Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan: the numbers

The Time-Crunched Cyclist

The Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan

The way I have measured my progress with the Time-Crunched Cylist Plan is to use the Carmichael Training Systems Field Test (CTS Field Test). Over the twelve week period of the training plan, I took the field test three times. Really, you typically should only need to complete it once — before you start the plan. There really is no need to take a test at the end of the plan unless you are a blogger and need something to write about!

I won’t go into a long explanation about the field test. You can read a blow-by-blow account in a previous post. I will point out that this “test” is not one you pass or fail. It is simply to give you a benchmark from which to work as you go through the plan. The below sets of numbers contain the data from each of the CTS Field Tests I completed. I hope you can see from the data that the plan really paid off!

February 12, 2012

This was the first test I took once I finally decided to get back on the bike after nearly two months off. I had only ridden a few hours on the trainer in the days leading up to this. Pretty much, I was at the lowest point of my fitness and motivation. The data clearly shows that! If you can fail a field test, this is one I failed!

To give you some comparison, up to this point my highest FTP results (on a 20 minute FTP test) was 305 watts in 2010. During my “comeback year” I had a high of 275 watts. So, I started the TCCP in a pretty bad frame of mind and just did not feel that the plan was pushing me hard enough.

	        Time	Power	Cadence	Heart Rate
Warmup	        5:00	56	85	99
Fast Pedal	1:01	193	140	132
Easy Spin	1:07	59	92	144
Fast Pedal	2:01	212	139	162
Easy Spin	1:01	59	83	166
Power Interval	1:00	345	102	165
Easy Spin	2:14	82	72	154
Power Interval	1:01	361	97	160
Recovery	4:15	63	73	147
First Effort	8:01	239	95	173 (178)
Recovery	11:01	63	79	139
Second Effort	8:00	251	95	171 (177)
Cooldown	15:11	35	80	125
Temperature	64
Result		251		        178

March 6, 2012

The only way to clear my mind and give me confidence in the plan was for me to trust that the data truly represented my potential. That led me to taking the CTS Field Test a couple weeks after the initial one. As I look back, this was the best decision I made during the training period. I’m sure that the three weeks of training on the plan helped me improve, but I’m convinced that the initial test was just the perfect storm of mental and physical “blah.” With this new data, I really started to feel the workouts and I could feel my body responding.

	        Time	Power	Cadence	Heart Rate
Warmup	        10:00	115	85	113
Fast Pedal	1:00	263	132	144
Easy Spin	1:01	93	88	153
Fast Pedal	2:00	245	125	155
Easy Spin	1:00	88	83	158
Power Interval	1:01	380	87	154
Easy Spin	2:02	92	76	149
Power Interval	1:01	409	95	151
Recovery	4:08	100	74	143
First Effort	8:01	296	95	173 (181)
Recovery	10:01	90	80	135
Second Effort	8:00	290	91	171 (178)
Cooldown	10:41	67	71	121
Temperature	66
Result		296		        181

May 18, 2012

Of course, I couldn’t stand it! I just had to complete the CTS Field Test to see what the numbers would show. So, last Saturday, I set up my trainer (to keep it consistent with the earlier tests) outside on my driveway. With the shade and a fan blowing on me, the temperature wasn’t too much above the earlier attempts. However, I have to admit that being outside improved my psyche.

There were a couple of other things I did differently. 1) I took a little more time warming up. 2) I lowered my Fast Pedal cadence to a more reasonable 125 rpm average.  3) I brought down my Power Interval average wattage to be more in line with what I had been doing in the plan. 4) In the First Effort, I settled into a gear that allowed me to pedal at a higher cadence than I had before.

I didn’t look at the time. I just watched my wattage and average wattage while listening to soundtracks. I knew that two songs would put me close to 8 minutes. I just tried to settle into a zone that would hold my first few minutes wattage average all the way to the end. By the time I neared the end of the second song, I was holding 327 watts.

Switching back to the time, I noticed I only had a minute left. It was getting harder to hold my higher cadence, but when I saw the clock I gritted my teeth and tried to push through to the 8 minute mark. I was more than pleased with the result!

On the Second Effort, I intentionally lowered my cadence in a bigger gear. Wow, that one really hurt! I was able to bring the wattage up over 330 watts for a bit, but then it started to drop and I ultimately switched back to the gearing and cadence of the first effort with about two minutes left.

	        Time	Power	Cadence	Heart Rate
Warmup	        15:01	121	97	118
Fast Pedal	1:00	283	125	148
Easy Spin	1:00	126	90	147
Fast Pedal	2:01	270	123	153
Easy Spin	1:01	132	91	156
Power Interval	1:01	312	106	152
Easy Spin	2:01	135	91	143
Power Interval	1:01	315	97	144
Recovery	4:00	142	93	139
First Effort	8:01	327	98	170 (180)
Recovery	10:00	100	80	140
Second Effort	8:03	323	89	170 (178)
Cooldown	5:45	65	67	133
Temperature	73
Result		327		        180

So, there you have it. Depending on how bad off you think I was in the beginning of the twelve week plan, I increased my average wattage from 252 watts or 296 watts to 327 watts. That places my Power-to-Weight ratio to around 4.3. That puts me solidly in the Category 3 field (and hanging with the 1/2 racers for a bit) which is consistent with my past performance.

Ultimately, the sterile numbers don’t really matter. What really matters is that I am now back on my bike holding my own with the guys. Thanks, Chris Carmichael, for the Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan.