Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Do the work, and it will come...

Today I had a training session in Centennial Park.

It was what I call TTIs (threshold tolerance intervals), which were done as two 20-min efforts, with about a 5-min easy riding in between each effort. They are very hard going, ridden at time trial pace. I've written about these plenty before and I've been doing a block of them lately.

As many of you know, I use a power meter on my bike to help monitor my effort as well as record my performance. I've been doing this for many years.

My average power for each TTI today was 314 watts & 313 watts respectively.

That exceeds my all time previous best 2x20-min TTIs (313W & 310W) in January-2007.

That's two years six months after my amputation and one year five months after I attempted to ride for the first time on an indoor trainer (10-min at 100W).

Do the work, and you will improve. Even if you are missing a bit of leg.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Granfondo 2009

The countryside surrounding Santa Rosa, California:

In early October 2009 I participated in Levi's King Ridge Granfondo.

It was the finale to a week long visit to Santa Rosa, California.

It was a great week of riding and the weather was excellent! Being a city bound lad, the ability to ride for just a few minutes from home and find yourself on country roads winding through the vineyards was fabulous!

I am especially grateful to my very generous hosts, the Palladino clan. Steve, Sharon and Shannon went out of their way to make me feel very welcome, and Steve not only loaned me a bike for the week but also took me out for some great training rides in the week leading up to the Granfondo. What a great place to live and train!

A couple of pictures:

Out training in the days before:

On the morning of the Granfondo, Steve, Sharon & Shannon hosted a Team Boba breakfast, with Shannon cooking pankakes. Yumm!! They were gooood.

I was an honourary "Fightin' Boba" for the day and wore the team kit:

Here's Steve enjoying the ride along with some of the Boba crew:

The roads had some pretty steep sections at times and I saw signs like this indicating an 18% gradient a few times along the way:

Of course going down also means going up, here I am with Steve making my way up the final major climb of the day from Coleman Valley:

One of the funnier moments was on this climb when a few riders were passing a cyclist who was off his bike, hunched over and leaning on the top tube of his bike, no doubt wondering how he was going to be able to continue.

As we were approaching him, another rider started yelling in that uniquely enthusiastic American way "Come on buddy, don't stop now, you can do it, c'mon!! C'mon, get back on!!"

To which the reply from the hunched over rider was, "Shut up, I'm praying!" No doubt he was!

And here are some shots of the scenery encountered along the way:

I also managed a close up view of the redwoods with a little off road excursion when I overcooked it a little on one steep winding descent (and didn't quite have the emergency braking finesse I am used to as the brakes on Steve's bike, while very good, are opposite handed to what I normally ride). It was funny enough and no harm done to me, the bike or the local flora and fauna. Climb back up to the road, dust myself off and get going again. Last time I did something like that was about 25 years ago on a motorbike.

Anyone for lemonade?

The ride itself is pretty challenging, a 103 mile (166km) ride with ~ 9,000 feet (~3000m) of climbing. The more difficult sections were an average gradient ~ 10%.

Ride stats for the Granfondo:

Duration: _______ 6:04:27 (6:29:27)
Work: _________ 3882 kJ
TSS: __________ 389.4
Intensity factor: __ 0.802
Average Power: __ 178 watts
Normalised Power: 224 watts

All up, a great week. I can certainly recommend it!!

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Thursday, November 05, 2009


Training continues apace. No easing up for me following World Masters Track Champs. None of this rest up for a month crap between seasons.

So with some good ol' fashioned solid endurance work during the week, today I was back to doing an old favourite workout, 2 x 20-minute threshold tolerance intervals (TTIs).

I've written about these before. Really top notch hard efforts designed to boost your power at threshold, which is the single most important physiological factor for success in endurance cycling.

Click here to read more.

Last time I did regular TTIs, was in October & November 2006, about six months before my accident. I've done a few as well since of course but it is interesting to note my progress relative to pre-accident levels.

In October & November 2006, my TTI power on road bike was consistently 295-300 watts. And in fact back then I was doing mostly 2 x 15-minute efforts rather than 2 x 20-min efforts.

