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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Feeling fit & fast, complete melt down 10 miles/18 minutes into a 12 mile/25 min TTT

This is kind of a long initial post, but should be easy to read quickly and get the primary points.

I'm 52 years old and have been riding/racing for about 7 years in mountain ("50+ Expert"), road/TT/CX (45+ Cat 4). According to my power files, I'm about as fit this year as I have been at this point in prior years. FTP of 285w, 79kg, similar training performed and power numbers compared to previous years.

I signed up for a Team Time Trial that occurred this past Saturday. Our team of 4 have ridden a lot together, raced together as team in years past, and my fitness/speed is pretty comparable to theirs.

I blew up and dropped off about 10 miles and 18 minutes into a 12 mile/25 minute Team Time Trial. I don't understand what happened, but my legs pretty much quit and all I could eke out was 225w.

Last Saturday (week before the race), I had a TREMENDOUS ride where I was laying down big watts all the way through the end of a 3.5 hour ride. Confidence was very high!

This past week, I tried to emulate what I had done the previous week. The weekend prior to last Saturday, I did a big ride on Saturday (170TSS) and no riding on Sunday. Last Saturday, I did a bigger ride (250TSS), but again recoverd on Sunday. During the week before last, I did training sessions on Monday 1 hour/ Tuesday 40 minutes/Wednesday 1 hour/ Thursday 50 minutes/Friday off for a total of 250 TSS. Last week, I rode 1 hour Monday / 20 minutes Tuesday / 45 minutes Wednesday/ 1 hour Thursday/ 30 minutes on Friday (practice starts) for a total of 245 TSS.

The previous Saturday, my TSB was +7.1. On race day this past Saturday, it was +5.3. I got 8-9 hours of good sleep on the Thursday and Friday nights of both weeks. Same kind of nutrition both weeks.

On race day, I did a fairly conservative 25 minute warmup. I was surprised at how rapidly my HR went to Zone 4. I chalked it up to the caffiene gel I consumed during warmup. I don't usually consume caffiene (don't drink coffee, tea, or soda) and am fairly sensitive to it.

Probably the biggest difference between the week that resulted in GREAT performance vs this past week was that the Thursday ride 2 weeks ago was a moderate mtb ride with IF of 77, whereas last Thursday it was a road ride with IF 85 by doing a pretty solid over/under threshold ride with 5 practice starts (10s 600-700w, another 30s at 350w). My expectation was that over/under would not require muscular recovery. In addition, 2 Fridays ago, I did not ride. This past Friday, I did 15 practice starts (30-40 second big efforts) to prepare for the TTT. Neither this past Thursday's over/under training session nor the Friday ride felt like a suffer fests or huge effort; I did not feel drained after either ride.

On Saturday a the races, I did the lead out for the team as planned. I flubbed my right foot clip in 3 times, got pretty flustered because I was costing the team valuable seconds as they waited for me to get going, so I stomped it excessively -- 700w for 10s, then 530w for 24s, then 310w for 2m (almost 10% higher than my FTP). By the time I rotated off, my legs had a major burn going.

We did a few rotations in a paceline, I was definitely suffering, then we descended a very fast downhill. I recovered, but didn't push as hard as the others at the top and got gapped on the downhill. It took 380w for almost a minute to catch back on.

I didn't want to let the team down, so I “recovered” for all of 40 seconds (HR only came down a few beats) and then went back to rotating. My HR didn’t come down between pulls, just my wattage.

And then suddenly, unexpectedly, it was over for me. All I could do was about 225w. I heard Mark yell "we're down to 3!" and watched them ride away.

Would very much like feedback. Would practice starts on Friday have caused it? or were my pulls just too far over threshold? or??
 

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You just over-did the early efforts and never got a chance to recover during the TT.

I bet a close analysis of your power file will show a lot more time supra threshold than you remember / perceived.

A possible contributing factor, maybe, that the length of recovery offered with a 4 man group just wasn't quite long enough for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the feedback!

