Thursday, October 15, 2009

Combination time!

So just a little reminder of my situation and why I am using Power Cranks! Unfortunately like so many athletes (especially female but not exclusive to!) and have been cursed over the last year with the dreaded stress fracture. Roughly 2 1/2 of them! (one was a stress reaction and yes there is a slight difference!) So action needed to be taken number one to get me to a healthy place but number 2, I want to be back racing, back doing what I love most! Sure, you can water run but honestly I can only do so much of that! My doctor then recently suggested using Power Cranks not specifically for my cycling but as a substitute for my running! Why? Because there is an emphasis on your running running when using them (hamstrings!) as well as improving your efficiency on the bike. So, every other day I have been riding with my Power Cranks as a substitute for the pounding of running and so far so good!
This week I began a combination PC/run. It was time to increase my long run and rather than increasing the actually run time I am riding the PC's first then jumping off and finishing off with my run. Yesterday was a 30 min PC ride then a 45 min run for a 75 min total long run.
I know I have only been using them for 3-4 weeks but the theory will be put to the test next weekend when I compete in Longhorn in the 70.3. With only 3x30 min runs a week and the rest on the PC's it will be interesting to see how I go over 13 miles!
I am also trying to increase my cadence now to emulate my running cadence more. This has been the most difficult part so far and requires a little more work!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another Pro to train on PowerCranks

Sergio Marques will be starting his off season with a new training regime. In 2008 Sergio had the fastest run split in Kona. We hope that his new training regime will bring new found speed in his bike splits for 2010. We had the opportunity to meet with Sergio personally and to answer all his questions and share your stories with him.

Mahalo from Kona

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out on the Road!

I have now officially ventured out onto the road with session number 3 using my power cranks. It is okay if I don't have to stop for any traffic lights, stop signs or cars while I am still getting used to clicking in with my feet at the bottom of the pedal stroke rather than at the top! My ride was only about 10 minutes to Jeff's house where I used the trainer to ride the PC's for 30 minutes then rode home again. I am definitely starting to feel a lot more coordinated after only a short amount of time and can really feel my hamstrings and gluts doing work they normally would not. In other words, I am working my running muscles while cycling! Yah! That is exactly what I was after!
I am still riding at a relatively low cadence as I feel this is easier at the moment but next week would like to increase the time as well as try and do a few intervals of a higher cadence to supplement my training.
Time for a good stretch of those tired muscles!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Limited movement Power Cranks

This was my third and longest ride on the LM PC's. I went at least 80 miles in 5h and 22m and did two very long climbs(one 10 miles and one 6 miles) that varied between 6 percent grade up to about 10 percent grade with short stretches of 11-15 percent at times. I am finding that I can keep the click/clack to a minimum as long as I am in the proper gear. For me that is usually a lower cadence of about 60 but will know for sure when I get my cadence sensor for my new bike computer. Uphill is generally much better for keeping the click/clacking to a minimum and I usually get the feedback when going fast down hill or accelerating fast uphill. I am going to ride these cranks on the White Mt. Double Century on Sat, 26 Sept. even though they are killing my hip flexors. Currently I have about 130 miles on these cranks between three rides. Soon, I will be using both traditional PC's and LM PC's on back to back rides.

Alex Roberson

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Session number 2!

Yesterday was session number 2 using the power cranks and I was able to reach my target of 30 minutes on the trainer after only lasting 10min on Monday. I found that by increasing the resistance it made it a little bit easier to keep the momentum going and avoid my horrible single leg cycling action that was happening earlier.
I definitely under estimated what it would be like to use them and I am fascinated reading other peoples blogs and how much they use them. I will have to build up to that over time, but this week plan on sticking to the 4 x 30 minute sessions on alternate cycling days.
My quads get tired from the pushing action, but you are forced more than usual to actually "pull" so the hamstrings get a descent work out, like they would if your were running. It is muscular fatigue more than anything the I feel.
In my situation, yes, it would be fantastic to see improvements in my cycling, but my sole purpose is to assist my running, or the lack off, due to injury. I am using the power cranks on my alternate run days to continue to work those muscle with out the pounding of road running.
Tomorrow I will use them again for session number 3 and hopefully again see some slight improvements in my efficiency more than anything else, which in the end will allow me to use them for longer.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ouch! That was tough!

After not being able to complete Ironman Canada recently it was time to make some changes! I have unfortunately suffered from the dreaded stress fracture my fair share over the last year and was looking for another way of working those running muscles other than water running, x-trainer, you name it, I have tried it! What was going to work!!
After talking to a number of athletes who have used power cranks and my doctor I determined this may be the saviour I am looking for!
Not only to help improve my cycling, but aid in making me a more efficient runner and prevent that excess pounding when it seems at this point in time my body can't take it!
The truth is I have nothing to lose so why not!
So here I am day one, the bike was set up yesterday and today I attempted to ride with them on the trainer, just to be safe!
Oh my gosh! What a work out!
Thank god I had only set myself a target of 10 minutes!
I could feel muscles working that I never normally feel when I am cycling and I had built up a sweat after only 5 minutes.
This is going to be tough!
My plan is to use them on alternate days to when I am running and slowly build up the time.
It will be interesting to see how the legs feel tomorrow but it is obvious I have a lot of work to do on my pedal efficiency.
I am looking forward to the challenge!

Friday, September 11, 2009

77.6 miles on standard PC's today

Hi everyone,

I am new to blogging here about Powercranks. I am very exicted about using PC's and have recently gone greater distances than I had previous achieved last year at this time. I actually stopped using them for about 6 months while I was in Texas as I loaned my trainer bike to a friend and removed my PC's when I did it. I only took my "good bike" to Texas and did not install the PC's because I was intimated and was afraid I would not be able to get in the distances I wanted to go while there. I got my trainer bike back last month and put the PC's back on it and rode it frequently. I felt that it was time to do a major ride last month and did a climb with the local group up to the summit of Mt. Lassen in N. California. All told, I rode 73 miles and did at least 6000 feet of climbing on a bike that did not have a front deraileur so my easiest gear was compact 50 chainring paired with a 23 tooth on the rear. Two weeks ago I participated in a 25 mile, 4500 feet of climbing, circuit race with the same 80's Cannondale with a steel fork in the same configuration. I placed 6th out of about 9 or so local club racers.

Today, I did a double hill climb. One was up to Cohasset, East of Chico, Ca, and the other was back up to Paradise, CA where my ride originated. It was approximately 5000 feet of climbing involved for the whole day. I was really able to concentrate on pedal stroke and get up to the top of Cohasset fairly quickly without too much one legged pedaling if any at all. Of course, my climb up Honey Run to Paradise was considerably slower as I was getting very tired and my legs were feeling like jello. I did stop twice momentarliy but kept a fairly steady pace with some one legged pedaling as needed. I achieved a new maximum distance today of 77.6 miles on the PC's Overall, I feel the PC's have helped me tremendously even though I was not using them for six months. I was able to get right back on and ride them fairly comfortably and my current consistancy with them is really beginning to pay off.

Tomorrow, I will be riding hills with the limited movement prototype PC's. I will blog more about that after my ride.

Alex Roberson

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PowerCranks Day 6 (8/19/09)

Heart Rate Data from Day 6 PowerCranks Session on Stationary Bike
Energy System: Aerobic
3 Sets of 2 intervals each (forward and reverse pedaling)

Set #1- Warm up
Duration: 5 min. each Interval (Forward followed by Reverse pedaling)
Resistance: Same as day 2,3,4 and 5
Cadence: 60 rpm
Recovery: Passive (Seated)

Set #2- Steady High Cadence
Duration: 5 min each Interval (Forward followed by Reverse pedaling)
Resistance: Same " "
Cadence: 100 rpm
Recovery: Passive (seated)

Set #3- Descending High Cadence
Duration: 12 min. each Macro Interval (Forward followed by Reverse pedaling)
Resistance: Same " "
Cadence: 120 rpm descending 10rpm each minute with 1minute active recovery at 60 rpm between each Micro interval. 120-60, 110-60, 100-60,90-60,80-60,70-60
Recovery: 60 rpm Active
Goal:(Training the aerobic system to recover from accelerations)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

PowerCranks Day 5 (8/18/09)

Pre-fatigue session on an Expresso Bike
3 high wattage sets of 3minutes or less each:
Work duration: 6 minutes
Wattage Avg: approximately 350

PowerCrank Session:

Forward Single Leg independent intervals on Stationary Bike with PowerCranks
Duration: 2 minutes each leg, for 4 sets each. Total of 8 sets over 16 minutes
Resistance: Same as Day 2,3 and 4
Cadence: 50
Recovery Phase: 3 minutes seated

Reverse Single Leg independent intervals on Stationary Bike with PowerCranks.
Duration: Same as Forward
Resistance: Same as Forward
Cadence: 50
Recovery Phase: Same

Forward PowerCranking on Stationary bike
Duration: 10 minutes
Resistance: Same
Cadence: 90
Recovery Phase: 5 minutes seated

Reverse PowerCranking on Stationary Bike
Duration: 10 minutes
Resistance: Same
Cadence 90
Recovery Phase: 5 minutes


Monday, August 17, 2009

Joe Cardio

Hi I'm Joe Keener aka "JoeCardio". I have been using PowerCranks since Jan. of 2007. I have been collecting/downloading/observing heart rates since 2001. I have been given the opportunity to share my current data and observations on this blog and for that I am grateful. I just stated my fall training season and I am reintegrating PowerCranks into my daily program. I will be posting the data from my daily workouts for others to observe and comment on.

