Friday, February 29, 2008

Power, Power, I want more POWER!!

A focused Power training ride indoors
The pursuit of the ole w/kg. The w of k, g?? Crap-Rays spewing more abbreviations. Besides aerodynamics this is the holy grail of the Time Trialing world. It is more important then aerodynamics too. This is why you sometimes see a racer decked out to the teeth in mega-buck gear and see someone on a normal bike beat them. What does w/kg mean? Well it is Watts per Kilogram or the amount of power you put out per kilogram of weight. But you knew that right? OH no, well read on.

Well why is it so important? Well lets look at this way. Theres two ways to increase your w/kg. The easiest is to lose weight (kilograms) and the second easiest(??) is to make more watts (w). Do both in sufficient quantity over the course of a year or years and you will go faster!! Buy more go fast goodies and apply them correctly and you will go even faster.

But a Ferrari Enzo with a 120hp motor is, well it sucks!! So this is where the obsession with Power Training comes from. Its all about maximizing the motor. Its more then having a Power measuring device. Its an entire shift of your training focus when you start to train with power. Used correctly it can make your training more efficient, allowing the amateur racer to train less hours, but get more out of it. There is no substitute for big base miles and building your fitness slowly for race season, but lets be honest, were amateurs and no ones paying us to race. So its easy to not go out for that January 4 hour freezing cold ride or do 2 hours on the trainer every day.

So you can get more zone training out of a 45 minute ride on the rollers than a 3 hour ride with your buddies. At the same time that it keeps you from going too hard in December chasing king of the snow crystal primes, it also keeps you honest during sprints in August training for the State Criterium Championship.

On race day it gives you awareness of what you can and cannot do. Understanding that on race day you can almost always go faster than training. But it can help dictate your pace over a Time Trial or to keep from blowing up during a solo breakaway. You dont even need to use your power meter on race day. Correlating perceived exertion with power (and heart rate) in training gives you confidence on race day to go very hard when the chips are down. YOu dont think about numbers, you know what your body can do. A Power meter also teaches you how to go fast with less exertion. How important it is to relax while putting out a big sustained effort.

Back to the ole w/kg thing. The most important figure in the world of Time Trialing is your FTP or functional threshold power. This being the maximum power you can sustain for one hour and not a whole lot more. Its widely accepted that 5 w/kg is a must to even think about a career in cycling (or any success at the Elite level of cycling). And chances are if you want to be a pro or be on the level of a Fabian Cancellara, Tour de France or an Olympic Gold metal contender in the 40 kilometer TT you will need in excess of 6.5 w/kg!! For you readers at home, thats a whole lot of LOT of w/kg.

So this isnt really hitting home with me you say. Well lets say that two racers both can generate 300 watts for a 40k TT. Thats pretty impressive right? Using fake names, Claudio Champion weighs 130 lbs while big old Bart Lumpkin weighs 180 lbs. Who do you think is faster (and I dont mean coasting down a hill)? They both put out 300 watts ftp (for an hour)so they are both equally fast, right? But lets look at it in terms of w/kg. Mr. Champion has a ftp of 5.06 w/kg while old Mr. Lumpkin, well hes at 3.66 w/kg. Not only is Bart at a disadvantage to Claudio in power, but he likely has a much bigger frontal area as well. Even if Claudio rode his 20 lb steel road bike on the hoods, he would beat Bart on a $5000 Cervelo P3C or Felt DA!

My point now being that if Bart is a thin man trapped in an overweight body and he trims down to 150 lbs and increases ftp to 340 watts through hard training, hes getting close to being able to give Claud a shot at his bowling trophy at the Nowhereville TT.

So heres the good news, unlike your mostly genetically gifted Vo2max, your ftp is highly trainable and although if you train very hard year in and year out and train properly (with a coach, with a power meter, etc.) you may plateau at times, but your ftp can always go up a bit or be trained to peak for a given events or events.

I havent spoken much about my goals for 2008, but much like in 2006 into 2007 with coach Brent, one of my primary goals this season with coach Sean is to raise my w/kg.

