The Joy Of Riding Solo

More often than not, I ride with other people.  I like the company.  I feel safer on the roads.  Sometimes I like to be pushed by strong companions.  But once in a while, I like riding alone.

This past weekend, instead of doing the PA 1000k, I went on a five-day trip with my wife Jill to the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  We stayed at a bed and breakfast, saw a Shakespeare play (walked out on Richard III at intermission, due to uncomfortable seating and insufficient plot development), walked a ghost tour of Edith Wharton’s old house and saw the collections at the Clark art gallery and the Norman Rockwell museum.

Even better, I was able to go out between 6 and 7 each morning and ride alone until I joined Jill for breakfast at the B&B about 9.  That gave me between two and three hours each morning.  What a great way to start the day.  I rode over Mount Washington (not that one) to Bash Bish falls the first day, then did the same route in reverse on day 2.  The third day I followed a New York Cycle Club route from their ride library, which is a great resource at  It took me through Beartown State Park.  I struggled up a steep broken road for eight miles, seeing no one, not even a house or a campsite.  All I heard was birds and insects and an occasional larger animal breaking brush, invisible in the overgrowth.

Finally I emerged from the wilderness at Benedict Lake and headed back to the homestead.  As I entered Great Barrington, another rider came up behind and passed me, without a word.  When I caught up to him and said hello, still no response.  Proving that I have not completely matured, I decided to put the hammer down.  I have no idea if he even tried to match me, but soon I didn’t see him anymore.  That was probably the fastest I rode the whole vacation.

The last of the four morning rides was to a small falls outside of Sheffield.  The end of the ride featured about a five-mile descent, not too steep but very pleasant.  I rolled into the B&B feeling exhilirated as usual, ready for the rest of the day.


WEEK  11 hrs 15 min

GOAL 12 hrs 30 min

I really don’t have a strict training plan right now.  I’m kind of doing build/intensity training in preparation for the Sept. 19th Hillier Than Thou Century.  I was on the spinner yesterday doing another one-hour time trial.  I must still have some fitness left because I averaged 232 watts (or 835 kcal), a new high.  To give you some basis for comparison, my best time up Mount Washington (yes, that one) was 1 hour and 29 minutes and I averaged 229 watts then.  Of course, I weighed about five pounds less, too.  The most power I’ve averaged for an hour this year was 240 watts up Whiteface Mountain during the race in June.

Listening To The Wife

When I signed up for the PA 1000k, which began without me this morning, I knew I’d have only 11 days to recover after Quadzilla.  It turns out that it took about a week to recover and I probably would have been OK with the 1000k, but my wife Jill suggested that maybe we could take a trip to the Berkshires instead.  Seeing as we haven’t had a real vacation in a while, it was hard to argue.  It’s even good for me to slow down a little.  After all, I do average about 7,000 miles a year on the bike.  So the bike is making the trip, but it’s not going to be the star of the show.

Last week I worked out for only 7 hours and 45 minutes, the least I had done in more than a month.  On Monday this week I went on the spinner and finished a one-hour time trial at 226 watts, not far off my best of 230 watts.  As I hadn’t done an hour spinner workout in three weeks, that shows I haven’t lost much fitness.  I also felt good in a 42-mile ride with the local Cyclepaths group last night.

The big remaining goal for the year is the 100-mile Hillier Than Thou time trial on September 19th.  I’d like to get a time below 6:30, but we’ll see how serious I can get about training for that.


WEEK 7 hrs 45 minutes

GOAL 7 hrs

Just finished a badly needed rest week.  Next three weeks will be a build/intensity period for Hillier time trial.

Quadzilla 2010: A Race Against Time (And Myself)

Me on Cayuga Heights Road, overlooking Ithaca, NY, near the very end of Quadzilla.

As my long-awaited event, the hilly, 400-mile Quadzilla, unfolded this past weekend, my body performed as requested, but my mind did not always follow. This is a bit ironic, because going into the ride I was questioning my physical state more than my mental state.  So it goes.  You can’t predict everything.

