Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton
15:18

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

Moxy Stage 2 Ft Davis HammerFest

As most of you know, I am always searching for ways to use technology so that we can better understand cycling fitness and performance. I’ve been using the Moxy Muscle Oxygen Sensor since 2014, and have developed some strong ideas about how its’ use in our studio can help us understand the following:

 

·         Proper Warm-Up Procedures for maximal saturation and vasodilation.

·         Fatigue when performing intervals.

·         Glycogen Depletion and replenishment.

·         The effect of intensity on muscles before, during, and after intervals.

·         Dehydration.

·         Recovery and Optimizing the timing of caloric replenishment.

As the Moxy became more common, Garmin got on board, and allowed their smart head units to accept SmO2 and ThB from Moxy’s on to the screen via custom fields, and once on screen, this data is now being recorded in the latest .FIT files, so it allows me the chance to look at information both acutely and empirically. Having these two data points, along with Heart Rate, Wattage, Cadence, Speed, Slope,  and elevation, has really opened my mind towards just what is possible, and what isn’t.

Well, we can now add a new phenomenon to my amateur observations; what happens when a cyclist trains at low elevation, but competes at a significantly higher elevation.

On April 1st and 2nd of 2017, I traveled from my home in Dallas, TX (elevation ~430’ or 130m above Sea Level), to Ft. Davis, TX, to compete in a Stage Race known as the HammerFest. Last year, my wife and I traveled out two days early, and rode some, to try and adapt to the elevation (5050’ or 1540m) and dry air. I’ve raced and ridden out here enough to know that my performance definitely suffers, and the goal in the weeks prior to the event is to raise my Threshold as high as possible, while also trying to raise my Vo2max. It’s a tall order, but there have been years where I’ve competed well. That said, most of the time, it’s a real struggle, and I have to believe it has much to do with showing up just a day before the race, and making the first stage, my body’s introduction to strain at elevation.

Now, thanks to the Moxy, I think I have the proof.

In the weeks building up to the competition, my intervals routinely showed rising wattages, with SmO2 levels bottoming out in the 25% range, give or take. I’ve known athletes who were able to take their SmO2 values down to the teens and single digits, but they came from a power-lifting background, and tended to be on the heavier side; perfect for most Texas cycling, but not ideal for Ft. Davis.

On the morning of April 1st, however, when I performed my warmup, I was SHOCKED to see that my Moxy was reading in the  MID 50% range, as soon as the signal was picked up by my Garmin 1000. At first, I felt this was a result of the low temperature, but as I went through my warmup, I saw that SmO2 would routinely drop down to 10% during my warmup efforts, but would rebound over time to a more-expected 70% or more.
SmO2 Stage 1 Ft Davis Hammerfest

Now, the first thing to consider is that during my warmups at lower elevation, I never began an interval set until my SmO2 would rebound to AT LEAST 85%, and as high as 92%. Furthermore, it takes me about 30-35 minutes to get my ThB values up to about 12.40. When I’m at both of those numbers, or close to them, I know I’m vasodilated, that my core temperature has risen, and my legs, at least (I measure at the Left lateralis), are ready for any efforts I throw at them.

On this morning, however, SmO2 never went above 79%, ThB never surpassed 12.34, and again, as soon as I put any real effort in to my surges, or the climbs, SmO2 dropped to between 8 and 15%, and ThB never changed.

Something was seriously off.
SmO2 Stage 1 Ft Davis Hammerfest Image 2

I finished the first stage, a Point-to-Point effort that climbed Mt. Locke, with three major climbs that finished at 6790’ (2070m), and was REALLY disappointed in my results. My watts were down, my cadence was low, I felt heavy and it felt like my legs were dead. As soon as the effort ended and I began to recover, my legs began to REALLY HURT, like I had just undergone a SEVERE resistance training protocol, with multiple sets of squats at high loads.

Disappointed as I was, I waited for my wife, who was also a bit disappointed in her performance, and we rode down together, to eat, recover, and prepare for the next stage, to be held that afternoon. Ironically, the physiological results of that stage were completely different, with an warmed-up average SmO2 in the 85% range, and a range-under-stress in the 30-45% range, which is MUCH more typical of my values during hard efforts. Furthermore, my ThB basically maxed at a stable at ~12.49, and the effort itself showed little change, around 12.00 or thereabouts. It did drop to 11.80-ish toward the end of the stage, but overall, my muscles “Felt” better, and I felt like I could challenge in the race. Now, it didn’t end up that way, but results aside, it’s the physiology that we’re studying in this post.

I’ll attach the files to the blog post if possible, and if not, I’ll try to set them up for download on Google Drive or something like that, for people to study independently, since, remember, I’m not a Scientist. I’m a hack.

So, what’s the lesson to be drawn from this? Without the Moxy, I never would have known just HOW IMPORTANT adaptation to elevation is for a cyclist, or any athlete’s, performance. During my first stage, I basically raced myself in to a deep state of muscle strain, and ended up sore for days afterward. Ironically, had I gone out on the Friday before the race, and actually performed some intervals of similar strain, I would have basically gotten through that penalty phase of adaptation, and would have been better prepared for the efforts at elevation on Stage 1. Who knows – I might have actually had an even better physiology for the 2nd stage, and would have been completely prepared for the third stage that was going to be held the next day. Sadly, a final winter rainstorm blew through the Davis Mountains overnight, and my wife and I both decided to skip a rainy, sleet-covered, 26 degree race with snow above 6000’ (1830m), and winds above 20mph. We’re both too old and cautious to try racing in those liminal conditions, especially when we know there’s really no financial reward to speak of, just a possible great story to be told from the ER.

The Moxy Monitor remains one of my most crucial elements for training and competition. Without it, I’m left guessing as to how ready my body is for work. I will definitely call off a training session if I see numbers that are ‘off’, and I also work hard, as a coach and as an athlete, to provide consistent, safe, effective protocols for warmup, hydration, and recovery.

Listening to your body is one thing; actually seeing it perform via wattage, heart rate, SmO2 and ThB, provides a holistic approach that is incomparable. I cannot WAIT to go back to elevation and ride – only this time, I’ll make sure I have an extra day squeezed in to actually perform some ‘elevation adaptation’ intervals, that will leave me more prepared to take on the slopes and loads required to achieve my best.

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Coach Wharton
17:31

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

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

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Coach Wharton
07:35

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.

What’s a FITNESS BREAKTHROUGH? Well, it’s when your ACTUAL POWER OUTPUT is HIGHER than your Predicted MAXIMUM POWER AVAILABLE!

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.
 JingChart1

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.
JingPic1

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.
JingPic2

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….
JingPic3

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:
JingPic4

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.
WhartonPic1

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.
WhartonPic2

*** 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)!
WhartonPic3

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.
WhartonPic4

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:
WhartonPic5

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 http://bit.ly/BikeCCD.


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Coach Wharton
15:29

21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Stage 10 - HYDRATION!!

Hydration

As the Tour de France makes its' way south towards the Pyrenees, and then the Alps, the riders are going to be doing everything they can to stay on top of their hydration. But it's more than just water. They need fluids, electrolytes (salts), and carboHYDRATES, to get it down to the cellular level. As it gets hotter, take a look at this chart, and follow it on a per-hour basis.

Hydration Chart

Take your body weight on the left, and depending on how hard your workouts are, use the column in the middle as the minimum # of ounces per hour, and the column on the right as the # of ounces I PREFER when it's hot outside. For reference, a short-necked bottle is 20oz and a long-necked water bottle is 24oz.

But don't stop there: modern hydration products employ the best science to help you handle the heat and humidity, and I prefer OSMO and then Skratch. We have it at the studio, and it's available at bike shops and online. We don't recommend traditional sports drinks, as they're too concentrated, and won't be as effective.

This takes practice, but when you do it right, it almost feels as if you're 'running cool'. You're more fresh, more alert, and definitely ride stronger.

Cycling Center Dallas and Online Bike Coach have several methods to help show you just how important hydration is. Come by the studio or give us a call and we'll be glad to give you a demonstration.

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Coach Wharton
16:15

Stage 3: 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Short, Steep Hills!

Stage 3 Short Sharp Hills Tour de France 2015

As the Tour de France winds it's way around France and several neighboring countries, the terrain frequently dictates the challenges the riders and teams will face.

Today's stage is all about short, steep hills. These hills probably resemble some of your more local terrain. They're maybe 1/4 to 1 mile long, but they're anywhere from 4 to 12% steep. To overcome them, you have to apply some strategy.

The first thing to realize is that you're going to need to pre-shift in to an easier gear. Practice this on flat terrain first - you don't want to drop a chain off cogs, get them tangled, or shift in to a harder gear when you were intending to shift in to an easier gear.

