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  1. #1
    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Riding a TT without a power meter?

    Surely some of you guys have done this? (I never have.)

    A friend of mine is planning on riding the Piru TT in Jan on her road bike, per the recommendation of her new-to-her coach. She does not have a power meter.

    She was asking me some questions about it over the weekend at the Christmas party.

    Her coach told her to just "go out and ride as hard as you can". I was explaining basic strategy but it's hard to explain parcelling out power to someone who does not ride with power. She said she was planning on riding it based on HR and cadence.

    I told her I'd go out with her and ride the course- show her the start/finish and turn and explain how things happen logistically. So I know there will be more questions.

    Looking at my own rides on the course, my HR is pretty unvarying from mile 1 on. I guess HR wise I could just tell her to ride at LTHR, slightly below in the first half and slightly above in the second half? Not foolproof advice though because on my first time out there, my HR was supramax, I guess from nerves. So going based on HR it seems it would be easy to under-ride it. (Which might be ok.)

    I'm not sure what to say about cadence because that's not a huge focus of mine. Maybe it should be. In good conditions, my cadence is higher but in the wind was way lower, so it looks like cadence relates to difficulty of conditions.

    So is the basic gist that I should tell her:
    1. LTHR by mile 1 and don't let it drop
    2. Cadence generally high but really try to focus on a steady effort.

    This particular friend is not that mentally tough- she's someone who is likely to cancel on a planned ride because it's too hot or too cold to too dark or too windy or there's too much climbing or it might rain or she thinks people might be faster than her. I think if she just goes out there and tries to ride as hard as she can from the beginning, she's just going to blow herself up and limp home and get a bad time and not like it. Not my problem, I know, but it would be good for me if she had fun and more of our friends were willing to give it a whirl and generally speaking more women were doing TTs. So I would like to help her find some measure of success in her race, whatever that might be.

    Just not sure what to tell her beyond philosophy, how she should specifically approach this having little experience riding intensely in a sustained manner and also no power meter?

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    People have competed for MANY years without ANYTHING. If she doesn't know how hard she can safely push herself and still finish the race then she probably shouldn't be doing it.

    BTW, she needs a new coach. No coach would ever tell their athlete to "go out and ride as hard as you can" in any distance event. That's really, really ****ty advice.

    Heart rate is a decent metric for effort. I've never raced with a HR monitor on (too busy... racing...) but I'd guess that your heart rate should be somewhere between 80%-90% of max during the majority of the event (depending on the course length.) A longer course would entail a lower average heart rate and visa versa. Since she seems to be very inexperienced, I'd even shoot for starting the heart rate slightly lower, maybe at 75%ish. It'll drift up overtime.

    EDIT: Oh it's only 20k? I'd say that's equivalent to a 5k in running speak. She can go out pretty hard, not as hard as she can of course, but still hard, somewhere in the 83-90% range.
    Last edited by corrado33; 12-21-15 at 10:03 AM.

  3. #3
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
    Surely some of you guys have done this? (I never have.)

    A friend of mine is planning on riding the Piru TT in Jan on her road bike, per the recommendation of her new-to-her coach. She does not have a power meter.

    She was asking me some questions about it over the weekend at the Christmas party.


    Her coach told her to just "go out and ride as hard as you can". I was explaining basic strategy but it's hard to explain parcelling out power to someone who does not ride with power. She said she was planning on riding it based on HR and cadence.

    I told her I'd go out with her and ride the course- show her the start/finish and turn and explain how things happen logistically. So I know there will be more questions.

    Looking at my own rides on the course, my HR is pretty unvarying from mile 1 on. I guess HR wise I could just tell her to ride at LTHR, slightly below in the first half and slightly above in the second half? Not foolproof advice though because on my first time out there, my HR was supramax, I guess from nerves. So going based on HR it seems it would be easy to under-ride it. (Which might be ok.)

    I'm not sure what to say about cadence because that's not a huge focus of mine. Maybe it should be. In good conditions, my cadence is higher but in the wind was way lower, so it looks like cadence relates to difficulty of conditions.

    So is the basic gist that I should tell her:
    1. LTHR by mile 1 and don't let it drop
    2. Cadence generally high but really try to focus on a steady effort.


    This particular friend is not that mentally tough- she's someone who is likely to cancel on a planned ride because it's too hot or too cold to too dark or too windy or there's too much climbing or it might rain or she thinks people might be faster than her. I think if she just goes out there and tries to ride as hard as she can from the beginning, she's just going to blow herself up and limp home and get a bad time and not like it. Not my problem, I know, but it would be good for me if she had fun and more of our friends were willing to give it a whirl and generally speaking more women were doing TTs. So I would like to help her find some measure of success in her race, whatever that might be.

    Just not sure what to tell her beyond philosophy, how she should specifically approach this having little experience riding intensely in a sustained manner and also no power meter?



    The above two sentences may define the outcome and I suspect her coach gave her the best advice based upon his/her knowledge of the individual. Or it is just bad coaching advice that is very common. Or your friend misunderstood the instructions.

    Belonging to a racing club and attending presentations by coaches and other racers on racing time trials, the biggest problem for a new racer is going out too hard. And most racers have a million things swirling in their head at the start of the race so picking one that is relevant and easy to remember is important.

    Intellectually, I like the ride as hard as you can comment with a change is go easy for the first few minutes i.e. your one mile. She will have a better outcome if she rides tempo power for the first few minutes versus going out at anaerobic threshold / VO2max and then slowing down for the rest of the race. During my first race, I was so nervous and anxious that my heart rate spiked at the start from the adrenaline. And it is the adrenaline that causes racers to overcook the start because it feels so easy.

    I would suggest telling her to use perceived effort and go moderately hard at the start since I think HR will probably not be reliable, if at all, until she settles down.

    My first two coaches focused heavily on cadence and I could not spin fast enough for them and always had a cadence goal along with the effort.

    IMO a good range for a beginner is 80 to 90 rpm for time trials. I know of racers who do very well and spin 100 or more and likewise some do well at cadences below 80. However, one cannot just decide on the day of the TT to ride 100 rpm if all the other training is at 80 to 90 or conversely 60 rpm.
    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

    Cat: Killer

  4. #4
    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    [/COLOR]

    The above two sentences may define the outcome and I suspect her coach gave her the best advice based upon his/her knowledge of the individual. Or it is just bad coaching advice that is very common. Or your friend misunderstood the instructions.

    Belonging to a racing club and attending presentations by coaches and other racers on racing time trials, the biggest problem for a new racer is going out too hard. And most racers have a million things swirling in their head at the start of the race so picking one that is relevant and easy to remember is important.

    Intellectually, I like the ride as hard as you can comment with a change is go easy for the first few minutes i.e. your one mile. She will have a better outcome if she rides tempo power for the first few minutes versus going out at anaerobic threshold / VO2max and then slowing down for the rest of the race. During my first race, I was so nervous and anxious that my heart rate spiked at the start from the adrenaline. And it is the adrenaline that causes racers to overcook the start because it feels so easy.

    I would suggest telling her to use perceived effort and go moderately hard at the start since I think HR will probably not be reliable, if at all, until she settles down.

    My first two coaches focused heavily on cadence and I could not spin fast enough for them and always had a cadence goal along with the effort.

    IMO a good range for a beginner is 80 to 90 rpm for time trials. I know of racers who do very well and spin 100 or more and likewise some do well at cadences below 80. However, one cannot just decide on the day of the TT to ride 100 rpm if all the other training is at 80 to 90 or conversely 60 rpm.
    Thanks @ Hermes, helpful as usual.

    I think its pretty likely that she was told to "ride as hard as you can". Because she thought that sounded wrong/too simplistic which is why she asked me about it. Plus she was telling me how that same day she'd done a climbing ride with her coach (and a large group) and at one point her coach was following her up a long hill, telling her to shift into a harder gear and push the pedals harder, that she had the strength to do it. (OMG, I was thinking, how annoying would that be???) So reading between the lines, maybe the coach is just trying to get her to go harder in general. That said, I also know this coach is part of a large women's cycling organization that yet-another friend is a member of. Before I knew anything about TTs this other friend was telling me how she went to a women's cycling camp put on by this coach and was encouraged to try a TT. I remember her telling me how to ride a TT and she said you basically just ride as hard as you can. (She also told me how she blew up in the 2nd half and that she never really needs to do that again.) So I do think this coach might just tell everyone to ride a TT by "going as hard as you can".

    Good point on the cadence thing, I will try to figure out what they've been working on.

    I don't know if her coach is a good coach or a bad coach, but no way am I going to comment or express my opinion unasked and even then I would be reluctant, not knowing that much about the big picture myself. She seems to like the coach well enough and I know the coach is a very accomplished cyclist and an experienced coach. That part is none of my business.

