Posts tagged ‘power’

Strava Shootout Week 3 – Smyer KOM

We are nearing the end of Week 3 of the second annual Birmingham Strava Shootout. Basically, we pick a different climb each week and then see who can get the fastest time up the climb. Mark Fisher has been crushing it (and crushing a lot of my KOMs along the way) so when he laid down another smoking fast time yesterday crushing by 20 seconds my KOM on the long version of the Smyer climb, I knew that I was going to give it everything I had to get back the KOM today.

The rock where I left all my stuff while I was going for the KOM

I did a new version of the endless Vestavia climb at a really easy pace to get nearly an hour of warm-up in before my KOM attempt. I came into the KOM from the top so I dropped all my stuff off (water bottles, tools, pump, food, iphone, etc…) behind the rock shown in the picture above. Then I drilled it down the descent to keep my legs loose and ready to go at the turnaround at the bottom. I forgot to look ahead of time to see what wattage I should be able to maintain for 6 minutes, but I guessed it should be around 425 watts. I made the final decision on that wattage as I was descending and kept telling myself not to go too hard at the beginning.

As narrated in the video, I started out by looking at the wrong wattage number (3s wattage which happened to be 370watts at the moment when I looked instead of the Lap wattage which was actually 470 watts at that point). After I figured out that I had looked at the wrong wattage number, I settled into a good rhythm backing off my initial pace so that the power average drifted back down towards 425 watts. The last time I looked at my wattage was near the Brookwood Metro back entrance road where the wattage average had dropped to just below 450 watts. I looked at my average speed a few seconds later as I turned onto Smyer and I had a solid 18.8mph average through that point. This gave me a ton of motivation because I was expecting to be closer to 18 flat and was afraid that I would even be under 18 based on the fact that I was trying to be more conservative through the opening part of the climb.

Up ahead I could see two other riders side by side as they entered the switchback portion of the climb. I was on them really quickly and had to pass them on the wrong side of the road because there was no time to yell and wait for them to get out of the way. Fortunately, I had a clear view through the switchback and was able to pass them very quickly and get back onto my side of the road. There was a good tailwind through the 280 overlook section so I entered the flat section before the next set of switchbacks with a ton of speed. I got a bit overconfident at this point as I tried to hammer through the next switchbacks in too big a gear leading to quite a bit of bogging down. I upshifted into an easier gear at the Hurricane Ivan landslide/washout area to try to get back on top of a gear and proceeded to nail the deepest pothole in the washout.

I happened to look down and see my time as I rounded the last turn before the straightaway leading to Shades Crest, and I saw a time of 4:00 or maybe it was 4:05. This caused a lot of mental anxiety/consternation because up until that point I felt really good about my prospects of getting the KOM, but when I saw that I was already up to 4 minutes, I wasn’t sure if that was going to leave me enough time to get to the top. I don’t normally ever look at the time through that section so I had no clue how much time was left in the climb. Those thoughts/doubts were quickly dismissed as I saw a group of riders strung out climbing up from the steep portion of Shades Crest Rd crossing the intersection that I was barreling towards at 20mph. Normally, you have to time the merger to slide into the road either in front of or behind cars that are coming up the hill. The still image screenshot in the video at the top of this post is a picture of that intersection (Shades Crest is the road coming up the hill from the left).

If I wasn’t digging so deep, then I probably would have laughed at the irony of having to time that intersection based on riders coming up the hill instead of cars. I found a hole to dive into and then passed the rider who I had slid in behind. He cheered me on as I came flying by, and that helped motivate me to push it really hard through the sharp steep turn onto Smyer Circle and then the flatter drawn-out ending of the climb. When I hit the lap timer button, I saw 5’55” and I was about ready to fall off my bike.

It’s funny, too, because I was really trying to discipline myself to maintain a 425 watt average throughout the climb instead of starting out too hard and then watching the power drift down. I ended up hitting my 425 watt target wattage exactly even though I cannot recall ever looking at my wattage again after passing the Brookwood Metro entrance. Speaking of wattage, when I loaded this ride into Golden Cheetah, I first noticed that my effort was indeed a new maximum that extended all the way to the edge of the critical power curve. But then I noticed that my CP curve had been dropped from 305 watts down to 293 watts. I’m guessing that this has something to do with a better fit to the curve. The good news is that this shift in the curve means that I theoretically have a lot of “wattage-room” to take back the shorter KOMs on Old Montgomery and Big Momma that Mark got the last couple weeks. But it seems strange that my new curve predicts a new, lower 1 hour wattage of exactly 300watts instead of the previous prediction of 315watts based on the new 293 CP wattage vs the old 305 CP wattage. Can any power/golden cheetah/critical power experts out there weigh in on how this ride would cause my curve to shift? I’ve included three screenshots below that show my CP curve before updating with the Old Montgomery KOM effort, after updating with the Smyer effort, and then one that shows the CP curve with today’s Smyer effort in black before Golden Cheetah had updated the CP curve. Thanks!

