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Date: Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 17:58

Completed! Report to follow!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Knighthood, The Sufferfest"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 17:53

Roy, congrats you won the one month free trial, email me at quadrathon at gmail.com and I will send you the code!

image

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Contest, TrainerRoad"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 11:00
As mentioned in my ride report for L’Etape du California I wore the new Voler Black kit. This is not the first ride in this kit, nothing new on race day and all that, but it was by far the longest, and given the intensity of the day it was a great opportunity to put it through its paces. The photos in this post were taken not take during L’Etape but on a different ride when I could ride up and down the road getting decent photos.
IMG_2092image
Black is bold move by Voler to introduce a premium line that avoids the fanfare of team or sponsorship logos and is targeted against other brands where the cache is the brand/badge/logo of the manufacturers, think Castelli, Hincapie, Santini and the like. It’s a limited line in terms of items of clothing currently only offering bottoms; bibs and shorts, top; undershirts, jerseys, vest and jacket and thermal booties. It combines all the elements found in their proven team kits and serves them up in a highly functional and cosmetically simple but satisfying formula.

The kit itself lives up to its name and is only available in all black or black with red trim. Both have a reflective accents and there is a mix of technical fabrics to ensure maximum breathability, moisture transfer and sun protection (UPF28+) 
The Jersey; there is no doubting the quality of the fabrics when you slip the jersey out of the bag, it’s super soft and amazingly lightweight, if it was any lighter I am sure Newton might roll in his grave as gravity is denied. There is a full length zip (YKK) and a two piece collar, the newer fashion of abandoning a collar might be neat in the Pro peloton but I like a proper collar and it keeps the morning chill off my neck.

At the back you have the customary three pockets and the added benefit from a small zippered pocket, ideal for a Credit card or cash and handy when reaching behind you grab a gel and don’t litter the road with all your valuables. There is some reflective trim on the back too. At the bottom there is a silicon strip to stop the jersey from riding up etc.
imageimageimage
The side panels and the panel at the base of your neck are made from a moisture wicking and heat dispersing fabric, this works very well in letting you cool off.  While the day may start cool this time of year in California we are still seeing temperatures in the 80F range and black may not seem an obvious choice of color for a fabric to wear in the sun but on all three of my rides well over 100 miles in total I had no issues with heat management.

The most noticeable feature on the jersey is in the sleeves, specifically the Power Band which are dotted with tiny gel dots to ensure gripping to your arms. Now while I do not have a shoe lace arms of a Pro cyclist or the muscle laden ones of a body builder this feature was really nice in making sure the sleeves stayed in the right place. They also did a great job of holding onto my arm warmers during the early hours of L’Etape to avoid that 1” gap between jersey and sleeve where all the cold air accumulates! The sleeves are also a little longer than usual but I am tall so that wasn’t a problem. Every seam on the jersey is flat so there is zero chance of chaffing or rubbing!

The jersey is pitched as race fit, at 6’1 and around 175lbs it was the perfect length but it was a bit loose in the body. I am at the lower end of the weight scale (170-190) and the higher end of the height scale (5’10-6’2) and had a size large, so a medium would have been snugger but too tight across my shoulders and too short for sure. I have other Voler jerseys (Hammer and 53X11 Coffee) and they are all large so I think the large was best for me. Without going custom made one this is the curse I have to carry!

The Bibs; if you ask any cyclist bibs vs. shorts you will pretty much find that 99% of people prefer a bib. While they might look unsightly they are a world apart in terms of comfort and the Black bibs reinforced this. Similar to the jersey when you slip these out of the bag you can feel the quality. Silky and soft but with an awful lot of strength inside. Made from compression fabric that just wants to love and hug you these bibs feel super comfortable. The chamois is new chamois for Voler; the Comp Hp. Made by Cytech. This is the description from Voler’s website which does it much better than I can;

The Comp Hp is the evolution of the Multi-D Comp, one of Cytechs most successful pads. This updates version features pre-molded wings and an integrated top for a smooth, seamless look. While the overall dimensions are almost the same, the ultra-high density foam inserts have been enlarged in order to deliver a greater degree of comfort during longer rides while in the road bike position. While keeping the minimalist, flat design of the original pad, the central channel has been slightly modified to provide more relief along the perenial area. A reduced usage of the back liner makes the pad even more lightweight and breathable, allowing greater freedom of movement”.
image
Wow well there you go!

Actually what this means is that it’s really comfortable, I mean really, really comfortable, it’s not like sitting on telephone directory (unlike some I have sat on!). It’s very body fitting and it can stretch so it moves with you as you move on the seat or stand up. The different thicknesses of padding is really effective in ensuring you have the right thickness in the right place, it doesn’t bunch or fold! Rated for long rides (6 hours) I can certainly see this being the case as my L’Etape ended after 4:30 and I was heading out for another 90 minute loop without any issue!  Like the Jersey the bibs also have FS (Flat Seams) too…flat what you ask, I’ll let Aaron explain;

What you need to now about FS is that it's a good thing! Similar to the sleeves the bibs have a Leg Power Band in lieu of the usual grippers, I really like this feature as it provides the right amount of support and it doesn’t drag on your legs or give you sausage leg and you don’t get those really nice tram line indents that last the rest of the day! it’s a much more professional and quality look.

Overall I really liked this kit. There is something to be said about the understated less is more look. It’s not always necessary to have the look at me jersey and bibs and to be honest I shy away from replica team kits.
Things I liked;
  • There is no doubting the quality
  • It manages moisture and heat really well
  • The Power Band leg grippers
  • The little zippy pocket on the back
  • The understated look
  • Super comfortable all round and a ride all day chamois
  • Price $129 for the bib, $99 for the jersey which is less that comparable quality products
Things I didn't like;
  • The jersey sizing is not quite right for me
  • The fabric is textured and could be prone to snagging
Yup that’s it! So in conclusion, if you’re looking for something that is understated and want to add a classy subtle kit to your collection that’s going to turn a few heads for a good reason and don’t want to lay out over $300 for the entire kit then look no further!

Black is made in Grover Beach USA in fact 99% of what Voler make is made in the USA. The name may sound French (it’s pronounced “Vol-lay”), and the style may err on the side of the Mediterranean but the elbow grease that goes into them is good old fashioned USA!

This Product was provided by Voler. See previous gear reviews in the Reviews tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me atquadrathon@gmail.com
Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Review"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 10:54

No I am not getting married again. This time save the date for a Q&A with two kick ass Ultra Runners!

You are invited to join Clif’s Facebook chat Wednesday, April 30 at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT hosted by world champ ultrarunners Scott Jurek and Ellie Greenwood.

They will answer any and all questions related to running (from first-time 5k to ultra-distance racers). Ask questions and win prizes including:

- One winner will receive a 30-minute 1:1 consultation with Scott Jurek to discuss how to prepare before, during and after race day. Scott will choose his favorite question at the end of the Q&A.

- Several lucky participants who ask questions during the Q&A will receive a CLIF SHOT Toolkit featuring CLIF SHOT products, gear for training and race day and CLIF’s marathon training and nutrition guide.  

image I also have a Clif Shot Tool kit to giveaway, this is all you have to do!

  • Leave a question on Clif’s Facebook page for one entry
  • Leave a comment on this blog post for one more entry!
  • Tweet “I entered the @quadrathon @ScottJurek @eLLiejG 90-to-0 Preptalk Competition to win a @clifbar toolkit at http://bit.ly/1mEmpAa #quadclif”

Tweet as much as you like, every tweet is worth one entry and then the winner will be drawn and posted the evening of April 30th!

Easy peasy!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Contest, Freebies, Ultramarathon"
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Date: Friday, 18 Apr 2014 22:38

It’s even more simple than you’ve been told. 

The Rules

1. Don’t be a dick.

2. Ride whatever the hell you want.

3. No one gives a shit if your bar tape matches your seat.

4. The bike comes first, right behind family and friends and making a living.

5. Riding in bad weather makes you better. But don’t be stupid about it.

6. If you aren’t having fun, stop.

7. Don’t overlap wheels. Just fuckin’ don’t.

8. Don’t be late to a group ride. Be early.

9. If you’re dropped three times, do your own thing. (See Gentlemen’s Ride)

10. If it’s a no-drop ride, don’t drop people. Ass.

11. Support your local bike shop. And bring them food sometimes.

12. If you race more than 3 times a year, you are in Sport division. If you podium twice, move up. If you win, move up. Getting dead last in Expert is better than winning in Sport. Getting DFL in Pro is better than winning in Expert. No one cares if you win. We all have to go to work on Monday. Test yourself.

13. If you get plate number 13, you turn it upside down. You just do.

14. Do not make start line excuses. “I haven’t been riding”, “I’ve was sick last night”, “I’m too hung over”, “My bike is too heavy”, and the like, are all your fault. Just ride, congratulate the winner, and hang out with your pals after. It’s all good, man.

15. Blogs are stupid. Don’t listen to them, and never take them seriously.

Glossary

Coffee Ride: Easy, Pease-y. You ride bikes slow and go to a place to drink coffee. Do not fuck up the coffee part. Jeez.

Gentlemen’s Ride: A group ride consisting of any number of riders. Fast but conversational pace on the flats, with hard efforts on climbs. Strict rolling regroups over the top of climbs. Everyone gets back on the first time, no exceptions. Second climb, rolling regroup. If you are dropped two or three times, do the gentlemanly thing and finish the ride alone. If you’re crushing everyone, do the gentlemanly thing and make sure the bulk of the ride stays together. Most of the group should finish together. Ride leader makes any other decisions.

No-Drop Ride: No one is left behind. Ever. That said, make sure a pace is announced and enforced, and do not get in over your head. If it is no drop at 18mph and you can only do 14, think long and hard about going.

Ice Cream Ride: No spandex. 10-12mph. It ends in ice cream, preferably out of a small,  miniature Detroit Tigers helmet.

Recovery Ride: If someone says they are going on a recovery ride, they are going to try to drop you on every climb. Guaranteed.

Borrowed from here

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike"
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Date: Friday, 18 Apr 2014 22:34
A week late but that’s always going to happen when you’re trying to blog and get married in the same week, but that’s life! So on with the ride report.

The L’Etape du California this year follows the same final Stage (Stage 8) of this year’s Amgen Tour of California which starts next month and finishes in the title sponsor’s home town of Thousand Oaks. It’s four laps of a local climb and loop known as Rockstore. I have mentioned this before and Becca and I have ridden it several times in preparation. In fact I actually crashed on part of the circuit in January…fun times!

The circuit is basically a 20.5 mile square comprising of a Cat 3 Climb which is 2.5-2.7 miles long depending on where you measure it from/to with Strava and with a Grade that averages out around 6-7%. After the climb you get a short downhill followed by another easier climb for a mile or so and then a tricky technical decent with a maximum drop of 21%. At the bottom you had a flat section but you had to keep concentrating as this is where the bulk of the traffic was as well as the Start/Finish line in a local hotel.

imageimage

For me it was all about the climbing and while this wasn’t a race it was going to have a KOM/QOM section on the Rockstore climb for those riders who completed the four loops. Four loops would total at 82 miles and 8800’ of elevation gain it. I came out to watch the Pro’s do the same loop 3 years ago and saw them whiz by on the flat!

The previous day we had picked up our race numbers, very smart fabric ones that would attach to the back of our jerseys and a sticker for our helmet. There was also a nice technical T short in the swag bag, which will double as a recyclable grocery bag in the future. There was a safety brief; open course, traffic signs, aid stations etc and an opportunity to buy the ride jersey and bibs and cotton T shirts etc.

After that we headed home and I set to cleaning up the bikes for the next day. I had planned to just wipe the worst off the bikes and not tinker but I had cleaned up my cassette the week before so after washing off her frame I stripped off Becca’s cassette which was, to be honest, filthy and gave it a good clean and did the same with her chain. After a good wash down with some degreaser and the application of some new lube her bike was ready. I washed mine off and removed the chain to get to all those nooks and crannies that accumulate road crap and while reassembling that’s where I ran into trouble. I couldn’t get the chain to fit cleanly back together, the link was so tight that it wouldn’t bend and subsequently wouldn’t shift cleanly. With my limited knowledge and a quick look on the internet there was no obviously cause so rather than spend a too much time decided to use the chain from my TT bike, I removed it, installed it, checked there gearing and I was good to go. With the intention of getting there early and checking in with the SRAM Mechanics who along with a local bike shop Wins Wheels were providing support for the day. My TT bike was left looking somewhat neglected with now no chain to match the removed cranks. It’s going to need some TLC in the coming weeks to get it back road ready for Vineman. So with that said we were ready for the next day.

We drove out to the start and unloaded our bikes and I headed off to the SRAM mechanics to have them have a look at my not-so-handy-work and double check on the shifting which wasn’t quite as crisp as I would like. Ten minutes later I was set. We rolled over to the start line and waited for the National Anthem. In total there was about 500 riders, the ride had 1500 entries but for whatever reason had only sold a third of its slots. By far the majority of riders were local lycra clad regular riders but there was a smattering of hybrid’s, some fixie’s a handcrank and even a tandem!

imageimage

Unceremoniously we started and rolled out. For anyone who has done a mass start like this it’s always a little wobbly; lots of bike and people and nerves make it a bit ginger and this was no different especially as we were navigating our way out of a hotel parking lot with speed bumps and tight turns. Within a mile or two though we were spreading out. For the first 5 miles until we turned off the main road we had Police outriders so that made it easier and we could ride through junctions without stopping.

With much ado we were on the first climb of Rockstore. Becca and I had agreed to meet at the Aid Station at the top, (of the two, one at the top and one at the bottom) this way we could ride up at our own pace. I was keen to ride it hard but was conscious of the fact I had three more loops to follow. I sat in for most of the climb focusing on form and just moving up the hill only standing during the last hairpin.

image

It had been a bitterly cold start and I only had arm-warmers on compared to other folks in leg warmers, tights vest etc, I knew it would warm up once the sun was on us and so I enjoyed the work of the first climb and the heat it generated just pulling down my sleeves halfway up. At the top I waited for Becca and chatted to a friend who was working the AS. The second part of the climb went without issue and other than being buzzed by folks on the descent the first loop was in the bag and we started the second.

image

This time round I had more of an idea on the climb but I still held back, that was until someone tried to jump on my wheel in the last 500 meters, so I dropped it a gear and pushed hard and there was nothing to push against! I wobbled, unclipped looked down and saw I had snapped my chain!

Without much ado there was nothing I could do so I walked up the last of the hill with the call on “I’ll send someone back” coming from all the folks passing me! I got to the top and pulled out a Belgium waffle that I had in my jersey, stuffed the waffle in my mouth, picked up the chain using the tin foil and coasted to the Aid Station!

imageimage

Mike who was working the AS was able to fix my chain but had to shorten it so I could not go Big/Big. This wasn’t going to be a problem really given all the climbing. We left the AS and made our way back down without issue.

It was warm by this point and I was glad of only wearing the arm-warmers as I saw people pulling over and pulling of layer after layer of clothing that was stuffed into pockets and tied around waists (oh the shame)! While stopped at the bottom AS we were lapped by two groups that were setting a blistering pace! The next climb was warm and by this time we were pretty strung out, I worked hard going up and was happy to catch up and ride over someone who had passed my lower down.

image

Again at the top we regrouped and rode the descent. We had been umming about the fourth lap and we had agreed to go for it as without it there would be now KOM time. We passed the start line and a mile down the road that was an almighty bang; I had blown my rear tube, not only that I had blown the tire off the rim!

