Random Comments 2
Efficiency and Economy on the bike
Efficiency describes the relationship between work performed and energy expended. The power we register on our power meter is just a small percentage of the total expenditure we're using to keep everything in our body working. If we're using 1000 watts to power or metabolism and 300 watts while riding at that time we're about 33% efficient. This very much a food/energy equation more than a bike-body equation. Studies have shown that those with more slow twitch muscles tend to be more efficient. Look at efficiency as analogous to fuel efficiency in a car: there are many ways to improve it just as there are many ways to improve efficiency with our bodies.
Gross efficiency is part of our economy of overall movement. We can improve economy by using the wind to our advantage, improving aerodynamics, technical skills, etc. Economy is the more relevant term when we examine how we can use the least amount of energy possible to reach our goals.
There is debate over whether efficiency can be changed. It seems to run parallel to the VO2 max discussion of whether a higher VO2 means success in endurance events. While a necessary characteristic isn't sufficient to be successful. Genetic potential can only take you so far given the many other factors involved in training and performance.
Ohio Senior Olympics 5k Time Trial
For this 3.1 mile went the race organizers had originally planned an out and back course. Given the traffic on the proposed road and the number of riders that would be on the road at 30 seconds intervals they opted to use a shortened version of the 10k course. We had three right hand turns with one longer side of the rectangle into the wind and the finish with the wind behind us.
With a short event the warmup needs to be pretty long. There isn't any time once you start to 'get into it', you just have to go hard so I spent an hour riding with several of 30 second all out efforts about 15 minutes from my start time. I like a flat stretch of road for the 30 second efforts where I can get my speed up to 32-34 mph, take 15 seconds off and repeat. Five or 6 of those usually does the job.
Like the day before, I was the 11th rider off. The first turn came after maybe a quarter of a mile and then we had the stretch into the wind. My average speed was already around 28 mph in the first 90 seconds. The next turn to us to the back stretch and into a strong cross to headwind. I passed the first of three riders on this section.
The next turn put the wind behind us. I was holding about 30-32 mph to the finish and crossed the line somewhere between 6:30 and 6:40. I didn't check until well after the finish. Average speed was still on the way up but I was above 28.5 on the way to the finish line.
Like the day before the posted times were wrong, again. Rather than being 30 seconds faster they were a full minute slower. The finish order was correct, and I won the gold, but I think we all want to know are correct times. I'm pretty sure that we had two riders as no-shows but the people working the finish didn't know this. For many of us the clock was running for us as we stood in line waiting to go off.
I did email the guy in the charge of the cycling events each day to discuss the incorrect times. I pointed out that it didn't seem real logical that on the 10k I would have ridden 29 mph (according to them, 28 according to me) and then on the short course have only ridden 24.8 mph instead of 28.5+. He did agree. I've ridden over 400 time trials and managed 60 or 70 myself and rarely have the times been this messed up. I guess they have a year to get if figured out before the national event.
Senior Olympics 10k time trial
The 10k time trial was held yesterday here in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. The top 4 in each bracket (50-54 on up to 90+) qualify for the nationals games in 2013 also to be held in northern Ohio. The course is fairly flat with a few 2% and 4% rollers and four turns on the rectangular course through Cuyahoga National Park.
Going alphabetically I was the last one off in the 50-54. I had my average speed up to 28 mph in the first 1.5 miles. It dipped a little on the long section heading south into the wind (thunderstorms were predicted for later in the day) but I picked it back up on the last section to the finish. I had my time at 13:20 or 28 mph for the 6.2 miles while the official time posted was 12:50. Seems like everyone ended up 30 seconds faster due to a clock issue. My time was good enough for the gold medal by about a minute. Today we have the 5k or 3.1 mile time trial.
While I rode 470+ miles in Michigan last week I did work with my coach on tapering over last weekend (several easy indoor rides at 100 watts) and used the Cleves Tuesday Night Time Trial as a pre-race interval to get back in the swing of things. It felt good to ride my best time of the year and one of my top 10 rides ever on Tuesday with a 21:54 for the 10.25 miles course. Tapering can be difficult when we're so used to thinking more is always better but the days off or with very light efforts are the key to getting stronger.
I just spent a week in northern Michigan in Traverse City. Ended up logging about 474 miles in 7 days. Lots of headwinds, and tailwinds, some decent climbing and plenty of amazing views along the Old Mission Peninsula, M22 (the loop that runs from TC to Northport and then south), Sleeping Bear Dunes, etc. One of my favorite places to ride. Would be a great location for Masters Nationals.
Spent some time reading some articles by some of my favorite cycling guru's. Here are some things I learned.
