Friday, April 4, 2008

Calculation Fascinations

One rider, The Fat Cat of Flanders, ascended glorious Mud Pike today. The question of the day: what is The Fat Cat capable of at this point and, what is he able to delude himself into thinking he is capable of? First off, The Cat’s CycleDumb coach says that the flabby feline needs to, “Lower the gun barrels a bit sometimes.” If The Cat’s amazing powers of metaphoric interpretation are correct, then the captain is suggesting that someone of The Cats prolific dimensions should stop trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

Well, despite the fact that The Fat Cat of Flanders would surely be a champion sprinter if he gave up on the climbs, he has made a career of trying to beat the square peg, round hole conundrum. The great thing about such an approach is that nobody expects a successful outcome. If one were to make the grade, they would be lauded as a visionary and an inspiration. Notice the use of modifiers, trying and would be, which rightly indicate that The Fat Cat is, as yet, lauded only in his own mind. But, at least nobody is surprised or disappointed.

On this overcast and surprisingly chilly48 degree day, The Fat Cat revved up the old Cervelo for another square peg assault on the Pike. Time to time trial and get a good baseline reading for the training to come. The Cat wanted to keep the cadence above 50 with an eventual goal of 60+ up the mountain. Unfortunately, a heavy fore wind slowed The Fat Cat like a prize fighter palming a flailing boys head (excuse#1). The mountain dictated the cadence and in the end it was about 45. What else is one to expect when a regular family guy (excuse#2) insists on the same gearing used in the pro peleton (excuse #3).

33 Minutes and 40 seconds to go 4 miles. I suck. There was no vomitus but The Flanders Fat Cat did just about all he could do. And, all he could do was go 3 minutes slower than his own personal record and 7+ minutes slower than the overall record as held by the dastardly Aerobinator. What’s a boy to do? Answer: crunch the numbers to see just how small the round hole really is.

Having no access to a power meter, we’ll use the equation: weight x 9.8 x elevation/ time = power. Given that the Fat Cat is “down to” 190 and his bike is about 20 lbs (95.45 kg) with winter accoutrements and cloths, the climb of Mud Pike is 464 meters and the ascent took 2020 seconds, the power produced is roughly 215 watts. Adding the 10% suggested by Allen Lim (Landis’ coach) to account for wind resistance and such (although, I am sure it should be higher given the gale force blow on the mountain) we get the hefty sum of 237. That’s supposedly equivalent to the power output of a cat 3 rider. Funny, cat 3 riders routinely sour The Fat Cat’s milk. For further comparison, a cat 1 puts out 350 watts and a pro makes 365 to 385 watts for 30 min on average.

What would it take to catch the aerobinator and his 1560 seconds? At his current weight The Cat would have to push a crazy 306 watts, a 23% increase. It might be easier to cut the weight by 15 lbs (without loosing any strength!). In that case the power output would have to be 284 watts, a 17% increase. The Cat was able to gain 35 watts in about 5 weeks last fall and could easily lose 15 lbs in 60 days if only he was able to resist the seductive draw of rocky road at Coldstone. At 7 watts/week it would take a highly theoretical 7 or 8 weeks to close the gap. Sounds all scientific so it must be true, right?

Is all this really possible for a balding, and to be honest, man of spotty willpower at best? Well, it’s enough for The Fat Cat of Flanders to delude himself into a wasted season of hammering away at that square peg. Are you frightened Kean?


bluecolnago said...

if you use a square peg that is smaller than the round hole, no pounding is necessary....

old age and treachery will always overcome youth and ability.

Brenda said...

Hi :) Hope it was ok that I put a link to you on our blog? I enjoyed your writing and knew our friends would enjoy reading you also :) I'm completely new to this sport (obviously when you see what a big deal I make out of such little mileage!) but I am really loving it :) I found you through Jill's page - I read her every day - she's VERY inspiring! Haven't found many biking blogs in "the lower 48" that are as appealing - so when I found yours I was very happy :) You're more than welcome to link to us if you want - I'm only afraid I'm not as good at the cycling as your group...but we do have fun! Sorry this is such a long comment!