Friday, December 31, 2010

Play the hand you're dealt!

I really believe the saying, "PLAY THE HAND YOU'RE DEALT" not only applies to life in general, it applies specifically to cycling. 

Genetics plays a huge role in how successful you are in cycling.  If you're fortunate to have Olympic Athletes as parents, like Taylor Phinney has, there is no wonder why you too can't be an Olympic athlete someday.  As far as I'm concerned, Taylor was dealt a Royal Flush.  For the average mortal cyclist reading this blog (unless you're an elite athlete) we're lucky if we were dealt a pair of 10's in comparison.  Why do I say that?  Because if we trained hard everyday for 5 yrs. straight (with the best coach in the world) we still wouldn't be able to come close to matching the cycling accomplishments/performances of a Taylor Phinney..even if we were the same age. 

So, what makes a Taylor Phinney genetically superior to us weekend warriors?  For starters, he probably has a huge VO2max (engine), his muscles clear lactate faster than the average Joe, i.e. a higher lactate threshold, a high power-to-weight ratio, a good ratio of Slow Twitch to Fast Twitch muscle fibers, etc.  I want to talk a little bit more about the muscle fiber types since I believe it relates more to our cycling training/racing...and the title of the blog.

Slow Twitch (ST) muscle fibers (aka Type I) have slow contraction times (thus the name) and are slower to fatigue than Fast Twitch (FT) muscle fibers.  Fast Twitch muscle fibers (aka Type II) have faster contraction times and are quicker to fatigue.  The big difference between the two are that the ST fibers use Oxygen and Carbs/Fat for energy production where the FT fibers do NOT use Oxygen and only use Carbs for energy production.  The FT fibers also produce lactic acid as a byproduct of energy production.  And, I think we all know what lactic acid feels like in our legs during short/hard efforts.

For most of us, our bodies are composed of a 50/50 ratio of FT to ST muscle fibers.  Some people have an 80/20 ratio of FT to ST or ST to FT.   The ratio differs not only throughout the body but in the individual muscle group itself.  For example, I'd say I have a 50/50 ratio of FT to ST muscle fibers in my body.  But, I know that my tricep muscles are probably 80% FT and 20% ST muscle fiber and my quadricep muscles are probably 20% FT and 80% ST muscle fiber.  How do I know that?  (No, I didn't have a muscle biopsy performed- which by the way is the only REAL way of knowing what your muscle fiber composition is.)  It's because when I was on my HS Football team I could throw a football 65-70 yds and when I was on Penn State's Track Team I threw the javelin over 220 ft.  Since throwing a football and the javelin primarily uses the tricep muscle (as well as the hips/legs) and requires fast explosive action..I can pretty much tell that it's made up of FT muscle fiber.  Now, for my poor excuse for quadriceps.  Back in HS my 40 yd. sprint time was probably the slowest of the defensive backs on the football team.  I'm not sure of the exact time but I'm guessing it was closer to 5 seconds than 4 seconds..haha.  And, when I played HS basketball (at 6 ft. tall) I could barely get my wrist over the rim (let alone dunk).  I definitely suffer from the white mans disease..can't sprint and can't jump.

And, for what it's worth, you can't change the ratio of Type I to II muscle fibers in your muscle.  Let me repeat that so it sinks can NOT change the ratio of Type I to II muscle fibers in your muscle.  Yes, you can change the muscle fiber characteristics or develop Type Is to act more like Type IIs (and vice-versa) but you can't physically change one type to the other.  (BTW, this will be the topic of a blog later this week)
Despite the differences in the two muscle groups, generally the muscles have the same force when fired; one just burns out quicker than the other. Muscle build is what allows Olympic athletes, like Taylor Phinney and his parents, to separate themselves from others. Generally cycling sprinters are built of predominately fast twitch muscle fibers in the legs while long distance riders are predominantly slow twitch.

While you may never be an Olympian (not in the cards) understanding how your muscles work might allow you to revamp your cycling training.  If your leg build is more fast twitch muscles and you are attempting to ride long hilly distance road races and find that you never succeeded, think about possible transitioning to more of a shorter distance flat criterium racer. If you are more of a slow twitch person and you cannot figure out why you can never compete for that final sprint I highly recommend you change your goals to competing in a long hilly road race instead- where most of the pure sprinters are spit out the back.

Whatever your body type, the more you understand about it the better off you will be when you are attempting to reach your 2011 goals.  Play the hand you're dealt...don't fight it!

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cross Training

Snow arrived (locally) this past weekend and my XC Skis begged me to take them I acquiesced.  The first trip was over to Lake Galena on Tuesday.  The skiing couldn't have been better until the Park people plowed the very path I was skiing on..bleh.  Check out the picture on the left.  (In fact, the damn plow guy almost hit me when he passed)  I managed to ski on top of the plowed snow..but it definitely wasn't as fast as the trampled/packed snow on the trail.  Why do they have to plow the path so soon?  Hell, they weren't even done plowing the roads in the Park.  They could have at least waited a day or so.  Something tells me the locals, who use the trail for their daily walk, are behind the prompt plowing..bleh.  Regardless, I got a good 6 mile workout in.

After giving up on Lake Galena I decided to try the Parks that were within walking distance of my house.  I headed over to Bush Park (in Buckingham) yesterday and found a gold mine.  It was a soccer field with at least 6 inches of virgin snow (except for a few footprints).  With that, I blazed an oval trail (or track) that was approximately 400m long. I did a sort of track workout during my lunch break.  After work, I met Jason Wood (Cat 2 roadie) and did some more track work.  I pushed myself MUCH harder with Jason because we raced.  Jason was averaging 2 min. per lap and I was averaging 2 1/2 min. per lap so he gave me a head start.  I think we got a couple miles of 400m sprints in.  A great workout for sure.  I wore my HR monitor and I was at 188bpm (193bpm max HR for cycling) at the finish of each lap.  We had a great/fun time.  More importantly we got a great workout in.  My legs are so sore right now.  In fact, I don't remember the last time my quads were so sore.

Maybe another XC Ski Track workout today?  Regardless, gotta get back on the bike/trainer tonight for a Sweetspot interval.  Cross Training is fun but it is NO SUBSTITUTE for time on the bike.  Will it help improve cycling performance?   Probably not.  At least there is no research to support it.  But, that's not why I do it.  I do it because it's fun, it gets me outdoors in the fresh air and in the sunlight (which I don't get enough of these days), it's a break from the bike and keeps me in good cardiovascular shape.

It's all good!  Power ON! Coach Rob

Progressive Power Base Training

Starting Monday, January 3rd, 2011..Coach Rob Teixeira (now I know why they call him Coach Rob) of Southern California will be uploading U-Tube Videos on "Progressive Power Base Training". This video series will teach Computrainer users (and/or folks that use other Power Meters on their trainers) how to begin not only the Base training phase of the season but, most importantly how to incorporate Progressive Power Training (PPT) into training for maximum on bike strength gains!

Coach Rob is picking up where the great Bill Edwards, PhD (Engineering) left off. Bill wrote an e-book ,which I highly recommend, about Progressive Power Training (PPT). In short, PPT is very much like Resistance Training in the gym. For those of you that are foreign to resistance/weight training (or gyms), in order to increase muscle strength in the gym the initial weight (or load) is progressively increased with training. The body adapts to the to the increased training load and gets stronger. Coach Rob is using this same principle/methodology to increase strength on the bike.

