It”™s like herding cats, only the cats are on bikes.

You know, the internet is a wonderful thing. As the thought of herding cats came to mind, I subsequently embellished it mentally with our mode of delivery. I thought to my self…”hmmm I wonder if there are any pictures of cats riding bikes on the internet.” Silly me to even wonder if the absurd would not be just a google away. Indeed it was — just google “images of cats riding bikes” and behold, you even have choices. Gotta love it!

Anyway, yes, the “E” in Evidence Based Cycling is currently being collected by 10 or 11 volunteers, subjects, guinea pigs extraordinaire - call them what you like - but in my opinion, we are all self appointed researchers on a mighty quest for a peak into ourselves, our training and our sport. OK, maybe not so mighty, but a quest nonetheless.

A variety of things have already come up in our first week of gathering data. This is always the case — it”™s the “you don”™t know what you don”™t know” factor that makes this (and frankly all of life) so much more interesting. You can plan for as many variables and issues of concern, but until you get in there and start DOING it — well, it”™s all pretty academic. In the section below, I”™ve listed just some of the issues that I have come across being both a participant, and as the contact person for my fellow researchers (this is the most appropriate moniker for everyone involved, just less fun than calling them guinea pigs).

Since these issues trickled in throughout the week, this communication will actually be the first everyone as a group will get of said adjustments. So to those of you reading but not participating… you”™re seeing us learn and conduct the research in very real time.

Data Collection Adjustments

  • The Baseline Test. It turned out to be a little too aggressive at 25 Watt increases every 2 minutes, so we backed it down to 20 Watts. We don”™t want our performance to be impacted by the element of change itself, and if the change comes too quickly, our response to it may mask the other effects we are measuring (HR, fatigue, etc)
  • Warm-up Protocol. In most of our baseline tests that involve power, we warm-up, then reset the bike, and start the test. However, in the process the heart rate drops — which is not a problem when the test includes a progressive ramp up. However, in our test, the test begins in mid Zone 3, at a specific cadence, with unspecified power. This means one must “dial it in” to establish a rhythm at that cadence and intensity level.

Consequently, the easiest way to do this was to work your warm-up to that level, and once comfortable (at least 15 minutes in) you would only need to reset a watch or anything with time in order to conduct the stages as originally instructed. There isn”™t a need for any averages, so there was no need to reset to zero. We only want to find the muscle/fatigue failure point as it now stands.

Sitting or Standing. I got at least 1 question, and it became apparent to me while riding, that standing would be necessary for some people, despite the fact that most people know that we do almost 100% of our tests in the saddle to control variability introduced with this position.

The problem is exacerbated in this research also because both heart rate and cadence are typically impacted by standing. However, the need to stretch your legs varies by each individual, and truth be told, if the cadence and heart rate combination is what is going to produce the training effect we are looking for (improved muscular endurance), then if we can maintain those parameters out of the saddle, then position should not present a problem. Given the above, here are additional guidelines for doing your 15 or 30 minute M.E. drills out of the saddle:

  • If you can maintain a cadence between 73 and 77 and keep your heart rate between mid zone 3 and low zone 4, you can do as much out of the saddle as you like. Just keep track of the approximate % of time you spend out of the saddle, in the event there are patterns unanticipated that we might learn from.
  • If you only need short bouts out of the saddle to stretch, keep them to only 10 to 20 seconds at a time. Don”™t worry about either cadence or heart rate, as they will likely not be impacted by such a short period of time.
  • Zone 3 or Zone 4? In our research protocols I noted that the less advanced or competitive cyclists should stay in Zone 3, while those presumably more accustomed to Zone 4 should target that zone. What I was looking for was really just some consistency in the execution of the weekly regiment of M.E. drills. However, the hypothesis is that the improvements in muscular endurance will occur if you can spend time within a given range of HR/RPM value pairs.

To be more precise, I believe low zone 3 to mid zone 4 is the breadth of the heart rate parameters, and 65 to 85 is the breadth of cadence ranges. However, there was no mechanical device measuring the improvements at 65 vs 85 RPM, nor at a heart rate of low zone 3 vs. mid 4. Yet, we know that the difference in how the legs feel between these bookend cadence and heart rates is absolutely undeniable. Consequently, we need to try and execute our work in a consistent and similar fashion for all data collected if we are going to draw conclusions from the result of our work.

Therefore, it is imperative for everyone involved in the research to be diligent in sticking within the following ranges:

  • Heart Zones® - 3 BPM below mid zone 3 up to 3 BPM below mid zone 4. That means when you fall outside of these heart rate parameters, you must adjust the tension to get the HR back on track.
  • Cadences — as listed above — outside of 10 — 20 seconds of stretching every 5 minutes, maintain an average between 73 and 77 RPM for every 15 or 30 minute drill.

Well, that”™s our first week”™s update. In the next week or two, I”™ll begin to receive everyone”™s data and I”™m sure we will learn even more of what we didn”™t know or couldn”™t know, or maybe what we should have known… it”™s hard to know, you know.

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