Small consistent improvement: This has fueled my art practice as well as my attempts to keep up my fitness. But before I can improve I have to do the something that I want to improve on to know where I am. For example, to train for a marathon, I would run as far as I comfortably can and then each week I would add a bit more distance. I had to start with knowing how far I could run to create a plan to run a bit farther each week.
The small improvements eventually lead to incredible results… This is easy to type, harder to do. But for now, I wanted to start somewhere. Since defining my goal of a 4-hour GranFondo Whistler (see blog post here), I was first working through 2022 Zwift Academy in September with the goal of getting a bit of cycling fitness back before heading to the mountains. Having a goal has proven fun, as it has gotten me onto my indoor trainer upwards of 4 x per week, which I can’t remember when I have done last. And I am already sleeping significantly better!
So now that I am feeling a bit more comfortable exerting effort, I wanted to get some baseline numbers in. Since my target event has a lot of climbing (1900m to be exact), I want my baseline ride to be a climb. I used to live on Mt. Seymour so I am very familiar with theclim (it is now a bit of a drive away but close enough to do often), and want to use it as my baseline climb. Likewise, I want to have a virtual climb so I could test myself indoors when it is rainy and dark in Vancouver over the winter.
My first climb up Seymour, 2 Saturdays ago, I was unfocused and not very consistent. Even in the moment I noticed my mind easily going off and away from the climb. However I was pleased with my time of 1 hour 14 minutes considering I haven't climbed a mountain on a road bike in awhile. So I decided to try again and I rode it again a week later (I figured worst case - it is all cumulative training).
The second time, this past Saturday, I had considerable improvement. Not only was I more mentally prepared for the climb. I also forgot my earbuds for the ride, and because I wasn’t distracting myself with music I was able to proactively shift gears and constantly push up the hill rather than shift now and then. I could also hear my breathing and control it better when I started getting heavy. I honestly thought the tunes helped with focus and consistent effort - as I used to be a spin instructor and loud, pumping music is critical to keep 20 people motivated on the bike. Now I don’t think I will be using tunes on my rides as much anymore! My climb ended up being 1:07:08 which was 3 seconds off from my PR up Seymour! I really have to have a lap stop watch on my computer to show my time while I am riding. I am certain I would have pushed harder the last 100m if I knew I could be on track for a PR.
So here are my results in the chart below. I also went and estimated how much I hope to improve over the year based on 2019 time vs. goal 2023 times. I calculated the % improvement based on decreasing my time by 42 minutes. This leads to 15% time reduction and 17.5% speed increase. That said… My improvements are assuming my power now is equivalent to my power when I achieved the 4:42 event in 2019, which it is not. BUT since my Seymour PRs from 2019 and 2022 are not that dissimilar, it might no be that far off already!
One thing I did not mention so far is that I have lost 10lbs since 2019, so that is a value that will have a positive impact on my times as it will require less power to carry my weight up the mountain.
Another thing I am thinking about as I type this. Because the event is so much longer and requires more endurance -- perhaps I need to be able to speed up more than 17.5% for a shorter climb. At the end of the day all these numbers are a aid to help me train better. They are not the final event. Since I love spreadsheets I am enjoying trying to put numbers to a bike ride.
I've also created a video for this week's blog topic: