Counting on Cadence

During one of my recent pain cave sessions, I had what I would call a sports epiphany. You know, one of those moments when muscle fibers align just right and nerves fire in perfect harmony to create an athletic version of nirvana.

Said enlightenment occurred recently during my first attempt at the Trainer Road ride Goethe. I was looking at my watts on my computer screen as I attempted to power along right below FTP (211). I was already having a rough day as I was pretty demoralized by my apparent lack of improvement in FTP this month, unlike my TriSixPack mates. Even worse, I was having a hard time keeping my watts at goal; my power output was fluctuating more than my stock portfolio. Take a look.

First interval starts at right. Up and down.

As usual, I had my bike in the highest gear and I was plugging along at 80 RPM. I have been doing my intervals in this “highest gear and lower cadence” setup all month long. I had read many times before that a higher cadence of around 90 was better. That being said, anytime I experimented with keeping a cadence of 90 prior, I was never able to generate any good watts.

Things were getting desperate with this first of four intervals. I was hurting. Power output was all over. So I decided to bag it a little and drop down to the next gear. After doing so, I was amazed at what the software was telling me. My watts stabilized and hovered right around my goal FTP. At the same time, the effort felt easier. AH SO!!

Smooth as a triathlete's butt.

After the break, I stayed in the same gear and instead of concentrating on downward pedal force, I focused on moving my legs faster. SHAZAM. Watts were significantly more stable AND higher.


I’ve done two more rides with this gearing/cadence change since then and the results have been very promising. I’m looking forward to testing later this week again after a good rest. I hope I can find some missing wattage gains for this month. This big screen feedback (anything bigger than my Garmin screen is big) is one of the best things about the TrainerRoad software. It was amazing to watch my wattage graph change as I made adjustments. You may think you already have this type of feedback. You are wrong. Check em out at

In other training news, things are moving well overall. While I haven’t so far gained in FTP, my ability hover at 80% is MUCH improved. Running is going fairly well. Knee still smarts a bit after a run, but things are slowly improving. Latest real run was on Sunday before the SuperBowl. Started off with 20 minutes at recovery pace, around 9:12/mile. Then, over 20 minutes, I increased pace about every 2.5 minutes to end up at 6:42/mile for 2.5 minutes.

Yesterday, I followed that run up with what I would describe as a ride through hell. By far, it was the hardest cycling workout I have ever done. There were literally moments of eyes closed while screaming at computer. It’s called “A Very Dark Place” and is another cooperative assault on the legs by Trainer Road and Sufferfest.

As much as it hurt, despite almost falling off my bike, it was awesome. That’s the kind of pain that builds, and I can’t wait to do it again. I just need to update my life insurance first. Another reason I loved this workout is that it was a fitting way for my last ride on old yellow.

That’s right. That was my last ride on my beloved P2-Sl. The best bike I have ever owned, the bike I became an Ironman on, will soon help another person chase a triathlon dream. Yellow bike, I thank you for years of unfailing reliability and for never having a single flat. EVER. Your sibling will now continue your faithful service:

2012 Cervelo P2. Sexy bike porn pics after it gets back from the shop.

About Ironvan

From couch potato to Ironman triathlete in 2 years.

Posted on February 7, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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