TSS

Hardest Race Ever Recorded

Click to view intervals Uhl in Eagle, ID – Heather and I did the 1,000 Warriors race this past weekend and it was tougher than I thought it would be. I actually have proof that it was the hardest race I’ve ever recorded at a whopping 382 TSS! By the time I met up with Heather and we rode down to our pick-up location in Sandy, the total was 421 TSS.

I may have gone over those numbers last year in the 170-mile Tour de Park City or a few years ago at the 203-mile Lotoja race, but since my PowerTap wheel is heavy and un-aerodynamic, I wouldn’t use it for “A” priority races. But this summer I got a deal on a Cannondale SuperSix and a wired Cannondale Hollowgram SI SRM and built up a new race bike, so I no longer have to decide between light wheels or having a power meter! I also broke my high-speed record on the north side of Suncrest with a speed of 63.5 MPH! That road is just made for going fast as I set my previous record of 62.3 MPH on it years ago when we lived in Utah.

I thought doing a double Bogus-to-Pioneer would be enough to prepare me for this race, but ending a 96-mile race up a 7-mile climb that averages 8% grade and gets near 10% in sections while it’s 100° out, was painful! Rather than give a detailed blow-by-blow, I’ll just say that I made it to the Sundance climb with the group and climbed it well, but then faded quickly on the last two climbs: Suncrest and Snowbird.

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Double Bogus

Click to view intervals Uhl in Eagle, ID – To get Heather ready for Mt Hood, and me for Elkhorn Classic, we rode early today to get in some serious climbing miles. We did a slight modification of our new favorite climbing ride: Riding up and over Seaman’s Gulch to Hidden Springs, then Cartwright to Bogus Basin Road, up to the Pioneer Condominiums, and turn around and return the same way. But today when we rode it, we rode the Bogus to Pioneer climb…twice!

View from Pioneer Condo parking lot.Since we knew it would be an epic day, we took it easy on the Cartwright climbs and just rode low tempo up Bogus the first time. Even so, it was still hard and when we got to the top I double-checked with Heather if she still wanted to do another one, and she confirmed she did. The second time up we pushed the pace and ended up splitting up a little ways up the hill. There were quite a few riders out and we saw a few of the competitors in the Camels Back Duathlon.

I pushed the Pioneer section of the climb as best I could and then refilled my bottles…again. Heather wasn’t too far behind and after she refilled, we headed down for the last time. It was nice and cool at the top and we really didn’t want to descend down into the heat in the valley below. The hill on Cartwright by the motorcycle park was even more painful than when we do Bogus only once, but somehow we managed to get over it in our 25s. Seaman’s wasn’t as bad, but we had a headwind the rest of the ride back to Eagle.

In the end it was a 104 miles with approximately 13,000 feet of climbing. I say approximately because Bikely, MapMyRide and my Garmin all report different elevation gains. Don’t know which one is “right” but all I know is that it’s a lot of climbing and we were both cooked by the time we got home!


Weekly Volume

Click to view all weeks Uhl in Eagle, ID – If I’ve learned anything over the past six years of training with a power meter, it is how to train efficiently. With things like TSS and ATL/CTL to help quantify training loads, I now regularly put in the same amount of training stress per week in 8–10 hours as I used to in 11–14 hours.

I’m not a fan of riding just to get in “saddle time”. When I get on the bike, I always have a purpose. With only a few weeks over 10 hours this winter, my fitness is better than it typically is this early in the season. That’s primarily due to training smart and by focusing on Sweet Spot training. The old school definition of “base miles” is gone and has been replaced with quality, FTP-building Level 3 and Level 4 work.

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Microintervals & Tempo

Click to view intervals Uhl in Eagle, ID – It's been a while since I've done microintervals. Actually, come to think of it I haven't done them since last winter, so it's about time to add them into the mix.

I started out with a nice 20-minute warm-up with a couple pushes. Then I did two LT intervals, with 30 seconds above FTP, then 30 seconds below. As my FTP is about 300 watts right now, the first set I alternated between 350 and 250 watts. It wasn't too hard, but the interesting thing is that the worst part of the interval is during the "off" portions. That's when you really feel the prior 30 seconds and you can't believe how fast the "rest" interval is over!

Click to view full-sizeFor the second LT interval I alternated between 320 and 280 watts. Even with less variation, it felt harder, probably because the first interval took it out of my legs! Not to mention, this has been an intense week of workouts! Ideally I try to do these at 450 and 150 watts for a bigger ratio, but I figured I'd start conservatively.

After that was done I spun easy for five minutes then did an hour at low- to mid-tempo. Ended up a 2:15 minute ride and 176 training stress score (TSS). Watching the 2008 men's Olympic road race with my music in the background definitely helps make the time go by quicker. Looking at the ride graph, you can see the microinterval-induced Bart Simpson heads in it.


One More

Click to view intervals Uhl in Eagle, ID – I just had to do another LT workout today, but this time I extended the ride after my 1x60 by doing 45 minutes of high-tempo. With warm-up, cool-down and in-between time it made for a solid 2:05 ride and 164 TSS. More importantly, I burned nearly 2,000 calories which means I don't have to feel guilty about the bowl of ice cream I just ate!


Reversing the CTL Trend

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Uhl in Eagle, ID – My Chronic Training Load (CTL) has stalled and even regressed a bit since taking my new job with Microsoft, but I finally feel like I'm getting into a routine and have had more energy for my workouts. Yesterday I did an hour and half on the rollers with one, 30-minute LT interval. Today I wasn't sure how much I would have in my legs for a 2x20 workout. Seems like I had enough.

I typically have lower wattages on my first interval than my second, so today I tried to make them a bit more even. I take a long time to warm-up and generate power so in order for me to increase the wattage of my first interval, I really have to focus. The second one never seems as hard.  As I started my first interval, I was happy when I was able to keep it around 285-290 watts without much effort. The second interval felt about the same and I was able to complete it at exactly the same wattage. During both intervals, I shifted every few minutes to vary my cadence, but overall they were mostly steady-state.


