Tune in to get the scoop on whats going down in 2019. I am once again a Skratch Labs ambassador for 2019 and am also now a 2019 Rescue Project Pack Leader! So proud to be affiliated with these two organizations. Also find out what is going on with my cycling training using TrainerRoad and Zwift.
What a strange winter it has been with unseasonably high temps for the past couple of months. Yesterday was the first snow/sleet/freezing rain we have seen and it is just about all gone now and is forecast to be 60 degrees F tomorrow on Dec 31st. This warm weather means I have been able to still ride outside on occasion. Not as much as I’d like because it’s usually almost dark by the time I get home but I have been able to get my new Cannondale CAAD10 out for about 120 miles or so over the past month. When I bought it I figured it would be mounted in the trainer by now and I’d have the CX tires on the TriCross for the mid winter jaunts. But instead the TriCross is still in the trainer, speaking of which…
I’ve had a trainer of some sort for the past 15 years. 2 years ago I upgraded the cheap magnetic trainer to a nice Kurt Kinetic Road Machine fluid trainer. Boy what a difference that made in feel! Last year I took winter training to a whole new level with Trainer Road. It really helped me improve my fitness over the winter and come spring I wasn’t gasping for air at the tops of climbs as had been the case in previous years. Then early this year Zwift came along and I was in heaven between structured training via Trainer Road and fun rides on Zwift – all will still being indoors. So coming into this winter knowing I would be spending a good amount of time on the trainer again (and looking forward to it) I decided to up the ante and purchase a Wahoo KICKR. What a game changer that machine is. There is no slacking on Trainer Road, which is good, plus you can really work on your cadence w/o having to worry about shifting gears and finding that perfect combination. Then with Zwift the climbs become real! Resistance increases as the grade goes up and you’ve got to react with gear changes and even standing like you would in real life. The KICKR is certainly an investment but I’m on it at least 5-6 days a week and has been really beneficial to my training. Plus with two bikes now I’m likely to leave one mounted in the trainer year round for rainy day training sessions.
Now some of my astute readers I’m sure will be quick to point out that Zwift has its own workout mode now, so why am I still using Trainer Road? Honestly, while they are some good workouts on Zwift, I just don’t think Zwift’s workout mode is that mature yet (it is still “beta”). I think for the casual rider who has never done structured workouts before it’s a good step but Trainer Road offers so much more with their plans and metrics. Yes you can get some of that with Strava but not completely. I still use Trainer Road and Zwift at the same time like last year, as it provides a nice distraction instead of just staring at numbers and charts on the screen. Recently I’ve also been catching up in the Trainer Road podcasts while riding so that’s another distraction as well. Although last night I listened to one while doing my FTP test and I really don’t remember any of it… the podcast that is, I certainly remember the test… ouch! (but hey FTP increased by 8%!) I just started my second phase of Sweet Spot training and then will probably get into the Sustained Power build phase and then either the Climbing or Century specialty phases. I don’t race and the biggest thing I have planned so far is an 87 miler with almost 6000′ of elevation so I’m undecided at this point which may suit me better keeping in mind I will be doing other centuries (metric & imperial) over the season.
On to other things… I know earlier in the year after purchasing my Garmin Edge 1000 I mentioned I would do a more complete complete comparison of it against the Magellan Cyclo 505, but honestly I don’t want to waste my time. Software updates to the Magellan have been non existent and there really is no comparison at this point. Garmin continues to update and improve the Edge 1000 with frequent software releases. The biggest complaint about the Garmin is its navigation but in my testing when using the open source maps it has been adequate. Is it as good as routing as the Magellan, probably not, but it has never failed to get me where I’m going either. As for all the other features the Garmin wins hands down.
Well since this will likely be my last post of the year, I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year! And hopefully old man winter stays indoors for us Northeastern’ers and I can continue to ride outdoors on the weekends!
I thought I should post and update on my use of Trainer Road and my progress since my first post on my beginning to use it.
