Chapter 2 Rider Identification

Malcolm Gladwell's “10,000 hour” rule applies to me in terms of cycling and applying research. My background, education, and USA Cycling certification all ladder up to one big, big ball of information about — a lot of things related to cycling. But this series is about specific training, so… here,I get specific on who I am, and what I know I need to work on this season.

As cycling is a stat-obsessed sport, and we’re talking about training, here’s some basic stats on me:

  • In the summer of 2016 I will turn 51 years old
  • I am 5'11" tall
  • At the beginning of February, my weight is 66 kg. I know that I will drop several kg’s as I get closer to my first "A" race.
  • Currently my functional threshold power is 230 W. That's down from a high of 260 W at the end of last season. I'm on track to hit nearly 270 by season’s end, perhaps a tad more.
  • If you want to compare fitness, my watts per kilogram in September 2015 was 4.06. Presently, it’s 3.48 (and climbing.)
  • My resting heart rate is 50 beats per minute.
  • I am presently a category IV road racer
  • I'm a competent time-trialist, can climb consistently, and have NO sprint…

I greatly prefer road races to criteriums. To me, there's something about the strategy and endurance aspect of road racing that very much appeals. And I'll be honest…there's a safety component to road racing, real or imagined that I prefer. (I've competed in only 2 crits. In my first, I finished 8th. In my second, I crashed — twice.)

​2016 Goals

I have a number of goals for the 2016 season. Last year, I was dedicated to riding in Europe for the first time. I participated in a sportive known as the Haute Route Compact Dolomites that utterly dominated my training. There really wasn't very much of a focus on local road racing as a result.

That all changes this year.

Specific details on these races in a future article…

This year I am focusing on a number of local Category IV road races. Unlike several of my peers who prefer the larger, mixed “4/5” category, I’m more of a purist. 

I have 4 “A” races from May through September. As a bonus, I may be traveling to Utah to climb Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in North America during the late summer. Maybe.​

In addition, every Tuesday from May through September, there is a local time trial series I participate in where my goal for the final TT in September is to complete the 10.2 mile circuit at 23:59 or less. I really want to break inside 24 minutes! So that's an “A” race for me.

Other "A" races include the Ohio State Road Race Championships, as well as the Ohio State Time Trial Championships. Look for a detailed list of races with stats in future posts, where I'll show you how I break down a race, compare it to my limiters, and train specifically during the 12 week run-up to that event. 

During my Category 5 season, I finished in seventh place during a local spring series that usually consists of eight races. My goal is be competitive at the Category 4 level this year and do at least as well, if not better. Ultimately, I want to “cat up” to Category 3. At that point, I'm likely to switch to Masters age group racing. Why? I'll have to determine, when the time comes, if it makes sense to keep competing with riders half my age… Reality bites a bit.

Strengths and weaknesses

Climbing surges and VO2max improvement

I have a climbers build. And I climb moderately well. Where I fall behind is when there are surges and attacks up those hills.

Sprinting

Not very many climbers are able to hold their own in a sprint in the final 200 m.

That includes me.

However, since I live in Ohio and not Colorado, that means I have to hunt for breakaways if I have a ghost of a chance at the podium. Many of the races here are won by bunch sprints at the end of rolling to flat-ish races. In order for me — with my time trailing ability — to succeed in a road race, I have to be able to eject myself forcefully out ahead of the peloton during a break. That means working on serious one and two minute maximum power — then holding it in TT mode. I'll be sharing the specifics of that training as we go.

Regular participation in time trials is great training on many levels: mental focus, muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance. And you don’t absolutely have to have a dedicated TT bike to do it!

Muscular endurance

Road races are characterized by their wide variety of paces. Some races are hot right from the gun only to cool down in the middle, then to go full gas at the end. As somebody with more of a time trialist‘s arsenal, I'm good at getting up to a fairly high power and maintaining that power. However, when I have to burn multiple matches, I find that my muscular endurance and fatigue resistance isn't where I would like for it to be. Like many, I've tucked myself into the peloton and rolled along, hoping to be at the front at key climbs, but when the surges happen, and finally — the bunch sprint — I'm mid-pack at best. I'll share my training this year to improve my FTP and match-burning capability.

Sam Lowe

I've been a road cyclist with a penchant for speed ever since my first-ever paycheck holiday. I blew the whole wad on a turquoise Schwinn Tempo with then-new Shimano 105 indexed shifting way back in 1985. I've been a voracious consumer of racing-oriented information ever since. Training, nutrition, bike fit, racing techniques, and all manner of "kit." Between nearly 30 years of riding, racing, and reading about racing, I'm ready to help you get ready to race.