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
16:10
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Stage 18 - 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! "What's in YOUR Pocket?"

Pocket

Cycling is a pretty minimal activity. You just throw a leg over a bike, and start pedaling. However, most people want to stay connected, or have a way to get out of trouble if something should occur when out on a ride. That's why bike jerseys have pockets, and bike shops sell saddle bags!

Let's take a look at what's inside my jersey pocket/saddle bag.

Currently, I keep the following on my person:

  • Phone (Charge it, but don't necessarily look at it! Keep it protected from sweat and moisture).
  • Tire Tube Patch Kit - the new superpatches work great!
  • Tire sidewall patch kit. Park Tool makes something that will get you home.
  • Tire Tools (I carry three, since these tend to snap in two at times).
  • One extra tube (make sure it's the right size (650c, 700c), and that the nipple is long enough to fit in any of the new, aero wheel rims).
  • TWO Co2 cartridges (always carry a backup just in case - cartridges can be finicky).
  • A "Cool-Tool", with allen wrenches, maybe a philips head and regular head screwdriver on there, maybe even a chain-breaker...
  • Money - I usually carry two $10 bills.
  • Business Cards. Because, well, you never know...

You can add or subtract from this list, but it's always a good idea to be prepared. Take a maintenance 101 class at your local bike shop as well, because you'll end up with a good idea of what to do if you experience something when cycling.

Remember - the vast majority of your rides will be event-free: Cycling should be mundane. But it never hurts to be prepared, mentally, physically, and equipment-wise!

Being prepared means knowing what causes events and anomalies to occur, and riding in a way that those events are much less likely to happen in the first place. Being fit and improving through our classes will help you be more prepared.

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Coach Wharton
11:52
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Using Saturated Muscle Oxygen and Total Hemoglobin to Measure the Need for Calories

A few days ago, I posted about all of the things I think I'm seeing when I put a Moxy Monitor up on a client's leg. Well, here's an example.

Mike Brandley is a client who focuses on mountain biking, so his season and schedule can be a little bit different than others. He came in early one morning this week, and while excited to be working out, during our warmup and bike prep, he revealed that he'd forgotten to eat on his way over. I told him I wanted to try the monitor on him, and that it might tell us some things that he and I might not otherwise know. 

Here's a cut from his workout. Unfortunately, we still need to get a broader range for the red line, which indicates Total Hemoglobin, but I'll provide several images to enforce my point, with details...
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-45-28 - Snapshot

Now, if you look first at the warmup, the green line is the SmO2, and the red line is ThB. Follow the red line out to about the beginning of the third green spike, and notice the little red notch. I was looking at the rider's dashboard, and I noticed this immediately. Also notice - the Rider's SmO2 was NEVER that high to begin with during the warmup, and it began to crater in to the SINGLE DIGITS during the first two intervals!

But wait - there's more. Notice how each time the rider recovered from an interval (Remember, the green line when it's low indicates the interval, and high indicates the recovery) at a HIGHER level? This is where my two terms from the previous blog post come in to play. I believe that Mike's "ACTIVE RESTING SmO2" level is pretty low - around 35-38%. However, IF WE HAD PROPERLY WARMED UP, USING A LONGER PROTOCOL AND SOME SHORT, SHARP INTERVALS AT HIGHER INTENSITIES, then we would have found that his "MAXIMAL SATURATED SmO2" would be around 60+%. This would have made for a BETTER WORKOUT, because we could have combined what we know about his SmO2 levels, with his wattage intensities, and adjusted things accordingly. 

BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE!!!

Remember that little knock in the ThB Red Line that occurs around the recovery time after the third interval? Here it is in a close-up. 
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-19-54 - Snapshot

THAT, my friends, when combined with a LOW SmO2 during a Vo2-themed 2-minute interval... IS A CALORIE-RELATED BONK!

Look back up at the first graphic. After that little knock in ThB, it never really came back up. HOWEVER, after feeding him a BONK BREAKER, around 300 Kcals, and forcing him to drink a water bottle with an appropriate amount of OSMO Active Hydration in it, here's what happened....

