Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

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Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby happysumo » Sun May 04, 2014 11:11 am

So after getting shelled hardcore yesterday in a 90km handicap race, I'm doing a little soul searching to figure out some weak points.


Some basic info:
10m30s group, about 8 of us. 2x 40km loops, dead flat (I like racing through hills far more) and some incredible wind (our speed was around 50km/hr one way, 28km/hr back).
Had a decent paceline going for most of the way, I didn't seem to have a chance for a breather until I got dropped.

So, the 1h45m until I fell off the back of the bunch (bunch came together about 1h30m in?), my average HR was 181bpm, and cadence was pretty firmly 100-115rpm. That HR feels crazy high. Didn't drop below 175 for that whole effort.

In most (hilly) road races I've done, I climb well and we at least seem to get a breather on the descent and my HR drops back to the mid 160s, but yesterday was just constantly ON, which I've never really done before, for that length of time.

Got dropped when: I was sitting on the back of the bunch in a tailwind, when we turned a corner into a crosswind. The tail end was really strung out & I couldn't overtake into the wind, and the covered side was on the edge of the road. After a few efforts to move up, I got pipped/flogged/exploded/fell-off-and-died.

Anyway, I kind of feel like my legs couldn't quite keep up with the pace of my heart & lungs. I didn't look at cadence at all, but in retrospect maybe it was too high?

Things which might help (opinions please :) ) :
* Train muscular endurance more, which should let me push a bigger gear for a little while, drop cadence to 90rpm ish now and again, drop the HR for a breather and hopefully 'even out' the load between cardio and muscular systems (is that even a thing?).
* Bunch positioning: don't sit at the back of a bunch when we're about to hit a crosswind, ever.
* Do less turns, or pop off the back & wait for the larger bunch to inevitably sweep up and come through (only really applicable in a handicap).
* Suck it up, train harder for longer.



Thoughts, opinions, ideas, whatever is appreciated.
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by BNA » Sun May 04, 2014 11:42 am

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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby foo on patrol » Sun May 04, 2014 11:42 am

You can ride hard into the wind but not flog yourself but most don't know how to do this. :wink:

Don't hide down the back stay mid to close to the front.

Do your training out into the wind with a tail behind for spin work on the way home.

Do short turns on the front = 300mtr max.

Now tell us more about you! Age, time riding, type of training, you get the idea of what we want? :mrgreen:

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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby happysumo » Sun May 04, 2014 11:57 am

Thanks mate. I think I've still got tonnes to learn RE positioning. In C grades and lower, positioning seemed reasonably easy. But in B and above, everyone seems to know how important it is, and a lapse of concentration sees a nice string of riders passing you and boom, you're on the back.

I'm 20, donned lycra for the first time 10 months ago, started racing E's 8 months ago. Did a fair bit of DH MTB from 13 to about 16, then 3 years of couch potato & video-games. Racing comfortably in B at the moment, lately been placing around the 10th-15th mark.

Almost all training used to be 1-2hr rides through the hills. Though over the last few weeks I've done a lot more 5x5m V02max intervals, 30s sprints, track training sessions, etc to improve that top end a little. End up doing between 10 and 12 hours on the bike in a good week, occasionally dropping back to 8 when life gets busy. No specific core or gym work.

Can count on my fingers the number of 100km+ rides I've done though. All my training is solo & after 3.5 hours I get a little bored without music or other distractions.
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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby Calvin27 » Sun May 04, 2014 2:29 pm

Funny, I'm more of a heart catching up with legs guy.

Try some strength training for the legs if they are failing first.
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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby foo on patrol » Sun May 04, 2014 3:37 pm

I wouldn't get to hung on the 100klm rides. :wink: Those sorts of rides I did at a easy to moderate pace in small gears. The short rides 40-50klm were done at a much harder pace, incorporating sprints, kicks and flat out sections of up to 400mtrs but I also trained twice a day four days a week and raced Friday and Sunday and sometimes Saturday and Sunday. :mrgreen:

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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby you cannot be sirrus » Sun May 04, 2014 7:19 pm

