Saturday, January 10, 2009

First test results (after 5 weeks)

This week, I was focused myself on two tests:

  • Conconi test (3’ interval)
  • 10’ Time Trial.

6 weeks ago, I did the same test at the University of Leuven. My shape than was not very good. September and October were my resting months; I only trained on the bike once a week.

Training on Powercranks for nearly 5 weeks between 3 and 5 hours a week, I hoped to see some improvement. Because all my trainings were extensive, at low hart rate, focusing on cadence, I did not know what to expect.

Tuesday I rode in normal conditions and Friday I rode on 3000m altitude (14% oxygen instead of 20%).


Under normal conditions

  • Conconi test
    5 weeks ago = 445Watt
    now = 480Watt
  • 10’ time trial
    5 weeks ago = 415Watt
    now = 420Watt

at 3000m altitude

  • Conconi test
    5 weeks ago = 375Watt (=28’.30’’)
    now = 415Watt (=32’)
  • 10’ time trial
    5 weeks ago = 320Watt
    now = 345Watt

So, nearly 10% gained in 5 weeks.

o Initial condition was not good, so it is normal that I improve a bit.
o I knew which results I cycled last time, so I was stronger mentally.
o I was very happy to see that my cadence was very high good, starting at 115/min dropping to 100/min.

After 5 months I will be able to tell you what effect Powercranks really have, but it seems to go in the right direction.


Friday, January 9, 2009

New Years Resolutions

Happy New Years! Being a true believer in PowerCranks, I actually based a few of my New Years Resolutions on this ingenious contraption: I wanna do at least one 100 miler and a +20 hour week on PowerCranks. I figure that the 100 miler equals six hours, so todays flawless 4.10 in 5 degree Celsius is a good place to start, but those last two hours could be really ugly... I have another 4 hour ride scheduled tomorrow, but we'll see how those hip flexors have recovered. Until then, keep cranking, Claus Bech, Denmark

Ice ice baby

On October 21 last year I broke my left wrist in six places after falling on ice. It was multifragmentary intra-articular, the doctor told me. No idea what that meant at the time, but I do know now. I like to skate (World Champion Sven Kramer and I share the same great-grandmother) and as the Netherlands has many indoor halls with a 400 meter ice track, this is possible from early October on. Actually I had bought a pair of new skates: real Pro stuff: Viking thermoplastic shoes and Maple red devil blades. Great. But all that doesn’t matter when you fall. I wasn’t going to fast and had time to recover some. As a result I fell over forward and involuntary stretched out my left arm. Bang. The pain was intense. I more or less passed out and was taken to the hospital and operated on three days later.
Of course I couldn’t much use my arm afterwards and wasn’t able to do any biking, or running. The only thing I could do was walk and so that’s what I did. I used to take the bus to work and walk nine K’s back home, four times a week. Five weeks after the surgery the doctor who operated on me gave me the green light. I was good to go. Biking (on my commuter bike) was rather scary at first but felt good after a few tries. Swimming was a little painful, but bearable. Running went well straight away. My first training was a 1.40 hour run. No problem at all. Then it was time to get back on my powercranks. I hadn’t used them for five straight weeks but I was as if I had never stopped riding them.
The only thing that I haven’t done yet is skating (a mental thing, not physical). It’s a pity really because for the first time in many years there’s ice everywhere. But hey, I am grateful for what I am able to do.

You might recall I have had trouble with my left leg since starting using powercranks back in 2004. This fall I thought of a solution and bought an adjustable left crank, set it at 165 mm (I normally use 175) and got to work. The result was amazing. For the first time in four years my left leg actually felt normal during PC-use. I’m looking forward to a new season in which I will try to run my first (and last) 100K race. Training will include a lot of powercranking.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

winter cranking

Well, winter's here again and that means Dez has flown south for the warmer climate and dry weather for some good winter miles.

I rode the PCs for five days straight right after Christmas because I took a trip and brought only that bike with me, so a solid 22hrs were logged on the PCs that week. During moving and what not, I had not been keeping consistent really, but was still getting a couple rides of 4 hours or so in every week on the PCs.

After moving to SoCal the week before Christmas (and my Birthday), I was feeling rather homesick when I realized that I would be spending the holidays all by my lonesome in a strange city. So on Christmas Eve I decided that I was going to make the journey back home for the holidays and hitched a ride to Sacramento with a couple of guys who were willing to strap my bike to the roof of their 4Runner and give me a lift. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to get back on the PC wagon by bringing only that bike with me to Norcal so that I would have no choice but to ride it. And ride it I did!