In the above linked post, I note I also did a 2 x 20-minute TTIs with average power of 313W & 310W. That was January 2007, when I was right into some good form, had won an open crit and was cranking along nicely leading up to State & National Masters track champs (where I set some PBs). I note my comments at the time were that that was a "breakthrough workout" for me.

So how was today's effort? Well here a pic of the file (well the bit with the TTIs, I chopped off the commute to/from my training course).

That, my good readers, is 2 x 20-min TTIs with power averages of 306W and 307W respectively. OK, them's SRM watts versus Powertap watts, so a couple of percent for drive train differences, but still, that I gotta admit is pretty darn remarkable.

So it puts me at roughly 95-98% of pre-accident TT power.

And I'm only just gettin' started.....


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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Legs on fire!

Well, sort of.

At least that's how it felt racing last night at the Central Coast Track Open. It's been a few years since I've raced this carnival (for obvious reasons), that the ever energised Paul Craft of RAW Track fame organises. It's always been a favourite - all the good stuff you get from a country track carnival without having to travel too far - it's about a 90-minute drive from my place.

When I say good stuff, I mean you get value for money races. Lots of events, something for everyone and the usual Crafty entertainment value. Shame you can't say that for many of the events hosted in the city.

I went up early this year as they were desperately seeking extra commissaires for the junior carnival which was being held in the afternoon before the senior carnival. So I spent the afternoon checking junior gear rollouts and standing (sometimes sitting) in the sun making sure all the little tikes behaved themselves out there on the track. It's fun watching 'em go round.

Once that was over I pulled on the Bicisport skinsuit, pumped up the tyres and got out on the track for my warmup. Looking at the program I had been given a mark of 195 metres, which put me at the top of the C grade field. I think in days gone past I'd be closer to the 90-110 metre mark and in the B grade group.

For those not familar with what I mean, in Australia we have a form of track racing called a "Wheelrace". Riders line up on the track at their designated handicap mark, the gun/whistle goes and the winner is first past the post after a designated number of laps. So in theory all riders have a chance to win since the fastest riders have to complete a greater distance. The rider(s) off zero metres is/are called the "scratch" marker(s). So in this example, when I race the wheelrace I start 195 metres in front of the "scratchies".

Now what also happens is you can't have everyone who's racing the carnival on the track at the same time, so heats are run to determine who qualifies for the wheelrace final. There are many ways to do this so I won't bore you with the details.

Just before that race was the opening scratch race, which I came second in after a bit of collusion between two Bathurst riders prevented a fair sprint - with one deliberately blocking me for his mate (the winner also qualified for the wheelrace final). Collusion is not legal in track racing but the comms didn't pick that one up. Generally doing things like working hard to pull a mate along is OK but deliberately blocking another rider is a BIG NO NO - you must contest the sprint. I had a seriously good lunge at the line despite only getting to poke my nose out at the very last second. Damn I thought, the legs felt GREAT!!

Wheelrace heats were run as graded wheelraces and in my heat I was the next to last marker but I won my heat (and a few $ for my effort) by passing all riders in front of me. I think the extra motivation from the scratch race finish spurred me on this time. And good legs.

After the scratch race and wheelrace heat, there were Kierin heats, which I placed 2nd in to qualify for the final (three went through to final).

Then we had one of Crafty's special races, the "miss n out handicap". Simple race, riders roll out and every lap the last rider across the line is eliminated, except that in this case the A, B & C grades start at different points on the track. So in the opening laps a few A graders get eliminated early until they catch B and/or C grade. Once it comes together it reverts to a standard miss n out. Our race came together reasonably early so I did what I always do and be attentive to position in the bunch while other (often much stronger/fitter) riders get eliminated behind. In the end I was 4th last rider eliminated, with the remaining riders being the A grade road runner dudes. Once again, nice work legs.

Right after that was the Kierin final! I came second by about a wheel. And a few more $. Petrol money really.

Then the Wheelrace final. That wasn't so good as I had a slight mishap with my cleat off the start, which cost me too much distance to the riders in front and I couldn't make it up, so I retired gracefully and called it a night.

So six races with one win, three seconds, two finals and a 5th in the miss n out. And a few $ for my efforts.

On fire!!

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