Archive for the 'Training Program' category

Ready to Race – Trek Speed Concept

May 13, 2016 2:52 pm

I signed up for a couple Duathlons this summer.  The first one, a local event, is in a week so I moved my Enve carbon tubular wheels over to my Trek Speed Concept bike.  Moving the wheels was easy enough but changing the brake pads to carbon specific pads was much harder than on a regular road bike.  I guess that is the price you pay to have an aero bike that takes great efforts to make things as aero as possible.


Things were also made more difficult by the difference in clearance between the Bontrager brake shoes and typical Shimano brake pads.  Things were such a tight fit I had to remove the entire brake shoe from the bike to do the swap.  That meant removing the covers for both the front on rear brakes to get easy access to do the swap and to make sure I had the brake shoes aligned up correctly.

So how fast is the Speed Concept?  I think it is fast but even though I have taken it on several rides, totaling over 300 miles, I was not sure I am much faster than on my Trek Domane.  The race in one week is mostly part of my training program and even though it has steep one mile climb I plan to use my Speed Concept to get the full experience.  My real target is the Nationals Duathlon Championship in Bend Oregon, the last Saturday in June.  They finally posted the course description. It looks like about 2.2% average grade for 6.5 miles where you turn around and go down to the start.  You repeat this lap again for about 1500 feet of climbing over 40K.  I started to wonder if using my lighter road bike would be better than the Speed Concept so I did some estimates.  Using my weight and the 19 lb Speed Concept, assuming I stay in the aerobars, putting out 160 watts on the uphill and 130 watts on the downhill, I used a very useful Bicycle Calculator to get these values for the outbound and return.


Using my road bike which is 3.5 lbs lighter, same wattage but on the bar tops for climbing and hoods descending I get this result


If you add the outbound and return together and double for the two laps, you get this comparison for the Speed Concept time trial bike vs. my lighter Trek Domane road bike.


This means for 40K the Speed Concept could be upwards of 12 minutes faster than my lighter road bike, which of course assumes I am in the aero position for the entire time.  Not only is it faster, I use less energy so have more left for the final 5K run.  This also doesn’t consider all the aerodynamic advantages of the Speed Concept over the Domane.  So the money I spent on this new bike should bring some significant speed improvement assume ideal conditions.  I only wish I could spend money to improve my running speed by the same amount of time.

Strava Suffer Score

May 21, 2013 8:48 pm

The original entry was published on September 1, 2012.  Since then, Strava has made it possible for Premium members to change their heart rate zones.  I have updated this post accordingly.

One of the features of a premium account on Strava is the so called Suffer Score that it will compute for you after each run or ride.  It will only be able to calculate this if you are recording your heart rate because it uses the heart rate compared with your heart rate zones to calculate the suffer score.  For a detailed analysis of what goes into this see Strava Suffer Score decoded, a post written by a friend Dan Connelley.

Heart Rate Zones

Strava now allows Premium members the ability to edit your heart rate zones.  If you accept the defaults that Strava offers, your Suffer Factor might be misleading.  I have done a lot of research on how different coaches recommend setting heart rate zones but no one would put an anaerobic zone starting at 169+ for a maximum heart rate of 175.  Besides, I know that is not the case for me.  Instead of changed the heart rate zones so Zone 5 now starts at 163 not 169.  See my article that compares several methods.  Note once you change your zones in Strava, it will use on a going forward basis and will not change your prior suffer scores.

High Suffer Score Could Mean Poor Condition

I suppose that there there is a correlation between suffer score on Strava and how much you suffered on a ride.  But that does not mean a higher suffer score correlates with better performance in terms of speed/distance.  This was apparent on today’s ride, which had a suffer score of 360.  I sorted my activities in Strava over the past 3 years by suffer score and looked at all of them over 400.


I think the ride where I suffered the most was the on on 7/7/10, but it has the lowest suffer score on this chart.  But then that was done before I was able to change my heart rate zones.  For the two recent double centuries, the one on Knoxville cause me far more suffering that the one for Solvang, but the suffer scores are not that much different.

The suffer score seems to be heavily weighted toward long duration but for some individuals a long ride does not mean suffering, especially if done at a moderate pace.  I therefore consider suffer score just a fun thing to look at and probably a motivator for many people so overall I think it is a good thing.  Strava might consider to look at some other measurement score that could help us with our training, but that might require a power meter which most users do not have.

