Archive for the 'Training Log' category

A Slow Year

November 7, 2014 7:49 pm

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.43.33 PM

We are now down to about 7 weeks left in the year and I am way behind in my cycling miles compared with prior years.  Last year I exceeded 12,000 miles for the first time.  It started in May when we went on a European cruise.  Then we decided to move to Utah and it seemed harder to find time to bike much.  Now that we have settled down, I have been doing a bit better, but I don’t think I can even catch my prior worse year of 2011.  Weigh is up and mileage is down == slow rider.

Clubs on Strava

October 21, 2013 10:00 am
Clubs on Strava

Strava is a great website that uses your GPS based device, including Garmin sports devices and smartphones, to track all of your cycling and running.  It is constantly adding new features for both their free and premium memberships.  For some time you have been able to join a club on Strava.  These clubs have been usually created based on an actual bicycle club, but others are based around something else in common.  I belong to four different bicycle clubs and have therefore joined all of them on Strava.  I also joined other clubs or groups.  You have always been able to compare yourself to others who have aligned themselves with that club on Strava but they now have added a new Leader board feature.   Some clubs have extensive statistics, but only for club rides.  Many of us don’t just ride with one club so I much prefer Strava where it counts all my rides, including when I ride by myself.  Here are the leader boards for the four bicycle clubs I belong to plus two other groups.

1. Almaden Cycle Touring Club (ACTC)

  • Has 133 Strava members.
  • The dashboard for last week looks like this:


2.  San Joe Bicycle Club (SJBC)

  • Has 194 Strava members.
  • The dashboard for last week looks like this:


3. Western Wheelers

  • Has 75 Strava members.
  • The dashboard for last week looks like this:


4. Utah Velo Club

  • Has 44 Strava members.
  • The dashboard for last week looks like this:


5. Low-key Hill

  • Has 148 Strava members.
  • The dashboard for last week looks like this:


6. Randonneurs at Large

  • Has 75 Strava members.
  • The dashboard for last week looks like this:


7. Furnace Creek 508 Veterans

  • Has 20 Strava members.
  • The dashboard for last week looks like this:



Strava Vuelta Skelta Challenge

September 17, 2013 9:38 am
Strava Vuelta Skelta Challenge

I finished the 15 day Strava Eurosport Veulta Skelta challenge.  This challenge was to climb 7,135 meters in 15 days, starting September 1, 2013.  I finished by reaching move than double the challenge amount.  Although that only was 273rd position on the entire leader-board of nearly 10,000 participants, I had the most for all the people I follow and also for my age group.  That is rare for any Strava Challenge since I follow some cyclists who do a lot of biking and many are training for the upcoming Furnace Creek 508.




Threshold Power (FTP) Testing with the Garmin Edge 800/810

May 10, 2013 6:12 pm

Threshold – What is it?

The term “threshold” is used in many ways in terms of sports and endurance, such as anaerobic threshold (AT), lactate threshold (LT), maximal lactate steady state (MLSS), onset of blood lactate (OBLA).  Exercise physiologists have known for a long time that as you increase the intensity of exercise you reach a point where lactate begins to accumulate in a person’s blood, and this their LT.  It is an indicator of the athlete’s endurance ability.  Lactate is a good thing since it is a fuel for the body during exercise, but when you create more than you can use, it builds up in your muscles and will limit what you can do.

For cyclists who use a Power Meter, this same threshold concept is called FTP, or Functional Threshold Power.   Just as you might see what heart rate you can hold for 1 hour to determine your LT, FTP can be determined by seeing what power you can average for a one hour time trial.  Knowing your FTP can allow you to set power zones for training, similar to heart rate zones.

In the book “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”  by Hunter Allen, and Andy Coggan, a test protocol is provided to determine your FTP.  Not many want to do a one hour time trail periodically just to get this number so their test involves a series of steps, leading up to a 20 minute section where you try to go close to your threshold.  From this test, you can determine your FTP.  The first time I did this test last year, I wrote it out on a piece of paper and taped it to my handlebars, trying to read the next step while I was in the middle of an intense setp.  The Workout Feature of the Garmin Edge products makes this so much better.

Garmin Connect Workout

The first step is to log into Garmin Connect and set up a new workout.  Using the test protocol, I added 11 steps.  This way I can use the Garmin Edge 800/810 to guide me through each step.  Note for each step I selected the time and what to measure.  During the warmup I wanted to keep my heart rate in the range of 110 to 115 bpm, so that was the first step.  The test protocol includes some one minute segments at high cadence, so I selected cadence between 95 and 105 for one minute for those steps, and so forth.  For some steps I could either set a target for Power or Heart Rate but I decided to use Heart Rate since I am more familiar with my threshold for that.


Getting Ready for the Test

Once you have the workout setup in Garmin Connect, you connect your Garmin Edge 810 to your computer and send the workout to it.

Next pick the route to do the workout on.  Ideally it will be one where you can ride without stopping.  For me, I prefer to do the two segments where I need to get my heart rate up high to be on a hill climb.  The only negative is that I need to do a recovery 10 minutes while climbing, but that worked out okay for me.  I decided to do the test riding from home, and then climbing Squaw Peak in Utah.  This allowed me to do the warmup steps on the way the the climb.  You could decide to do all of the steps on a bike trainer, but that would not be very interesting to me.

Actual Workout

Now you are ready to run the test protocol, letting the Garmin guide you through each step.  The workout screen includes a count down time, and the parameters you are trying to achieve, in this case I was on step 10, trying to hold my heart rate just below threshold for 20 minutes.  If I am in the desired zone, a message will show at the bottom, then disappear.  If I am outside the desired range for that step I will get a similar message.


These messages at the bottom auto clear.  The main screen shows your current step at the top, the prior step and your next step below.  When I reach the end of one step, a message at the bottom appears briefly with details of the new step, telling me to speed up or slow down to get into the desired range.



A simple approach when you finished is to see the average power you generated during the 20 minute test.  Your FTP will be about 5% below that since the FTP is for a full hour. Since I ended up with 206 watts for 20 minutes, that means a FTP at my current condition of 206 – (206 x .05) = 196 watts.  Remember that watts is not as important as watts per kg, and since I am a lightweight small guy, 196 watts is much better than it would be for a large cyclists, who needs to put out more watts to go as fast, especially on a hill climb.


If you are a STRAVA user, you can get these type of plots.  Here the current ride, or this test is plotted against my best power vs. time over the last six weeks.  The test was successful because the average power for 20 minutes was just as high as my best for the last 6 weeks.  The test protocol is not to see how much power you can put out for 5 minutes or 5 seconds, but to determine your FTP, or threshold by using a 20 minute segment.


Golden Cheetah

Another good program (free) is Golden Cheetah.  Load the ride into this program and you get all types of analytical tools.  From the plot below you can see that my 20 minute critical power is below what I did last year.  It is a clear indication that I am not in the same condition as my best condition last year where you FTP was at least 20 watts higher.

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 1.54.46 PM


Hunter recommends that you run this test protocol a few times a year to determine your current condition.  Using the workout feature in Garmin Connect and the Garmin Edge 810, you can easily do this and the test is set so it is not as exhausting as trying to do a one hour time trail.  Just using a heart rate alone makes it difficult to determine fitness since your heart rate is not a direct measurement of your power output, being affected by things such as fatigue and other physiological aspects. That is what the Power Meter is becoming so popular with cyclists.

Training for 2013 Solvang Double Century

March 17, 2013 9:44 pm
Training for 2013 Solvang Double Century

After a couple of years of not doing any ultra distance events, last year got back into them but first racing the Hoodoo 500 as part of a four person relay team, then later riding the Knoxville Double.  So I decided, with the encouragement of Anne, to do the Solvang Double in March of 2013.  It will be the 5th time I have done this particular double, but this time it will be right on my birthday, the day I turn 65 years old.  I thought what better way to celebrate such a milestone birthday.

