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  1. #1
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    Offseason power numbers

    This is a thread about training with power. There are many like it but this one is mine

    So in an attempt to keep improving after my 5th year of racing, I got a power meter and a coach. I went ahead and upgraded to Pro (an honorary gift to myself after a couple of winning Cat 1 seasons; I have no delusions of grandeur).

    My coach is great, he coaches several of the top Cat 1-3 roadies in the region. He's close enough to go ride with him once a month. As a mountain biker before, I just went out and rode long hours with RPE and nothing more. Now I'm trying to address some of my weaknesses, getting precision to the training, and having better form.

    So my B+ goal is to do well on the road. My initial 5-second sprint numbers were pretty flat, I bruised my tailbone in December and so the torque has been absent. However I'm feeling better this week and we did 1' and 5' tests today. My 1' test is low Cat 3 on the Coggan chart and my 5' test is high Cat 3 / low 2.

    I'd always imagined myself as a good sprinter, but that's not really the case yet. As I've read FTP is the mountain biker's forte, so I'm seeing the same thing. My endurance numbers (HR/power ratio and very low decoupling) are excellent, which is definitely a relief to know since I'll be racing 100-milers in the NUE. I'm looking forward to the 20-minute test, it's the one I really want to do well on.

    How is everyone else's training going during the arctic month of January?

  2. #2
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    I'm just over three months back from Afghanistan, and I hit 320w for 20min a couple weeks back. 64kg in racing shape, 66kg right now. Looking to hit 340w before the season is out.

    Been riding without my powermeter for the last couple of weeks in CO and UT, so I might have dropped off a bit. I was riding a good amount, but not as focused as I'd like. Just going out for an hour or two with whatever daylight I had left, after hiking/climbing/canyoneering with my fiancee and her cousin, or slow, photography-filled rides with her. Occasionally, I turned on ye olde Strava, and racked up quite a few KOMs and high placings in Fort Collins, CO and Virgin, UT. Going fast, outside, feels great. Riding in my basement in upstate NY, not so much.

    Haven't raced in a few years due to military obligations, but I'll be jumping back on it this spring. I had upgraded to "pro" out in Oregon (non-USAC racing) right before I left for basic training, and I was a CAT 1 on the road, so the powers that be at USAC decided that I was good enough to race Cat 1 on the MTB. So, I'm guessing I'll (re)apply for my "Pro" upgrade at some point this summer.

  3. #3
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    Impressive watts/kg. While I might be able to see similar wattage, I'm not going to be seeing less than 79kg unless I waif out like Froome and Wiggins. That's my other offseason goal: getting lean.

    Would you do the 20-minute test on a trainer or outside?

  4. #4
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    FWIW 5 second sprint power is probably the least indicative power duration for success on the road. Or mtb. Hell, even track sprinting (where 10s is a better indicator).

    Testing is done primarily for two reasons 1) to validate training gains thus far (if it cannot be done by other means 2) a mental challenge to face up to.

    Therefore the testing should be done in the manner most of the training will occur. So if that's outside then that's probably the most relevant for setting of zones etc. If winter has set in and you have ~4months of indoors training then test that way.

    After training with power for a sufficient duration (1-2years) testing become less necessary but I like to retain it for the mental aspects. I've seen people ***** out of tests - if they do that, then usually they'll flake in a race too. Testing is training, training is testing.

  5. #5
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    Offseason power numbers

    When it comes to peak power numbers you don't want to get too obsessed with the shorter durations. It's really easy to focus on trying to push up a particular number, such as 1 minute or 5 minute power, at the expense of your real goal - being strong throughout the course of a 100 mile offroad race. Being able to do repeated efforts throughout (slightly below peak power but repeated) and still have a good kick at the end is what counts.

    What I've found with the shorter efforts (under five minutes) is that I'll often set one off shorter personal power bests on days that I'm not really expecting to. I'll head out for an otherwise gentle ride, and then whilst fresh put in a un-planned hard effort (such as climbing a hill or accelerating hard from a set of traffic lights) that results in a personal best.

    My personal power bests at longer durations in contrast are nearly all from specific rides. Riding with other people in a group where I'm being pushed hard just to keep up or where I set out to do my best at a particular duration. As you accumulate more ride files over the year the number of "soft" power bests that you can beat easily diminishes. If I wanted to try and set a personal best for three hours say I'd do a ride of three hours. If I wanted to set a personal best for five hours say I'd do a ride of five hours. If I was pacing myself aiming for a personal best over five hours it's unlikely that I would also set personal bests for shorter durations (such as two or three hours) in the same ride.

    I still haven't got a working power meter so for December 2013 and all of January 2014 so far I've been riding purely on perceived exertion. I have speed and elapsed time displayed on my Garmin Edge 500 and that's it. To be fair not having a power meter hasn't made that much difference. I've been getting the same volume of miles in and doing the same interval workouts that I would have done either way.

    Fitness wise I'm still seeing good improvements month on month, although my bike handling is a big big issue still. I can hop the front wheel up and down, unclip my left foot from the SPD pedal and stop in a reasonably controlled manner now, all of which I could barely do three months ago.

    Being unable to move around much or weight the bike up properly for right hand bends (due to my left leg) makes for some sketchy moments though. On a couple of 30mph right hand bends today I was wobbling all over the place and struggling to keep the bike going where I wanted it to. The bike wanted to turn left mid corner!

    You'd have laughed today as I passed someone on a road bike! The first climb out of town is immediately after leaving home. It's about 10% gradient and takes 15 minutes or so. I always ride it steady as a warmup before getting going. I'm riding up at 5.5mph in bottom gear and he must have been doing about 5.4mph. It was the world's longest, slowest and most drawn out overtake ever as I gradually caught him, pulled alongside, said a cheery "morning" and then crawled onwards up the hill.

  6. #6
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    Also keep in mind that your power meter may not be capable of providing an accurate 5 second power measurement due to the filtering/averaging it performs on the data. For example, if your power meter outputs a 3 second average power, your 5 second measurement will be heavily affected (reduced) by the averaging.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by WillTheGreat View Post
    Also keep in mind that your power meter may not be capable of providing an accurate 5 second power measurement due to the filtering/averaging it performs on the data. For example, if your power meter outputs a 3 second average power, your 5 second measurement will be heavily affected (reduced) by the averaging.
    Hmm. So I have the view on my Garmin 510 as 3-second average power, but that doesn't affect the actual data recording, does it? I use a Stages PM. My 1" power does appear to be recorded as different from 5" in Trainingpeaks.


    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post

    You'd have laughed today as I passed someone on a road bike! The first climb out of town is immediately after leaving home. It's about 10% gradient and takes 15 minutes or so. I always ride it steady as a warmup before getting going. I'm riding up at 5.5mph in bottom gear and he must have been doing about 5.4mph. It was the world's longest, slowest and most drawn out overtake ever as I gradually caught him, pulled alongside, said a cheery "morning" and then crawled onwards up the hill.

    Glad to hear your recovery is going well and congrats on winning that hill climb In doing 1-legged drills for the first time this Winter, I discovered that my right leg is significantly weaker or less coordinated than the left. It's pretty interesting to find that out. I can only imagine the toughness needed to ride that way full-time, kudos.

  8. #8
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    Offseason power numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by chomxxo View Post
    Hmm. So I have the view on my Garmin 510 as 3-second average power, but that doesn't affect the actual data recording, does it? I use a Stages PM. My 1" power does appear to be recorded as different from 5" in Trainingpeaks.
    The smoothing on the display of your Garmin Edge 510 doesn't affect the recorded data at all. That's purely how it appears on screen whilst riding. With a power meter connected the Garmin Edge 510 should automatically record at one second intervals.

    What can cause problems with your short duration peak power outputs in the recorded data is having Auto Pause enabled on the Garmin. This starts and stops the timer whenever you're stationary. The delay between resuming recording and setting off can skew the data when you start and stop, creating unrealistically high figures. This was an issue in WKO+ 3.0 that I had when I first got a Garmin Edge 500. If you look at the 5 second power in the picture at the bottom of the post for the two different head units the Garmin Edge 500 with Auto Pause has inflated 5, 10 and 20 second average power outputs (note the minimum power of the 5 second power output too).

    http://forums.mtbr.com/xc-racing-tra...ml#post8227377

    http://forums.mtbr.com/xc-racing-tra...ml#post8230980

    This is from 2011 and a few firmware updates ago so may have improved since then. I never use Auto Pause now.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I'm just over three months back from Afghanistan, and I hit 320w for 20min a couple weeks back. 64kg in racing shape, 66kg right now. Looking to hit 340w before the season is out.
    Are you talking FTP 320-340, or average watts recorded during the test?

