and don't forget to download your own copy of PerfPro Analyzer, which will give you the ability to keep your files on your own PC, and look at them in different ways, so you can assess your progress independently, or with the help of your coach. WATTS UP, GANG!!!!

Coach Wharton

What the Heck is Rolling Resistance (RRC), and Why do we "Calibrate" at Cycling Center Dallas?

CompuTrainer Calibration Starts HERE.
One of the most important things that we can do at Cycling Ctr., Dallas is make sure that every rider properly calibrates their Compu trainer. If a is not properly calibrated, then the values on the dashboard are not accurate. We strive to give you information on screen that is both accurate and consistent, so that we can ensure that you are improving. Calibration is a critical part of that.
The first thing that you can do to properly set up and calibrate your CompuTrainer is to start back at the area where the tire contacts the load generator. Make sure that your wheel is mostly centered on that steel cylinder in the back. Then, as you twist the four star dial to bring the load generator closer to the tire, once it makes contact, try to achieve a contact patch that is roughly the size of a nickel, or perhaps the with of your thumbnail. It is always better to start light, then to& too far into the tire, and make the contact patch to large. Always check the air pressure in your tires, and keep them at around 100 psi. Two estimate proper press on force, grab the blue or silver flywheel, and grab a spoke from the wheel, and to see if the tire will slip when you apply pressure up and down on the spoke. If it slips rather easily, add half a twist. If it is completely immovable, back off about a quarter twist. This should put you roughly in the proper place for rolling resistance and calibration accuracy.
Secondly, go ahead and throw a leg over your bike and begin warming up. In a previous blog, I highlighted the importance of a good warm-up, both for the body and for the equipment. When instructed, or when you feel that you have performed an adequate warm-up of roughly 5 to 15 minutes, look at the handlebar controller which should be in front, at roughly handlebar height. It is either yellow or gray. If the controller has the word "PRO" or "PROe" on the screen, then we are plugged into either PerfPRO or ergvideo, and we can effectively calibrate. Here's the process for that:
  1. Make sure that you are in a gear that will allow you to speed up beyond 25 mph.
  2. Press "F3", or, the CENTER BUTTON on the BOTTOM ROW. You should see the screen on the handlebar controller change from the word "PRO" or "PROe" to a speed. Go ahead and speed up by pedaling faster until you see dashes appear on the controller screen.
  4. Do not pedal! Instead, look at the handlebar controller screen. Ideally we want the top screen to read between a 1.8, and a 2.5. This is in pounds of pressure being placed against the tire. It is called press – on force. If the top number is above or below this range, call a coach over so that he or she may make adjustments to increase or decrease the force against the tire.
  5. If the top number is between the ranges of 1.8 to 2.5, press the bottom center button again, and look in the upper right-hand corner of your dashboard. The RRC value is interpreted as the rolling resistance calibration. If the value is green, and is between 1.8 and 2.5, then all is well. If there is a no reading, then you need to repeat the above process. If the top number is outside of that range, once again, get a coach to make the adjustments, do not hop off the bike and attempted your self, and repeat step three. Once you are in range, press that "F3" button in the bottom center row, and again, look at the dashboard in the upper right-hand corner.
CompuTrainer Handlebar Controller Press-On Force

Now, let's discuss the reason why RRC, or rolling resistance calibration is so important.
When you pedal a bike, you have to remember that rolling friction is always higher than sliding friction. This is what makes bicycles go forward. Without friction, we would all slip around as if we were on an ice-skating rink. When we ride outdoors, rolling resistance is much, much lower. That is because we have two contact patches of about 8 cm² each. The force required to move a bicycle wheel is somewhere along the line of I think 16 to 35 Watts combined.

When we are pedaling indoors, we are trying to get adequate friction against a small steel cylinder. That is why we have to set rolling resistance between 1.8 and 2.5 pounds of pressure. This actually sets your minimum rolling resistance, at anywhere between 60 and 100 W. Interestingly, if you notice during a workout that your minimum wattage when pedaling in a recovery, is higher than the minimum load being applied via the program, that is because of the rolling resistance calibration. It is nothing to worry about, and remember, we are there to burn energy and generate power. We are not there to coast.

Once you get comfortable with calibrating your you will begin to feel more confident in your ability to set up the bike and rear wheel properly. A proper rolling resistance calibration is critical to ensure good values, and a better workout. Sometimes we will ask you to calibrate twice, especially if you calibrate before warming up completely. And as a rule of thumb, you can assume that every .01 pound of pressure is worth one half of 1 Watt in terms of accuracy. Once Compu trainers have warmed up, they do not drift much at all, and their accuracy is within 1%. We have copy trainers in the studio's that are perpetually being rotated through to racer mate in Seattle for calibration with their machines. This is to ensure that your data remains accurate, consistent, and helps you improve your power output, your power to weight ratio, and measure your energy output.

