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

Ft. Davis Stage Race 2016 - A Lengthy Review


Almost every year since I’ve moved back to Texas, and that was in 1999, I’ve made at least one trip out to Ft. Davis, Texas. I was convinced to go out and try my luck at the hardest stage race in the state by an early client whom I’ve sort of lost touch with, Wesley Keeton. He described the course perfectly; wide, empty roads that were pretty smooth, steep climbs, and wind. In my younger years I fancied myself as a Climber, and so every year, I went out there with one intention; to climb as best I could, and try to score some strong finishes.

The terrain, the elevation,  the elements, and my sporadic ability to actually prepare for the event with specificity has always conspired against my ability to really perform at my best, and of course, the inevitability of age, recovery, and, yes, weight gain, further add to the challenge. I’ve had a few good years, many bad ones, and even survived a wildfire that left us stranded on top of the McDonald Observatory, watching Armageddon approach.

Last year, Tracy and I were still deep in the fitness hole of a startup business, and we’d just closed down one of our two locations, so we arrived in Ft. Davis completely unfit and decided to just use the weekend as an opportunity to ride, train, and run some video. YES, we were THOSE DORKS with helmet cams, handlebar cams, our own videographer performing interviews, and we were NEVER in the running for the race. I still have footage of that weekend that I want to use to promote the race, but again, time and money conspired against us, and we built maybe one video and half of another, never taking either to the web. That’s kind of a shame, really, because this race is in serious jeopardy of not continuing in the Stage Race format. In decades past, Cyclists came from all over the state, New Mexico, and even Northern Mexico, for the challenge. I do my part by sponsoring the event and trying to help with marketing, but it seems like TXBRA and the major cities where cyclists are centered, don’t want to travel, don’t want to meet the challenge of terrain longer than 1-minute hills, and don’t understand that races cost money to manage and promote. It’s frustrating, because it is an EPIC event, and it deserves a wider audience.

This year, with the situation at the studio at least a little calmer, Tracy and I agreed to head out and try our luck at the Hammerfest, and this time, we’d actually be prepared. I started training in late January, focusing on those low-to-mid-cadence efforts of 3-8 minutes, at Critical Power or just below. I slowly started raising my CP, along with the volume of my regular riding, doing most of my intervals indoors and on the E-Motion Rollers from But over the last 5 weeks or so, I hooked up with the owner of a wattage analysis website, Dr. Armando Mastracci, of Baron BioSystems and Armando has been a regular contributor on the Wattage forum, of which I am a Moderator, and his ideas have been revolutionary, to say the least. Here’s some background…

Don Myrah
Training with Wattage for cyclists first started in the mid to late 1980’s, and I specifically remember seeing Don Myrah of mountain bike fame, racing a Trek Hardtail with an SRM at a NORBA National in the mid 1990’s. I embraced the wattage revolution with my first CompuTrainer purchase in 1995, but was unable to afford an on-bike system until the early 2000’s. Meanwhile, measurement of physiological responses to physical efforts – what I call the ‘merge’ between physics and physiology – started yielding a greater understanding of just what wattage meant, and how to use it. This was manifested in CyclingPeaks WKO, TrainingPeaks, and other similar programs, which I’ll call “Gen 2” software. Needless to say, it worked, and for over a decade now, we’ve had great ways to interpret fitness for cyclists, focus on specificity, and manipulate Frequency, Intensity, and Duration to optimize the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

In 2008, that technology and ability to plan for and predict performance took another leap forward with the introduction of RaceDay Apollo and the work of Dr. Philip Skiba. Skiba’s software was uncanny; using the performance predictor, in 2011, I prepared for the Ft. Davis Hammerfest by following a steady progression of 20 minute intervals and 3 minute intervals, and I tested roughly every two weeks, with a really hard, tough, maximal effort. Skiba’s software confidently upped its’ prediction abilities until it got to the point where I would specifically NOT peer at the predictions, would go out and perform a fangs-bared, all-out effort ----- and then, before uploading my ride data, would glance at the predicted wattage. I think it was within 2 watts every, single, time. So I went out to Ft. Davis feeling confident, knowing that I’d prepared, raise my Critical Power, and kept my weight in the 155-158 range.

AND THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT THE FIRES HIT. We were lucky to have survived.

Suffice it to say that the rest of 2011 and early 2012 were a fiasco in my life, as I blew up my marriage, stayed in North Texas, and got divorced. The race was again canceled in 2012 due to fires, and did not resume until a new Race Director showed up in 2014 to resume the operation. Peri Mashburn is a fantastic promoter, official, and general cycling enthusiast, and we can’t thank her enough for her hospitality and ability to make connections, local and state-wide, so that this venue and event can survive. Again – as a competitive cyclist, you owe it to yourself to come out and race this event.

