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
15:18

Using the Moxy Sensor At Elevation Reveals A LOT About Adaptation Requirements to Altitude

Moxy Stage 2 Ft Davis HammerFest

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.

·         Dehydration.

·         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.
SmO2 Stage 1 Ft Davis Hammerfest

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.
SmO2 Stage 1 Ft Davis Hammerfest Image 2

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.

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Coach Wharton
17:31

November and December STRESS BUSTER Intervals at Cycling Center Dallas and OBC.

Here's a short video I made covering the basics of the intervals we'll be doing from November 7th through December 29th. We want you CHILL at the office parties, end-of-year sales meetings, and dinners with relatives. These are as hard as you want to make them, so BUST THAT STRESS!

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Coach Wharton
09:47

Hydration Isn't Just About Better Performances - It's About Survival

It’s been a challenging summer, to say the least, as we’ve progressed in to a malaise where the days may or may not be getting hotter, but the nights are almost certainly not getting as cool. The issue of staying hydrated is becoming a full-time concern, and I’m almost to the point where I’m perpetually helping myself to scoops of NBS Nutrition, even while in the studio and office, to stay optimally hydrated.


In order to understand whether your body is properly hydrated or not, I’m a liberal user of, and proponent for, Pee Strips. Yup - strips that you pee on to determine your hydration status, among other things. Cycling Center Dallas and Online Bike Coach spend hours looking at extrinsic information, like Watts and KiloJoules, but too often, the intrinsic information is ignored. Reagent Pee Strips allow us to determine things, like a body’s PH levels, Leukocytes, Protein elements in urine,, and most importantly, Specific Gravity.


Specific Gravity is basically a way to see how much extra ‘stuff’ is coming out with your watered urine. It’s no longer enough to have a look in the bowl and determine whether ‘Clear and Copious’ or ‘Dark and Clouded’ is the best determination. Instead, when you pee on the pee strips, the chemicals are reacting to what’s in your urine, and the results are pretty revealing. Distilled water has a Specific Gravity of 1.000, and most healthy humans have SG’s in the 1.005 - 1.015, but basically, the further out you go from 1.000, the more dehydrated you are.


At the studio and online, we have been emphasizing the need for hydration as a critical element to training performance now for years. If you read back on this blog, you’ll remember that I suffered a serious heat stroke in late June of 2010, and later that year, met Dr. Stacy Sims at the Olympic Training Center, and she changed my world. Nowadays, we not only focus on hydration on an individual basis, we use it as part of the training strategy. Right now, at the studio, I have two clients who have incredibly high sweat rates, and they routinely post Specific Gravities that are in the 1.030 range and worse. They’re both triathletes, and they’re both concerned about the stigma associated with CamelBacks and drinking to a schedule. As a coach, I’m going to go out on a limb and make a bold claim;


If you TRUST YOUR COACH, then understand that you’ll be a STRONGER, FASTER, MORE EFFICIENT cyclist by drinking THE RIGHT MIX, ON A SCHEDULE THAT KEEPS YOUR SPECIFIC GRAVITY IN THE 1.005-1.01 RANGE, THAN ANY AERO, WEIGHT, OR SOCIAL PENALTY YOU MAY SUFFER FROM WEARING A CAMELBACK.


There - I said it. Now, I’m going to back it up with an event that happened this weekend, just to drive the point home.


My wife’s travels over the summer left me working the studio, and I was unable to ride as much as I have wanted, so upon her return, I was able to drive down to Fredericksburg, Texas, the second weekend of August, to ride with a friend who lives down there. He knows all the roads, is a past State Champion, and is making the most of small-town life. He’s a great guy, and lives humbly, so I thought this would be the best companion for a lot of LSD (Long, Slow, Distance) rides of 2-4 hours, out in the countryside. I got down a day early, and we planned on departing around 7am on Friday Morning, to ‘beat the heat’.


Well, we’re definitely human. We ended up talking and catching up all night, went to bed late, and slept in. We rolled out around 9:30, and, well, August 12th just happened to be - THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR IN TEXAS. So at our speeds and with our relative levels of fitness, HYDRATION… WELL-UNDERSTOOD AND COMPREHENSIVELY PREPARED-FOR HYDRATION, was FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR SURVIVAL on that day.


I rolled out with a 70oz Camelback, and two 24oz. Chilled water bottles. My friend rolled out with…. 2 24 oz water bottles with neoprene coozies wrapped around them. We rolled out just as the heat began to hit, and made it to a town called Comfort, after roughly two hours. Now, we did get water at a filling station, but the route back to Fredericksburg left us climbing, with maybe a slight headwind, and we ended up suffering as the heat of the day wore on. This road is also incredibly remote, so we were going through our fluid ounces at a higher rate. Eventually, I inadvertently separated myself from my friend, and climbed up to an overlook where there’s a small State Park that protects an abandoned tunnel, which has become a famous bat cave, home to about 19,000 bats.


