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Train Track
(quick link timeline to what happened when)

this page last updated: 06/30/2013 08:13:20 AM

abstracted from: Firth, Malcom. "A Look At Time Trial Pacing Strategy"
Simplified Chart: watts to mph conversions rule of thumb

 [ 2008 | 2009 Q1 ]


02/09/08 6 x 400+ watt form sprint quick bursts
long 200 watt standing form finish
Pinellas Trail
02/10/08 long easy 160 watt recovery Suncoast Trail
02/11/08 Metal Man article published
Mary finds better Watts vs. Speed Graph
40 Easy Miles Pinellas Trail
Pinellas Trail
12/12/08 Bob gets to use the watt meter Clearwater Bridge
12/13/08 Sprints, cadence bursts combined for big wattage. Pinellas Trail
02/14/08 Day off for Widder, SlingShot rode Gulf Boulevard from Clearwater to Fort De Soto Park where Mary was waiting with the truck. 32 miles, wind assist 19.7, 147 avg HR. Nobody knows why. Something about a bathroom scale.

Simplified Chart published

Gulf Boulevard
02/15/08 28 miles, short due to bomb scare causing trail shutdown near St. Pete which was poorly  reported locally and did not make national news; warmup with cadence test to 158 rpm, 6 x 15 sec 400 watt sprint intervals, extended 260 watt pace interval (180 was requested).
Pinellas Trail

Active recovery, 25 miles of cadence exercises.

Pinellas Trail

Warmup to bridge 84-96 watts; cadence test to 144 which surprised Mary how easy high cadence has become; easy 169-175 watts bridge both directions seated (this low wattage prv impossible, illustrates optimum range vs. moving up and down from it); 1 x 5 min 230 watt interval succeeded (M reports last 10 secs very hard, glad for prompt "half way" at 2:30); 1 x 2 min 260 watt interval (failed at 1:30); 1 x 1 min 260 watt interval (failed at 45 secs); Mary went to showers while B looped out to Passe Grille and back to finish with 47 mile total ride for him (due fat ass); M's shorter intervals failed at optimum time to indicate these are near max, thus perfect as adjusted baseline for future pyramid of sprints and hard intervals

Clearwater Bridge
02/18/08 Total Rest Day for transport of my piece of shit bike to a bike shop to get it serviced. New chain, new cable for cassette derailleur, repack bottom bracket, swap out pedals. Result: noisier than ever.
02/19/08 84-96 watt warmup with spin exercises wherein 130, 144 were easy then a 159 personal best; 6 x 400 watt 30 second intervals (had planned 15 sec with first one at 30, but after first 30 was fine continued all at 30 with Bob prompts for start and no spin-up to wattage), Mary learned at this wattage that her speed will increase throughout the exercise and she needs to keep clicking up to hold the wattage, she would finally hit her 55/12 and risk spinning out due to her watt meter wheel not having an 11, she checked her speed at the end of one interval and saw it was 26+ (into the wind on a slight false flat uphill); then 2 x 230 watt 2 min intervals (have previously done 5 min intervals at this wattage); 1 x 230 one minute; then Bob requested a short taste of the next Fort De Soto goal wattage of 180; 1 x 1 min 180 watt which Mary reported was hard to find, so Bob requested a 2 minute interval without looking at watt meter while shooting for the feeling of 180 watts, watt meter was reset for test and at end of 2 minutes Mary checked her average: it was 187 watts of an easy working spin. Finished with a light spin 100-130 watts plus several cadence exercises to 148 for the final 6 miles.
Suncoast Trail
02/20/08 No cycling, truck brake service and afterwards left bike off at different shop which fixed problem
02/21/08 Major test intervals of pace, sprint, max, and afterwards chased and caught group of three men cyclists, stored intervals and history in PowerAgent software and figured out how to store filtered data and backup files even though there was no direct functions to accomplish either
Clearwater Bridge
02/22/08 Mary total rest day; Bob to Passe Grille 32 mi easy, major south wind, caught cars coming back
02/23/08 Total rest, prepare for 180 Fort De Soto 16 mi test tomorrow
02/24/08 Plan: standard warmup loop, onto road at dog park, start timers at gates; then 16 mi test course 180 watts, don't forget standing on right leg to relieve pressure from left foot every 5 minutes, hold watts on bridge downhill, expect 20 plus avg depending on wind and turn around in Tierre Verde
Fort De Soto
02/25/08 Major redemption after yesterday's catastrophic progress check.
Fort De Soto
02/26/08 Active recovery. Very low watts with strong tail wind to bridge allowed opportunity to observe that a little bit of steady watts can result in a fast pace over time.

We soon reached 17.5 with warmup watts, then mile after mile pace slowly built until we were over 23 with the same effort.

I reminded Mary of an earlier question, "If you discount air resistance and other such factors, and you are just slightly building speed from an 18 mph pace, how many more watts will be required to reach 23 mph."

The answer is zero more watts.

In fact, over time, your pace will build toward the speed of light. We had a really good example of that today as the tail wind removed much of the air resistance factor, and we were merely holding an easy warmup effort over a long flat unimpeded course. It took a long time, but our speed built to over 23 with no more effort at all. It was consistent and shocking... at least to Mary.

Clearwater Bridge
02/27/08 Total rest day, no cycling, major wind event


02/28/08 Plan: layer workout to get first download record of sprints; 3 x all out with BF holding watt meter to prompt ME for end; then ME takes back meter for 1 x 500 watt 15-30 second, at that point decide progression of step down for lower watts with longer intervals such as 450 for 30 sec, 400 for 1 min; 300 for 1:30; 260 for 1:45; 230; for 2:00; 200 for 3-5; 180 for 10; 160 all the way home

Actual: 4 x all out seated sprints 506, 451, 422, 482, 1 x all standing sprint 528 (rest intervals too short due Mary couldn't wait because she felt great but was not happy with watts); (ME takes back meter) 3 x 1 min 300 watt hard pace 381/284; 458/299; 415/289; (BF carries meter) 41:45 long free form 309/160 (max/avg)

Note that 2 of the pace intervals had max watts higher and close to two of the seated sprints. Sprint technique in question.

The final long free form included 2 street crossings which impacted the avg.

Review of these results compared to recent downloaded workouts revealed that our previous understanding of the workouts was correct, but we have moved to a different method of stating the average. The new numbers are slightly lower than earlier perceived numbers, but that is accounted for by the standing rests plus build-up and ease down around them now included in the average. Our previous results left those moments out because they were placed there in order to rest ME's foot, not to aid in recovery.

All goals translate easily to the new system. Since the last Fort De Soto test was a measured 166, our previous perceived 170 avg (where standing rests were not considered) is still accurate. Yesterday's measured 161 watt avg for 14 miles, after sprint and pace work (and without ME reading the meter during the attempt), helps confirm our 170 figure as a 16 mi personal best.

Therefore, a 180 watt goal for a measured 16 mile test (including standing rests and momentary breaks) is still rational.

Suncoast Trail
02/29/08 Plan: standard warmup of 3.79 miles 80-100 watts with a cadence test during, then attempt 1 x 10:30 200 watt interval; fartlek rest day for the remainder

Actual: Personal Best warmup cadence spin of 165 rmp measured by Polar, 198 watts for the test time of 10:00 (30 seconds short due BF began cuing ME end for that time and didn't realize his error until too close to disappoint her and have his ass shredded).

During the ride over to the park, I reviewed the day's plan and gave Widder a procedure for the warmup cadence spin test. The explanation was very visual, so it's hard to put into words, but, "Throw your forearm down quarter way while holding your wrist rigid. That's it, now do it a few more times hard. Ok, now allow your wrist to be totally limp and snap it with your forearm like a bull whip. Do it a few more times. Here, like this. Now alternate the rigid snap with the limp. See the difference? The limp wrist is the way to do your cadence spins. No pressure, just snap from your glutes. And from now on, only try to spin up over 140 rpm for the test. No more attempts at best until we have done more cadence exercises on the trail."

When she easily hit 165 using this method she was very pleased. Download data also showed that Mary hit 408 watts building pace for the cadence test.  She went from 100 to 408 in less than a second, and without perceived effort. We need to do more work on understanding watts are momentary force, because 400+ has always required a buildup in her sprint and hard pace work. She is obviously misunderstanding form and technique for the hardest efforts. But then I already knew that.

After the warmup, the start of the 200 watt test was slightly delayed, because a tri-bike went by followed closely (and immediately passed) by a truck at the entrance onto the road. Traffic was also coming the other direction, so Mary held up and waited while I jumped across the road to give chase.

I ended up waiting for Mary, even though I believed a quick kill would do her good.

Having the cyclist as a target didn't help Mary, because she became conservative in order to protect her 200 watt attempt, so we didn't catch him until almost the turn around. Then soon, after we passed him, he tried to attack Mary by scooting by on the inside of the circle. She saw it coming and cut him off, but it spooked her into dropping her watts.

I yelled at her coming out of the circle to let him go and just focus on her watts. If not for that break her 198 measured average would have most certainly been 200 exact. She's getting really good at this stuff.

When her interval was over, I forgot about the fartlek and lost my mind telling her to get on my wheel, because we were going to go catch the tri-bike—now a quarter mile ahead.

Partly it was because Mary made me hold up a little when she realized she was getting ready to puke from her 200 watt interval trial, but it took 7 miles to catch him.

Sometime after the East Beach Circle (and at the last moment) I signaled Mary to come around for the kill. She hit 407 watts passing him, and a hundred yards later we turned to go out to Tierra Verde as Mary sat up to begin her warm down.

The tri-guy came around our left, which triggered me, and Mary said, "Go, on. I'm done."

My pull donkey eased up after he thought we were dropped, and I stayed back far enough for him not to see my shadow and rode quietly. He slowed down to around 21/22 mph.

On the bridge out of the park, he looked back for traffic and saw I was on his wheel, so the pace picked up to around 24/26 as he tried to drop me.

At the end of Tierra Verde I yelled, "Uncle! I'm done."

He snapped around and slowed down with a smile saying, "Oh, I thought you were somebody else. I passed some guy back there who was not very nice."

I thought he meant two other cyclists we passed twice going the other direction. I figured he knew them and thought they had turned around to get on his wheel.

I said, "You thought I was a real cyclist?"

He came back, "You held on great. I really tried to drop you."

I gave him some advice, "You know I have to say something about your aero position. It has been my experience the best position is behind you."

There was a moment of an aggravated grimace on his face before he got it and broke out laughing, "Yeah, I put out a pretty big wake."

I turned back to catch the Widder who was still on her way out.

When I told her the story, she said, "Passed somebody not nice? Didn't he recognize you? Didn't he know you were with me?"

"Oh, yeah. Right."

In any case, so much for an easy fartlek, but we deserved a day off the clock.

During debriefing we noted that Mary was over 407 watts passing the guy for the second time, so we are reviewing her form and technique to help get such wattages during pace intervals on her own. She has perceived her solo intervals as more difficult at lower wattages.

She had other high wattages during my pull which she was unaware of at the time. It is a tale of caution, and an indication of how to get her watts up for sprint and hard pace workouts.

Fort De Soto
03/01/08 Plan: Active recovery day, 40 miles numerous intervals to keep track of bridges, standing for balance, light cadence exercises

Actual: first half correct, then a racer on holiday passed doing high cadence workout, BF chased, ME followed until numerous peaks over 400 watts reminded her to stay on her program; BF learned a lot about controlling HR while staying on a strong rider's wheel, also learned a lot about the time required to make an "easy" pace develop into a hard effort; more details to follow

Pinellas Trail
03/02/08 Plan: Tapering, 1 x 12 min 180 watt interval with bail out at point becomes "hard"; BF to pull the rest of the 32 mile loop in order to maintain weight loss

Actual: The problem is this: Mary does not have good days and bad days, she has great days and worthless days. Today was one of the latter. First she hid from me that her right leg was bothering her. Then we got confused over where the long uninterrupted section of of the Trail is.

We thought it was after the second large cross road, but actually it is after the first. By the time we saw our error we were 12 miles gone with only a 4 mile section left for the trial.

Immediately on the late starting of the test interval, I saw she was already pushing too hard (part of her inability to understand that watts have no inertia), and when I pointed out to her that she should be at wattage already, it only pissed her off and she overworked even harder.

After a half mile of that, she was toast, and I took over to pull for the rest of the interval. When we turned around I took the watt meter and wheel, so I could do my own test on the return trip.

I got in a 9 mile test, 6 miles at pace, and learned a lot about why it continues to be so hard for her to get a handle on.

The main thing is that the watt meter readout is less responsive than the Computrainer's. There is obviously calculation being done prior to display much like the smoothing and sampling functions in the software. Therefore, when you press down with a given pressure, the readout does not immediately respond, which gives the overwhelming impression you haven't pushed hard enough.

Also it would be helpful if the readout allowed viewing your current watts and average watts at the same time. That way you could school yourself on what pressure equals what watts while catching yourself if you drop below the goal wattage. Not knowing how you are doing with your average makes overcompensating higher an ongoing problem.

The watt meter is more responsive than a HR monitor, and much more informative than miles per hour, but it is still less immediate than the Computrainer.

I would write an overview of how to use the software with workarounds for the current problems in it, but there is supposed to be an update in a couple weeks that might fix things such as the file naming and storage conventions. So I'll wait.


Suncoast Trail
03/03/08 Plan: Easy 40 on Pinellas Trail, because of Mary's brown out yesterday.

Actual: The tri-guy wasn't so much of a problem. Due to Mary's need to rest, I was pulling and holding a 134 HR catching  him, but after he hooked on our wheel, 148 bpm wouldn't drop him. Kicking it up to 157 for awhile and rushing a couple bridge uphills finally took him out. All that time Mary kept behind me, acting like she had a gear problem, dropping back, weaving out, and leaving him sitting in the wind as she regained my wheel.

We shouldn't have worked that hard, but tri-athletes are always so easy to beat, it's really too much fun.

In any case, that was pretty early in the ride, so that wouldn't (by itself) have been a problem.

The real problem was that guy on the mountain bike, who caught up to us after we had chatted to a stop at the big cross road on the return loop. It was he who put the finishing touch on our over-workout.

It was bad enough that he made eye contact with the Widder, but he should never, ever, never have made the totally stupid blunder of jumping the intersection and clicking up a gear.

The Widder took off spinning a 400 plus wattage, all the while looking for all the world as if she wasn't even working.

I had been caught by traffic, so was far enough behind to watch the guy standing, sprinting, and trying to figure it out. I could just about hear his thoughts, "Wait a minute. She's not even working. Why is this so hard."

Just as he had moved to her outside and was beginning an attack, I slid up onto her wheel beside him, and said, "Ok, I'm here," and she took off again.

I was on her wheel, and he was on mine. By then he had decided to just hold on best he could, but by then we had decided his best was not going to be good enough.

Just as the Widder was starting to lose it, I came around her right and said, "Grab my wheel. We are going."

Ok, so the guy was young. Ok, so he had an inappropriate bike with crossover tires. Ok, so he did pretty good for about a mile. But somebody had to show him about correct equipment, and how a mile is just the very beginning.

It might not have been his fault. It might really have begun with the real deal runner we saw. That woman was ripped like the front of the nationals track and field championships. She gave that look to Mary.

Maybe it was left over triggering from me chasing the racer on holiday 2 days ago.


Pinellas Trail
03/04/08 Due to the last three days, Mary took the day totally off while I did a wattage test up to Clearwater Bridge and back. I learned a lot about how to help her understand: 1) watts is watts is watts; 2) watts have no inertia; 3) per watts and momentum the important concept is "moment"

See ChatterBox post #2538 for a description of my wattage test.

Clearwater Bridge
03/05/08 Plan: revisit the 12 minute 180 watt interval due Mary is demanding a second try in Fort De Soto Park. She has always had a bad attitude about the Suncoast Trail, so we'll see. Maybe I will have her set her watt meter to average, so she is more likely to respond to feeling, instead of the not quite immediate current wattages—which are not as responsive as her Computrainer.

Actual: terrific success, one of Mary's great days, obviously helped by Humberto Cavalheiro calling her cell phone just as we begun the warmup and getting her excited about all the stuff that happened to him, George Meyer, and Dan Sullivan on their recent Portugal cycling vacation in the mountains around Humberto's childhood home.

Mary rode so smooth, it was like she had powered up a lawn trimmer... bzzzzz. After the ride she reported she was using the technique I showed her for her record cadence of 165 rpm. Today's 100+ spin was thus easy, and it allowed her to use less stomping and more rounding for a quicker smoother more efficient spin at higher wattage.

I kept as quiet as possible, because prompting her during record attempts can distract her concentration, so I only spoke when needed.

First word was at the start of the test, when I said, "You should be up by now," at exactly the same moment she reported, "On."

The second prompting was at the entrance to the North Beach circle when I reminded her to hold her wattage through the circle after I noticed she hesitated into the turn.

The third prompt was merely a question near minute ten when she started to brown out at her regular time. Afterwards she said she had felt the brown out and forced herself to go on. After that it became easy again. Working, but not hard.

I also gave her 6 minute (half way), 8 minute (4 minutes to go), 10 minute (2 minutes to go), 1 minute, 30 second, and 10 second warnings. She doesn't have to respond to those status reports, so it helps, doesn't hurt.

Her average for the test was 192 watts for 3.89 miles at 19.34 mph avg. That was 12 watts over the goal, but short and slower due to a significant headwind down the long leg of the course.

She felt so good after the first test, I decided to ask her if she wanted to go again, and held off asking until just before the end of the second split distance. At that point we didn't know for sure if the first test had been successful, but she felt confident that it was; and, in fact, passed on the opportunity to pick up the pace at the end. She wanted to have a strict test of whether she knew how hard she was going or not.

I wish the watt meter provided a running average of the interval wattage on the same screen as the current wattage. Mary would have to take the time to flip from one to the other and back, and there's not time for that on these precision tests.

Anther problem with tracking average watts is that there is a few second delay in the display of the current wattage, so anytime you look, you are looking at history, and not at a true real time. She did a lot of preparation on her Computrainer in December, and it reports close enough to real time to be indistinguishable from it. Therefore, she has a good background in how this all works, so she is dealing with it very well.

The third problem with watts average tracking is due to the importance of not being stuck on the numbers but learning to precisely feel the wattage. That means it is best to look at the display only periodically as a check against what she believes is happening.

Having a display of both average and current wattage at the same time would allow that schooling for the feeling of watts, while keeping a current tally in case things go awry and must be made up. The extra stress of constantly wondering how close she is to the goal for the day, is energy that could be better used going into the pedals, or relaxing the left foot, or making sure the right hamstring doesn't tighten up, etc.

In any case, she did so well on the first test, I asked her for another at the 8 mile mark (which would be at the Titty Bar on The Hump), and she was game to try.

The second test was another great success. This time the average watts were 186 (6 watts above the goal), over a distance of 3.66 miles at 18.22 mph, because that leg of the course had a much longer section going into a headwind.

I only made three suggestions during that interval. The first was to stand for a hundred yards after the turn at the flag in order to make up wattage that Mary would lose, because she is timid on cornering. The second was a reminder to keep her wattage up on the downhill of the bridge. The third was a release to push harder at the 30 second to go mark.

After the turnaround in Tierra Verde, I had her try a 200 watt interval for 3 minutes. The results for that were: 208 watts avg for 1.19 miles at 23.3 mph avg, because that section was all tailwind.


1) 12 minutes @ 192 watts
2) 12 minutes @ 186 watts
3) 3 minutes @ 208 watts

Major improvements.

The first two intervals were the first results that haven't produced miles per hour averages higher than those predicted in the simplified chart. They are also the first we've done with a course weighted more toward headwind.

The 23+ Widder's Hump will of course be done on a day where the the prevailing wind is coming from the north west to give the most favorable sailing conditions, where Mary will be protected by the climbs going into the wind while enjoying somewhat of a tailwind on the open and flat sections coming home.

We are still on track and well on our way.

Here's a raw data screen shot (no smoothing, no reduced sampling) of the first interval... smooth or what?


Fort De Soto
03/06/08 Plan: Easy 40 mile recovery ride with 12 x 30 second intervals at 230+ watts. Let Mary decide how hard to go for the first one, then check the highest wattage possible for a comfortable 30 seconds. Use the time for incorporative exercises which combine several of the concepts that earlier training sessions have illuminated.

Actual: During warmup, an extended review of spinning technique which had provided Mary's personal best 165 cadence. I added a discussion about how easy it is to inadvertently fight one pedal against the other such as: your left foot is down at 6 o'clock, your right foot is up at 10 o'clock. Any residual tension in your right quad, left over from pushing down hard on the previous pedal stroke, can act as a brake against your current downward stroke by the left leg.

I explained it in terms of techniques for mastering musical instruments (piano in this discussion), where getting rid of all tension is paramount to speed, accuracy, and fluidity of phrasing.

Particularly, I described how musical sections are segmented and slowed down to enhance the ability to play in a totally relaxed state while using only the minimal amount of tension in the fingers necessary. Then speed is gradually increased to the point of failure, backed down again to retrieve correct performance, then brought back up to speed again. The point of failure is thus progressively moved to a later point in section, or to a greater speed, or to a more fluent phrasing, or to a more refined dynamic, or to all these elements together... all of which are affected, enhanced, and moved toward perfection by attention to each individual element.

This is all based on the fact that muscles work in apposing groups, that they move limbs and digits, etc only by contracting, that they can only contract if the apposing muscle group is in a relaxed state, that constricting a muscle group causes a residual after image of the constriction (in terms of force and length of time affected) which is directly proportional to the force of the constriction that caused it.

Less is definitely more, and the least is definitely the most, but this is a concept that will have to be addressed in the final version of the 23+ Widder's Hump, because it is unlikely anybody has even read the previous two paragraphs. At least Mary listened to the discussion, and her improved performance is a testament to the truth's stated here. Not to mention, these truths are rather universally understood by athletes.

Mary is herself still somewhere near the middle of her "wipe on, wipe off" stage. Today's tests were in line with consolidating some of our concepts into functional units.

This stuff is hard to write about, easier to demonstrate, and uniformly misunderstood either way.

In any case, I gave her some pointers on how to approach a light easy spin, and how to identify potential problems at lighter effort, and/or at slower tempo, then to return newly acquired insight back up to tempo, speed, and effort... which are three sides of the same coin, so to speak.

She then easily spun up to her record 165 rpm as recorded by the Polar cadence sensor; and, to my observation, I believe one moment was over 170, but she held it just short of long enough to be recorded. Next time.

I explained that the ultimate goal for this exercise would be to be able to get onto the International Space Station and make the movement without a bicycle (or any similar device) while floating in the center of a room and maintaining an absolutely stationary position with no bodily rotation.

In the meantime, a good mantra to chant during extended test intervals such as those of 12 minutes is: "Spin'd it like Kevin."

She began her short 30 second intervals with this instruction, "Spin up quickly but smoothly. You can keep building effort for the entire 30 seconds, or until it starts to feel hard, then back off. We'll see how that works."

Her first 30 second interval max'd at 470 watts with an average of 337. Of course, we wouldn't know those exact figures until we download them, but she was pretty much dead on with her perception and real time reading during the test.

We then took a long rest interval to talk over the results, how she felt during various moments of the interval, how she was approaching the spin, how much easier it was than when she reached the same wattages during earlier sprint exercises, and how that was in part due to how previously she was screwing up by "trying" to go harder.

Unfortunately, it is much easier to say, "Turn off the script," than it is to

That discussion revealed the differences in approach that we are hoping to bring into the sprint work.

Also during the resting interval we did several bridges where I paced ahead of her, and gave her the task, "Don't try to go hard. Just stay with me."

On the first bridge she max'd at 532 watts, on the second 520. The second bridge's effort was much easier, though with only a slightly lower max wattage, and that improvement in required effort was due to our additional discussions about technique after the first bridge. More or less a restatement of what is found above, but with specific reference to the first bridge climb.

The second 30 second interval max'd at 391 watts with an average of 328. That was accomplished under the guideline, "Don't peak past 400. You said your 330 to 370 range felt pretty good. Just stay in that range for this one."

Mary reported improvement in required effort, and felt comfortable for the full 30 seconds.

I was going to drop the wattage goals to 260 for the next intervals, and depending on Mary's report, drop to 230 or stay around 260 for the remaining 8 intervals (we decided the bridges should be counted), but a few raindrops reminded me storms were building.

I have been so pleased with having a quiet bike (finally), after a local bike shop mechanic finally tracked down the problem that nobody else has been able to resolve, I freaked at the thought of getting wet and having to take the bike back in, so we bailed out of the ride.

As an aside, bicycle shop mechanics are sometimes called "wrenches," and they are the people you really want to fight your way past the front office in order to get to speak with—in person. From them you will actually learn something about biking, and the term "wrench" is akin to the term "National Treasure" no matter what you may have heard elsewhere. Sometimes you may be lucky enough to find yourself in a shop where the "wrench" is also the shop owner, and that is akin to "Nirvana," but back to the matter at hand.

On the way back to the parking lot, we attempted one more interval with a new assignment, "Spin up over 300. Once you are there, click one gear easier and spin faster. I predict your wattage will drop momentarily during the shift then peak higher than before, but at less effort."

Just as predicted, she got to 391 watts, clicked down and was already back up to a much easier 380 watts when she came to a curve in the park road and had to ease up.

The park road is very winding, and Mary is very timid around turns: AN ORIENTATION WHICH SHE MUST ABSOLUTELY NEVER EVER LOSE (even if it means losing).

She asked if there was not some straight section in the park for more of our 30 second technical study intervals, but there aren't any, and the rains were coming in fast.

From what I observed today, I would guess Mary is still 12 to 15 percent away from wattage figures she will attain by merely improving her form and approach, even with no improvement whatsoever in strength and/or endurance.

Given that most of her test results have already proven she generates speeds almost exactly matching theoretical absolutes predicted by our simplified chart, I would still guess 230 watts will give her a 22+ (first milestone goal), while just under 260 watts will give her the 23+ Hump.

Of course, she has already seen it proven to her that achieving those wattages will not be done through brute force alone, but attention to the details of her performance will bring her much of the way up to them with no more effort whatsoever. We can clearly hope to achieve (in time) steady state performance at those wattages.

Therefore, we will focus on the 230 and 260 wattages during the coming month in Florida, and our next long test will be to attempt two iterations of a 12 minute interval at 200+ watts. Her last successful performance at 12 minutes was a 192, followed by a 186.

Well, we are... on our way.


Fort De Soto
03/07/08 Storms were coming in, and the winds were high, so we decided to stay in for the day and rest. Then Nuclear Dan Buckley called Mary's cell phone, so after a half hour of discussions about Harriman in the spring, we decided we had better go out.

We left just as the local TV weather posted a tornado box around us, but we barely took notice of it, because Dan had us triggered.

A massive tailwind gave us a 20.74 mph average for our 103 watt warmup to the bridge.

My hope was that the increased speed at the bottom of the bridge, plus the tailwind boost up it, would give me an advantage, and the Widder would not be able to drop me... not matter what.

I told her to hit the bridge as hard as she wanted, and to not worry about dropping me, "Just get to the top as quickly as you can."

It was a personal best 43 second climb for her, and she recorded a 344 watt average, plus a 466 max. I did not get dropped. Hurrah for wind assists and shorter ascent times!

On the return loop on the bridge she max'd at 521 for a .1 mile test which ended with only a 248 average due to her slowing to fumble off the interval.

The rest of the way to the top, she held a 196 avg with a 245 max into a wretched brutal wind. On the downhill she held a 178 avg with a 241 max, all of which spoke well for her ability to maintain wattages on the downhills for her 23+ Widder's Hump.

After a brief rest interval side trip into Sand Key Park, we resumed yesterday's 30 second technical study intervals. We started just where we had left off, with a 260 watt goal. Mary succeeded with 9 of these on the way home and was comfortable for all of them. Her HR rate never went above 157, and her recorded wattages were:

     avg / max
1) 258/353
2) 272/347
3) 261/319
4) 264/391
5) 263/332
6) 254/364
7) 249/340
8) 271/335
9) 272/372

Immediately on completing the ride, Mary reported she thought intervals 6 and 7 were a little low, and the downloaded data confirmed it. She really, really, really is getting to know what she can do, and when she is doing it.

The download data shows she settled into a very consistent series of 2 minute rest intervals using her HR and sense of recovery as a guide.

Our plan is to place this type of workout in her mix, and build up to completing 21 x 260 watt 30 second intervals, and then expanding the time progressively up to 60 seconds while dropping the number of intervals down to 11. Then we'll progressively shorten the 2 minute recovery intervals until she can do multiples of 3 x 260 (with only 60 seconds of rest), and afterwards combine 3 into 1 (and so on) until we have a comfortable 4 mile split at <10:30, basically a 23+ mph average on a circular course where tailwind cancels headwind, and effort downhill cancels slower speeds uphill.

Don't bother looking for these types of workouts in the literature. They do not exist. They are Widder specific and 23+ Hump specific. This website is the only place you'll find them.

We finished the ride by going a little farther up wind then chasing a panel truck at 28 mph back along Gulf Boulevard. Lots of startled stares from walkers and drivers alike while Mary peaked at 494 watts and bested 400 watts three other times without even knowing it. We have to get her to turn off the script and attack her sprint intervals with the same manic focus.

Nobody tell Humberto we chased a truck.


Clearwater Bridge
03/08/08 Total rest with snacks due 40 mph winds.  
03/09/08 Plan: 21 x 260 watt 30 sec intervals with long rest intervals between during the 32 mile out and back finishing with a tailwind; we will set 10:30 (630 secs) as the maximum time for the total number of these short intervals at 23+ intensity; when successful with 21 at 30 sec, we will drop the number of iterations and raise the time for each such as 16 at 40 sec totaling (640 sec, or 10:40) until achieving one 640 sec 260 watt interval.

Actual: standard warmup at 91 watts with two cadence tests at 164, 162 which Mary now terms simple. Then we did 21 x 260 watt 30 sec intervals with only intervals 14 & 15 under 260, due to a form break that I picked up on and corrected.

Mary's cadence had dropped, and she was grinding. After correction she stated it had been because she felt she had slowed down, and she was trying to get her speed back up.

I pointed out that she would of course naturally have been slower at that point due to a stronger headwind, and an uphill, and I reminded her that watts are not speed.

"Watts is watts is watts. This exercise is about watts."

There was a shocked look of recognition on her face, and she said, "I think I finally get it. That was the classic example, wasn't it?"

It was, but her understanding it (and retaining it) remains to be seen. After I prompted her cadence back up (by way of a down shift), her wattages came back up for the remainder of the exercise.

At the moment of her under performance (14 & 15*), I did not know the watts had dropped, I just recognized her form had fallen off. We found the watts were also off, after downloading the data.

      avg / max
01) 267/333
02) 265/346
03) 270/324
04) 271/342
05) 281/329
06) 276/376
07) 274/303
08) 272/325
09) 270/346
10) 283/374
11) 271/345
12) 276/337
13) 263/329
14) 254/322 *
15) 258/302 *
16) 267/310
17) 276/317
18) 269/324
19) 265/331
20) 269/311
21) 281/315

22) 272/336 40 sec

We did an extra interval at 40 sec, just to see if that distance would be a problem for the next round of this type workout. Next time we will do 16 x 260 watt intervals at 40 sec to give us 640 seconds at pace. The next step will be based on that workout's recovery and performance.

Her recovery intervals today were all self monitored and were consistently between 1:30 and 1:55 minutes, with one low of 1:23, and also one high of 3:12 when we had to cross a street.

Maximum speeds (by the end of intervals) were as would be expected with the wind... 20+ to 23+ going into the wind, and 23+ to 25+ coming out.

The average of all the averages for the entire exercise (including the extra 40 sec at the end) is 270 watts which normalizes to a 23.5 mph average pace.

Things are getting right.

Suncoast Trail

Sometimes I've seen mountain bikers come close to that on The Hump, but that little moment of spin looked as if somebody had sped up the video. It was incredible.

Plan: active recovery, cadence exercises, 40 miles, also test the Interval function of the watt meter in order to confirm the interval time will display for future Mary's self tracking of timed intervals (functions correctly)

Actual: Mary achieved a personal best cadence of 169 rpm. She also did a cadence test during the warmup for an easy 163 rpm.

After the north loop turn around, I asked her to do 30 seconds each of 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, rpm but not spinning out after the 120. After a preliminary misunderstanding of the interval length (partly because she was also learning to use her watt meter interval timing function), she was successful with the exercise three times, but generally the exercise was cut short due to our arriving at a cross road.

After the third attempt, I asked her to do a spin to maximum using her standard click up and stand to speed, then sit, downshift to lowest, settle in, then spin. She forgot to use the technique of total relaxation while initiating movement from the glutes, plus forgot the idea of not restricting the spin by over tensing the returning quad, that I previously explained to her.

Therefore, she had a false start (because she "tried" too hard), then a severe over correction. Partly this was caused by her still being in her big chain ring.

I explained the over correction and failure had most certainly caused her to lose all the work from the previous three exercises, and she would have to build up again before trying another maximum. (This refers to a broader issue of physiology which is beyond the scope of the present discussion.)

The failure did show her enough about high speed spins, however, for her to finally see that the instability found in a high speed spin is exactly the same instability that can be observed at slow speed.

Mary said, "I found the secret of a 70 rpm spin, and it is this: the secret for 70 rpm is to have the Polar number showing 86 rpm."

That tongue in cheek statement acknowledged how hard slow spins can be to maintain. Earlier I had noticed her tensing up when a brief downhill took the pressure out of her pedals.

I told her to use the downhills as an opportunity to practice her International Space Station spins [explanation at 03/06/08].

I explained that the irony of the cadence exercises is that the highest speed spin that can be achieved is directly proportional to how well the lowest speed spins are accomplished. In fact the slower you can complete the cadence exercises correctly, the faster you will be able to do them at high speed.

She complained again, after one more up to 120 rpm series, about how difficult the slow spins are, and I mentioned that these exercises had been specifically altered to suit her temperament.

The original exercises from Smart Cycling ask for 60 seconds each, and for them to begin at 60 rpm, not 70.

In any case, she got pissed off and decided to do another whole round of spin ups, and after she finished them she tried the maximum again.

This time she got everything set correctly (correct speed, correct gear, settled and ready, spin out), and she spun to a personal best of 169.

I observed a speed burst that is now typical (most likely around 163), a slight hesitation, then her butt became motionless followed by an incredibly quick and crisp passage of about 6 strides.

By George, I think she's got it.

I am guessing that second burst was in the mid to high 170's, maybe over 180, because I have never seen anybody spinning that fast.

Sometimes I've seen mountain bikers come close to that on The Hump, but that little moment of spin looked as if somebody had sped up the video. It was incredible. However, the Polar monitor averaged the second six strides with the first six strides and the break in between.

Still, she recorded a personal best of 169, and the rest of the ride she worked on her cadence at 105 to 115 which is now comfortable for her.

I hope she was also dropping down to slower cadences in order to ferret out problem areas and coming back up to speed, but I was pulling, so I cannot report.

Her standing on the bridges today was about 90% of the best she does, which is a very good effort for her. Generally, she is on, or she is off her game. She began with a problem with the right knee, warmed out of it, then warmed back into it by the end of the ride.

She was chided for not noticing the recurrence of the knee problem earlier, and calling me off the exercises, but that's just the way it is in Mary Land.


