Don: Cycling Tech

Getting Ready for the Indoor Season

posted Oct 29, 2018, 9:01 AM by Donald Vescio

As the days grow shorter and the weather turns cold and wet, it's time to think about how we can maintain and grow our fitness during the off season.  While it is important to use this time for rest and recovery, we also can work on our limiters to improve our performances next year.  Most athletes today understand the value of indoor riding as a way to maximize our training sessions,  and a good number--including me--will do the most sessions that require more than endurance intensity on an indoor trainer.    While choosing an indoor trainer is important (and which will be the subject of an upcoming article), the environment in which we ride is equally critical to realizing effective workouts.

 

Trainer

Whether you use a wheel-based or direct drive trainer, it's important that you fully understand how to use is so that you can get up and riding as soon as possible when your workout sessions begin.  It's important that you try to be as consistent as possible when setting up your trainer, whether it is a smart trainer, dumb trainer, wheel-based or direct drive.  Ideally, you'd want to have roughly the same ambient temperature in your location in which you train; for wheel-based trainers, especially dumb trainers (trainer that don't connect to a computer), you will want to have the same tire pressure from ride to ride, and even the same pressure of the trainer's roller on the rear wheel, as much as possible (for instance, two full turns of the adjustment knob once the roller contacts the tire).  Regardless of the trainer that you use, consistency will be key in maintaining a structured training program.

 

Temperature and Ventilation

In our training studio, we try to keep the temperature cool, as our core temperatures increase as we exercise.  One way to maximize both the effectiveness and comfort of your indoor training sessions is to use a high velocity household fan to promote greater cooling.  We've had excellent service from Deco's floor fans, which are durable and which provide exceptional airflow.  For a little money, Lasko offers an excellent fan with a remote control.  Ideally, you would want the temperature to be cool enough and/or the fan strong enough that you'd feel chilly if not riding at a reasonable intensity.  If space is not a concern, two floor fans placed in front of you would be ideal (though noisy!)

 

 

Sweat Control

Early into your workout, you'll begin to feel warm, and then soon after, you'll start to sweat profusely.  An exercise mat will help protect your floor and will help dampen the noise of your trainer.  While you can spend a fair amount on a floor mat, a simple, high density PVC exercise mat is inexpensive and can be cleaned easily.  It's important to protect your bike from the corrosion of your sweat.  At a minimum, draping a towel over your handlebars will help, a bicycle sweat guard will help you keep your bicycle in good working order.   Again, these do not have to be expensive.

 

 

Entertainment

While there are lots of mechanical and physiological reasons why riding indoors is more challenging than exercising outside, don't underestimate the psychological demands of training inside, either.   Listening to music or watching videos can help you better manage the demands of riding indoors, and a remote control is a helpful tool that minimizes interruptions of your workouts.  For those who have to minimize noise, sweat-proof headphones may be a worthwhile purchase.

 

 

Peripheral Equipment

Most trainers--both wheel-based and direct drive--will require that you attach your bike with a quick release skewer.  If you use a standard quick release, then purchase a cheap steel skewer, which will offer greater stability  and security for your bike when it's on a trainer.  For those who have bikes with disc brakes and thru axels, then you'd need to purchase a thru axle adapter that's keyed to your specific wheels and framesets (at this time, there are a few different thru axle standards, so check with you local bike shop or in the manual for your wheels).

 

 

Checklist for Vmps Indoor Studio Rides

  • 1 - 2 water bottles filled with your favorite training drinks
  • A small towel to dry yourself off during the ride (leave it draped over your handlebars or--my favorite--on the top of your front wheel
  • A trainer skewer (we sell them at the Barn) or a thu axle trainer adapter (check the link above or with your local bike shop)
  • A road tire--no knobbies!--that's in reasonably sound condition (no excessive wear or cuts); optionally, a dedicated trainer tire will get you through several seasons of indoor riding, with minimal wear (I'm partial to Schwalbe, but Vittoria, Kinetic, and Continental all make great trainer tires)
  • A sweat guard is optional, but they do help maintain your equipment from corrosion.

  

Coming Up

More on indoor trainers and indoor training software!



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Mount Tremblant

posted Aug 16, 2018, 1:46 PM by Donald Vescio




Click for larger view of course map.




Ironman Mt Tremblant has very similar elevation gain as IM Lake Placid, but rather than bunching the bulk of gain in two, long climbs, climbing takes place throughout the entire course at Tremblant.  Tremblant’s course has excellent quality roads and while there are no long climbs (save for Cheminn Duplessis at approximately the 40 mile mark), many are steep, topping out at 8%.  None of the descents are technical; as this is an out-and-back-course, you’ll get to bomb down the same hills in the opposite direction.    From the official Mt. Tremblant site:




When looking at the course, there are three extended sections that link climbs together:



The approximate locations of the climbs are:



Sections

Section One: Montee Ryan
This section is located in the first nine miles of the course.  The first few miles contain two traffic circles (if I recall correctly) and generally trend downward from the start—but this is the general trend, and you will note that course is rolling on the way out.  Between miles four and nine, you will hit your first extended elevation gain through a series of short, steep hills.  As the hills come in rapid succession, use the descents—which also are short—for recovery.  Go into a bigger gear on the descents, soft pedal, and rest your legs, while dropping your heart rate.  When climbing the hills, go to a smaller gear and try not to let your cadence lag much below 70 RPM.  Shift into smaller gears in before their use is necessary, but do so in stages.  Try not to immediately drop into your smallest gear and over-spin your legs--this only will make you tired.  This is a course where you can use your momentum to help flatten out the hills.

