Am I pushing hard enough outside?

250 FTWP, 80kg. Most of the time when I cycle outside I’m by myself and I just settle in for an easy ride.

This weekend I went out with a mate of mine for a 90km ride. He’s stronger than me so I made a real effort to try and pace sustainably but at the end of it I did wonder if I could have gone harder?

The ride was 87km over 3.5 hours with an NP of 189. The terrain was rolling for a total of 1200m of climbing with 3 climbs accounting for around half the elevation.

The climbs went as follows:

  • 4%, 3.45km, 12:00, 221 NP
  • 7%, 1.86km, 08:30, 244 NP
  • 5%, 2.81km, 11:20, 202 NP

Training wise, I’ve been doing a lot of sweet spot (recently doing 3x20 @ 90%) and VO2 max progressions.

Looking at the effort overall and especially up the hills I’m wondering if I short-changed myself and could have gone a big harder? I’m not looking to kill myself on a friendly ride out. However, my legs had mostly recovered by the next day and I do have a sportive coming up soon that’s of a similar distance and profile and I’m now wondering how to pace it.

I guess only you can really tell from a physiological stand point as we don’t have any lactate data etc to go off to understand what state of, or lack thereof, of homeostasis you were in on the ride. Perceived exertion depends on a whole range of things too - weather, mental state, fatigue, sleep, diet etc. it is a little difficult to say given what you have written.

The only thing I will say, as one possibility based on limited knowledge of your capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, is that perhaps the last climb (depending on fatigue and also your ability to push harder at that stage) you could have perhaps gone a little higher. 202w was about 80% FTP and given your previews two climbs, you could have perhaps aimed for around 88-94% FTP so 220-235w.

The second climb was solid. 98% FTP (threshold) for 8:30. Perhaps this could be an area that you focus on alongside SS? Throw in a few sub FTP / just above FTP intervals. Over/unders around your FTP at around the 7-8min mark and then slowly extend that out. Just a suggestion.

Great ride and it looks like you had a lot of fun with your mate and are looking to improve. Solid!