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SuHere are a few images from this morning's intervals.
The goal for these was the following:
- First 2 minutes at 90% of Critical Power (Threshold).
- The third minute at 95% of CP.
- Fourth minute right at 100% of CP.
- The fifth minute, we would rise above CP, and ride at 105%.
- Finally, in the sixth minute, the riders were set to ride at 110% of Critical power,
This was repeated four times, with 3 minutes of recovery in between.
Finally - the last interval for the day was 90 seconds at any intensity the riders felt like attempting. It's usually a good way to end with a bang!
The results were pretty nice - here are some images from riders as they completed the intervals.
The goal for the intervals was exactly what's being displayed; start below Critical Power, learn to persevere, then increase the intensity slightly, until it's either at, or just above CP. Time above CP is always limited, but it's good to spend time up there, and really stretch out the lungs as Vo2 drift occurs.
And that's the point - to get into Vo2 max areas of intensity. The workout is deceptively difficult, and now that the 7:30am class is undertaking it, they're a bit more awake and alive, and they're nailing it!
Suffer in the room, so you can enjoy the rides you take outside!
More to come!
As most of you know, I am always searching for ways to use technology so that we can better understand cycling fitness and performance. I’ve been using the Moxy Muscle Oxygen Sensor since 2014, and have developed some strong ideas about how its’ use in our studio can help us understand the following:
· Proper Warm-Up Procedures for maximal saturation and vasodilation.
· Fatigue when performing intervals.
· Glycogen Depletion and replenishment.
· The effect of intensity on muscles before, during, and after intervals.
· Recovery and Optimizing the timing of caloric replenishment.
As the Moxy became more common, Garmin got on board, and allowed their smart head units to accept SmO2 and ThB from Moxy’s on to the screen via custom fields, and once on screen, this data is now being recorded in the latest .FIT files, so it allows me the chance to look at information both acutely and empirically. Having these two data points, along with Heart Rate, Wattage, Cadence, Speed, Slope, and elevation, has really opened my mind towards just what is possible, and what isn’t.
Well, we can now add a new phenomenon to my amateur observations; what happens when a cyclist trains at low elevation, but competes at a significantly higher elevation.
On April 1st and 2nd of 2017, I traveled from my home in Dallas, TX (elevation ~430’ or 130m above Sea Level), to Ft. Davis, TX, to compete in a Stage Race known as the HammerFest. Last year, my wife and I traveled out two days early, and rode some, to try and adapt to the elevation (5050’ or 1540m) and dry air. I’ve raced and ridden out here enough to know that my performance definitely suffers, and the goal in the weeks prior to the event is to raise my Threshold as high as possible, while also trying to raise my Vo2max. It’s a tall order, but there have been years where I’ve competed well. That said, most of the time, it’s a real struggle, and I have to believe it has much to do with showing up just a day before the race, and making the first stage, my body’s introduction to strain at elevation.
Now, thanks to the Moxy, I think I have the proof.
In the weeks building up to the competition, my intervals routinely showed rising wattages, with SmO2 levels bottoming out in the 25% range, give or take. I’ve known athletes who were able to take their SmO2 values down to the teens and single digits, but they came from a power-lifting background, and tended to be on the heavier side; perfect for most Texas cycling, but not ideal for Ft. Davis.
On the morning of April 1st, however, when I performed my warmup, I was SHOCKED to see that my Moxy was reading in the MID 50% range, as soon as the signal was picked up by my Garmin 1000. At first, I felt this was a result of the low temperature, but as I went through my warmup, I saw that SmO2 would routinely drop down to 10% during my warmup efforts, but would rebound over time to a more-expected 70% or more.
Now, the first thing to consider is that during my warmups at lower elevation, I never began an interval set until my SmO2 would rebound to AT LEAST 85%, and as high as 92%. Furthermore, it takes me about 30-35 minutes to get my ThB values up to about 12.40. When I’m at both of those numbers, or close to them, I know I’m vasodilated, that my core temperature has risen, and my legs, at least (I measure at the Left lateralis), are ready for any efforts I throw at them.
On this morning, however, SmO2 never went above 79%, ThB never surpassed 12.34, and again, as soon as I put any real effort in to my surges, or the climbs, SmO2 dropped to between 8 and 15%, and ThB never changed.
Something was seriously off.
