What’s this thing, “Functional” Threshold Power


I’ve been thinking about FTP more and more as I gear up for a century next weekend. I’m not saying anyone is wrong, just some food for thought

I teach indoor cycling at a big box gym. I have several certifications, most notably training with watts. I am not an aerobics instructor. I don’t teach at SoulCycle or any of that ilk. I teach using sound cycling principles, not push-ups on the handlebars.
The past two weeks I’ve taken my classes through 20-minute functional threshold tests. I’ve done this myself using Trainer Road and Sufferfest and both apps have increased my FTP based on my virtual watts. I’ve also watched many in my virtual communities go as hard as they can for 20 minutes and the apps call it their FTP.  In my education, this is incorrect.
FTP means ‘functional’ threshold power, an estimation of what you can function at for 60 minutes, not 20. It’s not balls to the wall, hard as you can, throw up at the end effort. One of my group called it her ‘forever pace.’ The rate of perceived exertion is 6-7 out of 10 – you’re breathing hard; you can recite a line of Mary Had a Little Lamb but need to take a breath. Train at too high an effort consistently and you will feel the effects of overtraining.
I have this problem myself – I get all jacked up about the numbers and go hard, hard, hard, but only end up feeling like complete carp halfway through the season. I was training at too high an effort when I should be at my ‘forever’ pace.
My FTP on both Trainer Road and Sufferfest is 220w. My indoor FTP on the Keisers at the gym is 240w. Which is right?
It doesn’t matter. 220w on my bike on the trainer feels the same as 240w at the gym: sustainable (rpe 7) for one hour. What matters is that I have a concrete number to work with, just like that evil number on the scale.

#amediting #authorproblems

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I’m neck deep now in editing, and I have two new betas reading #wheelernovel. I’ll tell you, not hearing from either of them since I sent a copy is burning a hole in my stomach.

Do they like it? Has the change of direction completely f-ed the story? How can it be longer now!? What do I cut without sacrificing storyline? What little fluff remains is in the relationship, I can’t cut that! Why did I chain myself to an actual calendar!

Am I nuts for still wanting to do this? 

The litany goes on and on and on.

And yet, I look to the next few months and think about relaunching.  What do I do? HOW do I do it?  Do I look for more reviews? (It was hard enough to get the new betas.)

Fuck – why does this have to be so hard! 

At least training for the century on April 29th is right on cue.  Thirty-two miles into headwind felt like 100 this weekend.

Physically, I’m as ready as I’ve been for an end-of-the-season century, thanks to my winter spent on rollers.

Mentally, I’m looking forward to not thinking for 6+ hours while riding.

‘Never apologize for your passion’


“Never apologize for your passion, Loren.”  I wrote this line for Graham, in response to Loren apologizing for her tendency to over-explain her sport, like I do.

Never apologize for your passion, whatever it is.

As I write this, I am currently hip deep in editing #WheelerNovel for the um, third time… however, it hasn’t been my own pathetic editing skills that have suggested the changes.  It was because of two people who came within my sphere.

The first, Brian, JB (whatever), is an inspiring triathlete. He also possesses a creative mind and sense of humor that even when he nitpicks, he does it in a way that I laugh first. His excitement about reading the story of pro cyclist, Loren Mackenzie has reignited my mind.

The second, Brenda at @storyperfected, challenged me. She pushed me to own my writing style. I’m grateful to her for that, and while we are no longer working together, her push to the first cut has fanned the spark of my creativity. The spirit of her editing whispers in my ear: “Who’s POV is that?” It’s MINE dammit!

The changes, specifically within the first few chapters, has (I hope) honed what was deemed ‘fan fiction’ and romance novelesque into a story that wholly steps into women’s fiction with a romantic bent. Still the smattering of Shakespeare to endear the lovers, the racing is even more exciting, and the drama has ticked up a notch or two.

The tale is fully about Loren and her challenges as a cycling team leader; but also, her spiral into the darkness of her mind. How someone who believes they are broken can open their eyes to find kindred spirits waiting for them, in the outstretched hand of an anam cara, and the embrace of a lover.

I’m not done, but the cutting and rewriting have become easier now that I am not so emotionally entangled with my Muse. I needed the slap in the face only the first bloody kill of a darling can bring. Damn you for being so real, Pretend English Boyfriend! 

Follow me on WordPress or on Twitter (@sarazalesky) for updates on my posting of the revised First Chapter, when Wheeler might be back on Kindle and possibly, when and where I could be leading an indoor cycling class based on the final race in my book: the World Championship Time Trial held in Richmond, VA.

Don’t be afraid of your passion. 


P.S. Wanna be a Beta Reader?

#Music Makes Me Move – Getting your #ClimbingLegs

I’ve been writing posts for the Indoor Cycling Association since last fall and I’ve had a great time doing it. Most have been for their ‘Friday Favorites,’ which is music suggestions for your workouts.

Artist: Russian Circles  (for info on the Chicago, IL based band)
Song: Station
Album: Station
Time: 8:43
Genre: alternative
BPM: variable
Category: climb
Available on: iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, Spotify

I tend to use music with a hard-driving beat and big, dramatic sound for my workouts. Unlike most instructors, I do not use bpm/rpm to gauge whether a song is good for climbing or flats. I go by how it feels. Is it angry and dark, edgy or do I feel like my legs are already pumping?  My tastes in music also run along the obscure and it is rare that you hear me use a Top 40 or popular song in my class, that is unless I’m forced. 

This Russian Circles track delivers on all counts. ‘Station’ is chock-full of fierce guitar riffs and rocking drums. What I especially love is that there are several changes in tempo throughout this song to challenge you. Tempo changes like this are rare (which is why Russian Circles is so great!). Every time you ride to this track you might do it a different way. 

Because of the tempo changes, you can include big-gear surging flats, a tough climb as the bpm slows down, attacks, respites, and a big standing effort at the end (with just enough left over at the finish to recover a bit before moving on).

How I’ve used it:

Climb at tempo at the beginning until 2:50 when the energy eases up. Then at 4:00 the aggressive guitars pick back up—bringing you back to a hard climb. At 5:20 the ambiance changes completely. It’s not as aggressive, but the tempo picks up, so you can surge harder here against the same gear, or maintain the intensity and reduce the gear at the higher cadence as if the road levels off a bit. This continues for 2 minutes, until just after 8:00 when the beat fades away—perfect for rolling over the top of this varied climb out of the saddle.

For another example, see my ride profile called The Grimpeur, a stage race simulation that follows American Mara Abbott up the famed #Mortirolo in stage 5 of the 2016 #GiroRosa, available here



Podium Cafe’s Review of Wheeler

via Wheeler, by Sara Zalesky – Podium Cafe


I won’t hide the not-so-wonderful reviews because they give me criticisms that I can learn from.  I wish my salary allowed for an editor, even a fledgling one, but it doesn’t. I’m all I got. Well, there’s Grammarly.

But ouch.

Fan fiction. Yikes.

She comes with the Louis Vitton luggage set with train case, not Samsonite.

In the immortal words of Lance Armstrong, “It’s not about the bike”.  Perhaps Wheeler doesn’t come through as a romance/women’s fiction, which is different than what Mr. McKay is used to reading. Or maybe he knew that and it just sucks that much 

Yep. Ouch. Sigh

Mr. McKay was given an earlier, pre-copy edited version and some of the line quotes he used do not appear in the current version.