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  1. #1
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    New Bike or New Coach?

    I started seriously training for the first time in 10 years back in July (I'm now 7 weeks into Carmichael's TCTP). I use to ride 4 times a month max, now 4-5 times a week.

    My goal was to start racing this fall and I have done so.

    I started in Cat 3 and feel top 10 is an attainable goal for me in every race but I would like to get faster and move up to consistently finish in the top 10 in Cat 2. My current ride is a 26" 27lb FS. Nice ride but not too speedy going up hills. I'm down to about 9% BF, so I don't have a lot of weight to lose on the "motor" side of things.




    My question is simple, should I spend my money on a new ride or on a coach? Which one in your experience tends to yield better race day results?

  2. #2
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    I ride a 27lb 26" FS and I don't have any issues with bike weight, it climbs and let's me run faster times on most stuff locally than my 25lb hardtail ever did. Get the coach.

  3. #3
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    I'd say it still somewhat depends on the particular FS bike.

    27 lb Epic? Get the coach. Something with a ton of travel that gets totally incoherent every time you're out of the saddle? Maybe a racing bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
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    Yeah I agree with Andrew on that as well, mines a 27lb aluminum top fuel, for clarification. And most of my weights hiding in the drivetrain, cockpit, and low end spds.

  5. #5
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    Get your soft tail down to 23 pounds like I did. Get a coach when you reach cat 1. I think you can get there on your own.

  6. #6
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    Interesting points thus far, thank you.


    I have an '09 Gary Fisher Hifi. I have upgraded some of the easier bits, tubeless, carbon bars etc. I'm to the point where I don't really want to throw a bunch of $ at it that would be better spent on a new steed.

    I'm happy riding the Hifi and upgrading the motor, so coaching is where I am leaning. Just wondering if coaching is something that people consider more at the Pro/Cat1 level or if a newb like me can really benefit?

    I rented a 29er HT for a weekend and I was definitely faster, especially up the hills, for the type of terrain that I ride. I guess that is "evidence" of improving by upgrading the bike.

    If you had to choose one or the other, would $3,000 be better spent on a new ride or on a year's worth of coaching?

  7. #7
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    $3000 would be better spent on a trip to hawaii. Coaching is IMHO a waste of money, sorry coaches, buy a book, ride smarter, rest and eat healthy.

    New bikes are fun though.

  8. #8
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    I'd spend the money on a bike. You can learn a great deal by reading this forum, picking up a couple of books, and learning on your own how your body reacts to training stress. Given that you're racing Cat 3 right now, you can make some giant gains without hiring a coach. I'm no expert on training, but I know that as you progress the gains become smaller and smaller. When you get to this point, a coach could be very helpful. Of course, if you have motivation problems, perhaps you should spend the money on a coach.

  9. #9
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    To answer the question; I'd say coach. A new bike is just going to make your wallet lighter. When you are finishing top 3 to 5 consistently in CAT2 and need a little advantage then new bike time. The thing preventing you from being "speedy" up hill is the motor at this point. Just my opinion.
    But really, at this point maybe save money on the coach and just spend more time on the bike. Climb more hills.

  10. #10
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    I've got a coach and a nice race bike. Both are beneficial. I also race Pro and want to do World Cup's at some point.

    Maybe follow the go to Hawaii suggestion to make your spouse (?) happy, and aside from that - read a lot on training/self coaching and RIDE LOTS. I think coaches are most beneficial when you've kind of gotten yourself as far as you can and aren't making gains anymore. Not saying there's anything wrong with Cat 3 Clyde's having coaches, but I'm not sure that it would be where I would put my money first if I was in that situation.

    What will most get you out the door to ride and train? If a new bike (and if you're already pretty lean, losing 5-6lbs of bike will make a big difference) gets you excited to go train, ride, and race, then do it!

  11. #11
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    A new bike is always nice but coaching is good too no matter what ability level. Self coaching books are nice but is there a club or trainer nearby that has training camps? A short course can really help with form as well as fit and give you an base that you can expand on with book training regiments.

  12. #12
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    Its the motor, not the bike. But be careful...

    As someone who has hired a coach in the past (with very good results), I will tell you that a personal (one-on-one) coach would be a huge benefit. But if you are a Cat 3 right now riding (probably) 6-8 hrs per week, a coach may only raise your training hours by about 10% per year for steady improvement year over year. If you beg them, they may throw a huge workload at you, and you may be able to do everything they ask of you, but then you risk severe burnout, which is what happened to me.

    A good approach may be to try to raise your weekly training volume to the 15hrs/wk range and then hire the coach the following year.

    Caveat emptor... A coach will take the fun out of riding very quickly.

  13. #13
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    Neither, I'd get a road bike if you don't own one or a power meter for the road bike. Do some reading about physiology and power, don't take everything too seriously and map out a plan that spans an entire year and try to stick with it, but measure yourself frequently and adjust as needed.

    Ask other riders for their help and perspectives, most people are happy to help out. Ask the riders who are winning races for some hints about training.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden View Post
    Neither, I'd get a road bike if you don't own one or a power meter for the road bike. Do some reading about physiology and power, don't take everything too seriously and map out a plan that spans an entire year and try to stick with it, but measure yourself frequently and adjust as needed.

    Ask other riders for their help and perspectives, most people are happy to help out. Ask the riders who are winning races for some hints about training.

    I have the roadie and a power meter along with WKO+ for logging all of my data. I've read Training w/Power and a lot of other books on the subject but certainly feel like I am far from a master of the data and am intrigued by the many things a coach may see that I don't. That said, I'm sure that all of this has helped me be pretty competitive (in Cat 3) right out of the gate. Like many competitive people however, I want more.

    Your advice is helpful and for the most part, I feel like I'm tracking along with what you recommend.

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    I feel an inane little story coming on

    The first time I entered a cross-country race, I "accidentally" entered Sport, and I won my age group. On a Specialized Hardrock.

    There is some context to this, though. I'd been riding a lot, and did several cyclocross races the previous Fall. I did some speed work to prepare for those. I'm a pretty bad 'cross racer, but I have a good time. This particular race was on an island near me, and not part of either of the local series that people are more serious about. And I do have a decent suspension fork.

    Anyway, I've decided I'd like to get myself into Expert MTB and Cat. 3 'cross before I throw a bunch of money at it.

    Obviously a mileage may vary thing. I don't know how competitive everyone else's series are.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LATAH_M.E. View Post
    As someone who has hired a coach in the past (with very good results), I will tell you that a personal (one-on-one) coach would be a huge benefit. But if you are a Cat 3 right now riding (probably) 6-8 hrs per week, a coach may only raise your training hours by about 10% per year for steady improvement year over year. If you beg them, they may throw a huge workload at you, and you may be able to do everything they ask of you, but then you risk severe burnout, which is what happened to me.

    A good approach may be to try to raise your weekly training volume to the 15hrs/wk range and then hire the coach the following year.


    Caveat emptor... A coach will take the fun out of riding very quickly.



    Interesting, thank you.

    I wonder if the quality of ride would improve even if the quantity remains similar? Is that what you found to be the case?

  17. #17
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    The best thing I ever did to get faster was to buy a cheap single speed and ride the hell out of it. Leg strength was my biggest short coming. I used to never get out of the granny gear when I first started riding / racing.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    I have the roadie and a power meter along with WKO+ for logging all of my data. I've read Training w/Power and a lot of other books on the subject but certainly feel like I am far from a master of the data and am intrigued by the many things a coach may see that I don't. That said, I'm sure that all of this has helped me be pretty competitive (in Cat 3) right out of the gate. Like many competitive people however, I want more.