I finished the first stage, a Point-to-Point effort that climbed Mt. Locke, with three major climbs that finished at 6790’ (2070m), and was REALLY disappointed in my results. My watts were down, my cadence was low, I felt heavy and it felt like my legs were dead. As soon as the effort ended and I began to recover, my legs began to REALLY HURT, like I had just undergone a SEVERE resistance training protocol, with multiple sets of squats at high loads.
Disappointed as I was, I waited for my wife, who was also a bit disappointed in her performance, and we rode down together, to eat, recover, and prepare for the next stage, to be held that afternoon. Ironically, the physiological results of that stage were completely different, with an warmed-up average SmO2 in the 85% range, and a range-under-stress in the 30-45% range, which is MUCH more typical of my values during hard efforts. Furthermore, my ThB basically maxed at a stable at ~12.49, and the effort itself showed little change, around 12.00 or thereabouts. It did drop to 11.80-ish toward the end of the stage, but overall, my muscles “Felt” better, and I felt like I could challenge in the race. Now, it didn’t end up that way, but results aside, it’s the physiology that we’re studying in this post.
I’ll attach the files to the blog post if possible, and if not, I’ll try to set them up for download on Google Drive or something like that, for people to study independently, since, remember, I’m not a Scientist. I’m a hack.
So, what’s the lesson to be drawn from this? Without the Moxy, I never would have known just HOW IMPORTANT adaptation to elevation is for a cyclist, or any athlete’s, performance. During my first stage, I basically raced myself in to a deep state of muscle strain, and ended up sore for days afterward. Ironically, had I gone out on the Friday before the race, and actually performed some intervals of similar strain, I would have basically gotten through that penalty phase of adaptation, and would have been better prepared for the efforts at elevation on Stage 1. Who knows – I might have actually had an even better physiology for the 2nd stage, and would have been completely prepared for the third stage that was going to be held the next day. Sadly, a final winter rainstorm blew through the Davis Mountains overnight, and my wife and I both decided to skip a rainy, sleet-covered, 26 degree race with snow above 6000’ (1830m), and winds above 20mph. We’re both too old and cautious to try racing in those liminal conditions, especially when we know there’s really no financial reward to speak of, just a possible great story to be told from the ER.
The Moxy Monitor remains one of my most crucial elements for training and competition. Without it, I’m left guessing as to how ready my body is for work. I will definitely call off a training session if I see numbers that are ‘off’, and I also work hard, as a coach and as an athlete, to provide consistent, safe, effective protocols for warmup, hydration, and recovery.
Listening to your body is one thing; actually seeing it perform via wattage, heart rate, SmO2 and ThB, provides a holistic approach that is incomparable. I cannot WAIT to go back to elevation and ride – only this time, I’ll make sure I have an extra day squeezed in to actually perform some ‘elevation adaptation’ intervals, that will leave me more prepared to take on the slopes and loads required to achieve my best.
I was shocked to learn this morning that my first mountain bike instructor, and later, cycling hero and mentor, Steve Tilford, was killed overnight in a wreck outside of Grand Junction, CO. Apparently he and his friend were driving east-bound, when they were involved in a multi-vehicle wreck that left a semi tractor-trailer on its’ side, contents all over the road, perpendicular to the direction of traffic. As they were outside of the vehicle, assessing damage, and I assume figuring out if anyone else needed help, another Semi came upon the wreck and plowed in to everyone. Steve and the driver of the second Semi were killed. Tucker, his most recent beloved dog, disappeared in to the night, but I’ve learned recently that he was rescued. Thank God for small miracles in the face of such incredible tragedies.
My story regarding Steve began in the spring of 1993, when, after transferring to Montana State from Davidson, I was already tired of winter, and I attended the Specialized SuperCamp down in Tempe, Arizona. The camp involved 7 days of training in and around South Mountain Park. I was there with maybe 19 other people, 12 professional mountain bikers, and service personnel. I also got to meet Sally Edwards, the Heart Rate Guru, and we’ve remained friends ever since.
I followed the lines and corners and gear shifts and out-of-the-saddle moments and behind-the-saddle descents of all of the athletes, including Todd Wells, Ned Overend, and several others, learning how to use my body better, maintain traction, pedal for torque, keep my head elevated and observant of the event-horizon, read the trail, hydrate, and just improve. I loved every moment of it, but it was Steve that I gravitated to, for some reason. He was kind, quiet, incredibly talented, and he put up with me like a kid brother.
I had so much fun that I went back for the two more years that the Specialized SuperCamp was being held, and brought along my best friend in Bozeman, Jeremy Martin. Steve was just magical. Sure, he didn’t have the same Palmares that Ned had (he actually had more, from a broader range of racing), but he was 100% badass on a bike, won every single Fat Boy Crit that was held, and his wife, Trudi, was the essence of kindness and support.
In particular, I remember one event that was just typical of Steve. I showed up in 1995 with a Trek Y-Bike, that I had borrowed an obscene amount of money for and had tricked up with 1st generation Magura hydraulic brakes, and it actually had hydraulic shifters. I’ll never forget – it was a COLOSSAL disaster. About four days in, I was riding like I had mounted a wild, bucking donkey, with all the compressing and rebound and just poor form that the bike only exaggerated. I went around a corner on some singletrack, following Steve’s line, and ‘WHAM’, I whacked the hydraulic derailleur attachment, and the fluid sprayed out like the moment when a cowboy cuts off the horns of a bull; squirt, squirt, until it quits bleeding. So I’m stuck in one gear. Then, minutes later, as we’re heading back, the brake levers, which were Graftons, failed; first one pivot pin, then the next pivot pin, fell out in to the dusty singletrack, never to be found again, and here I was, with a dysfunctional bike, and we were still out on some of the toughest singletrack in the state.
With the utmost grace I’ve ever seen, Steve calmly assessed everything, and said “I’ll ride it back for you.” Hell, he didn’t even have Speedplay frog cleats! We swapped bikes (wayyyy too tall and long a Stumpjumper hardtail for me), and he then proceeded to KICK MY ASS YET AGAIN on this damaged, too-small, brakeless, slippery-pedal, bike that donkey-kicked even more because of our weight differences. The ONLY time he asked for help was out on the road, when he would use my shoulder and ask me to help him brake and slow down as we approached the hotel. With utmost humility, in front of probably $250,000 of SPECIALIZED employees and sponsors, he rolled up on this broken Trek, dismounted, explained what had occurred, and told me the exact location of a bike shop that could help fix this dilemma before nightfall. This event only cemented my belief that Steve Tilford was the most incredible cyclist I would ever meet.
Over the years, as I played my own version of “Bike Gypsy”, and raced regional and national events, trying to gain the skills and fitness to increase my ability and results, we would meet and cross paths, and he was always friendly. Later, in the early and mid 00’s, after I’d moved back to Dallas and started road cycling, I met he and Trudi at the Joe Martin Stage Race (just held this past weekend, btw). They immediately remembered me as “The Y Bike Guy!”, and we laughed and reminisced. They drove a beat up Isuzu, but that was SO STEVE. Privateer, Bike Gypsy (and I mean that endearingly), never held back on an opinion about bikes or parts or races or tactics, etc. Furthermore, he just rode. He rode and rode and rode. He analyzed some of his data, and wrote regularly for his blog, www.stevetilford.com, but mostly, he just rode.
As time wore on, so did he; he suffered shoulder injuries, a broken hip, and his most serious and life-threatening injury, was a TBI that occurred late last summer/early fall. Many of us thought he’d never ride competitively again, if at all, but I think within about 90 days, the fog had cleared enough and he was back on his bike, and was also traveling. He and Trudi had first Bromont, and most recently, Tucker, both of whom traveled with them whenever possible.
I have one other direct tale to tell about Steve.
In 2013, not long after I opened my largest training studio in Dallas, I was in my office with another coach, and we were working on policy or promotion or pricing or something, and I look over my left shoulder to see this TALL, LANKY, Wild-haired silhouette peeking through my glass. I recognized him immediately, and before he could leave, ran out and opened the door to let him in.
I was exuberant! It was my hero, STEVE TILFORD! I was jumping up and down and trying to explain his significance to this other coach who’d never heard of him, and I started crying and telling him THANK YOU, and I squeezed him with this big freaking hug, and I get this “OOOF!” and he says with the last of his breath that I’d squeezed out of him, “My Shoulder!” – and I remembered that he’d been recovering from a shoulder injury.
