Throwing myself into the world of racing.

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by slickfast, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. slickfast

    slickfast New Member

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    Ok, I'll bite. I've been skating around the internet looking for some good, technical-minded cycling people that can help me out with a pretty cool point in my life that I feel like I desperately need help with. Onward:
     
    Hey guys,
     
    I'm an aeronautical engineering student who's senior capstone design project is designing, building, and racing a high-speed human powered vehicle (it's a bike, don't be impressed). However, that's only partially why I'm posting here. I'm here because I just found out that we can't bring on non-engineering students. I had a default plan if this turned out to be the case: me.
     
    So, now I'm training harder then I've ever trained before, for an event that's happening in early May (the 7-9th, to be exact). I know it's not a lot of time, but I figure if I'm going up against other engineering students, and I train hard enough and smart enough, I might be able to win this thing (provided the vehicle gets designed, tested, and built, but I digress). Also, it could simultaneously spring me into the world of bike racing, something I've always wanted to do.
     
    I'm a 22 year old, 6 foot tall, 155 pound geek. I'm a lanky guy with a small gut that (until recently swearing myself off of it for this purpose) has been formed from too many beer-filled college weekends. A little over a week ago I started doing a daily ride about 12.6 miles (I mapped it out on Googlemaps: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=115983363105253132091.000490a4174641e0f448e) through NH's mountainous terrain, and I was planning on doing it 6 days a week. After reading around on here, it looks like I shouldn't be taking that recovery day, as it usually takes me about 40-45 minutes, not 3 hours (or something that would merit a recovery day).
     
    Basically, I need to get fast, fast. There are two events for this thing, one is sprinting and the other is high-speed endurance. I don't really know what kind of question I'm asking here so I'll just say this: critique me. Consider the situation where you have a recreational rider that you want to throw into turbo mode and make him competition-ready in 9 (8?) months. Is it possible?
     
    My bike: a 2001 Cannondale R1000 I got on ebay. Not much to say about it. It's light but it's freaking rigid, something I envy you titanium, carbon and steelframe guys for. Oh, and I'm saving up for shoes. I have Ultegra pedals but no shoes yet... yes, you can flame me for this.
     
    My diet: Improving, but I don't really know if what I'm doing is right. I'm trying to eat smaller, more frequent meals with higher lean protein. Snapshot to give you an idea: started the day with a bagel+cream cheese, then a cup of greek yogurt mid day, then some celery with hummus in the late afternoon, and then for dinner i made myself roasted asparagus, baked chicken breast/parts, and pasta.
     
    HRM: I know I need one, and I'd like to get power too so I can trend my progress. I have no idea which one to get, and I'd like to keep it around 100 bucks.
     
    Well, if you've read up to this point, I thank you for checking out my situation. Really. I am a forum guy (car enthusiast here) and can appreciate getting even one response. Thanks for talking on here! Some searching has already led me to some great help.
     
    Thanks again,
    Colin Bunting
     
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  2. CalicoCat

    CalicoCat Member

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    Ride lots. Build up your mileage base incrementally. this might be done on an indoor trainer if/when the weather gets bad in the winter.
    Once you have a solid base (500-1000miles), then start intervals (higher speeds for shorter durations) to build strength/quickness.
     
    Good luck
     
  3. slickfast

    slickfast New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by CalicoCat .

    Ride lots. Build up your mileage base incrementally. this might be done on an indoor trainer if/when the weather gets bad in the winter.
    Once you have a solid base (500-1000miles), then start intervals (higher speeds for shorter durations) to build strength/quickness.
     
    Good luck


    Thanks for the input. Actually today I did my first ride indoors on a stationary recumbent (NH weather is already getting bad), and I did about 40 minutes at or above 200 watts. When at 200 watts I was at about 130-140 bpm, with the occasional sprint thrown in there to simulate some hills. What heart rate should I be doing for this stage of training?
     