Coach Rob will also be posting other videos on U-Tube.  In fact, he just posted a video on how to put together your Annual Training Plan (ATP).  I like that he uses the same terminology as Joe Friel uses: Base, Build, Taper/Peak, Race and Transition Phase of training.  They are the same ones I use because it's simple and makes a lot of sense.  There's no need to talk about microcycles and macrocycles like some coaches do.  During the increase training volume and get a lot of aerobic training in at lower intensities. i.e. L3.  During the Build, you start increasing intensity in the L3/L4/L5 zones and build on what was established during Base Training.  During the Taper/Peak phase, you start decreasing/tapering the training volume and working on race specific training. i.e. sprints to get you in peak shape.  Finally, it's Race Time..when you have some fun and show everyone how hard you trained over the Winter.  Transition is the break after racing season...a time to relax, cross-train, have some fun and spend some time with family/friends.
I think you'll be surprised (one way or the other) at Coach Rob's training methods when you see his video on Monday. I think he's going to prescribe more hi-intensity workouts be implemented into the annual training plan. High Intensity Training (HIT) seems to be the big buzzword these days in cycling training..especially for the time-crunched athlete (see Chris Carmichael's book). There is a lot of recent (credible) research that concludes that HIT is not only beneficial for improving lactate threshold and VO2max performance but long tempo endurance as well (hello Triathletes).
Hey, if it were up to me, I'd prescribe hi-intensity training (HIT) intervals (L4-L6) all the time for my athletes. The reason I don't, is threefold: a) the athletes won't do them- because they HURT like hell and you'll feel like puking afterwards b) the athletes eventually burn out from doing them every week and/or c) the athletes get injured (or sick) by doing too much too soon. That's the primary reason why I prescribe tempo and sweetspot interval workouts in the first two months of ALL of my athletes training plans- to build strength to ensure the legs are ready for the more intense workouts to come- thus, preventing injury.

Anyway, should be interesting. I've emailed Coach Rob and told him that I have Bill's book and pretty much subscribe to everything Bill says (in the book) for the past 2 yrs. He was happy to hear that.  I also told him I would post a blog (like this) recommending athletes to view his video.  He was REALLY happy to hear that.  So, visit Coach Rob's site on Monday and check out the FREE U-Tube Training Video. Perhaps we'll discuss the Video (in my blog) next week.

For more information, go to Coach Rob's website:

Until then, Power ON! The other Coach Rob

Happy New Year 2011

For some, the New Year is a celebration of the previous year.  For others, like me, the New Year is a celebration of the upcoming year- a new start/beginning if you will.  2010 was NOT a particularly good year for me.  My Mom unexpectedly passed away in April.  A good friend of the family recently passed away from a long battle with breast cancer.  I did NOT meet my 2010 cycling goals.  I was on the road for business much too often (which had a lot to do with not meeting my cycling goals).  My back (two herniated discs) started giving me fits again. 

Yes, I know, it could have been a lot worse.  But lets just say this wasn't one of my better years and that I'm truly looking forward to a better 2011.

If you haven't started your 2011 Cycling Training Plan..get on it NOW!  There isn't a better time to start.  If you need help getting started, send me an email  and I'll help you get started.  Unfortunately, I can't take on any more athletes for coaching.  I'm booked for 2011.  I'll do my best to include some blogs in the next week on how to get started.  For now, however, you need to evaluate the past training/racing season to see what worked and didn't work- then re-evaluate.  Then, you have to decide what your goals are for 2011 and how are you going to achieve them.  This is particularly important for new cyclists.  You first have to decide what you want..then determine how you're going to get it/there.  Remember, what you want may not necessarily be what you get.  i.e. if you're a 225 lb. rider with a big muscular upper body ..don't make it a goal to win the local (hilly) 100k road race.  Likewise, if you're a 135 lb. rider with a little muscular lower body.. don't make it a goal to win the local criterium sprint.  It probably aint gonna happen.  Sorry!  I'll devote a couple future blogs to this exact topic and tell you why.

For now, don't drink too much on Friday night..and please don't drink and drive.  To all, have a Happy (and healthy) New Year 2011.  I hope you meet/achieve all your goals.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Friday, December 17, 2010

iBike Pro Power Meter For Sale

For Sale - iBike Pro - $500

Included with the sale:

- heart rate monitor
- cadence and speed sensors
- cadence and speed magnets
- stem mount
- computer connection cord
- installation cd
- 12 new batteries

-- my iBike head unit was just sent back to me from VeloComp for a warranty replacement in November, it has never been used, all other parts are lightly used and in good working order.

-- with the asking price you will also get the trainer unlock key which will allow you to train with power on your trainer. this is an aftermarket upgrade available through VeloComp for $39, I will provide it for free.

-- please email me at with any questions.
For more information on the iBike Pro, go to:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Real Cyclist

I don't really advertise places to buy stuff on this blog, since I'm a proponent of supporting and buying stuff at the Local Bike Stores (LBSs).  But, if the LBSs don't have what you want (and you need it in a hurry) good Goretex Bike Wear that I just bought..I HIGHLY recommend the folks at  If you're not sure what to get or you want more information on a particular piece of gear/equipment..they have an online chat with knowledgeable people to help you.  I just recently ordered some Gore Bike Wear and used Real Cyclists online chat for sizing information/help.  Their prices are as good as anyone else online and I'm sure they'll even match their competitors prices.  Can't hurt to ask.  Both Andrew T and Rich F helped me with my online order and gave me a great price.  So, check em out. 

Power ON! Coach Rob

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cross Country Skiing

If you've been following my blog you know that Santa dropped off some XC Skis at my house a few weeks ago.  (I'm planning on doing a lot of Cycling Cross Training w/ my XC skis this Winter.)  Since then, those skis have been dying to see some snow.  (they told me so..haha)  If you live around me (Doylestown, PA) the only snow I've seen so far this year was a coating around Thanksgiving.  That's NOT a problem, however, because I didn't buy XC Skis so I could ski in my backyard.  I bought them to ski further North like the poconos.

BTW,what really irks me is the fact that there are NO decent XC Ski websites in the Philadelphia Area with recommended places to ski within a 2 hr. ride.  And, I'm NOT driving out to Williamsport for XC Skiing.  The reason I'm XC Skiing is to get a good leg workout in for cycling...not to sit on my butt for 4 hrs. driving one way to get there.  Is it some kind of secret with the XC Ski purests? 

So, where do you cross-country ski in the poconos?  Well, you can always sneak on a ski resort like Jack Frost/Big Boulder, Blue Mtn, Camelback (where I used to be a Ski Instructor: , etc.)   In fact, I think JF/BB and Camelback have already opened.  But, as one guy told me, in a comment on a previous blog, a lot of these resorts are getting smart and having ticket checkers right outside the lodge to make sure EVERYONE has a lift ticket.  In prior years, the only time the ski resorts checked for a lift ticket was when you boarded the lift.  And, hell NO, I'm NOT paying $50 for a lift ticket when I have no plans on using one.  I'll pay a $10 greens fees of sorts, if they want, but I'm not paying $50.  Besides, I'm only going to be working out on my skis for 1-2 hrs.  (2 hrs. of XC Skiing and I'll be ready for the bar.)

I'm really not counting on the ski resorts in the Poconos for XC Skiing.  However, that's the only place I/you can be sure has snow all Winter long due to their snowmaking capability.  So, if snow is sparse..that's where I'll be.  Where else can I go?  Well, there are always the State Parks in the Poconos (and locally) that have XC Ski Trails.  But again, I'm relying on them to have snow.  The closest are:
Hickory Run State Park-
Lehigh Gorge State Park-
Promised Land State Park-
Nockamixon State Park-
Fort Washington State Park-
Washington Crossing State Park-

The best part about these Parks is that you can Mtn Bike in them too..if there isn't enough snow.

