There is pain to be found upon this road. Photo via Symonbike

On Rule #10: The Mandlebrot Set of Pain

by / / 111 posts

My training hasn’t gone as I’d like it to be going. My days keep getting loaded up with things that pay the bills more than they add to the account at the V-Bank. It’s part of not being a Pro, I suppose, as if to spite my obvious talent which is a sort of talent sleeper cell where only I recognize my potential while the rest of the world perceives it as mundane mediocrity. I’ll show them, when I get around to it.

  1. Rule #10 //
    It never gets easier, you just go faster.

    As this famous quote by Greg LeMan tells us, training, climbing, and racing is hard. It stays hard. To put it another way, per Greg Henderson: "Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don't stop when you're tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired." Sur la Plaque, fucktards.4

To be an athlete is to mimic the animal world; this is the luxury of our age, stimulating the survival instinct through games rather than an actual need to survive which is itself a staggering accomplishment. It is our nature as animals that drives us to find the next level of achievement as athletes; as athletes, our success is rooted in our ability to process the act of suffering into a productive output, to push beyond the plane of perceived capability. What is left to the adventurer who walks along the path – the Velominatus – is to discover the complexity of suffering.

And, as Rule #10 implies, what lies hidden within the complexity of suffering is deceptively simple: more suffering, like some diabolical Mandelbrot Set set of pain where every point on its continuum contains an infinite set just like it.

The strange thing about suffering is that as you gain fitness, your lens shifts. When our fitness has the most opportunity for improvement, we alternate between pushing through a blockage either in the legs or the lungs – never both. The human mind is, after all, equipped to process only one pain at a time. But as our fitness develops, the mind learns to delegate the pain to the lesser organs and allows them to self-manage: the strength of one learns to support the weakness in the other. Over time, the suffering body becomes a holistic organism that can compensate for the most acutely weak unit with those which still yield some reserves. This is how we go faster; we transform how our body manages its resources.

When we speak of suffering, our minds shift to the climbs. Climbing is the easiest place to find suffering, a sinister gift of our old friend, Gravity. But suffering is to be found anywhere just as easily, provided you can motivate yourself to push as hard as gravity can pull. The Hour Record doesn’t have a climb in sight, but it scores a 100% on the Cycling version of Rotten Tomatoes (which, I am not too modest to suggest, finds its logical home right here at Velominati.)

As I suffer my way towards some level of condition, I am grateful for the opportunity to rediscover the pain behind the pain, to find some hint of control over the suffering, the ability to compensate one suffering unit for another. The ability to, despite every signal emitting from the body, push a little harder and resist the temptation to yield is perhaps the most noble gift our generous sport imparts upon us.

 

// La Vie Velominatus // Technique // The Rules

  1. Cripes no idea what happened there – did not try to embed anything at all. Sorry @frank!




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  2. @Teocalli

    Oh no, Teocalli’s broken Velominati!

    PS. might take you up on your offer, so long as you promise not too many hills




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  3. @markb

    @Teocalli

    Oh no, Teocalli’s broken Velominati!

    PS. might take you up on your offer, so long as you promise not too many hills

    I’m glad you did not say again – as in my early days I did manage to crash a whole article stream……

    PS I live on the top of the hill at Hindhead.




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  4. @Al__S

    @JohnB

    @wiscot

    Scottish west coast FTP? A not so friendly sentiment to the local Polis?

    No, more a not-so-friendly sentiment to the Holy Father in Rome…

    Indeed. A turn of phrase commonly heard around the southwest side of Glasgow by people wearing copious amounts of red, white and blue supporting a football team with a chequered past when it comes to the employment of non-Protestants.




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  5. @ChrisO

    @VeloSix

    @wiscot

    What’s FTP? I’m originally from the West of Scotland and know one interpretation, but it’s not applicable here.

    Functional Threshold Power, in theory, this is the max average power you can sustain for one hour.

    Just to elaborate on that, in case you think it’s just an interesting number…

    FTP becomes the level around which all your training is based when you are using power. You establish training zones and work around them.

    So a Zone 1 recovery ride would be no more than 60% of FTP, which is actually really difficult to do.

    Z2 Endurance is 60-75% so that’s the sort of pace you should be able to do for several hours.

    Z3 is also known as Sweet Spot, 75-90% – if you can do a lot of time in that area it pushes the FTP up.

    Then you get Z4 which is basically your FTP level and you would do sustained bursts, Z5 is 105-120% which is great to go in and out of to simulate racing and Z6 / Z7 (some scales stop at Z6) is your sprinting.

    The Z4 and above levels tend to be done in structured exercises e.g. 1 min Z5, 4min Z4, 5 min Z3 and repeat or 20 seconds Z6 with 40 seconds rest x 10. Z3 and below are ones you crucnh out for a whole ride.

    Apart from training FTP is also a good indicator of performance. When you hear people talk about watts per kilo comparison among pros they are typically using FTP for the watts. Tell me your w/kg FTP and I’ll tell you what category you can race at.

    Anything above 5 w/kg is pro-level and if you’re getting up towards 6 w/kg you’re a stage or race winner. At my very best I’ve made it up 4.4.

    Roughly speaking between 4 and 5 w /kg is pretty good club and amateur racing from Cat 3 up to Cat 1/ Elite level. 3 to below 4 w/kg is sportive/Cat 4 level and below 3 your aren’t trying.

    I started training with power last year, and wasn’t settled on a particular method right away. (TrainingPeaks offers a few, and I’m self coaching). What I’ve used for the past 6 – 8 months, is 7 zones, structured pretty much exactly like you describe above @ChrisO with the exception of my Z7, which max is 200% of FTP. Sounds like I should adjust that to peak beyond my max sprint. Would that be accurate?