Once you're in an easier gear, don't focus on the hill right in front of you - it will resemble a wall, and might be intimidating. Instead, keep your chin up, and focus on the FURTHEST POINT OUT on the road - often called the "Event Horizon".

With your chin up and your eyes focused on the end, arch your back, open up your chest, and pedal as if the bike was a front-wheel drive. PULL yourself up the hill, don't force it by pushing. When you pull, you'll use more muscles in your legs, and your power output will be more evenly distributed.

As the slope increases, you'll tend to tilt further forward, but this results in more fighting the terrain. Instead, think about how light you can make the imprint of the front tire on the pavement. Don't lift it up and pop a wheelie, but do think about how you can glide up the hill in a steady pace and cadence, without putting too much pressure on the front of your bike.

Eventually, you may need to stand, especially if the slope gets too steep, or the hill is just too long. But remember - climbing out of the saddle is inefficient, and you're doing it on borrowed time. Your cadence will slow down, and unless you're really powerful, or you're getting to the point where the slope may begin to ease up, then you may end up "hacksawing" (pedaling, but feeling like you're standing still between pedal strokes) your way up the hill, or blowing up completely, and being forced to dismount and walk.

Most of the hills in today's Tour de France stage are between 1 and 3 minutes long, but they'll be steep and hard enough to separate the riders. If your local hills are too much of a challenge right now, then you really should consider a training block of intervals at Cycling Center Dallas. Hills require some strength, and a lot of practice. We can show you how to be a stronger cyclist, on hills, and everywhere else you ride!

We hope you're enjoying the Tour de France, and your own cycling. If you want to improve your ability to climb hills, don't hesitate to give us a call or just drop by before an evening class. We'll see you out on the road!

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Coach Wharton
16:05

Stage 2, 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! - "The Wind is my Friend. The Wind is my Friend!"

Stage 2 2015 Tour de France

Did you watch Sunday's stage in the Tour de France?! The theme of the day was... WIND!!!

The stage traveled over 100 miles on perhaps the flattest course ever, in a direction that ended up towards the North Sea. While the wind coming off the ocean may be great for sailors and flying a kite, it is definitely a challenge for any cyclist.

You have to be confident, you have to be strong-willed, and you have to be smart about where to position yourself when cycling in the wind. If you don't, you may end up working harder than you like, and traveling slower than you ever imagined.

The mantra I like to repeat to myself when I'm battling a headwind or a crosswind is this.

"The Wind is my Friend. The Wind is my Friend."

I repeat this mentally, and within my breathing pattern, and it helps me focus. I focus on holding an aerodynamic position on my bike, I focus on the fact that I'm still moving forward, I focus on trying to keep my cadence a little higher than I'd like, and I focus on the realization that most of the time, that headwind will turn in my favor and become a tailwind, be it in five minutes, an hour, or another day.

Cycling in the wind is inevitable. Some wind brings cooler temps and feels great. Some wind brings boiling, humid air to your skin and works to deprive you of energy. Some wind works with you, and some wind tries to blow your wheels out from underneath you.

The trick is to embrace it, stay focused, and penetrate it like scissors on fabric. Cutting through the wind with style leads to a smoother ride, and the ability to "ride" to the challenge!
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions about this tip or your cycling fitness, give us a call or just stop by before our evening classes!

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Coach Wharton
12:16

Coach Wharton's Equipment Recommendations

This is a completely random entry, but it's based on a TON of questions that I field on a regular basis. I can explain them individually, but honestly, just take it for what it's worth. 

Here goes:

POWER METER:
  • Rotor Power Meter
  • Power2Max
  • Quarq
  • SRM

PEDALS:
  • Speedplay ZERO
  • Shimano SPD-SL
  • Shimano SPD

ON-BIKE COMPUTERS:
  • Garmin 810
  • Garmin 510
  • Garmin 1000
  • Joule GPS+
WHEELS:
  • HED
  • Shimano

SPORTS DRINK:
  • OSMO
  • Skratch
  • Clif Electrolyte

LUBE:
  • Rock&Roll Red
  • ProGold ProLink

TIRES:
  • Continental GP4000s2 (I know, I finally came around).
  • Vittoria Open Corsa 320tpi.
  • Vittoria Rubino Pro 150tpi.

