Leveling Up!

We’re back and have leveled up!

No, I am not referring to our Pokemon Go status…although I may have added a Shiny Melotic to my deck!

After 10 days in Hawaii chasing around after some amazing Ironman athletes in Kona we zipped down to the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista. We were there for a combined USA Cycling/Training Peaks four-day immersion into the world of Training Peaks and to put the ground work into our Level 2 coaching qualification.

We’re firm believers in constant learning and that having these certifications shows a demonstrable knowledge of the elements that going into being a coach; exercise physiology, workout and training plan design, periodization, teaching handling skills were just a few of the lessons we had.

A week later we took the test and we were delighted to see that we had passed. Passing elevates us into a cadre of 13 Level 2 Coaches within a 50 mile radius of Westlake Village!

We’ve some way to go until we can move up to Level 1, a pre-requisite is 5 years as a Level 2, but now the clock has started ticking! Moving on from here we’re working on our USAC Power Based Coaching Certificate along with the Training Peaks Power Based certification. These combined allow us to further bolsters our knowledge about training with Power Meter which we can directly implement into our training classes at Watts Up. It also underlines our decision to “lead” classes rather than simply set you up and fire and forget and let you work through the workout!

With all that said, we understand that this can be confusing, what is the difference between average power vs normalized power, what are training zones, what are my training zones and how do I find them out and WTF is FTP?

Image result for dont panic

We’re here to help and to keep it simple!

The bottom line is come train with us; you will get stronger and faster!


Logging!

No, it’s not a new kind of workout, although Kiel Reijen from Trek Segafredo may disagree! I mean logging your miles. Well, to be honest, I don’t even mean your miles. What I am talking about is the mileage you’re accumulating on your bike and specifically the components that wear out!

Runners, well most of them, log their miles on their shoes and as cyclists there no reason why we shouldn’t too! Most certainly the “consumables” should be logged, these include tires, chains, cassettes and chain-rings. If you want to go the extra mile you can log the mileage of anything. your headset, the bottom bracket, batteries; in your power meter or lights, shoes, cleats, seats the list goes on…basically anything that wears out!

There are several benefits:

  • Anticipated maintenance; you can see when you could be ordering new parts. Align this up with your events so you know that you may need a new XYZ as you come in to Race Week!
  • Wear and Tear measure; does you bike shift and sound like a bag of horseshoes falling down the stairs…maybe that chain you “just put on” was from 6,000 miles ago?
  • Avoid a dead battery; halfway through your ride and your Power Meter goes dead or worse your front light in the dark!
  • It’s fun; this of course depends on your definition of fun!

There are several Apps/Websites where you can log this information, I’ll cover some options below:

Garmin Connect: to be honest Garmin Connect is hopeless. It allows you to have “Bike”! There is no granularity. I suppose you could add each component as  a Bike but is so simple it’s not worth bothering with.

Training Peaks: it’s much the same as Garmin Connect. It has the capability to create a Bike profile. You can add wheels and some notes. As a general odometer on your bike it works, but it’s pretty basic.

Strava:  within Strava you can add a number of Bikes and then create a list of components for each. However, it does have some limitations. If you are switching the same bike between the road and a trainer it assigns the mileage to the component regardless of the activity type. The problem with this is that you will accumulate miles on a front tire when you’re riding inside! This feature is available in the free of paid for version of Strava and is a good place to start and will give you some understanding of just how many miles your components have if you have a single use case for them.

SportTracks; you may have never heard of this platform but they’ve been around for over 10 years. Their gear tracking has all the bells and whistles you could think of. You have a fully customizable Gear Screen which allows you drill down as deep as you want and then assign each item to a specific activity. You can also nest items i.e. a Gravel Bike with a Gravel Wheelset with a Cassette and pair of Tires can be linked. Each item will individually accumulate the miles and each item will be updated when you upload a Gravel ride. Uploads come from your Garmin or Wahoo unit through Garmin Connect or Wahoo Fitness Apps on your phone. For anyone who wants to track a myriad of items this site can help.

For the average Joe (or Josephine) my recommendation is Strava. Create a bike profile and add some components that you want to track, if you’re training indoors and outdoors with the same bike you will have to work within the constraints noted above. If you want to go a little deeper check out SportTracks, they have a 45 day free trial and a forever price lock on whatever the price is when you sign up!

As a rule of thumb a chain will last 2000 miles, a cassette 4000 and chain-rings 6,000, but as they say, your mileage may vary…. literally!

Screen Time!

This week we thought we would share the two main Garmin screens with you.

In this time of information overload, it’s hard to cut it down the essentials and, to be honest, identifying the essentials can be tricky too. Based on years of using head units and the increasing amount of data that they are collecting and able to display we have pared them down to this.

So, without further ado let’s swipe left!

The main screen is simple, with only 5 fields it’s easy to see and easy to process. It’s the “right here, right now” and as such is the most often in use. All these fields are available out of the box from Garmin except for the last one “Sweet Spot”. The fields show:

  1. Time of Day – kinda obvious, but we do lose track of time!
  2. Heart Rate – monitoring you HR is a good way to see what’s happening. Are you riding easy and your HR is high or are you having issues with elevating it? Despite Power being King, HR is a good Queen to have up your sleeve!
  3. Cadence – the jury is out on high vs. low and much like the weather it changes frequently. So go with the flow. Personally, we aim for around 90 rpm.
  4. 3s Power – this is the average of the last 3 seconds, it’s preferred as it’s a bit more stable than real time which jumps around too much
  5. Sweet Spot – weekend longer rides will often have a goal of  x minutes of Sweet Spot time accumulated and this field displays that data. To get this data I use a Garmin CIQ app called AppBuilder5+. This allows me to create a custom algorithm based on my FTP and the Sweet Spot power range of 84-97%. We show you how to add a CIQ field in another post.

