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A Tale of Neos

neo

It is the one. Well Maybe. Today, I want to share with you what I see as one of the most painful journeys to self satisfaction I have experienced in a long time. No, this is not a post about mind over matter in training with ridiculous references to the Matrix. This post is a more down to earth tale about man versus screwing.

First, some background. In 2004, I bought a 150 dollar trainer from Performance Bicycle to start my trip back into the cycling world. In the years between graduating high school and 2004, I had spent most of my training doing pizza and beer repeats. Since 2005, I have been using the same fluid trainer. Yes. Three Ironmans. 8 years of triathlon. On the same trainer. Here is what that looks like:

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My trainer and its tramp stamp.

In addition to undergoing a transition from no resistance to high resistance after about 15 minutes of riding, my trainer sounded like a train trying to stop on a dime. So after I completed and passed my medical boards, I decided to reward myself with fancy schmancy Tacx Neo. Merry Christmas to me!

Of course, the trainer was on backorder, so it took a month to even ship. No problems; I figured I had waited 11 years, I can wait another month. Then, in mid December I received word the trainer was on its way and would be arriving right before Christmas. Great, what joyous, perfect timing! Except for the fact that I missed the UPS guy! Looks like my wait was going to be a bit longer. Finally, in early January, the 60 pound box arrived, and I jumped like Ralph with his new BB gun.

Out of the box it went like a bacon from the pan. Thanks to the instructions, the assembly was a cinch. As everyone already knows, you have to buy a cassette to go with the Tacx. The hub is a cool EDCO Multisys. Basically it is a hub that excepts both Shimano and Campy. I slid on my Shimano cassette, but my Shimano cassette tool didn’t fit. So I just decided to tighten by hand as much as I could and loaded up my bike.

Okay, so I just couldn’t wait any longer and I loaded up Zwift. The trainer paired up like Taylor Swift and lipstick: flawlessly. A few minutes later, I was cruising Zwift bathed in the soft glow of LED light and navigating along automatically changed resistance. The first ride was everything I imagined. Smooth. Alive. No more crunching along in my highest gear while just barely scraping my FTP. It was like a dream come true….except for the loud clunking. Yes, the scourge of DC Rainmaker’s comment section emanated from between my legs.”Clack-clack-clack-clack” pierced through the nirvana that is the Neo.

Into emergency diagnostic mode I went. Like a patient with chest pain, I went through every possibility, proceeding from most to least levels of probability. Adjust derailleur. Adjust quick release. Check cassette. Re-tighten cassette. Oil chain. Oil cassette. Drink beer. Try different bikes. Get bike tune up by LBS. Nothing I did mattered to the Neo.

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So, after two days, I gave up to the one possibility I wished to avoid: my trainer was a fluke on the assembly line. Back in the box and back to Trisports it went. Exchange went smoothly, and after three weeks, another trainer was in my hand. Rinse and repeat and there I was again, clipped into my pedals. Cadence picked up and…..”Clack-clack-clack-clack!!!” After this, my mind was as fried as Jens Voight’s legs. In one last hope of desperation, I took my bike and trainer to Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana. I gave them my story and waited for the phone call.

There are some days you remember in your life. Your first kiss. Graduating from college. Your first Ironman finish. Thursday was one of those days. The bike store appeared on my phone, and I picked up the call with the trepidation of Wesley Snipes answering a call from the IRS. Was my bike framed cracked? Quarq bottom bracket busted? No. After all that, the culprit was…..a loose cassette!! Turns out, a few more turns of the screw with the proper tool was needed to cinch down the cassette. A campy cassette tool at that. This news was sort of like texting your friend that he left his phone at your house. Hilarious mixed with 2 shots of WTF.

The story came to the end this morning. Finally, after three months, I climbed atop my Christmas, Birthday and Boards present and pedaled off onto the Ironman Kona course. Whisper quiet. Smooth resistance changing with the terrain. Beautiful.

Capture

They say that good things comes to those who wait. In this case, my problem solving skills can be looked at as an investment in awesomeness. Glad to finally have the trainer of my dreams…just wish it had arrived sooner!

Raising the Bar With Trainer Road: New FTP 225w

Big day here in Montana for this triathlete. After a good 5 weeks of the Trainer Road early build plan, today was the day to test my functional threshold power again. As luck would have it, TR just added a 2X20 FTP test workout with instructions. I have never used the shorter eight or twenty minute tests before. Personally, I like the pain of the 40 minute test….well at least afterwards. I will also say that I find the 2X20 test pretty accurate. Here’s the data from Trainer Road.

I skipped over that clearing interval at the beginning as I wasn't having any problems pacing and time was short.

DATA

Based on this data, my new FTP is 224, six watts up from 5 weeks ago. But here’s the rub…check out my Garmin/WKO data for the same ride:

Hmmm..the plot thickens.

Based on this range, which was set by me actually pushing the lap button at the beginning and end of the test, my new FTP is 226. So I have decided to just meet in the middle and say my new FTP is 225w. This gives me a seven watt increase for five weeks, and a w/kg of 3.65. While a seven watt difference seems small, its plenty for me. My watts have always moved slowly, so an increase by 3.2% works for me. What’s even better is that this new FTP is my highest ever.

Needless to say, I am pretty happy with the TR plan and workouts so far. This test was also the best paced one I have ever done. I really liked the prompts the computer gave me to micromanage my pace. I have never felt better after one these than today. I felt so great in fact that I still got in my recovery run of two miles @ 8:24 and 8:07. I followed that by an easy 1000y swim at 16:54 with a 200y cool down.

In short, training is going great. I’m really excited to see how far I can go with Trainer Road. The T6P Strides of March run challenge is going awesome as well. I’m currently have 14 days of straight running in the bag and I’m feeling good. No knee pain. Form coming along finally. And just think….my guys and I have still have the April Pools challenge coming up….

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