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
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
12:29

21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! - ROUGH ROADS!!!

Cobbles
Can you believe it? We're only four days in to the Tour de France, and there's been enough drama and action for a month's worth of cycling!

It seems like the people that design the course every year, scheme of ways to challenge the cyclists and their teams, while providing incredible sights for tourists and the global audience. Today's section, with over 18 miles of roads built from cobblestones, will literally jar the handlebars out of a regular cyclist, and when the weather is poor, these roads are almost impassible.

Riding a bike out on the road is always a challenge. There's wind, weather, temperatures, traffic, and of course, construction zones. While we all wish for smooth asphalt, courteous drivers, and no debris, the fact is that this is rarely the case.

When you ride on rough roads, there are a few things you can do to make the ride a little easier.

First, take a little air out of your tires. Modern tires are so good that they can be ridden well below their maximum pressure, and a tire with some cushion can absorb a lot of impact and road buzz.

Second, ALWAYS wear gloves. Gloves help you ride with less strain, and most modern gloves absorb impact as well.

Third - keep your chin up, and look down the road. Usually, there are areas where motor vehicles have already rolled, and their weight has compressed the earth a little, under the areas of their tires. When you ride in the right or left wheel well, things definitely get smoother.

Fourth - this is one area where you MIGHT consider a lower cadence, if only to help you maintain some torque and balance.

Finally, if you encounter rough roads more often than not, consider riding a wider tire, or buying some wheels with wider rims. Modern racing wheels are actually getting wider, and modern tire recommendations are now down to below 100 psi for most cyclists, unless they're really big.

Thankfully, most modern roads don't use cobblestones or brick. Cities and States employ asphalt and concrete. But asphalt can be rough on the joints of a cyclist, and concrete can break up from weather. Ride aware, ride within your limits, and be prepared with good equipment and fitness.

Cycling on rough roads doesn't have to be a drag, or prevent you from exercising. They're just another skill you can award yourself when you've overcome their challenges, giving you more opportunity to ride when and where you want, for whatever reason!

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Coach Wharton
15:31

More Ways to Use the Moxy to Interpret A Workout at Cycling Center Dallas

Leonardo Spencer - 2015-01-29T09-56-33 - Snapshot

I keep finding out more and more about this Moxy Muscle Oxygen Sensor, and I can't wait to share it!

Here's an image of a longtime client and his workout from a few days back. He's always good about getting in early, getting a solid warmup, and he drinks his hydration like a saltwater fish. The squiggly red line is his Hemoglobin count, and the light blue line is his Muscle Oxygen. This workout consisted of six 5-minute intervals at 107% of Critical Power, with just 2.5 minutes of recovery. He. NAILED. IT!

How so? Well, first, I'm not showing his actual wattage line, but we did not need to, because it was so consistent. Every interval was 107%. The consistency of the wattage is also reviewed in the consistency of the Muscle Oxygen. See the green line hidden beneath the light blue? That's W', and after the first 15 minutes of warmup, you'll see that the value stayed rather static, and actually remained above 60% reserve after the first interval was completed. The ONLY trouble I see with this workout is that after interval #4, Leo's ThB values began falling. I'm interpreting this as a sign of fatigue, and maybe his dehydration was outpacing his rehydration. He is an incredibly heavy sweating individual, and I suspect that he loses maybe 2-3 Kg over the course of an hour. But here's my takeaway from this image...

If we looked at this, and it repeated itself in other workouts, it would be a sign that Leo had adapted to his CP value at 209w, and a retest might be worthwhile. How so? Well, look at his SmO2 in light blue... it was consistent. REALLY consistent. My analysis leaves me believing that he can successfully handle this load, and while his RI (Relative Intensity) was at 93%, which signifies a pretty hard 60 minutes, we need to 'Go Up'. Had SmO2 dropped significantly, well, that would have indicated that maybe he wasn't ready for six intervals at low Vo2 range. 

If you want to get a different look at the file, here's a link... http://ppst.co/18CzDsv

Here's another example, taken later that night. 

Jim Porter - 2015-01-29T19-16-48 - Snapshot_copy
Jim has been coming in consistently now for several weeks, and while we're still about four weeks out from an official Critical Power test, it might be time to RAISE THE NUMBER! Once again - look at his SmO2 values in light blue. They were rather consistent. Now, look at the white line, which indicated Critical Power. We raised his numbers about 5%, and the SmO2 values didn't change. In the middle of interval #4, we raised the CP again, and Muscle Oxygen still didn't decrease! You can't get as good a look at the ThB values because of scaling, but they did not change all that much. But again, the important thing is that, as he raised his intensity on the intervals, metabolically speaking, nothing much changed. He hit his wattage goals, and while he was highly fatigued, did NOT lose much else. Here's the link to his file: http://ppst.co/18CzHsq

I'm starting to believe that this little product is going to really help my athletes and myself as we continue to focus on ways to help THEM improve their performance through proper intensity. Moxy allows me to see what's going on intrinsically, while wattage reveals what's going on extrinsically. If we get consistent wattage results, but SmO2 begins to drop, well, I read that as strain that is adequate to affect a response from the body. But if it's static or within a range, well, then we need to test, because the subject has adapted to the load. The result? MORE POWER and more POWER-TO-WEIGHT. 

