The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men. Gang aft agley,. An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,. For promis’d joy! Still, thou art blest.
I don’t know the proper past tense of “gang aft agley”, but hoss I tell you one dang thing…my schemes ganged afted agleyed in this race.
The idea was to hit the Leg Snapper like a maniac on every lap and use my…uh…”corpulence” to carry the attack on the downhill and pressure people to keep up for the sprint. Then lay back in the cut/draft for the rest of the lap.
Almost at the top of the Legsnapper on the first lap, I knew I was in trouble. I lost touch with the front 4 or 5 riders just as we crested the hill, and I was toast. Even before this race when I was warming up it felt like my heart rate was much higher than was being registered on the screen.
I know what was going on here–I still haven’t recovered from Saturday’s massive workout. It really took the mustard out of me. I rested on Sunday and did a pretty easy ride yesterday hoping it would get the jelly out of my legs.
I did find a solid group for the 2nd lap, which included my weekly frienemy, Hal Wye. I can’t overly express my appreciation to Hal for screencasting and posting these videos to YouTube so that I can watch them later and share. He was pretty upset with me last week for getting caught in my sticky draft, and he exacted his revenge this week when he Burrito’d me. It’s all queue’d up below–you can see the exact moment when he rang my Taco Bell.
This group helped me get through lap 2 at a decent speed, but I knew the whole time I was just hanging on by the skin of my teeth. I expected to get dropped, I just didn’t know when it would happen. So I finished this race up at a pretty easy pace after getting dropped from this group. I have my first TTT with DIRT (my new team) on Thursday, and I don’t want to embarrass myself there.
Still, thou art blest…
Good lesson learned here. The ZRL season 4 opener is a TTT two days after the 6 Gap ride. I can say without a doubt that I’ll be on the bench for that one, unless my team is hankering for a loss.
I’ve been learnin’ how to lose a thing I never laid a hand on.
Evan Felker, “Good lord lorrie”
First things first, last week’s Six Gap training recap. The highlight was definitely the Richmond Challenge race, where the challenge was exactly what my challenge will be on September 26–steep hills. I ended the week with a longish ride that also served as recon for the Watopia Cup posted course–Muir And The Mountain. I took it easy on that ride, knowing that I was in for another week of “not a chance” in the race, but getting some climbing and saddle time in. I made a wrong turn trying to set my own course after finishing the first lap, and inadvertently ended up getting a little recon on what would be the actual Watopia Cup course for the week–Seaside Sprint.
Fortuitous. I was a little disappointed that the course got changed because I was interested to see how I could handle racing on a longer course, but it’s a better course for me. I wonder if they changed because people don’t want to race something that long time wise.
HUGE thanks to Hal Wye for posting the race. I used his video for last week’s race as well, but this week we spent most of the race riding together. I lost a little sleep wondering what exactly happened for me to get dropped from the lead group, and his video clearly shows where I messed up. I did exactly what I was trying not to do, which was be at the back of the group. I was supposed to be staying right smack in the middle so I could respond to attacks.
But back to the front. I feel like I should do my own video on this one where I narrate his video, but I’m too busy to figure out how to do that.
This race started out at a really fast pace. The middle was a really fast pace. And it ended at a really fast pace.
Seriously. We were already at 52 kph when we hit the first banner 0.2 kilometers in. I was a little surprised people were dropping Burritos so early in the race. I threw away two of them during this race because, well, I wanted to keep a big group going until the last lap (as long as I was in the group). My plan was to stick right in the middle of it for as long as possible. I’m finding in the races that it’s about 2/3 of the way through the race where I get left behind. I have to believe that’s just due to mental lapse. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened in this case.
It is interesting that the eventual winner, Emrah Gürel, wanted to push this pace even faster from the get-go. He was clearly the strongest rider in the race. I’m hoping this is an anomaly in the autocat system that they are using to prove out the algo. ‘Cause, dang, even looking at his ZwiftPower profile, dude is just on a different level than the rest of the field when he decides to do the work.
Being honest, it’s the same story in a different race. Once I got dropped I was all alone for a while. I had to keep the pace up enough so that the group behind had to work a little to catch me, but who am I kidding? They were absolutely going to catch me. Silver lining–I got caught right where I wanted to–just after getting a rest on the downhill leading into the sprint (being big helps here) and knowing that there would be a regroup right after the sprint line.