And that was that! We made the sensible decision to bank our luck, it would have been a very nasty blow out 5 or 6 miles earlier while descending and while I am pretty quick at changing tires with the extra time spent walking to the AS and repairing the chain we were a good hour behind schedule!

So discretion was the order of the day and I simply stripped off my shoes and socks and walked back across the Finish Line…I didn’t want to scratch up the pretty Carbon soles!

We parked our bikes and grabbed the pasta lunch that we had bought tickets for enjoying the warm sun.

Once home we were able to look at the time posted on the KOM stage, my three climbs were;

  • 17:18
  • 19:41 (inc walk time)
  • 17:41

So working on the basis that my fourth climb would have been around 18:00 I would have finished with a time in the region of 1:13 (ish) putting me 30/122 AG and 70/510 OA. Of course as I didn’t finish the fourth loop it’s all moot!

With all that said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, although I will admit there were a few choice words uttered during my mechanical issues! What shone through was the proof of the training. This really proved the quality of the plan and having followed the training plan for the prior 9 weeks mostly on the trainer I was really happy with the results. I felt strong throughout the day and while I was with a mixed bag of abilities on the KOM stage I was only passed by 3 riders in total for the whole day on this stage.

imageimage

I also got a chance to put the new Voler Black kit through it’s paces and there is a review of that coming up and wear my new Louis Garneu Coursehelmet which replaces my LG Quartz helmet that I crashed in in January!

I should say a few words about the event itself. Both Becca and I really enjoyed it, it was very well organized. The loop lent itself to making life easy for the riders and while it was not a closed course it was well marked and well supported with plenty of road to ride on I am not sure I would be so happy had they sold out all 1500 slots but once the riders were strung out it was not a problem. The local bike shop that supported the event (Wins Wheels) was great and there was plenty of food provided by Cliff.

All that remains is for the Amgen Tour to come to town next month which we are both looking forward to as we are volunteering for two local stages and will be heading back up Rockstore…only this time with beach chairs to watch the Pros do it!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, L’Etape du California, Race Repo..."
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 23:20

A week late but that’s always going to happen when you’re trying to blog and get married in the same week, but that’s life! So on with the ride report.

The L’Etape du California this year follows the same final Stage (Stage 8) of this year’s Amgen Tour of California which starts next month and finishes in the title sponsor’s home town of Thousand Oaks. It’s four laps of a local climb and loop known as Rockstore. I have mentioned this before and Becca and I have ridden it several times in preparation. In fact I actually crashed on part of the circuit in January…fun times!

The circuit is basically a 20.5 mile square comprising of a Cat 3 Climb which is 2.5-2.7 miles long depending on where you measure it from/to with Strava and with a Grade that averages out around 6-7%. After the climb you get a short downhill followed by another easier climb for a mile or so and then a tricky technical decent with a maximum drop of 21%. At the bottom you had a flat section but you had to keep concentrating as this is where the bulk of the traffic was as well as the Start/Finish line in a local hotel.

imageimage

For me it was all about the climbing and while this wasn’t a race it was going to have a KOM/QOM section on the Rockstore climb for those riders who completed the four loops. Four loops would total at 82 miles and 8800’ of elevation gain it. I came out to watch the Pro’s do the same loop 3 years ago and saw them whiz by on the flat!

The previous day we had picked up our race numbers, very smart fabric ones that would attach to the back of our jerseys and a sticker for our helmet. There was also a nice technical T short in the swag bag, which will double as a recyclable grocery bag in the future. There was a safety brief; open course, traffic signs, aid stations etc and an opportunity to buy the ride jersey and bibs and cotton T shirts etc.

After that we headed home and I set to cleaning up the bikes for the next day. I had planned to just wipe the worst off the bikes and not tinker but I had cleaned up my cassette the week before so after washing off her frame I stripped off Becca’s cassette which was, to be honest, filthy and gave it a good clean and did the same with her chain. After a good wash down with some degreaser and the application of some new lube her bike was ready. I washed mine off and removed the chain to get to all those nooks and crannies that accumulate road crap and while reassembling that’s where I ran into trouble. I couldn’t get the chain to fit cleanly back together, the link was so tight that it wouldn’t bend and subsequently wouldn’t shift cleanly. With my limited knowledge and a quick look on the internet there was no obviously cause so rather than spend a too much time decided to use the chain from my TT bike, I removed it, installed it, checked there gearing and I was good to go. With the intention of getting there early and checking in with the SRAM Mechanics who along with a local bike shop Wins Wheels were providing support for the day. My TT bike was left looking somewhat neglected with now no chain to match the removed cranks. It’s going to need some TLC in the coming weeks to get it back road ready for Vineman. So with that said we were ready for the next day.

We drove out to the start and unloaded our bikes and I headed off to the SRAM mechanics to have them have a look at my not-so-handy-work and double check on the shifting which wasn’t quite as crisp as I would like. Ten minutes later I was set. We rolled over to the start line and waited for the National Anthem. In total there was about 500 riders, the ride had 1500 entries but for whatever reason had only sold a third of its slots. By far the majority of riders were local lycra clad regular riders but there was a smattering of hybrid’s, some fixie’s a handcrank and even a tandem!

imageimage

Unceremoniously we started and rolled out. For anyone who has done a mass start like this it’s always a little wobbly; lots of bike and people and nerves make it a bit ginger and this was no different especially as we were navigating our way out of a hotel parking lot with speed bumps and tight turns. Within a mile or two though we were spreading out. For the first 5 miles until we turned off the main road we had Police outriders so that made it easier and we could ride through junctions without stopping.

With much ado we were on the first climb of Rockstore. Becca and I had agreed to meet at the Aid Station at the top, (of the two, one at the top and one at the bottom) this way we could ride up at our own pace. I was keen to ride it hard but was conscious of the fact I had three more loops to follow. I sat in for most of the climb focusing on form and just moving up the hill only standing during the last hairpin.

image

It had been a bitterly cold start and I only had arm-warmers on compared to other folks in leg warmers, tights vest etc, I knew it would warm up once the sun was on us and so I enjoyed the work of the first climb and the heat it generated just pulling down my sleeves halfway up. At the top I waited for Becca and chatted to a friend who was working the AS. The second part of the climb went without issue and other than being buzzed by folks on the descent the first loop was in the bag and we started the second.

image

This time round I had more of an idea on the climb but I still held back, that was until someone tried to jump on my wheel in the last 500 meters, so I dropped it a gear and pushed hard and there was nothing to push against! I wobbled, unclipped looked down and saw I had snapped my chain!

Without much ado there was nothing I could do so I walked up the last of the hill with the call on “I’ll send someone back” coming from all the folks passing me! I got to the top and pulled out a Belgium waffle that I had in my jersey, stuffed the waffle in my mouth, picked up the chain using the tin foil and coasted to the Aid Station!

imageimage

Mike who was working the AS was able to fix my chain but had to shorten it so I could not go Big/Big. This wasn’t going to be a problem really given all the climbing. We left the AS and made our way back down without issue.

It was warm by this point and I was glad of only wearing the arm-warmers as I saw people pulling over and pulling of layer after layer of clothing that was stuffed into pockets and tied around waists (oh the shame)! While stopped at the bottom AS we were lapped by two groups that were setting a blistering pace! The next climb was warm and by this time we were pretty strung out, I worked hard going up and was happy to catch up and ride over someone who had passed my lower down.

image

Again at the top we regrouped and rode the descent. We had been umming about the fourth lap and we had agreed to go for it as without it there would be now KOM time. We passed the start line and a mile down the road that was an almighty bang; I had blown my rear tube, not only that I had blown the tire off the rim!

And that was that! We made the sensible decision to bank our luck, it would have been a very nasty blow out 5 or 6 miles earlier while descending and while I am pretty quick at changing tires with the extra time spent walking to the AS and repairing the chain we were a good hour behind schedule!

So discretion was the order of the day and I simply stripped off my shoes and socks and walked back across the Finish Line…I didn’t want to scratch up the pretty Carbon soles!

