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

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!

Coach Wharton

The More I Use Xert on Myself and My Clients, The More In Love I am With the Entire Concept.

I’ve been meaning to write this for weeks now, but the new information has been coming in so frequently that I’ve literally been unable to keep up. That said, here’s what I’m seeing…

·         My Xert Users are achieving fitness breakthroughs in their Xert modeling, and their Focus.

·         I Myself am seeing this in my own riding. I’m trying to set new Max Wattage PR’s now and then, and I’m also trying to “Game the Hill” using the MPA and Wattage Xert app.

·         I’m instructing my clients to do the same.

Here are a couple of examples…:

Jim is a recreational cyclist in his 60’s, who contracted with me because he was sick of getting dropped on rides with his peers. He also wanted to learn how to be a better climber for the times when he traveled to Colorado.

Climbs in Dallas are much different than climbs in Colorado, but the idea is still the same; improve fitness, then “Focus” on the area of training that will best fit your activity profile. Jim wanted to be a climber in the summer, and, honestly, a “Puncheur” when riding in Dallas. So I set him up with the Xert Apps, taught him how to keep the rider profile current through Garmin Connect and Garmin Express, and gave him some specific intervals during the week.

Things started happening in late September, and I THINK THEY ARE JUST REALLY, REALLY cool!

In Mid-September, while it was still hot and windy, but travel season was over, Jim had a Fitness Signature on Xert of:

·         Peak Power: 650w.

·         High Intensity Energy (HIE): 10.9kJ.

·         Threshold Power: 209w.

Then, on September 21st, on a local solo effort, THIS happened…!

JNFalk Hill 1

THAT, dear readers, is a FITNESS BREAKTHROUGH.


For FOURTEEN SECONDS, Jim was pedaling at a power output that was ABOVE his MPA. Was the model wrong? NO, NO, and NO. He just hadn’t put that level of effort out before, and he earned his “Medal” on the Garmin 1000 Screen!

So remember those previous Max, HIE and Threshold values that we had been using? Here’s what a breakthrough means for those…

·         Peak Power: 649w (we still haven’t really worked on a true “Sprint”, but that will come.).

·         High Intensity Energy (HIE): 12.4kJ (a gain of 12%).

·         Threshold Power: 214w (a gain of 2%!).

And here’s what the chart looked like after the re-analysis.

JNFalk Hill 4

Now, interestingly – take a look at Jim’s PREVIOUS hill. It’s the one in red that is on the left side of the image. Notice how the MPA line (Dark Blue) kind of follows the curve of the red line, which is wattage? I’ve seen this a bunch, and I love it; It’s basically a way for a rider to “Get More” out of an effort. In other words, you can always go a bit longer at a lower intensity, and not dig too deep. In this case, Jim knew that he really wanted to hit the SECOND hill stronger, and he followed a more “Steady” profile. The terrain dictated the watts and cadence, but yeah – this was a solid moment where Jim was able to “Chase” his MPA, and then break it.

But wait – it gets better…
JNFalk Chart 1 
Here’s a chart of Jim’s recent activities. What you’ll see is typical with all cycling exercises; if you don’t train hard here & there, your Max Watts, Threshold and Anaerobic Capacity (HIE) will slip a little. But when Jim went out and rode THAT SAME RIDE JUST TWO WEEKS LATER….
JNFalk Hill 5

So what had been a 214w Threshold and a 12.1kJ HIE, slipped, and when Jim put the spurs to this hill again… Well, the model needed some updating, and here it is…

·         Peak Power: 651w.

·         High Intensity Energy (HIE): 12.9kJ.

·         Threshold Power: 219w.

Here’s the Updated version.
JNFalk Hill 6

What you see is basically that the MPA slope is more gradual, which makes sense; when you train for higher intensity, it allows you to go harder, longer. Because Jim has real data, and paced himself according to the MPA app on the Garmin 1000, he had another Gold Medal, and got to update his training information from Xert.

But you may think that this is just one example…. Well, here’s another.

Jing was a great client of mine, who got a job and moved to Northern California, and he’s experiencing the same type of thing; Breakthroughs that translate to more successful cycling.

Here’s Jing’s Activity Chart; I’ve highlighted his first Fitness Signature, after an adjustment period when he was moving in, unboxing, etc.

His Fitness Signature in mid-September read:

·         673w Peak Power.

·         21.3kJ HIE.

·         251w Threshold.

What set this Signature up was this particular hill in Palo Alto, called “Emerald Hill”. Here’s the wattage and hr and MPA profile.

This was his first ride out on this type of terrain, and he was nervous, so you can see it in his wattage profile; it’s at or above Threshold, but he doesn’t last long above it, before backing off.

So, here he is a couple of days later, where he had another Fitness Breakthrough, though it wasn’t quite where you might think….

The image is of the hill that he climbed, and you can see that he marshalled his resources well, using the data in the Garmin 1000, and pushed it on the final part of the climb.

But here’s the catch; remember how I harped about Jim needing to get a “Real” Peak Power? Well, elsewhere in this file, Jing actually DID hit a new Peak Power, going from 653w to well over 800, and that altered the Fitness Signature Significantly.