This device could be revolutionary. Let's see what else it can tell us over the next several months! If you're interested, Moxy monitors can be purchased through Cycling Center Dallas for $1000, and we'll help you with setup. 


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Coach Wharton
17:39

Increasing Intensity in PerfPro Studio to Get The Proper Training Effect With Moxy


Moxy and PerfPro at Cycling Center Dallas

This is a GREAT example of why I'm so excited about the Moxy Monitor, and what it can do to help cyclists at Cycling Center Dallas get MORE out of every training session. 

Take a look at the image above. The blue area is the load, and in this case, these are 3-minute intervals at 110% of Critical Power. The white line is Critical Power itself, and if you own PerfPro, you know that you can raise or lower the intensity of a workout just by increasing or decreasing that value with the "+" and "-" keys on the handlebar controller. The smoother red line is Paul's Heart Rate, while the squiggly red line is Total Hemoglobin, or "THB". The Green line is W', or a rider's Anaerobic Work Capacity, and the light blue line is the rider's Saturated Muscle Oxygen, or SMo2.

If you recall from my previous post, I mentioned that we can use Moxy information to learn a lot about warmup, bonking, fatigue, dehydration, etc. And we're still learning more EVERY SINGLE TIME WE USE IT. This morning's ride is a perfect example. 

Paul came in this morning after having done a hard interval workout the night before. He also said he had not had much sleep (he has four kids, and his wife had been out of town). But, Paul is one of those perfect clients that is rare in our world. He's consistent, he loves the workouts, and he's hungry to understand. He wrote us something a while back about how we literally saved his cycling soul, and I felt like getting it framed. But after a quick chat, we both agreed that he should just take today's workout one interval at a time, and see how it went. He lowered his Critical Power by 50 points, continued his warmup, and we installed the Moxy Monitor on his left Lateralis. 

If you follow the red squiggly line, this is the fascinating part. Throughout the warmup and first interval, Paul's Total Hemoglobin remained low, and his SmO2 was at or near his 'Active Resting SmO2' level. But, predictably, after the first interval was over, both ThB and SmO2 both rose, indicating that the muscles were relaxing and opening up for wider flow of oxygen and nutrients, and purging of waste materials. 

We raised CP about 10 points and did the next interval....

SmO2 dropped, down to a level normally associated with his Vo2 or Maximal Aerobic Power plateau, and ThB, which had dropped immediately during the beginning of the interval, began to RISE over the course of the three minutes, while SmO2, again, plateau'd. Watts were perfect, and the rise in HR, which is certainly predictable, was not as high as possible, nor was his 'range' of HR. Immediately after the interval, however, ThB and Smo2 both rose, but NOT to the levels that I was expecting. I racked this up to his fatigue from the night before, and we discussed leaving the CP intensity at that level, and just turning the workout in to a less intense, more aerobic ride. But Paul, himself a PhD and a scientist, wanted to study more. 

We raised CP another 10 points, and did the NEXT interval!....

SmO2 dropped to about 30-35% of saturation, in line with the previous intervals, and ThB again plopped, then rose steadily, just like HR. Watts were perfect. He felt better throughout the interval. His head was in it, he knew his numbers, he was watching and listening, as was I, and he nailed his third interval at this 'new' level of intensity.

But it was what happened after that really wowed us. 

Look at the ThB and SmO2 levels after interval #3. Paul's now 20 minutes in to the workout, plus the extra 15 he did at low intensity, and NOW, his ThB and SmO2 levels spike to NEW HIGH'S! MORE Oxygen and MORE nutrients, and a BEAUTIFUL little Skateboard-ramp of an HR plot after the interval to show that NOW the Heart is Ready, NOW the legs are ready, and NOW the VASCULAR system is adequately dilated and prepared for the challenges to come. 

WE RAISED CP ANOTHER 10 POINTS, to near his original Critical Power, and did the FOURTH Interval....

BOOM! GREAT WATTAGE PROFILE! GREAT HR PROFILE! GREAT SmO2 Profile revealing a floor at an appropriate level of intensity, and BOOM! A great ThB profile that mimics the previous two intervals, showing a rise in ThB throughout the three minutes, as if the blood was pushing GOOD STUFF in, and BAD STUFF OUT. And just after the interval ends? Check out the new high's on that ThB!! 

What does it all mean? Well, I can't emphasize it enough, but I REALLY believe that this is telling us good information about proper warmup, proper interval dosing, and psychosomatically, proper ways to get the most out of every workout, and interval. I LOVE wattage and power meters, but the power meter is the LAST BIT of information you're going to get, because it's OUTSIDE the body. It's the RESULT of the brain telling the muscles to GO, and the heart responding after a period of time. IF we had just relied on HR, well, we'd be missing a bit of the picture. IF we just used watts, or cadence, or energy expenditure, it's all just slices of a pie. But NOW, we've got ANOTHER PIECE OF INFORMATION! TWO, REALLY! And we just used that information to help a fatigued cyclist properly warm up, properly dose his intervals, and properly approach those intervals once he had the confidence of knowing that he was READY. 

Don't leave anything to chance. Your time, your life, your passion, is SO PRECIOUS. Micah McKee, my first ever cycling coach, gave me a quote that I'll never forget.... 

"Enthusiasm Without Knowledge Is Like Running In the Dark!"