Lennard Zinn commented in VeloNews on steel frames vs carbon. Jan Heine from Bicycle Quarterly (a very cool magazine with lots of custom builders, mainly old-school) feels that steel, being more flexible, allowed the rider to out climb someone on a stiffer frame since the flex in the frame returned energy during dead spots in the pedal stroke. He thinks in general that stiffer frames aren't better. Even the perceived difference from 531 to 753 steel was the result of the steel not being lighter but actually thinner and more flexible. Riders felt faster on the 753 and raved about its ride quality. While the 753 had a higher yield strength they were also more flexible. Greg Lemond was hesitant to switch to aluminum. The wider shell tubes that were introduced to compete with aluminum lost most of the ride quality. Davis Phinney thought his ti frame was the best he ever rode due to the flexibility of the frame.
This makes me feel better about the custom built steel frame that I just received from Franklin Frames. I waited 9 months but its here and being built at Montgomery Cyclery. Its modeled after my '86 Tomassini which I still love to ride. I have several carbon bikes (Trek Madonne, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Kuota Kalibur) but I still love steel.
Hunter Allen has a new book called Cutting Edge Cycling . There is a ton of great information. I'll give some highlights here and in future posts.
On HR zones, they offer that using just three zones, below 70% of max, 70-90% of max and 90%+ can be as affective as the 1-5a,b,c system. They make the argument that training HR based on lactate as a measure of fatigue and effort is still open to debate and whether an aerobic threshold truly exists. IF you're looking for a simple system, the three zones may work.
The also make an argument that high intensity short efforts, like 4-7 all out 30 second sprints with 6-7 sessions over 14 days, can be as effective as long endurance efforts and actually aid in those efforts. Subjects in their study showed an improvement in time to exhaustion of 100%, from 26 to 51 minutes while riding at 80% of VO2 peak power. Could be a great option for the cyclist with limited training time.
Cleves Time Trial, 2011 vs 2012
I was just comparing last years first 10 time trials to this years. Surprisingly, after thinking that I wasn't riding as fast, my average this year is 22:23 (27.46 avg mph) vs 22:25 (27.22). Given the heat and wind at 5:30, much more significant than last year, this is ok. Still hoping to hit a 21:50 something eventually. Have about 10 more attempts.
State Time Trial
Queen City Wheels hosted the Ohio State Time Trial today in Cleves, Ohio. We had a 33k event in the morning and a 10.2 mile event in the afternoon. With temperatures peaking at 105 degrees and a road temperature of 112, it was a challenging day to ride.
I had opted several weeks ago to only ride the 10.2 mile event. I rode the 33k course a couple of times this spring and didn't feel like I could do two maximum efforts within hours of each other. Plus, I prefer the shorter course.
My start time was 1:26:30 so it was during the heat of the day. I warmed up minimally with about 30 minutes of riding and several 30 seconds bursts up to 30-34 mph. Pretty close to what I do on Tuesday evenings but without the extra 10 miles of easy riding.
it wasn't a mile into the event that I knew my time would be slower than normal. The heat had a pretty obvious effect of making HR go up and power to go down. My average speed was about a mile per hour slower at the halfway point that just 4 days ago. Its like my mind was telling my body to hold back and there wasn't much I could do about it. Even on the faster last 5 miles I wasn't hitting the usual 30+ mph on the few flat sections. I crossed the line at 22:57, or 26.8 mph. This was one of my slowest times over the last three years and 50 seconds slower than just 4 days ago. While it was still good for first place in the 50-54 bracket it was tough day on the bike. I'd prefer to finish with the feeling that I really was able to ride a great effort and while I no doubt had nothing left at the end the excessive heat took away any chance at a great time on that course. Thats why we hold the Tuesday night tt: 5 months every year to ride a new PR.
ACE Article on Strength Training and Affect on Aging
This is from my CinciCyclingCoach Connection e-newsletter from the American Council on Exercise, July 1, 2012
It’s generally understood that in the course of the aging process, the body begins to decay. The hard and soft tissue structures gradually deteriorate, and physical activity capacity becomes limited. According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2011; 25 , 1–9), age-related sarcopenia may not have to be a necessary component of the aging process. The study was designed to determine the effects of resistance exercise on serum hormones and molecules in younger and older men. At baseline, blood and muscle samples were taken from the subjects.
The subjects then completed 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 80% of 1 repetition maximum of the following exercises: Smith squat, leg press and leg extension. Blood and muscle samples were taken at 5 minutes postexercise and again 24 hours later. The younger men showed greater levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1, a hormone associated with muscle growth) than older men at all times. On the other hand, the older males presented with higher levels of gene expressions linked to age-related muscular degeneration. However, at 24 hours postexercise, IGF-1 had significantly increased in the older group. The researchers were hopeful that continued study “can help elucidate modifications to resistance exercise training to optimize results and ultimately help fitness professionals and clinicians better understand muscle physiology with exercise and advancing age.”
Jade Teta, ND, CSCS, co-owner of Metabolic Effect in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, suggests that those exercise protocols are already in practice. “This shows decreased growth hormones in the elderly may not be as related to aging as we thought,” he says. “The real fountain of youth lies in the zealous pursuit of weight training, which—when done correctly—is also aerobic in nature. The muscle-building and hormone-producing effects of weight training hold the true potential to halt the aging process.”