Thank you,

PowerCranks Day 1 (8/13/09)

Training Device: Stationary Bikes fitted with PowerCranks.

Bike #1 Forward independent Pedaling
Duration: 10 minutes
Cadence: 90

Heart Rate Reactions: 145 Max Hr./ 129 Avg. Hr./ 1minute recovery average-125 bpm, 2mra-93, 3mra-80

Bike #2 Reverse independent Pedaling
Duration: 10 minutes
Cadence: 90

Heart Rate Reactions: 142 Max/ 131 Avg. 1mra-129, 2mra-94, 3mra-83

Note*1mra=1 minute recovery average heart rate

PowerCranks Day 2 (8/14/09)

Training Device: Stationary Bikes fitted with PowerCranks.

Bike #1 Forward independent Pedaling
Duration: 12 minutes
Cadence: 90

Heart Rate Reactions: 156 Max Hr./ 139 Avg. Hr./ 1minute recovery average-130 bpm, 2mra-99, 3mra-90

Bike #2 Reverse independent Pedaling
Duration: 12 minutes
Cadence: 90

Heart Rate Reactions: 163 Max/ 150 Avg. 1mra-139, 2mra-106, 3mra-96

PowerCranks Day 3 (8/15/09)

Training Device: Stationary Bikes fitted with PowerCranks. and an Expresso Bike with conventional crank arms.

Expresso Bike
: Stormy Hollow Course - Followed my personal Best Ghost for 1/2 the course.
Duration 10 minutes
Avg Watts: 283
Cadence: 100 rpm (estimate)

Bike #1 Forward independent Pedaling
(same tension as day 2)
Duration: 15 minutes
Cadence: 90

Heart Rate Reactions: 162 Max Hr./ 154 Avg. Hr./ 1mra-140, 2mra-118, 3mra-105, 4mra-100, 5mra-95

Bike #2 Reverse independent Pedaling (same tension as day 2)
Duration: 15 minutes
Cadence: 90

Heart Rate Reactions: 158 Max/ 149 Avg. 1mra-135, 2mra-113, 3mra-103, 4mra-97, 5mra-93

(8/16/09) Sunday-Rest Day

PowerCranks Day 4 (8/17/09)
Training Device: Stationary Bikes fitted with PowerCranks. and an Expresso Bike with conventional crank arms.

Expresso Bike
: Coastal Run Course - Followed my personal Best Ghost for 1/2 the course.
Duration 5 minutes
Avg Watts: 310
Cadence: 80 rpm (estimate)

Bike #1 Forward independent Pedaling
(same tension as day 2 & 3)
Duration: 15 minutes
Cadence: 70

Heart Rate Reactions: 142 Max. Hr./ 136 Avg Hr. 1mra-125, 2mra-101, 3mra-92

Bike #2 Reverse independent Pedaling (same tension as day 2 & 3)
Duration: 15 minutes
Cadence: 70

Heart Rate Reactions: 140 Max. Hr./ 134 Avg Hr. 1mra-113, 2mra-87, 3mra-87

Note*1mra=1 minute recovery average heart rate

Monday, July 13, 2009

Boulder Peak Triathlon Race Report 2009

For the past 24 hours I've been trying to think about what I would tell my athletes if they had a race like I did at Boulder Peak and how they should react. After taking 8 months off from training, I found myself slow, out of shape, and overweight. Over the last 6 months I've worked hard at dropping the fat, adding muscle and getting my fitness back. I also told myself not to have any pressure on race goals this season. Of course that's complete BS b/c we always want to do our best and when we don't it's disappointing. My goals coming into BPT, and these are stretch goals - but a sub 2:20 race and a top 10 in the AG. I looked at the start list and trust me, I know who wasn't there. There are at least 4 guys I can think of off the top of my head that typically race this race and have gone to Kona, who weren't signed up. I knew the opportunity for a Top 10 was out there. It would take good execution on my part and maybe a 10k run that was a little better than my fitness indicated.

The swim: I started to the left of Dave Sheanin, who I knew would be in the lead pack. But, as it played out at Pelican Fest, he went out slower than me, and I had to look for another set of feet. The guy on my left took off and I jumped on his hip and he pulled me up to Dave's group, which came by a short time later. I only stayed on about 200m before backing off and swimming on my own. I had a train of people on my feet that I unsuccessfully tried to ditch time and again. The first turn buoy was tough to see and I did breast stroke twice to see where the heck I was going. Once I could see the tip of the triangular buoy I was good to go. I made the turn and sighting was easy from here on out. Once I got to the next turn buoy and looked to see how far the last turn buoy was, I knew the swim was long - oh well - that's to my advantage anyway so just keep plugging away. I swam as straight as possible and I made it to the buoy in no time. Once I made the final turn to the finish, I was moving pretty good and I finally ditched those guys on my feet. :) I think maybe one guy in my AG passed me on the swim but that was it. I was out of the water in 7th place in a time of 26:41.

I sprinted up the hill and into T1 -I did see Craig Wilson briefly but he he didn't see me. I got out of T1 quickly and my goal was to get to the top of Olde Stage as fast as I could and if I could make it to the top of Olde Stage without anyone in my AG passing me, I knew that I had a good chance of holding them off until late in the run. I worked the bike hard on the lead up to Olde Stage and I was feeling good. The hills were coming easy, I was staying down on the bars and no one in my AG has passed me yet. Once I crested the top I used the aero dynamics to my advantage and flew down Left Hand, up 36 very quickly and then ripped it down Nelson. At the bottom of Nelson was looking for places to rest and knew this was not a good sign. The hills were still coming easy as I was spinning up them, but my legs knew they were working. I had probably gone too hard at the beginning of the bike, and sometimes it's ok to take chances, and this was definitely one of those times. In order to reach a stretch goal, you have to stretch yourself.

The turn onto the Diagonal Highway was tight with the cones about 2 feet from the edge of the road, but I made it through there without crashing. I was looking forward to the run and seeing what I had left in my legs. Once again the turn onto Jay and then 51st was a demonstration in bike handling skills - but I safely navigated this once again and cruised back to the Res. I swam without a watch, biked without a watch, power meter, HRM, mph etc - I was free of all technology which was a good feeling. I was into the Res in no time cresting that last little bugger of a hill. I always look for signs that my legs are tired, like a lot of lactic acid building up when I stand. This wasn't the case, but my hip flexors were tight - and I knew this might be a problem on the run. My bike time ended up at 1:11:34, good enough for 14th AG and 21.8 mph.

I dismounted quickly and was out onto the run course in 45 seconds. I took the first hill easy and settled into a pace I thought I could maintain until 5k and then the plan was to pick it up. About 1.5 miles in, my legs had other ideas and they just didn't want to move. I wasn't breathing hard, but mentally and physically, I didn't have it. On some days, this is still good enough to reach your goals, but on this day, it wasn't. I chugged along, promising myself I would pick it up at the next aid station, the next hill, the next whatever, but in fact I probably slowed down. I was running a comfortable pace but I just didn't have the energy or ability to run faster than my current HIM Pace.

The last 1/2 mile I was just cruising, looking forward to stopping (!) - really that's all I wanted. Down the hill with 500m to go and two guys in my AG go by me. I don't care at this point - I'm in what 20th place (?) - so I just keep up my 'chug along' pace until the line and I am done, thankfully. My run ended up at 45:05. 7:15 pace and 19th in my AG. A total time of 2:24:54, easily my slowest BPT.

Looking at the results later I see that I am 12th in my AG, and a mere 12 seconds from 10th place. Apparently I was in 10th place coming into the last 1/2 mile, so, I guess letting off the gas wasn't such a good idea. What a knucklehead I am. Oh well. I ended up 70th overall, which may be my best placing at BPT. I know when I was 80th overall in 1999, when I was under 2:15, so either the course is getting longer, I am getting slower, or the competition was a little weak this year. Maybe a combination of all three? ;-)

Lessons learned:
1. Swimming straight is underrated! By swimming straight you can have a pretty good swim time relative to others.
2. Biking too hard is going to hurt your run more than you think, especially when your run fitness isn't what you want it to be.
3. Transitions in Oly and Sprint races MATTER! I had decent transitions (1:37 combined) and I know that helped my race placing.
4. Don't assume you are having a bad race ever. Keep the pedal to the metal and go hard until the finish.
5. If you miss your race goal be a few seconds, and you are really ticked off then do what I did: Take a nap, and then go ride your bike for an hour in a thunderstorm. You'll feel better when you get back!

Why I love triathlon and I am happy to be racing again in 2009:
You ALWAYS learn something new, every season, every race!

Onto the 5430 LC and maybe another HIM this year - I am not letting Sheanin off the hook that easy - I need him to get to 100% again so we can have a fair race :) - so maybe I'll race the Harvest Moon. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Races and more races!

The last few weeks have been great in terms of weather in CO - it's been hot or it's been in the 70s - no real middle ground, but that's great for training if you can line it up so your hard workouts are during the cooler weather and your longer workouts are during the hotter weather.

After KS 70.3 I took some time to recover and absorb the race - my run legs came around quick, and my swimming has maintained but the bike legs have been a bit of a mystery. I can ride at threshold (240w) without breaking a sweat, but I can't get my legs to go faster - weird. Two weeks after KS I raced the Cheyenne Sprint in WY - the objective for this race was to 'blow myself up' - yeah - you read that correctly. :) My coach, Danny Suter, asked me a week before the race: "Have you ever blown up in a race?" My reply: "Nope, not really." Danny's reply was, "Well we need to find your limits!" Ugh, ok. Well I will give it my best! Danny told me to go so hard during the race that I want to go to sleep when the race ended. I think that's how I felt at mile 1 of the run, but I digress. The sprint was 600 swim, 12m bike, 5k run. I took the swim out hard, actually very hard, and maintained this effort until I stood up. I could barely run to T1. Oops, might have overdone it already! Cheyenne is located at 6200 feet - maybe not a big deal for most non-mortals coming from Boulder, but for me it might as well been 9500 feet. So, I staggered into T1, got my wettie off, and proceeded to crush myself on the bike. I stayed aero, kept the chain in the big ring, and went as hard as I possibly could. I didn't look at the clock, watts or anything else. I just went hard. I got passed by one guy- the guy who won the race - he started behind me and I thought I was having a great bike split until I had to look at the avg power in the final mile of the bike: 238 watts. WTF! It felt like 275. I was at a higher altitude so maybe that was a factor? I think so. :) Off the bike I go and onto the run - I am running hard, as hard as I can. First mile feels fast - 6:25 fast - maybe 6:20. I look at my watch 6:50! WTF again. Next mile I have a guy on my heels, he sounds fast, he's light - he wants to pass. I don't let him. I keep him at bay until 2.5 miles. Once he passes I push to keep him in sight. I do. I hit the 3 mile mark and he's still just ahead of me - but he's too far out of reach and he beats me to the tape and nabs 3rd overall (he started behind me too). So, my bike and run stunk - I was probably still tired, but I definitely went as hard as I could. I ended up 8th overall, and won my AG by 4-5 minutes. It was a small race. Don't get me wrong, it feels good anytime you win your AG, but when you don't perform up to your own standards, it's not easy to swallow.

Fast forward to July 4th in Crested Butte (CB). CO. I am on my way up to the town of Gothic (elevation of 9500 feet) on a school bus with 50 other runners - there are about 6 buses in all and we are all going to run the Gothic to CB 8.7m mini-marathon. I get to the start and see some friends from Boulder who are also running - they are all studs, having biked for hours on their mountian bikes. One of my friends, Cathy, even ran UP to the race start - 5 miles uphill! She is training for IMC and I'm sure she'll kill it this year.

The race course rolls for about 3 miles, plummets down for a bit, has a few rollers and then finishes on a slight uphill for the last mile. it starts at 9600 feet and ends at 8500 feet. I ran this race once before back in 2002 - I had biked 7 days across CO that year - and I was pretty trashed but still managed a top 10 overall. We'll see what this race brings today. The gun goes off and I slide over to the left where there is a huge gap and I go. I am running fast and I ignore my Garmin, my HR, and other runners. I take the hills super easy, work the downhill and flat sections and maintain effort, not wanting to spike my HR. Once we hit the downhill I am just going flat out as fast I can can. I go through 4 miles in 29:00, right on 7:15 pace. 'Not bad' I think and I keep it rolling. After mile 4 we hit the bike path which is a biatch and there is no other way to say it. It's all cement, it's steep, it's down, it's back up, it's twisty and it's anything but easy. At about 7 miles, I get passed by two females, one of who I had passed in the beginning of the race. They go by me pretty strong, but I decide to hang on, and just push the effort up a notch. We hit the 8 mile mark and now we are back in town on the streets - thankfully. Solid, straight ground. I push hard to stay with the two women and as we turn the last corner about 200m from the finish, I pass one of the girls and work hard to catch the 2nd girl. I am pushing to my absolute max, but just couldn't get her. She beats me by about 4 secs. Ugh. Overall, I end up 20th and my time is 1:01:47 - 7:02 pace. Once I get home, I look up my 2002 time - oy - 58:40 and 6:40 pace. Looks like I have some work to do! After the race I am sore for days and days. I swim, bike and I run very easy to loosen up. Finally a good whirlpool and massage make me feel normal again. So...

On the 9th of July, I jump into the Boulder Stroke and Stride race - 750m swim / 5k run. My only objective is to correct my swim navigation problems that plagued me at the KS and WY races. I do a short swim warm up since I won't be running hard tonight - my plan is to cap the HR at 140. The gun goes off and I start out fast, pull up next to a guy, get on his hip and then he falls off pace. I push on, sighting, pulling, staying on course and working my way through the wave of swimmers in front of me. Finally I break free of the crowd at the 2nd turn buoy and head back to shore - except - except I cant' see anything! The run has pretty much made everything one big bright glare frosted donut - ugh. I swim in the general vicinity of the finish and eventually I can make out an orange flag on the beach. Phew I am on course. :) I stand up and look at my watch - 12:31 WTF? - I figure I am top 10 out of the water -I walk up to transition - and take off my wettie and put on my shoes and Garmin - it turns out I am in about 3rd or 4th place. I start the run easy - my HRM says my HR is 154, so I back it off. I run easy to the top of the hill and then focus on keeping the HR down, under 140. I can tell 140 isn't going to happen so my goal is 150 - that's 10-12 beats below LT and keep it there. This takes discipline, especially as people pass me on the run. Ugh. I go through mile 1 at 7:22 and half way in 11:27. I keep the HR in check and end up running 23:19 overall - avg HR 152 (right on the money!) and I end up 8th overall. I did a 2 mile cool down with Melissa, ate some pizza and went home. Good day of training.

Up NEXT: Boulder Peak Triathlon - July 12th

After that: 5430LC and then some time to get back on the Power Cranks and more running.

Thanks to all my supporters:
Craig at Max Muscle Boulder, Danny Suter at BPN, and Infinit Nutrition!

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kansas 70.3 Race Report 2009

Kansas 70.3 Race Report

The Kansas 70.3 Half Ironman marked my first long distance race since August 2007, when I had raced at the 5430 Long Course. I took eight months off from swimming and cycling from April 2008 to January 1st 2009. I probably ran about 20 miles a week for a few months, but then going some months with no training whatsoever. I was trying to get healed from a bike/car accident in March 2008, and hopefully I am close to 100% at this point. I still have some reminders of the accident, like a stiff back every couple days, but for the most part I feel as good as a 40+ year old male can. Or should I say a 40+ year old male who chases a soon to be 2 year old around on a daily basis. This activity wears me out more than training ever will. ;-)

Going into this Half Ironman I was being conservative in my estimate of my expectations, and honestly, I had no idea what to expect! My swimming had been going well, but I had only done a handful of hard workouts. My running was going well, but I was averaging about 20 miles a week of running, so really, I had no idea what I could run. The bike miles have been pathetic and I changed up how I trained over the winter to see if I could offset the lack of training. This past winter I added in some power crank workouts on the bike, Tabata Intervals, and dead lifts. I don’t know if any one thing made a difference but something allowed me to bike post a decent bike split with limited cycling mileage. Since Jan 1st my averages were as follows: 8 hours per week of training broken down into 5300 swim yards per week, 49 miles per week on the bike, and 20 miles per week on the run. I also average 1 hour per week for weight training. This was going to be interesting indeed.

