My second Functional Threshold Power test occupied my mind yesterday. It was a pretty busy day without it. I was a little nervous going into the event because I knew I was a little more pressured than usual and my schedule wasn’t going as I planned. Still, the time did come and now I’m waiting on my coach for the official results.
At 7:30 AM I was at a budget planning meeting with my two business partners. Actually, it was just one. The second had gotten a bad head cold the night before and joined us later on the telephone.
That meeting lasted until a little after 11 AM. Of course, by that time the Upstate Winter Bicycle League had already started. There would be no pink cat. 4 sprinter’s vest for me.
Then to make matters worse, a toilet in the office building had plugged. There was water gathering in the carpet in one of the programmer rooms on the other side of the wall from the restroom. Since care of the building is one of my responsibilities, it was up to me to get it cleaned up.
That led to a late lunch which then led to a late start on my pre-test ride. That ride was to be a 2:15 ride with a warm up of 15 minutes at under 180 watts, a sustained wattage between 180 – 220, and then a cool down for 15 minutes under 150 watts. It was a little cool out there, but not bad. I was well layered and only my fingers started getting a little cold by the end.
After getting off the bike and getting myself sorted out with some food, it was time to get back on the bike. This time I would be on a trainer in my basement. This ride would be different in that I was supposed to work up to giving a solid TT effort and that would determine my Functional Threshold Power.
It starts off with a 10 minute warm-up with a nice little push in the last two minutes. After 5 minutes of backing off from that last effort, you start a 20 minute effort maintaining wattage between 220 – 240 watts. Then it is time to spin easy for 10 minutes. Ready? Now it is time for an all out effort for 20 minutes before finally spinning down for a final 10 minutes.
Everything was going according to plan until the first 20 minutes segment. Even though I was in my unfinished basement and the temperature was in the mid-50s, I was really starting to get warm. I knew that would lead to fatigue. So, I got off the bike, opened the door to the outside, and set up a fan. Things started to cool down quickly and I got back at the task at hand.
The meat of the test started with the 20 minute all out effort. Knowing my habit of starting out too early, I tried to start out below what I knew my Functional Threshold Power level to be. I did this for the first 5 minutes. My Garmin Edge 500 was telling me that the Quarq CinQo power meter was recording 260 watts. I then shifted down and stood putting out over 300 watts for a couple of minutes.
That effort moved up close to my known 270 FTP. However, I knew I could not sustain that for the next 15+ minutes. I backed off to recover a little bit until I reached the 10 minute mark. At that point, I upped the wattage again. This time the watts went up to 276. Now it was time to recover slightly for the final push to the end.
I watched as the wattage dropped during those minutes to around 274 watts. I knew that was better than my previous test, but I was certain it did not represent where I was today. It was time to stand and push to the end. So, with about 4 minutes left, I came out of the saddle, shifted down, and then pushed to the end.
It was worth it! Yes, I felt kind of sick by that last pedal stroke, but looking at my Garmin I saw an average of 279 watts for the 20 minutes. That is nearly a 10 watt increase over my last FTP test. That final push had raised my average by about 5 watts. Looking at the graph, I see that it was also the portion of the ride where I put out the most wattage.
I uploaded my data to Trainingpeaks.com and my coach, Jim Cunningham, who has been in California coaching at the Olympic Training Center, will soon let me know if I did everything correctly so the test will be valid. I can’t imagine it won’t be. I will be curious to know if he expected a better performance.
Me? I’m pretty happy with it. I have had a very rough start to my training due to all the physical problems I’ve been having. It has hampered my off the bike training most of all, but has not made training on the bike as profitable as I would like either. To see any increase it encouraging. Now that I am starting to beat this pain, I hope the next segment of my training will be even better.
Who knows what my numbers will be next time? Yes, I realize that an FTP of 279 watts just puts me in the Cat. 4 level, but – hey – that is what I am! I would love to see myself over 300 before all is said and done. You’ve got to start somewhere!