Training & Nutrition - Measuring cycling progress
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01-23-07, 12:02 PM
I tried to set up a regular time trial to guage my progress and it's just not working. Seasonal and irregular winds simply make this useless. I also can't find a track or velodrome that will work for me either.
My Garmin 301 is measuring my heart rate and it does look like my average HR is dropping.
I also do sesisons on the trainer and I make watt estimates from that.
Still something's missing.
01-23-07, 02:10 PM
Set up a standardized century course. Do the loop two days in row with the 2nd day in reverse. Then compare your total times between different weekends.
Since you live in an area where the road conditions are the same throughout the year (no, or virtually no, snow/ice), you could simply record every ride in a spreadsheet (I use MS Excel) and use various methods to determine whether you've improved or not. A simple x/y-plot for distance/speed on a monthly basis will give you a set of curves to compare with each other.
When I've done the carmichael field test (which I haven't done in about 6 months...), I did three miles in one direction, recovered, and then did the second 3 miles in the other direction.
There is variation with wind/no wind, and temperature and rain will also mess things up a bit, but the data was good enough for me to check progress.
I'd also recommend riding at a time when the wind is less - for me, that meant early in the morning.
There are two effects that you should be looking for:
1) For a given length time trial, as you get more fit, you should be able to hold a higher average heart rate over the length of the test. When I was starting out last year, I could hold my heart rate in the 165-167 range, but by mid summer, I held 171 for about 5 minutes straight (175-179 is my max).
2) Look at the time it's taking to do the test compared to last time.
I should also note that this isn't something you want to do very often. Time trials are painful, and the 3 mile distance is a particularly painful one. It takes a lot of mental toughness to do it, and it takes a lot out of your body.
01-23-07, 10:26 PM
Speed outside is nearly useless as a metric for this reason.
I'd recommend getting a trainer like the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and attach it's $50 power attachment if you're not up for a power meter. Or, if you already train with heart rate, hit the trainer, warm up to a goal heart rate and ride without watching your speed - just heart rate. This is at least a way to control the environment.
Or... if you want to stay outside, do a hill climb. I have a hill climb that I do where wind won't be so much a factor. It takes me almost 30 minutes to complete the climb, and it's nearly always on the "leeward" side of the mountain, so wind isn't an issue. 32 minutes in October, 29 min 54 sec in November, 1st of January was 28 min 51 sec. Next Tuesday I go up again.... ugh.
01-24-07, 01:18 PM
Thanks for the great feedback! Lots of great ideas.
Because my regular training ride is only fifteen miles and with lots of stop lights, I found improvements in average speed if I did a low pass filter for speeds under 12mph (stop sign or light). I like some of the ideas you've presented better however as general tests of my fitness improvements.
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