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Punchy efforts, FTP test and finishing the RCC Triple Crown Challenge 2020

Another solid week in the books since the last post. The highlights of which are described here. In general I've been finding the back of the right knee pain to be not completely gone, but much improved in general. It's not giving me any issues whilst riding, but I am still aware of it for a short period after the ride. Stretching it out post ride, a bit of massage of the surrounding areas, and occasional icing and it seems to be fine for the next day. Certainly something I'm still monitoring with caution though.

The first significant session of the week came on Wednesday. A 3 hour aerobic conditioning ride with some "punchy" anaerobic efforts from 30s -> 1min30s or so in duration. This is part of a couple of sessions where Ed targeted "working on weaknesses". I decided that my main effort would be on a local short climb "Col de Lyme", which based on my previous best last year of 1:26, would be at the top end of the time period we were targeting. With this length of effort it was going to be a case of starting hard and holding on, with not a great deal of pacing (other than it not being an all out sprint!). I completed this climb out of the saddle as I often do for such short intense efforts, but I must admit, I need to work on my technique a bit here as I get a little too far forward typically. This means that when laying down high power, the back wheel can skip about a bit and lose traction, and this definitely occurred on the lower slopes of this climb. Either way, I kept the power going and was able to complete the climb quite a bit faster than my previous best. I definitely feel a few seconds were lost due to the technique, but as always, that's something to improve for next time. The power was fairly decent for the time period and had my best 1 minute power of the last few months within the segment, so I was happy enough with that.

The rest of the ride saw 4 or 5 more efforts (all between 25s -> 45s). Just riding the terrain and giving it some beans on any of the little rises which the road presented. Most of these were a bit later in the ride and so the power had diminished a little, but it was good to get the work in.

The next day saw a short workout with some 6s max power sprints. This was completed on Zwift. I think there was a bit of "top end" fatigue in my legs for this one from the punchy efforts the day before (not unexpected when working on weaknesses). As such the top end power was a little lower than my max numbers (such as they are for a non sprinter!). In general though I was hitting around the 900W mark (982W my most recent peak power PB ~15W/kg).

An active recovery day came next before the biggest test of the week...

It had been 10 weeks since I'd last performed a 20 minute power test, and with a really solid block of VO2max intervals and a lot of endurance miles completed in that period I was fairly confident that my numbers would be a little up. This confidence was based on a lower heart rate and perceived exertion when in my current VO2max zone. Still, it's one thing to think the numbers might be there, but another to go and prove it! I decided to complete this test as part of an individual time trial on Zwift (surprisingly I hadn't actually completed one of those races yet). The Newbury Velo TT was the race, 17.8km around the Fuego Flats course. This would be long enough for my FTP test, but should only require a few more minutes once complete to struggle over the finish line and at least post a time.

To watch the whole thing, check out my video here:

I had a decent warm-up (my usual 25 minute build of power over 10 minutes, then 2 minutes at VO2max and then a few 10s sprint efforts), but did notice my HR was quite a lot higher than usual. Perhaps this was a bit of "test anxiety" as well as a real coffee that morning to "get me going" (I'm a decaf guy typically except on race days). I set out with a pace plan in my mind, but seemed to start out a good 10-15W higher than that... The legs felt really good (albeit the HR still higher than normal). I felt pretty solid at the 10 minute mark (as much as you can during such an effort), but it was certainly getting much harder after that and by the 15 minutes mark my power had dropped a fair bit, but I was staying with it mentally and kept going. As soon as the 20 minute mark passed I dropped the power to zone 2 for a couple of minutes to try and get some recovery in (this was pretty mandatory at this point), but then pleasingly was able to ramp the power back up over the course of the next minute or so to finish strong. This was actually good enough to get a win in the time trial by a few seconds, which was a real bonus!

However, the important thing for me was the 20 minute power number. I'd managed to sustain 338W for 20 minutes and in the process increased my FTP from 311W -> 321W. I was delighted with this result, and it shows that the work I've completed with Ed has yielded real power increases. Come Sunday I planned to complete the final route of the 2020 RCC Triple Crown Challenge ( This route was the only duplicate of a 2019 route, but it was a good one, so I was more than happy to comply! The route (known as "Seven Hills") starts out of The Green Jersey cafe in Clitheroe (, which I can recommend for a visit! I was a bit early for that on a Sunday this time and set out on my route around 8am. Even though this route has a variety of climbs in it, I knew it had to be an endurance day after the FTP test the day before, and having not had a great nights sleep also this was definitely going to be the case.

I used the ride as a chance to capture some of the key climbs on my new GoPro (I'll be publishing those to my YouTube channel soon). I've found that aside from being a video camera, it's really nice for picking out key frames that you'd like to use as photos too.

So that rounds out another week. The next week has been dubbed "Zwift Race Week" where I'll be undertaking a number of Zwift races (instead of the usual one a week) to see how my performance and recovery stack up under these conditions as we get closer to the main "indoor season". It promising to be a lot of fun and no doubt eye opening!

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