FTP Hour Trainer Test Done, Post-Ride Pacing Questions



Rider123

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Jul 18, 2012
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Hi,

I recently got myself a Quarq and after reading the Training and Racing with a Power Meter book, I spent the following few weeks just riding and analysing my rides.

Yesterday, I downloaded my rides for the entire 3 weeks and analysed it with Training Peaks WKO+. In my last race, I have a max normalised power for one hour was 247W (Total Race was 2 hours). The following day I did a hard group ride and spent a long time driving at the front, my max. normalised power for an hour was 249W.

Anyway, today I finally decided to do a FTP test. I decided against doing the 5 min/20 min test, instead did the 'Hour of Power TT' on my bike trainer. I did have a fan going and was riding outside so the heat wasn't too much of a factor. Although, god it took a lot of mental strength! Anyway, I planned to ride at 230-235 W (100 rpm) and adjust it later depending on how I felt, to ensure I didn't blow up. 10 minutes into the ride, I felt good and shifted to a smaller cog at the back and help 270-280 W (95+ rpm), but that started to feel hard and so I shifted back into my original cog and kept a steady 230-235 W. I was torn between 230-235 W and 270-280W as one felt a little too easy and the other too hard. I tried riding in the 240-260W range but that required me to ride at a cadence that I didn't like, one that I wasn't used to. I'm used to spinning at 95+ rpm.
After half-way through, I was doing everything to hold my 230-235W and I was worried I would crack. However, surprisingly, I felt good in the last 5 mins and managed to hold 270-290 W (whole body was rocking in the last minute to hold it though).
My average power for the 1 hour was 240 W but the ave. for the last 20 mins was 249 W, final 5 mins (280W)

Background Information:
Weight 60kg, Age 18, Been riding for 3 years (Training for about a year)

My questions are:

Did I start off too conservatively and thus my FTP (240W) is not a true FTP value for me? Is it okay if I just leave it at 240W for my intervals?

Should I be spending some time riding in the 75-85 rpm range or should I just ride at my self-selected cadence and worry only about increasing power?

Cheers
 

RapDaddyo

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May 17, 2005
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Well done. It's refreshing to see somebody willing to suffer through a full hour FTP test. Maybe a good rainy day ride some time in the future would be to do a 2hr max power test. It's good for mental toughness. Based on the totality of your recent rides, I think your FTP is pretty close to 250W. But, for training purposes, if you do your L4s at anything above 225W you will be building your FTP. You could ride for a month and never ride an L4 above 250W and when you re-test you will find that your FTP is significantly more than 250W. Cadence doesn't really matter. I would simply ride at my self-selected preferred cadence that feels like the least effort for the power. You will probably find that this preferred cadence is the same on the flat, uphill, downhill, upwind and downwind. I ride with riders all the time who change their cadence when they start up a hill and I am always perplexed as to why. If you keep your weight down, you can become a destroyer on the climbs.
 

Rider123

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Jul 18, 2012
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Thanks RapDaddyo,

Incidentally, it was your contribution on the 'It's killing me' thread that convinced me to finally go and get myself a power meter.
I feel I have really improved during the last few weeks as I have been on uni. holidays and have spent 4 sessions cycling and 4 sessions swimming (running being my strength).

Unfortunately, uni. starts for me next week so it will be hard trying to maintain that volume. I'll stick to 2x20mins @ about 93-95%, 2 x 30mins @ SST, 3 x 20mins @ 90-92% with a weekend group ride (3-4 hrs).

Funny you say you expect my FTP will climb significantly above 250W as I've heard that ~4.0watt/kg is close to the 'limit'. Not sure how much higher it can go.

Also, interestingly, based on my speed reading on my bike trainer, my previous '2x20mins FTP intervals' were only done at about 210W, which felt like my absolute limit. Not sure whether my FTP went up by 40W in the past 2 months (where I significantly increased volume - from 4hr/week -> 9 hr/week), or I have just not been riding hard enough.
 

RapDaddyo

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May 17, 2005
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Originally Posted by Rider123 .