    Your advice is helpful and for the most part, I feel like I'm tracking along with what you recommend.
    I tried one of the coaching programs through carmichael, I can't say it was altogether effective. I was on the cheaper level plan and kept being assigned to new kids with a BA in exercise phys who sent me emails full of pat advice like "let pain be your guide" and "build you aerobic engine" and other similar crap, while sending me some machine generated training plan that required me to ride alone every day. The overarching stupidness of the whole thing caused me to return to my self coached ways.

    If I were to hire a coach it would be someone who I respect as a racer who has been able to win at the high level and has been able to improve over many years. It would have to be someone who has put the time into learning and continues to be a lifelong learner. As I get older, i would want someone who understands that whole side of things. But i don't want a coach, you do. I think it will be money well spent given your motivation, just finding the right fit is the key, there are some real wanks out there who can barely get out of their own way on the bike who decide they can be a coach

  19. #19
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    Buy the books, go on a two or three day xc training camp and also get the new bike.

    By self coaching you will learn so much and over time understand what works for you and what doesn't. It also allows a lot more flexibility. Last year I was riding my granny gears all the time while racing, this year I'm rarely in them. Improving leg strength and the motor has really helped to increase my average speed.

    I've also been renting some bikes (my current tank at 28 pounds) and I'm hoping to get something like the scott scale 29 pro for next year. At 23 pounds its hard to been for 2500 bucks.

    Good luck and HAVE fun.

    PS: I spoke with a couple of Carmichael coaches early this year and almost signed up for the basic program but I felt the difference in our ages which was almost 20 years wasn't a good thing.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    My current ride is a 26" 27lb FS. Nice ride but not too speedy going up hills.
    As a race setup try adding some more pressure to the rear shock of your current 130mm travel bike. As much as 30-40psi extra perhaps on courses where pedalling is important.

    If you over pressure the rear shock significantly above the recommended pressure for your weight then it will make the rear suspension less active. With a less active shock the bike should pedal better with less bob, accelerate faster out of the saddle and be quicker uphill on easier terrain where traction isn't as vital. The trade off is that you'll lose some travel and comfort with the firm rear shock as the bike will feel more like a hardtail.

  21. #21
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    If you are going to spend the dollars one way or another but a bike. Coaches have their usefulness (I am one myself) but for a new racer 90% of the time are more harmful then good.

    Really if you are in your first couple of years riding or racing (Cat 2 or Cat 3) really you just need to ride more. Training is just about accumulating miles and skills. If I was to write you a program it would consist of four or five rides a week ranging from 1hr to 3hrs in length with no structured intensity. It would be pretty simple and you would question why you were paying $100/month for such a program.

    My expereience is coaching is best for fairly advanced racers (Cat 1 perferably higher). Honestly as a coach I have had terrible sucess with new racers, the program I wrote were to complex and they didn't have fun and they didn't improve. I have had incredbile sucess with elite racers who have capacity and the drive to handle a training program.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LATAH_M.E. View Post

    Caveat emptor... A coach will take the fun out of riding very quickly.
    My experience here tends to be the opposite; I much prefer training to a program than not

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by miss rides a lot View Post
    My experience here tends to be the opposite; I much prefer training to a program than not
    Is this a hint that you are ready to be on a program again?
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  24. #24
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    my advice is to buy some books on training and read them. if after reading them you think a new bike would help, do that. after you get to CAT1 and can't imagine going faster, get a coach. before that point you will be wasting money unless you REALLY need an email cheerleader (go dude, you got this!)
    Try to be good.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by miss rides a lot View Post
    I've got a coach and a nice race bike. Both are beneficial. I also race Pro and want to do World Cup's at some point.

    Maybe follow the go to Hawaii suggestion to make your spouse (?) happy, and aside from that - read a lot on training/self coaching and RIDE LOTS. I think coaches are most beneficial when you've kind of gotten yourself as far as you can and aren't making gains anymore. Not saying there's anything wrong with Cat 3 Clyde's having coaches, but I'm not sure that it would be where I would put my money first if I was in that situation.

    What will most get you out the door to ride and train? If a new bike (and if you're already pretty lean, losing 5-6lbs of bike will make a big difference) gets you excited to go train, ride, and race, then do it!
    That is what I'd recommend. Most of us amateurs can dramatically improve by reading the training resources out there so that we train smarter. Educate yourself on exercise physiology and training and you can put together a quality plan without being an expert or certified coach.

    Now when you've reached the point where the gains are not coming easily anymore, then a good coach becomes much more valuable. They will have worked with hundreds if not thousands of athletes and will have lots of experience in taking people to the next level.

    So I'd get the race bike for now plus a few books. Coaching later.

  26. #26
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    Here's what I think:
    Buy a cheap singlespeed. It will make you stronger, and be more fun.

  27. #27
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    quality/quantity

    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    Interesting, thank you.

    I wonder if the quality of ride would improve even if the quantity remains similar? Is that what you found to be the case?
    I believe that quantity is very important when you are starting out. After a few years, your ride intensity (quality) will go up, especially if you do end up hiring a coach. If you are able to consistantly commit to a 15+ hr/wk schedule and then add structure and intensity in the next few years, you'd likely be doing very good in the races that you enter.

    One of the best reasons to hire a coach is that they will have you work on your weaknesses (sprints/power, long intervals, endurance, skills, etc). But keep in mind that when you are starting out, all of these things could be weaknesses.

  28. #28
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    I will clarify...

    Quote Originally Posted by miss rides a lot View Post
    My experience here tends to be the opposite; I much prefer training to a program than not
    I love feeling of winning and standing on the podium, and I did much more of it when I was being coached.

    Being coached took the fun out of mountain biking, but made racing very fun!

  29. #29
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    I wanted to mention something else, one of the things that really helped me over the hump, especially in spring racing was using an ergo trainer. The tacx flow is pretty affordable and the saris powerbeam is very nice. What makes it worthwhile is the "set and forget" nature of the intervals, you either do the desired wattage and duration or you fail, you know in a hurry if you are not having a good day. The computrainer is nice, but kind of overpriced and obsolete.

    So, given your use of the PT, what do you feel you need to work on?

    I'll add to my own post--I was stuck home today so did my workout on the ergo. I was able to compare my effort with the same workout on the road, using heartrate. I like that the ergo can just set a steady load on my body for the whole interval and not have the terrain or traffic mess me up. It's taxing on the brain, but I did more quality in 75 mins than I did in 2 hours outside, plus I have a yardstick to try and improve on next time.
    Last edited by jroden; 09-01-2011 at 09:23 AM.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB2 View Post
    Here's what I think:
    Buy a cheap singlespeed. It will make you stronger, and be more fun.
    I think I am getting the SS itch. What "cheap" one would you recommend?
    Get it unlocked.

  31. #31
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    I would get a coach. You will get more for your money than you would spending your $ on bike upgrades. I dropped alot of $ on upgrades adn was still getting killed in CAT2 about 7 years ago until I realized the guys I was racing with used coaches. I got a coach and moved from mid pack CAT2 to top 1/3 of the pack CAT1.

    Look @ zoefitness.com she knows her stuff and really works with the amount of time you have to work with.
    Click to save 15% off your 1st Hammer nutrition order
    http://www.hammernutrition.com/affiliates/50110

  32. #32
    lgh
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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden View Post
    I'll add to my own post--I was stuck home today so did my workout on the ergo. I was able to compare my effort with the same workout on the road, using heartrate. I like that the ergo can just set a steady load on my body for the whole interval and not have the terrain or traffic mess me up. It's taxing on the brain, but I did more quality in 75 mins than I did in 2 hours outside, plus I have a yardstick to try and improve on next time.