I was resistant to the "blew due to too much work" explanation because I am typically quite compatible with the team. It is hard to accept that they rode the same race that I did, but they kept going and I blew. One of the guys is definitely stronger than me, one is frequently slightly stronger, and one is typically not as strong. It has been hard to reconcile my belief that I'm a bit stronger yet blew when he did not. I felt so good the previous Saturday that my confidence was very high that I would be doing long hard pulls at the end.

After further analysis, it appears likely that I simply blew up due to too much time over threshold. My start was much too hard, one guy stayed with me but we gapped the other 2, so they worked to catch up and then I did a long (1.5 minute) pull at 326w in an attempt to make it up to them. After that, my pulls were were typically 1:00 to 1:15 with several close to 1:30. All my pulls were done at 330w (12% above FTP).

The pattern of pull/rest is surprising. 8 of the "rest" periods in the 10 rotations that are easily distinguishable in my power file are 25-45 seconds. I know we skipped one guy a few times, but I'm surprised the rests were so short. Either the other guys were doing 10-20 second pulls or they were really killing it when pulling or something. But the pattern is pretty well defined - I'd do 330w for 1-1.5 minutes, then 225-250w for 25-45 seconds, then back to 330w for another minute or more. After a few of those, my HR didn't come down, I wasn't recovering, and I died.

I do recall having a vague realization that I was only rotating off when I felt pretty spent. That's why my pulls were 1-1.5 minutes long. I think I was digging too deep on every pull.

Many lessons learned -- more conservative on the start or let someone else do the lead out, pay attention to time on the front and rotate off after a shorter time period, keep up at the beginning of the big downhill instead of trying to catch up afterwards.
 

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Yea ... it sounds as if you simply went beyond your limits early on and never recovered.

Your pull lengths are fairly normal for a TTT, but given that you were the 3rd strongest in the group and they were only taking 15-20 second pulls ... you went too long up front. You should never try and "Make up" for a weak start because losing the 4th is always slower than the 5-10 seconds you may have cost the team at the beginning. Just get out of the way, recover and then hit it as you normally would.

How much did you practice the TTT before the race? If none, that could be part of the issue ... you really need to figure out rotations, rider placement and get used to how long of a pull you should be taking.

The other thing to remember is TTT's are more like crits than TT's. So you may be strong at Time Trials, but sometimes it's better to be good at Crits since the efforts are more similar with short, strong pulls, then rest/recovery. So the guy you see as weaker, if he's better at crits may have been more suited to the TTT than you were.

Live and learn :)

I love TTT's, they are my favorite races of the year, but they can be punishingly hard and if you haven't done one before, the effort needed can be quite surprising.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
We first did this race in 2010 kind of on a lark and were stunned when we won. Totally stunned. We had a 5th guy and he was very strong, so that helped. Anyway, we did it again in 2011 with 5 guys, felt very confident at the start, fell apart in the high wind, poor finish. It was so windy we couldn't hear each other, ended up with constant gaps. One guy fell off half completely way through, another blew about 3/4s of the way through and we had to help him to the finish, but I didn't realize it and pulled out a huge gap. Thus, it was one guy pulling the other into a 25mph headwind while I was out doing my own thing oblivious to the gap. I feel really bad about that. We didn't race it last year.

This year, we decided on it early and did 2 practices. The practices were at sub-threshold while we worked on rotating, strategy depending on wind direction, communicating and just staying together. When we got to the starting line, we felt pretty confident. Personally, I felt a lot of pressure (all self-induced, teammates were smiling, laughing, saying "this will be fun", while I was rather tense). I'd have to say most of my mistakes were probably due to being too intense, too focused on performing well, too determined to do more than my share.

Interesting note about TTTs being more like crits. I spent the past month really focused on threshold efforts in preparation for the race, but that's not how the effort actually goes.

Any likelihood that practicing starts on Friday affected me on Saturday? Perhaps didn't fully recover glycogen? The Friday session was 20 hours before the race, 37 minutes long, 32 TSS. My CTL is 75, so I was thinking a 32 TSS ride was nothing. But it was 20-40 seconds of high intensity (500-700w) at a time. I won't do that sort of thing again, but still wondering if that had a negative effect.

