What a Drag…

There's the Rub!

Stoker and I have begun riding in the hills again. For a variety of reasons (weather, travel, family medical issues) she and I have not been riding much, and when we did it was mostly from our house, which means there weren’t many hills to climb.

But we are going to ride a tandem in France in June, and Provence is not flat. We certainly will not attempt Mont Ventoux, but the rolling hills of Southern France require some preparation. So last Tuesday we headed for the hills.

We started with the Tuesday SBC ride from Wallace. This is a 41 mile loop with lots of little hills, totaling 3,200 feet of climbing. We did fine; we were the slowest bike but I expected that, and our average speed and riding time were quite acceptable. We both felt pretty relieved that we were still able to do this.

I did the Saturday club ride on my single bike (sans Stoker), and I felt very strong. So when we took the tandem to Ione on Sunday for a relatively easy ride up to Plymouth (only 2,000 feet of climbing) I expected a delightful day.

But the grades on Irish Hill Road, which are a bit too steep for tandem comfort, seemed even steeper. The gentle false flat on Old Sacramento Road seemed to go on a long time and we were riding it a lot slower than we should have. And the last one mile climb up to Plymouth was a trial. Stoker and I have done this hill many times, and when we are strong we do it in the middle ring, but today we needed our lowest gear and even that had me puffing very hard. When we finally got to the trailer park for a break I was sweating and a little dizzy and felt awful despite the perfect cool and sunny weather.

As I sipped my Gatorade I tried to figure out what might be wrong, Was I just tired from riding the day before? Was there some mechanical issue? I would never suggest this out loud (I want to stay married and not have to sell the tandem) but was Stoker perhaps not putting out much power? I spent the break a little discouraged and wishing the ride was over.

As we prepared to start back to Ione, I decided to check the wheels in case there might be a brake pad dragging or a bearing seizing or some such thing slowing us down. I thought it very unlikely since I hadn’t heard any noise indicating this was happening. The front wheel was fine, but when I gently spun the rear wheel it went around twice and stopped abruptly instead on continuing to rotate for the 30 seconds or so that it normally would.

Mystery solved! I swore a little under my breath, loosened the brake calipers a bit, and spun the wheel again. Rotation normal, drag gone. There are only a couple of hills on the return trip but we went up them much easier and it felt as if the bike had lost 10 lbs. That rear disc drag had really been a drag!

I have no idea how the drag started. Disc brakes seem notoriously difficult to adjust properly, and the difference between dragging and being too loose is quite small. I don’t really like our disc brake, but it is more powerful that a rim brake and also keeps the rim from overheating on a long descent, because the pads pull against a rotor and not the rim itself.  Overheating rims are not a good thing; we once blew out a rear tire going down Rams Horn Grade before we got the disc brake.

Next time I feel like the bike is glued to the pavement, I’m going to stop and see if there might be some reason other than my own lack of power.  And I’ll never even think we might be going slow because Stoker isn’t going strong. Remember, I want to stay married…

 

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Riding, ‘Weather’ or Not

Perfect and Depressing Dry Weather

 

Often in February cyclists have to decide whether the weather is acceptable for riding. Typical conditions in late winter include cold, damp and foggy days, cloudy skies, and rain varying in intensity from a light drizzle to drenching downpours. Yesterday’s weather, like most of the winter, was not typical.

No one is more concerned about the continuing drought here in California than I am. Diane and I live in the country and get our domestic water from a well. We are surrounded by some of the most productive orchards and vineyards in the world, in a state with a near perfect climate for growing just about anything. Just add water…

And that is the problem. We have wet years and dry years. But there are more people in cities, and far more acres of irrigated orchard and vineyard than there were even 20 years ago. Drive around the countryside and you will see new orchards planted where dry land (not irrigated) pasture and grassland used to be. We haven’t built more dams to store water, so after a series of dry years we really are running on empty.

The ongoing dry weather has been depressing me for weeks at a time. I kind of wonder how everyone around me seems so calm. Don’t they realize the enormous adverse economic impact the drought is going to have if large areas of irrigated farms go dry? Or how irritating it will be to let golf courses and lawns turn brown? Like a clean car? It could get bad enough that washing your vehicle will be banned. Everyone will be adversely effected by this.