I arrived at the Wegmann’s Supermarket parking lot in Ithaca, NY on Saturday morning for the 5 a.m. start with a good case of the pre-ride jitters.  There were 23 Quadzilla entrants, including organizer Mark Frank, for the start.  It was still full dark when we rolled slowly onto Route 13 south and began a journey that we all hoped would finish successfully 40 hours later at the Meadow Court Inn across the street.  Little did we know how hard success would be.

Many long-distance brevet riders I respect have called Quadzilla the toughest ride they have attempted.   The ride has been held about 10 times since it was started by Mark Frank in the mid-1990s. At first, it was called the Finger Lakes 350.  Then he made the fateful decision to add another hilly 50 miles and call it Quadzilla.  A monstrous four century tour of 11 lakes and seemingly every  uphill road around them.  About half the field finishes in a typical year.

The course can perhaps best be summed up by this familiar children’s song that keeps repeating itself:  “The bear went over the mountain and what do you think he saw?  He saw another mountain,” etc.  Imagine being the bear in that song for two days.   If there was a fork in the road, you could assume the route headed the more upward pointing way.

The weather felt cool and comfortable at the start.  The two women in the field, female record holder Michelle D. from New York and Leslie H. from Colorado, set a comfortable pace for the pack over the first three miles to the first climb, up Route 327.  Three riders almost immediately went ahead and disappeared down the road.  I thought about joining them, but thought better of it.  Then a quick right and the climb was on, steep at first.

Later power meter readings would show that this climb continued on and off for the next 30 minutes or so.  The first five minutes I averaged 299 watts, a respectable number for me on a first climb, though nothing outrageous.  Eventually one of the three leading riders dropped back to our group of five, which seemed to be the second group on the road for many miles.  After a long downhill, the five of us stayed together more or less for a while, eventually thinning to three by the time we stopped for water at mile 38 in Watkins Glen.

The way I analyzed this ride, sleep would play a big role for me.  I do not function well mentally or physically if I go completely through the night without sleep.  At PBP in 2007, I couldn’t find my hotel in Loudeac and ended up skipping my sleep stop and riding 46 hours before sleeping.  I am now convinced that that was a major contributing factor to my DNF on that ride.  I was determined to get at least 3 hours of time for the sleep stop in Auburn, allowing me at least 90 minutes of sleep.

Unfortunately, Quadizlla is 25 miles longer than a standard 600k, with the same time limit of 40 hours and a course that has to be as hilly as any 600k anywhere.  That means the sleep stop at the Super 8 comes at mile 270.  To get there by 5 a.m., in order to depart at 8 a.m., would not be easy.  But I had no idea how much harder I would make it.

This was my first trip to the Finger Lakes and I very quickly began to appreciate the spectacular views from the many hills we were climbing.  Lakes and hills were everywhere.  Even I, cautious as ever on descents, was hitting the mid-40s on these downhills.  Physically, I felt good.  Mark the organizer was at the front a lot during this first section.  I remember thinking how strong he looked.

At Watkins Glen, Mark and another rider left before me, as I decided to spend a couple of extra minutes finishing my chocolate donuts (it works for me).  That left me alone for the first time and required me to start paying close attention to the cue sheet.  After all, I no longer was riding behind the organizer.  Going out of the parking lot, I made a right instead of a left.  Just like that, I wasted a mile going right and a mile retracing my steps when I realized my mistake.  Each mile represented about six minutes of lost time.  So I had gained 90 minutes to that point on the road, then gave 12 of them back.

No problem, I thought.  I just kept on alone.  I kept nearly catching up to Marcel M. from Quebec, who seemed to be having all sorts of problems with his cue sheet and his English.  But somehow he made up for it with sheer strength and determination.  I frequently saw him during the next 40 miles or so, as we rode through more persistent heat and humidity.  At mile 75 or so, we rolled through the town of Hammondsport, as usual along the lake.  All the towns seemed to be on the lakes, and at the bottom of the elevation scale.

Sure enough, the first really nasty grade of the ride, Greyton Taylor Mem. Blvd., greeted us on the outskirts of town.  This ride, exposed to the increasing heat, must have baked my brain, because about five miles later, my concentration failed me.  The cue sheet clearly said, “Mattoon Rd, R.”  But instead of turning right, I turned left.

