Maintaining and/or Building FTP during the winter?



awilki01

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I've touched on this before in some of my other posts, but I wanted to create a post dedicated to this topic. I'm coming up on my last race of the season - back to back TTs on a weekend. I've worked hard to get my FTP where it is today. If I go by what I read in many books, it's telling me to put the bike away for a few weeks, go jog, swim, etc. And, then I pick back up and start doing endurance zone 2 miles.

Dave mentioned doing a couple days of threshold intervals during the winter. I really like this idea. I would like to maintain and even increase FTP over the winter so I can more effectively compete in TTs next year.

How do you play with the numbers game of TSS during the winter? I've read others talk about early peaking. I'm really not 100% sure what that means and how it affects performance post-peak.

Any advice you can give a newb on how to do this over the winter months would be greatly appreciated.
 

Felt_Rider

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Originally Posted by awilki01 .

then I pick back up and start doing endurance zone 2 miles.

Dave mentioned doing a couple days of threshold intervals during the winter. I really like this idea. I would like to maintain and even increase FTP over the winter so I can more effectively compete in TTs next year.

How do you play with the numbers game of TSS during the winter? I've read others talk about early peaking. I'm really not 100% sure what that means and how it affects performance post-peak.

Any advice you can give a newb on how to do this over the winter months would be greatly appreciated.
I cannot imagine how a regular dose of SST through the winter is going to hurt and it yields much better than just doing zone 2 miles, by which I imagine would have to be a whole lot of endurance miles because 50 or so miles at L2 is not going to yield much of anything. It is probably better than sitting on the couch, but L3/SST in the metabolic adaptation chart is pretty good for what it yields and most can train at that level in consecutive days.

I have been a witness on this forum and could name a few members that keep the pursuit of L3/SST/L4 through the winter. I am one of those that keep the same pursuit year round, but since I do not race I will not include myself in the discussion. Those that I have seen post their training through the winter months have seemingly done well in their season.

For me personally, concerning TSS, I have decided recently that I do not want my CTL to go below 70 through the winter. Therefore, I have a plan/schedule that has timing/frequency and intensity considered in order to get the amount of TSS, which then will hopefully keep my CTL from dipping below 70 through the winter. Actually my hope is to keep my CTL higher through the winter, but with shorter days and colder weather coming in I am pretty sure my miles on the weekend are going to get shorter and it will be a bit tougher to keep my CTL up, but I am going to give it a try. In order for me to make up for the lowered miles (if it is a harsh winter here in the southeast) I will need to keep my intensity a touch higher indoors and outdoors to get more TSS in order to keep my CTL up where I would like. It sure would be nice to not have to play catch up in the spring and have a jump on how much CTL I was able to put in my bank through the winter.

Of course that is my plan and I am not advising that for others. That is my TSS number game /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif


Why not just try it this winter and see?
 

daveryanwyoming

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Originally Posted by awilki01 ..... If I go by what I read in many books, it's telling me to put the bike away for a few weeks, go jog, swim, etc. And, then I pick back up and start doing endurance zone 2 miles....
Whether you need time away from the bike or how much time you need away from the bike depends a lot on how much hard training and racing you've been doing and for how long. If you just finished a very busy racing season stretching back to early spring with the typical program of regular weekend races and hard training possibly including regular weeknight training races then yes some downtime is a very good idea. Some of that is for mental reasons and some physiological but if you've been going hard for many months a bit of time away from the bike and structured training is a good idea.

But if you've only raced a handful of times this season or started your structured training later in the year then you might just give yourself a week or two of easier unstructured riding or just take a bit of a mental refresher before getting back into regular training patterns again. In that case I might not hang up the bike completely but I wouldn't do any structured intervals or sustained hard riding for a few weeks and wouldn't stress if life is busy and interrupts training as the point is to give yourself a break from normal training routines, freshen up mentally and get to the point where you can get psyched up for a winter of training prior to next season.

When you do get back to regular training it does make sense to do a couple to three weeks where you focus on getting back into a training routine in terms of 'on' days and rest days but there's no need to rush right back into high end work. Ride to get the legs loose for a bit, ride Tempo or even harder when you're having fun and feel like it but I generally don't start the interval timer or force any hard efforts for the first couple of weeks after a post season training break. Once you get back into a regular weekly training pattern and accustomed to training days and rest days for a few weeks you can start introducing your SST/L4 work again and yeah, I'm a big believer of year round SST/L4 work. Sure you want to manage things so you don't peak on training hours, intensity or weekly TSS/CTL in December or January before burning out on the routine but if you manage the big plan and your training loads so you continue to build with a slow and steady pattern there can be a lot of benefit to doing SST/Threshold work all winter.

A lot of the books out there start with the assumption that you'll use a LSD (Long Slow Distance) style plan for winter base building. If you have the time and lifestyle to train 15 to 20+ hours a week then this is probably the way you should go as it clearly works if you can do enough of it and not just on the weekends but on a day in, day out basis. If you can train those kind of hours then yes, keep a lid on the intensity as going both long and hard for too long is asking for trouble. But if you're like a lot of amateur riders who are lucky to train 8 to 12 hours or less during the winter months then riding a fair amount of those more limited hours at SST/L4 makes a lot of sense. You still need to keep an eye on overall workload and recovery and not all days will typically be up in L4 or even SST but if you have less time to train then it pays to ride with a bit more intensity.


Bottom line:

- Try to train long AND hard and bad things tend to happen
- Train short AND easy and nothing tends to happen

Try not to end up in either of these extremes.

-Dave
 

awilki01

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First off, I want to thank you both for responding. I really appreciate it!

@Felt, what was your CTL before you started your winter training? You indicated it didn't want to drop below 70. Mine is currently at 62, but I just started using a power meter and PMC in July where everything started at 0.

@Dave, I haven't raced much at all. I've only done two time trials this year. I have back to back ITT and TTT on November 5th. So, all in all, I haven't done a lot of racing, and therefore, I probably don't need a mental break. I may just move right on into the winter training regimen and throw some group rides in there to change it up a bit a couple times a week. And, I agree with you. Most of those books are probably written for people that can put in massive amounts of LSD miles. Like yourself, I have family, work, and other personal commitments. I'm lucky to get 10 hours/week. I try to shoot for 8 - 12/week. I've done up to 15 before, but that was a bit much trying to juggle everything else in life. The WAF (Wife Approval Factor) must remain greater than 1.0 /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

Just thinking to myself, I might throw something like this together over the Winter:

Monday - upper body weights/core strength (no bike)
Tuesday - L3/SST ride/Threshold
Wednesday - L2/L3/SST ride - mostly L2/L3
Thursday - L3/SST - will move into threshold later in the winter
Friday - upper body weights/core strength (no bike)
Saturday - group ride
Sunday - group ride - longer recovery ride

What should my CTL line look like over the winter? Flat, rising, or falling?

Thanks again!
 

daveryanwyoming

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Originally Posted by awilki01 .
...What should my CTL line look like over the winter? Flat, rising, or falling?...
Rising!

One way to look at CTL is that it estimates the 'depth' of your training base. You should be building CTL during the winter (increasing the depth of your base) so that you can 'spend' CTL during the racing season for race day freshness.

The big goals of winter base training are to raise FTP and to raise CTL. Some folks also target specific identified weaknesses during their off season training but particularly if you're focused on time trials your big priorities should be increasing your sustainable power (a.k.a. FTP) and building your training base in terms of CTL. Some good discussion on the CTL aspects here: http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articles/cycling/what-is-the-performance-management-chart.aspx

If your CTL goes flat for extended periods you're risking training stagnation as your body has little reason to continue adapting if you're not periodically raising the bar. If your CTL starts to drop you're trading away fitness(as a result of backing off on your training) for freshness, that's great for race tapering but not really the goal of winter base training. Typical winter CTL building curves look like series of jagged ramps trending upwards for a few to many weeks at a time but then sagging a bit during life interruptions, holidays or some periodic easier weeks but then trending upwards again in similar patterns until racing begins and you start to spend that hard earned CTL.

FWIW, I'd include at least one if not two days a week where you directly target FTP with Threshold work or at least SST work in the 85-90% range of FTP in the form of 2x20, 3x20, 2x30, 1x60 or other similar sustained intervals.

-Dave
 

Felt_Rider

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Originally Posted by awilki01 .


@Felt, what was your CTL before you started your winter training? You indicated it didn't want to drop below 70. Mine is currently at 62, but I just started using a power meter and PMC in July where everything started at 0.
I let mine drop into the low 60's last winter. I can just say that I hope to keep at least 70's minimum as a goal. We never know what can pop up and cause a distraction. I had a bad illness two winters ago that had me off the bike for a month. Things like that can pop up, but even in the 60's for me was not too bad. I have had a few work deadlines pop up lately, but for the most part I have been able to train on a regular basis with more intention as outlined in Dave's post for intensity and duration.

Best wishes on your pursuit. I will be interested to see how things look for you going into 2012 spring training after a steady winter effort.
 

awilki01

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Thanks guys! Something else I need to focus on during the winter/spring is losing that last 30 - 35 pounds to get me down to 165 - 170. I've lost 40-45 so far, but I'm having a hard time dropping now. I just need to pay more attention to what I eat. I don't want to drop too much right now before my race in a few weeks. It may do more harm than good right now trying to lose weight.
 

swampy1970

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I wouldn't worry too much about very short term goals if you're new to the sport. Some folks who have been in the sport for a long time can seemingly work miracles with short term, very intense, training but I wouldn't change much of anything in your case.

Dropping weight is always a good thing unless you're already 7% or less bodyfat but from your last reply that isn't the case. Don't worry, most folk aint either. Continue working on losing weight during the run in to your next race.

If you need to lose lots of weight the err slightly on the side of not overdoing it and trying to increase your training load too much. Stress, ie not recovering between sessions, will likely stick the brakes on a weight loss plan at some point as well as leaving you constantly tired. At somepoint you'll need to figure out what you can or can't handle in terms of training volume and intensity but don't rush to find that point. Small, incremental gains...

Keep a training diary. If you have a powermeter or heart rate monitor that allows you to download data into a program use it to also keep track of how you feel and what changes you make. Not only is a great to just keep track of things but if you change something next year and training doesn't progress as planned it's great to have the notes from the prior year.

I don't have a whole bag o' time to spend training on the bike and during winter I split it between the training and the road. During the week when I train in the evenings, I'm in the garage doing 3x25's on Tuesday and Thursday. I'll start off ~90% FTP and increase it over the course of a few weeks. On the weekend I'll get in some 3+ hour rides mostly L3 and L2... but for fun there'll be some L4 and maybe even L5 chucked in for good measure depending on the duration and how I feel.

If you like just getting out on the bike then throw in a rest day ride but keep it just that - keep the majority of the ride easy but it's not a cardinal sin if you're out with friends and someone takes a flier for a sign ;)
 

Felt_Rider

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Originally Posted by swampy1970 .

I wouldn't worry too much about very short term goals if you're new to the sport. Some folks who have been in the sport for a long time can seemingly work miracles with short term, very intense, training but I wouldn't change much of anything in your case.

Funny that when I woke up this morning this thread was the first thing on my mind about a few things and Swampy seemed to hit those points and added a few more good points. The highlighted point above was one that I was thinking about in particular because not only does it impact you it is something that has impacted my progression. Fortunately I have been able to bring a lot of training experience from a different activity and I have a good understanding about my body and how it reacts to stress load, but cycling is fairly new to me as well. I have had to learn how much load to put on my body and over a period of a year I am getting a better feel. Kind of goes along with your initial question.

Last winter my CTL was in the 60's for a couple of reasons. One was the most obvious that my time training was reduced compared to summer months of longer and warmer days and the second was that my body simply was not coping with the intensity levels training indoors as much as I would have liked. Mentally I wanted to train hard, but my legs were not coping with it.

