2019 Road Racing Season Review

Highlights

  • 3rd in elite road race state championships
  • 6th in GC in P123 stage race
  • 2nd in P123 road race
  • 4th in P123 road race

Lowlights

  • Collapsed lung during first A race of the year
  • FTP relatively static throughout training and the season
  • Flat tire in final road race of the season saw me lose the front group before the wheel car got me sorted

Lessons Learned

  • Mid-week structure is better than group rides for my fitness
  • Not tapering for B and C races (and properly identifying B and C races) allows for better season long progression
  • Racing with tired legs gives me the freedom to fail and this leads to better race results
  • Mid-season breaks are helpful and do not cost significant fitness

Things to figure out for next year

  • How to work past this multi-year FTP plateau - am I at my limit or is there something else I can try?
  • Picking out A races and figuring out training time-frames to support them

Plans and process

Started my base work in September and wrapped up SSB HV and General Build HV with nearly 100% plan compliance. Didn’t see any significant FTP gains as I started with a ramp test assessment of 359 and progressed to 362 over the course of these plans. Didn’t see any further gains during Rolling Road Race HV which I also completed with near 100% compliance.

Overall failed to complete the intervals in six workouts across all three plans and missed zero due to scheduling or illness.

Frustrating to have plateaued my FTP during this build to my initial A race. I need to consider something different for next season to see if I can break through the plateau. I have previously (three years ago) been able to push my FTP up to the mid 370’s but either age or lack of training variance have seen me get stuck in the 360s the last couple of seasons.

Race season

Started off with a physical failure as my right lung collapsed during the TT of my first A race (13-Feb). Took a couple of weeks off and eventually restarted a build plan three weeks later. Was back racing a bit over a month later (24-Mar) with no expectations, just testing my fitness as I progressed through build.

Continued to work through the build and started picking up some results as I moved into April and May.

Unlike prior seasons I avoided mid-week group rides and maintained intensity on race weeks. A typical race week during this build/recovery phase would be: Tuesday Eclipse, Wednesday Mokelumne +1, Thursday Clouds Rest +3, Friday Petit, Saturday Race, Sunday Baxter

I definitely missed the comradery of the group rides but the biggest change was the lack of any sort of taper for these lower priority races. This gave me two things

  1. Consistent progression even while racing most weekends
  2. The freedom to race without expectations.

When I raced with heavy fatigue I was more willing to go all in on moves and not worry about getting dropped if they failed. This saw me making the decisive breakaway in a lot of road races and actually getting some of my best results in races where I was heavily fatigued (got a 2nd place at a race 48 hours after doing Mount Goode and a 3rd 48 hours after Carpathian Peak)

I included a two week ‘break’ in the middle of my season where I dramatically decreased my volume and let myself have an easy rest period. I came back from this relatively quickly and with minimal loss of fitness. Between this break and my medically necessary break in February I definitely benefited from the downtime and plan to recreate this next season

I ended up doing around 25 total races across the entire season, fairly evenly spaced across March-July.

Overall it was a successful season as I got my cat 1 upgrade and finished at the pointy end of lots of P123 road races. That said, I have frustration over not having won anything despite having several opportunities. In a few cases I was too focused on getting upgrade points and played conservatively to minimize losses as opposed to maximizing my chances of winning. In others I was simply out performed by stronger riders. I also have to look at my training in more depth to see if I can move past my current FTP plateau.

18 Likes

Great stuff and congrats on the Cat 1 upgrade!

Nice report. Do you forgo group rides on the weekend as well?

@ERM during the season I usually have given them up. I raced 19 days (out of 40 weekend days) between March 24th and August 4th so on the weekends I’m not racing I rarely have time to get out for the long group rides. Time efficiency is king for me on these off weekends as housework and other items pile from the race weekends

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Great job getting your upgrade to cat one, now you can forget about the upgrade points game and simply race to maximize byour chance at winning!

Iirc you do well in TTs (not surprising given your current FTP), but I wonder if your FTP plateau could be related to limited VO2max work. HV SSB doesn’t have any VO2 work, and looking at your example race week workouts it’s one SS and one anerobic VO2 workout (racing can be really hit or miss from a training perspective depending on how it unfolds). So I wonder if there simply isn’t enough high intensity work to further boost your FTP.

Take it for what it’s worth but my guess is that you probably need to increase your power at VO2max in order to “make room” for further FTP gains.

An interesting point/possibility. I’ll note that I’ve been really focused on my 2-5 minute power this year as I find that is the most helpful for the races I’ve been doing and how I’ve been trying to race them (puncheur/breakaway rider in road races)

Looking back through my calendar since the beginning of may, and excluding races, I’ve done: 14 VO2 workouts and 13 threshold workouts

If you include races it gets a bit stickier since those have a pretty decent amount of VO2 work in them - which is why I tend to train that less during the season. Looking at a few random races below

I think you do have a point though - my off season training has been more focused on general growth than specific shorter duration stuff.

Do ask a specific question - how many VO2 workouts/week would you suggest? I’ve been averaging 1 outside of races, and if you count that time then 1.5-2. Are you suggesting 2 or 3 a week? I’m not sure how my body would like that from a recovery standpoint

One of the things I’ve considered is

As many as you can handle while still being able to recover from them. My suggestion is to look into block periodization.

I recently did a VO2max block that was pretty effective. I broke through my previous 5’ power PR (that had been there for several years) by 20w mid-way through block, and then added another 11w on top of that after testing it later after the rest week. So 31w in about 3-4 weeks of work.

It was a really hard block though.

Would you mind sharing specifics?

Out of respect for the person I’m working with, I can’t really.

I’ll explain more via DM.

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One of the hard things about counting VO2max time in non-structured training (races/group rides) is that the algorithm is counting all the time you spend at VO2max power, but as we all know riding in a group can result in many short duration spikes in power. This won’t elicit the same adaptations since you may not be spending enough time to cause very hard breathing.

As for specifics on how to improve it, this is something I’ve been looking into myself since I also think my FTP has been “capped” by my previous lack of VO2 work. @chad has a post about this concept of doing a focused block on VO2 work to help address it for those of us that need to specifically address it.

In about a month I’m considering doing a 3 week block to get going again for the fall events here in AZ after 1 week vacation and it’ll have 2 dedicated VO2 days and a group ride/race simulation each week, I think Chad’s recommendation in the post is targeted at a shorter block of 1 or 2 weeks with 3 or more VO2 sessions per week. I’ve just started building this out in my Calendar with Tuesday being short anaerobic efforts stacked together and Thursday being 3-5min efforts.

Impressive work but I don’t think it is sustainable to do so much TR. I think good to include group rides just for fun.

That may be true for you but it isn’t true for everyone. We all get our motivation and enjoyment from different things

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Ok. Good luck!

To borrow a phrase my friend’s kid says… don’t yuck my yum