A few years ago I tried cross as a way to bridge the shoulder season between beautiful summer road riding and skiing in the winter.
I always have loved the thrill of competition but when I started racing cross I never thought that it would become a second obsession. Much to the chagrin of my winter skiing partners I have taken cross very seriously ever since that first year. It has undoubtedly made me WAY faster on the skin track especially early season when the left over top end form from racing for 2 months straight is still in my legs.
The first races of the season are such a fickle thing you don’t quite have the pop you had at the end of last season and some people are obviously still nursing some fine form left over from a summer of road racing. I have always struggled the first few races of the season but round out at the perfect time to put together some decent results.
This year I have stepped up my game and started training with a power meter (Sram Quarq). The beauty is that it tells you straight up if you are getting better where your weaknesses are and how hard you actually went in that race.
So how hard is a cat 3 race? Masters none the less? Power file from Abbotsford CX Race . DAMN hard With a FTP (functional threshold power or how hard you can hammer on the pedals for an hour before you want to collapse and die.) of 290 watts I was at my limit the whole time. Over 30 efforts of 5 seconds or more at over 150% or my threshold power I was left with a serious case of cotton lungs. That was only good enough for 10th place. YIKES.
So what does all this data mean? Well it means you can train your weaknesses and really target your training so you don’t waist a minute and you can see if those workouts really worked. Truth is in the results.
Last year I had an FTP of 255w at the end of cross season (3.31 w/kg) racing the winter series at Peak Centre Vancouver Race Series
With some training and some weight loss I started using a power meter on my road bike and my first test produced a FTP of 274w or 3.76 w/kg (13% increase) . This increase was accomplished by riding long endurance miles to lay down a great foundation.
Fast forward 3 months of training with a power meter and working on my base fitness my FTP is now 290w or 4.13 w/KG. It is very rewarding to see a 9% increase in your performance in 3 months of training but when you look at almost a full w/kg (25%) increase from March it is clear that training with power is effective. That is if you are willing to pay the price of both training and equipment.
The challenge now becomes can you apply that power effectively to peak for my goals for the season.