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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Q Rings Becoming more Accepted?

Well I spent my time on the rollers today staring at my newly arrived Gary Fisher SUPERFLY (in stock now at The Trek Store!) but I also sat hoping I would be able to put Q Rings on for again this year (will be second full season racing on them) ... and apparently they will fit!

Coincidently, Steve brought my attention to this link (tech Feature from Cycling News)

Apparently Magnus Backstedt has been using Q-Rings in training for a long time and will be able to compete with them this year (Team SlipStream may even ride them). I would assume that having the big guys using them will make them more prevalent in everyday use as well, which I think is a good thing for many people (Joe Friel agrees). With riders like Kabush and Backstedt using them on their own accord it does make one wonder !

The idea with the Q Ring is basically that by using a symmetrical, oval chainring the tooth count/ring size changes as you go through your pedal stroke. As you push down the ring gets bigger as you go through the top/bottom (deadspot) the ring gets smaller and 'helps' you get through quickly and more economically. While not accomplishing this as effectively as Rotor Cranks, the Q Ring is cheaper, much more durable and lighter.

Through my reading and experience I have found that people who have trouble transitioning from pushing down to pulling up (those who 'Mash' gears) often reap the most benefit from this tool as they have much economy to gain through a higher cadence and smoother pedal stroke. Both Steve and I have been riding them for about 2 years if not longer now on both mtb and road. Neither of our numbers changed significantly but qualitatively I do find that on the MTB I am able to effectively push a little tougher gear at race speeds and that on steep climbs that it is 'easier' to keep a smooth cadence, which may equate to better traction or improved efficiency (Note: each ring can be rotated to fine tune when the easy/hard phases)

Will they help you?? It is hard to say but next time you are looking to upgrade your drivetrain give them some serious thought, if for no other reason than the 2000 watt sprint Backstedt uses them for!

Check out Fact Canada for more info (I think Q rings are now available through a regular distributer available to bike stores) - link

Also see the Rotor-USA site

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Testing Yourself

So you have been spending your time on the trainer, or out on skiis establishing a nice base of fitness to come into the spring races with. But have you remembered to include some periodic tests to see how your fitness is improving over these long winter months? How do you know your training is working??

Steve has presented the 16km TT method of testing and I am working on a post to explain a bit more about our FaCT protocol but what else can you do at home, without testing to max ?

There are numerous other ways to monitor your fitness and recovery states. One test I do quite often is a ramp test during my warm-up. This need not be an incredible break through effort where you go as hard as you like. Rather you can start very easy and slowly ramp either your wattage or speed and take note of your hr at these fixed workloads. Your HR response can be very informative after a few weeks or months of recording.

A Basic Ramp (adjust speed/watts accordingly for your fitness level)
Note: the warmup routine, tire pressure, resistance, gear choice, cadence, bike, temp should be kept as constant as possible

Stage 1 - 10min below 140watts or 25km/h (speeds chosen at random)
Stage 2 - 3min at 150 watts or 26 km /h
stage 3 - 3min at 175 watts or 29 km/h
Stage 4 - 3min at 200 watts or 30km / h
Stage 5 - 3min at 225 watts or 31km / h
Stage 6 - 3min at 250 watts or 32km/h (To keep test as a warmup and not a workout keep last stages within the upper reaches of your endurance or tempo zones)

What you then can graph is the HR at each stage (last 20sec to 1min works well)
S1 = 100
S2 = 110
S3 = 123
S4 = 136
S5 = 144
S6 = 156

- Record this each time you do it and you will have a great little data set you could put into excel and watch over time.

- As fitness improves you would expect your HR at each stage to decrease, and conversely if fitness was declining or you were getting tired you may see a trend towards higher hr and perceived exertion (another good metric to track) at each workload.

