Friday, October 30, 2009

Speed & Power in Italy DVD Review

Over the past several years I've trained a lot indoors. I've tried watching training videos, but never got much out of them. I don't want to watch a video showing people riding on trainers, with someone barking out instructions like I'm in a spin class. I'd much rather watch something that tries to get my mind away from the fact that I'm sitting in my basement. I always watch something while I'm riding indoors: TV shows, news, sports, movies, bike races. All those things serve to keep my mind from dwelling on the mundane and sometimes painful workout I am trying to complete.

Recently, for a change of pace I decided to watch a DVD called "Speed & Power in Italy" by Global Ride. From the description I could see that this would be a simulated hour or so fast ride through Italy finishing with a 10 minute climb. Perfect. I usually ride about an hour, with tempo and threshold being my bread and butter. I started up the DVD in my laptop, cranked up the volume to 50 and put the ear buds in place. Some day I'll have a big wide screen down in the man hole, but not yet.

The video starts out in Venice floating through water with coach Matty Reed starting you on a brief warm-up, while Vivaldi plays in the background. After a couple of minutes the road ride begins as you ride with a couple of riders on some narrow Italian roads. The classical music was only for the brief warm-up and is replaced by some more upbeat instrumental stuff. I pedaled along watching the two riders as they cruised along through picturesque country side, passing through villages, with plenty of pedestrians, cars and other cyclists to make it interesting. The picture quality was excellent, by the way. The coach gave instructions, occasionally asking you to increase your speed or heart rate. One thing I liked was that the coach encouraged you to react to changes in terrain, as if you were in the group on the screen, so if there was a short steep hill, you were encouraged to stand. Too bad there were no stops.

The pace was never slow once the warm-up was done. I rode mostly hard tempo at 270 to 290 watts. At about the 45 minute mark, we hit the final 10 minute climb on a twisty narrow road, with zero car traffic, but several other cyclists. My virtual group ride passed several riders on the climb, which helped motivate me to stay near my threshold all the way to the end. I rode that final 10 minutes at 308 watts.

I’ve watched this DVD twice now, and could see myself watching it several more times this off season, especially during sweet spot workouts. It was fun and engaging to watch during my workout and enhanced the indoor riding experience. I was able to stay mentally focused on riding, without being bored at all. This is very different than watching something like a movie, which makes the workout tolerable by causing you to mentally disconnect from your workout.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Sweet Spot Training

Monday I had the pleasure of doing a short road ride during the day, so I did the usual - sub 1o minute warm-up, ride hard, sub 5 minute cool-down. The hard section amounted to a little over an hour at 90% of FTP. It really wasn't too bad, so I think my FTP is holding steady. I just need to keep doing these types of workouts at least a couple of times a week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rain Ride

Saturday I woke up, got coffee, fed the cats, quickly checked the radar(which looked clear), then headed out on my bike into the near darkness to meet Gordon for ride. Riding early on a Saturday is great, once you get yourself out there. The traffic was very low and there wasn't much wind. We rode side by side most of the time, chatting and not pushing the pace. Somewhere around Ridgeway it got windy. No problem, we weren't in any hurry. Then there were a few sprinkles later on. Still not a problem. Then as we got close to Blythewood it started raining, and within a few minutes we were riding in heavy rain. We went into pace line mode and picked up the pace a little on Hwy 21. The heavy rain continued for most of the way back home.

Riding in the morning, I usually avoid getting caught in the rain, but not this time. It sucked, mostly because of the clean-up that followed, but the hot breakfast and hot shower that followed, almost made it worthwhile.

I just updated my PMC. Check it out. My TSB is -0.1 today. First negative day since August 30th, not because I trained hard this week, but because my CTL has finally declined to my current training level.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wednesday SST Ride

I've gotten a little behind with my updates, but I wanted to include this one since it's a good example of what I've been doing since the race season ended. The weather was super on Wednesday, so I rushed home from work in time to get a ride in before dark. By super, I mean it was about 70 degrees with no wind. When I do short rides like this, my default workout is to do a short warm-up, then ride SST, which is exactly what I did. I spent a little over an hour cruising along between about 270 and 280 watts. I'm trying to do 2 to 3 rides like this per week, and a total of 4 to 5 rides. I'm only hitting about 6 hours a week right now, but that is probably enough to maintain fitness, until I start training for 2010.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekend Riding

I'm still riding 4 or 5 days a week, but not doing a whole lot resembling real training. I'm just doing what I feel like doing. Yesterday I went to Harbison and rode for 2 hours on the trails. I wasn't out to get in a hard ride, but you kind of have to put in some hard efforts riding a single speed, unless you want to walk up the hills. The gearing on my 29'er is 32x17, which is great at 12-15 mph, but not so great climbing at 6-8 mph.

This morning I did my usual 40 mile loop at a nice steady pace, never pushing too hard, but not relaxing either. I can tell I'm de-training, since today felt like a bigger effort than it really was. No problem. I adjusted my FTP down to 315 watts. That seems about right, but I don't feel like testing to be sure. I just know my FTP is lower.