Another take on indoor vs outdoor - holding back outdoors

Just thought I’d share something I’ve been thinking about, maybe there are others who experience the same thing. I was on a club training ride yesterday and there are a plethora of things I’d like to work on, like being able to stick on wheels (for some reason, maybe it’s my wheels, I have to really accelerate to close gaps, I have a base model Allez with the stock wheel on front and a velocity a23 rim with powertap rear).

While I had good power on the ride (257w NP/0.86 IF over 1:38), I got dropped on the first big climb, I did about threshold. For some reason I feel like I really hold back on the road vs the trainer, it’s like the trainer is a safe place to totally blow up compared to the road, so I don’t seem to push myself to sustain over 100%. Had I done 315w instead of around 300 I might have had better luck with sticking with the main group, but I’ve felt for awhile that I have a mental block against going over threshold when I’m doing outdoor rides. Obviously the answer is to get out there and try to push the power more (I need to do a weekly hill loop outdoors that’s pretty safe and close to home), but was curious if anyone else has a similar mental block, feel free to come and commiserate!

I’m the opposite. My advise is never ride by numbers when trying to stay with a spirited group ride/race. If it takes xxx watts then go xxx watts for as long as it takes or until you can’t do xxx watts. Race oriented group rides and races surge quite a bit so you have to accept going well into VO2max range or more for a bit to stay on wheels. Being able to recover form those efforts at threshold and hit it again. It’s like a really evil over under workout. Embrace the pain.


I’m actually not looking at the numbers, oddly enough, which I agree isn’t a good way to ride. It’s like I inherently know where threshold is and I’m not digging in deep to make myself really uncomfortable. I think I’ve been that way for a long time, so it’s just one of those things I’d really like to work on smashing.

1 Like

Gotcha. It’s hard to try and give advise here for obvious reasons. I wish I could ride with you to see how the gaps form that you need to close. It could be part user error by not being geared right or looking ahead/anticipating the group, position, equipment, and fitness or most likely all the above.

I often think that this is one of the key skills we all have to learn and then keep training. If you can isolate the little ‘tells’ before the ride ahead puts in a big effort, you’re going to make your workload easier. Of course seasoned riders can draw on years of experience and I’m sure they do it without even thinking.

As Pete has often mentioned in the Podcast, once that initial second or two has past, you’ve got to do so much more work just to catch back onto that wheel.

1 Like

I’m always holding back but for a different reason.

If i commute, and trailer my kids, and what not… i need to make sure i can still ride the next day. So i always have to think about the next workout vs the next commute.

On the trainer, i know what to expect…on the bike outside, i never know what headwinds (or tailwinds) i’m gonna get

I am also opposite, i destroy myself on outside rides and usually ruined for the rest of the week :confused: which hurts my training and gets everything out of whack. So you can be thankful this doesn’t happen to you.

also if you really crush it, what is the worst that can happen? you get dropped and “limp” back to the car, you will still make it back just not at top speed.

Opposite here, on flat roads I’m constantly having to ride out of the line or sit up to add resistance. Both stock (cheap) Bontrager alloy wheels and even more so with the Enve 5.6 disc wheels.

Love it when someone drops off and I have to close a gap seated and well into anaerobic power. The best part is estimating closing distance and modulating power to arrive without braking.


Only reason I mention my wheels as (potential) culprits was because there were a few times when I was already ramping up power/acceleration in anticipation and the wheel I was following was accelerating away more quickly. Of course that’s likely down to me and my own pack riding skills, but it was making me think my wheels weren’t being super responsive and sluggish to respond. I have no idea what the specialized axis sport wheels weigh, but it sort of made me buy into the notion that maybe wheels can make a difference (I’m down to 70kg, not sure how much more I can take off myself without getting unhealthy! lol). I might try a rental wheelset just to see if I would notice any difference.

But regardless, I don’t ride with groups enough and it’s something I’d love to do more so I can improve on stuff besides my fitness. And of course I need to try and dig deeper when I’m outdoors and push myself to the max like I would inside.

Unless you accidentally filled your tubes/tires with water instead of air, it’s probably not your wheels.


Yeah, agreed with @iracebikes. It’s probably not your wheels. If you’re worried about blowing up and being trash the rest of the ride, yeah, been there. But, until you get to that point of blowing up and recovering, you won’t know what your boundary is. I have this rolling hilly road/loop I love to do at threshold once a week or so. Basically over/unders hammer fest and I do a few of them in this workout. No structure, just go. I feel when I’m back to doing those with decent overall power and the laps stay the same, that’s when I’m pretty much in ‘race shape’
Like @landis said, over/unders are the butter. No one likes to do them, but it’s what will make you thrive on those type of climbs.

A big mental issue in the hard group ride/race context is getting comfortable with going hard when you don’t know when the hard is going to end and just having faith that it will work out and the pack will slow enough to save you. Guys that are good at this game have the mindset that they are always all in and they will either stick or blow up but they will never quit. I struggle with that at times. I will find myself in a hard spot or in a race thinking, “I can only hold this for 3 minutes and i know we have an hour left so what’s the point? I’m already doomed”

On the trainer, the mental game, while certainly not easy, is easier than the unknown end thing for most people. The situation is almost the opposite from race type scenario from a mental standpoint. Intervals are tough and they hurt and you have to be manly to do them but it is a different kind of tough. Almost all intervals are actually set up so you CAN make it to the end (if only barely) if you suck it up BUT you know exactly when the end is so its a bit easier to do that sucking up. You always have a gauge on what pain level is coming next and you know exactly to the second when it will end. On the road, its the not knowing that gets in your head.


As we discussed before, the unknown of other’s efforts is a real mental challenge for sure. I try doing at least some intervals on the trainer “blind” to get some of that feeling of questioning when the pain will reduce.


The factor that precedes getting dropped is the breathing starts breaking down. When you feel the pain and elevated breathing try and relax the upper body but keeping form,and take forced breaths in a rythym as runners do. By the time the pace subsides, and it will , everyone will be taking big breaths and easing the legs, unless you’re MVDP.

1 Like

how long is the climb in duration?