Monday, April 03, 2006

Indoor time trial

Thursday, 16 March

My little biweekly "race" ritual this winter has been 30 minutes of pain and suffering at CycleU, which offers indoor Computrainer time trials. This was my next-to-last "race night" here for the season, and the numbers were among my best.

It's the same course every time: 10K of rolling terrain, no more than 3% grade. The Computrainer system monitors tons of trivial details, such as heart rate, power output in watts, average watts, watts per kilogram, calories burned, speed, average speed, and on and on--all projected onto a large screen to keep you distracted from your pain. Over the course of the winter, I have managed to get my watts and HR consistently higher (note that I did not say "significantly"), and my times have generally come down. It's also been a great opportunity to figure out what to eat (and not to eat) before a time trial effort, when to eat it, and lots of other race details that are harder to experiment with in a "real" race situation (just because there are so few of them).

This week my time on my single bike (I do this on my road bike, not the TT bike) was within 0.5 seconds of my fastest time ever (which happened to be in December, when I thought everyone was supposed to be fat and slow), and my average watts was about 2 higher last night than ever before. My HR wasn't as high as the week I experimented with caffeine right before the race (speed turned out to be not correlated with HR, so I dropped that prerace food group), but it's higher than it was a year ago when I started doing these things.

For extra punishment, I (OK, we) do this event a second time, on the tandem. Last night we had a new set-up for my handlebars, which should make me more aero on the road but obviously is of no advantage when you're sitting on a trainer. We rode a lot in the 55x12 but generally did a good job of not mashing gears too much. And we set a new "course record." Our power output is always entertaining: our max watts last night was 823. I can never get my HR as high for the second event, and I haven't figured out if this is a function of it being a second effort or of having someone else set the cadence.

It's a really hard workout, there's peer pressure to stick with it, and there's always someone cheering for you as you work up the climb at the finish. And what other social event are you going to do on a Thursday night and burn 496 calories?!

Race results are posted here.

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