Excellent Weekend

Saturday just had to be a day off the bike – for the simple reason that I’d ridden 5 days on the bounce.   Annoyingly it coincided with what was probably the best weather conditions of the week…   Seemed a crying shame to waste it, so strapped on my walking boots intending to go for a walk for a hour or so…   then I came over all Forrest Gump, and at every point where I could turn back towards home, I sort of carried on.   3 Hours and 8.5 miles later I decided it was a little cold and getting dark, so I really aught to go home and have a brew…

Sunday dawned cold and Icy.  So cold that I actually held off setting out for my ride until 10am hoping it’d warm up a bit.   If anything, the temperature dropped.    As I left the house the Garmin Read 21°c (ambient in the house).   For the next mile and a half, the temperature readout dropped like a stone, eventually settling at around -1°c, where it remained for the next hour or so.   In order to try and keep on the bike, I decided to ride my usual route in reverse, hoping that the shaded/backroad traffic free bit that is usually the outward leg would have had chance to thaw out a little before I got there.   No such luck, everywhere where the road was in shade was still covered in frost.   I don’t think I’ve gone so gentle around corners for such a long distance in my life…   Probably accounts for the slightly high IF rating of the ride, as I was so slow in the corners I had been pretty much sprinting back out of them to get some semblance of speed back into the ride, and some warmth into my body!.    The last 5 miles or so of the ride was probably the easiest, as I picked up the back of a local “clubrun”, was welcomed aboard for a bit of a rest (must have looked rough by then for them to offer) and spent 5 miles dodging the wind and trying to remember not to touch the brakes as I was on something with working disks, and the rest of the lads were riding their winter hacks and rim brakes.    Still – it was nice to actually ride in company for a while, and also to realise that I probably could hold my own with that clubrun for the full duration of a ride (the power figures courtesy of the Stages Powermeter  for that section are not dissimilar to what I’d done for the rest of the ride, riding solo.

Strava for this ride is here, and if any of the lads from the Calder Clarion who put up with the fat wheelsucker in Black are reading this…   thanks for the wheel gents – I was in dire need.


Shakedown Ride

Short shakedown ride, just to make sure all the silly faffing about I did yesterday swapping the BB, Chainset, Chain and all the rest of the stuff had worked properly.   Slight annoying creak which caused me to return home and run the torque wrench over everything turned out to be the cleat on my left shoe that was worn and full of mud from a couple of rides ago.

Still – at least I know it’s all worked okay, and I’ve managed to fit a trip to the supermarket in as well, so its not a complete bust.

Strava for the ride here

The New Season Begins Here…

… or more specifically, in the back kitchen, sat on the Tacx Bushido, cranking away like a hamster on a wheel.

Started the whole thing off with a 25 minute ramptest, designed to allow the Powercal Heart-Rate/Pseudo Powermeter to be calibrated.

there’s strava links for this fiendish little test here, and a quick graph from sportstrackes below…

Sportstracks Powercal Calibration Run - Power and Heart Rate Plot

Sportstracks Powercal Calibration Run – Power and Heart Rate Plot

Basically, this is a 5 minutes at 110bpm then 5×3 minutes at gradually increasing heart rates followed by another 5 minutes at 110bpm to cooldown again.

The data, when dropped into the Cycleops Poweragent software should allow the “personalisation” of the Powercal belt to the specific measured power output as measured with the real honest-to-god  powermeter from stages cycling.

The Second phase of todays ride turned into a bit of a Hill-Intervals session using the Tacx VR DVD –  T1956.37 Milan Sanremo 2008 – I actually rode the first 50.8km of the course, and did all the minor Capi before the poggio and cipressa.   Frankly, that was enough, on top of the earlier ramp test…   especially as I didn’t want to end up completely spannered for tomorrow, in case the new bike arrives.

Once again there’s a Strava link to the ride here, and a plot from Sportstrack – this time showing the “virtual” ascent/descents…

Tacv VR Ride - Milan San Remo

Tacv VR Ride – Milan San Remo



At last – A PROPER FTP Test.

This time, I’d got all the Ducks in a Row.

I’ve got the Tacx Bushido indoor trainer coupled with a laptop running their TTS Software, and a specific FTP Test Protocol routine to provide the resistance, timing and display facilities.

I’ve got the Stages Powermeter –  a proper, strain based powermeter system, which measures the ACTUAL force through the pedals, not some “computer derived” formula based on the electrical current generated by the Bushido’s resistance unit.   And I’ve got the Garmin 800 to record the Heart Rate, Wheel Rotations, Cadence and power Data.   All the same stuff as I’d have if I were riding on the road.

