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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Vineman Race Report

by Ben Munguia


A pack of riders flew by, and I lifted the tempo to try to “stick” with them. I felt strong, but they were putting time into me, and there was nothing I could do. The only thing that was going through my head was “I shaved my legs for this?” Thank you Deanna Carter and thank you Specialized.

To back up a little bit, Lauren was nice enough to let me turn our anniversary Napa trip into a Sonoma for the Vineman 70.3, and then usual Napa winery vacation. We arrived in San Francisco early Saturday morning and headed to the Sonoma area for packet pick-up, bike pick-up/checkup, and a few short workouts. I definitely underestimated the amount of time it would take to get everything done on Saturday, and it ended up being a bit too stressful. Some last-minute bike pains resulted in a little too much time at the race expo, but everything checked out during the pre-race ride and I thought I had everything dialed in for Sunday's race. The one thing I was not able to figure out before the race was my Garmin watch, which conveniently decided to die upon arrival. Last-minute adjustments are part of the game, though, so I mentally prepared myself to race by feel during the run.

Side note—if you are looking for a way to get your bike to an out of town race, check out Tri Team Transport (soon to be Cycle Chauffeur). Kevin did an unbelievable job, and I’m still amazed at how patient he was with all of his customers. He fixed flats, pumped tires, provided race nutrition, and most importantly, he delivered the bikes in great condition.

Maybe I’ve just never checked out guys' legs in detail in the past, but walking around the race expo I noticed a lot more shaved legs than I ever have before. I’m going to guess that I wasn’t the only one that saw the recent study done by Specialized on the time savings from having smooth, pretty legs. Well, more like hairless legs with razor cuts up and down both sides. Props to all you ladies out there who do this daily.

After an unusually good night’s sleep it was off to the race start for a relatively late start. I was in the last wave, which was scheduled to take off at 8:36 a.m., which was actually 10:36 a.m. Austin time. It was a very relaxed morning spent at a Starbucks next to the race. I went through the usual pre-race routine and felt ready to roll.

Swim (28:25):

The swim start was pretty entertaining, with a few frat-tastic guys in the same wave who didn’t stop talking and quoting movies until the horn sounded. A decent start but not a very good line to the first buoy had me in no man’s land. It was a pretty uneventful swim until the turnaround, where you could stand up and walk, dolphin dive, or continue to swim with your hand scraping the bottom of the river. I felt like I made up some time on the way back in and had a smooth transition to the bike.






Bike (2:27:41): 

I’ve been training with a power meter and was planning to race with one as well, but was having some pre-race difficulties getting everything set up. Fortunately, the guys at Austin Tri Cyclist hooked me up, and I now had TWO power meters on my bike. Well, as luck would have it, both power meters decided to start working on Sunday, which caused some mass confusion to the borrowed Garmin (Thank you, Dustin). I had random spurts of power, which I could get going just long enough to make sure the effort was strong enough.

I felt pretty good on the bike and never hit too much of a rough spot mentally until the rough road towards the end of the bike. I could hear some unusual sounds from my front wheel, but it didn’t look like anything was flat or rubbing so I kept going. My left aerobar did drop down about 45 degrees, which made for a rather uncomfortable position, but at least it was still intact. I rolled into transition frustrated with my position after being passed by quite a few guys in the second half of the ride.

Run (1:25:52):

Hot, hot, baby. Starting out on the run I felt so-so, but soon found a decent rhythm. The first few miles went by quickly, and then there was a tough, hilly section from miles 2-5 that sapped my legs, but I still felt pretty strong. The only thing that was really bothering me was my feet. They felt like they were on fire, and I started walking aid stations to give them a break, as well as make sure I was taking in enough fluids. The run course loops through La Crema winery and provides runners a nice break from the pavement and hot sun. It was definitely warm on the run, but I’ll take California heat over Austin heat and humidity any day of the week. Miles 7-9 were pretty rough. I wanted to walk, real bad. There were two things that kept me running and inspired me to pick up the pace for the last few miles. The first was Lauren's pre-race advice of “the sooner you finish, the sooner we get to go to wineries.” It was some pretty good and logical advice that kept me motivated to shuffle on. The second, and the one that made me pick up the pace again, was the thought of my best friend's mom. She has been toughing it out with ALS and has refused to give up. She has always been a very health-conscious and active woman before being diagnosed with ALS. All I could think about was how much she would give to be able to do what all of us were out there doing that day. Maybe it wasn’t the fastest or prettiest of runs, but I was happy to have finished and grateful for the opportunity to race.