So if you didnt know what w/kg is, now you do. Don't you feel enlightened?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My BAD @SS TT Rig!!

Its been awhile since I put up pics of my TT rig. Working on fit with Mike Vanucci and bio-mechanics with Sean Gilbert weve come up with something new and "legal". Thats UCI legal!! Dont get me started on that again. Anyways, it looks Pro-tour with that scary drop to the bars, but I swear its comfortable and very aero.

On my knee-I went to see the doctor and he pulled and pushed for a minute then said, lets get an MRI!! Not a big surprise. I didnt know what to ask so I just asked in the meantime if I can ride. He said yes so that in itself is a good sign of no Major torn muscles. The MRI itself is Monday, but its in North Canton. I dont know if this is purely a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch your back" arrangement between doctor and radiologist, but what he did say was that by going to this MRI location my knee will be looked at by an expert in NY on knees. Between them they should have a very good assessment of whats causing the pain and weakness in the knee.

Heres something gross I didnt know about MRI's. Did you know if you work around metal you have to get an orbital scan (Xray) of your eyes? The reason being that if theres any metal in your eye the MRI's magnet will pull it out. I am thinking one would hope that it comes out the front, not into the brain. Not that it wouldnt help me. As my buddy mentioned, you know how they discovered that right?? OUCH!!! Poor first person!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Well, no bike testing this week and no racing this weekend most likely. Sean said its past time to get a X-Ray since its not healing soon enough. My knee is acting up and hurting again so I will go see a sports medicine doctor tomorrow (Dr. Blanda) in Akron. I initially tried to see Dr. Shah from Summa, but of course hes going out of town and I couldn't get an appointment till the 10th. Too long for me.

Well at least by tomorrow afternoon I'll know whats up with my knee.

Monday, February 25, 2008

read this-its meaningful

From the keyboard of Jim Nichols I present this post we all should read!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back on track

This has been a good week of training. Over 10 hours and 170 miles in last week. The more I rode, the better I felt and my knee just kept responding positively. On Saturday I finally got to do a workout, though strength was the goal was a good test of my fitness as I pedaled at 110% of FTP for short intervals. For certain the miles I put in this week have really helped me get back on track.

I learned a lot too as I used the intervals and data (power, HR, cadence) not only as a baseline, but as a warm-up of my legs, upper body, etc. So once good and fatigued I broke out the allen wrench, made some changes in position and then did some more intervals. I found ways to raise my wattage and lower perceived exertion and others that lowered wattage and HR consistently. I compared the data to the baseline data and that was very cool. A very good morning on the trainer indeed.

Then today the Hilltoppers had a fun day of racing and activities on cross country skis. I am going to post some pictures of Audrey skiing (of course). I am amazed at how well she skis. A natural smooth kick and her skis are always parallel.

Helping her team on the relay

She has now been introduced to racing in a fun way. I cannot describe how cool that is for me to see. And although the first few races were more like a ski tour for her, she is beginning to show some intensity and a desire to win which is really fun to see. I try and coach her "attitude" in a healthy way. I want her to try to win, but not try so hard that it no longer is fun. I talk to her about the little details like dont follow if your faster and when you pass another skier and they tell you its not a race and to stay in line behind them, dont listen!! Its true!! The world of 6 year old racing tactics!

Small, but fast

So onto this next week. I only have a few (read sarcasm) tiny things on my plate this week. So lets see there is the Conconni test on Friday, followed by a Wingate Power test then Mid-Ohio on Saturday!! Yeah thats right, racing season is almost here for me!! At Mid-Ohio I plan on racing the A or Cat1,2,3 event. Last year I shocked the system by not racing for 15 years and doing the Cat.3,4 race with some fast, fast 3's mixed in. I think I am in for a bigger shock. I dont know how many Cat.1's and 2's will do it with the Arnold Challenge on Sunday, but for sure I am excited and a wee bit nervous too. I'll be honest I am preparing my mind for a good shelling and quite a few lonely laps. But I'll be happy to be racing thats for sure. Crap, I better get that new chain on, take off the winter tires and put in those light weight tubes!! Its racing time!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