The Test Protocol

The routine was based on a version of the Coggan/Allan FTP Test Protocol

It basically breaks down into a number of stages…


  1. 20 minutes of gentle spinning, 0% incline –  beginning in the middle range cogs at the rear and the small ring at the front – every 2 minutes, drop to the next harder gear to pedal, maintaining a steady 80-90rpm cadence.   At the end of this, you should be in the middle gear on the back and the large chainring.
  2. 1 minute of fast spinning, +0.2% incline, try and keep above 110rpm cadence, adjust gears as needed
  3. 1 minute steady spin, 0.2% decline, 80 rpm cadence
  4. 1 minute of fast spinning, +0.2% incline, try and keep above 110rpm cadence, adjust gears as needed
  5. 1 minute steady spin, 0.2% decline, 80 rpm cadence
  6. 1 minute of fast spinning, +0.2% incline, try and keep above 110rpm cadence, adjust gears as needed
  7. 5 minute steady spin, 0.1% decline, 80 rpm cadence
  8. 5 minutes hard “Pin it and Hold It” – +1.2% incline, go as hard as you can, sprinting for the end of the line at 5 minutes.
  9. 10 minutes easy spinning to clear lactate from last stage, 0.3% decline, 80 rpm, adjust gears as needed, trying to raise gearing back to final gearing from stage 1 by the end of the 10 minutes.
  10. 20 minutes of going as fast as you possibly can, 0.3% incline, try and keep power as stable as possible – don’t stop and start or ride in surges – just keep your HR a couple of beats below it’s maximum, and keep asking yourself “Can I Keep this up to the end” – if the answer is yes, go faster, if the answer is no, slow down a little, and if the answer is “maybe” you’re going hard enough.    Try and “sprint for the line” at the end of the 20 minutes again.
  11. 10 minutes easy spinning – try and ease your legs back into some form where they’ll actually do what you tell them to.

stop, get off the bike, dry yourself off, save the files on the computer and swallow your pre-prepared recovery drink.   Hopefully it’ll disguise the taste of blood at the back of your mouth and stop you being completely useless the following day.   Don’t worry, the dull headache usually recedes after a couple of hours.

So…   what did I learn from this test.

Well – after importing the ride into GoldenCheetah (it’s cheaper than WKO+ and I’m a tight Yorkshireman) and finding the best intervals for 3 minutes and 20 minute power,  I plugged them into the Critical Power estimator to calculate my FTP – in this case 259 Watts.


Other things to note, for the 20 minute effort, the average power figure, and the “normalised” power figure (xPower) are almost identical – this indicates that the power delivery was relatively “surge free” – the more variable the power delivery is – i.e. if you sprint then freewheel, the xPower gets proportionally higher than the average (as the normalisation process takes more account of higher power figures than low)

So – what does this mean then…

Basically, now I’ve got a reliable FTP figure, that’s measured using exactly the same kit as I’ll have on the road, all the road rides can be directly compared to this test, I can set my training zones accurately, so when I’m supposed to be doing a recovery ride, I’m definitely recovering, and when I’m supposed to be working on Tempo, or Threshold, i’m DEFINITELY working at those zones as well.

At the moment, my training Zones, based on this test are as follows…

Zone 1 – Active Recovery – <55% of FTP – (0 – 142W)

Zone 2 – Endurance -55% > 75% of FTP – (142 – 194W)

Zone 3 – Tempo – 75% > 90% of FTP – (194 – 233W)

Zone 4 – Threshold – 90% > 105% of FTP – (233 – 271W)

Zone 5 – VO2Max – 105% > 120% of FTP – (271 – 310W)

Zone 6 – Anaerobic – 120% > 150% of FTP – (310 – 388W)

Zone 7 – Neuromuscular – >150% of FTP – (388W or above)





Stages Cycling Powermeter – UK Distributor (Finally!)

Well – finally, Stages Cycling have appointed a UK distributor for their power meters. Coming in via Saddleback… who handle Castelli, Enve, Chris King and Bont – so they’re not completely out of their depth with high-end kit I guess…. And, as expected, they’ve done the usual trick of US>UK price conversion – i.e. change the $ sign for the £ and keep the numbers the same. FFS – it’s not as if they actually have to re-write any of the documentation is it… We know to add the odd “U” where the septics miss it out. Yes, I know that there’s 10% import duty and 20% VAT on the stuff – but there’s a BIG whack of profit in there for the middleman…

FireShot Screen Capture #042 - 'Stages Power Meter Shimano Ultegra 6700' - www_saddleback_co_uk_stages-power-meter-shimano-ultegra-6700

for example – Stages Ultegra 6700 crank – US price $699. @ todays exchange rate that’s £442.63 – add 10% duty – £486.89 – add 20% VAT – £584.27. Saddleback distributors quoted price £699 – difference of £114.73… That’s a lot of money for shipping, warehousing and a bit of government paperwork IMO!

I can only hope that places like CRC get hold of ’em and start getting some SERIOUS discount into ’em. – For now i’ll hold off until start of next season I think and see how the new distributor copes with the inevitable (it’s a power meter – they ALL have a proportion of issues) problems that UK customers will have (probably weather related – something designed where there’s 300 days of sunshine a year – Hmmmm… I forsee a problem or 2 on the horizon right there!)