Fore more in-depth information, I'm going to pull from the script itself, found in the CompuTrainer manual...

"An error during calibration of 0.01lb equates to a change in load of 1/2 W at a speed of 25 mph. You may wish to recalibrate more than once to confirm that your rolling resistance value is consistent to within .05 2.10 pounds. If the value continues to drop for two consecutive measurements, this indicates that the tire and load generator may not have yet reached a stabilized operating temperature. Continue to warm-up and repeat."

It is not necessary to have the same calibration numbers every time that you ride. Because rolling drag is always present, setting too much drag for a flat course can make your pedaling load feel like you are climbing a hill. Always set the press on force to a consistent range between 1.8 and 2.5. If you are dealing with a FTP that is lower, then you can get away with a lower RRC. The more fit you get, the higher we should probably set your RRC.

At Cycling Ctr., Dallas, when we use slope based intervals, we limit the grade 2 no more than 6%. If you are a fit cyclist, with a high FTP, then setting a press on force, or RRC, to about 3.00, is not inappropriate. Again, the lower your FTP, the lower you can set your RRC. Here's a table to help you out...

Fixed-Gear Workouts or Non-Slope Interval Workouts... Use an RRC of between 1.8 and 2.5lbs.
Slope Intervals up to 3% or Intervals with Sprints... Use an RRC that's higher, closer to 2.5lbs.
Slope Intervals up to 6%... You may set your RRC press-on force up to a 3.00...

Coach Wharton

Why We REALLY Want You to Show Up about 30 Minutes Early...

Everyone has been there before. You make a commitment to an appointment, and then something gets in the way that makes you run late. Traffic sucks, the lights are always red, there is an accident or a re- route, or you forgot something and had to turn around. But at Cycling Center Dallas, there are several important reasons why we schedule our classes when we do, and ask that you arrive as close to half an hour early as possible.
First and foremost, let's face it: getting a bike out of your car, putting the wheel back on, rolling it into a studio from a distance, and then getting it properly installed on a trainer, always takes time. While our coaches do our best to help cyclists with set up and tear down, it is important to remember that there are others who are attempting to do the exact same thing, and space is limited from the door to the back wall. Proper setup usually involves pumping up tires, making sure that you have enough water in your bottles, getting your shoes on, and if you are coming in from work, sharing our small space for bathrooms and dressing rooms. There's also the issue of our request that you purchase or use a steel skewer when you train with us. Those take time to install properly, and they must be checked like all bike equipment to ensure that they are properly fastened. So arriving 30 minutes early, allows us to account for many of the time delays that can pop up from the time you leave your car, to the time that we hit the start button.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that we really want to give you the free time necessary to successfully warm-up and prepare for the workout. Our intervals are never easy, and it is important to be ready for the efforts. If you arrive 30 minutes beforehand, take about 10 minutes to properly set up and arrange your bike and gear, and then throw a leg over and begin to warm up, this is an ideal opportunity to burn a few extra calories, and prepare both physically and mentally for the upcoming workout. It is also a great time to chat with other cyclists, make new friends, review some of the outside rides, and speak with your coach about questions or issues that you may have had either in the studio or on an outside ride.
The purpose of a warm-up is to raise the body's temperature, mobilize the joints, and raise the heart rate. Ideally, it will allow you to raise your heart rate to roughly 70 or 80% of Max, and in our studios, we do this through raising and lowering wattage. It's best to start low, and use the time to relax your mind, rotate your shoulders and neck, focus on some deep breathing, and really get into the flow of pedaling. If you have not yet had something to eat or drink, this is a great opportunity to consume a few calories so that they are absorbed and enter into the bloodstream prior to the workout. This is also a great time to check everything from the bike, to the body, to the mind, to the spirit. This is all connected and can help you get the most out of the upcoming intervals.
Finally, a proper warm-up is necessary for us to get proper calibration on our CompuTrainers. If you warm-up both machines (the body as well as the bike), you will ensure a better workout. We also calibrate twice in our programs, a few minutes apart, so that the temperature of the load generator as well is the temperature on the tire, stabilizes. You don't need to worry about this too much, our coaches will take care of it for you, but it always helps when you show up early enough that you can get a good warm-up in.
When we fly out of an airport, we always allow for ample time, just in case something occurs en route. Think about your goals at Cycling Ctr., Dallas, and think about your fellow cyclists. Let's all make sure that we show up early enough to properly help with set up, and then properly warm up, so that we can all get the most out of every ride!

Coach Wharton

Prepping for the Paluxy Pedal! Hilly Terrain and How to Conquer "THE WALL!"

