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
11:41

What is BikeScore?

 


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:

 bikescore2

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.

bikescore1



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.


Find out the 3 SECRETS as to why the Cycling Performance Classes are so effective!

Get a peak at the 3 core concepts that combine the science of physiology and performance training into cycling workouts that are INDIVIDUAL to you, and lead to better results.



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Coach Wharton
17:03

Thoughts and Ponderings While Driving to Mineral Wells for the Crazy Kicker


Whenever I travel to a bike rally, it's usually done before sunrise, and I end up having the privilege of driving into these small towns as the day begins. When you live in Dallas, and spend a lot of your time either indoors, or commuting between home, work, lunch, and other intra-city destinations, you kind of lose a piece of your soul and your spirit because of the fact that you're just engaging in a routine. You may notice the new house, the new paint job, the new roof... you may get frustrated that there is construction on one of your major roads, but by and large we tend to overlook too many details.

When I get up early, and usually when I am driving to my destinations alone, North Texas takes on a different look. This morning, as I drove through Dallas and over to Mineral Wells for the Kiwanis Crazy Kicker bike rally, I was reminded of just how lucky I am to live here. Many of you know that I enjoy traveling all over the state, and riding my bike. Recently, I have been engaging in these Ultra cycling events, more for fun than anything else, and just the mere fact that we are riding our bikes in this expansive land, through these small, smaller, and downright tiny towns, villages, and even just crossroads, takes me back to my childhood home on Sunday afternoon's watching a sort of world history/anthropological review of Texas Country Reporter.

There really is something extremely unique about the bike rally system in North Texas. Think about it, from late January through mid November, we have almost 30 weekend opportunities to ride in the suburbs and exurbs of the Dallas and Fort Worth area, on roads that are rich with history, are actually maintained pretty well when compared to other parts of the country and the world, and raise funds for great local causes. Driving into a sunrise, and watching the world of nature sort of wake up around me, even from behind the windshield of the car, is sort of spiritual. I think about migration, I think about how rugged these landowners are, I look at the ruins and abandoned homes and businesses, and wonder with some regret how and where these people went, and it only increases the joy of anticipation that I get for the day's ride.

Mineral Wells will always be special in my mind, because it was in the summer of 2010 that I first met Tracy, at a time trial in Graford, which is a small crossroads located about 11 miles outside of Mineral Wells. It is our first destination for rally-goers who are riding certain distances.

Texas is a rugged part of the world, with most of its resources lying below its surface. It is the people, attitude, that really make it tick. We all have different opinions about what is the best way forward, but that's just it, Texans always go forward. They are restless. They have attitude, and a type of confidence/braggadocio that is unmistakable. They swing clubs on crappy little par three golf courses until they develop adeptness that will make them scratch golfers. They handle the extreme Texas heat, humidity and arid ground with resourcefulness. It's not that they're doing anything different, it's just that they do it more. It's this and innate pride. It's this liberty. It is this non-fear of failure, and this expectation that one will not fail. I'm sure that it makes for a bit of a hard family life, and of course if one is born without access to resources, that just makes it that much more difficult, but from my point of view behind the wheel, and then behind the handlebars, I find myself looking at the road ahead, with a solid line on the right and a striped line on the left, and feeling like just about anything is possible.

God bless Texas, God bless America, God bless small towns, small, greasy-spoon coffee shops, chip-sealed county roads, and big attitudes.

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Coach Wharton
16:38

A Weekend in Oklahoma!!!

I have a framed quote in the Studio in Richardson, that was pulled from a magazine a long, long time ago. It comes from Gary Klein, who was one of the pioneers of Mountain Biking. It reads like this... :

"Mountain Biking is about adventure and the rediscovery of your childhood freedom. It removes you from the daily grind and puts you in an environment with endless possibilities. Wildlife, Epic Views, a personal epiphany about what really matters, and tasting your own endorphines after a long, hard climb. The reward is looking back at obstacles, that are now behind you, and realizing that anything is possible."

I think this very theme should be applied to road cycling on hilly or even mountainous terrain, and on the weekend of September 27th, that's EXACTLY what I did, with clients Brian Terrell and Kyle Keeter.

The morning began with a 2-hour trip North, to Ardmore, Oklahoma. It's interesting - when we live and spend most of our days in North Texas, getting outside of that bubble is revealing and refreshing. I've noticed before that the moment I cross in to Oklahoma, traffic on 35N just begins to space itself out, until there are moments when you feel that you're the only vehicle out on the road. Furthermore, the lack of traffic tends to lead to a better highway ride, and I certainly felt that. Second, the terrain becomes noticeably more rolling, and you find that your Cruise Control sometimes has to shift down to help you hold speed. It's times like this, when I know that I'm in the type of cycling terrain that I love the most!

