Category Archives: Training

Performance Modeling

Wouldn't it be nice to know what sort of training you need to do and when in order to hit that elusive perfect form when and where you want to?  I've been pursuing this magic bullet of knowledge for years.  TSS was a huge step forward in quantifying load, rolling TSS took it a step forward by looking at changes over time, and the Performance Manager in WKO+ is the latest and greatest.   Old news, right?

My tried and true EweTSS performance modeling has been falling apart at the seams since I started doing a lot of SS work.  It is changing the timecourse of my recovery, both short and long.  In the WKO PM charts this equates a shifting of the ATL and CTL time constants.  Loosely speaking, these constants relate the rate of decay.  For instance, an ATL TC of 5 days means that an athlete recovers from workouts more quickly than an athlete with an ATL TC of 10.  Larger CTL TCs indicate an athlete holds fitness longer than someone with shorter (smaller) CTL TCs.

It's now quite clear to me, based on personal observations, that these time constants are not fixed, but vary depending on training load and training intensity.  Other factors may include altitude, life stress, time of year etc.  But, load and intensity are the two biggies.  The issue with the SS is that there is a lot of low cadence high force work, which by power levels isn't necessarily more intense, but at the neuromuscular level is much, much more intense.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to any physiologists out there - performance modeling studies have shown the fatigue time constants to be related to impact of a given sport - longer constants for high impact, shorter constants for low impact.  Cycling is on the low impact side of the spectrum...but SS takes it a step or two towards the weight lifting end.

What's it all mean?  The optimal training plan for SSing is different than for geared riding.  Duh.  But the story of the details  is still unfolding and it's quite epic!  There's a new tool on the market called RaceDay.  I'm still putting it through it's paces, but it is helping to define the way in which SSing changes the outcome of hard training and offers clues as to what works - and what doesn't.  Feeding it good data and understanding what it is telling me is an adventure that is likely to continue all year...

And y'all know I can't resist a good adventure :)

2 minutes

I've raced here and there on my single speed but never trained specifically for SS racing. This year I am.

Discovering what exactly training specifically for SSing involves is a fun learning curve. One thing I have been tracking recently is my 2 minute power by testing every other week on the road.

Here is what it looks like so far for 2008. I like that upward creep. Today was 313w and is a lifetime 2 min best for me. Coolio.

Camp Lynda digested

It has taken me a few days to fully digest what a smashing success the camp was. I for one had a superb time. During the whole three days there was a buzz and excitement from all participants. We had about 27 riders. Most came along for 2 days. Day three was the smallest with only 12 riders starting and nobody - not even crackhead Dave managing to complete the whole 86 mile route mapped out. Day three stats for me were 5:28 and 62 miles.

I've been enjoying reading everybody's blogs and seeing their pictures. I didn't get to ride with everybody so hearing the post ride stories over dinner and in blogs has been a treat. Seeing people have a great time doing something I created is a real special thing for me. It was the people who came that made Camp Lynda such a success. It was all about the riders. Put together a bunch of people who really love to ride their bikes and you can't go wrong I guess.

Best part of Camp Lynda - the people:

Worst part: Getting up early on day 3 (I was weak and late...)

Most scenic spot: The point at Gooseberry

The Camp concept was to come and ride at your own pace following a GPS. Huge thanks go to Dave who spent many hours putting together three days worth of tracks into a nice one click upload. There is so much more behind the scenes work on this aspect than you know unless you have tried this at home yourself. The routes received only compliments. The only folks to get lost either didn't come with a gps or didn't actually look at the screen... Everybody found their way back on course thankfully.

Marshal was one of the camp stars. I'd never met him before. He followed all the online instructions, downloaded the routes and came to camp. He rode at his own pace everyday and glowed full of ride stories at dinner time. Marshal you validated the whole camp concept and I thank you for coming.

Funniest Camp moment: I agree with Dave on this one - Adam cracked me up with his tire burping power-slide into the Barrel Roll trail head - funny.

Biggest bummer: Jeff Kerkove driving 11 hours to camp, spending the night barfing then driving 11 hours home the next day. We missed riding with you Jeff.

Top local rider award goes to Brad. The routes even put Brad on some terrain he had never ridden before. Thanks for representing the SoUtah team.

Biggest whee moment: Whooping along behind Chris, Chris and Dave on Barrel Roll on day 2.

Best post camp blog quote: Brad Keyes: "She also calls it Camp Lynda which makes it sound like we are going to have punch and cookies and maybe play lawn darts. We had no punch and cookies and we didn’t play lawn darts."

Best camp photos: Adam has super shots. Thanks for this one below. You have such rich colors in your pics. Sometime I'll have to talk with you about photos instead of bikes...

Almost everybody has said they can't wait until next year and that Camp Lynda should be a tradition. Aww warm and fuzzies.

Thank y'all for coming to my party. See you out on the trails.

Camp Lynda done, over and out

It sure was nice to have ~25 folks join us for a long weekend of training.  We got to show off some of the lesser known great rides in the area along with some of the more popular ones. 

Today was the finale.  The route had optional sections - one to Gooseberry mesa for a bit of technical riding, and the other a 25 mile lap around the Jem/Goulds/Hurricane Rim loop singletrack.  It was all linked via a main 45 mile loop.  As it turned out the route was hard enough nobody did it all.  I like that ;)

The evening before had us at a Chinese buffet, followed by an impromptu trip to the Iceberg - a shake shop.  Meredith had everyone excited about the magical shakes of this place...I learned that Utah has the highest ice cream consumption per capita in the nation.  No surprise there, gotta keep things in balance.

I rode gears today.  Let me tell ya, it was sweet.  Being able to choose a cadence today was golden and I wouldn't have wanted to be on a SS.  The Fuel is back in favor, thanks to Dave Nice's cool hangar straightening trick.  Turns out my PT axle is threaded the same as a derailur hangar bolt, just thread it in, lock in place with the skewer, and wala you've got a straightening tool - trailside friendly too.

Early riding with Bart, Matt and Lynda.


Did I mention the scenery today?  Views of Zion all day.

Edge of the known world.

Marshal modeling his big ride food of choice.

So it's done.  Impressions post event...

- Dave Nice riding the crap out of SW Utah on a fixed gear for 3 days...with big smiles and loving it all the while.  Word.  Day 3 we rolled up on him while he was changing a flat acquired on the road thanks to some glass.  First thing out of his mouth:  "Anybody want a shot of whiskey?" know this is Utah, right Dave?  LOL...

- Funniest moment had to be day 2.  At the end of the Barrel roll trail there were maybe 20 riders eating and chatting when Adam Lisonbee comes in hot, locks up his back wheel in what would have been an impressive powerslide only to have his stansed wheel burp its load and roll off the rim.  Thanks Adam!

- There are some strong riders in N. Utah and it was darn cool to meet and ride with y'all.

- Lynda's idea for the camp was brilliant.  Self-supported, GPSed routes meant anyone could come, do the route on their own terms and timeline, and still enjoy the cameraderie.  It worked a charm, riders of a wide range of abilities came and made the most of it. 

Stats?  Today turned out to be 67 miles in 5:25 and about 4000 kj.  Thats some pizza I gotta get eaten.

Recursive bootstrapping to form

Extreme geek alert!

More than I can recall  there have been suggestions that I just toss the gears away once and forall.  Finit.  Single is simple.  Liberating. ain't gonna happen.  Here's why.

Like all of us spokeheads, I often learn via the sensations that come with training on a bike.  The difference between pedaling a road bike and a mountain bike are actually quite minor...and that's about all I know - until the SS obsession struck.  I'm in the midst of a big tasty 2 wheeled single geared education.

At first, the SS never got old.  I'd just grab it every time I rode aside from the long weekend exploratories.  There came a point when it lost it's charm tho.  Something was missing.  I craved putting down steady power and that is plain ol impossible on a SS. 

In another timeframe I was pretty smoked.  Something like 1300 SS TSS inside of a week had me not too excited to do anything on a SS or geary for a bit - yet that is a load that isn't that big (by my standards) on a geared bike.  This told me that TSS doesn't track well for SS - at least not nearly as well as for geared riding.

So what's all the rambling about?  Two major systems we work when cycling are neuromuscular and metabolic.  The latter is all about efficient fuel delivery to working muscles.  Due to the high force demands of SS riding and the highly erratic nature of force applications, SS riding is disproportionally stressful to the neuromuscular side.  The frequents "rest" periods - when being spun out or coasting - makes it much easier on the metabolic side.  The catch here is that TSS was modeled after metabolic strain, not neuromuscular strain.  So monitoring EweTSS metrics (PMC stuff in WKO+) while awesome for geared riding is somewhat limited for SS riding.  I can have positive TSB and still feel smoked!

In retrospect this is no surprise.  The focus of my training the past few years has been the long stuff - increasingly long.  Metabolic fitness has been goal #1.  Trying to mix SS with my current physiology is a challenge for sure.

Bootstrapping is something you prolly do every day:  booting your computer.  Starting a process which in turn fires up another process.  Recursion is doing something repeatedly...this is the basics of how my training is evolving.  The SS is the best neuromuscular training for cycling that I have ever encountered - far better!  Geared riding is super for steady efforts.  For the past month I've been doing blocks of SS riding, followed by blocks of geared riding.  Hit yourself  at the musular level, then hit at the fuel delivery side, rinse, repeat.

It's working.  My method for testing FT is the average power for 3x20 min intervals.  Tuesday's session put power 25 W higher than what I thought FT was at...that is somewhat shocking.  It's also something I would have no clue about without the benefit of my power meter.

