Sunday, May 17, 2015

Trainerroad - 8 Days in California 2015

From the challenge info:

What is 8DC?
8 Days in California (8DC) is an indoor cycling challenge. Participants will have eight days to complete eight successive workouts on TrainerRoad, each within their respective time windows.
When riders finish the entire tour, they’ll receive an 8DC Challenge badge for their career page - bragging rights included.
Not mentioned in that description? That the 8 workouts are tough ones. No easy rides here. Sure, 8 straight days of difficult cycling, that sounds like a fun thing to do! Sign me up! I like badges and bragging rights!

(Technically it doesn't have to be 8 straight days - each stage is available for 50 hours, so you can work a rest day in and still finish on time. Going in that was my plan - take advantage of the timing to get a rest day between days 6 and 7)

Stage 1, Sat May 9th - Sprint Stage (1 hour, 15 minutes)

Overall good. FTP felt like it was set about right, with the sub threshold work through the first hour being pretty easy to hold.

Except there was that lovely 10 minutes or so of psychotic sprinting at the end - 5 seconds all out, 10 seconds 'rest' except the rest was close to threshold so not really rest at all, 10 seconds all out, 10 seconds 'rest', 5 seconds all out, 5 seconds 'rest', etc, etc, etc. Brutal. I set new power PBs for every time up to 10 minutes largely based on that lovely little bit of torture.

This was my face just after I finished the final sprint:

OMG what have I gotten myself into???
Oh yeah, this is going to be a fun week.

Stage 2, Sun May 10th: Sprint stage (1 hour, 20 minutes)

A lot more close to threshold time in this one! For the non cyclists, you can see in the graph there's a thicker horizontal line - that represents my Functional Threshold Power (FTP)- the power/effort I could theoretically hold for a 1 hour max effort. Any time you are riding right around that level (like in this ride), it's going to hurt. Toss in the sprints and you have a recipe for fun. Painful fun. I nailed the power targets in this one, which was super satisfying.

QOM polka dot jersey!

I do most of my indoor rides 'on' Watopia, the current location of the virtual Zwift course. It really helps to have the virtual ride to distract me from the pain - and give me targets to chase during the hard bits! On this ride I held the Queen of the Mountain jersey for almost the whole ride, and it was legit because I know there were other women riding this time, not like the first couple of times I got the QOM by default.

Delirious from exercise endorphins.
And because I'm a glutton for punishment, as soon I finished the ride, I changed into my running shoes and did a 2k brick run. I have lost my damn mind with this triathlon stuff, is what.

Stage 3, Mon May 11th - Climbing stage (1 hour, 30 minutes)

This one was a little trickier, what with that 'work' thing I have to do during the week. And those children we have running around that need supervision in the evenings. In order to fit in a 90 minute ride, I had to plan a fast & easy dinner and get on the bike by 6:15 so that I could be wrapped up in time to get the kids to bed.

I pulled it off! This one felt in some ways easier than stage 2, because there were some decently long breaks in between the three main hard efforts. But oh boy did the fatigue build up by the end! The final 10 second sprint was a total fail (missed the power target by 50 watts because my legs just said OH HELL NO), but I got the rest of it nailed pretty well.

Dead sexy sweat covered forehead. That's with THREE FANS blowing on me, too. You don't even want to know what my hair band felt and smelled like after that ride. 
I like the 'shape' of these rides. Trainerroad workouts are usually more regimented (12 minutes on, 5 minutes off, later rinse repeat, and so forth), and these are a little more unpredictable. Makes it feel a little more like riding outside. Nice change of pace.

Stage 4, Tuesday May 12 - Sprint stage (1 hour, 14 minutes)

Halfway! Another fast dinner, get on the bike early sort of evening.

This one looked easier going in - not as much high level sprinting. Of course, then I actually rode it...

Yeah, not so easy. Combination of feeling the fatigue in my legs and the lack of much in the way of rest breaks during the workout. Plus that long threshold bit in the middle was tiring! But I hit the power targets, so success.

Making use of one of my Mother's Day gifts - shaker cup for the post ride protein shake. Although you can tell by the screen behind that I took this shot after day 3, not day 4. BLOG FAKER.
Stage 4 also featured a key component of the challenge - LAUNDRY. I don't own enough bike shorts to get through an 8 day challenge. I should probably go shopping.

Stage 5, Wednesday May 13 - Climbing stage (1 hour, 20 minutes)

For the first time during the challenge my legs were feeling a touch tired when I woke up in the morning. Nothing major but enough to make me think that stage 5 would not be a walk in the park. So very very spiky looking. Eeep.

But, this one turned out to be relatively easy. Relatively. The first 30 minutes or so every time it went above threshold I wasn't sure I'd make it, but then during the final sprint I realized there was pretty minimal hard stuff left and I cruised through the finish.

The amount of technology needed for these rides is getting a bit out of control.
Stage 6, Wednesday May 14 - Individual time trial (50 minutes)

Short one! But the shape of it looked suspiciously like an FTP test, so I was a bit worried this was going to be super painful. That's a long time to spend over threshold on tired legs!

However, no problem. Even had energy to spare at the end of the threshold work (although I resisted the urge to burn it all off completely). I think I'm going to have to retest my FTP once I've recovered. This indoor training really works if you put in the time and effort - I'm now easily holding power numbers for 20 minutes that I couldn't touch for longer than a minute or two back in January!

I'm totally going to pull this off! YES!
Friday - rest day

Kind of goes against the spirit of the challenge, but it's within the rules and since I had a 5k race Saturday morning where I was going to try for a PB, rest was the best option.

"Ride me....c'mon you know you want to...."
I was a little surprised, though, at how freaking GOOD I felt on Friday. Full of energy. No tiredness in my legs at all. What??? Six days of challenging workouts and I’m feeling amazing??? Not exactly what I was expecting, but I’ll take it!

Stage 7, Saturday May 16 - Climbing stage (Queen stage) (1 hour, 40 minutes)

The big one. Compounded by having run the aforementioned 5k race in the morning (race report coming shortly on that).

1 hour 15 minutes is the moment I cracked. Just couldn't hold the power targets after that. To be honest I'm surprised I got that far - my heart rate was way high during the initial threshold work and I was half expecting to crack a lot earlier! Without the 5k race in the morning I think I could have made it through the whole thing on target. Or maybe even if I'd had more than 2 1/2 hours in between the race and getting on the bike.

Had one of the kids grab my camera and take a picture right after the final sprint to the finish. I was a little gassed...

Stage 8, Sunday May 17 - Sprint Stage (1 hour, 5 minutes)

This one looked awful. One aim of this challenge is to explore your weaknesses, and quick sprints are probably my biggest one. And this one looked to have approximately infinity of those.

SO MUCH SPRINTING. Coach Chad (who designs all the trainerroad workouts) is really mean. They just went on forever. This was painful, but I made it through.

VICTORY! Kinda hard to do that properly with that bit of important basement structure in the way.  Close enough.
So was it worth it? Absolutely. I won't know for sure until I retest my FTP next week (after I've recovered!), but I sure feel like I made some gains over this week. The 'time trial' in stage 6 in particular was illuminating, in terms of me being able to hold a high for me power number for a long time without feeling like it was super difficult.

Would I do it again? Yes. No question. If it fits into my schedule next year I would absolutely do it again. Just the kind of challenge I like - the time commitment isn't unreasonable, it's totally scaled to your personal ability level, and it's surprisingly fun! I haven't really commented on the storyline, but there's a whole story included, where you are a rider who is trying to win the 8DC stage race, and I quite enjoyed following the story along with the workout.

And I got a virtual trophy, and if I've learned anything from being on Strava, it's that I loves me some virtual trophies.

And now a bit of a rest week before official training for my A race starts. And food. So much food.


  1. Nice 8DC report. I definitely went through some of the same feelings :-P Good luck with your training!

  2. WOW! Super awesome. Although that technology shot makes me afraid to get a bike trainer...

    1. Ha, admittedly the only thing that's REALLY necessary is the computer, the other stuff just makes it more pleasant (TV so it's all BIGGER, ipad for the Zwift app which is totally unnecessary but makes it easier to take screenshots which are obvious very important when you get the QOM jersey, iphone for music).