Ok, where else?  There are a couple resorts/inns that come to mind which are less than a 2 hr. ride from my home.  They are:
Cliff Park Inn-
Pocono Manor Inn/Resort-
Sterling Inn-

Here is another place the looks REAL good, except it's probably a solid 2 hr. drive:
High Point XC Ski Center-

Just like when I bought my Mtn Bike, I checked out all of the local Mtn Bike Trails, I'm going to try to do the same with these XC Ski Trails this Winter.  We'll see.

If anyone knows a place I missed, please comment/email me.  I'm not looking for any fancy resort to ski, just a place to get a great workout in, within a 2 hr. drive, and a "watering hole" nearby for afterwards.  Thanks.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Why do Cyclists Shave their Legs?

I was sitting in a meeting yesterday, with the bottom of my pants riding up above my ankle exposing my bare leg, when a woman (and friend) I work with said, "Do you shave your legs?".  To that question my first reaction was one of embarrassment.  My first words were, "Uhh, yup!".  I already knew what her follow-up question would be, since I'm asked all the time by women- "Why?".  To that question my reply was, "It's a cycling wouldn't understand".  Well, she didn't buy it.  At that point, the entire meeting stopped and the six people that were sitting around the table were looking at me for further explanation...bleh.  To that, my reaction was a beet red face..and nothing out of my mouth.  I was speechless.  Why?  Because it really is a good question, "Why do I shave my legs...even if I'm a cyclist...especially in the Winter when I don't race and nobody can see them?".  For me, it's primarily peer pressure. I ride with elite athletes all the time, both indoors and outdoors, and they shave their legs.  In fact, on one recent ride one of the athetes I coach said, "dude, shave your hairy-ass legs".  So, I did.  haha. 

Anyway (Nicole), here are the top 6 reasons why cyclists shave their legs:
1. BETTER AERODYNAMICS- less leg hair, less drag, faster racer.
2. EASE HEALING OF ROAD RASH- when you race bikes, you's part of the sport.  Shaving of the legs makes healing of road rash that much faster.  No hair in the wound, and less chance of infection.
3. MAKES MASSAGE MORE PLEASANT- there is no doubt about feels much better to have your quads, hamstrings and calf muscles massaged with no hair on them.
4. MORE ATTRACTIVE- dark tan legs that are cleanly shaven and smooth just look more muscular and lean.  That's why bodybuilders do it.
5. TRADITION- cyclists have been doing it for years. 
6. PEER PRESSURE- if you line up at a race with hairy legs you are quickly tagged as an inexperienced UNSAFE rider that riders should stay clear of.

The more I think about addition to peer pressure, I probably also shave for vanity reasons.  Just this past summer another woman (and friend) asked the SAME question, "Do you shave your legs?"  This time, my wife was with me and she answered for me.  She said, "yes he does, he does it for cycling".  End of discussion.  I think the reason why this particular woman didn't delve deeper into questioning is because she was afraid I'd say, "What you jealous that my legs are more attractive than yours and guys will be looking at my legs instead of yours?"  Which they were/are more attractive by a long shot..although I hope guys aren't looking at my legs..haha.  After all, my wife has commented in the past that there are a lot of women out there that would LOVE to have the smooth toned legs that I have. 

So, the next time a woman asks me if I shave my legs I'm going to proudly lift my chin (and pant leg), smile and say, "You're damn right I do..don't they look great?  I think they're sexy". haha

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Monday, December 6, 2010

Todd Wiley and Aaron Scheidies- World Champs

Thought I'd pass this article on to everyone.  An article written by Aaron Scheidies, a blind triathlete, that I had the pleasure of meeting at the NYC Triathlon a couple years ago with my friend Todd Wiley.  This article was posted on Todd Wiley's website:   What Todd didn't mention (because he's modest), however, is that he and Aaron broke the previous World Record by 9 minutes at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Florida this year.  Kudos to Todd and Aaron.

