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 ....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It works!

I bought these damn things in Nov 2007 and committed to using them exclusively for 3 months. I was excited to try them out but after the first two weeks I was ready to throw my bike away. My training volume dropped drastically and so did my motivation. Luckily I had a couple of training partners that had them on their bike as well….So I pressed on. 4 weeks in I decided to go on a 50+ miler with some guys were on "normal" bikes. That was basically the breakthrough ride. It was painful but I hung on and completed a 3 hour hilly ride on the torture dev… I mean Powercranks. As the weeks went on my body started to adapt to the pedaling motion. After 6 weeks it became natural to pull up and over through the pedal stroke. My cadence increased and I started to see drastic improvements in pedaling economy and overall aerobic fitness. I had virtually eliminated the dead spot at the top of the pedal stroke after 8 weeks. I was now doing 4-5 hour training rides with other people and was able to keep up and in some cases out climb them. I noticed that the pedaling action your body is forced to adapt strengthens muscles that were normally dormant from years of inefficient pedaling. My hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and lower abs were starting to get stronger and were constantly recruited for power during the ride. Gone were the days when only my quads hurt and my lower back felt like it was going to explode.
I stuck to my commitment and rode the Powercranks through February 2008. I saw huge gains and benefits from being on them exclusively for 3 straight months. By the end of 2008 I saw my FTP go from 250 to 296. Im sure Powercranks wasn’t the only factor in the improvement but it definitely laid a solid foundation for the training I had done throughout the 2008 season. Id have to say though that if there is a shortcut to fitness it's 2-3 weeks exclusively on Powercranks after the initial adaptation of 3 months. My fitness started to decline in late August after being off of Powercranks for 4 months. I got back on them and forced myself to ride them exclusively for 2-1/2 weeks. I was putting in 12-15 hours a week with about 16-20k feet of climbing on Powercranks. Late September, I decided to race the Mt Tamalpais Road Race. I pre-rode the race course on Powercranks 2 days before (which in hindsight was not a good idea because of the residual fatigue on race day) and ended up finishing 7th on race day. Not bad for not having raced since mid May of 2008. 2 weeks later I did the Diablo Challenge and finished in 53 min and change. I started in the 2nd wave and won it. Avg power 296 for 53 minutes.
Its 2009 and I havent been as ambitious with my Powercranks time this year. I force myself to train on them at least 2-3 times a week as I build up my base fitness for the 2009 race season. Im "Powercranks fit" enough to do 5+ hour hilly rides but not as PC fit as last year. I incorporate Powercranks in my training program and I can already see gains on a weekly basis.
More to come…..

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Starting Over

In the fall of '08, I had some good momentum on my PCs but I took some time off to mentally get charged up for '09 and some of that involved getting some work done on my legs in the form of PT (physical therapy). Long story short, I was hit by a car in March '08 and finally gave in to needing some work done on my body. With that going on now and my issues getting resolved, I decided it was time to get on the PCs - well today was the day. :) I started out with an 8 mile run at a nice easy pace of 8:30s - then I hit the PCs later in the morning - alternating with standard cranks. I had two CompuTrainers set up in my garage, one with my road bike and PCs and the other with my tri bike and standard cranks. I lasted on the PCs about 2.5 minutes, then I hit the tri bike for 15', then did the PCs for 5 minutes, then the tri bike for 15', then back on the PCs for 7.5 minutes - giving me a total of 45' of riding 1/3 of which was PCs. I forgot to mention about 3 weeks ago, I did do a 90' group trainer ride on the PCs - that was really only an hour worth of pedaling if that - but it was tough and my legs were shot for a few days afterwards. We'll see how my legs feel tomorrow - but my reasoning for alternating with the standard cranks was to spin out the stiffness the PCs usually cause - we'll know more tomorrow.

Back in June, when I first got the PCs I rode 6 minutes the first day and I couldn't even run for 2 days after that. I am hoping for better tomorrow. :) Let's hope so!

My goal is to do all of my outdoor rides after March 1st on my PCs - I know I can ride one hour outside from what I did this summer, but being able to ride 3-4 hour rides would go a long way in helping me get my pedal stroke smoothed out and getting my hamstrings stronger.

Till next time!