Sweet Spot Training

David Friedt
photo by Silas Wild

David Friedt – flight instructor, Masters National Championships podium finisher, and Volunteer Park Criterium organizer – is still racing hard in his 70s. Here is what he’s up to this winter in preparation for next season.

This is described as a Sub-Threshold workout. In training with a power meter, it is possible to target specific power ranges. Sweet Spot is taken from the Functional Threshold of Power number and occurs at 88% to 94% of FTP (functional threshold power). In building or raising the FTP it is important to start from below that number. For my Sweet Spot I use an FTP of 230 watts to calculate a Sweet Spot from 202-216 watts. On a recent ride I did two Sweet Spot workouts. One 12 minutes and the second one at 24 minutes at an average of 205 watts. It is hard to find a place to grind for 20 minutes without interruption.

Two of the best places to do these workouts are on Mercer Island, Jones Road and the Cedar River Trail just past Ron Regis Park. There is one light on the Cedar River Trail at Cedar Grove road, but it is a brief stop.

The advantages of this workout are two. Working just below the FTP and putting the heart rate in zone 3/4. When I did these two intervals my heart rate average was 122 bpm and 128 bpm respectively. Since my maximum heart rate is 168 bpm that puts my effort in zone 3. I am building power just below my Lactate Threshold of 141 bpm. Building power at Lactate Threshold is the goal of training for bike racing.

Here are two workouts I use:

Mercer Island: I ride to the Shore Club on East Mercer Way just south to I-90. I get three one-minute intervals in zone 4 power with high cadence. Then I ride south on East Mercer Way for 15 minutes in Sweet Spot power with a cadence of 90rpm. Back track for recovery for 4 minutes, start another 15 minutes Sweet Spot continuing around the south end of Mercer Island and onto West Mercer Way. For the third interval ride south on West Mercer Way for 15 minutes at Sweet Spot power. Add in 60 minutes of power in zone 2/3 making a complete loop of the island and ending at the Shore Club on East Mercer way.

Since I live on Mercer Island, I ride from my home to the Shore Club to begin this workout to get my warmup and be ready to start the workout.

Sweet Spot Intervals Route – ridewithgps.com

Jones Road/Cedar River Trail: Do one Sweet Spot interval on Jones Road at 10-12 minutes. It takes 8-10 minutes to ride back to the start for the recovery. Then ride to the trail and do one 20-24 minutes interval between the traffic light on Highway 169 at 154th Place SE and the parking area on the trail in Maple Valley. With a 1-2% grade this is a perfect spot to do a longer Sweet Spot interval. After this longer interval, I will ride Maxwell Road to Cedar Grove Road to Issaquah/Hobart road and return via May Valley to Mercer Island. I try to ride May Valley as an opportunity to work on speed training. With the intervals this ride is about 45 miles and 3:30:00 to complete.

Sweet Spot was introduced to me my Earl Zimmerman, a Cycling Peaks Coach in Redmond. The Allen/Coggan “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” is the best reference for this workout.

Have fun, David

Seattle Bike Racing

We’ve collected some resources to help you get started bike racing in Seattle (and Washington State).

Here is the WSBA (Washington State Bicycle Association) Calendar with a listing of pretty much all the races. It is generally accurate. It has all the USA Cycling races and most of the local races whether they are USAC and/or WSBA or not. Northwest in Motion also has a comprehensive race calendar including social events.

Cycle U puts on great road training classes. Here is their Seattle Beginner Race Program. You don’t need to complete the beginner race program to race on the road but it is highly encouraged.

There is a Thursday Night Series at the Seward Park Upper Loop in south Seattle that starts in early April and goes through August. This is not USAC so no upgrade points. It is considered a training series by most riders. It is welcoming to new riders. You won’t get pulled from the race if you get dropped and lapped.

BUDU puts on Races on most Tuesday Nights at Pacific Raceways in Auburn/Kent. This year there are several USAC sanctioned races. Cycle U puts on a clinic before the USAC races.

There is a great Mountain Bike Series on Wednesday Nights at N. SeaTac Park. In late summer it turns into a cyclocross series. This is also not USAC.

The Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome @ Marymoor Park in Redmond puts on a track racing series with some races in May but the main season is June-September. This is a USAC series AND it requires attending a “learn to race” class. I highly recommend the learn to race class for anyone who wants to race any kind of bike racing as the skills taught are universal. There are great rental bikes at the velodrome so there is no need to invest in a track bike unless you get hooked!

There are two fall/winter (mostly fall) cyclocross series near Seattle and one smaller series up toward Bellingham. None are USAC though there are some great USAC races too but it is more of an informal series. There are upgrades but no series championship.

Cross Revolution is not USAC. Great series with races all over the Puget Sound region.

MFG Cyclocross is also not USAC. Also a great series with races all over the Puget Sound region though a little more centered on Seattle.

The Cascade Cross Series is based around Bellingham, WA up north. It is a smaller series but just as much fun as the other two series.

Most of the local amateur teams have racers doing various combos of the above races though there are a couple smaller teams that just focus on CX or track.

Meet the team ride info. If you show up at the races as a non-affiliated rider you will meet people on most of the teams. Each team is a little bit different but each team is great in their own way.

Here is the link for the annual meet the team rides. The contact info should still be good for these teams.

Meet the Team Rides for Road Racing. (Not current, but contact info for teams is current)

Meet the Team Rides for Cyclocross and Mountain Bike (Not current, but contact info for teams is current)

If you decide you want to give racing a shot, we encourage you to join a team. There are team training rides, team only discounts from some bike shops, and most importantly great camaraderie and community.