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Data From TJ Tollakson’s IM USA Bike Leg

Often times, the lifestyle and racing strategies of pro athletes are so far removed from us age group mortals that their advice is irrelevant to how we should train and compete. However, there are a lot of good lessons to be learned from IM USA Champion TJ Tollakson’s Training Peaks file.

If you’re not familiar with the course, it is a two loop course with a tiny little flat out and back in the middle. The main feature of the course is a wicked downhill from Lake Placid followed by a big climb back up to elevation. I had a chance to ride the course in the fall of 2008. As you can tell from the sweet rental bike, tech vest and performance khakis, it was a ride I took very serious.

Here’s the profile of TJ’s first downhill. You’ll have to click on the image to get the summary off to the right.

Critical stats: Avg HR = 146 bpm

Here’s the first climb.

Critical stats: Avg HR = 150 Avg cadence = 83

Ascent number 2.

Critical stats: Avg HR = 153

Climb number 2.

Critical stats: Avg HR = 157 Avg cadence = 84

What does this all mean? Start with heart rate. TJ’s heart rate climbed over time. There’s a number of causes of cardiac drift. Without information on the weather and other factors it is hard to guess. Regardless, despite, in his words, “going out a bit harder” in the beginning his intensity built over time throughout the race. He didn’t go blow out all his energy early.

Further, the difference in HR from ascent to descent was minimal. 4 beats per minute to be exact. Most cyclists newer to racing on hills tend to crush the uphills and dog the downhills using the descent as a chance to catch their breath and recovery. This is a big mistake. Remember that $4k you spent on the tri bike? The downhill is where you get your money back. But only if you are in aero pushing it. Pros know this and give it all they got on the downhills and flats.

Now take a look at the cadence of 83 and 84 on the climbs. That’s what most age group athletes average on the downs and flats. Keeping the relatively high cadence throughout the bike segment had to have helped TJ run a very consistent 6:20 pace for the first twenty miles otb.

In case you’re wondering – he knocked down 4 cans of Red Bull from wake up to finish line and chose a burger with cheese fries as his post-race recovery meal. Now that I can’t endorse.

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One Response to Data From TJ Tollakson’s IM USA Bike Leg

  1. Sherf says:

    As mentioned, going for a entry level bike with a Sora or Tiagra grpouo is good for recreational riders that really don’t plan on heavy training or becoming more involved in the sport. The problem I see here is that you are 15; meaning you are still growing and will probably have a growth spurt. This lends itself to the problem of frame sizing (depending on how tall you are now).My suggestion for bikes:For more serious biking Trek2.1 or 2.3 (cost from 1,400$ 1,700$ Canadian) but comes with a 105/tiagra andfull 105 grpouo, respectively, with carbon fiber fork and seat stays.- Giant TCR Alliance A1 (cost 1,600$ CND) with mixed composite aluminum/carbon composite frame/fork and 105 grpouo.-Cannondale CAAD9 R5 (1,600$ CND), mixed 105/ultegra grpouo, carbon fork and top notch aluminum frame.For more recreational riding: trek 1.0 or 1.2 (1000$), sora/tiagra mix, carbon fork, aluminum frame.- Giant TCR (1200-1300$ CND) full tiagra grpouo.- Giant OCR series (800 1300) ranges from sora to 105 grpouo, but with more upright seating position and compact frame.Just have a drop by your local bike shop, and they can fit you with something reasonable. But, in my opinion, the new 105 10 speed is probably one of the best grpouos for that price range and will last you a long time. Some of my fellow club members even race with 105 and do fine. Join your local bike club and participate in events. Don’t buy a bike thinking you will upgrade it’s components, it will cost your a lot more in the end.Regards,A.