Post Ride Smiles: Drought Worries on Hold

Which makes yesterday’s perfect cycling weather a dichotomy. On the one hand, who could not enjoy the clear, sunny, warm but not hot, and wind-free conditions? The sky was blue and the grass covering the rolling hills was green (for now). Our club ride attracted 22 riders and many of us dressed in short sleeve jerseys and cycling shorts, instead of the jackets and leg warmers and caps often necessary at this time of year.

But on the other hand, even as the sun warmed my skin and the cool air kept me from overheating on the climbs, on this perfect day for cycling, I had a sense that I really should not be enjoying myself. And I realize that this perfect day is also another day without the rain and snow we need so badly.  And the days of what used to be our ‘rainy’ season are passing by and there are not that many left.

Today Diane and I are going to do a tandem ride, and although the weather will be beautiful and we will enjoy ourselves, I will have an uneasy feeling. Wondering if I will ever have to decide ‘weather or not’ to ride this year because we actually have some rain to deal with.

 

 

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Boom, Boom Boom!

I'm going to need a new one of these...

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence; the third time it’s enemy action..

 

Last week I spent 5 days doing ‘climbing camp’ with Cycling Escapes in the Santa Monica Mountains. 265 miles and 32,000 feet of climbing. And descending too. Just as I finished the descent of Piuma Road (5 miles of 6-9% down hill) ‘happenstance’ happened.

As I slowed to make a right turn off of Piuma Road onto Cold Canyon Road, there was the loud BOOM! of a rear tire blowout. Happenstance. I was a little relieved that the explosion occurred when it did. I was riding in a straight line and going about 12 miles an hour, when 30 seconds before I had been flying (for me) at about 35 mph through a gentle left hand turn at the bottom of the hill. A potential disaster averted by some fortunate timing.

Although I was not the slowest rider in the group, on this day I was last on the road and the sag wagon was in front of me and headed for the hotel with my blessing, since I only had 10 easy miles to go. I can certainly fix a flat, and I proceeded to do so. I inspected the tire and could find nothing wrong, no glass or metal or rock puncturing it, so I put in a new tube, used my CO2 cartridge to inflate tire and hopped on my bike. I rode all of 30 feet before BOOM! Coincidence?

I was really mad at myself; I assumed I had committed the all too common mistake of pinching the tube between the bead of the tire and the rim. Virtually every cyclist has done this, but I am careful and haven’t made this error for years. I carry two spare tubes, so I cautiously installed the backup and inflated it with my mini pump. I only carry one CO2 cartridge so I had to use my muscles, such as they are, to ‘pump it up’.

Available at fine bike shops everywhere!

 

I got back on the bike and started to ride gingerly toward the hotel. It is hard to believe, but the Mulholland Highway has almost no traffic in this area even though is a mere 3 miles from the busy Ventura Freeway and Calabasas. After 4 miles, as I reached the last summit of the rolling hills, I heard another BOOM! This time it had to be ‘enemy action’. I’m stuck, no spare tubes and 6 miles to go.

This is where having a cell phone and paying a touring company for support comes in very handy. I called Cycling Escapes, told them of my plight and location, and 20 minutes later I was in the van wondering what the heck went wrong. A defective rim? A tire problem?  The tire was almost new and appeared undamaged, and the rim looked good too. My silly and careless mistake twice?

Back at the hotel I purchased a new tire, a couple of tubes and a CO2 cartridge from Rich, the company owner. Another reason to use a tour company; they carry some spares. I also borrowed some electrical tape from my companion Frank, and put a couple of layers around the rim in case the spoke holes were causing the problem. When I looked at the three damaged tubes (yes, I carried them back instead of tossing them on the roadside; I don’t commit litter) they all had slits in the same area. This meant that faulty installation on my part wasn’t the cause since if I did pinch the tube it is unlikely I would do it in exactly the same spot. So I felt a little better, but also nervous about the next day. What if one of those ‘BOOMS’ happens while I’m going down hill? Or if it happens to the front tire? Better not think about that too much.

Not to worry, the new tube and tire performed fine and I soon forgot about the BOOM and was going down hill as fast as ever, which for me is not especially fast. And when I got home I put on better glasses and was able to find the problem; the original tire had a 1/4 inch cut that was not visible on the tread but had gone through the casing. If I had been able to see it I would have used a ‘boot’ (a small piece of rubber) to protect the tube and I would have made it home. So I learned a lesson. Next time a tire goes BOOM I’m going to take my time and figure out why. So I can avoid the ‘enemy action’.

