1038 Peak Power for 5 Seconds

As an Ultra Cyclist it’s rare that I will ever win a race by sprinting ūüėČ My greatest strength in Ultras is my ability to hold medium range wattage for long periods of time. ¬†But I often wonder if all the long miles at a steady state is enabling my fast twitch muscle fiber to die on the vine. ¬†So to prevent that I will do random sprints and surges during my ride. ¬†Yesterday, while “chasing cars” as I call it, I hit a max of 1099 watts and held 1038 watts for five seconds. ¬†As far as I can tell that is a Personal Record.

On my second ride of the day, later that evening, I actually hit 1023, 1049 and 1001 watts from standing starts. ¬†It’s been a long time since I have been able to hit 1000 watts repeatedly during a ride– not since I was 10-15lbs heavier. ¬†I was also concerned that my recent weight loss included the loss of muscle mass or power. ¬†I have come down from 150 lbs to about 146 lbs in the last two months. ¬†It is nice to see that I can still produce max power numbers the same as when I weighed 160 lbs.

I have included charts from Training Peaks WKO. ¬†Below you will see the graph for the entire ride, the detail of the 5 second peak power and the Power Profile Chart. ¬†The Power Profile Chart shows that even with a 1038 watts ¬†5 second peak power yesterday I’m ¬†still only mid-way into Cat 4 potential.


New Personal Record (PR) on Newport Coast Drive – 7:21

My training this year has been going quite well. ¬†I’ve reduced the amount of miles or hours and I’m training with more intensity. ¬†On Friday I went on a solo two-hour training ride. ¬†I rode the Friday loop with the a training goal of holding a minimum of 3.5 w/kg or 238 watts. ¬†I achieved my training goal. I held 3.47 w/kg for the two-hour training session. On the return, I went up Newport Coast Drive. ¬†Below you will find charts of the complete ride, my best 60 minutes, and finally my new PR on Newport Coast Dr (1.5 mile 460 elevation gain average grade of 6%). ¬†All data collected on an 7900 SRM Wireless Crankset Power Meter with PowerControl 7 head unit.

Training Peaks power chart for the entire two-hour workout Normalized Power of 233 watts or 3.47 w/kg

Best 60 minutes Normalized Power 252 watts or 3.7 w/kg

George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas sets new PR on Newport Coast Drive in Newport Beach, California


2010 Fall Death Valley Double Century- Quick Post

October 30, 2010 I completed the Fall edition of the Death Valley Double Century. ¬†Unofficially my time is 11 hours 39 minutes. ¬†Unofficially, I came in 3rd place. ¬†It is my Personal Record for the northern route. ¬†My previous best was 12:11 back in 2006. ¬†I am happy with my result. ¬†After the Furnace Creek ¬†508 I hung up Felicia and I haven’t ridden her since. ¬†Basically I have been off the bike for a month.

I will post a race report soon.  In the meantime you can check the AdventureCorps  site for the official results.

Onion Valley Personal Record (PR)


TRAINING GOAL– Monthly fitness test on Onion Valley Rd (tempo/threshold)

BIKE SETUP – 53/39 Dura-Ace 7900 Wireless SRM Crankset and 11-28 Cassette.

On 9/17 I climbed Onion Valley Rd to a Personal Record (PR) of 1 hour 44 minutes. ¬†It’s a 13 mile climb that gains over 5,000 feet in one solid shot. ¬†There are no flat spots or dips in this climb which makes this an extremely hard climb. Take for example Mount Palomar — after climbing a 5 miles you get a 3/4 mile flat section before beginning the final 6.7 miles at 7% to the summit. ¬†Or Mosquito Flat where you have a .9 mile dip 8 miles into the climb and a couple sections of fairly gently grades. ¬†Or Ancient Bristlecone/White Mountain were about 8 miles into the climb you have a 1 mile flat section before continuing on White Mountain Road to the 10,000 foot summit.

On 9/16 I climbed Mosquito Flat to a Personal Record of 2 hours 27 minutes. ¬†I was going good but I knew I had at least one more climb to do. ¬†I also climbed Pine Creek a 7.5 mile climb that was steeper than I remembered it. ¬†It’s important to mention what I did on 9/16 because I was surprised how well my legs recovered overnight. ¬†I felt really good on Onion Valley. ¬†How good?– I kept easing the pace because I thought I would blow up. ¬† I eventually fatigued but even looking at my Training Peaks chart you can see the Power curve (Yellow Line) is pretty consistent. ¬†I am happy with the consistency and I don’t think I have more than another 5 minutes to cut off this climb — this season. ¬†I would need to train a lot more drop some weight and try again next year.

