Couch to Cat C, Week 2: Doing the Time

Couch to Cat C, Week 2: Doing the Time

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.

The Plan

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!

See this ride on Strava >

Boone after finishing his first hour-long ride

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

See this ride on Strava >

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…

See this ride on Strava >

Some power curve PB’s from Ride 7

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.

Boone did his first supertucking on the Volcano descent

See this ride on Strava >

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!

Support Boone

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.

Your Thoughts

Got any tips for Boone? Comments on this week’s efforts? Share below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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MaxKrause TBR
MaxKrause TBR
8 months ago

How about a group ride with some challenges in there? An “easy” ride with sprint segments or some carrots to chase? You know all the “Great community rides” and it shows another side of the Zwift universe

Max Krause
Max Krause
8 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

It gives more of an incentive to follow advises on sprints or climbs. This will give stimulus to go “above limits”. Or a chatty ride that shows the joy of interacting with others above riding with them

mad leg
mad leg
8 months ago

Ale’ Boone . Dacci dentro 😀

Silke
Silke
8 months ago

It is really nice to follow Boone’s adventures, I am curious to see what he can achieve in 6 weeks, and hopefully this will convert him into a big cyclist. Go Boone go! That being said, I am jealous how (relatively) easy it is for him to reach those high watts. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to achieve those badges since I am much lighter (the 1.21 Gigawatts would translate to roughly 20.7 W/kg). Wouldn’t it be more equal if the badges worked with W/kg instead of pure Watts?

jack
jack
8 months ago

I feel Boone’s pain. Been riding for 3+ years and I still get sore after an hour. 3 different saddles, copied my fit off my IRL bike, and still no relief. Can’t see how people ride for 3 hours.

Andrey J.
Andrey J.
8 months ago
Reply to  jack

Try using a spinning saddle

Sandy
Sandy (@sandythomson)
8 months ago
Reply to  jack

I recommend using a rocker plate – makes a big difference in comfort for me and many others

jack
jack
8 months ago
Reply to  Sandy

I already use a rocker. Never heard of a spinning saddle. Unless you mean one of those tractor seats:).

Brian Crummy
Brian Crummy
8 months ago
Reply to  jack

I use a Brooks B-17 on the trainer. The width and leather make it more comfortable, for me, on stationary bikes. Might look strange on an SWorks Venge, but your rear end will appreciate the old world comfort. You can trust my buns.

rdcyclist (Mark Crane)
rdcyclist (Mark Crane) (@rdcyclist)
8 months ago
Reply to  Brian Crummy

+1 on the Brooks saddle. The 2 pound weight hit doesn’t matter on Zwift and there’s no road shock to deal with. It’ll work way betterer…

Johnny5ivetherobot
Johnny5ivetherobot
8 months ago

Another +1 on the Brooks. The great thing is that the longer you ride the more the saddle adapts to your personal geometry. The initial breakin can be not so fun but as a larger fellow with a lot of weight to support I’ve had great results with mine after about a month of solid riding. Just make sure you find one with a proper width for your tailbones.

Andre Boulay
Andre Boulay
8 months ago
Reply to  jack

Look into rocker plates. There’s a FB group dedicated to them.

Alasdair
Alasdair
8 months ago

Can you post the actual zwift workouts you’re doing so we can follow along with our own experiment?

Nevander Holland
Nevander Holland
8 months ago

(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.)

Im a big guy too. What was the original TD and what is it now?

John
John
8 months ago

Hi have you put this on YouTube.. cheers

Thomas Christiansen
Thomas Christiansen
8 months ago

When riding with Cara Cadence, Boone should try to catch her when the group is relatively small. It’s often huge and positioning is hard. You can be in the group and still drop out of the zone.

Today I rode with her for about 15 min right after I rode the TdZ stage 4. Through Fuego Flats forward (7.8km @ 11:49) I had to average 3.18 w/kg to stay with her, a few times I had to do a mini sprint to stay inside the drops multiplier zone.

Johnny5ivetherobot
Johnny5ivetherobot
8 months ago

Nice SG pic dude 😀

Thomas Christiansen
Thomas Christiansen
8 months ago

I recommend listening to AC/DC while Zwifting 😉 🤘

Thomas Christiansen
Thomas Christiansen
8 months ago

So today I rode with Cara again, for about an hour, only this time I just averaged 2.96 w/kg to stay with her.

There could be two reasons for this.

  1. There were not as many following her today, so positioning was definitely easier.
  2. This was on the Hilly Route reverse, yesterday was the much flatter Tempus Fugit. I’m a tall slim rider (192cm/76kg) and the flats are not really my thing. I find it much easier to keep up with her on the climbs.
Alex G.
Alex G.
8 months ago

Very interested to follow this series! Boone and I aren’t too far in terms of size and watts/kg. I started cycling last summer but then stopped when the weather got cold until last week when I purchased a kickr, so I’m pretty much back to square one, not unlike Boone.

Cade
Cade (@caderiver)
8 months ago

Hello Eric,
I’m loving this series and thought you might be interested in some live coverage/commentary on Boone’s next race from The Zwift Race Place. I could follow Boone in the pack and give some live commentary on Boone’s racing. Just let me know.
Thanks,
Cade (from The Zwift Race Place)

Duno
Duno
8 months ago

Hello , very motivational article , I would like to ask if is any chance to receive the training plan that Boone did ?

Stuart
Stuart
8 months ago

Nice setup. Question: what do you use to mount the two monitors above the TV? I have a 55″ TV VESA mounted on a tripod off the floor, and I’d would love to mount a monitor above the TV like you! I have seen setups where another separate stand is used to hold the monitor above a TV (one stand for TV another stand off the floor for monitor), but you seem to have something else that’s more cleaner. Thanks.

Stuart
Stuart
8 months ago
Reply to  Stuart

On further thought, let me guess….are you using two wall mounts? One for TV and perhaps another to hold the two monitors?

Kyle Aubrey
Kyle Aubrey
7 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Eric, do you mind if I ask what you use the upper monitors for? I like the setup!

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