ENJOY your CYCLING, but ENJOY IT MORE when you train with us. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS - THEY DON'T LIE. Let US do the Analysis, you just perceive and focus, based on what we reveal and learn together. I'm convinced that this will be the next paradigm shift in cycling and coaching. I can't WAIT to learn more.

If you'd like to try out any of our services, please feel free to register for a class at either of our locations. We have Moxy's at each studio, and they are for sale for $1000, or roughly 2/3 to 1/2 the price of a power meter. Integration and Awareness will help us, help you, enjoy your body and bike to a higher degree. That's a promise. 

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Coach Wharton
20:05

A LOOONG ESSAY About Pedal Stroke, SpinScan, and Rotor Q and QXL Rings...

QXL Crank Position 3 170mm Rotor Crank

Those of you who know me, know that at heart, I'm a Geek. A total, unapologetic, Cycling Geek. I remember when I ran my last Cross-Country race as a runner, way back in 1992. After it was over, I remember thinking "This far, and no faster. I will never be any stronger than this as a runner." And that next week, I emptied out my locker at Davidson College, completed my transfer to Montana State, and dedicated myself to becoming the best Cycling and Mountain Biking Coach I could possibly be. 

The difference between cycling and running, for me, is that there will ALWAYS be some new challenge, some new effort, some new move or equipment or style, or strategy, and it will perpetually keep me interested in learning its' mastery. When I ran, well, I ran. I ran intervals, and I cycle intervals, but it's just not the same. New shoes won't make me faster, and they won't prevent shin splints. However - new tires and tubes on a bike can make a difference, albeit subtle. Running singlets wick sweat and repel UVA rays, but Cycling Kit can make or break a day, depending on how it's stitched, what fabrics are used, how thick the chamois is, and how much necessary stuff you can place in a back pocket. Runners get excited about shoelaces. Cyclists get excited about BOA cables and sole stiffness. Basically, there's only so much that a runner can do to get faster, and the strategy for running is to basically run at a pace that's sustainable, while training at paces that are unsustainable, while cyclists have an endless number of variables that they can put to use to get better and improve. Cadence, kit, fit, gear, slope, speed, wattage, even air density is more important for a cyclist! There's just SO MUCH MORE to TRAIN!

So with that bit of historical perspective, I'll give some more anecdotes and then we'll get in to the meat of the discussion today. 

I move to Montana, start racing mountain bikes, and quickly realize that I'm not going to get any faster if I don't train in the winter. So, in 1995, I bought my first CompuTrainer. I still have it, somewhere, in my collection. But it's not the fact that I bought it - it's the fact that I actually USED it, in it's Nintendo-esque sort of way, from November through Easter of that winter, that made the difference. The programming was just pitiful, but what I ended up doing was the following.... 

I set up my mountain bike in a barn, next to a pellet stove, and I would work out in there, staring at these colored bars, which represented the Torque I was putting in to the pedals. RacerMate called it "SpinScan", and to this day, it's still a source of debate in the cycling community. The SpinScan graphically reveals the "Net Torque", or the amount of positive and negative drag placed on a pedal as it goes forward through a revolution. There will always be positive torque, and there will always be negative torque. When they're equal, the pedal and crank are stationary. But the argument that RacerMate made was the following - by studying a rider's SpinScan, they could make position adjustments, and also neuro-muscular adjustments, to sort of turn what was usually considered a 'Piston'-like stroke, with more power in the down stroke, and a definite lack of power in the up-stroke, to something more like a 'Turbine', where net torque was more uniform throughout each revolution of the cranks. 

Now, before I go further, I have ONE BIG CAVEAT ----- There is NO, ZERO, NONE, Scientific or Empirical Evidence that what I'm about to say has any validity whatsoever. We DO have anecdote, but to this day, RacerMate has NEVER commissioned a study with an objective 3rd-party laboratory, that PROVES that a 'Round' Pedal Stroke is 'BETTER' in any way, than a traditional pedal stroke. In Fact, the ONE STUDY that was done to determine which was better, lent itself towards the more traditional piston-style pedal stroke, being more powerful overall, and yielding a higher average power output. But that was one study, done over 20 years ago, and it did NOT measure much more than power output over a time/distance. BUT ANECDOTALLY, riders have claimed for two decades now that when they pedal circles, they 'feel' more economical, don't move around as much, feel like they can raise their cadence a bit, and 'spare' muscles, especially among triathletes, for later stages. I don't know, and I don't have the ability to tell. But in my own humble experience, well... let's get back to the story. 

I spent that winter training, not really knowing what Threshold Power was, or anything, really, but I did end up getting a SpinScan Count up in to the 90's. What's that? Well, if a ZERO is a perfectly Terrible Pedal stroke, in other words, not a pedal stroke at all, and a 100 was a Perfectly Even Pedal Stroke, then having a Pedal Stroke Count in the 70's to 90's SEEMED to be pretty good. I trained myself, hour after hour, to change the way my pedal stroke looked and felt. The sound of the CompuTrainer changed from a 'Whom Whom Whom Whom" sound to a 'Whommmmmmmmmmmmmmm" type sound. And my average power output grew. I added slope, slowed down my cadence to mimic the real world, and kept working on training my brain to generate those 'better' values all the way around the pedal stroke. After about 15 weeks, here's what happened...