I got to Ardmore early enough to eat breakfast right off the highway, and it brought back a vague memory of a time when I traveled to Kansas City with my grandparents by car. Both of them are gone, but I remember they used to stop at Ponders, which was a great place to eat breakfast. Well, Ponders has been sold to a chain, but I did get to have a good healthy breakfast, and I'm glad I did, because we ended up riding over 80 miles that day, on some GREAT terrain!

I met up with Brian and Kyle in a city park, and after prepping our bikes and ensuring that we had enough food and water, about 12 or 13 of us rolled out. It was about 10 degrees cooler than D/FW, and we rolled DUE NORTH on US77, for about five miles, before the challenging terrain began to present itself. Now, I was with a number of cyclists with whom I was not familiar, other than my clients, but we remained friendly and comfortable, until around mile 12, when the first true incline presented itself. This actually ended up being our longest climb of the day, but it was deceptive.

I'm going to provide a link to the ride through www.ridewithgps.com. I think it's public, but you may have to register. I prefer Ride With GPS to the other guys because I helped them early in their development, the owners are friends, and they don't have nearly as much gobbledy-gook junk and advertising as the other map-based trip sites. The image is the link, so click on it to follow along. While we're here, lets' have a quick lesson in wattage, slope, pacing, heart rate, and how to use a power meter effectively. 


Climbing North of Ardmore, Oklahoma.


Once you're in to Ride With GPS, use the zooming feature to look at roughly miles 11.75 through 13.25. Click on Watts, HR, Cadence, and elevation, and then look in the upper right area, and make sure you're on the 'Metrics' tab. Everyone's results will vary here and there, but here's the gist of it.

First Hill in Ardmore Loop

Now, look at the timeline image on your browser, and then look again at the image above. We've got moment-by-moment, and then summaries of the block. Now, let's get my description of what happened and why...

I was concerned in the morning rollout, upon seeing just how calm things were and how far we could see, that the climbs, when they arrived, would prove challenging, and honestly, I was right. These rides usually end up becoming ego-fests, and since I was unfamiliar with the territory, I did my utmost to let others lead. That said, I knew it when I felt it, that this hill was going to be a long, gradual effort to a peak that would be unseen and gradual. There just aren't any real immediate conversions from climb to descent in these mid-continent hills. So the mental plan I made for myself was to marshall my watts, let the natural leaders do the work, and then, when they'd punished themselves, to ride at a pace that was sustainable for me in my current condition. 

That said - it didn't quite go to plan. 

Terrain and company tend to dictate effort, and as slope rises, you have to respond with more raw power to the pedals. Right now, I calculate my Critical Power, which is the highest average power I can sustain for an extended period of time, right around an hour or so (similar to Functional Threshold Power) to be about 270 normalized watts, and if you follow my training programs, I believe I have about 22,000 Joules of energy available to me above that Critical Power. At 11.78 miles, I crest 269 watts, and I don't dip below that number again until 12.63 miles. I burned at least 100 KiloJoules, averaged 314 watts, though it FELT LIKE 325 watts (on this chart, it's called "WR" Power, but we usually refer to it as "Normalized" Power... it's a better way to measure power because it takes in to account what's going on inside your body on a metabolic basis, and what energy systems you're burning through), and my heart rate went from an active 147 beats per minute, to a near-max value of 193 BPM. I THINK my max is about a 196 or 7, but honestly, when a rider gets there, he or she kind of knows that there's not much left in the legs, and the lungs are going to take a while to recover. I burned almost 13,363 Joules above Critical Power, which was about 60% of my reserves, so while I probably could have soldiered on, the HR, the high Normalized Power, and my relative lack of training at or above Critical Power, had me actually backing off and settling down to a more stately sub-CP wattage of 250, then 230 watts, for the next 2 minutes, as my HR dropped, my breathing became a bit more normal, and as the slope lessened, my cadence went back up. 

For the record, I was NOT the strongest rider on the day. In fact, there were at least 3 other cyclists who were stronger on the climbs - some younger, some older. But the point is that I rode that hill, and others that I'll describe next in this post, with a pacing strategy that worked for me, and allowed me to improve over the course of the day, while also teaching my clients some of the same concepts. 

Here's an image of the 'Meat' part of that first climb. 


Not surprisingly, once I dropped my wattage BELOW Critical Power, HR dropped, cadence rose, and my Critical Power began to reconstitute itself, so that I could hopefully be better prepared for the next set of climbs. 


