Getting the Boot…

 

Terminator2poster
Hasta la vista Baby!

There is nothing more maddening to me in the online world than subscription services, especially those ridiculously expensive services offered to cyclists, runners, and triathletes. The big two services (as far as I am concerned) that compete head to head on features are TrainingPeaks and Today’s Plan (including Stages Link).

Over the years I have been a paid subscriber (and beta tester) to the aforementioned services (and several others) but probably will not be renewing my memberships any time soon. My reasons for discontinuation of my subscription(s) are simple as follows:

  1. Too expensive for the features offered.
  2. Too expensive compared to stand-alone software applications, especially free open source software like GoldenCheetah.
  3. Too expensive given that useful features disappear at whim by the software providers.

I think you can see the picture here. Too expensive are the key words, especially given the questionable value of the services offered today. I have been beta testing Stages online version of Today’s Plan called Stages Link for some time. Today, without notice, I was unceremoniously booted out of the Premium version of Stages Link, including the training plan that I am right in the middle of. Obviously my work as a beta-tester was NOT valued and any expectation of further cooperation as a beta tester is null and void. Either I pony up $270 Canadian annually or “hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more.” Either I pay through the nose or get hosed – my choice, your prerogative Stages?

Oh, and by-the-way, you SUCK as a company Stages.

If my fellow cyclists only knew the real rate-of-return of failed hardware (i.e. power meters) from your company, they would quickly ride away, heading for the hills pronto!

The good news is that I just happened to have saved the aforementioned training plan in TrainingPeaks (TP) and am able to continue along my merry way within the free version of TP until further notice. Sometime in the near future Golden Cheetah (GC) will offer the same (and better) features than anything currently online or in standalone applications like TP’s WKO4.

In the words of an infamous Hollywood personality, “Hasta la vista Baby!”

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Cardiac Drift: Paying Attention to What Matters Most

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Pw:Hr or aerobic decoupling chart (i.e. cardiac drift)
(Pw:Hr) or Aerobic decoupling (i.e cardiac drift) is probably the most useful training metric for cyclists who want to accurately quantify fitness, adaptation to heat and proper hydration, and have a good indicator for long climbs and time trials.
 
Fast group rides, and the positive effects of drafting, often allow an individual to produce a higher power output at a significantly lower heart rate. This can lead to negative power to heart rate ratios, as opposed to a solo ride with an increasing heart rate and a decrease in power output, measured over longer periods of time. This is a good thing and should encourage the newbie or the grizzled old lone wolf to join in on weekly fast group rides.
 
Personally, I have found the Pw:Hr metric extremely useful in determining proper levels of hydration during and after exercise. A secondary benefit is looking back at an interval session and determining when the intervals had reached a point of ever declining returns for one’s effort. Knowing when to quit is just as important as knowing how hard and how long an interval should be, for a given purpose, as we develop as riders.
 
Long before the extensive use of heart rate monitors and power meters, individual athletes relied on perceived effort for determining pace and intensity during a ride. I still record my rate of perceived effort on a 1-10 scale, but often see glaring differences between what my mind and body is telling me, and what my actual input (power) and output (heart rate) really is. Rarely does a committed cyclist NOT work hard on the bike. In fact, most coaches need to restrain new riders from training until exhaustion and eventually dropping out of racing altogether.
 
Do yourself a favour and postpone that purchase of a fancy set of carbon racing wheels and a thousand dollar Garmin GPS. Instead, go out and buy yourself a decent power meter and a heart rate monitor. You will never regret your decision, and you will be faster for it in the long run 🙂

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The Numbers Don’t Lie

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WKO4 Phenotype Report 2013-2017

After accumulating road cycling power training data over a five year period, the numbers don’t lie. I am now clearly a time trial specialist based on my phenotype. Outside of one anomaly, the 2014 calendar year, where I fit into the phenotype of an all-rounder, the data is pretty consistent.

Perhaps, I need to take this information more seriously and continue to emphasize training more specific to time trialling this year. In some ways this does not surprise me, as I have always been more able to pace myself in the 15km and 40km road cycling time trial distances. Of equal interest (at least to me) has been my natural ability to train and race well in the 15km and 30km cross country skiing distances in both classic and skating disciplines.

My recent experience last Tuesday at our regular group ride with members of the Regina Cycling Club confirmed this. I am at my best over a set middle distance when I can control my own pace rather than the pace being dictated by other riders. How this fits in to the variable group dynamics of road racing is a question yet to be answered.

It’s funny how our bodies change over time, as do our abilities to excel at different aspects of road cycling. In my twenties and early thirties I was clearly a climber (70kg), based on a slight, but muscular body build. As I got older, I continued to gain muscular body weight (85kg) and ended up being more talented as an all-rounder cyclist. Today, in my late 50’s, I am even heavier (103kg) and struggle to keep the body fat to muscle ratio down, yet tend to be at my best in time trials now.

Go with the flow is my motto today. There is no point in trying to do battle in the realm of road racing in the area(s) of our weaknesses. Granted, one should continue to train their weaknesses (i.e. climbing) but focus their time and attention at what they are better at (i.e. time trialling).

The good news is that our cycling club has four time trials planned for the season and a few shorter criteriums and sprints that might better suit my morphology and phenotype.

The lesson one can learn from my own experience is that the process of aging and bodily changes do not necessarily have to hold us back from the sports we love. As human beings we are highly adaptable to change.

Where there is a will, there is a way 🙂

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.