Race morning was pretty normal but I did wake up with a different attitude than I went to bed with. Of course the pre-race meal of pizza, coke and ice cream helped me load up calorie wise and enjoying dinner with Grant, Matt, Nick, Ashley and Todd made me very relaxed.
Per usual I was into and out of T1 early. I had the pleasure of having 5-time World Champion Simon Lessing zip up my wetsuit. How cool was that? When our wave was called I moved out to the start line and lined up with the inside buoys. When the gun went off I took off easy and was 3rd in my AG to the first buoy, but I soon swam to the right and was off course. This was a problem I would repeat over and over. UGH. I don’t start my watch on the swim anymore – it just doesn’t matter and it causes way too much stress. I swam what I swam and why worry about it. I was out of T2 quickly, held up briefly by the 45 year old who wanted to walk his bike in front of me, when I kept shouting, ‘Can I get by? Please move – can I get buy?’ – but to no avail. Of course the same fellow hammered up the first hill and once we go to the top, blew to smithereens. Red lining the first few minutes of a 56 mile bike isn’t actually optimal. :-)

Surprisingly, the bike went real well for me on race day. In the 10 days leading up to the race I did 3 x 3+ hour rides to get a little aerobic boost. I wasn’t lacking for endurance at all which was a good sign. I ended all those rides at 18.5 mph and around 185 watts. I figured on race day a 2:55 was possible. What changed was that when I woke up at 2am on Sunday morning I asked myself why I thought I was going to ride 2:55 when I had ridden all the hard courses out there and 2:42 was probably my norm. I’ve had a few low 2:30s and even one 2:29, but worst case scenario should be 2:42 for me. I knew that was 21mph or so. So, I rode by feel. I watched my watts and even kept them down on the uphills, but at 45 minutes into the race I was still averaging right at my threshold (253 NP), which was a bit unsettling. My goal going into the race was to ride at about 200-210 watts! I thought I was going to blow up after 40 miles but I felt good and kept on keeping on. I kept the watts around 220 for the remainder of the ride and it turns out I averaged 218 NP for the final 1:51 (38 miles)- right on track. At 35 miles I even decided to push a little harder to see if I could hold the watts above 220 for my overall average. I ended the ride passing and re-passing a few people I know and even came into T2 pretty mellow: small chain ring, lots of spinning and thinking about a quick transition and being light on my feet for the run. My total bike time was 2:42:34 and my watts were 229NP. I had to take a quick potty stop in T2, but I was out and onto the run course in 1:47.

Once on the run, I had Ashley Walker (one of our CU Tri Team Members) as a carrot and Amy Kuitse (one of the D3 coaches) ahead of her. I passed Amy around mile 1 and we started chatting and we were pushing each other a tad too hard as we went through 2 miles at 6:45 pace (!). Yikes – I just ran a 5k off the bike two weeks ago at 6:38 pace. So, I backed off, Amy backed off and Ashley kept on trucking. I left Amy at about mile 4 and I went through 5 miles in 36:00 (7:12 pace). I picked up the pace slightly and re-passed Ashley at mile 6 or so, went through 10 miles in 1:11:20 or 35:00 for the 2nd 5 miles (around 7:09 pace overall). The last 5k is where I like to put down the hurt and that is what I tried to do. But my watch was telling me different. I was tying up quite a bit – not leaning, not pushing off my back foot, but trying to pick up my leg – I was all over the place form wise. So, I just focused on my breathing and going as hard as I could. With 1.5 miles to go we hit our last turn-around. I looked for Amy and didn’t see her. Uh-oh, what happened to her? Well, not soon after I thought that, I heard a sweet voice in my left ear say, ‘Come one Mike, keep working, good job, keep going’ – yep – it was Amy – going by me like I was standing still. I kept her in sight as best I could, but there was no catching her. She went on to finish 3rd in her AG – even with the recent knee problems she’s had. Congrats Amy! You are so incredibly tough! I struggled the last mile, pushing hard for a 1:35 run split that was once in the bag – but it wasn’t to be. I ended up at 1:37:31 or 7:26 pace. I crossed the finish line and just took a moment to breathe in the finish line – all the pain I went through to get there – the physical and mental struggles of the past year – how I wasn’t sure I had the desire to race anymore , or even if I liked training at all.

I can tell you without question the encouragement I got from Amy, Ashley, the CU crew at mile 4, Owen Hammond (1:22 run split!), Gabe, Jordan, Drew (4:40 as 19 year old!), Grant, Matt (2:29 bike split!), David, Lyndsey, Ray, and many others, it was really FUN to be racing again. I missed it and I can’t wait to do it again!

Although triathlon is an individual sport, it’s been about T-E-A-M for me in so many ways these past 8 months. The CU Tri Team, which I have the privilege of coaching, has inspired me to get my butt back in shape. Thank YOU TEAM! Special 'Thanks' to Dan and Jordan for asking me to coach the Team. Thanks to Mel and Hope for supporting me in every way possible. Thanks to Michael Folan at Infinit – their product is 2nd to none. Craig at Boulder Max Muscle has helped me fine tune my nutrition and its getting better each week. Thanks Craig! Danny Suter at Boulder Performance Net has taught me how to deadlift – and I have every reason to believe that my strength on the bike Sunday is a direct result of the thousands of dead lifts I did over the fall and winter. Danny pushed me to a new pain threshold each week and to that I am grateful. Danny also keeps me from doing stupid things. Thanks Danny!

Keep On Fighting the Good Fight!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Power Cranking up the Watts

Since my last post, I've traveled a bit and have missed some training time, so I've made the most of what time I've had. I got one 3 hour ride in, right before I completely blew to pieces the next day where a 25 minute run and 30 minutes PC session just about killed me. This was the week of Collegiate Nationals and it was going to be an easy week anyway - too much travel (10 hour drive each day) and work to be done. We did pretty well at Nats by the way: - I did end up with a head cold from lack of rest and a cold swim in 52F degree water. So, my taper into St Anthony's wasn't really taper. I had a pretty solid day on Wednesday with a 2 hour ride, lifting session and 5x3' LT efforts on the run. The week after St. A's was a solid one and I started to feel more like myself. On Thursday I dared to TT the intimidating Olde Stage Road - time was 11:47 with a Normalized Power of 284 watts. So, even though it was only 11+ minutes, I saw this as a step in the right direction. Saturday was a solid ride, and even though it was in the rain, I pushed some decent watts - I think my best 60 minutes somewhere around 200+ watts. Not back to the old levels, but far from the 170s of the last few months. Sunday was a 2 hour run, and that seemed to go well. On Monday and Wednesday, I was wiped out. Tuesday was a ride with CU Tri Team that was 2x20' at Zone 3 effort. I managed 220 watts and 216 watts for these two efforts. I thought it was pretty easy and felt encouraged. On Thursday, I attempted the BTC TT and that went 'ok' - I averaged 268 watts over 18+ minutes on a rolling course. The important piece was that I raced the entire TT on the aerobars, in the big ring, and my time may have suffered, but I know I got stronger from this effort. Friday was a swim, that as much as I tried, I couldn't break 4:30 for my 300s - usually a lay up for me. I knew I was tired, but until I tried my run intervals on Saturday morning, I didn't know just how tired I was! I could NOT get my HR up, and it took a lot of effort to go 4:00 for my 1k repeats. So, after 5 reps, I ran home and called it a day. On Sunday I ran 90' and it was a real struggle - my legs were tired, but my mind was just not into it. Monday I rode 2 hours - up and over the backside of Lee Hill Road - again, nothing really in the tank and I called it good before I even got home! I stopped at Proto's Pizza - ordered up a Medium Pontiff and ate the entire thing in about 6 minutes. I got back on my bike and coasted home. Well, that's where I am with training. This week (5/14) I am in Costa Rica - trying to learn to surf! I am having fun, taking a break from training and learning something new!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Observations from Months of PowerCranking

I have been riding the Powercranks exclusively since around October of 2008. This means that I have only been training on the PC's - no locked out cranks. I have put in some big rides (over 90 miles), some 25 mph+ group rides, and some 250+ mile weeks on the cranks. I am telling you this partially just to brag, but, mostly, to qualify the advice that I am going to write in this post

I realize there's a ton of message board debate about the Powercranks. In my opinion, all internet debaters would be best served to get off the internet and get on the bike. Try biking consistent 250 mile weeks on the Powercranks before you pontificate on their effectiveness.
I normally like to provide a lot of details and reasons for my advice (see my blog at However, in this post I will provide just a few reasons to support my mostly undocumented advice and experience on the Powercranks.

1) The PowerCranks will help you fine tune your bike fit.

The process of relearning the circular pedal stroke made me move my seat forward and down a few milimeters. I had a finely tuned fit before the cranks (I have a custom Spectrum road bike), the crank changed my pedal stroke for the better which made me alter the fit.

2) Powercranks will make your butt stronger than ever.

The PowerCranks force you to use you butt when you pedal. Even though I am down in weight and my waist is smaller than it was in October 2008, in May 2009 my pants are tighter. This is because my ass is visibly bigger.

3) Biking uphill on the Powercranks is easier than biking uphill on regular cranks.

I have no reason or data to support this claim. All I know is my Rate of Percieved Exertion on a climb is lower when I am riding the Powercranks than when I am riding regular cranks.

4) PowerCranks make you feel like a bigshot.

It is a great feeling to pass people when riding the cranks. They feel demoralized when they realize that you passed them while essential biking one-legged.

5) PowerCranks will improve your running.

I dropped 2 minutes between 2008 and 2009 on my 5K time. In 2008 I was running around 30 miles/week, and in 2009 I have been running about 5 miles/week. Based on pictures and based on my feel, I have a much higher kick with my heels now, and I also have better running posture/lean.

6) You need to hug the tup tubes with your knees

I see pros cycle this way all the time...

The only way for me to cycle effectively and pain-free with the powercranks is to hug the top tube with my knees.

7) It's All Tears by H.I.M is a frickin' awesome song.

This doesn't have anything to do with PowerCranks, but the song rocks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

First Ride on PowerCranks

First ride on the PowerCranks today. I installed the PowerCranks on my tri-bike as I am doing a lot of riding on my road bike. My idea is to get good riding the PC's in the aero position. Little did I know that PC recommends keeping a more open hip angle when you are first learning to ride them.

