Thursday, 29 January 2009

Maximum Sustainable Power

This is the key value in cycling. Whether your a climber who can do 400w a GC rider who can win grand tours; 450w, or a rouleur who can do 430w, it's the key value, along with weight of course, which together determine what type of rider you are, or indeed, if you're a good rider at all.

It's measured by going flat out for twenty minute and having lactate samples taken at five minute intervals.

All it is is a tool to prescribe training zones accurately. And there is no prize for going fastest in the lab, but it is interesting.

Different people accumulate different quantities of lactic acid and many things about performance and physiology, I accumulate very little, which I am told means I am more endurance and less explosive. My power output was down a little on last year, not sure why. But I am fatter also so I presume I am less trained, or haven't trained as well as previously. It's negatively encouraging, but encouraging all the same. I will apply myself more now, so that I am that bit faster.

I will also practice pacing. So I know how to go the very fastest possible, as apparently it's possible to try too hard and go slower as a result.

Amazing, three years cycling and I'm still so ignorant about it!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Mini Pumps

They're rubbish, don't buy one. Get instead a thing to screw on the valve and use the car pumps, You'll never be more than 5km away from a garage and to get there you can use one of those aerosols with goo. Then there is the CO2 things which although alarming and one use haven't let me down. Or a proper pump under the top tube. And bring money and a mobile. At least a couple of times a year I need to call someone for help. When all else fails.

Mini pumps are the devils handy work.

I got a puncture today.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Hour Record:

50km in one hour is to cycling perhaps what the four minute mile was to Track & Field.

50km in one hour. On a standard bike with no gears or any fancy aerodynamic gear. Few ever even try it and even fewer ever beat the mark no one's gone past 50km by the standard UCI rules. In fact it's barely improved since Eddie Merkx rode 49431m way back in 1972¹. It stands at 49700m at the moment. And it's held by Ondrej Sosenka. Incidentally, Sosenka was recently caught on amphetamines at his National Time Trial Championships².

To break this record:

-The best technology possible; Eddie Merckx had a titanium bike weighing 5.5kgs³.

-The most phenomenal engine humanly possible. Some idea of the power required would be somewhere in the region of 450watts for an hour. Some estimate lower, 425watts. But I believe the true figure to lie closer to 460 or higher. In non cycling terms; an ordinary person would probably manage about 120w, so imagine the power of three or four people in one.

-A very good velodrome. Things to consider here are altitude, the running surface, the ambient temperature. It was rumoured that Armstrong wanted to build a velodrome at high altitude, break the record and subsequently demolish the velodrome so as no one may gain said advantage easily.

Moser suggested Lance Armstrong might want to make an attempt. Without a doubt Armstrong has the three above sorted.

Th process of breaking this record would start by proving potential, first on the road in long time trials, followed by testing in the lab and finally testing on the track. Second step would be team backing. Third, private backing would be required to pay for the attempt, right through training, technology, assessment to completion. Fourth, a very good engineer to optimize and complement the work of the athlete, the coach and the team, with the fast bike possible.

I recommend reading "The Hour" by Micheal Hutchinson. This book is very informative, while being quite amusing at the same time.

I would love to give the Hour record a try.


Thursday, 22 January 2009

"The Flying Scotsman"

I just finished Graeme Obree's autobiography. He's always been an inspiration to me, but learning so much more about him was interesting.

He suffered extremely from Depression. And Borderline Personality Disorder. I am not sure what either of these diseases entail. But I guess they were part of the engine that helped power him to two World Pursuit Championships and two World Records. It's an inspiration. But like reading of Lance Armstrong's exploits at the Tour de France, so untouchable as to kind of frightening and a little bit depressing, from an athletes point of view.

A streak of mental illness must run in all high performing people. But not in the same way as Graeme Obree. I think most athletes, musicians, actors, etc, embrace stress and competition in a positive way and need it. Almost like compulsive risk takers, or gamblers. He seems to have dreaded it. Used it as a means to an end.

There was so much pain in Obree's book. It comes across so heavily in the last chapter that I just threw the book to the ground. Why could he not just suck it up? Or at least try and kill himself properly? It's not hard to think of ways that would lead to a definitive end to our fragile existence. It struck me as very cruel to the people that evidently love him. And incredibly selfish.

The world at large is to blame in big part. Those children who bullied Obree and his brother, without a care but their own satisfaction, at putting another human being down. There is a negative vein running through human nature that allows this to happen. No one is happy being renegade but this is the inevitable position some people are pushed to by the thoughtless and shallow actions of others. Ironically it's the renegades who tend to shine the brightest.

He has given so much to the world through his inspirational performances. On the bike and a brilliance which transcended cycling. His suicidal efforts and depression are perhaps also the down side of harbouring such a gift?

I hope that Obree is happy now and can nurture his talents, even if it's not for the world to see.

I definitely emphasized and identified with him being motivated through social exclusion as a child:

I remember clearly one day, in the winter 1999, lining up for chapel, being mocked for something stupid and shutting myself off from the world. From then, through school I had no evident problems with depression or emotional hurt. I did not have many friends either. Shutting of emotionally is a completely isolating experience as both the negative and positive sides of human interaction are blocked. It was definitely a motivator. I wanted to beat those that mocked me, both on the sports field and academically.

I reconnected with my emotions to some degree at university. My mothers death, dropping out of uni and the Madeira accident still haunt me. Always work to be done.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Palmeiras Resort/Tavira Racing Calendar

On our website there is all the information relating to the team and where we are racing. The team has one of the best calendars for a Continental team division team. There are also other races rumoured, some in exciting and exotic destinations. I can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Racing Calendar till April

I recieved my calendar up until the end of March:

Troféu RDP Algarve, 1.12, 15 February.
Volta a Albufeira, 2.12, 7-8 March.
Volta a Santarem, 2.2, 12-15 March.
Volta ao Alentejo, 2.1, 01-05 April.

I am reasonably happy with this. I will be workinig for other riders though this block. The only regret I have is not doing the Volta ao Algarve. And I am a bit jealous about not racing in Argentina. It gets more interesting futher into the season, though the rest wont be know exactly for a while thoughI have a vague idea. The idea of the Tour of Turkey was also discused- which would be interesting.