A sad day for Motorsports

I have been a fan of auto racing since I was probably 5 or 6 years old. If I could do any profession I think I would pick professional race car driver. One of my favorite forms of racing was USAC Indy cars then Champ car. One of the darkest days was when Tony George (with the influence of Bill France Jr. and NASCAR at the Brickyard) announced that he was forming the Indy Racing League and taking the 500 away form the Champs car circuit. The INdy 500 now means nothing to me, where as it was the biggest deal to me in the 70's and 80's. Sadly I never went to the race myself when it was good.

Well today is dark day #2 for US open wheel racing, though I hope to eat my own words in the coming seasons due to this announcement today!! Read on!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thank you Hammer

6am got-up exercised
6:45 ate breakfast
7:45 pop two Hammer Anti-fatigue caps (Ammonia scavenging thingamabobs)
8:35 on the road to Thom's house and then off to Willoughby. Its really cold, but the suns shining. Coffee and warm-up at Spin. Thom fixes the shifting problem I am having-thanks td. Back on the road to Bedford to my office. Alls well at first, hands staying warm on and off. Pop one more Anti-fatigue cap, eat a Cliff bar slowly and keep rolling. But as I get close to the end of the Hawthorne Parkway I start getting tired, really tired. I realize I am not drinking much so I stop, switch out the frozen water bottle and grab a bottle out of my backpack and keep rolling. At least my new Polar water bottle lasted a couple hours this time. I hit Northfield road and I hit the wall. The last overpass by my office takes a while to go over and I feel like I am running on an empty tank.

I get to the office, hit my Hammer Recoverite like its an elixir of life, eat everything I can find in the office. I crank up the office 3 more degrees, but I am shivering like mad. Ahh-my clothes are soaked in sweat. I change, put on a jacket and start to try and recover.

I am whooped and realize how dehydrated I am. I drink and drink the rest of the afternoon, but mostly I dread the ride home. I wish I could take a nap too.

SO I get dressed, turn the heat back down in the office and roll out of the parking lot and i feel really good, despite how I just felt in the office all afternoon. Luckily I had some Heed powder at work and mix it in my water bottle and vow to drink it all on the way home. I push a few times and then ride easy. I push a few minutes and recover all the way home.

Was it the Hammer products? I dont know, but my legs didnt even feel loaded up or burn like I expected.

Final stats for today.
62.5 miles
4 hours ride time total

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Man-Up or Go Home

So I went home. Post over....Yeah RIGHT!!!

But no, what happened was for days I have been trying to get in a long road ride. Forecast for Wednesday when Sean has me down for long miles is cold at 17f, possible snow and a little windy so wind chill will be a factor.

I have been joking with a friend who commutes in all weather and comes home in all weather in the dark that I need to be like him and man-up to the weather and just ride. So when I go to bed I am ready to ride. Good thing because I get Zero sleep. Two nights this week with sub 3 hours sleep. I was still looking at the clock in disbelief at 4am. I think I may have dozed off at 5 and the alarm went off at, you guessed it-6am.

The two guys who were thinking of going bail, but as planned at 7:40 I am out the door for a what I hope is a 3 hour commute to work (usually 55 minutes). I have Manned UP-YESSIR!! As I get to the top of Old Mill my fingers are already cold and hurting. There doesn't seem to be any help for them so I decide to take Berkshire down slow to save on wearing out my already thin brake pads down Old Mill.

I know from driving these roads Sunday that they are loaded with gravel for grip, but I recall thinking to myself "I don't get flats". This reminds me of another time racing go karts when I made the mistake to count my chickens before they hatch. At Gratten in Mi I was still a top 5 racer without a win, but I was really flying in practice. Going down the straightaway I let myself think "I think I am gonna win today". As I braked for turn one and made the right the piston broke and the motor crunched and grinded itself to smithereens for what seemed like 15 seconds. We poured piston bits out of the exhaust, carb and air filter!! Well, I promised myself to never say that to myself again, so you can now guess what happened next on the bike!!