I immediately let go, apologized, and we all just laughed it off. I showed him my Wheaties poster of him, and asked if he’d sign it, though somehow, we didn’t get around to it that day and it's something I’ll regret forever. He left after a few minutes, and we all agreed to reconnect soon, but it never happened. I focused on the business and generally quit racing, while he traveled all over the west and rode and raced and returned home and blogged it all.
Losing this man is like losing my innocence. Steve lived the dream; he focused so much on THE RIDE. Sure, he loved the results, but more than anything, it was about the Act of Cycling. He wasn’t political, he didn’t make waves about what races should or shouldn’t be, how events or selections should or shouldn’t be made, he never commented about helmets or hand signals or harassment. He just, rode. He lived for the act of cycling movement. He could NEVER be still; recovering from his head injury was, he told us via his blog, the most difficult thing he’d ever had to endure, because IT WAS SO SLOW and he HAD TO STAY STILL.
I never had his endurance, I never had his skill, I never had his grit, I never had his talent, and heck, we barely knew each other. But DAMN, this guy was the epitome of cycling for me. Grass-roots, focused on the event, demure with his sponsors, never asking too much, but never working for free, either. It was obvious that he loved his wife, his pets, his family, and his life. He was actually pretty humble. Some people hated his moves in crits and circuit races, but that was just him – he was a privateer, had few teammates, and made things happen on his own. That said – he LOVED to activate the race; he was always a pace-pusher. He took inside lines. He would attack off the front. It wasn’t so much that he was in it to win it, it was like he wouldn’t leave well-enough alone, and was a supreme agitator. I never got to race with him, and I dreamed of being able to afford hosting him for a meet-and-greet at the studio, but that was a money hole I was never able to overcome, which is a different story and is irrelevant to this post.
I ache over this loss.
I ache for Trudi and Vincent and his family and his dog and everyone who knew him and admired him.
He was a prolific blogger; I hope the page stays up eternally.
I’ve thought about prayer and God and Acts for decades now, and while it seems more and more pointless, that bad things happen to good people, I’m going to pray for everyone involved, for cycling, for health and age and wisdom and peace.
I’m going to love the members of the “Team Dazed and Confused” gang even more, thank them for their contributions to MY life, and I’ll never forget the short amount of time I got to spend with Steve Tilford and Trudi directly, and later, vicariously, through his adventures and musings on life.
The life of the other motorist who passed away, who seems to have been an accidental victim as well, is equally tragic.
Hug your friends and family, treasure each day, and think about the life best-lived as a cyclist. In my opinion, that was, and will always be, Steve Tilford.
Steve, if you can read this, THANK YOU and NEVER be at rest, because that innate restlessness was what was most appealing and intriguing about your life. You chose to move, and your motion was beautiful.
4/6/2017 - Here are a few links to fill in the gaps. I'm still in shock; this man was my first cycling hero. He made me a better cyclist. His wife was a pillar of support. He lived simply. I was so impressionable, and he left that imprint in my soul and spirit. I feel like cycling has lost more than a man. It's lost a voice, and an act, and a past, and a future. The whole thing just hurts.
April 6 post from Steve's friend and driving buddy, Vincent.
CBS Salt Lake City coverage of the wreck. Caution: Photos are graphic.
I'll try to find photos from those days, but my pics are all in boxes, and those are all in storage, so it may take a while. I'm just so, so sorry that this guy is gone.
Now, this cyclist is a top-tier mountain biker, who has properly allowed himself some “Down” time, to enjoy other pursuits. When he was on-form earlier in the year, he was literally unstoppable. He only got FASTER as the fall season progressed, and it was exciting to follow. But let’s face it - getting a power meter on a mountain bike is a chore, and honestly, I don’t like all of the options that are out there right now. It’s expensive, and when people have to choose between an expensive power meter, and 4 months of coaching or more, well, the bikes are expensive enough already. Furthermore, given the stochastic, punchy nature of Texas mountain biking, I often wonder if a 1hz reading from an MTB power meter is adequate to capture the nuances and accelerations that are necessary to properly analyze a ride.
But sometimes - Physics just doesn’t correlate with Physiology. While the computer or the prediction algorithm says you “Can” do something, it doesn’t account for all the things that may interfere, like sleep rhythms, recovery from a previous workout, hydration status, all of it. That’s where the Moxy Monitor comes in.