  5. #5
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
    Surely some of you guys have done this? (I never have.)
    Indeed I have: before power meters, heart rate monitors or cycle computers there was the mechanical stopwatch.
    Doing short (2-10 mile) club TT's and keeping a log of gearing, times, cadence and conditions one knew what gear to start in and which gear inch/cadence combination produced good times.
    All you had to do was start strong/smooth, get up to the right GI and keep cadence. Oh, and not crash at the turn around....

    "The key to successful time trialing is winning the fight with yourself. You must never give in to pain by reducing your effort....Pain is normal and it is necessary."
    -Eddie Borysewicz 1980-84 US Olympic Cycling Coach
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    "The key to successful time trialing is winning the fight with yourself. You must never give in to pain by reducing your effort....Pain is normal and it is necessary."
    -Eddie Borysewicz 1980-84 US Olympic Cycling Coach
    I love this quote, I think its totally true. My opinion of this particular friend is that she is very prone to losing the fight with herself- if its hard, her habit is to back off. Maybe this is why her coach wants her to do this TT.

    I have found that during a TT, once the going gets tough, the only logical thing is to back off. Every part of your being- brain, heart, lungs, legs- are telling you to ease up. You somehow have to convince yourself to do the least logical thing and stay the course. Kind of easy to do if you have a power meter and have ridden some TT type efforts prior to your first race. I'm not sure she's done this. I actually knew I'd be doing my first TT for months before I could work it into my schedule, so whenever I had the chance in the course of some other workout, I'd practice TT efforts. So I kind of knew what it would be like before my first TT. But doing it without a power meter is very difficult for me, so it makes it hard to me to advise.

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    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
    But doing it without a power meter is very difficult for me, so it makes it hard to me to advise.
    Having a cycle computer w/ cadence and a HRM at the end of my career didn't make riding a TT any more pleasant but it gave a butt-load of instantly available info to keep-on/get back-on schedule.The only way to learn what that schedule/fit/gearing/cadence/heart rate/pain is to ride training and actual TTs.
    I hate TTs but they build character.

    Beryl Burton was/is the best woman TT rider in history, her 12-hour record still stands today.

    Beryl_Burton_FG.jpg

    It's not about the hardware, and never has been. It's what's between the ears and in the legs that makes great riders.

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  8. #8
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post

    It's not about the hardware, and never has been. It's what's between the ears and in the legs that makes great riders.

    -Bandera
    Word.
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    Senior Member andr0id's Avatar
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    TT is about discipline. If your friend has none, a meter isn't going to help any.

    I rode my first TT in about 1977. We got on a road bike and went 25 miles (not 40K) as fast as we could. We had speedometers that ran off the front wheel or your watch and a target time for the turnaround.

    TT has always been matter of "pacing yourself" and instrumentation makes it easier, but probably makes people ride too conservatively also.

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    Old Road Racer Cleave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    Having a cycle computer w/ cadence and a HRM at the end of my career didn't make riding a TT any more pleasant but it gave a butt-load of instantly available info to keep-on/get back-on schedule.The only way to learn what that schedule/fit/gearing/cadence/heart rate/pain is to ride training and actual TTs.
    I hate TTs but they build character.

    Beryl Burton was/is the best woman TT rider in history, her 12-hour record still stands today.

    Beryl_Burton_FG.jpg

    It's not about the hardware, and never has been. It's what's between the ears and in the legs that makes great riders.

    -Bandera
    I don't hate TTs, I just dislike them.

    Been riding (racing?) them since the late 1970s when the only thing you could do was jam your stem as far down into the steerer tube as possible.

    Now I have all of the toys.

    I don't look at my computer as much as Chris Froome but probably more than I should. Been riding TTs with power for about a year. Just as I suspected, the power numbers mostly depress me. Over the past decade, on those occasions where I've forgotten my HR strap or computer, I've ridden as fast as when I have data.

    The data point of me indicates that your brain is the primary limiting factor for maximizing your personal performance. Genetics is the primary limiting factor for potential performance. Training helps you achieve your potential, your brain inhibits you.

    "Go as hard as you can," can work if you haven't trained your brain to let you go into the red.
    Thanks.
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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    http://www.altovelo.org/page/show/83...-time-trialing is an article by Karen Brems on effective time trials from my former racing club. Sometimes women like articles by other women and Karen is an Elite World TT champion, was director of the Webcor Pro Women's Team and IMO, pretty knowledgeable about TTs. She is a bit old school but it does not seem to hurt her.

    Forget the equipment does not matter stuff because that is just not true in modern TTs. From Karen's article..."In my opinion, time trialing is about 85% legs and lungs, 10% brain and 5% equipment."

    I would agree with that statement and 5% is a lot in a time trial.
    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    @Cleave Anytime you want to sell me your Shiv, I will take your pain away.
    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

    Cat: Killer

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    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Forget the equipment does not matter stuff because that is just not true in modern TTs.
    There is a difference between "it's not about the hardware" and "equipment does not matter".
    A rider has to have the will and the legs for the equipment to matter, lacking those it's just 41-ish yammering about hardware fads.

    If Beryl was alive today she'd put down incredible times on modern equipment.
    If a rider lacking grit and good legs rode a TT on her old FG today and turned in the inevitable lousy time for the era it was built in they'd blame the bike.


    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 12-23-15 at 07:54 AM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    @Heathpack, I'm not much of a time-triallist but 10-mile TTs have been the staple of most UK cycling clubs since God was a boy, so I've done a few. And I've never owned a power meter.

    If she has a HRM then your advice is pretty good, she'd do well to focus on LTHR. If she warms up really thoroughly it shouldn't take her a mile to get there, but obviously if she's a noob the emphasis ought to be on not going out too hard. The other question I'd ask is, "when in January?". If she has time to do some serious efforts and still recover before the event, then the most useful thing she could do imo is get out and practice riding at threshold for some lengthy periods. A few sets of 2x20 threshold intervals will get her accustomed to what that level of effort feels like, and that it is possible to keep it going even though you're tired.

    But hold on on a moment. You have a coach who does 40k in 52 minutes and change, and you're asking the rest of us for TT advice?
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    @Heathpack, I'm not much of a time-triallist but 10-mile TTs have been the staple of most UK cycling clubs since God was a boy, so I've done a few. And I've never owned a power meter.

    If she has a HRM then your advice is pretty good, she'd do well to focus on LTHR. If she warms up really thoroughly it shouldn't take her a mile to get there, but obviously if she's a noob the emphasis ought to be on not going out too hard. The other question I'd ask is, "when in January?". If she has time to do some serious efforts and still recover before the event, then the most useful thing she could do imo is get out and practice riding at threshold for some lengthy periods. A few sets of 2x20 threshold intervals will get her accustomed to what that level of effort feels like, and that it is possible to keep it going even though you're tired.

    But hold on on a moment. You have a coach who does 40k in 52 minutes and change, and you're asking the rest of us for TT advice?
    Haha, no way am I prescribing workouts for her. She has a coach. Her coach can tell her to do the 20 min threshold intervals if that's what the coach wants. And no way am I asking my coach what advice he would give to someone else's athlete. (Someone who well could have hired him had she so chosen.)

    Mostly I'm happy to go out and pre-ride the course with her, a friend of mine did that with me before I did my first TT and it was immensely helpful. And I know she's going to ask me some questions when we do. Overall I realize its not my responsibility to coach her but I just want to be sure I have something to say that is basically correct.

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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    You can definitely pace by HR. What's much more effective than HR or power is a good, solid realistic RPE. Some racers get it right away. Some have to develop it. Some never get it. Winners have it, though. It's a common skill.

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    Heart rate tells you where you were, not where you are, and its not helpful early. It will also float upward on longer efforts. And people tend to freak when they see high numbers. Has a lot of usefulness, but more as an analytic tool or in training where you don't have other tools.

    That's a less simple TT course, lose elevation heading out and there's often wind. So "ride hard" won't yield the fastest time, but learning how to ride hard has to start somewhere.

    My advice would be start out in the gear she thinks she can push then shift to 1 or 2 gears easier. Keeps her from going immediately into debt. 4-5 mins in start going harder till she is breathing hard but not ragged. Keep it there, and try to be smooth. Don't chase people in front of you. Go like hell when you see the line. Simple.

    Power meters are a great tool, both during rides and especially after. Need to know how to use them and the data they provide though. From the coaching side it gives you a complete snapshot of what went on during a ride or race. Assign a work out and you can see if it was done right, or if a correction needs to be made.

    Layer this on good RPE feedback, and you can get places pretty quickly.
    Last edited by Racer Ex; 12-22-15 at 03:29 PM.

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