Originally Posted by An old Guy
A single ride is too short of a time to understand what type of winter training those riders are doing. Even talking with them is not going to give you insight into their training.
I think you are more on the track when you say that they would drop you on their "warm up." If these guys are as good as you say they are, they should have dropped you on a 3.5 hour L2 effort (their L2 effort not yours). I suspect these guys were just doing "community service" not doing a training ride.
If you want to view winter as "building your base." You might be better off using the power numbers you want next season to determine your intensity as opposed to using your current numbers. The workouts will be harder but you will start your summer training closer to what your goal.
You said "Even talking with them is not going to give you insight into their training"
Are you telepathic or do you just pass notes to communicate with your riding buddies?
If you want real insight into how successful people in your area are training I would recommend talking to them. You would be surprised at the response you might get. But first, you MUST follow these suggestions:
1. Forget everything you think you know. Your advice on this forum is borderline delusional.
2. Put in a solid year of riding working your way up to pushing the pace of your local "A" group rides.
3. At the beginning of your second year try riding in your local criterium circuit training rides. You will develop a feel for competitive riding, cornering, positioning, and timing your sprint. Just as important as all of that... you will start making relationships with folks that race. ***Note: Do not forget step # 1***
4. Halfway through that season begin racing. It will hurt you, bad. You will get crushed in your first race but walk away with an incredible feeling of accomplishment & a new addiction to racing.
5. End up wining your last 2 out of 7 races and you will get an early move to CAT 4.
6. Win 4 local criterium circuit training "B" rides in a row.
7. By this point you will be invited to move up to the "A" criterium circuit training. HOWEVER you must be careful. You still know next to nothing about racing. Remember, these training rides include the 3rd ranked CAT 1 in the State and a host of very strong riders from all ages & categories 3 to 1. You must show respect to these athletes that have decades of experience over your 1.5 years. ***Note: Do not forget step # 1***
8. Race season will end. You will have made contacts with the local race teams. You will be asked to join more than one of them because you have let your riding & actions in races and on training rides speak for themselves.
9. Commit to racing for a team the following season. You are now riding on a team with all category racers. Just imagine the wealth of knowledge and shop support you will receive. It is a great thing.
10. Treat fellow cyclists as you would a teammate no matter what team they race for. You are all out there on race day for similar reasons. Respect your enemy & embrace him as your brother with a common passion. Besides, you don't know what the future might bring and what team you might race for down the road.
Ok. You are now up to speed on my 1.5 year on a bike which leads us up to last weekend.
That entire elite group of riders was comprised of two racing teams (one of which had asked me to join them. Unfortunately I had already committed to racing next season for another team but told him I hoped that wouldn't interfere with us training together.) It was while I was riding with him that this group of his teammates passed bye on their training ride. I have good insight to their training because I've been riding with some of them all season (just not their highest level guys).
Now listen close "Old Guy". Get the chip off your shoulder about being old. You don't have to state your opinion on things you are not familiar with (re-read most of your posts). I have been on more than one training ride with The (correction)Three-Time State Road Race Champion I was referring to above and he was working well above level 2. I didn't mention that he is 68 years old and his name is Barry Free, USCF Masters National Road Race Champion, 1994,1999, & 2008. Your cynical comment about the ride having to be a "charity ride" shows how little you know about training. Even for high level athletes "endurance" miles this time of year is a legitimate part of many of their rides.
This year's CAT 4 PA State BAR champ was at my house last night for a trainer session and enjoyed my interval workout (see above). There is an awards banquet January 14 to celebrate the "Best All-Around Riders" in the State of PA. I was invited by the previous mentioned athlete as a guest. You should come along and sit next to me. I will show you how much insight you can gain by talking to some very talented athletes.