I primarily use a KK fluid trainer and though I have become more used it I still struggle on it compared to outside. Last winter my legs for a session of L4 on the KK trainer felt like a top of L5 effort on a 6% hill and I struggled to make it to the end of a 20 minute session. I had a local friend, a long time cyclist with many years of training that kept jumping on my case about not hitting the prescribed levels for a 2 x 20, but my legs just did not want to cooperate. That kind of stuff can make you very frustrated. So he and I stopped talking training. He did not seem to understand that I was doing the best that I could at the time and he knew that I was new to training like this. Skip ahead to this year and I am coping much better with keeping the prescribed intensities indoors on the trainer and rollers. I should be able, barring any distractions, to training at a higher level this winter and my hope is that the following year will be even better.

Amongst a lot of catchy phrases people use the one that I like the most is "train more so you can train more" and to me this statement implies an incremental process that takes time and for some of us it will take more time and for some like me a whole lot more time. No doubt reading books and researching is good to do, but it is our own experience that will begin to shape an individual path to progress. But on that individual path there will be some common elements that is science based like what it takes for metabolic adaptations and what Dave highlighted in his post are common elements.
 

An old Guy

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Originally Posted by awilki01 .

If I go by what I read in many books, it's telling me to put the bike away for a few weeks, go jog, swim, etc. And, then I pick back up and start doing endurance zone 2 miles.

Any advice you can give a newb on how to do this over the winter months would be greatly appreciated.
It is all about motivation. For some people it is difficult to stay motivated for the full year. For those people it is best to take the winter off.
 

dhk2

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OG, I don't think your answer (lack of motivation) applies to competitive athletes who need to peak for a season of racing, or one big event. Just doing the same thing year round may be fine for you, since you say you don't race or compete. If your goal is to ride 20,000 miles/year or more on solo rides at your own pace, sure, keep riding. But for elite racers, believe some kind of seasonal cycles are essential; their training is set up to enable peaking for a few months or key events, followed by a period of real rest and recovery.
 

An old Guy

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Originally Posted by dhk2 .

OG, I don't think your answer (lack of motivation) applies to competitive athletes who need to peak for a season of racing, or one big event. Just doing the same thing year round may be fine for you, since you say you don't race or compete. If your goal is to ride 20,000 miles/year or more on solo rides at your own pace, sure, keep riding. But for elite racers, believe some kind of seasonal cycles are essential; their training is set up to enable peaking for a few months or key events, followed by a period of real rest and recovery.
The OP wants to lose 35-45 pounds. He is not an elite racer.

The OP wants to keep working on increasing his FTP. It does not appear he is so tired that he needs and time off.

He has no need for any time off.

---

You seem to claim my training preferences are my goals. I don't think so. But my goals are a bit higher than racing for trinkets.

---

Today was an easy day for me. About 5 minutes slow over 100k. But I made a mistake: I rode with my 14-25. I should have been using my 16-30. It attracts less attention.

A couple young age group racers passed me at 57miles. They inquired about my Powertap. Seemed surprised that an old guy like me would have one.

I decided to follow them (about 180w) 1 mile to a 10% hill on this route. They were quickly out of the saddle, working hard. I rode on their wheel, sitting, taking it easy. Over the top I let them go.

But a couple miles later I caught them at a traffic light at the base of another 10% hill. Again they were quickly out of the saddle, working hard. This was a longer climb. I rode past them, sitting, taking it easy in a 50/20 (600w when I looked, but I usually hit 600+w on this climb when I do repeats). Over the top I eased up to the 180w they were doing on the flats. One of them was mad. He rode away at 250+w. The other fellow got 100yds on me and decided to not chase his friend. He waved when he turned off. I waved back.

I expect that my performance will add a bit to the legend that is me.
 

tonyzackery

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Raise FTP? Gotta stress that anaerobic system a bit. Gotta work in some L5 intervals - one session every couple weeks - into your plan. 'Pushing up' is not as effective as 'pulling up', IME. Using the 'push up' method is very effective for maintenance, however, and again IME. Was doing this last winter - lots of L2/3. Only small amounts of L4+ during the fast group ride on the weekend.