As I make the left on Epping to head north to base of Old Mill I plan on stopping for a minute to warm up my hands and take a nature break. Well, I make the turn from Epping to Old Mill and my fronts going soft. Now I wont complain because, knock on wood I rarely get flats. By Chagrin River Road its flat and I nurse it to one of the town buildings, take a seat on a bench and start the dreaded process in the cold and wind.

To make a long story short, my spare tube which was already patched needed two more patches as it turns out!! I kept pumping and pumping!! Is the pump broken? Should I blast it with a CO2? Eventually I contemplated patching the original tube which got pierced by one of the millions of stones used to provide traction on Berkshire. But my feet had now frozen along with my hands and the thought of taking off my gloves to patch and 2 more hours of commuting then the afternoon commute home suddenly didn't seem that appealing. I was defeated.

I gave myself a bit of grief as my wife pulled up in the van to take me home. I should go home, put on another wheel or a new tube and get back on the road I said to myself, only this time a direct route to work for my usual 16 mile and/or 55 minute commute. What did I do? I stripped down to shorts, set up my rollers and road bike and rode for 1:45 doing some intervals to pass the time. I would have gone 2 hours, but my sit bones had had it so I cooled down and called it a day.

So I tried to Man-up, but I did put in a 45 minute ride outdoors on wet roads and low temps and backed it up with a 1:45 on the rollers. So what did I do to make sure this isn't likely to happen again? Why of course I spent more money (I dont really have).

Tomorrow I'll try again and this time with Conti 4 Seasons with Duraskin and reinforced sidewalls.

On a bright note the intervals seemed easy like they should have as did what little I rode outside so I think I am getting back on the right track finally.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Brooke live

Hey-Andrew Messick of AEG mentioned on Live internet broadcast that he rode with Brooke Miller and she told him she feels like shes going to win today!!

Way to go Brooke!! Hopefully in an hour I'll update this blog with a good finish in California at the Amgen Tour Of California Womens Criterium.

HAHAHA!!! 4:10pm update!! She did win and it got broadcast by Frankie Andreau!!!

News and pictures here!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ohhhh-this guys Da Man!!

Amgen Tour Prologue, picture from Velo News
Why wouldnt I be gaga over a Time Trial superstar!! Way to go Fabian!! Now, why isnt he using a Sub 9 rear disc? Looks like last years 999 combo. Now also what front tire is he running? Looks like a Vittoria, but is it s stock or a CSC only tire? And look at that aero bar from 3T!! Its whicked fast in the windtunnel and you can see why.

Does anyone want to loan me a few grand?? I need some new things for me TT bike!! hahaha!!


Saturday, February 16, 2008

define out of shape

I finally got outside on my bike today. What a great feeling it was too with mid 20's, sunshine the whole ride and I nailed the clothing perfectly. I have realized theres just no warming up the right fingers-it has almost nothing to do with gloves. Must be a 40 something thing. $7 polypro glove liners helped though.

So there I am riding (a bit hungover too on rich handmade and Belgian brews like Saint Bernadus #6 and #12) and trying to asses my knee and my fitness. My legs burn while my cardio feels unworked. I can easily believe I am this out of shape, even though two weeks ago I was doing some XC Skiing and feeling really strong.

As I burn off the ill effects of a night of drinking and a low grade hangover I also start to feel how different the changes in fit I am experimenting with are. I honestly feel like I am spinning better circles and though I feel weak in power I also feel like I can push into the threshold power band easier. Its hard to describe, but it feels good and right, kind of.

I would say I am really behind the other serious racers I will compete against and its hard to not be self critical and a bit freaked out. Racing starts in a few weeks, but my seasons 10 months long. Its really not going to matter come July and August what I did now unless I were to freak out and burn myself playing catch-up. Of course Sean wouldn't let that happen so no worries there.