By the end of the week, I was totally exhausted and feeling very satisfied with myself for getting back on PCs. Upon my return to Socal, I continued to ride the PCs for the next few days and broke the cleat on my right shoe on one of my little adventures.... What followed was 1 1/2 hrs of left legged pedaling to get my sorry butt back home. It is not flat here, in fact it is quite hilly terrain and I was actually forced to walk my bike in one spot, very humbling. A new set of cleats got me rolling again and I began to integrate the normal bike back into the routine later that week.

I took a few days off the PCs to do some super long exploring type rides in my new surroundings and ended up logging two 4 hour rides on the PCs this past week. The first ride was on Tuesday and it was a real suffer fest. I did hill repeats 6x up and down a climb of about a mile @ 7%. Then, I rode across town to a little lump of dirt in the middle of the city called Mt. Helix and did 5 repeats up and down using different routes to get to the top. I'm not sure of the % on this climb, though sections most certainly reach 15+%. Mt. Helix is about 1300' and I figure the base of the climb is <300', so it's not a bad little elevation gain for the length of the climb. I paced myself well and at the top of the 5th ascent I completely exploded. I hobbled back home grinning from ear to ear.

The effects of Tuesday's ride, combined with 5hr rides through mountainous terrain (5000-8000ft) on Wednesday and Thursday on the standard cranks led to TSF yesterday on the PCs... TSF is Total System Failure and that is definitely where I was at yesterday by the end of my ride which included repeats up a 2mile climb (x4) as well as the getting to and from the climb which includes 2000+ ft of elevation gain/loss. It's good stuff down here.

This is going to be a short week as I am switching my rest day from Saturday to Friday to prepare for the coming season. I think the route which I'm looking to complete tomorrow is going to be 150+ miles though so it will be a good week none the less. No Andrew, I will not be riding PCs tomorrow!! I am still uncertain as to whether or not I want to race in the 12 hours of Temecula later this month, I'll still be racing in November and 10 months is an awful long season of endurance racing..... We'll see.

What runners need to know

It's easy enough for these two-wheel guys, but for a runner, getting started with Power Cranks is a little involved.

Technically our equipment high point are our shoes. But having decided that Power Cranks were the answer to
a) a need for more hamstring strength,
b) the quest for continuing improvement in my running economy and
c) the need to swap out at least one of my weekly runs for something low-impact, I found myself having to make three visits to the local bike shop.

The first decision you're going to be faced with is whether to stick PCs on your road or mountain bike (you do have a road or mountain bike somewhere in the garage, don't you?), or whether to fit 'em to an exercise bike.

I used to be a bike rider, but I really didn't fancy dealing with traffic, hills, corners and the like while trying to get to grips with cranks that just stay where you left them. I decided I had to get a stationary bike. Power Cranks make the choice easy, as it's obvious from the website that PCs are a great fit with a LeMond RevMaster. The old-style RevMaster Classic retails for more than 1000 bucks, but as LeMond Fitness isn't producing it any more (they are still supporting it), you can find them on ebay and Craig's List and the like for much, much less - like $600 or $700. So that's what I did.

Next step, you'll need to switch the cranks. And to do that, if you're not a cyclist with a garage full of specialist tools, that's where you'll run into your first problem. I'm an old fart, so I still remember when cranks had pins - cotter pins, that is - that you bashed out with a hammer. Although the last chainset I tangled with was Campagnolo, I'd forgotten that I'd need a special wrench. First trip to the bike shop.

The RevMaster comes with a very basic set of pedals, which suited me fine, as I was going to be wearing running shoes while Power-Cranking. Wrong! I found it impossible to get the toe-straps tight enough to let me Power Crank properly. So then I had the bright idea to simply swap the clipless pedals from my road bike to the RevMaster; then I would be able top use my Shimano cycling shoes and really drag those cranks round. No wrench would do the job. Second trip to the bike shop, for a specialist pedal wrench. Do take a rough measurement of the pedals before you buy the wrench, because they come in different sizes.

That done, I was nearly there... except the pedals on my road bike would not budge. After 30 minutes of struggling and WD40 attacks - third trip to the bike shop, where a friendly mechanic used a monster wrench to get them off in 10 seconds.

Am I set? Can I start now? Oh yes. Now all I have to deal with is the frustration of finding out just how hard it is to get these things moving.

* Simon Martin is an ex-pat Brit miler and 5k specialist living in Boulder, CO. He trains with Ric Rojas Running and has just been declared one of the Colorado Runners of the Year after winning the 55-59 age group division of the Colorado Runner magazine Racing Series 2008.