 

Section Two: Route 117
This is mostly a wide open, rolling stretch of road between miles 9 -30.    While there is no single large climb in this section, you will face a series of rolling hills, with very little flat terrain.  This section can be windy, so try to stay in your aerobars as much as possible—stand and stretch on one of the many uphill sections for recovery.  Aero is especially important in this section!

 

Section Three: Back through Montee Ryan
On this section, you will return to the center of town and have an approximately 1 ¾ mile climb up the hill that you descend on the way out from the start. The grade averages ~5% and is steady; consider going to a smaller gear to rest a bit, making sure that your cadence does drift excessively high or low.

 

Section Four Chemin Duplessis
This is the hardest part of the course, which begins at approximately mile 40 and continues to the 46 mile mark.   The hills are steep, but short—think in terms of the hills at Rev 3 Quassy, rather than the opening continuous climb at Lake Placid.  In a lot of ways, Chemin Duplessis is somewhat similar to the Three Bears at Lake Placid, though the individual hills on this climb are shorter and steeper.  

 

Strategies, Notes, and Other Stuff

  1. Click here for RPE chart. 

  2. While some hills have grades of 8%, most are much less steep.  This is not a climber's course; it is a course the emphasizes a conservative approach to pacing.

  3. The course is two 90km/56mile laps.  On the course are five aid stations; the special needs station is on Montee Ryan.  You don’t have to carry hydration for a full 112 mile ride! 

  4. If ever in doubt, be conservative in your pacing.  Any energy that you expend on your ride will carry a cost on your run; pacing too hard on the bike, even if you finish the ride strongly, will have a disproportionately negative impact on your subsequent run. 

  5. Always defer to RPE and not your HR or power data.  If it feels like you're riding at a hard pace, then you are.  Use HR and power as second level of importance information.
     
  6. Multi-loop courses are ideal for negative splits (for instance, the second lap is faster than the first).  The key to this course is pacing.  Focus on your RPE and cross reference it with your HR data (knowing that it likely will drift upward during the course of the event) and power data.

  7. Go out on your first lap conservatively, with an overall average RPE of approximately 2-3.    If you're feeling good and conditions have not significantly changed during your first loop, bring the overall pace up to RPE 3-4.    Remember, if you go too hard on the bike, you'll have problems on the run.  At the beginning of lap two, assess and plan accordingly ("I'll ride the same pace/I'll ride a little harder").  

  8. Mt. Tremblant is a course that can be ridden quickly, but at a significant toll on your run.  Remember that you won’t be able to balance out a poor run with a quick bike split; be conservative! 

  9. In the ideal world, where courses are flat to gently rolling, I’d suggest that power meter users think of riding the entire race at ~70% FTP, and perhaps up to ~75% for lap two. Given the relatively constant series of short hills, use your RPE, HR, and power data in terms of values NOT to exceed: “I will not exceed RPE of 5 for the steepest of hills,” etc.  On the steepest of hills, shoot for an RPE of high four or low five; on the downhills immediately after these climbs, try to get your RPE down to a low 2. 

  10. Stay tucked on Rt. 117 as much as possible, as this is an open road that is as close to flat as you will get.  On the steeper descents, go to your base bars and drop your shoulders if you want to go faster, or lift your shoulders (don’t don’t lock your arms!) if you want to go slower.  Try to “float” on a bigger gear to keep some movement in your legs—use light force, at a relatively low cadence.  Consider the downhills as active recovery for the next hill! 

  11. To repeat: if your HR and respiratory rates high: go to a slightly harder gear and drop your cadence by ~5 RPM; if your legs feel heavy, burning: go to a slightly easier gear and increase your cadence by ~5 RPM. 

  12. Remember all of the big gear work we did over the winter and spring.  On longer, steeper hills when your speed drops low, move up on your bars, slide back on your seat, push forward and down on your pedal stroke, and drop your heels on the downstoke. 

  13. Be aero!  Tuck in your jersey if it's loose; minimize the number of large objects that you carry in jersey pockets, if any; use an aero helmet--and a rear disc, if you have one.

  14. If it's raining hard and if rain is forecasted for most of the race, consider decreasing your tire pressure by approximately 5 - 10 lbs.  

  15. In your race kit and special needs bags, include a simple cycling cap and four to five plastic grocery bags.  If it is raining hard, wear the hat brim forward underneath your helmet to direct water away from your eyes--this will help your vision considerably.  If it's raining and cold, consider placing one of your plastic grocery bags underneath the front of your jersey (not the back!), and even underneath the front of the legs of your cycling shorts.   This will help keep you much warmer.  

 

Best of luck to all Vmps athletes, as well as all athletes competing at Mt. Tremblant.

Why Do a Ten Mile TT as Part of Your Training?

posted May 6, 2018, 4:32 PM by Donald Vescio   [ updated May 6, 2018, 10:54 PM ]

For generations of cyclists, the 10 mile time trial has been a staple of their training, even if their primary events were long course road races.  A ten mile time trial--call it 20-30 minutes of high intensity, focused effort--is an excellent way to increase any rider’s strength, speed and endurance.  A 10 mile time trial is long enough to force positive adaptations to training stress, and yet is short enough to recover quickly so that it does not compromise upcoming interval or endurance training sessions.  And apart from the training benefits, a weekly 10 mile time trial offers additional benefits, too:


  • It is short enough to be able to ride above one’s CP60/FTP, which leads to increases in strength, fitness, and recovery;

  • It is long enough to provide opportunity to experiment with pacing strategies;

  • It is fast enough to test out different aerodynamic configurations and tire setups;

  • It is competitive enough to push you to ride above normal race day pace, without the mental challenges of doing intervals alone;

  • It is social enough to promote group identification, which encourages you to return each week, helping you become a stronger athlete.


