Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Fastest way to Increase your Speed.

I rank cyclists right up there with golfers when it comes to thinking that it is the bike or clubs that are slowing you down. If I only had a new carbon fiber handlebar, I would have won the sprint… Not the case at all. A good set of aerodynamic wheels (aero is better than lightweight in all cases except uphill time trials) will bump up your speed a bit with the only strain being on your wallet. I’m going to talk about a few other ways to get faster and save a few dollars along the way.

Positioning – Remember the aero trumps lightweight comment, even when you are not in the aerobars on a time trial, the vast majority of your cycling effort is overcoming the wind. Developing an aerodynamic position that allows you to remain comfortable and put down some power will add lots of speed. Narrow and low is the direction you want to head, making sure you are still comfortable to maintain your power output. If you only ride on the tops and then switch to the drops during a fast ride or race, you are headed for trouble. Practice your aero position often and get some easy speed.

Body weight – Nobody ever takes into account the complete bike, rider and gear weight. How many times have you seen someone with the new super XLSSL featherweight bike loaded down with 3-4 waterbottles, laptop computer, seat bag with the entire Park tool catalog and 6-7 spare tubes, etc. roll up on a ride? I’m not even mentioning the fact that most of us can stand to lose a few pounds on our bodies. Saving 30 grams on your new seat is about one swallow of water. Think about this the next time you blame your lack of speed on the bike. If you are getting dropped on hills, your power/weight ratio is the key factor. This is the power/weight of the entire package, not your watts/naked bodyweight and advertised bike weight with no pedals. Load up for a ride and before you get on the bike, grab it and get your entire getup on the scale. Now chuck everything you don’t really need and see the difference. Free speed!

Power – The first two were easy, now we have to work a bit. This too is free unless you hire a coach who will help you get the maximum return for your training time investment. We have seen clients add 2-3 mph in less than a year to the average speed they are able to maintain by focusing their training time. The majority of our clients are regular people who have families and jobs and work hard to carve out 8-10 hours a week to train. This is plenty to get some good speed in and be faster than your friends, which is really all that matters.
In summary, if you have to buy something, get some aero wheels. I am a huge fan of the Zipp 404 with Powertap and use these as training and racing wheels. Drop weight from your gear and your body to help with your climbing. Focus your training and get a coach to help you if you are unsure, the investment will pay handsomely in a short period of time.

Good riding – Coach Kevin

Monday, March 17, 2008

Trek 2300 FOR SALE!

TREK 2300 Full Ultegra - $1100.00

The perfect bike for somebody looking to get started cycling or even racing. This Trek 2300 is a few years old and hasn't been ridden in over a year (since I got my new bike). I've kept it around thinking I'd race it, or ride it in the rain, or set it up for my wife or... well, you know how it goes!
Anyway, it's just been hanging in my garage, so now I need some cash and it's for sale.
~2000 miles
Full ultegra
Upgraded carbon bars and stem (ITM with internal cable housings)
New drive train at 1500 miles

Paid $2000 new. Added $500 in upgrades. Asking $1100.
Email me for more photos or questions.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Bicycle Awareness

As spring rolls in, watch out for the cyclists on the road!

This commercial is great...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ultracycling – training for long distance riding

Ultracycling is the extreme end of the distance bicycle racing world with the RAAM (Race Across America) the ultimate challenge. 12 & 24 hour events as well as set distances of 200-500 miles are more common and manageable even for us mere mortals.

With so much information available about training, how to sort the wheat from the chaff to help you ride long distances fast? The Ultracycling world is dominated by riders 40 years of age and up. Go to an event and I guarantee you’ll see some gray hair leaving you in the dust. The speed that these animals can maintain seemingly forever is unbelievable. Just take a look at the results from the recent 24 hours of Sebring: http://www.altavistasports.com/results/2008results/bikesebring24hour021708.html

There is a lot more to training for this type of event than simply piling on the miles. If your goal is to simply stay on the bike for 12 or 24 hours, slap on a gel seat pad and some training wheels and try to stay awake. If you want to ride 200, 300, 400 or more, you need to have some speed along with your endurance. I’m going to share some of my own training for these events over the coming year as well as power data from specific workouts and races.

Winter Training – Averaging 8-9 hours/week does not seem like enough to be able to ride hundreds of miles in February but I managed to get in 309.9 at the Sebring 24 (17:15 in actual ride time, read the race report to hear about my nap) This averaged out to 18MPH in avg. riding speed, better than I had managed at any 12 hr race last year. I was hoping to have an average NP of 140 watts and was just above that.

Duration: 16:07:41 (18:13:02)
Work: 7199 kJ
TSS: 747.5 (intensity factor 0.684)
Norm Power: 144
VI: 1.15
Pw:HR: 6.44%
Pa:HR: -2.77%
Distance: 291.227 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 637 125 watts
Heart Rate: 83 248 133 bpm
Cadence: 29 141 90 rpm
Speed: 0 29.5 18.0 mph
Pace 2:02 0:00 3:20 min/mi
Hub Torque: 0 277 46 lb-in
Crank Torque: 0 951 121 lb-in

You have to ride fast for short distances if you want to ride fast for longer periods of time. Think about that for just a second, If you find it hard to hold 20 mph for a while on a training ride, riding a century in under 5 hours is going to require one heck of a tailwind. Knowing this I spent most of the winter working on quality intervals from 20 sec max sprints to 10 min FTP range work (TT pace). Not making to time to ride lots of “base miles” as everyone would think, the last few years of steady riding were my base. 2-3 interval workouts a week with the vast majority of these teaching indoor cycling classes to my advanced disciples. This was a huge benefit in keeping my intensity higher than I would have with solo training.

In summary, I have been able to increase my FTP over the late summer high even though I am still only hovering around 220 watts. Aero positioning and pedaling efficiency cannot be overlooked at these longer distances as I am sure lots of people reading this are not averaging 18mph with 140 watts. Increasing my Spinscan #’s on the computrainer to around 80 has given me some free speed and allows me to stay fresh when I have to push on a climb.

If you are not doing any interval work, start today and you will get faster. Next post I will share a few of my favorite workouts as I get ready for Calvin’s Challenge 12 hour ride in May.

Good riding – Coach Kevin