I found a cool spot, drank up the rest of my Camelback, and downed another bottle, so I was at well over 100 oz. in just about 3 hours, and waited. It took about 10 minutes, and when he showed up, he looked just ragged. Fortunately, there is a Hole-In-The-Wall restaurant about 200 meters up the road from this lookout, and my friend knew the owners. We rolled over there ---- and spent the next two hours in the A/C, drinking lemon water and recovering. Even after that, in the 8 miles home, he STILL didn’t feel or ride well, and cramped on all but the slightest of efforts. We spent that afternoon and evening keeping him in a cool shower, and drinking to recover. A quick step on the scale showed that he’d lost about 6 lbs, which, for a skinny guy, is REALLY dangerous.


Me? I drank the other bottle, and then made a poor-man’s carb drink by mixing a flat Dr. Pepper with water, which I also drank on the 40 minute ride home. I then immediately drank a recovery drink, and took out a pee strip. The result? Well, it was a life-or-death issue. Here - take a look.


IMG_1740


And here it is compared to the baselines you get on a reagent strip container.

IMG_1741

So - after FIVE HOURS in the sun, in which temps hit a peak of 111 DEGREES… I was STILL HYDRATED at a SPECIFIC GRAVITY of 1.01. How much did I drink? 70+24+24+24 = 142oz, of which all but 24 of those ounces was NBS Hydration (remember the Dr. Pepper trick). Also - Look at the Leukocytes. I actually WAS burning fat, which was the mission for the weekend. Furthermore, look at the PH levels. That’s purely from the NBS. If I had decided to attempt some hard intervals, I would have been prepared for them internally, since intensity leads to lactic acid and increased Co2 output. Being slightly alkaline can help offset some of the challenges those efforts bring.


Here it is - Sunday morning, and my friend still hasn’t really recovered from the heat stress. It reminds me of that life-altering day in late June, 2010, when I drank the wrong drink, didn’t drink enough of it, and suffered a life-altering heatstroke that left me with impaired vision in one eye and a higher likelihood of migraines overall. I just hope this message gets across to others; you CAN exercise in the heat - you just have to be EXTREMELY prepared for it, and honestly, DRINK your way out of it.


PS - I honestly feel sorry for the Dallas Cowboys… They’re getting umpteen million dollars for a Gatorade Sports Science Institute in their new facilities in Frisco, and I can’t believe they’d be using almost 50-year old information and higher concentrations of sports drink, to their detriment. One can only hope that every sports franchise, in a warming world, will see just how powerful these new, scientifically based sports drinks, can change your cycling for the better.



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Coach Wharton
19:30

What Xert Sees That We Don't See - Just Yet...

The more I work with Xert, the more impressed I am. We're looking at a program that has the potential to shift the entire paradigm of training for cyclists, from basic recreational cyclists, to competitors, to top-level athletes. Here's just one example. 

Kurt Chacon is mentioned in this blog from previous years, when he helped riders understand that cycling is not just about legs and lungs, but is instead a Holistic sport that requires the entire body. Sure, certain muscles are emphasized, but that's at the expense of other muscles and parts of the skeletal system that can help reduce fatigue, reduce wasted effort, and transmit power to the pedals as well. 

When you look at Kurt, he doesn't look like a cyclist. He's larger, more muscular, and the impression is that he might be better served with a more short-distance sport, but here he is, a recreational cyclist, capable of a solid power output and endurance in the 3-5 hour range. That said, he loves his anaerobic intervals, and has studied the information that has come out of XertOnline.com. 

The intervals we built for the class, based on this Xert protocol this month, are HARD. REALLLY HARD. They're in the 200 to 300% of FTP range, and they're anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 minutes. People that have been coming to the studio for years are now commenting that they're actually SORE from the workouts, and they're having better rides outside. So we plugged in Kurt's information from a ride to see what's actually happening per the MPA model. 
Kurt Chacon MPA Map Xert Online
In the image above, BLUE is Kurt's MPA, while RED is his wattage output. The intervals began at 200% for 15 seconds, and went up by 20% in reps of 5. There was a 45-second recovery that I specifically placed at ZERO watts, so that the cyclists could pedal or coast/rest in order to recover; it was their choice. 