I got to several early-season mountain bike events, and like always, my bike handling skills were just mediocre at best. But it was the CLIMBS where I really ended up excelling! I'm convinced that my circular pedal stroke helped me climb faster and more efficiently, and helped me HOLD TRACTION on slopes where I might otherwise have slipped, and forced a dismount. The trend at the time was to create mountain bike tires that were 'Semi-Slick', and while it made you faster, it also increased your chances to slip if traction wasn't JUST RIGHT. But, with my brain trained, I really became a FAST climber, and while I didn't win anything, I was consistently in the Top 5 in my category, and enjoyed the racing. 

Fast forward to the New Millenium, and SpinScan gets an Update. Now, instead of looking like this.... (no, this is not a joke...)
TV Color Bars - Anyone Remember These after "The Late Show"?


It ended up looking like this....
Comp CS 1.6 Image Coaching Software CompuTrainer RacerMate

Now, this made a LITTLE more sense, graphically. The light-colored bubble represented the "Net Torque", and the graph behind basically meant that the right side was a composite of 1 o'clock on the right pedal, as well as 7 o'clock on the left pedal. 2 o'clock also had the negative torque effect of 8 o'clock, etc. There was also a little red thingy called an "ATA", or "Average Torque Angle", which basically showed where on a crank pedal stroke, a rider was putting out the best torque, and since torque is related to power, you could further train your brain so that your pedal power was not only 'rounder', it also was aimed closer to 90 degrees, which makes sense in a crowbar-sort of way. Try pushing down on a crank when it's at 12 or 6 o'clock, and... nothing happens. Pedal between 2 and 4 o'clock, and the wheel moves. Furthermore, try pedaling with just the trailing part of the leg, when the crank is between 8 and 10 'clock, and while the crank will move, it's just never going to have the power that you get when you're using your glutes and quads to force that bike crank down at the opposite position. It's muscle mechanics and bicycle positioning. It's not easy to explain, and honestly, I'm about to make it a little bit MORE difficult. BUT HANG ON. 

PART II - ENTER THE OVAL CHAINRING!

From 1995 until roughly 2002, I trained with SpinScan in my off-season, and learned how to train my brain to fire my muscles so that I had a GREAT-LOOKING SpinScan, and Average Torque Angle (ATA). But honestly, not too many, in fact, NONE, of my clients, had the time available, the energy to commit, or access to the equipment, that was necessary to even attempt to train for this. And again - WE DID NOT AND STILL DO NOT KNOW WHETHER A CIRCULAR PEDAL STROKE IS TRULY "BETTER" than a Traditional Pedal Stroke. BUT, with SpinScan, we CAN get an idea (finally), of what a Pedal Stroke "Looks" like, to some degree. So, with that in mind, I began to notice - MOST of my clients had what I would consider to be pretty ugly pedal strokes! They tended to have these 'morphing orbs' that resembled peanuts at best, and insect bodies at worst. They had Average Torque Angles that were 10 to 20 degrees below 3 o'clock. It looked like the majority of them were just PURE mashers, with no real regard to the nuances of what makes a smooth pedal stroke. And unless they were willing to completely relearn how to pedal, and spend HOURS with a professional bike fitter to help them get the right angles of leg extension and crank length, torso posture, etc. it was just TOO hard to even attempt it. 

...AND THEN CAME ROTOR....

Q Ring Animation Rotor Q Ring Well, nuts. It won't animate. 


Rotor was different. It was a company, founded by two passionate cycling geniuses, who realized that there WERE ways to make cyclists more efficient AND powerful. They were Spanish, they were specialists in metals, they were engineers, and they looked at things differently. 

Their first foray was an entire bike and crank gearing system that had the trailing crank on each revolution, move more quickly than the crank on the down-stroke, so that the 'Dead Spot' was minimized. IT WORKED.... But it was EXORBITANTLY EXPENSIVE, and it required AN ENTIRE NEW BIKE!

The Original Rotor Crank System, Complete with Accompanying Frame!

So.... in the spirit of innovation, they developed and entire crank system that fit inside a modern bottom bracket! This was less expensive, and it's where I jumped in to the game, buying several sets and trying them out. I still have the blog post about it somewhere, but suffice it to say that I was impressed with the idea, but not with the production execution, which was still bulky, heavy, and required a penalty in watts from internal drag. I called Spain, I tried my best to speak my broken Spanish with Pablo, the CEO, and together we came up with ideas to lessen drag and weight, but eventually, I backed out as crank-based power meters gained popularity. 

But Rotor re-acquired my attention when they released the perfect solution, Q-Rings. Q-rings were oval-shaped chainrings that focused not on producing a more circular pedal stroke, but instead focused on giving the cyclist MORE POWER at the point in their pedal stroke that already HAD the most power! Again - instead of trying to make a circle out of an oval, they basically EXTENDED OUT the oval! Furthermore, if you were optimal at 100 degrees on a pedal stroke with your Torque, you could change the angle of the chainring so that it actually hit closer to your power pedal position! 