 

 

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The Sound of (mechanical) Silence

I love you, but I don't want to hear you!

A quality road bicycle that is well maintained is a remarkably quiet machine. There are only five sounds that one should expect to hear. The chain should make a soft ‘brr’ sound while you pedal. When you stop pedaling the ratchet mechanism in the freehub makes a soft ‘clicking’ noise. The tires roll along the pavement with a subdued ‘swish’. And when shifting gears there is a distinct ‘click’ followed either by a ‘thunk’ or a brief rattle before the derailleur settles the chain into perfect alignment.

The 5th sound, of course, is my labored breathing as I try to keep up with my friends climbing Stoney Creek Road. This noise was quite audible yesterday. As I rode along in the company of four strong riders, I was struck by how little noise our bikes were  making. Since there was very little wind and few cars, we could hear each other’s labored breathing quite clearly (some more labored than others). But the bikes made not a sound out of place.

This is not always the case. When a club rider’s bike is making an unwanted noise it is quite noticeable. The other day my rear brake make a very loud squeal whenever I applied it, irritating me and my companions. I tried cleaning the pads and the rim, without success. A new set of brake pads eliminated the problem.

An unexpected source of clicks and squeaks

Other times, the source of some unwanted noise is harder to diagnose. Over the years I have gotten pretty good at figuring out what is wrong and how to fix it. Chain noises are obvious and simply cleaning and lubricating will eliminate the noise, unless the chain is worn out (about every 2000 miles).  Sometimes there are little squeaks or clicks that most people wouldn’t even notice, but if they come from my bike they sound as loud to me as a heavy metal band. And the offending component can be hard to identify.

Speaking of metal, and carbon fiber, there are many places on a bike where two surfaces are held together under tension or pressure, and any of those is a potential source of the offending noise. And there are multiple sets of bearings, any of which may become contaminated with dirt or moisture, or simply wear out and start to make noise. Some examples from my own experience:

Saddle rails might squeak or click. A thin layer of grease on the rails before tightening the clamp can fix this.

The quick release skewers have a cam that is metal on metal under tension. A little Tri Flo will eliminate the noise.

If  noise is coming from a chain that is clean and well lubricated, check the cassette and make the lock ring is screwed on tightly. This requires a special tool (about $5).

Squeaky pedals? Clean the cleats and the pedals, and check the bolts holding the cleats to your shoes and make sure they are tight. I like to put a thin layer of grease on the bottom of my shoe when I install new cleats since that interface can be a noise maker.

Bottom bracket creaks and squeaks and clicks are the worst. Sometimes you need new bearings, or sometimes lubricating the threads and crank spindle will to the trick.

Loose bolts anywhere can be the problem. Check the bolts holding your bottle cages; for some reason these seem to come loose and will make a mysterious rattle or click when you hit some rough pavement. And when you install bolts it is a good idea to use a thin layer of grease on the threads unless the directions say not to do so, or specify using thread lock compound. And yes, it is an EXCELLENT idea to read the directions that come with the parts!

Those are just a few, and if I sound like a bike mechanic let me assure you that I am no such thing.  But I don’t want to take my bike to the shop when there is a quick and easy solution at hand. So I will keep playing noise detective and try to keep my bikes quiet. The gasping is another matter; I can’t do much about that.

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3 Feet of Controversy

Does this law keep cyclists safe or make drivers even more irritated?

 

When I went to Colorado for a cycling trip back in 2009, I was a little startled to observe that most drivers who passed me were giving me a lot of room. Even when I was riding on a wide shoulder the cars would move to the left to increase their clearance. At first I thought it was simply that drivers were more considerate and cycling friendly than they are in California. But then I learned that Colorado has a ‘3 foot law’ that requires drivers to give cyclists that much space.

California has recently passed a similar statute, and I am afraid that the difficult and uneasy relationship between motor vehicles and cyclists is going to get even worse because of it.

The biggest problem seems to involve narrow roads in the foothills. Many of these roads are twisty and have limited visibility and lots of double yellow lines. Even if cyclists are riding single file and as far to the right as is safe, these roads are too narrow to allow a car to pass a rider with 3 feet of clearance without crossing that line, at least briefly.

At least this one says 'Please'. A little civility on all sides wound be nice.

Some motorists think this puts them in an impossible position, stuck behind slow moving cyclists without being able to pass. And they are not happy about it. There is even talk of banning cyclists from roads where there is not enough space (in their opinion) to allow traffic to flow freely and safely. In other words, if a bike is going to hold them up for even 1 minute, that cyclist should not be on this road.