    Although I’ve never ridden with @ChrisO, I’ve watched him on that website for the Rule #74 masturbaters. He can rip my legs off. My FTP W/kg at the end of last race season was 4.07. That just goes to show, that in the W/kg measurement, tenths are big.

    Cheers!




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  6. @markb

    @Teocalli

    Oh no, Teocalli’s broken Velominati!

    PS. might take you up on your offer, so long as you promise not too many hills

    Just bear in mind the last person to do that ended up in hospital.

    I assume Teocalli is just planning to work his way through the Velominati until he is the last man pedalling.




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  7. @VeloSix


    I started training with power last year, and wasn’t settled on a particular method right away. (TrainingPeaks offers a few, and I’m self coaching). What I’ve used for the past 6 – 8 months, is 7 zones, structured pretty much exactly like you describe above @ChrisO with the exception of my Z7, which max is 200% of FTP. Sounds like I should adjust that to peak beyond my max sprint. Would that be accurate?

    Although I’ve never ridden with @ChrisO, I’ve watched him on that website for the Rule #74 masturbaters. He can rip my legs off. My FTP W/kg at the end of last race season was 4.07. That just goes to show, that in the W/kg measurement, tenths are big.

    Cheers!

    Whether you have a Z7 depends on how you can modulate your power. Personally, if Z6 is 105-120% that’s 400+ watts for me. It’s about the most that I can do in a controlled way.

    Scales that have Z7 usually just say 120% to infinity, so to my mind it is pretty meaningless – it could be 600 watts or 1500 watts (I wish).

    Sometimes my coach might give me an all-out sprint where I might hit 600, so I guess you can call it Z7 but I would just call it Max Sprint, whatever that happens to be.

    Interestingly, and I haven’t tried this yet because I’m not back in proper training, but my coach – who’s quite well connected to Sky and British Cycling pro training – was saying the latest zone thinking was that it didn’t matter where you trained in the zone.

    So normally if he gives me a range of 200-250 I would try to be near the top end, but apparently it makes little difference whether I’m at 210 or 245, as long as I’m in the zone. Nice to know – I might need a bit of leeway.

    To your other point, yes it’s true that a tenth of a w/kg is an appreciable difference. But there’s no avoiding the question of who is able to suffer more – that makes up for quite a few watts I reckon, and it’s not something I claim to be especially good at to be honest. I train to avoid the pain cave !




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  8. @ChrisO

    @VeloSix


    I started training with power last year, and wasn’t settled on a particular method right away. (TrainingPeaks offers a few, and I’m self coaching). What I’ve used for the past 6 – 8 months, is 7 zones, structured pretty much exactly like you describe above @ChrisO with the exception of my Z7, which max is 200% of FTP. Sounds like I should adjust that to peak beyond my max sprint. Would that be accurate?

    Although I’ve never ridden with @ChrisO, I’ve watched him on that website for the Rule #74 masturbaters. He can rip my legs off. My FTP W/kg at the end of last race season was 4.07. That just goes to show, that in the W/kg measurement, tenths are big.

    Cheers!

    Whether you have a Z7 depends on how you can modulate your power. Personally, if Z6 is 105-120% that’s 400+ watts for me. It’s about the most that I can do in a controlled way.

    Scales that have Z7 usually just say 120% to infinity, so to my mind it is pretty meaningless – it could be 600 watts or 1500 watts (I wish).

    Sometimes my coach might give me an all-out sprint where I might hit 600, so I guess you can call it Z7 but I would just call it Max Sprint, whatever that happens to be.

    Interestingly, and I haven’t tried this yet because I’m not back in proper training, but my coach – who’s quite well connected to Sky and British Cycling pro training – was saying the latest zone thinking was that it didn’t matter where you trained in the zone.

    So normally if he gives me a range of 200-250 I would try to be near the top end, but apparently it makes little difference whether I’m at 210 or 245, as long as I’m in the zone. Nice to know – I might need a bit of leeway.

    To your other point, yes it’s true that a tenth of a w/kg is an appreciable difference. But there’s no avoiding the question of who is able to suffer more – that makes up for quite a few watts I reckon, and it’s not something I claim to be especially good at to be honest. I train to avoid the pain cave !

    I can’t get enough of this kind of talk…. I have an acquaintance who I get to ride with from time to time who receives a paycheck from Cannondale/Garmin. I think I drive him crazy with my questions like this… I’m an engineer, so I’m constantly chewing on numbers, trying to grasp the science of it all. I’m pretty good a short and big efforts. 3 minutes at 135% for example, and be able to repeat it several times in a race. Short 20 minute and below time trials, I have two 1st place, and one 2nd. But a 40k TT, I’m likely not even going to sniff the podium because I can’t produce sub 1 hour results.

    Be it a fueling, hydration, or absolute power, I’m hoping this winter I’ve improved on my longer efforts. If I can get closer to 4.2 w/kg, I should be a serious force this season in my region. As long as the place I get a real paycheck from doesn’t infuse some upheaval, like a looming relocation… (which by the way puts me within an hour of the 2015 Road World Championship)




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  9. @ChrisO

    @VeloSix


    I started training with power last year, and wasn’t settled on a particular method right away. (TrainingPeaks offers a few, and I’m self coaching). What I’ve used for the past 6 – 8 months, is 7 zones, structured pretty much exactly like you describe above @ChrisO with the exception of my Z7, which max is 200% of FTP. Sounds like I should adjust that to peak beyond my max sprint. Would that be accurate?

    Although I’ve never ridden with @ChrisO, I’ve watched him on that website for the Rule #74 masturbaters. He can rip my legs off. My FTP W/kg at the end of last race season was 4.07. That just goes to show, that in the W/kg measurement, tenths are big.

    Cheers!

    Whether you have a Z7 depends on how you can modulate your power. Personally, if Z6 is 105-120% that’s 400+ watts for me. It’s about the most that I can do in a controlled way.

