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2016-11-04 10:16 AM

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Subject: what's better free speed?
Serious question, looking for any insight.
background
3 years ago I managed a podium position in my first year of competition, that qualified me for Nationals in Olympic distance, I want to do that again. Then my second child was born and I went through 2 job changes that completely derailed my training. I was able to keep some fitness and am beginning my comeback. I should qualify that all biking needs to be done on a trainer and swimming time is difficult to manage so kept to a minimum. Running comes naturally.

Tris are not cheap, we all know that, especially when it comes to bike gear. with limited resources I can get one of the following for next year. What do you all recommend?

1) upgrade my dumb trainer to a smart trainer so I get the better road feel? right now using estimated power curves for my KKRnR in TR or Z I either increase pressure or cadence to increase power to match the curve or to go up the hill faster. If I had something like a Kickr set to 100% you automatically get need to increase power to make it through. It's hard to explain but translating to IRL I have noticed that going up a hill outside you can't just increase cadence, it is different and this wears me out outside now.

2) Upgrade my bike from a road bike to a tri/TT bike? get a good used bike by using a local bike fitter

3) get a power meter for my bike. I have relied on estimated power for 3 years now increasing my FTP from 187 to 265 (4.05w/kg) even with my current sporadic training

-or-

4) get a coach. Know that my bike training is not perfect as it is but get a coach to maximize what is currently possible across all three sports knowing that I can/will upgrade in the future?

Thanks for any opinions that you all give, I have valued this community for the last 5 years, it has always been a source of positive reinforcement and has kept me going in many cases


2016-11-04 10:59 AM
in reply to: coolgenes

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

Hiring a coach has been hugely beneficial to me. The caveat that s/he has to give you something that is not stock, taking into account your particular strengths and weaknesses. 

I can't speak to your other options, but a good coach should be able to work with you regardless of the type of trainer or PM you have (not that having those things hurts). Good luck, and hopefully see you in Omaha!

2016-11-04 12:03 PM
in reply to: coolgenes

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

I would do #3 over #1 as that gives you power both indoors and out.  I don't think any subtle changes to road feel will be worth very much.  The way to get used to riding hills outside is to ride hills outside.  

#2 has the potential to give you the most "free speed" in the sense that you will instantly (I use that term loosely) be faster.  There is no guarantee of course that this will really happen and it may not be a big improvement.  It very much depends on the position you are in now on your current bike vs what you end up with on the new bike.

2, 3 and 4 are the best choices in my opinion but there is nothing free about that.  

2016-11-04 1:44 PM
in reply to: #5204006

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
2, 3, 4, 1
2016-11-04 2:43 PM
in reply to: coolgenes

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
My $.02

1) Based on having to do all the bike training on the trainer, I would go with trainer upgrade. You need to enjoy the training to motivate yourself to do it and also to push yourself.

2) Tri Bike: My biggest gains came from Tri bike. Get involved with the Tri community in your area. You may find a bike to fit budget or someone to loan you a bike for a year or two.

4) Coach: Check out the coaches on the BT site. Mike Ricci is highly recommended.

3) Power Meter
2016-11-04 3:24 PM
in reply to: coolgenes


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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

The highest bang for buck you mention is definitely the (good) coach, but that's with the big caveat that the coach is only as good as what you're willing and able to commit. If you want to PR, but you can only train -20% volume compared to your best season, or you consistently miss workouts in your coach's otherwise excellent plans, it's not the coach's fault why you're not PRing.

 

Road to TT bike improves you, but it's a pretty small gain. Better training will smash any aero gains in comparison. If you're that cash-strapped, you can skip the TT bike or even get shortie TT bars for your road bike. That said, everyone knows that rocking the sexy TT bike is one of the greatest joys of triathlon, and often THE greatest joy of triathlon, for many, so don't delude yourself into thinking your immune to bike envy.

 

The powermeter is actually not at all as proven at making you much faster. In fact, I'll bet that it won't make you significantly faster at all - you'll just have more consistent numbers to enjoy after your workouts. I used Virtualpower on Trainerroad for awhile, then upgraded to the TR+powermeter, with absolutely ZERO effect on the intensity and quality of my Trainreroad sessions (the numbers were different, but the pain was exactly the same.) The PM definitely helps for dialing in the small racing/training differences, but it's absolutely not guaranteed speed or training improvement, and actually doubtfully so for training since Virtualpower on Trainerroad works so well.

 

The smart trainer is also not needed, however if you're going to be realistically spending 4+ hrs/wk on it for months at a time, I think it's worth the investment. If you're <2hrs/wk on it though, save your cash. I went to the SmartTrainer, and it made riding indoors less mentally taxing, but again, the actual quality of my workout wasn't substantially different than non-Smart trainer since I was good about hitting power targets on the dumb trainer.

 

 

 



2016-11-04 5:56 PM
in reply to: yazmaster

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
Originally posted by yazmaster
Road to TT bike improves you, but it's a pretty small gain


Want to take a stab at quantifying that ?

2016-11-04 6:21 PM
in reply to: coolgenes

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Master
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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
You do realize none of these are free?!

I guess my answer is different than a lot here; just based on personal experience. Going to say, depending on a few particulars, 4, 3, 2, 1.

4--Assuming the coach is well-qualified and takes your strengths, weaknesses, and goals into account when planning your training, this may well be the biggest bang for your buck, particularly if your training has been sporadic or unstructured, and/or you lack the knowledge or time to design a solid program for yourself. For some people, having a coach also helps with disciple/motivation/accountability. The latter was not a big factor in my case, but I know there was probably one workout a month that I wouldn't have done if didn't have to explain to my coach why I didn't! It was more that I lacked the knowledge to design a really effective program, and "canned" programs were hard to adapt to my training situation here.

3--Power meter. Again, helps a lot with doing workouts at the appropriate level of intensity, and accountability. For some people, it is also motivating. Can also help with pacing in races. I'm not familiar with virtual power so not sure how much the benefits would differ. Best when paired with a quality program and/or coach. Without that, it is, as others have said, it is pretty much just a source of interesting data, unless you know what to do with it.

2--Tri bike. Might move this up to second if your road bike is in really bad shape or a very poor fit and no fun to ride. If you like the bike, you will probably ride it more. I can't really isolate this with my own performance as the six months or so after I bought the tri bike corresponded to a pretty major bike focus. But for me, it made a different of about eight minutes in a HIM, three or four minutes at Olympic distance. All those races were in quite windy conditions, so the impact of being more aero might be greater than otherwise; plus that is probably compounded by training effect.

1--Trainer. Unless it seriously impacts your willingness to spend time on the bike, not sure it matters. If it was a situation like needing to do all of your rides indoors while training for full IM, I might move it up to # 3.

Just based on my experience. Similar goal last year, to qualify for 70.3 Worlds. Running and swimming come "naturally" (probably because I've been doing them most of my life); biking does not. Traffic and weather here mean I spend a lot of time on the trainer.
2016-11-04 6:52 PM
in reply to: 0


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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

Originally posted by marcag
Originally posted by yazmaster Road to TT bike improves you, but it's a pretty small gain
Want to take a stab at quantifying that ?

 

< 4min/hr in an Oly. A LOT less if we're comparing to a well-setup road bike with TT bars.

 

This AGer will likely get more than 4mins with better training/coaching. 



Edited by yazmaster 2016-11-04 6:52 PM
2016-11-04 7:05 PM
in reply to: yazmaster

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

Originally posted by yazmaster

Road to TT bike improves you, but it's a pretty small gain. Better training will smash any aero gains in comparison. 

Myself and science in general are going to completely disagree with you on this.

I posted the below recently in another thread.  If you don't like that data feel free to play with numbers on BBS, Bike Calculator or whatever website or tool that quantifies it.  It's also not a mutually exclusive discussion.  You can train better and harder... and have a more aero bike.