LIGHTS:
  • Dinotte Quad Red and Quad Amber

That's it for now - I'll add links at some point later, but I hope this will suffice for the moment. 




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Coach Wharton
14:25

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Last Saturday, we attended the 2015 Lancaster bicycle rally, hosted by the greater Dallas bicyclists. Tracy and I met up with our neighbor Brian Bacon and rolled down through town for the 17 to 18 miles that it took to get to the gazebo that started the event. The rally is now 17 years old, and it is usually held on one of the best weekends of the year to ride a bike in Texas. The bluebonnets are looming, the Indian paints are out, there are some yellow buttercups, and recent rains always make the rest of the fields lush and green.

We were met at the start by several of our past and present clients. It is always heartening to see your work in progress. However, as these rallies have come to replace road racing, due to the lack of usable venues, and in general unwillingness to pay for other things,The events have become a venue for all of the faster cyclists to get in a vigorous workout on varied terrain. In years past, I have attempted to host "Ride with Richard" events, but this year, because of the extended spring, Tracy and I decided to instead just make it our ride.

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We actually turned this into a century by departing at 7 AM from our house in East Dallas. We were joined by our neighbor, Brian Bacon, who is a retired cat one. The trip down took just about an hour, and we rode past the Audubon Park, and the new horse Park that the city is promoting. Once we got to Lancaster, it was interesting to see how that area is developing with all of the warehouses being built in preparation for the large rail terminal that has been proposed and built finally for about 15 years. The roads down there to look to Lancaster were pretty smooth, but we knew that as we rolled into Ellis County, they would get more rural, and rough.

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When we got to registration, the place was busy and filled with cyclists, all of them clickety clacking in their bike cleats and talking general bike jargon. We met up with two more of our coaches, Wendy Hazelwood, and David Lopez, posed for some photographs with clients, and then made our way to the staging area.

One of the great things about the Lancaster rally, is the drum line. These talented musicians actually receive some of the funds raised by this rally, and they never disappoint. Our Star-Spangled Banner was played by another musician using a saxophone, and when the classic aircraft performed their flyover at the top of the hour, we all rolled out.

Early on, it was obvious that the pace was going to be high, with little room for mistakes. A lot of risky behavior was evident, as athletes tested their legs. I was near the front, with several of my friends, when maybe five minutes in, right before the turn past the airport, we were shocked to hear a lot of banging and clanging and scraping behind us. That almost always signifies a bike wreck. Turning the corner, we all sat up and looked over our right shoulders and saw that yes, there were a number of cyclists down. I also saw several of my cycling center jerseys among them. We neutralized, and I rolled back 100 yards until we reached the scene. Unfortunately, Tracy, David Lopez, and a client, Travis Pope, were all off their bikes and were either on the ground, or were trying to straighten out wheels and handlebars. David's front wheel was trashed, and after a brief analysis and test of range of motion, it became very obvious that Travis had suffered a broken right collarbone. Those of you that follow my Whareagle word press blog, know that in 2005 I broke my collarbone in late July at the goat neck rally, and it was unfortunate to see the same thing happen to a client and friend. All of us waited until we were certain that Travis and David had an easy way to get home and get back to their families, and for Travis, to get in touch with his parents, and then we continued our ride.

By this point, 10 or 15 minutes had passed, and it was up to us to properly announce ourselves and safely pass as a group of four. I believe over the course of the entire 63 miles, we probably passed almost 1400 riders. There is something to be said about proper passing etiquette, announcing yourself and your intentions, and just basically being a good diplomat or ambassador. We knew we were successful in this endeavor when we received a complement about this from a client and her husband on the following Monday.

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As the miles rolled by, Wendy, Brian, Tracy and I all shared the lead and rotated through very easily. We got to ride some incredible terrain, and because of the previous wet weather, the bluebonnets, Indian paints, and yellow buttercups that are so connected with this rally, were out in force. Around 40+ miles in, we passed another coach, Steve Nelson, and he had a helmet cam that captured our group for a few special moments. Tracy was feeling really strong, and she performed several surges throughout the ride that left us all suffering. Wendy, fresh off of a successful Ironman New Zealand, road exceptionally well in an even pace, and Brian showed his experience with smooth poles, and solid positioning when he was not in the lead. I'm not sure what the ridewithGPS.com link will say, but I believe we averaged about 23 mph as a foursome.

We got to the finish line just as we were about to sort of run out of energy. Once again, we were met with several friends and acquaintances who had either missed the rack or written past it, and we spent a lot of time thanking the organizers, almost all of whom are members of the greater Dallas bicyclists. Tracy and Brian both decided that they wanted to hitch a ride back to the neighborhood, but I decided to make it an epic day, and I rode home.

Steve Nelson Handlebar cam

The science behind the ride is a little bit interesting. I need to preface this by saying that I honestly have never been this heavy, nor was I ever this unfed, through the winter. I am now weighing in at about 166 pounds, and in mid-March my threshold was below 230 W. I vowed that I would never let the wattage number drop that low again, and I am working very diligently on trying to get my weight back down to about 158. The weekend in Fort Davis was a kick starter, and it does help now that we have regular weekend events planned throughout the rest of the spring and the summer. I believe the ride was well over 3000 kJ, the intensity factor was around 78%, and my turning stress score was well above 300. If you're using Skiba scores it was just under 300. I believe I drank a 70 ounce camelback +2 24 ounce water bottles of Osmo, and I did also eat two separate 380 cal bars during the ride. I probably could've used a third bar, but I believe I gave it to someone. And I mistakenly thought at the finish line that I had adequately refueled with the cookies and fruit that they were offering. I kind of bonked at around 96 miles, but was still able to control my effort enough to make it home without a pitstop. Finally, when I weighed myself at the end of the ride, I was at or near my exact weight that morning, which was about a 163.

I guess this just reiterates the theme about Which Cycling Ctr., Dallas and online bike coach are centered… When you train for your quality intervals indoors, using perfpro, and then focus on solid aerobic cycling during the week outdoors, it really does make a difference on the weekends! When you combine that with a solid hydration plan and nutrition schedule, your stamina, speed, and strength all improve. I am happy to say that I'm now at about 257 W for threshold, and I'm actually looking forward to testing again soon, maybe even today.

That's really about it, we will have a bigger report on the next rally, and some of Tracy's racing next week. Until then, a member to take the lane, remember to stay on top of your hydration and nutrition, and always be visible, and think positive thoughts for Travis' speedy recovery!


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Coach Wharton
12:12

Ft. Davis HammerFest, March 2015

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The 2015 HammerFest was an excellent example of Texas Bike Racing, complete with fantastic stage challenges, a healthy mix of athletes and categories.  And, of course, epic views and terrain.

 

I need to provide a few caveats before beginning the breakdown of the weekend the biggest being my fitness.  Bike racing in Texas is pretty small, and we all know each other to some degree or another.  


However, this is my first race in-state since February of 2012, and my first since relocating my cycling studios to new locations.  I was completely void of any real degree of fitness and entered the weekend with a wattage threshold about 60 watts below my prime.  Additionally, my body weight is about 3 to 4 kilos heavy.

 

For me, doing this race was strictly for the benefit of the camaraderie found in racing. The challenge of the venue, and as a service to the new promoter, who, like many, continues to pour her heart and soul and resources into this sport we all know and love.

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The weekend turned out to be perfect, weather-wise, as about 100 of us made the trek to the Big Bend area.  Racers were spread out among hotels, and B&B’s in the triad of Ft. Davis, Alpine, and Marfa.  Registration, rollout, and even the finish line were all within 100 feet of the ubiquitous Limpia Hotel on the main strip. Categories were combined for racing; although they were scored separately, in a Points Race format.

 

There were three stages - the first, on Saturday morning, to the summit of Mt. Locke, the second, a point-to-point out on the Scenic Loop to the park of Crow’s Nest, and the final stage on Sunday morning.  which either performed the infamous complete Scenic Loop, or did an out-and-back along the Stage 1 route and beyond.

 

My wife, Tracy, and I, brought along professional videographer and cycling aficionado, Dean Markham, With him, we used about five separate cameras, on handlebars, saddles, helmets, and in follow vehicles, to capture the essence of the races and its’ participants.

 

I know we were not able to get everyone interviewed or get all categories reviewed, and you know how things always end up on a cutting room floor when editing, but I assure you - we tried.  Expect a promotional video in the next few weeks, and longer videos and video segments on our YouTube channel as time allows and Spring progresses.

 

This was Tracy’s first time racing out there, and there was a healthy audience of over a dozen women, from all around the state and beyond.  She is much more competitive these last few years than me, and while I considered it my goal just to finish each stage, she was ready to compete a little.