Couple winters ago I was employing four L4 (two sessions consisted of weekly indoor time trials) interval days and one L5 session every 14 days, and made an extremely effective 25w gain in my power at Vo2max and 5w gain in my Lactate Threshold (verified by lab test). YMMV.

Doing the indoor TT thing again this year. Also working in some jogging <25mi/week. Really interested in seeing the effects the running will have on sustainable power.

A.O.G. - That's an awesome tale! Regardless of other members, I don't really care that your anecdotes are unverifiable. Furthermore, PowerAgent screenshots or evidence of your exploits are unnecessary - you're legendary for more reasons than just your on-the-bike prowess.

edit: went through the lab reports, and actually that gain at LT was 10w, not 5w - 330w (@166bpm) to 340w (@164bpm). Improvements made after 4mos. of the above prescription. ymmv...
 

An old Guy

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Originally Posted by tonyzackery .

Raise FTP? Gotta stress that anaerobic system a bit. Gotta work in some L5 intervals - one session every couple weeks - into your plan. 'Pushing up' is not as effective as 'pulling up', IME. Using the 'push up' method is very effective for maintenance, however, and again IME. Was doing this last winter - lots of L2/3. Only small amounts of L4+ during the fast group ride on the weekend.

Couple winters ago I was employing four L4 (two sessions consisted of weekly indoor time trials) interval days and one L5 session every 14 days, and made an extremely effective 25w gain in my power at Vo2max and 5w gain in my Lactate Threshold (verified by lab test). YMMV.

Doing the indoor TT thing again this year. Also working in some jogging <25mi/week. Really interested in seeing the effects the running will have on sustainable power.

A.O.G. - That's an awesome tale! Regardless of other members, I don't really care that your anecdotes are unverifiable. Furthermore, PowerAgent screenshots or evidence of your exploits are unnecessary - you're legendary for more reasons than just your on-the-bike prowess. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
The fact that you are unable to verify my comments, does not make them unverifiable. I could verify them. I chose not to.

But I am pleased to see that you base your training on something other that just the words in some book.
 

lanierb

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I would just add that for me the main tradeoff wrt winter training is mental not physical. I.e. physically I could easily keep working pretty hard all winter long but without immediate goals I would eventually burnout mentally. So when I make the calculation as to whether to take October off, as a lot of people do, what I'm thinking is: can I mentally keep going all winter and then all next summer? The answer for me is that I can't go hard for all of that time . However, I don't really like taking time off so instead what I do is "ride for fun" over October and November and even December. I take away the structure, don't go hard, don't do intervals, but I do continue doing some fun group rides (once a week or so). All my rides are "for fun" during this period. Not sure where that's going to lead me this year, but I'd guess my CTL will fall back a bit, but probably not below 70 or so (just a guess). Then I'll start ramping up again in January.
 

dhk2

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OG, good points about the OP. But whether he's an elite racer or not, plenty of cyclists take a month or two off in early winter. A couple of the training books on my shelf even recommend it. A buddy of mine did last year, totally off the bike, and had a great spring season; PR on his early mountain-challenge century event. Periodization or macro-cycle based training does work for many.

Of course, we're all different, and not everyone will benefit from time off. Apparently you can handle huge mileage week-in and week-out, doing a long ride everyday of the year. I am a bit curious about your motivations. Why do you ride 100K a day by yourself, seriously? You must have some goal in mind that gives you tremendous motivation.....at least a lot more than I have.

Also, if you can beat up on young racers half your age, and "easily" dial up 600W in the process, why aren't you competing for real? Catching and beating strangers you think could be "racers" doesn't prove anything. Surely you've met racers in their prime that have kicked your butt, right? If not, suggest you find some faster guys to ride with maybe once a week; it's a great way to get faster if you've never done it.

And the reason people I know race isn't for the "trinkets" or the little prize money, but to put themselves out there in valid competitive events to find how they compare to others and have the results recorded. As you might imagine, just posting tales of personal exploits on this forum leaves a lot of room for doubt. Sounds like you could be doing very well in age-group events. I know a couple of guys in their 60's that have a lot of fun in the state and national Senior Olympic cycling TT and road race competition. The medals aren't worth much, and it costs a lot to travel around to the events, but it's a great opportunity for old guys to find out if they're really as good as they think they are.
 

swampy1970

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Originally Posted by An old Guy .


