Friday, May 18, 2007

Training - Wattage and Me

I promised after my last wattage post that I'd try and ride myself out of the "Untrained" category. I realized afterwards I was looking at the Women's power chart when I saw "Fair". So I wasn't even in "Fair", I was deep in "Untrained". Not a good place to be.

And after taking a day off (albeit an allergy filled one), I started today afresh. No allergy pills (I grovelled for a bit last night too and sprayed my throat with that numbing stuff), no coffee, nothing. Okay, some tea (Liptons), sugar, and a couple slices of bread with cold cuts that are going to expire soon.

I climbed on the trainer (figure it's more consistent - I coast too much outside) and started spinning a bit. Felt somewhat unmotivated.

Part of the reason was I finally read about what happened yesterday at the Landis hearings. The future missus read me part of an article about LeMond, this Will G guy, and allegations and threats about childhood abuse. Normally I'd jump on the computer to read up on it but I was so tired that after she read off some of the stuff, I nodded and said that I was ready for bed.

This morning I was a bit more alert and curious - and there are no shortages of articles on the topic. I read what I figured I needed to read and decided I really need to do something more productive with cycling.

Ride my bike.

I had to visit the rest room (to "rest" so to speak - possibly due to those cold cuts) and noted that I hadn't edited the reading rack there. At the back of the pile - Winning magazine with Lemond on the cover after his '89 Tour win. Since then his life and career seems to have gone sort of odd.

Okay, let's be honest - even before it was a bit weird. His first Tour - sick as a dog. Gets third and the best young rider jersey by a long shot. His second Tour - works for his teammate, cries when he realizes he sat up (team tactics) when he could have taken the Tour. His Tour winning teammate Hinault thanks him for it and says the next Tour is Greg's. In the next Tour Hinault attacks him in the mountains. Twice. Lemond wins regardless. Then Lemond gets shot. Misses a Tour. He gets mixed up with PDM, has surgery on his tendon, misses another Tour. He signs with ADR, an unwanted racer, two years of failure behind him. Wins the closest Tour ever, signs with Z, barely wins the Tour, then, in his last Tour, gets smashed by a super Indurain and finishes 7th. So he got 3rd, 2nd, three 1sts, and a 7th. Not a bad resume for the Tour. Heck, I'd like that resume for the Bethel Spring Series.

And after that his story gets worse. Lemond had a huge falling out with his dad, his long time advisor, the guy who basically ran Lemond's bike company, and Lemond ended up firing him (or something like that - whatever, his dad suddenly didn't work for him). He got in some dispute over some property development. He speaks his mind when asked about touchy topics like Armstrong. And he speaks what he thought or saw or heard when asked.

He doesn't duck punches even when he probably should.

Not being a public figure, I can't relate. For example, if someone asked me about Landis, I'd probably end up getting sued for something. But I'm me. Lemond, he says what he thinks too. But he's a public figure - cover of Sports Illustrated, stuff like that. And it seems that it gets him in trouble.

So with that in mind, I started up the DVD in the player - ironically Stage 16 of the 2007 Tour. Apparently I like to torture myself watching Rasmussen's pathetic descending. For music I started up WinAmp on my computer. I cranked WinAmp and played some of my own clips and when I felt sufficiently motivated, I switched to Linkin Park and prepared to do a big effort. The longest "good" song I could find was 4:33 so I selected that and started hammering.

Hammer, I should point out, is a relative term. For me anything over 300 watts is hammering. I started at what I thought was a moderate pace, turning over the pedals (I wanted to see if higher rpms would help) and not putting a lot of muscular effort into the bike. It felt pretty good.

After a minute I started feeling pretty ragged. That easy effort was killing me. A short time after I started slowing. My 300 watts turned to 250. And eventually to 200. I tried to stay out of the 100's but that didn't work.

But then the sprinter in me rose to the surface. Two minutes to go. 120 seconds. An eternity. Or, from a sprinter's point of view, especially me, two minutes means something else - one lap at New Britain. I was back at 250 watts. One minute to go. Half a lap. Bigger gears, more wattage. 45 seconds to go. 400 watts, my legs screaming. Normally I don't do this - I normally go from pack-fodder to all-out-sprint. The ramp up in effort was foreign to my body.

And not in a good way.

At about 30 seconds to go I was bobbing and weaving like a champion boxer. And at 10 seconds to go my legs just stopped. I was actually surprised since I didn't think I made a conscious decision to stop pedaling. But they stopped. And I coasted past the 5 minute mark.

I thought about blaming the song - it abandoned me at about 30 seconds to go, there was an eternity to the next song, and the next song just wasn't the same. But whatever. I turned the stuff down anyway.

I cooled down a bit, spinning the pedals. I noticed the cadence jumped around a lot - 90-130 rpms when I wasn't varying by more than a total of 10 rpms. So something to check. I got off the bike with about 30 minutes left of my pre-leave-for-work morning left. Normally the PT head sits on the bike and when I get around to it I download it. Not today. I sat down and downloaded the data right away, sweaty shorts and all.

My new 5 minute peak power is 271 watts.

I thought that was fantastic. Until I saw that my previous high was 251 watts. All that work for 20 watts??? I guess I worked pretty hard at Prospect whether or not I admitted it to myself. I did blow up after all.

271 watts means 3.34 w/Kg. And that bumps me into the top of "Fair" on the chart. So with a true effort I'm just below a Cat 4.

To get to the Cat 3 level (4.45 w/Kg) I'd have to put out 360 watts (very unlikely) or get down to (at 271 watts) 134 pounds. Equally unlikely. If I get to 300 watts and 160, I'd still be at 4.13 w/Kg.

But knowing how I ride now, if I was 160 I'd be smokin'.

So that's sort of my goal. Wishy-washy goal. Getting the house on the market, moving, getting married, those are concrete things I have to get done. 160? That's a nice thing if it happens.

I'm not really sure what to do now. I guess I can play with the wattage - do either a surge-recover-surge (that's how I got my highest 8 minute wattage average with the burnt out Cyclops E-Trainer) or do a steady 300 watts. The latter kills me mentally so I might have to do the surge technique. Go 450 for a while, do 180, then do 400 till I collapse.

And find some Linkin Park like music that lasts for 5 minutes, not 4:33.

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