For those who have a power meter, Strava now offers several new tools to look at, including Training Load and a Fitness and Freshness page.  Once you start to accumulate data from a power meter you will be able to better understand your rides, far more than the Suffer Score will provide.


Training for Knoxville Double Century

September 23, 2012 9:23 pm

Why Knoxville Double

The last time I rode a double century was in 2009 when I did the Death Valley Double and Solvang Double. The saying “the old only talk about the past because they have no future” always haunts me.  I don’t want to just relive the old days while I can still find new adventures.  With all the training I put in to get ready for the Hoodoo 500 race, it seemed like I should participate in another ultra cycling event around a month after I finished the Hoodoo.  I decided to ride the Knoxville Double Century, an event I have never ridden before.  It is not an easy double century, but not the hardest either.  With total climbing of 12,600 feet it is more like the Death Valley Double than Solvang or Davis.  I dusted off my old 13 week training plan for getting ready for a double century and started to plott my progressr, with the Knoxville Double to occur on week 13.  Now with only 5 days before the event, I feel reasonably confident I can finish.

Long Training Ride

Although I was getting in a lot of miles and climbing, I didn’t have any rides much further than 100 miles.  So last Tuesday I did a long training ride, starting from my home, meeting other riders in Morgan Hill, climbing Metcalf, Quimby and Mt. Hamilton and out to the junction.  With 142 miles and over 13,000 feet of climbing it was the longest training ride I have ever completed.

This long ride also gave me a chance to test out a new light, the Lezyne Super Drive.  A friend had picked up a couple of last year models at a good price and sold one of them to me.  Although not as bright as my MagicShine light, it proved to be fully adequate for this type of riding in the dark.  It runs off of Lithium-Ion 18650 batteries and my friend lent me a couple of spares so I should have plenty of battery life for Knoxville.   At only 140 grams, this lightweight integrated design is much easier to use than my MagicShine with it’s external battery and connecting cord.  It is light enough that I will just leave it on my bike during the entire ride, as I did on the long training ride, since I have never been one who likes to use a light drop.

On Saturday I repeated the same ride except I did not bike from home, so although the total miles was 30 miles less, I did the about the same amount of climbing.  On this ride I was using my Garmin Edge 800 for navigation and found the battery was running down so I only used navigation half the time.  At the end of the ride when I plugged in my Garmin it had only 25% battery left, so I realized that it would not last for the entire Knoxville Double.  I could use my Garmin 500, which lasts for 18 hours, but I want to use the 800 for navigation, especially in the dark where I can just touch the screen to have it light up to see the map.  I decided to order a GoMadic external battery pack for the Garmin Edge 800.  It will be more weight to care, but it will save me from taking two Garmin units and turning off the 800 when I don’t need it, just to extend the battery life.

Training Plan

In terms of miles and feet of climbing, I am ahead of my plan.  In particular my climbing is ahead of what I did in 2008 getting ready for the Devil Mountain Double.

First Century of 2011

July 24, 2011 10:26 am

In the past few years I would have already completed a few double centuries by mid July.  But this year I have just not had the interest to ride so far and until today I had not even ridden over 100 miles in a single ride.  You can see from this chart that my riding is lower than the past 4 years and I have to go back to 2006 when it was less.

However since I finally was allowed by the Cardiologist to stop taking the beta blocker, I seem to have more stamina to ride long.  John and I signed up for the Ulcer Century on August 6th so I have been trying to get in some longer rides.  On the past two Saturday’s Anne and I have taken the tandem and joined the Utah Vello ride up Hobble Creek.  We end up with 55 miles for that ride.  Both times I jumped on single bike after the ride to get in more miles.  Today I joined a couple guys from the Utah Velo ride up the Alpine Loop, then South Fork, to get 100 miles for the day.  Since I climbed 6,000 feet for the day, 3 times more than the Ulcer Century will be, I figure I am ready for it.

Being a Faster Climber

July 13, 2009 6:38 am

In a prior post I reflected how I thought I was climbing much slower than last year.  But then my son pointed out that my time on Saturday up Mt. Diablo would have put me in 3rd place for men 60+ in the Mt. Diablo Challenge race last fall.