Photo: The set-up.

PowerCranks are independent drive cranks. It is like doing 1-leg drills with both legs at the same time. The idea is to present the down-stroke leg from helping out the recovery leg. I tell you my recovery leg has been getting some help in the past!

Photo: Riding PowerCranks in the aerobars. I was only able to ride about 1 minute in the aerobars at a time. The manual recommends working with low cadence and open hip angle first, then moving towards higher cadence and aeroposition later.

Video: First few moments on the PowerCranks.

You will notice in this first video that even though I am pedalling and moving, my timing is clearly off. I think that timing has a lot to do with riding these crazy things successfully.

Video: Getting a little better.

I have heard that many riders cannot ride for more than 5-10 minutes on PowerCranks for the first time. So I decided to go for a 1+ hour ride. I went out for a very beautiful ride in the Nashville Riverbend area with my fiance Susan. She took the above videos.

Photo: Lovely fiance Susan.

She also put up with my complaining by the end of the ride about how tired I was. Yes it was true, but the end of this ride I was pretty much cashed. Aerobically I was still fine, but my legs were hurting. That makes sense, because I am trying to improve my neuromuscular pattern and efficiency using PowerCranks.

Photo: My face by the end of the ride.

Addendum: As I finish this post I have just received a massage. My hip flexors are tired. I am looking forward to more and will report it here.

Stephen Taylor
Endurance Coach and Fitness Trainer
Nashville, TN

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Boggs 8 hour race report

So, I know my race reports are a little different than the detailed training reports that a lot of authors post here, but isn't the result of PowerCrank training worth mentioning too?

As has become my custom, I trained nearly exclusively on PowerCranks two weeks prior to the race and tapered off and re-integrated my normal bike on the week of the race. Training on the cranks includes hills... lots and lots of hills. This is fantastic training because it gives me the opportunity to spin a fast cadence up the climbs and to push a big gear with a slow cadence going back down.

Here's the race report from another Blog. For those of you not interested in the details, here are the important points: 8 hour mountain bike race, 9-10 lap, 90% singletrack, 1300ft elevation per lap, I rode 11 laps, I won the Pro class and set a course record. For more details, read on...

Last week was a whirlwind of road trips, familiar faces, beuatiful weather, and dang good mountain bike racing! I loaded the car up on tuesday night with bikes, food, tons of clothing, extra helmets, shoes, lights, this, that, the other thing, blah blah blah… You all know the routine. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it when it comes to bike racing.
So, after my ride on Wednesday, Alicia (my girlfriend) and I started on our voyage toward Sacramento. The War Wagon (my 1993 Subaru Legacy Wagon) flew up I-5 for the next 8 hours and brought us safely to Fair Oaks for some Adalberto’s burritos and a good night’s sleep at my mom’s new house. Thursday was all about getting the bikes set up and ready for Saturday’s race. New bikes are wonderful, but they always need some tweaking before the first race. It was super cool to go ride the road bike in the stomping grounds around Folsom for a few hours on Thursday, made me miss Norcal something terrible!
After hanging out Friday morning we contemplated staying in Nevada City that night and driving to the race first thing on Saturday morning. However, after realizing that it was roughly a 3 hour drive we decided camping at the race Friday night was the best bet and we left for the race around 6:30pm. Nothing like setting up camp in the dark! Thankfully my tent is so simple that a trained monkey could put it together… So I only had a little trouble with it. Ha ha ha.
Race morning came too fast and the start came even quikcer. I was runnin late putting all of my ducks in a row and I rolled up to the start line about 25 seconds before Carlos said “GO!”. Who needs a warm up at an 8 hour race? I kept the leaders in my sights for the first few miles, I had told myself that I didn’t want to go out too quickly and blow up. Without a warm up of any kind, I didn’t want to push too hard to keep at the very front of the pack this early on, but by the end of the first lap, I found myself in the lead group of 4 with fellow Sobe/Cannondale (now Cannondale Factory) rider Kevin Smallman, and two very fast (like, really very fast) riders from Content Works, Matt Chaney and Jim Hewitt. I’ve raced against Matt a bunch of times, usually in the single speed class at various events. I don’t think I’ve ever raced head to head with Jim before this, he’s usually winning a different class (gears) while I’m pushing my SS around the course. The same goes for Kevin, I’ve been at events with him before, but never really raced with him. I knew that all three of them were extremely good riders and with 8 hours to race, other fast guys could certainly emerge from the pack of riders behind us. It’s tough to tell how things will turn out after only 45 minutes of racing!
For the next 3 or 4 laps I was unable to really get a gap on the other three riders, though I wasn’t trying to sprint away. I would pick up a little time on the climbs and they’d pick me back up on the descents… Gotta put more time in on the MTB! At the start of the third lap, Kevin took a spill and had some technical problems as a result which is a darn shame because he was riding really well and I think it may have turned into a friendly slug fest towards the end of the race. Then, not too long after that; maybe lap 4 or 5, Matt and Jim just sort of weren’t there anymore. I fully expected them to come back on some descending sections and by the end of the lap, I was still alone.
I didn’t see this as an opportunity to ease up on the pace, I just kept pushing. I actually wasn’t feeling that great at some point in the race. I can’t remember which lap it was, but it was relatively early and I felt as though I was starting to lose my rhythm. A nice PB&J burritio took care of that though and I was racing with a purpose once more. I was getting the gap times as I came through the pits and I wasn’t putting substantial time into my opponents which was understandable as my opponents are super fast and experienced racers. I’ll admit that I was a little worried at points that if I got to the end of the race with only a few minutes on the next guy, he still might be able to pull me back on the last lap or two…
Then, I asked for the gap on what must have been lap eight or so and suddenly my advantage was 20 minutes! I was suprised to hear such good news, and I didn’t trust it. Once again, I didn’t see this as an opportunity to slow up at all, I just kept pushing in case there had been a mistake and my opponents were really nipping at my heals. Everything was beginning to hurt now, but this was the point in the race where I could start counting down laps and reminding myself that I only had to grunt up this or that climb 3 more times, then two more times, and so on.
I kept grunting up those climbs and eating PB&J burritos until I could finally say to myself, “this is the last time you have to go up this hill!” My pit had confirmed the gap at half an hour as I started out on my last lap. I wasn’t quite sure how to approach the lap. Sure, now I could probably relax a little and take some time to enjoy the lap, but I still didn’t feel comfortable in letting my gaurd down just in case one of the other guys got some sort of second wind. I also wasn’t completely sure how the grace period worked at this race. There’s nearly always a grace period after the actual 8 hr (or 12, or 24) for you to complete your last lap and I’d heard that this race gave us a full hour to finish up. That meant that laps had to be completed by 5:30 instead of 4:30. This worried me because I was probably going to finish up not too long after the eight hour mark, but if one of the other guys picked up the pace, they might come in soon enough after that they still had time to go out for another lap before the 5:30 cutoff….
What I failed to realize was that final laps had to be started before 4:30 and finished by 5:30 at the latest. So, since I was going to come in after 4:30, this was absolutely my last lap, and it was certainly everyone else’s last lap as well. I didn’t realize any of this while riding my final lap though, so I kept moving at a decent clip. I wasn’t pushing quite as hard as other laps, but I didn’t want to slack off too much either. I also caught up to Kevin on my final lap and we got to ride together for a few miles once more.
I came down the final descent unsure of whether I’d need to complete another lap. I was relieved to find that I was done and my win was certain. I was super stoked to hear that I had set the course record too! After chatting it up for a few with some Mad Catz and Breakouts, it was time for some civilian clothing and some hot food. There was a huge Sacto/Gold Country showing at this race, I almost felt like we were hanging out after a Prarie City race while we were waiting for awards to go down.
The day was a huge success. Thank you Jim and Alicia for being an awesome pit crew, I didn’t even need to get off my bike the whole race! You guys rock!
11 laps, eight hours and seven minutes. 9 or 10 miles per lap?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Body Fat Update and Power Cranking to Coach Troy

Just a quick update - we are getting buried in snow today so I had a few extra seconds to post a second time this week. I am working with Craig at Max Muscle Boulder and my body fat numbers continue to drop. I went from 15.6 ro 13.6 to 12.6 this week (that original 23% I posted was wrong, thank GOD!). That's a nice improvement for the good guys - I have also put on 7 lbs of muscle since our first assessment on 2/17. I think the dead lifts are helping really burn up some stored fat. I still need to lose about 6# to get to race weight, but I am working hard on the nutrition side as well as the strength training. This week I am going to up the ante by using some Coach Troy videos and the power cranks - I may only last 10 minutes, but I'm willing to give this a shot. One of my athletes who qualified for Kona last year swears by this routine. You know the guy; you give him 5x6' at LT and he goes out and does an hour long Coach Troy video - I guess it worked for him! More important than the improvement on the bike was the improvement on the run! He went from a 3:23 in LP in 07 to a 3:11 at IMCDA in 08. I think power cranks had a LOT to do with that. We'll find out as I try this out for myself. I'll report back next week!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let the Race Season Begin

I am in AZ this weekend - having just raced the Lake Havasu Sprint Triathlon. The CU Tri Team was racing their Regional Championship this weekend, against the likes of New Mexico, ASU, Uof A, BYU, CSU and some other schools. I've been coaching the CU Team since early November and the Team has responded well to the training we've been doing. The Team exceeded my expectations with some incredible race times.