We parked our bikes and grabbed the pasta lunch that we had bought tickets for enjoying the warm sun.

Once home we were able to look at the time posted on the KOM stage, my three climbs were;

  • 17:18
  • 19:41 (inc walk time)
  • 17:41

So working on the basis that my fourth climb would have been around 18:00 I would have finished with a time in the region of 1:13 (ish) putting me 30/122 AG and 70/510 OA. Of course as I didn’t finish the fourth loop it’s all moot!

With all that said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, although I will admit there were a few choice words uttered during my mechanical issues! What shone through was the proof of the training. This really proved the quality of the plan and having followed the training plan for the prior 9 weeks mostly on the trainer I was really happy with the results. I felt strong throughout the day and while I was with a mixed bag of abilities on the KOM stage I was only passed by 3 riders in total for the whole day on this stage.

imageimage

I also got a chance to put the new Voler Black kit through it’s paces and there is a review of that coming up and wear my new Louis Garneu Course helmet which replaces my LG Quartz helmet that I crashed in in January!

I should say a few words about the event itself. Both Becca and I really enjoyed it, it was very well organized. The loop lent itself to making life easy for the riders and while it was not a closed course it was well marked and well supported with plenty of road to ride on I am not sure I would be so happy had they sold out all 1500 slots but once the riders were strung out it was not a problem. The local bike shop that supported the event (Wins Wheels) was great and there was plenty of food provided by Cliff.

All that remains is for the Amgen Tour to come to town next month which we are both looking forward to as we are volunteering for two local stages and will be heading back up Rockstore…only this time with beach chairs to watch the Pros do it!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, L’Etape du California, The Suffe..."
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FTP Redux   New window
Date: Friday, 11 Apr 2014 11:46

I still have to write up my L’Etape du California ride report but this has been a crazy busy week and I just have run out of time, it was quite the adventure though! Anyway with that said I was able to retest my FTP this week. Post L’Etape I took two days off and then re-rode the the TrainerRoad 20 minutes test.

Just a reminder the entire ride takes 60 minutes. Following a full 30 minutes of warm-up, a 20-minute time trial is used to assess Functional Threshold Power (FTP) & Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR). The idea is maintain a steady maximal effort for the 20 minutes and from that an algorithm adjusts this to represent the same effort extrapolated over an hour. I had tested during Week 1 and Week 8 of the Trainer Road plan and my FTP results were 206 and 209 respectively. I felt that the Week 8 test was “weak”, I was tired and had a niggle in my ankle. I wanted to wait till after the L’Etape just in case there were any issues leading up to the day. But based on the L'Etape 20 mins max ave power of >241 on Garmin Connect so I knew there was plenty left in the tank

So on Wednesday I set myself up for the test. Loaded up Cycling TV with the As Live version of Scheldeprijs a classic one day Sprint Race, clipped in and was off! image

After the 30 minutes warm up which I fully needed as my legs were still heavy the test started.
  image

The TrainerRoad goal was 225 I aimed for 250 or thereabouts for the 20 minutes. The first 5 minutes was fine, the second harder, the third I was dragging my ass, you can actually see the effort start to fade. With 5 minutes to go I pulled out my stiff upper lip and upped the cadence during the closing minutes to increase the watts to 260 and then 280. Above is the result for the 20 Minutes test.

As expected a hard ride but my FTP increased to 230, from 209 2 weeks ago and from 206 9 weeks ago!

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Needless to say I am happy…although that may well change next week during my Knighthood Ride!

This is the output analyzed in Golden Cheetah,I am new to using this application so bear with me, the yellow highlight represents the 20 minutes test from mile 8.63 to 16.63 so 8 miles in 20 minutes…hardly Pro but for a middle aged age grouper 24 miles per hour on a trainer is plenty!

image image If you want a review of the TrainerRoad Advanced Build 1 Plan, click here.

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Knighthood, L’Etape du Californi..."
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Date: Friday, 04 Apr 2014 15:25

Last night’s ride represented the final ride of the TrainerRoad Advanced Build 1 plan, so it seemed a good time to put down some thoughts on the plan while it’s still fairly fresh in my mind.

Just as a reminder, I was training for IMSG70.3 up until my crash in January after which I took 2 weeks off, cancelled my St George visit as I could not swim and switched focus to the L’Etape du California. The L’Etape follows the final stage of this year’s Amgen Tour or California, four loops of a 22 mile circuit, each circuit has approx. 2000’ of elevation gain. Ostensibly this ride has more climbing than the Tour de Big Bear 100 mile ride which I finished (barely!) last August so it’s going to be a challenge.

Ok back to the review of the Plan. The Plan is 9 weeks long, there are 5 prescribed rides per week, 4 of which are 90 minutes and 1 of 60 minutes. Rides are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then Saturday and Sunday, for me the Sunday ride was usually converted to an outdoors ride, which varied from some reconnaissance loops of the L’Etape course to some longer tempo rides with some climbing. There were several weeks when I completed all five rides on the trainer due to inclement weather or just the convenience factor.

The basic layout of the week was to give you four rides with intervals and one ride of pseudo recovery/tempo. Let’s talk about the intervals first.

These varied from large number super high intensity (200%FTP) short duration (10-15 seconds) intervals to longer steady state intervals (10-12 minutes) at a reduced intensity (98%FTP) with micro intervals (15 seconds to 2 minutes) at a higher intensity (120%FTP). That probably sounds really confusing so here are a couple of examples;

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The recovery/tempo ride was just that, shorter in duration (60 minutes) it was at a lower intensity and without the intervals. Again here are a few examples;

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 imageI have mentioned this in the past that this reminded me the FIRST training plan that I have used in the past for running, very specific workouts designed to focus on key elements; endurance and speed. Additionally like the FIRST plan there is no fluff, this is also reinforced by the fact that this is a Trainer based plan where, unlike the road, when you stop pedaling you stop moving, not that you are moving, but you know what I mean.

I am not going to talk about mileage for this plan, as that is an individual thing, distance being a function of time\speed and that will be different for everyone, I will say that as anticipated, including my outdoor mileage I was just shy of 1100 miles for the 9 weeks less the two rides I will miss this week.

With this structure it’s very easy to plan your week out, especially with a trainer which you can do at any time of the day; 5am starts and 10pm finishes are common in our household between Becca and I. The joy of TrainerRoad of course is that you can overlay it on the TV so were able to catch up on the Spring Classics that were streamed as well as a couple of very bad movies via Netflix.

imageThis plan along with all of the Plans are provided free of charge and are available to look at online, the update Application 2.6.1 has a nice feature allowing you to find what’s next so you don’t have to flipflop between the website and the application.  image Week on week the intensity is fairly consistent per the plan, there is one week (#4) where the intensity ramps up;

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Here you can see my TrainerRoad response, the last 9 weeks are in the red box, The TSS doesn’t match up across the weeks, this is a result of my outdoor rides but for the weeks where I rode 5 times on the trainer it’s pretty, actually very, close. Specifically

  • Week 1; Plan 475/Actual 469
  • Week 4; Plan 543/Actual 512 (my Training log notes remind me I had a cold this week)
  • Week 5; Plan 434/Actual 433 image

There is very little repetition of the rides across the Plan, the most repeated ride was “FreeRide” (5 instances) where you can basically do what you want for 90 minutes! “Black” which was a Recovery ride with 4 repetitions followed, several others “North Maggie”, “Emerson”, “McAdie” and “Warlow” (all 90 minutes) were repeated twice along with the 8 Minute FTP Test. All the rest were unique rides so you get a good variation across the 45 training days.