I did some additional research on the subject of how to be a faster climber.  There are three keys including 1) mental attitude, 2) light body weight and 3) smart tactics.   While some cyclists will want to avoid some tough climbs, I seek them out.  My weight is also down, although not as low as it was last fall when I was getting ready for the Everest Challenge.  So what is left is tactics.  Here are a few that I am thinking about:

Use the right gearing

I do almost all my cycling with a double crank.  Although I have put on a 12-27 cassette, it does not seem quite enough on some of the real steep hills.  Sure I am able to make it up every hill, but when the grade gets too steep, my cadence really dips.  If a pro cyclists goes up in a 39/21, with their speed of travel, they may have a cadence of over 80 rpm.  It has been shown that while climbing, a cadence of 80-90 will result in a faster climb time.  The slower you climb, the lower the gearing you need to keep that type of cadence.  It is time I move to a compact crank. With the ability to use a lower gear that will give me the option to remain seated more.  I know when I stand my heart rate climbs.  Although I find standing frequently a help with my legs, too much standing would not lead to the best time.

Avoid Going too Hard too Early

Last Wednesday I did a climb up Henry Coe with some cycling buddies.  Fairly early in the climb I was taking the pace up to see who was going to be able to hang with me.  My pulse rate was now over 170, well above my lactate threshold.  Since one other rider kept up, I had no choice but to keep the pace to see who would last the longest.  He finally dropped off the back but I had to keep driving long enough to form a gap.  But by then I was too expended and my overall time suffered.  I was surprised at the end of the climb that he was only a minute behind me.  You can see this on the attached series of charts, the top one being last week and the other two from an actual race on the same climb during the last two years.  Click on the chart to view enlarged.


Of course I would never expect my time on a ride with some friends to ever be as fast as an actual race where I make sure I have fresh legs and I give it all I have for just that one climb.  However I feel that if I had kept my heart rate down a bit earlier in the climb and then took it up late in the climb I would have finished faster.

Doing Speedwork

One thing I have done in the past is doing some speed work, both intervals on the flats and hill repeats.  That is significantly improved my performance on a long climb.  Although you get some benefit of just climbing certain hills at a hard pace, one should not ignore the benefit of repeats, with short recovery periods in between.  See my article on speedwork.

Cross Training

When I was training for marathons, it not only kept my weight down, but I believe it made me a faster climber.  I started to get out of running for the most part over the last year, due to some issues with my knees.  But I met a guy on our 10 day bicyle tour who also ran the Boston Marathon and he gave me some information one what was causing my problem so I started some exercises to stretch my IT band.  The issue seems to be solved so I have been increasing my running again.  Yesterday I did a 4.5 mile run, with 3 miles at a tempo pace.  On those three miles I was averaging an 8 minute pace.  Not very fast considering I use to run a marathon at a 8:20 pace.  However it was fast for my conditioning because I woke up this morning with sore legs!  Although I don’t plan to run a marathon again anytime soon, I do plan to take my running back up to at least 25 miles a week and add in some interval training.  All cycling and no running makes Franz a dull boy.

Ready or Not?

February 23, 2009 10:45 pm
Ready or Not?

The Death Valley Double is this Saturday.  It has been difficult to get ready for a double century that takes place so early in the year.  With vacations in November and December I was not able to really get much biking in until January.  Two weeks ago some of our kids and grandkids were visiting and I wanted to spend more time with them.  Then this February had many rainy days.  Last week I was finally able to get in a lot of miles, over 350 of them.  I did a long 112 mile ride last Saturday. I felt like a slug because it had a lot of climbing, but I did make it without much stopping.  Although my accumulated miles so far this year are not quite what my training program called for, it is higher than the last two years.


I was not able to get in a real long ride, like 130 miles, but I did some long rides on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that hopefully accumulated had a similar effect.  You can see on week 7 that I was only able to get in a 52 mile ride, but at least on last week I got closer to my training plan.


As I mentioned, I felt like a slug on Saturday.   When I looked at my average speed over the 112 miles, it was not too bad considering the 8,700 feet of climbing.  In my training log I have a lookup table that shows my overall  effort when I consider average speed, climbing and total distance.  By averaging 14.7 mph, I did get a “fast” grade for the ride, even though I could not keep up with the lead riders the second half, as I could last year.