If you look carefully, you'll see that Kurt's MPA dropped substantially as the intervals increased in intensity, and for the entire duration of the effort, MPA never returned to full capacity. However, let me zoom in on something that I am fascinated by - the 4th and 5th intervals of each set. 
Zoom In on Interval 4
On interval 4 of the first set, and almost every set thereafter, MPA actually dipped BELOW the interval's Peak Power, but it did it JUST AFTER the interval ended. 

You can see it even more clearly on the 5th Interval. Here is a close-up.

Fifth Interval Close-Up Xert
Here, you can see that while Kurt was able to complete the interval, his MPA and wattage actually touched, though there was no breakthrough, but he continued to suffer as his power backed off, and the MPA dropped further. 

Now scroll back up and look at he first image. Intervals 4 and 5 for most of the sets revealed an MPA that dipped BELOW the intensity of the interval, but did not INTERCEPT the effort. In my opinion, this was probably one of the BEST workouts he, or any client, could have performed. He accomplished the task, finished each progressively harder interval, but saw a dip in his MPA, from which he basically never really recovered. So for this athlete, this was probably the most COMPLETE workout in recent history. The breakthrough will come, probably next week, when we attempt 1 minute intervals at 160% of Threshold. 

Performing intervals that are STRAINFUL, yet REPEATABLE, allows for greater adaptation and confidence. Up until Xert, however, we only had the W' model to predict what the 'penalty' was for an effort, and even the developers of that protocol admitted that shorter, harder, more repetitive intervals didn't work with the model. MPA does, and I continue to be amazed at how uncannily accurate the Xert model is, for EVERY athlete. 

We'll see how his testing goes next week and again in a traditional effort in September. Until then, grab a registration on Xert and see for yourself. It's pretty fascinating. 




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Coach Wharton
11:30

Interview with Shindo Salvo of Rotor Components

Last spring, we were grateful for the chance to host Rotor's own Shindo Salvo, as he traveled across the country and spoke to shops and to coaches, discussing the Rotor line of products. Most of you know that I've been intrigued by this company and its' stuff since 1999, and have spoken to the CEO, Pablo, many times as he's released the RSX crank, then the Q and QXL rings, and finally, his own power meters; the RPM, the LT, the RT, and just recently, the InPower and 2InPower. They're all unique, and they all take a thorough approach to understanding wattage, cycling, pedal stroke and analysis, and other great ideas and products. 

But people still have questions, and cycling is a sport full of skeptics. Me? Well, I'm a believer, but only after I did years of my own research, looking at how the RSX and then the Q Rings affected net torque curves on my CompuTrainer SpinScan. More recently, thanks to the contributions of Dr. Christie O'Hara, InPower now shows net torque curves on their own software, which then explains where you should position your Q or QXL chainring for Optimal power output. I routinely see about 3-8% improvements on my clients, and in fact, we have a DEDICATED INDOOR BIKE with a Rotor InPower crank, that can show the improvement in real-time for a client. Swapping out my drivetrain cranks (I have a round ring, a Q ring and a QXL ring, each on their own crank), takes around 10 minutes, and the cyclists can SEE the effect; we just place them at a known wattage on the CompuTrainer, then measure the output delta on the crank. It's that simple, and it's real, real-time, information. 

So watch these videos, and if you have questions, contact us and ask away!











They're broken up for viewability, but the first one is the full length. I welcome dialogue, and again, if you're "Q" Curious, we'd love to show you how it works in real-time, at the Cycling Center Dallas Studio. Think about it - a $200-300 investment in 1 hour COULD deliver a 3-8% improvement in your power output, just like that. 

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Coach Wharton
15:00

A Primer on Xert - A NEW PARADIGM for Training With Wattage!

xert_teal_and_gray_copy
When we first began looking at power meters and the information they provided, converting that data in to knowledge was a real shot in the dark. Scientists, coaches and athletes knew that they wanted to generate more power, more often, for longer periods of time, but they really didn’t know HOW to get there. Traditional training methods have been slowly overturned as the digital age accumulated knowledge, and converted it in to useful information. That said, there’s always been ‘wiggle room’, and the interpretations for power, energy, and fitness, and specificity have created great opportunities for coaches and recreational cyclists alike, the human trend toward ‘logic’ has us always searching for a better way to read wattage files, and look at ways to do “X”, and get “Y” results.

The latest method of doing just this comes from Baron Biosystems of Canada. Their platform, called Xert, provides a unique way to take instant and empirical data from a cyclist, measure its’ effects on the body, and then determine some crucial elements that can determine the effectiveness of a workout, and the effective trend towards a goal. I’m really excited about this technology, and I think that it will be incredibly useful for riders and racers of all levels here at Cycling Center Dallas, and via the internet through Online Bike Coach.

Let’s start at the beginning.

