Blog – Billy Oliver Getting Ready to Race


Billy Oliver reflects on how far he has come in his quest to find the perfect time trial set up for 2015 and discusses using HR versus Power for training

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Blog – Billy Oliver Getting Ready to Race

NOTE: Billy’s Blog is here

Billy writes .. I seemed to have skimmed over the lactate test without really explaining what it was in the last blog (include below), and what it really means in terms of tracking performance and improving my racing/training.


Basically, it gave us information of how hard I was working to sustain a certain effort and how my body reacted to the effort. This then gave us a chart of where my best training areas would be dependant on what races I was doing and gave me a personal Heart Rate zone chart based on what my body is capable of.

This is very important as I said in my last blog about training with Heart Rate as it gives you a much more tailored HR zone. It also gave us a huge range of information from what my aerobic threshold power and HR is, my lactate threshold, and my lactate concentration to power output. This means we can then track where it is on the next test and have an exact picture of improvements made.

It’s all very technical but explained well by Alex and I’ve got a report to keep and use for future evidence. It’s just an exact way of tracking progress which was just what I was after and it gives you a target to raise the bar next time.

[pullquote]I was a proper sponge for advice and I would take it from anywhere and everywhere but it pretty much meant I was taking 20 different approaches to my training.[/pullquote]

Same person, Different people …
I spent the morning going back over last year’s training records, my power files, what training I was doing, weight etc and to be completely honest it was like looking at two completely different people. I’ve been very lucky to get on board with Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching and it’s really opened my eyes to the difference between just training and training the whole package.

People often say train smart and others say it’s all about base in the winter – ie, no intervals until close to race time, etc etc. I was a proper sponge for advice and I would take it from anywhere and everywhere but it pretty much meant I was taking 20 different approaches to my training.

When I say training, I don’t just mean the hours on the bike, I mean the diet, the core work, the motivation, the prep; basically everything.

At the current time, I’m in a great place and feeling extremely happy with the people I’ve managed to surround myself with and who continue to support me. Sounds a bit soppy, but I’ve come along way and I think that has only been made possible by my total determination to get the very best out of myself and those people.

Matt (Bottrill) has given me the tools and the motivation to push way beyond what I thought I could and there is no end in sight yet of how far we can go. Andy at bike science has given me the set up to ensure I have the best chance to succeed with the bike fit and the outstanding Boardman TTE. The work that has been put in over the last few months is crazy, so if the results don’t come, it’s all on me.

[pullquote]In the end, after a lot of swapping and changing, I’ve finally settled on a set of wheels, the Hed Jet disc and the Flo 90 front.[/pullquote]

New Kit for 2015
Kit this year has been a major area for change. New bike, wheels, set up etc. The only parts carried over from last year are the SRAM R2C shifters and the SRAM Red rear mech. I keep saying I will do a blog about last years set up versus this year and I will once we have the TTE set up.

Talking of the rear mech, it’s currently with David at Prologue Performance for a custom carbon aero mech cover which looks bloody awesome. I’ve also got the cranks going now that I have decided I’m running the Rotor Q rings for a bit of carbon bling as well. I really like prologue performance as a very small company with some huge ideas and a wizz with carbon.

They also do a very cool Di2 set up for running a single ring which is worth checking out.

In the end, after a lot of swapping and changing, I’ve finally settled on a set of wheels, the Hed Jet disc and the Flo 90 front. I wanted to run clinchers this year mainly because I’m crap at gluing tubs on and I can swap the clinchers around easy and put some training rubber on when not racing. Plus, tubs are bloody expensive!

I really like the way a clincher sits on the rim and personally I just think it’s a neater finish. Plus, a veloflex record with a latex inner tube runs as smooth as anything.

The HED disc was easy. I’ve had HED wheels before and loved them so when a nice one came up, it was a no brainer. Choosing the Flo was a bit more umming and arring. My head said stick with the tried and tested and get a Zipp 808 or a HED Jet but the other side of me said the Flo looks very well thought out and a great price.

I could, if needed, upgrade the hub and run ceramic bearings for the price of a Zipp Firecrest. The Flo is currently making its way over the water and should be here very soon so be great to get it fitted and do a few runs on it (if the wind drops a bit mind).

It’s not just the bike that has had an over haul, it’s my kit as well. Hopefully I’m getting my mitts on some Bont Kronos soon and I’m going to test the Lazer Wasp against the Javelin as well. Nopinz have just started to do pre orders for the Velotoze overshoes, so I’ve got an order in for them.

The skinsuit is an area I’ve seen a lot of info on suggesting it’s an area to take very seriously. Andy got me a Smart skinsuit (again showing its about getting me in the fastest kit) and Nopinz fitted the speed pocket so that is one sweet looking super fast suit. Then the chance came up to have something super special, a custom skin suit from and I jumped at it.

I’ve got an odd body shape with skinny but toned arms, fairly big upper body, really long legs with a shorter torso and most skinsuits bag up on the arms or legs as my top half is bigger than the rest.

Nutrition has been the big thing for me this year. I’ve banged on about it loads and how I want to get my weight down, train harder, recover better, go organic and gluten free and basically eat clean and eat to perform.

The fridge is rammed with the Jersey Pocket Energy training and recovery bars and a monthly restock order is now a rolling thing so that has really cleaned up my act from a Mars bar and a bowl of Granola. Plus, fully organic and gluten free, also had a test of the Science Fitness Glyco Source and early signs are pretty impressive .

But I was still guessing at everything else and really concerned about hitting the point between trying to lose weight and my performance suffering.

I was pointed in the direction of James at JW Nutrition as someone who not only knew his stuff but had a real passion for what he did. I love people who do what they do because they love it so after a few emails and a coffee (served with a shot glass of smarties, very odd, PS I didnt eat the smarties) I’m very happy to say, I’m working with James this year.

It’s a very big relief to have this area well covered now and I can hit my weight loss goals without effecting and perhaps even boosting performance. I highly recommend everyone does a food diary just for a few days and reads the labels of every single thing they eat in that time. It bloody scared me to death and a cupboard mine sweep and restock was on the cards.

[pullquote]Power is power. If you go out and you’re not performing well, the numbers don’t lie and it shows. HR however is very fickle.[/pullquote]

A man is nothing without power and the dreaded ramp test
January is the month when everything really started gearing towards racing, for me anyway. The Boardman TTE was confirmed and I will use the Bike Science test bike for the very early races till my own frame comes in March. The TTE hits a lot of the points I felt the P4 missed.

It has the integrated brakes in the forks and integrated bars. The P4 was an awesome bike but when really trying hard to make it as aero as possible, these little things annoyed me. But I will go into why a lot of things have been chosen over others this year in a later blog when I get to really test the TTE.

December and early January were spent without my Powertap G3 training wheel. This put me down to solely training on HR which I didn’t think would be the end of the world till it happened. Don’t get me wrong, I think HR is an awesome tool in training but it’s just so random.

Power versus HR
Power is power. If you go out and you’re not performing well, the numbers don’t lie and it shows. HR however is very fickle. If your very tired, your HR is lower, very fresh it’s higher, in the cold it’s harder to raise your HR, really low cadence gives a different reading to high cadence for the same power etc etc.

I’m very much a numbers man. Training to me is about getting the job done.

Matt often takes the piss as I basically stick to the same roads and same routes like a machine exactly in the range for the training zones. It’s just the way I like to train. The trouble with this is on solely HR, I just look at the numbers to the point that on a session, I was going so hard to try and get the numbers, I pretty much blew up and got frustrated asking why I was struggling to hit the numbers when I knew i was pushing harder than I should be. Was I just feeling weak or was I not trying hard enough?

I finally got my Powertap back on Saturday and I was desperate to see where I was in the HR vs Power stakes. It was a fairly steady ride so a good change to get into a pace and hold it.

The relief was unreal as I smashed down the A38 looking at the numbers realising I had really been pushing hard the last month. I was putting out around 25w more than I should of been to match the HR which is great as I now know I haven’t been slacking but it probably means the next FTP power test I will be up again so double bonus.

Which leads me nicely back onto my lactate performance test mentioned in the intro. Bike Science have added these to their list of services with the introduction of Alex at the store, so I was really quick to get one booked in. This was going to be a great information gathering exercise and a base point of where I was at the start of the year and we can track it over the season. Down side was this meant a ramp test.

I rocked up at the store ready to go. Alex suggested I did the session in the TT position so we get the data that relates best to what we wanted to know which was TT performance. Most will know I bloody hate the turbo so as I jumped on the battle had already started in my head.

The jumps in power were every 3 minutes and the power changed automatically on the turbo so my job was just to keep pedalling (sounds easy ) at race cadence. The start was easy as it should be where I was chatting away happily, then the intensity increased. Holding the ramps in 3 minute blocks really gives the best data.

I said to Alex i didn’t want to know the time or power, I would just keep going. It got to the total silence stage and my eyes burning a hole in the back wall with a total focus on holding my cadence.

I stopped at the point my cadence started dropping away. Two reasons for this. I wanted the info to be at race pace and I didn’t want to be just grinding it out to a complete stop just to try and get a better result on paper. We had already spoke before about targets etc and the results were very promising and we got some really key information we can look back on and re test in a few months.

I think the key for me this year is getting things right and not guessing at things. I’m very lucky to have some good people behind me so I’ve really got to make the most of it.

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