Now those of you that know me, and perhaps have had loads of spare time and read one or two of my posts, will know that I ride for fun and to finish and sprinting or pushing myself too hard is not often (or ever) on the riding agenda. Waking up yesterday I was wary of the new experienced that lied ahead for me, see I have decided to get on board with a coach again and signed on with Alasdair Garnett from The Practise that came highly recommended. Him being in Johannesburg necessitated a FTP test being done on me in Cape Town for him to assess where my fitness levels are at. You might not know what FTP stands for yet, but I sure you know the meaning of WTF, but we will get to all this just now. My 2016 Absa Cape Epic partner, Thinus also signed on with Alasdair and had to do the FTP test a week or so ago and phoned me post his torture, thus my reluctance to go put my mind and body through anticipated pain.
Back to writing something meaningful in telling you what the FTP tests involve; let’s start with what FTP is (WTF will come later). FTP is Functional Threshold Power or quite simply put, a measure of fitness, FTP is the maximum wattage an athlete can sustain for 60 minutes and according to some the single greatest determinant of cycling performance. So back to WTF, I mean the FTP test, there are a couple of ways to establish your FTP: a blood lactate test, a sustained 60 minute effort, or a 20 minute field test. No one told me about the blood lactate test! So off to the most common and easily accessible 20 minute field test, conducted by Mr. Watt Bike in SA, Steve Saunders who after the Double Century stayed on to do the test on me for Alasdair, which also meant no hiding away on the bike with the watchful eye of Adel making sure I stick to the cadence and program.
First, warm up for 20 minutes starting with easy pedalling and progressively building to more zone 2 endurance pressure on the pedals and some insane maximum cadence rotations, eish! Then the fun started as you need to go for 20 minutes at your maximum pace or power output at the whatever resistance you prefer – Eina! (For my English speaking friends, that means ouch!). That really hurt as I had to dig deep to keep on going for the full time at a pace I probably never ever rode a bike at. As you grind through the lactic pain barrier and you try and keep mind focussed on that smooth pedal stroke and even cadence to keep going on and on, with time seeming to stand still – you think WTF! Told you we would get back to that – mind out of the gutter now and think positive training thoughts, you all knew I meant: Will Train Frequently to not ever suffer like that again. Now from this 20 minute test one apparently takes 95% of the average power and uses that as your FTP. It seems mine is 231.8 for whatever that means. (Isolated time of last 8.5 minutes of the 20 where my average was output was 244). 231 watts was the average over the 20 minutes, perhaps I can bribe my coach to use this number (231 x 0.95 = 219.45). Just kidding Alasdair, I am very worried that you are coaching my riding partner to be even quicker than what he already is, and he likes chasing the clock as for me I just want to make it to the finish line in time.
Check out the services offered by UCI Accredited coaching from The Practice that could assist you in your training goals. When training towards a goal in the form of a specific event or just for general fitness and health it does definitely help to have a structured plan to help you improve but also not losing the fun and enjoyment factor. (I believe a certain founder of a 8 day mountain bike race is also doing a FTP test this week, good luck KV, we can’t suffer alone)
One more tip to help with your core muscles and the ‘correct’ way to plank – check out this video
This week I am tackling the Pennypinchers Origin of Trails two day Mountain Bike event, really looking forward to it and be sure that when I start climbing the 1700m of climbing on each day, I will be saying, perhaps out loud – WTF!