Monthly Update – January 2019

My monthly update blogs have, admittedly, been inconsistent.  However, I’ve got a little time on my hands so I thought I’d provide an update in my little cycling world.  I had a good month, but also a very non-typical month of cycling.

Within these blog pages, I’ve talked about my love for cycling outdoors – the fresh air, the scenery.  And I’ve discussed my lack of motivation and interest in training indoors.  I’ve always had a bike set up on a trainer in my basement at home but seldom used it in recent years.  I’ve also had winters where I signed up for weekly indoor cycling classes with focused workouts, including on systems that allow for power measurements and virtual racing. At home, I’ve used training videos with structured workouts, but the motivation has been hard to come by in the last decade or so.

This changed when I had the opportunity to buy a used power meter wheel for my indoor bike, and now I’ve entered the world of Functional Threshold Power, Sweet Spot, Tempo and other terms that I’d only heard in conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take riding outdoors any day over indoors.  But given the crappy weather we often get in winter here in Ontario, having an indoor option that motivates me is something new and exciting.

Having said all that, here’s my summary of January 2019:

  • Distance cycled outdoors: 180 km
  • Distance cycled indoors: 0
  • Indoor time on trainer: 4.6 hours
  • Total rides: 13 (4 outdoor, 9 indoor)
  • Functional Threshold Power (FTP) : January 10: 162, January 24: 180

There are a lot of different websites/apps that offer different ways to train with power.  The most popular among people I know is Zwift, but I decided to join TrainerRoad, partly because it’s cheaper but also because I like numbers over graphics.  TrainerRoad offers dozens of different workouts as short as 20-30 minutes to over 3 hours.  Each workout is designed on the basis of each cyclists individual FTP.  There’s a Ramp Test that estimates your FTP.  I plan to do this test every month to see if I’m improving my fitness.  Basically, in an FTP ramp test, you steadily increase your effort until you can no longer continue.  For me, the main barrier for stopping is my brain.  I start to think… “wow, this sucks… I’m gasping for air and don’t want to continue”.  Sometimes that barrier hits early, and sometimes I can push through it a bit.

My first Ramp Test got me an FTP of 162 watts.  I thought it seemed low, but my next workouts used this value.  After a few workouts that seemed easy, I did another FTP test and got a value of 180 watts.  This made my workouts harder, which is a good thing.  My fitness certainly didn’t increase by this amount over just a couple of weeks, but I was definitely able to push harder the second time because I was able to push past that mental barrier.

I can now customize my workouts based on my FTP.  During my day job, I work with an elite road cyclist who provides insight and support into my latest obsession.  I now have Sweet Spot, Tabata, Endurance and Tempo workouts.  My workouts tend to be anywhere from 20 minutes to about an hour.  I still don’t have patience to sit on my stationary bike any longer than that.

In addition to my nine indoor rides, I did manage to get out for four outdoor rides in the first half of January.  Here’s a heatmap of my 2019 outdoor rides:

All of these rides were gravel grinders with the Waterloo Cycling Club and friends.  The first half of January was noticeably warmer than the second half.  This allowed me to get outside more.  Once the snow arrived and temperatures dropped, motivation to get outside became more difficult.  We were also greeted with a couple of freeze-thaw cycles so even if it got warm, roads were icy.




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