But a couple miles later I caught them at a traffic light at the base of another 10% hill. Again they were quickly out of the saddle, working hard. This was a longer climb. I rode past them, sitting, taking it easy in a 50/20 (600w when I looked, but I usually hit 600+w on this climb when I do repeats). Over the top I eased up to the 180w they were doing on the flats. One of them was mad. He rode away at 250+w. The other fellow got 100yds on me and decided to not chase his friend. He waved when he turned off. I waved back.
I remember when I was a kid, I thought Robert Millar was an ace climber.

When I stopped racing but still watched the Tour, Pantani provided the awesome.

Lance and Contador seemingly have nothing on you.

One day I hope to be able to take it easy and spin 50x20 at ~80ish rpm up a 10% hill, just smelling the flowers at 600watts. With climbing prowess like that one should be able to dispatch Alpe D'Huez in about 25 minutes.

With feats of such awe inspiring power, Old Guy's house is soon to be a place of pilgrimage more holy than the Hajj and his bike shed will be seen as the Kaaba.
 

An old Guy

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Originally Posted by dhk2 .

Why do you ride 100K a day by yourself, seriously? You must have some goal in mind that gives you tremendous motivation.....at least a lot more than I have.

Also, if you can beat up on young racers half your age, and "easily" dial up 600W in the process, why aren't you competing for real? Catching and beating strangers you think could be "racers" doesn't prove anything. Surely you've met racers in their prime that have kicked your butt, right? If not, suggest you find some faster guys to ride with maybe once a week; it's a great way to get faster if you've never done it.
After being hit by a car and seriously damaged my wife has not yet comes to terms with allowing me to ride on the roads. Where I am allowed to ride is not conducive to high intensity for very long so I make it up with longer distance.

I am much less motivated now than when I was younger. When I was younger, I was on the road by 5:15am. Rain or shine. At home or on vacation. Everything else was planned around my riding. Now, I schedule my day before I go out. I try to fit my ride in. Tomorrow looks like a day off. Dentist, haircut, bank, some fall chores. Might even do some maintenance on my bike.

I don't beat up on anyone. I was not racing. I was simply climbing the hill at the pace I usually climb it at. One of the other guys thought we were racing and rode away mad. I thought I made that clear.

When I was younger, I was content to help others do well in their races. I think I have told stories where "racers have kicked my butt." They were not even in their prime.

I used to ride with the local fast guys, but the roads and riders have changed over the years. The local fast guys don't understand how to ride in traffic. (6 local fast guys/gals have died on the roads on group rides in recent years.)

I think that covers all your points.
 

JibberJim

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So 600watts up a 10% hill in 50x20 at 80rpm means the old guy must weigh around 57kg (since the speed is known from the cadence and gearing) and up a hill that is longer than 1 mile (the shorter hill was 1mile) would take 5+ minutes, to produce 600watts for 5 minutes at 57kg gives you a 5 minute power of 10.5 w/kg Or utterly off the charts for any professional cyclist, let alone for an old guy.

"An old guy" you really should get your power meter checked out, it's not been reporting good numbers at all.
 

swampy1970

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Originally Posted by JibberJim .

So 600watts up a 10% hill in 50x20 at 80rpm means the old guy must weigh around 57kg (since the speed is known from the cadence and gearing) and up a hill that is longer than 1 mile (the shorter hill was 1mile) would take 5+ minutes, to produce 600watts for 5 minutes at 57kg gives you a 5 minute power of 10.5 w/kg Or utterly off the charts for any professional cyclist, let alone for an old guy.

"An old guy" you really should get your power meter checked out, it's not been reporting good numbers at all.
Can you imagine treking off to Wales and storming up the Bwlch y Groes in the big ring? I'm guessing that the odd section of 25% might even have Old Guy starting to sweat a little... but you never know.

I can't do 600 watts for 1 minute. Close... but not quite.