As for results, my FTP has crept up this year and I have probably completed one or two too many tests but this was as a result of retesting with my Stages PM, the Tour of Sufferlandria and following this plan, the suggested test interval is every 8 weeks and I have done it, on average, every 5 weeks. The results;

  • 256 Nov 26 Last ride using Trainer Road Virtual Power (I expected this to be approx. 20% greater than using real power)
  • 203 Jan 03 First ride with Stages PM
  • 205 Jan 19 Tour of Sufferlandria Rubber Glove
  • 206 Feb 04 Week 1of Trainer Road plan
  • 209 Mar 18Week 7 of Trainer Road plan

As you can see there is an increase, clearly it’s not huge, as a percentage it is an increase of 3% from January to March. I would say I am disappointed in this but I do think there are some reasons why which I captured in my Training Log and I intend to retest next week once I have recovered from the L’Etape so I will update this post with the results. I would say that I feel stronger and that is where the proof of the pudding is, looking at my Strava Segments I certainly PRd on some of them. Of course with this being a Trainer based plan there is very little road riding so there are very few Segments but there is improvement so I will take it.

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As mentioned I will retest next week so tune back in for an update and of course the Ride report from L’Etape…that’s where the rubber will meet the road!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Review, TrainerRoad, Training Plan"
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Chapaeu!   New window
Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 21:51

imageTo celebrate!: For the next 24 hours you can save 15% off each of the five videos featuring women's pro racing. Those videos are:

You can find them all right here in this blog post. Just use the code WORLDCUP at check-out. 
Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "The Sufferfest"
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 12:11

A pretty vanilla week. Somewhat of three bears week, with two weeks ago being overcooked with 175 miles Papa Bear, last week being a bit undercooked with 121 miles Momma Bear, this week was pretty much in the middle with 147 and shut the front door 3 of those miles were running!!! Baby Bear This is the penultimate week of training so I was glad to have a solid week, it also closed out the month and the quarter so it was a week with lots of closings.

Here is how things shook out;

Monday; Rest.

Tuesday; Lone Pine. Dialed back to 92% as back is still sore. This was a nice solid ride.6x10-minute intervals in the Threshold power level at 95-99% FTP with 3-minute recoveries between intervals. Focused on form on the bike, sitting still, "scraping shoes" etc. GC Data.

Wednesday; Pyramidal. Very pleased with this, some work but well within myself. 40 minutes of Tempo with varying intensity every 5 minutes. GC Data.

Thursday; Red Kaweah. Had to stop for bio break between 2nd and 3 sets and forgot to restart Garmin hence missing 7 minutes and 1.5-2 miles...oh well. 4 sets of 3x4-minute efforts at 95, 100 & 105% FTP with slightly increasing rest periods from 1 to 3 minutes in duration at 50-60% FTP. GC Data.

Friday; Rest.

Saturday; North Maggie. Today was a FreeRide so as Sunday is on the road I just swapped them around. 5x10-minute Power Steps each beginning with 5 minutes between 90-95% FTP followed immediately by 5 minutes of 1-3% FTP steps which top out at 112%; 5 minutes of rest between each interval. Dialed intensity back to 95%, GC Data.

Sunday; Hidden Valley, WLV loop. Nice solid ride with a bit of everything, climbs (2800' of gain), flats and drops. Felt strong, hammered some of it and eased off in some. Followed this with a three mile run in the new Saucony Virrata 2s. I was chasing Becca for a bit and was pleased with the pace given my lack of running. Finished it off with a cold Mexican Coke!

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In terms of the month as suspected I broke the 600 mile mark, this is a new high for me even compared to Ironman training back in 2012 when I had bike week (which was 190 miles) I only topped out at 476 and when training for the Tour De Big Bear last year I maxed at 498 so this is a big up in mileage from then.

That being said this plan is very consistent with 4 x 90 minute rides and a 60 minute ride per week and and then whatever I did on a Sunday.

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For the quarter, well the numbers speak for themselves. This obviously reflects the two weeks off in January after the bike crash. That being said had I not crashed my training would have looked very different as I would have continued on the Ironman St George 70.3 plan, so there would have been a lot more running and swimming of course! Either way I am pleased with the consistency.

imageThis is the last week of the scheduled plan. I have decide to skip Saturday’s ride; the only ride which I have missed since starting. This will give me an extra day of rest before L’Etape du California on Sunday.

imageMy best estimate is that I will just break 70 hours of training over the 9 weeks and hit 1100 miles. I will write up a review on the plan next week!

Onwards…

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Knighthood, L’Etape du Californi..."
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Date: Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 22:38
Cyclocross is over for the year and the Spring Classic are upon us, but if you were left wondering WTF, here is an explanation!
 

So now you know!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Video"
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Date: Friday, 28 Mar 2014 15:13

It’s taken me a long time to finally find a pair cycling shoes that fit, to be honest it’s taken a really long time! The problem is that wearing them in the bedroom and walking around for a minute of two is very different to wearing them on the bike. It’s then that you discover that they pinch, pull or whatever it is that they do to not make them fit. For the record I have tried; Sidi, Shimano, Spuik, Northwave, Giro and probably a few more that escape me.

Last month I picked up a pair of 2013 Bonratger RXLs, they fitted really nicely. The problem was the ratcheting mechanism on the inside of the shoe slipped which loosened the shoe, Bontrager offer a 30 day perfect fit policy, so I took them back to the LBS from where I got them and they gave me another pair no questions asked. They were surprised to hear my complaint and the owner wore the same shoe and had never had any problems so quite possibly it was a random pair. Anyway so far so good!

image IMG_3474

Now a by-product of trying all these shoes is that you have to switch your cleats…often. I run Speedplay pedals and they require a conversion plate that sits between the cleat mechanism and the shoe, converting the typical 3 hole sole to the 4 hole Speedplay mount. I am going to spare you all the blurb about the cleats as this post is about that tiny bit of blue that you can see at the end of the screws in the picture.

image image  image

That blue is Loctite Blue (aka Loctite 242), do not be confused that it comes in a red bottle! There are three main features of 242;

  • Protects threads; Prevents rusting of threads
  • Medium strength; Can be removed with hand tools
  • Locks threads; Prevents loosening of metal fasteners caused by vibrations

It’s the third one that comes in to play for me more than the others, specifically as a result of all the cleat changing I have worn off all the “blue” from the mounting screws and as a result my cleats tend to loosen sooner than they should. It’s inevitable that they will come loose eventually and of course the more you ride the sooner that will happen. The fix is to simply paint some more blue onto them. Well there is a bit more to it;

  1. All the screws should be clean, I use a rag and some degreaser then wipe everything down with a dry clean rag
  2. Apply the blue, gently squeeze the tube and apply several drops on the thread, see photo above
  3. Wait 24 hours
  4. Reassemble cleats

And voila, loose cleats no more! To be honest this can also be used on bottle cages to the same effect, essentially anywhere that might loosen due to vibration! When I travelled to Canada in 2012 I removed the handlebars from the stem to box the bike. I painted all the screws the same way before travelling so they were all good to go when I reassembled the cockpit

Available from any hardware store and even from Amazon it costs about $7.00 a tube which lasts a lifetime!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Shoes"
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Date: Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 13:18

Following the 101 hardware step up post, this one will go through the setup of the software and connecting it all together. As before lots of screen grabs, that saves me from typing…a lot!

First thing is to head over to the TrainerRoad website, I use a PC (not a Mac) so this will focus on setting it up on that system. You need to create an account, (I already have one so I can just log in), from there you are prompted to install the USB Drivers and Software. There is a 30 day no questions asked refund policy when you sign up and stay tuned…there is a Promo Code giveaway coming up.

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I am sure you have done this a million times…but hey I work in IT and have SnagIt!

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After installing the USB drivers you do the same with the TrainerRoad application, neither applications are big but TrainerRoad takes a little time to install so be patient.

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Go and make a cup of tea…

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…put the kettle on…

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…water is boiling…

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…tea is steeped!

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Perfect timing!

TrainerRoad is (for now) based on Adobe Air so if you do not have that installed you will be prompted to install that too. Once that is all installed the Application opens and you’re prompted to Log In, use the same User Name and Password that you created when you set up your account online.

