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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So after a lazy mostly-off-the-bike fall, and some rides for fun - I'm pumped and ready to start my formal training again. 3 months until the first big event - the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race, which will be my first solo 24 hour attempt. I'm excited and stoked - and feel that I have an awful lot of work to do btween now and then!

I'm looking at using a friends trainer with a wattage meter built into it do some some baseline studies over the winter, and perhaps buy one for myself (best case scenario is getting a powertap wheel set-up, we'll see how eBay looks in coming weeks!). Last fall I was able to crank out about 300 - 320 watts at my threshold (aprx. 170bpm's) and weighed 170 pounds (77.1 Kg) ~ about 3.8 - 4.1 watts per Kg - to use the traditional power model. Having not done a similar test to date, but knowing I'm stonger/fitter, though a few pounds heavier, I must confess to harboring a growing curiosity to the weight/wattage ratio and it's magical math. Seems so elemental, that for each Kg lost, a 1.25% increase in power occurs (or so Michele Ferrari and others say...). Simple, eh? HA!

If I target 400 watts output at threshold, and a weight of 160 (72.5 Kg; probably more realistic at 165 / 75 Kg) it seems like that'd be an enormous leap from one year ago or 5.5 watts per Kg!!!!! At 75 Kg, 400 watts is still respectable at 5.3 or so.

If I used the TdF math for climbers of 2 pounds per inch of height, I'd have to weigh 142 pounds - a weight which I cannot imagine getting down to. 150? Maybe. 155? Slightly more likely, but still - yow! At 142 and my measly 320 watts output last year - I'd be at 5 watts per Kilo! Yikes. 400 watts at threshold weighing 142 would be approaching seriousness at 6.2 watts per Kilo - which I expect to never be able to touch. Fascinating dream - but sheesh..... it'd take years of reshaping my whole body AND wicked training to achieve that!

So, unless I find out my numbers are all off wattage - wise, I think that 4.5 - 5 watts per Kilo is a good start, with 5.5 a goal for next season (assuming normal-ish weights of 160 - 170 pounds!). Am I nuts? This sort of numbers crunching appeals to me to help stave off the winter doldrums, and seems to allow for some fun goal setting. I'm curious about other folks' similar explorations - anyone got similar stories??? I'm just not well informed and read enough about real-world power/weight stuff and thought I'd toss it out here.

glen
 

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How are you defining threshold, and how did you measure your 320 watts?

320 at threshold is very good, and 400 would probably allow you to be fairly successful as a NORBA pro. 5 watts/kg is probably out of reach for most of us, even successful Expert racers. I'm not trying to be negative, but those are big numbers.
 

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lktome is right - a threshold at 400 at anything under 78 kgs is freakishly strong. Saturn used something like 5.3 or 5.5 watts/kg for 15 minutes as a baseline for D3 Pro riders.

What type of trainer are you testing on? Watts on some trainers are not the same as watts with a powertap or SRM.
 

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No more nuts than some of the rest of us.....

Glen,
I think you're on the right track - based on what I've experienced, the 5.5 number might be a bit optimistic but possible depending on where you are at now power-wise. I've been playing around with my Powertap for almost a couple of years now. In 2004 I developed about 270 watts at threshold at about 76.5 kilos for a rather anemic 3.5w/kg. Last year I upped my output to 320w at a slightly thinner 75.9 kg for 4.2w/kg. To me, a 50 watt jump was a huge surprise and I'm not certain that I can make a similar jump this season. If I can pull this off and get my weight down to 72.7 kg (my pre-season goal), I'll be at 5.1 w/kg.

So if you've made a similar type of improvement from last fall (as you suspect you have)and make another, similar jump then the magical 400watts is possible. Does your coach think that such a goal is do-able?

One word of warning. My 50watt increase this season came at a cost. I focused too much on this steady state output number and lost some top-end anaerobic power. By the time I realized that I had become a diesel, it was too late in the season to fix it. MTB'ers need to have more than just threshold power.
 

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Power-to-Weight

I think your 400 watt goal would have you placing as a top pro in an international race. Although I would be curious to hear how you are measuring threshold (Lactate Pro, VO2 max test, some other reliable method).

Dr. Allen Lim, an exercise physiologist, has summarized the power-to-weight averages for various levels of cyclists including international pros.. He is a consultant for Floyd Landis.

Check out the bottom table at this link summarizing his research results:
http://www.bicycling.com/tourdefrance/experts/columns/0,5976,s1-12525-527,00.html?category_id=527
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Iktome said:
How are you defining threshold, and how did you measure your 320 watts?