Finish (4:25:58): 6th in Age Group and 44th Overall, including the Pros (Yes, I got chicked)

The Vineman 70.3 was all around a great race. Beautiful course, great community support, and a very well-run event by the organizers. How often do you get to run though vineyards during a race? Not too shabby at all. There are definitely some things I’d do different next time, but it was a good experience and a race I hope to do again in the future.

I can’t thank Don, Kaleb, Adam and Chris of Austin Tri Cyclist enough for all of their help with getting me race-ready on the bike. Above and beyond. ATC’s unbelievable support along with the great guys at Cobbcycling resulted in this beauty:


Also, a big thank you to Dr. Jarrod Carter for working his magic and getting me in before leaving town. And of course I have to thank the Pickle and my family for supporting me and this crazy habit. The other real beauty in my life:





Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quintana Roo - History and Technology

History

The Redstone at ATC-360
Quintana Roo was founded in 1987 by Dan Empfield, also founder of slowtwitch.com and the popular F.I.S.T tri bike fitting system. Quintana Roo's first product was the first triathlon specific wet suit, and two years later in 1989 they followed it up with the first triathlon-specific bike. The frame was designed around steeper seat tube angles, which facilitated the use of aero bars and low, aerodynamic time-trial positions. For the first time, athletes could ride a bike that would handle properly when ridden with time trial bars, and they wouldn't need custom seat posts to get their saddle forward enough. This basic geometry has become the time trial and triathlon bike standard.

Over the years Quintana Roo has introduced dozens of innovative ideas and bikes, including the outlandish 1999 Redstone pictured above, which has a deep rear wheel fairing attached to the seat tube. At one time, QR produced titanium bikes with carbon-fiber, aerodynamic forks, such as the Aerial. They also popularized the use of 650C wheels on smaller frame sizes to allow for appropriate geometry to support low positions and proper handling. Today, Quintana Roo produces carbon fiber bikes and continues to offer unique technology and ideas.


Bike Tech

The current flagship technology featured on all of Quintana Roo's mid- and high-level bikes is SHIFT. Bikes are not entirely symmetrical; on the right side the crankset and derailleurs add a significant amount of drag. SHIFT uses a non-symmetrical downtube shape to divert air to the non-drive side of the bike, which reduces drag because less air comes in contact with the components. This technology is featured on the CD0.1, the Illicito, and the new PR6.

The Illicito expands on the SHIFT technology by eliminating the non-drive side seat stay. This has been done in the past on a few super bikes like the Lotus, but QR claims that since they are diverting 80% of the airflow to the non-drive side of the bike, eliminating that seat stay is of extra benefit. Stiffness does suffer some as a result, but it's a small price to pay for extreme aerodynamics!


The newest QR bike, the PR6, takes a different approach, maintaining the usual degree of stiffness with seat stays on both sides, but using a highly asymmetric chain stay design to further optimize the SHIFT technology. This along with other features like an integrated fork and dropped down tube make it QR's most aerodynamic offering.




The CD0.1

The highlight of the QR lineup, and the bike most of us can actually afford, is the CD0.1. The bike starts at $2,800 for the CD.01 Rival and goes as high as $5,500 for the Di2 model with aerodynamic crankset and better aerobars. Every model can be upgraded to the "race" version, which comes with an aerodynamic Reynolds Strike wheelset for an additional $1,100.

The CD0.1 features the aforementioned SHIFT technology, along with a behind-the-fork front brake and hidden rear brake under the bottom bracket. The current CD0.1 has improved the performance and ease of use of the rear brake, and it now accommodates wide race wheels more easily as well. All models include frames with high modulus carbon fiber construction and BB30 bottom brackets.

QR provides a tech sheet with more details on technical features of the CD0.1. Included is the wind tunnel data shown below, indicating competitive aerodynamic performance, and highlighting the effect of the SHIFT technology.


QR bikes are in stock and available to test ride at ATC stores now. A free F.I.S.T certified fit is included with purchase!

Entry Level Bikes


Quintana Roo also has a line of less expensive bikes, the Kilo, Dulce, Seduza, and Lucero Lite.  All are carbon fiber aerodynamic bikes based on the same frame shape.  The Kilo starts at $1,900 and it goes up from there with better components and lighter weight frame materials to the Lucero Lite at $2,900.  Other companies have set their entry level prices as high as $3,000, so it is great to see that Quintana Roo offers a no excuses, excellent bike for under $2000.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Three TT Bikes Under 3K


When upgrading your ride, whether you’re buying new components or purchasing a completely new frame, a good way to start is to decide how much you want to spend. Especially in Austin, it’s not unusual for an athlete’s bike to be worth more than his or her car. (Who needs working AC for the workday commute when you can have integrated aerobars and hydraulic brakes on race day?) But buying a new bike certainly doesn’t have to break the bank; striking a balance between what you want and what you can afford, you can build up a ride that leaves no room for excuses.    


Recently, a common price point for buyers in the market for a new TT bike seems to be $3,000, so we’ve put together some info on three popular options at ATC that fit the bill: the Cervelo P2, Boardman Elite Air TT 9.0, and BMC TM02.    
Don’t let the numbering confuse you—the new version of the P2, which was released at the beginning of 2014, shares the exact same frame as the more expensive P3, with a slightly modified and easier-to-manufacture fork as the only difference. All components are standard and located in the standard places. There are no hidden brakes or integrated aerobars to make maintenance or travel a hassle. Read our detailed February 2014 post on the P2 here
Shimano 105, 10 speed build - $2,800.  
The Boardman has a different look and color scheme than many other TT bikes—it’s less angular, perhaps a little more aesthetically “classic.” The improved 2014 frame, said to be even faster than the one Pete Jacobs rode to his Ironman World Championship win in 2012, is identical to the 9.2 and 9.4,  with the only differences being paint and spec. It features hidden brakes both front and rear. Meredith Kessler rode it to three wins in three races this season, including the 70.3 U.S. Pro Championships. Read more about Boardman’s line of bikes and arrival in Texas in our April 2013 post here
Shimano 105, 10 speed build - $2,995
The edgy TM02 is a close relative of Taylor Phinney's TM01, the bike he rode during his U.S. National TT Championship win. It features the same basic frame design as the TM01, including a trick hidden rear brake, but with standard front brake and aerobar arrangement for easy adjustment and maintenance. The BMC is wind tunnel- and race-proven, with a striking look and color scheme.

Shimano 105, 10 speed build - $2,999

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Race Report from 2014 Du Worlds
Pontevedra, Spain



William Jabour set out in early 2013 to qualify for the ITU Duathlon World Championships with no expectations for the race beyond getting there. He'd competed on and off again in multisport events since 2004, but this was the first time he had a specific goal. In the course of a year of dedicated training, he found the sport taking on new meaning and importance. He began accomplishing things he never would have imagined possible.

Securing his spot in the top 18 at U.S. Nationals in Tucson in October 2013, William joined the ranks of Team USA to represent the nation at the world championships in Pontevedra, Spain. On June 1, 2014, he competed against the best duathletes from around the world in the 10K run/40K bike/5K run, placing 28th in the 50-54 age group and experiencing one of the most exhilarating runs of his life.

William is one of the few people you'll meet in Austin who is actually from here; born and raised a local, he remembers when the city was still 400,000 people and you didn't have to go far to find a cow pasture. He was a truck driver for most of his career, with gigs that varied from hauling Indy 500 race cars to carrying stage equipment or film sets cross-country for movie studios and celebrity bands. A one-man traveling show who competed in multisport for fun and general fitness, he would  park the rig, take his bike out, and compete in a race in a town he was passing through. At 46 years old, he fulfilled the lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter and is currently working for the Liberty Hill and Manchaca fire departments. Unassuming but also highly driven and competitive, William is a nice guy and a top-notch athlete who ATC is proud to be associated with.

After putting in all that hard work day after to day to meet a goal and far surpassing the original target, some people might add a checkmark to the bucket list and put the bike back in the garage. William, however, is already looking ahead to the 2015 world championships in Adelaide, Australia. Next month, he'll compete at nationals in St. Paul to qualify. From there, he'll have more than a year to put his nose to the grindstone and improve his times. In Australia, he hopes to shave off nine minutes and finish somewhere in the top five to ten places. "Single digits for sure," he says.

Du Worlds Race Report from William Jabour

Arriving in Pontevedra
Team USA members, William Jabour at far right.
My flight to Spain was pretty easy, and I did not suffer much jet lag. Once I got to my small 10x10 foot room I headed out on the town to see where things were. The first two days there were wet and cold to me at 50 degrees. On Thursday morning I met with a Team USA group to run the course for the first time, and of course it was cold and wet. The run course starts off with a pretty good climb from the stadium by the water, but once we got to the top it was fast and downhill through old town Pontevedra, and I knew the four loops would be my best 10K on race day.

The next day I had the chance to ride the bike course with a police escort and about 800 athletes from all countries. Riding the bike any other time proved difficult and dangerous because of traffic. ITU changed the bike course around two days before, and now it was going to be two loops with a cat 4 climb of six plus miles. It didn't seem too bad on that day at an easy 4mph, but race day was a different story, as many sufferings took place.

On Saturday, the day before the race, I left from my hotel in Marin, which was one town over from the race start. I went for a ride along the coast, some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The road went up and down along the water through towns and hills, and in truth, it was a lot more climbing than I'd wanted. I had to force myself to turn around knowing I had a race the next day. I'm guessing I also walked six or seven miles a day before the race sightseeing and messing about, but I was in Spain so I was going to enjoy it, which was the case with everybody.

One competitor from Hawaii got his bike dragged down the tarmac at the airport and destroyed. He thought his race was over, but when he went to the local bike shop to package it and send it back home, it turned into a cool story. Javier Gomez, world champion triathlete from Pontevedra, insisted on him using one of his bikes, so he was able to race on that.

To sum it up, the first few days were just a lot of meeting people and checking out the town. For me, the coffee lover, a lot of that was over croissants and pastries. I also found out that in Europe dinner is not served till at least 8 p.m. I met so many cool people that now I guess I'll be forced to use Facebook more to stay in touch.

Team USA gets interviewed by Spanish TV station.
Race Day
Bike check-in was the day before. I liked getting that out of the way. And the race didn't start till noon on Sunday, which I also liked.

My butterflies started days before, which doesn't usually happen to me, but it was Worlds. After not much of a warmup, it was time for my age group to go. I was in 50-54, though I'm still 49. My coach Gray Skinner had a plan for me, and I stuck to it. He has been coaching me for almost a year now and has totally changed me from where I was at the beginning. (Thanks Jeff Shelton and Jack Mott for pushing me into getting coached.) There were about 60 athletes in my age group, and it seemed all wanted to go out at a  five-minute pace, but I stuck to around 5:50 for mile one, then settled around 6:20, and by loop three out of four most of my competition was coming back while I was feeling better. I ran my best 10K at around 40:07.

I was happy to get on my bike with confidence because of the 10 months of suffering Gray had put me through. I knew it was my time to shine, and by the second 13-mile loop and the second 6-mile cat 4 climb when many were slowing and cramping on the side of the road, I was feeling good at 1/10 of a mile faster.

I went back down the hill for the last time at 44mph into transition for the final run. It was a bit of a slow start due to both hamstrings cramping. Proving there is another whole level of pain I can push through, I got faster. Running through the streets with the crowds and all the different countries and people cheering me on was one of the most emotional experiences I have ever had. I believe I had tears in my eyes for most of that 5K. All the hard work in the last year came down to these last miles and an experience I will never forget, my first world championship but not my last.

In my age division, I finished 28th in the world and 5th in the USA. The first guy in my division from the U.S. was about four minutes faster and 18th in the world. I was off of second, third, and fourth place male finishers from the U.S. by less than 75 seconds.

July 19 is U.S. nationals in St. Paul and the qualifier for worlds in Australia in October 2015 . I was blessed in Spain, and I feel I will do well in St. Paul and be one of the top guys in my division. I'm ready for the long road to Australia.

I'd like to send heartfelt thanks to the people who've made it all possible. Thanks to my coach, Gray Skinner of Enlightened Performance, for his confidence in me and for pushing me through the months to achieve another level and to accomplish my goals. I  look forward to years to come with him. Thanks to Don and Missy Ruthven and all the staff at Austin Tri-Cyclist for all the help and support they have given me, not only for this race but through all the years, and for making sure I'm always on the best equipment. Thanks to Liberty Hill and Manchaca fire departments and BA Tools for the financial support they gave me, and I can't forget my friends and family who have shared this experience with me. Thank you all!



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

2014 Texas State Time Trial Champion
Gear and Tech Specs

by Jack Mott


Being former or current multi-sport athletes in many cases, the ATC Racing women pride themselves on their time trialing prowess and put up impressive results at this year's Texas State Time Trial Championship. Katie Kantzes nailed a third place in the Eddy Merckx category, Marla Briley got second in category 3, and Kat Hunter took first place in Cat 1/2. (You can read Kat's race report on TexasBikeRacing.com.)

On Sunday, the team of Missy Ruthven (ATC owner), Maggi Finley, Marla Briley, and Kat Hunter backed up those impressive results with a 56:37, fastest women's time, in the team time trial.

To give you an idea of the attention to detail that goes into a winning time trial, we will break down all the gear, aero data, and power data of Kat Hunter's winning ride.



Bike Build Specs
  • Frame - Cervelo P2C classic with modified top tube cable routing 
  • Wheels - HED Jet 6 front, HED Jet 9 with wheelbuilder disc cover and G3 Powertap hub
  • Tires - Continental Attack Clinchers, 22mm @ 105psi with Vittoria latex tubes
  • Aerobars - UCI Legal HED Corsair with integrated brake levers and Vision clipons
  • Stem - TriRig Sigma aero stem
  • Fork - Cervelo FK26
  • Brakes - TriRig Omega aero brake
  • Saddle - Adamo
  • Head Unit - Powertap Joule
  • Hydration - One between the arms rocket science bottle in a XLAB Gorilla cage
  • Skewers - View-Speed aero bolt on skewers
  • Helmet - Giro Selector
  • Cranks - FSA Gossamer with FSA 54T aero chainring
  • Pedals - Look Keo Blade aero pedal
  • Gruppo - Shimano Ultegra
  • Cassette - Shimano Dura Ace 12-25
  • Derailleur Pulleys - Hawk Racing
  • Bottom Bracket - Hawk Racing
  • Chain Lube - Rock n' Roll Extreme
  • Bar Tape - Tennis grip from Target. I dunno. It was thin.
Power Meter Data
  • Goal Power -  250 watts
  • Actual Average Power - 247 watts
  • Variability Index - 1.0
  • First Half Power (Headwind) - 254 watts
  • Second Half Power (Tailwind) - 241watts
  • Avg Temp - 82 deg G
  • Avg Cadence - 92
  • Avg Speed - 26.6 mph
  • Distance - 40k
  • Time - 56:23

Power File


WKO+ Power File from the TT

Aero Data

Approximate yaw angle distribution from BestBikeSplit.com


Using BestBikeSplit, an excellent online aerodynamic and pacing tool, we can approximate that Kat had a CdA of approximately .20 at 0 yaw, and .19 at yaw. We can also see that about 70% of the race was between 0 and 5 degrees of yaw, with most of the rest of the race between 10 and 15 degrees of yaw.  Knowing what the angle of attack of the wind is during a race can help you make intelligent equipment choices. For instance, we can see from this data that a deeper front wheel would have been faster, as around 30% of the race had yaw angles where a Jet 9 is a bit faster than a Jet 6.  Since about 70% of the race was at very low yaw angles,  choosing a narrower tire was definitely a good call. Narrow tends to be aero, at low yaw.

Close-up Bike Shots 

The venerable P2 Classic remains competitive

View Speed Skewers, Cervelo FK26 fork, and HED Jet 6 with Continental Attacks

HED Jet 9 with a disc cover taped on,  nice clean chain

TriRig brake, stem, and HED aerobars make for a clean front end





Monday, June 9, 2014

Father's Day Ideas for Athletes

by Kat Hunter

Cyclist and multisport dads spend most of their leisure time—what little there is—working out. Keeping up with a regular training regimen isn't easy alongside a job, housework, parenting duties, and the other sundry responsibilities of adulthood. Father's Day is a good time to say thanks. Thanks for being a role model of good fitness and hard work. Thanks for getting up in the middle of the night to change a diaper or banish monsters even though you had a hard training ride scheduled early the next morning. Thanks for being (mostly) cheerful in spite of it. And thanks for having really nice legs; the tan lines, they can be forgiven.

Kid-Friendly DIY Crafts
Father's Day is June 15, so moms and kids still have a little time to break out the paint and superglue. A wealth of DIY ideas, many easily tweakable to an athletic dad's interests, can be found online. Pro tip: Estimate how long you think a Pinterest project will take and multiply by four.
Happy Father's Day to my grandfather, Jim Hunter,
who entered me in my very first races.
  • Frames – Frame up a recent race-day photo of Dad or make a collage of races and results past. Let kids write some applause or add on a mustache. If Dad is a regular at the Driveway Series, peruse the collections of photographers like Jim Hicks for action pics. Race numbers can also be made into a collage or decoupaged keepsake. 
  • Coupon jar – It may not be an original idea, but the "coupons" inside can be as creative as you'd like. Decorate a glass jar, an old bike bottle, a Gatorade canister, or anything sport-related you can find, and fill it with slips of paper that promise Dad various treats. E.g., "1 leg massage" or "1 post-ride smoothie." 
  • Snacks – Make Dad homemade energy bars or other easily transported foods for his workouts.
  • Kid art – Put those handprints, stick figures, and unidentifiable-blobs-said-to-be-horses on things that Dad uses every day, like gel flasks, bike bottles, duffle bags, or workout clothes.
  • Be weird – My grandfather, a runner and triathlete, always had a collection of worn-out running shoes. When he retired, his coworkers gave him the strangest footstool I've ever seen—a round cloth-covered circle for the top, with two "legs" that went into a pair of his old ASICS. Tacky and memorable is better than boring!  
Transform the Bike Cave
Bike art created by ATC Racing's Sammi Runnels
This idea hinges on Dad's personality. If he's the kind of guy who knows where every wrench is, it's best not to even enter the bike cave, much less introduce new elements of interior design.
  • Organizational improvements – A parts bin really helps keep the small bits together if Dad is a cyclist or spends a lot of time working on his bike(s). And bike racks follow rule #12 in my opinion; if the correct number of bikes to own is n+1, you can use the same formula for the apparatus that holds them.
  • Decor – How cool is a bike cave (or any room for that matter) with art made from recycled bike parts?  Local artist and bike racer Sammi Runnels makes bike-inspired art, including chandeliers. The remote-operated LEDs have 15 color options.
Goody Bag
Labelled parts bin for bits and pieces

One Christmas my husband’s uncle gave him a bag full of small things he bought from his local bike shop, everything from bike gloves to chamois cream and a chain wrench; it was one of Jack's favorite presents. A large number of small items will feel like a big gift while also keeping you within a reasonable price range and ensuring practical use. Again, you can make your own creative container or kid-decorated box. If you don’t know exactly what to get or where to find things, ATC staff can help.

Running or cycling socks
Nutrition like gels or chews
Goggles
Water bottles
Bike lights, skewers, disc wheel adapters, brake pads, flat kits, quick laces, and so on.
Gift certificate for a bike fit at ATC from ROTHE Training ($100)

ATC Chillo Dillo shirt, $19.95
Movie Night
If your offspring are fully mobile and stringing together sentences, an Alamo Drafthouse-style movie night with a swim, bike, or run theme is a fun idea for both the kids and Dad. Let the kids make him "movie tickets" and be on-call waitstaff during the show, picking up his order cards for drink refills, popcorn, pizza, and dessert. Some cult favorites and popular choices include Breaking Away, American Flyers, Without Limits, Prefontaine, and Chariots of Fire. Footage from old pro tours and early-day Ironmans can also be entertaining, even purely from a fashion and equipment perspective.

Gear
Every cyclist I know gets excited about new gear. Raid Dad’s workout drawer to get sizing and then stop by ATC for shorts, jerseys, bibs, swim shorts, and other clothing. Has he been pining for a certain helmet? Cycling or run shoes? Could he use a new jersey or fresh pair of race tires? And of course you can’t beat a shiny new bike if you want to go really big.

Trip
Sometimes the best present for a hard-working Dad is a vacation. Let him know guilt about training time is off limits: he can spend as many hours as he’d like out on the roads.
Sabinal River, near Utopia
  • Just three hours from Austin, Leakey offers spectacular riding and scenery, with twisting climbs and descents and blissfully traffic-free roads (when you're not sharing them with car clubs). Cabins in the area rent for cheap in the off season, and the Sabinal and Frio rivers provide recreation for the whole family, though are too shallow for real swim training. Nearby Lost Maples State Natural Area has good hiking and is worth a visit at any time of year.
  • The small town of Fort Davis, in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, is about 6.5 hours from Austin. The roads and the climbs are perfect for cyclists who like some elevation and miles and miles of solitude. Accommodation options abound, including long-time establishments like the Prude Ranch, Limpia Hotel, and Davis Mountains State Park. By day, ride up to the McDonald Observatory for a brutally steep climb; return at night in your street clothes for the “Star Party” to look through the big telescopes and admire one of the brightest skies in the state. Marfa, known for its art community and quirky personality, is also close by, as well as the famous spring-fed swimming pool (the world's largest) in Balmorhea. 
  • Fredericksburg, just 1.5 hours from Austin, is great for a quick getaway or day trip. Families like it for its shopping opportunities and old German feel, as well as the proximity to Enchanted Rock State Park. Erock has nice trail running. Back roads in the area also make for good road biking.




Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Mean Maximal Power Chart

by Jack Mott

In a previous post, Power Meters Explained, we went over some of the benefits and uses of a power meter, also providing a quick review of the popular models available. Now we will dive deeper and discuss the Mean Maximal Power (MMP) chart and its many uses.

The Power Duration Curve




The power duration curve represents the maximum power you can produce on the bike over each duration of time. This horizontal access is logarithmic time, which allows you to see relevant changes in  power more clearly. Most cyclists will have a power duration curve shaped somewhat like the example above. For periods of about 1 to 10 seconds, you can produce a huge amount of power using primarily the phosphogen energy system, shown in red. Then there will be a steep drop-off in your sustainable power from there to about five minutes, when power production is dominated by your anaerobic energy system. Anaerobic capacity is a fixed amount of energy, lasting only a few minutes. Hence the steep decline in sustainable power in this region. As your sustainable power levels off, power production is dominated by the aerobic system, which is almost indefinitely sustainable, with a slow, gradual drop-off as the duration goes on for hours and hours. Knowing how these three energy systems interact, you can predict how much power you should produce at any duration, as long as you have enough data to have an idea of how your own power duration curve is shaped.