The application then downloads the Workout Library, 600+ workouts…that a different one every day for nearly 2 years!

imageimage   image

Once the Library is installed or while it’s installing if you’re impatient you can set up your profile; most of this is common sense but here’s some handy definitions;

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Ok we are nearly there….next we have to get everything to talk to everything else. Remember TrainerRoad is taking your ANT+ data and displaying it on the PC screen.

The are two main workflows here that I have used, (I do not have a CompuTrainer so I cannot speak to that). The two I have used are “Enable” Virtual Power and using my Stages PowerMeter for both of these I still use my Ant+ Heart Rate strap (Garmin Premium HR strap 010-10997-07 ) and my Garmin Speed and Cadence Monitor (010-10644-00) so this is the same for both workflows

I’ll go through each of them one at a time, first Virtual Power

This is pretty simple, actually it’s very simple. Check “Enable Virtual Power” and then scroll till you find your Trainer, in my case I have a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. Ok that’s it, like I said pretty very simple!

tr1TR2

If you have a Power Meter you need to get that talking to the Ant+ receivers. In this case do not check Enable Virtual Power. Again it’s very simple, for my Stages Power Meter crank motion is the on/off so I simply pedal which turns the wheel, this will also set off the Speed and Cadence Sensor too! Mine are already paired, you will need to hit Search. As you can see it provides you the Device ID as well as a comment on the Signal strength and Hours since new Battery, as mentioned in my prior post I use an extension lead to get the Garmin USB Ant+ dongle as close to my bike as possible. I am to have the signal Strength Good or Excellent.

TR3 tr8

Ok at this point you are; Logged in and your Ant+ Devices are ready to to receive and Display the data. The next step is to choose a ride. Now in between me starting this post and completing it a new Version (2.6.1) has been launched which provides you with an easier interface to choose rides, so I am going to cover that in another post but I don’t want to leave you in a state of prepared excitement so the next steps will get your rolling on a simple ride! I would suggest you do this anyway just to get a feel for the set up and screens etc, there is nothing more frustrating than start-stop-starting a workout

On the workout Tab search bar type “free” this will present a series of rides with fixed durations 30 mins, 45 mins, 60 mins and so on. Choose the duration you want and Click on Open Workout. This opens the TrainerRoad Window.

Here you are presented with the screen with gradient lines on the Y axis of Watts and on the X axis of Time. The interface is really simple, there are only 6 (or 7) buttons. At the bottom left hand corner are two of them Always in Front (or not) toggle, this lays the window…well always in Front (or not)! The other is a % with an up or down chevron for Workout Intensity; in case you need to dial it down or up.

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At the top in the center is a Toggle for Vertical and Horizontal. For those workouts that have Video (Sufferfest, Cyclefilm etc) there is a third Toggle “Video” (the 7th button). Vertical fills your whole screen. Horizontal reshapes the grid to fill only the lower portion allowing you to overlay it onto a movie, DVD or TV, my TV of choice is cycling.tv

imageClosing stages of the Dwars door Vlaanderen in “Horizontal Mode

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Closing stages of the Dwars door Vlaanderen in “Vertical” Mode…it’s just not the same!

There are six data fields that are presented in a central (in Horizontal mode) Dashboard; Power and % FTP on the left, in the center Interval Time and Total Time and on the right Heart Rate and Cadence. Remember it will only display based on what you have so if you do not have a HR strap then you will not see any HR data and the same for Cadence. To the left of the Dashboard is the total workout on a timeline and to the right To the next 5 minutes. In a Free Ride situation neither of these are that meaningful. When you are riding it’s useful to know what’s coming up…sometimes. This photo shows what the hell I am trying to explain!

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Scene from the Fourth bike interval of The Sufferfest Chrysalis 

There is a difference between a Free Ride and a Program Ride  (one where there is defined structure) which is on the Power section as the Program Ride shows Target Power instead of % FTP. To get started simply Click the Play button and start pedaling! At the end of the ride it will sync to your account and show up under your Career, if you need to finish early hit Pause “||” and then Sync; the circular arrows and it will upload it!

Voila you are set up and have completed your first ride!

Ok so this is enough to get you set up and pedaling…clearly I could go on and on and I will in another post. Now to get you started here is a contest for a free month or TrainerRoad!

For the giveaway I am working on the honor system

  • Liking them on Facebook gets you one entry
  • Follow them on Twitter gets you one entry
  • Tweet “I entered to win the 1 month free of @trainerroad from @quadrathon you can too, enter here http://bit.ly/1rGR2pd ” at least once a day between now and Thursday April 3rd will get you up to seven more entries;

Leave a blog comment on or by Friday April 4th telling me what you did and that’s another entry for a total of 10, I will draw a winner on Saturday April 5th!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Contest, The Sufferfest, TrainerRo..."
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Date: Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 10:56

After overcooking it last week this week I was back on the straight and narrow. Work got in the way of any commuting and my mileage went back to the mid-120s for the week. I also managed to tweak my ankle and back…on different days! Nothing to do with the bike I fell up the stairs on Monday night and the mis-stepped off something and that locked it up my back on Friday. So much so that I had to jump off my bike and hit the foam roller for 10 minutes into the ride Friday night! Up until now Friday has been my day off but with a long day at a Track Meet on Saturday I knew that there was no way I would want to get on the bike at 6pm Saturday so I switched it with Saturday’s ride and that proved out to be a good choice even with a crabby back. It’s easing up now and I am looking for a deal on a Groupon massage for this week!

So this is how the week shook out;

Monday; off

Tuesday; 2x8 Min FTP Test. Increase in FTP from 206 to 209. A bit disappointed but it's moving in the right direction at least. Could be a follow on from such a big week last week and/or slipping on stairs last night and tweaking ankle? Following a total of 28 minutes of warm-up, a couple of 8-minute time trials are used to assess Functional Threshold Power (FTP) & Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR). The recovery interval between assessment efforts is 10 minutes. GC Data.

image Wednesday; West Vidette. Nice and easy 45 minutes of aerobic endurance ranging from 50-80% FTP. Fake rest day as last workout was 36 hours ago. GC Data.

Thursday; Smith. First ride of this with upped FTP, struggled to hit a solid cadence above 85 and keep the Power so dropped a gear and kept it in the late 70s, good hill climbing. Slower than the last time I rode this but generally feeling weary this week. 6x10min sets very close to FTP; 3 minutes rest between intervals. GC Data.

Friday; McAdie. Barely hung onto this, spent 75 mins hating it! 4x12-minute Over-Under intervals alternating between 2 minutes @ 95% FTP & 1 minute @ 105% FTP with 6-minute recoveries between intervals. GC Data.

Saturday; off, well on my feet most of the day but not on the bike!

Sunday; Out of the front door turn right! Road the first 3/4 of the Royal loop, then added Erbes climb and then reversed the ride coming home. Rode some hard and the rest was moderate. A mix of rolling hills and some climbing for a total of 2400’ feet of gain! Got to road test the new premium kit “Black” from Voler. GC Data.

imageimage

With another full week to go before the end of the month I am on track to hit a solid 40 hours of training and 600 miles for March! I have two more weeks on the plan and it looks like it will total up to around 1125 miles in total, then I have an off plan one week taper and the L’Etape du California at the weekend!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Knighthood, L’Etape du Californi..."
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Date: Saturday, 22 Mar 2014 15:13

One of the tenants of attempting a Sufferlandrian Knighthood is that there should be fundraising involved.  With four weeks to go it seemed like a good time to start. There are of course many worthy Charities that need funding but I have decided to keep this local to home.

In the last 6 months I have adopted Cali (Nov) and Sprocket (Feb) from a local Rescue Shelter "Beagles & Buddies". Beagles & Buddies rescues purebred and mixed Beagles, as well as other hounds and small dogs, from pounds, humane societies and off of the street. It seems only fitting given my love of cycling and of these two crazy dogs that I raise some money as I sit on my trainer for 12 or so hours riding to Sufferlandrian Knighthood on April 12th.

