OUR wild and wooly winter continues here in the California Alps. We were given some space between storms by Ma’ Nature since my last weather related update but we’re back into the wintry cycle now, this time with rain.
WEATHER related shipping delays (whine – first world problem) have prevented me from finishing up Farley’s tubeless set up. Got ‘im taped and ready but that old trick of using a CO2 cartridge to quickly pop those beads in place DOES NOT WORK for those humongous fat bike tires, and so the weekend before last I ordered the digital inflator and presta air chuck for my compressor.
It’s still not here and so I patiently wait for UPS.
FRANKLY, though, all this adversity has allowed me to stay focused on my training plan; Sunday was the last day of that four-week foray.
THAT brings me finally to the point of this post.
HAVING grown up in San Jose, I was able to ride all year long. Sure, sometimes in the rain, but for the most part the weather wasn’t that impactful.
HERE in the heart of the California Alps, though, things can be different. Haha. This year, I’ve ridden almost 900 miles, with all but 75 of that on the trainer. With plenty of time to ruminate during those many miles inside, I’ve listed below what I consider some brilliant bits that have helped me get through all of that time focused on a screen rather than the road ahead.
I herewith share them with you with the hope that they’ll help ease some of your pain, or at least distract you from it, so you can get the most out of your indoor sessions. And for those of you who are pain cave professionals, and mayhaps have some tips of your own to share, please feel free to comment away.
Have A Plan
TRAININGPEAKS is my application of choice in this regard. I’ve been using it for over two years and I really like the daily feedback and data tracking. You can also buy plans for various endeavors. Once you do, that plan stays in your library for future use. So, with the Ride and Walk4Art coming up I resurrected the plan I had purchased a couple years back and added it to my TP calendar.
PLANS are perfect for the pain cave. I’m not sure about other applications but TrainingPeaks syncs with Zwift so you can throw the workout up on the screen, turn on the tunes and just do what the screen “tells you” to do. Zwift has some good plans and workouts as well, so give those a try, too.
Use More Than One App
FULGAZ is my other app. of choice and I particularly like the contrast of Zwift’s animation and crowds with Fulgaz’s (FG) scenery and lack thereof (crowds, that is). I’m still surprised at how many riders I talk to don’t know about FG. “Less Virtual, More Reality” is its very apropo slogan. Check out the AMAZING SIGHTS post at the top of this page for more on Fulgaz. This post from the winter of 2021 is also worth a gander.
FRIEND and local, Graham F., made this comment recently on Strava, referring to the “Going to the Sun Road Glacier National Park 2020” ride (15.77 miles; 3238 elevation gain) he had just done on Fulgaz: “The scenery is good enough to make you ignore some of the suffering.” Exactly.
Focus On The Thing
SPEAKING of suffering…On whatever app. it is that you use, (my example here is of Zwift) focus your riding on the thing the interval is about. In other words, if it’s about leg speed, then get the leg speed where it needs to be and let the watts sort themselves out. On the other hand, if the interval is watts-related, focus on those watts and let your leg speed get to where you feel most comfortable. Zwift will adjust accordingly and get your watts, or your cadence, where they belong.
Music Is Your Friend
USE headphones, they eliminate distractions from fan noise to door bells. Rather than focusing on the time left in the interval, or the data on the screen, for example, you can instead focus on the song. “Get through the song then look at the screen, Mark.” “One song at a time, dude.” Set up a playlist timed for your efforts – easy listening for the warm up and cool down phases, and something more pulse-pounding for those hard bits. I’ve got specific playlists for TTs, big climbs, endurance days and more.
WHILE it’s admittedly not music, I’ve found that CBD helps me listen better to the music and “get out of my own way.” It lessons that monkey-brain and increases focus. Something to consider perhaps? Do of course consult your medical professional, or make your own decision, though. Really that advice applies to this entire post!
Put It On The Big Screen – And Use Companion
IF you can have a big screen set up in your cave, it’s worth the effort and IMHO, the expense. It’s so much more immersive and that matters especially if you’re putting in many miles en su casa. And, if you are a Zwifter and you don’t use the Companion app., you should. That little helper makes things easier to control and gives you another data set to help distract you from the monotony of miles and miles with no movement.
Focus On Your Form
THE trainer is the best place to focus on your form. Circles they say. Wipe mud off your shoe, I’ve heard. Drive your knees to the bar. All of the above, IMHO. For me, though, it’s the knee-drive that seems to give the most gains on the pedaling efficiency front. Power meter data is key here so take advantage of those metrics. E.G., what was your left-to-right ratio? Knowing you put too much emphasis on one side of the stroke will help you adjust next time.
IT’S not just about the legs, either. Elbows bent? Shoulders not at your ears? Check. Or, not. In addition to their intrinsic value, I have found these little check-ins also help distract me from the grind. Like meditation, keep coming back to those things.
WHY not stretch a little while you’re at it, too? Another advantage of the trainer.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
MEASURE your success. For those of you who’ve been following this blog you know I do like the data. What better way to validate your approach then through testing?
BE sure, though, that it’s “apples to apples.” I was reminded of this recently, hence the mention here, via a comment by Coach Ozier (Peaks Coaching Group) in a post I wrote in the spring of 2021. Suffice it to say that this time I made sure that I ran the same test I ran previously.
I ran the 1 hour 13 minute Zwift FTP test and I did the last test in January of this year. Note: Per Coach O, go all out on the five-minute section before the actual test for a true representation of your FTP.
A 21 point gain from my last test; that’s what I’m talking about! I’m on the upswing and gaining back fitness after last year’s prostate surgery. Prior to that surgery my FTP was 297. Still some work to do.
NOT a watt nerd? Don’t have a power meter? No problemo. These 7 tips will serve you well too, I think.
TRY ‘em out. Add your own suggestions and comment on this post. Share the knowledge!
AND don’t forget to make time for a cool down spin and a bit of stretching post-workout.
THIS weekend’s Ride and Walk4Art will help me determine if all my bitchin’ advice translates to the road.
I hope to see you there. I can already taste that chicken in a barrel that Rob’s wife is cooking up!