Pinellas Trail
03/11/08 Plan: standard warmup to bridge, easy over, max attempt on return, 6 max 15 sec sprints (this time push past wattage drop, all the way to 15 secs), possible longer easier interval just for reference

Actual: During warmup I noticed Mary was toying with her cadence, so I gave her a new exercise which was a variation on an earlier one.

I said, "Mary, visualize that moment you hit the 169 rpm cadence yesterday. Got it? Now, can you remember exactly how still your butt felt on the saddle, and how lose your spin was underneath it? Remember? Try to have the same feeling right now, at this slower cadence. Ok, got it? Now try to keep that feeling while moving to your big chain ring and dropping your cadence in order to hold smooth and consistent 10 watts only."

At first she found it hard to go below 80 watts, then impossible to get under 30 watts. I kept prompting her with form changes and gave her technical hints. Pretty soon she could hold 8-10 watts with some precision.

I continued, "Now bring up your pace a little, get in a big gear and hold the 10 watts. Try to feel where the rough edges are in your performance (compared to yesterday's 169 rpm test) and click down to one cassette gear easier. You will have to pick up your cadence in order to hold the 10 watts. Compare the feeling of that cadence to the one you were just holding. Check for rough spots, then go back to the harder gear, slow down a little to hold the wattage, and see if you can't work out the rough spots and take the improved performance back to the slightly faster cadence. Ok, go back and forth like that for awhile."

While she was doing that I commented on a useful side effect, "You've seen all the data, so by now you must know how much energy you waste coasting behind somebody, because of the extra energy it takes to regain your momentum in order to stay on their wheel afterwards. All these little micro-bursts really take their toll."

She said, "But I like to harass people with the coasting noise. It is disheartening."

"Well, yes, that's a skill to use, but if you think that is aggravating, you should see somebody's reaction after you have been totally quiet long enough for them to think you are dropped; but, in reality, you have been spinning lightly behind them (not wasting energy accelerating, coasting, accelerating) and holding a more efficient steady 10 to 40 watts—just the lightest pressure on your pedals. When you finally appear out of nowhere, that is true discouragement."

"Not to mention, when they don't hear your cassette clicking, they ease off the pace a little and make it even easier for you while they still take wind."

By then she had gotten the technique and went on to spin up to 150 rpm. This was the first time she did a high cadence spin under power. A big step forward.

We did an easy north bound bridge which I asked her to hold a high cadence to the top. Her cadence max'd at 126 with an avg of 111. Her watts max'd at 314 with a 250 avg. Her time was 59 seconds (which would have been a personal best a few weeks ago), and she reported it was easier than expected, but her quads hurt in a different place. [Unclear if it was the different technique, or residual from yesterday's cadence work.]

On the return bridge south, I asked for a max and probably got her set for it at the wrong spot. She is nervous about traffic at the bottom of the bridge, plus she hit her interval only to find the watt meter was loose on her handlebars, so she had to fiddle with it a bit. Her max was only 496 watts, but she held 200+ watts on the downhill side, and that bodes well for the 23+ Hump. On the 03/07/08 test she held 178, and that was into a stiffer headwind.

Then Mary did 6 x Max Sprints @ 15 secs, seated:

      avg / max
01) 364/429
02) 385/511
03) 369/475
04) 375/519
05) 367/482
06) 348/449 (30 sec)

A perfect performance curve, plus Mary now self times using her watt meter in interval mode. That's good, because it's getting harder to stay with her. I start my timer, but only to catch major problems.

Number 6 was a test to see how close to max she actually is. Looks like she's got more.

After the 6 sprints we finished the loop to the light, turned around, and I said, "See if you can hold 260 watts for 1.5 minutes. She did:

      avg / max
01) 238/318 (1.5 minutes)

After the workout, just for fun we did a light spin for a second loop back out the bridge and home. It lasted just over an hour which included a phone stop when BLASTER phoned Mary's cell phone. All in all good for my weight, and people in NY are probably getting used to the fact that no matter when they call us we are on our bikes.


Clearwater Bridge
03/12/08 Plan: long loop out to Passe Grille and back. Bob pulls, easy recovery day for Mary.

Using cadence and drafting techniques recently learned, Mary stayed on my wheel riding the tailwind out to Passe Grille for a:

19.995 mph/avg @ 105 watts avg

We are going to use this phenomenon by picking a day with a strong steady northwest wind for Mary's 23+ Hump.

Mary rested behind me all the way back. 33.4 mile total. Lots of traffic both ways which made the whole thing very exhausting. Two hours and fifteen minutes where every second is a life and death situation can be debilitating.

Things are still looking good.


Gulf Boulevard
03/13/08 Plan: 5 minute medium hard intervals, just so we don't lose them while tapering, see what Mary gets on the bridge north for a max attempt (due traffic bothers her during attempts going south); also today swapped out for new batteries PowerTap CPU and chest strap, maybe found possible solution to make CPU more reactive similar to Computrainer so will check HR monitoring along with CPU (previously HR monitoring with PowerTap has been flakey)

Actual: The HR monitoring functions of the PowerTap were not battery related. They just suck. That's it in a nutshell. Changing the power averaging setting from 3 to 1 second for the CPU display did not make a difference for Mary. The wattage display was still not as quick as the Computrainer. There is one more setting to change. I am toggling off the "Include Zeros" to see if that helps speed up feedback.

On the warmup to the bridge, Mary did a cadence test under power and found she only spun up to 132, part of that seemed to be related to the headwind slowing her down after her pace-up, so I told her to go back to the default test which is to stand, go hard, set and settle, and go from 0 watts. She got a 151 rpm which was within spec to continue the workout.

Once again, at the bridge she was obviously in the wrong gear when starting the max test. She still has a tendency to believe she will have to "spin" up to wattage, so always starts in too easy a gear and is spun out before she hits max wattage. She only hit 511 watts on the test going north.

After an incredible amount of traffic (Spring Break has sprung), Mary wanted to try the test again on the bridge going south. This time her max was only 467, because she delayed the start so far into the climb that she had nothing left.

I told her, "Never has so little self doubt done so much to so severely thwart a person's personal achievement."

During our recovery loop through Sand Key Park, I came up with a series of exercises that really helped her understand how to approach a max attempt, plus gave great insight into correct form in general.

I never would have been able to explain the following exercises to her without the immediate feedback shown by the watt meter. When she saw the results, she was astonished. Without the reliable objective index of her performance gains that was shown by the watt meter, she would never have believed how much better she was doing after just a few minutes of these very precise exercises. In fact, I would not even try to explain the following to somebody without a watt meter.

I said, "Take a few quick steps and try to get your wattage up right away." She could only manage about 132 watts with some difficulty.

I said, "Which is your strong leg?" She replied, "The right." I told her to stand and take an easy step on her left then stamp hard with her right." When she did that, I saw that she had actually stomped hard on her left, then allowed less power to go into her right. I pointed out that she had done just the opposite of what she believed she would do.

She said, "I wanted to make sure I got a good spin." [Her standard misconception.]

I continued, "Look at my leg." It was at the 2 o'clock forward position, and I added, "From here to the bottom (6 o'clock) is where you are going to get the most power." I stomped and showed her.

I told her to try again, this time being more careful to start easy on the left, and really stomp the right.

She did it a little more smoothly, so I asked her to try it again, but to be more careful not to wobble to the right.

She did it better, and I said, "Do it again and tell me your wattage." She reported 80 watts, and several attempts after that she managed to get up to around 100 watts, but that was it.

So I continued, "Look, you are still wobbling to the right. That saps your energy. Try a few with less effort, and focus on a smooth down stroke with no wobble."

She did it; and, in line with her more precise balance, her wattage spiked over 160 watts. She said, "Wow!"

I mentioned, "See, you just doubled your watts with no more effort, and no more strength. Now try this. While you are pushing down with the right leg, pull up with the left. Don't overwork it though. Focus on keeping your balance, and step down smooth and quick."

She popped up to 175 watts, again said, "Wow!" and went on to practice it a few more times as we circled the parking lots near the beach.

When she looked comfortable with that, I said, "Now try it again. Step easy left, stomp hard right while pulling up with your left, but this time also pull up with your right hand as well. Don't forget your balance. Balance and no wobble is more important than brute force."

That time her power spiked to 296 watts.

I reviewed, "See... in a few minutes of attention to correct form, you basically tripled your power. That is how you should approach the next max sprint, and you should also work these techniques into all your spins. Think about how this relates to the 10 watt spins we did day before yesterday."

Soon after that a few bozos stepped off the curb in front of us, and Mary gasped, "All these people are walking around like their heads are on backwards. That guy didn't even see me."

I complained, "They are all drunk, stoned, and tripping. It's the beginning of Spring Break. Lets get out of here." We went back out on Gulf Boulevard for a medium-hard longish interval.

The goal was 5 minutes of just over 200 watts. Mary went the full distance and with a 211 watt average, but she over pushed the beginning of the interval and made the whole thing a lot harder than it needed to be.

After the interval we were close enough to home to finish up our loop easy, turn back at the light, and go back out for another loop over the bridge.

We had 5 miles to work on technical exercises that I designed to help her overcome her standard overshooting wattage at the beginning of an interval. I said, "We are just going to do repeats of quick intervals up to 200 watts, then coast. We'll call them pop-watts. The goal is to pop up to 200 watts right away, but not go over."

"I'll say pop, and you try to hit 200 watts right at the start (just like the stomp exercises we did in the park), but don't go over it, and hold the wattage just long enough to memorize what it feels like."

"What does the pressure in your knees feel like? What does it feel like in your left foot, right foot? How are your inner and outer quads? Where is your butt? That sort of stuff. When you start the next one try to remember what the last one felt like and hit that wattage right away. Ignore the number on your watt meter. There is a delay in its reporting. Just pop to the wattage, and let the computer catch up."

It took about 2 dozen of these quick pops for her to get it. After the first few I started yelling when her body language showed that she had overshot the wattage. The first couple times she said something like, "When you said I was over, I was only at 180 watts, then I got it up to 230 after you yelled."

I said, "No, what happened was your meter had not shown the wattage yet. I did not yell until you were over 260, but the watt meter only reported your wattage after you had spiked high, then compensated down. At the moment I yelled, you were already way over the mark."

As a test I said, "You feel how easy 200 is once you get it going for awhile?" She said, "Yes."

"Then start right away with that feeling, hold it, and see if your meter doesn't eventually show it."

She did that a few times, realized her own feeling is more immediately accurate than the watt meter, and got pretty good at popping the watts without over shooting the effort.

Once she had that down, I started her on a variation of Tuesday's 10 watt, click down, hold the wattage with a faster spin exercise.

This time we did the same exercise but at 200 watts. After a half dozen successes, I pointed out how shifting down and spinning faster was allowing her to maintain the same wattage with less effort.

All of this was a big eye opener for Mary, and it is the beginnings of the techniques we will use to fine tune her 23+ Widder's Hump.

We will eventually apply what she learned with the stomp exercises and pop watts back into her pull through with the back leg. The goal is to get this kind of considered control over correct form to ripple through every movement she makes. Musicians do this kind of work all the time.

We are basically working on the orchestration of an extended work will become her ride—it will be a symphony.

I wouldn't even think of trying to get somebody to understand this without a watt meter.


Clearwater Bridge
03/14/08 Rain enforced rest day.
03/15/08 Plan: long easy recovery on the trail

Actual: Mary was a little under the hormones, so she bailed out after 12 miles at the light crossing 102nd.

Prior to that the only moment of note was when she had finished some self directed cadence exercises during which she achieved another incredulous personal best spin of 173 using the methods learned in previous rides

Finally the Cadence sensor caught what I have been seeing. When Mary is on her game, she spin well ver 170.

After that she decided to stand and try a couple quick sprints.

Apparently, she took the "pull-up" directive of day before yesterday too much to heart and almost crashed after a mini wheelie.

Later that night at home, we had another long discussion about the physics involved. I used a query technique to prompt her to analyze the "why" of the "pull-up" technique I had shown her.

I asked, "Why do you pull-up."

She didn't quite know, so I asked, "What is the limiting factor regarding the power you can generate by stomping on the pedal?"

She didn't quite know, and it was hard for her to visualize, so I said, "Lets say you were using both feet. Sit on the side of the coffee table and push down with your feet as hard as you can."

On the first attempt she said, "There. I did it, but I still don't understand." I replied, "No, you did not push as hard as you can. Put your feet under you a little more and push all out as hard and as fast as you can."

She did and stood up, and I asked, "What is the limiting factor for the total amount of force you can put into the floor through your feet that way?"

She thought a moment and said, "My weight?"

"Exactly. And if you are pushing down as hard as you can on one pedal, it is the same. You pull up on the handle bar on the same side as the pedal you are pushing down in order to add more force than you can with merely your body weight."

"The goal in pulling up is not to jerk your handle bars over your head, but to just add a little more force to the down stroke. Most importantly, you have to coordinate your effort so it acts as no more than a counter balance."

Fortuitously, at that very moment there was a TV video of a weightlifter finishing a clean and jerk, so I pointed to it and explained the person lifting the weight would be capable of lifting only very considerably less weight if not for each of the elemental movements involved being carefully coordinated for maximum effect.

"The lift is the culmination of precisely timed and controlled execution of multiple component movements."

"Getting the most out of a down stroke of the pedal requires more than just pushing down on the pedal. Also, the exercise I gave you to help with the bridge sprint was just that. It was an exercise to explain the concept. It was not an end in itself. I did not mean for you to make a career out of pulling up as hard as you can on your right handlebar shifter hood."

Maybe she understood. In any case, outside of the wheelie fiasco, she was getting a lot more power on the bridge climbs during today's recovery. She also confirmed how much more power she can get by clicking down and spinning faster. We have made her default exercise to be spinning 120 rpm most of the time.


Pinellas Trail
03/16/08 Plan: Continuance of Fusion Intervals by bringing time for the 260 watt attempts up from 30 seconds to 40 seconds, and bringing the number of intervals down from 21 to 16 in order to still result in a total of 640 seconds. 630 seconds is a four mile split time for the 23+ Widder's Hump. [See 03/09/08 for results of previous workout of this type.)

Actual: Standard warmup with Mary's self directed cadence tests during it. She got up to 159 rpm and called it a wrap. She is much smoother with these, and now finds 110-120 comfortable, but I judge she is less than 30% to her potential. I told her to begin making high cadence spins her normal cadence during warmup wattages.

We got real lucky on this workout, because just as the warmup was ending a 28ish very strong tri-athlete passed us. He was obviously on his standard easy workout pace, and was moving very consistently 17 to 19 mph. That gave us a great target.

After he passed, I noticed Mary dropped off her effort, and at first I thought she was trying to avoid chasing him, but it turned out she was fiddling with her watt meter trying to remember how to put it in Interval Mode. We got that going, but by then our target was a few hundred yards out, that is to say, "Better still!"

I said, "Start the interval."

We were gaining on the fellow rather quickly with the 260 watt effort, but 40 seconds was not enough to catch him. We got within 200 feet, then dropped back to rest interval wattages. I prompted for Mary to  be as efficient with her spin as possible.

By the time her heart rate was back down, we had lost almost the entire distance again, and when she finished the next hard interval we were just a little closer than before.

A few times of that was too much for me to bear, so as soon as she finished another, I said, "Jump on my wheel." Then I kept asking for her watts and heart rate to make sure she was recovering correctly while I made sure we didn't lose so much distance on the target.

By the sixth Interval we passed him. After that we would pass him on the hard interval, while he passed us during our recovery. I made sure he heard us talking about watts and heart rate, so he would know we weren't fucking with him just to be fucking with him. Man, the guy could sweat despite the cool 85 degree sunny trail.

He was a very controlled and consistent rider, because it took a long time to trigger him into trying to finish us off.

But nobody is perfectly self-controlled, so on the rest interval before our ninth hard effort, he jumped on a road crossing and tried to drop us.

I am a creature of habit and reflex, so I just spun like a motherfucker to get back on his wheel, and barely had the thought, "Maybe Mary will respond also, and we can get back on his wheel and the program."

Turns out Mary saw her watts hit 445, and decided, "If I'm going to work this hard, I may as well go ahead and do the next interval."

So she clicked on her timer, and passed me (just as I was latching onto Mr. Buff Young Tri-Athlete Stud's wheel) saying, "I've started the interval, lets go."

We went.

When Mary gave the thumbs up for "interval's over," and I went around to start my pull, she looked back and said, "What happened to my target. He's gone."

We assume that interval coincided with his turn-around spot, because when were nearing the parking lot 18 miles after our own turn around, our target was about a mile out coming toward us on his running portion. Big smile, big wave, and when we saw him just before we left the parking lot, I thanked him for being such a kind target.

Here's what our friend convinced Mary to do (just by being in front of her):

      avg / max
01) 276/431
02) 275/354
03) 262/360
04) 285/353
05) 280/372
06) 312/365
07) 279/370
08) 265/344
09) 276/346
10) 265/314
11) 279/372
12) 246/347 *
13) 274/379
14) 296/346 *
15) 280/377
16) 272/325

These are Turtle Boy grade wattages, albeit much shorter duration. Well, I guess I should say these used to be Turtle Boy wattages, because as soon as he reads this, his wattages will be moving up.

Maximum wattages are no longer happening always within the first 5 seconds. That means Mary is getting smoother, less wasteful starts. Otherwise, she knows she's not supposed to push harder just because there's an uphill, but sometimes she gets excited about how good she's doing and can't help herself.

Maximum speeds were always reached near the end of the intervals. They were near 23 mph going into the headwind and over 25 mph on the way home. That is further confirmation that 260 watts equals at least 23+ for Mary and tracks right along our simplified watts vs. speed graph.

Interval 12 dropped below the target 260 avg, because we got caught by a cross road, and Mary eased up coming to it. However, it was still just enough room to finish the 40 seconds.

Interval 14's near 300 watt average (296) was because Mary was trying to hurt me for pissing her off with something I said.

I said, "You don't remember what I said? Try harder to remember, because then I can say it before every interval—since it worked so well."


Suncoast Trail
03/17/08 Plan: long and easy 36 mile recovery ride for Mary, with me pulling into wind and tacking on another 4 miles for myself at the end. Mary gets the day off, but I don't, because we have only two weeks remaining, and I have to keep burning grams of fat best I can.

Actual: Mary spent the day perched on the back resting and trying to relax her right foot in order to platform it and avoid exasperating her bunion pain, she also worked on smoothing her spin by avoiding her typical coasting then surging, coasting then surging. She had some success, but still didn't totally grasp the concept. When she heard her cassette ratcheting, she believed she could make it stop by slowing down her cadence—just the opposite of what she should have been doing.

[Next day I gave her a seminar comparing her pedal to an imaginary ratchet wrench that is working in conjunction with a turning bolt. She seemed to finally understand that pressure in the same direction as the bolt turns would keep it following the bolt quietly; but, if the ratcheting begun, her slowing down the twisting of the wrench would, in effect, cause it to move in the  opposite direction of the bolt, and that would make the ratcheting worse, not better. Not to mention, there would be no pressure on the bolt at that point.  Therefore (taking the analogy back to her bottom bracket) that would mean zero torque, no wattage, and the necessity to make up the effort by over spinning a catch up burst.]

After the turn around at St. Petersburg, Mary had her typical resurgence of interest as the pace picked up according to the tailwind. Therefore, she overworked on the bridges, etc, and hit some massive wattages.

[This was a problem for her recovery and her program overall, but this sort of situation has proven mostly unavoidable. One of Mary's major limiting factors is her inability to ride unemotionally. In general she is either all out, or totally off and depressed. People have written poems about it. I assume that not much can be done for it without massive doses of clinical grade psychotropic drugs. On the good side of the equation, her wattage figures pointed to the resolution of a problem we noted on the following day with regard to her feet still being a major impediment. See below.]


Pinellas Trail
03/18/08 Plan: due to yesterday's overworking, two easy loops to the bridge and back, with a quick single max attempt on the bridge first time out. Then pop-watts at 260 watts with liberal doses of easy spin in between.

Actual: Mary had a rather smooth warmup. Her cadence test resulted in an easy 153 rpm, then her two standing tests to practice the new stand, stomp, pull up and be done. Her technique appeared to be ok.

However, the standing max attempt on the bridge garnered only a 400 plus. Of course, there is always the problem of her getting spooked by traffic and pushing too far into the hill before standing (and this time traffic pulled us off our pace just before the bridge, and a couple of incidences with ass hole drivers got Mary all out of sorts), but there still seemed to be no clear reason why her standing wattages have stopped improving. In fact they've dropped off a little.

After another max attempt on the return bridge climb (Mary cannot stop herself, and I am smart enough to stay out of the way), it was clear she needed more work on form. So we did more work in the Sand Key Park parking lots.

I began by explaining that the standing form hoped for could be productively practiced at very low wattage. Just like her cadence spins had been practiced at a very slow tempo, while working out details of form breaks, her standing could be practiced at a low wattage slow in the 53/12.

I reminded her of the clip-out exercises we had done years ago, where we worked on various positions (6, 3, 9, and 12 o'clock) first on one foot then the other. The plan was to do a series of stands with the right foot (her claimed strong), then work with the left, and finally put the two together.

Unfortunately, I couldn't stop her from focusing on her watts and continuously trying to bring them up (as we did with the similar exercises to show her about form vs. wattage last week), so she soon tired herself out, and we never got to the left foot.

We went back out onto Gulf Boulevard, and she was to do a series of 260 watt pop-watts. Quickly I noticed that she was overworking all pops, both in wattage and length of time. I told her to go back to an earlier procedure where she would guess at the "feel" of the wattage, try it for a short spin, check her meter, then analyze her error, and try again.

It turned out that we were required to break the exercise into progressively smaller parts, because she: 1) did not know exactly which foot she would begin on, 2) did not know when to stop the attempt and check, 3) could not even effectively count her pedal strokes.

We finally got down to her counting aloud while coasting, but slowly bringing up the pace of her counting to match what would happen when she started pedaling and the increased speed would require a smooth spin up in cadence. Before this exercise, her counting would remain constant (like a metronome), but her foot speed would naturally increase until her counting had no relationship at all to her pedaling speed. Therefore we spent a lot of miles with Mary counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and speeding up the count as she progressed.

1 and 2 set the cadence, 2 to 3 was slightly faster, 3 to 4 faster still, 4 to 5 the fastest, and off.

Finally we went back to doing this while pedaling and got much better results than previously. Afterwards we slowly built the original exercise back from its component parts... perfecting each and adding it back into the mix.

After those were going along pretty smoothly, I asked her to do it while standing. After a few of those, I asked her to look at her watts again at the end of the 5 strokes. That's when we observed an odd phenomenon. Her standing watts were not very much higher than her seated watts. In fact, they were often lower.

I looked closely at the situation, and realized the problem harkens back to her historic major limiting factor—her significant bunions stop her from pushing down on the pedals comfortably.

It is a problem we have worked on for some time, and she went through a series of progressively more specific shoe inserts till the problem had gotten good enough to go under the radar.

This winter's new level of training has revealed the problem once again. When seated, she uses lots of up stroke power which cancels out her lack of power on the down stroke. In fact, her graph for spin smoothness on the Computrainer is almost other worldly in its evenness.

In any case, now that she has been working on her standing, we see more clearly the problem has not been resolved by her third generation of orthotics. It has only been mitigated to the point of being functional.

This also accounts for her uncoordinated standing. She adjusts her position over the handlebars and leans on them in order to take pressure off of her feet. In most people, this would just be a rookie error. In Mary it is a chronic limitation. Therefore, we are going to stop pushing that limitation until we have a better solution for her feet problems, or until the work we are doing allows her to overcome it on her own.

We'll stop with the standing max attempts, and check back with them later.

All this shouldn't be a major obstacle for her 23+ Widder's Hump, because she proved to herself today that the required 260 watts average is well within her ability. In fact it is so far below the watts that she can generate, we spent the whole day in an attempt to stop her overdriving the beginnings of her seated intervals by spiking over 400—which ironically is not all that much different than wattages she cranks for a standing maximum.

Odd days indeed.


Clearwater Bridge
03/19/08 Mary rest day off for period. She drove me to the south trail head of the Suncoast Trail to let me ride the tailwind 28 miles up where she picked me up.


Suncoast Trail
03/20/08 Mary 2nd rest day off for period. I did 15 miles easy up to the bridge and back.


Clearwater Bridge
03/21/08 Plan: Test 200 watts for 2 x 4 mile split. This will set the baseline for the return to NY. Our first test on the Hump will be a 200 watt first split to the Alamo, a rest interval to the titty bar, then another 200 watt split to the top of Ridgebury... assuming all goes well today.

Actual: 4th Interval really strong, even though I was supposed to pull, merely stayed beside Mary and triggered her

      avg / max
01) 198/306
02) 183/342

Sets the baseline for Hump Split1 @ 200w to just past Alamo, split 2 recovery to titty bar, Split3 @ 200w to top of Ridgebury. I will be dropped somewhere near the saw mailbox on Ridgebury. Maybe somebody will wait for me at the top.


Fort De Soto
03/22/08 to bridge and back, I pulled, almost got hit by car, Mary beat tri girl on bridge, then came home easy to recover for Suncoast tomorrow, had a couple of wattage spikes when passing cyclists, got yelled at a second time to get on the sidewalk Clearwater Bridge
03/23/08 13 x 260 watt 50 sec intervals, 1 x 200 watt 3 min, 1 x 200 watt 4 min; rattlesnake sighting; first time watching average watts instead of current, after first two attempts I devised the idea of starting hard just before clicking the interval in order to start with a high average, and then hold it off dropping, instead of overworking by trying to build up to it; Mary finished strong through all 260 intervals plus the two additional longer 200 watt intervals.

Prompted to devise the start with higher than target watts, then allow to drop was prompted by the following conversation.

B: "How'd you feel about holding the 260 watts."

M: "I had some trouble keeping it low. At one point I hit 275."

B: "But that's impossible!"

M: "What do you mean 'impossible'. I saw it on the watt meter."

B: "I mean that it could not have happened, because between your target of 260 and 275 are 15 numbers which should have prompted you to back off! There's no way you should have allowed yourself to come remotely close to 275 watts. You are overworking."

M: "What if the watts just jumped from 260 to 275?"

B: "Here. Try this. Start by jumping to 275 in the first couple strides. On the sprints you are often well over 300 in a few strides, so it shouldn't be so hard to do, and it will give you a high watt average right from the start. Then let it settle down to 261. If you go 1 watt up, ease off, if you hit 260, add a little pressure to bring it back up to 261."

After that Mary reported the watts did not move in giant steps and it was rather easy to hold the 260, plus her effort was greatly reduced. Every interval after that was near 260 watts, and her ride was much smoother. It was like giving her 10 seconds for free in every attempt.

Voilà. We have the final key.


Suncoast Trail
03/24/08 Rest day for Mary, and me too. My back was out  
03/25/08 Short loop north off the clock, recover for 16 mile test tomorrow and ease my back into functioning. Pinellas Trail
03/26/08 Big success, 16 mile at measured 161 watt avg for a 19.7 avg mph into a unfavorable wind (north east 10 mph), beating last attempt (02/25/08) when Mary posted 12 miles at 161 with more favorable wind where she experienced significantly more pain and blew up at 12 and .BF took over for the final 4 mi interval Fort De Soto
03/27/08 From ChatterBox post #2703

That's right. I was afraid we were not going to have enough time for a summary test before going back to NY, but we got the final in today.
I set it up yesterday with her assignment on the Fort De Soto test course.

I said, "Just forget everything we've been working on, and go back to the way you used to ride. Do it any way you want. Only try for a personal best avg mph on the test course. Don't worry about anything but that. We will use the data to give us a baseline for your current best average watts to work from when we get back North."

Unfortunately, she fudged the clearing of her mph avg at the start of the loop, and she didn't think to stop the test for a do-over. Instead, she went back to watching her average watts similar to what she has learned lately.

Fortunately, she forgot that we worked really hard to bring her up to only 2 x 200 watt 12 minute intervals with a long rest in between, and she decided she could keep her watts at 200 for the 16 mile test.


She burnt herself out on the first split and never fully recovered for the rest of the ride.

Her final watt average ended up being 161.7 which was only a few tenths higher than her last test on the course.

However, it was for the full 16 this time. Last time she blew up at mile 12, and I had to pull her in. Therefore, it was a pretty good personal best to do the full 16, plus do it a little stronger than before.

This morning I said, "Let’s go back to the test course. I want to try something.

Today's assignment was for her to make full use of all the stuff we've been working on, and especially use the skills we defined over the last few weeks of hard intervals.

I said, "Use the technique from the last hard intervals. Start the split by over pushing the start for three strides, then let the wattage settle down to no more than 165. Your goal will be to hold the 162 average which you've never done. To give you a little buffer, we'll let you sit on 163, and if it drops to 162 push it back up, but never go above 165. Got it?"

During the first split, I reminded her that although it must feel very easy to be under 165, she should still be as efficient and relaxed as possible.

Toward the end of the second split I realized we might also be beating her personal best mph avg for the loop, so I asked her to get in her drops for awhile into the wind.

In the third split I pointed out that she was losing form with her left leg, and she corrected. That happened twice.

Toward the end of the last split I reminded her she was allowed to push harder if she felt like it. She did.

When it was all over we were 3 tenths of a mile faster than yesterday, and she had posted a personal best sub 50 minute 16 mile loop. That's a 20+ mph average, not to mention a personal best of 165.75 watts average.

During the cool down Mary said, "That was the easiest 20+ I have ever done. It was insanely easier than yesterday. In fact I'm sure I could have held 175 like that for the full 24 back to the parking lot, but I didn't want to screw up the test. I think I finally see what we are working toward. You are a genius!"

Which is pretty ironic, because making the Widder faster is the stupidest thing I have ever done.

Editor's Note: Mary's ability to hold her watt average without looking at the current wattage (necessary due to a limitation in the Powertap) is a skill we have put significant effort into over the last four months.

Add to that the ability to give with the wind while keeping the same watts, hold the same watts both uphill and downhill, and to not worry about current speed, and you should not try this yourself at home.

It is Masters Class stuff.

Fort De Soto
03/29/08 Plan: 11 x 60 sec @ 260W

Actual: 11 x 60 sec @ 260W, 1 x 4 min @200W, 1 x 5 min @200W, 1 x 30 sec @300W (Bob's back blows on 300W Int 14 probably near 437 max)

      avg / max
01) 257/378
02) 256/366
03) 262/392
04) 261/375
05) 265/392
06) 262/361
07) 270/413
08) 263/347
09) 277/413
10) 269/412
11) 259/378
12) 202/333 4 min @200W
13) 318/184  5 min @200W
14) 316/437  30 sec @300W

Very smooth, very easy to stay on Mary's wheel. So much so that I got careless and lost my back during the final high wattage on a slight uphill. I felt my knee twinge and then my back. Only took about a day to return to "normal."

Notes regarding ride not recorded right away due to back out.


Suncoast Trail
03/30/08 Day off for back, and Mary rest.  
03/31/08 Plan: 40 mile easy recovery ride for Mary, and back recovery for Bob

Actual: Pretty much as planned with a slight run away from a cyclist who we caught soon after the Clearwater turnaround at the Sewer Plant crossing. He dropped his wife to chase us, and then caught us again while we were waiting at the School Guard crossing.

Mary managed a 475 max on the following bridge, and the guy disappeared off the back.

In any case, an 81 watt average.

Pinellas Trail
04/01/08 Plan: final test before returning NY, 2 x 200 watt 12 min intervals

Actual: The success of the test was put in jeopardy when Mary had two false starts in which she mistakenly had her meter set to trip instead of interval mode. Therefore, she overworked significantly trying to raise her "average" watts over 200 while she was looking at the average for the entire workout including the warmup for the first interval, then the entire workout including warmup, rest interval, and adjustment clips for the second. She spent 35 seconds over 300 watts before I caught the problem. The second one was caught more quickly. But the extra work could have easily done in the test.

Happily, she recovered well and succeeded using the system we developed wherein she begins the interval while under power, and allows the watt average to settle down to the target. If it goes more than 5 watts above, that's a warning to back off pace. It it goes 3 watts below, that's a warning to increase efforts.

The results set the goal for the first Hump baseline test once returning to NY, plus it showed impressive improvement during this year's spring training.

      avg / max (2 x 12 min with 4 mile rest)
01) 203/345
02) 201/318


Fort De Soto
04/05/08 Plan: Repeat the Fort De Soto test of 2 x 200 watt 12 min intervals (see above), but this time on the Hump course. Get a baseline on what will be needed in order to adjust for all the downhills which might cause wattage drops.

Actual: Today's results were incredible. Much better than expected. The transition from the flat rides of Florida to the hills of the Hump was a snap.

Watts is watts is watts.

Mary repeated her 2 x 200 watt 12 min intervals with little trouble, even though there was a brief problem with a false start on each.

Also, Mary needed some instruction with regard to responding more effectively to the drastic slope changes of the Hump relative to the Florida flats.

I asked her to do today's intervals while looking at current wattage instead of the average in order to get a handle on the new terrain.

Her first interval was thus 198, the second 202.

Pretty fucking good for having to guess her way through the rapid changes of her watt meter display.

The thing that really, really, really amazed the Widder was finding out the insane level of overworking she has always applied to hills before this year.

This winter she put a great deal of effort into precisely defining and understanding her true current limitations.

In the process she moved a lot closer to perfecting her performance to ride at the very upper edge of her ability.

The result of bringing the new Mary back to hills (that she only remembered through her previous riding process) was absolutely amazing.

She now has no doubt we are on the right track, as she easily logged performance marks that would have been grueling hammer fests before.

She also understands what I mean when I say, "The way most people ride The Hump is specifically designed to give you the worst performance of your life."

For example, after the test intervals I told Mary she could do a free form self test for a baseline on the hill before the Camel Farm, and she decided to try for a max standing.

Her poor results were attributable to the attack she received up both sides by me and BLASTER.

The watt meter download shows she did significantly worse than her typical Clearwater Bridge climbs in Florida.

Her average was 285 watts. On the Clearwater Bridge she routinely did 300+ for virtually the same distance and slope.

The graphed data points to the exact moment we passed her, and she lost her focus.

Well... she shouldn't have stood and given us the free shot at her in the first place.

BLASTER spent the first 20 miles or so trying to figure out why we were riding so strangely.

The uphills seemed to be way easier than one would expect, and Mary routinely spun far ahead over the tops of hills.

I explained that it was because she was keeping a consistent effort, and since she is a lot lighter than either of us, her inertia was less, so it only appeared as though she was attacking after the tops of hills. In fact she was just spinning smoothly.

More or less our ride today was the exact opposite of the way most people ride the Hump, but that's the idea, and Mary's 23+ Widder's Hump will continue to be a mystery to most.

However, Jim did see the logic in it by the time we got to the Jolly Onion, and I told Mary that if she felt like it she could try for a 165 watt interval for the last six miles to the finish line.

In any case, I still think BLASTER could not help but be impressed after I told him that 165 watts would equal about a 19.7 average, and we ended with a 19.63.

Actually, I had told Jim the tailwind should make us faster than the nominal watts vs. speed conversion, but our tailwind never showed up.

I checked the maps and weather after getting home and confirmed the wind had shifted from NW toward NE during the ride, so our easy blast home turned into a side wind gusting head wise.

Of course, the wind was somewhat mitigated by the Widder not being able to help herself and posting a 170 watt average instead of the 165 goal.

But still.

If we had continued the 200 watt intervals for the entire Hump we would have ended with just over a 21 mph average, but Mary shouldn't be working that hard this time of year. That would just get in the way of her 23+ goal.