It was only after six miles, when the road turned to dirt, that I realized my mistake.  I probably lost close to an hour.  It demoralized me at first.  Now with 80 miles in, I only had about an hour of time banked.  I needed at least three hours by the sleep stop at mile 270 in Auburn.  The climbing now felt relentless, capped by a vicious assent up Gannett Hill for the first checkpoint.  By now many riders had passed me and was nearer the back of the pack then the front.  But I started seeing fewer and fewer riders as I went on.

I opted for the full 400-mile option at the 132-mile checkpoint at Springwater, then pulled in right on my schedule about 7:40 p.m. at Letchworth State Park, where I answered the question about the plaque overlooking the waterfall.  A wedding party was being photographed, with a recording of Whitney Houston hits in the background (”IIIIIIIIIIIII, will alwaaaaaaaaaaays, love youuuuuuuuuuu).  Lauren, one of the volunteers at this stop, at about mile 167, commented that I looked good.  I started to believe I would be OK.  I now had two hours of time to spare.  I needed a third to sleep.  Without sleep, I didn’t think I would ride fast enough to make the time cut.

The next two stages were in darkness.  A cover band playing T-Rex’s “Bang a Gong,” lifted my spirits further.  I wasn’t exactly rocking along the highway, but I was getting there.  The second overnight stage, from the lakeshore town of Canandaiga to the Auburn sleep stop, was relatively flat and I was able to pick up  that coveted third hour.  I walked into the Super 8 at exactly 5 a.m.  Perfect.  Counting the 14 bonus miles, I had just gone 284 very hilly miles in 24 hours, the second furthest I have ever ridden in a day, behind the 324 on the very flat NJ 600k in 2007.  I am convinced this was the toughest 24 hours I’ve spent on a bicycle.  Because this ride had so many long uphills and downhills, average power was less reliable than on flatter rides.  Normalized power is a better metric.  My normalized power for the 24-hour period was 169 watts, the best ever for that amount of time.

Without even eating much, I showered, changed clothes and  fell asleep by 5:45.  Though I arranged a 7:30 wakeup call, I woke by myself at 7:15, getting 90 minutes of deep sleep.  It doesn’t sound like much and it wasn’t.  But it would have to do.  I rolled out again a few minutes before 8.  About 128 miles to cover in 13 hours, if I was to make the cutoff.

Some of the climbs on the second day were brutal, especially Hitchings Road, which the cue sheet labels “a real ass biter.”  It didn’t disappoint.  You could see the climb looming ahead, filling your heart with despair.  I slogged up it though, averaging a respectable 245 watts for the first five minutes, the steepest part.  Many thanks to my secret weapon, my granny gear of a 30-34.  It was put to good use.

I was starting to feel better about my chances of finishing when the rain began.  It came and went for hours, at times drenching me.  It slowed my descent to a crawl at times.  I began to worry again about time.  I had about 45 minutes in hand, enough for a small mechanical or two.  After a third route mistake, costing me an additional two miles, about 40 miles from the finish, I caught up with Craig M. and we rode together more or less for the last 3o miles or so back to the finish.  The rain stopped.  We picked up a little more time.  Craig and I had ridden together for parts of the Endless Mountains 1240k last fall and we had an eerily similar conversation about how few people were still on the course.  Last fall it was 22 of 48 starters who finished.  This time the percentage was even lower.

After Craig and I finished, Mark Frank said his preliminary figures were only seven Quadzilla finishers this year out of 23 starters.  As it turned out, there were a total of 9 riders making the 40-hour cutoff.   Allowing for age adjusted times, there were a total of 11 Quadzilla finishers and three finishers of the Finger Lakes 350.  I was thrilled to be one of them.  I had survived on just 90 minutes of sleep for nearly 40 hours through the hilliest course you can imagine. Whatever else happens the rest of this year, my goal is met.  My season is made.

Congratulations to Dennis DeLong and Henrik Olsen on setting a new Quadzilla course record at 29:54.


My goal event has gone successfully and now it’s a rest week.  I will decide this weekend whether I want to ride the PA 1000k.  I feel pretty beaten up right now.

The Final Week: Time To Fret

It’s now August 8th, six days before Quadzilla, the 400-mile, 28,000 feet of climbing event in Ithaca, N.Y. for which I have been training for months.  My power numbers are showing that I have improved significantly, by some measures by more than 10 percent.  Overall, my numbers are comparable in many ways to those the week before last fall’s Endless Mountains 1240k, which went well.