Well it all seemed like a good idea early this year but then we decided to make our trip to Japan in February.  It seemed difficult getting back into training after that trip and I feel I have to cram in a lot of riding in the last month.  I keep a detailed training log and when I am training for a big event I plot my miles and feet of climbing as I progress, and compare it against prior years and events.  This time I didn’t really do that but decided to do it now to see if I might be ready.


Although getting off to a good start the first 5 weeks of the year the effect of the travel to Japan is obvious.  The 2008 and 2009 lines are comparable because those were also for Solvang.  As expected the 2012 line is much higher because that included racing the Hoodoo 500 around week 9, then doing the Knoxville Double on week 13 and later in the year at peak training season.  It seems that I am the lest prepared of any double I have done in the past several years.  So I decided to look at only the last four full weeks of training and only for the Solvang Double, which occurs early in the year.  I figure the last four weeks of training are the most critical.


Now I am feeling better, but not completely.  In 2009 this four weeks was after finishing the Death Valley Double, a month earlier than Solvang.  I figure training is an accumulated thing so how well we can bike at any given time is based on the past, with the most recent past having a larger influence.

Besides miles, I also track feet of climbing.


2012 is a bit of abnormality as I mentioned before.  This was the training for and racing the Hoodoo 500, then coming off of that for four more weeks of training before doing Knoxville, which is a much more difficult double than Solvang.  Looking again at only the last four weeks of full training and only for Solvang it looks like this.


The distance of the longest weekly ride is the last chart I do.  You can see in 2009, the Death Valley Double in Week 9.  The last 3 weeks, week 10-12, I am close enough to prior years, especially if you consider the past becomes decreasingly less important the further you go back.  Of course that principle does not mean you should be training hard right to the event because you do need to taper, and my last full week of training was about 50 miles less than the prior week.  This week I plan to do short rides and one interval training, more in alignment with tapering.  This will certainly not be my fastest Solvang Double but I feel I can complete it and not DNF.


Looking at the above charts I can see that in 2008 I did my best training for Solvang and that was the year when I finished the ride in under 10 hours.  I have no aspiration of a fast time this year.

Solvang Double Century

Bike Time
Total Time
Avg. Speed
Avg HR
First Double
Extra 6 miles

Solvang Double Century Stopping Time

CP#1 CP#2
CP#5 All Other Total
2007 2:00 14:15 10:15 7:30 6:30 11:30 52:00
1:00 3:15 23:00
3:30 7:45 40:00

2012 – More Cycling Less Running

December 31, 2012 3:29 pm

It was an interesting year in sports.  I started out the year doing about as much running as I did last year, although not quite up to the level of the years when I ran a marathon.  Then toward the middle of the year my running dropped off considerably as I ramped up my biking to train for the Hoodoo 500.  I ended up the year with two personal annual cycling records, the most miles bike and the most feet climbed.  It was the first time in my life when I biked 12,000 miles in a year, which means I averaged 1,000 a month.  I had hoped to reach 800,000 feet of climbing, but did not quite make it, but did exceed my prior best year.



Climbing Fast for an Old Guy

October 15, 2012 10:30 am

With all the training I put in over the summer for the Hoodoo 500 race, and then the Knoxville Double, I have backed off the mileage considerably.  However I am keeping at my “racing weight” so I have been able to climb faster than I have ever.  Before I turn 65, I am trying to get the top spot on Strava for the age group 55-64 for some of the climbs I do often.  Kind of fun to get the top spot when the group starts with guys nearly 10 years younger than I am.  I realize that the standings keep changing so I may loose these, but I am enjoying then while they last.  I realize that some guys are faster but don’t use Strava.  I also realize that  most people never look at the age groups in Strava, unless they are older, one of the limitations of Strava in my opinion.  Most competitions clearly show to everyone the rankings by age group without the need to have a premium account and then manually select each age group.


On September 27th, I did the Metcalf Mauler, probably the club ride I do most often.  I made the climb in 13:22, only 4 seconds shy of my all time best time of 13:18 set about 4 years ago right after I did the Everest Challenge and Furnace Creek 508.  I overtook the fellow who had the top spot by 10 seconds.