Most of all, a weekly ten mile time trial is a good opportunity to race often and have fun, in a positive and supportive environment.  Vmps’ Tuesday time trial goes around Lake Singletary in the towns of Sutton and Millbury. It is what is called a “sporting course”: it has hills, fast flats, and rolling terrain that will challenge riders of all abilities.  And always remember, to be able to go fast in your long course events, you need to develop the strength and speed to go hard, well above your target race pace, for shorter distance. A weekly ten mile time trial is a perfect training tool for both long and short course athletes.



Establishing Next Season's Foundation: Cycling

posted Dec 11, 2017, 6:06 AM by Donald Vescio   [ updated Dec 11, 2017, 6:07 AM ]


The days are getting short and the temperature is dropping.  You've had a long, productive season and made gains in your training and racing.  You're tired from the long season, and it's time to take a break.  But taking a break doesn't mean putting your bike away for the next several months.  Don't give up your hard-earned fitness--start thinking about next season now.

 

  1. There are three primary attributes associated with cycling: strength (the ability to push down hard on the pedals); speed (the ability to spin the pedals at a rapid pace; endurance (the ability to pedal for extended periods of time). For most athletes, and especially for older athletes, strength is the most difficult attribute to improve, and it's the attribute that's most quickly lost after the cessation of training. A good off season training program will focus on developing strength on the bike, enabling you to establish a solid foundation for the upcoming season. Endurance is the attribute easiest to develop; it's also the attribute that's quickest to recover. For November, December, and January, cut back the overall volume of your training and concentrate instead in getting in one to two high intensity, short to moderate duration cycling workouts. Add endurance rides later in your preparation, when the winter weather begins to break.


  2. Don't neglect your core strength and overall fitness. Resistance training and lifting weights will help establish and maintain overall body health. Unfortunately, there is fairly extensive literature that indicates that strength training off of the bike does little to increase on the bike power. But this said, strengthening your core will enable you to maintain an aero position for longer periods of time and extend the amount to time that you can ride at near maximal effort. When considering off-the-bike strength training, focus on higher repetitions rather than higher weights/higher resistance, and carefully maintain your form and range of motion. Also, make sure that your off-the-bike sessions don't negatively impact your on-the-bike strength training--if you want to lift weights on the same days that you ride, lift after you are done riding.


  3. There are many advantages to riding indoors, apart from protection from inclement weather. Most indoor trainers have relatively small moments of inertia, which is a fancy way of saying that you have to work harder when you ride inside. On an indoor trainer, you can't coast, and the dead spots of your pedal stroke is accentuated; because the conditions are so controllable, you can structure highly specific workouts to maximize your training time. With a Computrainer or similar smart trainer, you can build erg workouts in which the trainer controls the resistance for you, enabling you to focus on developing maximum power on the bike. Because you don't have to worry about traffic and variable road conditions, and because you aren't going to struggle to keep warm, time spent indoors on the bike represents a fantastic return on the time that you invest in your training.


  4. When possible, try to ride indoors with friends. Use your weekday sessions for short, higher intensity interval sessions; on the weekends, dial back the intensity quite a bit and instead extend the duration of your sessions. 90 - 120 minutes is more than adequate for early off-season long course event preparation. Ride at a conversational pace, watch a video, or listen to some music. The goal is to ride at a light enough pace to recover from the prior week's intervals and to prepare for the following week's sessions. 

As winter approaches and you're beginning to plan your off-season workouts, keep in mind that you're essentially trying to balance two different types of training: short, higher intensity interval sessions; longer, low intensity endurance sessions.  As the off-season progresses, you can manipulate the ratios of these workout types and introduce additional variables, such as high cadence efforts.  Maximize your on the bike training time by riding indoors and consider doing some of your higher intensity work on a smart trainer in ergometer mode, which will force you to ride at your specified resistance.  Rest by decreasing the overall time that you spend on the bike, but try to schedule one to two interval sessions per week.  A smart, structured training program will enable you to build off of your current fitness and set the foundation for an even better season next year.

 

Climb to the Clouds

posted Jul 13, 2017, 11:30 AM by Donald Vescio

Best wishes to all riders who are doing Climb to the Clouds this weekend.  The course is rolling to hilly from the start in Sudbury/Bolton.  The longer routes (80, 90, 100 miles) includes Mile Hill in Princeton, that averages ~9-10% and ends at the Visitors' Center at Mount Wachusetts.    Apart from the challenges of the route, Sunday's forecast looks to be hot and humid, with a chance of storms early in the day, and again toward noon.


The bulk of the most difficult climbing will be at the midpoint of your ride, as you approach Princeton.  While the return route via Sterling and the Boylstons do not have long climbs, there are a number of shorter hills, some of which will be challenging on the run home.  



Pacing

Heat and hills will be your greatest challenge.  Head out at much slower, easier pace than your normal endurance ride, saving your strength and energy for Princeton and the big climbs.  On the return leg, if you're feeling good, you can pick up your pace, but be mindful that the route from Sterling through Boylston can be surprisingly difficult, mostly due to accumulated fatigue.

This is a very good ride to build long-duration endurance capacity.  Given the route and conditions, I wouldn't encourage you to be thinking of personal bests ;)



 

Nutrition, Hydration, and Heat Management

The key for hydration is to follow your hydration plan, if you've one already established.  And for those who do have a hydration and nutrition plan, think in terms of slight modifications, rather than wholesale revisions.


Try to drink frequently and at regular intervals.  It is important to take in electrolytes, as per the brand's recommendations, in order to avoid hyponatremia.  Hyponatremia is a risk for athletes who ingest large fluid volumes, without electrolyte replacement.    Symptoms include nausea and/or vomiting; headache; and confusion.  For a more detailed description of hyponatremia, click here.   The short version is that taking in liquid is not enough; you also have to be attentive to ingesting electrolytes.  Take in too little, you run risk of hyponatremia; take in too much, and you run the risk of G.I. issues.   If in doubt, drink frequently and err on the side of taking in electrolytes.


