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SuHere are a few images from this morning's intervals.
The goal for these was the following:
- First 2 minutes at 90% of Critical Power (Threshold).
- The third minute at 95% of CP.
- Fourth minute right at 100% of CP.
- The fifth minute, we would rise above CP, and ride at 105%.
- Finally, in the sixth minute, the riders were set to ride at 110% of Critical power,
This was repeated four times, with 3 minutes of recovery in between.
Finally - the last interval for the day was 90 seconds at any intensity the riders felt like attempting. It's usually a good way to end with a bang!
The results were pretty nice - here are some images from riders as they completed the intervals.
The goal for the intervals was exactly what's being displayed; start below Critical Power, learn to persevere, then increase the intensity slightly, until it's either at, or just above CP. Time above CP is always limited, but it's good to spend time up there, and really stretch out the lungs as Vo2 drift occurs.
And that's the point - to get into Vo2 max areas of intensity. The workout is deceptively difficult, and now that the 7:30am class is undertaking it, they're a bit more awake and alive, and they're nailing it!
Suffer in the room, so you can enjoy the rides you take outside!
More to come!
Now, this cyclist is a top-tier mountain biker, who has properly allowed himself some “Down” time, to enjoy other pursuits. When he was on-form earlier in the year, he was literally unstoppable. He only got FASTER as the fall season progressed, and it was exciting to follow. But let’s face it - getting a power meter on a mountain bike is a chore, and honestly, I don’t like all of the options that are out there right now. It’s expensive, and when people have to choose between an expensive power meter, and 4 months of coaching or more, well, the bikes are expensive enough already. Furthermore, given the stochastic, punchy nature of Texas mountain biking, I often wonder if a 1hz reading from an MTB power meter is adequate to capture the nuances and accelerations that are necessary to properly analyze a ride.
But sometimes - Physics just doesn’t correlate with Physiology. While the computer or the prediction algorithm says you “Can” do something, it doesn’t account for all the things that may interfere, like sleep rhythms, recovery from a previous workout, hydration status, all of it. That’s where the Moxy Monitor comes in.
I honestly should be using this device more, but knowing how to use it does require a bit more attention to and knowledge of “what’s going on”. But with this conversation up, I decided to take a look at Randy’s SmO2 values, and try to help him do what was best with the time he was spending at the studio.
Now, we have to review a bit, but here’s the summary:
SmO2 values will tend to hit ‘Floors’ which align with Lactate Deflection Points 1 and 2, when properly placed on a client’s Left Lateralis. MOST of the time, we’ll see cyclists hit a “Max Active Saturation Point”, of about 85-90%, and MOST of the time, LT1 will correspond with about 40-45% SmO2, and LT2 will correspond with about 25-30% SmO2. If you get down in to the teens, or single digits, theoretically, you’re nearing necropsy.
But it was immediately obvious that something was ‘off’. Nothing about Randy’s values were normal. I checked the position of the monitor, but it was good. There was no light pollution, either. His SmO2 during intervals that were supposed to be in the Vo2 range of intensity, were wayyy too low; like near 10%. When his recoveries between intervals occurred, he hit the regular ‘max’ 80% saturation around the first two efforts, but for the entire second half of the workout, his ‘recovery’ SmO2 never cracked 65%, and his interval minimums dropped down TOO low at first, and then, again, never really recovered. Here’s a better look at the chart.
Here it is with power added in…
The translation, for me as a coach? THIS GUY WAS KNACKERED! THIS GUY WAS EXHAUSTED. We were lowering his intensity well below his Critical Power early and often, he wasn’t keeping up with load, and his SmO2 minimums were STILL down in the 20% range. The recoveries never rose up much past 55%. His range was diminished, his power down significantly. He had no business attempting a hard interval set like that.
Now, let’s fast-forward to this morning. It’s been two days; he had a massage and slept a good chunk of the day after the massage (some massages are actually therapeutic workouts, and the relaxation is done AFTER the therapy). He got nine hours of sleep, was hydrated, rested, recovered, and caloried up.