The other thing I thought of was eating. The race was at 2:37pm, I was trying to follow the Hammer advice of not eating within 3 hours of the race, but my stomach was growling at 12:30, so I had a yogurt. That didn't meet the need, so I had a half a bar. Hammer says that eating within 3 hours of the event will cause your body to consume glycogen for everything instead of fat/carbs at lower effort levels. So I'm wondering if that was a factor. I started warming up atobout 1:45, so that was a little over an hour after eating. I'm pretty I ran out of glycogen during the race and that caused my collapse. Was eating at 12:30 a factor?

It occurred to me that there's no way the other guys were doing 20 second pulls. It seems likely that when I pulled over, I spent too much time out in the wind pedaling too hard instead of dropping back faster. In previous TTTs, I've had a hard time catching the last guy as he went by and had to stomp pretty hard to stay with the team. Thus, I probably compensated this time by pedaling too hard (near full power). Another lesson learned!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
BTW, we're planning to do another TTT on May 25, so I will have an opportunity to employ "lessons learned". I've heard that "learning always results in a change of behavior; if you don't change your behavior, you didn't learn anything". Pretty interesting perspective.
 

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Thanks for the feedback!

I was resistant to the "blew due to too much work" explanation because I am typically quite compatible with the team. It is hard to accept that they rode the same race that I did, but they kept going and I blew. One of the guys is definitely stronger than me, one is frequently slightly stronger, and one is typically not as strong. It has been hard to reconcile my belief that I'm a bit stronger yet blew when he did not. I felt so good the previous Saturday that my confidence was very high that I would be doing long hard pulls at the end.

After further analysis, it appears likely that I simply blew up due to too much time over threshold. My start was much too hard, one guy stayed with me but we gapped the other 2, so they worked to catch up and then I did a long (1.5 minute) pull at 326w in an attempt to make it up to them. After that, my pulls were were typically 1:00 to 1:15 with several close to 1:30. All my pulls were done at 330w (12% above FTP).

The pattern of pull/rest is surprising. 8 of the "rest" periods in the 10 rotations that are easily distinguishable in my power file are 25-45 seconds. I know we skipped one guy a few times, but I'm surprised the rests were so short. Either the other guys were doing 10-20 second pulls or they were really killing it when pulling or something. But the pattern is pretty well defined - I'd do 330w for 1-1.5 minutes, then 225-250w for 25-45 seconds, then back to 330w for another minute or more. After a few of those, my HR didn't come down, I wasn't recovering, and I died.

I do recall having a vague realization that I was only rotating off when I felt pretty spent. That's why my pulls were 1-1.5 minutes long. I think I was digging too deep on every pull.

Many lessons learned -- more conservative on the start or let someone else do the lead out, pay attention to time on the front and rotate off after a shorter time period, keep up at the beginning of the big downhill instead of trying to catch up afterwards.
Always save your hardest efforts for the end of a TTT. Its an impossibly hard thing for me to do, since I'm always amped up and eager to help and impress my teammates but you're so much better saving the superman pulls for the last quarter of a race.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
View attachment 279263 View attachment 279264 View attachment 279262
Always save your hardest efforts for the end of a TTT. Its an impossibly hard thing for me to do, since I'm always amped up and eager to help and impress my teammates but you're so much better saving the superman pulls for the last quarter of a race.
"Amped up" was very true of my race experience. "Save for the last quarter of the race" is sage advice!

Attached a couple of mid-winter practice pics plus a pic of us on the podium. I'm on the far right side.
 

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I'm 55, and it takes me more than one day off to recover from a huge day on the bike. And I could never work hard the day before. Buddies of mine have told me to try Vagisil though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
We're doing a TTT on a longer version of the same course -- 24 miles instead of 18 miles. I plan to take it much easier on the start, count pedal rotations and try to rotate off after 45 seconds or so, and pay more attention to how I feel during the race rather than just relying on my expectation of having good endurance. Same team plus another guy, so a 5 man team will result in longer rest between pulls.

And I plan to push hard over the top of the hill before the long downhill. Getting gapped on the 50mph downhill really killed me when I had to catch back on. Need to avoid that scenario. I told the team to please wait for me if I get gapped.

So much to learn about bike racing! Especially a team event like TTT.