I honestly should be using this device more, but knowing how to use it does require a bit more attention to and knowledge of “what’s going on”. But with this conversation up, I decided to take a look at Randy’s SmO2 values, and try to help him do what was best with the time he was spending at the studio.
Now, we have to review a bit, but here’s the summary:
SmO2 values will tend to hit ‘Floors’ which align with Lactate Deflection Points 1 and 2, when properly placed on a client’s Left Lateralis. MOST of the time, we’ll see cyclists hit a “Max Active Saturation Point”, of about 85-90%, and MOST of the time, LT1 will correspond with about 40-45% SmO2, and LT2 will correspond with about 25-30% SmO2. If you get down in to the teens, or single digits, theoretically, you’re nearing necropsy.
But it was immediately obvious that something was ‘off’. Nothing about Randy’s values were normal. I checked the position of the monitor, but it was good. There was no light pollution, either. His SmO2 during intervals that were supposed to be in the Vo2 range of intensity, were wayyy too low; like near 10%. When his recoveries between intervals occurred, he hit the regular ‘max’ 80% saturation around the first two efforts, but for the entire second half of the workout, his ‘recovery’ SmO2 never cracked 65%, and his interval minimums dropped down TOO low at first, and then, again, never really recovered. Here’s a better look at the chart.
Here it is with power added in…
The translation, for me as a coach? THIS GUY WAS KNACKERED! THIS GUY WAS EXHAUSTED. We were lowering his intensity well below his Critical Power early and often, he wasn’t keeping up with load, and his SmO2 minimums were STILL down in the 20% range. The recoveries never rose up much past 55%. His range was diminished, his power down significantly. He had no business attempting a hard interval set like that.
Now, let’s fast-forward to this morning. It’s been two days; he had a massage and slept a good chunk of the day after the massage (some massages are actually therapeutic workouts, and the relaxation is done AFTER the therapy). He got nine hours of sleep, was hydrated, rested, recovered, and caloried up.
Here’s his chart from today…
It’s a little bit harder to see, but the results were MUCH, MUCH better. Maximum SmO2 was up above 90%. Minimum SmO2 actually never went below about 40%. WE RAISED HIS CP to try and get one specific area of the intervals to sort of ‘sit’ around 50%, and it never really dropped below about 58%. It was a complete reversal of fortune. He worked hard, left with great confidence, and honestly, we probably could have gone a bit harder, though I didn’t want to try that too much, and instead focus on the success of the day, and grow it from that point.
SmO2 via the Moxy Monitor allows you to see a workout from the INSIDE-OUT, and allows you to train via your Physiology, and not just your Physics. You’re not ‘on-form’ every day. Things happen. Diets fail. Work creates stress. Maybe the music isn’t just right. Maybe it’s the holidays or EOY junk. But it helps to have a place to go where you can get a great workout that’s JUST RIGHT for YOU, and YOU only. Matching the watts to the load is just part of the story. Moxy helps you accomplish that at Cycling Center Dallas. Come visit and we’ll show you how.
· My Xert Users are achieving fitness breakthroughs in their Xert modeling, and their Focus.
· I Myself am seeing this in my own riding. I’m trying to set new Max Wattage PR’s now and then, and I’m also trying to “Game the Hill” using the MPA and Wattage Xert app.
· I’m instructing my clients to do the same.
Here are a couple of examples…:
Jim is a recreational cyclist in his 60’s, who contracted with me because he was sick of getting dropped on rides with his peers. He also wanted to learn how to be a better climber for the times when he traveled to Colorado.
Climbs in Dallas are much different than climbs in Colorado, but the idea is still the same; improve fitness, then “Focus” on the area of training that will best fit your activity profile. Jim wanted to be a climber in the summer, and, honestly, a “Puncheur” when riding in Dallas. So I set him up with the Xert Apps, taught him how to keep the rider profile current through Garmin Connect and Garmin Express, and gave him some specific intervals during the week.
Things started happening in late September, and I THINK THEY ARE JUST REALLY, REALLY cool!
In Mid-September, while it was still hot and windy, but travel season was over, Jim had a Fitness Signature on Xert of:
· Peak Power: 650w.
· High Intensity Energy (HIE): 10.9kJ.
· Threshold Power: 209w.