As Tracy and I started our lives together, we traveled out to Ft. Davis in 2013, and got engaged at “DOM” rock, outside of Lajitas, and then traveled to another town, Alpine, to race the “No Country for Old Men” Ultra Event in the Fall of 2014, which we won. The studios got up and running, we got married in 2014, and we continue to push the envelope on Training with Technology, as we try to help others get the most bang-per-buck-per-minute out of their bodies.
I’ll talk about this more in another, separate post, but Armando’s software and technology should be considered Gen 4 wattage interpretation, programming and analysis. I began using Xert Online about six weeks ago, and followed the training protocol two or three days a week, and suffice it to say, at age 45, I FINALLY had a great Stage Race, and was modestly competitive at Ft. Davis. The trick is to make the intervals about 20% harder, and KEEP DOING THEM! Again, fodder for another post, but if you haven’t taken advantage of XertOnline’s free Beta program, you owe it to yourself to port your data over there, and start analyzing the results for yourself.


Sadly, starting around February, Tracy started suffering from lingering knee issues, and the result was a delayed progression such that she was unable to adequately prepare for the event, and we both decided that it would probably be best if she used this weekend as a training and support weekend, instead of a competitive race that would leave her frustrated. I, on the other hand, started following Xert’s suggestions for intervals that would improve my 5-minute average Power. To get there, Armando and I looked at the modeling, and we both agreed that I could MAYBE handle intervals of 1:1 work to rest ratio, and that intervals in the 90-150 second AT 370 WATTS EACH would be most effective! Oh Holy Moses performing those intervals really, really hurt! That said, I was excited to see my Critical power Jump, and Armando’s modeling quickly got within 2% of predictions. I had a conversation with Rob Kitching of, and given the altitude, we dropped my numbers by about 24 points, to be conservative, and I decided to use Stage 1 to race the terrain, instead of trying to race the racers. We also arrived a day early, so we could rest up and start hydrating and adapting to the elevation as best we could.

Ironically, the Friday before the race began, Tracy went out to attempt the Scenic Loop with David Bambaugh, from Houston, who was helping with race management. I provided SAG and just enjoyed the day and the geology in the area, reading a book about a modern author following Coronado’s Route through Arizona as he attempted to find the Legendary Seven Cities of Cibola. About 2/3 of the way through the route, deep in the mountains, the weather abruptly changed and the ceiling dropped until there was about  100 feet of visibility, and temps were around 42 degrees. Neither of the cyclists were completely prepared for this, and after climbing Fisher Mountain, we all agreed to call it a day. The clouds finally lifted late in the day, but not after depositing a chill near freezing all over the Davis Mountains. THIS was the atmosphere we were facing on Saturday morning as the Stage 1 Climb to the McDonald Observatory began.

I warmed up indoors, made sure all my kit was solidly layered, and we rolled out in 34 degree temps with the Women 1,2,3’s and the Men’s 50+ group, of whom there were almost twice as many racers as the 10 riders I was racing against in the 40+ field. As soon as the neutral zone ended, Team Crest, with 4 of the 10 cyclists, began some aggressive moves. I wasn’t sure whether this was just to warm up, or if it was all part of a plan, but I stayed near the front, and chased down a couple of breaks, just in case. However, after the Prude Ranch, and before the old “Heartbreak Hill” of previous years, John Murazek of Crest took off on a solo endeavor, and I followed. Soon, we were clear, and we did a 2-man paceline that got about a minute up the road and took us all the way to the base of the first climb, beyond the Gazebo and “Lone Oak” landmark. There, I actually climbed really well, and dropped him, not getting caught by the pursuers until almost at the top of the climb. This was the best I’d felt on that first climb in years, and I knew it was going to be a good day.

There’s a short recovery, and then the second hill, which I’ve heard called “Arrowhead Mountain”, began. This is the longest climb of the stage, and while it’s not overly steep, it’s just a long grind. Almost immediately, I lost some ground, getting passed by one 40+ rider in a group of about 7 or 8 50+ cyclists, and again, I didn’t panic, I just looked down at my rolling 30 second power, and rode against the terrain. Sure enough, one by one, several riders started to pop, and I reeled them in, bit by bit. I got to the top of the climb in good position, but there was a 40+ rider ahead of me that I needed to catch. I did get there, and while we all took a breather and prepared for that last, steep climb up to the Observatory, I decided to make a serious effort to pass him and put some distance between us. It almost worked – I made the climb in a strong position, but with about 500 meters to go, he literally rolled by on my right, about 3 rpm higher than me, and finished about 15 seconds ahead of me, in second place. I completed the climb in 3rd, and congratulated those ahead of me. This felt good, this felt right, and this felt like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders, as I’d finally climbed somewhere near my ability. I’m not as strong as I used to be, I’m not as light as I used to be, and I’m not as fit as I probably could be, but I was done, and actually in the running. Whew.