305W CP curve with the Old Montgomery KOM effort shown in black (click to enlarge)

293W CP curve updated after my Smyer KOM effort — shown in black. (click to enlarge)

305W CP curve with the Smyer effort shown in black. This is the screenshot before Golden Cheetah updated the CP curve to a 293W CP curve. (click to enlarge)

Smyer power map annotated with 30second power averages (click to enlarge)

Smyer KOM lap summary data (click to enlarge). I thought it was interesting that my xPow (normative power) was lower than my average power. I’m pretty sure I was pedaling the entire time so I’m not sure why there is a difference between normalized power and average power?

Finally, I’ve posted screenshots from the ride and also taken some screenshots from the video showcasing the beautiful fall colors. These are in the gallery below. Enjoy!

November 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm 1 comment

Alabama State Time Trial (do-over)

My attempt at the Alabama State Time Trial last week shortly after having some pretty bad food poisoning went really poorly. I had been looking forward to comparing my time with what I had done two years ago, so today I put my clip-on bars back onto the bike and swapped out to my Reynolds Wheels so that I could try again. I picked a relatively flat route to get all the way out there to Columbiana since it was going to be a long ride in the heat. But showers this morning, cloudy skies, and rain still in the air brought the temp way down to 70s and 80s for most of the ride.

When I finally made it out to the high school, I put my foot down on the start line, hit the lap button and took off. I initially set a target wattage of 300 watts, but I felt good and kept the average (including the initial surge from the start line) closer to 325 watts for the first few miles. Watts were gradually dropping from my average as I tried to keep my current wattage close to 300 on the flatter sections and 400+ on the steep rollers. On the downhills, though, I didn’t want to spin like crazy so I just let the power drop to the low 200s.

At the turnaround, I still had a 310 watt average and 24.5mph speed average so that gave me confidence to push it hard on the way back to keep a 300+ watt average for my effort. I ended up setting a half hour’s worth of power records along the way. My time ended up being just over 58 minutes, which I believe would have put me into 3rd or 4th place in the Pro/1/2 category. Definitely redeems the miserable 1 hour, 17 minute effort last week.

New power records for today’s tt effort (click to enlarge)

This course is really a great time trial course for criterium racers b/c you can take advantage of the steep hills to use your upper body strength and give your legs a bit of a break. And since you are only going 10-15mph on the steeper hills, the aerodynamic penalty of rocking the bike back and forth doesn’t matter so much. Of course, if you have a disc wheel, large front chainring and full aero setup, you might be able to carry enough momentum on the steep downhills to top out some of the rollers.

Heartrate summary for today’s tt effort

Heartrate/power/speed plot for today’s tt effort. Power smoothed with 30second smoothing filter (click to enlarge)

Pedal force vs pedal velocity for today’s tt effort (click to enlarge)

And finally, some Garmin screenshots from the ride including the lap summary screen with different stats shown … (and my TT position setup, which is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in a time trial so I wanted to take some pics to remember how to set it up like this again in a couple weeks for the Georgia Cycling Gran Prix time trial)

July 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

BBL power records

Today’s BBL was quite a ride … Strava marked it in the “Extreme” category, and I set two new power records. Ironically, they both came in the first attack zone where I went too early and got caught in the last 50m before the line. The power map is quite colorful in the attack zones where you can see some of the tactics playing out. Here are the graphs!

New personal power records

BBL power map annotated - click the map for hi-res version

Here is the link to the ride data on strava –

January 15, 2012 at 12:14 am 2 comments

Beautiful fall ride … strava kom style!

View of Double Oak from AL-25 (photo from a March 2005 ride)

2011-10-01 Vandiver KOM ride

What a beautiful fall day today with temps never even making it out of the 60s! I had set aside today to take back a KOM that is one of my favorites here in Birmingham – the Vandiver KOM climb. So after Analise’s soccer game this morning, I headed out on what would turn into one of the funnest training rides of the year. I started out pretty easy to the point of actually getting passed by somebody on the Dolly Ridge climb. You have to understand riding in Birmingham to know that it is entirely possible to do an 85 mile ride on a Saturday and not see a single other person riding, so to encounter another cyclist less than two miles from my house, and to be passed by that person was a bit of a shock. It took quite a bit of discipline to continue on up the climb at an easy tempo and let whoever it was ride away up the climb.

I headed up Dolly Ridge, did the tornado loop in reverse, down through the Colonnade, out Sicard Hollow to Rex Lake over Bailey eventually to Elliot and up the first of the ridges where the photo at the top of this post was taken a few years ago. I climbed up the steep side of Vandiver at a nice steady tempo, headed down the descent, turned around at the bottom and headed back up to try and break my teammate Paul Tower’s KOM time. I couldn’t remember his time exactly, but I knew if I was close to 6 minutes that I would beat it. I started out in my big chainring thinking that I would switch to my little chainring towards the middle of the bottom steep part of the climb. Instead, I found that I was nearly over the steep part before losing all of my momentum from my initial surge at the bottom. I decided to power through the last remaining steep part at the bottom in my big ring to avoid having to shift down and then back up again. This worked well because my speed never dropped below 15mph so I entered the less steep part of the climb carrying some momentum and was able to accelerate back up to nearly 20mph by the middle flatter part of the climb. I started to fade again towards the switchback at the top, but I used this switchback to push myself to the top thinking of the Tour de France commercial about the temporal nature of pain.

The rest of the ride flew by, and I ended up setting KOMs on Bailey Rd, Grants Mill into nasty headwind, and Big Spring, so by the end of the ride I was completely drained. But the main highlight for the latter part of the ride was setting a new all-time max VAM of 2031 m/hr on the short, steep 0.5mi Big Spring Cat 4 climb. I double-checked the elevation and it is recorded correctly (no atmospheric drift) 300ft in just 0.5mi for an average gradient of 11.6%. I averaged 10.9mph, 417 watts for the super steep section with my weight at this point of the ride probably down to around 140 pounds and 12.9mph by the top of Smyer Circle. I can’t even count how many times I have ended a hard training ride at the top of Smyer Circle knowing that I can just cruise on home from there! I was out of food and hungry, though, so I kept on pushing to get home and ran into John Karrasch heading the other way to the crest of Vestavia Dr on his mountain bike as I was heading down.

Another highlight on the latter part of the ride was a first ascent of Oakdale via a crazy climbing route I mapped out last night that has nearly 1000 ft of climbing, one 27% section, a couple other 20% sections, and a couple very fast roller coaster sections.

And the final highlight of the ride was making it back home to find my son and daughter playing with chalk on the front sidewalk with a friend and to have them so happily welcome me home!

Here are some of the data highlights from the ride:

2011-10-01 Critical power curve expanded because of the Vandiver KOM

Vandiver KOM 30second wattages

Vandiver KOM power/heartrate/speed plot

Bailey Rd KOM 30second wattages

Grants Mill Rd KOM 30second wattages

Grants Mill Rd KOM power/heartrate/speed plot

Oakdale roller coaster climb with nearly 1000′ gain

Big Spring KOM map

Interactive data from this ride is available on Strava:

October 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm 3 comments

Six Gap Criterium Race Report

Race summary
Excellent course in downtown Dahlonega. Excellent way to end the season winning three primes, although I repeated my Pepper Crit mistake from 2008 of confusing the last lap of the race with the suicide prime. I thought we still had one lap to go and was going to forego the suicide prime in favor of an attack on the hill to try to win the field sprint. Unfortunately, it was actually the last lap! Oh well, that mistake lit a fire under me for the 2009 season so I am hoping this bodes well for a really good 2012 season!

2011-09-24 Six Gap Criterium power map

Power/heatrate data
While the course in downtown Dahlonega was an excellent technical course, it made for some goofy Strava lap times as the laps overlapped each other. I tried my best to pick out the lap splits, but I think there may be a couple missing laps. I goofed up the final sprint thinking that the bell lap was for the suicide prime when it was actually the final lap. I was all ready to attack on the hill for the last lap but realized that the race was over … what a sinking feeling. Also, my heartrate monitor has been acting up and it took a few laps before it started picking up the correct heartrate.

