Earl approached me in July 2016 as a relatively new entrant to the sport with less than a couple of years riding. Although his athletic background had been formed by running and marathon (pb 3h 13min) from a young age. For the last 6-8mths he had been commuting and training solo on the flat terrain around Sacramento city, (CA) and on a few group rides from his local bike shop.
Earl decided to take training more seriously as he wanted to do well in the 2016 Tour de Tahoe, so he invested in a power meter and looked for a tailored ‘power-based’ programme to follow. After getting in contact with myself regarding my Training Peaks online plans, we agreed upon a more dynamic custom programme which would fit much better with his busy schedule and limited riding time (110-120 miles/ week). This would be more agreeable to revisions and adapted according to his response.
Initial performance profiling was easily conducted by remote critical power assessments, with data being easily relayed over his coached Training Peaks account. The power-meter, heart rate monitor and turbo-trainer combination meant that Earl was able to replicate interval efforts which were crucial for both threshold improvement and adequate resistance for neuromuscular engagement to recruit more muscle fiber motor units. This allowed us to improve the range of muscle firing patterns prior to greater cardio-respiratory conditioning.
The four month build-up included designed sessions to make the most of the short individual rides, chain-gangs and variable easier/ harder shop rides, working on cadence range, resistance and duration. Earl conveniently uploaded session activities and we held a weekly summary over Skype to appraise the training completed, and that proposed in terms of recovery and response of targeted session objectives. This meant we could keep training relevant, and progressive when certain activities became more comfortable.
Earl conducted an optimal combination and distribution of ride sessions in limited expendable training time. He also took advantage of a work weekend away to ride some of the roads of the Tour de Tahoe and get a feel for pacing the climbs as part of his structured interval sessions to feel more confident at prescribed effort.
Closer to his event, we conducted further follow-up assessments to use as part of a pacing strategy. Keeping track of his power-to-heart rate during the course of a few weeks we could see that Earl was progressing well with an optimal distribution of intensity, focusing on his key weaknesses. Improving these also translated well into his sustainable maximal aerobic capacity and also the fractional utilisation of this capacity, known as lactate threshold or MLSS.
Earl managed to achieve his target event objective comfortably at the Tour de Tahoe with an impressive time of 4h07’, something that he felt was out of his reach. Now Earl has an improved power profile and is familiar with the structured training sessions that get results through evidence. Earl will choose further event objectives in 2017 and know how much time he needs to dedicate to optimal training, and enjoy his time on the bike.