Topics: Warm up guide, Training on different bikes, "Q" Factor
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Warm Up Guide
Can you give me any heart rate targets for a proper warm-up in preparation for a 2-3 hour race and an under 45 min. time trial please? Also, physiologically, what is going on in the body during warm-up? I have always been fascinated to watch my heart rate climb slowly for 15 to 20 minutes and then stabilize during a steady effort warm-up, or, the hills I face before my heart rate lifts seem harder than those same climbs later in a ride.
Scott Saifer says:
Here's a possible warm up scheme for a 45 minute race:
20 minutes easy spinning your way up from 70-80% of LT heart rate
5 minutes at 80-93% of LT heart rate
3 minutes at 93-96% LT heart rate
2 minutes right around LT
3 minutes easy
2 minutes right around LT
3 minutes easy
2 minutes right around LT
10 minutes easy ending less than 15 minutes before the start.
Putting that less technically, take about a half hour to warm up very gradually until you reach your LT. Then do three 2-minute intervals with three minute rests right on the edge of breathing harder and feeling a hint of leg burn.
I don't like to have people warm up by power because if something is not quite right, a power that is usually sub-LT can be anaerobic and burn too many matches before the race start.
What to do before a longer race depends on how the race is likely to start. If the race starts with a climb, or the riders are likely to take off hard, use the same warm-up as before a shorter race. If the race is guaranteed to start easy (does that ever happen?) you can shorten the warm up to include only the first 28 minutes of the above.
The exception for both longer and shorter races is extreme weather days. If it is hot enough that you might overheat during the warm up, keep yourself wet with plain, cool water while you spin around for 20-25 minutes and call that warming up. If it's so cold and wet that you'll be hypothermic if you do the warm up, get better clothing and then do the warm up.
Tailoring training with two different disciplines
I've been a competitive mountain bike racer for the last 3 years and have been making steady gains in fitness over the last 2 years especially. Now that I'm starting to get faster, it's getting to the point where I have to challenge my body more and more and most recently I finally purchased a road bike for training. I had been riding my mountain bike on the road and the spin bike also but I'm hoping to make some good improvements upon a real road bike as everyone says it's the best way to get faster. I have a couple of questions:
What percentage (roughly) should I be training on the road bike vs. the mountain bike? (i.e. should it be more road during the "base" months of training and add in more off road sessions as the season rolls around?)
Currently I feel like my mtb skills are very good, and I've noticed my times from last year have improved by a minute or two per lap but the big difference is now I can last a lot longer it feels like. I'd really like to be able to keep up the endurance however I would like to be able to really improve my ability to maintain a higher speed for longer not just lasting longer. Would this warrant a need for more LT intervals? More race pace efforts for longer? Both?
Scott Saifer says:
If your goal is mainly to be competitive on the MTB, you should be doing just enough MTB time to maintain your skills, and all the rest of your training time on the road. That might mean a day every week or two on dirt, and the rest of the time on the road. On the road you make the sort of consistent power that causes aerobic development. Eventually you take the steady effort you can make on the road and do what you can to make a similar effort on the MTB. MTB riding may feel like a series of very hard and then easy bits making you think you should work on bursts of power or intervals, but that's not how races are won. MTB races are won by coming as close as possible, given the terrain, to a steady effort.
To optimize your ability to hold a high pace for the length of a race, you need a big aerobic engine. You get that by doing several months of base riding before doing any harder stuff. Once you have those several months of base riding on the road, add two days per week of long, sub-LT intervals, say 5-15 beats below LT if you are using a heart rate monitor or hard but below the level that brings on heavier breathing if you don't. One day each week these could be on the dirt for skills refinement and the other on the road for maximal fitness gains. After a month of these intervals, do a month of 5-8 minute intervals, two days per week at LT. Again, one set on dirt and one on the road. On the other days, keep up your base riding. Once you have followed this plan, you'll need a few hard group MTB rides or races to find your race legs, and then you should be hot for racing.
Hey guys, I'm a 6'1'' 165 lb triathlete, mountain bike and occasional road racer. I have found that making my stance on the bike as narrow as possible my power and heart rate numbers have improved for the better.
This involved moving my cleat to the outside of the shoe, which proved to be tricky with 48cm feet not hitting the crank arm, and finding cranks that had a low Q factor. I also noticed that, despite having the black KEO no float cleats, when I moved the saddle forward and up my feet pointed straight ahead more and the issue of my heal hitting the arm became less significant unless I became tired and stroke got sloppy. I have always used Big Meat wedges under my cleats, in case that matters. My two questions are: Is Q factor really that huge of a deal? My friends are crying "placebo".
I do have narrow hips for my height, 32 inch waist, etc. Second question is, how do I duplicate this stance on my mountain bikes? There is and inch and a half difference in stance and for some reason every mountain crank I find seems to clear the chain stay by a pointlessly huge distance. How the heck do I solve that problem?
Steve Hogg says:
Yes, it does matter to a point. Like you, the less separation between my feet the better I like it. I use Speedplay road pedals with the 1/8" shorter than standard axles, have the cleats pushed all the way to the outside (to bring my feet in) and use Campagnolo cranks because they are couple of mm narrower than Shimano and SRAM and 5mm narrower than many aftermarket brands.
I'm narrow hipped and have good mobility in the hips and low back, which may play a part, though I'm not sure.
Every pedal stroke is a potential challenge to pelvic stability on the seat. If my feet are much further apart on my road bike I constantly have a feeling of shuffling around on the seat. It is not bad but I never feel 'right', whereas with the foot separation I ride, I feel rock solid on the seat. Additionally, with feet further apart on the pedals I find that I have to increase my stretching because at some level, greater foot separation is harder on my body, at least on the road bike.
Re the mountain bike; it won't happen. Again I have the same issue. Whenever I get on the mountain bike after a period off it, it feels strange. On the road bike with free play cleats my feet point straight ahead. On the MTB, I pedal noticeably heel in. This is 'normal' due to the wider pedal spacing. The solution on the MTB is to make your bar height and position conservative. I can comfortably ride a lower than average bar position on the road bike but don't even try to on the MTB. I find that if I do, and combined with the 35mm wider crank separation it feels terrible. With bars higher, there is less pressure on hips and lower back and I adapt to the wider foot placement quickly. At the moment I'm spending more time on the MTB than usual and it has become 'normal'.
From time to time I come across fit clients with the same issue as you and I have on the road bike. Speedplay make a stainless steel axled Zero with a 1/8" shorter than standard axle. Additionally, the Ti axled version has the same axle length. Both have more ability to adjust the cleat laterally than other systems. Keywin, who are not well known, have pedals with 3mm and 6mm shorter than standard (but with very limited rotational movement or lateral cleat adjustment). Additionally, the higher end Cannondale cranks have a Q factor of approximately 140mm whereas Campag are 145.5, Shimano and Sram are 147.5mm and most others are wider still.
When I started cycling, road cranks had Q factors of 130 - 135mm but that was in 5/6 speed days. As manufacturers have added more cogs at the rear, the outermost rear cog is much closer to the chain / seat say junction at the rear tip with the consequence of chain moving further outward in the outer gears. Crank Q factor has had to increase so that the right hand crank arm doesn't foul the chain in top gear.
Hope this helps.