Cycling Comeback: Embracing the Numbers

A post from Nine2FivePro team member Brendan:

Cycling has been a part of my life from the start. My Dad became passionate about it as a military brat in Germany and passed it on to both of his sons.

Now having started a family, having two sons of my own I plan on doing the same. Having raced seriously in the nineties with a few comebacks since then I decided to take up racing again last year motivated by the prospect of showing my sons that their Dad can perhaps put up some results.

My brother Charlie had been on me about getting back into cycling and rightfully so. He knows I enjoy it, and I'm mentally at my best when I'm physically at my best. Knowing that training time would be short, he steered me from my old ways of training, with lots of miles, many at an inefficient pace with little to no data to gauge my fitness. After much dismissing of his advice he finally got fed up and gave me a Power2Max powermeter. Almost instantaneously I became hooked. Not only was it fun to have raw data to look at but I could see measurable improvements without having to wonder if I was getting better and most importantly it showed me how much more work I still had to do. 

Even so it took me until this Fall to truly understand the benefits of training with a powermeter. At Charlie's suggestion I started doing hammer rides (or as he would call them, "sweet spot" rides) for a maximum of two hours concentrating on keeping the watts as high as possible even on the downhills. In the Fall my second son Quinn was born and the program fit perfectly into my life. I was able to take my oldest Kyle out in the trailer as well and hammer while he napped and generally had a good time. As I started comparing my Fall watts to my summer watts I started seeing all the time I wasted riding at a power level that wasn't going to get me anywhere. In one month in the Fall I probably spent more time over 300w than I did the entire summer. Now having focused on a plan of raising my aerobic level I can comfortably ride for long periods at over 300w. I started calling the program, "Less Hours More Watts," or LHMW. 

It may be counterintuitive to start racing again at the same time your life becomes the busiest time it ever will be. Most people use the time to stop racing. However, methods exists now that didn't before which allow you to train more efficiently while drastically reducing training time. We aren't pro's that need to race for anywhere from four to seven hours. In reviewing my season most of my races will be well under three hours and not all of that time will be at high watts. Getting on the bike and hammering for an hour or even thirty minutes is worthwhile. If you need an easy day either don't ride or do 30min very easy. I know there are many who would love to race again but fear they don't have the time because of family and work obligations. I hope that I can demonstrate that this simply isn't true. It takes a new way of thinking, the ability to inflict some pain on yourself (and yes) the initial investment in a power meter.