General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Help me find the zen of bike burn! Rss Feed  
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2016-09-25 8:33 PM

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Subject: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Running, no problem-I set the pace and except for major hills, I stay on pace. Swimming is swimming-get in a groove pace and stay there.

I have done my training on the bike and done several HIM and a full IM. Despite that I don't really think I understand how to train or race on the bike. (setting aside that intensity changes throughout the training cycle for the sake of this discussion). Should I be getting off my bike at the end of 20 mile ride and be feeling my legs burn? Or should they just be burnt out during hill climbs on that same 20 miles? Or is 20 miles nothing and it should be like a leisurely Sunday ride?

In races, during some HIM I have done, I always have those horror stories going through my head of people saying that they overcooked the bike and paid for it on the run (so I think I hold back on the bike). While I have had some marginal runs (walking) during a couple HIM, I can't specifically attribute it to me overcooking the bike. So should my legs be burnt out getting off the bike on a HIM or IM? Do I need to sign up for a sprint or Oly and go flat out on the bike to see what my limit is?

Help me understand.





Edited by scottficek 2016-09-25 8:34 PM


2016-09-25 9:25 PM
in reply to: scottficek


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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Assuming a reasonable base, I don't know that you'll ever get home after 20 miles and feel like your quads are on fire. But, if you're doing intervals, those last couple should hurt. . . quite a bit. If you're looking for some insight on training and racing on a bike, I suggest grabbing a book, you could give Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible a go or the Training with Power book, can't remember who wrote that one. Or better yet, if you want to get a better handle on training and racing on the bike, go race bikes for a year.
2016-09-26 6:29 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
I am not an expert, but....I have never crashed and burned on a HIM run due to overcooking the bike, as far as I know. (Had one terrible run, but that was due to being sick from the get-go, plus 104 degree heat and high humidity.) Your legs should not feel totally "burned" getting off the bike. They might feel tired starting out, but hopefully not absolutely fried. Normally I feel pretty horrid for the first mile or two, though I'm actually hitting my goal pace or even faster. Then I start to get into a rhythm and feel more normal. The closest I have come to overcooking the bike was probably at Calgary on a really tough bike course, where I'd decided to try to ride at 75-80% of threshold (I'd never done more than 70%). Stakes were quite low for that race, so I figured it was a good time to find out what I was capable of. That wattage really hurt, many parts of the bike felt very hard, and I wondered how I would manage the run. When I got off, my legs felt very tired and I felt like my glutes and hamstrings were cramping, but I was close to/at goal pace and my mom, who has watched me run since I was a kid, said my stride looked normal. I felt better after about 5K and had a good run until about 16K, then cramped on the final uphill. It wasn't disastrous, but probably slowed my run time by 2-3 minutes. I would pretty much consider that the edge of the bike power I could manage given my fitness at the time. So I would say, tired, yes, but burnt out, no. You have to be able to find that difference.

As for sprints and Olys, I think I am still trying to find that line. That level of power/effort just hurts from the get-go; exactly how much pain I can take and still have a good run is a balance I have yet to get right. Particularly for the sprint, pushing the bike too hard will kill my run as I'll invariably cramp and there's not time to "run it off" like in a HIM. This has actually gotten more common as I've gotten more competitive on the bike. When I was less experienced at tri, I would fall far behind on the bike, then pull off amazing runs. Now that I am up further on the bike, my run is usually solid but not outstanding. Could be age or training-related, but I think it is also a matter of pacing. For some reason that has always come more naturally to me for longer events.
2016-09-26 10:55 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Your zen is found in the world of training using power meters. Once your know your critical power level (based on MaxVO2 and your Lactate Threshold), you can train for any distance based on the power level you need to maintain for defined intervals.

You can search the BT site for info on their winter bike training program (originally known as Jorge's winter cycling program).

The best way to learn about training using power is Dr. Phil Skiba's articles on his website, starting with http://physfarm.com/new/?page_id=511

A good overview is found at https://athletictimemachine.com/2014/08/03/phillip-skiba-the-best-tr...

If you can find them, I highly recommend his 2 books (see the latter link).

Once I got a power meter and started training with power, it's like my eyes were finally opened to a whole new world of training. Believe me, your thighs will be screaming after a power-based workout (or your lungs will be screaming for air if it's a 5 minute test!)

Check when the winter training programs start, they used to be able to offer discounts on power meters.

Good luck.
2016-10-03 8:46 AM
in reply to: windandsurf

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Let me give you another example.