Bloody handicaps, I never seem to get a rest in them. You flog yourself to catch the bunch in front, then flog yourself to stay with the faster guys. I hate them, they should be banned.
I thought my cadence was pretty high at 95-100 ave, yours seems too high to me but we are all different. I'm slowly learning to push a gear or two higher and lower the HR, I'm usually 170+ bpm at 53 yo and always end up finishing a race thinking my legs are too fresh and I should have gone a tad harder.
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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby toolonglegs » Sun May 04, 2014 9:41 pm

^^^ do they actually have handicaps anywhere else but oz?. I don't miss them in the slightest!
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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby Xplora » Mon May 05, 2014 11:07 am

I've done the 100-115rpm post ride analysis and it comes down to one thing. You don't have the horsepower to push the big gear for long enough. Your muscles aren't strong enough to mash 85-90 in the draft after taking a turn. As you fade towards the back, the rubber band gets stretched even more because you are getting attacked by crosswinds or accelerations at the front and don't have the headroom in the lungs or legs to meet that challenge and relax. You basically went completely completely anaerobic just before you got dropped and the concrete in the legs can't be avoided if you can't stop anaerobic efforts from happening - because your legs couldn't cope with being in the draft etc ;)

Your training is completely "pull up the threshold" from above rather than push up. I dig that boredom and time makes it hard, but you don't have to do a long ride very often if you're doing all that short interval and hill work. Ultimately, you just want to ride faster for longer, and you can trick your body into thinking it needs to ride 8 hours quite easily. Once every 2-3 weeks, go out and punch a hard 130kms, or a slightly easier 160 or 200. At least once a week commit to a single 60 minute trainer session at high tempo pace if you aren't racing weekly. At your age, that might be 170bpm HR. You physically proved you manage 175bpm for an hour. We want to teach your legs to staying aerobic for longer, and the adaptions you get from short stuff aren't the same as long stuff. Fortunately, time and nutrition are the only things that will prevent you successfully completing the long ride; it's not like brute horsepower for VO2Max is missing because you slept poorly etc.

Sounds like you like results from short amounts of effort. Me too. But I've noticed that getting out and knocking off the Gran Fondo on Strava, and just keeping that HR at 15bpm below threshold for the entire ride, will be quite challenging. You should feel just as smashed doing 160 gently as 45 minutes of VO2Max intervals.
End of the day, you have to put some really long rides into the mix. Ride with friends, you'll go mental by yourself for that long. You should be able to chat even though you are hammering along :) I've found I do best if I can spin 85rpm aerobically. I've spent a lot of time getting dropped after spinning 120 for too long :)
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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby happysumo » Mon May 05, 2014 9:48 pm

Thanks for the input, really appreciate it.

Technically speaking... I have the power, but not the torque ;). Totally right though. Track sessions etc, I'm comfortable around the 120rpm mark. And whenever I respond to an attack, it'll be through spinning my legs off to match the acceleration, rather than dropping a gear and torquing it up. Good point about keeping some headroom by staying aerobic for more of the race, then if someone makes a dig while we're already on the rivet, I've still theoretically got some HR room to match it.

When I drop down to 90rpm, while keeping the wattage around the same as a 110rpm effort my legs fade fairly quickly. As opposed to higher spinning where my HR goes through the roof, but my legs feel good, without much lactic buildup or muscular fatigue.

Anyway that's all really interesting. I can hold race pace for about 75km and finish strong, but after that distance it's all over, so I think longer rides will acclimatise me to the distances better. Will focus a lot more on the 80-90rpm strength efforts where my knee permits it, mixing up longer rides with this kind of work. Looking forward to the longer rides during winter for sure!
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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby Xplora » Mon May 05, 2014 10:12 pm

Power vs torque lol yep bang on the money. If you are spinning 120, well no wonder you are hurting on the road :lol:

Might be worth trying some intervals during those long rides dropping down a gear for a minute or two, just to help the slow twitch muscles learn to fire more. I thought I was a spinner, revved my bum off, but I punch out way more power at 80rpm than 130. Half the battle is letting your brain learn to create the torque.

Try not to get discouraged, either way. You aren't going to be a strong track rider and road rider at the same time... you'll be good at one, and only reasonable at the other. You're doing well. Give it 6 months, you'll fill the hole.
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Re: Should my legs be catching up to my heart?

Postby thearthurdog » Tue May 06, 2014 4:48 pm

At first glance your cadence looks high. If it was me I would have been in the 90 - 100 range.
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