Notice sustained sections above 9% and no dips

Notice the Red section shows higher cadence for same or more power

George Vargas sets Personal Record on Onion Valley 1 hour 44 minutes.  Consistent improvements since June

MFRA from Training Peaks WKO 3.0

Training Peaks Graph for Onion Valley Rd PR

RED- Heart Rate

PURPLE- Temperature

GREEN- Cadence


GREY- Torque

BLUE – Speed

ORANGE- Elevation


Data for Onion Valley Rd PR

Most Difficult Climbs in California:

1) Onion Valley ‚ÄĒ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† DONE 6/10/10 !!

2) Horseshoe Meadows ‚ÄĒ DONE 6/10/10!!

3)¬†White Mountain‚Äď ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†DONE as part of Everest Challenge Stage Race

4)¬†Sherman Pass‚Äst¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†DONE 6/24/10!!

5) Whitney Portal ‚ÄĒ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† DONE 6/10/10!!

6) Mount Baldy‚Äď ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† DONE- too many times to mention

7) Shirley Meadows‚Äst¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†DONE 6/24/10!!

8)¬†South Lake‚Äď ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†DONE as part of Everest Challenge Stage Race

9)¬†Mount Palomar‚Äď ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† DONE 6/06/10!!

10) Mosquito Flat‚Äď ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† DONE 09/02/10!!

Additionally, here is the list of the 10 toughest climbs in the US.

Below is a list of some of the top cycling climb bike rides that are listed in the bookBest Cycling Climbs In The US. The book lists the 100 toughest USA road bike climbs from 1 to 100.

  1. Mt Washington, NH
  2. Haleakala, HI
  3. Onion Valley, CA
  4. Horseshoe Meadows, CA
  5. Mt. Equinox, VT
  6. White MTN, CA
  7. Mt. Baldy, CA
  8. Mt Graham, AZ
  9. Mt. Lemmon, AZ
  10. Palomar Mountain, CA

Onion Valley Road is compared to Mt Ventoux, France

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And now for something silly– Ever since I purchased Felicia I have been outfitting her with all the latest and greatest gadgets. ¬†But one thing I have left off of her on purpose. ¬†On everyone of my race bikes I always have a Superman figurine on the seat stay cluster. ¬†My reason for leaving the Superman off is I just didn’t feel like I was in good enough form to put Superman back there. ¬†But after a successfull todays of training and two PR’s on two very tough climbs I think Felicia is finally ready to get her Superman.

Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) new PR sub 44 minutes

Every year as I prepare myself for the Furnace Creek 508 I pass this mile marker.


1.  Tempo to Threshold power on short climbs

2.  Fitness check

3.  Personal Record attempt on Glendora Mountain Rd.


Start Boulder Springs Rd – Glendora

Warm up on Big Dalton Canyon Rd.

Climb Glendora Mountain Rd (8 mile climb)

Descend “Little GMR”

Refuel at Camp Williams spigot

Climb Little GMR (5 mile climb)

Descend GMR to Glendora


Felt F2 with Di2 53/39 Crankset  11-25 Cassette

A screen shot of the entire ride from Training Peaks WKO 3.0




Below is a screen shot of my new Personal Record (PR) 43:59 for Glendora Mountain Road (GMR). My new PR is 2:09 faster than my time from 08/08/09, almost exactly a year ago today. ¬† ¬†GMR ¬†is an 8 mile climb with a consistent 6% grade until the top where there is a dip. ¬†I felt OK but I definitely did not expect a PR the way I was riding but there it is. For those that don’t understand power maybe you would be interested to know ¬†my average speed was 11 mph. ¬†NORMALIZED POWER WAS 245 WATTS OR 3.64 w/kg and 626 kjs


Screen shot of Little GMR climb

I sucked pretty badly on the Little GMR climb. ¬†My legs just didn’t have it. ¬†Surprisingly, I was only a 1 minute or so off my PR. ¬†I need to come back with fresher legs. ¬†Yesterday’s 84 miler before work (5am start) zapped my legs more than I thought. ¬†Then I worked all day spending almost 9 hours on my feet and you can see why my legs might not be as fresh as they could be.