Here is some data from Specialized from a few years ago.  There's probably more of a difference between the newer super tri bikes and road bikes but let's pretend that there isn't.  You can see there's a 3.5 km/h difference at the same watts from a standard roadie setup to a standard TT setup.  You can also see there's a 57 watt difference in holding the same 40 km/h speed between the two setups.  That's a lot.

Wind tunnel data

SetupWind Tunnel 0 CdA (m^2)Speed (km/h) at 278WPower req'd at 40km/h (W)*
 
Tarmac SL2 | road helmet | drop bars0.301940.00278.3
Tarmac SL2 | road helmet | clip-on aero bars0.266241.65248.9
Tarmac SL2 | TT2 helmet | clip-on aero bars0.254742.25239.5
Transition | road helmet | aero bars0.242742.90229.6
Transition | TT2 helmet | aero bars0.232343.50221.0
2016-11-04 9:28 PM
in reply to: 0


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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

I've seen those numbers like hundreds of times. Even with those numbers, it's doubtful that an athlete will get more than 4 mins/hr of racing.

 

Here's an equally pseudoscientific article that I'm sure you've seen - they claim 122sec per hr saved with aerobars.

 

https://cyclingtips.com/2010/04/biggest-bang-for-your-buck-in-time-trial-equipment/

 

It'll likely be even less than that for most folks who don't hold the tight aero tuck for the whole hour, or aren't optimally fit with the aerobar tuck. 

 

For the OP, I'll bet a good coach and decent commitment will get him a lot more time gained than that. If he were a super experienced, KQ top AGer, I'd say otherwise, but sounds like OP is just getting rolling on the road to tri improvement, and I seriously doubt the road bike (or better yet, road bike + clip on aerobars) will be a significant limiter now.



Edited by yazmaster 2016-11-04 9:29 PM


2016-11-04 10:22 PM
in reply to: yazmaster


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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
If you want to improve on the bike, measuring performance helps. . . a lot. Power meter, trainer road, and Zwift. Use the money you'd blow on a coach on subscribing to both. Trainer road for structured workouts, Zwift for hard group ride sessions. I think Zwift has structured workouts but I've never used them.

2016-11-05 3:17 PM
in reply to: #5204006

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
You guys are awesome. So many good opinions and different perspectives to consider. I definitely agree about yhe bikes, hard to ignore but i really want to build carefully and smartly, if a coach is the best boost for me at this point then thats the direction I'll go. It sou ds like there is a lot of agreement there.
2016-11-05 4:09 PM
in reply to: #5204095

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
When you say "free speed", I take that as speed you get without putting in the work. The only option that is close to that idea is going from road bike to tri bike. The only work you have to put in is getting fit and comfortable in aero. Power meters, smart trainers, and a coach all still involve you doing a significant amount of work to gain speed. So I'd go with getting the tri bike first.
2016-11-05 4:13 PM
in reply to: coolgenes

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
It sounds like you have already done some pretty smart things and made good progress

A power meter is great. But virtual power, if properly used is very effective as well. A real PM is going to be useful for bringing outdoor and pacing long course racing. But it's less important in short course pacing and if all your rides are indoor, well, then maybe virtual power is good enough. I am very biased, I love my PM but I have also experimented a lot with VP and it's pretty good.

I have a smart trainer and a Kurt. To me the computrainer was a great investment since I am in Canada and stuck indoor. For example, today I just programmed a power level and went into auto pilot and watched a youtube show. But it's a luxury. You can be as effective on a KK. Nice part of a smart trainer is it doubles as a real power meter indoor. IMO, it's a good long term investment. If I divide the cost of the computrainer by the number of times I have ridden it, it's maybe a buck or two.

A coach is a great investment. But it's also expensive and not all coaches are equally competent. Many people see as good progress if they properly follow a structured plan like TR or programs here on BT such as Jorge's winter plan or a group Shane and I mentored a few years ago.http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=507605&page=1#.