For more info on Beagles & Buddies click here

For more info on Sufferlandrian Knighthood click hereimage

I have set a realistic and hopefully achievable target of $250, its enough to make a real difference to the quality of life that the dogs have in the Shelter. I am already nearly 20% there so hopefully I can exceed my goal. Click on the photo above to get to the fundraising page and thanks in advance!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Cali the Dog, Knighthood, Sprocket the D..."
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Date: Friday, 21 Mar 2014 14:34

This has been a long week (and it’s not quite over yet)! You know one of those weeks where everything drags and Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday seem to be on a loop and the weekend gets further away the closer it gets! My workouts have been a bit meh too, I am not sure if that’s a result of a disappointing FTP Test on Tuesday. With hindsight I probably overcooked it last week, ramping my mileage up by 40% in a week may have been the culprit…my faux pas. I have been heavy legged most of the week so far and I am only three workouts in.

imageMost of my weekday training is completed in the early mornings, I am sure it’s nothing that anyone reading this has not has to do. As you know it takes a bit of planning; making the next day’s kid’s lunches, setting the timer on the coffee machine, even pre-mixing pancake mix are all done the night before. Of course this is in addition to the layout of the kit the night. But even with all these tricks some days are just a fail. Case in point yesterday! Alarm set for 4:40am, even with the best will in the world I wouldn’t be on the bike till 5:15 and with 90 minutes on tap that gets me off the bike at 6:45! This is just enough time to cook up the pancakes for the hungry hordes, get a scrape, shower and shampoo done and get the day rolling for me!

To try and overcome this I employed my fake (faux) rest day deferring a morning workout by a little over 12 hours to the evening giving me a good 36 hours in between, only 8 hours shy of a full rest day!

It seems to have worked as I managed to PR for 60 Minutes of Power on last night’s ride and was only 3 Watts shy of hitting the 90 Minute PR too. If you remember I zero’d all my PRs when I switched to my Stages Power Meter in January. This is reassuring as last night was all work for sure!

imageNow today should actually be a real rest day but with a all-day Track meeting tomorrow, literally all-day (8:00am-4pm), I am riding tomorrow’s ride tonight so I don’t have to sit on the Trainer at 6pm on a Saturday night for 90 minutes…although it wouldn’t be the first time!

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Knighthood, The Sufferfest, Traine..."
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Date: Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 13:52

CamelBak products have been a staple in my household for years…probably close to 15 in total. Not bad considering they have been around themselves for 27! So when they asked me if I wanted to review their new Relay Pitcher I of course said yes. The Relay arrived a few days later and without further ado I put it to use.

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From their website;

CamelBak® Relay™ reinvents home water filtration with a unique Double Filter Technology that allows you to filter at the speed of your faucet. The innovative double-filter design removes chlorine, taste, and odors twice—every time you fill and every time you pour. Made with plant based activated carbon, each Fresh™ Filter lasts twice as long as the leading competitor—up to four months. With its spill-proof locking lid and space-saving design, Relay goes from your faucet to your fridge in a snap. It's so fast and easy, you’ll discover all kinds of new uses for filtered water, from making your morning coffee to washing fruits and vegetables. 10-cup (80oz) capacity. Dishwasher safe (top rack). “

Unboxing was easy minimal packaging (a good thing) with simple and easy instructions to follow. As you can see from the photo above there are three parts; the pitcher body, the pitcher lid and the filter.Obviously the technology is in the filter and the fact that it filters the water as you fill it up and as your pour it out! Rather than give you a paragraph of text to read here is a little video which probably answers all your questions.

Ok the next step was to set the handy dandy filter reminder dial to March; to remind me in four months of its age. Filters are predicted to last 4 months so I could turn this to July to remind me to change it then, it’s a decision on whether I want to time travel backwards or forwards.

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The instructions told me to run water through the filter before using it and washing out the pitcher before use. So that I did. The big claim to fame is the actual filling time, as quick as your faucet is the claim…here’s the video test;

So that works then! 

The form factor is pretty minimal it fits nicely in a space in my fridge, the only downside is that it doesn’t play nicely with a quart of Milk in the fridge drawer. Which means that the kids can’t easily reach it. But I have a French Door Fridge which only has doors in the top half and it’s not super wide so the door width is not as wide and you 60/40 vertical split fridge freezer door. And yes that is bacon you can see!

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Talking of fridges you may think hang on I have a filter in my door and so do I. But it costs $30 to replace every 4-6 months. Replacement Relay filters are available in packs of 3 for $28.50 so there is some cost saving, actually somewhere around $60 a year…put another way that’s 25-30 Gus!! In addition the Relay is attractive enough to sit on your patio table.

So that covers the cost what about the results. If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed I like coffee…a lot. I am not a coffee snob but I would say that having freshly filtered water does improve the taste of the coffee. The same can be said about filling water bottles for the bike, the 80oz is just enough to not overfill 3 large (26oz) water bottles and with the fast filtration the wait for the fourth bottle, two per bike, is less than a minute!

Simple effective products are always the best and this falls into this class, easy to use and does exactly what it says on the box!

The Relay is available in 3 colors; Charcoal, Aqua and Purple, it retails online at $36.99 via the CamelBak website, Amazon or in bricks via Target.

This Product was provided by CamelBak. See previous gear reviews in the Reviews tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me atquadrathon@gmail.com.

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Hydration, Review"
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Date: Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 11:33

Well this turned into a big week! As mentioned last week I was able to drop a commute to work in the mix on my day off (Friday) and then had a double on Sunday, so before I get ahead of myself this is how the week shook out;

Monday off; check!

Tuesday;  Kearsarge. Nothing to report on this one, after a day off it was all very doable. 6 sets of Anaerobic Power repeats ranging from 120-150% FTP lasting either 18 or 24 seconds but both in the 20-second sprint ballpark. Recoveries between intervals are about 1 to 1.5 minutes while your downtime between sets is about 4 minutes in all cases. Had an easy 3 mile run in the evening. GC Data

Wednesday; West Vidette. Nothing to see here! 45 minutes of aerobic endurance ranging from 50-80% FTP. GC Data

Thursday; Smith. All work on this ride, started to lose it on the 5th interval and held the 6th together, struggled to ride a good gearing, 80-82rpm held the power, the next gear down put my at 92rpm which I couldn't hold for the power. 6x10min sets very close to FTP; 3 minutes rest between intervals. Another 3 mile run in the evening a bit quicker than Tuesday. GC Data. 

Friday; commute to and from work adds an 28 miles to week and an extra 2000 of elevation gain.

Saturday; North Maggie. Went out too fast and fell off at the end. 5x10-minute Power Steps each beginning with 5 minutes between 90-95% FTP followed immediately by 5 minutes of 1-3% FTP steps which top out at 112%; 5 minutes of rest between each interval. Not a 100% believer in the totals for this as I cranked out 30 miles in 1:34:12, I didn’t change the resistance on the trainer but this seems super-fast to me! This was after pretty much being on my feet all morning at a kid’s Track Meet. GC Data

Sunday; off the Trainer and onto the road and trails; the first ride was 10 dusty miles on my Mountain Bike pacing Becca as she trains for a local trail Half Marathon, it was super-hot, pushing 90f in the canyons. After the rain of last week the trail was pretty rutted and a lot of the dust covered rocks were more slick. Not surprisingly my MTB skills are very poor, I feel strong enough to get up the climbs but I lack the technical skills that are only acquired spending time on the trails. Best news of the day…I only fell off once, as my wheels slipped out from under me and I very delicately landed in a bush! GC Data.

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After a short pause to let the temperature cool off some we set out for a 2 hour road ride and instead of heading to the Rock Store we opted for a slingshot out-and-back from the house to save time. The ride itself has rolling climbs to the turnaround and the return ride is always a bit quicker. Neither of us had practiced the best fueling strategy and a stop at the last Gas Station on the way home to share a fully leaded ice cold coke got us up the last climb and I even snagged a couple of Strava PRs on the way home. There are so many cyclists in the area that it will be a cold day in hell when I get a KOM on anything that doesn’t start on my driveway! GC Data.