The Men's Team took 1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 11th overall. The Women's Team took 1, 2 and 11th overall. I have to admit, that's a pretty good performance. We won the Men's, Women's and Overall Team Titles. The Team has worked hard over the past few months and they rewarded this weekend with some great racing. I think we had 12 or more first time finishers - and some of them even won AG awards or placed very high for the Team. I think we have a great nucleus for years to come. We have a lot of work to do before Nationals on April 18 but the Team loves to work hard and hasn't shied away from anything I've asked them to do.

Personally, my race went well - I was 4th out of the water in my AG and then went as hard as I could on the bike. The coure was hilly and tried to keep my effort consistent but hard. I got off the bike hoping I could run a decent 5k. The run is definitely a strength course - it starts out with a short jaunt through some beach sand - maybe 200 yards worth, and then run up the 50 or so steps to the London Bridge. I took the run out easy until the top of the steps, then pushed the effort up a few notches, leaving another gear for the return leg. I passed one person in my AG close to the turn around, and then saw two more bearing down on me, so I picked up the pace as best I could on the return leg. I neg split the run by 34 seconds which is about 20 secs a mile. I pushed hard to the finish and was able to catch one younger competitor in the wave ahead of me. I encouraged him to run in with me and we ran shoulder to shoulder until we hit the sand section again and I was able to open a gap up and finish ahead of him by a few seconds. It was great to be racing again after an almost 12 month hiatus. I forgot about how much a Sprint hurts and how much I enjoyed the pain. The last 12 months have been the hardest of my life emotionally and physically but this past month, I've felt as though I've turned the corner.

I am looking forward to the 2009 race season!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Neuromuscular Adaptation and Powercranks

My name is Frey, and I was a blogger on the original powercranks blog at the website. I am transferring some of my older posts to this updated, blogger-version of the powercranks blog. This post was originally published on 11/9/08.

The highlight of the week was a 38 mile ride on the powercranks. I killed this on Sunday, and I felt surprisingly strong! The first few rides on the powercranks, I could barely pedal for 2 straight minutes.

I attribute this rapid increase in powercranking ability to gains in neuromuscular efficiency. Eric Cressey, author of the Maximum Strength Program, describes neuromuscular efficiency as follows,

Neuromuscular efficiency is a broad term that refers to the contribution of brain-muscle communication to strength performance... If you think of the brain's role in muscle contractions as being like that of a drill sargent commanding a platoon of muscle fibers to contract, then this increase in neural drive is like turning up the volume from a whisper to a shout.

The powercrank movement is a completely new activity for me, so the connection between my brain and my powercranking fibers had been weak - my brain had never needed to activate those posterior chain muscles while cycling before. Now that the powercranks force me to use the quads and hamstrings more, my body is getting used to telling those muscles to fire during the pedal stroke. My body is using those muscles more efficiently, so the powercranking is rapidly becoming easier. Gains in neuromuscular efficiency can happen more quickly than gains in muscular strength, and gains in neuromuscular efficiency can happen independent of gains in muscular strength.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tabata and Nutrition

Over the last two weeks I have implemented some Tabata intervals into my program. I have done this workout 3 times over the last 2 weeks so far. The protocol can be found here: -but the general principle is to go as hard as you can for 20 secs, rest 10 secs and repeat 8x. Pure pain at it's best. In 4 minutes, you can really get in a very tough workout. In addition to adding this workout to my schedule, I have also started swimming intervals again - the first time since last March. I took 8 months pretty much off after mid-April last year. Even looking at my paltry 8 hours a week for training, some might consider me still in the off-season. :) The swimming has been going well - I started the first week with 6x100 - 2 on 1:45, 1:40, 1:35. The next week I did 9 on the same send offs, and then I did 6 on 1:40 and 6 on 1:35 in the 3rd week. On week 4 I did 4x100 on 1:35, 4x200 (2 on on 3:20 and 3:15)) and another 4x100 on 1:35. My only goal on these workouts was to keep the pace under 1:30, which I have been able to maintain. Today's main set I decided to step it up to 8x200 (2 on 3:15, 3:10, 3:05, 3:00). I made them all, but barely! I only see upside with my swimming and fitness in general.

I do this workout on Wednesday's and follow that immediately with a super intense weight training session at Functional Fitness with this guy who owns this company. Danny is a great guy and he took a guy like me with no formal weight training experience and has made me SUPER STRONG this winter - I was struggling with 125 lbs on the dead lift before Christmas and now we are up to 235 in my max sets. Maybe this won't translate to being faster, but the numbers I am seeing on my Compu Trainer Step Test and Tabata intervals tells me otherwise.

Typically in February, my Step Test wattage maxes out around 240-250. This winter I was at 300 watts on my last 2 minute step. If that's my starting point for the season, I'll take it. :) I haven't been riding much (under 200 miles for 2008) so once I get the miles rolling I am sure the watts will go up.

Lastly, I have been working with Craig at Max Muscle Boulder. Craig has put a nutrition plan together for me and I am seeing results in only 2 weeks. We did a body fat test two weeks ago - and I am someone who doesn't do well with caliper tests - probably b/c of my thick Italian skin - so I typically score a few points higher than what I do on a hydrostatic test. Well 2 week ago Craig measured me at 15.6% BF. Lean, mean and ready to race I typically sit at 7-8%. So, I was still in 'fat boy who took 8 months off from training' mode. In two weeks, I've lowered my body fat to 13.6% and I've seen better energy for my workouts. The best sign of improvement is when I put on my 'fat boy' jeans and they are starting to fall off me!

This week's goal is keep on the training and to even try the Tabata intervals on the power cranks - with my ultimate goal being able to make it through a Coach Troy DVD on the PCs by April 15th.

Keep on trucking!

New user of Powercranks

Hello everybody,
I am new on the powercranks blog. So I want to write some words about me and the use of powercranks.

I am starting my second season at the pro level with the BMC Racing Team. Powercranks interest me because I have a displasy. My left legs has less power than the other and I hope that the use of powercranks can help me!

I start this new kind of training last november. Most of the time on the trainer. It's certainly easier to improve his ability on the trainer. The 2 first week I trained twice a week (about 30 minutes) with the powercranks. During the rest of the winter I used it at the end of a long training (about 4h) about 40 more minutes! It's very hard when you are getting tired!

This training confirm what I knew! My left legs has some trouble to keep going like the right one!

During the last winter I did a lot of workout in the gym and on the powercranks. After 2 months of using pc I did a new test to compare my 2 legs. The guy who test me was impressed! Almost the same strenght in both legs!

Since January I use the pc less because I had of lot of training camp in other countries. But when I am at home I am still training with the powercranks!

In the future I will try to train with the powercranks outside...when the weather will be a bite's still not the case in Switzerland!!!

Good season for everybody
Steve Bovay, BMC Racing Team

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Benefits of Powercranks for Weightlifters

My name is Frey, and I was a blogger on the original powercranks blog at the website. I am transferring some of my older posts to this updated, blogger-version of the powercranks blog. This post was originally published on 12/11/08.

I have a few very important points to make in regards to the benefits of Powercranks for weightlifters:

1) First, the facts. Since beginning Powercranks, my Front Squat has improved from 155lbs to 205lbs (a 32% improvement). My Deadlift has gone from 305lbs to 355lbs (16% improvement). My box squat has gone from 175lbs to 215lbs (a 23% improvement). During the same time frame, my bench press has gone from 205lbs to 225lbs (a 10% improvement), and my chinup has gone from doing bodyweight plus 25lbs to bodyweight plus 40lbs (a 16% improvement). In conclusion, the average improvement for my lower body exercises has been 24%, and average improvement for upper body exercises is 13%. This is over a 2 month period.

2) There has been a tremendous amount of internet discussion about the Powercranks, and this discussion usually focuses on 'proving' whether Powercranks are more effective for cycling training than is training on regular cranks. Proponents of the PC's say that they've experienced big gains in their cycling while using the cranks. Opponents of the PC's say that these gains don't prove anything. The reason these people have improved, say the opponents, is because they've been training, and any training leads to improvement.

3) The powercranks train the posterior chain like no other training technique. They also hit the hipflexors hard. There's no debating this. Also, big, heavy, barbell lower body exercises (such as the deadlift, front squat, and box squat) demand a strong posterior chain.

4) During a two month period, the average improvement in my lowerbody lifts was 24%, and the average improvement in my upper body lifts was 13%.

My case study suggests that weightlifting with supplemental powercranking can lead to bigger gains in the weightroom than weightlifting without supplemental powercranking. Were the powercranking not doing anything special, it would seem that my lowerbody improvements would be similar to my upper body improvements.

