Fenner’s Total Performance Training Blog

Knowledge is Power

Sram Quarq Quatro MTB

Posted by fenner on February 8, 2012

A very welcome new addition to the power meter market in the last month or so has been the Sram Quarq Quatro MTB power meter. Up until now for the MTB crew to be able to really quantify training load and fine tune the real demands of racing on the MTB it was a case of a Power Tap rear hub or the very expensive SRM. Both units worked fine, but the Power Tap was a little heavy and for races most of my clients prefered to use their lightweight wheel set and save nearly 400g’s. The SRM although a fantastic crank based power meter, cost and the not so user-friendly battery replacement issues put it out of the range of most athletes wanting to really dial their training and racing on the MTB.

The new Quatro follows a very similar design to that of the road based Quarq, but, with some subtle differences. The battery case has been beefed up and made from aluminium which takes out the possibility of smashing the plastic case on a rock and losing the cover and therefore the battery. The whole spider set up is more compact to allow for the smaller chainrings and it all looks more robust and solid. This more industrial look and feel doesn’t come with a weight penalty, however, as the cranks are only 50g or so more than the standard XO units making running a power meter in races a no brainer now.

Sram Quarq Quatro MTB

The set up of the Quatro could not be easier, as with most crank based power meters it is simply a case of plug and play these days with ANT+ wireless technology there is no messing about with fiddly cables and wires it is just so easy. A cadence magnet needs to be attached to the bike to activate the reed switches on the power meter and allow for the cadence to be measured. In the case of the Quatro, Sram/Quarq have given the user multiple options for cadence sensor placement to allow for multiple BB configurations. I simple GXP BB has a cup washer with magnet attached that is simply placed on the BB cup threads and screwed onto the drive side of the bike, With the magnet placed facing backward to avoid shipping a chain into it, set up could not be easier. The Quatro also comes with some placement putty for BB30 or press fit BB’s and it is again a simple case of mixing the two-part adhesive putty together and placing just behind the BB shell.

Cadence sensor ring

Cadence sensor ring

Once the magnet has been set up it really is just a case of putting the cranks on and syncing it in with the head unit of your choice. I use my Quarqs with a Garmin 500 and they work really well. I have all 3 bikes Road, Time Trial and MTB all set up as different bikes on the head unit as each power meter has a different code to eliminate picking up power from another device. I will not go into detail about the head unit set up because there are other great sites out there to help with this. If you are interested try the following for detailed Garmin head unit set up info.

http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2009/11/garmin-edge-500-in-depth-review.html

http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2008/12/garmin-edge-705-review.html

http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2010/08/garmin-edge-800-in-depth-first-look.html

http://www.quarq.com/i/garmin_quick_menu.pdf

With the Quatro on the bike there is nothing more to do than get out there and start training. The data from races and training on the MTB will enlighten you as a rider to the real demands of the discipline. Simply going out on the road bike for km’s simply doesn’t target the specific demands of riding the MTB and after your first quadrant analysis of a MTB race compared to a road race you will be shocked;o)

They might still be an investment, but, compared to a uber light rig they are still very good value and I would say over time as an athlete you will get more reward from using power than any new piece of bike kit you could think of.

See you on the trails soon

Fenz

 

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Back in the Game

Posted by fenner on February 7, 2012

The condition is coming and slowly day by day I am finding the legs again. It has been just over 3 months now since I was able to get back onto the bike and start the journey back to fitness and prepare for the Absa Cape Epic and to date things are going better than I had hoped. I started back with shorter hard threshold based efforts of no more than 1 hour and this built up to 2 hours by the end of 6 weeks. My FTP which started out at 280 watts with a 20 minute effort of 299 up a local climb quickly climbed up to a 20 min of 360 just before Xmas. Into the new year I rode the Jayco Bay Crits with my new road team Torq/Bss and finished in the leading bunch in 2 of the 3 races and felt ok. I was lacking the intensity and race legs to be competitive, but, I was racing and getting through without any back issues. I was and still am getting pain down my left leg, but, it is residual nerve damage and may last for some time, so, I just put up with it and get on. After the Bay Crits was the National ITT Champs and again I rode ok about 40 watts down on what I have held for PB’s and 20 watts down on what I had set for myself and I think I was still suffering a little fatigue from the Bay Crits as my CTL was still very low and my ability to recover and back up hard sessions compromised by my lack of base condition. I came in 28th with a time of 53.12 and I think with my best numbers another 2 mins could have been taken from the time putting me up to around the top 15 where I finished 2 years ago.

