Yesterday was the first stage of TrainerRoad’s 2014 “8 Days in California” (8DC) challenge. This indoor cycling challenge, inspired by the AMGEN Tour of California, contains eight difficult stages. Each of the 8DC’s stages runs concurrent with the the Tour of California’s eight stages.
Last year’s 8DC was a great experience, and I gained a lot of fitness in exchange for my suffering. So, for the second year in a row, I’m eagerly participating in this innovative and unique race simulation. My blogs over the next week will be focused on this event as I battle my way through each of the eight stages.
Stage 1 description: Starting off with two sprint points and a KOM, 8DC kicks off with a varied course that caps off its foray through the mountains with a fast and nervous circuit race. The varied course combined with the nerves and energy of the opening stage will keep the intensity high with a mostly aerobic profile spiked with short bursts well above FTP.
My post-stage comments: For the most part this was a moderately difficult stage that required plenty of focus and some hard efforts. The crit finish was absolutely insane, and took everything I had. I also chased all the optional sprints and the lone KOM, all of which hurt. I set new 5 second, 10 second, 20 second, 30, second, 1 minute, 2 minute, 10 minute, 15 minute and 60 minute indoor trainer (using the Stages power meter) power output personal records. Excellent and engaging stage, TrainerRoad has done it again.
As mentioned in my post-stage comments, I set quite a few new indoor trainer power output records while riding yesterday’s 75-minute stage. I spent 7.3% of the stage in the Threshold power zone (uncomfortable), 2.9% in the VO2 MAX power zone (painful) and 5.8% of the time in the Anaerobic Capacity power zone (please kill me). I was well into the Anaerobic Capacity (AC) zone during the sprints and the KOM, but the bulk of the AC work was during the incredibly fast and painful criterium finish. The “turns” provided just a few seconds of respite between all-out sprinting efforts as we raced towards the finishing line.
Note: For more information on power-based training, please check out my article, “Coggan’s Power-Based Training“.
On the heart rate side of things, I spent 29% of this stage (00:21:47) in the the Threshold zone (155-171 BPM), and 18.2% (00:13:38) in the VO2 MAX zone (171+ BPM).
Here is my 2014 8DC Stage 1 workout graph (click to enlarge):
I have my Garmin 810 and TrainerRoad each set to display my 3-second power average. On normal rides this setting helps smooth out the power display, but on rides like yesterday’s–particularly the criterium finish–this setting was a problem. The reason the 3-second smoothing was not ideal is because some of the sprint efforts were very short, and by the time the three second power average “caught up” to my effort level the sprint was almost over. This made monitoring my actual power output during those short sprints impossible. I’m going to turn off smoothing for the remainder of the 8DC.
The first stage of the 8DC saw a lot of carnage: of 1,735 participating cyclists, 937 were dropped from the peloton during the first stage; there are only 798 riders remaining.
Today’s stage is the Individual Time Trial (ITT). This stage is fairly short at 59 minutes, but it includes an out-and-back TT course that will involve more than 22 minutes riding above FTP, and a few sections at more than 130% FTP.
As mentioned in my post-stage comments (above), TrainerRoad really has done it again. They set the bar high last year with their inaugural 8DC, and this year I’ve noticed lots of thoughtful refinements that have improved an already well-designed event. Once again, nice work, TrainerRoad!
By the way, I went ahead and purchased my cable provider’s “Sports Package” ($10/month) so that I could enjoy beIN Sport’s coverage of the Giro d’Italia (see “Really enjoying professional cycling lately; Minor cable TV rant“). With 21 stages in the Giro, that amounts to less than 50 cents per stage, which is a good deal. I’m really glad that I did, too, because so far the Giro d’Italia has been awesome! I’m also very happy with beIN Sports’ coverage of the event.
Conversely, NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the Tour of California was absolutely terrible for the first stage! It sounded like the broadcasters were sitting in a wind tunnel, and it was very difficult to hear them over the very loud non-stop wind and motorcycle noise. Seriously, do they even have an audio engineer at NBC Sports? When I could actually hear the commentators, they sounded like a couple of amateurs. Adding to the amateurish feel, often NBC would cut away for commercials (a frequent occurrence) while the broadcasters were in mid-sentence. Also disappointing, most of the “HD” video footage looked like it was shot with a malfunctioning cell phone. I’d just switched off beIN Sport’s coverage of the Giro d’Italia before tuning in to NBC’s broadcast, and the difference in the quality of the two broadcasts was stark. It felt like a couple of high school kids were running the show, not a major television network. I hope they improve the broadcast for the remaining stages, because yesterday’s coverage, frankly, sucked.