Today it was raining all morning. I had already taken a day off yesterday so I felt I needed to get back on the bike.  I went to the bike shop and bought some fenders to put on my old bike and then headed out to do some interval training.  It took me so long to get the fenders installed that the weather had cleared and the roads were mostly dry.  I have a course for interval training and measured how I did compared with similar training last year. I could not find my heart rate strap so I was missing that data, but overall I did okay, although not quite like last year.  It is a circular route so only the total can be compared with the winds different each time I do it.

Cycling Interval Training

Flat Loop Hecker Pass, Watsonville Road, Santa Terresa
7 minute fast, then 3.5 minutes easy
Max HR
Avg HR
1 7:01 2.117 18.1
2 7:01 2.328 19.9
3 6:26 2.583 24.1
4 7:31 2.734 21.8
Total 27:59 9.762 20.9
Total 27:45 10.373 22.4
Total 27:51 9.899 21.4

Monster Training Ride – Snow to Heat Wave

September 6, 2008 10:00 pm

It was only 5 days ago that we were in Utah and I rode up Alpine Loop to see the snow from a recent storm. I did not take a jacket and was very cold on the way down.  Today’s long ride out to the junction was HOT HOT HOT.  Kind of like out of the kettle into the fire.

I was leading a long ride for the bike club.  The official start was in San Jose, but I figured starting from Morgan Hill would be the same distance, please riders said they were going to meet us along the way.  To meet meet the timing I would have had to start biking from home at 6:30 am, but it was still dark so I asked Ann to drive me 6 miles towards Morgan Hill and I started there, at about 6:55 am.  It was warm enough, despite the early hour, that I did not need any arm warmers.  Ten minutes later I met Gary F and we rode together up Monterey to Bailey.  We then made our way over and did the first climb of the day, Metcalf.  I did the climb slower than usual because I had a long ride ahead.  We had to wait at the top for any riders to show up and then only two did.

We then started down the backside and were met by Russ and Joe F.  Not long after that Cindi S. was coming the other way and turned around to join the group.  We made our way of to Quimby for the second climb.  Quimby is a nasty climb of nearly 2,000 feet with some sections that approach 20% grade.  I had not really tried to time the climb up there for years so I did push a bit harder to see how I was doing compared with several years ago.  Since those prior times were all set on a short ride, I felt good with my time which was less than a minute off my best time ever and better than I ever did in 2004.

Quimby Climb

Distance: 4.2 miles, Climb: 1,975 feet, Avg Grade: 8.8%
Time from Ruby to Summit
Max HR
Avg HR

Russ and Gary had gone ahead of me but the others were all behind.  There was not waiting at the top of Quimby by the leaders so I headed down and to Mt. Hamilton road where I caught them getting water.  We then had the long climb up to the top of Mt Hamilton.  It was already getting hot.  We passed Louise M. on the way up, she had started the climb earlier.  Russ had reached the summit before anyone so Gary and I stopped just long enought to fill our water bottles then head down.

Due to the heat our plan was to turn around at the bottom and make the climb up Mt. Hamilton before it got too hot.  Gary, Russ and I stopped at the Isabel Creek to wait for others.  Then we started to talk about going to the junciton, per the orignal plan.  No one else showed up so we headed out to the junction, not realizing how hot it was going to be.

I had a simple lunch, a turkey sandwich and some potato chips.  Russ and Gary both had a big lunch with a lot of french fires.  I thought I could never eat all those fires and climb up the backside.

We didn’t take too long to eat because we knew the temperatures would continue to rise.  We each bought a Gatorade to stick in our back pocket because we knew that two water bottles would not be enough to make it back to the summit in this heat.  I ended up drinking mine on the spot then filled the bottle with water to carry.

On the way back we saw a couple of cyclists headed in the same direction, pulled off the road resting in the shade.  One yelled out that it was 112 degrees. I check my cyclometer and it was reading 112, although it tends to read high when in direct sunlight.  But then my body was in direct sunlight!

The three of us were biking together until the last climb before we descending back to Isabel Creek for the start of the big climb.  Then Russ started to move ahead and Gary started to fall behind.  As we started to climb up the backside of Mt. Hamilton, I slowed was gaining on Russ but I could no longer see Gary.  I caught Russ as we approached the spring at the 3 mile mark (3 miles from the top) so we stopped there to splash some water on ourselves and cool off.  We waitd for awhile and still no Gary.  I started to worry about him since he is a faster climber than I am.