Stage II was held the, and was a gentle climb for about 18 ½ miles of to the Crow’s Nest, which is a camp and retreat. Usually, this stage suffers from rising heat and wind, which blows up the peloton. However, that afternoon, the wind was actually at our backs. This made for a very fast, and tightly packed group, and to avoid any possible headaches, the first place rider and myself ended up just trading leads at speed to carry the group toward the finish line. My legs were not feeling hundred percent, but I finished with the pack in the Sprint, and I believe I finished fifth or sixth in my category. That said, I was really sitting my power for the long stage and scenic loop.



Sunday morning, the race for 40+ again at 9 AM, and it was considerably more than the previous day’s races. Once again, I warmed up indoors for about 30 minutes, make sure that I had at breakfast, and continue my diligence on staying hydrated. Right before getting of you, however, I looked down at my front tire and noticed that I had a large slice it. I called time and was allowed to go to the wheel and grab my spare, which I quickly installed in place the errors.


The road out was at a neutral speed, and John Murazek, who was in first place in the general category, service up to paceline counterclockwise as we once considered up towards Crow’s nest. This have the combined effect of making the race quick enough to get somewhere, but also comfortable enough to avoid getting chilled or board. I made a point of eating as much as I could the first 90 minutes, and drank both bottles before the first feeds zone, but the pack largely stayed together until about 6 miles from Bear Mountain. A single 50+ rider went off the front, quickly gained several minutes, and no one gave chase. We were all focused on the second half of course, which started at Bear Mountain.

Unfortunately, my legs were not as fresh as they had been the day before, and I was dropped beginning of Bear Mountain. Once I got to the cattle guard, I was able to pedal more strongly, and I reached Tracy and the bottle about one minute 15 seconds down. After Bear Mountain, there is a 6 mile descent, and I connected with David Richardson and Bill Shirer and, as they were old team mates of mine, I think we clicked really well. We worked together to try and bridge to the lead group of writers, which included first, second, and third in the 40+ group, as well as several 50+ riders. We were able to get within 20 seconds of this group, when the second large climb started, and once again I fell off the back by about 45 seconds. Bill and David remained just with insight, and just outside of reach, for the next several miles, and I continued to try and ride hard, and descend quickly so that we could reconnect and work together.

Ever since I started writing out in Fort Davis, Fisher Mountain has always been one of the most challenging segments. It starts on the opposite side of a creek bottom, and quickly goes through 8 to 13% gradients in a left-hand, then right hand, and then left hand climbing chicane. Then, it climbs straight up the mountain at about 6%, until you reach the second feed zone at the top. I’m actually really proud of the way that I rode this, as I did not blow up, and did not lose more than about five seconds to build and David. I also ended up passing several of the category three and category four stragglers. The second feed zone is at the top of this mountain, and Tracy said that I had 45 seconds to catch up with them. I made the descent as quickly as I could, and by the time I reached the final climb out that ends up that McDonald Observatory, I was closing the gap.


I remember watching the cyclists ahead of me passed by shadows and road signs, and I quickly took mental count of the seconds that I had to go to catch up. 40 seconds became 30, 30 seconds became 12,12 seconds became eight, and at the top of the file climb, I rolled up to them and said “I’m back. Let’s reel them in!” I think I took maybe a minute to recover, and then we began about 18 miles of rotations and strong pulls, to try and catch the leaders.


I’m convinced that the fact two runs known for years, helped make a big difference in the chase. David, Bill and I are all familiar with each other, we know how to communicate without speaking, and we encourage each other. I believe that I was a little more fresh for some reason, and so I insisted on taking longer holes that may have been a little stronger, and in my head I counted to 8four to eight times in a row before wiggling my elbow and moving to the back. We continued to reel in stragglers, but when we reached the Prude Ranch, which is only 4 miles from town, we knew that it would be really, really tough to catch the leaders. We were just running out of real estate. I continue to push, and eventually as we approached the edge of town, we came upon four of the 50+ riders, including a teammate of Bill’s. Build attempted to slingshot off the draft of the riders, but when he made the right hand turn into town, we were all set by a stiff headwind, and it brought him back to hide and recover.