    Not trying to steal the thread .... Can you pretty well (or well enough) match your wattage to your heart rate on the trainer and then use the HRM on the road? You probably have enough experience with perceived exertion to know if the HRM data is correlating as well with the wattage when outdoors as it did indoors.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden View Post
    I wanted to mention something else, one of the things that really helped me over the hump, especially in spring racing was using an ergo trainer. The tacx flow is pretty affordable and the saris powerbeam is very nice. What makes it worthwhile is the "set and forget" nature of the intervals, you either do the desired wattage and duration or you fail, you know in a hurry if you are not having a good day. The computrainer is nice, but kind of overpriced and obsolete.

    So, given your use of the PT, what do you feel you need to work on?

    I'll add to my own post--I was stuck home today so did my workout on the ergo. I was able to compare my effort with the same workout on the road, using heartrate. I like that the ergo can just set a steady load on my body for the whole interval and not have the terrain or traffic mess me up. It's taxing on the brain, but I did more quality in 75 mins than I did in 2 hours outside, plus I have a yardstick to try and improve on next time.

    What I need to work on ...

    I would say explosive power. The 750-1000+ watt bursts that it takes to get over the highly technical sections that I ride with my group rides. I can handle the 2+ hours we go, the long steady climbs, the downhill techy sections, but it's those short sprinter like repeated bursts that seem to beat the hell out of me.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme View Post
    my advice is to buy some books on training and read them. if after reading them you think a new bike would help, do that. after you get to CAT1 and can't imagine going faster, get a coach. before that point you will be wasting money unless you REALLY need an email cheerleader (go dude, you got this!)

    So maybe I can slip you $5 and you can email me "dude, you got this!" once a month and I'll buy the bike instead?


  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by estabro View Post
    I think I am getting the SS itch. What "cheap" one would you recommend?
    "Cheap" is relative. All depends on ones budget, and preferences.
    My first SS was a geared bike I converted...then I bought a used 29'er...then I built up race wheels...then I bought another frame...

    But really my point was you can get a great interval type workout by just riding a singlespeed on your regular trails, and the price of admission can be as cheap as a conversion kit (if you have an old bike lying around).

    ...and then you can go to Hawaii with the savings...or send me for giving such great advice.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by miss rides a lot View Post
    What will most get you out the door to ride and train? If a new bike (and if you're already pretty lean, losing 5-6lbs of bike will make a big difference) gets you excited to go train, ride, and race, then do it!
    This works for me. Even a new seat post collar can motivate me.
    Get it unlocked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by estabro View Post
    This works for me. Even a new seat post collar can motivate me.
    Lately I've just been thinking about how much every cross race is going to hurt

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    I am very surprised at the number of people suggesting the coaching option...

    1. I would suggest not having a coach just yet, ride for fun, do your own research (online, books, talking to peeps). See how the season goes, re-evaluate next season.

    2. Your bike is not heavy. Period. But if you want a new bike, i cannot blame you, new bikes are way fun! If you can support buying an even nicer bike, go for it.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB2 View Post
    "Cheap" is relative. All depends on ones budget, and preferences.
    My first SS was a geared bike I converted...then I bought a used 29'er...then I built up race wheels...then I bought another frame...

    But really my point was you can get a great interval type workout by just riding a singlespeed on your regular trails, and the price of admission can be as cheap as a conversion kit (if you have an old bike lying around).

    ...and then you can go to Hawaii with the savings...or send me for giving such great advice.
    I just read your blog post from 8/30. I did the SAME thing on 8/31 from an Irene branch and trashed a derailleur, bent the hanger a few spokes.

    After I get my bike fixed I might decide to hold off on the new SS...
    Get it unlocked.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by lgh View Post
    Not trying to steal the thread .... Can you pretty well (or well enough) match your wattage to your heart rate on the trainer and then use the HRM on the road? You probably have enough experience with perceived exertion to know if the HRM data is correlating as well with the wattage when outdoors as it did indoors.

    Larry
    Not really, but I think it is some physical and mental weakness on my part. I did intervals in slope mode first, where the harder you pedal the harder it gets, then did the last in ergo mode at a set wattage. I found the last gave me a higher HR in part because I could not good off after 3 mins and take a little mini rest like I do on the road.

    What is nice though is the ability to control rest better. I use hills outside to give me some load, so yesterday i did 5 mins v02 w/ full recovery, so 5 mins up the hill, then about 2 coasting down, then noodle around for 3 more, which was fine. But my other workout is 5 hard then just 1 minute rest, then 5 more hard. That translates really nice on a trainer, because you can't get back down the hill in 1 minute.

    I found i need to be very careful about getting enough airflow and water or my heartrate drifts up 10 beats after 40 minutes when I do tempo indoors due to dehydration. I bought a stanley ventilator fan that sits on the floor, it's just right and it has some outlets built into it, walmart sells them i think

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    What I need to work on ...

    I would say explosive power. The 750-1000+ watt bursts that it takes to get over the highly technical sections that I ride with my group rides. I can handle the 2+ hours we go, the long steady climbs, the downhill techy sections, but it's those short sprinter like repeated bursts that seem to beat the hell out of me.
    You have a powermeter, I like to train those on a rolling road, where I set out to do maybe a dozen efforts from 20-40 seconds duration up small hills. Really make the bike creak and moan try to keep it over 1000w as long as possible then have a full recovery. I also do it off road on the cross bike, I use a small ski hill and work from 25-90 seconds.

    we make it kind of a competition between our little group, maintain 1000 plus for over 30 secs and you get a set of golden wings. It's hard for me at least.

  42. #42
    lgh
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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden View Post
    Not really, but I think it is some physical and mental weakness on my part. I did intervals in slope mode first, where the harder you pedal the harder it gets, then did the last in ergo mode at a set wattage. I found the last gave me a higher HR in part because I could not good off after 3 mins and take a little mini rest like I do on the road.

    What is nice though is the ability to control rest better. I use hills outside to give me some load, so yesterday i did 5 mins v02 w/ full recovery, so 5 mins up the hill, then about 2 coasting down, then noodle around for 3 more, which was fine. But my other workout is 5 hard then just 1 minute rest, then 5 more hard. That translates really nice on a trainer, because you can't get back down the hill in 1 minute.

    I found i need to be very careful about getting enough airflow and water or my heartrate drifts up 10 beats after 40 minutes when I do tempo indoors due to dehydration. I bought a stanley ventilator fan that sits on the floor, it's just right and it has some outlets built into it, walmart sells them i think
    Thanks. I've been using HRM for a long time, before they were wireless. You discover their utility and limitations.
    1. Trainer workouts at a given HR are harder than on the road. No mini-rests!
    2. The HRM are really good at gauging recovery from short intervals and maintaining steady-state efforts like for intervals that are greater than 1 minute in length.
    3. Improvements in recovery are a very good measure of progress with a given type of interval.
    4. Accounting for the lag in HR during the start of an interval is really not that big of a deal for longer intervals. You figure out how to even out the effort.
    5. Intervals on the orderof 30 seconds are all out. You don't need any type of monitor for that. Just go all out. .

    A fan indoors is really important. As one of my mentors put it, "The purpose is to do work, not to sweat." He used a furnace fan!

    The PM sounds uselful to me because they provide important data but they are $$$$! In addition, the posted plots of power versus time look extremely noisy to me and I question their utility while on the bike. I get the impression they are best for post-ride analysis and for on-line coaching. It would be nice to rent one, correlate HR and power early in the season to get your training parameters, and take it from there.

    (This is the sort of stuff that happens when you self-coach.)

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by lgh View Post
    The PM sounds uselful to me because they provide important data but they are $$$$! In addition, the posted plots of power versus time look extremely noisy to me and I question their utility while on the bike. I get the impression they are best for post-ride analysis and for on-line coaching. It would be nice to rent one, correlate HR and power early in the season to get your training parameters, and take it from there.
    The important thing to remember is that there isn't a clear linear correlation between heart rate and cycling power output. Heart rate is simply how fast your heart is beating which is affected by lots of different factors. You can roughly calibrate power with perceived exertion (how hard you're pushing on the pedals) but not with heart rate. If your heart rate is 180bpm for example then that doesn't mean you're always producing the same wattage whenever your heart rate is at 180bpm.

    The X-Y Scatter Graph of a two hour ride below shows this quite clearly. The X Axis of the graph is Power Output whilst the Y Axis is Heart Rate. The blue dot selection is for a climb where I was trying hard. If there was a clear relationship between heart rate and cycling power output then you'd expect a trend to be visible in this graph, rather than the wide variation visible here. On the climb my power output varied by 100 watts between roughly 170 watts and 370 watts at the same heart rate of 180bpm.

    Whilst out riding the power output displayed on the head unit is smoothed. It isn't quite as jumpy as it appears on an unsmoothed power graph. It does still jump around quite a bit though which takes a few rides to get used to. The trick is to look for the repetitive pattern in the power numbers onscreen. You have to ignore the obviously junk numbers (excessively high or excessively low power outputs) and the remaining power outputs are what you guide your pacing on.

    Pictured below: X-Y Scatter Graph of Power output against Heart Rate
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New Bike or New Coach?-power_heart_rate_xy_graph.jpg  

    Last edited by WR304; 09-04-2011 at 10:54 AM.

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    "The important thing to remember is that there isn't a clear linear correlation between heart rate and cycling power output. Heart rate is simply how fast your heart is beating which is affected by lots of different factors. You can roughly calibrate power with perceived exertion (how hard you're pushing on the pedals) but not with heart rate. If your heart rate is 180bpm for example then that doesn't mean you're always producing the same wattage whenever your heart rate is at 180bpm."

    Sort of. Try doing HR-based intervals on a trainer and then the same interval on the road. Big difference (based on PE). Also, try doing HR-based intervals when you haven't recovered from stuff earlier in the week or are heated up/dehydrated. HR is all over the place. Try using it during a short race. Pretty useless (for me) since I'm hormone driven out of the blocks. It is good for a long tt. But most people with a history of using HRM figure this stuff out easy enough. You get real good at correlating HR with wha't going on in your body. My pursuit intervals - 3on, 1off - and power intervals - 1 and 1 - are extremely consistent. I can usually predict my HR within 5 bpm but I have been doing this for decades. To be completely honest, I can do the intervals without a HRM and am not sure a PM would change much. "Go at the intensity that makes the interval difficult to complete." The HRM monitor mostly keeps me honest at those time when I start day dreaming at 90 seconds.

    When the PM drop below $400 I'm sure my rationalizing will change

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by lgh View Post
    Sort of. Try doing HR-based intervals on a trainer and then the same interval on the road. Big difference (based on PE). Also, try doing HR-based intervals when you haven't recovered from stuff earlier in the week or are heated up/dehydrated. HR is all over the place. Try using it during a short race. Pretty useless (for me) since I'm hormone driven out of the blocks. It is good for a long tt. But most people with a history of using HRM figure this stuff out easy enough. You get real good at correlating HR with what's going on in your body.
    ...
    To be completely honest, I can do the intervals without a HRM and am not sure a PM would change much. "Go at the intensity that makes the interval difficult to complete."
    I agree that heart rate is often all over the place. After a few consecutive weeks riding my heart rate decouples from my perceived exertion. Once that happens the heart rate monitor isn't even worth looking at. I'll be going flat out on the bike with the heart rate monitor saying that I'm out for a recovery ride.

    This is a chart from earlier in the year showing how unreliable a heart rate monitor can be. I was still sustaining the intensity and power output in week 5 despite the low heart rate saying it was light intensity work.

    PowerTap Disc

    A new power meter in itself isn't going to make you faster. They add weight to the bike so might actually slow you down a little. The advantage is that it provides "apples to apples" data allowing an objective evaluation of how you respond to training over time. That's what I find particularly interesting. My best 20 minute power output in early January 2011 for example was only 200 watts (at an average heart rate of 171bpm) but by June 2011 my best 20 minute power output was up to 256 watts (at an average heart rate of 174bpm). If you're working with a coach then it allows them to see exactly what you were doing in a particular session also, making it easier to decide new training plans in future.

    To answer the original question: A new bike plus some training books would probably be my choice. See how you're going before spending any serious money on coaching. You could always have a few initial sessions with a coach in order to get a starting point without having to pay for a full seasons coaching. If you decide to do that then I'd go for something like the Torq initial package where you get some fitness testing included. That's cheap enough that it would still allow you to buy a new bike at the same time.

    TORQ UK Fitness Consultancy : How It Works

    Racing clubs sometimes have a coach who will provide free advice to members also. It might be worth asking around your local clubs to see if they offer anything similar.
    Last edited by WR304; 09-04-2011 at 02:02 PM.

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    I am certainly not at the levels of some of those offering advice here, but I will throw my two cents in anyway.

    First, I would ride more before you do anything. Save up the cash and better your skills and time on bike. If you feel you are not getting faster, consider what is slowing you down. I have seen in most new riders it is the skills that are not developing. Go to a skills clinic or find faster people to ride with - join a club if you have no fast buddies. Faster people that know you want constructive criticism make you faster with wise advice. I thought I had the downhill down. One buddy mentioned I needed to break further ahead into corners. I though I was but tried it on a corner a few times he noticed I wasn't. He was right and my skills improved. That is just one example. If skills improve but fitness does not, read to educate yourself on improving fitness levels. No coach.

    Second, once you are getting better from above look to getting a new bike. New bikes make things fun and charge you up again. Plus a few bucks into a better machine geared toward the type of racing you will focus on really helps.

    Third, once you are kicking butt in cat2 and ready for the big jump, do it and see how things go. If you are doing well in races then it is usually there you reach the level you need a coach at. I dont know a single cat1 top level guy or above that has not had or is using a coach. Good ones make you faster, bad ones slow you down and take the fun out of training - so ask around.

    After that it is all genetics my friend

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    [QUOTE=WR304;8413903]This is a chart from earlier in the year showing how unreliable a heart rate monitor can be. I was still sustaining the intensity and power output in week 5 despite the low heart rate saying it was light intensity work. QUOTE]

    As fitness improves, it gets harder to get your heart rate up and easier to get it down. That's normal and should be anticipated. If it goes the other way, you are having problems, perhaps overtraining. It is expected that, for a given HR, your power will increase through time. (To my eye, yours was quite an improvement. Nice!) When it happens, time to bump up the wattage targets which I suspect is what you did. Using a HRM, you would be doing this automatically. On your graph, your wattage would always be increasing as you kept using your same HR target. Adjusting on the fly, so to speak. Whether or not this is the better way to train is up for grabs. I see how it is useful to correlate both sets of data.

    OP - You can learn quite a bit by self-coaching. It takes some reading and a background in science helps. Some of us find it inherently interesting which is important since most of us won't be rewarded with a national title any time soon. The problem for me is that my curiosity seems to leading me to yet another bike related expense - powertap or cycleops upgrade? The baby's shoes will have to wait.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by lgh View Post
    As fitness improves, it gets harder to get your heart rate up and easier to get it down. That's normal and should be anticipated. If it goes the other way, you are having problems, perhaps overtraining. It is expected that, for a given HR, your power will increase through time
    My drop in heart rate whilst riding over several consecutive weeks is largely fatigue related, rather than due to an increase in fitness. In my case the heart rate response generally returns to the higher level again after a rest week. I'd class it as over reaching rather than overtraining (the difference being that over reaching is deliberate whilst overtraining is pushing too hard without realising it).