I am cruising up an incline at 90 RPM at 15MPH. Is it better to stay at 90 RPM or to push it a little, drop a gear and go down to 80 RPM and 16 MPH. I am burning my legs more than the 15 MPH pace. Is this going to kill me over a HIM or Full IM?
2016-10-03 9:12 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Originally posted by scottficek

Let me give you another example.

I am cruising up an incline at 90 RPM at 15MPH. Is it better to stay at 90 RPM or to push it a little, drop a gear and go down to 80 RPM and 16 MPH. I am burning my legs more than the 15 MPH pace. Is this going to kill me over a HIM or Full IM?



In an HIM or IM a couple of those might not "kill" you, but it might not really help you either. Too many intense efforts (no matter how short) will burn a few matches in your book that you won't have later. IMO, at longer distances, the bike is about a steady controlled burn as opposed to an alternating set of intensities.


2016-10-03 12:07 PM
in reply to: tedjohn

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Your example is very general, and there are too may variables to give you a definitive answer. Tedjohn's answer is about the best you can expect without more specifics. Basically at the end of your bike you want enough in the tank to finish the run. You need to learn from your training how far you can push it.

That's why I like power training, it answers the specifics you seem to be looking for. Study the material and you'll figure it out.
2016-10-03 7:58 PM
in reply to: scottficek


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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
At 80 RPM, probably not. I would imagine lots of folks climb at 80 RPM's. My personal preference would be to spin quicker and tax my aerobic engine more than my legs. It would also depend on how steep for how long. So I guess I'm really not any help other than to say try doing both and see what works better for you.
2016-10-04 7:35 AM
in reply to: tedjohn

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Originally posted by tedjohn

Originally posted by scottficek

Let me give you another example.

I am cruising up an incline at 90 RPM at 15MPH. Is it better to stay at 90 RPM or to push it a little, drop a gear and go down to 80 RPM and 16 MPH. I am burning my legs more than the 15 MPH pace. Is this going to kill me over a HIM or Full IM?



In an HIM or IM a couple of those might not "kill" you, but it might not really help you either. Too many intense efforts (no matter how short) will burn a few matches in your book that you won't have later. IMO, at longer distances, the bike is about a steady controlled burn as opposed to an alternating set of intensities.


I can't find the data to back up what I have to say, so hopefully I'm remembering everything properly. Trainingpeaks released the powermeter data from one of the top athletes during I think the 70.3 championships. The thing I remember most from it is that his power was steadier than mine on a trainer! Even with all of the hills on the course his power barely fluctuated. I do think in this case there was one climb that he purposefully went harder on though, but I can't remember.

2016-10-04 8:13 AM
in reply to: Lupy

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Haha I sure can.That was the super-steep one--I think they said it was 15% or 18%. That was also the infamous turnoff that I missed on the first lap that screwed up my race--but that's another story. I will admit--I got off and walked for about the steepest 100m of it. It wasn't a matter of burning matches--in my easiest gear, I still could not pedal fast enough to move up the hill and not fall off the bike! Probably less of an issue for more powerful bikers.

I was not the only one. If you didn't purposefully hit a considerably higher power than your average HIM power, you would have fallen off. Some people did--I saw one older guy go down! Thank goodness, the really awful part of it was not that long (400m?). Can vouch that the rest of the hills on that course were not extreme at all--false flats and rollers. There were a few descents where one had to take a little cautiously for a few hundred meters due to curves and drop-offs. That was about it. it would have been a fairly easy course to keep power steady (low VI) on, except for the monster hill.
2016-10-05 9:36 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner


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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
15-18% is a bit pitchy. When the road turns up that much, you've just got to burn a match and put down the power. That's why its beneficial to train more than just your 20 minute power. Your 1 minute to 5 minute power doesn't need to be bike racer quality, but it helps when you can dig deep for a minute or two and recover quickly.


2016-10-07 9:02 PM
in reply to: ziggie204

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Originally posted by ziggie204

15-18% is a bit pitchy. When the road turns up that much, you've just got to burn a match and put down the power. That's why its beneficial to train more than just your 20 minute power. Your 1 minute to 5 minute power doesn't need to be bike racer quality, but it helps when you can dig deep for a minute or two and recover quickly.