320 at threshold is very good, and 400 would probably allow you to be fairly successful as a NORBA pro. 5 watts/kg is probably out of reach for most of us, even successful Expert racers. I'm not trying to be negative, but those are big numbers.
In two years of structured training, I've been able to hone in on my LT pretty accurately by a number of cross-referenced tests. One - the Friel TT method on the roadbike. 30 minutes all out, taking the average HR for the last 20 minutes = 171. Two - On a regular road climb, I've tinkered with tiny HR changes and found that I can climb, hard, for 1 hour at 170 - 172 BPM's. At 176+ BPM's I start cracking by 25-30 minutes. Lastly, my coach had me on a trainer measuring wattage (Wattage meter attached/part of trainer set-up) performing the "up your output by 20 watts every couple of minutes" (can't remember exactly) until breathing hit that change from steady / endurance paced just above conversational, to that mildly labored / aprx. LT level where it was labored - comfortable, but labored. Above that rate, I was going strong but felt like I had crossed the line to that "burning matches" / above threshold state whicj was 175 BPM's or higher. At 172 BPM's I was comfortably putting out 320 watts and felt like I would doing medium to long intervals. Above that and I knew that I'd crack at 25-30 minutes or be pretty close to it.

So, without having done the lab tests with exhalation gas monitoring, blood sampling and so on to truly nail the numbers, I can say with good confidence that my LT is 170-172 (max. recorded is 196 and I'm 35 years old) and that last fall, at that output, I could push 320 watts relatively comfortably. And I'm definately stronger now. How much? I don't know. Might be 5 watts - might be 50. Hell, I've been drinking so much beer and been on the bike so little, I could very well be at or below that 320. Seems like a good base to start with though...

I didn't take your analysis as negative at all! As noted, I am by most rights a never-was hacker who is new to this level of measuring. I'd be surprised if a NORBA Pro wasn't pushing 5 watts a Kilo though! I feel like I could drop a buch of weight, gain a little fitness and hit that ratio. I might be smoking crack too though! What I'm curious about is what kind of numbers an expert or above/cat 3 or above racer has seen in a good season. Both net watts output AND the ratio to weight. If making a 20 watt gain is huge, then indeed I'm a bit off. If 100 watts in a good season is doable for an average but dedicated fella, then I'll sure try! Sounds like I should look at 4 - 4.5 watts per kilo max as a target then.... even if it's a pipe dream!

thanks for the comments though - it's all good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
PMC said:
lktome is right - a threshold at 400 at anything under 78 kgs is freakishly strong. Saturn used something like 5.3 or 5.5 watts/kg for 15 minutes as a baseline for D3 Pro riders.

What type of trainer are you testing on? Watts on some trainers are not the same as watts with a powertap or SRM.
I can definately say I ain't freakishly strong! I can say I can be at 77 Kilos and churn out 320 watts, which is a bit over 4 watts per kilo, for a long time (1 hour or more) - but you may be right about the trainer. It was a nice set-up, but the output was measured by the trainer, not a powertap hub or cranks... it was sure fun to spin up for bursts though! I recall hitting 1100 for brief moments, but no where near capable of sustaining it for more than a few seconds... sounds like doing a lab test will be helpful in the very near future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
j.p.rich said:
Glen,
I think you're on the right track - based on what I've experienced, the 5.5 number might be a bit optimistic but possible depending on where you are at now power-wise. I've been playing around with my Powertap for almost a couple of years now. In 2004 I developed about 270 watts at threshold at about 76.5 kilos for a rather anemic 3.5w/kg. Last year I upped my output to 320w at a slightly thinner 75.9 kg for 4.2w/kg. To me, a 50 watt jump was a huge surprise and I'm not certain that I can make a similar jump this season. If I can pull this off and get my weight down to 72.7 kg (my pre-season goal), I'll be at 5.1 w/kg.

So if you've made a similar type of improvement from last fall (as you suspect you have)and make another, similar jump then the magical 400watts is possible. Does your coach think that such a goal is do-able?

One word of warning. My 50watt increase this season came at a cost. I focused too much on this steady state output number and lost some top-end anaerobic power. By the time I realized that I had become a diesel, it was too late in the season to fix it. MTB'ers need to have more than just threshold power.
Thanks j.p.! I know that the fitter we get - the more the improvement curve flattens out and the harder gains are to come by, but your "stats" sound similar to mine, and make me hopeful for some measurable increase - at the very least by losing this fall flab! Seriously though, good to hear - it's exactly the type of real-world amateur racer data I was hoping for. Good point about not losing the high-end! My regular team rides chasing Pro/1/2 guys prevents the loss of that anaerobic strength thankfully. I'll talk to my coach and see what she thinks - shes been dead on about a lot this year!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
BlueStar said:
I think your 400 watt goal would have you placing as a top pro in an international race. Although I would be curious to hear how you are measuring threshold (Lactate Pro, VO2 max test, some other reliable method).

