Planning for Colorado Mountainous Riding.

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by mcdelroy, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. mcdelroy

    mcdelroy New Member

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    I have ordered a Powermeter for my road bike in hopes of getting more efficient and organized about training, something I have not done before. I am reading "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" and understand that I need to figure out my ftp and other stats. However, I was wondering if, you could help me prepare for the arrival of my power meter by giving me a general idea what my fall, winter, and spring training plans and periodizations might look like.

    My goal is to improve my power on steep technical sections of the mountain bike trails in Colorado which I frequently climb. I also would like to develop power and endurance for several events (road and mountain bike) I could enter next summer: The Mount Evans Hill Climb (27 miles gaining 6,700 feet from 7,500 feet to 14,200 feet on road), Triple Bypass (120 miles on road going over three mountain passes gaining 10,000 feet in elevation), and either the Silver Rush 50 (50 mile mountain bike ride) or Breckenrige B-68 (68 mile mountain bike ride). Both mountain bike rides are over high altitude rough mountain bike trails with lots of climbing. My goal is not to compete but rather to finish the events in good form and enjoy strenous climbing in my area during the season.

    I plan on purchasing a computrainer for winter training and Training Peaks software. I am ok with purchasing training plans, though I'm not sure which ones and when to use them. Ideally I'd self coach. Thanks in advance for your input. A bit more about me.....

    I live in Colorado at approximately 5600 feet and have access to strenuous roads and trails with significant elevation gains. Flat roads are not common where I'm at though some are 2% grade. I have been road and mountain bike riding with a heart rate for many years though I have never been organized about training. I have done two centries. One mountainous. I've ridden up Mount Evans before. I tend to focus on climbing road and difficult mountain bike trails. I don't necessarily have a climber's physique. My climbing focus seems more related to my willingness to push myself. I'm 37 years old, male, 5'7'' 155lbs with ~10% body fat. I'm not adverse to weight lifting. In the past, I've ridden in a unstructured manner almost daily during the riding season so I'm in realitively good fitness. I am planning on 10-14 hours per week. I work 40-45 hours a week. I tend to do pretty well with altitude but obviously better with training up high. Oh..it would be cool if I could at least go on one or two mountain bike climbs each week as part of my plans. Thanks.
     
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  2. mcdelroy

    mcdelroy New Member

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    Perhaps I made it seem like I'm asking for a lot. I'm willing to do research and purchase plans and possibly even look into coaching. I'm just hoping to get pointed in the right direction on guidance on how to periodize my training to balance improved power for short bursts along with improved endurance for climbs of a couple hours.

     
  3. Meek One

    Meek One New Member

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    A lot of the regulars are out riding. But I'd suggest reading the book, ride, re-read the book, ride, spend countless hours doing searches on the forum, and then ride. Figure out you FTP through one of the many protocols you will read about and then re-read the book, ride, and do some more searches and make sure while doing the searches you are not 'snacking' too much and don't forget to ride. :)
     
  4. liveon2wheels

    liveon2wheels New Member

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    I have a couple questions for you - one, what part of the country do you live in, and two, when were you planning on beginning the training? If these events are next seasons' events (summer, etc), that would affect how and when you would set up your cycles.

    I give you kudos for deciding to train indoors with something that provides a power reading as well as using virtual rides to pass the time. We (at Cycling Fusion) also believe that is key to maximum performance.
     
  5. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    If you mean that your intent is to ultimately 'improve your speed' then try using a longer crankarm length for an actual on-road/trail difference ... don't forget to adjust your saddle height/position, accordingly.

    Of course, a longer crank may not be a realistic option; but, you won't know unless you try.
     
  6. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Search these forums and elsewhere for SST (Sweet Spot Training) as a way to increase sustainable power. That's the basis for everything you mention from Mt. Evans to your MTB climbs and the foundation that everything else builds on.

    In a nutshell SST work boils down to training in such a way that you accumulate a lot of quality time with focused riding at Tempo and above. It's not short gut busting intervals nor long slow miles but attempts to find the balance that yields a lot of quality work during your week and across the weeks and months.

    But for the MTB racing in particular you'll also want to build on that foundation with high end work, particularly high end work that emphasizes recovery from frequent bursts and high torque accelerations like you'll encounter on rocky technical single track climbs. But again that builds on top of a foundation of solid metabolic fitness or sustainable power or high FTP in power speak.

    Search for Charles Howe's excellent primer on power based training for cycling that incorporates philosophies stemming back to Arthur Lydiard. Check out the resources over at the TrainingPeaks site: Power 411, How to train with WKO+ Software and a power meter , search for information on quadrant analysis, particularly as it relates to MTB riding and Frank Overton's thoughts to SST: Sweet Spot Training | FasCat Coaching :: Cycling Coach for all Cyclists

    There's a wealth of good information out there, and you'll almost certainly see improvement moving from JRA to structured training. But the bottom line is that sustainable power should be your priority and will help you across the board but that your specialty (MTB racing) has additional demands that build on top of that.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    I live in Kansas and trained for the Triple Bypass a few years back. Dave's right that it really all comes down to sustainable aerobic power (FTP) regardless of the terrain profile or elevation. I used a heartrate monitor at the time, but had a lot of success from long (20-30 minute) intervals near threshold intensity on the indoor trainer, which translated well despite not having any long climbs locally to train on.
     
  8. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Are you saying the longer the cranks the faster you'll go?

    Is there a limit to how much speed improvement can be gained through using longer and longer crankarms, and if so, which length is the fastest? :confused:
     
  9. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Many years back I did a few tests with different crank lengths. I don't have the longest inside leg in the world (34.5") but always thought it was a little odd that I was using cranks that were only 5mm longer than someone who had an inseam of 7" (~180mm) shorter. Results, I was faster on 185mm cranks in the hills. Cranks tested were 170, 175 and 185. The 185mm was a TA Alize the others were Shimano Ultegra, a 39 chainring was used and the same square taper bottom bracket (Mavic). The hill used was "fecking steep and long" and because of this we did multiple tests on multiple days, changing the order of the cranks used.

    I didn't test on multiple days on the time trial bike but from looking from result sheets and comparing times against those I completed against on a fairly regular basis I believe there was some improvement in the order of ~20 seconds over a 25mile TT when moving from 175mm to 185mm.

    When temperatures cool down in the sunny Sacramento Valley I'll probably go out and test on the adjustable PowerCranks that I have - they allow easy adjustment from less than 100mm to 220mm without having to remove the cranks from the bottom bracket. I messed around with this last year but only did one session - I'd prefer several tests over the course of the week to find out what works best for me on a consistent basis...

    Right now I couldn't even contemplate riding anything over 175mm on the drops or in a tucked TT position due "logistical" reasons. I've shyed away from using the 185s recently due to lower backpain and riding cranks of that length was harder when learning to ride on the PowerCranks. I put it back to 175 and haven't got around to changing it. I was ~20lbs heavier when the PC's went on, so maybe the "deminishing gut" with help that particular situation. As they say, there's only one way to find out.
     
  10. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    For that kind of climb I wouldn't be surprised, as the longer cranks effectively gives you a slightly smaller gear by increasing leverage and footspeed. If you were overgeared initially, then longer cranks would push you back towards the typical range.

    It'd be fun to see someone riding 220mm cranks. Personally, I've never used anything but 175mm, so maybe there's something to it.
     
  11. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Well, I do think a person can cover an ascent faster with longer cranks because s/he will use less wattage per comparable crank rotation ... said another way, when expending equivalent wattage one could either use a slightly higher gear OR turn the crank at a slightly higher cadence; hence, faster.

    I'm 5'9" tall & my riding position has d-/evolved to become what I will refer to as more COPPI than KOPS. I'll leave it up to your imagination to decide what that means.

    My current preferred, "normal" ROAD length is now 177.5mm!

    And, I recently set up one bike with 180mm cranks (a SS for climbing [see fuzzy attachment]) ...

    Could I ride with a longer crankarm length? Maybe, maybe not.

    Fortunately for me, 180mm seems to be as long a crank as I can comfortably ride with because the cost of longer cranks seems to become even more astronomical than the cost of 177.5mm & 180mm cranks AND the choices are fewer; so, my wallet is safe from further crankarm length testing.

    Even so, I still have one bike with 170mm cranks because I just haven't bothered to change them, yet, and the length is still "okay" for Flatlander riding (I've gotta sell those cranks & some 172.5mm cranks, too!) ... okay, it has been noted that the function of gears is to allow one to negotiate varying terrain, so, presuming the bikes I have which still have shorter crankarms have appropriate gearing, there is no reason why I couldn't still ride them on mountain roads, too ... just not as quickly for the same amount of effort.
     
  12. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    6' 1" tall.
    175mm cranks came on my bikes (based on the frame size) - there wasn't any selection process involved in my part. It just seemed odd to see "use longer cranks" as general advice to make someone to go faster.

    Are you saying that you used a formula or some other method to find an optimal crank length for you, and then switched and picked up speed because of it?

    Edit: oops, our posts crossed. Sorry, but this part is just scientifically incorrect:

    If that's the assumption that your crank-length endeavors have been based upon, then you might want to second check the concepts involved.
     