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Other notable items of the week.

  • I actually started my Core workout sessions, I am trying for four sessions per week…trying!
  • I passed the 1000 mile mark for the year on Thursday, after the weekend I am at 1128 miles, I am on target for a 550-600 mile month which is my biggest ever on the bike
  • My super-duper Bontrager shoes are heading back to the store…malfunctioning ratchet strap is the cause!

So the Weekly/Total Training totals are looking like this;

image Onwards…

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bike, Knighthood, L’Etape du Californi..."
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Date: Monday, 17 Mar 2014 15:31

You may have seen a new widget appear on my blog in the last week; SportTracks Mobi.

image I have been playing with a new feature which SportTracks launched last week Training Load. What is Training Load? Well put simply Training Load is a mathematical model to predict future performance. Put even simpler, how will what I did last week/Month/Training block impact my next race? I’ll caveat that a lot of what you see here was poached from three very well written posts on the SportTracks Blog;

And with that said on with the show…clearly there is nothing simple about what I said above so let me provide you with two words and their definitions used here that you need to keep in mind and which will go some way to help your understanding;

  • Effort (aka TRIMP "Training Impulse", (TRaining IMPulse)) Measuring the amount of effect a single workout has on your body
  • Performance: Predicting performance changes over time from a series workouts.

There are lots of different calculations that you can use to calculate TRIMP, there is a pretty thorough list posted here. I am using the SportTracks basis for calculations, which is the following;

Their system awards 2 points per minute, this means you max out at 120 per hour at maximal effort. As you would expect it’s unlikely you would be a maximal effort for an entire 60 minutes and so to calibrate a the score they use data generated by the technology that we laden our body with depending on what you have they use the following

  • Heart Rate Monitor; scored based on your resting and maximum heart rate, and your zones.
  • Power Meter; scored on power zones.
  • GPS, scored on your speed/pace zones, adjusted for any hills you were running.
  • Indoor endurance workouts or those without a GPS route; scored based on the average time in speed/pace zones.
  • If entering a manual workout; scored using the perceived intensity of the workout.

The nice thing is that this scoring model and the algorithm can be applied to swim, bike, run, weights, caber tossing and golf…well maybe not golf!

That covers one side of the equation; Effort, you do stuff you do to get points! The flipside is Performance.

Performance is based on the assumption that workout has both a positive and negative effect. The positive effect is called "fitness" and the negative effect is called "fatigue". Fitness and fatigue are combined to provide "performance", a prediction of how well you will do in an endurance event such as a race. As we know you recover from a workout faster than you lose your fitness, this is why you taper two or three weeks before a big event; to minimize your fatigue while balancing maximizing your fitness. In the model both fatigue and fitness spike after a workout. Fatigue quickly drops off, while fitness drops off more slowly, creating a space of time where your fitness gains outweigh your fatigue, until both reach equilibrium again. This space represents your performance potential:

Performance = ( Fitness - Fatigue ) This is the basis for calculating your future Performance

So put another way your predicted performance is the positive balance of fitness over fatigue. Higher fitness and lower fatigue leads to maximum performance.

Now this is where I could diverge and go down a rabbit hole of how to create future workouts based on past performance indicators to improve future Training Load but I am going to save that, stay on the straight and narrow and focus on the visuals.

I uploaded my 2014 data into SportTrack and this is how my Training Load plots, just a reminder I was training for IMSG and had 9 weeks of training under my belt before crashing my bike on January 5th, this was followed by two weeks off. Another week of training riding and then the Tour of Sufferlandria the last week of January, first few days of February.

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This is the Training Load mapped with the specific chronological events I mentioned above;

imageI followed up the folks at SportTracks regarding my graph and the fact that I am in the red at the start of January, this is due to the fact of my volume over my recovery is from a standing start and I had over 8 hours of training with some intensity including a FTP test with my new Stages Power Meter, if you were a beginner this is not how you would start. My crash is marked with the red “X”.  You can see during my crash recovery, where I did nothing for 13 days that my fitness and fatigue are both decreasing. This is followed by four Sufferfest rides a day off and then the Tour of Sufferlandria which is obviously very high intensity across 10 days hence the spike in Fatigue! From there I started the TrainerRoad Advanced Build 1 plan which is 5 rides a week averaging 7.5 hours of training, supplemented this plan with longer or more challenging rides, but until this week still maintained two rest days per week. The decreasing lines to the right predict my Fatigue (red) and Fitness (green). The anticipated decrease in Load is represented as a number and assume no workouts for period of +1 week.

Here is the Performance mapping (again it’s a bit clumsy as it’s drawn by hand);

image

Again Performance is low at the start due to the lack of data. It increases during the Crash Recovery. Falls off during the Tour, not surprisingly due to the lack of recovery vs. the intensity. But the big gains have been since the start of February; a combination of following a well designed plan and regular days off have increased my Performance potential. Additionally it extrapolates it forward over time, to it’s apex shown by the red “X” again.

Neither graph show a 3 month gain which will not be reflected until the end of March.

So what can we learn from this? Here are some thoughts I have, remember I am not a coach but I have run, ridden and swam around the block a bit;

  • Periodized training; it’s important to build you training in blocks, build for several weeks and then back off for a week, this allows you recover fully and realize the gains
  • A rest day is that; just because yesterday was awesome enjoy the rest day, try to avoid junk miles, think of it as passive training
  • Make you hard run, bike or swim hard and your easy run, bike or swim easy
  • Try to avoid  back-to-back hard sessions; sometimes a hard swim may follow a hard run ,it’s inevitable when you are have 3-4 of each a week but try to avoid back-to-back hard runs or bikes
  • Remember that 10% rule…well that’s actually not a bad rule to follow

Here are a couple of graphs that show some mistakes;

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16 week training plan with a constant weekly intensity over the entire plan. 1 hour workout of moderate intensity on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. By the start of February the performance gains are slowing. Because training is at a constant rate of 3 hours per week. The maximum potential performance is near a value of 100. To push higher increased effort - either through longer duration, or higher intensity is needed.

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If a 10% weekly increase helps your build performance, why not increase by 20%, or 30% with no recovery weeks. Here performance nearly doubles to 235. However you'll also notice our fatigue has jumped by nearly four fold from around 630 to almost 2,400! And look at how large those daily performance spikes have gotten. While the long term trend is heading up. This is what over-training looks like in a performance chart.

As you can see this is actually pretty easy to follow, the UI folks at SportTracks have spent time thinking over the presentation and this is very easy and clear to follow, you can track it over multiple date points (all, year, 3 month, month and week…custom would be nice) my only real gripe is that you cannot see it on a daily basis in the week/month view some vertical axis would be nice.

Overall I really liked this feature. We spend a lot of time (and money) collecting data but do we actually do anything with it? Beyond comparing “segments” on the road or trail or looking at the heart rate data and wondering why it it was 20% higher and your pace 30 seconds slower than your were this time last week. Now there is now actually a means to qualify that qualitative and quantitative data and map it into the future in terms of both training and performance.

Training Load is live now. SportTracks is always open to feedback and to assist in developing more improvements for the future. To answer all of your questions about training load, workout plans, etc. they will be hosting a live chat on March 25th! Follow them on Twitter for all of the details.

SportTracks provided me with 6 months of Mobi subscription to do this review. While there are other sites that are free; (Training Peaks and Strava) to access their version of Training Load you need the a paid subscription which is $59 annually for Strava or $119 for Training Peaks vs. the $35 that Mobi costs. You can sign up for one month free trial to get you started and the mass importing of data is very simple…but that’s another review in and off itself.

As mentioned this product was provided by SportTracks. See previous gear reviews in the Reviews tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me atquadrathon@gmail.com.

Author: "Stuart (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "SportTracks, TrainerRoad, Training Plan"
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