  10. #10
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    FTP is commonly accepted for testing by measuring 95% of the 20 min test's average power. Or 5 minutes all-out and then a 20-minute measurement. Or Friel likes 100% of 30 minutes due to the mental inability of pushing yourself to race limits during training.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by chomxxo View Post
    In doing 1-legged drills for the first time this Winter, I discovered that my right leg is significantly weaker or less coordinated than the left. It's pretty interesting to find that out.
    Be wary of the single leg drills. Unless you're running a counterweight on the other crank single leg drills are a good way to disrupt the firing patterns we generally want to ingrain. "Weakness" is also relative. Some people can be "out" by a bit and it causes no issues, all humans are naturally asymmetric. Sometimes, not always, attempts to "correct" the asymmetry causes issues rather than fixes a mistaken ideal that a 50/50 balance is the only way to be.

    That being said if the imbalance is causing issues then it will need to be corrected.

  12. #12
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    Offseason power numbers

    348 watts over 20 minutes, I'm all smiles tonight. I was only trying to hold 340. That comes out to 4.1 watts/kg at my goal weight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TapewormWW View Post
    Be wary of the single leg drills. Unless you're running a counterweight on the other crank single leg drills are a good way to disrupt the firing patterns we generally want to ingrain. "Weakness" is also relative. Some people can be "out" by a bit and it causes no issues, all humans are naturally asymmetric. Sometimes, not always, attempts to "correct" the asymmetry causes issues rather than fixes a mistaken ideal that a 50/50 balance is the only way to be.

    That being said if the imbalance is causing issues then it will need to be corrected.
    I don't do the single leg drills a ton but I do like to mix them in every now and then. with the single leg I find it really easy to focus and find any problems with getting the leg over the top of the pedal stroke nice and smooth. with both legs in this is really hard to pick up. do you have any articles that back up this claim? be curious what the findings were.

  14. #14
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    This is a good summation of everything regarding pedalling. Note the forces exerted by pros in throughout the pedalling circle.
    http://www.plan2peak.com/files/32_ar...gTechnique.pdf

  15. #15
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    TapewormWW you have an interesting perspective. What's your background?

    Quote Originally Posted by TapewormWW View Post
    This is a good summation of everything regarding pedalling. Note the forces exerted by pros in throughout the pedalling circle.
    http://www.plan2peak.com/files/32_ar...gTechnique.pdf

  16. #16
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    Offseason power numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by chomxxo View Post
    348 watts over 20 minutes, I'm all smiles tonight. I was only trying to hold 340. That comes out to 4.1 watts/kg at my goal weight.
    Was that an indoor test or outdoors?

    The interesting part (and where the power meter can be a beneficial influence for added motivation) is seeing how much you can improve upon that offseason power figure when you're at peak form later in the year.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    Was that an indoor test or outdoors?

    The interesting part (and where the power meter can be a beneficial influence for added motivation) is seeing how much you can improve upon that offseason power figure when you're at peak form later in the year.
    Indeed! It was outside on a false flat uphill into a pretty brisk wind and it was getting dark. It was pretty cold for the deep South, 45* F. We are wusses about the cold down here but we have to put up with subtropical summers.

    Believe it or not I rolled over a tin can and flatted my front road tubeless tire at 18:50. I had to listen to it hiss out slowly as I'd been preparing to sprint; thankfully I was able to lean back and finish strong in a tall gear. Looking back at the file it's apparent because my heart rate pegged out during that last minute, in fact my new max HR is 194

    Pretty sure I could have gone harder. The downside to it is now my coach knows he can push me harder now. I just hope being on bottom end of Cat 2 roadie performance translates into real results on the road. 5 watts/kg is a pretty far way off; I think 385 watts is possible, 407 watts is a pretty tall order, so it's a matter of getting lean. One thing I'm definitely improved upon is pedaling form, no more mashing now that I see my optimum power is generated above 85rpm.

  18. #18
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    Offseason power numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by chomxxo View Post

    Believe it or not I rolled over a tin can and flatted my front road tubeless tire at 18:50. I had to listen to it hiss out slowly as I'd been preparing to sprint; thankfully I was able to lean back and finish strong in a tall gear. Looking back at the file it's apparent because my heart rate pegged out during that last minute, in fact my new max HR is 194
    You can often tell from the shape of the power curve on the file how well you paced yourself. If you had enough left in the tank for a big sprint in the final minute then you could probably have gone harder overall. If you post a link to the training peaks file or a screenshot it would give an idea.

    The aim is to do your best over the entire twenty minutes so the ideal would be a flat line for power output at the absolute maximum that you can sustain for the duration of the test. You don't want to go excessively hard early on (a big spike in power), you don't want a sag in power output midway through the test from losing concentration and you don't want either a pronounced tailing off of power towards the end (showing you were fading) or a pronounced spike in power at the end (showing you were still fresh and hadn't given your all).

    Edit:This graph shows my FTP test pacing from November 2013 for comparison (of the power curve pacing rather than the power numbers). After a short initial acceleration I held a reasonably consistent pace (the dotted yellow line) for the entire twenty minutes. Outdoors there's going to be more variation than on a turbo trainer but this wasn't too bad. Much as I wanted to I couldn't lift the pace at the end as I was already at my limit.

    Last edited by WR304; 01-16-2014 at 02:34 PM.

  19. #19
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    Those are some good numbers! Curious to see how far you get despite your weight.

    There's a few full-time MTB (and a new CX) pros in my area and they are all so tiny. One of them might be over 150, but just barely. On the road side they are much bigger. I'm friends with a guy who's on a local development road team that tested at 5 W/kg (at altitude) a while back and he's still struggling to get a pro contract (he had some knee issues last year though). And that guy is around 140 (and pretty damn good sprinter).

    Another ability that is huge is anaerobic repeatability. I've heard of some riders do great despite low FTPs just because of that ability.

    With the flatter rolling terrain of your region, that should make the weight issue less problematic. In the Rockies, high weight seems to be a pretty big disadvantage whatever the power output.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chomxxo View Post
    TapewormWW you have an interesting perspective. What's your background?
    Cycle coaching (part time). But I am "new" to cycling (only been doing it 7 years) so I am not caught up in a lot of the dogma and tradition, only the science

  21. #21
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    Offseason power numbers

    For losing weight what worked for me last year was logging my daily food intake in the http://www.myfitnesspal.com app and website, recording my weight each morning with a set of Withings WS-30 wifi scales and drinking a lot less sugary fruit juice drinks.

    http://www.withings.com/en/wirelessscale

    The power meter is good for helping with losing weight because it gives you a more accurate exercise energy expenditure figure than a heart rate monitor. You can very roughly use the assumption that the total work recorded by your power meter (in kilojoules) is equal to your energy expenditure (in kilocalories) for the ride.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/xc-racing-tra...ml#post7707216

    What I've been finding is that I tend to eat a lot more on days where I've done longer rides, even if the effort wasn't that high. On the days with shorter, but more intense rides, I'm not as hungry and find it easier to avoid eating so much. For dieting it's harder for me to resist a good food binge after a long ride than a short sharp ride.

    According to the MyFitnessPal weekly summary my diet is roughly 57% carbohydrates, 18% fat and 25% protein. It varies a bit but that's about what it is usually.

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    Offseason power numbers

    I'm not really overweight, just tall. But I am going to shoot for 175lbs this year. That's in line with pros my size like Wicks and Trebon. Counting calories is a good idea. I'm going mostly vegetarian too.


    Gotta represent for the 2009 Cat 1 road national champ and 2011 runner up. Mat Davis is indeed a hoss and he slugs it out and beats the big names from Cali and Colorado. Watts are watts I guess. https://www.usacycling.org/results/?compid=230433

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    Offseason power numbers

    Muscle weighs more than fat so the easiest way to drop some weight and improve your w/kg, without compromising cycling performance, would probably be to reduce upper body muscle bulk a bit. Working on your diet ought to help with fat levels too.

    I was watching "Supersize vs Superskinny" the other day (another fine educational public service program from Channel 4 /s ) and they had someone on there who was 5' 10" and weighed 119lbs. He had a horrible diet and no muscle bulk but it shows it's possible at a push.

    Supersize vs Superskinny - Channel 4

    This bodyfat percentage calculator gives an estimate of your current bodyfat levels:

    How to Calculate Body Fat Percentages

    This is what it gives for me at the moment, 6ft tall, 148lbs and around 8% bodyfat.



    There's definitely still some scope for weight loss below 148lbs. What I find though is that if I get too thin I get ill more easily and start to run into a loss of power, energy and endurance that's counter productive for cycling. It's nice to think you can lose weight endlessly to increase your power to weight ratio but below a certain level it becomes unhealthy.

  24. #24
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    +1 to logging with an app. I like the loseit app. Also focusing on w/kg rather than pure watts provides perspective.

    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    For losing weight what worked for me last year was logging my daily food intake in the Free Calorie Counter, Diet & Exercise Journal | MyFitnessPal.com app and website, recording my weight each morning with a set of Withings WS-30 wifi scales and drinking a lot less sugary fruit juice drinks.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    Are you talking FTP 320-340, or average watts recorded during the test?
    I'd like to hit 340w for 20min.

    In all honesty, 1min, 5mim and 20min power are going to be more applicable to "modern" XC courses than true, 60min power/FTP.

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