Thanks RapDaddyo,

Incidentally, it was your contribution on the 'It's killing me' thread that convinced me to finally go and get myself a power meter.
I feel I have really improved during the last few weeks as I have been on uni. holidays and have spent 4 sessions cycling and 4 sessions swimming (running being my strength).

Unfortunately, uni. starts for me next week so it will be hard trying to maintain that volume. I'll stick to 2x20mins @ about 93-95%, 2 x 30mins @ SST, 3 x 20mins @ 90-92% with a weekend group ride (3-4 hrs).

Funny you say you expect my FTP will climb significantly above 250W as I've heard that ~4.0watt/kg is close to the 'limit'. Not sure how much higher it can go.

Also, interestingly, based on my speed reading on my bike trainer, my previous '2x20mins FTP intervals' were only done at about 210W, which felt like my absolute limit. Not sure whether my FTP went up by 40W in the past 2 months (where I significantly increased volume - from 4hr/week -> 9 hr/week), or I have just not been riding hard enough.
It's funny how many people have been inspired by the "Killing me" thread. You're doing great, and it's good to know that you got some inspiration from that thread. As to your max potential, I'm not saying that you will absolutely increase your FTP. I'm saying that you can increase your FTP without ever doing any L4s above your FTP. That's the concept that many don't get and as a result they end up riding their L4s too hard, which in turn reduces their total volume of L4s and in turn they don't improve much. Volume of minutes in L4 is more important than riding them at the top end of the level. I think that's why you increased your FTP by 40W, due to your increased volume.

As to your max FTP, don't set any preconceived limits on yourself. Let your results speak for themselves. But, even at 240-250W, if you keep your weight down you will put the hurt on some guys in the climbs. And if you get your FTP up to the 275W vicinity, you will become hated on the climbs.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Originally Posted by RapDaddyo .
As to your max FTP, don't set any preconceived limits on yourself. Let your results speak for themselves. But, even at 240-250W, if you keep your weight down you will put the hurt on some guys in the climbs. And if you get your FTP up to the 275W vicinity, you will become hated on the climbs.
270 watts at 60kgs will make for a handy climber and hated by most. Some fun L5 efforts on shorter hills during training and he'll be despised by many. LOL

4w/kg is far from the limit.

If you can just about reliably repeat 20 minute efforts at what you believe to be your FTP several times per session then your FTP is about right. The added motivation of racing will allow you to keep that effort going for about an hour... or so... maybe... kinda... ;) YMMV.
 

Rider123

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Jul 18, 2012
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Thanks guys,

I think I'm already starting to annoy some of the others in my group ride when the road tilts up. :)
Just taking a look at the power profiling, the difference between 240 Watts- (4 watt/kg) and 270 Watts - (4.5 watt/kg) is huge. That's an increase from middle of good (cat 3) and middle of very good (cat 2). Seems like a big increase, although I'll just take it a session at a time and not rush things or place any goals.

Just a training question for those that are more experienced.
I've heard about the importance of progressively increasing the training strain (i.e. increase ctl) but not sure how important it is exactly?
For example, if I have a maximum of 4 hours to ride during the week + 4 hour weekend ride, am I better of starting at 3 hours and gradually increasing it every week in order to achieve this progressive overload or should I just try to maximise the full 4 hours to train every single week? I'm quite time-crunched unfortunately.
Similarly, should i aim to increase my time in L4 progressively, i.e. (2 hours one week, 2.5 hours second week and so on) or should I just worry about trying to get the maximum amount of L4 time possible? (i.e. 3.5 hours every week until I feel the need to take a 'rest' week or few days off)
 

Alex Simmons

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Mar 12, 2006
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Originally Posted by Rider123 .

Thanks guys,

I think I'm already starting to annoy some of the others in my group ride when the road tilts up. :)
Just taking a look at the power profiling, the difference between 240 Watts- (4 watt/kg) and 270 Watts - (4.5 watt/kg) is huge. That's an increase from middle of good (cat 3) and middle of very good (cat 2). Seems like a big increase, although I'll just take it a session at a time and not rush things or place any goals.