The big surprise was how much easier than expected it was for Mary to hold wattage on the downhills.

It appears only the downhill before Ridgebury Road, plus the one on Oil City Road, will need pre-planned adjustments to her wattage in order to reach her interim goal of 22+.

After that we'll have to see.

BLASTER was very pleased to hear me wheezing like broken farm equipment on Ridgebury.

Ok, so I got caught in traffic at the turn and had to work hard trying to get back on Mary's wheel (never did), but it would have been the same anyway.

It just would have happened a little further up the hill.

BLASTER was then especially pleased when Mary said she hadn't heard me breath once all winter in Florida.

Oh, the loveliness of hills.

      avg / max (2 x 12 min with 4 mile rest)
01) 198/399
02) 202/323
03) 170/362 (Jolly Onion home, 165 goal)

The Hump
04/06/08 Heard on the ride today: "You guys have taken all the fun out of cycling!"

Ostensibly this was a comment about our focus on the watt meter numbers, but in fact it appears cycling is only fun if "they" are winning.

Heard after the ride today (when being shown recent photos of The Widder in Florida): "I don't mean to be rude, Mary, but those are man legs. I just mean they don't look like women's legs." 

Apparently, women's legs are only beautiful if they can be beaten.

Today's Plan: Ride with Turtle Boy to include Heart Attack Hill, Silence of the Lambs, and a surprise final 200 watt test going back up Clove Road.

Actual: Today's ride further affirmed (see above for more) the value of the work Mary did this winter. She posted several personal bests—and they were personal bests for any time of year, not just for this early in the season.

Mary also gained eye opening insight about how radically different her riding style has become. Plus, a couple more people have been lucky to witness what happens when a consistent spin within personal limits is carried over the hill onto the following downhill. Pretty breathtaking.

I would have written about it, but a couple people showed up in Sugar Loaf after the ride, so I got trapped and wasted the afternoon trying to explain how a clear and certain one-to-one exactly predictable relationship exists between watts and speed, and how a person might want to ride with that in mind while trying to stay near the top edge of their ability instead of way over it, way under it, way over it, etc.

Also, I tried to explain that the reason everybody thinks the 23+ Widder's Hump is going to be impossible for Mary, is because of the way people typically ride the Hump, and how our process is more or less exactly the opposite of the standard, and how Mary is now posting personal bests while hardly trying.

At least Mary got to witness the discussion, so I could confirm to her what I had predicted: nobody has the slightest clue what we are doing.

Watt meters which provide true performance feedback are too new, and the entrenched false logic of yesteryear is full force unbreakable.

The misconceptions of previous benchmarking methods are still being applied, as if there is still no better way. What a bunch of superstitious nonsense most people are using to train.

I feel like it's the beginning of the Internet again, and I'm trying to explain to people what Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay are going to look like: before they exist, and most people don't even know what e-mail is.

Been there, done that. Not about to do it again.

If not for the distraction, I would have had a lot to say about Mary's success on Heart Attack Hill , where she had a personal best time, and stayed 20 to 60 feet behind the charge-away group (of men), instead of her typical 75 to 150 feet. Not to mention, her HR never came close to max.

[I had her set for an end of ride test, but I hadn't told her why to do what she was being told to do. No need for her to worry about for the whole ride.]

There used to be significant pain for her on any Heart Attack Hill dash, as well as on the second hard climb out of Washingtonville. She reported Heart Attack Hill was almost exactly like the Clearwater Bridge tests we did in Florida. I wonder what kind of accident that was?

I've been chomping at the bit all winter hoping to see some actual data from the Washingtonville climb. Once again, she was very near the front, and not near her max.

Then she got to see how a few nonsense chase sprints put her watts way over what she needed for the major climbs (and very close to her HR max for this winter's studied long sprints), so I explained:

"People are always doing that sort of thing. Just let them go. When they burn themselves out, you'll have extra energy left to easily catch them. The same with the hills. Remember how they pushed hard for the first 30 yards or so, then backed off to what is for you a very easy pace. Just let them go on that early burst. They are trying to get you to pop your top, to make the rest of the hill feel like you're max'd out, and they will merely push the crest to make you think they beat you."

Fortunately, she had enough experience with her meter to know exactly what her limitations are, and the transitioning of that information back to the hills after a few months of flat has been seamless and easy.

This ride also gave her insight into what I've been harping on for years. Generally, group rides consist of two or three hill charges of differing lengths, but most of the rest is just mid-level junk miles—if not actual warmup mode.

She is now certain that when I say, "Watts is watts is watts," and, "Uphill, downhill, flat, it's all the same," I am merely stating the facts.

We spent the entire winter in Florida on one endless and infinitely difficult hill: the flat.

Bringing what she learned in Florida back to NY's shorter less challenging hills with breaks has been stupidly easy.

She also sees that it is impossible to expect other riders to understand, because she has now watched me trying to explain it to a few people, plus she has tried to explain it herself.

My current theory is that the Europeans are not so fucking pissed off at Floyd Landis because he beat them, or even because he did (or did not) do drugs.

Everybody is pissed off at him for having the temerity to take a hit on his land speed in order to use his Powertap during the Tour De France, and then reporting the results in print.

People don't like it when what is considered one of the most astonishing stages in history (obviously drug induced), is revealed to be a rather typical workout performance by a trained and committed athlete.

In a sport where no true professional status is possible (sans pure marketing and promotional smoke and mirrors), it should not be surprising to find people get really pissed off at anybody who looks behind the curtain... and then tells others what they've seen.

They shouldn't get so pissed off though. People aren't going to believe what is seen behind the curtain anyway.

What if we could go into the past and give people information to avoid major catastrophe? Would anything change? Could anything change?

They'd just say something like, "Global warming? Human impact? That's just bullshit. Nobody can prove that. Overpopulation? People are going to have kids. That's a good thing. Relying on appearances instead of facts? What's the difference? Appearance is fact."

So for you, dear reader, here's a little piece of massively destructive poison. Please stick it in a safe place, and don't go near it for the next 150,000 years. Also be sure that no air or water gets anywhere near it. Yes, that means you, your children, your children's children, there grand children's great grandchildren...

In summary, it's not surprising people don't quite understand what I'm talking about.

The concepts are based on Post Graduate PhD Math and Physics—what people outside the U.S. call High School Science.


Silence of the Lambs
04/08/08 Plan: Final baseline test before getting back to workouts.

Today Mary will monitor using averaged watts display, which we now alternate with the current wattage display to stop her overcompensating in average mode.

200 watts up 106 (or 12 min, whichever comes first), then easy does it to Seven Lakes, 200 out of circle to top of Seven Lakes, easy to Bob's Favorite Hill, 200 to top, easy to Tiorati, 200 to top (or 12 min, whichever comes first), easy to Eat Shit and Die Hill, 200 to top. Test downhill home for possibility of maintaining 200 watts on the steepest slopes.

The 200 up 106 will be sans warmup, just to see how bad we've been screwing ourselves by doing it that way.

I will be dropped on every hill. That's my plan, and I'm sticking to it.

Actually, I don't really have to plan for it to stick to it.

I'm down 26 lbs for the year, but that means 192.8, so Mary's 200 watts on these slopes is 500 plus for me, and I currently don't feel like doing repeats of world record paces... literally, I can't.

Actual: After the ride Mary said, "This is the first ride back in NY where I feel as tired as I did after our Florida rides."

Apparently, if you want to see what Florida rides are like, just try Harriman. Of course, you probably should do a Hump, then a Sunday ride with Humberto, then a day off before it.

In any case, Mary posted a personal best for the climb up 106, and did it without warmup, which is the way she has been doing it for the last several years.

Mary reported she now considers her warmup is crucial, which is what we expected to confirm.

Still, the climb took 13:38 minutes, well over her standard 12 minute 200 watts, and she only blew-up slightly during the last minute thus ending with a 191 watt average. The 12.01 mph average was her best ever.

The data graphs for the next two intervals (left out of circle to top of Lakes Road, then one up Bob's Favorite Hill) show that Mary can now spin very smoothly indeed, and she reports that both the 4 minute and the 2.5 minute intervals were very easy with a 201 watt average on each.

The Tiorati climb was thus challenging, but she made her 12 minutes with a 191 average.

The data for both the 106 climb and Tiorati show that she could have been significantly smoother. The problem remains that she overcompensates when her average drops.

Mary still doesn't have a reliable self sensing feedback loop for how much pressure should be on the pedals, so we are going to do a lot more work switching from average to current wattage modes in order to get her schooled in how various wattages should feel in her legs.

She should also gain an understanding how that feeling will change throughout the duration of various length intervals.

That is to say, 200 watts feels like nothing for the first 10 seconds, barely like nothing up to the 4 or 5 minute mark. She has a brownout at about 8.5 minutes which gets easier after about 9 minutes, then things get hard during the last minute of a 12 minute interval.

Getting her to understand how to hold the same pressure while the feeling in her legs changes around it will be a big challenge.

Her problem might be because girls are not encouraged to compete this way early in life, and they don't learn to be aware of (and in control of) their physical limitations in the same way as boys, or maybe she's just an idiot.

I can't tell. I can only try to fix.

BLASTER and Brand New Bruce were on the ride, and they were very helpful. It was good to have people who could stay closer to Mary (than I can on the big hills) for the long intervals and help her focus.

I stuck with my plan and was significantly dropped on all three of the longer intervals. It was pretty easy to do. I almost didn't even have to think about it.

Mostly I just spent the time thinking about how great it is that Mary is beating all her old personal bests. Maybe I lost time by continually slapping myself on the back.

Oops, I almost forgot.

Turtle Boy was on the ride, or rather he rode through the ride. He showed up just as we were leaving the parking lot, with a dozen or so miles already in his legs, quickly disappeared up 106, took a pee break at the bridge which is out, waited for us at the circle, disappeared up Bob's Favorite Hill, reappeared when he was circling back to Tiorati Circle looking for us on Seven Lakes Road a half hour later, then disappeared up Eat Shit and Die Hill.

He is probably still gurgling from having Mary pass him just before the parking lot on the 106 downhill.

Yo, Turtle Boy, the Widder now works the downhills just like her uphills. It only took her a 163 watt average to catch you after you figured she was dead and gone.

Never let your guard down.


04/09/08 Plan: Easy recovery ride from Sugar Loaf with Dan Buckley, Jim Amels, and maybe Bruce Pollard and/or Keith LiButti, but not Humberto. [Bruce had other plans.]

Jim is getting ready for a 1600 mile three week long ride this summer. Dan is probably working on winning some more Duathlons. Bruce is working on getting rid of the winter cobwebs, and Libutti is getting ready for a rare appearance at the Farmlands Century coming up May 3rd.

As for Humberto, he is working on kicking a friend's ass from Portugal (or at least trying not to look like a total American), so he can't afford another waste of a ride trying to figure out when we are going to catch up, finally giving up and getting off his bike to wait for us.

Mary is, of course, working on her 23+ Widder's Hump, and I am just trying to get under 180 lbs (again) in the hopes of getting close enough to yell at her on the long hills.

Actual: Possibly the most instructive ride yet for Mary. Apparently somebody was a little worried about her reputation, or they didn't get the memo that this was to be a recovery ride, so they were pushing the hills right out of the parking lot, so to speak.

However, Mary recognized right away that her watts were well over her recovery goal of keeping them under 100, so she just backed off the pace and did her own ride, going short due to her bunions and sciatic problem which had been aggravated by hours in her car clearing up NY homecoming loose ends.

Finally, she ended up with a 104 watt average (which is still easy recovery), giving her a .2 mile an hour faster average than the group who merely worked a few hills hard enough to hurt me, which basically works out to me being hurt on every hill as always.

Unfortunately, what with the wretched winter, everybody else is out of shape, which just means I get to be there to be hurt on more hills than usual.

After the ride Mary got to see Nuclear Dan's reaction to hearing our training plan.

He got it right away, and in fact confirmed that it mimics his HR training and race tactic almost to the letter—which by the way wins his races for him.

I said, "I knew it. I was sure he would understand what we are doing," and I was already aware BLASTER knew during last Saturday's Hump that it made sense.

It was no mystery to Brand New Bruce and Libutti either.

Apparently, spending a lifetime as a professional in the heating, air conditioning, and plumbing industry gets one quite familiar with the laws of physics, air flow, and energy conversions.

You never hear one of these people say, "Well, I race in the real world. The real world isn't a graphed chart," because they routinely use charts and graphs to model the real world in situations where they can lose their shirt if the real world results fuck up somebody's home.

Most people just live in the houses these folks put together and have no idea what goes into actually making those houses work.

The idea that a steady state goal of a given work load applied to a set of mildly predictable variables over a given amount of time is not a foreign concept to people who actually do something with their lives.

The best part of our post ride de-briefing was hearing Dan mumble (self answering his own quick question immediately after asking how Mary was going to maintain her speed on the uphills), "Oh, right, watts is watts."

I howled, "Mary, did you hear what Dan said? I didn't tell him to say that? Did you hear it?"

Mary said, "You mean his question about how I was going to maintain pace on the uphill?"

"No after that."

"I didn't hear it."

He said, "Watts is watts, and I didn't say a word to him about it."

It turns out that in the HVAC design community the statement, "BTU's is BTU's," is commonplace.

Turns out these are familiar sorts of concepts to winners in the real world.


Sugar Loaf Triple
(bailed out after loop
one, return via Belvalle)
04/10/08 Rest day for Mary, while I did the Thursday Ride. Mary did the warmup on the trail to Monroe and back with me.


Reverse Crazy Eight
04/11/08 Full day off for Mary. I did the 17 mile short loop through the prison with no Demarest.
Single Loop, Sugar Loaf Triple, no Demarest
04/12/08 Plan: Mary in average mode for Early Bird Special Hump with warmup for 1st split, 200 watts 2nd split to Titty Bar bridge, easy 3rd split to top of Ridgebury, 200 watts 4th split to Moraski Bridge (don't worry about watt drop at Lime Kiln but allow stomp to regain), easy 5th split to Hill before Camel Farm, 300+ watts seated to top, easy remainder of 5th split with TBD pop-watts to 200, easy through 6th split and 7th split, 165 watts 8th and 9th split from Jolly Onion to finish, considering tail wind that section should be an easy 20+ mph avg.

I may actually be able to stay on Mary's wheel for today's pace intervals, because the hills are short, but I will have to max out a dozen or so times.

Nothing new about that.

Actual: I spent most of last night looking at county maps and trying to predict results for  today's ride in hopes the rain would clear out soon enough to go out.

I was looking for a breakeven point for one of our intervals, in order to decide where our mph average would resolve into conformance with the projections of the simplified chart.

In the process of trying to predict today's ride I took a closer look at the map and decided maybe a SW wind is better for the 23+ Widder's Hump than my earlier thought that a NW wind will be best.

My previous conclusion was based on an error in belief that Oil City Road goes S, and that 88 goes E.

In fact, Oil City Road heads WSW while 88 follows almost exactly the line of Pulaski Highway heading NE. That puts the major portion of unprotected road favored by a SW wind—the headwind of which will also be blocked on the hillier, tree lined, and more protected roads.

I explained the wind requirements to Blaster thus, "The 23+ Widder's Hump will be a lot like a NASA Space Shuttle launch. Either conditions are right, or we call off the countdown and wait."

Today we had our wind, so I was excited when the rain blew through by 5 am, and we could do a short test of my thesis.

We succeeded with a terrific proof of concept, plus it looks as though the downhills are not going to be as big of a problem as I feared.

The big test for downhills today was on the fast Oil City Road descent, where we expected Mary would lose watts near the top and be coasting with zero watts near the bottom.

Today Mary posted a 38.7 mph maximum while never once losing contact with her pedals and averaging 215 watts for the entire descent.

It will be simple to compensate for those lost 45 watts with a brief up tick in watts on Dog Hill.

We are fucking set.

Also, I myself did even better than I expected. The shorter hills of Splits 2 and 4 don't include the climb up Ridgebury, so I never came close to getting brushed off Mary's wheel during her two 12 minute 200 watt intervals.

She held a 194 watt average from just before Pumpkin Swamp road to the middle of the Titty Bridge.

Today that resulted in a 19.85 average, and includes the horrible error of her staying in her big chainring on the climb up to Cross Road, plus a major slow down when a truck appeared at the turn onto Maple Avenue.

We will have to check it with an altimeter, but it appears this split is more uphill than downhill. In any case, a 194 watt 19.85 mph average is very respectable.

After suffering the effects of a sustained 12 minute 200 watt attack over that terrain, Jim and Dan decided the wisest course of action would be to go on ahead during our recovery interval in hopes of not having to deal with the second interval.

We caught them on the first rise after the top of Ridgebury, and Dan decided to test Mary's watts by moving out into the wind beside her. After the ride, he reported that at that point he decided it would be better to get back on her wheel until he has more miles in for the year.

Mary's sciatica was acting up, due to hours in the car, on the computer, etc, so today's ride also included the fact that she was riding more or less with one leg.

Therefore, she decided not to do a 300 watt interval up the hill before the Camel Farm, and instead just tested what she would usually be doing on that climb. That resulted in only a 175 watt average for 50% more time than her standard 300+ Clearwater Bridge climbs in FL.

Since she had gone ahead and pushed that uphill after she said she couldn't, I suggested she might like to try a 300 watt on Dog Hill. I was thinking she may as well finish off her hip, so she would be more careful with it.

We did a few pop-watts to 200 on the way, and I told her not to go over 300 watts on the climb, which came up just as we were catching Dan and Jim again.

When we passed, Dan asked, "Now what's she doing?"

I answered, "An easy 300 to the top," so his curiosity got him to follow.

Afterward Dan reported that near the top he had whined a request for the hill to end, and I explained she typically does that distance (time, actually) with about 43 more watts than the 292 average she posted today. I was of course dropped there, dead and gone.

Then came the big surprise, when Mary kept contact with her pedals on the Oil City Road downhill.

She had a 38.64 mph max at 250 watts when she finally coasted briefly at the bottom, and that was because she was blown, not because she spun out.

I had Mary show Dan and Jim what pop-watts are and how they work. At first Dan thought I was talking about jumps, but I explained it was a special drill I developed to help Mary find her watts. They were surprised to see how easy 200 watts really are... if somebody doesn't push 350 watts into the first 15 seconds.

After the Jolly Onion, we set Mary loose on pulling us home with a 165 watt target zone just like she did on last week's Hump.

However, this week we had a bit of a tail wind, so she completed that 7 mile split with a 21.4 mph average for her measured 167 watts.

That proves once again how unreliable mph is as a gauge of effort. Last week her 170 watt average only gave us a 19.63 into a head wind, a speed which would be very close to nominal.

Thankfully, watts is watts is watts, and the last few rides have really impressed such a good understanding of that fact on Mary that she may henceforth and forever be immune to Twin Georgifications.

Most of you know what I mean.

An inch from the finish line, BLASTER came around to take the win. That's more important to some people than to others.

We don't care if people are in  front, in back, out to the side, in another town, or on another planet.

We've got our 23+ Widder's Hump plan and are working it.

Later I confirmed with the data download what I replied to BLASTER after the finish, "No, that wasn't anything like a personal best sprint for Mary. She was about 115 watts down due to her sciatica."

Still, the first one over is the first one over.


The Hump
04/13/08 Rest day, cold.  
04/14/08 Progress Report
04/15/08 Plan: Pushing the envelope today.

Start by checking if warmup watts are possible up 106, then a cadence test on the flat either before or after bridge which is out.

Then 9 x 70 second intervals @260 watts with 5 minute recovery intervals. Mary to use watts average mode for the hard intervals and current mode for the recovery intervals.

This is somewhat more aggressive than the last similar workout on the Suncoast Trail in FL, but Mary has done several personal bests and hard rides since her return. She had a full rest day on the 13th, then an easy Computrainer workout yesterday.

Time to toughen up.

This probably means upwards to 500 watts for me depending on what hills our hard intervals happen to fall on, so it's unlikely I'll stay on Mary's wheel.

Maybe Nuclear Dan will.

Option of a 300 watt climb on Eat Shit and Die Hill... I'll definitely be dropped, but so will everybody else.

Actual: Overall a smooth improvement in performance over the last series of 260 watt intervals on the Suncoast Trail in Florida.

Mary reported, "I was surprised by how easy the intervals were at the 60 second mark. When we did the 60 second intervals in Florida, they were very hard after 50 seconds. This is great."

That has been typical of her experience with all her 260 watt pace intervals. We started at 30 seconds and found that each 10 second increase in our subsequent workouts made the previous time seem easy while the new last 10 seconds was very hard.

On the other hand, there were problems with doing this sort of workout in Harriman.

Mary found it impossible to maintain a warmup effort up 106 from the parking lot. She had a 126 average watts (80-100 target), plus her effort fluctuated wildly from as low as 40 watts to just over 200. Undoubtedly this set the stage for some irregularities in the final 260 watt intervals, but who knows?

In any case, trying to do a warmup going up 106 is an exercise in futility unless one has a triple or a mountain bike.

The fast downhill on Lake Welch before the turn onto Tiorati was also problematic. Mary could not maintain contact with her pedals and was significantly cooled down just before her 5th pace interval. In fact, it was a cold day, and she was so cooled down that she was shivering. Not a good thing for the next intervals.

Her assignment is to always keep steady warmup watts spin (80-100 watts) between intervals so her legs and joints stay warm. With such a sharp downhill it is especially hard to keep spinning because she is going fast enough to be scared shitless.

Having to carry bikes over the bridge barricades also caused a massive cool down.

Otherwise, Mary's hard pace intervals showed good and expected improvement over the last time in Florida.

      avg / max (prev)
01)  257/369  (257/378)
02) 266/358 (256/366)
03) 254/420 (262/392)
04) 261/369 (261/375)
05) 265/332 (265/392)
06) 257/408 (262/361)
07) 251/329 (270/413)
08) 251/356 (263/347)
09) 248/359 (277/413)
10)  251/372 Bonus due prv 2 low (269/412)
11)  282/370 Eat Shit & Die Hill

Others on the ride decided it was best to stay away from the hard intervals. On the third one they followed and trash talked for the first 55 seconds, then got real quiet for the last 15 seconds.

Brand New Bruce tried three more after that, and on the third I explained he could probably stay on Mary's wheel to the end of the interval if he kept a high cadence, and for the first 50 seconds which might feel easy, he should relax the rest of his body spinning extra smooth in order to conserve as much energy as possible.

It is unclear if the drop in wattage on Intervals 7 through 9 were due to misjudged downhills, or if Mary was at the end of her rope—which might have been caused by her irregular warmup plus the cool down on Lake Welch.

She felt the wattage drop, but decided she was just getting her spin big and round. I felt the drop also, but I was in no shape to comment at the time. I was only off her wheel on the last three before she went below 250 average watts, and by less than 10 yards at that.

However, it was brutal hard, so I was pretty worthless when it came to input regarding her spin, pull through of the left leg, not surging, etc. Unfortunately, nobody else can stay with her on these intervals either, so those I expected could help with this are now off on their own ride.

It is probably incomprehensible to them that Mary is not working nearly as hard on the climbs as they are, because she has a 50 lb weight advantage over the lightest of them... and a 70 lb advantage over me.

In fact, after the ride Brand New said, "Those 260 watts must get real hard on the steep hills."

No. The 260 watts is the same not matter if it is uphill, downhill, or flat. It is just that Mary's 260 watts may require (heavier) Bruce to push 350 watts to stay on her wheel, and somewhere over 500 hundred for me to stay there. It hurts, my friends. It hurts.

Her significant weight advantage is something I became strongly aware of last summer, when I was light enough and fit enough to finally be near her at the top of Heart Attack Hill without being max'd out myself.

When her wheel started to inch away I thought, "Not today. Today I'm staying on her wheel, " and I pushed harder.

Except, her wheel moved another few inches away, and I said, "Doesn't matter, I'll just push harder."

Her wheel moved another foot away and I said, "A little more effort is all."

When it moved again I finished with, "That's it. Now I'm pissed. I'm going to push as hard as I can," but I immediately realized that I already was pushing as hard as I could.

Her wheel moved away another few inches.

I thought, "Hmm, power to weight ratio."

We will put the 260 watt workout aside for a month or so (at least in Harriman), and come back to it after some sprints, longer easier pace intervals, and ad hoc fartlek workouts, etc.

In any case, Mary's performance was a significant improvement over the 60 second  intervals of 03/29/08, plus we have established a new baseline.

The next 260 watt intervals will be for 8 at 80 seconds each. After that we'll have to make a decision whether to lengthen the pace interval time or shorten the recovery interval on the way to one full 260 watt interval for a single effort at just under 10 minutes 30 seconds. That's 4 miles at 23+ mph.

Maybe I'll get a Vespa.


04/16/08 Total rest day, no cycling  
04/17/08 Plan: Silence of the Lambs with Humberto, Pedro, and another rider in order to test current performance in an old school ride. Mary is to be off the books and in current watts mode but with test intervals on Heart Attack Hill @300W, and the Hill Out of Washingtonville (The Hill that Cannot Be Named) holding 200W on the flatter section.

Otherwise, free form follow the leader.

Actual: Once again, a couple personal bests thanks to Humberto, Pedro and some help from another rider.

Mary only had two assigned intervals, and those were for the two hard climbs. Since this was still one of her first group rides after her winter of structured workouts, it is forgivable that she could not resist giving chase to targets.

We have to give extra thanks to Humberto and his friend Pedro for their massive effort getting into the perfect shape for providing the targets.

Humberto has been on his Computrainer all winter long, competing with Dan, George and Doug during Turtle Boy School workouts.

He also spent a couple of weeks in the mountains of Portugal with Dan, George, and Albino who is his friend on the Iberian Peninsula, and who kicked his ass soundly into shape.

All that work has made Humberto very strong, so he can easily drop his U.S. friend Pedro at the bottom of the big climbs, leaving him all alone for Mary to feast on.

Also, Pedro himself could not have done his job nearly as well without all the precise work he did this winter.

His hard won state of conditioning is a direct result of keeping himself off of his bike under all circumstances and also passing up every other opportunity to exercise.

That gave him the perfect level of performance in order to dangle as a target in front of the Widder, and she knows these first several spring rides are her only chance to beat a select few.

Therefore, Mary is not being chided for going over her target watts in order to post personal bests and catch Pedro on the two hills, nor can we thank Pedro enough for his careful preparation for this his third ride of the year, plus we can only give him double thanks for making his second ride a 45 miler on the day previous.

Not to mention, there are not enough words to thank Pedro for his gracious welcoming Mary home with his end of ride dance where he dropped onto Humberto's lawn writhing and screaming about a cramp in his calf.

Great theatre. Much appreciated. Especially considering that any such display of weakness (in jest or not) in front of Humberto easily makes of all creatures who do so (both great and small): an Humberto Barbecue.

But that's another story.

In any case, after she looked at the download data for Heart Attack Hill, Mary finally sees the relationship of watts to momentum and how the prime concept in momentum is momentary and how watts have no inertia.

She jumped from 100 watts to 484 at the start of Heart Attack Hill in less than three pedal strokes.

She said, "Oh, I get it. I can just stomp and be there."


Also, she saw success in the strategy I gave her after last week's hill out of Washingtonville.

I said, "Watch the bottom. Those guys always push it hard to make you overwork, then they ease up for the mid-section. Just keep your watts, and don't chase. You'll have power left for the top, and you are likely to catch them under most circumstances."

She only hit 300 watts for a couple of seconds on the turn (maybe unavoidable because of the slope) and immediately dropped to her climbing effort of between 175 to 200—pretty easy for her and at least 100 watts less than required for other riders who might get spooked by her nonplussed presence and pop their tops by overworking the flatter midsection.

The tactic worked like a charm, so when she realized she was fresh and catching somebody at the top, nobody can blame her from breaking with the program and going for the edge out.

She managed a 343 watt average for the last 30 seconds maxing at 378 watts in the middle of it.

Matching her on a watts per kilogram basis would require an average of 496 watts from somebody just finishing a winter off who had just popped in the middle after doing a 45 mile pre-ride the day before and just lost their strong little friend Humberto up the hill and over the very moment before.

That somebody might be forced into a cramping situation if they didn't watch out.

After seeing the data, Mary also realized she could have done a lot better on Silence of the Lambs where she shocked Humberto by staying on his wheel, then proved she is getting a little more in tune with her legs.

She reported that every time she looked down at her power meter she was pulling 260 watts even though she was drafting.

The graph shows that those were a series of momentary spurts, and she was only looking down because she felt it get hard briefly.

On the next Hump the Widder's assignment will be to get on Jim's wheel and practice drafting efficiently... no coasting, no micro bursts to catch up, no overreaching her watts. Steady effort reading and anticipating the pull donkey's ride.

This is not so easy as it might seem, but most people are probably unaware of the full toll taken by failure to follow smoothly. Lots of people have heard about it, but the power meter really puts it in your face.

It's going to be an interesting Hump.


Silence of the Lambs
04/18/08 Total rest day. No biking for either of us.
04/19/08 Plan: This morning is to be the Hump with Mary in current watts mode on Jim's wheel to practice smooth following in the draft. Low watts. No records. Mary's standard final pull from the Jolly Onion to Finish Line @165 watts. If no wind, that section should be completed with a 19.7 average. Last week was over 23, but there was a tailwind.

Actual: Hump with Jim, Dan, Bruce, Bob. Mary's assignment was stay on Jim's wheel, try to be smooth, and not go over 260 watts on uphills.

Reinforced the need for specific pre-planned intervals, because she could not remember exactly where she started some of them, but we think we finally figured out where each began by reviewing the graphs afterward.

Still, knowing what you are going to do, and spending a little time memorizing the specific start and stop landmarks along with the "reason" for each interval, goes a long way toward making sense out of the data after the ride. Pre-planned intervals also act as an aid to memory if other intervals are logged on the fly.

In any case, best we can figure, she averaged 234 watts on the hill to Cross Road, then 254 on the Hill on Cross Road, 243 on the Double Hill, 262 on the Titty Bar Hill, only needed 151 on Soons Orchard Hill (that was a known start and stop), then 199 (200 goal) to the top of Ridgebury for an average speed climbing it of 14.85, and she carried the interval a little longer, because she got confused whether it was to the top or 12 minutes.

We have heard reports that the front group will be climbing there at 17 mph. However, there is no solid data available.

On a section of the Camel Farm hill Mary held 273 watts with a max of 381. On Dog Hill she held onto Jim's wheel with only 181 watt average, and at one point she noticed she had only 100 watts while I was breathing quite hard.

For her measured interval from The Jolly Onion to the finish her goal was 165 watts, but she failed to get into average mode and ended with only a 160 watt average, however, she was aware she was overworking uphills and under working downhills which I was aware of, but I thought she was in average mode and was monitoring the situation.

In summary, this performance shows the importance of holding a steady pace, knowing your equipment well enough to avoid toggle errors, and having intervals start and stops pre-planned to get precise measurements.

It is all stuff we have talked about before and will likely talk about again. These recent more or less free-form rides have strongly reinforced these ideas in Mary's mind.

We now have greater impetus to fine tune the Humpadetic Survey so our next round of structured workouts will ramp up in accuracy in line with getting closer to her goal of the 23+ Widder's Hump.

[This section of notes above was backfilled on 04/22/08 due to my writing In the Pink on the 20th about the next day's Sunday ride, plus spending Monday setting up Mary's new laptop purchased because her point of sale computer got fried during this winter's Twin Lynn History Month and associated Photoshop marathon.]

The Hump
04/20/08 In the Pink

Otherwise, I noticed during the ride that Mary was reporting higher watts to Paul than I would have expected—given my own perceived effort.

She had not planned any interval sections except the climb on Jackson Road up to Orr's Mill Road, so she can't remember precisely where she clicked Intervals 4 & 5.

Also, due to terrain variations it is impossible to see where she had the drop in speed (therefore harder to stay in the ride) due to her flat. She might have picked up the rusty metal wire as early as the Foundry on the way out, because she said her wattage was rather high (in the 250 watt range), and given her draft speed behind Palletman on North Drury Road coming home her watts should have been lower.

It sure does point out how important pre-planning is, and how necessary it is to learn to know and trust your training and effort.

A wasted day in terms of data, except a success in terms of reinforcing that a uniform process is an absolute requirement for getting good data.


The Big Lollipop
04/21/08 Full rest day. Mary went to New Rochelle for a doctor visit while I setup her new laptop.

The biopsy is not back yet, but it appears she is not in trouble. Everything looks normal, and she has stopped bleeding.

At least the whole affair prompted her to finally begin using my old nutrition database program I developed in order to take notes on her nutrition.

Somebody said her recent bleeding might be due to a severely restricted diet with too low a fat content, but I said, "That's nonsense. You do not have a severely restricted diet. You just have a healthy diet, but most people don't have a clue what that means."

"Start using the nutrition database I developed to keep notes about what you eat. Once you set it up, it works with auto-fill, so you can just pop in your food choices, and it does all the calculations for you."

From now on she can show the inquisitive a typical day's meal like this.

Now she never again has to hear, "You are too skinny. You are not eating enough!"



Five minutes at Cat3 level performance

Plan: Dan needs extra miles to get ready for the upcoming Farmlands Flat Century (and I can always use more miles), so we are doing the Sloatsburg loop in Harriman.

The climb up Seven Lakes Drive should provide Mary an unbroken 12 minute interval where she can try a 10 watt upgrade to her usual 200 watt interval making it 210 watts instead. Pretty exciting stuff.

Other than her Seven Lakes interval, Mary will stay on Jim's wheel in current mode and extend her recovery needed due to riding with a flat on Sunday.

This morning I backfilled notes for the last Hump, and the next day's easy Sunday ride, and then I added notes about yesterday's rest day with report on her bleeding episode along with her nutrition tracking,

I had to backfill notes, because the Sunday article and the Monday computer setup dropped me off my pace a little.

Actual: Yeah! Cat3 level performance for the first 5 minutes of her 12 minute pace interval in terms of power to kilogram performance.

She still found it impossible to maintain a smooth warm-up wattage despite the climb up Warwick Brook Road having lots of flat.

The short hills that stair step up to Long Meadow required one 200 and one 230 watt moment with numerous peaks over 150, and that was without anybody pushing the pace on her. That's just what it took to keep moving.

Long Meadow itself was marred by other riders pushing the pace.

However, her 12 minute 210 watt interval up Seven Lakes Drive was fairly successful. She held 207 watts for the first 5 minutes 7 seconds which gave her a new personal best for a 5 minute pace and which would be considered solidly in the middle of the Cat3 range.

At about the half way point of that interval, I had had it and moved off to the side. Other riders began to pass me, noticed Mary had no intention of slowing, and decided to wait for a rider already dropped.

Brand New Bruce was beside me and hesitated to wait, but I said, "Sounds like an excuse to me, Bruce. Lets go."

Bruce seemed hardly working, so I added, "Go catch her, Bruce," and he did.

They paced together for the remainder of the ride way off the front, out of sight for me, while the other riders were soon out of sight behind me.

With a great deal of effort I did manage to catch Mary and Bruce on Tiorati Brook Road, and I cautioned them, "You guys better keep on moving. If those guys catch you, they are going to be pretty pissed off by now."

They took off and finished the loop in what would be pretty close to a personal best for everybody on the ride. Mary just kept clicking intervals, so we have plenty of data to review.

