Catch up with editor Elizabeth Hufton’s plan for perfect power in part 2 of her Wattbike winter challenge

Liz – Wattbike Winter

Elizabeth is training on the Wattbike this winter to build bike strength before the tri season

Some days are made for bike training. The days when you wake up, still in darkness, to the sound of rain lashing against the window… safe in the knowledge that you’ll be riding under cover.

Following my initial assessment with Wattbike’s sport scientist Eddie Fletcher, I’ve spent four weeks in our ‘cosy’ basement getting used to the bike and gradually building up my bike fitness.

I’m following a 16-week winter plan for triathletes, but you do need a decent level of fitness to begin with. So the first task was to get back into regular training, using three or four rides per week, two on the Wattbike.

The initial homework I’d been set by Eddie involved working on my left/right leg balance – during the test, my left leg was consistently putting out more power.

I also needed to work on my pedalling technique to scrape through at the bottom of the downstroke, as well as pushing the pedals down – this should eliminate dead spots in the stroke, shown on the Wattbike’s Polar View where the graph meets in the middle (see our main image). Work on this technique and you’ll be riding more effectively.

Leg work
Every session on a Wattbike is an opportunity to work on technique, using the visual profile on the monitor, and to work on the left and right leg balance. You should see results fast. “Building your endurance base can take a long time,” says Eddie, “but building your technique base can happen in four to eight weeks.”

My initial test had been done wearing trainers, so I could make an immediate improvement by fitting my road bike pedals to the Wattbike. Ensuring the saddle position was correct also helped. Then it just comes down to watching the Polar View and engaging all the leg muscles correctly to give a smoother stroke – and the more I did this, the easier it was to smooth out that right/left imbalance. With a few weeks prep and the weather worsening, I’m all set for 16 weeks of windowless winter training.

PROGRESS REPORT

The subject: Elizabeth Hufton, Triathlon Plus editor
AGE: 34
Bike PBs
1:14:32 (Olympic distance),
7:05 (Ironman)

Initial test results (September):
Max 1min power: 220 watts
Max HR: 188bpm
VO2 max: 52.9ml/kg/min
Left/right power distribution: 56%/44%
Angle of peak force: 111/120

Elizabeth says:
“I’ve been focusing on that left/right balance which means a constant, conscious effort to use the right leg more, and this is paying off – my average over sessions has crept towards the right and I’ve managed two sessions with an average 50/50 balance. The technique improvement is less consistent but I’m also seeing gradual improvements here.

I’ll be adding heart-rate analysis and using the Wattbike Expert software as I start the first few weeks of the ‘proper’ training schedule. As part of this I’ll need to repeat Eddie’s 20-minute warm-up and RAMP test, which should be interesting.”