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
09:34

2015 Aledo Ride for Heroes 70 Miler

RFH2015-90

Special Thanks to Texas Aerial Solutions for the image and the drone this past weekend! That was awesome!

The 2015 Aledo ride for heroes was held this past weekend, and I was excited to attend and participate in the 70 miler. I'm always in favor of a good cross country route with rolling terrain, and once again Alito did not disappoint. The majority of the course is now south of the interstate and it goes through some beautiful, rolling terrain.

I ended up getting to register early for this event, so I was not up for arriving too early. I thought I might be able to sleep in. Unfortunately, some rain came through on Friday night that kept us awake, and it did not get as much sleep as I may have wanted. Furthermore, as I rolled out from Dallas to Fort Worth, it was kind of interesting in that there was a lot of fog. There was so much fog, that when I arrived at the venue, I was surprised to see so few cars and cyclists present. In the past, this event has filled both parking lots, and there usually lines to get a proper spot, but that was not the case this year, and I just have to believe that it was the rain and later the fog that may have kept people away. While disappointing, I believe that the cyclists who stayed home or may have done an MS ride over the weekend down from Austin to Houston, missed out on a really good experience.

I rolled out to the starting line with about five minutes to spare, and made my way to the front with the lead riders. Interestingly, this was probably the first time that I ever got photographed by a drone. This drone was hovering probably 30 or 40 feet off the ground about 100 feet from the starting line, and it was an eight rotor heard device that held a Nikon digital camera beneath it. The drone stayed afloat throughout the Star-Spangled Banner, and then it filmed us as we all rolled out. The fog stayed with us through the first hour of the day at least, and it made for some interesting corners and help keep us cool, all while continuing to limit our overall visibility. I have no idea that if those images from the drone really came out or not but it was still interesting to see how things are going in terms of these events and how they are promoted.

I made several mistakes at the beginning of this rally that did not serve me well. The first of course is that I did not arrive early enough to get a proper warm-up. The older I get, the more important that warm-up is and it should be a requirement that there is a Mac or fluid trainer in my car on weekends. Even for a bike rally, warming up should just be part of the program. It truly did take me about 30 minutes, but by that point I was already suffering as if I had been punched in the gut and I ended up losing the lead 12 riders until I was maybe 45 for 48 minutes in. At that time, it felt like a weight had finally been lifted off of me, and I was able to ride a solid tempo or sub critical power intensity and caught several of the riders who had been dropped from the lead. Within the hour, we were still maybe three minutes off the lead, but we had a group of between five and seven that worked together to pace ourselves more appropriately. There were still several marked climbs(by the way, I am not the biggest Strabo fan, and I tend to prefer ridewithgps.com, so if you want to see my results, you may friend me up over there.)

We ended up with about five good cyclists from our one through about our two. I was able to organize them into a good, strong, rotating paceline, and was quick to try and acquire names for my ersatz friends. One of them was a cycling Pastore and after about 30 or 40 minutes, he proclaimed that this had arguably been his fastest average speed and ride ever. Unfortunately, it eventually got to him and at one of the eight stations he backed off.

I do have one other interesting comment about this initial group. There was a sixth cyclist who rode with us, but he wore earbuds and refused to participate in the paceline, taking it upon himself to get the free ride and anchor us as we rotated through. We tried to speak with him and encourage him to join, but he would have none of it. I find this whole debacle with earbuds and group rides, urban rides, even rallies, to be really vexing. Even Tracy still does it when she rides solo. I'm to say right now, I know it is controversial, but folks one of the reasons that cycling is so safe is that we have an inherent advantage by using all of our senses. We can hear things that are occurring around us that give us an advantage for situational awareness. It really irritates me when a cyclist rides in a group, and either rides with earbuds in, or rides with one ear but in, which they may think is safer, but in my opinion is actually more distracting to the brain. Cycling should be about the wind in your face, the sweat dripping off of your nose and eyebrows, and listening to the velocity of the air as it enters and exits your lungs. We eventually dropped this individual, and we did not look for him after the ride ended.