I was instantly hooked, and began buying and installing these on my bikes. I can't really credit the rings for any wins, or anything, but they definitely showed an increase in my power output at certain positions on the power stroke. I did read up on one study (which I cannot find any longer), that showed how riding at Position 4 out of the 5 possible positions available could increase the RATE at which a rider could accelerate in a sprint, to Maximal Power, but honestly, most of the focus was on the ability to give my clients and myself a bit more power on the down-stroke, and when climbing. The rings weren't overly popular, and there were some shifting problems, but still - it was a small improvement that was felt more so than actually witnessed through a power meter. 

But I kept using them, and tinkering with them, and staying in touch with the developers and their American Counterparts in Colorado Springs. Rotor as a company grew, began offering many other high-quality products, and they obviously continued to innovate on their core items, which were Ovoid Chainrings. They abandoned the RSX4, introduced their own power meter, then another, and then ANOTHER, created an extraordinarily stiff and light crank in numerous lengths, and just kept at it. Finally, in 2013, they released an updated Q ring, called the QXL, which took all the evidence and testimonial from the previous DECADE, and put it to good use. It's more oval-shaped, in a unique way, and I just HAD to try it out.

PART 3 - THE TEST

I'm going to display a number of images and videos, and I'll let you decide, but I'm pretty happy with my small results, and I have an offer for anyone who wants to try it at the end of this, what is probably my longest post in YEARS. 
Coach Wharton with QXL's in Position 4
Okay - This first image is me, riding my QXL rings in Position 4, at a 0% slope. I'm using one of my latest CompuTrainers, with a Hockey Puck Cadence Sensor mounted directly at the 6 o'clock position on the crank. I have no idea if this matters or not, but I wanted to stick with consistency, and there is a lot of debate about SpinScan in regards to mounting the cadence sensor on a rear chainstay that is not directly at the 9 o'clock position. So with that in mind, we'll go with the left crank at 6 o'clock and stick with it. The graph tells you one thing, but really, just look mostly at the darker box on the right. My SpinScan is pretty good at a 78 and 80, making an average of 79, and my 'ATA', or 'Average Torque Angle' is at 97 degrees on the left, and 95 degrees on the right. Again, this is at Position FOUR on my QXL's, which are the most radical of the ring offerings in Rotor's range. This was what was on my bike before I messed with anything.

Now, Let's see what it looks like when I go to round rings....
Richard Wharton Round Rings 0 percent slope
The watts and cadence of this image are not completely the same, and Christie O'Hara, the chief researcher at Rotor, urges me to make sure that things are more consistent, but I was one-man-banding it when I did this, and it's hard to run "SnagIt" while using RM1 software, as it is. However, what you can see is that my 'ATA' trended closer to 90 degrees, and my SpinScan values were a few points higher. What does this mean? Well, it means that my overall pedal stroke on round rings was 'Roundier', and my peak power occurred closer to the area where I would have the strongest 'Lever' on my crank, which again, is 90 degrees. I do still have a dimple on my SpinScan Curve on the left and right legs between 1 and 2 o'clock, telling me that I need to work on my pedal stroke if I want that extra smoothness as I transition over the top of each revolution. 
Rotor QXL Rings at Position 1 Richard Wharton 0 Percent Slope

Now, the next thing I did was a little radical. I wanted to see just how different the pedal stroke looked when I rode my QXL rings in Position 1. So I unhooked the bolts, adjusted the rings accordingly, and cinched them back down. WHAM! Check THAT out! I have a MORE ovalized pedal stroke, my ATA rises ABOVE 90 degrees, and the 'Roundiness' of my SpinScan drops significantly. Honestly, the oval shape is something that is more indicative of most of my clients in the studio, but it's canted more along the 100 degree line, and not 70 degrees! ATA at 84 vs 95. Yikes!

QXL Position 2 Richard Wharton 0 Percent Slope
So, once again, I dismount, remove the chainring bolts, and slide down to Position 2 for the QXL's, reset the bolts, and then get back on the bike and..... Have a look at that. My oval, honestly, looks a lot like the QXL chainring itself. My SpinScan value is the lowest yet, but my ATA, especially on my right leg, is about as close to 90 degrees as you can get. I'm not sure what's going on with the ATA on my left leg, but I suspect it has something to do with cleat position, or where I was sitting on the saddle, etc. But again - take a look at the shape of the Torque Curve, and take a look at where the red ATA line sits in conjunction with the bulge. I THINK this is the purpose and location for the claim that Q Rings and QXL Rings can make a difference in a pedal stroke. I THINK that holding this position out on a flat road, MIGHT, just MIGHT give me a power advantage, that I can quantify. I'm going to leave them there for a month or two, and then try them at another position, but again, think about it - you want the MOST power at the point of GREATEST LEVERAGE, and on a bicycle crank, that occurs at 90 degrees. You want the LEAST resistance at some point where your leg strength is weakest, and for most of us, that coincides with the 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock positions on the crank. So, with a LOT of work, and study, I THINK I've found the Optimal Crank Position, or as Rotor calls it, the OCP, for my legs at this time. 

Just to make sure, I actually put both rings on Position 2, and ramped the slope up to 7%. Mind you - I did NOT raise the nose of my bike up accordingly, but I WILL TRY IT, with an ANCIENT piece of equipment that I have stored away in a shed somewhere. Long story short - here's the graph, and I'm pretty happy with it. 
QXL Rotor Rings at 7 percent Slope Position 2 Richard Wharton


SO.... What have we learned? Well, here's my summary...

