The Little Things You See with Power on the Bike

Every Tuesday my buddy Marvin rolls up to my house at 7:10. We ride easy 16′ to the base of Chantry Flats, a 3.2 mile, 6% climb. I tell him what cheesy 80′s song is in my head, threatening to start singing it to put it in his, and then we do our repeats up the hill: 2x, first one is sorta warmup, at your pace. Second is a handicapped TT. I give him a head start of between 2-3′, based on the results from last week. I try to catch him, he tries to stay away, we both kill ourselves.

Last week: 303w and 20:30 for the last repeat. This was an 18wk jump from the previous session. I had not ridden in about 4 days, having spent the weekend in the desert riding my dirtbike instead. This ride was about a 9 out of 10, where 10 is total TT effort.

This week: 303w and 20:03 for the last repeat. Hard rides through Saturday, Sunday off as I drove back from a clinic in NorCal, solid ride on Monday with Marvin, with 1 x 22′ at just above FTP and the remainder just lots of work. Ride was about a 9.5 out of 10. I was definitely working hard on this one!

So, how can I ride the same watts but go 27″ faster?

This week I’m about 1.5lb lighter than last week. I also didn’t carry a water bottle on the second repeat this week. Or rather, I drank half on the descent after the first repeat, drank a bit more while resting, and dumped the rest.
I was smarter about where I spent my watts this week. I purposely negative split my effort (higher avg watts for the second half) so I was able to drill it at the end. I also did a better job of keeping my watts up on any grade decreases, places where I got lazy last week but this week was able to gain some speed and time.

There is probably some variability within my powermeter, or any powermeter, from ride to ride. In other words, no powermeter is going to 100% consistent, to the watt, between rides.

Still, I’ll take a 27″ improvement! That’s 56″ in the last two weeks and a sign that w/kg are moving in the direction we want! More important, I noticed I’m getting the “disassociative mojo” back:  my head checks out from my body, separating itself from the pain and instead focuses the watts and the effort. Every now and then my head would check in and notice how hard I was breathing, how much it hurt, but in general I was able to detach myself from the pain. I can do this on a climb or a hard pull with a group. Much harder solo on a flat but I’ll get it back.

Rich Strauss

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Coach P

All stories by: Coach P

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