It seems that late January / early February is a great time to head into the pain cave for some cycling torture.
Around this time last year I completed a six minute test to determine some vO2 Max numbers. This week I put my Time Trial bike on the turbo to see what kind of power I could do for twelve minutes…
The test: 2×12 minutes
Simple on paper, but tough to stay focussed enough for an accurate result. It’s certainly long enough for things to start to hurt. After a twenty minute warm up I launched straight in to a twelve minute maximum effort. After which I recovered for ten minutes before going again for a second twelve minute effort. Full gas, with whatever I had left.
For both efforts, my pacing was non-existent. I got giddy on my first interval, knocking into a gear which was slightly too big for me to maintain. About five minutes in I almost gave up. Instead I backed off a little and tried to get back on it. I was already suffering though, and I was in trouble. The final few minutes involved more than one desperate little dig followed by endless minutes of just hanging on.
I did learn my lesson a little for the second effort, keeping on top of the gear better early on and not allowing myself to get carried away. I stil faded slightly in the middle but was able to pick things up again for a strong finish.
Interval 1: 339w
Interval 2: 328w
Estimated FTP: 306-308w // ~5.1w/kg
I can take these figures and use them to estimate my FTP. Which comes in at 306w-308w on the turbo. It’s worth noting a common belief that your power output on the turbo is as much as 30w lower than on the road.
In theory (and I do mean in theory) my FTP on the road could be more like 320w – 325w, but I think in order to do that I would have to 1) Have a gun to my head and 2) be going up a really long hill.
What does this mean for my riding?
Well, it’s unlikely I’ll win any hill climbs at the minute, but I can turn a much bigger gear now on the flat. Put it this way, my average speed so far this year is 21mph and that includes recovery and easy rides!
If I compare these test results with ones done last year the w/kg is almost identical, however the watts have significantly increased. In a Time Trial, more watts are going to mean more speed. It’s as simple as that, really. In the past at lower weight I’ve always struggled on the flat or downhill sections, unable to hold the same speed as the bigger guys. I believe this year, going in to competition with a bit more bulk, I’ll still be light enough to fly up hill, but also strong enough to keep putting down the power the rest of the time too.
FTP 2015: 294w at 57kg // 5.1wkg
FTP 2016: 306w – 308w // 5.1wkg
15w increase in FTP // 3kg difference in weight
*I was 57kg when I took the 2015 test
One thing I’m really happy about is that a 6 minute test in 2015 full-gas-hanging-on-for-life-legs-exploding saw me put out 352w. During this test I did only 10w less than that for double the time. And with much less of a perceived effort.
My first race of the season is a week tomorrow. I can’t wait to put all of the hard work I’ve done over the winter into practice. Last year I used my road bike and finished rather anonymously mid-field (with everyone else on TT bikes!). This time riding the Shiv, I’ll be able to shake things up and hang in there with the big boys.