One thing I attempted on the last climb into the volcano was repeatedly attacking the group and trying to fragment it as much as possible. Attack. Get caught and rest. Attack. Get caught and rest. The hope being that I could whittle down the number of riders I’d have to sprint against while also taking some of the watts out of the legs of the real sprinters.
It seems like this was the right tactic, but I just don’t have the raw watts to pull it off. We were a group of around 15 going into the volcano, and the group was about that big at the finish, just strung out. I was assisted by weight and a drafting power up going into the finish, or else I probably would have finished a couple of spots back from where I was.
Final spot was 22 out of 49–right there in the meaty part of the bell curve. I really like racing in this time zone though. There is a very large field compared to the other zones, and I’m still improving my overall race ranking due to the strong riders that are racing. Down to ~453 as of the end of this race. I’d really like to track that over time, as I think it’s the bets way to measure improvement by comparing yourself to a very large sample set of riders.
First, some commentary on Autocat. I was a little worried when I saw I was going to be in C4 for this race. Why the change? Can I compete a level up?
Then I saw that lots of people who were at least competitive at C5 were bumped up to C4 this week, so I wasn’t alone. Also, I realized that the C4 course was two laps instead of one. Knowing this, I was happy to race C4. Longer courses are better for me, especially those that end basically flat.
I also did a little looking after the race to see what the C5 results looked like in my time zone as opposed to the C4 results. I really believe WTRL is onto something here with autocat–your category can change based on the event and course.
Bottom line: The pace for the winners in the C5 one lap race was the same pace as the mid-pack finishers of the C4 two lap race. So they got it right–people who can keep that pace for a longer period of time were bumped up to C4 this week. Honestly, I’d have been disappointed to only get to race a single lap.
I wasn’t even thinking about going for points in this race. Points on the two reasonably long climbs at the beginning were not going to be in the cards for me, especially racing a category up. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to make any points on the first sprint either, since it came right after a non-points climb. And the distance to the next sprint wasn’t very long, so I wouldn’t be competing for that one either.
So the strategy was to manage heart rate and fight for the best position I could get at the finish line. I mostly accomplished this. I was left out on my own for two very short periods of time, but quickly joined up with groups of 5 or 6 each time. You definitely want to be in a group on the flat sections of this course, because they are really fast.
Going into the finish, I attacked early, and that split our group of six in half. I’m seeing a pattern here. It’s the same thing that happened earlier in the season in Yorkshire. It worked as well for me here as it did there, but it still guaranteed me finishing third in that pack.
I’m more than happy to lose while trying to win. It’s way better than losing because someone else tried to win. And someone is always going to try to win in these raced. Let it be me.
I zoomed in on the flat section of the finish–it’s obvious where the power/speed/effort picked up at the end.
I did a recon ride of the course the night before the race, and this was probably a mistake. Although I didn’t go super hard, it’s difficult not to mash against the pressure of the hills, and there are lots of them. I also did a quick trip around the hills again pre-race as a warmup. That probably wasn’t a mistake.
Anyway, here’s a great video of what the race looked like at the front. You can see how quickly I fall out. I was with them for a little while though. Small victories.
The other big changes for this race was that I did the Eastern European time zone, and I rode inside the house instead of the Fart Barn. I think the difference in temperature helped a lot. After my awful trip up Alpe de Zwift last week, I’m being a little more careful about putting in big efforts in the heat.
Again, one of the pieces of information I got from that awful ride was the knowledge of how long I can operate at threshold and above. I’m proud to say I did that on this ride. But man did it hurt.
Next week’s course is Muir and the Mountain. I’m predicting a smaller field for this event–that Radio Tower climb is absolutely gutting. I’m also predicting I get bumped back down to C5, and possibly even C6. There’s a lot of flat after that big climb, but you are so devastated it’s hard to capitalize on it.
This one will be about attrition. I’m going to try to race in the time zone with the most participants.
Kind of a step back week, right after a do-nothing week. That wasn’t the plan going in, but I hit a little hiccup on Thursday and changed the weekend plan of doing tough rides on both Saturday and Sunday.
The week started off great with the Crit City Slam as part of the WTRL racing series. I was feeling pretty good and actually looking forward to doing the Specialized Roval Climbing Challenge up the Alpe de Zwift. I just knew I was going to snag a PR on the climb with this awesome bike and pretty good rest coming in.
I did not account for the heat in the fart barn, and I’m having to concede that the elements have finally caught up to me out there. I’ve done my best to get it all sealed up and insulated from the joy that is Florida in July/August, but in doing so I think I may have stopped so much air from coming in that I gassed myself. Check out this HR chart.