  13. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Sorry. I was in the middle of editing the other reply ... but, saw you replied to the query & so I deleted it; but, it is partially melded in this reply.

    No ratios. I determined the current maximum crankarm length that 'I' can comfortably ride with by trial-and-error ... that's the expensive way to do it!

    My parochial, personal experience has taught me that the formulas for crank arm length seem to be arbitrary. They are only a simple ratio which does not take into account that the leg has three levers of varying proportions ... and so, the formulas are probably not optimized for anyone other than a small segment of society ...

    Consequently, I can't say which crank length is faster-or-fastest for a given individual because people are not the same for a given height ... and, I think that riding position & flexibility/conditioning will be significant factors in determining how long a crank arm any particular individual can realistically ride with ...

    I could show you the arithmetic that I used to assure myself that using a longer crankarm wasn't just some delusion, but there are so many paid experts like Lennard Zinn who I think previously declared that he couldn't (or, didn't know how to ... apologies to Zinn if he wasn't the person I'm thinking of) calculate the advantage difference of using different length crankarms ... so, I'll just let the engineers in the Forum try to reverse engineer the simple calculations.

    Here's the hint -- my original calculations determined that while a longer crank had to travel a greater distance per rotation, the net positive yield of a 175mm crank over a 170mm crank was a ~2.5% advantage ...

    If you need a conceptual assumption, then just look at the difference in effort that it takes to turn an on-off switch with a knob vs. the same switch without the knob.
     
  14. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Do you suppose that has anything to do with the fact that 175/170=1.0294? I'm familiar with the concept of mechanical advantage from using a longer lever arm, but of course that can't change the power output of a machine.

    It'd be a shame for all the pros to figure out that they could ride faster by simply using longer cranks, so don't worry, your secret's safe with me. ;)
     
  15. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Life isn't quite as simple as you are mockingly suggesting ...

    While the calculations are simple, you're ratio is an over simplification; and, actual calculations were made.

    BTW. The secret is already out. Based on the height of the/(a) typical Tour rider (e.g., Leipheimer - my recollection is that his previously recorded height was 5'7"; so, their inseam must be shorter than your's) AND one common formula, the fore mentioned rider would probably use a cranklength of UNDER 170mm. I doubt that Leipheimer (to continue to use the same individual) uses a 165mm +/- crank; so, undoubtedly many Tour riders do use the longer cranks than some forumlas calculate.

    I reckon that Pantani's cranks were 180mm (or, longer custom length cranks) based on anyalzing a photo of one of his actual bikes (obviously, analyzing a picture is not as good as taking a tape measure to the crank arm & actually measuring it AND my analysis could be terribly incorrect).

    Contador looks like another 'short' rider ... I doubt his cranks are under 170mm in length, but perhaps they are!

    Perhaps ALL THREE of the fore mentioned riders, amongst others, use the crank length formulas and thereby use the appropriately short crankarms for their height!?!

    Obviously, the three fore mentioned riders are amongst the shorter riders, but at what height is a 175mm crankarm an acceptable calculated length?
     
  16. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Levi is a shrimp. Seriously, he looks like I could carry him around in my pocket. :) I don't know what size cranks any of them use, or whether they're using them because of a formula, or because the off-the-shelf bike geometries (in which crank lengths are factored) are made to generally fit riders of that size.

    If I had to guess at the most important factors in deciding the size of the pedal circle, I'd guess 1) femur length, 2) foot size, and 3) changes in foot angle through the pedal stroke. Certainly femur length is roughly related to body height and (to a greater extent) inseam, but even a crank difference of 10mm would seem to make a small difference in the ranges of either knee or hip angles as they progress through the stroke.

    In any case, I'm not seeing a justification for "longer cranks are better" as related to cycling. Assuming a straight leg at the bottom of the stroke, a longer crank closes the hip and knee angles at the start of the power stroke, which decreases mechanical advantage, is the typical complaint for losing power on TT setups and presents the greatest risk for knee injuries. Your calculations show a increase in power in this case, however, so I'm not sure I'm going to "get it" without a little more explanation.

    There's even a whole school of thought on the triathlon forums about going to shorter cranks as a way to open the hips and knees for better performace. I don't know that it's ever been shown to provide a measurable advantage (across a spectrum of riders) in either case, however.
     
  17. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    OMG. Does this mean you secretly want to buy one of my 170mm or 172.5mm DA 7700 cranks?!? Or, were you looking for a shorter pair?

    Seriously, I know that parts of the KC area are hilly, so I guess I can understand your reservation at any benefit to having longer crankarms when riding on mountain roads. And, I suspect that if I lived in your neck of the woods that I wouldn't care which crank length my bike had ...

    However, the crank length really can make a difference in more than just my mind once you're confronted with a lot of climbing ... incessant climbing.

    And, I suspect that the lower oxygen level at altitude amplifies the differences ...

    So, while I can't say that I can-or-do actually go faster with the longer cranks since I'm not racing/riding against a clock, the lack of increased speed would only be due to the choice to take advantage of the easier (that's relative ... it still isn't easy) pedaling that the longer cranks provide ... the other side of the coin suggests that if I am willing to endure the same level of lactic acid build up for a given speed with shorter cranks that I will be going faster with the longer cranks.

    As I said, my riding position is now more COPPI than KOPS ...

    I don't know what the maximum crank length would be if I used either a KOPS or a Tri riding position, but with the former it is doubtful that it could ever be 180mm.

    And so, it doesn't surprise me that some Triathletes are considering shorter cranks ... because, IMO, the Tri posture is KOPS (a bad idea that has spread like a virus over the years) taken to the extreme ...

    Although it seems as though you are trying to convince me of something, I'm NOT trying to convert ANYONE toward using longer cranks ... I was only stating my observation ...

    So, if you want to continue to use the crank length which came on your bike, please do so!

    ... ​

    BTW. I hope you realize you are seemingly contradicting your early reply within this thread wherein you all-but-endorse longer cranks when you stated:
    For that kind of climb I wouldn't be surprised, as the longer cranks effectively gives you a slightly smaller gear by increasing leverage and footspeed. If you were overgeared initially, then longer cranks would push you back towards the typical range.
    I presume you actually meant having a longer crank "gives you a slightly lower gear" (i.e., slightly bigger cog).
     
  18. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Honestly, I have no idea what you're talking about anymore. :confused:

    Actually, that's exactly what you *did* say in post #5, and what I've been trying to understand this whole time. What is it about longer cranks that would cause one to "ultimately improve their speed?"



    No idea what that means. If it's relevant then perhaps you could explain?




    I'm not trying to convince you of anything. I'm trying to understand your statement in post #5 that we should use longer cranks if we ultimately want to improve our speed (which I do). You later said that your calculations show that going from a 170mm crank to 175mm would produce a 2.5% increase in something (power maybe or speed?). Maybe you could explain how that would happen, according to your calculations.

    I don't see any contradiction there. Swampy said he did his testing on a fecking steep and long hill and found that the longer cranks performed better. I said that I could see performance improving on a hill where the bike was originally overgeared for the climb, but then longer cranks were used (instead of more appropriate gearing) to shorten the overall drive ratio. Swampy is notorious for prescribing huge gear work, so it doesn't surprise me that he would test his ideas in an overgeared situation. That's hardly an endorsement (on my part) for using longer cranks in the majority of cases where the range of available gearing is typically suitable. It makes a lot more sense to me to adjust the drive ratio by changing the cassette or chainrings than the cranks, but I like to do things the easy way whenever possible.
     
  19. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Okay. I'll admit/declare that 'I' think 'I' can climb faster with 177.5mm cranks than with 175mm cranks ...

    And, without equivocation, I know I can climb faster with 177.5mm cranks than with 170mm cranks.

    I can say, too, that I could probably climb/ride faster with 170mm cranks 30 years ago than I can now with 177.5mm cranks!

    The calculations are only meaningful if a person's riding position allows him/her to use longer cranks. The Forum's brain trust can come up with their calculations if one of them thinks that my calculation is in error.

    So, if you don't believe that longer cranks allow a person to climb faster, then you're just going to have to try it, yourself ...

    And, because shorter cranks are easier to access, YOU could just put some shorter (i.e., 170mm ... heck, find some that are 165mm) cranks on your bike and ride one of your normal rides & then ascertain if you can cover the course in the same speed with the same effort OR if it takes you more effort (with the shorter cranks) to maintain the same speed ... doing the test back-to-back would be better, of course.

    With the same riding conditions (temp, humidty, wind) you may-or-may-not see any difference ...

    Is THAT what you wanted me to say/write?!?

    MORE COPPI THAN KOPS. Well, go and study Fausto Coppi's riding position, and extrapolate.

    BTW. I don't think "smaller gear" and "lower gear" mean the same thing, but maybe they do to everyone else (as to you), too.
     
  20. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    I'm pretty sure smaller, shorter, and lower all mean the same thing, namely that the gear ratio is smaller than before. Using size to mean the physical size of the gears themselves is a little ambiguous since it would means one thing when talking about the drive gear, and the opposite if talking about the driven gear.

    It's a little clearer if size refers to the gear ratio itself, which is the convention I'm most familiar with. A "smaller gear" could mean switching to the small chainring, using a larger cog, or a combination of the two which results in a lower overall gear ratio.
     
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