    The problem with this heart rate inconsistency, especially on longer rides, is that if your heart rate response varies by as much as 15-20bpm between weeks (for the same effort on similar rides) then it's hard to use for pacing or comparison. It can tell you if you're tired but not how hard you were trying.

    I don't have any power data for riding on a turbo trainer (I have an old road bike setup on the turbo instead of using the mountain bike) but this blog post and graph gives an idea of what power and heart rate look like for 20 minute turbo trainer intervals, depending upon whether you pace them based on power or heart rate. It's worth a look through.

    anordinarycyclist Ľ Blog Archive Ľ Power vs Heart Rate Metering

    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    The important thing to remember is that there isn't a clear linear correlation between heart rate and cycling power output. Heart rate is simply how fast your heart is beating which is affected by lots of different factors. You can roughly calibrate power with perceived exertion (how hard you're pushing on the pedals) but not with heart rate. If your heart rate is 180bpm for example then that doesn't mean you're always producing the same wattage whenever your heart rate is at 180bpm.

    The X-Y Scatter Graph of a two hour ride below shows this quite clearly. The X Axis of the graph is Power Output whilst the Y Axis is Heart Rate. The blue dot selection is for a climb where I was trying hard. If there was a clear relationship between heart rate and cycling power output then you'd expect a trend to be visible in this graph, rather than the wide variation visible here. On the climb my power output varied by 100 watts between roughly 170 watts and 370 watts at the same heart rate of 180bpm.

    Whilst out riding the power output displayed on the head unit is smoothed. It isn't quite as jumpy as it appears on an unsmoothed power graph. It does still jump around quite a bit though which takes a few rides to get used to. The trick is to look for the repetitive pattern in the power numbers onscreen. You have to ignore the obviously junk numbers (excessively high or excessively low power outputs) and the remaining power outputs are what you guide your pacing on.

    Pictured below: X-Y Scatter Graph of Power output against Heart Rate
    I can't read the numbers on the left axis but it would be interesting to see the same data with a more narrow scale, like make the intersect 120 or so. From the looks of it the relationship is not very linear, but I suspect it would look different with the scale adjusted

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    My drop in heart rate whilst riding over several consecutive weeks is largely fatigue related, rather than due to an increase in fitness. In my case the heart rate response generally returns to the higher level again after a rest week. I'd class it as over reaching rather than overtraining (the difference being that over reaching is deliberate whilst overtraining is pushing too hard without realising it).

    The problem with this heart rate inconsistency, especially on longer rides, is that if your heart rate response varies by as much as 15-20bpm between weeks (for the same effort on similar rides) then it's hard to use for pacing or comparison. It can tell you if you're tired but not how hard you were trying.

    I don't have any power data for riding on a turbo trainer (I have an old road bike setup on the turbo instead of using the mountain bike) but this blog post and graph gives an idea of what power and heart rate look like for 20 minute turbo trainer intervals, depending upon whether you pace them based on power or heart rate. It's worth a look through.

    anordinarycyclist Ľ Blog Archive Ľ Power vs Heart Rate Metering

    .
    Intersting stuff. From the point of view of physiology, steady state HR dropping while maintaining pat power is expected as conditioning improves because oxygen consumption is becoming more efficient and/or cardiac stroke volume (volume pumped per beat) is increasing. i.e. physiologic adaptations are occurring. It should not just drop without the adaptation occurring if the initial testing for pat was accurate.

    Consistent with this, Friel apparently says HR and power should track pretty well. But, based on what most people seem to be reporting, that doesn't seem to be the case. So much for theory. I should take a look at Friel's book myself.

    I've also pretty much decided to get one of them power meter things. I'm starting to wake up at night thinking about this stuff. That's a sign from God. Never good to ignore signs from God.

    Larry
    Last edited by lgh; 09-06-2011 at 05:26 AM.

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    HR and power will track pretty closely at longer intervals, perhaps close enough. Where it is less useful is indicating change in your actual ability to ride a bike. If you make 300 watts for 20 minutes, then train 8 weeks and make 320 for the same conditions, you have gained real fitness. At the same time, the heartrate on both tests would probably look the same, which tell you nothing.

    On the other end, if you want to build your strength over say 30-45 seconds, heartrate doesn't really tell you much of anything, as it hits the highest reading when you stop.

    i think you can train fine without power, but having it can be nice. It teaches you a lot about your body's response to exercise, stress and illness, which is at the core of being self coached. My first experiences with power showed me that even after the symptoms of a viral infection were gone, I was still in a weak state for a couple more days and trying to train hard was pointless. That's good knowledge.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden View Post
    I can't read the numbers on the left axis but it would be interesting to see the same data with a more narrow scale, like make the intersect 120 or so. From the looks of it the relationship is not very linear, but I suspect it would look different with the scale adjusted
    It's a limitation of the WKO+ 3.0 software that you can't adjust the scales on the graphs and reports. If you zoom the page in your web browser then the scale and numbers should be readable.

    Here's the X-Y scatter graph of heart rate and power for a constant 10% gradient road climb which takes about 10 minutes to ride up. There are a few hairpins at the bottom and then you go straight up the hill. This graph is created in Microsoft Excel and I've adjusted the scale so that the data is focused on the data points. Edit: I've averaged the Microsoft Excel graph over 5 seconds. Each point represents the average heart rate and power for 5 seconds of riding. This reduces the wide power swings that you see in the raw 1 second data recorded by a Powertap hub.

    You can see from the clustered points that I spent most of the time between 179 and 184 bpm. The power outputs for these heart rates aren't closely grouped however with a wide spread of wattages for each heart rate.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New Bike or New Coach?-power_heart_rate__xy_constant_climb_15-06-2011.jpg  

    New Bike or New Coach?-power_heart_rate_constant_climb_15-06-2011.jpg  

    Last edited by WR304; 09-06-2011 at 11:22 AM.

  53. #53
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    I am not an expert by any means, but I believe I can offer some solid advice.

    At the Cat 3 level, like others have said, riding a lot will help you tremendously. You can buy books, read a lot, and self educate yourself, but is that for you? Are you dedicated enough to read the books and educate yourself? Will you take the time at night to analyze the data? If you answered yes then go for it and buy a new bike.

    If you answered no then I would suggest getting a coach if you want the most for your money. I'll be upfront and say I have never had a coach, but at your level you could get advice on foods, when to eat these foods, what to eat the day of the race, what foods to completely avoid, and they could help identify what skills you should work on first. If you have an extremely fast racer willing to help he could also do all of the above for you.

    With all of that said group rides with people faster than me, mostly on the road, has helped me the most. Gotta build that engine.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  54. #54
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    So often, at the beginning stages of someone's xc racing career, it is about just getting out there and riding a ton. Link up with a club or group... Usually there are riders that already know a ton or who have a coach already that can share with you...

    Your fitness will improve. Your bike handling skills will improve.

    Lose the weight by riding more and get your diet/nutrition dialed in. Smaller portions and healthier food can do wonders for those looking to increase their fitness..

    Read some training literature BEFORE hiring a coach. You should be able to make it as far as top 10 consistent finishes in CAT2 all on your own imo...

    Also, do your research and find a good coach!! There are "coaches" everywhere claiming this and that. Just like anything, there are great ones and then....well...not so great.