 

Still, our combined focus on coaching and running a startup these last two years have taken their toll on her as well as me, and she was unused to the altitude and gradients this race provides.  That didn’t stop her from having a blast, and it didn’t stop me from enjoying her races and stories as much as my own.

 

We both finished out of the money but left with enough experience and enthusiasm to ensure that upon our return next year, we’ll both be better prepared.  Sometimes you have to experience a race, just to experience it, rather than attempt to race it.

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The Racing: Stage 1
 

The climb out to Mt. Locke started out a little chilly, as expected, but it quickly warmed up about halfway through the route, and I was dropped early on the first real climb, thus making the effort a quiet, solo affair.

 

The second climb, the longest of the three, was just beautiful, as I rode within my limits and focused on good posture for the sake of the camera on my head.  Unfortunately, right at the transition from climb to flat, where there is a good chicane in the road, I derailed.  An awesome helper in a trailing vehicle was kind enough to help me get the thing back on for the final assault.

 

I was well over 15 minutes behind the leaders but managed the climb, and then waited at the top for Dean and then Tracy.  Client Paul Konrad also made the assault, and it made me proud to see a rider who had put so much time in at the studio, perform so well!  Our descent together was a blast, and ALL of it was videotaped, so expect to see some significant action from that segment soon!

 
The Racing: Stage 2
 

Stage 2, held midafternoon, was another point-to-point, this time held out on the first part of the Scenic Loop.  Traditionally, Ft. Davis suffers from increasing winds as the afternoon wears on, and Saturday was no exception.  The racers formed tight packs, played defense, but the riders with teammates sent rabbits up the road for the rest of us to reel in.

 

I was quickly dropped, along with a rider from El Paso, and together we took turns pulling until we reached the finish, a few minutes back from the leaders.  I then went back down with some of the riders, this time enjoying a great tailwind along with the descent, and pulled over to rejoin Dean, who was filming the women’s race.

 

Now I need to note -- THAT was a great display of racing.  Watching the ATC women dominate by sending a talented cyclist off the front, and then holding back the rest of the pack like a tight champagne cork, while finally sending another rider off, to dominate the podium, was just artful.  The other riders and teams never stood a chance.

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An interview on camera afterward only confirmed my thoughts - these were true amateur professionals.  They thanked each other, congratulated each other, displayed consummate sportsmanship to the other competitors after the event ended and were cheerful and humble throughout.  They credited each other, and I later learned that they disbursed the winnings equally through the club.  THAT was incredible!

 

Dinner at Marfa’s famous Jett’s Grille, at the Paisano Hotel
Dinner that evening was in Marfa’s famous Jett’s Grille, at the Paisano Hotel. We were engaged by Dean’s stories of his cycling adventures in the 80’s and his return to the sport through our studio just a year ago.  He’s since lost over 40 lbs and purchased a new road bike, and he’ll be eagerly anticipating the local rallies and events that we travel to this year.

 
The Racing: Stage 3
 

For me, Sunday’s race, covered the Scenic Loop while Tracy’s event was an out-and-back along the Stage 1 course and beyond.  Once again, I was reminded just how incredibly fun the course is, as I rode with the group the first 20 miles.

 

I rolled off the front a short bit on the back side to get some excellent camera footage, and then rejoined the pack until the base of Bear Canyon, the first steep climb in the race.  After that, I was solo, and I made a point to focus on cadence, staying hydrated, eating on a good schedule, and enjoying the challenge and the beautiful, mostly windless day.

 

On the ride into Ft. Davis, two Cat 4’s passed me, and they both had that eager, assertive look as they chased each other into town.  I was running on fumes by that point, but reminded myself that there WILL be a next year for us, and we WILL be bringing more people with us to this unique event.

 

Ft. Davis’ Hammerfest is back, and everyone including TXBRA racers should embrace this classic stage race.  There’s something for everyone, regardless of ability or experience, and it is worth the trip.  Call it a pilgrimage, but it is just a fantastic way to see Texas, experience three great rides, and make plans to improve your fitness and enjoy the results.

 

Thanks to Peri and her hard work making this possible, and the citizens of Ft. Davis, who volunteered.

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Coach Wharton
14:55

Thoughts On What Might Be Happening With A Cyclist's Blood and Muscle When Unfit, Dehydrated, and Fatigued.


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