The eight of us, and basically congratulated each other for a good effort and a great time together, and with about 600 m to go, I asked David what he wanted to do. He said, “Well, I guess we’ll have to Sprint.” And I told him that I did not believe I have the legs to try that. I then said “I’m going to stay by the white line, you take the yellow line, let’s let these guys do their Sprint first.” The 50+ rider stormed through the gap, and David beat me by three or four bike lengths to the finish line. He took forth on the day, while I finished in fifth.


Afterward, we all grouped together at an intersection hundred meters down the road, and congratulated everyone on the race, a great time, the fantastic course, a few day, and good camaraderie.

I always approach this race with a bit of anxiety, but also a sense of elation. It is by far the most beautiful venue for racing in Texas. It is also the toughest. In order to do well, you have to think about it and plan for it almost 4 or five months in advance. If you do not, and you show up unprepared, be prepared for disappointment. There have been years in the past where I left the race before it was over, or have beaten myself up over four preparation. But this year, I really think this was the most complete race that I have ridden in years. Cyclists have to be prepared for terrain, wind, and stiff competition. Furthermore, success does not always come in the form of a strong finish. It comes instead from solid preparation and knowing that you have had a very great experience. I urge all of my fellow cyclists who compete to come back out in future years and simply ride this venue is spectacular, but it is the act of cycling in this remote and beautiful region that sets it apart from anything else.

Coach Wharton

Pacing Yourself For the Critical Power Tests

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

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

Thirteen Minute Critical Power Display v2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You have
  • SKILL...
  • KNOWLEDGE... and

See you at the studio!


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


Coach Wharton

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!!!!

Coach Wharton

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.
  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...

Coach Wharton

Handling the Heat - the Cycling Center Dallas Way!!

We often get asked - "How do you ride in the heat?! I can't STAND IT!" Well, there are no simple answers, but being native North Texans, we can give you a couple of pointers that will definitely make a difference.
  1. DRINK MORE, DRINK OFTEN, DRINK MORE OFTEN! - Take a look at this hydration chart. Start by looking at your weight, then, scroll over to columns two and three. I'm weighing in at 160-164 lbs right now, so I'm looking at a MINIMUM of 25 ounces per hour, and in times when I'm really pushing hard, 30 ounces per hour. Sometimes, when it's really hot and humid, I'll consume over 50 ounces per hour!Osmo Nutrition Hydration Strategy
  2. THINK about what you DRINK! - Most Sports Drinks trend towards a 6-8% sugar content. Everyone who knows me knows what a fan I am of Osmo Nutrition, and secondly, Skratch (both were developed by Pro Crush, Stacy Sims, who also had a hand in Clif Electrolyte formula). The hotter it gets, the more you want to consume something with fewer overall calories. You're NOT trying to get calories by drinking. You're trying to basically keep FRICTION DOWN at a CELLULAR LEVEL! Osmo is about 3.5% solution, and helps keep you cool. Furthermore, water in the bloodstream helps prevent the bonk better than just about anything else!
  3. DRINK BEFORE YOU HAVE TO! - Osmo and Skratch both have pre-ride solutions that will help act as anaerobic buffers, will help you basically retain water (your ring finger will get tight), and help you 'stay thirsty my friends' with their good salt setups. These aren't the most flavorful items (they tend to taste like seawater), but they REALLY work. *** Note - women - Try the women's formula at full-strength, BUT, if you feel bloated, then cut the solution down to 1/2 a dose of the powder, with a full dose of the water needed. It'll help you avoid an upset stomach. 
  4. It's not ALL on the inside! - One of the most important things we can do as cyclists, since we're exposed to the sun for hours at a time, is to protect our skin. Sunscreen makes a HUGE difference, and if you're a guy, they make 'mousse' that you can rub in your hair, which will help protect your scalp. Don't forget the small parts, like eartips, the upper neck, the hole in your gloves when you cinch up the velcro, and the chest, when your zipper is down.
  5. Fabrics Matter! - When you ride, your fabric can literally save your soul. Modern fabrics are designed to have SPF factors in the 30's and 40's, and the stuff that I've gone with, the Louis Garneau jerseys, are treated with a dip called ColdBlack, which literally repels about 40% of the IR rays per square cm that the Sun fires off every moment. Have you ever stuck your hand under a heat lamp at a cafeteria? That's IR energy! So think about that, the next time you're out there roasting. Think about how, for a few extra bucks, you could have something that is still breathable, still comfy, but also helps keep you skin that much cooler. And cooler skin, means less energy expended trying to keep you cool from the inside!                 
  6. You CAN be aero AND have great ventilation in a helmet! - Everyone knows that a helmet is a must these days. They're the 'last inch' of protection! But when you're NOT using the helmet as protection, you can expect a modern helmet to channel oncoming air in different ways over the scalp, so that any heat generated can be channeled out the back, and keep your head, literally, cooler. Again - check out the latest helmet from Louis Garneau - yeah, I'm a fanboy, but it really does work.                                                                                          
  7. What's in YOUR jersey pocket?! - Still too hot? Stuff your valuables like your wallet, keys, and smartphone in a waterproof pouch, and then FILL YOUR SIDE POCKETS TO THE BRIM WITH ICE!!! Yeah - that's right, ICE. Sure, it's messy. Sure, it's going to MELT ALL OVER YOUR LEGS AND LOWER TORSO. But you know what? IF WORKS!!!! Refill every hour that you're out, and watch your watts stay HIGH.                                                                                                                                                     (Photo Pending - you'll LOVE it!)                                                                                                          
  8. SONIC! WE LOVE SONIC SLUSHES!!! - Research shows that one of the most effective ways to keep your cool, is to consume beverages made from Ice Slurries. While we don't always have access to a blender while we're out on our rides, we CAN stop at the local Sonic, and have a Wet, HIGH SUGAR-BUZZWORTHY Slushie, in any color/flavor you like, and safely expect that it'll help drop your core temp quite well. Mmmmm!!!!                                      
So that's about it from me regarding this topic. I also have used unhosed Camelbacks filled with ice, and have let them drip down all over me. Furthermore, taking a gallon ziploc, filling it with ice, and then nipping the corners, allows you to stuff it under your jersey and against your back, where it'll melt and drip, much like the ice in your jersey pocket, and allow you to stay cool on an area that is filled with blood vessels that are close to the skin. 