    Scales that have Z7 usually just say 120% to infinity, so to my mind it is pretty meaningless – it could be 600 watts or 1500 watts (I wish).

    Sometimes my coach might give me an all-out sprint where I might hit 600, so I guess you can call it Z7 but I would just call it Max Sprint, whatever that happens to be.

    Interestingly, and I haven’t tried this yet because I’m not back in proper training, but my coach – who’s quite well connected to Sky and British Cycling pro training – was saying the latest zone thinking was that it didn’t matter where you trained in the zone.

    So normally if he gives me a range of 200-250 I would try to be near the top end, but apparently it makes little difference whether I’m at 210 or 245, as long as I’m in the zone. Nice to know – I might need a bit of leeway.

    To your other point, yes it’s true that a tenth of a w/kg is an appreciable difference. But there’s no avoiding the question of who is able to suffer more – that makes up for quite a few watts I reckon, and it’s not something I claim to be especially good at to be honest. I train to avoid the pain cave !

    I rather like the term Neuromuscular as a description of Zone 7 efforts – it sounds like you’ve really done yourself some damage.

    I’ve just started training with power. Indoors rather than on the road and I’m amazed at how much easier it is to really focus things. I’m quite good at rationalising hour long or two hour long interval sessions by telling there are only x number of efforts on which I’ll be on the edge and the total time spent in pain is relatively short. Once my simple and shallow part of my brain has accepted that lie, it’s quite happy to look at the number on the screen and ensure my legs push hard enough to match it.

    I guess that the whole thing of working with our inner chimp rather than fighting it.




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  10. @ChrisO

    @markb

    @Teocalli

    Oh no, Teocalli’s broken Velominati!

    PS. might take you up on your offer, so long as you promise not too many hills

    Just bear in mind the last person to do that ended up in hospital.

    I assume Teocalli is just planning to work his way through the Velominati until he is the last man pedalling.

    Noooo – I still feel terrible about that day.




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  11. @Chris

    I rather like the term Neuromuscular as a description of Zone 7 efforts – it sounds like you’ve really done yourself some damage.

    I’ve just started training with power. Indoors rather than on the road and I’m amazed at how much easier it is to really focus things. I’m quite good at rationalising hour long or two hour long interval sessions by telling there are only x number of efforts on which I’ll be on the edge and the total time spent in pain is relatively short. Once my simple and shallow part of my brain has accepted that lie, it’s quite happy to look at the number on the screen and ensure my legs push hard enough to match it.

    I guess that the whole thing of working with our inner chimp rather than fighting it.

    This looks like some kind of training super lab. Are domestiques and soigneurs included in this?




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  12. @VeloSix

    Unfortunately there aren’t any domestiques, it’s indoor training no matter how shiny it looks so at the end of the day you’re alone on that front. The set up is aimed at making your time in there as productive as possible so the bikes are set up to your measurements (including personal saddles – that’s got be worth 5 watts) in time for you to hop on.

    As for soigneurs, whoever is running the session will fill bottles and adjust the fans etc. Shoes, shower gel/shampoo and towels (but no massages) are also all provided.

    There are a bunch of coaching options as well as sessions that are 45 minutes on the bike followed by strength and conditioning.

    Shane Sutton had a hand in setting it up (or is at least paid for putting his name to it). Its not the cheapest by my firm contributes enough to cover half the year.




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  13. @Chris

    @VeloSix

    Unfortunately there aren’t any domestiques, it’s indoor training no matter how shiny it looks so at the end of the day you’re alone on that front. The set up is aimed at making your time in there as productive as possible so the bikes are set up to your measurements (including personal saddles – that’s got be worth 5 watts) in time for you to hop on.

    As for soigneurs, whoever is running the session will fill bottles and adjust the fans etc. Shoes, shower gel/shampoo and towels (but no massages) are also all provided.

    There are a bunch of coaching options as well as sessions that are 45 minutes on the bike followed by strength and conditioning.

    Shane Sutton had a hand in setting it up (or is at least paid for putting his name to it). Its not the cheapest by my firm contributes enough to cover half the year.

    I’ve seen some other set ups like this, be it Instagram, Facebook, what have you…. A future relocation for my job is moving me 450 miles north.. So I see my winter outdoor riding being greatly diminished. Maybe one of these super labs is in my future. Hopefully there is some booty I can find from my company too, as this cannot be cheap at all…..




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  14. @Teocalli If I was allowed to use an emoticon I would have. I’m not a big believer in fate or any guiding hands but I am a believer in trying to take what happens and make the most of it.

    If nothing else one has the opportunity to learn something about one’s self, good or bad.

    On a personal level I’ve had nearly 8 weeks at home – the longest I’ve been with my family for seven years – and it has made me realise how far past my shelf life I am in Dubai. I’ve got to do something to get out of here.

    On an athletic level it’s given me a challenge I would otherwise never have had. Unless you do different things you never learn, so I will learn what it is like to come back from a serious injury.

    I’ve also learned that there is pain which a hundred intervals doesn’t come close to. Hopefully I can put that to good use.

    So, odd as it sounds, I don’t actually look back on it as a bad thing. It was just a thing.




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  15. @VeloSix

    @Chris

    @VeloSix

    Unfortunately there aren’t any domestiques, it’s indoor training no matter how shiny it looks so at the end of the day you’re alone on that front. The set up is aimed at making your time in there as productive as possible so the bikes are set up to your measurements (including personal saddles – that’s got be worth 5 watts) in time for you to hop on.

    As for soigneurs, whoever is running the session will fill bottles and adjust the fans etc. Shoes, shower gel/shampoo and towels (but no massages) are also all provided.

    There are a bunch of coaching options as well as sessions that are 45 minutes on the bike followed by strength and conditioning.

