FAQ ~ Escalators
Starts easy gets difficult, stays difficult. You'll love to hate them
There are no heart or power parameters set for the Escalator intervals. How should I pace them?
Power and heart rates are totally irrelevant for this one, although they do settle down after half-way. It's impossible to keep a regular output when going up through the gears and going down with your cadence.
You can keep a regular "rhythm" for most of the time, as the cadence goes down, the power goes up. But once you reach your VO2max, you just sit there and try to keep it going with pure muscle contractions, will power and inner hardness!
You can't put out 270 watts in a 53 x 19, unless your doing around 140 rpm, but you'll easily do it at 80 rpm when you get in the 53 x 13. So don't worry about power, just pedal at your natural cadence, power will be what it will be.
The first few minutes will seem stupidly easy, that's why there is only a short warm up for this session!
Then it'll get your attention, maintain it throughout the next four or five gears, then you'll do the last three minutes with your eyes wide-shut.
I'm afraid it's impossible to give a "recommended power output" as this is coming from your muscular system (especially in the higher gears), not your aerobic system; so the normal percentages of FTP don't apply.
You will top out at your VO2max, as you can see from the chart above and the power and heart distribution below.
If indoors, your turbo should be set at "normal road resistance" as you need to imagine you're riding along a road that's 28 minutes long and changing up through the gears as you go.
The resistance and challenge comes purely from the change in gear and the drop in cadence.
The first week is naff, it all seems so horribly wrong, the second week you get the hang of it (slightly) and in the red week your body's screaming for you to stop.
It's never a good session; ever. But come the end of the month, you will have enhanced muscular and core strength, with a climbing prowess and high-speed cruising ability that will take you to the next level.
As you can see from my sessions above, I feel your pain. Cadence (green) drops and drops as the (yellow) power rises then flattens.
What changes is your torque; the "pressure" you apply to the pedals. In order to maintain power on a falling cadence, you need to apply more pressure to the crank. Which you can be seen from the Quadrant Analysis Chart (for the same session) below...
You can see the distinct gear changes reflected in the clusters of yellow dots moving up and across the chart.
As the gear goes up (harder), the cadence goes down (moving the cluster from from right to left) and the torque increases (moving the cluster from bottom to top).
As the session progresses the data capture moves from the lower left quadrant (low torque, high cadence) to the upper right quadrant. (high torque, low cadence). Which makes this such an excellent session.
Strangely, going back to the top chart, heart rate (red) remains flattish and mirrors the blue speed line!
As I said before, the power will be what it will be. Your primary objective is to pace yourself to get to the end. How hard can it be?
Best place to do them?
A turbo; but who wants to ride a turbo in the summer? I live on a tiny island, so had to develop these sessions to help build strength for climbing in the Alps and Pyrenees. Our longest (consecutive, straight) road is two miles long! But if you have the environment...
Second best place; a long straight, flattish road, as the muscular fatigue towards the end will be exacerbated with an incline. For extra "hardness" ride in to the wind. If you can nail that, then please feel free to use a road with a gentle slope. But not a steep hill, as you don't want to damage or tweak a core or back muscle.
Have fun and think nice thoughts...