A Tribute to My Guides by Aaron Scheidies

I have been competing in the sport of triathlon for ten years now and I have yet to see the guides get any credit or recognition for all that they do. They are the ones that make it possible, but nobody knows their name. In the stat sheets, it is as though they didn’t show up for the race. In my stat sheet they are the star performers. The sport of triathlon can become a very “me centered” sport until you experience it as a guide or a blind athlete. The sport then becomes a team sport. I put a lot of trust in my guide to make the best decisions for both of us. My guide must be accountable for the training and mental preparation required to stay with me the entire race. What do they get out of it? Well, if you’re thinking materialistically than nothing. My guides have sacrificed weekends from their family, personal finances, hours of their free time and the stress that great responsibility brings. All of this to help someone else become the best they can be in something they love. Their impact expands well beyond the sport of triathlon. My guides have been mentors and teachers. They have also been protectors. Most of the time they are heroes! My guides have helped me become better in the sport of triathlon but more importantly they have helped me become better at life! For this I want to honor them for all that they have done.

A few of my guides deserve special recognition. These guides have become my “go to” people. They are the ones that I can always count on to get the job done. They have sacrificed the most for me and I think it is only fair that I give them special recognition.

Todd Wiley

Todd Wiley has guided me in the fewest races with respect to the above two but demonstrates the character of someone that loves life. Todd was a former professional triathlete and now triathlon coach that sought out the opportunity to guide me. Todd has guided me in some of my biggest races including the New York City Triathlon two times and Escape from Alcatraz in 2009. Todd has also been there to guide other blind athletes when a guide was needed at the last minute. He is so much fun to race with and helps bring out the inner kid inside me. Later this year, the goal is that Todd and I will get our first World Championship together at Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Just like the two Matt’s (Matt West and Matt Miller), Todd exemplifies the person I want to become.


At TWiley Sports our goal is to grow endurance sports both in the individual and the community. We do this by providing athletes with personalized training programs tailored to their needs to help them achieve their highest potential at their target races. We feel this can be achieved by communicating with our athletes through written and hands on training programs.

At the community level we provide events, camps and clinics to athletes from the junior level athlete to the athlete that just wants to learn more about endurance sports.

We provide performance testing for athletes to meet their maximum potentials while training and racing throughout the year.
Great article!  Power ON! Coach Rob

Sunday, December 5, 2010

FatSecret Challenge

For most of you, losing weight is NOT a goal/objective for the 2011 racing season. But for me, it's just as important as producing/improving power on the bike.  After all, as most of you's all about w/kg as it pertains to road bike racing.  The guy/gal with the highest sustainable w/kg usually WINS- especially on a hilly tract!

Most people diet in order to lose weight.  I don't believe in diets.  Why?  Because they are NOT for life..they are ONLY temporary.  That is, short term, you may lose weight and reach your goal but in the long term, you're going to gain that weight back- and some.  I've seen it all too often.

I lost 50 lbs. from 2003 to 2005 and have been able to keep that weight off since.  Yup, that's right, I weighed 225 lbs. in 2003..BEFORE my Bally's weight-loss challenge.  I did it by laying off the pizza, beer, pasta, etc. (eating right) and exercising.  My exercise routine included riding my bike and a resistance training program in the gym.  That's right, a weight/resistance training program.  Most people think that lifting weights will add muscle mass, make you bigger, and actually put on pounds.  Nope..not if you do it right- like I did.

Currently, I weigh 178 lbs.  My goal is to lose 13 lbs. and get to 165 lbs. for Battenkill in April 2011.  I'm going to make that weight loss goal with the help of my NEW friends on   I recently started a "pound per week weight loss" challenge on  Currently, there are 56 people signed up for the challenge.  If you're interested in joining us- sign-up today/tonight/tomorrow.  Fat Secret is FREE.  They have a dailly food journal for tracking your calories as well as an exercise journal for tracking your workouts.  That is, in addition to the challenge forum with people like you..those that are trying to lose weight and meet their goals.  Who knows, maybe some of you will meet/make a new friend.  Look for the "pound per week" weight loss challenge on Fat Secret and sign-up today.