  • A pedal stroke that shows net torque to be more uniform throughout the crank revolution MIGHT be a more efficient way to pedal.
  • You can TRAIN YOUR BRAIN, adjust your fit, do other things to try and achieve this 'Roundier' pedal stroke.
  • This takes a LOT of TIME, TIME most of us DON'T HAVE.
  • If you have access to a CompuTrainer, you can 'See' whether your pedal stroke is round, or oblong, and where you apply the most pressure on each pedal stroke.
  • If you want to focus on more POWER per PEDAL stroke, then Rotor Q and QXL rings JUST MIGHT be the product for you!
  • Using SpinScan at Cycling Center Dallas, we can check pedal stroke and where this power is placed, and then confirm that with our extra cranks that have Q and QXL rings already on them. 
  • Position of a Q or QXL chainring can be altered and it can affect the location of your Average Torque Angle, and the shape of your Net Torque Curve. 
  • You can test, alter, and test again, all at CCD.

Here's our "Q" Corner at the Cycling Center Dallas location, next to Richardson Bike Mart's main location.

Rotor Cranks and Q Rings QXL rings Q Corner Cycling Center Dallas Rotor Power
Needless to say, it's not easy, it's kind of hard to understand, and it might not make a difference anyway, but as a coach for 22 years now, I really do believe that there's something "There", there, and I intend to continue testing myself and willing clients, to determine optimal location and effect. 

Special thanks to Kervin at Rotor, and yes, I am going to sell these, along with the Rotor Power Meters, to customers who value our unique attention to details like this. 



Tags:
Coach Wharton
11:47

2014 "No Country for Old Men - Ed Tom Bell 208" Ultra-Marathon Cycling Association Bike Race. Alpine, TX to Lajitas, TX and back!!

No Country for Old Men, Alpine to Lajitas and Back, October 2014

I’m writing this from the road, as we return from this weekend’s 3rd Annual “No Country For Old Men” Ultra-Cycling event. Tracy and I took the weekend to head out to Alpine, Texas, and participate in the 192 miler, hosted by one of the nation’s most prolific Ultra-Cyclists – Dex Tooke. Dex and his wife Joni live in Presidio, which is even FARTHER from anywhere, and as this is hard, hard, hard country, they’ve thrived with their talents and determination.

I’ve mentioned before that I got in to Ultra-Cycling events through my friend and client, Michelle Beckley. This time, Michelle offered her services to her friend Jose, as a Crew Chief on a 1000 mile effort, which traveled all over the Big Bend Country. Tracy and I rode the 192 as a team, but as I write, Michelle’s client is still out there, riding in the cold, the heat, the terrain, and the wind of the desert surrounding the Rio Grande drainage.

9 hours west and south of Dallas, a whole lot of NOTHING in between.

We went in to this event more for the opportunity to just get away for the weekend before the winter rush, and to also get the unforgettable experience of riding in this absolutely gorgeous part of the country. I’m certainly not as fit as I could be, and Tracy’s season ended a while ago, and she’s enjoying the odd Cyclo-Cross event, as well as a good mountain bike ride here and there, while I remain focused on the studios. Basically, we weren’t expecting anything other than our current levels of fitness and competitive natures, to get us through the day.

An early start in Alpine, TX

The start in Alpine was right at 7:00am, and we rode a parade lap through the small town of 6000, in a pre-dawn cruise, pretty much before most of the people woke up. But once we were clear of the population, Dex pulled ahead, and waved a barely-visible green flag, signaling that the Race was on!!!!

Just before sunrise on the road to Terlingua

Tracy and I agreed that the majority of the ride would be my responsibility, and we had the fortune to borrow from my folks a late-model Ford Excursion, with plenty of room for bikes, coolers, food, and Satellite radio. In the pre-dawn effort, when temps were about 50 degrees or so, Tracy drove ahead with several other follow vehicles, and prepared to hand up water and food at different locations. This was a crucial part of the race, as we focused completely on getting as far down the road, from Alpine to Lajitas, as quickly as possible, given the lack of wind, the general downhill slope of the terrain, and the warming-but-modest temps. I was able to stay on a roughly 300Kcal/hr menu of Bonk Breakers, and I went through about a bottle an hour of OSMO. Honestly, in the desert, we should have probably consumed more, but I think the schedule was pretty good, especially in the cooler AM temps.

Efficiency is CRITICAL to these long-duration events!!

Since it was a mass start, there were people in the front with me who were racing different events, be they solo or team, and again, since the light was still poor for the first two hours or so, keeping track of everyone was not easy. That said, I was quickly passed by Cat 1 USAC racer Andrew Willis, who was racing the entire 192 as an individual. Just out of sight, but still ahead, I was able to identify the 2-person 192 team who would be our competition for the entire day. I was certainly slower on the climbs, thanks to a lack of Vo2 intervals, a bike that is specifically designed for high-speed flat straightaways, and the altitude, which of course was dropping the entire way out, but still left it’s bite on my lung capacity. Andrew went on to just KILL the individual effort, averaging over 21mph THE ENTIRE DURATION, while this team from Alpine traded the 2-person team lead with us the entire way.
 Watts and Aerodynamics, Then EAT and DRINK!