That’s not the way I wanted this histogram to look. What had happened was…
I was going for it on the first few segments of the ADZ–not killing myself, but hitting a pace I thought would get me the PR. My heart rate was quickly rising though, and by the 16th bend I was already up in the mid-upper 160s. Anything over 170 is when I have to start backing off when there’s a lot of ride left. Well, I tried, and tried, and tried, but recovery wasn’t coming.
There’s a silver lining here, and I’ll get to it later. But I had to slow down to a crawl to get any kind of drop at all. The SHTF moment happened with about 2.6km left in the climb when I started feeling a little dizzy. Thankfully, I wasn’t too proud to get off the bike and stand directly over the portable AC to try and cool off for a few minutes. I felt better when I got back on the bike, but the heart rate screamed right back up.
I basically pushed the bike up the rest of the hill virtually. Very disappointing– I really wanted that PR, but happy to know I can finish a really tough workout. That’s the type of mental training I hope to get on the trainer.
Now, for the silver lining. I went 30+ minutes with my HR > 170. So that can be done. Now I know. Heart rate is not my real limiter. When I’m feeling like I’m on the rivet, it must be my legs that are failing me, not my cardiovascular system.
So I know who I can rely on now. Spinning my legs is a better option for me than mashing on the pedals. The low cadence work I’ve been doing hasn’t hurt me any, but when it gets hard on race day I’m going to dance with the one that brung me.
Took some time over the weekend to recover. Did a sorta hard ride on Saturday, and I was still feeling this effort, so backed off again on Sunday.
Looking forward to the Richmond Challenge this week. When I looked at the WTRL schedule originally, I was a little disappointed that the C5 course was only a lap, which wouldn’t give me much of a chance to compete on the hills. Luckily, autocat for this week put me at a C4, which means I’ll get two laps, and a chance to make up for my poor climbing.
What do you do when you want to get over? What do you do when you want to get through? What do you do when you just can’t take it? What do you do when you just can’t fake it anymore?
Deal with it. That’s what you do.
How many ways can my competitors break and demoralize me? We’ll find out, because I plan to keep coming back until I make it through in one piece. This, however, was not the week for that.
I was really looking forward to this race, especially after having missed the Everything Bagel race the previous week. Although I’ve done thiscoursequite a few times, I’ve never done it in this direction and never for this many laps. Even without Sherpa Dave’s excellent recon series. The keys to this course are the cobbled climb and the rollers at the end of each lap–both are good spots to attack.
Or, in my case, to be attacked.
Unfortunately, I can’t find a video of this category and time zone on Youtube. Come on people! Get with it! I’m relying on you to provide content for me! But I’m embedding an exciting race from my cat in another time zone provided by JLC so that my readers (me) have a reference. I really like how JLC’s video has a cam attached, so you can see the IRL suffering.
I usually like to include a link to my Strava analysis of my ride and include screenshots and such, but I can’t do that for this race because the ride details were corrupted by a bug in the Apple TV app which prevented the data being uploaded. Luckily, the data still made it into ZwiftPower, so my results stand.
This was only my 3rd ride using Apple TV after a PC crash. I have to say that the 4k graphics are amazing with Zwift, and the operation is super simple–except for that pesky remote…that is not good! Overall, I think the Apple TV device is the way to go with Zwift, and I wish I’d just started out with that. All the crashes and video card upgrades and stuff I did just weren’t cost effective.
And Zwift sent out a patch to fix the problem that affected me on this day. I just didn’t get it in time.
I really don’t understand why Zwift isn’t selling their own device that is marketed just for their software. I think they could sell a ton of these at the $100 price point, especially to new users. They could even sell a bundle with device/trainer/HRM all together and make a killing.
Anyway, back to the race.
This does give me a chance to document my lack of understanding of how the points are awarded for these races. My reading comprehension is generally pretty decent (at least that’s what I understand from what I’ve read–haha), and I’m pretty good at math, so I’m having trouble understanding how the results I’m seeing for the FTS and FAL results on ZwiftPower translate to only 2 FAL points for this race. The scoring system seems pretty clear, and the FAL results on ZwiftPower are too, so I’m not sure what I’m missing.
Just looking at the FAL points for the hot laps, I’m seeing 16 points for me. But I only received 2 points. I guess as long as the scoring is happening consistently, and I’m sure it is, there’s no problem. And it’s not like we’re playing for money. I’m more interested in this because I like the gamification.