Paluxy Pedal 66 Mile Route 2014
This month at Cycling Center Dallas, we will be focusing exclusively on helping our cyclists prepare for the Hills and Dales of the potluck seat pedal, which will be held October 4, down in Glen Rose, Texas. The route has changed somewhat in the last few years, as the Somervell County Sheriff will no longer allow the route to cross US Highway 67. In order to accommodate the riders and continue to take advantage of the great terrain out there, they have given us a great course with lots of rollers in the first half, and then a magnificent, challenging false flat climb back towards the town. Both the 65 milers and the middle distance cyclists, will also get to experience the challenge known as quote the wall". While the wall is billed as the steepest quarter mile in North Texas, it is a great opportunity for us at Cycling Center Dallas to help all of you prepare through our specialized training protocols.
Looking at the profile in a more detailed method, we agreed that the majority of the climbs were in the two minute range of duration. Furthermore, with the long false flat in the middle of the route, we have incorporated several longer duration threshold intervals to help our riders better prepare for the constant load that will be placed on them as they climb out on US Highway 147. Here are some examples of the training profiles.
Intervals to Help Conquer the Paluxy Pedal Rally
In this example, you can see that we have focused on multiple two minute intervals with two minute recoveries, and each interval in a set of four increases in intensity. These intervals will mimic the energy demands that can be required in the first 25 to 30 miles of the 65 mile route. We will also be challenging our clients by switching from what I call fixed gear mode, to course mode. In course mode, through PerfPro studio, we can set a slope, and the wattage goal is then independent of the cyclists power output. In other words, the cyclist has a goal, but the cyclist is required to achieve that goal through finding the right combination of gear, cadence, speed, and intensity. Cadence is compromised and it takes a fine touch to achieve the wattage goal for the interval.
Here, after a good warm-up, the riders are subjected to multiple one minute intervals, with intensities that are descending, and climbing. When we look at wattage training files from real world rides, the rides are often very stochastic in nature, but they tend to look almost like a cutlery set. There are steak knives, butter knives, and knives with serrated edges or flat tops, almost like a butcher knife. Coach Noel has built this workout to help cyclists become more savvy in their application of power, and also their ability to recover.
In this example, our coaches looked at the final quarter of the rally, and came up with some intervals that are both threshold and anaerobic or supra-aerobic in nature. The recoveries are a little bit longer, and the intensities are deceiving, because the duration in which the riders are working right at above their threshold, will have them tapping into their final energy reserves. Attempting this workout in the course mode is the ultimate challenge, and we urge you to sign up today so that you can witness the gains and learn the concepts of knowledge and power for yourself.
Now - here is the secret to "The Wall"! 

  1. STAY WIDE - FIRST TO THE RIGHT, and THEN, IF YOU CAN, GO LEFT! The route is slightly longer, but it's also a bit less steep. This is a good rule of thumb for any steep climb with turns - stay wide... it's worth the extra 10 feet or so.
  2. SHIFT IN TO AN EASIER GEAR EARLY!!! If you don't, all sorts of things can happen, including dropped chains, the inability to shift at all, broken chains, rubbing, just stuff you don't want to deal with. So shift with your left hand early, and use EVERY GEAR in your rear cassette. 
  3. PEDAL TO THE TERRAIN. Sometimes pedaling requires that you grind. Sometimes you can spin, and some times it's in between. FEEL the hill, and SHIFT to meet the slope.
  4. Stand when you have to, but when you DO stand, COMMIT to the CLIMB. Standing is more powerful, but it's also more taxing on your body. If you get out of the saddle, keep your chest out, your chin up, and your cadence steady.
  5. When seated, try to keep the front wheel lighter through less pressure. Less pressure gives you the ability to put MORE pressure on the rear wheel. You don't want to 'wheelie' up the climb, but just try to keep the gravity on the back end of the bike. 
  6. As mentioned earlier - focus on good form. Keep your back flat, your chest out, your chin up and looking at the Event Horizon, and keep your shoulders relaxed. You will NOT climb this at an epic pace. It's a grind. Watch the video for more pointers. 
  7. SMILE! Seriously - it releases better hormones and energy, and lowers your anxiety. 
  8. IF you have to dismount, make SURE you CLIP OUT EARLY, and GET YOUR BUTT between the SADDLE and the STEM. Bend the knee that is still clipped in, and land on your free leg's heel. That SHOULD translate to a safe dismount, but remember, a bicycle is most stable when it's moving, and that critical moment when you're balancing off of one pedal only can be hazardous. That said, if you train at Cycling Center Dallas ----- you SHOULD be able to climb it ALL THE WAY!!!

The Paluxy pedal is one of the best rallies of the year. It occurs at a time when the heat of summer has finally passed, and fall is in the air. Glen Rose is a beautiful little town, with some great restaurants, and the hospitality down there just cannot be beat. Fossil rim wildlife preserve is famous for its preservation efforts, and there are plenty of hotels where you can stay, and make a weekend of this great event. So join us at Cycling Center Dallas as we train for the terrain in Somervell County. You can sign up for the rally through this link, and you can register with us by clicking here.