A tri bike is faster and significantly. When your FTP is up there and you are doing decent speeds, incremental improvements through just training get harder and harder. Understand how many watts you will save, figure out how many watts you think you can add to your FTP and it becomes pretty obvious. Hard and smart work is key, but intelligent equipment choices go a long way. The fact you used the words "fitter" and "used" in the same sentence sounds like you are on the right path.
2016-11-05 6:29 PM
in reply to: #5204097

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
I vote going with a coach for a while. In the meantime, continue to research the other mentioned items and look for good deals. Now, go for it.


2016-11-06 12:01 AM
in reply to: tbcoffee

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Master
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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
True, if OP truly means "free" as in "without extra work" (none of these options are without cost!) then the tri bike is actually the ONLY option for "free speed". I don't think any of the others would directly lead to any additional speed without putting in a whole lot of work. It's just a matter of making the inevitable work involved more effective and enjoyable. In any case, more effective training is probably going to lead to more substantial gains than a new bike by itself, unless he is truly at the pointy end of things and/or the present bike and fit is a total disaster.
2016-11-07 8:09 AM
in reply to: marcag

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
Just getting in to hear some more folk tell Marc about aero savings.
2016-11-07 8:43 AM
in reply to: yazmaster

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

Originally posted by yazmaster

I've seen those numbers like hundreds of times. Even with those numbers, it's doubtful that an athlete will get more than 4 mins/hr of racing.

 

Here's an equally pseudoscientific article that I'm sure you've seen - they claim 122sec per hr saved with aerobars.

 

https://cyclingtips.com/2010/04/biggest-bang-for-your-buck-in-time-trial-equipment/

 

It'll likely be even less than that for most folks who don't hold the tight aero tuck for the whole hour, or aren't optimally fit with the aerobar tuck. 

 

For the OP, I'll bet a good coach and decent commitment will get him a lot more time gained than that. If he were a super experienced, KQ top AGer, I'd say otherwise, but sounds like OP is just getting rolling on the road to tri improvement, and I seriously doubt the road bike (or better yet, road bike + clip on aerobars) will be a significant limiter now.

*Shakes head*

2016-11-07 11:30 AM
in reply to: Leegoocrap

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

Just getting in here because Chris is in here...

2016-11-07 11:42 AM
in reply to: Jason N

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?
Originally posted by Jason N

Just getting in here because Chris is in here...





2016-11-08 11:14 AM
in reply to: coolgenes

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Subject: RE: what's better free speed?

Since none of those are "free" what's your real budget.  Your list seems to be from a couple of hundred $ to maybe $2000, give or take.

1) I've had no issues with my KK trainer and hills.  I live on coastal FL and have to travel 70 miles to ride many short but steep hills of the FL peninsula ridge with out any problem.  When doing intervals on the trainer I mix up my gearing/cadence, I'm never static in a tight range.  I do threshold intervals between 60 rpms & 100 rpms. Hills require proper gearing to maintain an appropriate cadence range.  I setup my bike with 34/52 chainrings with a 12/25 cassette and can tackle anything here with it.  If I were going to real mountain areas the cassette would change to a 11 or 12/28 or higher.  One thing I do with my trainer is make sure I have a 12 sec coast down when I first get on (cold).  Spin up to ~20 mph and then get the approx. time for the wheel to stop.  This makes sure the resistance is the same setup to setup.  My bike mostly stays on the trainer and I do this every time.  From what was posted here on BT many years ago this cold coast down time should matchup well with the trainers speed power curve with a power meter.

2) Based on everything I've read and in above posts, a tribike with a good setup for you will be faster than a good road bike setup. If you can do that with a PM that's great.  But no need for a power meter if you are going to do virtual power on the trainer.  You'll correlate RPE and or HR to virtual power as I'm sure you have already.

3) That said, now that I have everything else covered from bike, helmet, training, etc., I'm in the market for a PM!

4) The right coach will be invaluable.  But I've read not so good aspects to due to bad coaches or the athlete not fully understanding the depth of coaching signed up for.  I've had great results just following a program off BT and tailoring it to my schedule and staying committed to it.

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