First – a cyclist just creates an account on XertOnline.com. If the rider has an account with Strava.com or Trainingpeaks, older data can be imported and analyzed. If the cyclist has data on a Garmin with a .FIT or .TCX series of files, then the data is imported just like a thumb drive. The meat of the setup is found in the area titled “Athlete Type”. Here’s an image.
What kind of athlete are you_copy1

There are twelve different types of cyclist described, from a 10-second “Power Sprinter”, to a “Below Threshold Power” Triathlete. Just read through the descriptions, and select the area where you think your cycling strengths best apply. Some knowledge of ability is required; if you’re in doubt, defer to something in the middle, like “GC Specialist”, which focuses on your 8-minute average power-to-weight ratio.

(One thing to note is that, even though the categories reflect cyclists that participate in longer, multi-hour events, when you look these athlete types and at their particular strengths and weaknesses, they all boil down to an ability to perform at a given duration. Everyone is unique in their ability and this chart helps capture those differences.)

The website churns through your past data over a period of minutes, to help determine several parameters for fitness. It then presents you with a summary page, showing the following:

  • Total # of activities
  • Average Ride Time
  • Total Ride Time
  • Average Distance
  • Total Distance.
Fitness Comparison and Ranking Male 40 plus


The next line down is where things start to get interesting. The data provided for this continues to grow with more people getting on to Xert, so the data is being filtered by age and gender, and is perpetually updated. You get a “Fitness Comparison and Ranking”, showing your BEST and CURRENT value. In this case, my ‘365’ watts over 5 minutes is just 97% of my Best watts of 375 over 5 minutes, which I have hit in the last six weeks. The Median for this age group is 336 watts, and the 90% percentile is 422 watts. My 365 watts puts me at about the 66th percentile for the population.
*** Now – I DO need to make something clear, because it can be confusing. Xert’s ‘365’ is NOT the ACTUAL VALUE that I may or may not have achieved in the last 42 days. Instead, it’s the MAX POTENTIAL VALUE that I COULD have achieved on this day. I’ll make that more clear in a paragraph or two.  Xert's unique algorithm determines this in the background and I have found it to be REALLY close every time we've tested it.


On the next section of the page, there’s a GREAT image, affectionately known as the “Spider Chart”. It basically looks at the 12 different power categories, and determines where you rank in relation to ALL of them. This can help you identify holes in your training, or strengths. In my Spider Chart, shown below, my most recent training has tilted me slightly toward the short-and-mid-intensity specialties, between 2 and 8 minutes, while my time schedule has prevented me from riding longer events or rides.
Rankings Spider Web

You can mouse over the orange dots, and it will re-state your current records, and where those records sit in relation to the rest of the population.

Finally, there’s a ‘Progression Chart’. Now, this is a bit complicated, but there is a method to it, and it does help you understand what’s going on with your fitness.
Progression Chart April 3

The first thing to focus on is the left-side “Y” axis. The left Axis is showing, in my specific case, that “MAX WATTAGE POTENTIAL” for my chosen Athlete Type - Breakaway Specialist - 5 minute power. The circles (Best Activities) correspond to activities where I reached my 5 minute max wattage potential on that day.  Mousing over these circles shows what my maximum 5 minute wattage was on that day.  In addition, if you mouse over the vertical bars, “Best Activities”, which is that small script on the lower left side of the graph, acting as a key, changes from day-to-day showing your maximum 5 minute wattage.
Progression Chart March 9

In this example, March 9th of 2016, Xert calculated that, based on everything I’d entered in prior to this day, I had the POTENTIAL to hit a ‘359’ watt average over 5 minutes. However… after a solid block of Specific, hard training, which again, I’ll explain in a short while, that value bumped up to 371 watts on April 2nd.
Best Activities 371

So that’s a roughly 3% boost in 3 weeks, which, honestly, is pretty realistic. So look at that first when you get down to the Progression chart.

Next, slide all the way over to the FAR RIGHT “Y” axis. There, you’ll see “Weighted Average Daily Accumulated Energy (KJ). This is NOT a part of the Progression Chart. Instead, it’s a way to see, through the vertical red/purple/green bars, just how much WORK you’re doing on a regular basis. Again, it’s NOT a fitness indicator so much as it is a “VOLUME” indicator. We can debate the pro and con of any scoring system, but this is just a convenient way to look at work, and how it’s being used on a daily basis, out to about six weeks. But it gets even MORE detailed.
Progression Chart Low High Detail

Take a look at the Key along the bottom of the graph. You’ll notice that in the chart above, it says