  4. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Whatever you can sustain unbroken for 20 to 30 minutes or more at a time. HR varies a lot between individuals, especially as you've just started steady training and in the end HR is a proxy for intensity. Power, even the power reported by gym ergs with their typical lack of calibration, is a much better measure of training intensity.
     
    If you were riding outside, enjoying time on your bike and racking up mileage I'd say just ride for a while as was suggested above. But on those days when you're stuck indoors and given your goals next spring, ride with focus. That means riding the indoor trainer for an hour or more at a time at levels that require substantial effort but still allow you to complete the workout without backing off the level/power on the gym trainer.
     
    The key thing, especially at the beginning is to ride regularly as in five days or so per week and make those rides count. If you can get outside in nice weather then do rides that are a couple to a few hours long and ride them at your fun fast pace but don't just spin around looking at the scenery. When you're stuck indoors or even outdoors after you've got some more mileage under your belt work on focused blocks of 20 to 30 minutes where you ride near but not quite at your best intensity for that duration. That's a whole lot more important than short gut busting sprints or intervals right now, you can do more intensity work as your event approaches but you've got to build the engine which means sustainable power before worrying about the high end work.
     
    BTW, don't dismiss the fitness of engineers, half our bike racing team in college were engineering majors so you might find yourself up against some very fast and experienced racers.
     
    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  5. quenya

    quenya New Member

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    Hey there slick, that sounds like an awesome project to work on. As far as your timeline, yes absolutely 8- 9 months is enough time to build competetive fitness but, as Dave said focus on raising sustainable power and only work on sprints as icing on the proverbial cake.

    What I'm wondering though is, what position the rider will be in? The reason I ask is if you're using a carapace over a recumbent bicycle it makes a great deal of sense to devote a lot of time to training in that position.

    As far as the powermeter, I think it's essential for not only your training but for testing your vehicle and making sure that you are putting out the most power possible. With the PM you'll be able to test optimum cadence, crankarm length, position of the rider, and who knows what other variables you'll be able to control for. It is probably not worth noting, but I will anyway, that with a slippery enough design you'll be able to use gear ratios much larger than what is found on a typical recreational/racing bike.
     
  6. slickfast

    slickfast New Member

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    Sounds good. Sounds like I just need to put in (the right kind of) miles before I start really training to race. So in terms of HR, is 130-140 an acceptable range? On some of the "hills" I simulated I was getting around 170 for short periods. Is that overdoing it?
     
    And I meant that "they're only engineers" part as opposed to the CAT 1 rider I was hoping to get for this. At least the competition will be in my universe!
     
    Thanks quenya, yeah it's very cool. The finished vehicle will be a low-racer type recumbent design. Think or google "Varna Diablo" to get a picture. I did notice some discomfort on the recumbent stationary bike yesterday, but I think it was more inherent to the design of that particular seat: the pedals were lower than the bottom of my seat, so basically it felt like i was sitting on a shelf and constricting the motion from my gluteaus maximus, if you know what I mean. I'd love to get a recumbent and train on that, but financially it's not in the cards right now.
     
    As far as power, we're definitely working on getting the minimum drag achievable. I'm actually the aerodynamics guy for the team, so that part is up to me (as well as being project manager).
     
  7. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    I would typically do these at 150 to 170 bpm HR, one of my team mates does these at 130-150 bpm, another does these at 165-190 bpm...

    It varies a lot, but the key question isn't the HR you sustain, it's the duration for which you can sustain it. Keep doing those long intervals, keep track of the power you can sustain and just barely sustain for the duration while riding the indoor bikes, tune into the effort level required and if you want to track HR see what it does when you sustain higher numbers.

    These should take some focus, if you can sit on the gym bike and read a magazine or hold a conversation you're going too easy. If you're gasping and can't say at least a few words or get a quick drink from your water bottle you're going too hard and won't complete the efforts. Push too hard or try for too high a sustained power level and you won't complete at least twenty minutes, make them too easy and you can bump them up next time. This stuff self corrects really quickly, all you've got to do is get on the bike, do the sustained efforts and pay attention to the intensity you can sustain, then if you'd like you can map it to the HR you typically see during those efforts.