I haven't been on the SS in awhile - since last week anyway.  It looks like there is always going to remain a spot in my garage for gears.  For now tho it's time to diss them gears and dance on those pedals in Camp Lynda.

Speaking of's the requisite picture for those that found the above waaay too tech/longwinded/boring/understimulating.  Camp Lynda hostess or trail bandit?  Could be a tough call on Tuesday morning ;)

Camp Lynda day 1 in the books

A great group of riders showed for the first annual Camp Lynda.  Great conditions, sunny skies, good times were on the menu.  Not everyone rode the exact same route, but my stats were

56 miles
6319' vert
4:52 ride time
338 TSS (yikes!)

You've had enough of my words lately, here's some pics.







1st day done, 2 more to go.  Eat well campers, tomorrow has plenty of challenges awaiting.


SS adaptations in QA

A few weeks back I posted a this QA scatter plot.  I'd been riding the SS about 2-3 weeks at this point.

Here's the latest.  Both rides were on the 2:1.  The "Blakes" data is from a ~ 2500' climb with sustained grades well over 10% while the other ride was just rippin around faster singletrack with a grin.

See any differences?  The legs are changing.  Here's what I see in QA:

- the left "edge" of the data points in the first file is at a cadence of about 50 while it's upper 30's in the second.
- there are no cadence/force "holes" in the data.
- power is up despite no structured training.  Free power?  Yea baby!
- somewhat hidden in the second file...but there are several points popping up above the max AEPF/CPV line established by the standing start testing - this means max force at low cadence is increasing.

Note to Ed:  see how the points on that left edge start to go straight up?  That's where it's getting really tough to maintain that minimal cadence and I'll go as hard as I have to to maintain it.  To hold a given power, force has to rise rapidly at low cadences, and that's the physics part I was tallking about in the comments.  It's power that gets us up a hill,  not force.  Dangit.

I promise at some point there will be non-technical backway meanderings again...there would be today if I'd have had a camera yesterday!!!  Big rain event and mountain snowfall, flash floods rising 30 feet over bridges in slot canyons...just picture that in the most scenic spot on earth and you'd have the picture :)



Path to enlightenment: manic or nibbling away?

Ah, holiday time.  I always get a bit retrospective this time of year...

Using all sorts of resources I've been trying to piece together that optimal picture of the perfect training and racing year.  No matter how many studies, theories, or blogs I read, it always comes back to my own training data.  There just isn't anything more convincing, powerful, enlightening that my own store of power file data over 3 years of ultra endurance training and racing.

Hopefully I can say CTL without causing too much forehead wrinkling amongst y'all (got that, Rick?).  CTL = chronic training load, an analytical measure based on the daily TSS (training stress scores) calculated from power meter data.  I've actually got 7 years of the stuff, but the last 3 have been the enduro focus.  Here's how they've progressed.  Click for the big'n.

It's hard to make sense of this picture for a few reasons, but there are some things that jump right out.  Such as:

  • a CTL of 120-130 seems to be the comfy zone for racing and training.
  • coupled with power meter data I know that the fastest power gains occurred with the slowest CTL ramp rate - early '05
  • in the fall of '06 I apparently developed the ability to dig enormous holes from a training stress standpoint
  • the only 2 major cycling injuries in this lifetime have both come on the heels of PB CTL peaks, both in terms of absolute volume and ramp rates.

The observations above that are most affecting my thoughts for '08 are the 2nd and 4th...

There's been some talk on wattage about what sort of programs lead to better power gains - and would you know it?  The Cog presented a lot of data showing similar stuff as above for his wife who is a national champ pursuitist.  I've come to realize I have the ability to do massive training and get away with it most of the time (except when I don't) but that doesn't lead to power gains per does lead to enormous endurance.  It was perfect for Grand Loop.  For anything shorter and more technical though, not the optimal plan by any standard.  So this year the plan is to "nibble away" and avoid huge training stress spikes for the most part, and spend more time doing quality work.  That pic above is proof positive of a massive 3 year base that is pretty much unshakable - no need for more.

The corollary to the above point is what I refer to as "headroom."  You only have so much capacity for training adaptation, and if your CTL is too high there just isn't any room to do the quality work that increases power and improve from it.  To put the above values in perspective, it's been estimated that Le Tour cyclists hit a CTL in the 150s by the end of the race.  My peak this year was 173.  That's friggin manic!

That 4th point...yep, no question, long deep builds are expensive.  They are now so alluring because I can get stronger as they progress, seemingly adapting just fine.  At some point the bottom drops out - but not until I rest.  I never know during the build how much is too much cause the body (or ma head?) says "more please." 

What does it all mean?  Slower ramp rates (or even flat ramp rates) for '08.  More quality.  More SS.  More power.  More fun.  Save the big manic builds for the end of the season - which in StG means June and Nov.  It's all coming together.