Since narrow, twisting and hilly roads are usually a cyclist’s favorite roads, this is a problem.

I’m not a lawyer but after listening to some law enforcement people, it seems true that it is illegal to cross a double yellow line to pass, even briefly. On the other hand, where I live there are lots of slow moving farm vehicles using the roads, and sometimes that tractor is moving slowly enough and the driver of a car behind can see far enough that a quick pass crossing a double yellow line is perfectly safe. Drive around Linden during walnut season and you will see this happening all the time.

I’m going to offer some practical advice to both motorists and cyclists. Both should have some consideration for the other. These are my opinions and I know not everyone will agree.

First for the cyclists: we do not own the road. When we are riding in a group 2 or 3 abreast we are making it difficult for motorists to see and hard for them to pass. Pelotons are fun, but they also impede traffic when they are travelling well below the speed limit. I know many ‘racer types’ despise mirrors, but I suggest every cyclist wear one and use it. And when riding in a group, someone who notices a car behind should call ‘Car back’ and the group should form a single file line to give the car a chance to pass. Once the cars get by and the road is clear behind, we can resume a bunch formation. Pacelines and echelons are fun too, and double pacelines are even more fun, but the roads are not there for our entertainment, and we need to do our part to allow faster moving vehicles to get past us safely.

Now drivers; remember that cyclists have a right to use the roads. And if a car and a cyclist collide, the cyclist could be severely injured or killed. I do not insist on 3 feet of space, but please do not roar past me at 60 mph or more only 12 inches away. Ease past smoothly and safely, and if you can see far enough ahead that crossing the double yellow with two wheels for a brief moment would be safe, do it. Treat me like a slow moving tractor around Linden.

 

 

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Looking around Lucca

Movie Star Looks and Sprinter's Legs: The Lion King

 

At the end of our walking tour through the charming walled city of Lucca in Italy, I asked our guide Lucia if Mario Cippolini ever came back to his home town. I admit I was showing off a bit; I am certain I was the only person on the tour who knew ‘Super Mario’ was from Lucca. She does tours for English speakers and probably gets that question once a year at most.

Her response was interesting; she said he still comes to town quite a bit and has a residence there. “But some people don’t really like him”, she informed me. Then she said “I think he is a little full of himself”, displaying an excellent command of idiomatic English.

I had to chuckle at this. Mario, ‘The Lion King’, won 42 stages of the Giro d’ Italia, and 12 stages of the Tour de France. He won Milan – San Remo, Gent – Wevelgem (3 times) and the World Championship Road Race. And he is better looking than George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon put together. He would have to be a saint NOT to be a ‘little full of himself’.

Walking around Lucca is a treat. Inside the walls the streets are narrow and cobbled and most are closed to cars. Locals ride cruiser bikes to get around; with baskets to carry purchases from the bakery or small markets. And signs of how much cycling is embedded in the local culture were everywhere.

Coffee and Cycling Italian Style

We saw a display in an optician’s window featuring a high end frameset designed to catch the eye of pedestrians. We walked into a bar/café that also appeared to be selling cycling equipment. There was a Molteni jersey on display that looked old and worn enough to be an original from the 70′s. And inside the Roman amphitheater we saw some vintage bikes in a storefront window, although the shop itself appeared empty and under construction.

When we saw a small group of road cyclists gathering for what was likely the start of their regular ride into the surrounding hills (which looked pretty steep from the bus) I was quite jealous. I would much rather have been joining them than heading back to the comfort and luxury of the ship, where the only cycling available was the stationary bike in the gym. Maybe someday; as soon as we got on the bus Stoker and I started considering whether we could come back to Lucca for an extended stay sometime in the future. It probably won’t happen but it was fun to think about the possibility. If we can get our tandem there and can find some Tuscan Hills that are not too long or steep, who knows?

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Cycling at Sea

One Good Thing: No Flat Tires to Worry About!

 

I typically ride my bike 20+ times each month, for a total of 700-800 miles. Sometimes I will ride even more than that, especially if I’m doing a cycling tour, where we might do something like 450 miles in 6 days. But in November I only rode 75 miles and only mounted my bike twice.