Just a training question for those that are more experienced.
I've heard about the importance of progressively increasing the training strain (i.e. increase ctl) but not sure how important it is exactly?
For example, if I have a maximum of 4 hours to ride during the week + 4 hour weekend ride, am I better of starting at 3 hours and gradually increasing it every week in order to achieve this progressive overload or should I just try to maximise the full 4 hours to train every single week? I'm quite time-crunched unfortunately.
Similarly, should i aim to increase my time in L4 progressively, i.e. (2 hours one week, 2.5 hours second week and so on) or should I just worry about trying to get the maximum amount of L4 time possible? (i.e. 3.5 hours every week until I feel the need to take a 'rest' week or few days off)
Depends on how much training you've been doing lately and what sort of training you've been doing.

Increasing workload is achieved with adjustments to both duration and intensity. Trick is to do enough to see good adaptations, but not so much that you fry yourself after a few weeks.
 

Rider123

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Jul 18, 2012
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Thanks Alex,

That's interesting. I know I have and I'm sure most people here have heard that in order to increase FTP it's just a matter of logging time at SST/L4. There hasn't been as much of an emphasis on progressive overload, it's just been matter of 3 FTP sessions a week for months on end.
My question is why do most people neglect to mention or factor in overloading our bodies by increasing duration and intensity? Is it just not that important?

Hypothetically, if someone was to increase from say 2 medium rides a week to 5 hard rides a week and they are able to cope mentally/physically, how detrimental would that be?
If this person continues to ride at the same intensity and the same duration (5 hard rides/week) for the ensuing, let's say 3-4 months, will his improvement sky rocket at the start and then stop?
 

RapDaddyo

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Originally Posted by Rider123 .

Thanks Alex,

That's interesting. I know I have and I'm sure most people here have heard that in order to increase FTP it's just a matter of logging time at SST/L4. There hasn't been as much of an emphasis on progressive overload, it's just been matter of 3 FTP sessions a week for months on end.
My question is why do most people neglect to mention or factor in overloading our bodies by increasing duration and intensity? Is it just not that important?

Hypothetically, if someone was to increase from say 2 medium rides a week to 5 hard rides a week and they are able to cope mentally/physically, how detrimental would that be?
If this person continues to ride at the same intensity and the same duration (5 hard rides/week) for the ensuing, let's say 3-4 months, will his improvement sky rocket at the start and then stop?
Personally, I don't think there is a universal answer to this question. I think you will have to just experiment. In my case, when I started riding I went from zero to 60 miles/day at 20mph avg and going hard (L5) on all the climbs 5x per week with a 60-100mi RR each weekend within 3 mos of beginning to ride. But, I think I have a high tolerance for training stress. You will notice that when you ramp up your volume of serious work (L4+), you have a perpetual training fatigue. This will reduce your max power numbers a bit, but I never found it important to set a new max power number at any duration every week. I always took a longer view (e.g., the entire season) and my residual training fatigue did not prevent me from finishing with the lead group in my RRs so I only tapered for maximum performance 2-3 times per season. BTW, you have some great tools in WKO+ for monitoring and managing training stress and peak performance. Just study them and learn to use them. And, stay light!
 

Rider123

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Jul 18, 2012
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Originally Posted by RapDaddyo .

In my case, when I started riding I went from zero to 60 miles/day at 20mph avg and going hard (L5) on all the climbs 5x per week with a 60-100mi RR each weekend within 3 mos of beginning to ride. But, I think I have a high tolerance for training stress.
Wow, that's pretty amazing! When you say you have a high tolerance for training stress, is that both mental and physical?
How many more sessions than the 'average cyclist' can you manage if for example, you were trying to increase FTP? So instead of 3 SST/FTP sessions, is it that you can handle 5/6 SST/FTP sessions a week?