A deconditioned state and an ultra-cycling event are no excuse for not applying the concepts that we practice and preach every single day at Cycling Center Dallas. At the Texas Time Trials last month, I made a conscious effort to try and hold 205 Normalized Watts, and to try to keep a pace-per-lap that would help me set a record, and, secondly, to win the race. My big problem there was being able to stay on top of my calorie consumption. The road, literally, forced me to keep my hands on my bars, and the intensity required a heavy respiratory rate, and that interfered with my ability to chew and eat without choking. Here, however, we were on really straight roads, for hours. I found that my full-fingered gloves were superior in holding a naked Bonk Breaker, and I was able to eat while still in the full aero position. Given the altitude, I told myself to be conservative, and ride at a normalized 195w, a few percent below the 205 I had set a month earlier, but the length of the climbs, the cooler temps, and lack of wind in the AM, led me to basically hold 215 Normalized watts for almost 4 hours!!! Ironically, we were still behind Andrew, who again, was riding solo, and yet we were still ahead of the other 2-man team, who were exchanging behind me, and were able to keep maybe 2-4 minutes back. We think they must have performed maybe 5 exchanges, while I rode solo for the majority of the same period of time. Unfortunately, the P3 Aluminum was absolutely the wrong bike for the rolling, rolling, rolling terrain between Terlingua and Lajitas, and I asked Tracy to take over at 3:50, wherein she was promptly hit with a large, steep hill, which was, to say the least, a real shock to her unprepared legs.

Tracy Christenson climbing over a hill on the road from Terlingua to Lajitas.

I got in the car and leapfrogged with Tracy, while the 2-man team passed us and gained time out to Lajitas and back. But she rode REALLY well, and kept us in the race, all the way back to Terlingua, on what was arguably the hottest, hardest part of the course. I took the time to drink at least 9 cups of OSMO, and eat about 900 calories of protein, carbs, and fat, including more bars, but eventually, I got full, and held off. Tracy drank at least four bottles of OSMO in 90 minutes, and while she’d been dreading the ride, arguing that she had dead-legs syndrome, she actually perked up and got stronger as the ride progressed. In Terlingua, we decided to exchange and get me back on the bike.

Tracy Christenson making her way back to Terlingua on some of the toughest terrain of the entire ride.

Here, however, is where we made a time-sucking mistake.

Do I look Fat in This Picture?!

I made the choice of getting back on the P3. The climbs out of Terlingua are numerous and steep, while still sort of short, and my legs were squidlike to the point that I actually ended up pulling over after just half an hour. Feeling that the race for us was lost, Tracy got back on the bike and rode us back to the flat and straight part of the course, for almost another hour, while I continued to drink and try to eat. Once we got back to a part of the route that was as straight as a Roman Road, we looked ahead, looked behind, realized that we may as well have been the last two people on the planet, and I got back on the P3 to try and get as many miles in as possible.

LONG stretches of desert at 180-185 watts.
For the next two hours, I held about 180-185 Normalized watts, kept my head down and out of the way, drank about a bottle every 45 minutes, pulled over to refuel and rehydrate, and basically went in to a “Zen” state, staring at the solid white line on the right, and the dashed yellow line on the left, and watching my speed as I attempted to stay over 20mph.

"The Road Goes On Forever, and the Party Never Ends"!
What goes through your mind when you’re basically pedaling uphill with a slight tailwind and there’s no one else in sight, except for your wife, who is behind you, just out of range of discussion or sight or hearing…?
  • Well, one time I got passed by a 4-wheeler, out in the MIDDLE of NOWHERE. He pulled up alongside me on my right, and we looked at each other. He looked like the typical character from that part of the world. Map of the world on his face, smiling, sort of showing off, not aware that he was interfering, but still friendly. He kicked up some gravel and dust by accident as he waved and passed, and I lost track of him.
  • There was very little roadkill.
  • I realized that, regardless of the satellite tracking, that I probably had screwed up my wheel diameter when I put on a new tire, going from a tubular 700x22mm tire to a MONSTER 700x27mm tire. I made a WAG out there on the course, and modified the diameter on the fly from 2089mm to 2100mm. I still don’t know if that’s accurate, but it seemed to make holding over 20mph a lot easier.
  • The whole time I was on the bike, I was thanking Jack Mott and Tom Anhalt, friends in the world of wattage and cycling aerodynamics. I’m convinced that my choice of tire for the rear definitely helped me ride that much faster. Unfortunately, Jack was correct. My installation of a 700x27mm front tire on an Aeolus 9 was TOO DAMNED BIG for the fork on my TT bike to handle. I reverted back to my Stinger 6 with the Continental Competitions, and lived with it.
  • The chip seal honestly was NOT that bad. Especially with my tires at roughly 101-102 psi.
  • Aerodynamics really DID make a difference in this event. Sadly, power trumps aero, as Andrew Willis did the entire ride on a road bike with aerobars, and used a standard, ventilated helmet. He did have aero wheels, but he just rode stronger than everybody else, and I doubt his solo record will ever be broken!

Tracy rolled ahead and stayed behind, taking photos with our phones, and watching the terrain. Finally, about four miles outside of the Border Patrol Station at mile 177, I was climbing on the P3, I was exhausted, and I was falling behind on my hydration and calorie consumption, when I had to pull over, and hand the reins over to Tracy. But she was ready, her legs were fresh, and she’d popped a BeetElite earlier, so she got on the bike to take us to the finish.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting….