In any case, the stellar performance came from Bruce. Apparently, his new "Fully Authorized to Kick Butt" photo ID card finally gave him permission to stop worrying about being so nice to everybody and hanging out just behind the group. He was gone, gone, gone.

Mary even got to see him hurting on Eat Shit and Die Hill.

It's a brand new Bruce all over again.

Editor's Note: Turns out the 207 watt 5 minute section was not in fact a personal best for Mary.

Closer review of the data files reveals that on March 2, 2008 she posted a 211 watt 5 minute section on Gulf Boulevard coming back from Clearwater Bridge while she was pissed off at me for saying... well, for talking, or rather for being.

Harriman 36 mile
04/23/08 Total rest day. My back, knee, shoulder, other knee, other back, and gritted teeth need some relief; while Mary's foot, leg, sciatic, and seven new pressure sensitive quad, calf, and ham points need reflecting on.

Seems like a good time for a quick status report.

Here's what we've learned since coming back to New York.

Mary's ability to hold a narrow range of watts has significantly deteriorated due to the distractions of group rides.

Part of her erratic riding can be attributed to her ongoing inability to "feel" the watts in her legs without having to see the number on her meter. She made progress with this in Florida, but her reflex to chase in a group ride has caused a relapse.

The difficulty in managing this was highlighted in Harriman this week during her warmup when a rider passed the group and the person whom Mary was following responded by reflex.

Later Mary reported to them that they had surged, but she was rebuked with the statement, "No way! I didn't care they went around us. They were going easy. I just held my pace."

Mary's power meter showed a jump of 200 watts at that moment. Therefore, she is thankful her power meter has given her immunity to such nonsense, at least as far as questioning her own performance when people without an objective reference try to convince her she's an idiot.

Throughout the rest of the ride, after her targeted 210 watt climb (199 result) up Seven Lakes Drive, her data file shows she was almost always over or under her ability due to running from the chase group. Therefore, her overall performance was down, while her overall perceived effort was up.

Of course, she was still first back in the parking lot, but she could have gotten there a lot faster and easier, and she could have recovered more quickly the next day if she had maintained a rational and controlled effort.

Otherwise, at least she was on track with clicking intervals at known landmarks in order for us to be able to review the data more rationally through knowing the terrain for any given ride section.

Extra care in clicking intervals was a correction from Sunday's ride after realizing (during review of the data) how important absolute positioning is in order to understand the reasons for results of various ride segments.

On Sunday she clicked only one interval for the final 34.22 miles. That made it impossible to reliably track performance before and after her flat in order to determine just how early in the ride it occurred.

Previous experience with flats has shown that her performance is downgraded considerably when her tire pressure is low. In fact, two years ago during the Tour de Goshen, she had a flat, and after she repaired it and took a shortcut to get back with the group another rider eventually commented, "What the fuck is wrong with you?!" and left her to ride alone.

It took her a couple of days to realize, "That's right. I forgot about the flat."

Since we had no landmarks to compare her watts pre- and post flat for Sunday, it is impossible to say how much her riding with only 80 lbs pressure affected her performance, nor can we guess how long she was riding with a flat before it was pointed out to her.

We didn't have any flats in Florida after getting her power meter, so we don't have a baseline.

Also, we cannot use the group's performance as a guide either, because those guys don't have a clue how they are riding on any given day at any given moment.

None of them train with a power meter, and all of their group rides and races (even as a team) are helter-skelter guess-fests of quasi-result.

Happily, Mary no longer has to use them as a guide to understand her own performance, and it is probably better for their own self images to have been fortunate enough to dodge enduring an end of ride torment gratis a correctly equipped Widder.

Here's the summary:

Mary's ability to hold a narrow range of watts has deteriorated since beginning group rides, and we need to remediate the situation by doing more solo rides with structured goals.

Ironically, the group rides have been necessary in order to prove how bad they are to do.


04/24/08 Plan: Easy recovery ride with Julie. Warmup on Heritage Trail to Monroe and back down to Chester. Pop-watts to 200 going to Goshen. A 12 minute 165 watt interval to give Mary practice getting in and out of average mode.

Actual: Warmup as planned. One pop-watt at 260 to show Julie. Immediately she wanted to see an interval at that wattage, but she had a gearing problem at the start of it and didn't get to see much.

The interval started after Duck Farm Road and lasted almost to South Street for 70 seconds and a .4 mile at 20.77 average maxing at 22.01 by the end on the slight uphill into the wind.

After that Mary completed a 12 minute 165 watt interval that began on a downhill to help Julie get on Mary's wheel, but another gearing problem caused her to spend time coasting, after which she stayed about 100 yards off the back until the long uphill began.

Mary reported (and data download confirmed) that she did a pretty good job holding her wattage on the fast downhill.

At first I believed there was about as much downhill as uphill, so I was surprised that Mary's long interval average was only 16.73 and nowhere near the expected 19.7 mph avg.

A closer look at the data graph for her speed showed there was significantly more uphill than I imagined and not nearly enough downhill to compensate. In fact, the whole course might be considered an uphill with breaks.

I was wishing the PowerTap software allowed me to invert the speed graph in order to compare speed to slope more intuitively. Then I thought, "I'll just pop a screen grab into Photoshop and invert it myself."

Voilà! Inverting a speed graph which comes from a consistently performed steady wattage provides an outline of terrain that is very intuitive. It looks just like a Computrainer course graph.

Here take a look. Is that not something?!

It is now obvious Mary's slower than expected speed for the successful execution of a 165 watt time trial was due to significant climbing with insignificant downhill. Plus there was a rather strong headwind for the unprotected section.

There were also traffic slow downs at two of the turns which would introduce inertia lags.

I can't wait to do this for the Hump.


04/25/08 Total rest day, getting ready for a Hump test.

In the meantime, people have asked about Mary's performance in Harriman last Tuesday. She laid waste to the group on the 3 mile climb up Seven Lakes Road coming out of Sloatsburg, but just what does that performance mean?

Here's a little perspective.

On the way to her 23+ Widder's Hump, we have already been successful giving Mary the ability to hold a 12 minute 200 watt pace... on command.

Mostly we did the work in Florida on the flat, but that is of no consequence. Watts is watts is watts, so basically all Mary did was hold her standard 12 minute pace up the Harriman climb.

In terms of racing performance, given Mary's body weight, a 200 watt pace is Functional Threshold of a Cat3... man.

It is no wonder such a climb decimated the field.

Editor's Note: Given SlingShot's body weight, a 200 watt pace for him is Functional Threshold of an untrained... woman.


     "Mary, give me 200 watts to the top."

     "I'm already at 230."

     "Ok, then give me 230 watts to the top."

Plan: A 1-hour ITT test at 165 watts to affirm Mary's Functional Threshold is at least Cat3 for women. She has done 50 minutes at that level in Florida. Plus she has ended her Hump for the last three weeks from Jolly Onion to the finish line with that effort. It seems this level of effort is well below her actual threshold, but we don't want to overreach this early in the season

Should be pretty simple.

After we have her 1 hour data file, we will move her tracking over to the charts for men, because her work on her 12 minute 200 watt intervals is already at Cat3 level for men.

We just need a little more work to solidify her 12 minute intervals into a longer effort.

Besides, why compare her to women? Men are more fun to beat.

We'll start with her standard warmup loop out and back on the flat with cadence tests, etc. Then we will begin the 1-hour test at the Hump starting line after the main group leaves, because she really needs solitude to concentrate on this.

Her test should be finished before the Camel Farm. After that it will just be a ride with talk and review.

Depending on how she feels after the test, maybe we'll toggle on a few intervals for short climbs and maybe her now standard 165 from the Jolly Onion home.

This won't be hard for Mary, but it will be a maximal effort for me. Life and doughnuts are like that.

However, it could be worse.

My calculations show that in order for Bianchi to beat her on one of her long pace intervals, he would have to average 331 watts for 12 minutes.

Look at that! Big Bianchi just turned off his computer and got on his stationary trainer.

Actual: Yesterday Mary put extra effort into hydrating, so at this morning's weigh-in she was 122.8. Unfortunately, in order to meet her 2.98 power to weight ratio (Cat3 women), she will need 166.5 watts, but the Powertap only reports integers, so she will have to do 167+. That's doable, but now we are nervous. She might have to work at some point.

Currently it is 6:26 am, and lift-off for the ITT is T minus 3 hours 5 minutes, discounting any holds for technical matters.


The ride went off as planned, but we left before the main group instead of afterward. We were too antsy to wait, and leaving early allowed us to get done and be waiting at the finish line to see the front group finish.

During the warmup Mary's cadence test was a failure. She could only manage a 148, 144, and finally 132 rpm.

I said, "That should probably be it. There's something wrong somewhere, and you are probably not going to be able to do a personal best, plus you might hurt yourself further."

She was too pumped up to ride and said, "No way. My legs feel great. I'll warm out of it," so we went out after I said, "Ok, but we're doing this just so I can say I told you so when things go bad."

About four miles out, it was already apparent that her left leg was stabbing, and she was tending toward a very slow and choppy cadence.

She was also overworking; because, do what we may, she still always worries about dropping below her target wattage and overcompensates both above and below.

It was supposed to be an easy ride, but her halting cadence and overworking were making it a lot harder than it should have been. However, she was maintaining 175 watts, so I let her go on.

Also, because she was riding so inefficiently, it was easy for me to stay on her wheel despite the fact that 175 watts for her means I need to be churning 275 watts. If she had been spinning more efficiently, I would have been off her wheel on Ridgebury.

She was also having to grind on the steeper hills, because she isn't quite strong enough to maintain her power curve cadence on them. We are going to get her a 27 and see if that helps.

Also, she had to hold up a little for traffic coming on to Pulaski Highway, then a car stopped in front of her at the stop sign at Route 12, plus a FEDEX truck almost took her out at the turn onto Ridgebury.

At the top of Ridgebury she missed a gear change, and then dropped her chain just before the stop sign after the Camel Farm.

We got severely chased by the big white lab on the hill coming up to the farm.

All along the test, I kept reminding her to pull her left leg through, because it was obviously out of whack and would not warm out of it.

However, I did notice at the Titty Bar Bridge, that we were only a 100 or so feet behind her split, even though we had come by way of a strong head wind.

I thought, "Ah, twenty-four minutes down. Only 3 more 12 minute splits to go. Why are we doing this?"

So we had a poor benchmark in the warmup, a strong headwind in the worst possible direction, several bad intersections, a missed shift and a dropped chain, a recurring loss of impulsion with her left leg, and a generally wretched performance all in all.

Her average speed for this test was well within predicted specifications according to our simplified chart.

Her speed was only 1.2 mph slower than the chart would predict.

Considering the holdups at intersections, the 90 foot rise in elevation for the course (since we did not end up where we started), and the strong headwind over the most unfortunate section, we were quite happy with her 18.54 mph average.

It was just as we would have expected, and I don't want her overreaching while we move her up through intermediate goals to reach her 23+ Hump goal.

In any case, when the test was over, she had beaten her goal by 6 watts, and we couldn't decide which was weirder: her laying waste to her personal best and posting a clearly Cat3 women's performance for a 1-hour ITT (despite her abysmal performance) or me staying on her wheel while she did it.

Strange days indeed.

Her newly confirmed and recorded Functional Threshold wattage is 171 at a weight of 122.8 for a power to weight ratio of 3.064.

We are still solidly on track for her 23+ Widder's Hump, and now people have expressed interest in a comparison of Mary's performance to their own.

Here is a little spreadsheet with comparative values for her Functional Threshold compared to people who may have a different weight, and who may know enough about their own Critical Power to see what they need to do to beat her.

The first line begins with Mary's weight, then a sampling of other possible weights for some of the people she rides with. The second line begins with her own current Functional Threshold watts (proven by today's 1-hour ITT), followed by the watts that would be required for riders of the body weights shown directly above.

122.8 130 132 151 157 161 180 193 202
171 181 185 210 217 224 250 267 283
Mary's FT matched to required by others
(weight above watts)

Actually, you had better get to those numbers soon, because today's effort was pretty easy for her, even though technically her performance sucked.

It won't be long before she is performing at 200 watts, and you will need:

121 130 132 151 157 161 180 193 202
200 213 217 287 258 264 296 317 331
Mary's FT matched to required by others
(weight above watts)

In fact, she is already able to hit 200 watts for 12 minutes on command.

If you don't know anything about your watts, just be thankful you don't. The less you know about this, the better off your fragile psyche will be.

After her test Mary complained of a back problem which she figured out later was related to framing one of her large paintings. It made her incapable of pulling through with her left leg, and explains why her cadence test, then the rest of the ITT, was so ratty.

Anyway, we bailed out of some 300 watt intervals planned for Dog Hill and Route 88, but she was still going to try a 165 watt interval from the Jolly Onion home.

As we turned onto Pulaski and into the blaring wind, we happened upon a couple cyclists going our way. The guy had panniers.

If he hadn't come up behind us while we were going easy on the first hill, I wouldn't have thought to myself, "Well, sir, you seem to like this pace very well. Let's see how you like it when the ride begins."

Nor would I have jumped in front of Mary on the downhill and said, "Just get on my wheel."

And a little later on Iron Mike's Hill, I wouldn't have waved her to the front saying, "Give me 200 watts to the top."

And she wouldn't have replied, "I'm already at 230."

And I could have refrained from, "Ok, then give me 230 to the top."

Which she did.

I don't know if Mr. Panniers liked that pace, because I didn't look back until after Hard Core Hill, and he was gone.

Mary only needs another 20 watts added to her Functional Threshold in order to be at the bottom of the Cat3 charts for MEN, and get this: we have still just been working on technical skills and concepts. We haven't even begun actual workouts yet!

From now on we will be comparing Mary's performance to the men's charts, so you may as well stop your whining right now and get out on your bikes buds.

Note to self: Somebody mentioned they ignore charts and graphs, because they race in the real world, not on paper.

Somebody better get in touch with the builders of the Tappan Zee Bridge, NASA, Mercedes, and any Heating and Air conditioning people they know, to tell them they can stop designing on paper, because bridges, rockets, cars, and air conditioners all exist in the real world, not on paper.


Somewhere, between the strain gauges
and the power meter readout,
the bullshit stops.

Plan: An easy day-off recovery from Mary's personal best 1-hour time trial.

Yesterday, after her ITT Mary said, "I don't know why I feel so tired. I didn't think I worked all that hard."

So I read her a statement with regard to why most people should merely get their FT by subtracting 5% from their average watts from a 20 minute time trial, instead of doing the full hour.

Here it is from Allan and Coggan, 2006: "Because some athletes have a hard time focusing for 60 minutes on a maximal effort, and those who can learn very quickly that a 60-minute time trial is not that much fun, ..."

That statement also reveals why we had to do Mary's trial alone; because, this time of year, nobody else would be able to endure such an effort, although there are plenty of people who might find the first 20 minutes or so pretty easy.

In any case, today was to be an easy recovery after a massive personal best Cat3 effort.

Actual: When we were first called to the Campbell Hall ride, I said, "You can go on that ride if you want to fuck up three months of precision training on a single ride, but I really want to keep getting stronger, not weaker. Besides, I already know exactly where, on four of those hills, I am going to get dropped. I don't need to go over there to see it happen. It is just a matter of numbers."

Since we got the power meter, our cycling lives are totally transparent... and so is everybody else's.

Somewhere, between the strain gauges and the power meter readout, the bullshit stops, and it stops with a loud noise.

These days, if anybody challenges the results of a ride, we merely say, "Look, here are the numbers. Uphill, downhill, wind, traffic, bike specs, aero-specs, whatever shoes you are wearing, whoever helped you pull, whoever didn't help you pull, all of those excuses, they don't mean anything anymore. Just go out any place, any time, on any bike and match this effort... for as long as Mary did it."

Simple. Done. Case closed. Get a life.

Someday I hope to own a power meter of my own.

In any case, Mary decided that she also wanted to keep getting stronger, not weaker, and she realized a ride with big hills drenched in testosterone would not be a recovery ride, so she sent an e-mail declining.

By around 8:27 am, I was still in bed, not half awake, when Turtle Boy called and said he wasn't going on that ride either, but the Portugreasens were coming over for an easy flat ride—maybe shorter than last Sunday's.

I said to Mary, "Flat? Portugreasens? We can do that," and I hoped out of bed and didn't even take a shit, because we only had 20 minutes to get to the ride.

Unfortunately, as soon as we got there I realized the ride was going to be out of control. Our local group of pretend racers had shown up in force.

The pretend team is obviously a pretend team, because we have never seen any published reports of any baseline performance expectations (say even an ITT) to become a member, and there are no regularly scheduled team trials and workouts, nor is there a uniformly agreed upon yearly goal with associated series of races, plus nobody has ever been judged the team sprinter, winner, domestic, etc.

However, the most telling sign of all is that not one of them is training with a power meter. A real team sponsor would have forgone the fancy jerseys and given the fucking riders tools to WIN WITH!

Also, every other aspect mentioned above, (e.g., baseline performance, team performance tests, designated hitters, goals, etc) would all need to be predicated on information that can be best gotten from power meter results, so once again: check behind the curtain.

To call it a team is really pushing the definition, but I don't really know what word would apply to a loosely affiliated group of somewhat interested cyclists who like to get together on a few weekends a year to wear the free jerseys somebody gave them and promote lady's makeup.

In any case, I knew this ride was not the one I signed up for and that doing it was going to severely fuck up my own program, so I rode to the first big hill and turned around.

By that time the Widder was already curious to see just how much damage she could do to her own aspirations, so she continued on with the crowd.

Luckily, she already had her assignment for the day, and my leaving the ride would not impact on that.

Her assignment was to never, ever, never chase. To go easy and only stay just in front of the last rider. If she ever did work she had to pre-plan how long and at how many watts her effort was going to be. Then set an interval and stick to her plan.

We call that rider the 'gator. You don't have to beat the leader, only the last person they will wait for.

I was pretty pleased to see her coming back into the parking lot a few hours later with the front group and to hear all the stuff she learned.

Of course, first thing I did was confirm she had never been "the one" people were waiting for, and she wasn't, so she gets to stay in the program.

She is now on a constant rave about how helpful her power meter is, and how much it reveals about how these sorts of group rides could not be purposely designed to be any more counter productive.

She also was really glad to find out that she didn't feel anywhere near as bad as she did after riding last Sunday on a flat tire.

Today was easy, and the parts that weren't easy (remember those quick little power climbs mentioned) were not easy for good reason, even though she did the best she possibly could by watching her numbers.

The four hard climbs were: 1) Heart Attack Hill a .21 mile climb, 2) the 3.78 mile climb up to Round Hill Road, 3) the half mile climb up Goshen Road which took her 3 minutes 7 seconds, and finally, 4) the climb up to the real estate agent on Tuthill.

On Heart Attack she was near the front but did not do her best ever, because she was at least paying some attention to staying in recovery mode.

The 3.78 mile climb was easy, because at that distance the boys run out of testosterone and have to decide if beating a little old lady is really worth all that huffing and puffing, thus she can stay in recovery mode.

Of course on Goshen Road all bets are off, because that is always a prize for the biggest wiener; and, at just over 3 minutes long, it doesn't come close to getting into the 20 minutes plus climb where Mary's strength really starts to show.

She was gapped a little (not dropped) on Tuthill, because she forgot where she was and was half way to the top before she recognized it.

A little while later, she worked real hard during the breakaway sprint up the Hill of the Bull just after Descent Du Paul, but that was just so she could mention at the end, "Nice effort. But how hard could it have been? I'm still here."

After that it was the usual stuff until people took a pee break just before Bob's Hill (ironically named), and Pretty Boy Glen Babikian did the gentlemanly thing and went ahead with her after she said, "I can't stop. I'm freezing, and I have to get home to open the gallery."

Turns out Mary thought they were stopping to wait for the back group, but her going off with Glen brought new insight.

She said Glen pulled her all the way up 32, across Trout Brook Road, and most of the way up Clove Road, where they were spinning their cool down when Palletman and Doug caught them.

She said, "It was the strangest thing. I knew Glen was holding up for me when he gapped me, but I just couldn't see it happening. He would just move away. I know everybody else's body language when they are working, but I just couldn't see it with Glen. He would just be spinning easy in front of me... then he was gone. No warning."

I explained, "The thing is, you have seen all those other people working lots of times, so you know exactly when they are doing it. With Glen you don't know, because you have never seen him working."

I don't think any of the other riders have ever seen it either. Except, of course, for Turtle Boy.

Everybody who knows how strong Pretty Boy is, says the same thing, "That Prick Joe Straub!"


04/28/08 Rest day, no cycling, Humpadetic Survey. Here's what I posted to the ChatterBox.
Ok. I bought an altimeter and began the Humpadetic Survey.
Mostly I wanted to see how much higher the end of Mary's time trial was than its start.

The numbers show she finished about 90 feet higher.

While I was at it, I couldn't help putting together some preliminary statistics along the remainder of the Hump.

Basically it works like this.

There is an approximately hundred foot rise in order to get to Pulaski. After that, significant climbs occur with 30, 40, 60, and 70 foot rises (in that order) leading up to Ridgebury.

Ridgebury itself swells by about a 220 foot increment. All climbs are complemented by a downhill that invariably returns elevation to approximately the 100 foot offset established in the very beginning of the ride.

Oddly, when I got back to the finish line, the altimeter was showing 30 more feet in elevation than when I left.

Considering the unfailing return to the 100 foot offset which cancels out all the uphills, it is obvious that a summary of the course would have to say, "The Hump is a totally flat ride, with a slight hill at the very end."

Most people believe the Hump starts with a climb and then goes uphill all the way to the end, so some merit must now be accorded to their belief.

When I got back to Sugar Loaf, the altimeter was reporting the elevation outside my front door had increased by 20 feet.

In light of this new information, I have been going through our closets looking for the Widder's stash of marijuana, because it is clear that she has been getting high.

In fact 20 feet higher in just the last couple hours.
You are an idiot.
04/29/08 Plan: Humpadetic Survey, Mary took notes while I drove course with altimeter.

Actual: Many more details were added to the elevation notes. Probably the results are more variable than they need be, and doing it in a way that allows standing at recording points (instead of driving by, or briefly stopping in the car) might be a better way to do it.

Later in the day I made a last minute decision to show up to Harriman after Mary found out she had to stay in the shop for a FEDEX delivery of a box for shipping one of her large Thai paintings to Florida.

Got my ass hammered as usual. It would have been an easy ride for Mary as usual. Fucking power to weight ratio realities.

Got there just at the published gathering time, but people had already left to go up 106. BLASTER was just coming up out of the parking lot, then came back down to tell me which way they went and to pace me up to catch them.

We were almost on a 106 Climb Personal Best for me when we caught up, so I had him push past and continue on up. The stuttering decision to continue defeated my PB, but tasting blood in your throught is its own reward.

Franky Panky has gotten a lot smarter about drafting and staying out of the wind. In fact, he was so good at staying in the sweet spot and keeping me off BLASTER's wheel, I decided everybody planned a big Franky beats Shotty event.

That wasn't the case, and I held in there to the last 100 yards on Eat Shit and Die Hill when somebody I had triggered (in part by almost T-boning them when they eased up after believing a sprint on Tiorati had dropped everybody), came raging by, "Wheeee....!"

Anyway, I did a pretty good job of finishing off what little I had left from Florida, and reminded myself that what is good for other people's program is not necessarily good for my own... nor Widders.

At least I have enough irrefutable information to convince her that group rides are not helping her 23+ Widder's Hump goal, even if it is fun to beat people you never thought you could.


04/30/08 Plan: Move tracking over to the Men's charts, except for 5 sec power which will remain in the Women's column maybe forever.

Since she bettered her goal on last Saturday's  1-hour ITT by 6 watts by achieving a 171 watts averge and placing herself solidly in the Cat3 women's column, I reviewed the situation and set the following goals: for the Women's categories just a 5 sec, 610/11.09 Cat4; and then for the Men's 1 min, 387/7.036 Cat4 ; 5 min, 231/4.2 Cat3; FT (1 hour), 191/3.47 3 Cat3.

Obviously, the longer the ride time and the steeper the hill, the stronger Mary gets. A pace that begins by feeling very easy for the men, eventally has them on the ropes and clutching at excuses.

Be that as it may, these goals should work nicely with her progress toward her 23+ Hump, while giving her a portable no nonsense easy reference to her level of performance. Seems like a lot of fun.

This idea of a power to weight ratio based on a measured level of effort (instead of the standard mumbo jumbo of typical trip computers) is terrific.

It pares away all the variables of weight, course terrain, wind, heat, aero bars, etc and states her level of performance in a simple number that anybody anywhere can compare to their very own.

The chart on page 64 of Allen and Coggan, 2006 carries the idea one step further by allowing her to compare her own performance to samplings of other riders who race in various categories.

The software with the power meter then makes it easy to do. Of course, I also use a spreadsheet I put together in order calculate power to kilograms without having to wade back into the old files pointed to by the summary of personal best performances.

Here's where she stands today (04/30/08):

time   watts   ratio     category
5 sec   535     9.585   Untrained Women (low)
1 min  333    5.870    Cat4 Women (low mid)
5 min  211     3.690   Cat3 Women (low)
1-hr     171     3.064   Cat3 Women (low)

Now that we've got the group ride nonsense out of our systems (but learned a lot from it), we can start working on bringing all her performance specs in line with Men's category tracking.

Uh, Widder... Heart Attack Hill is on the phone. Something about repeats of 5 sec, 1 and 5 min intervals in order to establish a new baseline.

How exciting. Plus we are going to be getting you a 27 cog, to help with that little spin rate break on the harder hills. Bet you're glad we tested and found your power curve peaks around 105-110 rpm, and trained you to be able to hold it indefinitely.

Actual: Total Fucking Failure


05/01/08 Full rest no cycling. Mary has a rub, and I am getting ready for a century on Saturday.
05/02/08 Full rest no cycling. Rain day, plus Mary has a rub, and I am getting ready for a century on Saturday.
05/03/08 Full rest no cycling. Rain day, plus Mary has a rub, everybody bailed on the century due to rain and cold. It's winter again.
05/04/08 Plan: Still raining in the morning, so Mary is to setup and do a 4 mile warmup course on the Computrainer, follow up with a Cadence test (150+ for go/no go, then (if go) setup a 1.5 mile flat course and do 235 watts over that distance in order to set baseline for another attempt at a Cat3 for Men 5 minute power test.

Her saddle rub is better but still a concern.

Actual:  Cat3 for MEN confirmed! Mary found the 235 a sure bet... despite her left leg not nearly correct.

In fact, she held a 236 watt average until the end of the course of 1.62 mi, and she was 237 just prior to the end.

Since she did not feel pressured to push more than 235, the drop to 236 did not trouble her. Her heart rate was 164 at the end, well under her max working rate.

The course was not quite long enough to finish the 5 minutes, so the saved Comptrainer log only shows 4 min 34 secs. She continued after "Race Over" and reports there was no problem staying above 235.

However, we still want to repeat her performance on the road tomorrow. That will also give a chance to compare the effort on stationary Computrainer vs Powertap on the road.

Now Cat3 for MEN is clearly her performance level at 5 min, and the virtue of a warmup and controlled testing is proven superior to group ride chaos.


05/05/08 Plan: Repeat of yesterday's Computrainer test but out on the road. We'll do it on the beginning of the Hump course. Standard warmup with cadence test then 235 watts from the Start Line for 5 minutes.

After the test we'll finish with some pop watts to 200. If those go well we'll do some to 230 then 260 just to get a feel of the difference.

Mary is excited to compare the differences of a similar ride back to back, stationary Computrainer vs. Powertap on the road.

Actual: Cat3 for Men confirmed. Big success by repeat performance of 236 watts for 5:02 at 123 lb body weight = 4.221 w/kg = Cat3 for MEN, MEN, MEN.

Mary is over in the corner doing a little victory dance and looking very much like the Church Lady.

Here's how it happened.

After warmup (which confirmed Mary's Polar cadence sensor needs replacement), we conducted the test from the Hump start/finish into a light headwind ending almost at the stop sign at Big Island Road.

Her watts were a success, but the slightly slower than optimal average speed of 21.26 mph is accounted for by the headwind coupled with a somewhat inefficient spin. Also, the end point was almost the exact same elevation as the start, but it ended on an uphill which might have added to the 1 mph slower than expected speed.

After the test I explained to Mary that she could have done it with much less effort if she had not been over and under working... as usual.

A 236 watt average performed between 226 and 246 watts is quite different from a 236 watt average performed between 0 and 472 watts even considering a best case scenario where the 0's are micro momentary, so the necessary 472 watts needed to correct them would only have to be momentary.

Of course, her performance was not as bad as a 0 to 472 spread, but the numbers illustrate the point.

In fact, her data file shows a significant portion of her effort was well over 250 watts while a large number of low points below 200 with some as low as 150.

Her observance was that this erratic effort was due to her not responding quickly enough to the dips and rises along the course. She reports that her similar effort on the Computrainer yesterday felt about the same per watt but was much easier to control within a smaller range of variance.

Although part of her erratic spin may be caused by her stabbing with the left leg (which continues to be a problem), Mary is still too focused on her numbers instead of how the watts feel, so we went right into a series of pop-watt exercises.

We began with a 200 watt target. I would prompt, "Go," and watch for her to settle into a rhythm, then prompt her to look and report. She had variations as large as over 400 without knowing it.

In order to enhance her feeling for the difference, we began alternating between targets of 200 and 260. That seemed to help her focus on the feeling, and allowed us to add a more subtle 230 to the mix.

We used the flats on both Pumpkin Swamp Road and Round Hill Road. She had only fair results but is getting better. She has lost significant control since Florida, but her performance increases are still based on degrees of efficiency instead of degrees of added strength and aerobic capacity.

After the pop-watts we tried some hard spin intervals, where I expected she might hit a 5 second record, because she was hitting such high numbers without effort during the pop-watts.

Unfortunately, she tenses up during sprint-like efforts, so her numbers were lackluster. Also, she is still rarely successful with putting effort into a high cadence spin, so her power suffers.

Lots of spin ups were over 425 watts, but when it was time to bear down her back pressure on the pedals was stopping her.

I wish we had a tool to measure back pressure on the pedals. Nobody ever talks about it, and I have never heard of a power meter design that could show it.

Tension is tension, and when people try to put a lot of pressure through a forward motion into their crank arms, there is also a strong tendency to tense up the trailing leg and impede movement on the upstroke.

This sort of tension can also impede the forward leg. After all, people are clipped in and can pull up on the forward leg just as well as push down.

Of course, describing this as only an up or down movement alone does the concept a disservice, because it is actually a continuum through the pedal stroke.

I further simplified the concept for Mary thus, "Let's say you are standing on your pedals, holding them at the 9 and 3 o'clock position. Your standing is, by it's very nature, putting half you body weight's force of torque on each pedal, but your watt meter is reporting zero watts. On a very long downhill you can get really tired, and your data file will show you exerted no effort whatsoever. Avoiding your tendency to put pressure against your pedals in the wrong direction when you tense up is essential to using the least amount of effort possible during a performance test."

This is an area of cycling which is yet to be discussed industry wide in a meaningful way. I wouldn't even try to explain it to anybody without a power meter. There are levels of control possible that people haven't even thought about achieving yet.

Mary found a Computrainer help file with a statement regarding how the Metal Man will always beat you with nominally the same average wattage, because people can never be 100% efficient 100% of the time.

Mary told me about it, because she realized that was exactly how I had described Humberto getting beat in a close contest with the Metal Man last winter.

Of course, there was no statement regarding just what percentage of efficiency a human could expect to achieve. Is it 99.9%? 85%? 30%? For 90% of the time? 47% of the time?

If we had a tool that measured torque on each crank separately, and also the back pressure on each, I would practice spins just like Hannon exercises and scale work on a piano, and I could show people what might be expected.

As of right now, I can only say that significantly higher percentages are likely to be possible than anybody guesses.

During the pop-watts, especially during the 400 watt overages, I pointed out numerous times to Mary, "See how easy that felt. Easier than you could possibly imaginewhen you spin efficiently. That effort was well over a 23+ mph average performance, but you have to learn to feel its subtlety and control it effectively."

Most people would be shocked to find out that during the hard spins, when I told her to stand and stomp, her watts would actually go down instead of up.

She can't push down on her pedals like most humans due to her bunions, and most people can get a 200 watt momentary (but not very long lived) bump by standing with hardly any effort at all.

Maybe if she'd stop flopping around like a fish all over the road when she tries to go hard, we could at least bring her 5 second efforts out of the Untrained Women Category.


05/06/08 Plan: Repeat of 04/15/08 intervals (9 x 70 sec @260 watts) in order to confirm back on track while not over reaching after yesterday's 5 minute record. We will also be checking to see if Mary's new 27 cog enables a suitable warmup in Harriman.

We'll use the Sloatsburg to Seven Lakes loop.

Actual: Mary's left glute seemed fine during warmup, but fell apart on the first 70 second interval. So we bailed out of the 260 watt intervals, and I stopped to check out somebody's mechanical (chain broke, or got gummed up in the cog, or something) while Mary went on and did some alternative tests on her own.

She spent several self inflicted intervals looking at how her 27 cog helps her, and she is very pleased with it.

Her glute got a little better during the her self tests, and she was at the top of the turn onto Lake Welsh when I hit the bottom, so I phoned her to come back with me to get the car to SAG for the mechanical.


05/07/08 Plan: Mary's new additional Powertap CPU arrived, so I can monitor Mary's performance in real time and not interfere with her own monitoring.

She will also be able to put the new CPU on her own bike for tests, so she can watch average and current watts at the same time. Maybe it will help with her under and overworking problem.

Along with the CPU, she got a Cadence Sensor for the Powertap, and a new sensor for her Polar HR. That should make her warmup benchmarking more instructive, plus the download data regarding true cadence (not calculated [read: guessed at]) cadence.

Maybe the new HR strap that came with the new Powertap CPU will work, so we can finally have a true record of how her HR is responding to the various exercises.

While we are testing the new CPU, HR strap, and two Cadence Sensors, we may as well try for a new 1 minute Personal Best and bring her up to Women's Cat3 at 353 watts, or Men's Cat4 at 394 watts, or better yet Men's Cat3 at 432. Depends on how her left glute feels after the warmup.

Actual: Total catastrophe, except the new Polar Cadence sensor works fine.

Mary's warmup cadence test was immediately to 163, which only proves that the test itself does not go far enough as a benchmark.

By the end of the ride her left leg was stabbing so bad I couldn't take it any more and had to devise an exercise to make it more obvious to her. The good spin rate achieved in the warmup did not catch the problem.

Otherwise, the Powertap cadence sensor and HR strap required setup that we did not do previous to the ride, so none of that data was recorded.

We did her standard warmup out to the bottom of the hill to Pulaski on Big Island and back to Hump start.

During her 1 minute test I carried one of the CPU's on my own bicycle, and mistakenly had it in trip mode instead of interval mode. Therefore, I was not able to prompt her average speed to her, plus I dropped off her wheel while trying to figure it out. She overworked as she waited to hear from me.

On the next 1 minute attempt I found it impossible to read her wattage and stay on her wheel at the same time. We are going to try putting both CPU's on her own bicycle, and make a note that short hard intervals are not the place for me to help monitor.

Her leg was still bad from yesterday. In fact, her stabbing left leg is an ongoing problem (several years) which has always just made her angry when I mention it.

Her recent performance results are beginning to get into the range where an imperfection in her left leg spin is becoming a limiting factor. She did ok on her last 1-hour ITT (Cat3 Women), and on her last 5 min ITT (Cat3 Men), but the 1 minute trial, coupled with her poor performance in Harriman the day before, conspired to break the bank.

After two attempts on the flat we tried Mt. Eve just to see if that would help her concentrate, but she never warmed out of the stabbing and her back even started hurting.

On the way back to the parking lot, I had her clip out of her right pedal and try to spin with the left leg alone.

She was shocked into a realization that what I have been telling her all along about her left leg is not a small matter.

She cannot pull her left leg over without the help of the right.

[10/07/12: Although I do not have a note of it, I believe this is the day where I had her stop at the road to Golden Hill  Elementary School on the way back to the parking lot and try to square herself while standing relative to the top tube of her bike. My comment when she couldn't get straight was, "Uh oh. This is not going to be a quick fix."]

Because of her back hurting she phoned Dr. Art from the parking lot and scheduled an appointment for Friday.

I spent the rest of the afternoon setting up the two Powertap CPU's to work with the new cadence sensor and heart rate monitor strap.

Hump (S turn flat loop)
05/08/08 Rain day off with rest for left leg.
05/09/08 Day off with visit to Dr. Art who found a compression in Mary's L5, and made an adjustment.
05/10/08 Plan: Computrainer check for left leg progress.

Actual: After Mary's warmup, I came upstairs and noted her left leg was still stabbing. I suggested that her left knee was moving out to avoid some unfelt pain.

I showed her how she is not getting any power on the down stroke, because she cannot get her leg in position on the upstroke.

Eventually she stabilized her leg (after I told her to think about bringing her left knee toward her right shoulder), but I saw she was making an adjustment through her seat in order to do it, and that motion was causing her stationary to rock with her spin.

Finally, I had her get off the bike and look in the mirror as she raised her right then left leg. It was obvious that she needed to engage her spine and abdominals in order to bring her left knee up without her leg swiveling to the outside.

Also, discussions about what muscle group would be controlling this movement revealed that Mary still doesn't understand the basics of human anatomy and these two simple facts:

1) Muscles do only one thing. They contract. I had to make that more clear by saying, "They only shorten. That is all they do."

2) Muscles work in opposing groups. For example, your bicep makes your forearm go one way, the triceps make it go the other.

Then I had to explain leverage points and joint function (again) which she seems unable to grasp.

Apparently, little boys are allowed to play with erector sets, electric motors, batteries, etc and little girls never get the basic understanding of structural elements functioning around a hub. Therefore, how muscles move underlying skeletal structures is a mystery.

Hopefully, little girls are now given better early childhood opportunities than they were when we were little boy and girl.

The rest of the day, she searched the Internet for basic anatomy instruction and self diagnosed her problem as piriformis syndrome, probably a result of this winter's Photoshop extravaganza.

Well, that was easy. It only took me six years to get her to pay attention to the problem with her left leg. Could be bunion related. At least we got her left foot to stop falling off the pedal. Lots and lots of orthotic research and fittings for that little problem.

Maybe we have arrived at another plateau, and fixing her left leg will give her an extra 10 or 15 percent performance boost and allow her to actually begin training.

Note: A report from today's Hump revealed that the front group of men (sans a recovering Mary) was able to go about one mile further than Mary's 1-hour ITT distance in the same amount of time.

Six men working together managed to beat the performance of a little old lady riding solo with one leg.

They must be proud of themselves.


Attic Computrainer
05/11/08 Plan: Easy flat ride from Humberto's while testing new Powertap setup with additional CPU and new cadence monitor and heart rate strap.

We will let the group go, and follow easy. If we go up Heart Attack (and her left leg seems to be working ok), we'll try out Mary's new 27 cog which has been working out very well for her.

Actual: A 600 watt max Personal Best!!!

Looks like that new 27 cog along with the exercises to help her problem with the left leg are already paying off.

Mary posted a personal best watt reading of 600 watts on Bob's Hill, the hill at the end of Pleasant Hill Road coming up out of Mountainville to the stop sign at Rte 32 which is ironically named, because I once beat somebody on it when they couldn't stop laughing after I passed them.

During the ride warmup on the way out, Mary had two 174 rpm cadence tests. After that she worked on her pull-through and extension of her left leg during the rest of the ride. Guess that got her ready for the max attempt near the end of the ride.

I was competing with somebody on Bob's Hill to see who could ride the slowest at the same time looking like they were working the hardest.

Just behind us Mary had made the perfect turn onto the hill, and went all out spinning as fast and as hard as she could.

The data file shows she was spinning 125 rpm when she hit her 600 watt max. A 27 cog, my friends, a 27 cog.

It looks like the new cadence sensor for the Powertap is working correctly, and the new HR strap seems to work better than the older one. There are no dropouts now, but that could be because she used a strap gel today. Or maybe it was because she did not wear the Polar strap at the same time. The readout during the ride is still in question. She said it didn't seem to be her regular bpm's. We'll do a comparison next time.

Mary also used two CPU's today. One was placed in current watts mode with HR rate data showing. The other was placed in Interval mode with average watts showing. Having these numbers available allowed Mary to avoid her standard over and under working.

I wish we had more precise and reliable tools.

Someday there will be power meters that measure each crank arm separately and also provide back pressure readings. If we had something like that now we would have figured out her left leg problem sooner... or at least she would have believed me about there being a problem quicker.


Big Lollipop
05/12/08 Total rain day off and resting piriformis, hams, etc.
05/13/08 Plan: Check out recovery of Mary's hip and left leg. Have her work on pull through and extension.

Actual: It was obvious from the beginning that Mary's left leg is still in bad shape. Even the warmup was spotty.

Mary bailed out of the ride at the turn onto Lake Welsh and went straight back to the parking lot.

She had managed to keep close enough to see us nearing the top of Bob's Favorite Hill, but on the 106 downhill she tried another spin test and realized something must be pulled in the back of her left knee... probably happened during her 600 watt 125 rpm record on Sunday.

Group rides are proving to be the bane of her progress toward the 23+ Hump, but what is the real choice here: a single minded commitment to a focused but slightly arbitrary achievement, or allowing some latitude to actually enjoy some summer rides using skills and ability acquired during the winter.

The sun is out. You got a problem with that?

At least I'm getting really good at spotting the trouble with her left leg, and seeing her inability to drop her left foot to the full bottom of her pedal stroke while her left hip hitches up recoiling from the lack of movement.

At the top of Bob's Favorite Hill, I realized my own left hip was in trouble, and my back was starting to chirp, so I turned around to come down and go home also, but I am a weak willed ninny who cannot adequately quit.

I turned back, rejoined the others, and proceeded to get my ass kicked again and again in the approved manner for the remainder of the ride.

I did get to show Brand New Bruce how drafting him into one of the downhill left bends on Seven Lakes (coming back toward 106), then popping out of the draft at that very specific moment to take the inside shorter and steeper track, allows a very impressive blast by attack.... giving the clear impression of overwhelming power but is in fact a very light spin.

Nobody is going to be happy with me for showing Bruce how he is very much stronger than lots of people like to make him think he is.

BLASTER helped out too, so nobody is going to like him either.

Fuck 'em.


Harriman (Sloatsburg)
05/14/08 Day off with more flexibility exercises for Mary's left leg, piriformis, etc. Resting up for Harriman with Chuckie.
05/15/08 Plan: Harriman with Chuckie.

Actual: Due to rain, Chuckie cancelled, so we went out early to the Heritage Trail and reviewed the situation with Mary's left leg, piriformis, foot, etc.


NOTE: Download data is dated Jan 02, 2005 due to error when swapping out all batteries and resetting both CPU's in order to test HR Strap and Cadence Sensor communication one last time.

The HR function is still totally worthless. It would be a joke if not for the cost of the PowerTap being so serious.

The cadence is now being reported reliably after snafus associated with resetting the CPU's after the battery changes when choosing "Pedal only" instead of Hub or Hub/Pedal.

Apparently the CPU can be set to read the pedal sensor only, but the software will default the setting back to Hub/Pedal on opening.

Every time the "Configure Device" function is used in the software, the selection for "Pedal only" must be toggled back on again. You can also reset it using the CPU step through setup.

Once again, let me reiterate: the HR function of the PowerTap is FUCKED UP. Welcome to the world of the early adopter. Back in my music studio days, people called this the bleeding edge of technology.


After getting things squared away with the PowerTap CPU's, I extended the Pop-watts exercises to include Drop-watts plus had the thought to add Bop-watts in order to help Mary move away from her too strong focus on the numbersnot the feeling of watts and only looking down briefly in order to confirm correct effort.

Need I remind people there are tractors out there just waiting for you to look down for a second?

These exercises are to be done without looking down at the CPU anymore than is absolutely necessary... a quick look down then right back up to the road while feeling the effort.

They also require two PowerTap CPU's, because a single display does not allow looking at the current watts and the average watts on the same screen.

Pop-watts are accomplished by establishing a target wattage, jumping to it without looking at the CPU, then checking quickly to see if the target was hit.

Drop-watts are accomplished by beginning with a targeted Pop-watt top then holding it momentarily to establish it as an average then allowing the average to gradually drop down to a secondary target watts. At that point the interval is over.

For example: Using targets of 200 and 180, start at 200 watts, allow enough time to establish 200 as a solid average, then gradually allow the average wattage to 180 watts. Come in for a soft landing like skydiving.

Bop-watts are accomplished at the end of a Drop-watts interval by gradually pushing the wattage back up to the original target wattage. For example: 200 down to 180, back up to 200.

These intervals must be done within a relatively easy range of effort. They are done to learn control not to build strength, speed, or aerobic power. They are only meant to establish a framework on which later workouts will be done which will build strength and endurance.

One important concept to keep in mind during these exercises is that you should never look down without first making a conscious decision which particular number you are going to look at (and why you need to see it) before looking.

Then you should only take a quick look to absorb the number and look up again immediately then analyze the the number by comparison the effort itself.

If you see a tractor in front of you... try to miss it.


Heritage Trail
05/16/08 Full rain day off. Mary continues with her stretching and relaxation exercises. She reports her butt, back, leg, and foot are better now than they have been since we went to Florida last December.

She has no numbness whatsoever and has incrementally better flexibility.

Yesterday I gave her a seminar in tensing and relaxing muscle groups in order to enliven them and learn what relaxation and focused articulation of various muscle groups feels like.

This is a Yoga technique and the main goal of the relaxation phase is called satori, but that's a whole 'nother story.

I also showed her a brief finger exercise which is useful for musical instrument students, and which showed her the process of progressively articulating muscle movement in order to achieve a refined control of a totally new movement.

This process will eventually dovetail into exercises for muscle memory relative to spin technique, but we have to get the leg, butt, hip, foot, and piriformis issues settled first. If not, the movement she learns will be incorrect and will end up hurting (not helping) her performance.

For example, let's say you tense your bicep and triceps at the same time. You can pit one muscle against the other and build strength in each group. In fact, you might be able to build enough strength in them that your forearm cannot be moved by anybody, even yourself.

Of course, the goal in cycling is not about building strength in apposing muscle groups so that joints and limbs cannot move. It is quite the opposite. Still, the possibility remains, so Mary is supposed to be very careful about knowing what group she wants to improve strength in (down to the cellular level), and understand why she wants to build strength in it, before she ends up building strength in all the wrong places and for no reason at all.

The amount of restriction we have observed in the movement of her left leg (because of all this tightness) would imply she will get another 20 watt boost in her performance with no more effort, just by remediating her injuries.

Soon we will be able to start the actual workouts for her 23+ Widder's Hump.


05/17/08 Plan: Morning ride away from the crowd in order to check progress of Mary's left leg, sciatic, piriformis, etc, and to see if she can spin without needing to engage her left hip in order to overcome her inability to lift her left knee and pull it through.

If all goes well we will do Pop-watts, Drop-watts, and Bop-watts for the first half of The Hump and end with an extended time trial over the last 1/3.

Wattage target for the final ITT will be decided during the first half of the ride.

Actual: I was at the top of Dog Hill and on the wheel of a strong young woman wearing Kissena when I finally got a chance to review. I was watching Mary go over the top of the hill and be gone when I thought, "Wow, this went better than I expected. I think we've got the answer to Mary's problem with her left foot, leg, hip."

I believe we have identified the major holdup. It is her psoas-muscle, either major, minor, or both if she has both.

Other problems may be contributing, causal, or an aside, but only time will tell. In the meantime, we have a clear direction.

Mary's stretching, her light strength exercises, and her use of a Sacrowedgy have given her significantly more range of movement in her left leg.

Her hip is now less engaged in the compensation for the lack of range of mobility in her left leg, and she can control her knee stability.

Today her first warmup cadence test was a little rough and only to 148, so I reminded her the goal was to be light and easy with the exercise. She should feel perched on her saddle and weightless otherwise.

After that we had a great opportunity on the first long downhill for her to spin without any pedal pressure. She achieved 162 rpm without effort.

I reminded her to start with her left foot in the 1 o'clock forward position and to spin as effortless as possible.

She got a 172 which the Polar showed. However, the PowerTap appears to be cutting off at 170. The manual says it goes to 140, so an upgrade in the CPU function may have already happened... just not enough of an upgrade for our purposes.

Dear Saris: some people can spin faster than 170.

Be that as it may, Mary's final cadence test results (helped along by proper pedal placement), lead us to do more work on her left leg.

I noticed that when she was spinning without being under pressure, her leg was pulling through fine, but as soon as a hill began her left knee would start popping outside its forward track, and her left foot would exhibit hang time at the bottom of the stroke, while her left hip would begin engaging to compensate for the restricted range of motion.

We did several tests at various wattages on the flats in order to confirm that the problem was effort related, and at exactly what wattage the problem would begin.

See seemed to do fine up to about 150 watts, but that level of effort was a brick wall for restricted range in her left leg.

After a brief discussion about how to isolate the feeling of engaging her psoas I said this, "Get up to 150 watts, and I'll say, 'Left psoas (LS for short) for three', and you concentrate on pulling up with your psoas for three strides."

As soon as she did that, her knee, hip, and leg stabilized.

We did the exercise a few more times on the flat and on various hills. Plus I had her do some with her right foot clicked out to make sure the right foot wasn't helping her left through the sticking point. Finally, she succeeded in spinning correctly at more than 150 watts pressure.

We continued by doing variations on our theme by doing instances of 3, 5, 10, and 20 strides alternating with both feet clipped in and one footed. Otherwise the ride was very easy.

Eventually I would just shout, "Psoas, psoas, psoas."

Then to break up the series I added an exercise where she would coast into a hill in a big gear, stand hard for five strides, then sit and drop to her small ring and find a manageable cog to do 5 comfortable psoas strides.

If the knee fell apart, I'd have her back off the watts and regroup.

There was also a lot of discussion about what the standing hard 5 to sit and spin exercises were leading up to, so we had forgotten other riders might be on the road by the time the front group passed us just after the Y intersection past the Camel Farm.

We were watching them go off into the distance when I remembered, "This would be the perfect time for a lesson on pace." I said, "How does your leg feel? Let's go catch them."

We were gaining on them bit by bit and only had about 100 yards to go when we turned onto Lower Road and Mary said, "That's enough. I'm going to aggravate the problem with my leg."

We eased off and got ready for more exercises. Just then a second group of three riders came past and I shouted to them, "The front group is going slow. You can catch them!"

One of the riders looked back and decided to ease off and see what the Widder and I were working on.

Also that person had seen another larger group behind us, so after I showed him how I was helping Mary with her knee problem he said, "More riders are coming up behind us, and there are women in the group... fast women."

Unfortunately, Mary heard the words 'fast' and 'women' in the same sentence, so our exercise seminar was pretty much finished.

In the group were two very strong and young women from Kissena being helped along by their coach, or so it would seem.

We were fast approaching Dog Hill, so the next part of this story is not likely to surprise anybody, especially if they have read the beginning.

I tucked onto the back of the group, rested and waited for the hill. Then at the base of Dog Hill, I took an outside track, passed up the side of the group and let the person who had waited for us move around to my front.

Just as he was doing that we were passing the coach of the Kissena crew, so I politely mentioned, "Excuse me," and cut him off.

At the beginning of the second rise of the hill, I looked back and saw that the entire whole group was dropped and struggling, so I let the Widder assume my cat bird seat as they went on to take out the last rider who had been off the front.

Near the top she could hear me yelling, "Psoas, psoas, psoas."

Then she eased up and looked back to see if she should wait for me.

By then I was on the wheel of the last Kissena woman and heard her being told, "We are almost to the top. You can do it." And she did. I was there to see it.

Fortunately for Mary's leg, the ride was right then over, because everybody stopped to thank Sean for letting everybody off the hook by tossing himself off his bicycle and breaking his collar bone.

Everybody was especially pleased that Sean had been kind enough to tap the back of Pretty Boy's wheel on the way down, just to let him know the ride was over.

Guess we'll have to work on the Pop-watts, Drop-Watts, and Bop-Watts next time despite the fact Mary did a bunch of Bop-Watts on her own during the final third of the ride and saw with absolute certainty that engaging her psoas gives her an extra 20 watts of power with no more effort.

The Kissena people were also very glad the ride was over after Dog Hill (because of what the Widder was about to continue doing to them), but it is unlikely they know just how thankful they are.

In any case, they probably deserve this:

An actual, honest to goodness, competitive cycling club.


The Hump
05/18/08 For delayed description see 05/24/08 under Monument to Hector.
Big Lollipop
05/19/08 Full rest  
05/20/08 Work on left leg pull up and through. Computrainer
05/21/08 Work on left leg pull up and through Computrainer
05/22/08 Full rest with Ice Cream  
05/23/08 Light spin with Pop, Drop, and Bop-watts for left leg therapy. Heritage Trail
05/24/08 Plan: Check spin, continue therapeutic riding, rest for tomorrow's hard ride.

Actual: Almost at the end of the Hump we were caught by Glenn and Myles at the top of Hard Core Hill, so I told Mary to go with them, and she didto the finish.

They gapped her on the sprint, so she eased off, but otherwise, she averaged 172 watts for the length of Round Hill Road giving her an average of 23.62 mph for that section only. One of the benefits of knowing enough to get on Glenn's wheel.

If we could talk Glenn into slowing down and pulling Mary for the entire Hump, she could have her 23+ Widder's Hump finished immediately, and I could get a life.

The last few days have not been significant enough to warrant log entries, and last week's Big Lollipop ride didn't make the cut, because Humberto has been off line because of computer problems. So why bother?

Mostly everything can be placed under the headings of: 1) Bicycle Doctor Fucks SlingShot (again), 2) Goddamn Internet, 3) Monument to Hector, 4) Big Bianchi Beats the Widder, and 5) Slow, Stupid, Ugly Gapper.

Bicycle Doctor Fucks SlingShot (again): As you may recall last week I phoned the Bicycle Doctor to see about getting some new wheels, because my fat ass had put so many miles on mine (recently purchased) that the cog side spokes had forced small cracks along the rim of the back wheel.

I noticed the problem just before a Harriman ride but risked disaster by doing the ride anyway.

When I phoned the Bicycle Doctor he told me it was a warranty issue and told me to bring them in for a loaner wheel. He said my 7,000 miles on them didn't matter, they were guaranteed for 5 years.

The wheel deal was already chronicled as ChatterBox post #2793. If you need to know more you can go read it. Of course, that Ugly, Slow, Stupid Gapper won't bother, but that will be explained later.

In summary, I took the wheel in, got the loaner, and figured it would be a couple of summers before I heard back about the wheel. I wasn't too concerned, because I had a wheel and an excuse. If I wasn't riding well I could always blame it on the loaner wheel. I knew nobody would notice it was faster than the one I had turned in.

Then I got word through the blogosfuckingphere that Rich Cruet was trying to get in touch me, and I thought, "I knew they were not going to go for the warranty deal. I'll just buy a new one. Wanted a new one anyway."

I called Rich, and he said, "You're wheel is in. Sorry I lost your number."

Turns out they did not have a new one to match the one I had, and Rich told them so. He said the lady only responded, "We'll just send him two then. Both front and back."

That motherfucker Rich. Look what he did to me. Not only did he get me two (2) new wheels for free, he also made sure they were the newest issue.

When I grabbed the front one to put it on my bike near the Heritage Trail yesterday, I realized it was significantly lighter than my old one. It is almost as light as those extra special I'm Just a Light Little Girl wheels the Widder has.

If that isn't bad enough that these 2008's are lighter and faster than the ones I turned in, they are also a lot prettier. I guess that's in order to call attention to the fact that I haven't got a leg left to stand my excuses on.

Rich says, "I always tell people the most important part of purchasing cycling equipment is the warranty. When something goes bad, it is important to have the manufacturer stand behind their product without a lot of nonsense about how it had to be rider error."

Fuck the Bicycle Doctor. I think the most important part of a purchase is how many excuses it provides. He has totally taken all mine away and made it obvious at the same time. What am I supposed to do now that I look all shiny and fast, and should be?

Bite me, Rich. Bite me hard.

Goddamn Internet: This should be quick.

I have spent the last month trying to purchase a useful Portuguese Dictionary so I can learn to speak to the fucking Portugreesicans in a way they can understand.

All the crap in the local Barnes & Noble, and all the shit at Amazon (and mostly the whole fucking Internet), is only that bullshit Brazilian Portuguese.

I'm surprised they even get to call that jabberwocky Portuguese.

I found one description thus: "The difference between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese is equal to the difference between British English and German!"

I don't mind learning a whole new language, so I don't look like a total backwoods idiot when trying to talk to other riders, but I sure as shit ain't going to waste time on something other than an acrolect standard.

I even went so far as to send direct e-mail to the publisher of the Portuguese academic standard that was put together by the Portuguese Academy of Sciences.

As usual, I haven't heard a word back, but I'm pretty sure I'll be getting a lot of extra spam for my trouble.

Maybe if Turtle Boy ever gets back online, He can help me. Which reminds me.

Monument to Hector: At about the three quarter's mark during last Sunday's Big Lollipop ride, I was on Humberto's breakaway wheel coming up to the turn back onto Jackson Road. That's about as far as I ever get on that ride before getting dropped, so I was tickled pink to still be on the Turtle Wheel despite the 28 mph pace.

I had also endured a little bit similar on the way out, after the Widder kept on riding during a pee-break which triggered a big blast-by grouping which she failed to respond to and made me go around her and rush to latch back on.

I was so wasted from that little chase that I never recovered for the rest of the ride, so I can't begin to tell you how exciting it was to still be on Humberto's wheel at a turn where such things are traditionally over.

Except on the turn I caught the merest side of his back glance, and he attacked again. This time at speed.

I went with him for a about a half-mile but soon realized everybody else was long dropped, and I was soon to be, so I quit.

Good thing I quit too, because I got to finish the ride with Hector. I even got to talk to him.

I said, "Nice ride."

Hector said, "It's my first time on a bicycle this year."

I said, "What?! But you did workout on a trainer or something during the winter, right?"

"No, nothing. Nothing at all."

Humberto reports that Hector is maybe 70 years old, so you do the math. His first ride out this year (actually his first anything this year) was a 54 mile Big Lollipop with... well, with assholes.

By the end of the ride I asked him, "Why does Humberto hate you so much to have you go on this ride your first day out?"

I also thought, "Fuck, man! Nobody better be fucking with the Portuguese. These fuckers are tough."

Somebody better put a bronze sculpture monument of Hector across from Humberto's staring him right in the garage!

Big Bianchi Beats the Widder: Speaking of tough guys, I heard from Big Bianchi (local cycling club President) in the parking lot after the Hump this morning that he did a 1-Hour time trial at a 200 watt average on his stationary trainer last Monday.

That means, he has now beaten the Widder's best for this year in terms of effort. Her own time trial last month on the road only averaged 171 watts.

So for now, the Widder is considered BEAT!

Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of power to weight and wind resistance, it is still unlikely that Mr. Big (the favorite son of Mama Bianchi) would be able to beat the 19.2 mph average that Mary achieved during her time trial into the wind with a 90 foot overall climb, but still...

Ugly, Slow, Stupid Gapper: Speaking of things heard in the Hump parking lot, the Gapper reports that Mrs. Gapper has been reading the Widder's progress reports due to having a similar foot problem.

He also reports that he himself may read a paragraph or two here and there, but she reads a lot more of it.

That is ironic, because Mrs. Gapper is smart, fast, and beautiful, while the Gapper proper is quite slow, stupid and ugly. I can say this with total immunity, because he is unlikely to read this far down.

On the other hand, he might be reassigned away from his current designation if he would rethink his new policy about not pulling everybody for whole entire rides anymore.

He will be given a chance to do just that at tomorrow's Big Lollipop.

Good luck, Gapper, and please, disregard my mentioning how the Widder stayed on Glenn and Myle's wheels for a 23+ mph finish while using only 80 watts... her warmup wattage. I am sure I must have overstated that, and it is quite acceptable for you to resume your position pulling at the front and forever.

[Editor's Note: Those who have been following the 23+ Widder's Hump progress may wonder why the report about her last 1-Hour ITT is now being shown as a 19.2 mph average, not the 18.54 first reported.

That is because I went out and drove the course again and found that according to the Official ARC Pace Car the distance is in fact 19.2 miles, not 18.54.

I consider the car odometer is somewhat more likely to be accurate than a bicycle trip computer, since I can actually get fined for speeding if it reports distances incorrectly.

Happily, the 19.2 is more in line with the predictions of our simplified chart.]


05/25/08   Big Lollipop
05/26/08 40 miles Pedro's Harriman Loop
05/28/08 with Humberto's straight at Descent Du Paul to 208 Silence of the Lambs
05/31/08 with Bob after Mary's bulging disk diagnosis Heritage Trail
06/01/08 B & M chased by dog on way out, turned back at deli Big Lollipop (short)
06/03/08 Tuesday with Dr. Art, to Donkey Hill, Art School Hill Dr. Art Tuesday
06/05/08 Practice shifting, chase, dust, and drop Harriet Heritage Trail
06/05/08 Practice shifting, chase, dust, and drop Harriet Heritage Trail
06/07/08 Click here for the:

The Best Bit of Hump Info You Are Likely to Find

06/08/08   Big Lollipop
06/14/08 Early Bird Special with Jim, Mary, Bob. Flatted at Tetz. Intervals till caught by FRONT GROUP at big hill 88, then Jim and Mary finished with the FRONT GROUP holding high mph and low watts Hump
06/15/08 From Fleet Bank to park past Space Farms and back. Humberto, Pedro, Dangerous, Paul, Kevin, Glenn, Cranky, Doug, Mary, Bob.
Bail out at park past Space Farms then Glenn, Widder and Cranky came home alone. Bob explained steady state watts with no
downhill resting and pointed out Mary's bad leg and remediation process to Glenn.
Space Farms Alt
06/21/08 Hump. Jim, Mary, and Bob on Early Bird Special with leg remediation for Mary. Caught by TRUE FRONT GROUPKevin Haley, Dave Freifelder, Glenn Babikian, Myles Billard, somebody from Skylands.

Sent Mary with them, but she bailed to protect her leg. On review she at first swore the pace was faster than ever when she hooked on, but on closer questioning admitted, "I was at about 230 watts after Dave attacked dropping Kevin, Glenn, Myles and the guy from Skylands. I wasn't hurting but didn't want to screw up all the work we've done with my psoas, back, and sciatica, so I bailed and ended up doing a 171 watt 22.43 test interval from Jolly Onion to the top of Hard Core Hill. My leg is getting better."

BLASTER (Jim Amels) is starting to look raw due to his preparation for the three week 1600 mile ride in July. He's been doubling up on Humps by going out before the Early Bird Special then going out again with us.

06/22/08 Big Lollipop with Pedro, Paul, Humberto, Vino, Bob, and Mary. Got caught in rain. Mary eased off and finished with Bob
sort of.
Big Lollipop
06/23/08 Bead Hill with Paul, Bob, Mary easy recovery ride 26.15 miles. Mary reports her leg is finally feeling right again.

Bob pointed out from review of the data that she overworked Bead Hill while allowing Bob to top it and that her torque on it was higher than the torque of her final test interval up Clove Road.

Mary's high torque vs. lower wattage points out the necessity of an adequate spin. For 9 NM she posted 154 on Bead Hill then 191 watts up Clove Road. Her performance is coming back around. In fact it's getting better than ever in terms of efficiency and smooth spinning.

Daily Yoga, stretching, icing, and specialty soccer exercises have really helped. Not to mention, she no longer pays any attention to the other riders in group rides. She keeps with the program.

Bead Hill
06/24/08 Zirra Kicks the Widder's Ass Silence of the Lambs
06/25/08 Mary full off, iced broken toe. Bob out with Powertap on short loop of Sugar Loaf triple, no Demarest. -b short loop of
Sugar Loaf Triple Loop
06/26/08 Mary full off, stared at broken toe. Bob out on Heritage Trail. -b on Heritage Trail
06/27/08 Everybody off, to look at Mary's toe and marvel at her psoas not working.

06/28/08 Download Kim, tailwind, low watts Jolly Onion home Hump
06/29/08 San Remo Up Past West Point
San Remo
06/30/08 Day off, nothing, nada.  
07/01/08 Silence of the Lambs Comparison Interval with Gary The Bull Silence of the Lambs
07/02/08 Easy spin with repeats of Right/Left tests. Mary was tight in the left glute, got it under control by allowing it to stretch, then lost it when a family got in our way and a kid almost darted in front.

Her foot cramped up, and she never recovered from it. Therefore, we worked on the testing process all the way up to Monroe, and had discussions about how tension in one part of the body will broadcast to other parts. Mary did repeats of relaxation exercises that she is supposed to do on her SacroWedgy.

While keeping cadence 90-100 relax: bottom of feet, top of feet, calves, shins, hams, quads, glutes, psoas, sacrum, lower abs, mid back, upper abs, lats, pecs, back of delts, front of delts, traps, front of neck, jaw, lips, ears, nose, temples, eyes, top of head, repeat, "I am one motherfucking terrific cyclist. Unbeatable actually." Then repeat.

Ended with Bob pulling strong interval home. Saw baby dear caught on inside of old Camp LaGuardia fence.

Heritage Trail
07/03/08 We are formalizing pre-ride benchmarking, so today was a repeat of yesterday's easy workout on the Heritage Trail in order to review and solidify concepts.

Looks like we are back on track. Mary now understands how all the group rides have hurt (not helped) her performance. She is excited about getting back on the program and back to improvement.

After her first meditation exercise phase starting today's ride, Mary stood and started chanting her mantra, and I had to point out that it was meant as the final stage of the relaxation exercise.

Standing to do it defeats the purpose of the relaxation by insinuating tension at the very moment there should be the big "I'm relaxed and strong" payoff.

We also added arms to the relaxation points (my omission), and discussed how the goal of these exercises is to be able to do them in a single relaxing breath out. We will progressively move toward that goal with variation through interim exercise.

Like a musician practices scales bit by bit and slowly assembles them into a single fluid and fast musical line, these exercises will eventually be done as a single motion.

I should have reminded her that a Zen archer spends 25 years learning to raise the bow before being allowed to do it with an arrow.

In summary, we found that compared to the previous workout, she had achieved only the very slightest of almost imperceptible gains in performance.

The technical term for this situation is: real improvement.

Warmup, benchmarking, and tactical elements to be used for the 23+ Widder's Hump is formalized on the Benchmarking Page.


Heritage Trail
07/04/08 Repeat of the last two days work on Benchmarking.

Things were going along pretty well when on a second repeat of the 30 second 90, 100, 110, 120, spin out Cadence test, I noticed that Mary's spin fell apart drastically in the last half of the 120 sequence.

I told her to bail out of the exercise and not do the spin out. Oddly, she listened.

On questioning I found out it happened because she clicked to an easier gear. That was a good opportunity to point out the point of the exercise which is to go beyond merely testing pre-ride performance.

I explained what the roughness was showing.

When you are spinning with some watts in your pedals, you are using the return pressure from the pedals to smooth out problems in your stroke. When that pressure is gone, the true refinement (or lack of) reveals itself.

We are using the Stroke test to feel for gross rough spots in your stroke. Partly that is how we identified the problem with your psoas, piriformis, hip, restricted left leg movement.

We have made good progress with that, and gotten back to the point where variation on the amount of pressure in the spin stroke reveals finer points that need attention.

The ultimate goal is to be able to spin freely with full motion in each leg, but also to be so closely connected to the crank arm trajectory that you can feel the circle and follow iteven without feedback pressure coming from the pedals. Eventually it will be under the autonomic control of localized proprioceptors.

Dancers call it muscle memory, and I previously wrote a book about it called "Impulse and Strength: playing musical instruments toward perfection."

At the time of my book (1991), I had neither heard the term muscle memory nor the word proprioceptor. I was just trying to describe the internal process I was observing in my study and practice of music performance.

But back to the trail. We then did a few of our older Cadence tests which consist of her clicking up to a hard gear, stomping to speed, settling and shifting down well below what could maintain her current speed, and spinning with no pressure at all in the pedals.

The requirement for that is to remain totally perched and settled on the saddle with no bouncing.

At the point of bouncing the rider backs off the cadence speed and comes back to just under the point the bouncing would begin.

Feel for various elements in the spin that give the impression they are just about to let loose into a bounce.

Take that knowledge over to a slow spin in a gear too hard for the speed. That will naturally slow the spin rate. Alternate the process going from hard slow, and easy fast while comparing and contrasting.

Months ago in Floriduh, I described the goal as being able to spin correctly on the International Space station with no bicycle, and no movement of your body in a weightless environment.

That was the original idea, but we had to back off working on it when the psoas (etc) problem was defined. The work we have done on her left leg and flexibility has brought us back to the original problem with enhanced movement.

After the Cadence test we did some controlled standing to seat repeats and identified break point where Mary moves away from pain in her foot and plops to the saddle. If she really concentrates she can avoid the plop and only has a stutter near 3 inches from seating. I had her do it a few times and identified the problem is on her left side, and the break in contact with her left foot is observable.

We did some practice with her trying to hold even weight in both feet all the way down, and also from seated to standing. That relieved some of the pressure off both feet, but more work needs to be done.

Then we worked on pop-watts with a goal of just over 200 watts and 200 to 250 being considered a success.

As an aside, while writing this current log entry I noticed I have a note in the NEXT section below about working on pop-watts at 200 due to Mary still overworking starts. That note was placed there prior to 05/17/08, her psoas meltdown, and her too many group rides that had the fine effect of teaching her she does not want to be doing them.

The persistence of the pop-watt problem follows with my experience teaching music.

Such problems can remain exactly as they are for 20 years until specifically addressed and remediated.

I have often placed a note in a student's sheet music that a specific problem exists, then pointed it out to them month's (in one case years) later.

When a student realized the problem wasn't going away till they fixed it, and they addressed the problem, it was gone forever.

Ironically, I always described it in terms of, "It's like the old saying, 'Once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget how.'"

Oddly, it turns out most people have never learned how to ride a bike.

Mary is currently 30% successful in hitting just over 200 watts with a range of 200 to 250 being considered successful.

This is not an easy thing to do.

It is also something that is currently well beyond any of the literature on the subject, because power meters are so new nobody has ever had a way to track and improve pedal stroke correctness using objective, reliable, repeatable results (ORRR), much less approaching it from an artisitic performance point of view.

Now I must go wash the dishes, because Mary will expect them to be done when she wakes up in the morning.

If somebody gets pissed off at me during the Hump and shoots me, let me thank you in advance.