Thanksgiving Intervals

20071122crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – After returning from our cruise a couple weeks a go, we decided that we would just have a low-key Thanksgiving weekend. We both had medium-hard workouts scheduled for today. Heather did some torturous workout coach Alex planned for her, while I did another 2x20 LT workout out on the rollers

I wanted to see if I could do my intervals at a lower cadence, since yesterday I found using lower RPMs made it much easier to keep my wattage up. It seemed to work and the only reason the average power of my first interval was lower was because I was trying to get some videos to run on my computer. I have a computer set up in front of my rollers and use a wireless mouse and keyboard to access our music library, watch videos and even surf the web (usually reading the Wattage forums). But during my second interval I just put some music on and was able to focus on my power output. After my intervals, my legs felt like Jell-o so it must have been a good workout. Then we had a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at home and watched some DVDs later in the evening.


Record Emmett-Horseshoe Bend Loop

20071028crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – After a few easy days, today I went out and hammered! I did yet another Emmett-Horseshoe Bend loop. Instead of doing intervals, I just rode it at high tempo, pushing it on the hills. Of course, I always time myself on Old Horseshoe Bend hill.

In the back of my mind, I wanted to see how close I could get to my record time of 2:57, set last November. Even though there are better metrics to measure how "strong" a ride was (ave power or norm power) it's always fun to try to break your best time on a specific course. Looking back at prior loops, I have done it with a higher average wattage, which means that the wind conditions were favorable today. But since my FTP right now is fairly low, it definitely was one of the hardest 3 hour rides I've ever done!


RWA, BP and Other Roadside Acronyms

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Uhl in Eagle, ID – So when you're riding by yourself, you have time to think about things. I always noticed letters spray-painted on the side of the roadways and played a game trying to figure out what they stood for. Since I had the experience last week of being stopped by construction on Hwy 52, today while riding the same route, I was able to figure what they are for. They're used to indicate to the construction workers where to place the various construction signs.

  • RWA – Road Work Ahead
  • BP – Be Prepared To Stop
  • OLR – One Lane Road
  • Stick figure of a person – That's where the flagger is stationed

Pretty interesting...I'll have to remember those if I ever decide to get a job in road maintenance!

If you haven't guessed, today I did the Emmett-Horseshoe Bend loop again. This time, devoid of construction, I was able to do two solid LT intervals. Both felt harder than last time, probably from not enough recovery from Monday's MAP test. But it was a tough ride overall, as the training stress indicates. Now for some rest!


Peak 1-min MMP

Uhl in Eagle, ID – I didn't workout at all during our trip so today I made up for it. I went out and did a sprint workout and since I was in the area of the Can Ada hill, I decided to have a go at a 1-minute test. This is where I recorded most of my top 1-minute MMPs so it's become my usual 1-min testing ground.

I felt good going into the hill and started at the mailbox on the right side of the road. I stood for the first 15 seconds or so, then sat for the remainder. I knew I was going well, because after 55 seconds, I was further up the road than I ever before. Although, the20071007peak1min_2re was a tailwind today, so I wasn't sure if it was due to my power. It wasn't until I downloaded my ride that I confirmed that I had indeed broken my previous record of 589 watts with 608 watts!

I was really surprised as I had been watching my chronic training load (CTL) plummet lately as I've been taking weeks off the bike. But I guess it's true that short efforts benefit more from a long taper than long efforts. It made me happy that in spite of my functional threshold power (FTP) dropping, I could still break my 1-minute peak power. Now let's hope it's not a total inverse relationship! As I work to increase my FTP, I hope my anaerobic work capacity won't suffer too much!


Easy Long Ride

20070927crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – I wanted to get some good saddle time in as the weather has been great recently, but I didn't want to overdo it. So today I did a modified Hamilton Corner loop, but at an easy pace. I just tried to enjoy the weather and scenery and rode at an endurance pace. I noticed that my body did tend to gravitate toward tempo work, probably from all the tempo riding I did last year. But I restrained myself, which I'm glad I did because as the first long ride since I let my Chronic Training Load (CTL) drop to the 20's, I was hurting over the last hour and a half. I couldn't imagine what I would have felt like if I had gone harder early on. The training stress for today's ride confirms it was a fairly easy though, only 183. I can usually rack up over 200TSS in 3 hours when I'm doing tempo work. Again, there's only one place to go from here...up!


Can this be?

Img_0032Uhl in Eagle, ID – Not only did I hit the highest max power today, I also broke my 5-second record. The former is not a big deal; PowerTaps aren't the best power meter for capturing maximum wattages due to aliasing. But I'll take the 5-second wattage of 1,250, anyday! Ironically, that's exactly the sprint wattage goal I had set for myself back in November. I guess all the backing off I've done recently has a great side effect: a fresh nueromuscular system!

I do have a slight concern with the accuracy of my new PowerTap SL wheel, due the hub problems I've been having (I'm working with Saris on it). But the numbers are realistic. Just a few days ago, I was hitting near those wattages during another sprint workout and was suspicious of the hub's accuracy. So I came home and switched to our PowerTap Standard wheel. When I went back out, I did a couple more sprints and was able to produce similar numbers.

I would still like to finally get my hub issue resolved. It's disconcerting that once the torque is zero'd, the value will change when the wheel is rotated to a different position. The other thing is that if I zero the torque while stationary, it will then read 2-3 ft/lbs a few seconds later while coasting. Both of those things don't happen with our PowerTap Standard wheel. To add insult to injury, the XR300 rim I chose (aka, IRD's Cadence Aero Niobium) is making noise. When I mentioned this to Dave Thomas of Speeddream.com, he was able to reproduce the noise with his own set of XR300's. He thinks the noise is coming from the nipple/rim interface and offered to insert brass washers in my wheel. But I'm waiting to send him the wheel until I get the hub issue fully resolved. Sometimes I wish I didn't "upgrade" to the SL and just got an SRM!


Easing Back Into It

20070619crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – The reason it's been so quiet around here is because I've taken a break off the bike. I was feeling fatigued through the month of May and even though I reduced my training volume, my recovery remained limited. I was able to go hard from time to time, but when I did, it would knock me down for a few days. So after the Eagle Criterium, I took the whole week off the bike and started easing back into things this past weekend.

Today I did my first "hard" workout since my break. I just did a two hour ride with a set of 2x20's. They went well and I was able to knock them both out at 300 watts, but they did feel a bit harder than expected for that wattage. Hopefully that's just due to a slight de-training effect and being a little blocked. After the ride I didn't feel thrashed but will still take it easy the next couple days. I don't want to fall back into over-training, which is probably what my problem was in May.

I've been training fairly hard since October, with only a short break after Valley of the Sun. So in hindsight, it makes sense that I needed a break. From now on I'm going to plan more recovery time into my schedule, at the expense of a lower chronic training load (CTL). I have a feeling I've found my CTL ceiling of 100TSS/day, which seems to be a common limit as shown by the non-scientific poll I posted on CyclingForums.com.


Old Standby

20070506crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – I've been feeling better and better these last couple days so today I went out to do an old "standby" workout: 2x20's followed by tempo. This was the bread and butter of my winter training and it's been a while since I've done it. It was windy out again with gusts up to 30 MPH! But that's the beauty of using a power meter; I can still do a structured workout even if the resistance is highly erratic.

I headed out on my usual 2-hour loop. During my warm-up I was surprised to see my wattage in the 230-250 range. This was refreshing as it's been a while since my power has been higher than my perceived exertion! So after 15 minutes of warm-up I started my first 20-minute interval. It was easy to get my power up but I still wanted to be conservative, shooting for 290-300 watts. It felt easy on the lungs as I wasn't even breathing hard. My legs could feel the work, but they didn't burn, which was another good sign. I finished the interval with an average wattage of 298. The next one I went a little harder and managed 305 watts.

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Chicken Dinner Road Race

Kurt

Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today was super-windy, as forecasted, and in combination with the two back-to-back hills each lap, made today’s race a “race of attrition”. We had our full elite squad with Ben, Hugo, Kelsey, Ken, Ted and myself. Wind was steady at 20 MPH with gusts up to 40!

While getting ready for our start we watched as the earlier groups went by. Kurt, Intermountain Orthopaedics' fearless leader, was still grinning coming up the Deer Flat hill (first picture). All of the fields were shattered with hardly any groups bigger than eight riders. Henry was also smiling as he plugged aHenry2_2long (second picture). Maybe they were all delusional?

I got in a quick warm-up on the trainer with my PowerTap bike. I’m glad I brought it to warm up on, as it helped me determine whether the last two days of high power/low perceived exertion was a fluke or not. Power looked good and my legs felt decent, so not a fluke. But after my warm-up, we had the usual delays getting the race underway so we ended up standing around for a bit.

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Pre-Race Power

20070414crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today I did my typical pre-race ride which is a mostly tempo ride with a few "blow-out" efforts thrown in here and there. I had company as UTRider is in town and I wanted to meet this fellow cycling blogger. I told him what my plan was and that I was fine if he just wanted to hang on my wheel and get some free motor-pacing!

After a few minutes of chatting, I did my first LT push at a nice 320 watts for a couple minutes. Then I settled into high tempo range. Then I proceeded to do a few 1-minute and 30-second efforts, only recovering in high Level 3 in between. It was windy out and since UTRider is a tall guy, I felt sorry that he wasn't getting such a good draft, but I was impressed that he was able to hold on most of the time.

I ended with short form sprint, then we moseyed back to town and chatted some more. My power was really good, and like yesterday, I was wondering if something was up with my PowerTap? But again, the data from the download looks good, so maybe I'm finally coming into form! We'll see tomorrow as it will certainly be a race of attrition. With the hills and a high winds, only the strong will survive!


Bogus Time!

20070411crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Bogus Basin officially closed on Saturday and that means that the 16-mile road up to the lodge (17 if you go all the way to Pioneer Condos) is now devoid of skier and snowboarder traffic. This is a great road that climbs 3,500 feet above Boise and doesn't get much traffic when the resort is closed. So all the local cyclists head over there to do their hill work, which is what I did today. I headed straight out on Hill Road at a tempo pace then just rode high tempo up to Corrals and the cattle-guard hill. My goal was to do a couple 30-minute LT intervals and I wanted it to be pure climbing, which meant starting at the bottom of the switchbacks.

The first one was good, but my legs were feeling it the last 10 minutes. Even though yesterday's ride was short, it left an impact on my legs! As I was climbing, it got colder and I wasn't looking forward to the descent. That's the main problem with climbing Bogus during spring or fall—you work up a sweat on the climb, but even if you bring extra clothes, you still freeze on the descent! 30 minutes of LT got me to just before the 5,000 ft. sign. I stopped to put on my skull cap and zip up my vest, then headed down. The few times I could push the pedals on the descent my legs felt weak. So I bagged the idea of doing a repeat of the first interval. Instead I decided to include an interval on my ride home.

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VO2 Part 2

20070329crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – I did a second VO2 workout this morning and it went better than I thought it would. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to hit my target wattage after yesterday's intervals. I was shooting for 6x3 minute VO2 intervals with 2 minutes recovery. It was painful, especially doing them indoors, but I cranked them out and finished all six. Then I ate low-fat lunch in hopes of getting out for some tempo later this afternoon. It's a beautiful day out there with blue skies and light winds, especially compared to yesterday's wind!

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Well I did get out and did an hour and a half of straight tempo, minus a short stop for a flat. It was still a bit windy but not as bad as yesterday. My legs were feeling the intervals I did only a few hours earlier, so my tempo pace felt more like threshold. Overall a great training day!


Windy 5x5's

20070328crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – That ride on Saturday really kicked my butt! I rested on Sunday and Monday with a couple easy recovery rides, then finally felt good enough yesterday to do a sprint workout. Today it was time for VO2max intervals. I'm focusing on VO2 training for the next few weeks so today I went out for a set of 5x5's. Yesterday the winds kicked up and today it was still blowing like crazy! The winds have been blowing at 20mph with gusts over 40mph! But I figured, I'll be racing in conditions like this, so I might as well train in it!

I did two of the intervals into a headwind. They weren't so bad, but I did them on a slight uphill so it was pathetic to have to resort to my easiest gear (39x23), while doing an interval!!! I also did a couple with a cross-wind, which was a bit disconcerting as I was being blown around by the wind gusts. I even had to dodge a couple tumbleweeds! Finally, I did the last one with a tailwind and it was actually fun (well, as fun as a VO2 interval can be). Nothing like doing intervals at 14mph, then finally doing one at 26mph! My average power was good for all five intervals but I could definitely feel fatigue coming on during the last one. I spun home then added some roller time as a cool-down. This was one of my better VO2 workouts as far as hitting my wattage targets. Hopefully I can block-train some more VO2's, tomorrow.


Double Day

20070322acrop Uhl in Eagle, ID – This morning I thought I'd try my hand at some Anaerobic Capacity/Level 6 intervals. I've never really done any structured L6 work before, I usually use training criteriums and races for that. So this morning I went out to do them on the rollers, since I wasn't sure what was planned for our team ride this afternoon. So after a quick warm-up I started doing 2-minute L6 intervals with 1 minute rest. Well, by the time I got to the third one it was quitting time. I did try another but it only lasted 39 seconds. Oh well. Not sure what exactly was the problem, but morning rides where I don't eat much beforehand don't usually go well for me.

20070322bcrop So in the afternoon I was scheduled to meet with my team. I still wanted to get something accomplished beforehand so left early and did a sprint workout. Sprint workouts are fairly "easy" so I like to do them when other workouts don't seem to work. Plus, I just had couple rest/easy days, so it was a good time to do them. I did about 7 sprints and their wattage wasn't too bad, but my power did take a nosedive by the last three.

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Slammer Road Race

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Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today was the second race of the George's Spring Series, affectionately called the "Slammer" due to the proximity to the Idaho Correctional Facility. The weather was great and with our late start of around 12:30, it was warm enough to race in just shorts and a jersey. There was a wind, but not as bad as it can be out there in the open desert. But with only a couple small hills on the course, the wind is usually the biggest factor. Ted and I carpooled to the start area and got there early, so I had time to take a few pictures of other categories that were already in progress.

Img_0197 Starting for the Intermountain Orthopaedics elite were Ben, Hugo, Kelsey, Ken, Ted and myself. It was the biggest elite team contingent we've had in years. The race started fairly mellow with a couple guys eventually pushing the pace to "get a workout in". Once we were on Cloverdale, the crosswind became a factor and the attacks started flying. Ted and I were trying to only respond to the GC contenders for the series, and not worrying about non-GC threats. A little while later TH and KA went off the front, but the GC race was still in the main field so we didn't worry about it.

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Hardest Ride of the Year

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Uhl in Eagle, ID – Wouldn't you know it? After yesterday's walk in the park, today I put in the hardest training ride since Day One. Now, that's not counting the road race at Valley of the Sun, but as far as a training rides Intensity Factor (IF) for a given duration, today's ride is on top. Even surpassing that "magical" 5x20 ride I did way back in November. It's funny, because this morning I wasn't feeling like I had much in me. I still felt kind of fatigued from Sunday's rides. But after getting on the bike and doing my usual 5-minute LT push, the power was there so I decided to do a VO2 workout. I ended up doing six and a half, 5-minute VO2 intervals at 115% of my FTP. The "half" interval came from starting one on a road that had a traffic light. I was gambling that I'd hit it green, but I lost!

The intervals went well, although VO2 intervals always hurt, especially the last three minutes! After that I threw in a couple sprints then rode easy to El Paso and did an LT interval up it, just to get an idea of how long it takes when going at threshold. I rested after that effort then put it in tempo-mode for the rest of the ride. I stopped at Purple Sage golf course to refill on water, but got back on my bike as quick as possible and resumed my tempo. I slowly increased the pressure and the last 20 minutes I was approaching my Level 3/4 border. It hurt, but in that good, I'm getting stronger, kind of way! Total ride time was 3:13 with 250 TSS with an intensity factor of .88! That was one tough ride!


Extra Tempo

20070311cropUhl in Eagle, ID – Since this morning's time trial was fairly short (even with the warm-up and cool-down), I went out this afternoon to log some more saddle time. I rode my road bike and it was nice be back in a normal, upright position! It was also approaching 70°F...my kind of weather! It was still windy, but it was fun cruising with the tailwind on the way out. It actually felt easy to keep my wattage up so instead of doing Level 2, I rode mostly in L3/Tempo. Even when I had a headwind on the way back, it felt good to keep my wattage at the upper end of L3 and dabble in L4 a little. It was a short but intense little ride! Basically some extra Tempo time for a solid 781 TSS week!


Good LT Workout

20070304crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today started out looking like yesterday; overcast and fairly cold. I was hoping that it would warm up later in the day, so I decided to wait until the afternoon to ride. In the morning I visited a cycling buddy of mine who is in the hospital with acute leukemia. Jason's been going through chemo, but has good spirits and is battling this like he does his mt bike races! The good news is his latest bone marrow tests look great and he should be able to return home soon. There will still be more treatments in the future, but they'll be spaced out more and not as intense. In the meantime his old running club, Eastside Track Club, has put together a benefit race for Jason. It's a short, but very steep, hillclimb that is open to both runners and cyclists. It will be interesting to see who's faster on one of Jason's favorite training hills. He says his best time is 17 minutes...we'll see if anyone can beat it!

By the afternoon, the sun was out and the temperature finally got into the 50's. I headed out to do the Lactate Threshold (LT) workout I wanted to do yesterday: 4x15 minute intervals at 100-105% of FTP. It was extremely windy which I didn't mind because it would give me the opportunity to do intervals both with a headwind and a tailwind. I did the first interval up Hwy 16 with a tailwind. It's a gradual climb but the tailwind kind of negated it. My legs burned soon after I started the interval, but I was able to keep my power near my target so I continued on. It wasn't as easy as yesterday's 5-minute push and I started second guessing my choice to bag it yesterday?!

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Old Standby: 2x20's

20070228crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – I got back into my training plan today with a simple 2x20 workout on the trainer. I spent more time than usual in Level 2 during my warm-up while I made a minor adjustment to my position. When I finally started the first interval, my legs felt the same as yesterday...awful! But I chose a conservative target and managed to finish the interval with an average wattage of 292. During the interval, my legs felt so bad that I was toying with the idea of only doing one. But after five minutes of easy spinning, I squashed that idea! Surprisingly the second interval felt better...either that, or, I was just used to the pain by then! I averaged 297 Watts for the second interval even though I didn't really focus on the PowerTap. After the ride, I had that good feeling you get after a hard workout and was glad I didn't cut it short. I think my body is just not used to training after a week off; it probably just needs some time to get into the groove.


Mid-season Break

VolumeUhl in Eagle, ID – Ever since my great ride in Utah last week, I've be en off the bike; I've been taking a mid-season break. I call it "mid" season since I started training October 9, so over four months now. I figure I better do a planned break now than have a forced break due later (due to overtraining)! I've been able to get a lot of stuff done on our bikes and house during my time off and I'm ready to get back into it.

Today I did get on the trainer to "prime the pump" for tomorrow's real workout. I just did half an hour easy spin with a 5-minute push at LT, just to see how it feels...and it felt awful! My legs burned immediately and it felt harder than usual. For some reason I thought after a weekend of racing followed by a week off, that I'd be so fresh my legs wouldn't burn. Hmmm?! But then again, I got used to riding the road and the trainer always feels hard after that.

As you can see from my training load chart (also accessible in the right column of my blog), my chronic training load (CTL) has dropped a bit, to about 80 TSS/day. It was flirting with 90 for the few weeks before Valley of the Sun. My plan for the spring is to slowly bring it up to 110-120 TSS/day and try to keep it there all season long. With spring weather in the long-term forecast, getting that much volume in should not be a problem.


Old Stomping Grounds

2007_02_21crop Uhl in Sandy, UT – Yesterday we drove from St George to Salt Lake City and we're staying here for a couple nights since Heather has some business to do. I managed to get out for a great road ride today. I headed south on Wasatch Blvd and went up South Mountain. I tried pushing the hills and I kind of had to, since I only had a 39x23. Even when I raced this last year I had a 27-tooth rear cog, so today with the stiff headwind, I was crawling up it at 52 RPM! I figured it was great strength training!? The weather was just too nice to not ride; which was my original plan for this week after Valley of the Sun.

Photo_022107_001I headed down the fairly new, Suncrest Drive into Alpine. I meandered through Alpine from the back way and made it to the Highland Hwy. I decided that I was feeling good enough that I wanted to do more climbing so I headed up American Fork Canyon, part of the scenic Alpine Loop. This is a ride that Heather and I did often when we lived in Pleasant Grove. It's a beautiful ride. But I knew I'd be hitting snow at some point, but hopefully I'd be able to at least get to the Timpanogos Cave.

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Packfill

Img_6957Uhl in Tempe, AZ – That's basically what Heather and I were in today's criteriums...filler of the pack. I had nothing left in my legs today and just hung out at the back of the pack for most of the 50-minute criterium. With about 15 minutes to go, I started moving up but when I got up near the front of the field but I didn't have the power to stay there and thing were getting sketchy with 5 laps to go. So I just stayed safe until the finish and finished with the same time.

Before and after the race I had to deal with the issue of my missing placement in yesterday's road race, along with a bunch of other Cat 2's. Long story, short: I ended up getting 23rd yesterday with a 5 second bonus for third in the KOM on the fourth lap. I didn't realize there was a rider up the road at the time. I'm still not convinced the "final" results are totally correct—there were still people protesting when they started our awards ceremony, but I don't think it would have changed the top 10 at all. So overall I was 11th.

I'm sure Heather will write her super-detailed race report later, but to summarize, she also finished with the pack in the criterium and held onto her 7th G.C. position. Overall a decent weekend.


Digging a Hole

2007_02_05crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – I'm in the middle of a 3-day training block so today I went out for some Lactate Threshold (LT) work. I headed out at about one o'clock, and initially I wasn't feeling that great. But after a few minutes I stated to feel better and my power output wasn't too bad given my perceived. So I decided to do the Emmett–Horseshoe Bend loop. It's a great route to do threshold intervals since there are long sections of uninterrupted road.

I stated started my first interval right after turning north up Hwy 16 from Beacon Light. I kept the pace moderate, since I knew this was just the first interval of the set. I worked it all the way up to the top of the Freezeout hill which gave me a nice 22 minute interval with an average of 295 watts. Not bad considering it didn't feel that hard (unlike the trainer)...I just love being out on the road again!

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Sprints/VO2/Tempo

2007_02_04summary Uhl in Eagle, ID – I realize it's been a few days since I've posted but that's because I've been back training indoors, so there's not that much stuff to write about! But today it warmed up and I went outside for a great ride. I started with 6 sprints. I didn't get any super high wattages, but they weren't too bad, either. Then I did some Level 5 work with 5x5-minute VO2 intervals.

I started the first one on a flat road, into a slight headwind. When I started I was surprised how easy it seemed to keep my wattage up. Even after a minute, it was still in the high 300's. I thought I was going to fade, but my legs felt good so I decided to shoot for a 5-minute record on this one. If I was doing a straight interval, I would have kept it around 340, but since I knew the best I've achieved so far this season was 375 (on the Thanksgiving Day ride), I knew I had to shoot higher. I pushed it through to the end and managed to get 376...one watt higher than my season-to-date best! It still didn't break my all-time best of 389, but I was happy with it since I was able to do it on the flats. Both my season and all-time bests were achieved on hills, where I always get better wattage scores.

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Outside Tempo

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Uhl in Eagle, ID – The weather was great today so I went for an outside ride with a couple of my teammates, Ted and Ben. I spun on the trainer for half an hour before they showed up so I could "pad" my ride. Not to mention warming up indoors helps reduce the shock when you finally go outside. Even though it was sunny and warmer than it has been, it was still brisk out.

We went right into Tempo and sustained a great pace for about 45 minutes. Then we, or at least I, eased up a bit to eat. Then up Emmett Rd we pushed it again and I considered it a mini Lactate Threshold interval. We eased up on South Slope Rd, then rode Tempo up Old Freezeout and down Hwy 16. By then my legs were feeling it! It was a great ride and it was nice to get out with teammates. I definitely push myself more when I ride with others!


Recovery Week

2007_01_21tsswk_1 Uhl in Eagle, ID – Since Wednesday's workout, I've only done short rides. Partly due to the weather, but also be because I haven't been feeling that great. On Thursday I did sprints on the trainer (which never seem to do very much for me) and then on Friday and Saturday I kept the workouts really short as my warm-up effort at functional threshold didn't go so well those days.

But today I was able to get back outside. It was only 37°F out, but with bright sunshine and crystal clear blue skies I just couldn't resist. I did some sprints and a 5-minute test just for fun!? My test went OK, only a few watts shy of the 5-minute effort I put in on the Thanksgiving group ride. The sprints also went well even though it's been a while since I sprinted out on the road. When I was done, my fingers were frozen, but I felt energized. I think part of the reason I've been dragging is the dreary nature of those trainer rides. So this week was a short one, with only 356 TSS. But since the three preceding weeks were all respectable, I'm just chalking it up as a recovery week. Weather is supposed to shape up next week so it will be good to be fresh so I can put in some quality outdoor workouts!


Decent Workout

2007_01_17crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Wow, Saturday's ride took more out of me than I thought it would! I was dragging the last few days so I've only been putting in short, easy rides, with a complete day off yesterday. I realize that doing so would hurt my chronic training load (CTL) just when I got it up to my target of 90 TSS/day. But learning from last year, I'm going to listen to my body and not be a slave to hours, TSS or any other metric. Training is part science and part art!

But today I felt a bit better so I got on the trainer with the plan that if I felt good, I'd have a go at a 60-minute test. After a 30-minute warm-up with a 2-minute push at FT, I felt good enough to go for it. I turned on all the fans and started the interval timer. The first 10-20 minutes weren't that bad, and I purposely kept my wattage below threshold for that time period. Unfortunately, the next 20 minutes weren't as good and it was becoming harder and harder to maintain, let alone, increase my wattage as I had planned. So at the 40-minute mark I decided to make it a 45-minute LT interval. I kicked it up the last few minutes, but it was obvious that going for another 15 minutes would not have been pretty!

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VO2 Pain

2007_01_13crop_1 Uhl in Eagle, ID – Talk about cold, this morning it was a frigid 8°F! So obviously it was another trainer ride for me today. My resting HR was back to my normal low and I thought it would be a good day to do some VO2max intervals. I hopped on the trainer a little after noon and did a 30-minute warm-up. Within the warm-up I did a 5-minute push at threshold. I targeted 305 watts and ended up with an average of 311. It actually didn't feel too bad for a change. So all systems were go for the VO2 workout.

The workout consisted of 4x2-minute intervals, with 90 seconds rest between each interval. The goal was to do three sets, with eight minutes recovery between each set. The first two reps felt decent, but by the third and fourth, my legs were burning...big-time! During those reps, I'd start to justify quitting after two sets instead of three. Working at this level really hurts and it reminded me of the way I usually feel the first few races of the year. I plugged along and suffered through it.

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Getting the Miles In

2007_01_09crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – It was unseasonably warm in the Treasure Valley again today. The snow and cold is supposed to return tomorrow, with highs in the 20's predicted for the weekend, so I wanted to get the miles in while I can! I headed out west on Floating Feather then Foothill and eased into a decent effort as my legs felt extremely tired and heavy from yesterday's ride.

I headed west and then north towards Galloway. I took Galloway westbound and made a right on Middleton Rd. I saw a couple riders way up in the distance, so I "kind of" increased my pace to see if I could catch them (no competitive spirit here...nope, nope). Originally I was planning to continue west, but when I caught the two riders we started chatting and I ended up riding with them for the next hour. I joined them on their planned route whi20070109picch took us down Little Freezeout, north on Tom's Cabin Rd, then east on Hwy 52. We pushed the pace a little going into Emmett where we eventually parted ways. Even though my legs felt awful, I was committed to keeping it a long ride so I stayed on Hwy 52 while they headed towards Old Freezeout.

After a quick rest stop in Emmett, I took Hwy 52 towards Horseshoe Bend. On this section—one of my favorite stretches of road—I did 45 minutes of tempo. It felt hard and and I had to make a conscious effort to keep my wattage up. It seemed that anytime my wattage was over 230 they my legs burned! It was different than the weak-legged, bonking type feeling (like yesterday); this was more of a fatigue. Kind of the way my legs feel a few days into the first stage race of the season. I kept this in mind thinking, "at least I'm suffering now, and not during my first stage race!"

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Two in a Row

2007_01_08Uhl in Eagle, ID – It was warm and dry again today, so I was able to do a second outdoor ride in a row. Even though it was 50°F in Eagle by the time I got back, when I left for my ride this morning, it felt chillier than yesterday!? Between the higher humidity and a stronger wind, I was actually cold for most of the ride. It has been a while since I've done a ride longer than three hours so I headed out to do the Hamilton Corner loop. Since I knew I'd be on the bike close to four hours, I made a couple bottles of ride juice and brought lots of food.

I started out easy so I wouldn't bonk...at least not so soon. There was a northwest wind so I had a headwind all the way until Hamilton Corner. About an hour into the ride I slowly increased my effort, to about my Level 2/Level 3 border. At Hamilton Corner I made a right towards Emmett, but for about 5 miles there was another headwind! I hate it when that happens!?

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Outside Ride!

2007_01_07crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Yesterday I did a short, easy ride with a couple test pushes at threshold; both only two minutes each. During the ride my legs felt better than they had in a long time! I knew the weather was supposed to better today, that's part of the reason I kept it easy—I wanted to save it for today's ride! The forecast was correct and today it was in the 40's with no rain, so I was finally able to ride outside. Besides my St. George ride on Christmas Day, I hadn't ridden outside in three weeks! My resting HR was also really low this morning, usually an indicator that I'm well-rested. Over the past month, while I've been in my riding "funk", it's been 2-3 beats higher than normal, even after "rest" days. So today's number was another good sign.

I started my ride with intentions of doing a sprint workout, followed by some tempo. Just gotta do those sprints when I have the chance to ride outside! My max powers on the first few sprints weren't that great, but it's been a while since I've done a true sprint workout, so it was understandable. As I was heading west on Beacon Light towards Can Ada Rd. I thought maybe I should do a couple hard anaerobic efforts. So I turned north on Can Ada, and did an interval on that steep section of road. I cranked it all the way up and kept looking at the clock to make sure it was a 1-minute effort. If I'm going to do short effort like that, might as well make it a duration I can compare to past scores!

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VO2 to Tempo

2007_01_05crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today was another trainer ride. I wanted to do a VO2 workout, but I should have realized that wasn't such a good idea considering how awful I felt over the first ten minutes. But after half an hour I felt a little better so I did a 5-minute FT push. It felt hard but not severely, so I attempted a 2-minute VO2, but after just over a minute I quit. I knew I'd have trouble finishing just one, let alone a couple sets of four. So I spun easy for a few minutes and then did 50 minutes of tempo. Total ride time was 2:15 with 133 TSS and 223/234 ave/norm power.


Easy Ride

2007_01_04_1Uhl in Eagle, ID – Everything was frosty this morning but with the clear skies I was hoping the sun would warm things up. So I went to Pilates then waited until the afternoon to ride. But since the roads started out frozen, combined with the relatively high humidity, it didn't dry up as quickly as I thought it would. By mid-afternoon some high clouds rolled in so I decided to stay on the trainer. Just did 1.5hrs for 80 TSS and 216/222 ave/norm power.


Long Trainer Ride

2007_01_04crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – My legs felt heavy today after yesterday's workout but I still wanted to get a decent TSS ride in. I ended up getting wrapped up on a side project most of the day, so I didn't work out until Heather came home. So we rode together again this evening, while watching some more movies. I did a mostly Level 2 ride with one hour of tempo (Level 3) towards the end. I made sure I had enough food and water nearby so I wouldn't have to get off the bike.

Throughout my tempo effort, it became harder and harder to pay attention to the movie, so we switched over to music. I finished off the ride with a 15-minute cool-down. I thought I rode for 2:15, but since I forgot to clear my PowerTap before I started, I wasn't really sure how long the first part of my ride was. So it was an added bonus when I downloaded the ride and saw that it was two and a half hours...I think my longest indoor ride ever! I don't have the "trainer" gene like Heather does (who's known to put in 5-hour trainer rides). So for me, anything over two hours is an accomplishment. Exact ride time was 2hrs 31mins with 149 TSS and 230/234 ave/norm power.


Mishmash Workout

2007_01_02crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Monday was a recovery day for me so I only did 30 minutes of L2 on the trainer. Today I thought I'd be fresh enough to do a VO2 workout, but maybe I needed some more rest! I wanted to do 6x5min VO2 intervals. I shot for a higher wattage than my last VO2 session, and I had success in the first two. But on the third one I started out harder, then just died after only two minutes. Even though the average wattage for the third interval looks good, it's only because I started so hard. My power was quickly dropping after 90 seconds and my legs were hurting so bad that I knew I wouldn't be able to hold on.

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End of a Good Week

2006_12_31crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Nothing special today. I hit the gym to do some extra cardio, but without fans, I didn't go as long as I wanted to. I only did a combined 30 minutes on the treadmill and stair-mill. When I got home, Heather was at the end of her LT workout so I jumped on the trainer and we watched another movie together. I threw in some sprints since I hadn't done them all week. Then I did one VO2 effort, with the last 30 minutes at or near tempo. My ride was 1:30 with 92 TSS and 219/239 ave/norm power. This puts my total TSS for the week at 742, finally. It's been a while since I've gone over the magic 700TSS/wk mark. But now that I'm feeling better, I'm planning to keep it up.


Tempo Couple

Img_6849_2 Uhl in Eagle, ID – Just another 2-hour indoor ride today. Heather and I rode at the same time while we watched a movie. She did her entire ride at tempo, whereas I just did an hour of tempo. I made sure I ate more during the ride so my legs didn't feel weak by the end. But when I got off the bike they felt heavy! Funny how a 2-hour trainer ride can feel so hard on the legs. I guess pedaling non-stop with no coasting at all, really makes a difference. I've heard people say that two hours on the trainer is like three on the road. Not sure that's exactly true, but 2006_12_30cropit is efficient since you completely take downhills, intersections and flat tires out of the picture. Anyway, riding indoors has other benefits; like being able to eat stuff I normally couldn't take on the bike...like Dulce de Leche! I picked up a can at a hispanic market when we were in St George. It's packed with carbs (sugar) and has some protein (milk) so it's actually a great post-ride treat. It even isn't bad during a ride. Mmm, mmm! Total ride time was 2 hours with 122 TSS and 234/238 ave/norm power.


Easy Level 2 Ride

2006_12_29 Uhl in Eagle, ID – I just finished my first Level 2 ride of the season. With my focus this winter on quality over quantity, all the workouts I've been doing have included some sort of effort (Tempo, LT, VO2). But with my training stress balance (TSB) looking so green (positive) this past month, I realize that I need to start adding some volume. Since I knew I wouldn't be able to handle another "hard" day like yesterday, I decided to ride Level 2 for a couple hours. If it was warmer outside, I would have gone longer, but two hours is about all I can manage indoors. After all the intensity I've done, today's Level 2 ride felt like a walk in the park! Although, by the last 20 minutes, my legs were feeling weak; probably due to a late start and not having eaten since breakfast at 6 AM. I basically kept the wattage constant but I did stand up for 30-60 seconds every 15 minutes for saddle relief. The ride was two hours even and 99 TSS with 212/214 ave/norm power.


Completed a VO2 Workout

20061228crop Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today I wanted to put in another solid effort so after yesterday's tough workout I made sure I ate and drank enough so I'd be ready to go hard again this afternoon. I intentionally waited until late afternoon so I'd hopefully be more recovered. I headed out to the garage to do the entire workout on the rollers. I set out to do VO2 intervals. I planned on doing three sets of 3x4-minute intervals, with recovery periods of four minutes between reps and eight minutes between sets. This is one of the workouts from the sample training plan in the book Training and Racing with a Power Meter.

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Back into the Routine

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Uhl in Eagle, ID – After a mellow day yesterday catching up on things around the house, then jumping on the trainer for only 20 minutes, today I hit it pretty hard. It was warm outside (~45°F) but as is usually the case in the winter here; when it's warm, it rains. So I was on the trainer again and did a Level 3/4 workout. Initially I set out to do another 1-hour test, thinking I'd be ready to put in a good performance since I only had one "real" workout since last week's attempt. I also wanted to try using a really low cadence to see it would feel. But after 10 minutes of purposely using a lower cadence, I could tell I wouldn't last an hour and turned it into a 2x20 workout.

I kept the wattage pretty high for the first interval and achieved a respectable 321 watts. I switched to the rollers for the second interval and tried to keep the cadence low, but my legs were really hurting by that point. So I shifted and increased my cadence to around 90...still not near my typical TT cadence of 103. But I figure I should mix it up a little so my body gets used to pushing hard at various RPMs. The second interval wasn't nearly as good but still decent at 312 watts. After that one, I refilled my bottles and got back on for another 49 minutes of tempo then a short cool-down. Total ride time was an even 2 hours with 153 TSS and 250/267 ave/norm power.


60-minute Test

Img_6837 Uhl in Eagle, ID – Our living room becomes a workout room during the winter with all the trainers, fans and makeshift tables (for remotes and other riding paraphernalia) but it's just so much nicer than riding in the cold, ugly garage. For today's test I decided to ride the trainer. Since I knew today would be hard, I turned off the heat early this morning so the downstairs would stay cool, then moved Heather's fan towards my trainer and brought in the fan from the garage. For most of my workouts, the ceiling fan and some of the wind from Heather's fan is usually enough, but I knew today I needed all three pointed directly at me!

After getting everything set up, I hopped on warmed up for 15 minutes with a 2-minute threshold effort. Doing 300 watts felt harder than I thought it should and I got my first clue that this 1-hour test was going to be difficult! After a quick stretch and setting all the fans to "high", I got back on the bike for a few more minutes of L2 then started into the test.

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Tempo w/Bursts

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Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today I did a 45-minute tempo interval with sprints every 3 minutes. It was a good workout and I was surprised that the ave power for the interval was 280...creeping into threshold/L4 territory. It was mainly due to the sprints, which on the trainer I was doing at ~600 watts. So I'll still classify it as a tempo interval. Since it didn't feel that hard, I think I'll try a 60-minute test tomorrow. I'm curious as to what my hour-wattage really is. Even if it isn't that great, it will still be a tough workout. We're heading to St George for Christmas and we're not sure we'll be able ride there...we'll probably just do cross-training. Today's ride was 1hr 5mins and 87 TSS at 253/274 ave/norm power.


6x4 VO2s

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Uhl in Eagle, ID – Over the weekend it got much colder so I was back to riding indoors. Saturday and Sunday I just did a couple hour-long tempo rides with Heather while we watched Season 2 of Lost. Today I got a late start to my ride because I was wrapped up with some enhancements to my Excel-based training diary. I've updated my interval charts to display ride summary information. I also added an "info-panel" to my training load chart, showing the current day's details. There's now a link to my latest PMC on the right-hand side of our blog.

Back to my ride...I wanted to do a hard ride so I set out to do 6x5min VO2 intervals. Since my last few attempts at these failed, I targeted the lower end of my L5 range so I could complete all six of them. I did the first three on the trainer and they actually weren't that bad?! My legs didn't start to burn until the third one. Since I was getting toasty riding in the living room, I switched to the rollers in the garage for the last three. Although it was nice and cool, the intervals continued to feel progressively more difficult. I did manage to keep my wattage up, so it was just a matter of mind over pain! For the last one I kicked it up to 380 watts for the last minute..."blowing out the pipes" so to speak.

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