Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More on Powercranks

It's that time of the year for me where long rides are few and far between and burritos are frequent and abundant. After all, I need some fat to burn during those long base miles that will start in less than two weeks. In addition to regular gym workouts, I've also started training on Powercranks. You may have seen the post about my first training session last week. Today was session number four, and boy do I have some stuff to tell you. 

After the first three 30-minute sessions, I decided to take it up a bit and go for 45 minutes. One of the many things I love about the Powercranks (yes, I just used the "L" word), is that I'm actually looking forward to doing workouts on my trainer. I usually hate to sit on a trainer, alone, at home, creating a pool of sweat under my bike, but the challenge of turning PCs actually motivates me to do just that. I'm always curious as to how far I can push myself and how long I can go without screwing up my rhythm. 

That notwithstanding, sitting in one place doing exactly the same thing, even a very challenging thing, can get a bit stale, so I made up a routine for myself to work on my pedaling stroke and to hopefully adopt faster to PCs. 

I began with some steady pedaling under a moderate load for 10 minutes. My cadence was in the 80-90 range and my power was in the 150-200 (but I tried to stay closer to 150 as much as possible). Another element of difficulty I added to this workout was doing it in the small ring. If you think of a LT workout, that would seem counterintuitive, but PCs are actually easier to spin correctly (that being the key term) under a heavier load with very low cadence.  

After 10 minutes, I went into progressive cadence increases, while keeping my power as constant as possible. I began with a heavier gear and cadence of 65, pushing about 180-200 watts. Then, each minute for five minutes, I would increase by five to seven RPMs and shift into a lighter gear to maintain approximately the same watts. This way I could focus entirely on cadence and pedaling technique and not have to worry so much about muscle failure or excessive fatigue (still in prep period). This followed by 5 minutes of rest at the same effort as the warmup.

Another thing I love about PCs is that while resting, I'm still doing the skills workout. Even when I'm pedaling easy, I have to pedal correctly, so while the training is not under any heavy load, or very difficult (coordination-wise), the pedaling skills are still being worked. 

Then came time for some single-leg pedaling drills just to focus the mind on each leg independently. I did the following three sets. Three times with each leg for 30 seconds, followed by three minutes of rest. Then two times with each leg for one minute, again followed by three minutes of rest. And finally, I attempted once with each leg by two minutes, but this was at about minute 37 of the workout and I was starting to pedals squares by 1:20, so I cut it short to 90 seconds. Followed by another three minutes of recovery. 

I was surprised to see that when I went from single-leg pedaling drills to active recovery, where I had to pedal with both legs, it was actually easier to keep my legs in sync, as if each one still remembered what to do from a moment ago.

I finished off with a few spinups, starting from a cadence of about 80 with load that's moderate (200 watts), taking my cadence up as high as possible until my legs started to gallop - I was able to hit 150 a few times. 

I'm still in prep mode, so none of this was done under heavy load, as I'm still getting my brain trained to keep both my legs fully engaged and synced. My overall impression of tonight's workout was good. It felt much easier starting with PCs and getting in sync was much faster (within a couple revolutions), even in a much lighter gear. It is almost as if the body remembered what to do; that first moment of clipping in and starting to pedal was much more natural than the first time I tried PCs. I'm hoping that in a few more sessions, I'll be able to take the bike on the road with them and see how I do while in motion. 

[Originally published on www.cyclingmusings.com on October 18, 2011]

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