    Shane Sutton had a hand in setting it up (or is at least paid for putting his name to it). Its not the cheapest by my firm contributes enough to cover half the year.

    A future relocation for my job is moving me 450 miles north..

    Rafsanjān? I’m not sure they’ll have anything like that there.




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  16. @Chris

    @VeloSix

    @Chris

    @VeloSix

    Unfortunately there aren’t any domestiques, it’s indoor training no matter how shiny it looks so at the end of the day you’re alone on that front. The set up is aimed at making your time in there as productive as possible so the bikes are set up to your measurements (including personal saddles – that’s got be worth 5 watts) in time for you to hop on.

    As for soigneurs, whoever is running the session will fill bottles and adjust the fans etc. Shoes, shower gel/shampoo and towels (but no massages) are also all provided.

    There are a bunch of coaching options as well as sessions that are 45 minutes on the bike followed by strength and conditioning.

    Shane Sutton had a hand in setting it up (or is at least paid for putting his name to it). Its not the cheapest by my firm contributes enough to cover half the year.

    A future relocation for my job is moving me 450 miles north..

    Rafsanjān? I’m not sure they’ll have anything like that there.

    I’ll be working in DC, but commuting from south of the metro area.




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  17. @VeloSix

    @Chris

    @VeloSix

    @Chris

    @VeloSix

    Unfortunately there aren’t any domestiques, it’s indoor training no matter how shiny it looks so at the end of the day you’re alone on that front. The set up is aimed at making your time in there as productive as possible so the bikes are set up to your measurements (including personal saddles – that’s got be worth 5 watts) in time for you to hop on.

    As for soigneurs, whoever is running the session will fill bottles and adjust the fans etc. Shoes, shower gel/shampoo and towels (but no massages) are also all provided.

    There are a bunch of coaching options as well as sessions that are 45 minutes on the bike followed by strength and conditioning.

    Shane Sutton had a hand in setting it up (or is at least paid for putting his name to it). Its not the cheapest by my firm contributes enough to cover half the year.

    A future relocation for my job is moving me 450 miles north..

    Rafsanjān? I’m not sure they’ll have anything like that there.

    I’ll be working in DC, but commuting from south of the metro area.

    Haha, I misread your last one as one of @ChrisO‘s posts! I’m sure there’ll be something similar there.

    Athlete Lab is just round the corner from my office in London which is one of the attractions; I can go in during the day or after work rather than waiting till I get home after a two hour commute when I’m often too knackered to motivate myself well for a roller session.




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  18. @ChrisO

    @Teocalli If I was allowed to use an emoticon I would have. I’m not a big believer in fate or any guiding hands but I am a believer in trying to take what happens and make the most of it.

    If nothing else one has the opportunity to learn something about one’s self, good or bad.

    On a personal level I’ve had nearly 8 weeks at home – the longest I’ve been with my family for seven years – and it has made me realise how far past my shelf life I am in Dubai. I’ve got to do something to get out of here.

    On an athletic level it’s given me a challenge I would otherwise never have had. Unless you do different things you never learn, so I will learn what it is like to come back from a serious injury.

    I’ve also learned that there is pain which a hundred intervals doesn’t come close to. Hopefully I can put that to good use.

    So, odd as it sounds, I don’t actually look back on it as a bad thing. It was just a thing.

    Thanks for that. I know what you mean about being away. Some years ago I found I was a stranger in my own house as a result of constant travel at work, that directly lead to us taking a series of winters out, teaching Adaptive Skiing in Colorado. Probably without the kick that I got from the work situation I would never have taken that step that lead to something I will always value. That and the mortgage on the condo we bought out there.

    So I could always to teach you to ski………………..




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  19. @Chris


    Rafsanjān? I’m not sure they’ll have anything like that there.

    Kazakhstan… very good labs for make cycling champion yes no problem.




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  20. @ChrisO

    @Teocalli If I was allowed to use an emoticon I would have. I’m not a big believer in fate or any guiding hands but I am a believer in trying to take what happens and make the most of it.

    If nothing else one has the opportunity to learn something about one’s self, good or bad.

    On a personal level I’ve had nearly 8 weeks at home – the longest I’ve been with my family for seven years – and it has made me realise how far past my shelf life I am in Dubai. I’ve got to do something to get out of here.

    On an athletic level it’s given me a challenge I would otherwise never have had. Unless you do different things you never learn, so I will learn what it is like to come back from a serious injury.

    I’ve also learned that there is pain which a hundred intervals doesn’t come close to. Hopefully I can put that to good use.

    So, odd as it sounds, I don’t actually look back on it as a bad thing. It was just a thing.

    Is this love?




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  21. @ChrisO

    True, but if recent news turns out to be true, it would seem that racing licences are are problem at the moment in that part of the world.




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  22. Awesome piece, Frank!

    Being four months in to my first 9-5 in awhile, damn, the time to cycle is limited these days. Doesn’t help that we got 8″ of snow Weds. night. Not sure I even have enough form to say my form is lacking. I used to find myself wondering why guys couldn’t keep up in the group rides, now I know.

    The bad thing is that I commute to/from work via bicycle. It’s great because I still can ride for 1.5 hours a day, but it’s bad because then I feel like I’ve gotten my fix, but commuting ain’t training. I’m only doing real riding twice a week, used to be 6-7.

    Oh well, lots of improvements in other areas of life, like a burgeoning Budgetatus. I see a bike shed in the near future.




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  23. @Chris


    Athlete Lab is just round the corner from my office in London which is one of the attractions; I can go in during the day or after work rather than waiting till I get home after a two hour commute when I’m often too knackered to motivate myself well for a roller session.

    I’ve booked a FTP taster session here, mind you at 40 bloody quid for 3/4 hour it better be worth it, if I don’t require CRP by the end of it, I’ll want my money back.