Here’s his chart from today…
It’s a little bit harder to see, but the results were MUCH, MUCH better. Maximum SmO2 was up above 90%. Minimum SmO2 actually never went below about 40%. WE RAISED HIS CP to try and get one specific area of the intervals to sort of ‘sit’ around 50%, and it never really dropped below about 58%. It was a complete reversal of fortune. He worked hard, left with great confidence, and honestly, we probably could have gone a bit harder, though I didn’t want to try that too much, and instead focus on the success of the day, and grow it from that point.
SmO2 via the Moxy Monitor allows you to see a workout from the INSIDE-OUT, and allows you to train via your Physiology, and not just your Physics. You’re not ‘on-form’ every day. Things happen. Diets fail. Work creates stress. Maybe the music isn’t just right. Maybe it’s the holidays or EOY junk. But it helps to have a place to go where you can get a great workout that’s JUST RIGHT for YOU, and YOU only. Matching the watts to the load is just part of the story. Moxy helps you accomplish that at Cycling Center Dallas. Come visit and we’ll show you how.
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.
And here it is compared to the baselines you get on a reagent strip container.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clients and Prospects;
I've been using XertOnline.Com's ConnectIQ Apps for a couple of weeks now, and I am really excited about what they're telling the cyclist. The MPA as a model for power and duration is really solid, so I built two videos explaining just what's going on, and how it can be used for training. Have a look, and leave your comments on the YouTube channel.
And here's the work on the Strain/Focus and BioShift Optimizer App.
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:
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.
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.
Tire pressure in the Tour de France is a hotly debated topic, and it pits the age-old accepted protocols for inflation against new evidence that has come to light through science and technology in recent times.
Remember that these cyclists are on their bikes, are working hard, and get paid to ride. They have cars full of extra wheels that allow for quick exchanges. Flats are an inconvenience, not a major affair. After 3 weeks of racing, the difference can come down to mere seconds.
You, on the other hand, don't get paid to ride (neither do I, really...), and probably have no follow vehicles when you head out. You want your tires to do three things really well:
- Allow for safe control of your bike in most conditions.
- Allow for safe braking, cornering, and acceleration.
- Allow for comfort without sacrificing too much performance, and vice-versa.
- But on the question of tire pressure (for a standard road bike), go with this formula. It's provided courtesy of Dr. David Nayer, who built wheels under the name of Nimble, in Austin, for several years:
Start with 110 PSI in your tire:So for a cyclist like me, weighing in at 160lbs, I'll start at 110psi. But my route has a lot of chip-seal on it, so I'll take 10psi out. If it's raining, I'll take another 10psi out. That would leave me with 90-100psi, depending on my route and needs.
Add 10psi if you're a Large rider (>170lb rider) - wider tires (25mm) also recommended.
Add 10psi if you're riding track or TT narrow tires (20mm clincher, 19mm tubular)
Add 10-20psi if you have a specialty suspension frame (beam seat, suspension fork)
Remove 10psi if you're a Small rider (<140lbs)
Remove 10psi if conditions are wet - this is also a case where we advise the use of wider tires.
Remove 10psi for Rough terrain - also advise wider tires.
Remove 10psi Challenging handling (mountains, cornering, Crits, etc.).
Remove 10psi for Less experienced riders (improves handling, comfort)
My wife Tracy, on the other hand, would start at 110psi, take 10psi out for her weight (125lbs), and another 10 for rough roads.
Again - you can adjust it for your own skillset and needs, but NEVER inflate your tires to maximum pressure. It's not necessary, it doesn't help, it's less comfortable, and it can be dangerous. I once overheated a tire when descending the Alpe d'Huez, and the explosion not only destroyed my rim, it echoed across the canyon like a cannon blast. I was MUCH more careful after that.
Tire pressure should focus on safety, comfort, braking, cornering, and acceleration. There is no ideal tire pressure, just the knowledge that comes from experience. We hope this helps!