Finding baseline power
Most of the training guides and manuals I’ve read agree that you need to establish a pattern of training with repeatable sessions so you can measure progress. The obvious one to do is a 10 mile ride on the turbo, since that is the distance I’m targeting initially. The pyramid intervals I did two nights ago are not great for measuring, because the efforts are short and it’s difficult to get into a groove, at least until the longer intervals towards the end of the session.
The other key turbo training ride to do according to Adam Topham is his ‘hour of power’. This looks to be a good one to measure, because you’re supposed to find your level and stick at or just above it for 60 minutes.
I guess after a few attempts I will know what my level is. I did the session tonight, the stats are below. As soon as my USB ANT+ dongle comes in the post, I will start using trainerroad.com, which I’m quite excited about. More on that in a later post. Tonight I had to decide what power to try and stick at. I’ve read that picking a power level is better than trying to stay at a specific heart rate, because heart rate can vary with things like temperature, even for the same level of perceived effort. On Saturday morning I rode 10 miles at an indicated 261 watts. A common test to derive your FTP (functional threshold power, the power you can sustain for one hour) uses a 20 minute effort and then calculates your FTP as 95% of the figure you could sustain for the 20 minutes. I measured 261 watts for 27 minutes, so I thought I’d pick 95% of that (248 watts) and round it up to 250. This was my target, to keep the power around this figure. It’s a starting point.
I also decided not to observe cadence, or try and stick to a specific rate. This is partly because I’ve read,and believe, that if you cycle a bit, you’ll naturally find the best cadence for yourself. I usually try and force my cadence up a bit because I know I’m a slow pedaller, caused by riding a fixed gear most days. The other reason for ignoring cadence is that the Tacx Flow computer will only display two readings. You can have any two of speed, power, heart rate, cadence. I needed to see power and heart rate.
As it happens the ride was very encouraging. I found I could reasonably easily maintain 250 watts. It was pretty hard, but manageable. Heart rate started out in the mid 130s and slowly crept up through the ride to the low 150s. The max reading is a little higher because I pushed it a bit in the last couple of minutes. Comparing this to the 10 miles I did at the weekend, either I am getting fitter quickly, or the power reading is not consistent. Mind you, I did have a few beers on Friday night…
Here’s the data from tonight’s ride:
- Distance: 21.6 miles
- Time: 1:00:04 (start time 20:16) energy 870 kcal
- Speed: average 21.6 mph, max 22.9 mph
- Cadence: average 82 rpm, max 86 rpm
- Power*: average 253 watts, max 268 watts
- Heart rate: average 145 bpm, max 160 bpm
- Calibration: 7
- Gear: Outer ring at the front, 4th from top rear
* usual caveat, not a power meter, etc.