I'm racing an ITT tonight, mountain bike for a couple hours tomorrow, TTT on Friday.
 

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We're doing a TTT on a longer version of the same course -- 24 miles instead of 18 miles. I plan to take it much easier on the start, count pedal rotations and try to rotate off after 45 seconds or so, and pay more attention to how I feel during the race rather than just relying on my expectation of having good endurance. Same team plus another guy, so a 5 man team will result in longer rest between pulls.

And I plan to push hard over the top of the hill before the long downhill. Getting gapped on the 50mph downhill really killed me when I had to catch back on. Need to avoid that scenario. I told the team to please wait for me if I get gapped.

So much to learn about bike racing! Especially a team event like TTT.

I'm racing an ITT tonight, mountain bike for a couple hours tomorrow, TTT on Friday.
Yea, there is a lot more to TTT's than people think ... That's part of why they are so much fun, I just wish there were more of them each year.

Our State Championship TTT is taking place in about 2.5 weeks ... I'll be racing with our CAT 1/2 team (though I'm a CAT 3, each team can bring a member from a lower category up). It's 23.8 miles long and pretty flat (4 person teams) ... to have a shot at winning I think we will need to run under 49 minutes, which I'm pretty sure we can do ... whether that nets a win or not, time will tell :)

Have fun on Friday and don't blow up this time :p ... and of course, let us know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I'm entered in a 7 race ITT series on Wednesdays. It started in April. Race #6 was last night. It was AWFUL! Started pretty strong, first few miles were tough but they always are, and then I just felt like garbage. I had passed my 20 second guy, but he passed me back. I managed to keep him in sight and re-pass, but I normally pass and gap him without issue or a second thought. He was right there at the finish line.

I was 30 seconds slower than my previous worst time. HR averaged 165 (normally 172-174). Power averaged 265w (normally 290-295w). There is one fast downhill that I normally pedal through (53x11 at 110rpm), but yesterday I coasted.

On the way home and at home, I felt light headed, a little vertigo. But I feel okay today. Not great, but not bad. Very hungry. I've been trying to lose a little weight because of recent info I've read such as the CTS advertisement which says going from 176lb to 165lb will improve your time in a 5 mile 8% grade hill climb by 2 minutes. That's huge! I did a race in Boulder last Saturday where I was well-positioned right to the very end. It ends with a climb called The Wall. I was about 5th wheel at the start of The Wall, finished 24th. So I decided to lose a few pounds. Was 174.5lb last Saturday. Am 170.6 pounds this morning. 6'2" tall. Perhaps I cut back too much on calories and that caused the bad race yesterday? I felt fine all week, felt fine during warm up (15 minutes), felt fine the first 5 minutes of the race.

I helped with the Junior team practice on Tuesday evening. There are some fast 14-16 Juniors on the team, so I went harder than planned. Hopefully that was the issue with yesterday's performance. I'm not riding today, planning to do a fairly gentle road ride tomorrow, then race the TTT approx noon on Saturday. Glad we have 5 on the team for this race! 19.5 miles of rolling hills with one major downhill followed by (of course) a significant uphill. The rest are small or medium rollers.

I sure hope I feel better and ride stronger on Saturday. I'm already experiencing anxiety about potentially being the weak link on the team again. Argh.
 

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Sounds like one of two things ... or a combination of them:

1) Chronic Dehydration ... it can cause exhaustion issues, dizziness/light headed feeling when standing up quickly, etc.

2) Overtraining ... this sounds a bit more like what you are running into. You can do lighter efforts without issue, but when going at full effort you struggle. You are very hungry and eating more than usual. You are also trying to lose weight, which isn't really a good idea in the middle of the season unless it's part of a planned training program.

Since the TTT is on Saturday, I'd take today off the bike and probably tomorrow. You are not going to lose any fitness between now and then ... so don't worry about that, but by continuing to work out if you are over-trained or dehydrated will decrease your performance and you will suffer.

Take a couple days off ... drink a lot of fluids ... eat food ... then race on Saturday. It's better to be rested than struggling.
 