Today marks my first FTP intervals with a power meter. Had a bit of spare time this morning so headed out for a 2.5 hour ride. This included 30min and 20min FTP Intervals. Managed to average 230 W for both so I think my FTP of 240 W is about spot on. The only problem with where I did my intervals today was that there were two roundabouts and thus I had to accelerate from 0 W to about 250 W every 10 mins which took a bit out of my legs.

Looking forward to seeing how the body will react to doing a steady diet of FTP intervals every week (~2 hr or so) in the coming month or so, because I have never done any 'true' FTP intervals (previous ones have been without a PM and I think I have been going easier than I should).
The prospect of bumping it up to 270W and keeping my weight at 60kg is enticing.
How much difference would that increase in watt/kg ratio be in terms of speed up a hill (say 8km @ 5%).
Would it be noticeable?
 

RapDaddyo

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Originally Posted by Rider123 .


Wow, that's pretty amazing! When you say you have a high tolerance for training stress, is that both mental and physical? How many more sessions than the 'average cyclist' can you manage if for example, you were trying to increase FTP? So instead of 3 SST/FTP sessions, is it that you can handle 5/6 SST/FTP sessions a week?

The prospect of bumping it up to 270W and keeping my weight at 60kg is enticing. How much difference would that increase in watt/kg ratio be in terms of speed up a hill (say 8km @ 5%). Would it be noticeable?
I don't know for sure, but I think it is a bit of both. For sure I have a high physical tolerance for training stress because I did the above 15hrs/wk of hard training + a 3-5 hr race without any physical discomfort week after week for months. But, I think I also have a high mental tolerance because even today I can sit on my trainer and do 120min L4 sessions whereas most cyclists I talk to can barely stand to ride their trainer for 1 hr.

On a climb, you get almost a 1:1 percentage increase in speed for a percentage increase in power because the primary resistance you are overcoming is gravity. You can look at speed as a function of power/weight/aerodynamics at either of these sites:
http://www.analyticcycling.com/
http://www.cyclingpowermodels.com/Introduction.aspx
 

Alex Simmons

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Mar 12, 2006
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Originally Posted by Rider123 .

My question is why do most people neglect to mention or factor in overloading our bodies by increasing duration and intensity? Is it just not that important?
I can't answer the first question. It's my job to know though.

Overload is a fundamental training principle. If you don't change the training stimulus, then fitness will stagnate.
Making that overload sustainable and progressive has many benefits and takes some experience to get right. That's part of what I do as a coach.

Originally Posted by Rider123 .

Hypothetically, if someone was to increase from say 2 medium rides a week to 5 hard rides a week and they are able to cope mentally/physically, how detrimental would that be?
I don't think that would be wise move for most people. Being able to cope does not make it a good idea. Rapid increases in workload are often associated with overuse injury, increased susceptibility to illness, premature mental fatigue. It's what you might call "Snakes & Ladders" training.

The best thing I have done for some riders is to hold them back a little and stop them damaging themselves. But there are some people who do have a high tolerance for work, and/or need lots of it to to elicit performance improvements.

Originally Posted by Rider123 .

If this person continues to ride at the same intensity and the same duration (5 hard rides/week) for the ensuing, let's say 3-4 months, will his improvement sky rocket at the start and then stop?
Doing the same training (composition and workload) for months on end will see them plateau/stagnate at some stage. The level and rate of improvement is individual and multifactoral.
 

Rider123

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Originally Posted by RapDaddyo .. And, stay light!
Haha, I don't think that is the biggest problem for me.
I seem to eat a ton of food and yet don't gain any weight.
Btw, why is that so important RapDaddyo?
I thought it would be a lot harder for me to increase my FTP than to lose weight in the future.

Alex, thanks for your contributions.
I think I'll stick with 3 trainer sessions during the week with a long group ride during the week. It will be a mixture of SST/L4 intervals on the trainer.
I aim to slowly increase the duration of time spent in these zones or perhaps increasing the intensity of these rides every so often (2-3 weeks).
Will be happy to get that done along with a few hard swimming sessions during the week. Might be a bit pressed for time with university starting once again.

Also, how often do you suggest I test my FTP? I'm not exactly looking forward to doing the full 1 hr test on the trainer again.
 