Dr. Allen Lim, an exercise physiologist, has summarized the power-to-weight averages for various levels of cyclists including international pros.. He is a consultant for Floyd Landis.

Check out the bottom table at this link summarizing his research results:
http://www.bicycling.com/tourdefrance/experts/columns/0,5976,s1-12525-527,00.html?category_id=527
400 watts at 95 kilos won't place anywhere! 400 watts for only 30 seconds will also net no good results. 400 watts at 60 Kilos for hours on end, I'd kick ass and maybe podium at the tour - but then I'd break in half on any one of my many crashes! :)

I am surprised to see the numbers, and defiantely confident mine are loose at best. If I can turn 4.0 - 4.2 watts per kilo for 1 hour, I ought to do pretty well! Can't wait to get a real test done now....
 

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glenzx said:
I can definately say I ain't freakishly strong! I can say I can be at 77 Kilos and churn out 320 watts, which is a bit over 4 watts per kilo, for a long time (1 hour or more) - but you may be right about the trainer. It was a nice set-up, but the output was measured by the trainer, not a powertap hub or cranks... it was sure fun to spin up for bursts though! I recall hitting 1100 for brief moments, but no where near capable of sustaining it for more than a few seconds... sounds like doing a lab test will be helpful in the very near future.
If you're serious about training and it sounds like you are, a powermeter would be an excellent investment especially if you're into techy stuff. 320 for an hour isn't anything to sneeze at btw. This year I averaged right around 320 (at 71kg) in our state 40k ITT, going sub 55 in the process, and won the 35+ open category by almost 2 minutes. Shorter TT efforts, 15-20 minutes, I'll average around 360-370 depending.

A strong Cat1/2/3 rider will have 4.5+ watt/kg give or take for an hour and will be over 5 for 20-30 minute efforts. Don't forget about working VO2 type power either as 400-450 for 5 minute repeated efforts is a requirement if you don't want to get shelled.
 

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j.p.rich said:
Glen,
I think you're on the right track - based on what I've experienced, the 5.5 number might be a bit optimistic but possible depending on where you are at now power-wise. I've been playing around with my Powertap for almost a couple of years now. In 2004 I developed about 270 watts at threshold at about 76.5 kilos for a rather anemic 3.5w/kg. Last year I upped my output to 320w at a slightly thinner 75.9 kg for 4.2w/kg. To me, a 50 watt jump was a huge surprise and I'm not certain that I can make a similar jump this season. If I can pull this off and get my weight down to 72.7 kg (my pre-season goal), I'll be at 5.1 w/kg.

So if you've made a similar type of improvement from last fall (as you suspect you have)and make another, similar jump then the magical 400watts is possible. Does your coach think that such a goal is do-able?

One word of warning. My 50watt increase this season came at a cost. I focused too much on this steady state output number and lost some top-end anaerobic power. By the time I realized that I had become a diesel, it was too late in the season to fix it. MTB'ers need to have more than just threshold power.
Guys, is there an implied duration here?

To me, talking about wattage without specifying duration is meaningless.

My understanding is that max power over a 20-minute duration is a very useful number because the power vs. sustainable duration curve flattens out around this point, so that sustainable power for periods longer than 20 minutes isn't a whole lot less then what you can sustain for the 20 minutes.

Also, I believe that a lot of the published power-weight ratios are for 20 minute durations, while others are for a significantly shorter 4 minute duration. And the power differences (and hence power-weight ratio) between these durations is likely substantial. I know it is with me.

Glen, BCSM beckons!
 

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As a noob, I was told that power gains of 25% per year were achievable if you did everything right.

As a moderately experienced biker, I think that 10% power gain per year is achievable.

As a pro, the potential annual gain is a fraction of that.
 

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Unfortunately, most of us do not have the genetic capability to make that kind of power. Lance is well over 400W and skinny as a rail in those TT's. But, the real key is STEADY progress. NO ONE will make 25% gains per year unless they are not in shape, period. Just won't happen.

BUT: even a modest gain year-to-year, when compounded over several seasons, will move you up the food chain.

SUGGESTION: don't focus on absolutes, but simply strive to complete a given workout at a slightly higher level. Look for steady progress over time. Get/stay skinny 'as a rail'. Take care of everything for proper recovery [eating, sleeping, anabolic steroids...alright, I'm kidding!].