    I would hate to see you waste your $$ on a coach that does nada for you...

    If a coach feels like you already know quite a bit, then they may feel more inclined to give you more attention/specific help..

    Also, by doing your own research, you will empower yourself to make educated decisions and ask educated questions when you finally hire a coach some day..

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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    It's a limitation of the WKO+ 3.0 software that you can't adjust the scales on the graphs and reports. If you zoom the page in your web browser then the scale and numbers should be readable.

    Here's the X-Y scatter graph of heart rate and power for a constant 10% gradient road climb which takes about 10 minutes to ride up. There are a few hairpins at the bottom and then you go straight up the hill. This graph is created in Microsoft Excel and I've adjusted the scale so that the data is focused on the data points. Edit: I've averaged the Microsoft Excel graph over 5 seconds. Each point represents the average heart rate and power for 5 seconds of riding. This reduces the wide power swings that you see in the raw 1 second data recorded by a Powertap hub.

    You can see from the clustered points that I spent most of the time between 179 and 184 bpm. The power outputs for these heart rates aren't closely grouped however with a wide spread of wattages for each heart rate.
    That first graph is great, it makes me wonder why I even bother using the heart monitor

  56. #56
    lgh
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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden View Post
    That first graph is great, it makes me wonder why I even bother using the heart monitor
    To measure the recovery phase. Recovery rate is a measure of adaptation.

    Larry

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    If you're at 9% BF, you've got a good 3-4% to lose before racing season. If you've only been seriously training for a short amount of time, a coach will be a total waste of money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    If you're at 9% BF, you've got a good 3-4% to lose before racing season. If you've only been seriously training for a short amount of time, a coach will be a total waste of money.
    I don't see a whole lot of guys at 5-6% body fat racing CAT3.

  59. #59
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    5-6% is pretty darn lean.
    Get it unlocked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebarker9 View Post
    I don't see a whole lot of guys at 5-6% body fat racing CAT3.
    What reasons could there be for that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    What reasons could there be for that?
    Because it's completely unnecessary for success at the CAT2/CAT3 (and probably even CAT1) level and is also unrealistic for most people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebarker9 View Post
    Because it's completely unnecessary for success at the CAT2/CAT3 (and probably even CAT1) level and is also unrealistic for most people.
    Unnecessary perhaps, but surely you don't doubt the benefits. It's only unrealistic for lazy chubbies who don't care to watch their diet.

    Hmm, spend a few grand on a new bike to shave a few pounds, or a coach to tell him what workouts to do, or save the cash, eat better, and be healthier. Not a tough decision for anyone with any dedication and/or budget constraints.

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    I have not been dunked in years, but when I was running marathons and maintained about 5% bodyfat, I was sick constantly. Perhaps it was due to overtraining rather than the low body fat, who knows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    Unnecessary perhaps, but surely you don't doubt the benefits. It's only unrealistic for lazy chubbies who don't care to watch their diet.

    Hmm, spend a few grand on a new bike to shave a few pounds, or a coach to tell him what workouts to do, or save the cash, eat better, and be healthier. Not a tough decision for anyone with any dedication and/or budget constraints.
    I will certainly agree that eating better and being healthier are good things and will yield benefits when it comes to riding, but I don't think that 6% is inherently healthier than 9%. And it's also very possible that the OP is already eating well etc and is not a "lazy chubby" at 9% bodyfat.

    Ultimately I agree with the "ride lots/eat well/keep your current bike unless you just want something shiny and new" crowd.

  65. #65
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    If the OP is fairly intellingent (which I am sure he is..) then he should simply do the following:

    1. Do your own research using the interwebbies/intergoogles and locate some training/nutrition literature.

    2. Read it

    3. Do it

    IMO, a GOOD coach might be more beneficial when you have done all you can research/training-wise sans coach and have essentially hit a plateau where you just can't seem to find any more gains...

    I would expect this to perhaps be 2 to 3 seasons down the road IF you keep at it....

    If the OP is completely unwilling to do any research on his own, then perhaps a patient coach will be somewhat beneficial....

    Like someone mentioned before...."ride lots".. Listen to your body when it tells you to rest... Clean up your diet if you can... It's all good...

    Oh and...reward yourself with the purchase of that new bike once your goals have been reached...

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    What else should I be looking at?

    Thanks to all of you for the insight posted above. I appreciate the help.



    Many of you said read, read and read some more along with ride with/ask better riders for training advice.



    With that said, I'll ask for some thoughts on my latest threshold test vs. my test from 5ish weeks ago.


    As I said, I'm a little over half way through the TCTP and still going strong. However, I don't have a great feel for what the detailed results of my latest power test mean (though I did read Training with Power as mentioned before).



    I assume that my lower HR is a good thing considering my power and cadence went up, but I'm wondering why it fell as much as it did? It seems that if I would have been able to match my HR from my initial test, my numbers would have been even better? I raced on Sunday (top 10 in Cat 3) so maybe I wasn't at my best for the test, not sure on that one.




    My assumption was that a coach would help me answer some of these questions as basic as they may seem.




    Any thoughts on steering me in a better direction or letting me know that I'm basically on the right course? What other data points are helpful from the Power Files?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New Bike or New Coach?-untitled.png  


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    Spend the money on a better bike. You are WAAAAAYYYY overthinking the amount of science needed at this stage in *your* game. Race a full season of 10 races or more. Podium some races. Cat up. Get your game going in Cat2. Ride. Ride. Ride. If you are riding your bike you are on the right course. If you are riding with people you can learn from you are on the right course. When you stop progressing on your own then, and only then, start thinking about a coach. Hopefully this will be in Cat1.


    first I thought cat3 with full kit was silly.
    then I thought cat3 with sponsorship was silly.
    now it's gotten to cat3 with a personal coach?!?! please...

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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    Any thoughts on steering me in a better direction or letting me know that I'm basically on the right course? What other data points are helpful from the Power Files?
    i'm curious what the power looks like over the course of the whole effort, if it's steady or not. Remember an average can have less meaning when the data has a lot of dispersal. I'm especially interested in your low cadence and what that looks like over the whole test, were you bogging down at the end?

    Your numbers went up a lot and your HR was down, which leads me to wonder if you are not very good at the testing protocol to the extent that you are mashing a big gear until muscular fatigue sets in.

    Was this on the road or a trainer?

    Maybe some shorter efforts of say 5 minutes where you maintain 90 rpm's and say 275w times say 4-5 would be a way to start getting used to the higher output and higher rpm. I'd also like to pay a visit to some of the numbers starting with a 4 for shorter blocks of time and ride some tempo at maybe 230 or so, but really work on getting the rpm's up a tad, then go back and try the test again.

    I suspect you would do well to incorporate some 2 x 20 mins type segments once or twice a week in the early season. If your local club has a training time trial, that would be a good place to do some testing, maybe over 10mi-20K, you will be more motivated to push it

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by paetersen View Post
    Spend the money on a better bike. You are WAAAAAYYYY overthinking the amount of science needed at this stage in *your* game.
    Ditto although the science stuff is interesting in its own right. Cycling is a sport where people sit on machines and can monitor the engine and machine in real time. An exercise scientist's dream. Pretty cool but not necessary all the time. Cyclists got real good before there was all the monitoring stuff. Best to not confuse the fertilizer with the fruits and vegetables or you won't be eating tasty meals.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden View Post
    i'm curious what the power looks like over the course of the whole effort, if it's steady or not. Remember an average can have less meaning when the data has a lot of dispersal. I'm especially interested in your low cadence and what that looks like over the whole test, were you bogging down at the end?

