How I “Train”

First, let me say that I am no longer going to complain about the conditions and proclaim the epic proportions of the Assault on Mount Mitchell after reading this story by Upstate resident and POA Racing Team rider, Samantha Hartung.  Read about her experience riding the ABSA Cape Epic – “an eight day, 600 mile mountain bike race across Africa.”  Once you enjoy the account, be sure to vote for the article.

Second, let me explain that I had planned for this posting at to be a “vlog”.  I started out with my camera on one of my quicky “get-a-ride-in-after-work” routes.  It is a 20 mile out and back over Paris Mountain.  The plan was to show some of the landmarks along the way and make some comments like I typically do writing.

Well, things started off well, but just as I started up Piney Mountain Road, my camera turned off.  Turns out I had forgotten to delete the old video files from the SD card!  Man, later I was hating life because there was some BEAUTIFUL views on the mountain in the early evening.

So I adapted. A friend recently asked me how I train.  Specifically, how do I train using my Quarq CinQo power meter with my Garmin 705.  Hmmmm, it is an embarrassing answer.

I don’t really train.  I ride.  Rather than having a set number of repeats or something like that to do.  I typically give myself little inane challenges.  This blown up ride was a perfect example.  Since I wasn’t going to be doing my vlog, I decided to try something I haven’t done since I upgraded my gear set to a 53 x 11.

It came into my mind to do the entire ride in my big ring.  I just went at it right off.  No saving myself for the ride back up the Furman side.

It really felt good and I made it from my house to the turn around on Old Buncombe Road in 40 minutes. I’m certain it would have been faster except I got behind a car on the way down the Furman side.  Still, I shaved six minutes off my routine time.

Next I turned around and climbed the way back up to the top in my big ring.  Again, I didn’t have speed in mind. I just wanted to give myself a weight-bearing work out and complete this spur of the moment challenge I gave myself.  Most of the ride up I intentionally stood.  Turns out I could have given a bit more, but didn’t want to burn out halfway up!  I did need to get home.

So, how do I use the power meter?  I use the power readings as more of a diagnosing tool than a while I’m riding coaching tool.  I didn’t even look at the computer during the ride except to see my time as I reached the turn around point.  I did pull the information into the computer once I got home to see how the ride matched up with other attempts.

My purpose for using the meter right now is simply to gather information about myself and build a power profile of myself. I want to reach a point where I understand my strengths and limitations so that when I get in a race, I can see how my output is comparing with those parameters.  Then I can make better decisions.

My diagnosis of last night’s ride? I felt good about it.  First, I just felt strong.  Second, I had fun.  Third, I was happy with sustained power.  My peak 10 min. power reading was 277 watts, peak 20 min. was 237, peak 30 min. was 232, with the 60 minute peak being 204 watts. Why do I like that? It is because the power drop off over that period was a good ratio.  My peak 5 second power output was 569 watts there at the KOM.

There was a time not too long ago when the drop off from my 10 minute power to my 60 minute would be much more drastic.  The power readings testify to what I am feeling.  I’m getting stronger.

Could I do better?  I know I could if I had a coach and followed a more regimented riding schedule. However, I don’t really want to ride to train.  I want to ride for fun and if doing so is training – great.