Verve’s #MyPower riders have just finished their 4th day of the Pyrenees Haute Route. By this point, they’ve ridden 512km with 12,250 meters of climbing. Tomorrow is a Time Trial, and below are our recommendations to make it through.
ENDURING PAIN // What to do and what not to do
If you have strained something, noticed a nagging knee pain, or have any other “new” pain or injury during the Haute Route there are definitely some do’s and don’ts. Likely most of you are suffering from some pain at this point, I know stairs are probably evil right now, but it is important to monitor your aches and pains.
Listen to your body, look at your body: Is there swelling? Is the area warm or hot to the touch? Are you able to sleep well or are you waking due to pain? Really ask yourself if it is something that needs medical attention and if it is – get it. I am sure there is a medical tent, don’t hesitate to go see them and ask their opinion.
Go through this list of questions and things to check:
- Did you crash?
- Check your bike position- did you recently change something just prior to the HR? (I don’t recommend any changes to bike fit less than 1 month out from an A event unless it is causing major discomfort or injury)
- Has your saddle slipped?
- Is your saddle straight?
- Are your handlebars tight? Did they get bumped or slipped?
- Check your shoe cleats- are they tight or did one slip/move?
If everything checks out above:
- Take an ice bath or ice the area for 20 min at a time (not more than 20 minutes at a time)
- Stretch after exercise (when muscles are warm) and hold stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. But DO NOT stretch to the point of pain – only go to where you feel the stretch, and deep breaths while holding it. Pain while stretching is too far!
- Gentle self massage or gentle massage! During the middle of a 7 day tour is not the time for deep tissue massage! The idea is to flush muscles of waste product and open capillaries. Strokes should not be painful and should always flow toward the heart. To learn self-massage, start with slower, higher-pressure squeezing strokes and shift to lighter, quicker motions after several minutes. We recommend daily self-massage following the event, after training or stretching, and before bed
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate with an isotonic sports drink. An isotonic drink generally contains between 4g and 8g of sugar (carbohydrates) per 100ml and has about the same osmotic pressure as bodily fluids. An isotonic drink is taken up by the body about as quickly as water. They are intended to quench thirst and provide energy to the body. Ideal for endurance sports. This helps your body flush out toxins
- Minimize extra-curricular activities. Make rest and recovery your number #1 priority before and after each stage. This includes getting off your feet, napping, nutrition, sleeping, legs up, etc
- If you decide that the pain is tolerable and you are not likely doing major damage, please DO NOT TAKE NSAIDS DURING ENDURANCE EVENTS. For several reasons, but the big one is possible kidney damage! Here are two links with more info:
- Do not change your bike position unless it because something moved, shifted, or slipped. The middle of a 7 day tour through the Pyrenees isn’t the time to try out a new position. Wait until you get home.
- Do not be the hero and ignore the pain if it is causing you to be miserable. Go see the medical tent and get checked out.
POWER BALANCE // What should I be paying attention to? What is considered a significant imbalance?
First off, we are by nature asymmetrical beings. I have never seen a power file with 50/50 power balance throughout an entire ride or race. EVER. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, I just have never seen it and I look at a lot of data files. Second, compensation is not always a bad thing or not always something that can be corrected. But understanding how a body is compensating is a very helpful tool.
Thirdly, it is a very individual metric and not a static number that we can assign as optimal for everyone. Everybody is different, so the numbers will always vary. Again, the important aspect is that knowledge is power. I know, bad pun, but it is true. The first step is to be able to gather accurate data, then the physios, sports scientists, exercise physiologists, can run scientific tests and tell us how best to use the data.
For now, here is what I’ve learned in the real world applications:
Most often, we see the biggest power imbalances between left and right legs when a cyclist is going easy. It seems auto-pilot kicks in and the body lets the dominant leg to the bulk of the work. Then, when the cyclists raises the effort or power level, the more likely the balance is to get closer to 50/50 or even get to 50/50 balance.
If you are seeing consistent imbalances of greater than 10%, I would review your bike and bike position first. You’d be surprised how a slightly off center saddle can affect power output, same for handlebars. If all that checks out, go see the physio to determine any significant leg length discrepancies, muscle imbalances, posture problems, etc. And inquire about incorporating functional strength work to improve any such imbalances. But keep in mind, you will likely never be 50/50 100% of the time.
TIME TRIAL // The TT is tomorrow, how should I ride it?
Well, it is a TT and TT’s were meant to be done flat out as fast as you can and that is exactly how I would recommend doing this one. It will be in the range of a little less than an hour to 1.5 hours, with a significant amount of people in the just-over-an-hour time frame. This is a perfect day to test your FTP or Threshold Power during an intense block of riding. On the upside, it is a short day compared to the flogging you’ve been giving yourself so I don’t think going all out for 1 hour is going to blow you up significantly. In other words, at this point you are tired, in the hole a bit but a one hour effort isn’t going to significantly impact your riding on the remaining stages. Go for it and see what you’ve got. If you get 15 minutes in and are just completely empty, then ease off.
What to do
Get a good warm-up (20-30 min), elevate your heart rate and breathing using high cadence, not high power. The goal is to feel the intensity without loading up or fatiguing the legs. High cadence spinning is a great way to warm up the body, feel intensity, and get the legs feeling a bit more supple and ready to go. Take some time to mentally prepare and get focused.
Try not to stand around waiting for your start more than 5 minutes. Sync your clock with the race clock when you get there to ensure proper timing. Do not miss your start!
Take some deep breaths just before you start and focus on the exhale. Squeeze out all of the “old” air.
DO NOT START TOO HARD!! Do not SPRINT off the start, be in a gear that you can comfortably spin and get your cadence up first, then shift to a bigger gear as needed. Take 20-30 seconds to get up to speed. Jumping too hard from the gun will just make your legs feel like cement. Try to aim for FTP power and stay on top of your gear- shift as needed. Mashing a big gear early will also blow your legs. You can always shift to a bigger/harder gear later. If you go to big/hard early on and have to go smaller/easier, your power will drop.
Bury yourself in the last km. It is uphill so I wouldn’t go earlier than that, but with 1 km to go it is time to empty the tank.
After the TT, spin down for 10 minutes or so.
Get changed and out of the chamois (this should be done every day ASAP).
Get off your feet and eat and drink something. Stretch, massage, etc. But remember- it should be a shorter overall day for you, so maximize your recovery time!
Wishing the #MyPower and InfoCrank riders all the very best for their TT tomorrow!