Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Medallion Tour de Stellenbosch

This week was to be a reduced training hours week in comparison to the previous 2 weeks. My training blocks structure are 2 Weeks hard, 1 week recovery. This week was also the start of my Peak Phase so there is a deliberate bias to shorter, higher intensity rides in my training programme.

When I put together the workouts for this week I was initially undecided re Tuesday’s workouts. Couldn’t decide between 1min Anaerobic Intervals or 20 min Intervals at FTP (Functional Threshold Power). I evaluated respective target areas and decided on Anaerobic intervals. I get a fair amount of work on 20min intervals during the weekend races, and it is the speed surges during the races especially on the rolling hills that tend to limit me most.

My Tuesday Anaerobic Intervals were 1min intervals, starting with a sprint to max for as long as I can hold (out of the seat effort), then seated for the remainder of the minute whilst holding the power high. It is a really hectic burn, and is followed by 5 minutes rest (easy pedaling), and I do 6-8 of those. Try and hit above 145% FTP during the interval.

On Wednesday was Killarney. My legs were feeling fresh and recovered from the Tuesday workout. The plan was to sit with the bunch for as long as I could, then revert to 2 min Anaerobic Intervals after a 5 min rest. All went well, and I sat with the bunch for 20 minutes, it was on the 4th lap that I got dropped after mistiming my acceleration on the bend hitting the headwind, and too big a gap had opened up. Thereafter I switched to my plan of 2 min at 145% FTP followed by 2 min rest and repeat. The chart of the Killarney session below is a nice indicator of my 2 min intervals (after the 20 min mark – distinct peak and valleys). The blue lines in the first 20 min look very noisy in comparison, the reason being that the riding with the bunch is very much like 1 min sprint with 1 min recovery. The other observation is that the red line (heart rate) did not decouple from the blue line (power) in the latter stages of the session, meaning that my endurance base is solid.

Thursday and Friday were much deserved rest days and resulted in me feeling fresh going into the weekend. Saturday was time for a new workout called Taper Reps. These are 90s intervals at FTP with 90s recovery, and I did 4 of those. They are hard enough to work the system but not fatigue it. The ride was an hour long, and I followed this with some stretches in front of the tv.

Sunday morning I was up at 4. Some breakfast and coffee, followed by 5 minutes sitting / meditating outside, enjoying the silence of the morning, before Munier picked me up at 5. We arrived in Stellenbosch at 05h40, time to leisurely unpack, sign in and get in a 20 min warmup ride.

It was good to see the normal faces on the start line, the mood is always good in the starting chute, and the energy is really something to relish. Shaheen’s new Scott Foil looked really cool. The guys in the Stars League were looking ready for some serious riding.

The pace off the line was fast, the weather was great, my breathing rhythm was fast adjusting, adrenaline was flowing, sun was low and in our eyes, and luckily no accidents. Being part of this fast rolling peloton through the center of Stellenbosch was an awesome experience. Within 6 minutes we were at the foot of Hels hoogte hitting the first ascent. I kept with the leaders as we hit the plateau before the next incline. Again pace picked up and I held with them. I was starting to hit the redline, and these guys just kept on going. I wonder what power and heart rate readings they were getting up there?

From my workout graph I was averaging 290W for the 20min climb, which is at my FTP, so in order to climb as well as the leaders I will need to work on my FTP for next season. The way to do that is through regular FTP Intervals and CP30 Testing.

On the climb I settled in with the remaining Vets, Masters and Elite Ladies. In December a few of these riders had dropped me as we crested Helshogte. This time it was different. I was doing quite a bit of the pace setting for this group and lead the bunch over Helshoogte. This was quite a motivator as it evidenced improvement.

For the next 40min, at a speed avg of 42kph, three of us took turns pacing the bunch, resulting in us catching a group of 6 vets at the 1h08 mark, note the red heart rate line dropping and recovering after having bridged that gap. The first time this season that I have been instrumental in bridging a gap.

I sat in for about 5 minutes (recovering), when the excitement of the race got the better of me, and again I moved to the front to set the pace. My timing was a bit out this time, as I had only just put in an effort of about 2min when the leaders of A-C Group and a few tandems reached us. These guys were moving at a helluva pace. Our group immediately latched onto them and the pace and effort increased again.

Note the blue power and red heart rate lines at the 1h20 mark. Power shooting up above 500W for close on a minute, then respite for a minute, then up to 500W again. These are representative of my Anaerobic intervals in training done at approx. 430W. Because I had not recovered enough from the earlier effort the gap grew between me and them, and within 3 minutes I was out the back. This experience indicates another of my limiters, which can be improved on for next season through many more Anaerobic Intervals.

For the next 10 min up to the 1h38 mark I did some recovery with 2 others, avg 36kph @ 170W. The next bunch of A-C riders and tandems then reached us, and we latched onto that group. I sat with this group till the end of the race avg 38kph – 210W. I also managed to move to the front on 2 or 3 occassions and take my turn at the helm. Being part of this train rolling through Stellenbosch close on 40kph was very exhilarating as we steamed towards the finish. I was happy to see negligible decoupling of Heart Rate to Power indicating a good level of endurance fitness. My finish time was 2h40, for the 97km race, a 30 min improvement on last year’s performance.

I am very happy with my race performance, and feel that my training workouts are yielding results, and that I am doing the right workouts with the right training strategy. There is also confirmation of elements that need to be focused on in the Winter leading to the next season, Spring 2012, which are inputs to my Training Planning process.

Let’s Ride.


  1. Hi,

    What is your weight and height? Do you consider this to be your "racing" weight

    P.S Enjoy your blog

  2. Hi Anonymous, thanks for the feedback, Weight - 82kg, height 1.91m.
    A recognised target weight for pro climbers is 2lbs/in, and for rolleurs 2.5lbs/in, at my height that is 68kg - 84kg.
    82kg is possibly the lightest I have been in about 15years.