Stoker and I took a decidedly non-cycling vacation for most of the month. We got on a ship in Monte Carlo, visited ports in Italy, France and Spain,  and then crossed the Atlantic (5 days at sea) before stopping in Bermuda and the Bahamas and then arriving in Miami. With travel time to and from home we were away for 24 days and I did not turn a single pedal stroke on the road.

With all that time off the bike, and with excellent food and beverages available on the ship 24/7 (not to mention the delicious pizza lunches we enjoyed in Italy and Spain), there was a good chance that I would lose fitness and gain weight. I tried to avoid this by making good use of the ship’s gym. I did pretty well on the fitness part, but the weight is another story.

When I was working full time I used to do a fair amount of indoor cycling, often early in the morning while it was too dark to work outside on the farm. It helped keep me in shape for riding on the road, but I never really liked doing it, and now that I am mostly retired I leave my trainer in the garage gathering dust.

But on the ship there was no other option, so I dutifully put on my shorts and strapped on a heart rate monitor and got to it. 14 times during the 22 days we were on the cruise found me puffing and sweating and looking at my heart rate and power numbers and how much time I had left to complete the workout. I always did 40 minutes, and based on my heart rate data I was riding pretty hard, even if I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Now that I am back, I’ve done a couple of rides outside when it isn’t raining. My legs and lungs felt pretty good and I was thrilled to be back on my very nice light bikes covering miles of pavement instead of grinding away going nowhere. I’m probably not ready to do a 100 mile ride or a multi-day cycling tour, but a couple of weeks back on the road will fix that. And perhaps put a dent in the extra pounds I brought home too.

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Goodbye Gary…

Gone but Remembered: Gary Johnson

 

Gary Johnson passed away last week. He was a long time member of the Stockton Bicycle Club and a regular on club rides. He was also a great friend to many people and a mentor to lots of neophyte club cyclists. He was both to me.

When I first started riding with the club I really couldn’t keep up with anyone. Gary would wait and make sure I knew the route and give me someone to ride with. When I finally got strong enough just to keep up with him I felt like I had really arrived as a rider. If Gary hadn’t been so nice to me I might never have become a cyclist, never ridden in Europe, never had a VO2 test (sorry about the tech speak), and never gotten a tandem to ride with Diane. Believe me, riding that tandem is special for both of us; we’re going to do it in France next summer. Without Gary’s mentoring who knows if any of that would have happened? Or if Diane and I would have ever met some of the wonderful friends we found riding our bike?

I always enjoyed carpooling with Gary, especially to out of town rides. He was great company. He was also the kind of guy who would offer to pay for his share of gas without being asked. And he would offer more than was fair. I wouldn’t always take his money, but when he offered to buy my lunch sandwich I would say ok.

He made a hobby of buying and selling very high quality used bikes. He probably ‘test rode’ more high quality framesets, components and wheel sets than anyone outside of the bicycle industry. He would occasionally bring a ‘new used’  bike to a ride and claim that this one was so nice he would never sell it, but he always did, eventually. It was an adventure watching him unload his bike at the start of a club ride; you never knew what he was going to unveil. But it was sure to be a stunning cycle purchased at a great price and available for sale if it fit you, which it usually did.

But what Gary was really wonderful at was helping new riders. A first time ride with a bike club can be an intimidating experience for newbies: everyone seems to know each other, and everyone seems strong and faster than you are. But Gary would saunter up and say hi, make some small talk, introduce himself and a few other people to the new person and try to make him/her feel relaxed and among friends. He would wait for new people who got behind to make sure they didn’t miss a turn or get lost, and sometimes he would ride with them at their pace even though he was strong enough to be out front. My first club ride did not go especially well, and I went home and told Diane there was no way I could ride with the club; they were all too strong. But I went back for a second try some months later, and Gary made sure I had a good experience. That started me down a path I never would have anticipated; cycling ended up becoming a major part of my life, and Diane’s too.

I’ve probably ridden over 30,000 miles with him over the last 14 years, and enjoyed at least that many laughs and smiles and cycling stories. Another of his friends estimates that they rode over 100,000 miles together. But there will not be any more of those miles. The bike club will continue but I doubt Gary will ever be replaced. Or forgotten either.

 

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“Who steals our purse…

Gone but not forgotten

 

Takes trash, ‘twas ours, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

But he that flinches from us our CoMotion tandem;

Takes that which not enriches him,

But leaves us poor indeed.”

