VCF – Short Tour 2011

During a relaxing 2 weeks around christmas and new year, i wondered how much time & work i would be able to put into regular cycling training if i really pushed things to the limit. The Short Tour 2011 of the Virtual Cycling Federation, in which i compete regularly with my Fortius trainer, seemed to be the right occasion to give it a try early in the year/season. The format of the tour consists of daily races throughout a 2 weeks period. Only one upload per race & per day is allowed. The rides are quite short (15-20min) apart from a longer weekend ride (40min).

As there is a huge benefit from drafting behind pacers, you’ve got to create such pacers first and tell them to speed up and draft behind them when you do the final race. Not beeing able to keep the speed of the pacers means a massive speed drop on the other hand setting your pacers too slow also means that you won’t be able to eak out your max performance. Either way, creating pacers requires some effort and puts in additional time on the bike. Especially the first pacers in a „train“ – like in a team time trial – are quite demanding. I usually do them a little below threshold pace. While the pacers at the end of the train are within the endurance training zone.

Basically my plan for the first week was to use this pacer creation process and the races as a mixture of base endurance training with some higher intensity intervals trying to average around 2,5h-3h on the bike per active day with 1 rest day per week, which would end up in a week with 15h of training. All on the trainer, at home in the cellar. As i’ve hardly ever been on the trainer for more than 2h on a single day, this seemed to be quite demanding – physically but even more mentally.

Well, everything turned out to be much easier than i thought. Here is what i finally did in numbers (Click on the images to enlarge them):

36h in 2 weeks, 1 rest day, 18h per week, ~2h45min per day,
Normalized Power ~240W (80% of FTP), 2
.000kJ (= 2.000kcal/day)

PMC Chart: CTL raised from 70 to 93. TSB -40 during 2nd week

The 2nd week was quite demanding, because i was on top of the overall classification fighting a tough battle with Chris Holmes. I cranked out daily bests on almost every day during the 2nd week and had a lead of 16s until the final run on Sunday, which i started too fast with overambitious pacers, had to redo with slower pacers and on which i finally lost 36s on Chris and therefore also the tour. Because of this the last day also became the most demanding in terms of TSS (Training Stress Score). At least i could secure the yellow Fortius jersey and the overall hill climb jersey.

Top 5 of the last race

Pushing my indoor all time bests to new levels during the 2nd week*
Overambitious ride in last round set a new 20min record until i had to drop pacers after ~25mins

Some learnings:

  • The format of the tour and this daily racing as well as beeing so close together with Chris throughout 12 rounds was a great motivation to get this all done. Thanks Chris for pushing so hard!
  • Did not have any problems with the training load. Weight remained stable, just needed more sleep than normal. I think i could sustain this load for quite some time.
  • Did all my rides in the first week with 4 pacers apart from the long one on Sunday which was only with 3 pacers and in the 2nd week with 5 Pacers. Having so many pacers didn’t make me faster (in fact i needed more watts on the long sunday ride with 5 pacers than with 3) but creating pacers helped a lot on the mental side in order to get time pass by really quick.
  • I now know that i can (easily) spend up to 4h on the trainer. Just need to bring along enough food for my brain …

*Note: My Powertap seems to be reporting up to 5% too low numbers according to a recent stomp test. Never did a stomp test with my old, stolen Elite+ which i used in 2010. Therefore the comparisons above might be a bit off.

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