Anyway, the five of us eventually were reduced to four, and the fourth cyclist was dropped around the midpoint, where there are several two-minute hills. We did slow down and wait for dropped riders to regroup, but with their permission to let us go, we would then roll on. We ended up with a strong group of three that was really good, and we rolled through at about 22 or 23 mph for a good 10 miles. We did catch more stragglers, and a fourth rider in a time trial bike ended up riding with us, but he was not terribly keen at pulling through. By this point, however, the three of us had lost just enough of our edge that we were not able to shake him, and we just welcomed him for his company.

I did have one other incident occur that was unique on this rally and that is that I suffered a bee sting on my right temple maybe two or 2 1/2 hours in. It was just a minor inconvenience, but of course it always hurts the moment that the sting occurs. Later, Tracy said she's found the stinger in my four head and plucked it out that afternoon.

We rolled along as a group of 3+1, and I learned that the other two cyclists were friends. One of the two cyclists also had a Cervelo and was riding with a stages power meter, and was well-versed in his own ability as well as how to interpret the information on his garment. It's always great when you've got a smart recreational cyclists next to you, and we were able to talk shop quite a bit. His name is Wayne and he is a regular at the Wednesday night criterium races in Fort Worth, and I have no doubt that he will continue to improve.

I think our final 70 mile average was around three hours 15 minutes, which, while certainly not my fastest 70, was an incredibly effective training workout and it left me adequately sore for at least 24 hours. I did ride again on Sunday, but it was at a very low intensity and was focused exclusively on recreation. More about that in another blog. I'm going to provide a link to the ride via ridewithgps.com, and I will certainly be purchasing pictures that I will add to this blog post once they become available.

Suffice it to say, that I am really enjoying these rallies, and I'm looking at them as a way to continue improving my fitness, and ride with Tracy when she is available. We will both be attending the monster rally next weekend, which is one of our favorites excavation Mark special shout out to David Simcoe, a client and friend whom I met at the starting line. He and I both remarked that it was a great day of cycling.

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Coach Wharton
13:33

August Prep and Dry Run for the Texas Time Trials

At Cycling Ctr., Dallas, the mantra that we promote is all about improving stamina, speed, strength, and skill when cycling. Traditionally, this means spending time indoors, one or two days a week, and then using the results and improvements in fitness to enjoy longer rides with more challenges on the weekends. For most cyclists this is something in the realm of 2 to 4 hours, but the month of August allows us all to attempt and attend several rallies that are longer in duration. This begins at the end of July, with the 70 mile option for the bicycle rally held in Cleburne, and continues with the red river rally, a 75 mile option or a rally in Granbury, and of course it all culminates with the hotter in hell 100, held at the end of August up in Wichita Falls. However, all of these are bicycle rallies, and while they are as competitive as people choose to make them, there is nothing really official for the recreational cyclist.
 
The Texas time trials, held every year in Glen Rose, Texas, in the third weekend of September, allows cyclists to ride a safe, challenging, 26 mile loop with support, in a friendly yet competitive environment. The Texas time trials host a 500 mile option for the extremists, a 24 hour option, a 12 hour option, a six hour option, and finally a single lap sprint. Hosted by Dan Driscoll every year, this event continues to grow. I attended in 2012 and 2013, with my friend Michelle Beckley, and have grown to love this event as much as any other, because of its proximity, the support, and the incredible challenge that comes from managing energy and speed and power over the course of one hour, six hours, 12 hours, and even 24 hours.
 
I was lucky enough in 2012 to compete in the event in a very steady rain storm. The temperature never changed more than about 5°, and with proper support from Michelle and her boyfriend Martin, I was able to stay on top of my hydration and caloric consumption, and actually won the 12 hours. In 2013, because we were still in start-up mode with the cycling studios, I was about 5 pounds heavier, was far less fit, and ended up calling it a day after four laps. I realized that I was out of shape, overweight, and was to determined to try and ride 212 miles in the same way at higher temps and higher wind speeds than I had the previous year. So this year, this summer specifically, I pulled out my time trial bike, a 2007 aluminum P3 from Cervelo, and began to train on it and attempt to adapt my body position for the stress and duration of 12 hours in a near horizontal position.
 