- Finally this ramp test is a great way to warmup if nothing else as the workload slowly increases and allows you to settle into a nice pace once it is over. For those looking for ways to 'burn' time on the trainer 20-30min can be effectively used by including this as part of your training regime.
Give it a shot, and we would love to discuss any trends you may start seeing in your self observation!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pacing a TT

So did another 16.1 k TT today...and had a PB...hit 284 watts, up from a few weeks ago which was 269.

Couple of 16 k TT files to look at...

My first one I went out a little to hard and you can see that in the middle with the Valley of Death ...

Whenever I am testing I always take a look at the last test I did and see if there is anything I can learn from. This time I felt like my fitness had improved, I didn't want to go out to hard on the TT, and lost performance.

In this situation what I would recommend is to take a look at your last test...take the entire average wattage...and start the new TT at that average. I would stay at that pace until at least 1/4 the way through the TT...then you can start to decide how you are feeling and if you can slowly ramp it up...

When you start to ramp it up if it is before the last half, do this very gently...I would probably use a slow increase in RPM first before changing gears...you don't want to bump up the wattage too quickly as this can cause you to blow.

Once you get inside the last 1/4 to 1/8 of the TT you can then really assess your energy and start to go hard right to the end...If you notice the big change in wattage near the end of the second TT, I would say I waited too long to go harder...but I was up quite a bit on wattage from previous test and was a little nervous if I could hold it...

If you have power or consistent speed when training indoors you can do the same thing and try and learn from your last attempt...and even if you don't improve from test to test...you should be able to learn to improve at least some part of your TT pacing...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008 Bikes are starting to arrive

Started doing some athlete bike fits for 2008 racing season...it isn't that far away. Today I did a fit on Emily Batty's Trek Full Suspension...we'll get to the hardtail very soon too...

The bike fit went really well....we have really worked hard on getting the seat as high as possible over the last few years which has required Emily to learn to sit a little differently on the bike and also focus on trying to pedal a little more through the top of the stroke to keep the hips solid on the bike and transfer the power.

End result was very positive and Emily was super excited to get her new bike...Look for Emily to be racing this bike early in the season at some Norbas for her very first time...wish her luck!


Good Morning.

I started using this recovery software from Finland a few months ago. Now that I have some consistent data things are starting to come together and I feel it will be useful.

The software basically analyzes average resting heart rate during a set sleeping time at night, as well as heart rate variation at the same time. So we are basically getting how much stress or recovery is part of each 45 minute block of sleep. We can then compare that on a trend from day to day.

The goal would be to try and assign stress and recovery numbers to good and bad performance and then hopefully start recovery when the athlete is getting close to THEIR bad stress level.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Had a great training day today!

Started off the day with a little warmup then a 16 k TT...trying to stay at 150 to 158...about 10 beats below my normal TT pace...posting both files from an actual TT about a week ago...and the aerobic one from today...

Then later today I hit the Concept 2 to row 5 k for time...First time rowing that long in a while but was happy to hit my bike TT heart rate and post a time under 20 min...

Couple of good steady state sessions...an easier day tomorrow with only one little vo2 workout in the morning and then a number of bike fits at the Trek Store

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tried something new today...

Hello Everyone Steve here...

Had a hard interval session this morning...same as yesterday morning...will post some pics if I can figure out how to do that...

So after my intervals this morning I did some endurance but was a little tired ... why not try something new to make the time go a little quicker...

I tried to ride 5 min ON / 2 min OFF - easy spinning and find the highest wattage below Threshold I could push and recover to 120 heart rate by 2 minutes...the wattage I seemed to be able to handle was about 235 watts...with the recovery this made for an average wattage of 202 and normalized power of 214...so if I was outside it would have been a pretty solid ride for me for sure.

I actually quite enjoyed it and am thinking of going with maybe 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio which will simulate a mountain bike endurance ride...

The Weekly Long Ride

So we are into January, if you have been riding/training regularly, or even if you have just started back at some structured training, you will likely be experiencing some dread of long trainer sessions that seem to find their way into almost any training plan.