Back in the Game

I have just competed in the Buller Nats round on the MTB, Wildside and this weekend at Mt Stromlo for another Nats round before flying down to Adelaide in 2 weeks time for the MTB National Champs. I am starting to find the legs and won a local Road Race here on Sunday with a breakaway and feeling strong and ready for the volume to start in prep for The Cape Epic.

I would like to say a massive thank you to all my sponsors for their continued support through the tough 2011 season for old Fenz. A big shout out to Dean and Gen from Torq, Hayden and Guys at Monza, Hidtech, Ozriders and AussieButt Cream. Look out 2012 because I am hungry for a big year both on the dirt and on the road.

Catch ya on the trails soon

Fenz

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Right then back into training and starting from scratch

Posted by fenner on November 7, 2011

That was a journey I really didn’t expect or want, a ruptured disc and following operation scuppered 4 months of this season and ruined all my best laid plans. These things are sent to try us and finally I am back on the bike after a few fits and stops (under surgeons orders) I am 12 weeks post op and the disc should be healed and ready for me to begin the long road back to fitness.

I dicided today that I would go out and set the starting FTP and did my local climb Camby and solid 5km 8% climb that is right on my doorstep. I was going to just go a roll around, but, wanted to see where I was at and make sure that all the subsequent rides were at the right intensity and that TP was going to be giving me the correct CTL and corresponding TSB numbers throught the next month or so. The test numbers were 23 minutes for the climb over 5 mins slower than my PB time and 23 minute power was 300 watts on the dot at 75kg’s. Thie represents a 75 watt drop from PB form and nearly 8 kg’s heavier than race weight!!!!! With a CTL starting at 9.6 I have a long way to go, but, I have the first target set which is Wildside at the end of January and the big news for me was being asked to do the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa with a rider I coached for the event last year Oliver Klein. Olz smashed it in the masters cat last year finishing well up in the top ten and is looking to hit the podium in 2012.

That gives me 3 months until Wildside and 5 until the Cape Epic. I am going to run a series of articles on training for Stage Races in AMB to go along with the training I am doing and also the popularuty

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MAP Tests Ramp Rates why is there not a standard?

Posted by fenner on July 31, 2011

I have always questioned the validity of the some of the institutes protocols for testing Functional Threshold Power and Lactate threshold in fact the actual testing of many of the individual physiological variables that determine our performance when we can just look at the actual race data and results of performance measures instead. Sure it is great to be in the lab having lactate taken and analysis of RER’s and VO2, but, at the end of the day the results on the road are a combination of all the factors and are far less invasive.

With this in mind I don’t get may athletes to do anything more than a standard 25 watt/min ramp rate MAP for guys or a 15 watt/min ramp rate for women. This is followed by a 20 minute FTP test on a climb or on circuit without stops. I then simply look at the relationship between each and determine the AWC of that athlete and construct training accordingly. I do when the weather is very bad have my athletes carry out a separate ergo FTP as well as an outdoors climbing FTP as RPE is different when doing tests indoors and outdoors and by altering the ergo indoor FTP sessions become achievable and there is less failure to complete sessions. There is much debate about this, but, quite simply some can achieve indoor sessions at or close to outdoor sessions power and some cannot. It is far better to have success and completion of sessions than ball busting failures that crush the spirit and motivation of a rider.

This all came about when my associate coach Damo Mason came over today to help me move my slide on camper and some timber as I can hardly move with my ruptured disc. After moving the gear we had Damo primed ready for a test on the CycleOps PT 400. I have set up a large number of programmed sessions and the ramp tests are fantastic when completed on the load ergometer. Damo smashed out a great test and with the short protocol the whole thing was done in 40 minutes. Damo managed to average 458 watts for the last-minute and it was a great result. Thos just confirmed the numbers we had been seeing out on the road and the 340 – 350 watt FTP we have set to base the training upon. This is also why Damo just smashed the recent NSW Maters 3 ITT  Champs.

Damo Mason MAP 25 Watt Ramp

I suppose the reason for this meandering post is that if we all followed the same easy to follow protocols it would be so much better to cross reference riders form and fitness. Quite simply if for instance what does it matter knowing a rivals FTP it is what it is and so you just have to use the governor to overcome those with better physiology and genetically given gifts ;o)

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Ramblings of an injured Athlete

Posted by fenner on July 30, 2011

It is a funny old game that of sports science and most written pieces and discussions are all basically going over the same discussions and areas of debate. We all try to come up with interesting articles in the magazines and unpack more complex science and bring it into layman’s terms so that everyone can understand and gain insight into the differences between the elite and the club cyclists. I was always let down by the information given in articles and written discussion when I was a lad and basically found that nothing was given no real advice with no gumption or substance and so I have strived to actually give in my written articles, give free knowledge and real substance. The most recent article was derived while watching the Tour this year and it was spontaneous and creative, there I was with the SRM data streaming live on the laptop and the Tour live on the TV. Wow how good was that, why did we not have live blow by blow data streamed live into a little box on the side of the screen???? I was Facebooking live data and info working out ascent rates live and had quite a discussion going with a fair few people it was great. I then got a private message from the editor of Cycling Weekly in England asking if I could do a piece on a topic relating to my Facebook discussion. Awesome I said I will work out what real-time cyclists would do compared to the pro’s up a climb I had fixed data on from that particular stage, where Geraint Thomas was away with Roy where I had copied blow-by-blow data on his power for the climbs. That was it then and I wrote the article which was published this week in CW.

I will of course in the future put the article for free download on this blog or the website and I am sure it will be used and adapted by other sports scientists out there for other articles and debates. I suppose this is as I sit here waiting for my back operation unfit and a little down about nothing is new, creativity and spontaneity is what will  inevitability uncover new training ideas and new levels of performance. As sports scientists and coaches we should take time to get together as we do at http://www.ftptraining.com and increase the pool of knowledge with regular skype conferences and discussions on clients need and goals and have that pool of creativity and energy uncover new area to study and increase performance by doing so.

What are you waiting for coaches and sports scientists my contact details are on the website, lets start the process instead of reading and rewriting each others work lets start creating a new level of understanding by pooling knowledge and data for the good of increased performance and discovery.

These are ramblings of an injured athlete on lots of meds to stop the pain from ruptured disc resting on the sciatic nerve, I am hoping to have the surgery within the week and begin the journey of recovery and who knows new levels of performance ;o) I was really looking forward to doing the elite State ITT Champs this year, up until a month or so ago my FTP had been creeping up with very little (3 – 5 hours a week) training. I was focussing on ultra specific efforts at very high power outputs at or above race pace. FTP had come up to 340+ watts at just under 7okg’s which for winter was the best my weight had ever been and I was looking forward to doing a sub 60 min State ITT and we had a Torq team set up for the Tour of Gipps and then the Tour of . What a bugger, always next year eh :o)

Cheers

Fenz

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Some awesome bikes for sale

Posted by fenner on July 28, 2011

Dean at Torq has just sent me the list of 3 brand new bikes that he has in the warehouse looking for new owners. Take a look at the specs and you will be frothing, these are remember brand new and never ridden. If you are interested contact Dean at dean@torqaustralia.com

GTR Carbon Pro red

2010 Cube reaction GTC Race

GTR Carbon Pro rival

These rigs represent awesome savings on new so drop dean an email and set up a test ride.

Cheers

Fenz

 

 

 

 

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Time Trial Speed Part 2

Posted by fenner on July 14, 2011

I suppose as I am injured the NSW titles are out this year, a bloody shame as I was going to race Elite this year and I think it would have been close Peter ;o) After looking at some refinements to the CUBE Aerium I thought today we could look at some measured stats for a number of different pieces of Time Trial equipment. This was posted on cycling tips blog and by calculations in field testing it is pretty good.

The following chart shows the aerodynamic savings according to what http://www.aerosportsresearch.com calculated for Velonews 

How much time does your $$ buy?

These numbers are calculated for a rider over 40kms at a time of 48minutes.

So then although we can spend heaps of $$$ on the small bits and pieces for the bike the speedsuit is one of the biggest bang for your buck items for TT speed. This is followed by the tri bars and obviously this is governed by their overall set up and position as discussed yesterday. Areo helmet and time in the wind tunnel can bring about similar benefits, but, the costs are massively different!We are always looking at wheel and in my research it will depend a lot upon conditions. A deep 90mm + front wheel will in most conditions be faster than a shallower wheel or a tri spoke, but, various yaw angles and wind speed will have differing effects upon this relationship, so , trial and error along with experience of handling the wheels in wind will play a part. It is no good having the fastest wheels on for the day, but, being scared and blown about the road not being able to actually ride and concentrate on pacing and power production. Look at the results for shoe covers!! big gains can be had for sure for little outlay. Last but not least the frame, small, but, meaningful gains can be made with the slipery framesets if you have the money.

It is easy to see then why when I turned up for the Masters State RR Champs with my team mate and associate coach Damo Mason on that windswept day in we both had on our Champion Systems FTP Training speedsuits and overshoes isn’t it;o)

Cheers

Fenz

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Time Trial Speed and Bike Tuning

Posted by fenner on July 13, 2011

As most of you are aware I tend to cross over the cycling disciplines throughout the year and love all manner of bike racing. As well as the MTB and Road Racing the Individual Time Trial has a special place in my heart. Being brought up on the English scene the classic summer series of evening 10’s and 25’s was all part of the staple diet and included into each and every training schedule. The feeling of pure power and speed got me hooked at my very first race. I remember it well as it was the New Year Day 10 at Steyning back in 1990. I rocked up on my road bike standard with no mod cons  and certainly no aero helmet. It was a brutally cold morning and about 2 degrees with frost on the ground and very little wind. I remember the starter holding me up and setting me off. It was awesome, no snivlers sitting on, just measured power and effort and pure speed. To my amazement I won my very first 10 in a time of 23.05 with an average speed of 26.03mph or 42km/h. I had a cyclo cross race the next day and I could not stop thinking about the ITT.

How things have changed, bikes, gear, knowledge the whole sport was in the dark ages back then and knowledge was passed on through the A graders in the club if you were lucky. There was no internet, no wind tunnels, no anything, just trial and error and away you go. I was hooked from then on and found that I had a talent for time trialing, my pretty average physiology could be pushed beyond its real limits against the clock and solid results followed. Part of this is due to my inquisitive and partly OCD nature. I love the tinker, the changing the gluing and moving of all the bits and pieces involved on the TT rig.

Now than I am not going to give away all the secrets for Uber speed , unless you are one of my riders as it has taken literally 20 odd years to learn, but, I am wiling to show pictures of the rig and see if you can work most of them out for yourselves. I gave a report of the new CUBE as soon as I had built it up and transferred the measurements from the Transition, but, there have been lots of changes since, so, I think a revisit is in order.

The front end, is the most critical first point of contact with the enemy. Frontal area needs to be reduced to a minimum, but, still allowing breathing and power output. There is a crossover point where getting too low reduces power. A lot of testing needs to be done to establish this point for you as an individual. Too high not very aero, but, lots of power vs too low very aero, but, no power. Let look at the front end of the CUBE for details.

CUBE front end neat and tidy

Neat and tidy front end, very narrow with elbow touching and a 30 degree bend for the extensions. This position has taken years to get into and most people cannot ride like it. If you try it be carefull the overall control of the bike is far more difficult and cross winds really get you!!!