Earlier this week I finished up my first 6 week training plan, the Sweet Spot Base – Mid Volume I, and have started on my second 6 week plan, the Sweet Spot Base – Mid Volume II. I have been fairly religious in my schedule and only had a few instances where I needed to shuffle days mostly due to holidays and other events.
To say that I have seen an improvement would be an understatement. Towards the end of the first 6 weeks I could feel things getting easier and sure enough when I took my second FTP test as the beginning of this week I made a 10% improvement in my power output over my first test! Of course now with an increased FTP the workouts just got that much harder and I’m definitely suffering more on the harder workouts but it’s worth it knowing it is making me stronger on the bike.
Now I can’t honestly say that all that 10% was done just on training alone since I may have left a little on the table during my first FTP test since it was my first time testing like that and really wasn’t sure what type of power I could put out consistently for 2×8 minutes or the fact that I have fine tuned my position on the bike ever so slightly – funny how 1-3hrs in the saddle will lead you to improvements. But the fact is that the majority of my gains came though my hard work and time in the saddle.
Some of you may ask what has been the hardest part of the training so far… Isolated Leg Training or ILT’s as they are referred to. This is where you unclip one foot and just work on pedaling with one leg at a time. It’s hard, trust me. My left leg is the weakest so that one always burns sooner than the right but like my FTP gains I am able to pedal 15-20 seconds longer than I was at the beginning which is almost at the same duration as the right leg.
What is my favorite part of the training you ask? Either it’s Form Sprints where you produce a very high cadence for a short period of time (and it’s been at low power so far) and watch your form. You don’t want to pedal faster than you can without bouncing or knocking. Or my other favorite is the standing drills where you practice getting out of the saddle while keeping constant power. This requires a slowing of your cadence, changing of gears and smooth transitions out and back into the saddle. Depending on the workout sometimes they are 10 seconds or upwards of a minute. On the real long rides these are my favorite just because it provides me some saddle relief. 🙂
So all in all even though I haven’t been able to get outside on the bike thanks to Mother Nature, I’m still getting in some quality saddle time thanks to Trainer Road. It has really transformed my off season riding.
We had fabulous weather this weekend for riding. The rides in the mornings started off in the high 50sF and temps climbed well into the mid 60F range. That meant no leg warmers and only a short sleeve jersey with arm warmers. It was perfect. There were certain parts of each ride where it got a little breezy so a wind vest might have helped but thankfully they were short-lived.
In total I did just under 60 miles of riding over the weekend. Saturdays ride was an even 30 miles with lots of climbing! The original cue sheet said about 1800′ but all the Garmin devices were reporting 2800′ by the end of the ride. To the legs it felt more like the later. Sundays ride was with a slower group so it was a much more social 28 miles with few climbs. It was a good time and to make things interesting some of us stronger riders would start at the back and make our way though the pack and play catch up with each other until the next regroup. A couple of us probably would have logged some additional miles at the end of the group ride because we were all so amped but it was late in the day so we called it quits. There is always next weekend.
I was able to review/try some new products while I was out on the rides as well. These include 2 items from my April Bike Loot box; eLoad Endurance Sports Drink and Upfront Nutty Granola which I already posted a review of. The other items I was able to try were the new Performance Ultra SL Bib Shorts and the Ultra Short Sleeve Jersey. I hope to get my thoughts up about my experience with them later this week.
Just a word about safety as I saw a lot of boneheaded moves by both drivers AND cyclists this weekend. I thought I was going to have to jump into first responder mode a couple of times because I thought for sure a collision was going to happen right in front of me. The first was an older rider making a left turn. Except he was riding on the right, never signaled his intention to the car approaching from behind, he cut out in front of them causing them to take evasive action just missing the rider. The second was a rider starting from a standstill perpendicular to the direction of travel (on a road with zero shoulder), which meant they basically pedaled into the lane of traffic before turning the proper direction. What is worse is both these riders were just totally oblivious to the oncoming traffic, they had complete tunnel vision which can be a recipe for disaster. Ride smart, ride safely, signal when turning and don’t run lights or stop signs.