Heritage Trail
07/05/08 Gravel on Roe so went out Pumkin Swamp. Everything seemed positive with warmup and cadence tests, plus high watts standing on hill to Cross Road plus the next hills on Cross, Maple and Rte 12 to Soons.

Mary did a 184 watt interval on Ridgebury which dropped me, but she paid the price, and her form was breaking as early as the turn at the Moraski horse farm. A 420 watts for 20 sec on the Camel Farm Hill finished her off.

Despite feeling lackluster from the Camel Farm to the Jolly Onion she tried a 175+ interval for Pulaski, but succeeded only in 166 with much effort and fell apart further.

On questioning Mary said, "I thought 165 is my bottom line, and I should be able to do that at least."

"Well, you proved you could, but just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Look what it did to your leg."


07/06/08 Exercises and spinning trying to regain losses from yesterday's Hump. However, on the return trip during the brief climb past the parking lot in Monroe, she had a personal best 5 sec at 552 watts.

Still awkward though much improved from Floriduh due to her stretching and Yoga and backing off the group rides. Plus she now understands how and why it is awkward and is working to improve it.


Heritage Trail
07/07/08 Exercises and spinning trying to regain losses from Hump.

Not a strong day but a lot of progress was made on spin technique. Mary is getting better at spinning with no pressure on the pedals that she used to compensate for pour spin technique.

She is getting smoother overall with fewer episodes of staggering wobbles.

Test solo leg strength and found she has no more than 130 watts in either leg until a form break, thought the right leg remains the stronger.

Her standing to seated exercises are getting much better and she falls to the right to a lesser degree. Bailed out of exercises when she complained about her broken toe, but when she realized that we were not going to skip it and go onto other exercises she worked the problem a little and found that if she didn't clutch with her toes she could platform on the ball of her foot.

That technique did not remediate the left foot bunion problem as well, but it is very clear where the problem lies.

I saw she was still overworking the sprint on the hill past the Monroe Commuter lot coming home, so I had her do some 400 watt pop-watts. I took one of her power meter CPUs so she could spin up without watching.

She found it surprisingly easy to go over 400 even close to 500. She had three over 500 with one being 551. Her 5 sec best is 552, so we can probably use this technique to bring that number up.

Here's the problem: as soon as somebody mentions a high watt, or holding a long watt, somebody else tenses up so much they can't do it. Self fulfilling failure.


Heritage Trail
07/08/08 Two personal bests: maximum watts of 617 along with 568 for 5 sec.

Now standard warmup with startup rotation test right then left. Mary graded it at 8-9. Meditation repeats to Goshen, then repeat rotation test for comparison. Downgraded left and upgraded left.

The rotation test is expanded into an exercise thus: testing the right leg first (her good one), Mary focuses on where the power is coming from on the down stroke with special interest given to her inner quad at the knee.

Then she alternates to her left leg (clicking out the right), and tries to duplicate the effort by closely following her memory of how the right leg did it.

She can switch back and forth a few times trying to find at exactly what point the left leg knee loses power, and see what might be done to fix it, such as a little more pressure on the inside of the knee, more effective plat forming of the left foot on the pedal, altering toe position to allow more efficient power transfer, etc.

Today she could bring each leg up to 160-180 watts. She realized that the harder effort teaches particulars to take back to the easier effort for review, and that faster efforts can also provide insight to carry back to slower efforts.

Faster and harder causes problems to surface, because fast and hard cannot happen without relative perfection. What is learned can be recalled on the slower and easier attempts when the problems can be more closely observed. Once a problem is identified and smoothed out slow and easy, it will disappear from the faster and easier. At that point a new baseline for the form breaks will become obvious.

Maybe somewhat ironically, this works in both directions.

Fast and hard can reveal problems which can be worked out slow and easy, but newly realized problems can also be observed during slow and easy which can be tracked back to fast and hard to give insight into the problems there.

As with all functioning physical objects, the human body has a natural range of speed and motion which provides optimum functioning. However, the human body can be led past those natural limitations to greater degrees of functioning.

What may be counterintuitive about this is that it can be as hard to move slower as it is to move faster. Testing and comparing in either direction reveals much about the other. Improvement in one direction provides a tool and aids improvement in the other direction.

If you want to ride fast, practice slow. Smooth is the key.

After her rotation tests she completed timed cadence tests for 30 seconds each of 90, 100, 110, 120 rpm, finishing by spinning out.

Mary was already bouncing during the 120, but I prompted her to sit planted and relax through the buildup, and that helped her settle.

She saw only 140, 160, 163 during the test, but the downloaded data reveals she peaked 215, 200, 200 for the first test, 200, 230, 210 during the second, and 180, 190, 190 for the third. Obviously these are rpm spikes that occur when she moves to a faster cadence.

I had talked her though her form breaks, so the third was by far the best, and she had a 425 watt spike during that final spinout.

The decision was made that cadence tests should always be done in threes in order to carry over what is learned in the first two into a final test at the end.

Then Mary did a series of pop-watts to 200 with 200 to 250 considered a success. The first few were very close, then she began undershooting the goal.

We increased the goal to 300 then immediately 400, because her new freedom of motion has made this effort very easy. All of her 400's were well over 500, and we did quick repeats then one after a rest to show how easy they seem when fresh.

On the return trip we got caught in a brief rain, but she had her personal bests (617 max, 5 sec 568) on the parking lot hill.

Then she did a few 500 plus spikes to fine tune her form and see how that effort is not nearly as hard as she used to think it had to be.

So far we have still not started working on pure strength exercises, because until her form is solid she will be training the wrong muscles. She is still getting power gains from fine tuning technique alone.

Her leg problem seems to be about 85% remediated, but that just allows the bunion problem to be once again prominent.

After I stepped her through sitting planted and relaxing during her first series of cadence tests, Mary self diagnosed her bouncing problem as coming from a form break where she was not bringing her left foot over the top of the pedal stroke.

She fixed it on her own, and had that stellar smooth final test. She has a long way to go with that, but lots of progress has been made this week alone.

I pointed out that her own self assessment was perfect process, and that she will do much better on her own than with my help, because she has a lot more internal information about what is really going on than I can observe from the outside.

By the end of the ride, she reported all things felt 9, and later in the evening she was shocked by how tired she was.

I said, "Don't underestimate how hard that workout was. But it was done in a way that will make you stronger, not tear you down the way all those chaotic, undirected, unfocused group rides with no training goals have been doing to you."



Heritage Trail
07/09/08 Rest Day, stretching, chair standing sit, etc.  
07/10/08 Personal Best 30 sec: 404 watts, 120.8 lb Heritage Trail
07/11/08 Rest Day, stretching, chair standing sit, etc.  
07/12/08 Bob food poisoned, Mary solo Hump testing long interval easy riding, left leg good. new orthotic shim good. right back/leg sore Hump
07/13/08 Sunday with road to Golf Carts then Meadow Ave, spent entire ride trying to get Mary standing on her left leg. Heritage Trail
07/14/08 Left leg finally starting to feel better Heritage Trail
07/15/08 Left leg continues to improve, saw Shortess plus Golden Adonis runner, finished an extra 10 miles with Steve; Personal Best 5 sec of 592 Heritage Trail
07/16/08 Leg continues to improve, tested longer intervals via a 3 min 219 which was supposed to be 200, and was an easy 225 until somebody was all over the trail and Mary held up to avoid hitting them Heritage Trail
07/17/08 Rest Day, stretching, chair standing sit, etc.  
07/18/08 Plan: Test continued leg improvement for a Go/No Go of tomorrow's Hump with longer 200 watt intervals in preparation for next 1-hour test at 191.

Actual: I suggested bail-out at beginning of cadence tests when Mary said, "I'm worried about doing the longer tests."

After I said, "That's it for today, and you should not do the hard intervals on tomorrow's Hump. She wanted to continued the workout and try it anyway. There was not talking her out of it.

Fine tuned shuttle spins process and did a 3 minute 200 watt interval which she held at 276 till somebody crossed in front of her on the trail at 45 sec. Ended with a 260 average, recovered and ended with a 260 avg for the 62 sec interval.

Still suggest not trying the long intervals, but nobody's listening. Even though Mary hit a 600+ max at one point without even knowing it.

Heritage Trail
07/19/08 Plan: Alternating fast/slow long intervals on the Hump. Warmup to Pulaski, Int1 will be 200 to Cross Road, then easy to Maple, 200 to Rt 12, easy to Ridgebury, 200 to Lime Kiln, Easy to hill before Camel Farm, 400+ 30 sec on Camel Hill, easy to Lower Road, 200 to Oil City, easy to 88, 200 home (with possible break at Jolley Onion for light); bail-out at any point if leg becomes even a slight problem; Bob is slated to be dropped on Ridgebury, Camel Hill, Dog Hill, and the last hill coming into Pine Island. Otherwise he may survive but not happily.

Actual: From Big Island stop to Cross Road, 202 average with noticeable surging due to Mary being off her game regarding smoothness and has not been holding pace for long efforts since starting her recovery routines for her hip/knee/left leg.

She got a little panicky.

The second interval (Maple Ave) dropped to 183 and was hard to maintain that due to leg/psoas/glute problems that were observed on yesterday's Heritage Trail test.

The next interval was ticked off as two by dividing it by Ridgebury to Top the Top to Lime Kiln. This long interval was 11:42 total was a little better, while Mary dropped into conservation mode due to realizing her leg is still not right.

She lost a lot of wattage on the downhill after Ridgebury Top, but used the opportunity to practice not panicking and slowly building back average watts. She brought it from 165 back to 176 by Lime Kiln and the next rest interval.

When we first got back from Floriduh this spring a 200 watt interval of this length was standard for her, but too many group rides tore down her process (not to mention muscle and joint health) to the point this is now a challenge.

The average for the two back to back intervals combined  for a 183 watt avg. Not bad, not good.

The FRONT of the FRONT GROUP (6) passed us during our rest interval, eventually followed by the B Front Group (a splintered 6), then one straggler. The last person (generally termed a Double AA Rider passed us far enough before the Hill Before the Camel Farm for us to regroup, have me pull Mary into the turn and set her loose on a chase.

Unfortunately, her hip had degraded so much by then that she couldn't chase. However, she still almost caught the guy on the climb while in a conservative 130 watts mode with a 554 peak (before realizing her leg was gone).

After the Camel Farm, Mary decided that what I had predicted on yesterday's test ride was correct, and she should bail out of this ride. We took the shortcut home from and ended up finishing with the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP who was by then going really slow and trying to sucker each other into pulling too hard before the finish sprint. Mary had a 11.19 mph average from the turn onto Round Hill to the finish line and an 83 watt average while drafting to the sprint.

We got a wattage report from Andreas for the full ride afterward. Very eye opening, even though this was definitely a slow ride for the FRONT.

We believe we found the final solution to Mary's leg/knee/hip problem: pushing down into the pain in her left glute stabilized her left knee. We'll see.


      avg / max (prev)
01)  202/308  (N/A) (Pulaski to Cross Road)
02)  183/315 (N/A) (Maple Ave)
03a) 194/331 (N/A) (Ridgebury To Top)
03b) 176/288 (N/A) (had dropped to 165 on downhill, slow rebuild)
03c) 183/331 (N/A) (combination of 3a/3b)

07/20/08 Plan: See if a one minute record possible after lots of pop-watts to 400 plus, due it seems we found the final problem on yesterday's Hump. Pushing down into the pain in her left glute stabilized her left knee in a way not observed previously.

Actual: Toward the end of yesterday's Hump, Mary finally realized that when I see something in training that is a clear indication of system failure, I am not talking nonsense. However, the (predicted) failure on the Hump was bad enough to do a long series of technical tests on the way home from the Jolly onion (testing at 130, 140, 150, 160 watts to identify point of failure, retest with altered technique) and we found that pushing into the pain of her left glute stabilized her left knee which was still failing at 130 watts.

Always before we would get to this point, and then she would complain of pain in her left foot bunion, but we have recently upgraded her orthotic by sticking a wad of cotton under the concavity between big toe and little bunions. That seems to have added just enough of a plat forming between the two points to mitigate the problem.

In fact, on a 400 watt pop-watt yesterday to show Tom Folkl how easy it is to overwork, Mary hit 490 immediately with very little effort, she also reported excellent results after this morning's Yoga, stretching, rubber band, and standing/sit exercises, "Feels better than ever."

We figured a 400 watt 60 second interval (where we left off over a month ago) should now be doable.

Immediately after her first solo leg spin test at the beginning of today's ride, I saw she was already hitching up with her left hip, so we spent a couple hours developing more precise exercises to help Mary be aware of the problem (she felt nothing) then remedy the problem.

The final exercise developed was this: three short lifts of a shuttle spin to 7 o'clock, then pull over full stroke with excellent control to bottom, rest at bottom for a count of three then, repeat.

We tried a 60 sec interval just to confirm things are fucked up.

Sure enough, they still are. She called herself off the first attempt at 33 seconds for a lackluster 307 avg with a 441 max. On the second attempt I called her off at 29 seconds when things were obviously going downhill. That one was a 348 average with a 468 max.

Mary contends that what I saw was a gear change and that she was confident the watts would be coming back.

Our final decision was that I should only hold her Current CPU for Pop-watts and short sprints only.

For efforts over 15 seconds, she needs to see Current and Average at the same time in order to control her effort and motivate her performance.

Sounds right.


Round Hill Road
Infinite Loop 2 hours
working on Shuttle Spins
07/21/08 Plan: Standard ride start metrics, then Bob takes Current CPU for Pop-watts to 400 followed by 15 second 400 plus tests with Mary carrying both CPU's.

Actual: Mary reports morning Yoga, stand/sit, and knee rubber band exercises best ever. Slight numbness in left leg on rising, gone after exercises.

Tested and expanded new Shuttle Spin exercises which start with 3 short pulls to 7o'clock focusing on lifting knee without engaging hamstring (loose ankle), then once around, build to multiple around, add right leg clipped-in but unused (tough to do), go back to left only add pressure, speed, back to two legs focus on left.

Alternate no pressure slow, build to pressure and fast, repeat from slow no pressure.

Short 400 watt int's found Mary needs to have both Current and Average for that length andcan start own intervals then build
watt average; 300+ easy, 400+ hard, had an epiphany with shuttle spins then a 213 watt One minute was much easier, whole different
ball game.

Began the stand on left place saddle on outside of right glute, switch to stand on right place saddle on outside left glute, repeat till comfortable without wobbling off trail, then do repeats left to right, then expand into a standing slow spin in large gear swaying bike beneath.

These standing exercises now possible due to cotton insert added to her left foot orthotic which has added stability between big toe and little toe bunions. Yippee!

Lots of turn exercises. Still panics her.


Heritage Trail
07/22/08 Plan: Review yesterday's performance with fractured Shuttle Spins, Stand Left, Right, then Yoga spin to Goshen, on return remember to add averaging cadence tests (click intervals) after two timed 90, 100, 110, 120 spin-out tests, next Pop-Watts to 400, then add new Pop-Intervals to 400 average at whatever time.

Actual: Two personal bests of 411 for 30 sec and standing max 611 thanks to chasing (and walloping) a Tri-Guy. Never got to the 400 watt Pop-Intervals due to catching sight of the Tri-Guy.

Ride started with standing on left then right with saddle outside opposite leg for balance, Turn-Overs each leg, then turns practice near parking lot. Once on trail repeated standing followed by sway bike standing, then turn-over tests. Afterwards did a number of 0 G's with 3 starts then over for left leg which progressed to spins under light pressure then long meditation spin to Goshen.

Turn around at Goshen then 2x cadence tests at 90, 100, 110, 120 and spin-out (near 200). A subsequent Cadence Interval resulted in lackluster 115 for 10 secs.

Lots of free form Pop-watts to 400, two of which were over 500. We used these to catch the Tri-Guy, and after the Chester Train station I assigned Mary to start on the uphill a 3min Int @200w with me holding the Current Watt CPU.

She did great with slight fluctuations for a 212 avg.

Standing rest afterwards to recover her leg/hip/glute while the (long gone) Tri-Guy caught back up, and made the mistake of passing again.

So I had Mary pass him again with a 300 watt minute which ended up being only 258, because Mary had to back off due to trail traffic.

Mary stood to rest and he caught us again, so I called for a 3 minute interval at just below threshold so she gave me 179.

After our 1.5 minute rest Tri-Guy was close enough to allow around near the parking lot crossing going toward Monroe. Mary attacked him on the hill after the crossing and posted a quick cadence standing PB of 611 watts during a 40 sec 258 interval, then we held back near the overpass, so Tri-Guy could get around us and through the turnaround to allow Mary an unobstructed turn practice.

After that Mary took her CPU back, and we went easy to the Parking Lot crossing where Tri-Guy came close enough to prompt Mary into a PB 30sec @411W.

We allowed him to come around, pasted Mary on his wheel, and I coached her through following close enough to draft, far back enough to never allow coasting (with ratcheting sounds and danger); and Tri-Guy appeared to finish a long interval at the bottom of the hill just before the railroad car.

He checked his watch, so I set Mary on a 300 watt pace to the Chester Train station.

The whole draft excursion back from Monroe resulted in a 77 watt, 21.8 mph avg. As for the final 300, Mary only needed 202 watts to finish him off.

Then we did a couple turns around the manhole cover and called it a day.

Mary's leg/hip/glute got a little dicey toward the end, but recovered well. Maybe we are getting back on track.

Her new cotton wad insert in her left shoe orthotic seems to have given her enough pain free platform in her foot to start thinking about actual strength exercises.

We'll see.


Heritage Trail
07/23/08 Plan: Possible rain day.

Actual: Yesterday, I set Mary on a web search quest to find a definitive answer to the question of the supposed dead spot in pedal strokes.

I have heard it described as at the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock position, and elsewhere described as between 9 and 12 o'clock. I have also seen 4, 7, and 9 mentioned. 

I have never heard a scientific explanation, nor seen the word "relative" included in any of the texts, nor have I ever found outlined any series of stepped exercises specifically designed to mitigate the problem.

We have been doing a lot of work on designing exercises to help Mary's psoas/hip/leg/sciatic/bunion/piriformis problem (which we are currently treating as an injury), and the series of exercises we have established specifically address the supposed dead spot problem.

These exercises are merely a continuation of the work we were doing during winter training in Florida earlier this year, and those exercises have already resulted in significant gains in the steady state power available to Mary, even without strength training per se.

I believe the discussion of the "dead spot" merely describes most people's skill level in dealing with a smooth pedal stroke, not a formalized clinical definition of an actual limitation of the human interface to the bike crank and pedal.

The fact that we haven't found anybody else who knows that a Computrainer bar graph for pedal stroke smoothness can easily be fooled while pedaling with only one foot (while the other foot is clicked out and resting on a the ground) is a rather clear indication nobody has ever taken a serious look at the problem.

Everybody just hears that there is a dead spot, realizes it is part of their own limitation set, assumes it is a natural limitation, and stops thinking about how to fix it.

People are idiots.

Mary came up with several online references this morning, but none are anything more than the vague description of the dead spot that I have seen before.

Then a rain ride:  Just when I thought the day was over and would be recorded as a rest day, Cranky phoned Mary and asked to meet at 5:30 for an easy ride on the Heritage Trail. When she phoned back at 5:00 for a weather check, Cranky sounded so upset to miss a ride, Widder said, "Sure. We can ride we'll just get rained on."

On the way out, I saw a special note from Kevin Haley regarding the dead spot issue, so I posted it on the way out the door. [see: ChatterBox post #2860, 02/23/08]

Kevin's pointer was to similar material that we have been talking about, supports what I said above, and shows the industry is transitioning away from some old mythology with tools being developed to help people understand a better way.

After posting Kevin's note we met Cranky for the ride, and Mary did her standard warmup, then some test intervals to see if her leg/hip/psoas/piriformis/bunion problem is still getting better. It is.

Her alternate standing improved from yesterday to the degree it looked like she'd been working on it a week. Her turn exercises came within a hair's breadth of being no problem at all.

Cranky spit when we told her the parameters of Widder's turning exercise just three days ago. Then Cranky bested Mary's turn radius without even thinking about it.

By the time we finished Mary's series of warmup and technical studies from Chester to Goshen then back through to Monroe, Cranky had a pretty good handle on what we are working on.

She was of course shocked by the 400 watt Pop-watts, and a little quizzical about the 300 watt longer intervals.

She was probably most shocked to see how low Mary's top power is, as Mary hit another PB max at the Parking Lot coming back from Monroe. This time it was 619, and much easier than before.

In fact, Mary was 10 seconds into a 30 second PB when she started hydroplaning in the rain and called it off.

The orthotic modification we placed in her left shoe has been a great help, and she can now stand on both feet... though Cranky did witness her almost staggering off the trail during her first standing exercises.

We forgot to do the standing to seated series.

I love the rain. It slows Widder down.

Cranky would love the rain also, if she thought about it. All she could say was, "I thought it would sprinkle and then be done. I didn't know it was going to rain, rain."

We did.


Heritage Trail
07/24/08 Plan: Easy recovery with standard warmup. Mary's left ham tight, plus hormone disruption. Probably yesterday's stress in the rain did not help matters much.

Actual: Mary had a stellar pre-ride warmup with very tight turn radius. Then ran into Shortess on the trail for the actual warm, and showed him status of Mary's ride vis-a-vis standing left/right, stand sit, Zero G spins, cadence test (probably best ever for Mary) then 260 watt 15 sec interval and Pop-watts to 400. Steve bailed at Chester Train station (had already done a circuit of the trail), and Mary and I went almost to Monroe, before she decided her hormones had the best of her.

Came back to Chester and I went out with group ride to bail out at Coleman. That is to say, when the ride was about to get 5 times harder for me than for anybody else, where I would blow-up and not recover for the rest of the ride, I knew better and turned around.

Left a dollar under Palletman's windshield wiper as payment for the bet on Hulsetown vs. Rte. 51. Fuck him.


Heritage Trail
07/25/08 Total rest. No ride. Bob spent the day reformatting Impulse and Strength for music website, so did a good job of screwing up his performance for the next month or so.


07/26/08 Plan: 1-Hour ITT on the Hump to compare to the one in April in order to see if Mary has enough sustainable strength in her hip/psoas/back/piriformis/bunions to start actual training.

Actual: New personal best 1-Hour at 172 watts with lower body weight of 121.2 lb. That's 1 watt more and 1.6 lbs less than last time for an improved watts/kg of 3.122 which moves her up one line in the chart toward her immediate goal of Cat 3 for MEN.

Her previous 171 watts was just a little faster. Today she got to just before the stop sign at the Y coming onto Rte1 after the Camel Farm. Last time she got another 2 tenths of a mile onto Rte1 for a 19.2 average, so today was just under 19.

This time she used her "current" mode power meter CPU for the 1-Hour interval, and clicked intervals at intersections on her "average" mode CPU. That way we have a single interval record of the entire trial plus a record for each section between landmarks.

Last time she didn't have the extra interval information and it was quite hard trying to decide what happened where. This time it is obvious, and it confirms that the intersections are going to require special attention.

Each "in-between" interval averaged 175-182 watts and were well over 19, closer to 20, but the intersections sucked the life out of them. Mary clicked extra intervals at each, so we have a record of what happened.

A car coming from the left at Maple Ave caused 18 seconds of 129 watts and 14.15 mph.

Several moments of hesitation at the Rte12 stop sign took their toll on inertia, before I saw it was just a truck parked at the deli that was spooking Mary. I signaled clear, but the damage was already done.

Two cars we coming off Ridgebury, and Mary changed her mind at least a dozen times before finally deciding to cut to the inside. That was 10 seconds at 79 watts. Mary watched her average watts drop from 175 to 169 on that little excursion.

Going through the town/village/hamlet? of (sorry, no info online about which it is, so maybe it doesn't even exist) Ridgebury, a mini-van backed out onto the road in front of Mary and refused to move. No interval for that one, but best guess is a section of 127 watts for 13 seconds.

Then a dually with a horse trailer cut the corner at Lime Kiln and almost took Mary out at stop sign. That was 10 seconds of 9 watts.

After that everything was over 180 watts, but the slower mph is easily accounted for by these slow ups.

Mary forgot about her new process which is: to stand and push hard after every corner in order to re-establish pace. This goes along with her standing to relieve pressure on her piriformis on every hill where it is too steep to keep her watts low anyway.

It makes a lot more sense to perform a series of instances where she overworks, but where she plans to overwork (and for a purpose) instead of her blowing herself up by degrees thoughtlessly.

It is a skill we will be working on. At this point I think 260 average with planned bursts to 400+ at turns should do it. Especially since her performance so far indicates she might need less than 260 watts overall.

By the time I caught her after her time trial (I was about 300 yards back from Ridgebury Road on), I could see she was staggering off her left leg just like the old days.

Then each subsequent interval got weaker and weaker.

When I caught her it looked like we might be able to finish with her pulling the whole way for a 20+ mph, but I was soon catching her at the tops of hills like she was Big Bianchi, and it got so bad by Round Hill Road that I yelled, "If we don't finish this under two hours, there's going to be hell to pay. No, no. I didn't mean you had to start working so fucking hard, just stop not working at all."

The whole thing went more or less like I predicted after her morning exercises revealed her back had some problems that disappeared, and her left ham string was tight during her cadence test in the warmup causing her to bounce around a lot over 120 rpm. [for the book this will be a good example of: Just because it's ok, doesn't mean it's all right.]

In any case, we finished with a 1:55:35 time, so a 17.75 average, but I was so hopeful after the ITT that we'd finally be over 20 again.

I guess I could have pulled some, but what would be the good of it?

We set out to test her 1-Hour FT after a three month lay-off, and she beat her old effort by 1 watt.

I guess our precision training has been pretty precise.

The best part was after the ride when Mary said, "Well, that sure was a lot easier than it was the last time. My heart rate never got higher than the low 160's."


07/29/08 Plan: Recovery ride with Pokers from Fleet Bank

Actual:  Chatter Box #2878

It was a total misrepresentation, false advertising, and I'm suing somebody. It was supposed to be a Poker ride.

It wasn't until I was in the car with the Widder on the way to the ride that I found out it was being led by Steve Jinks.

I don't like him. Never did. It's bad enough to have to look at him after the Widder has gone on and on about how good he looks, what great shape he is in, how she never really noticed before, because he's always got something funny to say, and by the way, "You know he's older than you, but no old skin. Great arms."

Then he always ends up having something to say.

Quite frankly, I don't find any of it amusing, and when I heard he was leading the ride I could only think, "Wait. That doesn't sound like a Poker ride.

Sure enough, when we got there I couldn't find a single Poker.

Some John guy pulled me (under protest) to the first hill (way ahead and out of site of the group), when I said, "You won't be here to see it, but this isn't going to make any difference at all. Ryan is still going to catch me before the half way point of this hill."

Fortunately, or not, Widder was holding Ryan back with chit chat, so he didn't catch up till the top.

That only set me up for a few dozen more repeats of the same, getting dragged along with no recourse but to hang on and hurt.

Of course, they all made me stand at attention at the top of every hill, just so Jinks could point out how I had been hammered senseless.

At least on Donkey Hill, going up to 284, I had enough sense to talk to Ryan as hard and as fast as I could—pretending to be interesting. That slowed him down enough for the Widder to block everybody else, so I even survived that climb.

But I want my money back. My legs got torn off for the rest of the ride, and I never did see not one single fucking Poker.


You want me to say, "You didn't see one, because it takes one to know one," but I'm not going to do it.
Fleet Bank Poker Ride
07/30/08 Plan: Easy flat ride to Gardener

Actual: Chatter Box #2879

SlingShot, I hear you and Widder went out with Humberto and a friend of his today for a 5 hour spin, and ended up doing Harriman despite having thought you had gotten out of it yesterday? Yeah, we did Cat Fight Hill, Orange Turnpike, 17 to 106 into the park.

I bailed out at the bridge under construction (bottom of 106) and rode back through Monroe home to Sugar Loaf.

Widder stayed with the ride till the top of Rte 6, after they did half the race course loop to Tiorati circle, then down Seven Lakes where they almost got taken out by a screeching swerving car who failed to yield at the circle coming off the PIP.

But check out this 6 minute spin section coming up Rte 6 after the car incident.

Ignore the HR data (in red), because it only proves once again the PowerTap is mostly worthless as a Heart Rate Monitor.

Makes me wonder if Big Bianchi's massive 1-hour 200 watts @ 133 bpm avg wasn't just a HR fuck-up.

Otherwise, here's what I've been talkin' 'bout, man. >>>


Cat Fight Hill
07/31/08 Plan: Standard warmup and easy spin exercises on the Heritage Trail in order to assess the damage of the last two days rides.

Overdoing Tuesday just a little bit with the "Pokers" would have had little impact overall, but chasing Turtle Boy up Cat Fight Hill, over Orange Turnpike, up Harriman 106 then around the race course and up Rte 6 the next day called for an immediate benchmarking ride.

Said the Boy afterwards, "Somebody wanted to see a hill, so I showed them Mountain Road out of Cornwall."

Actual: We had a really hard day in the Gallery with lots of e-mail and online activity which required reprogramming several of the pages on Mary's website with additions to her point-of-sale database.

After that I was hammered, but we figured we could do our assessment and review the 23+ Widder's Hump game plan just before the club ride, so if Mary felt ok we could just start out with them for awhile then settle down into our own ride.

Mary Beth Henderson, local club vice president and Hump ride leader (Cranky as she is known) was supposed to make an appearance, so we would just go easy with her after the chaos at the beginning of the ride.

We had just sent out a book for her and figured we could discuss it.

Well, the assessment went well, and Mary posted a Personal Best Spin Interval with a 130 rpm average for 30 seconds, well above her target.

Also, it was the quietest she has ever remained seated for a high cadence spin. Things are coming around with regard to her Photoshopping injury, and her leg is getting right again.

Actually, I should say things are getting right for the first time, because her left leg and bunion problems have never been this good.

Anyway, Mary felt good enough to go out with the group, and I am happy to say that it appears I will never again have to explain how bad group rides are for her performance.

With so many positive rides under her belt recently, after the experience of watching her performance drop off drastically as soon as she started doing group rides on our return from Florida winter camp, made today's ride stick out like a sore thumb, especially after she compared it to a 1-hour ITT Personal Best (last Saturday) coming off a three month lay-off.

The group ride was way too easy, and way too dangerous for her.

After 12 minutes with the group she decided to pop off the back and finish the ride with me. When we got home, the download data confirmed what she figured.

She left the ride while her average watts were only 102, and she had almost been knocked off her bike more than a dozen times. She reported, "I just kept looking around thinking, 'I don't know that person, or that person, or that other person. I have no idea what they are going to do. I'll just wait for Cranky'," who never showed up, went on her own ride also, Cranky did.

Almost back at the train station we happened upon Steve Jinks with Rich Cruet, The Bicycle Doctor, keeping him company while he fixed his flat.

I fucked up and got involved, and I made things so frustrating for The Bicycle Doctor that he actually grabbed the wheel and got involved, although he did show a lot of restraint by waiting for the second flat to be noticed.

When I saw Rich go for the wheel, my first thought was, "Oh, my god. I have really fucked things up now."

In case you don't know, Rich is pretty close to a national treasure, due to being one of those rare journeymen lifetime bicycling professionals along with running development programs around his bike shop for as long as anyone can remember. Turtle Boy went through there.

Rich knows cycling and mechanics like only a full-time lifetime pro can.

So when Rich comes out for a ride, it is really in the best interests of all on the ride to do their best to not make sure he never has to WORK. He could do that at home, actually in his shop, and does do that almost 24/7. Well, ok, maybe not that much, but a lot.

If you are a cyclist and are standing next to him on a ride, it is like you are Catholic and standing next to the Pope. Really, I'm guessing here, because I hate religion, but I imagine it is much the same.

Anyway, when I realized it was my fault that Rich had to take care of something that I had myself fucked up... well, I'm not in a great mood tonight.

All I wanted to do was to continue just a little bit longer the only part of riding I really like.

That is, I just wanted to pick my nose, watch the tube being swapped, and use may favorite joke for flat changing short handpump times such as this (and at least three times), which is, "Wow. Looks like somebody has been practicing... A LOT. Don't let The Widder get hold of that. She'll blow that tire up with a big bang."


Thursday Club Ride
08/01/08 Full rest day, no cycling just stretching, rubber band for knee, leg lifts, soccer ball, and knee lifts with weight; Mary's leg/psoas etc still in bad shape after being overworked on Wed.
08/02/08 Plan: Easy Hump ride with work on intersections, because the drop in pace proved drastic for last week's ITT. Review of the data shows that if not for the traffic and nonsense at the intersections Mary's pace would have been over 20 mph. Otherwise, her leg is likely to be in such bad shape recovering from Wed with Humberto, another easy ride is minimal.

Therefore Mary will do 80-100 watts except for intersections where she will hit 400 plus for 10 seconds afterward. That should be far enough below sub-maximal to not have a major impact on her FT during her next ITT, and we will see how much it helps her pace by testing it now, then adjust if needed.

Actual: The standing bursts after intersections had an incredible effect in improving Mary's overall speed. However, by the time she got to the Camel Farm it was obvious the bursts were taking too much of her attention due to her watching her 10 second timer.

So I counted her strides for one burst, and had her start counting 22 strides instead of watching her time.

That resulted in several bursts at just over 10 seconds. On a couple others her gear was too low, so her time was down to 7-8 seconds.

She is going to work on that as a skill.

She dropped me on Ridgebury again, and by the time I caught her at the crossing of Lime Kiln, it was obvious her left leg was shot.

I questioned her to confirm she knew it was gone, but she just yes'd me, because she thought I was talking about before Ridgebury when I had cautioned her that it was going.

Therefore, we couldn't define exactly where the breakdown had occurred until we reviewed the data afterwards.

Sure enough, it happened on Ridgebury, just about the time she felt, "...things got great."

I was trying to explain to her on the ride that when that happened she should have backed off the pace a little, focused on keeping it "great," and she should not have pushed the pace from that point on, "...just because it felt good."

Had she not wasted her leg, it is unlikely I would have caught her at Lime Kiln.

In any case, I devised some new exercise routines to perform during the ride to help bring her leg back.

They are based on her warmup stand & sit exercises, and they have been expanded to include slow cadence roll-overs which will be in the book under the exercises section.

We also took the opportunity to work on Mary's hill transitions.

The current spec for that is this: big ring hard gear fast pace into the base of the hill. When she feels the hill catching her she drops out of her big ring and then begins dropping one cog at a time based on this: when her cadence drops below 90 rpm (or thereabouts) and her watts rise over 200, drop down a cog. When the same thing happens in her easiest gear, she clicks up two gears and stands resting for the remainder of the hill.

None of you should get all excited about that. When the Widder stands and rests on a hill, it sure as fuck is not going to feel like resting to you.

Otherwise, the stand and recover exercises getting her leg back were only partially successful, because her performance still dropped off through the last 1/4 of the Hump.

In fact, at least from the time I caught her at Lime Kiln, she was riding with a full-out limp just like you might see on one of those ducks with a broken leg limping around Mill Pond in Monroe.

However, the best part of the ride was being caught by the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP in exactly the same place they caught us last week.

Somebody attacked coming around us and said, "Good day folks," to which I responded by standing and coming (carefully) around Mary to run up beside the front rider in order to repeat, "And good day to you, sir."

After my cordiality, I attacked again and gapped the group as I turned onto Round Hill.

Fortunately, today there was somebody there to respond, so Kevin pulled them back past me, and as I dropped off to the side they all might have heard me mention, "What good did that little sprint do you guys? Next time you attack, you might like to try and make it stick."

But the BEST of the best part was watching Mary about 50 yards behind the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP as she paced them all the way to the finish... USING ONE LEG... and menstruating.

I was further back and dropping further, but I didn't care much. I wanted to see who was in the B group.

That next group was even easier to beat, so I didn't much try.

I just dropped to the back, surged back up to the front then out to the side and then way the fuck over to the left to let them pass.

In fact things were so bad for that second group, Mountain Bike Mike started screaming and blaming me for his inability to catch the sprint that was only 1/2 mile in front of him and had finished about three minutes before he got to me.

Even the front of his own little group was already 200 yards ahead and finished. He would have needed a rocket booster to catch Dangerous Dan pulling around his lead-out.

Weird shit.

Editor's Note: The "B" group mentioned in this story is neither the "B's" nor the "Killer B's" as most people know the local club "B" group.

In fact the "B" group mentioned above was far, far in front of what most people call the "A" group, or the "Fast A's".

I just call them the "B" group, because they hate it so much.


08/03/08 Plan: Show up for the Sunday ride (in order to clear out the ghosts of Mary getting yelled at in the parking lot of the Hump for having the temerity of choosing a significant goal outside the group think game), then say goodbye and do our own training ride on the flats working on technique and turns.

Actual: Everything went well, and Mary's strength in the leg is probably back 90%, but it still falls apart easily. However, she did twist my arm enough that I let her chase some people who were stupid enough to pass her toward the end of the workout, and she caught a couple of rather strong men from 200 yards back, and basted a young strong woman on a tri-bike in the process.

Also, she hurt me... and on the flat.

We are still aware that the very best place to practice hills is on the flat. Unfortunately, there is not really enough flat around here to do a good job of it.

08/04/08 Plan: Ride with Leah

Actual: Rode with Leah. and found out she lives just down the street from Floyd, sees the training methods of all the top athletes of his caliber, so recognizes our 23+ Widder's Hump process is equal to (actually better) than the best.

I have also settled on a process which allows me to work on section of the book locally, while only publishing the bare minimum so people can see what's happening. Basically that consists of updating the main table of contents online, but providing only a couple sample pages from the remainder.

08/05/08 Plan: Hump course with Leah, to show her our intersection plan with regard to Mary standing and pushing 400+ watts for 22 strides at every intersection, along with rational transitioning into every hill by hitting the bottom hard in the big ring mid-cogs, soon as pressure felt drop out of big ring and begin dropping cogs based on: if under 90 rpm and over 200 watts. At easiest gear, click up two, stand and rest easy to top of hill.

Actual: Things went great, somebody was caught breathing hard on Ridgebury whom you wouldn't expect.

Mary misunderstood the hill transitioning parameters and believed she was supposed to keep 200 plus. Finally she understood that it meant she went outside either. If she couldn't keep under 200, click easier, and if she couldn't keep over 90 rpm, click down easier. If she hit the bottom gear and couldn't keep 90/200, click up two, stand and rest. After she understood it, things went great.

Her standing intersections were so successful, somebody whom you wouldn't expect was first panicked, then resigned, then pushed into a chase mode that revealed they had the best fucking conservative chase gear and position in her drops I've ever seen.

I had them go out ahead of Mary and show her the routine. Unfortunately, they misunderstood and pushed like they would typically be overworking on a hill, but that itself was instructive.

Mary recognized that the smoothness and power was better than any of the men she has been riding with, in fact Mary said it was, "...just like an exotic dancer."

So Mary didn't get to the see the incredibly still and conservative chase mode I saw, but she did get to see something that has positively impacted her stand and jump.

Leah continued to be very impressed with our process. She lives down the street from Floyd and routinely rides with riders of his caliber and sees the training techniques of all their coaches.

She said ours was exactly the same, but I think she may have missed the subtle way in which it is much better, because we are several years ahead of the curve, and we are doing things that are not apparent on the surface.

08/06/08 Plan: Regroup.

Actual: Major success with standing by channeling Leah.

NOTE: It continues to be surprising how many "suggestions" for Mary's development involve getting back in the "group," even by people who should know better, and profess they do know better.

It is also a running mystery how many people still think Mary's ultimate goal must be to "race" in "organized competitions" for some supposed "glory."

Apparently they have not noticed that the process she is following, and her goals, are far beyond the mundane stuff shown on television and talked about in the slick mags.

The 23+ Widder's Hump is more exciting, more significant, and more demanding than any of that other stuff. Plus she is not being required to time her period and bouts of menopause while taking drugs in order to do it.

Plus she doesn't have to show up and get kicked around by a group who has no other consideration than the continuance of the group.

She is really happy to be away from all the cameras and media attention for a change, while her performance is being chronicled in a format that supersedes all others. Not everybody understands how things have changed yet.

The group really, really, really hates for somebody to ignore it. The mind set of the collective is severely intransigent. The newest ingredient of that is to pretend that age old wisdom is new and secret.

The best example is probably Carmichael Training System, which is really nothing more than a brand name that people rent to ease the pressure off their promotional department. If you try to track down specifics about just how different this supposed "system" could be, no information exists. The only statement is this, "We know secrets, sign up, pay us and we'll tell you."

Like I said to Leah, "Do you really think that just because Lance won a bunch of Tour's, and Chris was his trainer, that 30 million years of human evolution is all of a sudden null and void. Could there possibly be anything in that system that can not be found in Friel, Baker, Burke, Phinney, et. al?"

Said Leah, "That's right. I haven't found any information about it at all other than I've heard it must be really good. So you don't think they are hiding the information because it is so special?"

I responded, "No, they are hiding the information because it is just exactly the same procedures that have proven themselves effective since formal training began."

I should have added, "People are idiots," and maybe I did.

Heritage Trail
08/07/08 Plan: Continue formalizing flight check for book. Maybe we are finally back on track. Yesterday's single leg watt tests showed the basic movement and strength is back in the leg, and the adjustments from Dr. Art and daily relaxation (not stretching) exercises plus soccer and ankle weight lefts are really helping.

Actual: The first 3/4's of the workout was the most productive ever, and Mary's leg/butt/sciatic was almost judged cured.

Not to mention, her bunion problem seems to have all but disappeared after the cotton wad insertion over her orthotic.

Her standing was incredible, and her left leg range of motion and strength seemed back past normal.

I had credited most of it to final breakthroughs in terminology and quick communication (such terms as re-pace now mean something very specific to Mary) and the associated roll back in the hormone and extreme high maintenance department which has always been exacerbated by vagaries in our ride language was very useful in moving this workout forward.

Mary was feeling the best ever, and performing close to peak.

Then I fucked up when we passed a guy coming out of Monroe, and I told Mary, "Give me 200 watts for the next three minutes," while I thought, "We'll be rid of this loser in less."

Unfortunately, her leg (which I had already mentioned to her was failing by the time we had gotten to Monroe) gave out within the first minute of the interval, but nobody told me she was in deep pain.

Therefore, when I looked back coming up on the three minute mark and saw the guy was only 200 yards back, I said, "Keep going to 4," while I thought, "That jerk will not survive another minute."

Of course, her leg was gone, gone, but I didn't see it (had my own trouble holding onto a 24+ pace into the wind), and when I saw the guy had only been dropped another 50 feet at 4 minutes, I said, "Let's go for 5."

After the 6 minute mark Mary pulled up and said, "I'm done," but I thought it was just because she was a little tired. I had no idea actual damage was being done, so I said, "Get on my wheel."

The guy was so far out of site by the time we pulled off the trail at the Chester Train Station, it is quite possible he turned around and went back to Monroe after his bout with the Widder.

We were so focused on getting off the trail before Mr. Pitiful Loser guy showed up, we barely noticed when somebody sitting on a bench shouted, "I think I'll go get my bicycle."

We figured it was just some asshole, but it wasn't.

It was a very particular asshole. It was Hernando who was out rollerblading with his wife trying to get his knee all recovered from being blown up like a basketball from Lyme's disease.

Actually, he looked great and so did his wife.

As for Mary, we got some incredible results from realizing her last sticking point when standing was due to her clasping her right hood with a "death grip."

Now she can stand without falling, and her bike sways back and forth with excellent symmetry. She also channels Leah real good, and has gotten the hang of diving into a turn, also due to Leah's input—though I had told her the exact same things with the exact terminology numerous times before. She totally disregarded my suggestions, because she likes me, but she totally listened to Leah, because she hates her and wants to kick her ass and impress her in the meantime.

Anyway, the other main ingredient in her getting better at these things is this warmup which is being slowly formalized.

We also had great success with Pop-watts (since her leg seemed back to strong), when I paced behind her, called out the hits, and realized there is generally a readout every three seconds, so the meter responds so slow that Mary has a tendency to overwork, because she thinks she hasn't hit the target.

I stepped her through how that was happening, and gave her suggestions and exercises to overcome the problem.

During the process, we found out that doing her wiggle/rest (Leah inspired) exercise three times with the final one going directly into the Pop-watt gave her over 400 watts with a perceived effort of only 200.

Relaxed is more.

Also, somebody was approaching the other direction for one, and she tensed up a little. That one didn't pop over 200, and went as low as 130 during the attempt. She said it was driving her nuts, because she was putting more and more pressure on her pedals, but the number wouldn't come up.

I explained, "That is because you started putting back pressure into your pedals when the approaching rider made you tense. After that you started fighting your own spin against itself. Remember to relax. Relaxed is more."

This was one really great day, except where I caused her to hurt her hip again, because she didn't report the pain. We had a little discussion about how "tired" is not necessarily a reason to ease off, but that sort of pain is an absolute call to bail out.


Heritage Trail
08/08/08 Plan: Repeat of yesterday's Flight Check exercises, which will eventually be done in a few minutes at the start of every ride. As they get more formalized and practiced, Mary will flip through them almost without thinking, though at this point she's thinking that couldn't possibly be true.

Actual:  Best ever standing and symmetry checks. No pain in bunion, no numbness. After the ride I thought, "Finally. Can't wait till somebody sees Mary standing just like a real cyclist... smooth, strong, even...not a wobble in site!"

Immediately I remembered showing both Cranky and Leah the improvement in Mary's turning ability, and neither of them could believe how bad it had been.

I also thought of how disbelieving people are when I have Mary lift her left knee, then I put my hand in the way, so she can only bring it as high as she could when we started this exercise series. It is shocking to them, and people seem to assume it an exaggeration.

Right then I knew, when somebody sees this, they are just going to see a regular rider, riding in a regular way.

Sure enough, the next day on the Hump her performance had regressed, so nobody even got to see the new Mary.

Heritage Trail
08/09/08 Plan: Sample an actual performance of the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP on Ridgebury. Rest of the ride continue practice of standing 22 stride intersection pace recovery bursts.

Actual: [see 08/10/08 for summary of Mary's performance today, which was way off yesterday's best ever standing and smoothness results. She did have a personal best for standing max watts at 623, which is the first time her standing max has ever been higher than her seated max. The bunion problems seem to have turned a corner with the new cotton wad insert to her left orthosis. We'll see]

Almost as an aside, we stopped on Ridgebury and timed the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP for the climb.

Mary stayed at bottom (A on chart) with cell while I went to the top (B on chart). She called the start as the front group passed her spot.

00:05:01.34 time for the group, a de-facto Hump record since the group has never been timed on this hill before.

After the ride, I went back and gathered field data to analyze Mary's projected performance on a standard good day for her.

Calculations using Cycling Power while Climbing Calculator, my own altimeter readings of the .2 mile hardest part of Ridgebury, and Mary's current personal PowerTap bests reveal that she should be able to hold a 17.65 mph for the entire .2 mile:

1st tenth - 15.50 mph avg
2nd tenth - 19.80 mph avg
for both -    17.65 mph avg

At her easily repeatable 12 minute effort (200+ watts) which would not significantly impact her FT she will perform at:

1st tenth -   9.00 mph avg
2nd tenth - 11.60 mph avg
for both -    10.3 mph avg

We will test these figures with real world data. We believe she has already beaten the 200+ target watt speeds. Time for a Ridgebury Reconnaissance Ride.

08/10/08 Plan: Continue work on Flight Check to see if we can't get Mary back to the point she was Friday, before her abysmal performance on yesterday's Hump.

If all goes well, we will go over to Ridgebury for reconnaissance to confirm that her performance on the hardest part of the climb will be as my 08/09/08 numbers (above) predict.

Actual: The continuing problem is that I immediately and easily see when Mary's performance is down, and I can see it right from the very start of a workout, while (on the other hand) she is either in denial about it or unable to self-assess.

We spent the entire 2 hour workout on the flats again, mostly working on getting her to be aware of her left hip shifting forward which restricts movement of her bike when standing.

This restriction causes her to wobble without warning, and it is something that has made all the people she rides with comment, "Never ride beside Mary," though nobody has ever tried to help her with it.

It has been a long process trying to specifically identify just what is happening that causes it. Today, I would not let her off the hook with it, and we stayed on the problem until she (and I) understood what's going on with it.

We have now moved Wiggles and Rolls (something that would be best described using a helmet cam following her) to the top of the Flight Check, to get Mary into her saddle before spinning and checking her computers. That way her spin will be more settled from the start.

We spent close to an hour, just getting her to understand the problem that had creeped into Wiggles since Friday. When we finally isolated movement in her lower back and bottom, she became aware that she had back pain but was ignoring it.

In fact, getting Mary to admit to any pain at all (ever) is problematic. She will eventually state, "Well, I feel something, but I wouldn't call it pain. It just hurts a little."

I have adjusted my own definition of her pain to follow suite. I now ask her, "Do you feel anything? Anything at all? Not pain, just anything different?"

By the time we got to the standing exercises, I was very much aware that she was standing crooked. The first problem of course was that she couldn't feel it herself, and it took numerous exercises to make her aware of it.

The second problem was that even after she was aware of it, when I asked for a change in position, she would move in just the opposite direction required, but she would believe that she had fixed it.

Here's a little diagram:

Line A represents the lateral curvature of Mary's back that I observed while riding behind her.

I have tracked this down (and it only took 6 years) to her left butt cheek being shifted forward by about 2 inches. It is apparent while seated, but hard to define while she is standing.

When I told her to shift her left butt backwards, she would only hitch her left hip up higher and move her left butt even more forward which resulted in the curvature shown by Line B.

Finally, I had her get off her bike, stand perpendicular to the left side, place her left hand on her left hood, and her right hand on her saddle.

We worked on alternating between left butt forward, left butt back (in line with the right), and she eventually got it. Then she was able to make the appropriate adjustment on her bike, but it remains a temporary fix, and she slips back to the error almost immediately.

I explained that if this was a music lesson, we would have spent an hour getting her to understand this one movement, then I would have sent her off to work on her own for a week.

The sickened look on her face, made it apparent that we needed to go do some continuous standing turnovers, or something... anything.

Otherwise, her day in the gallery selling her own paintings was not going to go well, and I would likely never have my own power meter.

When we got back to the parking lot, I realized the exercises we began were not good done in circles, so we went back out to Pumpkin Swamp Road, and did an inordinate number of breaking down and fine tuning her standing position until she was stable while standing, and she looked once again like a real cyclist.

That is to say, we brought her performance back up to the level that nobody is ever going to notice we have done a thing.

Then we saw Tino and Tony (Portuguese nationals) who were apparently going back toward Fleet Bank after having bailed out of whatever ride to nowhere had originated over in Pine Island.

I assume that tomorrow everything we have worked on will have to be done all over again.

Hopefully, one thing which will remain definitively corrected is Mary's misunderstanding that just because we repeat an exercise three times during the Flight Check, that does not mean it serves the same purpose as repeating three times when learning a movement.

In learning exercises we use three times repeated in the sense that three times correct signals, "Ok, this movement has been sufficiently sublimated to proprioceptic control, let's move on."

The three times repeat during Flight Check is to quickly check, double check, triple check (and analyze by comparison each instance of each element) to confirm a go/no-go status for each problematic body part or movement in order to predict that day's ride performance. It can be done rather quickly.

As it stands right now, I can predict Mary's performance in the first few moments of a ride by watching her first three turns around the parking lot, but she has no idea at all until her shit finally falls apart somewhere near Ridgebury or the Camel Farm or Dog Hill or wherever the breakdown gets delayed to.

The ultimate goal is for Mary to be able to self-assess during her morning Yoga and flexibility (not stretchingbut relaxing which has the effect of elongating rather than injuring) exercises even before getting on her bike, and thus avoid the current requirement of doing further damage before realizing a problem exists.

In fact, she should be in a continual mode of self-assessment throughout her day. That is what excellence and a 23+ Widder's Hump requires.

Flats on Round Hill Road and Pumpkin Swamp in Florida, NY
08/11/08 Full rest day. Worked on streamlining the Flight Check list.
08/12/08 Plan: Begin consolidation and compression of the Flight Check routines. Compare against possible gains due to new hip rotation specific  relaxation exercises. Check basic range of motion over 300 watts.

Actual: Another great day for the Widder. We had a few sticking points with the Flight Check, but they were fixed rather quickly. Due to traffic around the train station we went back out onto Grey Court Ave, so we could warmup on the straight.

Mary's turns are getting so much better that she actually had fun coasting up the hill to the train track and swooping back down.

Wriggles were rough at start but passable. The real problem was with ankle rolls which have revealed Mary is extremely stiff due to years of equine ankles down work. She will add ankle relaxation exercises to her daily off-bike routines. Anybody out of the loop will look at them and mistake the new exercises for stretching, but they will be quite the opposite. [Somebody track down Leah and thank her for pointing out Mary's lack of ankles problem.]

We took extra time on the pre-warmup, but stepped through the repetition of the Flight Check on the Heritage Trail in the mode: "either you hit it or you didn't, but we're moving on to the next exercise. Try to remember what you did wrong and fix it tomorrow."

We still didn't get quite finished by the turn around in Goshen.

However, there were several moments (both on the road and the trail) where it appeared the next exercise would be the straw that brought system failure, but Mary's strength and range of motion remained constant, so I pushed the envelope a little.

Her final spin-outs of the cadence tests we so stable, I let her spin out at the end of her cadence interval. She posted a new personal best of 40 seconds with a 137 rpm average cadence including a 147 max.


Her first 200 watt pop-watt game failed on the third attempt when she overcompensated while the PowerTap was futzing around trying to decide when to report her wattage.

She had popped a 260 watt on a fourth bump, and I had to tell her she was 198, 197, 192 on the three bumps previous. She was almost dead on, and a suitable tool would have shown her.

The subsequent attempt for 3x correct, resulted in a rare under shooting, which means I saw 5 bumps well under 200 then called her off.

The next 3x @200 were picture perfect at 242, 234, 231. The graph peaks show an extremely smooth descending line for the three peaks.

Then we moved to 3x @400, which is easier than @300, because she only has to go hard and hold it. Several times the PowerTap was overly slow in reporting her success, but she did not panic and overwork. She merely reported, "I knew I was there before you told me."

I wonder if anybody has a clue how incredible that is. When we began this Mary couldn't feel the difference between a handful of watts and a galvanized pipe against the head.

Now she is on target even at the more difficult 3x @300 which requires a much finer sense, and which she hit 343, 372, 300 in no more than two bumps for any of them.

Fucking spectacular.

Plus, her leg, bunion, knee were all holding up. She did have a knot in her right shoulder from work related stress after she had to figure out if we have a rental for next winter in FL or not.

In any case, we got to try some 5 second hard efforts for the first time in three months. I wanted to see if we might move her hard pop-watts up to 500. We had a really good series of quick hard efforts, and things were going so well I got to show her an example of what has been happening to her in group rides.

For the last 5 second interval I told her we were going to do an experiment. As soon as the 5 second was over, she would ease up and reset her interval then (before recovering) begin a 200 watt 3 minute interval.

She reported that her first minute of the longer interval was really hard, and then she felt things ease up until the last minute was pretty easy. I explained the hard interval had brought her a little over the edge, and she was recovering during the interval. When this sort of thing happens in a group ride, it is easy for that first spurt to be 15 seconds long and finish her off, so she never recovers after.

Also, she smoothed her spin and torque considerably during the last minute. Either it was the spin that made things better, or the necessity of getting efficient which caused the spin; but, in any case, take a look at what happens to her cadence, speed, and torque for the final minute of this 24.16 mph average interval which peaked at 25.37 mph.

After that she got so pumped at how easy it was she asked if we could go on past the Chester Train Station for one more interval.

A new personal best of 420 watts for 30 seconds27.58 mph by the end of it, and I had to do a double shift click-up in the middle of it.

Mary says she knows for sure that 450 is well within reach, and the data confirms she is only 4 seconds off that. Just wait till we start actual training!


We are adding a 500 watt pop-watt, and if all her body parts hold up, come Saturday morning it might be time to loosen up her restrictor plate and let her pop off an Individual Time Trial 20+ Hump.

That should get us out of the parking lot before I have to endure one more time somebody going out of their way to drive their car over (interrupt my conversation with Big Bianchi) and ask me how things have been going.

Then after being directed to this web site they say, "What!? You think I'm going to go online just to find out about you?!"

To which I respond, "I guess you'd rather come over and harass me in person with a request to give you information you have no interest in?"

Then I get to hear, "That is always your problem. It's always about you and your time. That is pretty selfish and self centered."

To which I can only respond, "And your point is?"

Maybe a ride with Albino and Humberto is not out of the question in the before Saturday's Hump, because I have simplified Mary's immediate goal.

All she is required to do is learn to cycle like two women from China diving into a pool. I promise I'll stop yelling at her after that.


Heritage Trail
08/13/08 Plan: Continue Flight Check consolidation and compression, add 500 watt Pop-watts, hope for a rare 2 days in a row good ride for Mary.

Actual: Wretched performance. After the turnover tests during Flight Check, I suggested we bail out of the ride and let the leg rest. Mary was absolutely certain she needed to stress her leg past redemption and she did.

I told her, "This means we shouldn't do a Time Trial on Saturday," but she's having none of that.

0814/08 Plan: Fine tuning Flight Check, and hoping for a miraculous recovery of her stressed hip, etc.

Actual: Fortunately, the books Lauren Warren suggested arrived, and they have gone a long way toward convincing Mary that I'm not making this shit up, and how the counter intuitive nature regarding how the specific location of pain may actually be pointing to a problem already ripened elsewhere is not poppycock, and that her leg/bunion/psoas/sciatic problem is a major contributing factor to her on again, off again performance so is well worth the extra attention required to get a handle and a process on it.

Actually, she saw some improvement in function immediately using exercises in the Egoscue books, so after some help with the basic terms, she has launched into full study mode. She said, "Aren't these exercises like Dr. Art showed you?"

"Yes, they're pretty standard. What is unique is the description of the underlying theory and its organization into a step by step procedure to remedy those common problems outlined. You are aware you have one, aren't you?"

08/15/08 Plan: Easy spin to check progress with new exercises, and decide if a Time Trial is ok.

Actual: What with the new books and all Mary is much more open to the idea that I may actually be seeing something when I say, "You know, you are limping with your left leg."

She is much less apt to fire off, "I can't feel it and am not aware of it, therefore it does not exist."

However, predictions made using the results of the Flight Check are proving so correct that she has begun considering the possibility that her falling apart in the middle of a ride can be predicted and avoided within the first three minutes of a warmup.

Her leg continues to be resistant to immediate break down, but by the end of today's ride, she was absolutely certain that what I had said about her leg during the Flight Check was true.

She does understand the process enough good enough for us to do the checklist inside of three miles. She also understands these exercises are not meant to improve function, but to reveal the state of function, or rather the existence of dysfunction.

Heritage Trail
08/16/08 Plan: Possible 1-hour ITT to check intersection technique in context despite lackluster results Wed, Thu, and Fri after Mary's stellar Tuesday workout (see above).

Someday we'll get two days good in a row, just not this year.

Actual: Mary was up before dawn and doing all her old exercises as she begins incorporating the new ones from the books Lauren Warren suggested.

I always ask for a report as soon as she's done.

She gave both legs an 8.5 which is about as low as she allows herself to say. That means she is looking closer and closer at finer and finer details of right and wrong with all her parts.

She said she had some new pain in the right lower back butt, and I mentioned, "That probably means the stuff we did on the trail for the last few days has finished off something on your left, and the right has taken charge."

She said, "But I feel stronger on the right."

"Exactly my point. It is overworking."

Near the end of today's Hump when her left leg had finally given up the ghost, she said, "Maybe you were right about the problem not being in my right leg. It doesn't hurt at all."

"Duh. It's given up and passed the problem back where it began. Maybe if you work real hard, you can get them both to go at the same time and jump in a wheelchair."

In any case, she is now doing much deeper self analysis, and it is obvious.

I see her doing the Wiggles and Rolls from the Flight Check all throughout a ride now, and she will briefly check the function of specific movements at just about any moment. This is really going to help.

She did her 1-hour ITT today even though I said, "You know, you are only getting ready to do another one legged ride."

Turns out I was right, but she still had two personal bests.

One was for overall average watts for the 1-hour: 174 up from 172.

The other was for her 30 minute time: 179 up from 171.

Unfortunately, she has become less efficient, because her overall speed continues to be down from April's 19.2 mph avg with 171 watts.

In fact she was another 200 yards shorter, even though she was out of sight of me when she finished it, because a happy side effect of her inefficiency is dropping me on hills where otherwise I would have just been on the edge.

She's hurting herself but killing me.

I had her review the PowerTap download data, and sure enough, it showed just what I had experienced.

The first indication was when she said she had held 185 watts to the top of Ridgebury and termed it, "Good."

I reminded her, "No. Not good in the least. That's at least 10 watts over your goal. Do you think you'll ever get it? Too little is bad. Too MUCH is bad. You need to be right on target."

I said, "Lets figure out where things went bad."

I spent the next 2 hours trying to grapple remembrances out of her regarding just the first two splits alone (2.5 miles total), because she really wanted to believe that part had nothing to do with the rest.

Turns out she was over-faced within the first mile.

Although she was proud she had stopped herself from overworking when we saw a woman in aero-bars warming up for the group ride, she described it thus: "When I saw her, I told myself not to chase, to set back and stay on my pace, because I was already feeling the effort."

Well, after she said that, there was 45 minutes of cross examination trying to get her to look at what that statement implied.

Eventually she was so bent on avoiding the issue she started saying she had never said it. After I kicked her out of the program saying, "I am never talking to you again without a tape recorder running, because I can only advise you based on the feedback you give me, and  if you keep changing what that feedback is (in order to avoid looking at the facts), well, my work here is done!"

After she realized she had indeed said that (though we wasted some more time going down dead-end alleys navigating to the same statement in different words), I explained, "Right there is where you should have called the whole thing off, or re-adjusted your expectations and goal."


"If you were working that hard, that early, and you are trying to stay at your FT, there is no way you are going to get better during the ride. That effort should have been very easy for you. If it wasn't, it had to be because something was drastically dysfunctional, but you hadn't noticed yet. I would say, given what you saw with your morning exercises, and then in the warmup Flight Check, it must have been your left leg was gone, but you were getting your watts by other means, like maybe your other leg... alone. If 177 watts was too much at that point, you should have at least downscaled to a 175 watt goal."

But she didn't do that, she kept the same goal (already proven impossible) in her head, then proceeded to fuck up the rest of her chances by overworking all the uphills.

I knew she was doing it, because I was hurting on them, and finally got my ass dropped on Ridgebury never to see her again until way after her 1-hour was over.

She said, "I was 185 by the top of the first hill."

And I said, "You shouldn't have been anywhere near that wattage. Even doing that on the first hill could have been enough to put you out by the end, even if you didn't already feel you were overworking by the time we passed the woman in the aero-bars."

"Let's look at the rest of your climbs. I'll bet you did the exact same thing on every one of them. It sure felt like it, but I figured you must be feeling great and were going for an easy 20+."

Sure enough, she had 20 to 40 seconds of 220-260 watts on every hill for the whole time trial. No wonder her speed was down. Each peddle stroke was missing half the watts coming from the left leg, and she was overworking the hills. Just what we got the power meter to stop her from doing.

And it was even worse than the numbers show, because she was grinding a big gear at that point, so there's extra effort pushed into her legs.

Torque is what your legs feel, and watts are what the road feels. If you are in the wrong gear you will experience a lot more torque than gets translated to watts on the road.

Turns out a big part of her hill problem was a misunderstanding about the process. She forgot that after she stands (based on under 90 cadence and over 200 watts) she should still be keeping her watts well under 200 while working on making her standing efficient.

She said, "I just thought I was supposed to stand and rest?"

Says I, "REST!? Listen to yourself. You were resting? At 260 watts?"

"Andreas finished with the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP two weeks ago with an average of 213 watts for a 22.9 mph average."

"Watts ain't free you know. I don't care where they come from. You are going to have to pay for them sooner or later."

"Have you lost your fucking mind? Resting, indeed. Your left leg was gone, and you were wobbling, and I was dying."

"Oh... well, it felt like I was resting."

"Exactly why we have the power meter."

Addendum: I forgot that what started this line of questioning was the wattastrophe at the top of Ridgebury. I was stepping Mary back through the ITT on the way home, because she said she had a big break in wattage on Ridgebury.

I said, "Where on Ridgebury?"

She couldn't remember. She could only remember her interval to the top of Ridgebury was 185 but thought she had lost 15 watts on the downhill right after that.

I said, "That can't be. There's no way you could lose so much so quickly. We have to figure out where you lost it and why.".

Finally, she remembered that she had noticed her clock error at the top of Ridgebury. She knew that 54 minutes couldn't be right and realized she forgot to set the "full trial interval" at the start, so her left side CPU timer included our four mile warmup.

On the way home, we still didn't know about her record, and that her downhill watt drop after the top of Ridgebury was due to her stepping through her options thinking about what she was going to do about her time error.

She forgot that we would be able to find her 1-hour on the middle CPU which she was using for split intervals.

We are going to start running the PowerTaps in workouts exactly like she uses them in Time Trials, so she doesn't get confused again.

Also, part of her slower than expected speed is due to the horse show Moraski's holding her up after Lime Kiln. On the other hand, her intersections were the best ever due the new standing 22 count and luck with traffic.

We will also add lots of standing stride counts to her daily workouts, because she said she lost count of her 22 strides during the intersection re-pacings after she got tired and also stressed from not knowing her time.

We have to make her standing 22 count second nature.


08/17/08 Plan: Check Flight Check

Actual: Got bogged down with turn exercises, finally climbed up to the school parking lot of Round Hill Road and did slalom drills using the handicap parking signs. Still no luck with turning, so went out onto Pumpkin Swamp for standing exercises. Not great, but Mary didn't want to go home, so we went on over to Ridgebury for hill repeats and confirmation that she should be able to match last Saturday's timed pace of the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP up Ridgebury.

On the way over, we dropped by the food stop for the TDG on Maple Ave, and found out Twin Lynn still thinks Mary was fucking with her when we showed her how easy a 23+ pace is (260 watts). Until people get objective references, this is not something anybody is likely to understand.

On the hill to Soon's Orchard, the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP caught us as they were coming off the Pine Island loop of the TDG.

Later Mary said, "They caught us right at the hardest part."


In any case, didn't matter. After they hammered by and we waited Mary's standard 15 seconds before responding, then I went around her and got back to about 20 feet off the group, Mary finally went around me and caught them just before the top. In fact, she was up in the group by about 7 riders when she started yelling, "Fuck you, and fuck you...and fuck you, and you, and you too."

Before she decided to follow me, she did get to see me run up behind them, closing the gap like they were just weak untrained week-end warriors, which for the most part they are.

Then we went to Ridgebury where with after possibly the worst hill transition of Mary's life, then almost stopping to avoid a car backing out of a driveway on the fastest section of the climb, Mary came within moments of beating the official climb record.

The 5:01.34 time for the 1.5 mile climb is the official record, because we are the only people who have actually gone out of their way to get an objective account of what happens on that hill.

With an average slope of 2.3% over the full distance, a 5:01.34 for a 1.5 mile climb sure ain't much, but the tiny light climbers always use the .2 mile 9%-7% section to blow knuckleheaded riders up, and then claim it is a "hard" climb. Actually, the climb looks like this.

What is still incredible, is how unlikely people are to believe what a moderate effort a 23+ mph average is, even when shown. It's not really their fault, because they are all still plugged into their HR zones, and by the time your HR tells you that you are in trouble, it is way too fucking late.

Once they all get objective references, then it will be their own fault that they don't understand. You can count on it.


S Turn Turn Drills > Ridgebury
08/18/08 Plan: Day off, Mary to her mom's.

Actual: Of course day off doesn't preclude lots of relaxation and technical exercises off the bike. Most people like to call that kind of work stretching, because it sounds harder, and people always like to be doing just the opposite of what would make them stronger and faster.

And I put together a database glossary for Cycling Performance Simplified among other things. Mostly going through Egoscue 1992, to make sure Mary understands the exercises.

08/19/08 Plan: Check Flight Check, consider going back to intervals

Actual: Rather catastrophic warmup as pains popped up all over in places that Mary had said were pain free after her morning exercises. Could be due to her body adjusting to the new Egoscue routines. However, it appears her leg is stabilizing, and the knee doesn't give out at 130 watts anymore. So we went ahead to test hard interval wattage.

On the way to it, Mary had flashes of great insight as the Flight Check revealed problems which a month ago she would have never admitted to. Then in her first Cadence test she hit a moment that looked like that first incredible spin I saw once in Florida. The next test wasn't quite as pristine but still pretty fast and settled.

After the first two cadence tests she was already complaining of pain in her left glute, so I suggested we just spin light and go home, but she insisted on the Cadence Interval test. She posted a new personal best of a 142 rpm average for 34 seconds with a 156 rpm max. LOOK AT THIS CHART.

This chart is shown without smoothing and without restricted sampling. That's the raw data, folks. Look at that smooth steady spin rising to 156. Look at that steady torque. The watts could be smoother, and will be once we get the finishing touches on her symmetry.

Of course the cadence tests were all done with me on her wheel constantly reminding her to engage her ankles.

Ironically, she is getting so much more balanced that she had real trouble with her Pop-Watts. Usually the 200's are pretty easy, usually a single misstep then three in a row correct.

This time she was hitting over 400 and having trouble controlling it. Her new functionality is giving her a lot more power for the same perceived effort. The 400's were easier, but the 300's were problematic like the 2's, because her power has shifted upward. The 500's were the easiest, because she just went hard, and didn't have to think about controlling them so much.

After we finally got through the Pop-Watts fiascos, we tried a few hard short intervals to see if it is time to go back to Fusion Intervals, but Mary's foot started to hurt, so we still have some work to do with her psoas/glute/piriformis/bunion/knee/etc problem which she has now realized is part of a general range of problems all rolled up and categorized as Condition II in her new exercise book.

We've have to credit Lauren Warren helping with this, because she suggested the Egoscue book, and it is a terrific reference for do-it-yourself-ing your balance and power. Lauren has also kept on Mary's ass via e-mail. Apparently Lauren does this sort of thing for a living, plus she does this.

Mary self-diagnosed herself as Condition II according to the book and made copies of the exercise routine for it, and is stepping through the program. In effect, she has put together her own little book using the copier. Better take another LOOK AT THIS CHART.


Heritage Trail
08/20/08 Plan: TBD

Actual: Today Mary told me of some aches and pains that are probably from the Egoscue coupled with hormones. She said, "I can't believe that I'm having trouble with the simplest of the yoga positions."

I said, "Show me which one," and she handed me the page from the little book she made with her copier.

"JEESUS, Mary. That is not a "simple position." That is a fucking advanced posture. Look at it. There's no way to get away from any part of it. That is a triangle, and a change to any one of the angles puts major stress on the others. Your lack of flexibility in your ankles is being telescoped through the whole posture and is having a major impact on your hams, glutes, shoulders, everything. Set this one aside for awhile. Go back to the one I showed you on the sink. It's the same exercise, just stepped off the difficulty a little. Don't assume that just because something looks simple, it is simple... for YOU! Egoscue 1992 is just a book for kripes sake. It's an overview. Concepts have to be explained by giving examples, but the author himself was very clear on the point that he uses hundreds more exercises in his clinics, and fine tunes each to each individual client. He also made it perfectly clear that the point of the book is to give people the basic skills to self-analyze. Spend more time looking at the why's, and stop STRETCHING."

Below is the picture from the book. Buy the book. In fact buy several and give them to you friends.

Here's the reference so you can buy the book, and several more for your friends:

Egoscue, Pete, and Roger Gittines. 1992. "The Egoscue method of health through motion : a revolutionary program that lets you rediscover the body's power to protect and rejuvenate itself." 1st ed. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN: 0060168811

But make sure you don't ever mention that you have this book and are using it every day to your chiropractor, because if you do, your chiropractor is likely to slap you so hard on the back in excited congratulations that your fresh adjustment will be whacked back into subluxation.

Especially be sure not to mention it to this chiropractor.
08/21/08 Plan: Consolidate Flight Check, test if ok to resume hard intervals

Actual: Major milestone, see 08/23/08

Heritage Trail
08/22/08 Plan: Consolidate Flight Check, if repeat of yesterday bail out of ride and rest for Hump.

Actual: Major milestone, see 08/23/08

Heritage Trail
08/23/08 Plan: Due to circumstances surrounding Thursday's (8/21/08) milestone, we will go easy on the Hump course while continuing to work on standing intersections, and hill transitions.

Actual: The event I have been waiting for finally happened Thursday. Though Mary has been catching on to what we are doing by degrees, the whole process reached critical mass with the Egoscue exercises and the extra motivation (not to mention) hours of considered work that they have provided Mary.

[For Cycling Performance Simplified: "Perfect Date"]

As part of the setup for Thursday's major milestone, we spent the early morning going through particulars for the Egoscue Static Back Press exercise.

The day before that, I had come across Mary's main lapse in understanding and following through the exercise program for her self diagnosed Condition II.

She had missed the statement of pages 79-80, "If you were in pain, we wouldn't be doing anything other than basic exercises to suppress it (static back press, the supine groin, and the air bench...)."

I asked, "Didn't you mention pain in your knee, your foot, and your hip?"

She replied, "Yes, but that means back pain doesn't it?"

"No. And it says do these exercises as long as it takes."

So we spent a couple hours on adjacent sides of the bed, and I stepped her through meditation exercises while she rested in the Static Back Press position.

At first she contended she had absolutely no pain at all. On the other hand I knew there were problems that she might be ignoring. I was myself lit up like a cuttlefish with pain neoning up and down my back, through all my limbs, my jaw, my eye sockets while little popping bubbles of pain appeared and disappeared at random.

I am quite familiar with that phenomenon, and am comfortable with letting it happen and learning what pains happen where, how they might be connected to others. The last time I went through this was on the dentist couch, and I'm not talking about the root canal. I'm talking about how that big cushy high tech couch starts feeling like a pile of rocks at about 45 minutes into an 8 hour session, and things just get bad from there. The multiple root canals are really only a slight distraction from the couch itself.

In any case, Mary is real good at disavowing pain, running from it, and holding fast to her state of denial.

However, this time about 45 minutes into having me step her through mentally reviewing various parts of her body and asking her, "Anything different there? Not necessarily pain... just different. Ok... does it feel exactly, exactly like the left side, or is it different at all... even a teeny tiny bit."

Then she said it, "Hmm...I think my broken toe aches a little. Not pain, really, just a little ache. Then, "And my knee on that side... and now my psoas."

"Now we're getting somewhere."

We reviewed how, where, and why these things might be hurting, how they related to her bunion, her hunched forward shoulder, framing, painting, etc.

After that, we went out for a ride, and I said, "Be sure to look for all the things you felt during your morning exercises, and lets see if they affect your performance.

They did, but since she was finally aware of them, they allowed the massive change I have been waiting for.

During her Pop-watts, Mary found it almost impossible to do the 200's without popping over 400. It took 25 attempts to get three correct (between 200 and 250 no more than three bumps). Then we moved to 400 and she had trouble keeping it under 500, but it was better. Then for the 300's she kept hitting high 400's. The 500's were ok, because they are more or less all out.

Her leg was holding up so well, we tried a couple of 30 and 60 second intervals at 300 and 400. KABOOM. They were hard. Almost impossible. She did them, but with much effort. Much more effort than just last week.

Her quick power has popped off the chart, uncontrollable, but her longer efforts are now far below what she has been doing.

Anybody get it, before I explain?

Mary has finally shifted to using the correct muscles! They are stronger than the others, more suited to purpose, but they are also virtually untrained.

This is exactly why we never did hard intervals in Florida last winter. I knew Mary was using the wrong muscles, and I was not going to waste time training them.

Now we can start moving forward.

We confirmed the change again yesterday, and things were still weak enough we decided today's Hump would just be technical exercises in hill transitions and standing re-pacers at intersections.

Even that restricted work menu proved the muscles now working correctly thesis.

On her transitions to standing on the hills, Mary would start out fine then have a form break. I asked her to stop trying to control them by saying, "Once you have the correct muscles working, you will not have to 'control' your position. It will just happen naturally, and without thought. Beside, you cannot 'control' it. If things are not working correctly, they are not working correctly. You are just making things worse by trying to force it."

I asked her to do the rest of her transitions relaxed, without trying to hold her form, and just be aware of when I reported it was failing. She was supposed to see if she could feel when it happened.

It took several tries, and at first she couldn't feel it even after I reported, but soon she started knowing when it happened before I told her.

After a few of those, I told her to call off the ride, and we would just spin home easy.

After we got home and downloaded the data, and checked the numbers for those standing form breaks, it was absolutely clear:

At 250 watts, she would have a few strides of low watts, then recover.

I explained: That means you are starting out with the correct muscles, but they are still weak from disuse, and they fatigue quickly. When that happens you switch back to the old wrong muscles.

"This is MASSIVE. Everything is going to get better and better now. Just like the problem we fixed with your leg failing at 140 watts, you are now losing it at 250 while standing. It shouldn't take very long to bring the new muscles up to speed... after all they are the ones that are meant for this."

Our slow pace did allow the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP to catch us much earlier than in previous weeks, so after they passed us on the first big hill out of Pine Island, I got to tell Mary to ease up while I caught them, passed them, got about 100 yards away from them, then set up to wait for Mary.

Actually, I had looked at my speedometer and saw I was pacing 31 along the flat and had a moment of, "I'll just keep going... shit, they're going to catch me anyway soon as we get to the next hill. I may as well just sit up and quit now."

And I did.

A little while later, I got to do the same thing to the second group. The difference in the two groups was mainly in the amount of energy I had in reserve for trash talking once I  caught them and moved to the front.

Mary's shoulder is better, her posture is better, her process is better... she's doing her exercises five times a day and thinking about it constantly—which goes along with my statement to her, "Which of your pedal strokes is not going to be important for your 23+ Widder's Hump? None, right? Then which of your footsteps during each day leading up to it is not going to be important for your 23+ Widder's Hump?"

That's going to make nice chapter in the book, about how much work you can do for your cycling, off your bike. That will be a companion chapter to the one about how the best place to practice hills in on the flat.


08/24/08 Plan: Consolidate Flight Check, if all ok go to Ridgebury working on hill transitions, then easy repeats on Ridgebury focusing on transitions

Actual: Mary is getting better at recognizing problems during her morning exercises off the bike. Also she now understands (due to Egoscue) that the specific order and success of the Flight Check routines are critical for moving to the next, so when we ran into trouble with the Stand/Sit, she did not complain about ending the workout.

We saw Dr. Art as we were starting, and he reported using my suggestion on how to approach an ITT on the Hump.

Basically, he took it easy on Ridgebury and ended up with a .5 mph better average. His 18.8 came up to 19.3. I'm sure that if he had a power meter I could show him some exercises to learn how he is overworking every hill, then a 20+ should not be very hard for him at all.

During the Flight Check I realized that Mary had a misconception about how to initiate the engaged standing roll-overs, and we stopped in a driveway as I ran her through a question and answer period about what muscle group would be used in what crank positionwhich she was still getting backwards (even on the third guess), but now it seems to be understand.

A ride leader from a NJ club came by while we going over the muscle groups and told us they were working on the cue sheet for a "D" level ride for later in the fall.

When she asked what we were doing, I reached down, brought my left pedal up to the 11 o'clock position and said, "I'm explaining to Mary what muscle group to engage in order to keep her pedal from clicking right here..." Then I clicked the pedal a couple times.

One would think that somebody interested in cycling who ran across Lance giving a lesson to Floyd would have a rather keen interest in what was going on, but her face went blank as what I said went over her head. Poker's are like that.

We sent her off to chase a farm worker who pedaled by.

When Mary got to the Stand/Sits in the Flight Check, I was happy to see the benchmarking process is really coming together.

Due to a uniform standard startup, I understood immediately what the problem was when Mary could not come to a fully seated position without either plopping down for the last 2.5 inches, or sliding forward onto her seat, or spinning her chain wheel by 1/16th of a rotation on the way down.

We had to do it a few times to confirm there were three separate avoidances at work, but after that I knew it was definitely a range of motion issue with her knees.

I had given her some specific exercises for that, but the new Egoscue exercises will eventually remedy it, so I told her not to worry about it saying, "You are not going to be able to fix that today. Something is not working right. The more you try to make that movement, the more you are going to aggravate whatever is causing it to fail. The Egoscue exercises are going to fix the problem, and then you won't even have to think about it. It will happen naturally. Let's go home."

Of course, she tried to fix it several more times, but finally realized what I had said was true, and we went home.


Big V
08/20/08 Plan: Consolidate Flight Check then Pop-watts if ok.

Actual: We found out that when you are standing your saddle will point to the problem.

The Flight Check is now considered gold. We went through it in only two loops to the rail track on Greycourt Ave. We can begin combining Zero G/continuous and Engaged/continuous into a single drill. Mary really understands this as a benchmark now, so she can step through them quickly to see where problems might exist, and not think she has to spend hours working on each. She is also much better at all of them, and her morning exercises are being projected into improvement in them almost without thought.

We quickly confirmed that the slight pains she felt during her morning exercises were in fact having an impact on her cycling performance. Her kinesthetic sense is getting more refined.

On the other hand, her right shoulder is less cramped and she is more stable. Her turns continue to improve even though she remains scared shitless by them.

Despite a pain in her left glute (slight), and some instability standing (because of it), she did a very impressive 171 rpm cadence on the first test, and she looked dead on settled and straight.

But when it came to the cadence interval test, she decided she was not up to it, and gave me not even a smidge of trouble when I said, "That's it then. No more testing today. The order and success of each of these exercises is extremely important. If any one in the series fails, you should not be going on to the next one. Each exercise depends on the entire progression of exercises leading up to it."

She chose to spin easy up to Monroe and back, but on the way home she decided I should pull into the wind, and that gave me a golden opportunity to have her use what she has learned to check my own performance.

I said, "Remember how uneven I was riding yesterday. Check how I am today." She said I was much better, but I knew things weren't quite right, and someday she'll be watching closely enough to see it, and I mentioned that to her.

Then we had a moment of confusion after she said, "Well maybe you are a little to the left."

Apparently she said, "You have to move to the left," but I misheard and spent the next few minutes moving farther and farther to the right until I couldn't take it anymore and said I figured I had been spending my whole life riding wrong, because it sure felt like, "...I am just about to fall off the right side of my saddle."

She said, "That's what I've been saying."

"Ok, check out my standing."

"That was great... maybe your saddle was going a little more to the left."

I knew that was because my left knee started chirping, but for some reason a thought her saddle was going farther to the right during the Flight Check, and her bad (worst) foot is also her left.

So I had her get in front and stand. Sure enough, her saddle was also moving more to the left.

I said, "Lookie there. You saddle points to the bad leg. I guess that makes sense. You get off the bad side as soon as you can, but you are more comfortable staying on your good leg and allowing the bike to sway farther the opposite side."

That's it. Mary's on track. I'm on track.

I shouldn't have to write so much in the notes for awhile, because she has a lot of work to do with the materials we've developed so far, and she's getting stronger every day.

Good, because quite frankly, every second on the computer is fucking up my ride anyway.

I think I'll go lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling. Mary already is.

Follow-up: An hour or so later, I finished my exercises and came in to find Mary on my computer in the process of quickly destroying all the improvement she had just made with her floor exercises.

I said, "Nice shoulder. All fixed."

She perked up and said, "Really?!"

"No," I quipped, "It is absolutely impossible to be on the computer without fucking up your shoulder."

Then to her sputtering reasons I only said, "Look. I'm not saying don't do it. I'm just stating a fact. You should just be aware of what you are doing to yourself when you ARE doing it, and don't kid yourself. It's a choice. A judgment call."

I'm going for a walk.

Heritage Trail
08/26/08 Plan: Who the Fuck Knows

Actual: Mary said, during this morning's exercises (hers not mine, for I am lucky if I ever get to do mine), "Look. Here's the one that I think I overdid yesterday which caused me to be unable to complete the cadence test.

Once again I looked at an exercise she was doing and shouted, "Hold it Mary! Just that one move is obviously way beyond what you should be doing. I'm surprised you could walk after that yesterday. These may look like simple exercises, but they are often advanced goals, depending on the individual."

Then I explained the fundamentals of that particular exercise and what it hoped to accomplish, and how she should back off it a little and allow the first portion to lead into the remainder. [You, dear reader, do not need all the details, because they are too numerous to write, and Gapper and Cranky already quit reading this 15 minutes ago.]

Then Mary moved on to another exercise, and I saw that she was beginning it with a severely curved spine, and I knew, "That can't be right!"

So I grabbed her cue sheets and went through the recipe for the exercise.

I explained, "That exercise is meant to do this (and I explained it). Then I showed her a better way to approach the exercise so that her back would of necessity begin in a better position (it was something Dr. Art showed me).

Then I explained how the one in the book was really meant for severely dysfunctional people who would probably be unable to get themselves into trouble by pushing the limits as severely as she just did.

The first exercise was Egoscue 1992 "Crocodile Twist," (p. 92), and the second was "Upper Spinal Floor Twist" (p. 44).

Then I showed her how I approach the second (per Dr. Art), and how it generally takes me three to four weeks to let it settle inwhen I am lucky enough to be doing my exercises which of course I am not this morning (again), because like always I am wasting half my day on her exercises, then the other half on this fucking American Road Cycling website nonsense.

While I was showing her the smarter approach for the "Upper Spinal Floor Twist," I overdid it for illustrative purposes, and now I will be paying for it in the same way I have spent the week recovering from being stupid (on two separate hills) and kicking the asses of first the FRONT of the FRONT GROUP then the PURSUIT GROUP (which I call the "B" group because they are always so far behind the double AA's they can sometimes be seen by a breakaway group off the front of the Single A's).

At some point in the mix between analysis of her misunderstanding of the two exercises (above), I noted that Mary was missing a great opportunity for improvement during all her exercises, so I explained the major difference between Pilates and Egoscue and how she should incorporate that difference into her Egoscue.

Then she asked, "That's incredible. How do you know so much about this."

I thought she already knew, but I reminded her.

"Remember? I taught music in private lessons for 25 years, and basically: music is Pilates Egoscue-ized with a stopwatch and a heavy Zen component. Of course Yoga, Tai Chi, and other techniques also play a role, but most people don't know that, because they spend their entire lives trying to make a religion out of just one of them. If people really gave a shit about any of this, they would become a chiropractor, and if they couldn't do that then at least an orthopedic surgeon."

Then I thought I was home free, because Mary was finished with HER exercises, and she went downstairs.

Unfortunately, that was to check her e-mail, so within 15 seconds of my sitting down to, " least make a note for future reference," she called up the stairs, "Got e-mail from Dr. Art, and he doesn't believe that college photo is me."

To which I responded, "Maybe he meant he doesn't believe the one of you in the yellow shorts is you."

After that I asked her if it might not be ok, all things being equal and totally squared away, and since she had already done HER exercises (with my help I might add), if it might not be just possible for me to get a chance to do MY OWN exercises.

She said, "Oh..." then yelled up the stairs, "Dr. Art just sent e-mail. It's about his Hump time trial."

And I said, "I guess that's your next assignment for me. What do you care if I cannot walk around on either of my two knees nor both my backs."

Here's Dr. Art's e-mail:

I'm not sure who my ghost writer is in the most recent posting to the ARC website, I have no doubt after reading it that it's someone much taller than I am.

With that being said, here it is for the record.

First of all, for those of you accomplished road racers who may stumble upon this, my speed numbers are quite lame, I will admit. This test of personal time trialing was to compare the theories of the new professor of exercise physiology, Robert Fugett.

After doing the hump course (solo) as swiftly as I was able a couple of weeks ago I posted an 18.8 average speed.

Hardly Joe Straub-like numbers, but passable for me. Then, a week later, I did the hump again, with the advice of Professor Fugett, in a different manner.

The subsequent hump time trial was done in a fashion where I kept my effort consistent throughout.

Without the benefit of a power/watt meter I did my best to maintain the same effort throughout the duration of the ride, most importantly, not attacking the climbs like Ridgebury, etc.

With this also being said, I actually felt like I was working less. As you would expect, my average speed numbers would diminish, right?

Well, they ended up being a half a mile an hour faster. Incredible.

Next time I do the time trial, I won't try at all... and maybe I'll beat the land speed record. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an entire box of donuts I need to eat.

That is all a total lie, because I am quite sure that I never have mentioned cycling to Dr. Art in any context whatsoever.

On the other hand, last winter in Florida when I gave Mary the goals for her 23+ Widder's Hump which are:

1) fewer watts per mile an hour
2) fewer heart beats per watt
3) less effort per watt

...she responded, "Then why should I even bother getting out of bed?"

To which I should have replied, "To fuck up my day, so I cannot do one fucking bit of any of this for my own self."

BTW: Anybody who has read this, and who has not spent their time better served by riding their bicycle, or laying on the floor staring at the ceiling, well... you get what you deserve. Hope your back goes out and it never comes in.

BTBTW: Mary just pranced in and said, "Wow! It is SOOO much easier to come up the stairs."

Good, Mary, but Dr. Art still has your assed kicked.


Maybe A Bike Ride
09/03/08 Plan: Check progress of Mary's floor exercises, and hand some of the Flight Check duties over to her while I work on my own problems. Monday I went out on my own during her monthly meltdown and found out my own left leg is bailing out on the up stroke, then I worked on it at the Tuesday Joe-Fix-Its ride, but it's time for me to get crackin' on my own performance.

Actual: Mary continues her 5 hour per day work on the Egoscue exercises combined with the ones she was already doing, and she has shown incredible improvement in her balanced and square stance.

She was complaining of some back pain during the day, and iced for the first time in a couple weeks. We are ascribing it to the problem with the bank and our credit card payment system.

Apparently when the bank changed hands almost two years ago, a transfer number was changed, and Mary wasn't informed, so a couple days ago our collection box stopped working.

She spent two hours with the service and the traveling to the bank, where she almost had to punch out a teller who would not back off, "You know we offer that service right here? Wouldn't you like to transfer your account."

Mary didn't even look at her but said (to the teller who was actually helping her and had the paper work ripped out of their hand), "I have had enough trouble with the bank already today, and from you and your phone calls last week. Don't you dare try to sell me anything."

After that Mary came home and expected another two hours on the phone with American Express (one of the cards we accept), but the call to them only took two minutes, and everything is fixed regarding their service.

Mary said, "Can you believe it? Two hours with the bank and those other assholes, and American Express fixed it in two minutes."

I replied, "American Express is a little more expensive for us than the other cards we accept, but it has always been worth it if there's a problem. Remember when they let me take delivery of another $12,000 dollar computer while they worked out the details with the shithole company that sold me the fucked up system? I think all the businesses we know that have stopped taking American Express just shows how bad the economy is, because it really isn't that much more expensive, but their service is always really worth it."

For today's workout, she ran her own Flight Check while I worked on my own. However, when we made the turn around in Goshen it was obvious her bank back pain was having a grand effect.

She hasn't been limping this bad in weeks. Still, she had a 163 and a 157 for her cadence test, and the last 10 strides of her first one looked as if she wasn't even turning over her pedals, her strokes were so crisp. So we continued to the cadence interval, and she managed a respectable 151 rpm average for 30 seconds—another personal best.

She was significantly overshooting her pop-watts again, so we ended by trying a few 60 second hard intervals, and just as suspected she was now just under 300 watts with them.

I reminded her, "Remember a couple weeks ago when I said if you were this good in Florida, I would have had you working on 300 watt intervals instead of 260? Well, lets get started on them. We'll repeat what we did in Florida, but this time we'll start with 30 seconds of 300."

The problem is that during pop-watts when I ask for 200, she can barely hold it under 350 sometimes 400 (with little effort and great form), but when I ask for a 300 watt interval, she immediately hunkers down like Palletman, wastes a lot of energy before the interval starts, then over torques the first 10 or 15 seconds.

Fortunately, she got that under control after a few we did on Meadow Ave, and ended them strong and smooth saying, "I really like it out here on this road a lot better than the trail. Their are views, and I don't have to worry about walkers and other nonsense."

Looks like the Widder's back... despite her total reversal of her stabbing limp which has now moved to the other side. I predict that when this thing settles down, people are not really going to enjoy riding with Mary much anymore.


Heritage Trail
09/04/08 Plan: Flight Check, Pop-watts then Pop-Intervals to help Mary get over becoming Palletman when an interval is mentioned

Actual: Three (3) personal bests, despite functional problems.

Mary complained of back pain today, and sore foot, due to painting while wearing her "painting shoes" with the orthotics.

The problem was borne out by the Flight Check results as she was significantly wobbly.

However, she still posted a personal best Cadence Interval of 153 rpm for 31 seconds with a 167 max (while I watched the tension start at her ankles and work its way up through her torso), and two more personal bests for max and 30 second sustained power later.

After the Cadence Interval she got her 200 Pop-watts on the first try, apparently by trying not at all, because on the 400 Pops she couldn't keep them under 500. Even after I had her spin out to max.

Part of this was because her second and third 400 attempt were low, but she felt the effort was high. I knew that meant she was being inefficient, so we stopped and had a preview seminar of the sort of stuff we will be working on in her Master Classes after she has her leg/hip/psoas/right shoulder/bunion problems more securely squared away. [The use of the term "squared" here is not accidental.]

In any case, the quick seminar was about how each pop should feel easy, and I showed her a technique which incorporates her Zero G Rollovers with psoas hints, plus Engaged Stands to Engaged Rollovers, and Cadence Intervals, all of which I am pretty sure she never knew were actually build-ups to the technique she learned todaywhich involves a virtual crank and internalization of other skills that she has also been working on unbeknownst.

I would describe this technique, but it is unlikely anybody would believe it works anyway. If Mary hadn't been working on improving her kinesthetic sense for 5 hours a day over the last couple weeks, she wouldn't have gotten it either. Musicians probably won't find it strange... at least accomplished musicians will not.

In any case, she then realized that 500 plus Pop-watts aren't all that hard for her now. In fact, she had several verging on 600, so I set her up for a max effort coming back from Monroe, and she hit 627 which is her best yet standing. She made several mistakes during the attempt, but I explained standing skills are not something we have worked on, and when she mentioned her feet hurt, I knew standing skills are not going to be something we work on in the near future.

Then we repeated some of the exercises we were doing in Florida to get her prepped for some hard intervals. Basically, take-off on the interval with the standard setup, wiggles & roll, settle, hit the pedal, hit the interval, don't look for 5 seconds, if over a given average continue to 20 seconds, if not bail out.

That technique is devised to stop her Palletification of hard intervals.

These intervals were coming along fine, and she hit 2 easy over 300 for 10 seconds, then one over 300 for 15 seconds. After a little discussion on process she hit a 418 for 20 seconds, and I figured we'd go out onto Meadow Avenue for a record attempt.

When we got to the Chester Train Station, the local club was just leaving for a ride and Mary said to me, "I'm not stopping to talk. I don't want to cool down."

She posted a new 30 second personal best of 425 average with a 527 max. Her speed at the end (on the flat) was 28.09 mph.

If not for the gear change (unnecessary) and a rather inefficient performance overall (remember the sore foot and back?), she would have been faster with more watts.

Here's the 30 second graph.

Those with PowerTaps should note that this graph is shown with absolutely no smoothing applied. The rest of you will like to know the first break in power is Mary's gear change, and the recovery from the second break is because she saw my shadow coming up on her just when she thought she was toasted and done. The final 5 seconds shows her limping trying to catch me, because she over did the first 10 seconds with a 480 watt avg.

Mary also believes the speed got her a little scared.

You, dear reader, should be so lucky to get scared like that.

Anyway, there's always tomorrow... until there's not.

Heritage Trail
09/05/08 Plan: Monthly hormone check

Actual: Another PB cadence interval, but as predicted: still low energy, but still overshooting Pop-watts.

Mary is running her own Flight Check, so I get to work on my own performance. Quickly found out during Zero G Rollovers that I now cannot bring my own left foot over the top of the crank without extra concentration and effort. I believe it to be a tight ham string problem.

Mary posted another PB for her Cadence Interval test of 155 for 30 sec. Despite overall low energy, she was still overshooting her 200 Pop-watts, so I had her try one over 500 and she overshot that one also (588), so I had her do one over 600 which she did easily at 626. That would have been a max'd out personal best just a couple weeks ago.

I pulled home from Monroe, so she averaged 47 watts for the 18.64 mph avg.


Heritage Trail
09/06/08 Plan: Practice Flight Check under distraction and pressure (people are around), then an easy Hump with hill transitions and intersection bursts.

Actual: An astounding standing 648 PB on the Hill before the Camel Farm. Otherwise, only 4 of her intersections were over 400, so we will do some work on that, plus add a standing burst to her Starting Line.

I was working on my knee and back interface, so I went around her for the Hill's to Ridgebury. She reported ok results. I saw she was limping slightly on Maple Avenue past the titty bar. Not a limp so much as an obvious reluctance to place her full weight on her left foot. I never saw her after Ridgebury, and she reports falling apart several hills later.

The Hump
09/07/08 Plan: Flight Check then seated Pop-watts plus new standing Pop-watt intervals to 400 to consolidate correct effort at intersections, plus add one to the Start Line.

Possible record attempt on Ridgebury, if so check transitions going over.

Actual: Catastrophically lackluster. Too many "tomorrow is a rain day, so we have to go out today for sure" days in a row finally caught up with us.

On the good side, I know for an absolute certainty the relationship of my back problem to my knee problem, so its unexpected temporary blow-out last winter (03/29/08) is no longer a mystery. Unfortunately, I could use a little mystery in my life.

Mary was severely limping almost immediately and almost as bad as ever, despite feeling fine during her morning floor exercises. I missed her Flight Check because I was working on my own, but when I had her go back to the engaged rollovers when I saw things were a mess, she had to roll her hip to get any power at all.

I had her do a couple of short hard intervals (15sec/400+), then a one minute 200 (1 min @ 216avg/331max) before she realized herself that it was time to pack it in.

On the way back to the car, I tested several times holding pressure in my left adductor to keep my knee from twinging, and that worked perfectly... except when I got off the bike my left gluteus medius was sore. Makes perfect sense.

Well, at least somebody should get something good out of this. I'll post this chart for Lauren Warren to learn from. Notice that smoothing is set to "None" for both and that the 217 watt average culminated with a 20.81 mph speed into a headwind. Otherwise the section was mainly flat.

You can easily see where Mary's left butt was bailing, then she would overcompensate to get her watts back. In fact, this was such a wretched performance, I'm betting both Lauren and Michele could match it on their first time out with their PowerTap.

Whoops. I just caught myself sitting at the computer with lax adductors. Fuck me.

Florida Flats from Big V
09/08/08 Plan: Mary had 5 personal bests this week, so she is taking a couple days off.

Actual: Bob on Heritage Trail alone

Heritage Trail
09/09/08 Plan: Mary to continue time off. My suggestion is for both of us to start at the Chester Train station, ride over to Goshen, then I will go out with the ride (do a couple hills and work on my knee/back issue) while Mary does an easy spin back to Chester.

Actual: Mary decided it would be easier for us to both start from Joe Fix-it's. She would just do the trail while I (in order to avoid eating) would go out with the ride.

I said, "We'll see how good this plan works out for you."

She said, "I'll just tell them I'm going out."

To which I replied, "Like I said, we'll see how good your plan works out."

Dr. Art was there when we got there, but it looked like nobody else was going to show, so Mary called BLASTER.

By the time he got there, Twin Lynn, Jim Tooker, and somebody with a Bicycle Doctor Jersey were there. A little while later Iron Mike showed up.

So we got to learn something really good to know about Mary's ability to handle stress.

We started the ride, and my knee was gone on the first hill, so I dropped into my mode: catch them on the downhills, be on their wheel at the start of every hill, well off the back at the top, then go and catch them again.

I figured since I was so close, it must be easy for Mary, but all of a sudden she was off the back and waiting for me.

She didn't tell me the whole story when I passed, so I pulled her and BLASTER back to the ride by the bottom of the hill on Hasbrouk Road.

I dropped into a climb, and when Mary passed I asked, "How do you feel?"

She only said, "I can't do this," so we turned around while I was thinking, "What the fuck is wrong with her. It didn't seem they were going all that hard. Of course, there's always the likelihood that Iron Mike and Dr. Art were having a Cat Fight."

When we got home, Mary went right into the bedroom and started doing floor exercises, saying, "My left butt cheek is almost as bad as it was a month agothat day on Mount Eve, the day that started all this Flight Check stuff."

So I looked at the Powertap data to see what could have caused it.

The data showed that not one single moment of the ride was any more than the workouts we've been doing on the Heritage Trail.

In fact, I figured Mary couldn't even have been breathing hard by the time she dropped off. There was an 18 second section with a 438 average and a 531 max coming up the hill to Private Pie, but still, that really shouldn't have done it.

I asked her if she was working hard, "No it was easy. My ass just gave out, and I knew it was only going to get worse. I wasn't going to waste a whole week's work just for that ride."

Now her butt is cramped up into a baseball on the left side, so I'm guessing it was nerves.

In any case, I'm sending her off to Dr. Art tomorrow. Maybe he can suggest a psychiatrist.

Joe Fix-It's Tues Ride
09/10/08 Plan: Flight Test and check out Mary's brandy new Dr. Art adjustment to see if things are better with her left butt.

Actual: Massive extended session at Dr. Art's put Mary in the tips.

Her Flight Check went great, but I was working on my own (which was also better), and I didn't see hers until the second iteration on the Trail where she reported the pain was gone, and I observed a virtually perfect seat—for the first 3 minutes, then things started slipping back to hitching up left, and Mary admitted she had felt a little weak on going out.

We decided to be happy with the improvement but not to risk too much, so she dropped in behind me for the rest of the ride while I chased down a couple of losers on the Trail.

My own knee made an incredible recovery from yesterday's catastrophe, and I spent a lot of time actually pushing into it while holding it in place with my left leg adductors.

My back held up well, so I spent most of the ride using (now get this) TWO LEGS.

Pretty much just like it was in Florida before I popped my back on that 300 watt interval, but this time I have a handle on it. I am somewhat protected by my winter epiphany that, "Just because my back is ok, doesn't mean it is all right."

Reminds me what Dr. Steve (Florida chiro) once told me: "Pain is the last thing to come, and the first thing to leave," so I know not to quit working on this just because my knee, my back, my other knee, and my other back, are feeling better than ever... in the last few years at least.

Not to mention, Egoscue concurs, and I just walked up the stairs again with no pain. I'm hopeful going downstairs by passing my right foot under my left can't be too far off.

We gave copies of Egoscue 1992, Walk Yourself Well, and Anatomy of Movement to Dr. Art, and we have a copy of the first two for Side Door Bob in the morning.

With my copy of AOM gone to Dr. Art (permanently, two more ordered), I got a chance to look at the companion exercise book... and it is INCREDIBLE.

FUCK! I sure do wish I had those two books when I was teaching music. I got a copy of Gray's Anatomy to help students with their hands, but the Anatomy of Movement duo beats it senseless.

Back on the Trail, I got to check out Mary's hitch a couple times, and when she went by me saying, "Look. I think I've got it fixed," but it was worse than ever, and she started whining about not being able to feel it and how she would likely shoot herself before morning, I remembered how she had got me straight on a floor exercise and then I could repeat it by making myself feel as crooked as she had placed me, so I said get in front of me, "Ok. Ease up on your right leg, and pull up on your left psoas."

She stopped hitching and her hips went dead level across, just like the first couple minutes on her fresh adjustment.

You might remember this is more or less the same instruction I gave her for the same problem 4 months ago. But now after all the work done since on the Flight Check, plus me as the whispering devil on her wheel (ok, maybe not always whispering), her study and practice of Egoscue and Boblates, this time she knew exactly what was being said, and had the tools to do it on command.

Still, we didn't push the issue. She dropped back in behind me and took it easy.

My theory is that her hip is still somewhat bound up due to her Condition I (Egoscue) hiding under her Condition II, so those things are going to be worked out when she moves off the upper torso routines and goes to work on Condition I specifically.

There's also an apparent left leg hamstring connection to which she will give extra attention in the meantime.

Of course, Egoscue discludes cycling as an activity until D-Lux status is achieved, but that is just TOTALLY FUCKING STUPID.

Nobody is going stop cycling, and that fat, fat, fat fuck Egoscue just better get over it.

Shit. Just caught my adductors taking a break again.



Heritage Trail
12/25/08 Plan: 40

Actual: Bob and Mary 40

Pinellas Trail
12/26/08 Plan: 40

Actual: Mary 16 (chased tri guy for a minute...), Bob 36.5 (full loop minus warm down past dog park due spaces in usual start parking lot full so began in lot 2)


Pinellas Trail
12/27/08 Plan: 40

Actual: Mary pulled full loop


Pinellas Trail
12/28/08 Plan: Gulf Boulevard

Actual: Mary 19, Bob 27 (double loop)

Clearwater Bridge
12/29/08 Plan: 40



Pinellas Trail
(logged here pre- psoas problem
Pop-watts at 200 due Mary still overworking starts. Also, alternate between watching averaged and current watts, because she now overworks trying to stay well over the goal wattage, instead of using it as the center of investigation and allowing down ticks before responding with more effort.



Next: standard warmup with no leg pressure speed spins late in the warmup; 6 x 400 watt sprints with a 30 second goal (.BF is the starter pistol), begin adding wattage goals to all standing bridge exercises, one 3 minute interval at the next goal wattage for the Fort De Soto 16 mile test loop.

Next next: pyramid intervals based on 02/17/08 above.  
09/00/08 Plan: text

Actual: text



abstracted from: Firth, Malcom. "A Look At Time Trial Pacing Strategy"
Simplified Chart: watts to mph conversions rule of thumb

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this page last updated: 06/30/2013 08:13:20 AM

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