Thursday, March 26, 2015

Introducing, The Quarq Factor Project

Whole Athlete/Specialized Team Partners
with Quarq Powermeters for 2015
Quarq Factor    

Introducing, The Quarq Factor Project
A longtime tool for road racers worldwide, the powermeter has now become a valuable asset for the mountain bike as well with the release of the Quarq XX1. For the 2015 season, the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team has partnered with Quarq Powermeters to employ this powerful tool in an innovative project called The Quarq Factor


By analyzing race data throughout the year, the team will determine optimal pacing strategies, measure power requirements of each course, and explore what it takes for each rider to continue on an optimal development path with greater training specificity.

Whole Athlete/Specialized will publish an analysis of the data periodically to demonstrate the power of the Quarq for competitive cyclists looking to take their racing to the next level.

The Quarq Factor Criteria

At Whole Athlete, we use a standard called Maximal Steady State (MSS), a real-world performance threshold of 20-30 minutes MSS power and heart rate reflect a readily measurable and repeatable criterion confirmed with either a simple field test or through the valid MSS testing protocol used at the Whole Athlete Performance Center.

During a mountain bike race, a better representation of the highly variable workload over time is normalized power since it represents the physiological demands by estimating the power that could have been maintained had it been constant. For each rider, normalized power as a percentage of their individual MSS gives the value relative meaning since each person's specific power levels can be quite different. We will keep each rider's actual power data confidential, yet still provide a representation that is meaningful and informative.

The Quarq Factor - Round One:
Bonelli Park ProXCT-US Cup #1

The opening round of the ProXCT-US Cup Series, Bonelli Park served as the first opportunity to gather and analyze race data. Under hot conditions and on a very punchy course with no sustained climbs or extended sections of recovery, proper pacing was the name of the game as was underscored by a strong correlation between first vs. last lap power and race outcome.

In the three-lap race, our Junior riders who were most successful employed a strategy of keeping their first lap normalized power close to 100% of their MSS. After a slightly lower paced second lap, they either matched their opening lap power in the final lap or increased it. The riders who started out too hard on their first lap at 115-118% of their MSS, were not able to maintain a similar level thereafter, showing a decrease of 10-12% in average power on their last lap (Table 1).

Table 1: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Bonelli Park ProXCT-US Cup #1
Junior Men and Women

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 3 vs. Lap 1
Athlete 1 102% 93% 104% +2%
Athlete 2 118% 101% 109% -10%
Athlete 3 100% 91% 101% +1%
Athlete 4 100% 92% 101% +1%
Athlete 5 115% 102% 103% -12%

In the Elite Men's seven-lap UCI race, pacing became even more critical given the heat and length of the event. After a fast first lap that included an all out start loop, our U23 rider paced his efforts between 83-87% of MSS power for five laps, allowing him to raise his effort to 90% of MSS for the last lap, earning him additional places (Table 2). He started from a 50th place call up and finished 21st. After the first lap, his last lap was fastest.

Table 2: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Bonelli Park ProXCT-US Cup #1
Elite/ U23

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Entire Race Lap 1* Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5 Lap 6 Lap 7
89% 100% 89% 88% 87% 83% 86% 90%
*Lap 1 includes start loop.

The Quarq Factor - Round Two:
Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2 / Junior UCI

Round two of the ProXCT-US Cup and the first Junior UCI event at Fontana provided another opportunity to examine race data, this time on a course that featured significantly more sustained climbing (Diagram 1). Each lap was defined by a total of 650 feet of vertical gain over a distance of 3.5 miles, with nearly all the climbing coming in the first two miles. After a demanding, technical descent, the riders then faced approximately a mile of flat terrain before the road tilted back up again for the following lap. Junior men completed three laps, while the Junior Women did two. The Pro/ U23 field faced a slightly shorter version of the same course with close to 500 feet of vertical each time for a total of six laps (Diagram 2). 

Diagram 1: Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2
Junior Cat 1 Course Profile

Fontana profile
Diagram 2: Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2
Elite/ U23 Course Profile

Fontana ProXCT

Once again, pacing was the name of the game as the best performances from our Juniors came as a result of keeping a well regulated effort on lap 1, allowing a high output on the final lap. The exception was Athlete 1 who followed an early attack by the Junior World Champion and rode with him up the first climb, requiring a significant Lap 1 output (Table 3). After a small technical mishap and losing contact with him at the top, Athlete 1 then settled into his own pace for the final two laps and paced it well, raising his output on Lap 3 to hold onto 2nd place. Meanwhile, Athlete 2 paced himself perfectly to produce the same output on Laps 1 and 3, actually riding the same Lap 3 time as Athlete 1. Athlete 3 started relatively hard and then had an unfortunate crash, which affected his pacing thereafter. Meanwhile, all three of the Junior Women paced their races well despite the shorter distance of their event (Table 4).