Even if you don't this my data supports my conclusion, you have to admit that a 26% improvement in lowerbody lifts over a 2 month period is f-ing awesome work.

My case study does not prove anything about cycling improvements, however.

On the anecdotal side, I can feel a significant relative strength improvement in my posterior chain compared to my quadriceps. For example, when I sit into a squat, I can feel my glutes and hamstrings firing atleast as hard (or perhaps harder) than my quads, whereas before using the PC's, I felt little action in the glute/hamstring complex.

Basically, if you're a weightlifter interested in becoming less of a wuss, you need a stronger posterior chain. The PC's will kick that chain into gear and make you less of wuss.

Frey is a triathlon author, athlete, and coach. A former NCAA basketball player, swimmer, and cyclist, he competes at the highest level of triathlon, and he coaches beginners, weekend warriors, and elite athletes. He is 24 years old. Check out his blog at

Winter 2009 Baseline Numbers

Ok, so after many months of trying to get myself untracked, I think I have accomplished that. Where to start - I am unfit and I am overweight - both are true statements. Here is the skinny:
I had a body fat test done with Craig at Boulder Muscles Max last week - using calipers - these aren't my favorite ways of measuring body fat but as long as the measuring technique is consistent, I am ok with that. I do prefer a water based test or a DEXA Machine - both of which I've done in the past. Craig measured me at 23% which is a lifetime high, I am sure. The highest I've ever been with a caliper test is 17% or so. With the water based test, I've been as high as 14% and in September I did the Dexa test - and I came in at 18%. I weigh about 174 which is about 6 pounds over race weight. Not really a big deal in terms of pounds, but it's not about the pounds as much as its about what type of pounds they are. When I was very fit - mid 7's for body fat, I had about 11 pounds of body fat. Right now, let's say the body fat is approaching my age! So, lots of fat to lose and lots of muscle to put on.

Speaking of, my weight training sessions have been going awesome. I bumped up again last week on my dead lifts - I'm over 200# now and I am feeling stronger.

I did a CT Step Test last week and my results were good for February. A step test is where you raise the watts every 2 minutes (by 20 watts). I thought I would bottom out at 240 watts, but I managed to make it to 280 watts, which was surprising.

I also did a swim test today which was 15:33 - about 1:33 per 100 - about as slow as I've seen in many years. Going back to 2002, I can't find anything over 14:45, so I have some work to do in the pool.

Running - I'll leave that test to this week. Yesterday I did my hellacious Sanitas, North Cedar Brook run in 1:29.09 - only a minute off my best ever. Quite crazy to see that time, but I was working hard and I feel it today. My legs are sore for sure.

Last week I also rode the PCs twice - once before warm up for the CT Step Test and again before I rode my Tabata intervals - 8x20" as hard as you can, 10" recovery. I averaged just under 300 (299) for the 4 minutes. My 20" efforts averaged around 360 so not a total loss of power. I am giving the credit to the weight training. I'll be on the PCs again today and then I'll hit the 8x20" on/10" off again - hopefully I'll break 300 watts for the 4 minutes. :)

I'll keep updating on my nutrition progress as well as my 2009 fitness - I have a long way to go, but this is actually fun. I haven't been this out of shape before and it's a good challenge to try and get back to 165# and 6:15 a mile off the bike for OLY distance.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Potency of PowerCranks...

By Kenneth Lundgren

I remember racing Bear Mountain Fall 2005. A breakaway of four went up the road. On the final lap, one of the riders, Ryan Morris of Cornell University, had flatted, and we picked him up road-side. Two more guys were scooped up, leaving only Dan Zmolik up the road, able to stay away for the victory.

In the downhill sprint, Morris, off the front for most of the race, was STILL able to take the sprint for 2nd. Pretty. Damn. Impressive. It was apparent that when Morris flatted, the horsepower of that break flattened, too…

I raced with him a month later in Rhode Island at the Jamestown Classic. We got into an early breakaway, and man this kid could ride! We were caught mid-way, a rider soloed off, and in the final sprint – you got it – this kid Morris took the sprint for 2nd! He had a very fluid, effortless pedal stroke, able to power in TT-mode for long stretches, and he could also sprint…

In May 2006 I found myself in a 2-man break with him at the Hollenbeck Road Race, Cornell’s home race. We hammered for 44 miles, and this kid just did not seem to tire. He crushed me in the steep uphill finish, putting 11 seconds into me in less than 200 feet. Afterwards, we got to talking, and he told me of his training secret…

As an engineering major at Cornell, Morris was thinking of inventing the ultimate training tool: independent cranks. But then he realized they already existed: POWERCRANKS. Morris was on them immediately, riding them a ton, and in less than two years, he went from being a Cat-5 to Cat-1 and one of the top time-trialists in America.

Purchasing a set of PowerCranks, second only to a power meter, is where you should put your money if looking to improve performance. Carbon frames, aerodynamic wheels, lighter pedals, hugely expensive wind-tunnel testing, the latest 10-speed groupset – these things should not be your ticket to getting faster. PowerCranks offer a plethora of benefits: they teach you how to pedal more efficiently, strengthen your core, strengthen your legs, help you maximize your strength, and teach you how to best fit on the bike…

PowerCranks force you to pedal each leg independently. When you get on the bike, both crank arms are hanging down. You clip in and must pedal each leg individually, picking your leg up and pedaling in complete circles – there is no fixed bottom bracket holding the cranks together in a 180° position. You can pedal one leg at time, both legs at the same time. The moment you stop pedaling, both legs fall to the down position. Most guys who get on them either want to not ride them again, sell them, or can do only 5-20 minutes at a time. You usually ride very slowly and the cadence is very, very low – most likely you find the 11 and keep it there! You are hitting new muscles you never hit before and simply do not have the ability to keep picking your foot up…

But if you stick with it, PowerCranks will help you create the perfect pedal stroke. Let’s break down the pedaling action: your hamstrings are not only used on the upstroke. As you’re pedaling down, you should already be pulling back. There is a lot of hamstring in the downstroke. If you can access this large muscle in your downstroke, you will increase power.

As you get to the bottom of the downstroke, Greg LeMond’s advice from the 1980s remains the best and most succinct: “Scrape the mud off the bottom of your shoe.” Never will you feel like you’re scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe as much as when you are PowerCranking…

The upstroke is primarily a hip flexor and hamstring effort. One way to improve your pedal stroke, without using PowerCranks or doing pedaling efficiency drills, is to mountain bike as it forces you to pedal in circles to gain traction and get over rocks, roots, steep inclines, and other challenges in the trail. When you start mountain biking, you’ll realize how important a perfect pedal stroke is as you struggle through a rock garden or ride over a log… It’s not surprising that many fast mountain bikers are also avid PowerCrankers – mountain bikers have excellent pedaling action…

The final part of the pedal stroke is the top, and you need to drop the heel as you come over the top of the stroke, something PowerCranks automatically make you do. I can tell you from absolute experience that after first riding these things, muscles in your ankle, in your calf, behind your knee – muscles that you never knew you had – will be sore because you’ve never used them on the bike before.

Team Campmor’s Eddy Ceccolini, New Jersey’s fastest and one of New England’s best professional mountain bikers, rides PowerCranks religiously. Fast Eddy commutes to work on them 2-4 times a week during the race season, and in the off-season he’s on them usually 4 times, generally 8-12 hours a week. He doesn’t try to do too much structure – he just tries to ride them consistently as he knows how beneficial they are.

Just remaining upright on the PowerCrank bike forces you to use core muscles in your abs and lower back that you don’t use when pedaling traditional cranks. Westwood Velo’s Mike Gisler, the 2007 New Jersey State Time Trial Champion, noted that if he gets back on the Power Cranks after a break, his core is sore the next day. He credits Power Cranks for not only giving him a more powerful and efficient pedaling stroke but also a very strong core, a powerful ingredient to time trial success. Mike believes he also avoids injury because his tendons are super-strengthened, not to mention PowerCranks prevent muscle imbalances because his pedal stroke has become complete.

As the name implies, PowerCranks also do just that: they improve your power. Because it’s tiresome to keep picking your leg up, you end up pushing a bigger gear than normal, putting more stress on your quad. I should also mention another important fact about PowerCranks: they are HEAVY. When I put them on my Ghisallo, I added close to three pounds to my bike. So, when pedaling you can certainly feel the weight of these suckers, making the workouts even harder!

After PowerCrank training, on your regular bike you will notice that you can push a bigger gear, either when climbing, riding at threshold, or just cruising at tempo. But the Cranks FORCE you to strengthen your hamstring and hip flexors, so if you’re now using three muscles more effectively as opposed to one on the road bike, do you think you can ride harder, longer? The muscular workload is divided more evenly.

