Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Training Hills and PR's

This past weekend threw a pleasant surprise at me in the form of another PR on Mt Equinox. Equinox, like Ascutney, is great for baselining one's fitness because these climbs are relatively immune from the wrath of Mother Nature. The same cannot be said for Mt Washington. Thus you can compare year to year climbs on Ascutney or Equinox without conditioning it on the weather.

My training has been anything but peaking oriented lately. The trip with massive "junk" hours of riding in Colorado should have torpedoed the rest of my season. The inverse seems to have happened.

This evening I went out for a training ride from work. I had planned to join the Exeter Wednesday night ride, but when it's wet and drizzly, there can be a poor showing. I don't particularly like group riding on wet roads anyway. So I hammered out towards the Uncanoonucs near Manchester. Got in some good 30-60 second intervals along the way on top of threshold pace I was maintaining. I figured I might as well time myself up Summit Rd, despite being on my overgeared, heavy training bike.

On the steep bits, I noticed I was not dropping down to my 27t cog. That was unusual. I used to always need a triple to get up Alpe d'Unc without my cadence getting bogged down. Not tonight. I hit the top 23 seconds faster than my prior best set last year.

When I set my best last year, I ran a Power Tap. I averaged 417W for 6:03 minutes that time. If I do simple scaling of time, I averaged at least 445W tonight for 5:40 minutes. I say at least because going that fast means wind resistance starts becoming a factor. It's not a straight linear MGH calculation (mass, gravity, height). I might have been more like 450W, which is 6.0W/kg for about 5.7 minutes.

So then I thought back to Solobreak's invite/challenge at Blue Hill. What would these numbers translate to there? Just using the 450W estimate from Uncanoonuc with lighter bike setup nets:
MGH = 83.7kg * 9.8 * 129.8m = 106.4kJ
Rolling/wind loss on steep grades is about 7% empirically determined on many climbs with my Power Tap:
106.4kJ * 1.07 = 113.9kJ output to reach top
So if I assume 450W, this gives a time of:
113.9kJ / 450W = 253 seconds, or 4:13 minutes.

Thus Solobreak's magic 4:20 threshold should be readily achievable right now. But wait, that's not all there's to it. I average approx. 450W for 5:40 minutes. 4:13 is much shorter. I should be able to average quite a bit higher power for say 25% less duration. There's no way to calculate this, as everybody's power vs. time curve is shaped differently. But let's for a moment say I can break 4 minutes even:
113.9kJ / 240s = 474W

This really isn't that big of an increase, only 5.3%. I'm intrigued now. I know a lot of folks train on this hill. I'd love to hear what Steve Gatzos' best time is. Hard to say when I can get over that way to try it. The rest of the month is booked with races and business travel on weekends.


brent said...

if you can, let me know when you're headed there. I've been thinking about driving up from Providence to do hill repeats on Blue Hill sometime soon. Of course, my wife is due to pop out a little Jude any day now, so who knows.

I'll be posting on my blog (and speculating as to the reasons) in a few hours, but I also had a very encouraging hill training day today. I hit about 10 of the hardest hills in Providence, and my plan for the day was to stay in a gear 1 or 2 higher than what I would normally do. the result was that I climbed them all (I think) slightly faster, and recovered quicker after each one.

solobreak said...

SG looked like he was just cruising when he was posting 4:20 repeats. That's pretty impressive. I think Mark says he rode 3:40 once, and another guy (who I think used to be a Jelly Belly pro) commented on my blog that he rode low 4s or something.

But of course it's not an even grade. The middle section is much faster than the top. The bottom is pretty steep too. But when you're having a good ride it doesn't seem so bad...

The hill is not going anywhere, so whenever you want. The Canton CX race is only two miles from it. And I work right at the bottom, so if you're ever in the 'hood on a work day...

I have not gone under 5:10 all year.

Gadzooks said...

I only check my times for just a few repeats every session--one or two at the beginning and maybe once more toward the end. I should be more diligent about that.

It's interesting, but I've not been able to get below the low 4:20s all year. I don't train with a power meter, but I know there's progress in that department as I'm progressively spending more time in higher gears.

However, I notice my HR is on average 10bpm lower compared to the actual hill climb races, so it must be a mental thing where I'm not exactly pushing the hardest in non-competitive situations. Definitely some laziness at work here.

Next time, I should try giving someone a 1-2 minute head start before I begin. That might be the kind of fire I need lit under my ass to optimize my Big Blue workouts. Onwards and upwards.