In terms of nutrition, hot and humid weather means that nutrients are absorbed slower than normal, which means that you need to eat smaller quantities at more shortly spaced intervals.  But because you will burn less calories on a hot humid day, as your intensity also will be lower than normal, you're nutritional needs will be slightly lighter than in optimal environmental conditions.  And remember, most athletes can absorb approximately 300-350 calories per hour, so ingesting a large quantity of food could lead to GI issues and won't contribute positively to your performance. 


On a hot day, consider the clothing that you wear and how you address heat.  Sun block is important for a ride of this duration; most riders find that sun glasses are helpful for comfort, too.   Clothing that vents easily is a plus on the long climbs in the middle of the ride.  An old school tip is to wear simple sweatbands on your wrists that you can douse with cold water.  Cold water on the back of the neck also can increase comfort; and on long rides on hot days, squirting water through your helmet vents can help, too.  (And if you have occasion to stumble onto some ice, placing some ice on the inside of your legs, along your femoral arteries, helps cooling, too.  You might want to exercise some discretion when stuffing ice down your shorts.


The key, though, is to be attentive to your pace.  The hotter the day, the easier the pace should be, and don't be afraid to take occasional breaks off the side of the road in some shade to catch your breath, have a snack, and take in some fluids and electrolytes.

 


 .

Most important in all of this is that you be safe and have fun!

 


Tire Selection: Width Basics

posted Jun 19, 2017, 6:58 AM by Donald Vescio



Tires are the next big area for performance gain in time trials or triathlon, and researchers are discovering that multiple variables should be factored into tire selection.  Details such as tire fabrication, air pressure, rim width, and frame design all impact performance.  For this entry, I want to focus on some practical aspects of tire width and their implications for time trialists and triathletes.

 

Today's trend is toward wider tires.  Not too long ago, the standard time trial tire width was between 19mm and 21mm; for road racing, 21mm-23mm was the norm.  While fast, these narrow tires are not very comfortable, which also impacts performance: the narrower the tire, the higher the tire pressure needs to be to support the bicycle/rider; high pressures ride rough, as compression of the tire is minimized, which increases road shock.  Wider tires can hold greater air volume, which means that lower pressures can be used to support the same bike/rider.  A benefit of lower pressures is that less road shock is transmitted to the rider; more importantly, wider tires and lower pressures shorten the tire's contact patch on the road, which decreases rolling resistance.*  An important ancillary benefit associated with wider, softer tires is potential increase in traction, which have macroscopic benefits (can corner faster, for instance) and microscopic benefits (the tire remains in contact with the road, even over rougher surfaces).

 

But simply slapping wider tires on your bike might not be the best strategy for race day. 

 

1.  A wider tire isn't always going to be faster or more comfortable--and the difference between a 23mm and 25mm on these two parameters will be minimal, within the range of error in tire pressure.
 

2.  Even if wider tires can be more comfortable and have less rolling resistance than narrow tires, they might not necessarily be faster--max width of a tire should match rim width; if the tire's width is too wide, then most aero benefits associated with the wheels will be lost, making for a much slower ride.
 

3.  Not all frames can accommodate tires 25mm or wider.  Tire width also is impacted by a rim's design, so the 25mm designation is only nominal, at best.  On a narrow rim, the same tire will be taller than on a wider rim, which makes the tire fatter (and which can cause clearance issues); on a wide rim, a tire will inflate fatter, which also can cause clearance problems.
 

4.  In general, narrower still is better aerodynamically than wider in timed events.  As frame and rim design evolve, wider tires can be better accommodated, with minimal performance loss.  And even then, in timed events, a narrower front tire will be quicker than a wide front tire, for a given series in a brand and for a given wheel

 

 

5. The safest recommendation for most bikes and wheels today is relatively simple.  Go with a high quality, 23mm tire in front (a Continental GP4000ii is a good choice); the same tire will work well in the rear, too.  If you have  modern, wide rear wheel, and if your bike has adequate clearance, then bumping up to 25mm is possible, though the performance difference over a 23mm won't be significant enough for most riders to note.

 

Tire pressure, though tied to tire width, is more critical than tire width alone.  Stick to 23mm in front, go with 25mm in back IF you are certain that it's a good match for your wheel AND if you have adequate clearance, and you'll be set.

 

 

 

*Tire patch and rolling resistance (for a future conversation!)





Escape from Alcatraz

posted Jun 9, 2017, 6:50 AM by Donald Vescio





The bike course is remarkably straightforward. Despite the number of climbs and descents, a tri bike is recommended, as approximately 40% of the course can be ridding in a full aero position to positive effect.

 

  1. The ~1.25 miles between transition and the Golden Gate Bridge are flat and follow the Bay (Section A)
     
  2. Taking a left away from the Bay introduces three steep climbs of varying length (Section B; this section is challenging)
     
  3. Descending back to the waterfront brings you to the middle section of the course, which is characterized by a long, but gradual climb to the turn-around (Section C)
     
  4. Returning back to the waterfront after the descent from the turn-around brings to the remaining three hills (Section D; this is the hardest section)
     
  5. Taking a right at the Golden Gate Bridge, you'll return to the final 1.25 miles to transition. (Section E)

 

Note that in ~18 miles that you will cover one-third the elevation gain (~1,100 feet) associated with the full Lake Place (112 miles) Ironman course (~3,000 feet)

 

The simplest way to think of this course is to

 

  1. Ride with a steady effort on the hills, attempting to maintain a cadence in the seventies/low eighties (if you can go quicker, so much the better, provided that you do not spike your heart rate). On the climbs, sit as upright as possible, making sure that your hip angle is open to facilitate power.
     