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  24. As Frank so eloquently stated: Pain = Improvement. Therefore Pain is welcome and necessary. My wife is having me fitted for a straight jacket. As long as I can indulge in a pint!




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  25. @markb

    @Chris


    Athlete Lab is just round the corner from my office in London which is one of the attractions; I can go in during the day or after work rather than waiting till I get home after a two hour commute when I’m often too knackered to motivate myself well for a roller session.

    I’ve booked a FTP taster session here, mind you at 40 bloody quid for 3/4 hour it better be worth it, if I don’t require CRP by the end of it, I’ll want my money back.

    CRP? Do you mean this? http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=copr&topic=crp

    Or this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-reactive_protein




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  26. @ChrisO

    @VeloSix

    @wiscot

    What’s FTP? I’m originally from the West of Scotland and know one interpretation, but it’s not applicable here.

    Functional Threshold Power, in theory, this is the max average power you can sustain for one hour.

    Just to elaborate on that, in case you think it’s just an interesting number…

    FTP becomes the level around which all your training is based when you are using power. You establish training zones and work around them.

    So a Zone 1 recovery ride would be no more than 60% of FTP, which is actually really difficult to do.

    Z2 Endurance is 60-75% so that’s the sort of pace you should be able to do for several hours.

    Z3 is also known as Sweet Spot, 75-90% – if you can do a lot of time in that area it pushes the FTP up.

    Then you get Z4 which is basically your FTP level and you would do sustained bursts, Z5 is 105-120% which is great to go in and out of to simulate racing and Z6 / Z7 (some scales stop at Z6) is your sprinting.

    The Z4 and above levels tend to be done in structured exercises e.g. 1 min Z5, 4min Z4, 5 min Z3 and repeat or 20 seconds Z6 with 40 seconds rest x 10. Z3 and below are ones you crucnh out for a whole ride.

    Apart from training FTP is also a good indicator of performance. When you hear people talk about watts per kilo comparison among pros they are typically using FTP for the watts. Tell me your w/kg FTP and I’ll tell you what category you can race at.

    Anything above 5 w/kg is pro-level and if you’re getting up towards 6 w/kg you’re a stage or race winner. At my very best I’ve made it up 4.4.

    Roughly speaking between 4 and 5 w /kg is pretty good club and amateur racing from Cat 3 up to Cat 1/ Elite level. 3 to below 4 w/kg is sportive/Cat 4 level and below 3 your aren’t trying.

    Thanks for making me feel crap! I don’t think I’m quite at 3, and I thought I was doing quite well.

    That said, I think the issue is the weight part of the equation, as my flat speed/power isn’t bad for a relative newby, I don’t think (not compared to the guys and club I’ve been riding with, anyway).

    I’m concentrating on training for a 10m TT in 2 weeks right now, so am visiting the pain cave on my turbo and at the velodrome pretty frequently. Difficult to see any definite improvement yet, but I’m hoping it will pay off on the day.




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  27. @RobSandy

    @markb

    @Chris


    Athlete Lab is just round the corner from my office in London which is one of the attractions; I can go in during the day or after work rather than waiting till I get home after a two hour commute when I’m often too knackered to motivate myself well for a roller session.

    I’ve booked a FTP taster session here, mind you at 40 bloody quid for 3/4 hour it better be worth it, if I don’t require CRP by the end of it, I’ll want my money back.

    CRP? Do you mean this? http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=copr&topic=crp

    Or this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-reactive_protein

    I mean this:




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  28. @RobSandy


    Thanks for making me feel crap! I don’t think I’m quite at 3, and I thought I was doing quite well.

    That said, I think the issue is the weight part of the equation, as my flat speed/power isn’t bad for a relative newby, I don’t think (not compared to the guys and club I’ve been riding with, anyway).

    I’m concentrating on training for a 10m TT in 2 weeks right now, so am visiting the pain cave on my turbo and at the velodrome pretty frequently. Difficult to see any definite improvement yet, but I’m hoping it will pay off on the day.

    You’re welcome. Hey, if you want to feel good go to group therapy… [insert multiple emoticons]

    I don’t know your numbers but losing kgs is the best way to improve the equation for pretty much anyone. That’s why even the pros obsess about it.

    What are you aiming for in your TT?




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  29. @ChrisO

    @RobSandy


    Thanks for making me feel crap! I don’t think I’m quite at 3, and I thought I was doing quite well.

    That said, I think the issue is the weight part of the equation, as my flat speed/power isn’t bad for a relative newby, I don’t think (not compared to the guys and club I’ve been riding with, anyway).

    I’m concentrating on training for a 10m TT in 2 weeks right now, so am visiting the pain cave on my turbo and at the velodrome pretty frequently. Difficult to see any definite improvement yet, but I’m hoping it will pay off on the day.

    You’re welcome. Hey, if you want to feel good go to group therapy… [insert multiple emoticons]

    I don’t know your numbers but losing kgs is the best way to improve the equation for pretty much anyone. That’s why even the pros obsess about it.

    What are you aiming for in your TT?

    Well I was feeling pretty good about myself and then you come along with this watts/kg stuff and knock me down…don’t worry. I’ll be fine.

    I’m 90kg (although I did plenty of riding in the summer at around 95/96 before deciding to trim down), which is the lightest I’ve been probably since I was about 18, and I’m probably also the fittest I’ve ever been right now. I’m never going to be a climber and I’m fine with that.

    I’ve done 10 miles/16 k in 27:30 on the outdoor track, so I’d like to think I could get somewhere near that. Also, my track efforts have been on cold blustery mornings so if it’s reasonably warm and still I might be able to improve on that. I think it’s a flattish course.

    I’m going to consider this one to be my season benchmark, riding my standard road bike on the drops. I’m considering trying clip on aeros (I wont get away with a TT bike any time soon) for subsequent TTs but I’ll have to see how the position works out. Hopefully throughout the summer a combination of fitness, pacing, improved aero etc will see me knock times down. I’ve only been riding as my main hobby since the summer, so I’m not expecting to set the world alight just yet.