Now that the first real "Hill" was out of the way, and I knew my limits, I spoke with my clients, Brian and Kyle, and asked them how they'd paced themselves. Though I don't have their files with me at this time, I did learn that they, too, had basically pushed themselves to a point where they couldn't sustain their effort, all in an attempt to 'keep up' with other cyclists, and they'd taken themselves to a point where their HR and cadence just could not be sustained. In other words, they "Blew Up", and were unable to sustain even modest wattage below Critical Power, for a period of time. We then decided that on the NEXT hill, which was several minutes away, when we'd be more fully recovered, we would attempt to roll up the hill at a rolling 30-second average of 120% of FTP. How did that work? Well, here - have a look. 


The next hill was roughly 8/10ths of a mile, at a noticeable 6.2% average gradient. If my FTP/CP is roughly 270 watts, then 120% of that is ~325 watts.


So, with a goal in mind, I didn't quite average 325 watts, but I DID average ~315 watts for 4 minutes, which comes out to about 115% of that Threshold FTP/CP value, and THIS time, I was SLIGHTLY stronger, and kept myself a bit closer to the leaders. HR didn't go through the ceiling, Cadence was modest, around 84 rpm, 

With an FTP of 270 watts entered, the predicted cadence, riding in the easiest gear on my bike, which is a 39 tooth chainring up front, and a 25 tooth chainring in the back, while weighing in at 82 kilos, riding 170mm cranks (I like them short for my hips and for aerodynamic positioning), yields a predicted cadence of 86 rpm. What did I actually average? .... 84. That's ~2.5% off. NOT BAD! NOT BAD AT ALL!!! Interestingly, when we look at my predicted speed of 16.87 kph, vs the actual speed of 11mph, which is 17.70kph, the delta there is about 4% above the prediction. Again - you know, I will take that any day, and the reality is that there were probably some efficiencies in my setup or aerodynamics that may have affected those numbers. I was riding tubular tires on aero wheels, for example, and I was wearing an aero skinsuit. Stuff like that. ALL of it matters!

But back to the hills of Ardmore.

We rode like that for the rest of the day. Climbing at or near 120% of FTP for the longer climbs, not worrying too much about what our rolling 30sec and per-lap Normalized Power numbers were for the shorter hills. The day ended up being just about perfect in terms of temps and wind, but this leads me to a final thought to share.... When it all matters, at the end of a ride, it's how you managed all of your energy in the hours and minutes before, that count the most.

The 10 miles back to the car were a straight shot south, along the route upon which we had traveled outbound, and the return home, in the early afternoon, ended up just hitting that period of time in the day when the WIND picks up. And if you live in North Texas, or in this case, Southern Oklahoma, most of the time, in late September, that wind comes STRAIGHT OUT OF THE SOUTH or SOUTHWEST. So we were in for a LONG, HAUL, HOME.

Now - Hop back on to the RideWithGPS tab, and look at the final ten miles or so. Specifically, take a look at the wattage profile... Here's a glimpse.



Kyle and I both had to get back to Dallas for early evening appointments, so we left the bunch and did our best to paceline ourselves back to the cars. However, with the winds only growing, and the fact that Kyle is roughly 8" taller than me, and just less experienced with wattage pacing, we turned it in to another teachable hour. 

We started off agreeing to NOT go above our respective thresholds, and to attempt to alternate pulls for about one minute before dropping back. We also agreed to communicate if one of us was just simply pulling too strongly and dropping the other cyclist. When that proved too much, I took longer pulls, and made sure that when we both pulled in our turn, that we did so further and further below FTP. Finally, when Kyle was just hammered, I took over and pulled us both in. It was TEAMWORK that led to the grand finale, but it was also the fact that these were the final miles of a HUMONGOUS effort, for which we were only mildly prepared. 

Any chance you get to head out to new scenery or location or elevation, please, go do it. Trap that data on your power meter. Analyze it. Use the tools I've mentioned above so that NEXT TIME, you get out there, you'll remember what you're capable of, what your limitations may be, and how you can optimize your ride, in the moment, as well as before and after. Wattage and Science and Training really CAN serve to make it more fun. You just have to know how to look at that hill, at that course, at that day, and both prepare for it beforehand, and make the most of it while you're there!

Ride on! - I'll try to get a post of the Glen Rose Rally up shortly. Thanks for reading!!!

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Coach Wharton
14:41

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is....

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


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

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

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

Let's continue....

PerfPro Works best between 17 and 25mph.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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