Tomorrow starts the Fat Secret Weight Loss Challenge.  I'm already 1 month into my Functional Threshold Power Challenge on the bike..which is to increase my FTP from 240w (indoors) to 270w (indoors).  For me, that translates to an outdoor FTP (where it matters) of 297w (since my FTP outside is 10% higher than inside)..and a w/kg of 3.96  or 4 w/kg.  I don't care who you are, or what age, if you have a w/kg of 4 or greater on the bike- you're a strong rider!  (FYI, a w/kg of 4 is mid Cat-3 power).  And, that's where I want to be for my race (Battenkill) in April- regardless of where I finish in the race (Masters 50+).  If  your w/kg is higher than 4, you're a stud..and if it's higher than 6- you'd be Lance Armstrong in his prime.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Creating a Solid Base

If you haven't started training for the 2011 training season- what are you waiting for- Christmas? haha (or should I say ho ho.)  Ok, I'll give you Cyclo-Cross racers a break..after all, you of all people need a break- especially if you're coming off a long road bike racing season.  So, kick up your heels and have another drink on me.  You other guys/gals have no excuse.  So drop that donut and get in the gym and on the bike and start training.

For the most part, November and December is our "Base" training period(s).  A period where our goals should be to a) establish/create a BIG base on which to build b) improve our overall fitness and c) fully develop aerobic threshold fitness.  For now, I'm just going to talk about a) and b).  I'll talk about developing aerobic threshold fitness in a future blog.

So, how do I establish a BIG "Base"?  For me, establishing a BIG Base is all about increasing endurance, improving strength, and developing speed in my legs.  I increase my endurance with longer rides on the bike and aerobic cross-training- such as Nordic skiing or inline skating.  I work on strength with a weight/resistance training program specifically geared towards cyclists as well as performing strength drills on the bike/trainer.  Speed skills are developed on the bike- both inside on the trainer and outside on my Tempo Endurance rides.  If done correctly (improving endurance & strength as well as developing speed), and with enough will also be improving your overall fitness.

How do you know if your overall fitness is improving?  One way you can tell is to perform a comparison between similar rides and see if your Heart Rate is lower for the same power output.  When I say "similar" rides I really mean closer to "identical" rides.  Not only the exact same ride profile but the same time of day, same hydration level, same energy level, identical temperature, same stress level, same warmup, etc.  What you're trying to do is take out all of the external factors (including environmental) that can affect Heart Rate.  I do this comparison test on my Computrainer with an Erg Video file for 25 minutes.

I've attached a graph of my two rides for comparison: one from 11/26 and the other from today 12/2.  The yellow lines are from my ride on 11/26 and the red lines are from today's ride.  The graph compares Power, Heart Rate and Cadence.  You can see on the graph that Power and Cadence are relatively identical.  However, my Heart Rate averages almost 10-20 bpm lower on 12/2 than it did on 11/ least for the first 20 minutes of the ride.  Only after 20 minutes were the Heart Rates similar.  To me, that means my fitness is improving (which is a good thing) but my endurance is just not there yet..which can be expected so early in the training season.  The endurance will come with time.

As I said earlier, in a future blog I will tell you how to test your aerobic threshold fitness via your power-to-heart rate ratio.  According to Joe Friel, author of "The Cyclists Training Bible", when you can do an aerobic threshold ride for 2 hrs. while your heart rate and power remain coupled, you can consider your aerobic threshold fitness full developed and your primary goal of the Base Period will have been accomplished.  Don't worry, I'll tell you how to compute your Power-to-Heart Rate ratio and explain what "coupled" means.  And, you won't have to ride for 2 hrs.  I'll also explain what "cardiac drift" is all about.  Until then...

Power ON!  Coach Rob