RapDaddyo

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Originally Posted by Rider123 .

Haha, I don't think that is the biggest problem for me.
I seem to eat a ton of food and yet don't gain any weight.
Btw, why is that so important RapDaddyo?
I thought it would be a lot harder for me to increase my FTP than to lose weight in the future.
250-300W is no big deal in racing, unless you're light. It may seem easy to avoid gaining weight now, but later that may be more of a challenge. Look at the past winners of the TdF. All them are great climbers and they are all light.
 

Rider123

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Cheers RapDaddyo,

Not sure I could even come close to a Cat1 Rider, let alone a TdF rider. 4.0kg/watt FTP is just average.

I was taking a look at the times recorded for a local hill in my area. My best time last year up the ~7km @ 4.8% ave. gradient hill was about 17.5 minutes. Comparing this with other riders on hillclimbr.com, my estimated ftp was about (252 W ~ 4.2 kg/watt), which sounds about right seeing how my FTP is about 240W.

The guys in Cat1/2 climbed it in 15 minutes, and they held about 5 kg/watt.
That can't be right surely?? 2.5 minutes difference for about 50W.
That seems 'almost' achieveable!
 

RapDaddyo

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Originally Posted by Rider123 .

Cheers RapDaddyo,

Not sure I could even come close to a Cat1 Rider, let alone a TdF rider. 4.0kg/watt FTP is just average.

I was taking a look at the times recorded for a local hill in my area. My best time last year up the ~7km @ 4.8% ave. gradient hill was about 17.5 minutes. Comparing this with other riders on hillclimbr.com, my estimated ftp was about (252 W ~ 4.2 kg/watt), which sounds about right seeing how my FTP is about 240W.

The guys in Cat1/2 climbed it in 15 minutes, and they held about 5 kg/watt.
That can't be right surely?? 2.5 minutes difference for about 50W.
That seems 'almost' achieveable!
At this point, you really have no idea what you can reach with time and sound training and perhaps some coaching. Training for endurance power is cumulative, so you need a few years of training to reach your limit. I'm not predicting you can get to 5 w/kg, I am saying you don't know at this point what your limit is. As to the time differences, it's not surprising at all. Remember that in climbing, you get almost a 1:1 percentage increase in speed for an increase in power. 250-300W is a 20% increase in power. An increase in speed to climb the hill in 15mins vs 17.5mins is 14%. That's about right for a 4.8% gradient. You would get a larger time difference for a steeper hill (e.g., 7-8% gradient).
 

Rider123

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Originally Posted by RapDaddyo .

At this point, you really have no idea what you can reach with time and sound training and perhaps some coaching. Training for endurance power is cumulative, so you need a few years of training to reach your limit. I'm not predicting you can get to 5 w/kg, I am saying you don't know at this point what your limit is. As to the time differences, it's not surprising at all. Remember that in climbing, you get almost a 1:1 percentage increase in speed for an increase in power. 250-300W is a 20% increase in power. An increase in speed to climb the hill in 15mins vs 17.5mins is 14%. That's about right for a 4.8% gradient. You would get a larger time difference for a steeper hill (e.g., 7-8% gradient).
Thanks for the encouragement, RapDaddyo. I think I will start and stick to my plan of L4/SST trainer rides during the week and a long group ride during the weekend and see how I progress in a few months' time. I'll post again if/when I do reach 275W.

Today, I did my first group ride with a powermeter. I was just wondering whether I should try and stick to the L4 zone when I am out riding with them. Obviously I know it's not possible all the time due to drafting and down-hills, but for some of the longer climbs, should I stick to my L4 zone to try, thereby increasing my weekly time spent in L4 (without disrupting the tempo of the group), or should I just ride without looking at my pm, and end up doing numerous L5/L6 'intervals' at the expense of time spend in L4?

I'm at the stage where I am purely trying to increase FTP. My races don't start for another 4-5 months.
 

RapDaddyo

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Originally Posted by Rider123 .

