Timetrial for beginners
Last night Jens and I tackled a couple time trial. We both don’t see ourselves as particularly good time trialists, nor were the conditions easy, but this wasn’t even about top performance.
Just in time, two hours before the start, it started to rain, the “friendly white” of the clouds slowly but surely changed to a dark grey, the wind got stronger and stronger.
A quick stop at the gas station to get a chocolate bar to make us more powerful and we were as good as ready to race.
We drove to the start in the middle of a military area, where the race took place between the training facilities of the German Armed Forces. Wide roads, good asphalt, long curves, bright lighting. But only little space to hide from the rain. I squeezed myself with my roller between a warehouse and military vehicles, where at least I stayed dry.
We started as the first team. We rushed through the rain, water splashing in a high arc to the side and in the face of the person sitting behind. Actually, we wanted to change the lead every minute, but nobody could see the display of his devices; we rode by feeling from the beginning on. Even the curves had to be announced by the one in front, because at least I couldn’t see anything in the back position. The water ran over my face; I had opened my mouth to breathe better, but this only caused me to almost choke.
The scenery was as strange as it was harmonious. The huge, empty streets we rushed along at full speed, the dark green military facilities in bright floodlight, the pouring rain and dark clouds, the massive, powerful vehicles and our extreme effort.
Our cooperation worked perfectly and I enjoyed going so fast. We intuitively changed the lead, flew along, mastered the curves better and better and had a lot of fun despite everything.
Data fun: what we really did
Next morning, I’m sitting in my office, my phone rings. “Did we really compete in the same race?” Attached were screenshots of our power distribution. Which, of course, we want to share with you.
On the left you can see my data, the distribution of the time in the intensity zones and below that the power duration curve; on the right is Jens’ data.
In a nutshell: yes, we did the same race. That we have worked well together is not only our feeling, but also confirmed by having a very similar intensity factor, i.e. we have worked equally hard in relation to our threshold performance. Strangely enough, the distribution of the time in the intensity zones doesn’t look like this.
Small and heavy behind large and thin
I am much smaller and therefore benefit much more from the slipstream in the second position. Even if the person in front is in zone 5, I ride in zone 2 or 3, depending on the wind conditions. On the other hand, we have found that my slipstream does not allow to ” relax ” at the back and more power has to be applied. This at least explains the differences in zones 2 and 3.
While I’m just coming out of a training break, my partner is in almost top form. The cross season is just around the corner; he is well trained and used to intensive efforts. That explains why he is able to ride above the threshold for much longer than I am, or to spend more time in zones 4 and 5.
Last but not least we are different types of riders anyway. If you look at our heart rates you will notice that mine is much higher. You might say that it’s normal because I’m younger and feminine, but actually I tend to have a rather low heart rate and in training we have a much more similar heart rate behaviour.
The different cadence is also in line with this. While I have been riding at an average cadence of 100 rpm, I put much more strain on my cardiovascular system. At a lower cadence, the contraction speed of the muscles is lower, but in return a higher resistance has to be overcome with each cycle, which puts more strain on the local muscle metabolism.
The bottom line is that we perform almost the same in relation to our body weight and our performance threshold. I would say that we did pretty well as non-time trial riders, and even if we didn’t, we had fun!