My gut feeling was that I’d be able to stick with the race leaders for most of the race, but would eventually get dropped and finish in the top 3rd or so. Knowing this, my strategy was to try to get as many FAL points as I could while I was in the mix, get with the chase group as soon as possible once I was dropped, and then fight for the highest placement I could get. I executed this plan pretty well (I thought), although I did lose some steam once I joined the chase group and finished at the back of it. It was pretty disappointing that I wasn’t able to compete more in that group. But, when I looked at the results from other time zones, I realized that we were going at a pretty screaming pace compared to them.
My original guess based on the other time zones was that I’d finish in around 36:00, but I ended up finishing in 34:03. It was one of those efforts that had me lying in the floor in a pool of sweat when it was over, just trying to recover and get my heart rate down. There is no spot in this course where you can relax and recover, and 12 laps of that is brutal, even if the time to complete isn’t that long.
I stayed with the main group until the climb of the 10th lap, where I expected a little bit of a reprieve once we crested. Unfortunately for me, that’s when there was an unexpected attack. I was positioned at the back of the group and just didn’t see it coming. Once I was detached they were gone. Lesson learned here–I was trying to stay in the middle of the pack most of the race to prevent this exact situation, but I got caught napping, and ended up 24th out of 56 starters.
I’m really loving these races and the format. I’m a little worried about this race upcoming in Richmond though. The climbs happen early and then it ends mostly flat. I’m not a strong climber, so it’s going to be tough on me to stay in the lead group to the flats. If this course was reversed it would suit me much better.
Astute loyal readers of this blog (0 people) will note that there was no Week 12 Six Gap Training report. It’s not that I didn’t train during week 12, but it was pretty uneventful outside of the autocat beta race I did.
This past week was way more eventful. It was the first week of the Zwift Classics series, which was pretty awesome, with some low key rides mixed in throughout the week. But I did take on a big event on Saturday, doing a 100 mile virtual effort. Hard to call it a real century since the bike didn’t move at all, but it was a five and a half hour effort, and that has to account for something.
I sort of made a badge hunt out of this event–why not use the opportunity to level up? So I got the 10x and 25x badges for laps around volcano circuit, then I navigated over to Tempus Fugit to finish up the final 60k. There’s also a 100 mile badge you get at the very end of a century ride. I have to admit, I was expecting to only go EXACTLY 160 kilometers, but had to do almost 161. That last bit of a kilometer was pretty brutal mentally.
But mental toughness is what I’m going after with rides like this. There’s not really much climbing involved on this route, even in the laps around Volcano Circuit. It’s all about sitting in a tiny room for a long time and making circles with your legs. And that’s what makes riding outside so much easier when I have to do it.
I was really happy to get that distance out of the way–it’s been out there haunting me for a while. That’s the good news. The bad news is that my desktop computer I was using for Zwift appears to have died. I did a little research and found that the most economical option for me was to go with the Apple TV solution. Way cheaper than a computer, and the only other thing I had to purchase is a bluetooth HRM since my old school Garmin straps are Ant+ only.
I’m going to be missing a few days of training for a family funeral, which will give everything time to get delivered, and I’m gearing up for a big weekend next weekend as well.
I wrongly assume that anyone wants to read anything ever again. But I still like to read, so I’m writing this for myself. If you (or I) like watching videos instead I got lucky that Lee Brill edged me out at the line, and he recorded the entire race and posted it to his YouTube channel. We were pretty close for much of the race, so this video tells a lot of the tale of my experience.
Good–that gives me a chance to talk about my personal thoughts and realizations from this race.
This was not a good course for me, so I’m actually pretty happy with finishing 20th on time and 15th on points. I’m more of a steady effort guy–not exactly known for my punchiness. Actually, not known for anything on the bike other than wearing motley kit that’s embarrassing to actual cyclists.
Anyway, there ain’t a single flat spot on this course. You can see what happens at the end of Lee’s video when I go up against a real puncher. I attacked, and was able to split the group of 4 we were in up in half, but he delivered the knockout blow.
I did learn something in this race that is haunting me a little. I can’t explain why I have problems tapping into my grit/aggression on these virtual races. In live competition I’m pretty decent at digging deeper than I should be able to. But for some reason I envision all my competition in these races having an easy time with them–just coasting along dishing out punishment. That’s the best case scenario I imagine actually. Usually I imagine them poking at my avatar like a voodoo doll and laughing at my suffering. It’s really defeating.
