After major success with floor exercises coupled
with technical studies on the bike, plus a better understanding of
the true nature of Torque vs Watts, we have Mary's
bilateral functionality and spin technique is up to a level that
requires a new round of closely watched efforts recorded here as an
aside from the
We are moving tracking beyond merely watching Watts
output but will instead focus training based on Torque input while
maintaining a strong bias towards improving Power to Torque Ratio.
In summary, we noticed some time ago that Mary could
not hold nearly the same Torque on the flat that she routinely
generated on hills.
I theorized that an aspect of Gray Cook's cable
testing technique was probably relevant to what was happening.
Gray found that he could improve power output
immediately (as tested by vertical jump height) by having
participants in the study jump while holding cables as the
outstretched their arms upward.
The cables would thus exaggerate mistakes in form
and give quick feedback to allow participants to learn more quickly
what an efficient straight up jump was compared to an inefficient
off balance jump.
My thoughts were that the hills were acting like
that cables, and were enforcing good technique... a mistake on a
hill could cause Mary to fall, so she didn't make those mistakes.
We did a series of trading off hill work with flat
work comparing technique in both have succeeded in more than
doubling the force with which she can push her pedals on the flat.
This was done without strength work, but merely
through a series of stepped technical studies which improved her
position and spin smoothness.
Bilateral functioning was handled through daily
(numerous) floor exercise routines while bench presses coupled with
pushups were used to show her the procedures for achieving true
During this time I realized that the effort required
to give any number of Watts was wildly variable, and the secret to
where the stability and repeatability was found through an
inspection of the Torque and Cadence used.
Watts can feel very easy or very hard, but Torque
more or less always feels the same.
The Powertap meter gives separate readings for Watts
and Torque, and it is the only device available that does this at
this time, so if we were not using a Powertap we would never have
understood the following distinction.
We have run controlled tests for more than a year,
and it is very clear that a given torque at a given cadence will
always give the same number of watts.
Higher torque (greater effort) always results in
fewer watts if the cadence is lower.
Therefore we are now looking at Mary's Torque input
(into the drive chain at the pedals) in order to track her
Since the number of Watts she can generate are a
function of cadence and spin smoothness, her Watts are more
appropriately used to track broader improvements in technical skill
while making predictions regarding uniformly predictable speeds
Therefore, we are setting up a series of studies
wherein we will piece together the effort stepping up effort on the
first hill of Bellvale, then move to another baseline test on the
High Point Climb Time Trial Course, followed by a retest on the
Hump 1-Hr course.
Her current Personal Best 1-Hr TT was accomplished
with an average Torque of 8.09 Nm.
That was a Cat 3 performance (plus she's had a Cat 3 for Men
at 5 minutes).
Subsequent to that she posted a 1/2-Hr performance
on San Remo (near West Point) of 10.57 Nm.
That left the closest strongman 3 minutes behind her
at the end.
At that time, she could achieve no more than 10 Nm
for short interval bursts, and we managed to get her up near only 15
Nm, before realizing how the hills were assisting her in keeping her
She is now capable of 22 Nm for extended periods
while the problem with going higher than that is how quickly she
gets over 25 miles and hour.
The speed scares her, plus the technical
requirements regarding quick successive gear shifts over variable
terrain breaks her concentration.
These are all things to be worked on.
Although we are still searching for a bike shop with
the expertise required to help with maintaining and improving it,
Mary finally has her equipment together—which
is to say the correct gearing for her training bike... finally.
Speaking of finally, this morning Mary showed me how
she has finally isolated her left psoas which was the first order of
business three years ago.
We are moving our middle length TT's onto the High
Point Climb, because of the dangerous downhill switchbacks on the
West Point course.
Mary yesterday completed her short (hill assisted)
intervals, and the next goal is to hold 25 Nm for the entire .4 mile
of the first hill on Bellvale.
That would be about 750 watts given a smooth
efficient spin, but we only care about her effort on the pedals at
this point, so we will not yet fine tune the output.
We will break the hill down into sections, find what
gear equals what number of watts at what cadence, in order to
backwards engineer her data readings, so she can control her effort
via her watts.
Torque can be felt, Watts cannot, but the Powertap
only shows Watts during the ride, and Mary needs feedback regarding
effort FEELS LIKE, so we will figure out what watts equals
what torque and use watts as an indirect measure.
Next we will go back to the High Point Climb and
revisit unfinished business, which is to record a medium effort
finishing just under 30 minutes, so we can start pulling sections
out High Point and learning what gear should be used on each.
Then we will go for a High Point personal best on
and move to focus once again on the 1Hr on the Hump with the goal of
bringing that up to 23+.
A Kain Assault will be a diversionary aside.
Here's the rundown:
1) 25 Nm Bellvale
2) sub 30 minute High Point for data
3) sectioning High Point for technique
4) PB High Point TT (beat some people not expecting it)
5) sectioning Hump
6) PB 1-Hr on Hump
7) regroup for sectioning, technique tuning of Hump, then PB Hump TT
We have our work cutout.