“LOW – 811”, “HIGH – 56”, “PEAK – 12” and “FOCUS – 7”

for that specific day of April 3rd, 2016. This is a measure of how much training I had been doing.  On that given day, which was actually a race out on the Scenic Loop of Ft. Davis, TX, my “Weighted Average” of WORK, measured in KILOJOULES, breaks down to:

  • 811 kJ of Low Intensity Energy Use (Largely Aerobic energy use)…
  • 56 kJ of High Intensity Energy Use (Largely Vo2 and Anaerobic energy consumption)…
  • And ~12 kJ of PEAK energy Use (completely anaerobic and near-maximal effort).
Xert summarizes this information and categorizes it as an Athlete Type.  This is the Focus Line, the ‘Wandering Trail’ that floats through the vertical red bars.   It highlights the fact that on THAT day, when you add up all the training I had been doing, it indicates that I had been focussing my training as “GC Specialist”, which is an 8-minute best average power.   Xert’s Focus Line helps you identify what area of your training you’ve been putting your focus over the past few weeks.

You’ll be able to tease a couple of more things out of the graph at this stage of learning.

First, that ‘Wandering Trail’, can help you improve on your SPECIFICITY, and basically, stay away from rides that don’t suit your goals or purpose. The more intervals you perform at a specific intensity and duration that is based on your goal, the more that ‘Wandering Trail’ rises or falls toward your w/t goal.

Second, the vertical bars are designed so that you have a light-red to imply ONE workout in a 24 hour period, and you have a darker-red rectangle, to reveal TWO workouts performed in a single day.

Now – let’s finish up with the Progression Chart by looking at the circles and dots, and understand just what those mean.

The circles show you just how well you did on a given day.  A purple circle generally means you worked hard by didn’t accomplish anything special that.  Sometimes when you’re tired, purple circles may provide indication that you weren’t able to produce your best results that day.  Gold, silver and bronze circles indicate that you had shown an improvement.
Progression Chart BIG CIRCLE

A SMALL purple circle, like the one found on March 20th, symbolizes a ‘but that ‘Best’ wasn’t hard enough to merit a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Medal. The LOCATION of the dots is in relation to their wattage.  
Progression Chart Red Angled Arrow
Looking at the Progression chart a couple of days later, you’ll see that there are a series of Purple Dots, and they decline in power. Now, this is going to get in to a bit of coaching and over-reach vs recovery, but this was a period of time, about 14 to 10 days out from the Ft. Davis Stage Race, where I was just BURYING MYSELF in intensity! The result was that my maximal power output suffered, even as my volume and overall intensity increased. If you look at March 28th and 29th, you’ll see that I ended up with a ‘Silver Medal’, signifying a new record and the next day, I had another purple dot that was also a record of an 8-minute effort, that was JUST UNDER the record set the previous day.

So, just to review:
  • Purple dots are ‘Highs’, but not ‘Record Highs’.
  • Medals mean you hit a new breakthrough in fitness.
  • The size of the medal means how definite the achievement was.

Let’s look at one more thing before we leave the Progression Chart…
Progression Chart March 12

Take a look at that ‘Wandering Trail’ or, the ‘Focus’ Line. You’ll notice that it rises and falls. While I think there might be a better way to show this metric to the viewer, it really IS an interesting category. What it’s saying is that, based on ALL of the work you’ve done over your recent training, the ‘FOCUS’ centered on one particular category in the Spider Chart or ‘Athlete Type’ mentioned above. As I did my workouts and tried to focus exclusively on intervals that would improve my 5-minute Power, the FOCUS line rose. When I performed rides that had longer durations, and gaps between intervals, like on weekends, my FOCUS line actually dropped. If you look at the past 3 days of workouts, you’ll see that my FOCUS line once again rose, as I resumed training after a two-week hiatus.

I think there is some REAL potential here, because if you follow Xert’s premise, it’s not just the rethinking of power and time-in-zones and recovery that is required, it’s the actual CONTENT and INTENSITY of the INTERVALS that makes for such incredible potential. And THAT is where we’re going to go next…


PART II – APPLYING THE NEW IDEAS INTO ACTION VIA INTERVALS

I’m going to skip over Xert’s Power-Duration Curve stuff, and will return to it later, but the reason I want to discuss the Intervals Builder first, is that it is, in my opinion, the absolute strongest feature in Xert’s arsenal. Furthermore, once you have your Fitness Signature, there are APPS, available on Garmin’s Connect IQ and via Android (iphone coming soon), that will allow you to further exploit Xert’s Power-Duration Model and Maximum Power Available information. Again, I’ll get to that later, but for now, let’s discuss Xert’s Interval Builder and why it’s so important to your fitness goals.