I realized while showering after this race that they are hurting too. I can put a hurt on them. Well, some of them anyway. Not all of them, but that’s ok. My move at the end of this race cut the number of people I had to compete with from three to one–proof that I need to get more aggressive. When I’m going into a physical competition like rugby or jiu jitsu, I always go in with the mentality of, “That dude better watch out for me–he’s about to feel something he’s never felt.”
Now, of course, it usually doesn’t work out that way at all. Even when I win, it’s seldom dominant, and I’m always a breath away from snapping. But I need to figure out how to get myself there for virtual bike racing too.
It’s the right mentality when competing.
Overall, loving this format. I do wish there was league scoring, but I think that’s coming for future series. I think what they’re really trying to work out here is the autocat system. I’m up in the top third of C5, and the competition feels about right to me. I’m sure the bottom third would disagree though.
So, yeah, I’m reviewing the race. I can’t help but do that because I’m happy with my results. But I really want to give some thoughts on the new categorization system Zwift is testing out. Basically, it places you in race categories of 1-6 instead of the traditional A-D they’ve been using. They’re using the WTRL Zwift Classics Series to try this new system out.
Spoiler alert: Scotty Likey.
The old A-D system is based solely on your watt/kg number. For me, that’s currently at 2.89, which is a solid C. Yeah…the denominator of that number is too large. I’m working on it. But this single measure doesn’t say a ton about you as a rider. Are you a good climber? A good sprinter? Are you punchy? Are you at time trial specialist?
Well, after racing last night, I think the categorization system put me in the right place. Whatever it’s labeled, it put me in with folks I can race with, but can’t beat. At least not yet. I was hoping I’d be in the top third of finishers, and ended up 6th out of 21 in the race. I could just have easily been 7th, but I happened to get the perfect power up (aero boost) for a big guy to finish on a short flat right after a big downhill. I literally crossed a fraction of a second ahead of 7th.
So…yeah. Top third.
I did some recon before the ride, watching videos others posted from previous test races. After seeing Cat 4, I knew I would not be able to hang. The Cat 5 race I watched looked doable, but painful. One thing that stuck out in both races was that (as always) people come screaming out of the gate and push for the first 1k. Knowing this, I went way harder than I wanted to go in order to stay in the lead group out of the gate and just try to stay with the group for at least the first lap.
The lead group was made up of 10 riders, and I made it a point to attack on the first KOM, just to see how others would react. Everyone stayed with. One guy kept riding out solo, but no one chased–the group of nine could handle a single flyer an reel him back in.
We remained a group of 10 for the first two laps, and the second lap was much more calm and had a pretty steady rhythm. But I knew from my recon that a big attack was coming. I got a feather power up at the start line and opted to hold it for the climb. Man…EVERYBODY attacked. and the pretenders (I was one) were detached quickly from the top 5 riders. Three of us quickly separated ourselves, then settled down a bit.
Just before the KOM banner I attacked hard, knowing that the mostly downhill finish benefitted me as a big guy. What I didn’t know was that one of the other two guys was even bigger than me, and he cranked out some serious watts on the downhill to catch back up with me with about 1k to go. I jumped on his wheel and held on, hoping he didn’t get the aero power up at the KOM banner like I did.
Lucked out, and was happy to edge him out. Looking at his numbers later, we are really well matched. Hopefully I’ll be seeing him in the East Coast time slot on some of the Classics!
Titled in honor of an old football coach who didn’t curse, but used these two words liberally. I never really figured out for sure what “piss farting around” is, but I know he would yell it at us for doing it twice a day in the late summer. And that’s the theme for this week…
The big ride(s) of this week were both virtual, and both around 60 km each by the pixel count. I did two group rides on Saturday of the Petit Boucle course and the Tire-Bouchon course. I have no idea what those words mean, but I had about an hour between finishing one and starting the other. That gave me some time to go inside the big house, eat, refill water bottles, and literally chill for a bit before going at it again.
The first was really nice. It was a ‘C’ ride, and of course I was dropped early because I couldn’t hold that pace for 60k. Luckily, a couple of us slower folk hooked onto the wheel of a guy who was doing 2.4 w/kg steadily, which let us run at just under 2. Eventually we were the only two in our group, and I was able to pull the hills for us. He was even bigger than me, so the downhills were really nice.
Not so lucky in the second ride. I was solo the whole time. 🙁 The only bonus is that we were on a course that was not one of the Zwift worlds of the day, so once the group ride was over and I kept pedaling on an empty course I ended up with a KOM jersey. Had to take a picture, because you won’t ever see this again.
I also did a couple of easy rides, and another trip up the Alpe de Zwift. I’m doing this ride repeatedly and using it to experiment with cadence. I’m going to need to keep my heart rate in check to have a good day at Six Gap, and that’s means being aggressive (but not TOO aggressive) on Hog Pen Gap. I worked on a lower cadence here while continuing to push the watts.
It felt like I was getting a PR, but I ended up about 3.5 minutes off my best time where I pushed more watts at the same cadence at a lower heart rate. I need to do some more work to figure out why that was because it could give me a hint of what will work for me on pain day and my fitness/freshness leading into it.
It’s been a long time since I read a blog post and then wrote a blog post responding to it. Like, it’s been years. But yesterday I read this post on ZwiftInsider around group rides, giving feedback to group leaders, ranking group rides, etc.
I joined one just last week, led by a pro rider. (This, by the way, is often the kiss of death on Zwift – pro riders are notoriously bad ride leaders.) The ride details stated a pace of 2-2.5 w/kg. He messaged before the ride began to say he would be holding a pace of 2 w/kg. Then promptly launched off the front, messaging 10 minutes into the ride that the pace would be closer to 3 w/kg.
It’s funny, because last week I did a couple of group rides that I normally don’t do, and both of them went poorly. Well, poorly for some of the people doing the rides. I didn’t have a problem with the rides or the leaders, even though they didn’t stick to the advertised pace. I just rode my own ride, found a couple of other people who were doing the same, and finished my workout. But I was amused with the whiny riders complaining about the leaders. Even while I was in the rides themselves I was thinking about this. I mean, it didn’t really irritate me, because the little text/message boxes popping up on my screen with people upset with the leaders didn’t affect my ride at all.
And that’s kind of the point.
Look, a virtual group ride shouldn’t put nearly the amount of expectation on ride leaders as in-person group rides. Safety is not a concern–nobody’s getting hit by a car on the trainer. Cues and steering are not a concern–nobody is getting lost out here. And really, speed shouldn’t be a concern–at least not one big enough to get upset about.
I get it. It’s fun to “go fast” on the screen because you are riding in a big blob while only putting out 2.5 w/kg of effort. But at the end of the day, what does it matter if the leader (and most of the peloton) want to bump it up to 3.0 w/kg and you can’t keep up? Why would you get upset about this? No one is stopping you from continuing on at 2.5 w/kg. That’s on you. That’s your inability to be disciplined with your pace. Take the opportunity to work on it.
Is it because you’re trying to get PRs on Strava segments or get more “miles”? Um….this isn’t real riding. What you’re really doing on a trainer is X watts for Y minutes. Spoiler alert–you aren’t actually going anywhere.
So if you don’t like the way the group ride is going, don’t complain. Just ride. Or just get off your bike. It’s not like the leader drug you out 25 miles away from your house. You’re already home. And guess what. There’s probably another virtual group ride starting up in 30 minutes or so.
Then you can get mad at whoever is leading that one. They are probably getting paid exactly the same thing ($0) as the person who was leading the last ride you whined about.
I get the point of the post is that there should be a way to provide feedback, but that’s so the leaders can get better and have more successful rides in the future. I’m all for that. What I experienced last week was anger and whininess during the ride. The feature I’d ask for is the ability to mute the Debbie Downers.
5 Ride | 8 hours | 160 miles | 2,690 ft | Training Score: 414
This was a pretty light week of climbing, coming off a week where I’d struggled with hilly longer rides. My legs definitely appreciated the little break. Focus this week was placed more on doing a couple of longer rides (63 miles and 39 miles) along with a short but intense TT on Tempus Fugit.
The long ride was the highlight of the week–done on actual terrain with actual people, eating actual food. I overate on this ride, and I don’t regret it. I’ve been trying to eat every 1.5 hours, but that didn’t seem to be cutting it for rides that were taking bigger effort. This time, I opted for every 45 minutes or so. I didn’t resort to carbs though–snacked the whole way on egg/guac mix and some beef jerky. Went through just under 4 bottles of water as well. Hydration hasn’t been much of an issue so far in training, but I haven’t run out of water yet either.
One huge difference I noticed in riding outside was comfort. This ride was planned kinda last minute, and all I had clean and ready to go was a pair of triathlon shorts–very little padding for a 3+ hour ride. I was surprised at how comfortable my booty was. There are more opportunities to move around in the saddle and adjust when riding outside that you get on the trainer. Another reason I’m happy to spend most time on the trainer–anything that makes the real pain day more comfortable.
I did find myself in want of some gloves. It was pretty dang muggy, and we even had some rain at the end of the ride. I never felt unsafe, but I was aware of my hands and that I needed to be mindful of them. Another big difference in riding a road bike that I’m just not used to. In the aero position on a TT bike you don’t have to worry about this.
More climbing for the next couple of weeks, and hopefully at least one session outside each week. I haven’t been doing the weekly TTTs on Zwift for a few weeks, and although I miss them, I think this opening on the schedule has given me a good chance to focus on what I need to do for Six Gap.
This post is part of a series where I’m overthinking my approach to training for the 2021 Six Gap Century ride in North Georgia. All time spent thinking and writing probably would have been better spent on the bike
At first glance this would appear to be the main issue–sitting on a bike for hours and covering 100 miles. The problem here is that, because of the climbing involved, and because I’m kind of a big guy, this ride probably looks more like 175-200 miles when you’re thinking of it in saddle time. To put it in running terms, I’m not training for a marathon, I’m training for an ultra.
If I were doing a normal century ride, I’d be able to count on some things like riding in a big group with a lot of draft. I’d also be able to discount some things like nutrition and hydration. It’s not that I could ignore those things, but they’d be less important. Riding at a pretty easy pace for 4-5 hours is a lot easier to manage than riding 7-8 hours on a roller coaster of effort.
One part of this is adjustment in equipment. Most of my bike time has been in triathlon training, so I’m accustomed to tri shorts with minimal padding–something I can swim and run in. I’m planning to switch over to a bib for this event. I haven’t had a chance to purchase yet, but it’s my cart along with a heaping helping of butt paste.
I’m trying to account for the saddle time by working out how often and how much I have to eat to stop the bonk. That means regularly doing 2-3 hour rides pretty often, even 3 months out from pain day. Something else I’m going to incorporate is two-a-day workouts–doing a long easy ride in the morning, followed by a shorter but more intense ride in the afternoon.
I did a mini-test this Tuesday with a pretty easy one hour ride at lunch (intensity = 73%), followed by a time trial sufferfest in the afternoon (intensity = 101%). Counting the warmup time for the TT, that ended up being an hour and 45 minutes of saddle time, but broken up by a couple of hours. What I’m trying to achieve here is not just the saddle time, but saddle time at different effort levels.
To be honest, the plan was to do a similar test earlier this week, but suffering from the keto flu (see weight loss plan) had me bonking on what was supposed to be a relatively easy route for the first ride. I’m definitely going to have to play with this approach and adjust as I go.
The bottom line is that I really don’t like being on the bike for a long period of time. I can do it once on the designated day, but I’d like to get there without having to do a 6 hour ride weekly. It may come to that, but I have time to check out some different options for now.
This post is part of a series where I’m overthinking my approach to training for the 2021 Six Gap Century ride in North Georgia. All time spent thinking and writing probably would have been better spent on the bike
Here’s a tough realization I’ve had to come to terms with: The biggest bang for my buck for speed and efficiency on the bike comes from not doing something. That something is shoving food into my face. I knew it was going to come to this. It’s just simple math. I can increase my strength and power, but there are limits there. The easiest way to improve my watts/kilogram is to decrease the denominator.
I have a complicated relationship with food. Actually, it’s not that complicated. My love for food is right up there with rugby, jiu jitsu, and, uh…other stuff. It’s a tough place for me to have the discipline to deny myself.
Weight loss has to happen for me to hit my goals, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. I’ve been at different weights over the last 30 years, depending on what activities I’m focused on. Playing rugby in college I was ~190 pounds and trying hard to gain weight. I was 215-220 as a reasonably fit men’s club rugby player, a step or two slower at 230, but I ran a marathon at that weight.
I tried to stay just over 200 pounds when I was doing triathlons pretty regularly, and that was a comfortable weight for that activity. Well, it was 10 years ago.