The final 10 miles of the route finish on a downhill run in to Alpine. Tracy and I made it through the Border Patrol station, and she rode the climb really well. Well enough, I will say, that on the FINAL SECTION OF THE CLIMB, I looked across the road, about a mile away…. And saw our competitors, crawling and clawing their way to the top of the pass. My mind went electric, and I immediately pulled up next to Tracy, rolled down the window, and yelled out at her “TRACY! THAT’S THEM!!! YOU CAN CATCH THEM!!!!” She lit up like a Roman Candle, picked up her pace, and within 5 minutes, we were roughly 400 meters behind them as they had pulled over to perform their final exchange.

I raced ahead and threw my bike out of the car, strapped on my helmet, and waited for Tracy to roll up. The team ahead had noticed us, and the younger rider, Bowie, took off like a bolt of lightning. I mounted the P3, quickly accelerated, and took off down the same piece of road. The winds had actually picked up, and there were several sections of the hairpin descents where my front wheel began to wobble, and my rear disc blew me around a bit, but I persisted and with just four miles to go, Bowie looked over his shoulder and slumped in perceived defeat as I rolled up next to him.

Over the Last Pass, and In to Alpine, "The Catch"!

The following may not be the exact discussion, but it’s the gist of it, and if you’ve read any of my previous posts dating back to 2011, you know how I feel about racing, participation, and sport, as well as the pursuit of excellence.
“Hey, How you feeling?”
“We are both destroyed, and my ride partner got a flat, and that took us a while.”
“You know, we’ve been trading the lead together all day. You want to just declare a truce and roll in together?”
“Dude, you earned it. You could take me by a few minutes right now. I got nothing.”
“Nah, both teams had a great day out there. Let’s finish this together.”
“I may try to pip you at the line!”
“Well, I won’t contest it. You’re on a road bike, and I’m on a TT bike. Besides, have you seen the potholes at the finish line?”(laughing),
“Yeah. Ok. I may throw you across for the win.”
“Why? We can’t figure out the last two miles of roads on the map. My one comment is that Dex should’ve had some arrows for us in town so we could navigate. You’re the local. Take us in.”
“Okay. Thanks.”
“No, dude, we had an absolutely spectacular day out here. Thanks for sharing this part of the world!”
After 190 miles, Riding In Together Seemed Like the Appropriate Thing to Do. 
And that was it. We rolled in together, and at the finish, Joni Lou Tooke, let out a laugh of exasperation as she proclaimed “You can’t do that to me! I have to paint more awards now!” So we congratulated each other as the follow cars rolled in to park.

I do have to give one more perspective from Tracy’s point of view, in the follow vehicle.
“….before Richard had pulled over, I could tell that he was exhausted. He wanted to ride to the Border Check, but I wanted to ride, and felt good. I felt really good, and was having fun, and my numbers were up again, when Richard rolled up beside me, pointed out the follow vehicle up around the bend, and said, “That’s Them!”“So I figured it was possible, but I picked up my pace, and closed the gap. Then he passed me and pulled over, and started getting his TT bike out, and I knew the game was ON!”“As soon as I got to you, I got the bike in to the car, and then didn’t catch up to you until we were almost done with the steep part of the descent, with maybe 6 miles to go. I watched you close the gap, and catch him. You had your energy back, he was flailing on the shoulder. I did get blocked by their vehicle, but I knew what you were going to do.”“It was so exciting watching you catch him! I was cheering and bouncing in the seat and telling you to DROP him! Put the hammer down and DROP HIM! I never figured that an Ultra-endurance event would be as fun and exciting as it was.”

 
Both Teams got CUSTOM Plaques, Hand Made by Joni Lou Tooke, the Promoter!

I know it’s been a long post, but sometimes stories take a while to tell. This was a TRUE team effort. Tracy conquered those hills and passes with aplomb. We rode through some of the most beautiful, remote, rugged country in the world. We made friends out on the course, passed people, got passed, got to push ourselves and each other, witnessed incredible feats of fortitude, saw a lot of opportunities out there to help people improve their performance through training and nutrition and hydration, and honestly, I got to ride and race my bike with the one woman on earth that I would ever ask to be with. Tracy and I have been through so much in such a short time, that this weekend, while officially a competition, was really more of a chance to be together, without the dogs, without clients, to try something new for each of us, and spend time away from the computers, the phones (ZERO reception, the drama, and the daily rigor of our struggle to create something so unique – a coaching and studio practice for cyclists and triathletes. Instead, we were a married couple riding our bikes near Big Bend, pushing ourselves, supporting each other, and growing stronger. The win was much less important than the adventure, and that’s what I hope for each of you who read this – that your cycling and improved fitness lead to more adventures on this planet. As my favorite RUSH song says… “The point of a Journey – is NOT to arrive.” May your cycling journey bring you endless happiness, but not without a little struggle or challenge, to keep you on your toes, and honest. 

A Post-Race Celebratory Dinner at "Reata"!

Tags:
Coach Wharton
20:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coach Wharton
14:41

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is....

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


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

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

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

Let's continue....

PerfPro Works best between 17 and 25mph.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coach Wharton
11:56

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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