Friday, February 27, 2009

Team Pursuit Championships

Bicisport Team Pursuit Medallists.

14 February 2009.
22 riders.
6 teams.
3 race categories (Masters all ages, Masters 150+, Elite Women) .
1 Manager.
1 Coach (me).

2 months of weekly team preparation rides (with a break over Christmas / New Year).

When you have 22 riders all wanting to ride in Team #1, it makes for a challenging task to sort out the right combinations.

We had seasoned team pursuiters, some that had barely ridden the track before, strong riders that didn't have the pedigree in team pursuiting, seasoned team pursuit riders with form that needed to pick up, sprint oriented riders, roadies, track enduros, riders from several geographies. We had it all.

Then, once you settle on the combinations, you then need to work on the contingencies. Who are the subs to go up if a rider drops out for some reason? What is the best order of riders in a team? Where are the weaknesses and how can you minimise their impact? All good fun.

Somehow we pulled it all together and at the end of the day:

35 teams entered Championships.
6 Bicisport teams rode.
5 qualified for finals.
4 medalled.
2 Silver.
2 Gold.

2 x Championship record times set in men's qualifying and one again set in final.
Inaugral Women's event (qualified both teams for Gold final)

Bicisport now holds the State record time in both Men's masters categories and Women's elite team pursuits. For a club of ~ 75 riders, I reckon that's pretty impressive.

Cracking rides by all teams. Not a foot wrong all day. While I shouldn't pick favourites, the one that stood out for me was not the record setting rides but Team 2's qualifying ride, which saw them post 4th fastest time and qualify for the bronze ride off. Getting 2 teams into the finals in an ultra competitive category was really a highlight. They missed out in the final, getting nailed by a strong Sutherland outfit. Not to say the other rides weren't worthy, they were all tremendous.

Congrats to the Tuggeranong express train that took out the all ages final by 0.3 seconds. It was a cracker of a race and went down to the wire.

Nice work team!

Special thanks to Stuart Lane for being there at training every week to fill in the gaps as needed.

Coach exhausted.
Coach wants to ride it next year instead.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

HOP to it!

Quite a few years ago (circa 2002), I learned of an indoor workout called "The Hour of Power" or HOP for short. It was coined by Bill Black, a regular contributor to the Google Wattage Groups forum. The workout also features in the book, Training and Racing with a Power Meter.

It's a pretty simple style of workout, designed to lift your power at threshold as well as provide a bit of a neuromuscular twist. Indeed any solid tempo effort at this level is very good for helping to lift one's threshold power. They are not easy workouts and can be quite fatiguing, so it does help to build up to doing them if you haven't been riding much lately.

There have a been a few different formats but the basic theme is the same:

Ride at a base load that is sub-threshold (~90% of your 1-hr maximal power) and every few minutes do a surge for about 15-seconds or so. Doing this mixes up the workout and does help to make the time pass a little more quickly.

Since today I was planning on a 90-minute solid tempo ride, and it was raining outside, I decided to do my workout indoors on Thunderbird 7 and thought, you know I've never actually had a go at the HOP. So that was today's mission.

Actually I ended up doing what you might call HOP+, since I did want to do 90-min of tempo, rather than the hour. So I decided to do a HOP, then assuming all was well would finish off the workout with some more tempo. This is what eventuated:

This is the picture of the workout data (click on it to see a larger version). The two horizontal dashed lines mark my Funtional Threshold Power (FTP) and 90% of my FTP. Plotted are my power output (yellow) and cadence (green). The boxes show the stats for the HOP and for the tempo effort that followed.

After I finished the HOP, I "hopped" off T7 to do the usual remove leg and liner, dry down and replace before getting back on for the final 30-min of tempo riding.

An interesting personal observation was as the workout progressed, I seemed to get better. The tempo at the end was taxing but not a killer by any measure. No doubt it won't be like that everytime I do it.

All up, a really good quality session. You should give a go one day.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Surface Area

I haven't posted about my own training bits 'n' pieces lately. So a brief update.

All is going well. My training is now a regular 5 days/week routine, sometimes a 6th day recovery spin if I feel like it/have the time. Riding consists of a longer ride on Sundays, a solid tempo effort on Saturdays (now doing 1.5hrs of tempo ~ 85-90% of FTP), specific threshold development intervals midweek (your typical 2 x 20-min intervals at near TT effort ~ 95+% of FTP) and core endurance level riding otherwise, with the occasional race thrown in for a bit of fun.

