Critique My Training plan - Two big Gran Fondos (Not racing)

It’s designed for a climbing road race. Rather than the sustained efforts you are more likely to be doing.

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With 17 weeks between your events, you have just enough time to take a recovery week, then repeat the Build > Speciality phases. I agree with Sus. PB and Century. But perhaps choose the LV versions, and do these during the week to get the structured training in, and add your club rides on the weekends. 2 lots of Sus PB over the season should do wonders for your long climbing efforts.

For your B event, perhaps try to do a couple weekends of say, 60 mile rides on both Sat and Sun to get used to doing longer rides back-to-back and riding fatigued (and a recovery day scheduled for the Monday).

I will share a little of my experience a few years ago I did 3x 100+ Miles Fondo Days _ I was doing unstructured training at the time but did back to back days of 50+ miles to try to build up the strength / recovery necessary for doing the back to back days. So if I was giving you some advice I would suggest you do some back to back rides in the plan, get your nutrition on track and make sure you fuel your rides and recovery. Good Luck

This is why I love this community. Thank you so much for taking valuable time out of your day and responding. I have learned a lot. :slight_smile:
@Bryce Thank you for the feedback. The only reason I was looking at climbing road race because of the so many anaerobic and VO2 max workouts. My “A Race” will have lots of 8-12% climbs where I will need to go way above my threshold. With a Century plan, it does not have that much of workouts that stress the body. I think I need to get comfortable by riding way above my threshold. Thoughts?

@mcalista and @GrahamH Good idea. Towards the end of my plan, I will skip a couple of the weekend workouts and do back to back 70-mile rides. Or perhaps do the workouts and ride 3 more hours outside on consecutive days.

Thank you @willball12 @fastk9dad, @GrahamH

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With 107 miles and 11k of climbing, you should be looking to keep it below threshold pretty much the whole way. Over that distance, time above threshold is going to kill the legs long before the finish line.

I’d strongly suggest looking at your gearing to enable you to keep a reasonable cadence at lower power levels while climbing those grades, and also including some low cadence drills in some of your workouts. The latest generation of rear derailleurs can handle 32-34t cassettes (and unofficially, even more), while something like a Wolftooth roadlink will allow even lower gears.

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thanks @mcalista. Understood. I recently upgraded to a 11-32 cassette when I installed etap on my bike.

My “A Race” will have lots of 8-12% climbs where I will need to go way above my threshold.

With a race of that duration, you really will not want to be pushing above threshold very often, if ever. As Mcalista mentioned, I would strongly consider upgrading your gearing on your bike to allow you to slowly slog up those steep climbs in order to maintain a sub-threshold effort level.

It sounds like you’ve technically tapped out the limits of your rear derailleur (the WolflLink only works on Shimano Rear Derailleurs :pensive: ), but do you have a compact gearing in the front? This could help further lower your gearing for those tough climbs.

If upgrading your gearing is not an option, I would lean more towards training your ability to ride at a low cadence rather than training your ability to go above your threshold. For an event like yours, it really will benefit you to have a “slow and steady” approach to pacing.

Let me know if you have any more questions!

I understand. Thanks, @Bryce. I do have compact gearing up front.

Stopping this thread. Thanks all.

Hi Bryce,
Any chance you could give some details on this please? Ive got a century ride in sept which is all im really aiming for apart from training. Ive maxed my gears but im quite heavy (95kg) so the two big hills are going to be a slog. Ive seen some good gains in FTP over recent months so im just getting more base in between now and then as I think thats where im lacking, but if theres anything I can do to improve low cadence climbing within thay id be keen to hear!

I need to make a dedicated thread to low cadence work, but here are some of the existing discussions with various suggestions.

Thanks Chad, Ill take a look. Much appreciated.

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Thanks Chad!

These links should answer your question @jamieborg. If you have any remaining questions after you check those resources out, feel free to ask :slight_smile:

Thanks Bryce, much appreciated!

I did your “A” ride in 2017 and am planning to do it again this year. We should meet up to at least say hi!

My W/kg is ~3 and like you I hope to get it to 3.2ish by the event. Last weekend I did an event that is a great proxy for the alpine loop – look here - https://www.strava.com/activities/2323738137 - though it had steeper climbs, longer descents, and more gravel (50/50 vs. alpine loops 80/20).

My takeaways:

  1. Definitely get at least a 34-34 low gear, if not even easier. The multiple 30-90 minute steady climbs are much easier by keeping an 80+ cadence. And for the steepest sections (Fultz Gap) it will also come in handy.
  2. 3-3.2 W/kg with good endurance and pacing should allow you to finish in time to get the bell!
  3. While counter-intuitive, I saw big gains this spring completing MV Short Power Build. There will be lots of rollers in between long climbs, and you will want to hang with groups throughout. I had done SS work for so long I had no ability to go hard and recover at a high output, and repeat. I am going to start more sustained power now, but will still work in short power.
  4. Workouts like North pack and similar I found to be really helpful - where you spend an hour + at SS/threshold with shorter breaks at endurance/tempo levels (vs. going down to full recoveries).
  5. I am finding this year that I don’t necessarily need to do SUPER long rides as part of the training. In 2017 I was doing near weekly 70-100 mile rides the summer leading up to it and I think it actually stunted my progress. Some of it was confidence - I hadn’t ridden that long before, so I was freaked out / didn’t know how my body would handle it. This year I plan on fewer super long, spaced further out, and will focus on quality indoor work, and more like 3-4 hour rides 1x week to work on nutrition, bike position, mental fatigue, endurance etc.
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@llmonty Thank you for taking the time this response. It was super helpful. I too was thinking that instead of the Century plan recommended here, I may do the climbing plan or the Short build plan to buil up my tolerance for sharp supra threshold efforts.
I don’t have a problem doig long rides but I do have issues with repeatedly taking my anaerobic engine (or lack thereof lol).
I live in Columbus, OH. So unable to meet you :slight_smile: I plan on driving or flying in for the ride.

I did Alpine Loop last year and it’s very tough. My takeaways parallel what @llmonty stated. I was in the same w/kg range that you’re shooting for and was able to make the bell. FWIW here’s the link to my Alpine Loop file.

In terms of training plan SSB, Sustained Power Build, and Century will work. If I were to do it again, I would consider swapping the century plan for the Cross Country Marathon plan during the specialty phase. As you mentioned the climbs, while sustained, are not a steady grade but have varied pitches. While Having the ability to go into the red to cover the 9-12% pitches and settle back into 7-8% I think will help. Because let’s face it while climbing slow and steady, hovering under Threshold, is sage advice the reality is that we all probably either try and keep the same pace or stick with the strong riders in your group.

I noticed you said Specialty phase for you will end by late-July/early-August. If I’m following you correctly that would leave something like 6-8 weeks until the Alpine Loop in late-Sept. To fill that gap I would do one of two things: a) repeat half of the build plan and then follow with specialty or b) complete specialty as planned and then repeat half of it.

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@Andy_Bogdanski Thanks Andy for the advice. I will keep that in mind. Looked at your file. The 499 TSS scares me lol. Good job. Are you coming back this year?

You’ll do fine. Don’t let the TSS scare you! It’s just a number :crazy_face: I’d like to come back but I don’t think I’ll make it this year. Our second child arrived earlier this Spring, so now it’s a struggle to just find time to ride. Maybe next year. Good luck on your fondos!

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So did you do it?! Looked like a hot/windy day. If you did it, I hope it went great!

I unfortunately suffered a heart ailment this summer, so this was out for me this year. Better now, but took me far off track.

I was unable to go due to some late personal commitments. Perhaps next year. :slight_smile: