Posts Tagged ‘ErgVideo


Want to know why Indoor Cycling Training Works so well?


Specificity, Specificity, Specificity.

Superfly 100

I recently began, after a roughly 12 year hiatus, riding mountain bikes again. Now, Dallas isn’t really terribly vertically challenged, so the term “Mountain Bike” is probably the wrong term, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s keep it on-topic with that title. One of  the reasons I moved OUT of the mountain bike realm and in to road racing, and this is really just one reason, was because of the fact that, despite my great climbing abilities and decent descending skills, when I moved to Texas, I SUCKED AT TEXAS MTB RACES!!! However, it wasn’t until this summer that I actually began to understand just why.

Lots of speed, wattage, and cadence variations.

Mountain bike racing is definitely requires different training than standard road racing, but I didn’t really understand just how distinct TEXAS mountain bike racing was, until I started going to local DORBA trails again, this time armed with a Quarq power meter. Now, while I knew that Texas trail riding and racing was unique, I had NO IDEA that the demands were until I got this data. Look at the chart above, and watch how stochastic the data remains as I sort of randomly zoom in.

The first image was a 2hr overview. This next one is about 57 minutes…

It’s still stochastic in watts, cadence, and speed…

And here it is, zoomed in to 30 minutes…..

It’s STILL pretty stochastic for the 3 metrics…

And as we zoom in further, you start to see where I may be going with this…..

Still stochastic, but you start to get an idea of the cadence range…

Notice how many short, medium-cadence 'bursts' there are...

regardless of terrain.

19×5-10sec intervals with roughly equal coasting or zero-load pedaling.

So, if you think about it, zoom back up and out, and look at the macro, 2 hour ride, and then scroll down until  you get here. I’ll go in to WKO+ (I’m writing this on my Mac, and will upload the relevant graphic later), to do a ‘Fast Find’, but I’ll bet that in that 2 hour ride, there are probably, oh, let’s take a guess…. what, 300 of these 5-to-15 second intervals, in zones 4, 5, 6, and even higher? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN??????

Believe me – it’s actually twistier than it looks.

Well, for one thing, it means that I have a LOT of Specific Training to do, if I’m going to show up for next year’s DORBA races, and even TMBRA races, prepared. I need bike handling practice, I need to dial in my suspension, but probably more importantly, I need to have the ability to do 300, 400, or maybe more, intense intervals, at 60-80 rpm. Try doing THAT on a CompuTrainer! Ugh!

I just wish I had data from my old days, racing in the 90’s in the Northwest. That was a COMPLETELY different beast, and it fed more in to my abilities as a solid Vo2-max and Threshold Racer, and NOT, as a punchy, crazy-accelration-to-the-next-hairpin-where-you-had-to-brake-only-to-punch-it-again-times-400-efforts type racer!!

Let the challenge begin – Hopefully I’ll be ready!!!


2011 Inaugural Gainesville Disco Bike Rally Review

Richard Wharton Steven Emerson Pirates of the Peloton Gainesville 2011

Richard Wharton and Steven Emerson, First Finishers in the First Disco Bike Rally, Gainesville, TX 2011

I absolutely love Fall bike rallies. The insane heat has passed, the courses are usually a lot more scenic and challenging, and with Fall comes wind, and honestly, I have actually become one of the few riders who tends to embrace windy rides! The skill required to hold a line, pace properly, hold good cadence, and work incredibly hard, just so you DO NOT lose a group of riders, be it off the front or the back, is a chapter in the book of bike skills all unto itself.

About midweek in prep for the rally, I contacted the father of one of my juniors, and asked him if Steven could join me out at the Inaugural Gainesville rally. With his permission, I met the kid at his house around 5:15am, where we loaded up his bike and started the 90 minute drive toward the state line with Oklahoma. I hadn’t had much sleep (I don’t tend to sleep well when the winds blow in overnight), but as we drove north, we both noticed the flags, illuminated by the highway, sticking STRAIGHT OUT, dictating that the wind was coming from the EAST. Weather reports indicated steady winds at 12-20kts. Now, if you’ve ever been to North Texas, you know that it’s basically carved out of the prairie. I’m always reminded of the last lines in Steven Spielberg’s “Cast Away”, where Tom Hanks finally meets his Angel…

Bettina Peterson: You look lost.
Chuck Noland: I do?
Bettina Peterson: Where’re you headed?
Chuck Noland: Well, I was just about to figure that out.
Bettina Peterson: Well, that’s 83 South. And this road here will hook you up with I-40 East. If you turn right, that’ll take you to Amarillo, Flagstaff, California. And if you head back that direction, you’ll find a whole lot of nothing all the way to Canada.
Chuck Noland: I got it.
Bettina Peterson: All right, then. Good luck, cowboy.
Chuck Noland: Thank You.

And that’s just it – there is plenty of nothing, and there are small, perfectly black and tan ribbons of road laid out all over this country to connect the dots. They’re really nothing more than wagon trails paved with county-best chipseal, and for this weekend’s rally, that was just fine.

We rolled out on time with roughly 300 other riders. Immediately, a group of State Farm cyclists, all from Gainesville, went to the front – SPRINTED to the front – and rolled away. I really didn’t pay them much attention, but stayed within about 50′, when they abruptly left the course and went on the TEN MILE route. I think the whole thing was staged for a photo shoot, but it was distracting, and we never saw them again. By the fourth mile or so, there were roughly eleven riders in the lead pack, including Steven and another client of mine, Marc. We winnowed it down to about 7, but from the start there were signs that this group might not have the best skills for pack cycling. Two triathletes alternated between grinding the gears and bouncing their butts along their saddles. Two other riders were slow to pick up their role in the paceline, and gaps frequently rolled out all over the place. I tried for about 45 minutes to organize them, and we were sort of successful, but we ended up dropping Marc while we were still out on the outbound leg, and it’s always a big no-no to leave someone exposed and solo in those high-wind conditions. In fact, as I speak, a rally in Oregon is STILL looking for a missing cyclist, weeks after the fact, because he rode a portion of road solo, and just… disappeared.

Steven picked up the pacelining really quickly, and after the first hour, to hour and a half, we just rolled West, then North, and ended up going over the course from the Muensterfest. The area just prior to Forestburg is about 12 miles of rolling one-minute and two-minute hills at 2-4% max, and while this one rider from Oklahoma insisted on staying out front and pedaling at 110 rpm, the rest of us just made a five-man paceline and ignored him. We got in to some scattered spits of rain, so we cautioned each other on road conditions, but by roughly the 90 minute mark, I had had enough of the slinkies and the risk that members were creating in this groupette. So, prior to a hill I knew rather well, I told everyone that Steven and I were going to power up it, and that we’d try to regroup with them at the top. Well, the top plateaued on to a BEAUTIFUL false flat, and, looking over my shoulder, the only jersey I could see was Steven, roughly 15 seconds back, and I waited for him and him alone, and then told him to “Hang on.”

For the next 30+ miles it was just the two of us, as we rolled over fresh pavement (thank you, oil & gas tax revenues), flirted with two girls in a red Jeep Wrangler who were shooting photos, took solid pulls, and just enjoyed the moments of living and doing something we both enjoy. We left familiar terrain when we turned right to head back to Gainesville, leaving the Forestburg-St. Jo road, and it was at the top of the second or third hill, when we left the cover of some trees and ended up with the winds now coming off our right shoulders, with heightened velocity. This part of the course – the last 20-25 miles – had to be one of the most absolute challenging portions of road I’ve ever, ever experienced. The terrain dictated uncountably numerous 1-minute rollers at ~2-3% incline, but the headwinds prevented much of a recovery on the back sides. At one point, there was a short detour as the course did an out-and-back, just to make it as close to 100k as possible, and on the return portion, we both counted over SIX MINUTES before crossing paths with the next rider. And this was on an overlapping segment! With that in mind, and Steven’s legs starting to feel the shred of the previous rollers, we both agreed that I would do the majority of the work, but we would ride by HIS tempo wattage and comfort level.

We continued on, together, him on my left shoulder, protected, and talked about bikes, wheels, the terrain, different rallies, the weekend, school, family, other coaches, etc. It was spectacular. It’s part of my history now, but way back in the 1990’s, right after I had a moment of epiphany about cycling and decided I wanted to make a career out of it, I ran a Junior Development Team out of Bozeman, Montana. I was young, they were younger, and we had about five years of incredible adventures, driving all over the Western United States, attending mountain bike events and building more than just racing resumes. I still keep up with about half of them, and have attended weddings as they grew up. They’re almost all still involved in cycling and outdoor activities, which also makes me proud. I did it again in the early 00’s, at the Frisco Velodrome, but it wasn’t the same. I really missed that feeling of mentorship and comradery, the joy of being on the road or singletrack, just living that whole Gypsy lifestyle. Here, with Steven, out in the middle of nowhere, it all came flooding back, and it really spurred some fantastic feelings of respect, success, responsibility, and that mantra by which I try to live every day…

“To know that ONE LIFE has breathed easier, because you have lived. That is to have succeeded.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Steven never once complained, he kept the smile and concentration on his face the whole time, and we were both pretty ecstatic to see that final left-hand turn back on to the highway, signaling an end to the crosswind, and the gentle push down hill and back to the Start/Finish. We completed it in 3 hours even, and were rewarded with medals, muscle milk, and fresh pancakes & sausage! The trip back home was spent talking with his other coach and reliving the tale of the trip, talking wattage, power meters, acceleration, aerodynamics… just BIKE GEEK and BIKE GUY STUFF!!!!!! After dropping him off, I sent his dad a text telling him what a great kid he had, talent and otherwise, and he responded that Steven was absolutely shelled the rest of the day. That’s not a bad thing. You have to see just how hard these practice events are, and learn how to respond to challenges, and see where your strengths lie in relation to others around you, in order to best achieve your goals, both intrinsic and material.

Steven, it meant a lot to have you ride with me, and to finish with me. You’re on your way to bigger and better things, and I will be there to help as long as you want or need. There is NO doubt in my mind, that you won’t be needing my draft in the near future – it’ll be me turning my lungs inside out to hang with YOU!