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  30. @RobSandy

    Yes if you can keep 3w/kg that’s probably about 35-36km/h on the flat so 26 to 27 mins is realistic. 270 watts is a perfectly respectable output, probably similar to most people in your club, but it just comes down to what you divide it by.

    I wouldn’t worry about the clip-ons, not for that distance. Not that I’m an expert on TTs by any means – @Tessar may have a more scientific view – but if you aren’t getting the bars down any lower or bringing your seat forward then it isn’t making that much difference to your position. Slightly narrower but I doubt it’s worth the trade-off in power.




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  31. @ChrisO

    @RobSandy

    Yes if you can keep 3w/kg that’s probably about 35-36km/h on the flat so 26 to 27 mins is realistic. 270 watts is a perfectly respectable output, probably similar to most people in your club, but it just comes down to what you divide it by.

    I wouldn’t worry about the clip-ons, not for that distance. Not that I’m an expert on TTs by any means – @Tessar may have a more scientific view – but if you aren’t getting the bars down any lower or bringing your seat forward then it isn’t making that much difference to your position. Slightly narrower but I doubt it’s worth the trade-off in power.

    I’d be pleased as punch to go under 27 mins first go. We’ll see. I’d like to think I’ve got capacity to improve considerably on that over time, too. The opportunity to warm up properly might help, too. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    I might see if I can beg borrow or steal some basic clip on bars at some point and try them out at the track. If they help me go faster – they’re in! Having tried the phantom bar position I think tweaks to the bike fit might be needed, which if it’s more than shifting the saddle a bit I wont be arsed to do.

    Plus, if I’m riding a TT on the drops or Beligian-style I can pretend I’m RDV smashing it.




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  32. @RobSandy

    @ChrisO

    @RobSandy

    Yes if you can keep 3w/kg that’s probably about 35-36km/h on the flat so 26 to 27 mins is realistic. 270 watts is a perfectly respectable output, probably similar to most people in your club, but it just comes down to what you divide it by.

    I wouldn’t worry about the clip-ons, not for that distance. Not that I’m an expert on TTs by any means – @Tessar may have a more scientific view – but if you aren’t getting the bars down any lower or bringing your seat forward then it isn’t making that much difference to your position. Slightly narrower but I doubt it’s worth the trade-off in power.

    I’d be pleased as punch to go under 27 mins first go. We’ll see. I’d like to think I’ve got capacity to improve considerably on that over time, too. The opportunity to warm up properly might help, too. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    I might see if I can beg borrow or steal some basic clip on bars at some point and try them out at the track. If they help me go faster – they’re in! Having tried the phantom bar position I think tweaks to the bike fit might be needed, which if it’s more than shifting the saddle a bit I wont be arsed to do.

    Plus, if I’m riding a TT on the drops or Beligian-style I can pretend I’m RDV smashing it.

    Oh hell, this has to be my favourite post so far and I nearly missed it. Thanks ChrisO of raising my attention to it… Got a long day at the lab tomorrow to read the discussion so far while Matlab hogs my workstation.

    Recipe for “aero on a dime”, it’s pretty basic:

    1. Slam your saddle as forwards as the rails, seatpost and/or rulebook allows you (raise saddle accordingly to maintain distance from pedals). This allows a more open hip angle (more power), which you can then “trade” for lower bars (more aero).
    2. As a baseline, try positioning the clip-ons so your upper arms are vertical with the ground. If the elbows are slightly more forward than that, that’s fine – it usually makes the tuck slightly easier (and more aero).
    3. Bar/aerobar height: Usually, if you’re adjusting from a road setup, you can go a fair bit lower (especially with the forwards saddle). Think of it as rotating your entire body around the bottom bracket.
    4. Width: As a rule of thumb, the narrower the better, your comfort will dictate limits. Even if you can’t go lower, the narrowness is already a bonus.
    5. Shrug your head!

    Basically, how fast you go in a given solo race is dictated by your power against your aerodynamic resistance: W/CdA. Cd is a coefficient determined by shapes and their interactions: Smooth, airfoil tubes on the bike, hairless legs and tight clothing all lower it. In a pinch, a baselayer that’s a size too small will do if you don’t have a skinsuit.

    The A in CdA stands for area, so reducing that – via height and/or width – is the goal. Aerobars allow you to do both: They support your elbows so it won’t be as hard to hold your body low in a set-forward position, and they hold them narrow at the same time.

    P.S: Unless your road bars are too high, Belgian-style is faster than the drops. Level forearms = less surface area.

    P.S2: Don’t feel bad, I’m ~270W@FTP right now as well. Though that’s 4W/kg for me…




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  33. @frank

    @rfreese888

    @Mikael Liddy

    I know how you feel. Did 175k 2 weeks ago and was comfortable the whole way. Following week was wheel sucking 2nd half of 100k.

    You lot with your summers going on right now, I’ll have you know our Spring is just around the corner.

    Take that.

    I’ll take an Adelaide autumn over a Seattle spring any day thanks…




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  34. @tessar

    Cheers for the advice. I will certainly put it into practice if I decide aero bars are worth a try at some point. I’ve got quite a big surface area, in terms of upper body (years of rock climbing and rugby do not a skinny chest make), so anything I can do to reduce that would probably help.

    I’ve been training on the velodrome and turbo riding the full distance, and also sets of shorter distances to try and improve speed (i.e. 16minute TTs, 6 Minute TTs), as well as occasional longer rides (30 minutes or track sessions with my club).

    Anything else that is worth adding in to my training? It probably wont help for a week sunday but it might going through the season.




