TrainerRoad’s 2014 “8 Days in California” (8DC) is in the books, and–just like last year–the 8-day event was extremely well-designed, contained a compelling storyline, was very challenging and was, somehow, fun!
Like I did last year, I left all my empty gel wrappers on the floor for the duration of the event to remind me how much I’d already accomplished whenever the pain made me want to quit.
As you can see in the photo to the right (click to enlarge), this year I didn’t consume many gels–only a total of 5 GU energy gels were required over the course of the 8-day event. That’s far less gel than I consumed during last year’s 8DC. I think reason for that is because my pre- and post-workout nutrition was better this year, and I also used electrolyte drinks while I rode (I like Gatorade) instead of plain water.
The 8DC certainly involves quite a bit of suffering on the bike, but it is far from a mere exercise in two-wheeled machismo. The below excerpt is taken from a recent TrainerRoad blog, “Why Now Is The Perfect Time For A Multi-Day Training Block“:
While 8DC may just seem like a fun/brutal smattering of workouts, rest assured that there is a method to our madness when it comes to designing the individual workouts and their relative placement in the challenge schedule. 8DC delivers a massive overall fitness boost by fulfilling a few key objectives that are imperative in building fitness this time of year.
First and foremost, overload is the umbrella objective in both a general and specific sense. This much work within such a compact period of training takes a heavy toll on the body as a whole.
This year’s challenge is going to have plenty of sprint/KOM opportunities that are sure to get the peloton in a frenzy. In addition, the frequent yet brutal climbs are sure to start out and finish hard as breakaways try to get off the front. But what does all of this sprinting do for your fitness?
In addition to increasing your power output and endurance in high-force intervals (anaerobic capacity), repeated sprint efforts also give your body ample experience in processing the associated rapid increase in lactate production.
In racing or group situations, this is a vital tool to have, as you’ll be required to cover moves to stay with the pack and make breaks in order to get the win.
But all of that peak power means nothing if you can’t put it out dynamically in a repeated fashion. Riders who are able to repeatedly launch, cover and withstand attacks, or repeatedly put out big efforts benefit from having outstanding aerobic recovery.
From “over-unders” to reduced amplitude billats, 8DC will put you through the ringer and give you plenty of opportunity to build your aerobic recovery.
However, given adequate recovery your body will be able to absorb the increased training load and your capabilities will ascend to new heights. This is sometimes referred to as super-compensation.
We have worked hard to make sure that the tough efforts within each workout are compensated by sufficient recovery, and on a larger scale we’ve made sure to schedule the workouts in such an order that your body has time to recover in time for tomorrow. Now, this doesn’t mean that it is easy (Trust us, it’s not!), because we want to make you faster and easy doesn’t make fast!
As with most stage races, a good portion of 8DC‘s work will be at or sub-threshold for all but the time spent in a break or when coming to the finish.
Building your aerobic base by riding at sub-threshold intensity for extended periods of time is something that many people reserve for winter time and replace with high intensity efforts once the weather warms up enough to get off the trainer.
However, it is imperative that you don’t neglect this aspect of your endurance. A strong aerobic base pays off in endurance on various scales, not only improving your overall endurance but enabling you to maintain a higher level of fitness throughout the year.
In addition to the fun factor, our goal with 8DC is to make you faster, and to get faster you need to build a solid base of endurance to support your race-winning efforts.
As I did after the 2013 8DC, today I’d like to wrap things up by crunching all the data I amassed during this 8-stage cycling event.
Before I post the crunched numbers, it’s worth pointing out a key difference between this year and last year…
For last year’s 8DC my FTP was 270, and this year I rode the 8DC with an FTP of 288. This difference is actually even bigger than it seems: last year my FTP was determined using TrainerRoad’s VirtualPower, while this year my FTP was determined using a real power meter (Stages Cycling). After switching my power source from VirtualPower to the Stages Cycling power meter, I performed a number of tests over a period of several days comparing VirtualPower with the Stages Cycling power meter. My testing determined that VirtualPower, while extremely consistent when compared to other VirtualPower data using the same equipment/setup, measured about 12% higher than the Stages Cycling power meter. Put another way, if I’d been using VirtualPower instead of my Stages for this year’s 8DC, my FTP would have been 323.
Here’s this year’s 8DC data:
2014 8 Days in California: General Stats
|Stage||Time||Miles||Calories Burned||Average Speed||Average Heart Rate||Average Cadence|
2014 8 Days in California: Training Stats
|Stage||Training Stress Score (TSS)||kilojoules (kJ)||Normalized Power (NP)||Intensity Factor (IF)|
|TOTALS||852||8,759||266.0 (average)||0.93 (average)|
2014 8 Days in California: Power Zone Stats
|TOTALS||01:30:05 (14.96%)||1:48:17 (17.98%)||02:09:51 (21.57%)||02:53:34 (28.83%)||01:01:34 (10.23%)||00:29:19 (4.87%)||00:09:28 (1.57%)|
Finally, here are all my workout graphs from each stage (click to enlarge).