Sunday, January 31, 2010

California - Palomar Analysis

In the 3-D Road magazine that I picked up at Interbike, there's an interesting article on training using power. The bookend rides in the article involved having the subject (a rider who was getting coaching) do an effort up some climb. At the end of the three weeks of training, the rider did another test. His wattage went up, his heart rate down, and he took minutes off his climb time.

So, with that in mind, I was curious as to how my climb up Palomar differed from 2009 to 2010. Granted, a year is a long time between "tests", and there's a ton of stuff that happened between the two climbs. Although it's a huge window of observation, I did do one significant thing - lose a ton of weight. Therefore it seems the data should be pertinent.

What I found seemed pretty interesting, at least to me.

First off, keep in mind that I never felt really great on my ascent on Friday. My heart rate seemed to get stuck in the 140s, I couldn't work super hard, and I just felt blah the whole time.

Second, I should point out that in 2009, when I did Palomar, I weighed 29 pounds more than I do now.

Third, I did two Palomar ascents in 2009. The first was a short ride, starting out literally a few minutes from the base. The second, three days later, was a proper "full length assault" involving riding to the base of the climb, and riding back to home base afterward. My 2010 assault, at least the one I did yesterday, was a full length assault. Curiously enough, even with some odd 2010 factors like my extremely slow "my legs are cramping" episodes, even without being able to go very hard, my Full Assault times were virtually identical, within 60 seconds of each other.

57 seconds, to be precise, but who's counting?

Another interesting fact. I have the actual wheels, tires, crank, virtually the whole bike from 2009 to 2010. All the critical pieces are the same - wheels/tires, computer and its settings (for measuring data), weight of bike is within half a pound, etc etc. I used the exact same tires, tubes, wheels, bar, brakes, brifters, SRM cranks (including the same arm length), Power Control (the SRM head), pedals, post, etc.

The frame (and importantly, its fit), fork, bar tape, headset, saddle, chain, cassette, brake pads, front derailleur, stem, and the rear derailleur cable are different. Oh, and I'm carrying about 12 extra Nokon segments. But the rest of the bike is literally the exact same last year to this.

So with those things in mind, here are some rough numbers.

1. 2009 Short Assault
Climb time 2:00:04
HR 152 bpm
Power 184w
Speed 5.9 mph
Weight 185 lbs.
(I stopped at least once, but I was in a group until the turn off halfway up, and then in another group towards the top. I started out way too hard, exploded, and crawled in at the top.)

2. 2009 Full Assault
Climb time 2:05:28
HR 138 bpm
Power 185w
Speed 6.0 mph
Weight 185 lbs.
(I stopped a few times on this climb for various reasons, hence the weird speed:time relationship.)

3. 2010 Full Assault
Climb time 1:59:35
HR 140 bpm
Power 167w
Speed 6.3 mph
Weight 156 lbs.
(I stopped once briefly, to shed some clothing, but I'm not sure why the discrepancy with speed:time)

Okay so what can I deduce from these numbers?

The first - I'll never be a competitive ProTour racer. They flew up the climb, taking 35 minutes for the section that takes me about 75 minutes. I'd lose 40 minutes on a climb that's considered "not very hard", at a "middle of a huge stage" pace, where no one really attacked.

I'll delete my various race resumes I was putting together for Garmin.

Second, my power in 2009 was much higher, in the mid 180s. I didn't break 170 in 2010, about 17-18 watts lower than the prior year. My heart rate was much higher too - the short assault involved starting as a group, so there was a lot of natural competition in the first 30 or 40 minutes of the climb (until I got totally shelled).

I hope this lack of power stems from me not eating enough or some other temporary thing. To have lost 10% power, that's not very good. My lower heart rate points towards a temporary thing though - I think having more fuel should do me better.

Third, even with my lower power, lower heart rate, I climbed the whole thing faster in 2010.

I guess the 29 pounds makes a difference.

And now I'm curious. If I feel okay, if I can put out 185 watts, how much faster can I go?

Only time will tell.

In other news my cranks developed an annoying creak. It's quite pronounced, consistent, and I think it's from the bearings. I neglected to bring all the BB30 tools on the trip (why why why?! I kick myself everytime I think of the tools on the basement floor at home). Therefore I'll need to head over to a shop to have them check things out. Cannondale isn't very common around here so I'll have to look hard for a shop that has Cannondale's SI crank removers. I'll also need to have someone look at the BB30 set up and fix whatever I did wrong with it.

I think tomorrow will end up almost a rest day. Hopefully at the beginning of the week I'll be back on the bike, training full bore.



Anonymous said...

What markers did you use to measure your climb times?

Was there much snow at the top of Palomar?


Aki said...

Markers - there's a right turn onto the "pre-climb" from Valley Center Road (County Road 56 apparently) onto Route 76 (Pala Road). I found almost identical power profiles from the various climbs I've done starting right there.

I end the climb where I stop pedaling at the Yield sign at the top of the climb. Again, I see almost identical power profiles at the top, where I coast and accelerate down to the post
office (to see if it's open).

These points are easy for me to select and highlight in WKO (I don't use the interval buttons on the SRM) since I stop at the store just before the turn at the bottom of the climb.

I suppose I can find the first cow grate crossing since I slow my cadence but I haven't looked very hard.

Snow - a little, not much. Minor banks next to the road after the 5000 foot marker. There was a pile maybe 5-6 feet high at the top corner of the General Store parking lot, and there was a foot wide path cleared in the 6-8 inches of snow over to the Men's room door. Much of it was melting, water everywhere. Someone asked if there was any snowboarding areas around which I thought was funny.

Last year's pre-Tour of CA ride (day before the stage) had more debris and run off, more melting snow, and much more sand.

agilismerlin said...

read about mid article/Tom/diet

bumming about bottom bracket! wd40/bath

same time/less watts/climbing. your crit series will take care of that heart rate problem, and burn all the creosote off of the plugs

you may jut be digging the hole deeper and deeper as the week/weeks go by. breaking your system down, enjoy it.

good luck


Aki said...

K - Interesting about Tom Danielson. Also interesting to read (for the first time) an interview about Vaughter's plans before all the hoopla with Sky/Wiggins and Zirbel.

BB is not creaking anymore. Nytro (only local Cdale dealer) mechanic Rich just tightened the crank bolts. Apparently they loosened up a bit. I'll take it, if that's all it took. I felt pretty dumb though.

Note on markers - I don't think I was clear but I look at the power meter charts, and I found patterns that repeat just after the turn at the bottom of the climb as well as patterns at the top when I ease for the yield and coast to the post office. So I used those patterns as the markers.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you got a little stonger in your watts per kilo.

2009: 185w / 185lb (84.1 kg) = 2.2 watts per kilo

2010: 167w / 156lb (70.9 kg) = 2.35 watts per kilo

This equals a 6.8% gain in power.

Jim E

Aki said...

Jim - I didn't think of doing the calculations. Of course, since I wasn't happy with my effort this year, I want to return this coming week and do a "real" effort. Hopefully I can raise the wattage a bit.