Something I’ve discovered is PowerCranks can take your strength and maximize it – The Tale of Two Opposite Time Trialists. Westwood’s Mike Gisler rides them a lot, and he is wicked fast on them. He time trials at around 80-85 rpms, so he's right at home on these things. At 80 rpms on the TT bike, he's putting out even more power because he’s utilizing a complete stroke.
I've been riding the PowerCranks for almost a year now. I'm the opposite of Gisler, spinning a much smaller gear in TTs, 105-110 rpms, and I’ve still garnered improvements because of the Cranks. I thought the PowerCranks would help lower my cadence, but they really didn’t – the cadence has actually increased! On the Cranks, I'm usually at 90-95 rpms. But I notice when I'm time-trialing, I can stay at a higher cadence without fatiguing because my pedal stroke is much improved. As a result, I feel much, much more comfortable time-trialing now. The quads, hip flexors, hammies, core – everything just feels solid. My legs aren’t fatiguing like they used to, whereas before I lacked the massive power to TT fast at 110 rpms… PowerCranks catered to my personal riding style and helped my capacity for time-trialing.

Succinctly, PowerCranks help strengthen your strength. If you are a sprinter doing sprints on them, I can guarantee you will sprint faster on your road bike (you truly learn to balance your body – you can’t even sprint on PowerCranks without a powerful core). If you are a climber and consistently did hill repeats on them, whether a spinner or big-gear masher, when you get on your road bike you will climb as if shot out of a cannon…

Once you put the Cranks on a spare bike, over time you’ll tinker with the position so you can ride them better. On my PowerCrank bike, I now have my handlebars higher, my saddle more forward and a little lower. I’ve found that with my bars higher, I can keep my hip angle open, allowing me to keep picking my leg up. Additionally, if you slide the saddle back, you’ll find it easier to ride the Cranks.

However, I’m focusing on TTs, so I have the saddle more forward, making it harder to pull up (further back, you can ride longer because you’re incorporating more leg muscle and core, and further forward you’re more aero but relying more on your quads and will fatigue faster – this is why if you want to become a good time trialist, as with anything else, you need to train the position).

I also found it easier for me to pedal with the saddle slightly lower, as I can pedal THROUGH the stroke more effectively. I see too many riders with their saddles too high, hips almost teetering up there, feet pointing down to reach for the bottom of that pedal stroke, and if they had that same height with PowerCranks, they’d have difficulty. With the saddle a smidge lower than usual, I can power down and through the stroke with more control – when I made the adjustment, I felt exponentially more competent on the Cranks. If you began applying these concepts to your road bike fit, I guarantee you’d benefit similarly…

Roger Aspholm of FinCraft Endurance Sport Coaching and one of the nation’s strongest 35+ racers has been riding PowerCranks since 1999. He understands that you need to balance the body and get both legs equally strong, that you need to properly tune that V8 engine! He thinks they’re pretty much the greatest training invention, teaching the neurological system to pedal perfectly.

Aspholm makes a good point in that it takes a long time to build strength on these things. “There is no shortcut to stardom, so be very patient,” Roger says. “Once you have eliminated all your weak spots in your legs, you can pretty much train normal on these. I do sprints, hill intervals, longer steadier intervals, and once in a while even fast group rides on these. If you have a PowerTap, then you have something to stare at when you are dealing with the pain. Pain is good!”

Now is the time to ride them. In the winter, we should all be returning to the gym, hitting up a progressive lifting program. As the leg strength is developed, endurance and force work on the bike can then be done. All the while, we should be working on our pedaling efficiency – so this means hitting the PowerCranks regularly! In my program, the first six weeks of Foundation training focuses on pedaling mechanics – this is what we need to do as we embark on winter riding. As the training progresses, you'll be able to do tempo and force work on them, and then during the season you should ride them at least once a week. Last year I rode them on my easy days, hoping to get acclimated to them. This year, I'm going to hammer on them once during the week, actually make a PowerCrank day – they're that important.
Doing group rides on PowerCranks is beneficial because it gets you on the Cranks for a few hours, usually without going too too hard. Don’t get me wrong: PowerCranks HURT. During a group ride, you’re working twice as hard as the guy next to you. But because you really can’t focus primarily on the downstroke and are instead hitting your hamstrings and hip flexors so much, it’s difficult to get out of the Tempo zone, or even elevate the HR up for extended periods… In a way, PowerCranking prevents you from going too hard and keeps you in the proper training zone because it’s difficult to hammer 100%.

PowerCranks are not magic, not some fast secret, not an easy recipe to the podium. You need to put in the time and be willing to suffer. Aspholm makes a good point in that success does not come overnight. Like with everything, you need to take your time with them and gradually find improvement. But this much is guaranteed: if you have the desire, motivation, and the ability to push yourself, PowerCranks are a great way to help you realize 100% of your potential.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Winter Cross Training

I recently took a few days off to enjoy the mountains with my family and did not leave the bike behind. This ski trip was an opportunity how my PC training would affect my skiing. When talking to several customers it came up in conversation how much better their skiing was as a result of the PC training. Since I have been on them an average of 3.8 days/week since July I was looking forward to experiencing this firsthand myself.

As we arrived to Donner Summit, we quickly unloaded the car and headed down the mountain for a few hill repeats on the bike as the sun was just setting. The plan was to ride up as fast as I could, get back into the van until the bottom of the road and climb the pass again.

As soon as I was out of the heated vehicle, the chill in the air and fast dropping temperatures penetrated my well "insulated" body. It was time to start riding or else I would become an icicle.

I took off at a comfortable 80rpm in order to legs the legs somewhat warmed up for the ride ahead ... 3 miles of flat road surely did not help with that. Furthermore dirt/sand on the shoulder of the road made riding just a little trickier as you can imagine.

The directions to the wife were simple: "Stay behind me unless a car tries to pass in which case just go ahead and find a place on the shoulder to wait for me!" Since the resorts had already been closed for over 90 minutes the only traffic I encountered was downhill traffic; it was surprising how fast they slowed down as soon as they saw a well lit human candle pedaling a bike up the pass in below freezing temps! Luckily going uphill the body temperature was just fine.

All proceeded as planned until 15 minutes into the ride when I noticed that I was not getting enough oxygen; could it be that 6800 ft. above sea level was this difficult to manage? I slowed down the pace just and kept 265-270 watts pace for the remainder of the climb. It was not easy given the thin air.

Got back in the van and down the mountain I was taken while I was sipping water and thinking about the second ascent. Once out of the van I started pedaling and once again gave clear directions to my wife ...

The pace was going to be just a little faster as it was getting very dark very fast and I also wanted to make sure that we would get back to the cabin on time for dinner. Off I go looking at my powermeter and trying to maintain 250-265 watts for the whole climb. While the power data looked good, I was feeling the lack of oxygen even more the second time around. My pace quickly dropped to 62 rpm and 239 watts as the sky fell into night. The legs felt good, they had the strength as I found a good breathing rhythm ... and to the cabin I made it just on time for dinner!

Next morning was the first day of skiing ... all I can say is that this time around I had much better strength and endurance while downhill skiing. While I did not venture into the moguls this time to test my core strength, I can happily say that the legs were not sore and by morning I was able to hit the slopes for a second day of hard core, fast paced skiing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Powercranks are the new black

am now two weeks underway in my training with this training tool and a few thoughts keep comming back when I use them.
The thoughts that I have most often when riding powercraks are;
a) I suckb) this can’t can I suck so muchc) fu.. this hurts
The first weeks was so hard. I could do 20 min on my training..I did not even think about going outside on the cranks.
Now after a couple of weeks I am able to ride the craks in periods that somewhat resembles bike training. But I am still left in pain after each ride..but a different pain.
My hipflexors are taking a beating but am also improving fast.
To understand the powercranks then pretty much what they are, are crank arms that are independent of each other - look at the pic. It’s like doing one legged cycling drills all the time. The theory behind them is that when you have a perfect stroke then you don’t cause watts to be lost on the up stroke in the pedal stroke.
One of the things I have found very intresting is that in the beginning I could only do 60 sec when I was sitting in a touring position. What about aero position..forget about it..i could hardly do 10 pedal strokes in the aeropositon where I have spend endless hours.
If that is a sign that I was not very effecient in that positon then for sure I should have some imporvement next.
Now that I mention improvements then that is of course the reason I got a pair…I don’t care about a whole lot but speed is one of the things that fills my simple mind. I don’t expect to have big gain on my bike but I hope that the improved hipflexor coordination and strength can be trasfered into a better run.
But even with this I don’t expect that much..I rather be surprised if I get improvements on my powercranks but so far things are looking very good. I can already feel something has changed on my run.
As regards to how I train on them. I use the intructions on the powercrank website and so far that is going real good.
I am eager to tell more about powercranking. But so far I predict powercranks to be the new black in 2009.

California Weather

Living in Northern California has one advantage; when the weather is nice, it's really nice.
Yesterday the 15th day of January we were experiencing unusual high temperatures so Frank and I decided to go up the hill for a short ride and test our conditions and some stealth parts.

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I decided to ask Frank a few questions before our climb to the top:

Needless to say that nothing beats having Mt. Diablo in our backyard since riding has become mandatory part of our work responsibilities. Having the ability to stress prototypes and production parts going up hill in big chainrings is definitely a plus. Modeling and lab experiments are never able to reproduce what happens on the road.

More to follow ....