I have also invested 7 to 10 hours a week, waking up at 6am every day for months doing off the bike exercises. I am stabilizing the core, working hip flexors, etc. and trying to make sure I recruit all the right muscles in the right ways. I have always thought I am pretty in tune with my body so with this recent knee bang-up I am really amazed at how much stability you lose and how your whole body compensates for any injury. I had to pedal a bit differently today and be very conscious of how I ankled with my left foot or I would get a shooting pain from my knee. So its not 100% so I am putting off any hard efforts a few more days.

As I went past the 1.5 hour mark I could feel the beers effects fading away as I drank my electrolyte drink and ate a Cliff bar. I didnt want to push too hard and I didnt have my Power Tap on this bike, but I know when I am hitting 300, 350 watts so thats what I held up the rollers or climbs. I wasnt trying to go hard, but more to push into that envelope a bit and see how it felt. With the new position my pedal stroke felt really good, smooth. Maybe its partly from riding rollers and some form transferring over from riding a fixie. I dont know, but theres a tough thing going on here thats hard to come to grips with.

While I feel like weve made positive gains everywhere this winter, I felt dog slow out there today. Its always tough when you ride and dont feel strong. Or at least stronger then what the roads and wind dish out. Like every false flat was a bit too hard and every climb was a few degrees steeper. But on the flip side though I felt slow, I felt smoother, more efficient. Maybe thats just a byproduct of not going hard (nor having the fitness to go hard) or maybe some cool stuff has happened to me biomechanically. But when you make changes in fit, at least I am a little scared if I should have messed with it at all.

So I dont know, am I just out of shape or have a I built a strong foundation to work from? So starting from scratch (if not a month behind) will actually build me up stronger? For sure the knees not ready for anything more then what I am asking of it. I can definitely feel how unstable the knee is when I ride out of the saddle or don't pedal smoothly. It lets me know in no uncertain terms!!

So again, whats out of shape? For me right now I would say its being that few percent off and not being ready physically to start pushing hard. Mentally I am dialed, poised for take-off, eye of the tiger and all that stuff. Well, its a good excuse to get in those base miles, even if everyone else (at least in my mind) is pounding out intervals already. Or maybe it was just too much beer!! Wouldnt that be funny.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This really bites!

Why oh why am I such an idiot? Why did I have to push so hard in PA, like when you push hard in cyclocross and start to make mistakes because your so tired. Muscles not firing correctly, balance off, arms too tired to correct, mind mushy form the effort. Same deal when descending in PA last weekend. Old news , I know and I am not whining about it really. Its just theres all this snow outside and I cant ski!!!

I can pretty much guarantee that the day my knee feels healed I wont have time to ski, but the very next day it will be 50 degrees and all the snow will melt!!


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Better rollers.

Home made!! anyone have a resistance unit they are not using? WOuld be fun to do if youve got some cheap rollers. I dont think I want to hack on my Kreitlers just yet.I also just read on WW a guy who bought the Inside Ride rollers and after 26 years he was finally able to stand up on rollers. I did it in a week or two...hahaha!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Going Nuts!!

First the great big news today. My beautiful daughter (beautiful in every way) turns 6 today!!! Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you!!! Wheeee!! My how time flies.

So I am still limping a bit. Tuesday I thought I'd give riding a try so in jeans I rode for 7 minutes. Much later that night my knee felt worse. Wednesday, knee feels different, maybe a bit better I ride 37 minutes at a whopping 50 watts!! 39/25 baby!! Beat that. I feel fine that night, but the next day my knee feels tight. Less acute pain, but hurts. I bet if I didn't do those two rides I'd be better off. So Thursday and today-no riding. Beg and plead with Sean (my coach), can I ride, come on, NO better to rest up now then fight a knee problem the next few months!! Hes right and my initial impressions, one heck of a coach. In case you were wondering. He's purty smart.

I am jonesing to ride!! Like a smoker trying to quit, my wife asks me the other day, "whats wrong, you look pissed off". I don't "think" theres anything going on, but I think I just want to exercise.