The long rides have been ~ 2.5hrs so far and most other rides are typically about 1.5hrs. An interval session on Thunderbird 7 might be a little shorter.

Here's the latest chart showing how the training loads have been growing at a steady rate.

In terms of power output, well I can't say I've noticed great leaps in performance over the past month or so but that's not unusual as the training loads have been progressively increasing and so the legs are mildly fatigued. Also fitness gains can kind of creep up on you. The only problems I've had have been with some exceptionally hot days, when I struggled to hit desired training levels, so on those few days you just accept it won't happen and move on. Indeed, there have been days I trained indoors because it was too hot outside!

Certainly this morning I did my 2x20s OK, with the first completed at an average of 262 watts and the next one I let it rip a bit more, ending with an average of 274 watts (which was 264W 1st half and 284W 2nd half). My current FTP is estimated at 275W.

Australia Day Race

On Australia day I raced the, er, Australia Day Race, one I've raced several times before and reported on a couple of years back in this post. Apart from being the usual blast around Heffron Park, it's also a fund raiser for the Children's cancer foundation.

This year the race format was different - a handicap criterium with 3 grades. Not entirely sure where to ride, I just put myself in the limit bunch and figured I'd see how it would go.

Before the race I rode to Heffron Park and did a couple of laps of the circuit. Mind you I've been around it a gazillion times, so it was more a sense of assessing how the wind is as that helps me make some tactical choices about what to do at which points of the circuit.

Anyway, I might have been better in middle chase bunch as limit wasn't very hard and most of them couldn't corner all that well or go that hard to drive a break so I just rode like a good warm up waiting for the catch to happen. When we were caught by the chasing bunch, I immediately inserted myself into the faster group and then just maintained position working my way to front 5-6 riders with a lap to go. But rather than continue the drive and good speed, the front 4-5 riders shut it off (what were you thinking guys?!) - and of course that was enough for the scratch bunch to bridge the gap.

Cruising with the limit bunch. Still a few kgs to lose!!

So with 1km to go I ended up on the front of a 50 rider bunch keeping a good tempo and looking for an attacker (there's always someone who can't help themselves). Right on cue John Sunde came through hard on my left and I instantly got his wheel, and we had a gap with 500m to go but he shut down once we hit the main finishing straight(!) which meant I had the bunch back on my tail and was staring down at a 350m sprint into the headwind LOL. I lasted maybe 3 seconds before I was swamped. All good fun. But what's the deal letting a bloke with a bit of leg missing lead the bunch inside the last km? Gotta laugh.

Riding with a Prosthetic

One of the experiences when riding with a prosthetic leg is the way the liner, which goes over my stump and connects me to my prosthetic's socket, gradually fills with fluid (sweat) and begins to loosen over time as you ride. Every day is different as to how long it takes before I need to stop, take the leg off and remove the liner, drain out the contents of Sydney Harbour, dry off my stump and liner and replace before heading off again. I carry a small hand towel with me for the job. Some days I've gone 90-minutes without a change, other days I need to stop after less than half an hour.

Over time I'm beginning to get to know handy spots to do that - all I really need is something to lean the bike against and something I can sit on. Walking is not easy with the prosthetic cycling leg attachment, so I basically need to be able to ride up to the spot. As with most things, you get creative in working out little solutions for these things.

The reason why I need to stop is that as the liner works loose, the amount of surface area contact between my stump and the prosthetic socket reduces. Since the forces are transferred to the pedals via my socket, then the greater the amount of my stump's surface area that remains in contact with the socket, the less pressure is placed on any one part of my stump and skin. I find that as the liner becomes loose, it gets harder to produce the power as well as becomming less comfortable to ride. As soon as I remove, dry and refit it, there is an immediate improvement in comfort and power.

The other issue I have is since the socket I current use for riding is my general purpose socket (which is designed for standing/walking and not bike riding) the socket shape is not ideal for the angles the knee goes through when pedalling. A large gap forms between the front of the top of my shin and the front of the socket. Currently I fill that gap with some foam and need to keep adjusting how much I use, to get the right balance between filling the gap and having a secure stump-socket connection and actually being able to get the leg properly secured into the socket.

When I finally get a dedicated cycling socket made, the socket shape will be different so that it will be more suitable for cycling. That'll happen some time this year, the timing on that needs to be agreed with my prosthetics specialist. Since I am now getting much fitter, I am losing the weight and with that comes subtle changes to my stump's size and shape, which affects the design. It's a tricky business.

Anyway, for now it's not stopping me from riding but I know a better solution exists.

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