With due apologies to Shakespeare, I know two very nice people who have been left ‘poor indeed’. Al and Cindy are fellow Stockton Bicycle Club riders and, like Stoker and me, they ride a tandem. And this summer they have been riding a whole lot, training for a 100 mile ride along California’s Hwy.1 from Carmel to San Simeon. 100 very hilly miles too, and anyone who has ever driven that road knows. But they finished that ride with big smiles at the post ride party.

On Saturday they did the Foxy 100 km ride in Davis, and when they returned home in the early evening they decided to leave their tandem locked to the roof rack top of their car since they were going to drive to Linden for the club ride on Sunday morning. They live in what seems a very nice and safe neighborhood in Lodi, the bike’s front fork was locked to the roof rack, and the front wheel was locked inside the car. They probably didn’t even consider that someone would break a lock on a quiet residential street in an upscale neighborhood to steal a tandem that didn’t have a front wheel. They were wrong. The next morning the tandem was gone, and neither they nor their two dogs heard a thing.

Smiles stolen too

I have suffered through having a very nice bicycle stolen, and it is an awful feeling. At least I had another nice bike and I could still ride. But almost nobody has a spare tandem, so Al and Cindy are not going to be able to ride together for quite a while. And this is a shame; they have been riding extremely well this season and they seem to have at least as much fun as Stoker and I do. They certainly have been doing more riding and more difficult rides than we have, and Cindy is always smiling no matter how hard the hills get.

For most cycling enthusiasts, their bicycle is more than an expensive toy or tool. We spend so much time on them, and create so many memories riding them, that they become part of what we are. For a tandem couple who are also a married couple, this process takes on even more significance; the bike is part of what WE are, a metaphor for our life together.

Stealing anyone’s bicycle should be a felony, but ‘flinching’ a tandem should be a capital crime.

 

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Testing; 1…2…3…

I'm not declining; I'm just as mediocre as ever!

… or perhaps 2…8…0…?

I’ve been writing about some of my friends and fellow club riders who have become much stronger during the last year. The Editor went from non-climber to 5 Pass Death Ride Finisher. Red Shoes Eric climbs away from me when a short time ago it was the other way around. Bionicbabe and Doug were inducted into a Hall of Fame for completing 50 (!) double centuries; 200 miles in one day and within the time cutoff.  People are setting PR’s on Strava segments and doing epic rides and tours.

I was starting to think that not only were lots of people getting better, but I might be getting worse. And although I had a great ride up Mont Ventoux in June, I really haven’t done anything notable since. No centuries, Death Rides, PR’s or epic tours. I haven’t felt weak, but I haven’t felt really strong either. I’ve been in a kind of cycling rut.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to miss the Saturday club ride because I needed to help Stoker prepare for a big party we were co-hosting that evening. But I did have time for a two hour early morning ride from our house, and I decided to do the dreaded 20 minute ‘Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test’. The FTP test is an excellent measure of cycling fitness and would give me some idea of whether or not my performance had deteriorated.

The FTP is ‘dreaded’ because doing it correctly really hurts. You do a good warm up, with a couple of 1 minute all out efforts to get the lungs going. Then you find a stretch of road with no stop signs and few turns and light traffic. You can do this test on a climb as long as there are no downhill segments, but a flat course is ideal. The idea is sustain the highest constant power you can for 20 minutes, and you want the pacing to be as even as possible; the power you generate for the first 10 minutes should be close to the last 10, and by the end of the test you should be close to exhausted.

After the test you use your power meter data to determine the average power for the 20 minutes. Then you take 95% of this number; this is your FTP. You use the FTP to set up training zones if you want to take a systematic approach to getting stronger, or at least keeping the fitness you have. Of course you could follow Eddy Merckx’s advice about how to get better: he said simply “Ride a lot!” But I’m betting if power meters had existed in Merckx’s day he would have used one.

I’ve done 4 FTP tests over the last 3 years, usually one in late spring and one in early fall. All of those tests came out in the 275-280 watt range for the 20 minutes. The last was in April 2013, and I averaged 280 for that one. So I was kind of surprised when I looked at the data after last week’s test and found I averaged 289 watts for the 20 minutes. And my pacing was pretty good; 292 watts for the first 10 minutes and 287 for the last 10 minutes. Surprised and satisfied; this is my highest FTP test ever.

So I guess I’m not getting any worse. And if/when I do start to deteriorate as a cyclist (more like ‘when’; I’m not getting younger) my power meter will let me know exactly how much.

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    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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