SmO2 did NOT really recover to near the previous 'Maximal Active Saturation' level, but the "MINIMUM SATURATED SmO2" level, or the 'Vo2' Plateau that I believe leads to the best biological response for the rider on THAT given day, bottomed out at a HIGHER level for each interval, around 10, then 12, then 14 percent. Now, let's add wattage back in to the picture. 
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-45-41 - Snapshot

Mike's Critical Power, on paper, is about 255 Watts. These were two-minute intervals, based on slope, and I wanted him to finish the intervals with an average over the two-minutes at 110-120% of Critical Power. I don't have the CP/FTP line on the chart, but you can see that he was able to rally, and completed the entire workout, performing rising-intensity intervals, at the appropriate training dose. 

What's the moral of the story? 

Sometimes, the wattage doesn't give us the complete picture. Having onscreen Muscle Oxygen and ThB gives the smart coach an extra tool to determine what's best for a cyclist on any given day. In this case, we were able to more quickly determine that Mike's fasting from the night before could lead to a failed workout. Had we been using wattage alone, we may have collectively ended up beating our heads against a wall as we tried harder and harder to accomplish something that just wasn't feasible. Instead, we rectified it immediately, got him fed, watered, and salted, and he was actually able to IMPROVE the quality of his intervals, and later, ACHIEVE THE GOALS SET OUT FOR HIM, without throwing in the towel. His Muscle Oxygen range helped him get the proper training dose, in conjunction with wattage, and the ThB values gave us a really good clue about how much was in the tank, and how quickly it was depleted. It's hard to show in this blog, but for the savvy reader, if you download and purchase a copy of PerfPro Analyzer, the 'Analyze' tab includes max,min, and average Smo2 and Thb PER INTERVAL. I've taken the liberty to export the chart to Excel, where I made a simple graph. 
Mike Brandley ThB Lap Averages

What you see is that after the initial 'Bonk', he ate and drank, and had a ThB Rebound. Later, it tapered off again, AS HIS POWER CAME BACK UP, and for the last 10 minutes of the workout, which was two, separate 5-minute intervals AT CRITICAL POWER, well, the ThB continued to rise. 

I'm convinced that this tool, in the right hands, can complement our goals of helping recreational cyclists accomplish their goals, each and every workout, through the combination of watts, heart rate, and now, muscle oxygen and total hemoglobin. Here's my takeaway from this client and his workout, some of it's simple, some, notsomuch. 

  1. ALWAYS show up for a ride or training session properly rested, fed, watered, and salted. That's what Grape-Nuts and Greek Yogurt is for. 
  2. EAT and DRINK throughout the workout. I don't care if you're trying to lose weight. Training to raise your Critical Power will help you burn more KiloJoules, ergo, KiloCalories, and you'll end up losing the weight anyway. Eating and Drinking a light-sugar solution like OSMO, will help keep the ThB Levels and SmO2 levels higher. I THINK having a higher value in both, is optimal.
  3. IF you know an athlete's SmO2 levels for "Maximum Active Saturation", you can then modify a workout and train for DOSE, instead of training for a wattage output goal. We know more about Mike's Max Saturation, and per the later intervals, his appropriate minimum saturation. We'll train for DOSE, and use WATTS as the resistance, while setting a general FLOOR for SmO2. We'll also track his HR, which I bet, I bet I bet, will drop as he gets back in to his training regime. 
  4. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS WARM UP! Starting a workout cold or unprepared can hurt you physcially as well as mentally, so ALWAYS give yourself 20-30 minutes to warm up, and ALWAYS include several 20-40 second pick-me-up intervals at high intensity, with adequate recoveries, so that you will begin the intervals with the highest SmO2 and THB levels possible.

That's it for now - I'll try to write more in the upcoming days, but until then, don't forget - if you haven't come in for a first ride, download the App and let's get you in. The upcoming season is nigh upon us, and in Texas at least, it won't be cold for long!!!

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Coach Wharton
16:59
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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 www.cyclingpowerlab.com 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!!!

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