I began training for the position in early August, when I tackled the Granbury rally in my aero bike, position, and kit. Then, I did the Red River Rally in the same way. Both times, I attempted to stay on top of my hydration by consuming over 3 L of water, sometimes up to five. This was mixed with Osmo, and it did keep me properly hydrated. However, heat is everyone's enemy, and you still have to burn a lot of energy in order to stay cool and fast. Two weekends ago I attempted to do a century out in Glen Rose on my own, and was unprepared for the heat and wind. So this weekend, instead of going to Hotter 'n Hell, I traveled back down to Glen Rose for some peaceful cycling and another dry run.
 
One of the things, besides heat, that matters the most when you are cycling, is the ability to overcome wind resistance. We are now at a place in time and technology where we can come up with some pretty close measurements that can help us better understand just how much drag we have to overcome at speed. The smaller the coefficient of aerodynamic drag, the more energy you can save when traveling. Things like helmets, shaved legs, skin suits, and aerodynamic wheels definitely can make a difference, and when you are burning about 800 kJ per lap, energy management and efficiency are critical. We cyclists spend a lot of time and money buying expensive gear, but how to put that gear properly to use, is a really important aspect that is often ignored.
 
Both last week, and this weekend, I performed my first lap right at the 6 AM time in order to get a very solid idea of how much normalized power was going to be necessary to average a one hour 20 minutes lap. I did this for at least two laps both weekends, and over the five full laps that I actually measured this, I came up with a normalized power of roughly 205 W. I also looked back at my previous laps from 2012 and 2013, and realized that the aerodynamic position of the P3 saved me roughly 30 W and 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the time of day. When you add that up over roughly 8 laps for a 12 hour event, which is my stated goal, it comes up to about an hour! Last year's winner averaged one hour 25 minutes over the course of eight laps, although his lap speeds varied by over 30 minutes, and so I decided to try and hold this average wattage over for an even six laps, just to see if this was feasible.
 
Interestingly, as the day warmed up, the time splits for the average power, which was around 170 watts, while PNorm was 205w, decreased. This is actually to be expected, because of the decrease in air density with the increase in temperature. Furthermore, I realized very early that with a very large Camelback on my back, I was not going to be able to ride in such an aggressive position while wearing my favorite aero helmet. I ended up reverting back to my more ventilated helmet, which is also been optimized for aerodynamics, but one has to assume that the TT helmet would probably make me anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds faster over the course of a lap. I need to restate that, we are not talking about speed, we are talking about conservation of energy. So at 205 normalized watts, I would probably be able to hold 1 hour 17 minutes, and not one hour 20 minutes.
 
The biggest issue that we must all deal with is that of consumption of energy. Even with more body fat on me than in previous years, I still am burning a majority of my energy through carbohydrates. Osmo is specifically designed not to provide that much energy through calories, and instead it uses the carbohydrates to help cyclists stay hydrated and cool. Therefore, according to Dr. Sims, who invented Osmo, food must be in the pocket, or in my case, the Bento box. I found that eating a real meal for breakfast, was extremely helpful, but that even after three laps, I am going to have to work on eating more. I believe I only consumed about 200 to 400 kcal every lap through solid food. This will have to go up, and I'm going to have to practice this for both taste and frequency.
 
Now, for an interesting exercise in air resistance, I am going to pull up the website www.cyclingpowerlab.com, and I will try and show you just how much extra work is required to complete a lap on my road bike versus my time trial bike. We also need to keep in mind that my time trial bike is not as advanced as it could be, were it a P5 or even a P4 or even a P3, like the new one. Mine is first-generation, and has basically been  'modded out', so to speak, as I tinkered with it over the years.
2014 P3 TT
I clipped out a segment of the power meter file from 2013 and from this ride in August, got the relevant data from Weather Underground, and plugged everything in. The results are above. 

Now - what does this all mean? 

Well, if you're rolling on flat terrain at 205 watts, it means roughly 2.5 miles per hour!!!! But perhaps more importantly, it means, for me, probably 60-100 Kcals per lap, saved. When you ride or race a 12-hour, every Kcal matters, and if you have less resistance, you can travel further for the same amount of effort. 

Anyway, I know it's a good bit of dorkdom, but it just goes to show you that studying this stuff makes a difference, in speed, efficiency, effort, and honestly, pleasure! 

More later!


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