As explained in the first post, my cousin Boone and I are conducting a glorious experiment, not unlike the time much younger versions of ourselves taped a bottle rocket to a paper airplane and struck a match to see what would happen next.
We’re not sure how much fitness he can gain with a 6-week training program on Zwift, but he’s all in. Our goal: to transform a 265-pound rookie rider with a tested 1.92w/kg FTP into a cat C Zwift racer (2.5w/kg+) in 6 weeks.
The first week was mostly about orientation and baseline testing. This second week was about building endurance and improving form on the bike.
As a reminder, here’s the basic plan we’ve settled on for the 6 weeks. (Many thanks to Alan Dempsey of HPP Coaching for giving us solid advice that sets Boone up for success):
- Week 1: Benchmark testing + Endurance
FTP test, attempt first Zwift race, and get some time on the bike
- Weeks 2-4: Endurance + Cadence Work
Lots of work from low zone 2 to mid zone 3, with some high-cadence drills to train the legs for efficient pedaling
- Weeks 5-6: Endurance + Intensity, Finishing with Benchmark Testing
Start with similar rides as weeks 2-4, with some VO2 and threshold efforts included in short durations. Toward the end of week 6 we’ll do another FTP test and Zwift race, so we can compare progress from week 1.
Ride #5: A Full Hour!
Boone had a simple goal for this ride: to stay on the bike for a full hour. He had been increasing his ride time on each effort, and he felt he had a full hour in him this time.
We put him in with Dan Diesel, Boone’s favorite riding buddy. And Boone spun with Dan’s group for about 45 minutes, before he ran out of steam, dropped off the back, and spun it easy for the final 15. He was pretty tired when he hit the hour mark… but he’d done it, and was stoked about that!
While his legs were tired, Boone said he felt like the biggest limiter was pain on the sit bones. But he knows that just takes time, so he’ll keep at it.
Ride data (this will be interesting for future efforts):
- HR (avg): 166
- Power (avg): 161W
Ride #6: More Fun with Dan
The next ride (two days after ride 5) was more of the same, although Boone went for 70 minutes this time. Once again, he lasted about 45 minutes with the Dan Diesel group, then dropped off and took it easy for the remainder.
- HR (avg): 166
- Power (avg): 155W
Ride #7: Breakthrough!
This ride’s plan was similar to the previous two, although Boone was going to try some “spinups” to work on muscle firing pattern efficiency and force production. In these spinups, he would just up his cadence to the max he could do without bouncing in the seat, then try to hold it for 10-15 seconds.
The wattage I saw from his first spinup was impressive (reminder: he’s using my Zwift setup with a Wahoo KICKR v5), so I told him to shift down a gear or two for the next one, to see what he could get to.
He hit 986W!
And here’s the crazier thing: it was a seated effort, and the reason he didn’t go higher is because he spun out. So we took a mental note to try another max wattage effort soon. I bet he can unlock the 1.21 gigawatts achievement. What do you think?
This ride was a bit of a “breakthrough” for Boone. He was able to keep it power high without “crashing” in the final ~15 minutes… and his heart rate was lower than it had been in the previous two outing. Looks like progress!
- HR (avg): 162
- Power (avg): 177W
He’s getting close to averaging 20mph for an hourlong effort, which is a fun carrot to chase. But to do it, he’ll need to ride faster than Dan Diesel, which means less drafting benefit. Hmmm…
Ride #8: Volcano Climb
Boone felt so good the day after Ride 7 that he hit the treadmill for a hard uphill hike. When he showed up the next day to ride, he was still feeling the previous days’ efforts.
Since Ride 8 would be followed by Ride 9 24 hours later, we decided to keep this ride short and work on out of the saddle form instead. Something that wouldn’t fatigue him too much, but still accomplish some useful goals!
We decided to tackle the Volcano Climb for this ride: a short flat warmup, then ~15 minutes of steady climbing where he could work on getting out of the saddle. (Boone’s a big dude, you see, and we had to bump up the Trainer Difficulty to give him enough resistance so he could stand and ride at 60-70rpm cadence.)
It started out a bit ugly, but by the end of the session Boone was looking pretty good out of the saddle. There’s still plenty of progress to be made here: he has to figure out how to get out of the saddle without drastically ramping up his effort. But he appreciates being able to get out of the saddle and relieve those sit bones a bit.
Week #2 Takeaways
Boone lasted exactly 25 minutes in his first ride of week 1, and by the end of week 2 he was doing 70 minutes. Seems like progress to us! He’s also been watching his diet, and thus dropping weight. That’ll boost the ol’ watts per kilo. So far we’re both happy with the progress.
It’s been quite a while since Boone engaged in regular cardio exercise (outside of his work as a master carpenter, which often has him huffing and puffing). He’s already commented more than once that he’s really feeling good after these rides – so that’s a good sign. This is how the addicition begins!
Next week will be more of the same, although I want to get Boone to join Cara Cadence for 10-20 minutes, to see how he hangs with her faster group. And we definitely need to test his max sprint power – those legs are strong!
Thanks to everyone who followed Boone on Zwift and Strava and gave him lots of Ride Ons and Kudos. He’s loving it! If you haven’t done so yet, follow him on Zwift (name “Boone Bridges”) and Strava.
Got any tips for Boone? Comments on this week’s efforts? Share below!