    Your numbers went up a lot and your HR was down, which leads me to wonder if you are not very good at the testing protocol to the extent that you are mashing a big gear until muscular fatigue sets in.

    Was this on the road or a trainer?



    Thank you for the help. The test was done on the road and unfortunately included me hitting one brief stop light that I virtually never hit. There are also a few hills along the way so I included my speed data in the sample below. It is pretty random, obviously.



    I started the test as I would start a race, going hard for the first bit and then ultimately settling into a good pace.


    Thoughts?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New Bike or New Coach?-untitled.png  


  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by paetersen View Post
    Spend the money on a better bike. You are WAAAAAYYYY overthinking the amount of science needed at this stage in *your* game. Race a full season of 10 races or more. Podium some races. Cat up. Get your game going in Cat2. Ride. Ride. Ride. If you are riding your bike you are on the right course. If you are riding with people you can learn from you are on the right course. When you stop progressing on your own then, and only then, start thinking about a coach. Hopefully this will be in Cat1.


    first I thought cat3 with full kit was silly.
    then I thought cat3 with sponsorship was silly.
    now it's gotten to cat3 with a personal coach?!?! please...



    I see people in the gym all of the time with personal trainers. I'm guessing most of them don't compete in any sport of any kind, but like working with a trainer to advance/enhance their training.

    Can you make far greater or outsized gains having a coach structure your training regimen? If so, would that benefit outweigh the benefit that someone may get by purchasing a lighter bike or lighter parts?

    Simply put, there is thread after thread where people are spending a lot of capital in order to drop a pound or two off of their bikes; carbon wheels, lighter bars, going tubeless. If that money were spent on 3, 6 or even 12 months of coaching, which would provide the greatest benefit?

    Iím not sponsored and I donít wear a full kit. To your point, there is a lot that can be accomplished using a minimalist approach. I donít disagree with you.

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    With that said, I'll ask for some thoughts on my latest threshold test vs. my test from 5ish weeks ago.

    As I said, I'm a little over half way through the TCTP and still going strong. However, I don't have a great feel for what the detailed results of my latest power test mean (though I did read Training with Power as mentioned before).

    I assume that my lower HR is a good thing considering my power and cadence went up, but I'm wondering why it fell as much as it did? It seems that if I would have been able to match my HR from my initial test, my numbers would have been even better? I raced on Sunday (top 10 in Cat 3) so maybe I wasn't at my best for the test, not sure on that one.
    Which of the Chris Carmichael Time Crunched Training Programs are you using - New Competitor, Experienced Competitor, New Century or Experienced Century?

    What power meter are you using?

    When doing 20 minute ftp tests you want to try and make sure that they're performed in a similar format each time. If possible do them on the same course with an identical warmup beforehand and also have a similar few days riding building up to them (usually fairly quiet so that you are well rested). If you do one test on a turbo trainer indoors and then one test up a climb outdoors for example then you can't safely compare the results. In order to track any improvement or decline in power output the tests have to be performed in a repeatable manner each time.

    There are a few things it would be worth checking. The main one is that on your 8-5-2011 test your average power is higher than your normalized power. That suggests there was something odd about that particular ride which needs investigating. In general you'd expect normalized power to always be equal to or higher than average power. Normalized power is an estimate of what your power output would be if it had remained constant throughout. What I find is that for a 20 minute time trial test that I've ridden well at absolutely 100% then my average power and normalized power will be fairly close (a difference of 3-5 watts at most). Bigger differences tend to be seen in rides with some coasting in them.

    Average vs Normalized Power | Cycling Tips

    The big difference in average cadence is another thing to look at. A difference of 10rpm between rides is a big change. 73rpm average cadence for 20 minutes is pushing quite a big gear. If you were riding the same test route in the same format each time then the cadence should be fairly close +/- 2-4rpm perhaps, rather than 10 rpm.

    The difference in heart rate can possibly be explained if you're riding a different route each time or in a different way (i.e. pushing too big a gear). It could also be down to factors such as fatigue, temperature, caffeine beforehand etc.

    I'd suggest giving it a few weeks and then doing another test on the same route as 9-8-2011 to see how that compares.

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    Thank you for the help. The test was done on the road and unfortunately included me hitting one brief stop light that I virtually never hit. There are also a few hills along the way so I included my speed data in the sample below. It is pretty random, obviously.

    I started the test as I would start a race, going hard for the first bit and then ultimately settling into a good pace.

    Thoughts?
    If you're using WKO+ 3.0 then the data is much easier to look at if you change the view and scales. These are the settings I usually use:

    Single left click on the Horizontal Graph button at the top right in order to make the graph fill the screen.

    I'll usually have the X Axis as time.

    Click on the numbers next to the graph type buttons and change the smoothing to 5 seconds so that the graph isn't as jumpy.

    Double left click on the scale for each trace and manually adjust it if needed. I'll also add in lines for the upper and lower limits of the power zones.

    On the Ranges bar right click on your 20 minute time trial and select Zoom Range from the menu which appears.

    Click on Save so that the next time you re-open the file it will use them again.

    The picture below is an example of what a 20 minute FTP test looks like for me. Given the choice I'd do the whole thing uphill but there aren't any hills long enough so the first section ends up being on a rolling road first.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New Bike or New Coach?-wko_view.jpg  


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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    I see people in the gym all of the time with personal trainers. I'm guessing most of them don't compete in any sport of any kind, but like working with a trainer to advance/enhance their training.

    Can you make far greater or outsized gains having a coach structure your training regimen? If so, would that benefit outweigh the benefit that someone may get by purchasing a lighter bike or lighter parts?

    Simply put, there is thread after thread where people are spending a lot of capital in order to drop a pound or two off of their bikes; carbon wheels, lighter bars, going tubeless. If that money were spent on 3, 6 or even 12 months of coaching, which would provide the greatest benefit?

    Iím not sponsored and I donít wear a full kit. To your point, there is a lot that can be accomplished using a minimalist approach. I donít disagree with you.
    just another take on things, there are lots of guys out there (and on here) that have lots of training knowledge. you could likely learn a lot by riding on small to medium sized group rides and chatting with them (similar to reading posts on here). the relationships you build will be real (unlike those on here) and not based on paying someone to monitor some performance metric and email you.
    Try to be good.

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    I see people in the gym all of the time with personal trainers. I'm guessing most of them don't compete in any sport of any kind, but like working with a trainer to advance/enhance their training.

    Can you make far greater or outsized gains having a coach structure your training regimen? If so, would that benefit outweigh the benefit that someone may get by purchasing a lighter bike or lighter parts?

    Simply put, there is thread after thread where people are spending a lot of capital in order to drop a pound or two off of their bikes; carbon wheels, lighter bars, going tubeless. If that money were spent on 3, 6 or even 12 months of coaching, which would provide the greatest benefit?

    Iím not sponsored and I donít wear a full kit. To your point, there is a lot that can be accomplished using a minimalist approach. I donít disagree with you.
    And don't get me wrong, it's admirable to want to improve the engine. But there is a lot to be said for getting a proper XC race bike. I guarantee that if you did back to back laps in repeatable conditions on your bike and a 23lb FS XC bike you'll be faster on the lighter bike. If you're still riding as much as you said in your OP and following a training regiment you will not benefit as much by a coach at this point because you are still improving on your own physically. When you stop improving on your own, when you hit your own 'wall', that is when you might consider shelling out money for a coach. Before then, unless you are seriously $&@#ing up your training, there is no 'problem' for a coach to correct.

    For where you are right now a lighter more dedicated XC race bike will yield quicker results and it will keep on yielding every time you ride.

    This advice is free, on the interwebs, from a retrogrouch who races a 21 year old rigid steel singlespeed.