How well do ErgVideo 12-week plans work??

I just got this in from a client who purchased one of my semi-custom 12-week plans. It left me feeling like a million bucks, and grateful that I could help this person achieve some of his goals this winter. Maybe I can build something similar for you?

Torturer, master of pain. I must say that for the past couple of weeks my legs feel as if I were able to fly, just as you said. I sat in the saddle for the entire miserable map workout, small ring, and felt fine. I did the 37 minute hill thing, aslo in the small ring, sitting. Better RPM than the big ring, and I’m a spinner-at least I was. No way I could do that last month. I rode outdoors the past three weekends and merged into the fast bumpy training ride. The hard part is only 25 miles, but race pace, aggressive, and fun. I had no problem whatsoever. Impressive. First time in two years that it felt good and fun. And I’m still a blimp. But a stronger one. People were asking what drugs I was on. I guess I made it look easy, like the old days. I used a powertap to see what types of wattage I had to generate to keep up on two specific hills. The first is a power hill. You stand and crunch it, stay very tight to the group, and press on as soon as it’s crested. It’s just a bump, but a bump where many get dropped. The second is called the double whammy. It rises, levels a bit and rises again  But you feel it at that stage of the ride. Not steep 3-4%.  Get into trouble there and you don’t catch up.I took a look and sitting in a 53-19 I was at 415 watts the entire time.

So, seems as if I would be racing if I had my weight down 40 pounds. Certainly the training ride is as easy (for me) as it ever has been. I normmally did it after the race. Even then, I still feel better now, and the indoor workouts tell me I am stronger. I was too tired last week to do the threshold test; made more sense to do the other workouts that week. Not sure that I increased the threshold, but I am sure that it’s gonna feel easier to maintain a hard effort.

Next two weeks you have me going 5 days during the week. Ouch. I wanted to thank you, as I got exactly what I wanted. Fun workouts to get me back to keeping up, at least. How would I proceed after the last week is done? I am interested in getting another series of workouts, this time designed to maintain and improve upon what I’ve done, maybe 3-4 days a week rather than always 4. I know I could do this myself, but I would not arrange the proper mix of races, intervals, recovery. So, what would you suggest? I’d want to maximize the use of the videos that I have too.

Thanks Torturer,


Ron – you bet. We’ll talk next week, take a look at some upcoming events, set goals for your absolute and relative power, and send you further on your way. I set up the ladder – you’re the one that climbed it!



Monday Night Intervals

Week 2 of the December Stress Busters, and another night of dripping intervals…

We started out with some sort-of-triangle shaped 2-minute puppies with slopes approaching 125%, and short recoveries. Then, after about 4 minutes of rest or low wattage, we engaged in 5 separate 4.5 minute intervals that were roughly 116 to 118% of threshold. Well, part of it was my inability to get a good warmup in, but honestly, I don’t think anyone could have made it through 5 of these puppies without grinding to a halt. No one completed the 5 intervals without manipulating the numbers, but that’s now my goal. On the last three, I instructed everyone to start with a lower threshold value, and then work their way up. That went better, but by then, I think we’d all blown up a couple of times too many.

4-5 minute hills at 115%+ are PERFECT for several of the events that will be held this spring in Texas. I’m going to do these again on Wednesday, and will incorporate them in to the training protocol for the winter-spring campaign.


Day 2 December Stress Busters

The session for W/TH absolutely melted my flesh and left it dripping on the floor. I know, I know, you’re supposed to be doing “Base” right now. Ha. I’ve been through with “Base” since late October, and we had some wonderful rises in Threshold with a Tempo block of 6 weeks, followed by a Threshold block of 6 weeks, then 2 weeks off or independent. This is just an absolute blast.

We loaded up the “Pyramid Intervals” ErgVideo, and I had my athletes and myself do the “Anaerobic Block” of Pyramids, then a good 15 minute tempo block, followed by a KILLER Vo2 block of pyramids. Wow. The first set, we survived. The Tempo set, we made headway. The Vo2 block, though, oh man, EVERYONE was dropping watts on their CompuTrainers by the 3rd interval. Heart rates were off the charts (not that that matters too much). But I just kept thinking, with every single effort — “Ft. Davis Hills. Lago Vista Hills, Mineral Wells Hills, Attack, Attack, Attack!” — Until I could literally was just on the edge of cramping in that infamous left calf. Everyone else was the same. Everyone in my MW block conquered. Wow.

There has GOT to be some merit with training of this sort out of season, in a short block. And readers need to remember – Texas’ season begins on January 17th. Heck, I may even race next WEEK since there’s a crit going on…

More entertaining intervals to come. Monday night? 4-minute Vo2Max hills….

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,351 other followers


Twitter Posts

  • RT @funder: ALERT: The hashtag which is beginning to trend is #ImpeachTrump. Not ImpeachTrumpNow or ImpeachTrumpToday. Let’s keep it simple… 32 minutes ago
  • RT @JoeNBC: “All the armies of Europe and Asia could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a t… 33 minutes ago
  • RT @SallyQYates: Our President today not only chose a tyrant over his own Intel community, he chose Russia’s interests over the country he… 44 minutes ago