CCSD – Cycling Camps San Diego Day 1

50 miles 5,800 feet of climbing

Day 1 is designed to begin the altitude acclimation process.  Today’s course was intended to be ridden at endurance pace.  Keep in mind your power and heart rate can be down as much as 15% at elevation.  I went fairly “easy” as far as my numbers appear but I assure you it felt more like medium intensity. I believe I am having an easier time acclimating to the altitude, relatively speaking, than the other campers because of my CVAC Sessions at Ascent – OC.

The scenery was amazing and the support by CCSD – Cycling Camps San Diego was right on the money.  Rob Panzera, President of CCSD, provided coaching tips on descending before the ride.  Later at Minaret Vista, 9,265 feet, Rob provided information on the affects of altitude on the body as it relates to heart rate and power.

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It’s either up or down 😉 data from Training Peaks WKO

Data from Ride with GPS

George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas at Minaret Vista 9,265 feet

USA Olympic Marathoner Meb Keflezighi or here still running at altitude just days before the London Olympics

Devil’s Postpile

A Geologic Wonder

Established in 1911 by presidential proclamation, Devils Postpile National Monument protects and preserves the Devils Postpile formation, the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls, and pristine mountain scenery.  The formation is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt. Its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry.

From the Gate House adjacent Minaret Vista pictured below

Minaret Vista Station Elevation 9,176

Rob Panzera, President of CCSD – Cycling Camps San Diego, at Minaret Vista 9,265 Elevation


Somehow even though I was riding easy I picked up a top ten on a Strava segment (unaware it existed) – go figure 😉


CVAC Sessions are working!

Just a quick post to update you on my progress.  I have been back at CVAC for one month and it’s starting to pay off.  I restarted my sessions on June 11, 2012.  I went out for a ride last Sunday July 7, 2012. I had been off the bike for two weeks because of a bad infection.  I pushed a little on a couple of the hills and even along Pacific Coast Highway when I caught up with a fast three-man paceline.  I am happy to report that I didn’t have my typical coughing spasm related to the recovery period after a hard effort. If you would like more information please click here.  You can also find a Frequently Asked Questions section here.

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Park City Point to Point – T minus 12 hours

I’m excited to be doing my first endurance MTB race.  It’s my first MTB race period.  Actually, it occurred to me as I was chatting with my friend Cheryl Zwarkowski that by the time I finish this race I will have spent more time on a MTB on just this race than I have ever spent in my previous five rides …and I mean cumulative!

I went for a pre-ride yesterday and was amazed how in just 9 miles I had 1600 feet of climbing but more importantly the distinctly different terrain I rode through.  I was cruising along quite nicely when I hit the wooded area below.  I HAD to stop and take a picture.

Below is an example of the markings that I will follow to keep me on course.

Below:  I had to dismount as I tried to climb this rocky section.  I won’t be taking any risks tomorrow.  I’m just there to finish.

Below:  This is the bike that will crush the competition.  Just kidding –everyone knows it’s not about the bike.  But I am very thankful that Felt Bicycles provided me a 2011 Felt Edict.  It is a full suspension cross-country race bike.  It is a 4″ travel bike that weighs sub 25 lbs with pedals in the stock set-up.

Please follow me on my Spot page. will stream information during the race.

Please make comments on my Facebook Fan Page.  I have a volunteer on the course who will pass along your comments.

So what are my goals for this race?  My goal is to finish with all my skin intact and all faculties 😉  Seriously though I would like to finish about 10 hours.  They say middle of the pack riders will finish between 9-11 hours so I want to be in the middle of that 😉  12 hour time limit with the pros finishing in 7 hours.

Am I ready?  Ready as I’ll ever be.  I have good legs.  I’m not overly tired or fatigued from weeks of hard training.  I have been off the bike dealing with a lot of personal issues lately — work and my son.  But that’s life isn’t it?

Park City Point to Point Race Organizer Jay Burke and George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas pose for a picture on race day eve.

Lots of people to thank (alphabetical order)  CVAC Systems, Felt Bicycles, Infinit Nutrition, the Pro Bar, my friends and many more …too many to mention and I don’t want to bore you 😉

As far as tonight I had a nice light dinner and feel satiated.  I have compression tights on to keep my legs fresh and I’m hydrating.  Other than that this is just another race …just on different terrain and equipment.  The mantra that will get me to finish and keep me out of trouble?   Tranquilo Mijo…. Loosely translated “go easy son”

Wall Street Journal article on CVAC Systems

I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal last week about my personal experiences with CVAC sessions and the POD.  I have noticed that my exercise-induced asthma has gone away and some performance gains.  I have documented them in previous posts.  Just use the “CVAC Sessions” label to filter those posts out.  I was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article that came out today in both the online and in print versions.  It was very brief but hey how many of you can say you have been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal 😉  Here is the link to the article.