Once you’ve got your fitness profile, and established your goals (3 minute, 5 minute, 8 minute, stuff like that), it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get there. To do that, head over to the left-hand bar of options, and click on ‘WORKOUTS’.
Standard Workouts

You’ll get two options in the sub-menu; “Standard Workouts” and “My Workouts”. Let’s start with some “Standard Workouts”, and then we’ll tinker with some custom workouts to sharpen the blade a bit.

Now, remember – my goal is to have a stronger FIVE MINUTE POWER. That puts me in the “Breakaway Specialist” category. So, I’ll go the THIRD COLUMN, which is “WORKOUT FOCUS”, and click through until I find some appropriate intervals. If you click on the Title, it will sort by “Focus”, and “Breakaway Specialist will be on Page 1.
Standard Workouts Seiler

Now, let’s click on the second workout – Seiler – and see what it looks like…
Workout Designer Seiler Wharton

This interval set shows that, UNIQUE TO ME, if I were to perform FOUR SEPARATE, FOUR-MINUTE INTERVALS, at 372 watts (OUCH!!!!!) each, with just TWO MINUTES of recovery, that the amount of STRAIN (see middle of the image) would be adequate to optimize my 5-minute output, over time.

HOWEVER – take a look at the PURPLE LINE. That PURPLE LINE is an indicator of “MAXIMUM POWER AVAILABLE”, and you can see that it intercepts the RED LINE of the SECOND INTERVAL, the THIRD INTERVAL, and the FOURTH INTERVAL. Now – if you believe Xert’s programming, THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! Let’s ZOOM in so I can explain why.

Seiler ZOOM

Xert’s Foundation goes like this: When you ride a bike, you use “Low-Intensity Energy” (your aerobic system), “High-Intensity Energy (Your Vo2 and Anaerobic Systems), and “Peak” Energy systems, which is your Phospho-Creatine System and Sprint power. The “Maximum Power Available” curve declines as you cross over your Threshold Power, and it rebounds when you recover beneath it.

For the first interval, that purple line of “MPA”, and the red line of “Watts”, don’t cross paths. The interval ends with an “MPA” of less than 600 watts, while the interval’s overall 4 minute effort was at “372”. But, for the SECOND interval, the decline of “MPA” intercepts the red line with about 23 seconds to go. In the image above, there is theoretically NO WAY that I can hold 372 watts at that moment, with an MPA that is at 343 watts and declining. This happens again, a bit earlier in Interval #3, and again in interval #4. So I have to alter this workout if I know that I’m going to be able to even complete it.

If I go down to the bottom of the screen, I can see that there are three options in this interval. I’m going to extend the recoveries out to 2:30, and see what that does for me.
Extend Recoveries

When I click on “Calculate”, I get this…
Click Calculate Xert

So – I pushed my ‘Point of Failure’ out for the three intervals I’m concerned about, but not quite. Also – look at the ‘FOCUS’. I’m still in ‘Breakaway Specialist’. Let’s see if I can buy myself some more recovery, and be at least theoretically successful in these four minute intervals.
Pushed Out Recoveries_copy

BOOM! At 3 minutes of recovery, I am going to be JUST ABLE to COMPLETE the intervals, if I can hold 372 watts!

Now – as an Indoor Studio Professional, here’s an ADDED Bonus. Go to that upper right hand corner of the chart, and you’ll see either “TCX” or “ERG” buttons. If you click on them, they’ll export the workout in to a “watts over time” protocol, for your Indoor Ergometer!!!

Here’s what this protocol looks like in PerfPro Studio, the system that I use with Online Bike Coach and Cycling Center Dallas.
PerfPro Seiler

Now – we don’t have ‘Maximum Power Available’ just yet on PerfPro, but we’re lobbying for some type of licensing deal that is satisfactory to all parties. But this literally re-writes the book on interval training with power.

A couple of quick notes:

  • Traditional Zones are thrown out the window. We know what aerobic rides feel like, we know what “Threshold” feels like. Xert has apps that define zones based on CURRENT MPA, FATIGUE OVER TIME, and ENERGY USE. Thus – THEY SHIFT, based on fitness, and real-time work spent at different intensities.

  • The intervals can sometimes be MUCH, MUCH HIGHER INTENSITY than we’re used to, and are LONGER than you may feel comfortable with. Sometimes they are the opposite SINCE THEY DON’T HAVE YOU ATTEMPTING SOMETHING YOU CAN’T DO.  And THEY WORK. They REALLY, REALLY work. Many times, the workouts bring you RIGHT TO YOUR EXACT LIMIT meaning, you won’t complete the very last part of the interval. THAT IS FINE. YOU ARE STILL GETTING THE RECOMMENDED TRAINING DOSE.