AND HAVE FUN! If it stops being fun, you won't keep at it. It is possible to fight through the blahs for a week or two, but over time you will totally lose enthusiasm for it without having a good time. Learn to ENJOY the hard workouts, and the satisfaction of completing a target workout.

ALSO: too much threshold/steady-state training gets very draining emotionally. And, you will tend to suffer more from the little anaerobic bursts that produce higher levels of lactate. Racing generally gives you enough of the short bursty-type of efforts, but doing some anaerobic work [that is, SIGNIFICANTLY anaerobic] will sharpen you. A weekly group road-ride adds LOTS of that.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!
 

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MTBDOC is the man

MTBDOC -

Just want to say I'm so stoked to see your comments back in this forum. I remember asking you questions about 3 years ago, and then you got in an accident on your bike and disappeared.

I race semi professionally and have always enjoyed your enthusiasm and thoughtful responses.

Have a great thanksgiving and thanks for the inspiration.
 

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I've been reading a lot about training with power...it seems like that is the "thing" to do. My question is this. How accurate are the powercurves on a trainer? I have a 1up usa rig and they list the powercurve/s on their site. Would that be useful? Useful if you didn't have access to other power measuring methods? I'm currently doing my road work on my old hardtail, and I can't see putting a $600+ power meter on a 5yr old $650 bike. I do plan to get a road bike in the coming months, and installing a powertap or SRM on that would be no problem.

So, in the interim, would using the trainer's known powercurves work?

Sorry for hijacking your thread Glen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
MTBDOC said:
SUGGESTION: don't focus on absolutes, but simply strive to complete a given workout at a slightly higher level. Look for steady progress over time. Get/stay skinny 'as a rail'. Take care of everything for proper recovery [eating, sleeping, anabolic steroids...alright, I'm kidding!].
Ah - there lies a key I suspect. I feel fortunate that I've got a number of regular road and mountain rides to use as "testing grounds". It's been fun to do an all-out climbing workout on the mountainbike that 3 years ago took 20-22 minutes (about 640 ft climbing over 1.5 miles ~ 12.3% ave. grade???) and this year I blasted in under 9 minutes. The less frequently used but much harder (and at altitude) test is a 5.66 mile, 2100 ft. climb, to a local peak here - at 12,200 ft. I used to consider 1.5 hrs. to the top fast, then this past year easily broke 1 hour (mountainbike ride on dirt road I should clarify), and came damned close to ascending, tagging the pin at the top, and DESCENDING in under an hour! Yow. Those were good days that required a good bit of rest afterwards.

I babble, but the point is dead-on that it makes sense to use regular test routes to gauge/monitor improvement. The skinny part will play a role in coming months, as I've let my weight creep back towards 176-178 of late (finally got a GOOD scale - that thing is MEAN!) but feel rested, healthy, and STRONG.

As noted, I feel fortunate to also chase down the Pro/1/2 guys on the team a couple of times a week on 2-3 hour rides where we mix in some wicked stretches, then regroup. Should be no problem keeping the top-end anaerobic work in the plan!

Thanks Doc - and happy turkey day to you too!
 

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some of my SRM wattage numbers (sport moving up)

I am 5.8, 137 lbs, around 10-11% bodyfat. I have finished my second year racing. The races I have not DNF on mech problems, I have finished between first and 5th in Sport (Cal State). I am moving up to expert next year ( and ready for the pain and lesson of humility).
Saying so, my SRM based watts/kg are
1 min: 8w/kg
5 min: 5.4w/kg
15 min:4.7 w/kg
20 min:4.4 w/kg
They are fairly acurate numbers ( SRM pro, cyclingPeaks software)

My goals for next year, loose 6 pounds of fat (that would get me around 6-7 % body fat)...which would result in and an increase of about 2-3 % of my w/kg. I am also targeting a 10 % increase in power...So overall , i am targeting an overal 10-12 % increase in w/kg.
 

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glenn sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Your goals are pretty lofty if your power meter is accurate. The highest watts per kg I was able to sustain for 20min was just over 5 watts/kg during training, racing as a semi-pro. Not that my numbers are great. Any success I ever had was due to the fact I hate to lose and I can tolerate some pain to due so. I always raced above my potential according to tests.

Threshold is the key to comparing numbers. When you look at testing in a lab they often just look at the lactate levels not your unique tolerance levels. So in comparison a lab tells me my threshold is at 4 watts/kg but I can sustain well above that in the real world. Comparing your numbers to a pro's number in the lab is not apples to apples unless you know the threshold used.

Sustainable power is not the tell all for mountain biking like it would be for time trialing. In mountain biking is has been shown that success is based on repeatable efforts and the ability to recover and repeat without losing power.
 
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