The order of effects :: Part IV.

Not an ace couple of days at the shop, so I think I'll continue this from Part III...

Post-WWII until the 1970s, the majority of endurance training info written in (or translated into) English was for running rather than cycling. Coaches like Van Aaken, Lydiard, Cerutty, Mulak, and others stressed the importance of doing the vast majority of training volume (80-90+%) at an easier pace, especially in the initial stages of striving for a higher level of performance. A great deal of emphasis was placed on a high volume of training time *consistently* as well as on mindful recovery. This wasn't a rejection of speedwork as many decried. Instead it was the basis on which to build a better functional organism. The long, steady work provided positive adaptations as far as circulation, oxygen delivery, and general resilience against injury or illness. The intake of oxygen was especially emphasized owing to the first law of thermodynamics, as mentioned in Part I: The Conservation of Energy. Respiration is the avenue to exploit and optimize in weight loss because oxygen in = carbon dioxide out = combustion of energy. It takes around 2000 litres of oxygen to lose one kilogram of body weight.

For those at a high fitness level, it takes a great deal of discipline to hold back on the reins when feeling wonderful, but it has allowed many runners, cyclists, and XC skiers to have long careers at a high level of competition because they enjoyed being athletes first and foremost and had less concern about being brilliant shooting stars across sky, flaming out into a rapid downward arc. It also allows for joyful bursts of playful speed and that spiritual high oft sought by those who have withdrawn from entry fees and travel unattached as non-competitive trail runners/hikers, bikepackers, climbers, packrafters, backcountry skiers/snowboarders, etc.

Before endurance trained athletes began to win middle distance running events in the 1960s, interval training (hard interval training, that is) was becoming the dominant credo as training became more structured and "scientific." Short-term improvements helped the momentum but time showed that there was a ceiling to long-term benefits and also greater risk of injury/damage without putting in some longer, sustainable volume to refine the organism and constitution. There's no such thing as a free lunch. You can strain and grimace all you want, but consistently doing the possible (with very occasional carbon blow-outs) means that you can eventually do anything.

The nature of our society has swung things away from the steady to the jagged. Work, family, pets, houses, cell phones, and internet connections coupled with the 24/7/365 dissemination/bombardment of data means that we get less done and we do tangibly less overall, often floating in a less tactile purgatory despite our supposed interconnectedness. I know I live it.

With this comes the short-term bang-for-the-buck for the time-crunched. High intensity, low time input programs designed/marketed for someone who wants to go ride that one MS150, or Leadville 100, or cyclosportive event, or whatever. It's something else to fit in, to bag that goal and add it to the pile...attained as a "best value" in the way oz./$ is calculated in the head at the grocery store. I understand it and have no illusions why it has taken wing. It's hard with all you have to juggle as a spouse and parent as well as the constant, broadening intrusion of work on leisure time.

But, the fact of the matter is that more long-term, lasting benefit comes from toning things down and going long before really putting the hammer down. The order of effects means that the majority of us would gain more in the long term from going for long rides/runs within our capacity consistently because again, 2000 litres of oxygen = 1 kilogram of body weight. That's around 8-9 hours of fast running. Combine consistent enjoyable aerobic exercise with good breathing techniques, high quality minimally processed food and drink consumed at a caloric deficit, and adequate recovery/sleep are the building blocks for enjoying yourself further outside. For me, riding a bike is meant to be a pleasure, not a penance, and I would happily train (rather than strain) as a means to make bikepacking and hiking trips more fun versus drilling myself to grovel through a singular "event." I've done my time with that and I'll talk about all this more in later posts.

The simplistic ideas that resonate with me hold a parallel not just for frame design (as I talked about in Part III) but also in component choices. The two areas that seem to be the most prone to stratospheric "evolution" are the bottom bracket/crankset area and the headset area despite what's really important for most cyclists.

There are a myriad of headset standards now, with a corresponding myriad of headtube configurations to accept them. All this hasn't been brought about necessarily by "marketing idiots" as many over-stimulated e-pundits might pontificate, some of it has merit to aid in avoiding specific problems. There are numerous internal headset variations (as well as frame prep needs) that came about to circumvent frame damage caused by casing landings and whatnot amongst street riders and dirt jumpers. The same goes for newer, larger lower race configurations (to go with tapered steerers or various other headset cups) which are beneficial for larger manufacturers trying to pass new, more stringent Euro safety standards...especially with carbon. Also, the larger diameter at the bottom of the headtube can aid longevity for increasingly long axle-to-crown fork lengths (and corresponding shorter headtube lengths) on 29" wheeled off-road machines. Fair play to all that.

Bottom bracket standards and crankarm interfaces have received similar treatment over the last ten years. Many people have bemoaned the antiquated square taper spindled bottom bracket for being "flexy", heavy, or a royal pain...earmarking the design as failure prone with cranks cracking at the spindle hole - which generally doesn't occur if you install things properly.

So much effort has been expended to get away from this interface with pretty mixed results. The splined ISIS standard was a total dud from a longevity standpoint. Octalink wasn't a great deal better. External bearing designs were the next step, often featuring proprietary crank spindle designs. There have been issues that have cropped up, including problems with crank retention, bearing contamination, and binding. This stuff has been an issue on longer off-road multi-day self-supported events, where a <$40 square taper cartridge BB is often good for five-digit mileage.

Now there are three push fit bottom bracket standards floating around. Again, there's a striving to make things stiffer and lighter but I still think the long-range picture is blurry for most. If you have spent a great deal of time in an dubiously heated shop in the mountains of Colorado trying to pound the  #$%*&%?! pressfit bearings out of vintage Merlin, you might desire a clearer long-term vision for servicing. I think a number of career framebuilders and bicycle mechanics might agree.

I know this is going on too long - I always do that, the lopey facade hides the manic thinking. My overarching point is that we in the First World are too prone to cleverness and trickery for minuscule (and supposed) benefit while the larger picture is obscured in all the pageantry.

In my next post, I'll list out some of the things I do on my frames (learned from hard lessons in some cases) and give some general component ideas based on what I believe works well. I'll flesh it all out then. It beats doing verbose donuts.

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