But now I worry about the final days.  Am I resting enough?  Will I be sharp on the day of the event?  Hard to know for sure.

I had a busy week.  Thursday I did another one-hour time trial on the spinner, raising my record calorie output to 827 kcal.  That compares with a high of 736 kcal for the same duration last fall before the EM 1240.  I can feel a difference in my cruising speed.  On Friday, during one burst during a recovery ride, I hit 479 watts for one minute, the highest level for me in two years.   Saturday was a Hillier Than Thou training ride, 65 miles long with about 5500 feet of gain.  I took the first climb Stephensburg Road at 300 watts for the first 5 minutes, then the second climb of Coleman Hill Rd 314 watts.  This was probably too strong at the start.  I didn’t make it all the way up Fiddlers Elbow, having to walk the end of its 25 percent grade section.  Fiddlers gets into my head somehow.  Sometimes I make it, sometimes not.  My overall numbers of 163 watts absolute and 218 normalized were very good compared to my results this year and comparable to some of my best numbers on similar rides.  Today I rode 61 miles to the Sourlands Ridge with the Cyclepaths.  My wattage numbers were 143 absolute and 172 normalized, right in the middle of aerobic range, which was the goal.  I felt comfortable.

Now I’m winding down, with no more longer rides planned before the event and with easy to moderate rides each day with just one intense 30-minute session on the spinner Tuesday.  Oh, and I’m taking tomorrow Monday off completely.  According to my software, this will leave me well enough rested, with a TSB (Training Stress Balance) of about 20 and rising and a CTL (Chronic Training Load) of about 104, which would be only an 8 percent drop in fitness from my season peak of 113 today.

My attitude is good.  Except I can’t help worrying a little.  It’s always that way before a big event.


Goal event is six days away.  Too late to do anything to change fitness level.  Now I’ll just try to rest and throw in enough work so I won’t lose too much fitness.

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

New York Route 97, along the Delaware River near the Hawks Nest overlook during the PA Hawks Nest 200k brevet, originally uploaded by Shane Beake.

This week began as a rest week. I was supposed to go easy during the week, except for a one-hour test on the spinner Thursday or Friday. Then Saturday and Sunday I was going to Massachusetts for a family trip. The bike wasn’t going to play a big role, if used at all. On Thursday morning I did the one-hour spinner workout and exceeded my goal of 800 kcal for the hour.

A few hours later, the plans for Massachusetts fell through due to an ill family member. So suddenly I had a free weekend. It just so happened there was a PA brevet on Saturday, the Hawks Nest 200k. Even though this was my rest week, I signed up for two reasons: (1) Due to the hot weather, I had cut down my riding the previous weekend by about 40 percent; and (2) I wanted to do a 200k two weeks before Quadzilla. Without this ride, I would have done nothing longer than a metric century (62 miles) within four weeks of the 400-mile event.

Balancing work and rest is the toughest part of training.  I decided I could handle the extra stress.  The weather Saturday turned out to be near perfect.  The temperature only got as high as about 80 degrees with low humidity and bright sunshine.  I started out a little fast, perhaps from enthusiasm over the cooler weather, averaging 222 watts for the first 30 minutes, an unsustainable pace.  But I soon settled down to a more manageable 160-180 watts.  The course has about 7,000 feet of climbing, less than the 8,000 to 10,000 you’d expect on a Tom Rosenbauer 200k.  I felt good, so I decided to keep my stops to a minimum and aim for a good time.

I was doing all right on the hills, but where I really noticed improvement was on the flat and rolling sections, where I could pound out a more powerful pedal stroke.  I credit that to the weekly one-hour time trialing sessions on the spinner.  I ended up averaging 16.1 mph for the entire 125-mile ride, despite virtually no drafting at all.  I’m usually in the 14’s for a course like that.  I saw Don and Jon, the first two finishers, during the first 20 miles, then the only person I saw was Walter, the third fastest finisher.  The four of us stayed within 15-20 minutes of each other most of the ride, though I saw only Walter, and only briefly at controles.  I ended up fourth among the 14 finishers, which was a quite respectable result, especially given the quality of riders.