  2. Most of the downhills are relatively steep and technical; use the downhills in Section B and Section D for recovery (get out of the aerobars; drop shoulders to go faster, raise shoulders to scrub speed; think big gear, low to moderate cadence, very light pressure on the pedals to keep legs loose).
     
  3. This is a sprint triathlon, so I'd recommend that you push the hills relatively hard and use the downhills for recovery. Overall, your ride RPE should be a good 6 or so, low 7 if you're feeling good.  This should feel like one of your interval sessions (which it is, actually).
     
  4. A good amount of time can be gained or lost in Section C and Section E--this should be done at a high level of intensity, with recovery whenever you get a pause in the grade


Pacing

Section A: Use the opening 1.25 miles to transition from the swim and get your legs moving.  Suggest RPE 3; use your aerobars.  As you approach the Golden Gate Bridge--you'll be exiting a parking area), shift to your little ring before you make the left turn.

 

Section B:  Push on the hills in a smaller gear; no aerobars, try to maintain cadence in high seventies, minimum.  Use the descent after the first hill (shortly after a left turn, at the museum) for recovery.  The second hill in this segment is longer and tough; the descent after it is short, with a sharp left turn at the bottom--go easy.  The third hill is short; push it hard.  Use the long descent by Cliff House for recovery (RPE on the climbs--solid 7)

 

Section C: This is a long, gradual hill to the turn-around, and then a long gradual descent.  Use the aerobars whenever possible; monitor cadence carefully on the climb to the turn-around.  On the descent, push whenever possible; if your legs are feeling reasonably good, then go with a slightly bigger gear, slightly lower cadence, and let your HR drop. (RPE on climb 5-6; downhill 3-4)

 

Section D: This is the toughest part of the course.  When you return to the waterside, immediately go to a smaller gear and make sure that your cadence doesn't increase with the shift.  The goal in these few hundred yards is to rest both your legs and your heart.

 

The hill climbing by Cliff House is steep.  Go to your lowest gear at the base of the climb and be patient.  As the road breaks right at Cliff House, you'll get a slight break--use it to recovery, as the road then gets steep.  Climb toward a large blue-green building, which marks a left turn.  In the turn, rest; the next right turn opens on the steepest part of the course.  Stand as you exit the turn, and accelerate.  There will be two cross roads interrupting this climb--use them for recovery.  As you reach the top of the steep section of this climb, recover; you'll have a series of three short, but steep bumps before the climb actually is over. Recovery on the short downhill, and then push the next short climb (climb #6).  Recover on the downhill.

 

The last climb is long and hard, with the steepest sections toward the end of the middle third of the hill.  Push this hill over the top  (RPE 6-7) can try to maintain speed, but be careful as there are a few quick turns.

 

Section D: The final return--push hard, RPE 5-6, and back down speed once you get approx 1/4 mile from transition.  You'll see the boats in the marina as a cue. 

 

 

Notes, and Other Stuff

Click here for RPE chart.

 

While there is a lot of elevation gain on both courses, these are not  climber's courses; they are course that strongly emphasizes conservative approaches to pacing.

Ride this opening two-thirds of the courses relatively easy; get comfortable on the bike, take in nutrition, and easily spin your legs whenever you can.  On the short, steep hills, shift to a low gear, but be careful that you don't increase your cadence immediately after your shift  Use as little energy as possible on these climbs.  Watch for cadences below 70 RPM.

 If ever in doubt, be conservative in your pacing.  Any energy that you expend on your ride will carry a cost on your run; pacing too hard on the bike, even if you finish the ride strongly, will have a disproportionately negative impact on your subsequent run. 

 Always defer to RPE and not your HR or power data.  If it feels like you're riding at a hard pace, then you are.  Use HR and power as second level of importance information.

 

Focus on your RPE and cross reference it with your HR data (knowing that it likely will drift upward during the event) and power data.  Do not focus on average power for this course, as the variable nature of its terrain will depress your aggregate values.  On the uphills, try not to exceed 90% threshold power.

 While there will be fast segments on these courses, the key is determining where your hard efforts will get you a good rate of return.   Pushing the pace too hard will take a significant toll on your run.  Remember that you won’t be able to balance out a poor run with a quick bike split; be conservative! 

In the ideal world, where courses are flat to gently rolling, I’d suggest that power meter users think of riding the entire race at ~85-90% FTP, and perhaps up to ~90-93% FTP for lap two. Use your RPE, HR, and power data in terms of values NOT to exceed: “I will not exceed RPE of 7 for the steepest of hills,” etc. Immediately after these climbs, try to get your RPE down 2 -3. 

On the course's steeper descents, go to your base bars and drop your shoulders if you want to go faster, or lift your shoulders (don’t don’t lock your arms!) if you want to go slower.  Try to “float” on a bigger gear to keep some movement in your legs—use light force, at a relatively low cadence.  Consider the downhills as active recovery for the next hill! 

To repeat: if your HR and respiratory rates high: go to a slightly harder gear and drop your cadence by ~5 RPM; if your legs feel heavy, burning: go to a slightly easier gear and increase your cadence by ~5 RPM. 

Remember all the big gear work we did over the winter and spring.  On longer, steeper hills when your speed drops low, move up on your bars, slide back on your seat, push forward and down on your pedal stroke, and drop your heels on the downstoke. 

Be aero!  Tuck in your jersey if it's loose; minimize the number of large objects that you carry in jersey pockets, if any; use an aero helmet--and a rear disc, if you have one.

If it's raining hard and if rain is forecasted for most of the race, consider decreasing your tire pressure by approximately 5 - 10 lbs.  Brake well before a turn, gently applying pressure to the brake pads.  Try to cross any obstacles, railroad tracks, or road hazards as close to 90* as possible to minimize loss of traction.