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Under-recovered, under-fueled. Losing a pound a day? Scary. And I still think that once you're 50, rest days are as important as training days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
My original plan for 2013 was to start racing in earnest in June. But then I decided to do an early season race. Then the first TTT. Those were fun so I decided to do a few more. Racing is the best training for racing, right? Except last weekend's race was a bit of a stretch - 2 hours of at-threshold with a "big finish". So I've been racing more than planned. Enjoying it, but much harder (i.e. longer and all out) efforts than perhaps I was ready for.

I think the roofing job was a significant contributor to how I'm feeling. While I ride 6-7 days a week and am acting/fit, for about 10 hours a day I'm an office worker, so roofing was way outside of my normal activity. And I drank my normal 64 ounces of water each day, but probably needed to add 50% or even double it. Hmmm - could have been the start of all three issues - under recovered, dehydrated, under-fueled.

I didn't intend to lose a pound a day. I just stopped eating dessert (which was something I ate 3 or 4 times a day) and decreased portion size a bit. I was shocked when I got on the scale this morning.

It is difficult for me to imagine taking a day off the bike. I typically at least do an easy spin. I'm majorly antsy to go ride. But my wife got a job today and we're going out to eat to celebrate. Rib City! Should be great!

Hoping to get 9 hours of sleep tonight and tomorrow. Drinking extra water. I'm willing to do whatever I can to be at my best on Saturday for the TTT.

I had the highlight of my racing career at the Wheels of Thunder criterium -- right after the prime sprint, I powered past, gapped the pack, and led for a lap. I was hoping to get some support and form a breakaway, but nobody came with me. I led a lap, but not the last lap, so there's still room for improvement!

Making my move:
View attachment 281302
5 minutes of fame:
View attachment 281300
Getting swallowed up by the pack again (I'm the bright orange-ish blob about 3/4s of the way towards the right side, looks like 3 of us are parallel on the front)
View attachment 281301
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
We did the Boulder Team Time Trial. I felt okay, not good. WKO said my TSB was +12, so I expected to feel rested, but not the case. As mentioned previously, I did a significant road race last Sunday with a TSS of 160, spin on Monday, a harder-than-expected group ride on Tuesday, an ITT on Wednesday where I rode well for about 10 minutes and then was pretty much blown.

I took Thursday off, did about 40 minutes of very low power spinning on Friday. Actually, I was messing around with my bike - seat angle and aero bars. So it was 25 minutes of a few minutes at a time with new seat angle or aero bar extension with a few minutes of adjusting. Yes, I know - bad idea the day before a race.

On race day, I did a pretty conservative warm-up, lots of 185-200w, three 1 minute intervals at threshold power, HR max of 154 during warmup.

I led us out again, much more conservatively than the last race. One of our guys flubbed the clip-in repeatedly and we had to wait. For what seemed like an eternity. Probably cost us 10-15 seconds. Finally underway.

I felt okay at first, but 10 minutes in I was really suffering. One of the other guys got gapped a couple times and was in worse shape than me apparently. We finally decided to drop him. That probably cost us 10-15 seconds.

I told the other 3 "reduce the pace or I'm gone, too". They reduced the pace a bit and I got fairly aggressive about yelling "GAP!" My power was sub-threshold (270w when threshold is 285w) and my HR seemed stuck at 168 (LT, but I can usually do 30-45 minutes at 172-174bpm). Definitely not have a good day, but I was taking reasonable pulls and giving the other guys a rest.

Finally, on the last straightaway towards the finish line, our team captain said "last pull for you, Jim - bury yourself as long as you can and then we will sprint to the finish". So I killed it as long as I could (almost 400w - best power of the entire race!), they went by after about 45 seconds, and, per the race rules, our time was calculated based on the 3rd rider across the line.

We took 2nd place. The other team was 23 seconds faster. We beat them last time by 30 seconds. What a huge swing in results!

As always when you don't win, the race is full of "woulda coulda shoulda". We definitely could have won. I made mistakes and wasn't sufficiently ready to race. And others made mistakes and cost us time. Apparently the other team had a very good race.

We got 2nd and were very disappointed. We kept trying to be happy about 2nd, but it really didn't work. We're bummed.

We need another TTT to set our sights on!
 
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