TRP Brake mounted behind the front fork to smooth airflow

USE Tula bars adapted slightly with armrests 120mm below the saddle height. I have found this the maximum drop height before I start to lose power. The average is between 110 – 120 for most riders as an optimum drop height.

Awesome USE Tula 380mm wide the minimum width allowed by the UCI

I am using the 54 tooth OSymetric rings as used by a large amount of the SKY team and most notably Bradley Wiggins. I once tested Bradley when he was 16 years old at the lab with Simon Jones for the BCF. He had just I think won a World Champs on the boards. It is amazing to see him now rally at the top of his game and the pinnacle of his physiological capacity..Anyway some great studies have come out with these rings and after chatting to a good mate back in England Chris Mc and email with his coach Jon Sharples I decided to give them a go. As I am now unfortunately injured the test period was small, but, I did hit a peak pb 3 minutes of 460 watts at 70kg, with one crippled leg, and was 3 second off my course record at a local 15km TT, so, signs are very good indeed. They actually ride very naturally straight off and I was amazed by how good they feel. If anyone is interested I can get them for a good price. Go onto my website www.ftptraining.com and send me a message and I will see what I can do for you.

54 Tooth OSymetric Ring on a Quark with Keo Blade aero pedals

The Keo Blade Aero Pedals help smooth airflow under the foot as well as looking bloody great ;o) There are more little things that I am not going to tell you as you need to travel down the path of discovery for yourselves, but, there is more free speed in the setup if you choose to uncover it.

Good luck on the journey of discovery and ultimate speed, I am over 20 years into it and simply love it.

CUBE = FAST

Cheers Fenz

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Time to change the years plans :o(

Posted by fenner on July 8, 2011

After winning the State Masters RR I had only been doing short but very specific interval based training targeting the ITT and State TTT. Everything was going very well and the numbers were showing good improvements with my 20 minute power coming up to nearly 360 watts. I had been tinkering with the ITT position and set up and basically was targeting the Elite State ITT and then Elite RR. For the last couple of years in the RR I had come close to getting a real result finishing on the top 10 on both occasions and last year nearly getting across to the winning break with a couple of Virgin Blue riders.

Then about 3 weeks ago I had an asthma attack at the beginning of the State TTT and had to pull the pin. Then the left leg started to ache and the old tell-tale signs of my back problems started. tightness in the left glute, sacro iliac pain and over the past two weeks completely debilitating sciatic pain to the point as I write this that I haven’t been able to sleep for the past few nights and I cannot even walk. The pain into the sacrum area radiating down the leg is too painful. I went for a scan today and I am awaiting the results on Monday. I have a foreboding feeling that this just isn’t right and something is seriously wrong. I have been put on some rather serious pain-killers that target neuropathic pain most often used for fibromyalgia. They are supposed to knock me out and dull the pain, but, I have had 300mg tonight and it is doing nothing, so, it looks like another sleepless night!!!!!!!

Bugger it, I hope to be back in the saddle soon.

Smash some trails for me

Fenz

 

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NSW State Road Champs 2011

Posted by fenner on May 19, 2011

2 x Golds

After what can only be described as a disjointed period of training and racing I have been left not quite as sure of my form as I like to be coming into races. The numbers in training have been very good and the races that I have done very positive, but, on average I have been only getting in 4 – 6 hours a week on the bike. From past data and experience I have only been able to hold a little form and maintain condition working off a CTL of between 60 and 70 for any extended period. This has been going on since late November after the disastrous Worlds I took a bit of a hit and so decided to focus on a few home tasks and more normal life commitments for a change and not be quite so selfish and focused. This has been a nice change for a while, but, after the Terra and the huge volume week I decided that it was time to start training again and get serious for the year ahead. This was not to be as life and work continued to interrupt and scupper the plans and so the continued cycle of intermittent stop start training has gone on since. This lack of structure is tough for someone with OCD like me and that lack of structure impacts on the confidence and belief that the numbers are telling the truth.