Montebello is always the first hill in the Low-key Hill Climbs series.  It is not as steep as the hills I do my best on.  This year it was on October 6th.  I was able to beat my best time previously set in 2009 on a Low-key Hill Climb race by over a minute with a time of 33:20.  It is not fast enough to get the top spot for ages 55-64, but I got the 2nd spot out of 77 riders in this category.


Quimby is a tough climb that I have done several times this year, including the times when we do the so called Triple Crown ride (Metcalf, Quimby and Mt. Hamilton).  My prior best time was 27:20 that I set in 2008 as part of the Low-key Hill Climb race.  This year I took nearly 2 minutes off that time to claim the top Strava spot for the age group 55-64.

Leavesely Road to Roop Road

This is a shorter climb the the above hills, but I did it fast enough on a ride with friends.

There are several other climbs I have got a new Strava PR on.  There was a time when I actually held several Strava KOM overall, regardless of age, but as Strava became more popular those have all disappeared.  I only have a couple left cycling and those are not ridden much.  One is

Glenview/Echo Valley/Leyland Park


Training Log and Bicycle Component Log

January 11, 2012 10:09 pm

Since 1988, I have used Excel to keep track of my training.  Initially it was just running and I would track how many miles I ran each date and the pace.  Later when I got into biking, the log expanded to track cycling, then later track the mileage on my bicycles and the various componets.  Over the years this Excel file became increasingly complicated.

Even after writing an article about online training logs, I still keep up my Excel spreadsheet.  For over a year I upload my GPS data to a couple of websites (Strava and Garmin Connect) and to a local computer based program (Ascent). One might think that a website like should be more than enough, and might be for most people, for me personally I want to do more, including:

  • Chart cycling and running miles separately
  • Track how I am doing compared with prior years at this same time
  • Track for both my wife and I together since mostly bike and run together
  • Track details on mileage on various bike components on various bikes
  • Track which club or non-club miles I cycle.

This manual entry was becoming a chore after all these years so I sought to automate the process.  I looked at the above and decided to scratch the last entry since no online training log let’s you record that.  I still wanted to track how I was doing against prior years, using my old training log data, so none of the online training logs are by themselves are sufficient.  I finally came up the approach to modify my current Excel file, which has sheets for all prior years, a sheet for my bike component log, and a lot of other training specific data.  But instead of adding a new sheet for 2012 with places for every single workout during the year, I added a sheet for 2012 with weekly totals.  A small section looks like this.

If you look across the actual Excel file you will see similar blocks for my running, as well as Anne’s running and biking.  I decided it was no longer necessary to record every workout in this Excel file, just the weekly totals.  That allows me to plot how I am doing compared with prior years.  Initially I was going to manually enter this data but found a much easier way.  Since I upload my GPS devices to Garmin Connect, I use the great report feature in that program to export to CVS files.

I just select the report type “Group by Week” for “This Year”.  After doing a one time customization of the report to get the columns I wanted,   I then select Cycling and export the CVS file.  I repeat for running.  Then repeat for Anne’s Garmin Connect information for both running and cycling.  This creates four CVS files.  In my main Excel file I use links to these external CVS files to fill in all the data.  It is not something I need to do very often, just when I want to see how I am doing.  Even if I do monthly, I will still get the data in a weekly total format.

Bike Component Wear

The only missing item is the mileage on each bicycle.  For that I end up doing some manual entry, here taking the data from which allows you to track your rides by bicycle.  I just enter the current mileage on each bicycle and use that in my existing formulas on component wear.  Hopefully if Gramin Connect ever adds this feature I can automate that also.  I might just switch over and add all the components in and only use that for component tracking.

In Excel I track all components on all bikes.  This example is for one of the bikes.

How is My Training Going

Using this new approach, I can still easily see how my running and cycling are doing compared with prior years. This shows how I did in 2011 compared with the prior years.

