Mixing It Up: FTP, watts, heart rate, zones, TSS, CTL and TSB

Mixing It Up

FTP, watts, heart rate, zones, TSS, CTL and TSB; these are just a few of the terms that are probably starting to really annoy you.  With the season drawing closer, you’re trying every day to improve these figures.

Analysing them both on and off the bike has probably turned into an obsession.

Is that the reason you started cycling? If you enjoy the analytical side of the sport, that’s fair enough keep at it.

Recently I’ve gotten caught up in the numbers.

My power meter started acting up over the past week and the fact that my numbers weren’t accurate affected the way I trained.

In my head if the numbers weren’t correct, the training was useless. I had myself convinced that if a graph wasn’t improving, neither was my form.

That simply isn’t the case.

I had forgotten that all it takes to improve is to pedal your bike. Fast!

Without a doubt it had me cracked. Cycling wasn’t fun anymore.

That’s not the reason I started cycling. There was no excitement. It was all about numbers and graphs.

The reason I started cycling was because I enjoyed the adventure, cycling with friends and just messing on my bike in general.

On the weekend I bumped into a friend that has recently invested in a gravel bike and began riding off-road.

To me it sounded like the coolest thing ever. A road bike set up so it could handle the off-road. He explained when he felt like it he could basically turn into a field and start exploring.

It made me think of a few ways to enjoy cycling a bit more.

At least once a month, I’ll start to put the numbers aside and adopt one of the following to spice up my training again:

Pocket the computer:  Imagine having no computer on your handlebars, it’s a crazy thought isn’t it. Leave your computer in your pocket and take in the scenery! I enjoy doing this on endurance rides. I often switch the computer to the map screen or turn it upside down and let the mind wonder.

Group rides: Every so often ditch the intervals. Join up with your friends and ride as a group. Nothing structured just up and over at a natural pace. Chat away and let the miles pass by.

Explore: You know that road that you were always curious about where it lead to? Go up it! Have a day that you solely dedicate to riding around roads you’ve never been on. All winter you may have seen pro’s like Taylor Phinney and Alex Howes cycling around America in different locations. It’s very easy to get bored of the same routes so it’s no harm to find some new ones!

Off-Road: You’d be surprised what a road bike can handle. Try exploring a few fire roads or dirt paths. You won’t regret it. Miles are miles. However, miles on different terrain can be more exciting than others and make the hours tick by. With roads busier than ever, investing in a cyclocross bike or a gravel bike seems like a no brainer. In addition, improving bike handling skills is never a bad thing.

Different disciplines: Some of you may be lucky enough to have a variety of bikes. Make use of them. Different disciplines can add to your performance. Whether that is improving your bike handling skills on a mountain bike or recruiting different muscle groups on a time trial bike, they all have the same effect and that is making you a better cyclist. Most importantly the variety helps to keep it interesting.

At the end of the day cycling can sometimes be a bit monotonous and boring. The same roads, the same bike and the same company. Variety is essential.

Keep reminding yourself as to why you started cycling and make sure to keep up the aspects that you enjoy.

If your head is in a good place your legs will follow.

Sean Mc kenna


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