I have been doing a lot of tests on the Quarks of late and am desperate for the new Qualvin to be launched so that I can check and re-calibrate the slope on both the Road and TT Cubes. After doing static tests on the Quarks I know they are a little out and beyond what I like to see in terms of accuracy at the moment at 4 – 6%. This is concurrent with data from some of my other athletes and by doing comparison tests against previous times on a local TT course.  If you are a Quark user a very good blog covering the test protocol for checking the accuracy of the power meter is http://slowroadie.com/quarq-calibration I used to check the slope of my SRM’s every month and look forward to being able to do the same with the Quark.

Right then back to the training and racing! The times and numbers up the local Camby climb were telling me I was going quite well and a local ITT against Jackson Law confirmed this as he only took a  few seconds on me over a 20km bumpy course, taking a PB for myself in doing so.

The week leading up to the State Champs was far from ideal again and I came down with a rotten cold on the Thursday before the event. I didn’t think I would compete, but, as the symptoms seemed above the neck I went for it. I had said to my teammate and associate coach Damo Mason that I would see how I went and if it was no good I would see if I could help him. With FTP training rider and strongman Scott Butler in the mix along with a field of 70 riders it was going to be a tough day in the office. The conditions were savage icy cold and blowing a gale. Damo and I decided to go full aero with speedsuits and wheels and as the conditions looked like a day in Belgium I knew it would split up early. Damo went out hard and on the attack and took a couple of riders with him. I hung back gauging my condition and checking out the other strong riders. Scotty and Danny H tried to bridge across the small gap and it looked as though it would all come together, but, a small gap remained. This then opened up again and I knew it was the time to go. I felt crossing the gap was easy and bridged to join Damo and two other riders. It was then a TTT, but, with really just two riders as the other guys were trying to do there bit when they could, but, just didn’t have the legs to hammer it. It was just like a club handicap and we just smashed it. After 30 or so Km’s we were 1.30 or so up and I knew the gap was good and the group would never get us back. Damo was riding super strong and I was maintaining the tempo, but, holding a little in reserve. As we hit the climbs after 60 or so Km’s we dropped one of the riders with us and I started to force the pace a little. I felt very good and had heaps in the legs, so, all was good. I maintained a very steady 350 – 400 watts on all the climbs and we continued to extend the lead. On the last climb I felt like going, but, held back as I didn’t really know the run into the finish and didn’t want to get caught out. I chatted to the guy with us and confirmed with him that as he had sat on he would be coming in 3rd and it looked like the showdown was just Damo and I. Coming into the last 2km’s and I was waiting to go. I thought I will attack hard up the gutter and force the other guys to chase. Damo can sit on him and if he gets back up to me he can then attack for the win, all good. I attacked hard and fast and made the gap which I held to the finish. When I looked around I saw the other rider in front of Damo and was gutted, Damo had driven the break and to get rolled at the end like that was bitter. Still not bad for FTP with a Gold and a Bronze ;o)

We chatted about the race on the way home and I committed myself to making sure that Damo won the crit the next day. I would do all I could to get him away and then mark all the other riders.

Come Sunday and the sore throat and cold were of course worse, but, I had a job to do. I went hard from the end of lap one and drove the pace hard to get the pack strung out and drop a few off. Damo was sitting in and checking out the opposition. After about 15 mins of playing around and softening up the bunch Damo got in a move with 2 others, I marked anyone trying to get across and spoiled for a few laps to let them get the gap. It worked like a dream and he had 10 – 15 seconds by 30 minutes in and there were few left chasing. On one corner a rider inside me clipped a pedal and I made a move to bridge the gap alone and early made it, however, Danny Hennessey made it across to me and so I sat up not wanting to take a Masters World Track Points winner into the leading break as he could have spoiled the plans. With a lap to go Damo attacked his little group to get away for a solo win and a very well deserved salute, well done mate. I got rolled by Danny and came in 5th.

Crit Gold for Damo Mason

FTP rider Mel Kilby also managed a bronze medal in the crit in her first year racing at a State level, so all in all a very happy couple of days in the saddle.

Next up the NSW TTT where last year we were hammering and in the lead only to have a car pull out on us and take out Bruce Williams, this will not happen this year and we are focused on doing a good test.

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