Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Lion of Holtsville

I've been putting in a considerable amount of time riding several new routes with a friend that lives surprisingly close to be showing me some new roads. The loops all have names like Flandria, Amstel and Flanders and have slight variations depending on what the day's training calls for. We'll talk about our goals for the week each of us has and then construct the week's schedule accordingly.

This arrangement has been mutually beneficial. When the weather was abysmal this Spring, knowing the other was meeting us ensured we'd get out... this is really more of a benefit for me because he will ride in any weather and never complain... a real Flahute. Essentially, we agree on training philosophy. Cycling is an aerobic sport and most time should be spent focused on improving threshold and VO2 max. We differ ever so slightly on the best ways to do this, but it is more a matter of tomato vs. tomAto. We also differ with regard to the amount of recovery needed for our rides. He's about 15% stronger than me and despite doing the lion's share on most rides, he often finds my solid L3/borderline L4 ride barely scratches the top of L2 for him.

For guys like him, having another rider that's capable of training with is encouraging. The fact that he enjoys talking about the nuts and bolts of training is also a plus I bring to the table. For me, the quality and volume of training I get is something I simply cannot accomplish solo.

For example, last Sunday we did the Flandria loop with a small group, in a steady rain. The 54 mile route starts into the wind for about an hour where we all trade hard pulls, before heading into a sequence of successive hills on the north shore that range from steep little power climbs to grinders. The idea is to keep it together for the most part, but there are 'green light' sections where riders can ride as hard as they can/want with the knowledge that we'll regroup at a designated spot afterwards.

For those versed in training with power, we finished this loop in 2:44 and I had held an average power of 236W with a norm power of 274W. Yesterday, we rode the Flanders loop... a 43 mile journey north through punchy hills that took a mere 1:58.
The numbers, 222W with norm 256W don't really tell the whole story for me. I drafted 100% of the ride... didn't pull a single second... felt great, power was coming easily, but on his wheel, I was forced to hold a normallized power equivalent to my functional threshold for 40' continuously smack in the center of the ride.

As important as the hard days I train with him are the days I ride without him. As I stated above, while he's riding L1, I am solid L2... not the best scenario for recovery for me. Perhaps, this is why we differ on recovery philosophy. I am a fan of active recovery at times, but also of passive recovery as well... he rarely takes a day off... I take 1-3 per week. On my days without him, I get to go longer and easier, or just sit behind my computer, recovering.