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TrainerRoad’s 2014 “8 Days in California”: Stage 3 recap

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Yesterday I completed the third stage of TrainerRoad’s “8 Days in California” challenge. This stage was the Queen stage*, and it was vile.

*In multi-stage cycling races, the “Queen Stage” contains the highest point of the race, often has a mountaintop finish, usually has a big impact on the overall GC (General Classification) standings and is almost always the most demanding/difficult stage in the race.

Stage 3 description: The long and varied stage three kicks things off with a solid amount of climbing, giving you a mixture of sweet spot and FTP work. Afterwards, a jaunt through some flat terrain provides some great opportunities to collect some sprint points with some brief anaerobic efforts. But make sure you ride smart, because an absolutely massive effort on the mountaintop finish will push you above FTP for eight, hard minutes.

My post-stage comments: This was the “Queen” stage, and it was (pardon the music pun) killer. I’ve completed 136 workouts on TrainerRoad, and this workout with its two endless, soul-crushing climbs is the closest I’ve ever come to cracking. Towards the end of the final climb I was out of the saddle, drool and snot were streaming down my face, my side was in stitches, my legs were screaming in agony and my heart rate was closing in on 190 BPM–and that was before the big 1-minute all-out push to the summit. I was starting to come apart at that point, but I absolutely buried myself and managed to get the job done. I’d have to say this is in the top 3 most difficult TR workouts I’ve done–my heart rate was in my VO2 Max zone (171+ BPM) for 00:31:07, and in my Threshold zone (155-171 BPM) for 00:26:07. New 2-minute, 5-minute, 10-minute, 30-minute, 60-minute and 90-minute power personal records were set.

I spent 20.4% of the stage (00:19:21) in the Threshold power zone, 14.0% (00:13:20) in the extremely painful VO2 MAX power zone and an agonizing 4.2% (00:04:01) of the time was spent in the Anaerobic Capacity/Neuromuscular netherworld.

As you read in my post-stage notes, my heart rate from this stage also paints an ugly picture: I spent 27.5% (00:26:07) of the 95-minute stage in the Threshold zone (155-171 BPM), and 32.8% (00:31:07) of the stage was spent riding in the VO2 MAX zone (171+ BPM).

It was definitely an nasty scene in my home gym yesterday. I’m happy to have set several new power output personal records.

My Normalized Power (NP) output for this stage was 264 watts, and my Training Stress Score (TSS) was 133. You can check out the entire stage with all my workout data here.

Here is my 2014 8DC Stage 3 workout graph (click to enlarge):

2014 8DC Stage 3: My workout graph

2014 8DC Stage 3: My workout graph


Stage 3 crushed the hopes of nearly 100 more 8DC participants: of 1,735 cyclists who started the 8DC, 1,085 have been eliminated. With five stages remaining, there are 658 riders left in the challenge.

Today’s 70 minute stage is largely a sprint stage, which will certainly include lots of surging well above FTP. Looking at the stage profile, I can see that there is about a 20-minute section with non-stop over/unders that is going to be very difficult. Adding to the challenge, my legs are hurting from the the three previous stages, and also I’m feeling somewhat under the weather this morning. It’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a mild headcold and sore wheels to stop me. Let’s do this!

John Stone Fitness Comments

9 Responses to “TrainerRoad’s 2014 “8 Days in California”: Stage 3 recap”
    • That actually depends on the equipment used. Some people use electronically-controlled resistance units, while I prefer a fluid trainer that allows me to control the resistance using my bike’s gearing. Controlling the resistance with my bike’s shifters is the most realistic method of indoor training, and that’s what I prefer.

      So in the case of climbs on stationary trainers like mine, the climbs are simulated by the target wattages. I can chose to hit those wattage targets any way I like: I can upshift to a harder gear (increasing the resistance) to create those watts, I can spin faster in a lower gear to increase my power output, or I can go somewhere in between and/or switch around as I climb. These options are no different than when I hit a climb on a real ride (which is not to suggest that climbing on a fluid trainer is the same as climbing a real hill–it’s not), so that’s why I like the style of trainer I have.

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  1. This stage was brutal. Hardest trainer ride I’ve ever done. Don’t know if it was the program or the previous two days plus the program, but it was rough. not looking forward to today because i have to do two stages in one day due to an indian princess campout i have to attend with my daughter this weekend. but man this stage 3 was brutal. great job on your ride.

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    • Yes it was–excellent work for gutting it out. So you’re doing 5 and 6 today?! Five wasn’t too bad, but six looks to be the hardest of the whole series. I don’t envy you doing both of those on the same day!

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      • yeah, i had to do two in a day so that i can do saturday’s stage today and skip saturday. need to take my six year old to an indian princess campout — a brutal workout in its own way…i’ll do saturday a day early (about to get on trainer now — that makes 3 rides in 24 hours total time — ouch). stage 6 is terrible too. my legs are dying and i’m in nowhere the shape you are either. i had to dial the intensity back to 80% on stage 6 and i still felt like falling off the bike in the last seemingly never-ending climb.

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