In your race kit and special needs bags, include a simple cycling cap and four to five plastic grocery bags.  If it is raining hard, wear the hat brim forward underneath your helmet to direct water away from your eyes--this will help your vision considerably.  If it's raining and cold, consider placing one of your plastic grocery bags underneath the front of your jersey (not the back!), and even underneath the front of the legs of your cycling shorts.   This will help keep you much warmer.

 

Rev 3 Quassy (Olympic and Half)

posted Jun 2, 2017, 6:28 AM by Donald Vescio   [ updated Jun 2, 2017, 6:31 AM ]




General Comments

 

Both Quassy courses feature significant elevation gain: 1,700 feet for the Olympic, and 3,800 feet for the half.  To put this into perspective, both the Lake Placid and Mount Tremblant full distance races total ~3,500 feet.  What this means is that elevation gain for Quassy is approximately twice that of two major Ironman races, for equivalent distances.

 

This said, Quassy really isn't a climber's course.  There are many steep hills and a general upward trend for both courses, most of the elevation gain takes place in the form of repeated shorter, steep climbs that are punctuated by false flats and brief descents.

 

It cannot be overemphasized that pacing is critical for both courses.  Overextending efforts at the beginning of the course will have a significantly negative impact on the later stages of the bike, and even more so on the subsequent run.

 

Recommended pacing strategies for both races should be based on RPE.  Power and heart rate data will be too stochastic to be of much utility.  A secondary pacing metric should include cadence, as the nature of both courses' topography will tend to depress effective cadence ranges.

 

Divide the courses into two segments of unequal lengths: Segment 1 (to ~14 mile; ~32 mile), which runs approximately 2/3 of course distance; Segment 2, which runs approximately 1/3 of course distance.  Ride Segment 1 for either course very conservatively; Segment 2 can be ridden more aggressively, if conditions and exertion warrant it.





More specific recommendations, based on RPE:

Olympic: Segment One: 3-4; Segment Two: 4-5

(Aquabike 4; 5-6)

 

Half: Segment One: 3; Segment Two: 4

(Aquabike 3-4; 5)

 

 

Most of the road surface is in good condition.  Hills tend to be steep and easily visible in the distance. 

 

Momentum will play little role in climbing the hills (nb: don't bomb the downhills!); go into the hills in a relatively easy gear and try to maintain a cadence above 70 RPM for the bulk of the climbs.  Use the downhills to recover.  The downhills are not significant or technical enough to gain an appreciable time advantage.

 

Shorter version: go easy at the start; maintain a steady pace on the climbs; and rest on the downhills.  This is not a quick course, so adjust your time splits accordingly.

 

Remember, the first two-thirds of both courses are most critical.  Be conservative; if you're feeling good, then push on the last thirds.




Notes, and Other Stuff

  1. Click here for RPE chart.


  2. While there is a lot of elevation gain on both courses, these are not  climber's courses; they are course that strongly emphasizes conservative approaches to pacing.


  3. Ride this opening two-thirds of the courses relatively easy; get comfortable on the bike, take in nutrition, and easily spin your legs whenever you can.  On the short, steep hills, shift to a low gear, but be careful that you don't increase your cadence immediately after your shift  Use as little energy as possible on these climbs.  Watch for cadences below 70 RPM.


  4.  If ever in doubt, be conservative in your pacing.  Any energy that you expend on your ride will carry a cost on your run; pacing too hard on the bike, even if you finish the ride strongly, will have a disproportionately negative impact on your subsequent run. 


  5.  Always defer to RPE and not your HR or power data.  If it feels like you're riding at a hard pace, then you are.  Use HR and power as second level of importance information.

     
  6. Focus on your RPE and cross reference it with your HR data (knowing that it likely will drift upward during the event) and power data.  Do not focus on average power for this course, as the variable nature of its terrain will depress your aggregate values.  On the uphills, try not to exceed 90% threshold power.


  7.  While there will be fast segments on these courses, the key is determining where your hard efforts will get you a good rate of return.   Pushing the pace too hard will take a significant toll on your run.  Remember that you won’t be able to balance out a poor run with a quick bike split; be conservative! 


  8. In the ideal world, where courses are flat to gently rolling, I’d suggest that power meter users think of riding the entire race at ~77-80% FTP, and perhaps up to ~80-83% FTP for lap two. Use your RPE, HR, and power data in terms of values NOT to exceed: “I will not exceed RPE of 5-6 for the steepest of hills,” etc.  On the steepest of hills, shoot for an RPE of high five; on the downhills immediately after these climbs, try to get your RPE down 2 -3. 


  9. On the course's steeper descents, go to your base bars and drop your shoulders if you want to go faster, or lift your shoulders (don’t don’t lock your arms!) if you want to go slower.  Try to “float” on a bigger gear to keep some movement in your legs—use light force, at a relatively low cadence.  Consider the downhills as active recovery for the next hill! 


  10. To repeat: if your HR and respiratory rates high: go to a slightly harder gear and drop your cadence by ~5 RPM; if your legs feel heavy, burning: go to a slightly easier gear and increase your cadence by ~5 RPM. 


  11. Remember all the big gear work we did over the winter and spring.  On longer, steeper hills when your speed drops low, move up on your bars, slide back on your seat, push forward and down on your pedal stroke, and drop your heels on the downstoke. 


  12. Be aero!  Tuck in your jersey if it's loose; minimize the number of large objects that you carry in jersey pockets, if any; use an aero helmet--and a rear disc, if you have one.


  13. If it's raining hard and if rain is forecasted for most of the race, consider decreasing your tire pressure by approximately 5 - 10 lbs.  Brake well before a turn, gently applying pressure to the brake pads.  Try to cross any obstacles, railroad tracks, or road hazards as close to 90* as possible to minimize loss of traction.


  14. In your race kit and special needs bags, include a simple cycling cap and four to five plastic grocery bags.  If it is raining hard, wear the hat brim forward underneath your helmet to direct water away from your eyes--this will help your vision considerably.  If it's raining and cold, consider placing one of your plastic grocery bags underneath the front of your jersey (not the back!), and even underneath the front of the legs of your cycling shorts.   This will help keep you much warmer.

Ironman Zurich 70.3: The Bike

posted May 31, 2017, 10:42 AM by Donald Vescio   [ updated May 31, 2017, 10:48 AM ]



  • ·         Two 45km loops
  • ·         Two aid stations: Witch’s Hill and Goldengen; recommend feed at Goldengen, perhaps at Witch’s Hill lap two, and then Goldengen lap two
  • ·         Opening 10km is flat to slightly downhill
  • ·         First major climb is Witch’s Hill, at 10km (~1.5km, 7% avg grade, max grade 20%)
  • ·         Feedzone at top of Witch’s Hill; recovery for approximately 4km.
  • ·         Second major climb is Goldengen/Riederen at 14.5km (~4km, 5.5 % avg grade; long grind): NB, this is the most important climb on the course, where time is made or lost.
  • ·         Remainder of the course trends downhill
  • ·         Note that some of the course traverses narrow, single-lane roads
  • ·         A good Stava profile to visit is: https://www.strava.com/activities/681593 (note the consistency in power output on the flats and long hills—this is critical for a well-paced effort; segment data posted below)

  • ·         Assumptions: FTP ~270; fitness strong; CdA/Crr average.
  • ·         Strongly recommend negative splits, based on RPE and IF:

o   Lap One: RPE ~4, IF ~77-80%

o   Lap Two (assuming that you feel good) : RPE ~5, IF ~80-83%

o   NP Lap One :~ 215 – 220 watts; NP Lap Two: ~220-225 watts

o   Key is to monitor RPE—default to RPE if ever in doubt

  • ·         Hills—on Witch’s Hill, cap watts at 310; on Goldengen, cap at 270

  • ·         Manage effort on Witch’s Hill

  • ·         Recover on the downhill immediately after Witch’s Hill aid station; tempo on the long downhill after Goldengen (won’t make up huge time here; goal is to steady, but fast)

 

Strategies, Notes, and Other Stuff

1.       Click here for RPE chart.
 

2.       While Witch’s Hill have some steep sections, most of the course is much more moderate.  This is not a climber's course; it is a course the emphasizes a conservative approach to pacing.

3.       This is a two-lap course.  Ride this opening 10km at endurance pace; get comfortable on the bike, take in nutrition, and easily spin your legs whenever you can.  On the short, steep hills, shift to a low gear, but be careful that you don't increase your cadence immediately after your shift  Use as little energy as possible on these climbs.  Watch for cadences below 70 RPM.

4.       If ever in doubt, be conservative in your pacing.  Any energy that you expend on your ride will carry a cost on your run; pacing too hard on the bike, even if you finish the ride strongly, will have a disproportionately negative impact on your subsequent run. 

5.       Always defer to RPE and not your HR or power data.  If it feels like you're riding at a hard pace, then you are.  Use HR and power as second level of importance information.
 

6.       Multi-loop courses are ideal for negative splits (for instance, the second lap is faster than the first).  The key to this course is pacing.  Focus on your RPE and cross reference it with your HR data (knowing that it likely will drift upward during the event) and power data.  Do not focus on average power for this course, as the variable nature of its terrain will depress your aggregate values.  On the uphills, try not to exceed 90% threshold power.

7.       Go out on your first lap conservatively, with an overall average RPE of approximately 3- low 4.    If you're feeling good and conditions have not significantly changed during your first loop, bring the overall pace up to RPE 4 – low 5 on loop two.    Remember, if you go too hard on the bike, you'll have problems on the run.  At the beginning of lap two, assess and plan accordingly ("I'll ride the same pace/I'll ride a little harder").  

8.       Zurich can be a very fast course.  The key is determining where your hard efforts will get you a good rate of return.   Pushing the pace too hard will take a significant toll on your run.  Remember that you won’t be able to balance out a poor run with a quick bike split; be conservative! 

9.       In the ideal world, where courses are flat to gently rolling, I’d suggest that power meter users think of riding the entire race at ~77-80% FTP, and perhaps up to ~80-83% FTP for lap two. Use your RPE, HR, and power data in terms of values NOT to exceed: “I will not exceed RPE of 5-6 for the steepest of hills,” etc.  On the steepest of hills, shoot for an RPE of high five; on the downhills immediately after these climbs, try to get your RPE down 2 -3. 

10.   On the course's steeper descents, go to your base bars and drop your shoulders if you want to go faster, or lift your shoulders (don’t don’t lock your arms!) if you want to go slower.  Try to “float” on a bigger gear to keep some movement in your legs—use light force, at a relatively low cadence.  Consider the downhills as active recovery for the next hill! 

11.   To repeat: if your HR and respiratory rates high: go to a slightly harder gear and drop your cadence by ~5 RPM; if your legs feel heavy, burning: go to a slightly easier gear and increase your cadence by ~5 RPM. 

12.   Remember all the big gear work we did over the winter and spring.  On longer, steeper hills when your speed drops low, move up on your bars, slide back on your seat, push forward and down on your pedal stroke, and drop your heels on the downstoke. 

13.   Be aero!  Tuck in your jersey if it's loose; minimize the number of large objects that you carry in jersey pockets, if any; use an aero helmet--and a rear disc, if you have one.

14.   If it's raining hard and if rain is forecasted for most of the race, consider decreasing your tire pressure by approximately 5 - 10 lbs.  

15.   In your race kit and special needs bags, include a simple cycling cap and four to five plastic grocery bags.  If it is raining hard, wear the hat brim forward underneath your helmet to direct water away from your eyes--this will help your vision considerably.  If it's raining and cold, consider placing one of your plastic grocery bags underneath the front of your jersey (not the back!), and even underneath the front of the legs of your cycling shorts.   This will help keep you much warmer.











Bike Pacing and Nutrition Plan for Patriot Half Triathlon

posted Jun 16, 2016, 12:04 PM by Donald Vescio   [ updated Jun 16, 2016, 12:15 PM ]






[From Don]

About the Bike

The Patriot Half Triathlon, hosted at Cathedral Camp in East Freetown, MA, is a fantastic race for beginners or for those who want to optimize their pacing and speed for long course events.  The bike is a flat two loop course with little elevation change of note.   Most of the roads have relatively light traffic; there is one greater than 90* turn approximately 13 miles into the course, at the base of one of the course's few downhills.   

 

Because the this is a multiple lap, flat course, pacing strategies are very straightforward, provided two considerations are kept in mind.  The first is that all successful long course pacing strategies are predicated on the concept of negative spits. What this means is that the athlete rides progressive faster lap times as the race progresses.  In the case of the two lap Patriot course, the goal would be to ride the second lap faster than the first.   A negative split strategy provides opportunity for adjustment during the course of the event:  at the end of the first lap, assess whether you are feeling good or feeling poorly.  If you are feeling good, you can slighting increase your pace, shortening the duration of the second lap, while still remaining capable of completing a strong run.  If you are feeling poorly, then you can either maintain your current pace, or slightly decrease your pace in order to save energy so that you will have a reasonable run later in the race.   In terms of perceived exertion, for the first lap think in terms of a conversational pace in which you are breathing moderately heavily, but still can speak complete sentences. If you are feeling strong, pick up your pace for the second lap so that your RPE increases--you're breathing heavily, you can speak, but occasionally you need to pause to catch your breath before you continue talking.

 

The second consideration addresses gearing and cadence.  The nature of the course is such that you should not have to shift into your small chainring.   Try to avoid extremes of effort, using small changes in gearing to adjust your effort to your response and the conditions that you encounter.  The Patriot course offers an excellent opportunity to use cadence as a way to manage intensity and the systems that you use to produce power.  If your legs start to hurt, and if you want to maintain the same pace, go to a slightly easier gear and increase your cadence 3-5 RPM.  If you are breathing heavy and your heart rate seems to be drifting high, then shift to a slight harder gear and slow your cadence by 3-5 RPM to shift load back to the force part of the power equation.   Steady efforts, small changes, moderate pacing for the first lap are all key to successfully completing the bike portion of this race.  These recommendations are appropriate for athletes who are doing the full triathlon, as well as those who are competing in the aquabike division. 


Remember, if you go out too hard during your first lap, you'll burn all of your matches and fall into deficit for the remainder of the race.  For those competing in the full triathlon, the goal is to have a solid ride, but well within capacity so that you can have a strong run.  The run is the segment that holds the greatest risk for time loss, so exiting T2 relatively fresh is critical. For aquabike competitors, the same principle holds true--you always can go faster later in the ride if you feel good, but if you go out too hard, your pace will steadily drop, making a significant overall negative impact on your performance.

 

 

[From Elaine]

Nutrition

Most athletes love a good carbo load. And this is a good thing since research indicates that significantly increasing dietary carbohydrate for several days leading into an endurance event can enable you to perform at your desired race pace for a longer period of time. 

For a Saturday race such as Patriot, this would mean beginning on Thursday increasing dietary carbohydrates from healthy choices--veggies, potatoes, beans and lentils, whole grains, pastas and rices. The recommendation is consuming about 4 to 5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight each day. For a 150 pound person this comes to 600 to 750 grams of carbohydrate or 2400 to 3000 calories from carbohydrates. Minimize highly processed foods and high fat foods; keep a moderate protein intake to maintain muscle and provide some satiety. Hydrate well with water, fruit juices, coconut water, and sports drinks, but don't overdo it. Sports drinks are an effective way to get in carb calories and electrolytes. From Friday morning through the event, avoid high fiber foods, raw veggies, and too much dairy. 

 

Breakfasts

  • Good choices oatmeal, pancakes, fresh fruit, fruit yogurt, juice, bagels, jam, fruit smoothies

 

Lunches

  • Good choices--lean meat/poultry sandwich on hearty bread, white rice, cooked veggies, frozen yogurt, fresh fruit

 

Have dinner on the early side on Friday evening. Good choices include pasta with marinara sauce, grilled chicken, baked potato, bread, white rice,and cooked veggies.

 

Handy high carb foods/ snacks

  • apple juice (8 oz = 27 grams of carb; 108 carb calories)
  • applesauce (one cup = 41 grams of carb; 164 carb calories)
  • bananas (one large banana = 30 grams of carb; 120 carb calories)
  • bagels (one bagel = 48 grams of carb; 192 carb calories)
  • energy bars made from real food with minimal added sugar (i.e. Powerbar Performance Bar has 45 grams of carb; 180 carb calories)
  • fruit lowfat yogurt (six ounces = 26 grams of carb; 108 carb calories)
  • muffin (reduced fat blueberry = 75 grams of carb; 300 carb calories)
  • oatmeal/old fashioned (half cup = 54 grams of carb; 216 carb calories)
  • pretzels (one ounce = 23 grams of carb; 92 carb calories)
  • rice (one cup brown ride = 45 grams of carb; 180 carb calories)
  • sports drinks (20 oz of Gatorade = 34 grams of carb; 136 carb calories)

 


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