Help me understand what you mean by 20 minute power. I have not heard that phrase before.
2016-10-08 1:06 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Not Ziggie but I am quite sure he means average max watts on a 20-minute test. 95% of that is often considered to be FTP. I think my last 20-minute test was 214 or 215 watts. So that would mean doing some work above that. In reality, it's something one doesn't do often in HIM training; probably part of the reason I couldn't make it up that hill. It is also harder to put out high absolute power if (like me) one is a real lightweight. Theoretically, my watts per kilo are pretty good (very close to 4) and I should be able to handle the hill, but in reality, at that point in the race (plus due to missing the turnoff on the first loop, I was hitting it at about 64 km instead of at 54 km like I should have) I wasn't able to. It wasn't a matter of choosing to burn a match or not--I just physically could not keep moving forward fast enough to remain on the bike!

Most of the people I saw walking were smaller AG men or women. I think a more powerfully built athlete might be able to put out enough absolute power for a short period to make it up despite the extra weight. Doing so when one is less than 120 pounds requires a really high power to weight ratio--probably doable for the pros and top AG cyclists, but not everyone, even in a world championship.
2016-10-08 1:51 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Like Hot Runner said, the 20 minute test is the 20-minute average of your max watts on the bike (hint -- think major sufferfest). That 20 min average max power, or 20MP (in watts) gives you a very good data point of what you can do.

Combined with the 5 minute test for 5 min average max power, 5MP (more intense sufferfest), you can determine your critical power (CP) from the 5MP and 20MP. Once you determine your CP from your 5MP and 20MP, you know your steady state (i.e., stay below your CP and your body can maintain steadstate). Dividing your CP by your weight (in Kg) gives your your Watts/Kg so you can compare your fitness against others.

For HIM my goal was 75% of my CP.

FTP is an approximation of CP.

See http://physfarm.com/new/?page_id=511

For more details, see the Winter Cycling plans at http://beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/training/trainingplans-lis...
2016-10-10 9:39 PM
in reply to: windandsurf

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
Interesting.

Is there a "zone" like relationship on this also? You said "stay below your CP and your body can maintain steadstate", but I would assume you need to stay below your CP enough.

I assume when you talk about bike and staying below your CP, we are talking about Zone 2? Aerobic work that you can sustain for great distances.
2016-10-11 4:32 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
I am not that familiar with exactly how one calculates CP, but my coach has me doing FTP (functional threshold power) as 95% of the 20-minute test value. In my case, no, I don't feel like that's a "steady state" effort. It's very hard, just a notch below "puke" after 20 minutes of it. In theory, it is what you could sustain for an hour but OMG you would have to have a gun to my head every minute of that hour, and even then, I'm not sure I would survive. 40-45 minutes, yes, but it would be a long 40-45 minutes!

There are various tables about what % of FTP you "should" be able to sustain for various distances; I have heard 75 to 85% for HIM distance, depending on your strengths/weaknesses as a cyclist. In hot conditions you would probably want to back off somewhat, maybe 5%? For me, 75% is hard, 80% HURTS and is the limit (at least in my last race with the PM) of what I can sustain for that distance. But I'm sure that pros and many age-groupers who are stronger cyclists can sustain 85% of FTP and maybe in some cases even higher. I believe that level of effort mainly falls into Z3. IM pace would be more like high Z2.

In my case I find there isn't actually much difference between my power levels/speed for a sprint and a HIM. I think it's partly a matter of training--most HIM training (my main focus for the past two years) is not at the very high % of FTP (95%-100%+) that a sprint race is supposed to be, partly a lack of experience with racing shorter distances, and partly my physiology--I tend to excel in going kinda fast for a long time, not really fast for a short time. That's been true across the board for swim, bike, and run, and has been that way since I started in each sport.


2016-10-11 9:37 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Help me find the zen of bike burn!
This BT page now has an online calculator to calculate critical power:

http://beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/training/cycling-zone-calc...

Insert your 5 MP (5 min. max power) (a measure of your VO2 Max) and 20MP (20 min. max power) (a measure of your maximal lactate steady state/MLSS), your weight (to calculate W/Kg),and voila!

The online calculator on that BT Page also has a table that converts the CP percentages to the "FTP zones" developed by Andy Coggan. You'll see that 75% CP (the rate I used for my first HIM) is in the upper end of Coggan's "endurance" zone.

This diagram (from Dr. Skiba's page I referenced earlier) gives you a better understanding of the CP calculation: your avg. max power will decrease as the testing time increases, so as time extends to infinity (and beyond!) you reach the physiological steady state represented by Critical Power.






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