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    +1 for the cheap singlespeed advice. Preferably rigid. Ride it like you mean it, on the toughest trails you can find, at least once or twice a week.

    If you aren't already a pretty high-level athlete, I'll bet this will do way more for your riding, on any bike, than any structured training program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    If you're using WKO+ 3.0 then the data is much easier to look at if you change the view and scales. These are the settings I usually use:


    Learning is fun! Yay!



    Thanks for the advice...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New Bike or New Coach?-untitled.png  


  78. #78
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    Originally Posted by WR304
    Which of the Chris Carmichael Time Crunched Training Programs are you using - New Competitor, Experienced Competitor, New Century or Experienced Century?

    New Competitor


    What power meter are you using?

    Powertap Comp



    When doing 20 minute ftp tests you want to try and make sure that they're performed in a similar format each time.

    The test was done on the same stretch of highway but I may have started in a different spot. Iím sure that can/did affect my results.


    There are a few things it would be worth checking. The main one is that on your 8-5-2011 test your average power is higher than your normalized power. That suggests there was something odd about that particular ride which needs investigating. In general you'd expect normalized power to always be equal to or higher than average power. Normalized power is an estimate of what your power output would be if it had remained constant throughout. What I find is that for a 20 minute time trial test that I've ridden well at absolutely 100% then my average power and normalized power will be fairly close (a difference of 3-5 watts at most). Bigger differences tend to be seen in rides with some coasting in them.

    Thatís really interesting. Unfortunately I do have sections that are pretty downhill. You can see my speed got over 30 MPH several times, though I did try to keep pedaling.


    The big difference in average cadence is another thing to look at. A difference of 10rpm between rides is a big change. 73rpm average cadence for 20 minutes is pushing quite a big gear. If you were riding the same test route in the same format each time then the cadence should be fairly close +/- 2-4rpm perhaps, rather than 10 rpm.

    I think this is training related. I used to love to mash, but with the TCTP and all of the higher RPM stuff, Iím seeing my technique change significantly.



    The difference in heart rate can possibly be explained if you're riding a different route each time or in a different way (i.e. pushing too big a gear). It could also be down to factors such as fatigue, temperature, caffeine beforehand etc.


    Donít know for sure but I can see how all of them would matter.


    I'd suggest giving it a few weeks and then doing another test on the same route as 9-8-2011 to see how that compares.

    Will do!

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by string_wise View Post
    Thatís really interesting. Unfortunately I do have sections that are pretty downhill. You can see my speed got over 30 MPH several times, though I did try to keep pedaling.

    I think this is training related. I used to love to mash, but with the TCTP and all of the higher RPM stuff, Iím seeing my technique change significantly.
    Thanks for the updated graph.

    Keeping pedalling on the downhills is essential if you're trying to achieve a good average power in a test like this one. You can see from your blue speed trace that the route is quite hilly - you're going straight from 30mph to speeds under 10mph. That isn't ideal when you're aiming to test what your sustainable power output for 20 minutes is. A route that's either a constant climb or completely flat would be a much better choice for testing.

    If you look at the green virtual cadence trace then there are wide variations in how fast you're pedalling. It looks like your preferred range would be somewhere between 76-100rpm. There are four sections where your pedalling cadence falls well below this. Between 5 and 6 minutes in particular you're down to just 8mph at a cadence of around 50rpm for 30 seconds to a minute. It looks like you were unable to carry any speed over the short climbs as you were probably in too high a gear.

    A better approach for short power climbs like this would be to come down the hill and shift down a few gears straight away before the uphill section, Just before it steepens you're already out of top gear and close to the gear you'll need to get over the top. Do your shifting before it gets too steep so that you don't have to make the downshifts under too heavy a pedalling load. Holding the brake hoods, get out of the saddle and stay out of the saddle concentrating on keeping a smooth rhythm. With road STI shifters you can shift gear out of the saddle so stay standing and downshift an extra gear or two near the top if needed.

    This video of the Poggio climb and descent from the 2011 Milan San Remo is a good example. Watch closely how they ride out of the saddle and how the riders' cadence stays in a fairly narrow range wthout ever dropping particularly low. They're pushing big gears and trying hard but it's still smooth and fluid whether they're going along the flat, uphill or downhill. That's what you want your pedalling to look like too.

    <iframe width="640" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/dX6tqvDf1JA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Pictured below: string_wise's power graph with the steep drops in cadence highlighted. The speed at these points drops to 10mph or lower when changing to a lower gear and pedalling faster would have been more effective.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New Bike or New Coach?-string_wise_cadence.jpg  

    Last edited by WR304; 09-09-2011 at 04:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    Thanks for the updated graph.

    Keeping pedalling on the downhills is essential if you're trying to achieve a good average power in a test like this one. You can see from your blue speed trace that the route is quite hilly - you're going straight from 30mph to speeds under 10mph. That isn't ideal when you're aiming to test what your sustainable power output for 20 minutes is. A route that's either a constant climb or completely flat would be a much better choice for testing.

    If you look at the green virtual cadence trace then there are wide variations in how fast you're pedalling. It looks like your preferred range would be somewhere between 76-100rpm. There are four sections where your pedalling cadence falls well below this. Between 5 and 6 minutes in particular you're down to just 8mph at a cadence of around 50rpm for 30 seconds to a minute. It looks like you were unable to carry any speed over the short climbs as you were probably in too high a gear.

    A better approach for short power climbs like this would be to come down the hill and shift down a few gears straight away before the uphill section, Just before it steepens you're already out of top gear and close to the gear you'll need to get over the top. Do your shifting before it gets too steep so that you don't have to make the downshifts under too heavy a pedalling load. Holding the brake hoods, get out of the saddle and stay out of the saddle concentrating on keeping a smooth rhythm. With road STI shifters you can shift gear out of the saddle so stay standing and downshift an extra gear or two near the top if needed.

    This video of the Poggio climb and descent from the 2011 Milan San Remo is a good example. Watch closely how they ride out of the saddle and how the riders' cadence stays in a fairly narrow range wthout ever dropping particularly low. They're pushing big gears and trying hard but it's still smooth and fluid whether they're going along the flat, uphill or downhill. That's what you want your pedalling to look like too.


    Pictured below: string_wise's power graph with the steep drops in cadence highlighted. The speed at these points drops to 10mph or lower when changing to a lower gear and pedalling faster would have been more effective.


    That's very interesting, thank you. I'm contemplating picking up a set of rollers for my winter training. I think that would actually help my average power but hard to say for sure. I know that it would help the cadence sections that you illustrated at the very least.

    Thanks again!

  81. #81
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    You can use the data that your power meter provides to work out the best way for you to get up short power climbs like these ones. What you're looking for is the gearing combination/ pacing strategy that gets you over these hills at the highest speed.

    Ride the same route again, only this time use the gears and concentrate on trying to keep your cadence at a higher rate on the short uphills. It doesn't need to be a full on TT effort for the whole route, just go fairly hard up the short hills. If you put some manual lap markers in whilst riding it will make it easy to find exactly where you were so that you can compare directly. Look for similar shapes in the graph as the peaks and troughs will form a pattern. A good place to put a lap marker would be at those stop lights where you had to stop. You know exactly which hill follows on from it in sequence.

    Open both rides in WKO+ 3.0 and with no smoothing on the graph (best for looking at speed as it isn't as jumpy as power) read off the lowest speed numbers for each climb from the speed trace to see which approach was quicker. You can see the lowest speed points at the four points I highlighted in the graph above. You can also do a quick selection (hold down the left mouse button and drag the blue area over each short climb) to compare average speeds and power between rides.

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