Lap 1  0.5 mi 23.3 mph 364 watts 115 bpm 0:01:23 Bad HR
Lap 2  0.5 mi 26.2 mph 269 watts 115 bpm 0:01:14 Bad HR
Lap 3  0.5 mi 25.5 mph 301 watts 114 bpm 0:01:16 Bad HR
Lap 4  0.5 mi 26.9 mph 268 watts 112 bpm 0:01:12 Bad HR
Lap 5  0.5 mi 24.5 mph 259 watts 125 bpm 0:01:19 Bad HR
Lap 6  0.5 mi 27.7 mph 310 watts 182 bpm 0:01:10 Bad HR
Lap 7  0.5 mi 24.5 mph 169 watts 166 bpm 0:01:19 HR OK
Lap 8  0.5 mi 24.2 mph 265 watts 164 bpm 0:01:20 
Lap 9  0.5 mi 27.3 mph 414 watts 172 bpm 0:01:11 
Lap 10 0.5 mi 25.5 mph 250 watts 180 bpm 0:01:16 
Lap 11 0.5 mi 24.5 mph 269 watts 170 bpm 0:01:19 
Lap 12 0.5 mi 28.1 mph 349 watts 180 bpm 0:01:09 
Lap 13 0.5 mi 27.7 mph 444 watts 183 bpm 0:01:10 $100 Prime
Lap 14 0.5 mi 26.9 mph 305 watts 189 bpm 0:01:12 Chasing
Lap 15 0.5 mi 25.8 mph 317 watts 186 bpm 0:01:15 Chasing
Lap 16 0.5 mi 23.9 mph 268 watts 178 bpm 0:01:21 Chasing
Lap 17 0.5 mi 25.1 mph 220 watts 174 bpm 0:01:17 Caught
Lap 18 0.5 mi 24.5 mph 240 watts 168 bpm 0:01:19 
Lap 19 0.5 mi 25.8 mph 230 watts 167 bpm 0:01:15 
Lap 20 0.5 mi 21.5 mph 153 watts 161 bpm 0:01:30 
Lap 21 0.5 mi 25.8 mph 294 watts 165 bpm 0:01:15 
Lap 22 0.5 mi 25.8 mph 251 watts 184 bpm 0:01:15 
Lap 23 0.5 mi 25.5 mph 329 watts 180 bpm 0:01:16 
Lap 24 0.6 mi 24.5 mph 236 watts 173 bpm 0:01:19 
Lap 25 0.5 mi 25.8 mph 203 watts 169 bpm 0:01:15 
Lap 26 0.5 mi 26.2 mph 266 watts 165 bpm 0:01:14 
Lap 27 0.5 mi 25.1 mph 291 watts 176 bpm 0:01:17 
Lap 28 0.5 mi 27.3 mph 404 watts 181 bpm 0:01:11 $50 Prime
Lap 29 0.5 mi 22.0 mph 177 watts 179 bpm 0:01:28 
Lap 30 0.5 mi 24.8 mph 266 watts 169 bpm 0:01:18 
Lap 31 0.5 mi 28.5 mph 261 watts 170 bpm 0:01:08 
Lap 32 0.5 mi 26.9 mph 246 watts 171 bpm 0:01:12 
Lap 33 0.5 mi 26.2 mph 216 watts 167 bpm 0:01:14 
Lap 34 0.5 mi 27.7 mph 285 watts 171 bpm 0:01:10 
Lap 35 0.5 mi 25.1 mph 225 watts 171 bpm 0:01:17 
Lap 36 0.5 mi 28.5 mph 386 watts 180 bpm 0:01:08 $50 Prime
Lap 37 0.5 mi 25.1 mph 217 watts 181 bpm 0:01:17 
Lap 38 0.5 mi 22.5 mph 235 watts 175 bpm 0:01:26 
Lap 39 0.5 mi 25.5 mph 243 watts 166 bpm 0:01:16 
Lap 40 0.5 mi 26.9 mph 245 watts 168 bpm 0:01:12 
Lap 41 0.5 mi 28.5 mph 282 watts 167 bpm 0:01:08 
Lap 42 0.5 mi 31.7 mph 525 watts 182 bpm 0:01:01 Missed $150
More laps???      

2011-09-24 Six Gap Criterium power plot

2011-09-24 Six Gap Criterium pedal force

September 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

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Tt bike ready to go for Alabama state time trial tomorrow. Ibike wind extension tested and ready. Side by side, wonder if the condensation is the problem. Vestavia hills left sidewalk looking back at oak mountain

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Brian Toone

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Quick reference stats

Anaerobic Threshold:
Power:315 watts
Heart rate:180 bpm
Power:1097 watts (5s)
Heart rate:198 bpm (5s)
AT power estimated by critical power curve in Golden Cheetah, which predicts I should be able to maintain 315 watts for 1 hour.

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