Date: April 3, 2010

Location: Pine Valley, CA

Description: Approximately 17 mile bike followed by a 2 loop run of approximately 4 miles total.

This was the fourth and final club duathlon put on by the Triathlon Club of San Diego. It was different from the other duathlons in that it is bike-run, and the others were run-bike-run. It is also a point to point race, and has a long climb up Sunrise Highway.

I felt the mood at this duathlon was also much more relaxed. It was a later start (0900) so the sun was bright already, and there was no transition to set up. We just had to drop off our running shoes and they would be brought up and set up for us at the transition area. Nobody was really warming up either. It seemed to be a more social and casual start, even though right from the beginning we were facing about 7 miles of climbing without a break.

Mike Clinch once again won the race, taking the top prize donated by Kashi each time. A quick recap on Mike’s performances in the duathlon series:

1/16/2010 at Otay Lakes, Mike had his closest finish, winning with a time of 50:05. Marc Schommer came in second at 50:16.

2/13/2010 at Black Mountain, Mike won with a time of 1:01:20, Simond Zahnd finished second with a time of 1:01:43. Mike was also uncertain of the bike course and waited at lights for other people to show him the way, so he definitely could have finished much faster.

3/13/2010 at Carlsbad, Mike won with 1:21:31, and Matt Dixon screamed in with a 1:22:09. Matt admitted to me that he had caught up somewhat on the bike when Mike was stuck at a stop light.

4/3/2010 at Pine Valley, Mike won with and Matt once again came in second with a time of. No lights to explain that one. Mike and Matt simply dominated the hill climb.

One other competitor that just came out for the bike (but didn’t run) was a fellow randonneur, Drew Peterson. Drew and I met last year on some brevets put on by San Diego Randonneurs. Drew is light, and strong. I doubt many people noticed, but he rode with power cranks. These things are primarily a training tool, although I have seen people racing in them including at Ironman Arizona. The crank arms are completely independent of each other, so you are essentially doing isolated leg training the entire time. This requires continuous pulling up, otherwise you’ll never get the pedal over the top. Although the hip flexors are much less efficient than the extension muscles, by forcing you to use them they develop a better pedal stroke and strengthen muscles that are particularly ignored. Try isolated leg training, even with very easy gearing, and you’ll quickly see (probably within 1 minute) of how exhausting this is if your hip flexors are not trained for this. I spoke to Drew afterwards, and it is interesting that he finds he needs to keep a lower cadence with the powercranks. He said he was keeping about 60 RPM on the climb. Prior to using powercranks he would usually spin at 100 RPM. I forgot to ask how he finished on the bike in relation to the first riders, but I know he finished well ahead of me.

This race was definitely the most scenic of the series. I found the run to be amazing as you looked over the cliffs and desert. Instead of looking at each of my footsteps, I’ll just be reviewing the bike portion. The strategy I’m describing is still rather new to me (about 2 weeks now), so I’m sure I will refine it as I do more training and hill climbing with it. My Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is about 308 watts, and my best Critical Power for 60 minutes (CP60) is 332 watts (obtained during a race). These are numbers I should be able to hold for about an hour. With that in mind I planned on doing the climb at 300-330 watts, and keeping my cadence at 85-95. What I have found is that if I am climbing and my cadence falls, my power usually goes up, so I need to shift to an easier gear. If my cadence goes up, my power falls, so I need to shift to a higher gear. In a two by two table, these are the rules I rode by:


Cadence <85

Cadence >95

Power <300

Bring power up by increasing cadence

Shift to harder gear

Power >330

Shift to easier gear

Bring power down by slowing cadence

This worked incredibly well, until I started to become fatigued. At around 35 minutes I started noticing that it wasn’t as easy to follow the rules, so I would have to do things such as briefly lower the gearing so that I could bring the cadence up, then increase the gear to be in back in zone. Below is the chart from the power file. You can see the hill by looking at the elevation change. After the hill my strategy was different, and not necessarily the focus of the table above. In particular notice how narrow the power was, and this is with changes in grade and wind throughout the climb. This is probably most evident in the large changes in speed with minimal changes in power (and cadence and heart rate for that matter). This can be compared to the big changes on the descent. I also used minimal data smoothing in the graph.

If you can’t see the legend, red is Heart Rate, green is Cadence, yellow is Power, and blue is speed.

Below is a summary of the first 30 minutes. Notice the average cadence of 88, and average power of 315, right in my target areas.

Here is my power distribution for the entire ride. The top two bins are 270-300 and 300-330 watts.

One thing you might have noticed in my heart rate. I don’t wear a heart rate monitor during triathlons or swimming, but I try to for other training and events. My max heart rate was 148, and below is my heart rate distribution for the entire ride.

For the run my max heart rate was only 160, and this occurred near the finish where I had a near sprint finish to beat out a competitor. Here is my heart rate distribution for the run:

In general my heart rate stays pretty low, with a resting heart rate of 38-40. I noticed when we were at the starting line my heart rate was 63. My guess is that this is due to years of conditioning and developing an efficient heart. We are all (generally speaking) limited more by gas exchange capability than our cardiovascular capacity, so this may just be evidence of that. My heart rate does spike up early in running sessions when I am warming up, usually near 190 bpm, although I am running slow. Speaking with Drew after the race, he has noticed a very similar phenomenon of his heart rate remaining low. Drew largely does long distance cycling, well below lactate threshold, and may have adapted similarly. I welcome comments on this matter as I find it interesting, and see other athletes that are comparatively barely working with much higher heart rates.