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  35. @ChrisO

    Whether you have a Z7 depends on how you can modulate your power. Personally, if Z6 is 105-120% that’s 400+ watts for me. It’s about the most that I can do in a controlled way.Scales that have Z7 usually just say 120% to infinity, so to my mind it is pretty meaningless – it could be 600 watts or 1500 watts (I wish).

    Sometimes my coach might give me an all-out sprint where I might hit 600, so I guess you can call it Z7 but I would just call it Max Sprint, whatever that happens to be.

    Interestingly, and I haven’t tried this yet because I’m not back in proper training, but my coach – who’s quite well connected to Sky and British Cycling pro training – was saying the latest zone thinking was that it didn’t matter where you trained in the zone.

    So normally if he gives me a range of 200-250 I would try to be near the top end, but apparently it makes little difference whether I’m at 210 or 245, as long as I’m in the zone. Nice to know – I might need a bit of leeway.

    To your other point, yes it’s true that a tenth of a w/kg is an appreciable difference. But there’s no avoiding the question of who is able to suffer more – that makes up for quite a few watts I reckon, and it’s not something I claim to be especially good at to be honest. I train to avoid the pain cave !

    Per Andy Coggan, the FTP is, technically speaking, the maximal power one can hold where lactate production can be kept in check. It just happens to correlate with an hour’s effort for most riders, and when we reach that length of effort then power decays rather slowly anyway. In any case any testing is an estimate, so determining it to more than the first decimal is more precision than the error.

    My coach and several other sources also said similar things: The “zones” are a continuous spectrum, and there are many ways to complete a given workout correctly. Depending on residual fatigue and the goals of a session, I might aim for the top of the range or aim to stay at the lower end. There’s a world of difference between lower and upper Z2… And an even bigger difference in Z7. If I’ve got sprints on my plan, it depends on the rest intervals but it could mean anything from all-out 15s @900W or shorter 600W bursts which don’t register in the same class.




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  36. @RobSandy

    Long term: Once you’re talking 20+ minute races, there’s a significant aerobic component to success (that’s the reason the common FTP test predicts using a 20-min effort). Therefore, even if your races are shortish, don’t neglect long rides. Overall riding volume has the strongest correlation with aerobic improvement, and aerobic capacity is a good predictor for these time-trials.

    Short term: Familiarize yourself with the concept of the Variability Index, and aim to keep it low. From the Individual Pursuit and the Kilo all the way to the Steven Abraham’s Year-Long TT, the best pacing is even pacing, both on the micro and the macro scale.

    Back on the subject of width and aerobars: How wide your shoulders are when upright is only half the deal. If you’re a rock climber you probably have some decent flexibility, which is good. What you’re looking for is to “move your shoulders up” by rotating your scapula, which then narrows the shoulders. Tony Martin has wide shoulders but reduces his width by ~30% in a tuck. Here’s a test result on that, too – free speed!




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  37. @tessar

    Cheers! I knew I’d get good advice here.

    I’m also training for a 120km event in June, so am getting in longer rides plus quite intense hour and a half track sessions with the club. My aerobic fitness is probably the best it’s ever been.

    I haven’t looked it up but I’m guessing the Variability Index means keeping your speed as close to your required average as possible? Or if you’re using HR or Power, keeping these close to a sustainable average for the distance? I try and do this anyway.

    Tony Martin is a dude. I have seen how he shrugs his shoulders in when he’s in his aero tuck, I can see it’d take some getting used to. And a bit of strength. Long term shoulder problems are what’s stopped me climbing. Would it work without aero bars?




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  38. @tessar

    Just read on a bit more. I can see me getting on the turbo in front of the mirror!




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  39. @RobSandy

    A mirror works wonders for feedback.

    Correct guess on VI, except the speed bit. Speed will vary on the course depending on surface, winds or elevation, but your effort shouldn’t variate. Therefore, VI applies to objective measurements only: Power and, for longer events, heart rate. With power, we’re talking the ratio between Average and Normalized Power, where Normalized is an algorithm that weighs power spikes more heavily than a pure average would – the idea being that gives a more accurate measurement of the physiological toll an effort has exacted on the rider. Think of an hour ride at 250W, vs an hour alternating between 300W and 200W – both have the same average, but one is significantly harder.

    I’d say shrugging would be very hard to do without aerobars. The biggest advantage they give is exactly that: Skeletal support to hold otherwise difficult positions. I can ride in a deep tuck for hours on my TT bike, but holding the same position on the road bike is like doing planks – super-hard for more than a short time. The pads do a lot of the work your back muscles would do otherwise, and ideally, a good tuck should feel like plopping yourself into the bike. When Steve Hed (of HED Wheels fame, RIP), one of the original ’80s aero gurus, first saw aerobars his comment was “It’s basically like an upside-down recumbent!”




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  40. Selecting Led Zeppelin as a theme for this Saturday (rain or shine) — No Quarter should register a fairly decent Coefficient of Difficulty. “The pain, the pain without quarter.”




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  42. @tessar

    Rode a ‘trial’ 10 miler this morning at the velodrome, knocked 30-odd seconds off my previous best time, and felt in control all the way around. Probably had a bit left in the tank at the end but not much. I didn’t make many concessions to aero apart from trying to stay low. Belgian-style did feel a bit lower than in the drops, but it also restricted my breathing somewhat. I tried to ride a negative split and that worked well, starting steady and ramping up the speed. I can see how it’d be very easy to get obsessed about time trialling, trying to shave time off everywhere you can. Hmm.

    Only problem is when I train hard my food requirements go mental. I reckon I’m eating between 3000 and 3500 calories daily at the moment and still losing weight. Not really a problem, I suppose…




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  43. @tessar

    @ChrisO

    Both, I know this post goes back a bit but I thought you might be interested to know I didn’t do 26 or 27 minutes in my first 10 mile TT…

    I did 25.23. I’m pleased as punch. The V was with me. Can’t wait to do another one.