I want to push on the trainer till it hurts then hold it, rest and repeat and sweat like mad!! I want to go out for 4 hours, ride some hills and come home tired and ready to pass out on the couch!! I want to ride my TT bike, do some intervals and see if my new, disgustingly aero position also makes good power.

COME ON!!! I'm going crazy and theres only so many crunches and so much stretching you can do in a day. Come on Ray-its only February 8th!! Which, did I tell you is Audrey's Birthday?? HA HA!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The flying mile.

On the 27th of January I did my first XC ski race. I was really sore for 3 days from the 28 minute effort. Hip flexors and thigh muscles mostly. The next weekend while up in PA I did a longer and tougher loop of 5.5k. I went all out again, but this time it took 32 minutes.

But the amazing thing to me was I wasnt sore in the least the following day. I even crashed twice. One not worthy of mention, but one would have been a good one for the sport bloopers!! Endoed, skis flying up and over my head, landed on my back. Somehow I had the ability to tuck the skis up as I flipped so that they did not dig in.

Too bad on Sunday I wasnt as quick, but it was just a whole different kind of crash. But this got me thinking that Classic skiing has a running type gate, especially uphill and I have gone uphill as hard as I can for a few miles now. I think I am ready for my next ridiculous endeavor. You know as if learning to Classic, Skate and be half way decent at it all in a couple months isnt enough.

I want to see how fast I can run one mile all out. I have recruited a very fast running friend to pace me, now I just need to get over this knee pain and get back to a steady training plan. Then boom baby!! Run a mile all out with my friend as the rabbit.

Why? Well, I know I run pretty slow. So it wont hurt to run faster for next Psycho cross season. I also have one Biathlon on my schedule this year and I'd like to be top 3 in my first ever solo effort. So to have a realistic idea of what pace I can possibly shoot for I'll need to know what kind of pace I am capable of.

Plus it just sort of fits the whole "why the hell not" attitude I seem to have these days. Am I old enough for a mid life crises? Some guys get divorced,some buy a Corvette and buy or build a trophy wife. I just find new ways to physically punish myself I guess. It just aint natural I tell you, but it is fun!!

I am going to totally guess and say I'll finish in 7:31 seconds. Why? I have no idea. Regardless you know I'll have something to say about it when I do.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Up to the loft

Well, its Monday and my daughters sick and I am limping badly. We and the Hilltoppers spent 3 great days in the beautiful Laurel Ridge Cross Country center near Somerset, PA. We spent our morning and evenings staying in 70 year old Cabins at Kooser State Park where I attempted to make fire in the stove. Me make FIRE!!

Audrey competed in 3 races throughout the weekend!! She did a 4 person relay, 2k Classic race (solo) and finished in 21:39 and a Family Enduro. I so wished I could have seen her finish the 2k Classic, but I was the caboose of the field and was cheering and encouraging on another bunny rabbit skier. I heard Audrey descended fast, made the last corner smooth and skied up to the start finish like a veteran. I am so proud!!

Way to finish

During the Family Enduro teams would take turns on a short loop (0.5k?) that was half up and half down with some fun corners. They made a really short loop for Audrey to do, but after 3 laps (while I alternated and did 3 regular loops) she decided shed rather play with Kara I went on and rode the loop a total of 11 times in a row. Almost at the end I lost my balance on the descent trying to double pole and pick up speed (more speed, more speed-always more speed!!), fell and twisted my left knee hardcore. As soon as I fell and my knee got wrenched I knew I was gonna be in a lot of hurt today. I finished another lap or two and then kneeled with me knee in the snow after the race. Natures ice pack. It was a 45 minute race and the best were doing the loop in 2 minutes flat. I was probably closer to 3:30.


So that was that. My knee is screwed up royally and I am off the bike for awhile. Luckily its not swollen, it just hurts a lot. Someday I'll learn I am not 20 anymore and to take new things slower. Good thing its only February!!