A van was now coming up the hill so I flagged it down to see if they had seen a cyclists.  As it was stopping I could see that Gary was in the van.  I guess he had some issue so the driver offered to carry him to the top.  Russ and I got back on our bikes and finished the climb to the summit.  There we found Gary laying on the ground.  He had become dehyrated, was cramping and even had the chills.  I rush up to get him a cold drink and then he used some water to cool himself off.  We knew we needed to wait for him to recover.  Here is how fast I climbed the backside, but did stop at the spring, so I had some rest midway.

Mt Hamilton Backside

Distance: 4.5 miles, Climb: 1,900 feet, Avg Grade: 7.9%
Time from start of climb to where levels off
Max HR
Avg HR

Eventually he wanted to go ahead and bike so we all started down the hill.  Then it was a climb back over Quimby. After reaching the San Jose Valley we could really feel the heat again, after a bit of cooler temperatures at 4,000 feet summit of Mt. Hamilton.  Russ headed his own wan and Gary and I headed back to Morgan Hill.  Gary was not feeling well so we stopped at a McDonlds to cool off and have some drinks.  I wanted him to have more time to hyrate.  We filled our water bottles with ice and water there and then headed back home.

I dropped Gary off in Morgan Hill and then biked home.  It was past 6 pm when I finally finished.  I had biked 135 miles and climbed nearly 13,000 feet.  My HRM showed only 11,900 feet, but last time I did this same route it was 12,700 feet.  We’ve been under a high pressure system resulting in a reduction of accumulated gain. I will use 12,800 since I did an additional climb up Santa Terresa to Miller this time.   This was therefore the most climbing ever on a training ride.

If I had done all five passes on the Death Ride, I would have biked 6 miles less and climbed 2,000 feet more, so this was some training ride.

I took a quick shower and Ann and I went out to dinner. I was felling fine, despite the hot weather, long distance and considerable climbing.  I was more confident that I was ready for the Everest Challenge.

This is the profile of the ride.

Double Century Training

March 21, 2008 7:17 am

I have finished my last week of biking training for the Solvang Double Century, which will take place next week. My main focus is on the Devil Mountain Double Century at the end of April, so my training program has been geared to prepare for that. I have doing well on the training, although this week was a bit below plan. I will climb Henry Coe 5 times this week so I am getting a lot of climbing in.

This chart show my weekly miles this year compared with last year and against my plan.

Weekly Miles Biked 3-22-08

But my climbing is doing well.

Weekly Climbing 3-22-08

See all the charts here.

DMD Training – Week 9 of 16

February 25, 2008 11:35 pm

After getting off to a good start for this year, my cycling too a hit for two weeks. The first week we were out of state to watch the grandkids. We did take our bikes up there but it was cold in Washington State and I didn’t get in that much riding. After I returned to California I did get in a good ride to watch Stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California, but after that we had 3 days of straight rain. This week the weather has been great and I am back into fully training mode.

I have been writing an article for the club website on training for a tough double century, called The Big Climb. It is where you combine the long miles of a double century with a lot of climbing, in excess of 15,000 feet. In 2007 I completed such an event last year called the Devil Mountain Double, maybe the most difficult double century in California. Last year it was unusually hot weather and although I finished it was not easy. Having run the Boston Marathon only 12 days early probably did not help either. I am determined to do a better effort at training and have developed a program which I have included in my article.

Part of my training for the DMD is to do the Solvang Double Century 4 week earlier. The following four charts track my training for DMD. For each chart I plot my training for 2008 compared with both my actual for last year and against my training plan. The first two are accumulated miles ridden and feet climbed. Click all charts to view enlarged.

DMD Training Accumulated Miles as of Week 9

DMD Training Accumulated Feet Climbing as of Week 9

The next two charts show the weekly targets for both the longest ride of the week and the weekly total for climbing. In 2007 the dips from Week 14 to 16 were due to running the Boston Marathon, which made the final training for DMD difficult. That will not be the case this year. Click to enlarge.

DMD Training Long Weekly Ride as of Week 9

DMD Training Weekly Climbing Feet through Week 9

Ready or Not

October 4, 2007 7:57 am

It is almost D day for the Furnace Creek 508. Because I have been tapering significantly and no biking today or tomorrow, I get a bit worried about losing conditioning. But I know I need to take the days off to be ready. I looked at my weekly biking miles through last week. I was able to get in over 300 miles last week. I guess it is ready or not!
Weekly Biking Miles through 9-29-07