The MMP Chart

The MMP chart looks at the most power you have ever averaged for each given amount of time. It scans through all the training files you specify, finding your best ever one-second power, two-second power, and so on all the way out to your longest ride. This functionality is available in many power analysis programs, including Training Peaks, WKO, and Golden Cheetah. If you have done all-out efforts over many different time periods, your MMP chart will look very much like the example above. If your data is sparse you won't get a clear picture of how your power duration curve is shaped.  Below are two examples. One is an MMP chart with data from many rides; this data includes hard sprints, hard anaerobic efforts, and hard long-term efforts. Note the resemblance to the theoretical power duration curve. On the right is an MMP chart with sparse data. The rider has done no all-out sprints, so you don't see the sharp decline in the anaerobic zone. If you want to have a good idea of what your power duration curve is, you should periodically do all-out efforts in each zone that you are interested in.




Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

Once you have a good set of data in the MMP chart you can use it to identify strengths and weaknesses. Sprinters will naturally have very high power in the 1- to 30-second range. Good lead-out men or pursuit and kilo riders will have a huge anaerobic capacity, while long-distance TT specialists and mountain climbers will have big power in the aerobic range. This is the same concept as power profiling but with more refined detail. In the chart below, you can see the difference in the shape of the power duration curve between someone who might be a good cat 2/3 sprinter, and someone who might be a good cat 2/3 time trialist or triathlete. A bike racer might use this data to decide he needs to work on his sprint, or he may decide his sprint is hopeless and focus his tactics on breakaways, or switch to triathlon!



Monitoring Progress

By using date filters you can overlay different sets of data onto one chart. If you load up the day's ride on top of all your previous rides of that season, you can see if you have broken any personal records at a glance. In this example below from WKO+, the dark yellow line represents an athlete's entire season of data, and the dotted line represents a single ride. With a quick look, the athlete can see that he set a new all-time best power in the 10-minute range, highlighted in red.

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Here is another example, using the MMP functionality in Golden Cheetah. The selected ride's MMP is shown via the black line, while the colored line represents the entire season of data. Again, at a glance the athlete can tell that a new sprint power record was set in the 30-second range. The shape of the day's MMP chart can quickly tell you how hard or easy a ride was, and what the nature of the ride was like.

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After a group ride or race, you can load up that day's effort and compare it to the rest of your season and see if you have set any new records. New records in the longer durations would suggest your FTP might have gone up.

Guessing at Your FTP (or Any Other Power/Duration )

Once you have a good amount of power data, you will be familiar with your own personal power duration curve and can often guess what your FTP (or  approximately 60-minute power) is by looking at your MMP chart.  For example, take the athlete's MMP data below. This athlete did an all-out time trial of about 17 minutes, but has no recent data for hard efforts longer than that. The sudden drop-off in power is circled in red. If she wanted to guess at her FTP, she could just eyeball the general curve out to the one-hour mark, or use the power duration model built into Golden Cheetah to predict it (dotted red line). Don't trust these kinds of models blindly, however, as they depend on sufficient data and are not perfect!


Another tool you can use to guess at your FTP, or sustainable power for any duration, is to use normalized power (NP).  Maybe you haven't done a steady, all-out one-hour effort yet this season, but you have done plenty of hard group rides or bike races of around an hour in duration. The stochastic nature of these efforts will not result in your best possible average power, but you can use NP to estimate what an equivalently hard steady state effort's power would have been. Most power analysis tools can display the MMP chart using average power or NP. Again, don't trust NP blindly, as it can sometimes overestimate your sustainable average power. By glancing at your MMP chart in both Average and NP form you can usually get a good idea of whether your aerobic power is on the rise. With experience, you will learn if NP tends to overestimate for you.

Extrapolating your power duration curve from your MMP charts allows you to set power goals for intervals or events of any duration and estimate your current FTP, even if you haven't formally tested it.