Wednesday Night Time Trial Series 2012 No. 3

This article is the third installment of my self analysis from the Wednesday Night Time Trial Series, held annually, and produced by the great folks at Colorado Endurance Sports. Check out the first and second TT analyses of the series for details on how the race progressed over first three weeks of the four week series.

WNTT Series #3

WNTT #3 Gold Camp

WNTT #3 Gold Camp

Time trial number three went back to Gold Camp, which, if you read the first TT analysis, you’ll remember is a steady uphill haul of about 4.4 miles in distance. My official time this week was 17:40, an improvement by 30 seconds! I was very surprised, particularly because of the amount of fatigue I was feeling this week due to both training and general life stress. I had resigned myself prior to the start of the TT to a lesser performance, so when I saw my finishing time, I was pretty stoked. If you’re interested in the data from the entire ride (including warm up and cool down), you can see it here.

Gold Camp by the Numbers

Gold Camp Pt. 2, by the Numbers

The data collected by my power meter confirms a better performance as well. I averaged 300 W (both average power and normalized power — which seems a little unlikely, but whatever). This adds up to 4.3 W/kg, along with an 822 W maximum effort. Although I can’t be 100% certain, I attribute the better performance (compared to both TT #1 and TT #2) to couple of things I did differently:

  1. Cadence. I made a conscious effort to spin at a higher cadence. In this case, my average cadence was 90 RPM (Rotations Per Minute), as apposed to 85 RPM in the previous trip up Gold Camp. This, in my mind, is probably the more influencing factor of the two in the out come. While Gold Camp is uphill, at an average of 4.4% gradient, it’s not so steep that a strong cyclist cannot “spin” up the hill. It also depends on the gearing chosen for the race. I ride an 11-23 cassette and 53-39 chain ring set all year round. This combination enabled me to spin at 90 RPM on this hill, a steeper hill, probably not on this day.
  2. As I mentioned in the first time trial analysis, I probably went out too hard in the first 30 seconds. Although I did go out hard again, I held back a bit hoping to be able to save a little for the last 100 meters. For the final peak in power this time I pop 561 W, as apposed to the 361 W in TT #1.

Interestingly enough, my average heart rate in this race was considerably lower than in the first Gold Camp TT. Here I averaged 156 bpm, where previous average heart rate was 165 bpm. In theory, the higher cadence should have been slightly more taxing on my cardiovascular system, however, the resulting cardiac output was less. This is a great example of how heart rate data can be misleading. I was clearly putting in a maximum effort for the entire time. Typically, I would expect my heart rate to be well above my known lactic threshold, which is about 161-162 bpm. Based on my anecdotal observations of fatigue I felt I was carrying on this day, I’d speculate that a suppressed heart rate was due to simply being under rested.

The result (obviously relative to the field) was the 5th fastest split on the day, again first in my division (35+B), and I still have the overall fastest combined splits for the series in my division. I’m looking forward to resting and seeing what I can do to make the 4th TT even better!

Stay tuned for analysis of the final TT of the four-part series in the Wednesday Night Time Trials.