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Clearwater Bridge
(winter training camp baseline hill)

this page last updated: 02/01/2015 10:39:06 PM

Below is the bridge we used as a hill to get the Widder to understand the following basic concept: Watts is Watts is Watts

The first goal for the 2008 23+ Hump season was for the Widder to be able to climb to the top of the Clearwater bridge seated and maintaining 300 watts. I helped her do it by making a guesstimate of the approximate time it would take, then having her practice 300 watt intervals of that length (among other things) on the flat. She could do neither at first and was skeptical, but she soon accomplished the goal and understood completely that it doesn't matter: uphill, downhill, on the flat, into the wind, out of the wind, it just doesn't matter. Watts is watts is watts.

Now we use the bridge to test our progress, plus work my own first goal of the season: to stay with Mary all the way to the top as she maintains 300 watts. I have no problem at all doing that on the flat (and for much longer than it takes to climb the bridge), but on the uphill I'm guessing I need about 600 watts to stay on Widder's 300 watt wheel. About three quarters of the way to top, I've had it. Maybe a couple fewer donuts would help.



Test Procedures

North (right>left): 86-99w 6 mile warm-up; maintain into bridge; let the bridge come up on you like the sunrise (slow and easy); should be 300w by start of metal railing; hold wattage to top which is marked by the street lamp pole with the maintenance ladder

South (left>right): Maximum watt standing sprint, sit after watts drop.

North (right > left on photos above)

01/28/08 Light day

   M: 300w to top = 1:02.3 (up to 340w early on test section); notes slope breaks at tire marks on barrier, had to juggle gears to get back on 300w (next time will anticipate and change before break); 2 weeks ago M could not do 230w for 30 sec.
    B: gapped 20 ft by the time Mary passes pole before ladder; he blows at pole

no sprint on return loop, but 3 pace intervals home: 200w/3:33; 2:33; 175w/3:35; with wind assist the 200w intervals averaged 21.0/23.7  mph.

nxt: control early section wattage; anticipate slope breaking

super secret result: May as well publish this, because nobody will believe it anyway.

After today's pace intervals Mary reported cheating the results, because she was generally working harder than her stated goal wattage, due to her insecurity about holding her wattage high enough.

She has been told not to take the specific number so seriously, but rather try to learn the general feeling of the wattage in her legs. She is supposed to avoid getting too focused on the readout number while forgetting to learn what any given wattage feels like.

There is a certain amount of lag in the response of the watt meter, and while the meter is significantly more reactive than a heart rate monitor, and certainly more instructive than a land speed reading, it remains less responsive than the human perception of one's leg pressure.

Wind buffets and slight road surface anomalies may be missed by the meter but be very obvious to the legs—once one learns what to look for, which is what all the work we have been doing is about right now.

Learn what various wattages feel like.

Mary also mentioned part of the reason she pushed the pace is because the lower wattages kept feeling too easy. She asked why I laughed when she said that.

I explained, "First off, these wattages sure didn't feel too easy for you two weeks ago. You couldn't hold them past 30 seconds."

Then I continued, "One of my guitar teachers, classically trained, told me that it's easy to play fast, and it's easy to play slow... the hard part is finding that second gear and being able to hold it."

[Just in case somebody takes the statement above too literally, I later found on my own that it is a simplification of something that is really much more complex. I mention that here merely to avoid having later to explain it to a music student and re-teach them the concept hinted at below.]

I went on to reminded her, "Remember the discussions we had about how all physical objects work naturally within a rather narrow parameter of optional functioning, and how it is challenging to move in any direction outside those natural boundaries."

Of course that needed some elaboration, "Take the combination of your body and your bicycle. You will find a given effort which is easiest for you to maintain for an extended period. Moving outside that range, both faster and slower, will provide challenges. However, working in both directions (both faster and slower) provides insight and benefit each to the other."

I finished with, "Remember I told you that your 23+ Hump is going to be a lot easier than you think in terms of pure physical pain, but it will be a lot harder than you think in terms of concentration, focus, and steady application of what we will be learning throughout your training."

So that was the discussion, but otherwise, finding and holding that second gear is going to be the challenge. As we get closer to Mary being able to control that second gear, she will understand the concept better, and after that we can talk about the next level.

The next workout will begin with extra time spent going over the idea of not pushing very far beyond the stated goal wattage. Firstly, doing so skews the data, with the result that I have to rethink everything that appeared apparent to me during the workout. Secondly, the true goal is (after all) to be able to know and control the flow.

Today, Mary had to bail out of the first pace interval at 3 minutes 33 seconds. Then the second interval broke her a full minute earlier. How long could she have held 200 watts, if she wasn't in fact churning 240 watts for most of the time?

So what is the point?

Well, her 240 watts is more than she will need for the 23+ Hump, assuming we can get her to work on the downhills as efficiently as she will be working on the uphills. Therefore, if she continues this overreaching, as she gets stronger she will only be risking failure merely due to her continuing habit of pushing past her limit—instead of learning exactly where that limit is, expanding the parameters of that limit... and then working (with full concentration) just slightly below that new limit.

In general, the group ride of the standard Hump is specifically designed to confuse riders about their true ability and jerk their minds off the task at hand. That's the game. That's the fun. We all love it.

The Widder's Hump is a totally different sort of creature, and a different kind of fun altogether... though 23+ will lay waste to plenty of riders trying to keep up.

See? I told you nobody was going to believe this. Fuck 'em all.


02/08/08: Regular 6 mile 80-90 watt warmup. Eased into bridge, let watts rise to 300, held it to top. This time I stayed with Mary all the way, and she reported watts of 310. Since, I was still with her at the end, I missed an exact time, because I only hit the timer after I got my wits back about me.

On the way home we did one 230 watt interval which the Polar reported as a 23.3 avg, but the Excel calculations placed it at only 21.41. Longer intervals have always provided closer results. Both the bridge climb and the 3 minute 230 watt interval showed slower averages per the Excel calcs.

In any case, the interval was with a wind assist, so the 23.3 avg would have to take that into consideration, and it is unclear how much wind there was, because the section where we did the interval was sheltered by the high rise condos, and we experienced a break in the headwind at that location on the way out.

After the longer interval Mary did 7 or 8 quick spins at 230 watts not timed to get comfortable with the intensity. Her last was the longest.

I had Mary using the skill she has learned from her approach to the bridge (letting the watts catch her as the slope comes up) in order to make her spin up to 230 watts in the quick intervals smooth and efficient. She's getting really good at it, and we we were reaching 26+ paces before she was breaking it off. In fact, she was so efficient and comfortable on the last quick interval that she called it off only because she was getting scared of the speed along a busy part of Gulf Boulevard.

I gave her the option of going further, but she started thinking about her recovery so brought the session to an end. During the cool down, she realized it had been the right thing. The Widder is thinking ahead.


Bridge out: 310
watts 11.9 avg (14.1 max) (per Excel: 10.59) / Polar: 01:08.1 / 0.2 m / BF avg HR 142 max 153  
Bridge in:    PB max watts 578
1 interval:   230 watts, 23.3 avg,
(24.5 max) (per Excel: 21.41) / Polar: 03:05.7 / 1.1 m/ BF avg HR 144 max 149
                        wind assist 












this page last updated: 02/01/2015 10:39:06 PM

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