Why do we put ourselves through these long, steady sessions ? 2 or 3hrs at a steady hr, steady wattage, steady cadence? Does this reflect 'real' riding? Does this expose the dedicated indoor cyclist to overuse injury due to the prolonged static position? Cycling is undeniably an endurance sport and the ability to ride without losing performance for 1-1.5x one's race duration has long been thought to be a good guideline. But do we need to make these long sessions menotonous mental tests or can we break them into smaller chunks and insert drills we are already using to add variety and some fun to workouts.

Certainly a 2hr mtb ride would be much more variable with coasting in corners and downhills and more intense efforts up any incline. Even flat road rides will have wind, corners, stop signs, sprints etc. So why not add some spice to your long trainer sessions.

Next time you are faced with some LongSlowDistance or a long endurance ride try one of the following suggestions or invent your own (comments welcome). These are little drills/ideas we have been using with clients and ourselves with good results.
1) Throw a 10sec sprint into your ride at a certain time increment (ie. every 10min)
2) Stand up for 1min out of every 10min
3) Do a High Cadence interval (Fast Pedal / spinup etc.) at a certain time interval.
4) Try getting out running or cross training for the middle of one of these long rides (so 30min spin, 1hr run, 30min spin = 2hr endurance)
5) For my more elite athletes that are doing really long rides Simply jumping off the rollers and doing 1-2min of active flex (ie. 15 body weight lunges) can help create smaller blocks of riding time (28min on bike) and keep them limber.

While you may 'lose' a bit of time training 'specifically' I firmly believe the ability to do workouts like these daily vs. dreading a workout once a week and eventually not riding due to burnout, injury etc. makes these simple suggestions great additions to any training plan.

Happy Training

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Home Made Medicine Balls

Had a few extra minutes today and a need for an 8lb-10lb medicine ball.

So what is a frugal cyclist to do??? Make your own. It's a little ghetto
but I was surprised that in 5min I had a fairly solid Med Ball. I
wouldn't do a lot of slams to the ground with it but for core work and
even throwing to a partner it should work fine.


ally cut a soccer/basket ball open, use a plastic bag (should be an
LCBO bag for fashion points!) to put sand (or beans/rice etc.) in until
you have filled the ball or achieved your desired weight. If you aren't
filling the whole ball I would suggest stuffing the rest with a towel or
other filler to keep the sand somewhat stable in the ball. When she is stuffed use a glue gun or other adhesive to seal the ball (knot the bag for extra security)

Let me know how it goes.

Bike Coordination Workout

I am in recovery mode at the moment as I come back from some sickness (no it was not due to any sort of holiday partying!). Steve and I came up with an interesting 20min Cadence workout today. It was sort of resulted from a weird back and forth email about what we each thought I should do today. It is simple but was challenging and passed the time. Try it next time you only have time for a 20min spin, maybe on an off day, or even as your warm- up to your next workout!
- 5min build cadence, gradual warm-up
- 10min where the first 10sec of each minute is a 'spin up' to max cadence, shift one or two easier gears to keep effort low, the challenge should be in the cadence not the watts
- the 50sec remaining of each interval should be perceived comfortable cadence, but you should find this increases as workout goes on (I went from 85-105RPM)
- 5min @ 100+RPM
Love to hear what you think, i felt butter smooth by the end of this and including drills like this can only help pass those dreary February trainer rides and keep/improve your efficiency !

New for 2008 ... A Blog

Well the forum idea wasn't doing anybody much good so I figured why not try this avenue. This allows us to put out some information for people to learn and ask questions or further investigate and also let people get to know what we are all about.

Feel free to post comments or questions, related or not, using this blog, Email notification is set up so we should be able to respond quickly! Anything goes, so if you are stuck with your training or curious about one of our services please post a comment.

Will post some good content once I get the website all rearranged for the new year!

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