As the ride went on and I continued to feel strong, I began shooting for two personal bests, both achieved on a 2006 PA 200k in May 2006.  On that ride I achieved my best power and speed numbers over the 200k distance: 171 watts straight power and 205 normalized power, and an 8:29 finish time.  That ride was substantially more hilly, but I also did a lot of drafting as well.   When I stopped at each controle, I was looking at my time elapsed  and my average watts.  I stayed near my goal through the last intermediate control.  I tired a little at the end, but finished at 168w and 192 normalized power, my second best showing ever for that distance.  My time was 8:31, just two minutes off my best.  I spent just 38 minutes off the bike, despite four intermediate controle stops, averaging 5-10 minutes at each.

The power meter doesn’t lie.  My numbers have improved significantly in the last several weeks.  My conditioning appears to be good.  That doesn’t guarantee I won’t have a bad day on Quadzilla in two weeks.  There are other factors like mechanical issues, weather, sleep deprivation, navigation errors, and overtraining.  I’m really concerned about overtraining.  I’ve got to toe a fine line the next 12 days, between losing fitness on the one hand and not getting enough rest on the other.  I got it right last year on the EM 1200k.  I hope I can do it again.


WEEK 16 hours 12 minutes

GOAL 7 hours

I did cut down my riding about 40 percent over a 7-day period, so I sort of had a rest week.  But I would have liked to have cut down on my volume this weekend a little more.  I decided to do the 200k, however, as a final tuneup.  I think I’ll be rested enough in 12 days.  I’ll find out soon.

Success On the Spinner

I made my goal of reaching 800 kcal for an hour on the spinner at the Y.  Late last year, when I was training for the Endless Mountains 1200k, I got as high as 736 kcal.  Eight hundred seemed like a reasonable goal.  I got to 760 in May during the base period, then steadily increased during the build period to 776 and 783.  Last week I made it to 795.  This morning for the first time I rode at my goal pace for the entire hour and ended up with 820 kcal.  This translates to 228 watts, supposedly, although I don’t know how accurate the spin bike is.  The important thing was I was able to raise the readings about 11 percent this season.  That’s a significant gain, though it’s easy to read too much into this.

Last week began well with that 795 kcal hour on the spinner on Tuesday, followed by a Morris Freewheelers ride Thursday where I left my power meter home by mistake.  I must have been riding well, because I stayed with the first group until the end.  Saturday I planned a very hilly 64-mile ride, followed by a hilly century on Sunday.  I rode alone the first day.  Saturday’s high 90s heat and high humidity slowed me down, though.  The 8,000 feet of climbing, including the third climb of Iron Bridge Road in three weeks, was too much.  Not only were my power numbers disappointing low (135w/183w) but the ride itself really knocked me for a loop.  Here is a shot of the descent of Ludlow Station Road, which parallels the Iron Bridge climb and is just as nasty.

I scrapped the century and scaled back to a relatively flat 60-miler with the Cyclepaths on their regular Sunday morning ride.  It turned out to be a good call, as I gradually recovered my strength during this week. And today I reached my big goal on the spinner.  We’ll see if that translates to better riding outdoors.


WEEK 12 hrs 56 min

GOAL 15 hrs

Finished last week of second and last three-week build/intensity phase.  Have taken it down a notch this week, but because of unexpected cancellation of a trip out of town plan to ride a 200k Saturday in PA.  I will have to be careful not to overdo it after that.  It’s just 16 days before Quadzilla.

Teetering On The Verge Of Exhaustion

Jud & Mendy taking the Bear Mountain entrance, originally uploaded by Shane Beake.

This past week was the second of three weeks during my build/intensity period. Last Thursday I rode well on a hot night out of Hopewell to Lambertville with the Princeton Freewheelers. The power numbers were 183w absolute, 237 normalized and 210w combined for a fairly hilly course. Friday I rode a moderate pace for 24 miles with the Cyclepaths (135w/171np) and then came the weekend. Because of the rainout of the Hillier Than Thou practice ride the week before, I had it back to back with the NYC 200k, featuring the Bear Mountain climb. That meant 64 miles with 6,400 feet of climbing on Saturday, followed by 125 miles with 8500 feet on Sunday. Combine them and allow for bonus miles and I actually rode 193 miles with 15,000 feet of elevation gain.

What’s the point of exhausting yourself that way? Well, those combined numbers are about exactly half what I will ride in four weeks on Quadzilla, which is 400 miles and 30,000 feet.  So that’s what I did.  It was in the mid-90s both days, but I hung in there pretty well.  Both days I tried to stay just below the red zone and not burn out my legs.  They protested loudly under the workload, but they did not sell out on me.  Saturday my numbers for the 64 miles were 163w/212np.  Sunday’s numbers, because of a much slower pace, were 113w/174np.  That would be comparable to the second day of a 600k.


WEEK: 20 hrs 6 min

GOAL: 12 hrs

I have just finished the second of three build/intensity weeks.  I have four weeks to go before the big goal event, Quadzilla.

Finding The Time To Be Intense

I know that my intensity training is paying off.  I feel stronger on the bike, particularly in shorter bursts, such as catching up with a group and climbing hills.  My power numbers are also on the increase.  I was rarely topping 400w for one-minute segments or 300w for 5-minute segments a few weeks ago.  Now I do both routinely.  I am not in peak shape yet, but I am certainly, for me, in good shape.  My weight is hovering about 165, which is normal for me this time of year.

The big problem is finding the time to be intense.  Last week I had Monday off, so despite the 98-degree heat, I joined a 51-mile Morris Area Freewheeler ride out of Pluckemin.  I suffered in the heat, got dropped twice and spent much of the last 30 minutes trying to catch the lead group, ultimately not succeeding.  Last Thursday night I did another MAFW ride, riding 31 miles and averaging 217w for 30 minutes, which is good for a club ride.  I stayed with the front group until near the end.  Saturday and Sunday I did rides of 49 and 101 miles, respectively, with my local group, the Cyclepaths.  Sunday I averaged 269w for 10 minutes up Tunnel road, with a normalized power reading of 283w, with a five-minute section of 300w.  That is a steady climb, a much shorter version of a climb like Whiteface mountain.  That is probably my best effort at climbing it.  It helped that I had Jeff S., a very strong rider, riding with me.  Motivation is especially important during this part of my training.

I have learned that I work best for intensity training with at least three intense days a week.  I try to have 1-2 hour intense rides Tuesdays and Thursdays and try to have longer rides with some intense sections on both weekend days.  This week, I am struggling to find the time and opportunity to  get the shorter rides in.  Tuesday there was no chance of doing a club ride, as I had work commitments, but I had time to do something close to home.  That meant either the spinner at the gym or some kind of interval work.  For the first time this year, I did some serious intervals.

The only interval course close to home is Dutch Rd.  That lasts about a mile and a half.  While it has stretches of 6-8 percent grade, there are also flat and downhill sections.  It is not ideal for steady, maximum power, more like a sprinter’s hill, favoring short bursts.  Despite some traffic, potholes and intermittent rain, I did it seven times in a row, averaging about 220-250 watts each time, just below my red zone.  I averaged 17.8 mph, including seven climbs and six descents.  My wattage numbers were 197w absolute and 221 np, which were roughly equivalent to a fast club ride, without the extreme efforts of a club ride.  Today it rained in the morning.  Tomorrow I’m going to try to join a Princeton Freewheelers ride in the evening.  Nothing like the fear of getting dropped to keep up your intensity.

WEEKLY TIME: 16 hrs 14 min

GOAL: 12 hrs

I am now on the second week of my second cycle of intensity training.  The target event is exactly a month away.


Wilting In The Heat

Today I decided to kick off my second build/intensity period by joining a 53-mile ride with the Morris Area Free Wheelers.  This was billed as a “B” ride, whatever that means.  In the MAFW, ride categories seem to depend sometimes more on the identities of the riders who show up than on some kind of absolute pace.  This ride was originally canceled by the club due to expected high 90s temperatures and then reinstated.  I counted 20 riders at the start.

I’d just had a quiet rest week.  I’d gone out Saturday and done 51 miles on my “test ride.”  During each rest week, usually on a Saturday, I find a long hill and test my five-minute wattage.  The highest wattage ever for me in five minutes was 339 out of Flemington on a Princeton Freewheelers ride two years ago.  My best this year so far had been the 311w performance up Zion the week before.  I was hoping for a performance in the 330s.

