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Bike Training Tips

By Colin Robertson
Do you analyse your races? Figure out why you lost or how you could've gone faster? Its important to work out if you lacked the power to get in the winning break or why you got dropped from the break on long climb. The answers will tell you your weaknesses and guide you to what you need to do in training or racing.

On Saturday the Dragon's Triathlon club organized a well-run and well-attended individual time trial. It was 48km, two loops of an out-and-back course. The course is rolling with no big climbs. Although I won by quite a bit, I'm sure a few of the triathletes were holding back for their run afterwards!

Coming to the race at the end of a training block, and feeling pretty tired, I didn't have high hopes for a fast time. Actually the main goal was to check out my position as a few tweaks had been made, test my kit and do some TT training. On those measures, my goals were achieved. My position was excellent, better than before. And I had no problems with wheels and other kit.

Some stats

Average power: 357W
Norm power: 362W
Average heart rate: 157
Cadence: 95
Speed: 43.9kph
Time: 1-05-59 (for almost exactly 48km)

My PB is 1-04-59 for the course, exactly a minute slower. Average/norm power then was 365W/373W. So given I was tired, the result this time was okay I guess (although I was a little disappointed). My norm power was definitely down on previous TTs (my FTP is normally around 375W).

One thing I did try to achieve was a better pacing strategy (recall I discussed my weaknesses here). I read recently that Wiggins changed his strategy for the Worlds by going out easier. I always felt he went too hard too early when I watched him race before so it's interesting to see he successfully changed to a negative split strategy (i.e. second half faster than first half). Did I achieve the same?

What went well and badly

Here are the out and back splits. Bear in mind that the out leg was into a headwind.

Lap 1 Out: Time 15m49s | Norm power 376W | HR 154 | Cadence 97 | Speed 46.1kph
Lap 1 Back: Time 16m49s | Norm power 361W | HR 156 | Cadence 94 | Speed 43.1kph
Lap 2 Out: Time 16m16s | Norm power 354W | HR 157 | Cadence 95 | Speed 44.3kph
Lap 2 Back: Time 17m02s | Norm power 357W | HR 159 | Cadence 95 | Speed 42.2kph

What does this tell me? Here are a few observations:

1. I didn't negative split but 32m38s vs 33m18s is better than I've achieved in the past. I might've come closer if I hadn't been tired - I definitely felt the pace ebbing away as lap 1 ended

2. On another positive note, the last leg picked up the pace a bit (norm power increases a little) which is necessary in a negative split strategy. Often in the past I've been hanging on for grim death in the last quarter

3. I followed a classic U-shaped strategy which is meant to be fastest. In other words, go out hard, ease back then finish strongly

4. You can't see it in the data but I didn't have my head in the right space. I started off fine but towards the end of lap 1 I realised I was deep into solving a work problem and paying no attention whatsoever to what I was doing! I couldn't even remember the previous 5 minutes. Not good

5. My heart rate was low. Previous TTs saw my heart rate average around 164. I guess the low HR was simply due to fatigue

6. I was pleased with my cadence which stayed high throughout. I suspect that the lower cadence in the second part of lap 1 was due to me focusing on work rather than pedalling

Next week another shot

Saturday brings the SIR Jingoistic Team Time Trial where teams are formed by nationality. I'll be defending Scotland's honour on my own. Other than to trying to embarrass the Australian 6 man team by beating them solo, I'll also be trying to break my course record. 

Here's what I think I need to do to break the record.

- think I need a norm power around 375W
- pacing strategy will be to negative split or come close
- that means starting out keeping the average around 370W for the first leg, then seeing what I can do for the next couple of legs at about the same pace or just over. Bring the last leg home strongly
- keep cadence high
- need to keep completely focused this time 
- don't pay attention to other riders or chase the Aussies, however tempting it is!

Negative splitting always sounds a bit scary to me because you have to start at what feels like such a slow pace. Let me give it a crack and report back. After all, it worked for Wiggo