More power tools

Many cyclists focus on limiters in the early season.  I haven’t been doing that for a few years, mostly because there was no “early” season and no “late” season…it’s been one continuous season for 3 years ;)  Well, it’s definitely the early season now.

One of my limiters is when the terrain is steep enough that cadence is forced below 75 or so.  On the road, this number is closer to 80.  I am no grinder, not by a longshot, and if you want to see me suffer just look for the steepest part of a course. 

The past few years I’ve just worked on FT so that I had enough power to avoid low cadences.  It has pretty much worked…but my FT has tanked big time.  It is quite humbling:  the first time I got on a trainer, I could not sustain 180 W for more than 2 minutes, no joke.  At this elevation, FT is 280ish in good form.  It seems I’ve got some work to do!  The good news is that it’s coming back at an alarming rate.  I really have to use HR along with power because my FT seems to go up 10W every day.

An interesting tool that I haven’t used much is another Cog creation, Quadrant Analysis (QA).  In a nutshell, QA is a scatter plot of pedal force vs. pedal speed and is calculated from power and cadence data.  For a given ride (or segment of a ride), it shows you what typical pedal forces and pedal speeds were.  Using this to analyze key rides gives insight into the demands of the ride, and in turn insights on how best to train for similar types of rides.

Loss of strength is a concern with 6 weeks of inactivity.  To address this, I took a look at a QA plot of a race file – in this case lap 2 of the E100 12 hour in ’05 – and eyeballed what sort of pedal forces were common.  Since this was a 12 hour event, the power was below FT but I figure it’s close enough for these purposes.  Then I took a look at what sort of cadence I’d have to use to maintain this pedal force for 60-90 minutes on the road or trainer.  Basically, I’m mimicking race specific pedal forces at lower cadences & power.  Here’s what the chart looks like and how it turned out:

Actual cadences ended up between 65 and 80 in contrast to my preferred 90+.  These workouts are fun and I dig it.  They seem surprising easy at the beginning, then gradually settle in on ya.  Best of all, they have been working a charm. Based on yesterday’s ride I think I’ve pulled back 70-80 of those 100 lost watts inside of two weeks of training.  That’s waaaay faster than I had anticipated.

Now, about those extra few pounds…