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  44. Excellent, well done. From the numbers you were talking about I didn’t think you’d have a problem hitting your target but that’s even better. How did you feel?

    And you know you’re a proper tester if you’ve been thinking “How can I lose those 23 seconds?”




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  45. @ChrisO

    Excellent, well done. From the numbers you were talking about I didn’t think you’d have a problem hitting your target but that’s even better. How did you feel?

    And you know you’re a proper tester if you’ve been thinking “How can I lose those 23 seconds?”

    I wasn’t sure because the trial runs I’d done were all on an outdoor track and I’d assumed that I wouldn’t match that speed on the road. But I went much faster. Anyone got any clever theories why? I’m stumped.

    Felt fine – to be honest on the way home in the car I wasn’t thinking of shaving 20 seconds off, I was thinking I could have taken a minute off or more. And that’s without any real concessions to aero

    . I paced myself so as not to blow up and to be honest had a bit in the tank.

    Most importantly though – I fucking loved it. it felt brilliant and I want to do it again! Soon!




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  46. @RobSandy

    @ChrisO

    Excellent, well done. From the numbers you were talking about I didn’t think you’d have a problem hitting your target but that’s even better. How did you feel?

    And you know you’re a proper tester if you’ve been thinking “How can I lose those 23 seconds?”

    I wasn’t sure because the trial runs I’d done were all on an outdoor track and I’d assumed that I wouldn’t match that speed on the road. But I went much faster. Anyone got any clever theories why? I’m stumped.

    Felt fine – to be honest on the way home in the car I wasn’t thinking of shaving 20 seconds off, I was thinking I could have taken a minute off or more. And that’s without any real concessions to aero

    I paced myself so as not to blow up and to be honest had a bit in the tank.Most importantly though – I fucking loved it. it felt brilliant and I want to do it again! Soon!

    Ah-ha, FELT fine! Love that bike.

    Well done though. First concession to aero (and comfort, too) is a size down on the jersey. That thing’s a balloon! The warmers seem flappy too. Even for regular club rides I wouldn’t want it this loose. First rule of sports clothing: Movement == Irritation. If it’s snug it won’t move and won’t bother.

    There’s a lot of discussion about velodromes and speed, now that The Hour is trendy again. There’s something about the curves on the track that seems to sap energy from the riders in a way the road doesn’t, and the occasional change in tempo dictated by the road conditions is apparently not a bad thing compared to the track’s 5-second intervals.




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  47. @tessar

    Cheers! I was surprised about the jersey. It’s a brand new club jersey size Medium. Now, I’m quite a big chap and I’ve never been medium in anything, so I was quite surprised to find it flapping around my middle mid-ride. Don’t know if it’d hang down better with stuff in the pockets (for road riding)? I can’t imagine trying to fit in a small – not sure my arms would fit through the holes!

    And the arm warmers aren’t arm warmers – it’s a long sleeved base layer. I knew that wasn’t snug but I thought I didn’t want to get cold.

    The fact that you speed up and slow down on the road doesn’t seem to fit with VI, but I have always felt like a shallow downhill gives you more of a rest and more of a boost to speed than a shallow uphill takes out of you.

    The next TT in the series is the same course, mid May, so we’ll see if I can strip that extra time off.




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  48. @RobSandy

    @tessar

    Cheers! I was surprised about the jersey. It’s a brand new club jersey size Medium. Now, I’m quite a big chap and I’ve never been medium in anything, so I was quite surprised to find it flapping around my middle mid-ride. Don’t know if it’d hang down better with stuff in the pockets (for road riding)? I can’t imagine trying to fit in a small – not sure my arms would fit through the holes!

    And the arm warmers aren’t arm warmers – it’s a long sleeved base layer. I knew that wasn’t snug but I thought I didn’t want to get cold.

    The fact that you speed up and slow down on the road doesn’t seem to fit with VI, but I have always felt like a shallow downhill gives you more of a rest and more of a boost to speed than a shallow uphill takes out of you.

    The next TT in the series is the same course, mid May, so we’ll see if I can strip that extra time off.

    It’s not the length, it’s the width of the thing that slows you down. Often, a Race Cut jersey will have similar opening sizes (just because we’re skinny doesn’t mean we don’t need to breathe through our neck) but a narrower waist and shoulders, which is what you need. Typically, men overjudge their sizes – I still have some XL shirts from back when I thought height == size. Also, tighter baselayers function better. Underarmour and Adidas make some nice ones that are affortable.

    For reference, this is what I look like standing in a team-issue skinsuit:

    Fuck wrinkles.

    Back to VI and the road vs track thing: You’d think a track means everything is constant, but the bankings actually mean it’s anything but. It’s basically a series of sprints out of the corners. VI on the track is higher than a typical flat TT, and if the TT has occasional freewheeling opportunities, or a chance to change cadence, it can be easier to deal with mentally.




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  49. @RobSandy

    Plus, modern (non-race) cycling trends dictate generous sizes. I used to ride a Castelli sized Large and it still fits me perfect, on the new 2015 stuff I’m a Small. Club kits are often even more generous.




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  50. @tessar

    Cool. Maybe I’ll think about investing in a club skinsuit – they are not too expensive. I’ll just get the smallest size I can fit my arms through the sleeves without cutting off circulation. For now I think I’ve got still plenty of power to add to my legs. Borrowing some aero bars to try is also on my list.

    I do wonder if a lot of cycling clothes are cut for people with no appreciable shoulders but big guts. I’m fortunately the other way around!

    The track I ride on is a 460m tarmac oval – so the turns aren’t tight. However, it is completely relentless, there is nowhere to change cadence and there is often a headwind down one straight. If you ease off or even soft pedal you can feel your speed drop immediately, and you’ve then got to give it the beans to get it back up again.

    Probably a pretty good place to train!




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