Now for 2012,  I will still have similar graphs, but using the data that is auto filled in from the Garmin Connect CVS files.  I have friends who don’t even use a cyclometer to cycle with and have no idea how many miles they have ridden.  But I also notice these same guys are always having some issue with cassette wear because they didn’t change their chain until it was too late.  It might be the engineer in me that loves to see the data so I know how I am doing and how my bikes are doing.  Now I have an effortless way to get that data in a format I can use for my own purposes and not rely on the limitations of the online training logs.  For most people this is more than they will want and are happy to just use what one of the online training logs offer, but if you want to get things in a format you can manipulate for your own purposes, this might give you an idea.



Riding with a Bike Club

August 19, 2011 8:19 pm

We returned from a month stay at our Utah home and had a great time.  The cycling up there does not have the variety we have in California, but we enjoy riding with the Utah Velo club.  Not sure why, maybe because their riding is a fairly good match with our abilities.  The Utah Velo club Saturday ride have about 25 people and their is just enough regrouping so most everyone can get back together.  The ride leader is great and is very good at controlling the group.  Doing rides with less climbing than we do in California does make this all much more possible.

While I once did a lot of cycling with ACTC in California, that is not the case so much anymore as you can see from this chart.

Our time in Utah this year has been limited, but miles with that bike club has been almost as much as with ACTC.  When I am California I prefer to bike with my cycling friends, the Night Riders, which is a ad hoc group that just does what we want to do, when we want to do it.  ACTC, on the other hand, is a inflexible club, with it’s own way of doing things and rides that are schedule many weeks before they happen, when the weather conditions can not be known.  ACTC is a very diverse club with all types of riders and although it has a lot of rides, more than most any other club, I have little interest in most of them.  Some involve too far of a drive from our house.  Most have a pace that is too slow for us with too frequent and  long regroups.  Some rides seem more focused on getting to some place to eat than riding the bike.  Others are oriented to try to do the most number of different billy goats (climbs) rather than finding the most interesting route.  Others are geared to only ride a long distance and there is little group riding on those.  There is nothing wrong with any of these and they meet the needs of many.  It is just curious that with such a diverse group of rides that there are so few rides that interest me.

I have the great advantage of being able to bike with my wife, Anne, and sometimes my children.  Also I have some great cycling friends that are nearer my home.   Those meet most of what I want to do when I am in California.   I am glad that ACTC does exist and still do quite a few rides with them.  However my cycling with that particular club in on the wain.


Almost Hit By Car and Lightning on One Ride

July 18, 2011 7:25 pm

This morning Anne and I went for both a run up the Provo River trail and a bike ride up South Fork.  There were forecasts for showers this afternoon and sure enough it did rain.  After it cleared I figured it was fine to head out for another ride.  I wanted to climb up Squaw Peak doing some hill repeats during the climb. See this blog post on the details of the intervals.

Heading up from our Utah home on 4th North is usually an easy ride with very few cars.  Suddenly a pickup truck came out from a side street  (that had a stop sign) to my left to drive right across my path.  I had to swerve to avoid being hit.  Luckily the driver saw me just in time and hit his brakes.  I should have known I was in for one interesting ride.

After reaching the summit I looked down to the valley and could see it was raining heavily and there was several bolts of lightning.   Without the “Capture Lightning” app on my iPhone, I could only get this photo of the valley.  It is easy to see where it was raining.

At the top of the climb I was only getting a few sprinkles so I was hoping to beat a path down the mountain while the road was dry.  Once I reached the highway, it would be less than a mile to a large park where they have covered areas where I could escape the storm, should I run into it.  I reached the highway and it was now starting to rain.  After crossing the highway, I headed down when it started to really pour, like having buckets of water dumped on you.  Way too heavy of rain to safely ride so I pulled off the road into a side road.  I took a position slightly under a tree, but was afraid to be too close to the tree with all the lightning bolts striking around me.  I kept thinking at any time lightning would strike this tree and I was too close to be safe.

The rain left as fast as it came and soon I was on my way back down the canyon road.  When I reached home, Anne was a bit upset with me, being out on my bike in such a thunder and lighting storm.  I was just glad to be back and not hit by either a car or lightning.