What's Cool In Road Cycling

Real Rider PEZ: RACE DAY Is Here!

This is it – no more excuses, no more time, no more training – this series of Training For the Real Rider is about to close as the big day arrives Saturday. All the hay is in the barn. I repeated our benchmark Hill Climb and MSS tests, and the early reports are looking good…


If seeing is believing – then the machine is ready!

We embarked on this 8 week program to cash in on my solid winter base of winter training miles prepped for and earned at the Spring Classics in April, and to notch my fitness level to hopefully carry me to a new personal best in Saturday’s 67km Test of Metal mtb race. It’s 800 riders, mass start, verrry hard, and my time to beat is 4 hours.

As a “Real Rider” – I’ve only had about 8-10 hours a week to ride and train (I know – it’s pathetic) – and I don’t even have kids yet! I’ve been in the hands of FasCat Coaching’s Frank Overton, who has had me working to improve my maximal sustainable power with a ton of hard-ass intervals in the past few weeks.

The program started strong – I was full of enthusiasm and a youthful piss & vinegar – that had me out attacking the early workouts like a PEZ possessed. We initially completed a hard block of 4 weeks training, that left me a lot more tired than I expected.

This was perhaps the hardest part of the whole program – dealing with what seemed like chronic fatigue in the past 3 weeks. As Frank and I talked every couple of days, we paid close attention to how I felt – and in an effort to maximize my performance and quality of training Frank prescribed a lot of rest days. In fact 17 days off the bike out of the last 28. (See “The Art of Tapering”)

I was worried that I had dug myself a hole that I’d never get out of, from the increased intensity I was doing, but I’m happy to report that things seem to be looking good. Last Saturday I went back to Cypress Mountain to repeat my benchmark hillclimb test. I was well-rested and psyched to see how much I’d improved.

THE HILL CLIMB TEST – ROUND 2
Round two of the Benchmark test was run on exactly the same course, on exactly the same bike, same clothes, weight, everything as the first one. The 10 minute test was run on a 7% climb, no cars, no stops – and I covered 3300 meters exactly. How much further did I go? – a full 80 meters past my first test.

I was on the rivet the whole time, and honestly thought I’d feel better and stronger than I actually did. My speed seemed about the same, and the gears I used were about the same – no noticeable diffs there. My HR was constant at 172-174 bpm – and my speed averaged around 16kmh.

But I wasn’t as thrilled as I expected with my performance, so I went for some more climbing to test the legs. I tacked on about another 45 km and a series of 3 hard steep climbs that each gained 150-400 meters, and included pitches up to 15%.


An unexpected benefit… Mrs. Pez’s approval!

This was where I noticed a real difference. I rode a steady tempo over all the climbs, and felt strong through the rest of the ride – all the way back home. Later in the day I was tired – but not as tired as I’d been on previous rides. It seems like the rest days have finally done their magic, and I even felt that old “snap” in my legs that had slowly disappeared as I increased my workout intensity.

What I noticed was my strength (coaches ed: sustained power & muscular endurance) on all the climbs seemed better than I had expected. I did not fade as much at the end as I have been. So this is a good thing.

Even Stephen weighed in on my progress: “As you guys might remember, I grew up in Vancouver and am intimately familiar with the route Rich described. There’s absolutely nothing easy about what Rich did today! Rich, even if you did not actually end up going farther in your climbing test (absolute workload at threshold), your description would suggest that you’ve gained in endurance, namely the ability to sustain that high workload for a longer period without fatigue. That is just as good a sign for your upcoming MTB race, where your main goal is to pace yourself and to be able to sustain that hard work for a long period of time. Remember that “fitness” does not mean just going faster on one particular test or interval.”

MSS Round Two: Feel da Paow-Whaaa!
On Tuesday I repeated the MSS test we did at the beginning, to see what changes I achieved in my power output. Last time, I ran the eight minutes at “threshold” at 225 watts, and 168 heart bpm. Today, I ramped back up and did 235 watts at 169 average heart rate. That, my friends – is a 4.4% INCREASE in POWER! Yeah baby! Bring it on I say! Franks tells me that 4.4 % is some real meat in just 8 weeks.

Sooo… This rest of this week will be tapering and rest, and then Saturday we’ll see how far we’ve come…

Frank’s Expert Analysis
Rich has come a long way in a short period of time. Eight weeks is not a lot of time for dramatic improvements. However, with Rich’s extensive and lengthy background as a cyclist (he’s been riding since 1983) plus his Spring Classic training, the foundation to take “it” a notch higher was there.

We started off in early May with several course & event specific workouts. I closely monitored Rich’s workouts and recovery. In order for Rich to realize improvements from these intense workouts it was imperative that we stayed on top of his recovery.

By the end of May, we modified Rich’s program and bumped up his planned recovery block by one week. Rich took it super easy during this time and allowed his body to adapt to all the training he had done. Result: he came out of this “regeneration” period refreshed and ready to forge on.

As the Test of Metal race nears, I began tapering Rich’s overall training load to minimize all the accumulated fatigue without compromising any of the beneficial adaptations that he worked so hard to achieve. As a result, Rich said it best: “I even felt that old ‘snap’ in my legs”. As part of Rich’s taper, I maintained his training intensity but significantly reduced his training frequency and volume—all the rest days that Rich cited above.

Yesterday, Rich performed the same maximal steady state test on his CompuTrainer as he performed back on April the 20th. At that time his MSS was 225 watts. Now its 235 watts – a 4% increase. Great job Rich! Good luck and kick some aasssssssss!

Stay tuned and we’ll let you know how the big day goes…


Need some training advice?
Check out Frank at FasCat Coaching, and Bruce Hendler’s Athleticamps

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