The second screen is a summary screen:

  1. Timer – this shows ride time. With Auto Pause enabled this will stop when you stop riding
  2. Elapsed time – this doesn’t stop when you stop. Basically, these two fields show the difference between riding and total time. It’s a good reminder that those minutes spent standing roadside soon add up. It’s also a good one to use when you are working on minimizing Aid Stations stoppage time! I can’t underline how important these timer screens are on race day! The remaining fields are just overall numbers
  3. Distance – how far!
  4. NP – how hard! Normalized Power (NP) is a metric to quantify training intensity with power data, it’s based on a complex algorithm
  5. Total Ascent – how high, always a good Ego boost!
  6. Ave HR – overall for the ride
  7. Ave Cadence – overall for the ride

You may have noticed that Speed is not used. To be honest speed is result of most of the above and it’s one of those things that when observed can freak people out…it felt like 35mph which is super comfortable vs. it was actually 50mph which has a much higher pucker factor!

Finally while this post shows data fields and screenshots from a Garmin 1030, most if not all should be available on a Wahoo, Polar or other devices, with the notable exception on the CIQ field.

Five Minute Fixes!

Some days are complex; Mounting Tubeless Tires, manipulating .gpx files, pairing Ant+ devices and the like can soak up hours! So here are five easy fixes that you apply in five minutes or less

  1. Squeaky Cleats: do you have new or old cleats and do they squeak? A quick squirt of Pam and a wipe down will remove that in a flash! Remember to wipe of any excess before attempting to walk or you could be mistaken for being a rejected try-out for the escapades
  2. Split Tire Wall: a tire boot is the best course of action, but you can usually fix it with an empty gel or bar wrapper or even a dollar bill folded up, it’s not perfect but it will get you home!
  3. Brakes Rubbing or wheel feels out of alignment: did you have your bike on a stand and then mount a wheel? With the bike on the floor undo and redo your Skewer to make sure it’s seated properly in the dropout. You could spend 30 minutes realigning everything and then find out it was all for naught!
  4. Did you tire mysteriously go soft over night; did you have a flat on the last ride and use a Co2 to re-inflate your tire on the side of the road? The issue some is weird scientific thing where the rubber attracts the Co2 molecules more than good ol’ fashioned air “02” molecules! When you get home deflate your tire and use a pump to re-inflate.
  5. Forget to stop your Garmin; did you crush that KOM and then load your bike in the car and drive home only to ruin your file! Pay a visit to fitfiles.com and you can edit your file and reupload to Garmin, Strava and so on with the correct data!

In other news:

Watts Up Training has partnered with the Nosco Ride to provide signed up riders a discounted FTP test and a discount on a 10 Session Pass.

In preparation of the event have created a 5 week hill climbing specific training block that leads into the weekend of the Nosco ride on November 3rd.

Per our normal format we will break the week into two distinct work loads. Monday and Tuesday will focus on Threshold efforts and Wednesday and Thursday on longer Tempo based intervals.

You may not be a grimpeur yet but you will be by the time November rolls around 

The five-week block starts with a FTP test on September 29th and the classes start on Monday the 30th

While these will have a focus on hill climbing if you’re training for Ironman Arizona they will certainly help with those 112 miles!

Celery in your pocket…no, not a new nutrition strategy!

Stalking, (celery, stalking…get it?), never a good thing in general, but sometimes you just need to know where someone is!

We get it, riding on the road can be dangerous! It a major reason we train indoors! But at the end of the day, indoors is the means and outdoors is the end!

There are several apps that you can use to send your location and status to a select audience. Garmin LiveTrack and Strava Beacon are two of several that you may have heard of. They provide some reassurance to your loved ones that you’re trucking along and haven’t had any issues.

Over the years we have tried the above and several more and by-far our favorite one to use is the one offered by Road-ID.

We love the Road-ID one as:

  • It’s device agnostic LiveTrack requires you to use a compatible Garmin device
  • There’s no up-sell. Strava Beacon requires you to have a Summit membership
  • We have found it to be the most resilient with cellphone coverage. Even today it’s not unheard of to be out of cell coverage and we have found that the Road-ID reconnects and picks up the tracking without issue. We can’t speak for every carrier, but we have used it very successfully with AT&T and Verizon.
  • It offers the best battery consumption on your phone, there is a setting to reduce the amount of GPS polling which saves the battery
  • You can have up to 5 contacts notified. Notifications can be sent via email or text, you simply select them from your phone’s address book
  • Like the best Apps, it is easy and intuitive to use
  • They send you best emails after you have completed your ride! (see below)
  • It’s free…and even better comes with a $5.00 discount for Road-ID items!

How many emails have you received that contain;
You just whooped some buttocks. Got your sweat on. Made the road “cry uncle“.
The App provides three main functions:

  1. eCrumb tracking which shows your progress on a map
  2. A stationary alert which notifies your chosen contacts that you have been stationary for 5 minutes and causes the phone to emit an alarm. Very useful if you are out of obvious sight, i.e. in a ditch!
  3. It allows you to create a Lock Screen with emergency contact information as well as any specific notes/medical conditions you want to make an EMT or Good Samaritan aware of! (NKA – No Known Allergies, NKDA – No Known Drug Allergies, O+ blood group)

Not limited to cycling you can use this App for running, skiing, even walking the dog, in fact it’s so easy to use we often use it instead of Waze to give each other an estimated arrival time when driving home!
The App is available from the Apple App Store and from Google Play

Why don’t you download it and give it a try this weekend!