Saturday, January 25, 2014

Spin, spin, spin your legs - cadence and Etape training

One of the more recent studies I've found shows that a cadence of 80-90 RPM has about the best efficiency rating on the flat. Most pros ride at between 70 and 90 in the hills. Froome holds 100 on climbs - bursting to 130 in sections of the last Tour. Top time triallists spin up to 120 and hold it.

I'm nowhere near that. Traditionally I've always favoured slower, with more power. It means I'm inefficient. During my bike fit my relaxed pedaling cadence was about 70 and my effort speed not a lot more than 90. The winter is a great time to work on this.

So for my first turbo session of 2014 I cranked down a few more gears than usual then tried to hold my heart rate in Zone 2 spinning my legs like a loon. My cadence was somewhere north of 90 - excellent - holding it there was a pain, but I was trying to get used to the rhythm.

The next thing I wanted to find out was the cadence I used during my commute on my single speed. Some maths later and I worked out a cadence of 90 equates to about 31.5kph.

Looking up some recent commutes, I was holding that sort of speed on the flat - which is good. But it hurt like a time trial effort - which is bad.

Hopefully a a couple of months of winter training I can get my riding cadence up as a matter of habit, extra efficiency might be all that gets me through Liege-Bastogne-Liege (a mere 93 days away....)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Etape du Tour training starts, again

On January 6 I landed back in the UK after a trip to see family and friends over Christmas and New Year.

I got on the scales.  I was 5 kilos over my Etape weight and hadn't been on a bike of any description for weeks.

But this year the schedule is more punishing. By April 20 need to be able to ride more than 250ks and climb 5,000 metres for Liege-Bastogne-Liege and in July I'm not just riding the Etape up two of France's most famous climbs (as if that wasn't enough), I'm following the Tour around for a week, riding the climbs to get a good spot to watch the pros.

Drastic action was needed. I bought new sun glasses.

On a more serious note, training this year will be different. It has to be.

Firstly, I've had a year (well, 7 months) of cycling and training a lot more seriously than I had last year. And that means I know a lot more about myself and the bike than I did last year.

Last year I followed an online guide to get from someone who really couldn't ride a stage of the Tour De France into someone who just about could.

This year I need to push on. I know what worked best for me (mid-week turbos and long weekend rides with friends, ideally sportives) and I'm trying to kick on.

Base miles, while key, will include intervals. So will commutes to and from work (it's only a 15k round trip, but every little helps). Where last year at this stage 100k in one ride scared me, this year I need to be riding 160-200k at the weekends pretty regularly.

I've also got a bit of physio planned to try and get my body into a shape that can sit on a bike for 12 hours without falling apart.

I'll also be dieting less seriously, I knocked 10 kilos from my weight last year - this year it's only 5. So hopefully eating properly and training will do that for me without the need to calorie count.

And new equipment, of course.

Along with the sun glasses (Oakley and matching my bike's colour scheme, of course, albeit ones that were 40% off), I'm thinking of investing in some top-of-the-line bib shorts to maximise comfort.

And new wheels. My frame is already far better than the rider that sits on it, and I've got a second-level groupset (Ultegra) but the wheels are far from elite - Shimano RS20s if you care. I can knock 400g off my bike's weight, lower the rolling resistance and get better aerodynamics with a new set.

As my experience withe the Airstreeems showed, wheels really do make a difference, so now I'm waiting for a good discount to appear. And getting back on the turbo.

What are your training plans for this year and how have they altered from last year?