Today, I did my first group ride with a powermeter. I was just wondering whether I should try and stick to the L4 zone when I am out riding with them. Obviously I know it's not possible all the time due to drafting and down-hills, but for some of the longer climbs, should I stick to my L4 zone to try, thereby increasing my weekly time spent in L4 (without disrupting the tempo of the group), or should I just ride without looking at my pm, and end up doing numerous L5/L6 'intervals' at the expense of time spend in L4?

I'm at the stage where I am purely trying to increase FTP. My races don't start for another 4-5 months.
It's very difficult to get constant power L4s on a group ride. Most groups take offense when a guy goes to the front for 10+ mins, so it's normally more politically correct paceline etiquette to stay on front for no more than about 5 mins. In these situations, I go at L5 pace when I'm on front, knowing that I have plenty of time to recover after I move off the front. Depending on how frequently you can get to the front, you can get near L4 power based on NP because the L5 efforts on front have a higher weighting in the weighted average computation of NP. The other thing you can try is to ride at a stagger when you are back in the peleton. Instead of riding immediately behind the rider in front, set yourself off a couple of feet to either side (i.e., intentionally out of the draft). That will bump up your power when you're not on front. Obviously, you want to pick your spots for this where you can do this safely (e.g., not on narrow 2-lane roads).
 

Rider123

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Originally Posted by RapDaddyo .

It's very difficult to get constant power L4s on a group ride. Most groups take offense when a guy goes to the front for 10+ mins, so it's normally more politically correct paceline etiquette to stay on front for no more than about 5 mins. In these situations, I go at L5 pace when I'm on front, knowing that I have plenty of time to recover after I move off the front. Depending on how frequently you can get to the front, you can get near L4 power based on NP because the L5 efforts on front have a higher weighting in the weighted average computation of NP. The other thing you can try is to ride at a stagger when you are back in the peleton. Instead of riding immediately behind the rider in front, set yourself off a couple of feet to either side (i.e., intentionally out of the draft). That will bump up your power when you're not on front. Obviously, you want to pick your spots for this where you can do this safely (e.g., not on narrow 2-lane roads).
I imagine most groups would take offense if someone sat at the front for 10+ mins. However, luckily for me, I ride with a triathlon group and the abilities, age of riders vary dramatically even in the 'advanced' group. For example, we have people who can climb a longish hill at 20 minutes and others that climb at 25 minutes.

Thus, we generally try to stick together on the flats (although even there, the group can get fragmented), and pretty much as soon as the road tilts up, the group splinters. More so cause of people jumping out of the pack and gunning it as opposed to any strong tempo set at the front. No one takes offense to people doing this (rather, more like the opposite) ,as we have re-group points where we wait or sometimes we turn around and ride back to the slowest rider.

After riding with a pm, I've realised that most people who jump out of the pack, fade away quickly after the initial burst. So today, I sat at the front for most of the climbs and instead of latching onto anything that went past, I would lift the tempo ever so slightly (still in the L4 zone) and reel them in. Works out to be a good training session, although there aren't too many climbs >10mins.

Just wondering whether this new approach of not jumping onto riders (riding extended periods at L4 and some times at L5), would be better than 'surfing the zones' so-to-speak, especially considering that I will already be focusing mainly on SST/L4 intervals on the trainer during the weekdays?
 

RapDaddyo

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Originally Posted by Rider123 . Just wondering whether this new approach of not jumping onto riders (riding extended periods at L4 and some times at L5), would be better than 'surfing the zones' so-to-speak, especially considering that I will already be focusing mainly on SST/L4 intervals on the trainer during the weekdays?
Yes, if your training goal is to increase your aerobic power (i.e., FTP). But, for racing you will want to eventually also put some quality time into L5s and L6s because you will be forced to go with the surges when they happen. The anaerobic repeats will gradually deplete the smaller of your two anaerobic "tanks" and eventually you get dropped unless you have a large enough anaerobic capacity. Think of racing as being somewhat like an Indy-type car race. You need a large enough gas tank to get to the finish line, but you also need enough turbo boost pushes to handle the accelerations.