Well, I used Dutchtown-Zion Road in the Sourlands, which I find nearly ideal because it gets steepest toward the end, counteracting the natural tendency to relax when climbs level off.  I gave it a good effort, the top felt like it arrived earlier than usual, and then I checked the reading.  It was 324w.  It was the fifth highest I’ve recorded on any climb, but it was a bit disappointing.  My normalized power was 335w, so I figured maybe I hadn’t given it full effort for the whole five minutes.  Sure enough, the climb did end too quickly.  I started it 30 seconds too late.  My first 30 seconds was 230w, while my last 4 minutes 30 seconds was 336 watts.  So my goal of a reading in the 330s was within reach, had I started my big effort a little sooner.

As for the MAFW ride today?  Don’t ask.  Temperatures rose into the high 90s and there was a spirited group of riders at the front, not a good combination.  My overall numbers (157 watts absolute , 202 normalized, 180 combined) looked a lot like those for the WJW ride last week (148 absolute, 210 normalized, 179 combined), but that ride had more big climbs and less of the fast flat to rolling terrain that gives me more trouble.  I ended up getting dropped twice today from the front group, spending a lot of time alone fighting the wind.  Also, two weeks before on another 51-mile MAFW ride I’d managed 220 np, a good 10 percent better than today.  The heat and the less hilly terrain were probably responsible.

I’ve learned that brevet riding often entails riding alone, so from a training perspective, this was fine.  The trouble was the heat.  I definitely was pushing it too hard for the weather.  It was good the ride was relatively short.

WEEK 7 hrs 1 min

GOAL 7 hrs

I’ve now completed the full four weeks of the first of two build/intensity periods.  I’ve just entered the second of those periods.  I hope to ride another shorter high intensity ride Wednesday or Thursday, then will use Saturday for my third intense ride of the week.

It’s All About Normalized Power

Just finished the first three-week build/intensity period.  Based upon my experience last September, I did three intense workouts per week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday/Sunday.  Because I couldn’t find any century or longer group rides, I did about 60 miles each Saturday and Sunday, rather than a 200k one of those days, as I would have preferred.  Each Tuesday night generally was a hard group ride of about 2 hours.  Each Thursday was a one-hour morning workout on the indoor trainer.

Joe Friel recommends what he calls “breakthrough workouts” where periodically you try to exceed previous highs.  I had three of them this week.  On Tuesday night with the Morris Area Free Wheelers I reached a season high of 250watts normalized power for one  hour.  The 250-watt mark in the past has been a good barometer of whether my fitness is good.  The highest reading ever for one-hour was 262 NP in September 2008.  I went on to finish Hillier Than Thou in 6:33 a couple of weeks later, my best time.

Thursday was also a milestone, as I reached 783 kcal on the spinner at the Y.  That’s a new best reading for me.  It translates into 218 watts, according to my power meter, but I don’t go by the exact readings, partly because lack of a breeze makes the workout oppressively hot and probably saps energy and also I don’t know how well calibrated the Y machine is.

Saturday I continued to ride well, though I felt tired.  I rode with the Western Jersey Wheelmen and was climbing well.  I finished 57 miles at 148w absolute, 210 NP and 179 combined.  Sunday I rode with the Cyclepaths 6 a.m. ride, and finished with almost identical numbers on an 80-mile ride: 149, 207 and 178.  My climbing was still good.  I averaged 311w for five minutes up Zion Road, the best five-minute reading this year.  My average speed for the five-minute period was 10.1 mph, which makes it the third fastest climb for me of Zion.  I did 10.6 mph in 2006 and 10.3 in 2008.

Now it’s on to a rest week, followed by two more weeks of intensity.  I’m going to switch the third week of intensity for a rest week, so I can do the PA 200k on July 31st and the NYC 200k on July 18th.  I need some longer rides as I’m getting closer to the event on August 14th.


WEEK: 14 hrs 25 min

GOAL: 12 hrs 30 min

I am now in the fourth week of my build/intensity period, which is a rest week.  My target event, Quadzilla, is August 14th, a little less than 7 weeks away.