A couple of years ago when I was training BJJ heavily, my walking around weight was in the low 190s, and I could make 185 pounds without having to do any kind of weight cut–just a few days of being careful with the diet. I’m pretty trim at 185, so I think that’s a decent target weight for Six Gap. I’m currently floating between 200 pounds at my heaviest time of the day to 192 pounds right after a tough ride. I’m using 200 pounds as my baseline, just to be safe. Anything below 190 would be pretty good on pain day.
I’ve flirted with a ketogenic diet before, and I’m already wheat free, mostly grain free (tortilla chips are the devil), and careful about my sugar intake. This seems like the easiest path from where I am currently, and the more I learn about keto, the more sense it makes from a biological standpoint.
When I really started digging in and running my numbers using the formulas in Mark’s book , I realized that I’ve really been overdoing it with the protein. I was really shocked at the amount of fat I need to be consuming, and that’s going to be tough to accomplish.
I ran the numbers to get from 200 to 190 pounds in the next 60 days, and then I’ll assess where I am. Based on my activity level, my target daily calorie intake should be around 3,277. The macros break down like this:
Fat: 227g (2046 calories)
Protein: 112g (448 calories)
Carb: 50g (200 calories)
Keto gets me where I need to be, quickly. And this isn’t a cosmetic thing…your photo doesn’t go down in the record book, just your time. I fully expect I’ll be back to my fluffy self by Christmas. Well, maybe not…we’ll see what comes up after Six Gap!
This post is part of a series where I’m overthinking my approach to training for the 2021 Six Gap Century ride in North Georgia. All time spent thinking and writing probably would have been better spent on the bike.
I don’t ride my bike outside very often. The number one reason is safety, but I have plenty of other reasons. I like to get on the bike when I’m ready to ride and to be done with it when the ride is over–not a lot of preparation or clean up. And (living in Florida) it’s nice that the trainer lets me ride at night when it is a little cooler and on simulated hills. Maybe the biggest advantage I see in the trainer over the road is that I can get power metrics off my trainer/Zwift that I don’t get outside–I don’t have a power meter.
So how will trainer riding affect my experience at Six Gap? I won’t pretend there aren’t drawbacks, but I think the benefits of riding on the trainer far outweigh the limited benefit I could get from riding outside.
“What about riding with other people?“
I definitely recognize this as a skill that is important for cyclists. The thing is, I’m not trying to be a cyclist. Not a real one anyway. Not a poser one either. When I envision the next 5 years there’s a lot more jiu jitsu than cycling involved, especially outdoor road cycling. I think I’ll still enjoy jumping on Zwift and knocking out some races or getting in trail time while I’m in Tennessee, but I can’t see me falling in love with cycling and doing a bunch of group riding. It’s just not my thing, and it’s probably a product of spending most of my past bike time training for triathlons and riding alone, even when I’m outside.
“Yeah, but if you can ride with other people, you get the draft!”
Where is the opportunity for a peloton to form and save me tons of energy in this ride profile?
I’m not seeing a lot of draftable miles here. Not enough to make it a major focus of training anyway. And it’s not like I have ZERO skills at riding with others now. It’s not like I’m only comfortable at 2 bike-length space between everyone. So the gain of getting better at where I’m already sitting doesn’t seem that big.
An analogy is that I could swim faster than I can, but I’d have to put in a ton of work to do it. And if I put in that time/effort on the bike or run instead, I can get 2-3 times (maybe more) time improvement. So back in my tri days I quit trying to get better at swimming, and it paid off.
“Yeah, but you’re a big guy, and the practice descending will help you go faster.”
True, but we don’t have any 12% grades to descend here for practice. I’ll get some of that in when I’m in TN, but just enough to build my confidence. Ultimately, what am I going to do, try to pull an extra 30 seconds out of my Hog Pen descent by riding on the razor’s edge? No thanks. I’ll tap the breaks where needed, keep the bike upright, and finish a couple of minutes later. Besides, I can probably more than make up for those gains by getting better at climbing. And the more time I spend descending, the more time I spend recovering.
To sum this up in general…
I’ve been able to ride a bike since before I can remember. I’ve been better at it and worse at it than I am right now. I’m well aware that bike handling skills are a real thing, and I could get better at them if I applied myself. I just don’t see those gains having much of an impact for someone of my ability. For world class guys, sure. But at my age I probably don’t have the risk profile to even implement most of what I could learn. I mean, there are things I can definitely do on a mountain bike, but there’s always those few percentage of times when it wouldn’t work out.
At the end of the day, the reward just isn’t worth the risk or the time involved in improving. Not for me anyway.