Heat stroke is a real threat when the temps and humidity climb. I know - I've had one, and it left me with some damage to my right eye. But with proper strategy and precautions, you SHOULD be able to withstand the heat, and enjoy the ride!

Till next time! Leave With Nothing Left!!

Coach Wharton

PLEASE Do Not Drive Your Bike Wearing Earbuds... It's Just So irresponsible!!

Wearing Earbuds When Cycling is Selfish and Unsafe
Okay, I have seen this far too many times over the last several weeks went out on rides. Cyclists, when you ride your bike with earbuds, you are giving yourself a sensory handicap. Bicycles are vehicles bicyclists are drivers and we are inherently unstable because of the fact that we are riding on two wheels instead of four, and we are writing at speeds which are slow for the rest of traffic, but high for our own senses. Remember, not long ago all we did was walk or ride on top of horses.

Wearing Earbuds When Cycling is Irresponsible and Dangerous.When you ride a bike with earbuds, you are depriving yourself of situational awareness. Earbuds make you focus more on the music, and less on your surroundings. Far too often we see anecdotes of distracted cyclists and motorists who are prevented from doing their number one job, which is driving with traffic in traffic and through traffic, towards their destinations, or using the road for whatever purpose, as long as it is legal. Cyclists need to depend on all five senses, and yes, I even include taste, in order to drive their bicycles more safely. We spend a lot of time focusing our disdain on motorists who are eating in the car, brushing their hair in the car, feeding their children in the car, reaching into the back for lost items, texting, even simply playing with the radio dial, and yet we inexcusably give cyclists a pass when they ride down the road, not looking around, and moving to the beat of their favorite song. I would even go so far as to say that if it weren't for the sake of noise pollution affecting others, that the new generation of bike handlebar Bluetooth speakers would be just fine.

In a perfect world, you should not have to worryHandlebar Speakers are Safer, but May be a Distraction for Others about what other road users are doing. That said, we have to be pragmatic and accept the fact that we live in dense urban areas, with high loads of traffic, many hours a day, and even the trails where some of you choose to ride, are made less safe by your selfish cycling practices. This is not a rant, but a strong urging and request that you remove your earbuds, write songs in your head, and focus more on your surroundings.

It will definitely make you a better cyclist, and while we cannot disprove a negative, it could very well be something that could save you from injury or worse.Unplug Your Earphones and Enjoy the Ride!


H.I.I.T. It, Don’t QUIT It: Break Through to the NEXT Level in Cycling and Fat Loss!

All About Iron and Cycling Center Dallas team up to bring you another seminar on making 2014 your LEANEST, STRONGEST and FASTEST ever on the bike! Read More