Table 3: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2 / Junior UCI
Junior Men

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Entire Race Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 3 vs. Lap 1
Athlete 1 92% 102% 95% 97% -5%
Athlete 2 96% 97% 92% 97% 0%
Athlete 3 101% 108% 98% 94% -4%

Table 4: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2 / Junior UCI
Junior Women

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Entire Race Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 2 vs. Lap 1
Athlete 1 94% 95% 93% -2%
Athlete 2 95% 97% 93% -4%
Athlete 3 96% 97% 96% -1%

In the Elite men's race, our U23 rider was hindered at the start by riders crashing in front of him, requiring a bigger effort to regain positioning throughout the first two laps. Thereafter, he paced it well for the remaining four laps with only a slight drop in power midway through Lap 3, yet finishing with a very consistent second half to his race (Table 5). His steady output gained him over 30 places after the start mishap amid a field of 106 riders in the highest level UCI HC event.

Table 5: Quarq Factor Power Analysis -
Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2
Elite/ U23

Normalized Power as Percentage of MSS
Entire Race Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5 Lap 6
92% 99% 93% 87% 89% 91% 89%

The Quarq Factor Rounds 1 and 2 - Conclusions

Our conclusions from these first two races are that few people can sustain much more than a 100% normalized average of their MSS for the first lap and still finish well on the final lap(s). There are always exceptions, and some courses and fields require a harder first lap to establish positioning. Nonetheless, many riders tend to start out much too hard and pay for it in the end.

In comparing our Junior athletes' data between the two races, the fact that Bonelli lacked the sustained climbing and steady flat section of Fontana governed the kind of power that was produced. Since all the climbing at Bonelli was relatively steep and of short duration, normalized power was generally higher across the laps. Bonelli also had more opportunities for recovery since the descending was straightforward and distributed throughout the course, whereas the highly technical, more sustained Fontana descent demanded a high degree of focus and effort. The Fontana course also required longer segments of sustained power, resulting in a greater challenge to match or increase last lap average power. 

It is interesting to note how the weather conditions and race duration affected both pacing and average power for the Elite/ U23 race. The Elite race was held during the hottest part of the day at both events and the duration was 10-20 minutes longer than the Junior Men's 17/18 races. These factors placed an even greater premium on intelligent pacing strategy and avoiding going out too hard on the early laps. Our U23 rider was admittedly more efficient with his output at Bonelli than at Fontana, in part due to the mishap at the start line of the Fontana race. His first two laps there showed the higher effort required to move through traffic, and once he settled in the power was similar between the two races for the remaining laps. As compared with the Juniors, our U23 rider sustained more power on flat sections at Fontana, increasing his lap power averages to be more on par with those of Bonelli.

One other factor to consider is how crashes and technical mishaps affect pacing. At Fontana, many riders were challenged with the highly technical nature of the course and a few of our riders had falls - fortunately with minimal physical effect. Nonetheless, these mishaps certainly affect pacing and momentum in a race. In the Junior Men, Athletes 1 and 3 (Table 3) both experienced this challenge, which affected their power and the outcome of their respective races.

Next on tap for the Quarq Factor Project are the ProXCT-US Cups at Bonelli #2 and Sea Otter Classic in mid-April, when we will once again have the opportunity to compare race data from two very different courses. Stay tuned for more interesting power data and analysis! 

Women's poduim
Bonelli Park ProXCT-US Cup #1 Cat 1 Women's podium.

Kelsey Urban
Team podium finishers at Fontana ProXCT-US Cup #2.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Whole Athlete/Specialized Juniors Flyin' in Fontana

Just one week after the season opener at Bonelli Park, round two of the ProXCT Series and the first of multiple Junior UCI race opportunities in the US rolled out at Southridge Park in Fontana, CA. Haley Batten and Kelsey Urban repeated their 1-2 performance in the UCI Junior Women's race, while Christopher Blevins and Carson Beckett followed World Champion Simon Andreassen in 2nd and 3rd to round out the Junior Men's UCI podium. Junior 15/16 riders Veda Gerasimek and Mike Mace also landed their respective podiums with 4th and 5th on a challenging, technical course.