Then, on September 21st, on a local solo effort, THIS happened…!
THAT, dear readers, is a FITNESS BREAKTHROUGH.
What’s a FITNESS BREAKTHROUGH? Well, it’s when your ACTUAL POWER OUTPUT is HIGHER than your Predicted MAXIMUM POWER AVAILABLE!
For FOURTEEN SECONDS, Jim was pedaling at a power output that was ABOVE his MPA. Was the model wrong? NO, NO, and NO. He just hadn’t put that level of effort out before, and he earned his “Medal” on the Garmin 1000 Screen!
So remember those previous Max, HIE and Threshold values that we had been using? Here’s what a breakthrough means for those…
· Peak Power: 649w (we still haven’t really worked on a true “Sprint”, but that will come.).
· High Intensity Energy (HIE): 12.4kJ (a gain of 12%).
· Threshold Power: 214w (a gain of 2%!).
And here’s what the chart looked like after the re-analysis.
Now, interestingly – take a look at Jim’s PREVIOUS hill. It’s the one in red that is on the left side of the image. Notice how the MPA line (Dark Blue) kind of follows the curve of the red line, which is wattage? I’ve seen this a bunch, and I love it; It’s basically a way for a rider to “Get More” out of an effort. In other words, you can always go a bit longer at a lower intensity, and not dig too deep. In this case, Jim knew that he really wanted to hit the SECOND hill stronger, and he followed a more “Steady” profile. The terrain dictated the watts and cadence, but yeah – this was a solid moment where Jim was able to “Chase” his MPA, and then break it.
But wait – it gets better…
So what had been a 214w Threshold and a 12.1kJ HIE, slipped, and when Jim put the spurs to this hill again… Well, the model needed some updating, and here it is…
· Peak Power: 651w.
· High Intensity Energy (HIE): 12.9kJ.
· Threshold Power: 219w.
Here’s the Updated version.
What you see is basically that the MPA slope is more gradual, which makes sense; when you train for higher intensity, it allows you to go harder, longer. Because Jim has real data, and paced himself according to the MPA app on the Garmin 1000, he had another Gold Medal, and got to update his training information from Xert.
But you may think that this is just one example…. Well, here’s another.
Jing was a great client of mine, who got a job and moved to Northern California, and he’s experiencing the same type of thing; Breakthroughs that translate to more successful cycling.
Here’s Jing’s Activity Chart; I’ve highlighted his first Fitness Signature, after an adjustment period when he was moving in, unboxing, etc.
His Fitness Signature in mid-September read:
· 673w Peak Power.
· 21.3kJ HIE.
· 251w Threshold.
What set this Signature up was this particular hill in Palo Alto, called “Emerald Hill”. Here’s the wattage and hr and MPA profile.
This was his first ride out on this type of terrain, and he was nervous, so you can see it in his wattage profile; it’s at or above Threshold, but he doesn’t last long above it, before backing off.
So, here he is a couple of days later, where he had another Fitness Breakthrough, though it wasn’t quite where you might think….
The image is of the hill that he climbed, and you can see that he marshalled his resources well, using the data in the Garmin 1000, and pushed it on the final part of the climb.
But here’s the catch; remember how I harped about Jim needing to get a “Real” Peak Power? Well, elsewhere in this file, Jing actually DID hit a new Peak Power, going from 653w to well over 800, and that altered the Fitness Signature Significantly.
With the new data in hand, it looked more like this:
· 811w Peak Power.
· 20.0kJ HIE.
· 249w Threshold.
And that tells me that maybe he could have eked out a slightly better hill effort. Well, here’s the next week….
So you can see… he’s learning how to “game” the hill, using his on-screen MPA and Wattage App!
Here’s the next week. Same hill.
I’m actually going to zoom in on two efforts, since he kissed his MPA on both of them, BUT HE DID NOT SURPASS THEM!
Here – Have a look:
He’s learning how to “game the hills”! In our discussions, he’s come to realize that hills like this are a game of patience and pacing. They’re not perfect, but I like how he’s playing it a bit conservatively at first, and doesn’t tap in to his HIE until the last 1/3rd of the hill, and he still doesn’t go too far. Now – could he go harder? Certainly! But that’s at the cost of possibly blowing up. We’ll continue to work on his Threshold, but I’m really happy with how Xert makes teaches you how to “Think” a strategy, be it a hill, an attack, or a pacing strategy for any recreational athlete.
Finally, I’m going to recount my own experience from this weekend.
Work and Coaching have really taken their toll on my time, and it’s been rare for me to get out and get any real consistency or volume, other than lifting weights 2-3 times a week, and maybe getting to ride in between other efforts. But that said, I AM a “fast-responder” to stimulus, and after getting in some decent rides on some weekends, I had a couple of experiences of my own, using the MPA App.
First – there’s a hill in Glen Rose, TX, that was once part of their rally course, which always spelled the “Make it or Break It” moment for me in this rally. It’s just 4 miles from the finish, but the cyclist who “gamed” the hill best, usually got to solo home.
I NEVER got it right.
But recently, I’ve been back out there, and with the MPA App and my metrics inserted, I tried to “game” the hill with a better pacing Strategy. Here’s the first effort on this hill in, oh, 6 years? 7? I really don’t remember completely.
Do you see where the red circle is? ROOKIE MISTAKE!!! I rode TOO HARD, TOO EARLY, and I FORGOT ABOUT THE SECOND HALF OF THE HILL!
I can’t show it right now because my internet is kludgy, but my heart rate went through the roof on the steeper part, and I basically blew up and denied myself a smoother transition going in to the second part of the hill, right after the “knuckle”! So MPA and Xert revealed that I COULD have ridden it better. I just screwed it up.
Here’s the second time I tried it – about a week later.
*** Believe it or not – this IS the same hill; my internet is not cooperating and I’m having trouble zooming in appropriately.
Notice the difference in the two wattage profiles? The first is more of a parabola, while the second is more elongated, and doesn’t really kick up until AFTER the knuckle in the hill. For this hill, I was watching my Garmin 1000, and I watched that Xert App as my wattage went Black (Threshold), then Yellow (<3min of MPA remaining), to Red (<30sec MPA remaining!), but I never was able to make it go Purple, because I WAS COMPLETELY KNACKERED by that point! Again – I can’t show it, but my HR broke 190, and I traveled a good bit further up the hill before I backed off.
(Edit – HERE it is… Finally)!
Finally – this past weekend, I had the chance to ride a good old-fashioned rally, and about 20 minutes in, I was dealing with some riders that I don’t particularly feel safe riding around; they always wear earbuds – in grupetto’s – and you can hear their music when you ride beside them, it’s so loud. AND they’re a couple, AND they don’t really have a sense of situational awareness. So, with just a few people left in the front, maybe 5, including me, these two, and two others, I saw a hill, and I saw an opportunity.
I had already depleted my MPA a bit here and there as we picked up our speed, rolling out of town, but at this moment, I increased my power output as the hill rose to meet me, then stayed steady at or around my threshold, and finally increased my wattage one more time as the hill picked up its’ pitch one more time. Looking through my right arm, I noticed that the shadows which had been behind me were getting gapped, and after another 20 seconds of Threshold, I was alone.
Now, I TRIED to go from “Yellow” on the MPA app, (<3min of MPA left) to “Red” (<30sec of MPA left), to “Purple”, but it just got to the point where it was crazy-hard, I felt like my eyes were going to pop out and my lungs were going to burst… and I backed off, which you can see in the image. I was able to keep pedaling as the gradient lessened, and while my MPA didn’t necessarily rebound, the Red/Blue gap opened up, giving me some room to recover.
The result? Well, I spent the rest of the ride alone, and had the motorcycle escort to myself the entire time.
Here are my overall results from the day:
It was a pretty good day: nice average speed, great kJ count, GREAT Strain value, in perfect temps, under sunny skies, rolling terrain, and the knowledge that THIS STUFF REALLY, REALLY, REALLY works.
Xert takes a complete re-think of intervals, efforts, hills, and timing. I think that was one of the things I was never good at when I was racing all the time: I had really bad timing, and didn’t figure out when to play the game and when to back off, and recover. Now? Well, I had some idea of it with W’, but the model, especially on Anaerobic efforts, just didn’t hold up. This Xert MPA stuff? In REAL TIME, with REAL VALUES yielding REAL RESULTS?
Well, it works!
Want to learn more about Xert, MPA, and how you can apply it for yourself and your cycling? Check us out at http://bit.ly/BikeCCD.