Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beginners Page # 14 CompuTrainer Chapter 4

During February I came down with bronchitis and was out for a week, but Chris continued. The next week she came down with a cough and was out for a week. So we were back on the same course together after two weeks of one or the other of us ill.

Week 5 (Feb 22-26)
We were both put on the Hotter’n Hell Hundred course. We have ridden the “real” HHH three times, twice going the distance of 100 miles. I did not remember that many hills on the ride, especially in the first twenty or so miles of the real course. Farther along, way farther, the terrain starts on a slight decline. I would not reap the benefit of the decline, as it would be too many miles down the road for me ever to get that far in an hour. On my first day on the route, I did not get to the dancing girls at Rest Stop 2. It will become my secret goal to get to the saloon in an hour.

Randy says there has been progress in my numbers but I still perspire (sweat in Texas lingo) like I was really riding the HHH route in August. And I still have to be reminded to breath, relax, keep my RPMs up, and keep my numbers at the particular target range. It is much easier just to pedal and then take a break when I want.

 About 14 minutes into Christine's training, she must have caught her second wind. Suddenly the bike just hummed instead of clanking and wobbling. Her numbers remained an impressive 50-50/75. The 50-50 is the relative contribution of each leg and the 75 is the numerical analysis of power during each part of the pedal stroke. A perfect score would be 50-50/100. It's impossible unless you are magically transformed into the little silver man who competes against you in the practice mode. I read somewhere that the goal for a roadie is 50-50 and maintain between 75-85 power stroke. The highest either Chris or I have gotten so far is 50-50/80 but it is not maintained long.

By the time I reacted, Chris was down to a 53/47/78.

Now Monday’s session was just fine except Randy praised Christine’s efforts much more than mine. Could it be that he would walk into the room just after I relaxed each time? Sometimes I could hear him coming down the hallway and I would rapidly try to get my numbers up so he wouldn’t know that I had been goofing off but I think he caught on and began to be quieter.


Frustrating day. The old saying that “I was going in circles” just wasn’t what was happening to me. My pedal stroke was anything but going in circles. The instructions of the day, "Smooth it out. Don’t pull up so hard. Be softer on the down-stroke. Watch those RPMs. Are you still breathing?"

I think Randy would have given up on me if he weren’t a professional.

Now Christine’s day according to my perspective, "Atta girl. Good going. You have the hang of it. Way to go."

I had to do something to break her concentration so she wouldn’t be getting so much praise. Therefore I tried to take her picture which always disrupts things. And it did. “Don’t you dare!!" (She doesn’t like her perspiring to be documented). But the ploy worked. For a few seconds her pedal stroke looked like mine. When I would rush to take a picture of the spin screen, she would get the pedal strokes back together and all I could get were some fairly decent shots of her CompuTrainer screen.


Vindication of a sort. Randy put us on another rolling hills course. I felt pretty good, and for most of the ride was able to maintain a 50-50/mid-70s reading. A re-cap for my own benefit until I get my terminology right, the left/right leg percentage power splits (50-50) give you the feedback needed to pedal in "circles". It will identify "flat" or "dead" spots in the pedal stroke where optimal power is not transferred to the drive train. The mid-70s is the ATA (Average Torque Angle) displayed on the Polar Graph which helps you adjust your position for optimum power. Randy walked in one time while I was on a roll—50-50 power splits and almost 80 on the torque or power. He just stood there silently. Finally I couldn’t take it any longer and asked him, “Aren’t you going to say something?” He said he was waiting to see if I could maintain those stats. Well, of course, just as I start talking or listening my concentration breaks and my stats went to something like 42-58/64. The bar graph looked like a building that imploded—crashing and crumbling—but for me in an uncontrolled way.

Another time he walked in and my stats were pretty good and the little silver man was way behind. Randy exclaimed “Wow, are you out to prove something?” Secretly yes, to steal some of the glory from Christine, since she did so well Wednesday, and to beat the little silver guy. I think I have mentioned that I visualize the silver guy as being Velma Ogan. And after three years of chasing Velma (and being beaten), even a virtual reality “win” over her is gratifying.

 Chris was having an off day. She was performing as I did on Wednesday. Randy had to keep giving her instructions (albeit nicer to her than he was to me) as I feigned support for her. Finally, about 30 minutes into the ride, Chris hit her stride and her little bike just hummed, and her stats were acceptable (alright—very good).

And thus we ended a month of training. As I was telling Lucy Jochum, progress—for me—is so slow that it is hard to recognize. There are no quantum leaps in the stats which indicate progress or improvement, therefore until the stats prove otherwise, I am saying we have improved—that’s my story and I'm sticking to it.

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