    Anyone that specifies a particular HR range for you without testing you first is bluffing or just reading off of some HR chart which are both very conservative and wildly innaccurate.

    -Dave
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by slickfast .

    ... So in terms of HR, is 130-140 an acceptable range?
     
  8. slickfast

    slickfast New Member

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    Thanks for the input. I think the top end of my range is about 160-170 for sustained riding (at or above 200 watts seems to be a good place for me). Definitely not reading magazines... I'm usually watching the wall in front of me trying to make sure my pace is smooth.

    I went on the stationary recumbent again today, and took your advice. I did one 20 minute session @ 170bpm, a 1 minute spin in zeroth gear, and then a 25 minute session @170bpm, 200 watts for both (actually this time is was more like 215 or so). My legs and lungs felt fine like they could go for longer, but I also felt like my whole body was just losing energy slowly over time. Should I be eating anything special before/during these sessions? I hate to feel like I'm wasting a day training.

     
  9. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Sounds good, most folks do 2x20s or 2x25s or whatever long intervals with about five minutes rest between them. If you can go back to back with a minute of easy spinning then it's likely you can bump up the intensity a notch.

    There's nothing special to eat before, just don't eat too closely before or too big a meal. During the workout you should definitely be drinking water and or energy drink of some form to keep electrolytes and perhaps some energy coming during the workout. You'll sweat tons during these indoor workouts so keep up with your hydration and electrolytes if you do a lot of these sessions. After each workout be sure to take advantage of the 'critical half hour' for refueling with carbs and a bit of protein. There are lots of commercial refueling products that use a 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein ratio specifically intended for post workout refueling but if lowfat chocolate milk is one of the best and most available refueling solutions and it's a lot cheaper than most of the specialty refueling products. Refueling immediately after exercise is critical to keeping your glycogen stores topped up and will help you recover quickly enough to work out again on subsequent days.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  10. slickfast

    slickfast New Member

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    Yeah I was sweating alright. I actually brought a boxfan to the gym the next day (it's a small gym for my apartment building) and that seemed to help a little bit. A very small bit.

    I'll try going a little harder. Like I said my body felt fine after that 1x20 + 1x25 but my energy level just started dropping. I tend to put a lot of focus into my rides... watching the PM and HRM to make sure I'm putting down enough power while still staying below a certain heart rate (looks like it's around 160-170 for me). I was only drinking water though. I'll get some gatorade powder and try that out. I've been packing away a protein shake directly after (or at least within that glycogen window) my rides. Will add in the carbs.

    By the way, I may be premature in saying this but I definitely felt stronger outside today after doing two indoor training sessions the previous two days. I don't really think it was so much the muscular benefits as the rhythm I got into while riding on the stationary: constant, smooth, but deliberate power delivery. Each stroke is tough, but not enough to kill your legs on the spot. That groove is addictive. The only difference outdoors is that some of those hills are killer! I'll have to build up to attacking those though.

    btw, thanks so much for the advice. You are truly helping me leaps and bounds here.

    -Colin

     
  11. slickfast

    slickfast New Member

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    Two quick question for you guys, that I haven't found any good answer for:

    1.) How to proceed with training during a head cold.

    2.) I'm about to spring for a Polar FT7 as it seems to be a good price and also allows me to download and keep track of my progress, select my own target zones, etc. Does anyone have any opinions on this? My training is not being funded by this project, so any help would be appreciated!
     
  12. CalicoCat

    CalicoCat Member

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    Don't train too hard if you are sick. You will not be able to put in quality work (required for improvement) and you will delay your recovery from your cold (and thereby have an even bigger gap in quality training). Sleep. Drink fluids. You can maybe ride EASY if you have some energy, but this doesn't count as "training".
     
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