Haley Batten
Batten goes two for two with a win in Fontana.

Christopher Blevins
Blevins on his way to his first Junior UCI podium.

Kelsey Urban
Urban hits the Junior Women's UCI podium.

Carson Beckett
Beckett using his skills on the technical course.

Veda Gerasimek
Gerasimek lands her first podium of the season.

Mike Mace
Mace focused on the sandy descent.

Whole Athlete Medalists
Whole Athlete / Specialized podium finishers at the Fontana ProXCT #2.

Next up for the Whole Athlete /Specialized Team:
  • 04/11/15 Bonelli Park ProXCT #2 and Junior UCI Series Race
  • 04/18/15 Sea Otter Classic ProXCT
Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bonelli Breakout Season Opener for Whole Athlete/Specialized Team

The 2015 mountain bike season started with a bang under an unseasonably hot Southern California sun at the Bonelli Park ProXCT opener. Haley Batten and Kelsey Urban led the charge with a 1-2 performance in the Cat 1 Women's race, while Carson Beckett finished a strong second against the current Junior World Champion in Junior Men 17/18. Young Mike Mace rounded out the team's podium finishes in his first foray into the Junior 15/16 ranks with 5th.

Haley Batten
Batten starts the season with a win.

Kelsey Urban
Urban showing good early season form.

Mike Mace
14-year-old Mace steps up to the next level.

Cypress Gorry
One of the top U23 finishers, Cypress Gorry charged from
a 50th place call-up among nearly 100 elite starters to finish 21st.

Whole Athlete Medalists
Whole Athlete/Specialized podium finishers at the Bonelli Park ProXCT #1.

Next up for the Whole Athlete /Specialized Team:
  • 03/21/15 Fontana ProXCT and Junior UCI Series Race
  • 04/11/15 Bonelli Park ProXCT #2 and Junior UCI Series Race
  • 04/18/15 Sea Otter Classic ProXCT
Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Whole Athlete/Specialized Presents 2015 Team with Northern California Training Camp

Crowdfunding Initiative Launched on Heels of Successful 2015 Team Presentation and Camp

Ten athletes from eight states across the US came together at the Whole Athlete Performance Center in Northern California to kick off the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team's 2015 season. The riders were treated to three days of spectacular riding, sponsor introductions, product demos, organic food, yoga, and much more.

Entering its seventh season, the Whole Athlete Development Program has created an undeniable momentum in producing top-level US riders and shown that it can identify and nurture the next generation of world-class professionals. It’s time for the next step in our evolution as a team. We’d like for you to join us.

Together, we've achieved what no other US development program has.

-60 wins a year on average, for the past five years

-12 US Junior National Championship Titles

-15 riders named to the World Championships (the most of any junior team)

-14 top-10 finishes in World Cups and the World Championships

-And the first US Junior Woman ever to win a World Cup.

With athletes achieving international success and looking toward a future in the sport, the program is at a crossroads and needs your support. Check out how you too can help nurture the next generation of US talent.


Whole Athlete/Specialized Team

The 2015 Whole Athlete /Specialized Team sets out this season with an impressive lineup and ambitious schedule. The Junior and U23 riders, including five current and two former national champions, will target the US National Championships, ProXCTs, UCI Junior Series races, World Cups, and the World Championships.

Next up for the Whole Athlete /Specialized Team:
  • 03/15/15 Bonelli Park ProXCT #1
  • 03/21/15 Fontana ProXCT and Junior UCI Series Race
  • 04/11/15 Bonelli Park ProXCT #2 and Junior UCI Series Race
  • 04/18/15 Sea Otter Classic ProXCT
Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Functional Strength Testing - The Missing Piece

At the recent 2015 Season Kickoff Camp (more exciting details to come...), the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team was provided with a fantastic opportunity, thanks to Sport and Spine Therapy of Marin. Mike Mottola, owner Steve Thompson, Courtney Collins, and Tanya Fredericks took each athlete through a series of functional strength tests to reveal imbalances and weaknesses in the body, with an emphasis on dynamic core stability. The riders were then led through a series of exercises, provided to address these key areas and optimize movement and performance. Huge thanks to the SST-Marin San Anselmo staff for their time and expertise!