Newport Coast Personal Records Comparison

What follows is a graphical comparison of my personal records on Newport Coast Dr.  It should be self-explanatory but feel free to make comments on this blog post to open a discussion.  I will tell you that I strongly believe that the CVAC sessions in Newport Beach have made an improvement in my training and subsequent field tests.

George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas progression to current personal record of 6:43 on Newport Coast Drive.

A few points to consider:

1.  Time is an absolute — less time represents faster ascents

2.  Normalized Power increased for each Personal Record. Faster times not a product of environmental factors such as tailwinds

3.  Watts per Kg increased for each Personal Record.  Regardless of my weight I increased  w/kg ratio

4.  Crank Torque increased for each Personal Record. More powerful legs pushing harder and pushing harder gears.  Last effort on 6/28 was done in “Big Ring” (53×21).

5. Intensity Factor- 6/28/11 represents 122% of effort compared to my FTP (1 hour of power) of 285watts.  So either I need to adjust up my FTP or I’m becoming a specialist at 5 minute efforts 😉 I will adjust my FTP regardless to 295 watts.

6.  Weather consistent.  Early morning efforts no winds, no heat. Allowing repeatable Field Tests.

New Personal Record on Newport Coast – (6:43 Normalized Power 348 watts 5.11 w/kg)

Yep folks another PR today.  I took 7 seconds off my previous PR of 6:50 from May 31, 2011.  Today I climbed Newport Coast with a time of 6:43.  My gearing was 53 x 24, with 53 x 21 when I stood up.  I stood up twice towards the end of the effort.  For years I have been climbing this hill month after month and never have I had such significant gains in performance.

I am now certain the CVAC sessions are paying off.  I owe a huge thank you to my good friends at Lunar Health and Wellness in Newport Beach.  Not only has my performance improved but the exercise-induced asthma has disappeared!! My heart rate reached 192 bpm on this effort.  In the past when I would come off of a hard effort like this I would cough uncontrollably for several minutes afterwards.  I didn’t cough at all today!  Additionally, my sleep is REALLY deep.  I can’t explain it but it’s very different.

George “Red-Eyed Vireo” sets new Personal Record on Newport Coast 6:43

Newport Coast Drive PR (6:50 Normalized Power 321 watts 4.8 w/kg) & May Month End

On the last day of a 75 hour, 1274 mile month, I set a new PR on Newport Coast Dr.  My new time of 6:50 is 12 seconds faster than my previous PR from earlier in the month of 7:02 and 31 seconds faster than the PR before that of 7:21.  I held 321 watts for almost seven minutes.  My weight was 147.4 and my 4.8 w/kg was the highest and longest time frame I have ever held for that w/kg.  Keep in mind, the pros hold 6 w/kg for 30 minutes or more once again proving I’m just your average working stiff that enjoys riding a bike.  And speaking of working, that 1274 mile month was done by riding 2-2.5 hours in the morning and 1.5- 2 hours at night after work.  I often see Crow going in the opposite direction. ONCE last month we were going the same direction and chatted a few minutes.  I had a few centuries thrown in as well.  You may not know but I can’t ride on weekends because I am either working or I have my six year-old son.

George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas sets new PR on Newport Coast Dr of 6:50

New Power Profile after PR

Month End numbers for May.

As you can see above, May was my first thousand mile month in a long time. I’m fortunate to have a good base from my first years of Ultras where I would do 12,000 – 15,000 miles a year. Why the big ramp up this month? Well because every May I start my preparation in earnest for the Furnace Creek 508 I now have to put in four months of solid training.  By September, I am doing more speedwork (intensity) so the mileage (duration) is shorter.  I would like to do Everest Challenge just before Furnace Creek 508- just like last year with one week apart. AND there is also Interbike in September so basically September is a wash.  Hence, May through August is when I really need to focus on my 508 training.

Stay tuned for more Furnace Creek 508 specific training….

For those that wonder where I am timing my Newport Coast PR’s here is a graph.  1.55 miles 450 feet of gain about 6ish% grade.