I think I’ll stop here – and will focus on the Apps in another blog post, but you should go through the workouts, look at them, and then, click on the “New Workout” option, and experiment with building your own. You’ll see how changing the three deltas of intervals – Frequency, Intensity, and Time (FIT) can alter your specialty, and can determine your Maximum Power Available, to determine whether the workout is doable or not. YOU CAN BREAK THE MODEL!!! And that’s a GOOD THING. But the more information you put in to Xert, the more it’s going to learn about your fitness and capabilities, and the more it will ‘Tune’ the workouts. One Day’s “Breakaway Specialist” workout, may be tomorrow’s “Rouleur” workout, as Threshold or Anaerobic Capacity Wax and Wane.

I’ll be back with a full Blog about Xert’s Apps on a Garmin, but for now, read through, download the FREE BETA, and insert your data. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Enjoy the ride!




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Coach Wharton
14:27

Pacing Yourself For the Critical Power Tests

Power Testing is an important and exciting week! 
15 - 1

This week, we are going to determine just how effective this last block of training really was. If you are new, this a chance to establish a Critical Power and Anaerobic Capacity baseline.  You will be performing a three minute, eight minute, and thirteen minute test over two separate days. On Monday and Tuesday, we will be performing the 13 minute critical power test, and on Wednesday and Thursday, we will be performing the, eight minute and three minute tests. The goal here is to make sure that the tests are performed as hard as you possibly can perform them. You are trying to generate as much power as possible over those periods of time. These will be performed on a 2% slope, and they will be self – paced.   This is what you will see on your screen during the tests.

Thirteen Minute Critical Power Display v2
 

If you have never done power testing before -   Getting a power testing session under your belt  is especially important for you as we will finally be able to get your accurate Critical Power (CP), and find out where you are performance-wise, so we can measure your progress going forward. We will walk you through it and explain everything.   Your goal is to get the experience of your first power testing session and practice pacing, smoothness and using your gears and cadence to generate power over the duration you are testing.

For those who have tested before- this is a chance to try and beat previous records and measure progress. 

Pacing Strategies. We experimented with different ways to attempt to get the highest average power. In the past I have advocated that you start a little bit easier, and should try finish strong.

The goal for these tests will be to maintain an even power out. I will be giving you each a goal, based on your numbers during last week’s 3 and 8 minute Pre-Test intervals, and other data from the PerfPro analyzer software. You will attempt to find a power output you can maintain without having to slow down for most of the test interval.  The graph will look flat for a longer period of time.  In the last 90 seconds, you will start to push it.  Your power should continue to ramp up during this time until the end of the effort, when you should feel like you are unable to go much harder. Again - LEAVE WITH NOTHING LEFT!!!

Here is an image to show you what I mean… Pay attention to the Red Line. This is an Exponentially Weighted Moving Average, and it shows you your "Real Time" metabolic effort in watts.
Rising Intensity Version 2 on 13 minute test

Focus this week on maintaining a STEADY POWER OUTPUT for most of the test, following the wattage goal set for you by Coach Wharton. Then, with roughly 90 seconds to go, up the cadence, up the power, and shift to get as much out of your system as possible! It’s literally “CRITICAL” that you do so! It is, after all, a “Critical Power” test!

We have to get EVERY KILOJOULE of energy out of you, in order to get a good value. The more information we get, the better we can gauge progress, and capacity. We want your weekend rides to be more enjoyable, and will do everything we can to help you continue to improve your fitness and cycling knowledge, through the studio, software, and testing.

Here are some cool things we will know about you as a cyclist at the end of your power testing session.

·         Your Critical Power Number (CP, or FTP) – This is the number on your display. It is individual to you and determines how much load you get during your workout. 

·         Your Power Duration Curve -  This will reveal to us an accurate estimate of how much power you can produce during different durations.  For example, how much power you produce if you were to go as hard as you can for 2 minutes, or 4 minutes, or 10 minutes, or 50 minutes, without actually having to do a max effort for that duration. 

·         Your W prime  - This gives the coaches at CCD a better idea of what your capacity is to do shorter, harder intervals above CP, and recover from them.

I would wish you Good Luck, but you don’t need it!

You have
  • SKILL...
  • KNOWLEDGE... and
  • GOALS to GUIDE YOU!

See you at the studio!

 

PS – Be fed, hydrated, rested, and lightly salted before class. Hydration makes a HUGE difference!!

 


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Coach Wharton
11:41

What is BikeScore?

 


What is BikeScore?

BikeScore is a way to gain "points" for your workouts.  It is basically a points system that tells you how much training stress a workout gave your body. The more points, the more training demand that workout placed on your body. This value takes the concept of time spent working out, as well as how hard the workout was, to give you a score.  Each workout at Cycling Center Dallas has a BikeScore. With BikeScore, we can give you a specific target for each workout, as well as measure a gradual increase in your training over time, by gradually increasing your overall BikeScore each week.  Here are some typical BikeScores you may obtain during a ride...

 
 - Less than 50 - very low (recovery complete by following day)
 - 50-150 - low (recovery generally complete by following day)
 - 150-300 - medium (some residual fatigue may be present the next day, but gone by 2nd   day)
 - 300-450 - high (some residual fatigue may be present even after 2 days)
 - Greater than 450 - very high (residual fatigue lasting several days likely) 


Most of the workouts at Cycling Center Dallas are between 70 and 90 points per hour.  The closer the bike score gets to 100 for an hour workout, the harder the workout is going to be.  However, a ride outside can be much higher due to the longer duration.  Remember that bike score takes into account both the intensity and the duration of the workout.  So a long hard group ride or rally could easily get up into the high 200s, or even 300's, and will probably leave you with some fatigue the next day or two.

 
How do we use this in class?

To obtain accurate bike scores for you we first need to know your correct Critical Power(CP).    BikeScore takes into account all the time you spent above and below CP, and how long your workout lasted. We have a BikeScore goal assigned to each workout located Here:

 bikescore2

So, for this workout, if you were to complete the workout goals at your CP, you would have earned 82 points.  If you start paying attention to the bike scores, you will notice they gradually increase a point or two per workout each week.  This is because we plan the workouts to gradually increase in difficulty as you adapt to the training and become stronger. So you will be getting more points per workout as well as a gradual increase in your overall points through the training block.  After your workout, you can also find your BikeScore in your the report that was emailed to you.

bikescore1



How can knowing this make me a stronger cyclist?

Being able to plan and measure your training doses is a powerful tool.  Now, instead of shooting in the dark with workout goals, we can now give you a “progression” strategy to get you to your goals more efficiently and faster.  We challenge your body with appropriate intensities, and slowly grow the load in a way you can adapt to and continue to meet the demands of each workout. Each block slowly grows your BikeScores, and finishes with some testing so we can go into the next training block with your new CP values.

Now, what you do on your days away from CCD also will accumulate BikeScore Points.  If you have an on bike power meter, you can obtain your BikeScore from outdoor rides, and get a complete picture of your training. Download this data at home and share it with us, or bring in your head unit, and we can download it while you wait. Either way, this information will help us, help you, achieve your goals when cycling! And remember - if you don't have it already, you can also purchase a copy of PerfPro Analyzer. At this time PerfPRO Analyzer is only available for Windows, but it will allow you the ability to look further into your workouts and augment them with outside ride data.

 
Next week we will be taking a look at the the Relative Intensity (RI), and where this value fits into workouts you are you doing at CCD.


Find out the 3 SECRETS as to why the Cycling Performance Classes are so effective!

Get a peak at the 3 core concepts that combine the science of physiology and performance training into cycling workouts that are INDIVIDUAL to you, and lead to better results.



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Coach Wharton
17:51

A Quick Preview of the September and October 2015 Program at Cycling Center Dallas!

Get more out of every workout with the best trainers and coaches in the Metroplex!

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Coach Wharton
16:24

Stage 21: 21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Set a Goal!

Ascent

Well, it's over. The 21 stages have finished, the jerseys awarded, the elation, the heartbreak, the countryside, the millions of spectators... and now comes the Champagne.

These riders, their teams, directors, and sponsors, share a passion for this sport, and show that passion on the world's most beautiful stage. France in summer is like no place else, and if you ever get the chance to view it, or participate in a tour, give it a serious thought.

Most of these riders and teams are goal-oriented. When you ride, think about where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. Think about the elation, the challenge, and the struggle as you accomplish those goals. If you find one goal is just a little too far out of hand, well, that's what Cycling Center Dallas is for - we live to help people become better, more accomplished cyclists and triathletes. It can't be done with your legs and lungs alone. It takes heart, soul, spirit, and a holistic approach. It takes good equipment, knowledge, and reinforced passion.

There's sort of a let-down in the last week of July and early August, when the Tour de France has ended. But in North Texas, we do have one incredible goal to look forward to and prepare for - the Hotter 'n Hell! Think you're up for the challenge? Register today and come see us - we'll help you get there!!!

We hope you've had a wonderful July, full of rides, sun, road, recovery, and revitalization. We've got a great program for August, and we'll be introducing several new training themes and ideas in the remainder of 2015. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and come visit!

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