As I was pedaling squares up Little GMR, I thought of pro cyclists having to come out day after day on a stage race and be “on it”. ¬†Just one bad day or one bad climb can ruin their prospects of winning the overall. ¬†How DO they recover every night and come out to fight again day after day?

Post where you can find information on my Previous PR

Onion Valley Road


I was back in Lone Pine this “weekend”. ¬†I write weekend in quotes because currently my days off are Thursday and Friday and that is my weekend. ¬†Not the traditional weekend but it is two¬†consecutive days off. ¬†Lone Pine has become my favorite place to escape city living. ¬†A small town with great people and some of the best climbing for cyclists California has to offer.

When I visit Lone Pine I stay at the Whitney Portal Hostel.  I am now a repeat customer with three great visits in the last six weeks.  The hostel is  conveniently located at the base of Mt Whitney.  You can make reservations at (760) 876-0030.  Rates are reasonable and it is a nice clean place where you meet a lot of interesting people.  I highly recommend it.


6 hour mountain training ride.  78 miles with 7800 feet of climbing.  High temperature while I was still riding was 105F.  Personal Best Onion Valley Rd (1:47). Partial climb of Horseshoe Meadow.


My goal for Friday was to get in as much climbing as I could possibly achieve before the heat would be too much. ¬†Lone Pine had been in the high 90’s for the past week but it was forecasted to be over 100 F on Friday. ¬†I rolled at 630am and headed North on Hwy 395 towards Independence. ¬†It took less than an hour, 48 minutes, ¬†to travel the 16 miles required to reach Independence.

Sunrise on the Eastern Sierras

Onion Valley Road really starts off as Market Street.  I made the left turn and began the long., 13 mile,  hard climb up to the Onion Valley trailheads.

If you’re not careful you’ll miss the turn to the hardest climb in California


Make your turn at the Post Office

Look for the road and the switchback- there are a series of switchbacks

Look for more switchbacks

I didn’t notice the well on my first ascent back in June. But you have to get to the to the trailhead to refill your bottles.

Felt F2 with Di2 and new 7900 wireless SRM Power Meter

I thought this was funny.

Onion Valley Climb

Ok now it’s time to geek out. ¬†I did a Personal Best on the Onion Valley Rd climb. ¬†Nothing really exciting to the real climbers out there but it was a another milestone for me as I get my climbing legs back. ¬†On this trip I installed an 11-25 cassette. ¬†I remembered how much I suffered on the climb with an 11-23 cassette on my first ascent of Onion Valley in June . Armed with a 25T cog and a little better fitness I was able to increase the following metrics:

I was still grinding way too much and the 12% grades had me standing way too much to keep ¬†my momentum up. ¬†Notice the grey line on the power chart goes up as the power goes down. ¬†That grey line is torque and it really shoots up when the grade is steep. ¬†You’ll notice my power and cadence go in the opposite direction — as in down! ¬†Next time I climb Onion Valley Rd I will take an 11-27 cassette and see if I can improve the average cadence and average power by spinning a little more.

Power and Heart Rate of June 10 and July 9 compared

Cadence and Speed June 10 and July 9

Onion Valley Grade Analysis

Onion Valley is one hard climb.  Just look at the chart from mile 3 to the top at almost mile 13.  It stays in the 7.5% to 10% grade range for almost 10 miles!!  With the only exception being when it pops up and over 10% grade.  Onion Valley gains over 5,000 feet in those hard miles.

Onion Valley Road compared to Mt Ventoux, France

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Dana Point out and back with new 1 minute Peak Power

Two hour training ride today from the shop to Dana Point.  38 miles round trip with about 1,200 feet of gain.  I tried to maintain a good tempo with hard efforts mixed in.  My Normalized Power for the 2 hour ride was 248 watts (3.69 w/kg).  While in Dana Point I attempted and accomplished besting my 1 minute peak power number.  It was 534 now it is 609 watts (9.07 w/kg).

Here is the Garmin download.

I am really happy with my 1 minute peak power number of 609 watts it’s almost half-way into the Cat 2 range. ¬†The hill I performed this 1 minute number was really steep (about 10%) which helped me keep high power. ¬†Now I would like to try a one minute test on a shallow hill of maybe 6% grade.