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  1. #1
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    Observations about zones.

    Just curious if other people have observed or experienced the same issues.

    Currently following a program for the first time. While I've raced mildly serious to this point, this year I'm trying to focus towards nationals in Master Expert (Canada) and stepping it up beyond just riding a lot. Started my Z4 work the past couple weeks.

    I am training using heart rate.

    1) I struggle getting my HR to zone 4 on the trainer (which I don't actually use much). I really feel like I can't work hard enough to get into zone 4 (unless it's a 30 - 60 sec, unsustainable for that sprint). My trainer is pretty shitty.

    2) I have been doing most of my training outdoors on the CX bike (with CX tires). I find if I use a mild gradient hill (3-4%) Z4 is not a problem and once I settle in mid zone, I am comfortable and feel like I have another 'gear'. Put me on a flat road, into the wind/no wind, I feel like I do on the trainer and it's a struggle to get up to Z4. I literally feel like I can't spin the pedals faster (or in a harder gear) to make it go up.

    3) I always figured a head wind would help with the Z4, last night I did one with a tail wind. No issues getting into Z4, same feeling as being on the hill (and naturally way more fun and rewarding).

    4) I did Z4 one day on my fat bike on a flat road (was out having a nice ride and finished that way). What a gong show.


    I figured the greater the resistance (using an MTB on a rail trail, into the wind, uphill) would make Z4 easier. It's feeling like however that the most consistent, smooth effort I can apply, with least 'resistance' make it easier. I'm assuming my road bike will be easier as well (don't currently use it to match the speed of my training partner, motivation to get outdoors).

    Any comments/similar observations? And yes, I really want a power meter.

  2. #2
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    Yes. Its a weird thing.

    For indoors, I find that rollers work better and a very cool environment (unheated garage and/or fans). Also a trainer with a large flywheel; but it's still not as good as rollers for simulating an outdoor feel.

    For outdoors, consistent grade is best. Either flat consistent grade or hill consistent grade.

    For HR training, I found the biggest source of errors was the testing. My own testing always gave me a number that was too high, thus creating zones that were difficult to get into. Getting a professional LTHR test gave me an accurate LTHR that I've used for years afterwards (LTHR doesn't change much from year to year).

    I've trained with a PM since 2008, and it's nice, but getting a professional LTHR test was the best bang for buck IMO. Also having a well structured training plan, with a smart distribution of intensity for the available training time.
    Head Coach, Ben Lomond HS MTB Team
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    I've trained with a PM since 2008, and it's nice, but getting a professional LTHR test was the best bang for buck IMO. Also having a well structured training plan, with a smart distribution of intensity for the available training time.
    Thanks for the information. I guess I've been surprised how hard it's been to get a consistent, proper interval for Z4. Z3 was relatively easy, Z5/Z6 no problem. Seems to be a lot harder to get that consistent, appropriate effort. Don't really want to just ride the same hill all spring

    I should say, I am being coached (basic level) this year for the first time and have done a professional LTHR test, with a program built for me, with my specific goals. It's been such an eye opener for me as a hack up to this point. I've only however been starting to piece together these observations as trends but the coach is away for couple weeks and I wasn't able to bring it up yet.

  4. #4
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    I was just talking with my coach the other day about this very thing. In a race I can hit low 190's, on a trainer it's a lot of effort to hit 180's. The PE (perceived effort) is exactly the same. I'll spend 2+ hrs between 178 and 188 in a race, but can hardly hit that for 10 seconds on a trainer.

    I also have a very similar problem on flat roads, as do a lot of guys.

    From what I understand, the main reason for this is mental as odd as that is. I don't wan't to believe it because it doesn't make sense to me, but when guys way smarter than me keep saying it, so be it.

    Assuming it is menta, maybe you engage your adrenal system which prepares you for upcoming hard efforts? Much in the same way as riding a hill with steep sections or even sitting at the starting line of a race where I am Mid Z1 standing still. You won't see that effect on a roller w/no competition or especially on a flat road where you know the effort is not going to change due to terrain. The only time the effort changes is due to your motivation, your body has no reason to dig deep unless it needs to hit some silly number on an overpriced computer, it knows better.

    Ive never raced a flat TT, but I'd imagine you'd be able to get your HR wherever you wanted it. I've raced some MTB races with flat sections and I have to hold back from redlining.

    I still think your Zones need to be based on race pace efforts or what your can 'truly' do in a competitive environment.

  5. #5
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    Here's the best summary of some of these issues you guys are talking about. he talks about reduced power, but it pretty analogous to reduced HR.

    Alex's Cycle Blog: Turbocharged Training
    Head Coach, Ben Lomond HS MTB Team
    www.utahmtb.org
    Cycling Team and local Club:
    http://www.roostersbikersedge.com/

  6. #6
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    Another observation from Friel:

    Joe Friel - Indoor vs. Outdoor Bike Performance

  7. #7
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    Maybe someone mentioned this before, but perhaps the heart rate raising adrenaline is just non-existent on a trainer. I know someone mentioned racing....shoot, my heart rate is pretty high just standing at the starting line ;(

    Just a minor thought..

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Maybe someone mentioned this before, but perhaps the heart rate raising adrenaline is just non-existent on a trainer. I know someone mentioned racing....shoot, my heart rate is pretty high just standing at the starting line ;(

    Just a minor thought..
    Yeah, I hit on that earlier:

    "Assuming it is menta, maybe you engage your adrenal system which prepares you for upcoming hard efforts? Much in the same way as riding a hill with steep sections or even sitting at the starting line of a race where I am Mid Z1 standing still. You won't see that effect on a roller w/no competition"

  9. #9
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    Thought about this a lot today (including during my outdoor Z2, 1.5 hour ride at -1C and 45 km/h winds. Still better than the trainer).

    I think I have a large correlation between my mental engagement of what I consider fun and what I perceive my effort currently is, and what I feel I am capable of. This is likely tied into the adrenal system that is being spoken of.

    Couple examples. I did a winter race in mid-late February. I did it on my fatbike. I have built into my mind that I hate riding my fatbike fast. It's my winter endurance machine meant for adventures. Pushing that pig (it's 37 lbs) fast is just not fun. Subsequently, my performance at the race was sub-par as to what I expected (compared to many people I ride/race with regularly). There was a multitude of factors, but at the end of the day, I felt I didn't exert myself as much as I was capable (wasn't really tired at the end of the day). If you had asked me on course, I would have told you there was no way I could pedal that fatbike any damn faster.

    Same when I'm doing flat Z4's into a head wind. Mostly just wondering when the damn thing will be over. Last night when I did two with a tail wind (3 into a head wind), there was an exhilaration of riding at that much faster speed, and carrying the momentum much easier through those rollers. I actually wanted to continue those intervals longer than needed.

    Same goes with climbing a moderate grade hill, I perceive it as a strength and enjoy it. Hence I think it's easier for me to get in the game on those.

    The trainer, well as most people agree, mental engagement isn't there for many.

    Probably something I should work on. In retrospect, there is a correlation to my effort and the amount of fun I am having. I certainly perform better in conditions/courses I enjoy more.



    Quote Originally Posted by ArizRider View Post
    Yeah, I hit on that earlier:

    "Assuming it is menta, maybe you engage your adrenal system which prepares you for upcoming hard efforts? Much in the same way as riding a hill with steep sections or even sitting at the starting line of a race where I am Mid Z1 standing still. You won't see that effect on a roller w/no competition"

  10. #10
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    And thanks for all the links. Been great to read.

  11. #11
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    I use to have the same problem as you with getting into the higher zones on flat roads. What I found is I need to get use to was training at very high speed.
    I use to only ride MTB 100% and then decided to get a road bike (many moons ago) to help with my training. Due to the fact that I was so use to mountain biking and putting my high efforts on the climb, I found myself doing the same thing on the road bike. This wasn't a big deal in Salt Lake since you have a bunch of canyons you can climb on the road bike. Then I moved this past year to Southern Oregon, and started commuting to work on the road bike. The roads from my house to work and rolling, and I wanted to train and commute at the same time; it took me some time to keep pushing hard even when I was hauling a$$.

    And I HATE trainers - so now I do all my training outside.

  12. #12
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    Hey Jeff,

    Interesting post...This is for the complete opposite for me, but everything is different with the Powertap now. That being said, I would agree that there is definitely a mental factor here. I noticed it in just how much harder I work with the power meter now. That being said, I also think that your trainer may be a little lacking for your ilk. Can you adjust tension? Other than just gearing up. I am assuming you're using the roadie on it?

    Being that we have the same coach, I will be interested as to what he says. I have to do a similar adjustment to when I don't have the Powertap out for a training ride, such on as on my mtb. I don't work as hard with HR as I do now. And the difference is a good .5-7 of an HR Zone. I expect that your motivation is lacking due to your lack of love for the trainer. You just need to wussify yourself like me with the cold weather and then you'll learn to have to like the trainer!
    A bad day on the bike is better than a good day doing anything else...

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  13. #13
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    I also feel like riding inside, my PE on the rollers is a notch or two higher. Out on the road bike or mtb, I can hit zone 4 at what feels like an easier PE. I do pretty much despise riding inside though. I wish I was one of those people that could put 3,000 miles on during the winter, but, I'm not.

    This is what I've been riding now though, with no problems hitting zone 4! I'm glad we have groomed snow bike trails this year!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Observations about zones.-photo-3.jpg  


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