Yesterday I completed the sixth stage of TrainerRoad’s “8 Days in California” challenge. This was an exceptionally well-crafted stage: in order to successfully complete it I was forced to push past what I thought I was capable of. For those who truly rise to the challenge, workouts like this one are performance improvement goldmines–both physically, and mentally.
Stage 6 description: Upward and… upward. Stage six is arguably the hardest stage of the challenge. A lot of punchy, intermediate climbing followed by a massive mountain top finish makes for an excellent opportunity to leave a mark on the GC. The stage is sure to be highly tactical, so expect a fair amount of low intensity work in between seriously hard efforts ranging from 115% FTP to a whopping 180% FTP. The final climb is sure to be just as tough but without the luxury of tactical slowdowns in between efforts.
My post-stage comments: I had to battle my way out of the bleakest and most depraved chamber of the pain cave to get through this one. I exceeded my wattage targets on every interval, but I don’t quite know how I was able to do it. The whole workout was difficult, but the final ~20 minute climb was pure torture. After the nearly three minute surge about mid-way through the final climb I pretty much just blacked out–I seriously don’t remember much of anything after that point. My Normalized Power (NP) for this stage was 271, which is the highest of any 2014 8DC stage thus far. My Intensity Factor (IF) was 0.94, which ties Stage 3 for this year’s 8DC IF high water mark. My Training Stress Score was 131, which is just shy of Stage 3’s TSS of 133. I tied my 60-minute power output PR (set during Stage 4) with 266 watts. So, was this the hardest stage of the 8DC? I think the stage description had it right: arguably, yes–especially considering it came deep in the 8DC when we’re all tired.
I spent 18.4% of the 88-minute stage (00:16:09) in the Threshold power zone, 10.9% (00:09:36) in the VO2 MAX power zone and I was in the Anaerobic Capacity/Neuromuscular zone for a slightly ludicrous 9.3% (00:08:12) of the time. To put that in perspective, the 8+ minutes I spent in the torturous Anaerobic Capacity/Neuromuscular zone is nearly double the time spent there in any other stage so far in this year’s 8DC.
My heart rate data further reflects the suffering Stage 6 unleashed: I spent 16.8% (00:14:47) of the stage in the Threshold zone (155-171 BPM) and nearly half the stage–42.7% (00:37:37)–was spent in the VO2 MAX zone (171+ BPM). That’s significantly more time in the VO2 MAX HR zone than another other 2014 8DC stage to this point. In fact, I spent 6 minutes and 30 seconds longer in VO2 MAX yesterday than I did in the decidedly brutal Queen stage (Stage 3).
As mentioned in my post-stage notes above, my Normalized Power (NP) output for this stage was 271 watts (a 2014 8DC high), and my Training Stress Score (TSS) was 131. You can check out the entire stage with all my workout data here.
Here is my 2014 8DC Stage 6 workout graph (click to enlarge):
Stage 6 swept over the peloton like a tornado having a bad day, leaving plenty of carnage in its wake: of 1,754 8DC participants, 1,209 have now been eliminated. With two stages left to ride, there are only 545 hardy souls remaining in the challenge.
Speaking of carnage, yesterday’s stage claimed another victim: my beloved Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player died at the very end of the stage. Too much sweat got in there, I guess. I tried placing the unit in a bowl of rice all day and overnight, but that didn’t help. I disassembled the unit this morning, and if there was sweat in there it’s gone now. Still, that sucker is dead (did a hard reset, too). I’m going to order another one: considering the abuse its been subjected to, it lasted a long time. In the meantime, I’ve popped my memory card into Lisa’s Clip Zip (shhhhhhhhh) and–at least musically–am good to go for Stage 7.
Ah, yes… Stage 7. This is going to hurt. Stage 7 has the highest Intensity Factor of any of the 2014 8DC stages, and that’s largely due to more than 15 straight minutes of relentless, non-stop sprints (almost 40 of them, back to back) at the very end of the stage. I’m feeling pretty beat up right now: my fatigue level is high, I’ve still got some sort of a head/chest cold going on, and I slept terribly last night for some reason. Stage 7 doesn’t care about any of that, though, and to be honest neither do I. I’ve got a job to do, and I’m going to do it. Time to go to work.