With the new data in hand, it looked more like this:

·         811w Peak Power.

·         20.0kJ HIE.

·         249w Threshold.

And that tells me that maybe he could have eked out a slightly better hill effort. Well, here’s the next week….

So you can see… he’s learning how to “game” the hill, using his on-screen MPA and Wattage App!

Here’s the next week. Same hill.

I’m actually going to zoom in on two efforts, since he kissed his MPA on both of them, BUT HE DID NOT SURPASS THEM!

Here – Have a look:

He’s learning how to “game the hills”! In our discussions, he’s come to realize that hills like this are a game of patience and pacing. They’re not perfect, but I like how he’s playing it a bit conservatively at first, and doesn’t tap in to his HIE until the last 1/3rd of the hill, and he still doesn’t go too far. Now – could he go harder? Certainly! But that’s at the cost of possibly blowing up. We’ll continue to work on his Threshold, but I’m really happy with how Xert makes teaches you how to “Think” a strategy, be it a hill, an attack, or a pacing strategy for any recreational athlete.

Finally, I’m going to recount my own experience from this weekend.

Work and Coaching have really taken their toll on my time, and it’s been rare for me to get out and get any real consistency or volume, other than lifting weights 2-3 times a week, and maybe getting to ride in between other efforts. But that said, I AM a “fast-responder” to stimulus, and after getting in some decent rides on some weekends, I had a couple of experiences of my own, using the MPA App.

First – there’s a hill in Glen Rose, TX, that was once part of their rally course, which always spelled the “Make it or Break It” moment for me in this rally. It’s just 4 miles from the finish, but the cyclist who “gamed” the hill best, usually got to solo home.

I NEVER got it right.

But recently, I’ve been back out there, and with the MPA App and my metrics inserted, I tried to “game” the hill with a better pacing Strategy. Here’s the first effort on this hill in, oh, 6 years? 7? I really don’t remember completely.

Do you see where the red circle is? ROOKIE MISTAKE!!! I rode TOO HARD, TOO EARLY, and I FORGOT ABOUT THE SECOND HALF OF THE HILL!

I can’t show it right now because my internet is kludgy, but my heart rate went through the roof on the steeper part, and I basically blew up and denied myself a smoother transition going in to the second part of the hill, right after the “knuckle”! So MPA and Xert revealed that I COULD have ridden it better. I just screwed it up.

Here’s the second time I tried it – about a week later.

*** Believe it or not – this IS the same hill; my internet is not cooperating and I’m having trouble zooming in appropriately.

Notice the difference in the two wattage profiles? The first is more of a parabola, while the second is more elongated, and doesn’t really kick up until AFTER the knuckle in the hill. For this hill, I was watching my Garmin 1000, and I watched that Xert App as my wattage went Black (Threshold), then Yellow (<3min of MPA remaining), to Red (<30sec MPA remaining!), but I never was able to make it go Purple, because I WAS COMPLETELY KNACKERED by that point! Again – I can’t show it, but my HR broke 190, and I traveled a good bit further up the hill before I backed off.

(Edit – HERE it is… Finally)!

Finally – this past weekend, I had the chance to ride a good old-fashioned rally, and about 20 minutes in, I was dealing with some riders that I don’t particularly feel safe riding around; they always wear earbuds – in grupetto’s – and you can hear their music when you ride beside them, it’s so loud. AND they’re a couple, AND they don’t really have a sense of situational awareness. So, with just a few people left in the front, maybe 5, including me, these two, and two others, I saw a hill, and I saw an opportunity.

I had already depleted my MPA a bit here and there as we picked up our speed, rolling out of town, but at this moment, I increased my power output as the hill rose to meet me, then stayed steady at or around my threshold, and finally increased my wattage one more time as the hill picked up its’ pitch one more time. Looking through my right arm, I noticed that the shadows which had been behind me were getting gapped, and after another 20 seconds of Threshold, I was alone.

Now, I TRIED to go from “Yellow” on the MPA app, (<3min of MPA left) to “Red” (<30sec of MPA left), to “Purple”, but it just got to the point where it was crazy-hard, I felt like my eyes were going to pop out and my lungs were going to burst… and I backed off, which you can see in the image. I was able to keep pedaling as the gradient lessened, and while my MPA didn’t necessarily rebound, the Red/Blue gap opened up, giving me some room to recover.

The result? Well, I spent the rest of the ride alone, and had the motorcycle escort to myself the entire time.

Here are my overall results from the day:

It was a pretty good day: nice average speed, great kJ count, GREAT Strain value, in perfect temps, under sunny skies, rolling terrain, and the knowledge that THIS STUFF REALLY, REALLY, REALLY works.

Xert takes a complete re-think of intervals, efforts, hills, and timing. I think that was one of the things I was never good at when I was racing all the time: I had really bad timing, and didn’t figure out when to play the game and when to back off, and recover. Now? Well, I had some idea of it with W’, but the model, especially on Anaerobic efforts, just didn’t hold up. This Xert MPA stuff? In REAL TIME, with REAL VALUES yielding REAL RESULTS?

Well, it works!

Want to learn more about Xert, MPA, and how you can apply it for yourself and your cycling? Check us out at