Beginner Cyclist Diary - Is it possible - Strong AND fast - all rounder

At 38, 5’11 and 87kg, and time through various sports (none even close to endurance) im taking a step back to consider my longevity and way forward.

Might be a bit of a long one but bear with me.

A little background might help. Early 30s i took up ice hockey for a few years, and then found olympic weightlifting. Always gyming in the back ground, until weightlifting, which IS gym, sort of :slight_smile:
3-4 years of this saw me get stronger but not massively, i was always fast and technically good than i was strong (back squat 160 @ 98kg). When lock down hit a good friend loaned me a bike and shoes and i bought a direct drive turbo. With gyms closed and no home weights i NEEDED an exercise fix. Sufferfest and the turbo did me well until gyms reopened for a short period, then it was 20 min rides to the gym, weightlifting and then ride home. It worked well until the gyms shut again. I took the opportunity to buy my own lifting stuff at home. I couldnt rely on gyms to keep my training going.

So with a turbo, bike, squat rack and bar, and a number of broken patio slabs, i made another decision to start track sprinting instead. It seems to pair well with my weightlifting, more explosive attributes and love of going fast. I’ve been working it out on my own for about 8 months since that point, building up a track bike, learning rollers, track accreditation, a few open sessions etc.

And here we are today.

Recent times have got be questioning a few things. A friend is setting up a team to do road races and crits in the local league. It sounds interesting. Track time is hard to get, fairly young large family, 60 min drive each way, with petrol costs and track time costs mean most of my training is in the shed (which is fine as i escape the kids) but its hard to get the opportunity to play at the track. There is an outdoor track the same distance but they dont do sprint focus (it may change), but then theres stillt he time and drive challenges. My endurance is trash because of this but i am as strong as i have ever been (back squat 170kg and deadlift 210kg @ 88kg)

So, i am considering doing more endurance based work so i can play with the road guys which is more accessible to me. Its no fun being dropped at the first bend and riding alone .But i dont want to lose my strength or ability to sprint as there will be times i can get to the track and still want to compete at the masters (Kilo TT). Cycling is also an opportunity to get the kids out on bikes and into exercise which has benefited (saved) my life in more ways that i can outline here.

From a longevity perspective. I always feel fitter, better in myself after a good ride (60-90 mins on the rollers / sweetspot / vo2 max) and it “feels” like a healthier approach to life (from a purely physiological perspective - i have an addictive personality so i may overdo it lol). The benefits of hearth and lung health come to mind.

So the question.
Is it possible to stay this strong or almost as, get faster and not lose my sprint. My current FTP is 221 (best i’ve had is 240 but i was 10 kg heavier), whereas my sprint is 1450w. I dont mind losing a little size/weight if i can keep the sprint. That FTP is with zero endurance training in the past year and no background in endurance sports to fall back on. I have always been highly anaerobic.

Currently on week 2 SSB LV with 2x lifting a week. I do add in some 60-90 min Z2 if i have the time but given ive done zero endurance work of over a year AND have very little endurance history im being careful on the volume front for now.

I feel 3w/kg i achievable as i can probably get down to 80kg without too much effort but it would be amazing to hit 3.5-4wkg.

How much is possible and where are the sacrifices likely to come from. I watch all disciplines of cycling and part of the reason for this considered approach is to be able to enjoy everything on the bike should i so chose, rather than hyper specializing. (other than keeping a sprint lol, i like to go fast haha).

Forgot to add, all training is done on rollers, mostly roadbike for now but may use the track bike for some workouts. I also have a Lemond with fixed gear adapter that i may use for vo2 or higher power stuff where the rollers cant meet the resistance required.

Thanks for the help in advance, great bunch on here and look forward to the food for thought.



I don’t know where you are based, but here in Ireland, in my experience most races come down to power rather than w/kg, particularly at lower grades.

It’s not just endurance, it’s positioning/ being comfortable in a bunch, so I would have at the very least getting out on some group rides and get comfortable riding close. My club ran a “race skills” programme, which covered getting comfortable with bumping off people, touching wheels, even drinking and pedalling and looking ahead while going hard etc.


I would argue you could.

I lifted a lot in my 20’s and had similar lift numbers to you, I stopped for 5-6 years (kids/house etc) and got into cycling seriously in 20/21 and have been intermittently weightlifting over the last 2-3 years. My lifts are weak now due, to inconsistency but I’m building up to respectable numbers for a roadie.

You don’t ask for my life story but just adding colour! My sprint isn’t as big as yours pmax ~1300w/5s 1200w, I don’t really spend much time training it, and I put that innate strength down to my early weight lifting ‘career’.

I’m 77-80kg and usually hover around 4w/kg (over ~40minutes) in season. Nothing ground breaking, hilly courses are a no go, but if I can hang on in a crit/flat RR I can contend the sprint.

My advice would be build your aerobic base (that is, focus on your weaknesses) via lots of <LT2 work during the winter (assuming you want to perform in the spring/summer). I’m a similar age and found I can add lots of 65-75% ‘Z2’ volume without flaming out.

You sound like you know what you’re doing with weights but be prepared to scale back to 1x/wk when you move to build/peak (cycling) phases if cycling is your priority.

How many hours a week riding are you doing?

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From what i have been reading this sounds spot on. I will certainly be getting out with the group once they get going in warmer weather.

BUT, and big BUT, i need to be a little quicker so i’ll be working on that over winter.

I’m in Coventry, UK btw.

Thanks. And the “life story” always helps put things into context so thanks for that too.

I have accepted that at some point the lifting will need to scale back but i will wait for something to tell me that first (probably the bike suffering).

TBH my best sprints when i first got the bike and my trainer were 1350 ish so it hasnt actually improved much and i would put it more down to improved pedalling and leg speed that anything else.

Right now i am on SSB LV1 so 3.5 hrs, and maybe 1 or two z2 rides. I could easily (mentally) and with fairly easily (physically) ride every day, with my two rest days filled with 60-90 min z2 but i dont know if thats a good idea or not. These longer rides people speak of are just not possible for me, 120 mins is a push and unlikely most of the time,

Im in a habit of going all in on things but im really trying to restrain myself (if i should be) and ensuring enough rest lol.

I’d love a 300w ftp and i would say its a bit of a goal. I had a goal earlier this year for a 170 backsquat (3 reds) and went after it. It was something i wanted to do for years but with the technical focus of weightlifting i could never dedicate enough energy to it.
Now i have it, maybe its time to chase the 300w lol.

If it were me, I would add as much 65-75% in as you can find time for. It’s not sexy, its not intervals, but you said it yourself that aerobic is your weakness. You obviously know how to eat and sleep or you wouldn’t be deadlifting 200kg+; I think a lot of the hyperbole around recovery is trickle down from pro’s who are drilling 20-30hrs a week. Most of us are time constrained, not recovery constrained.

I am the same situation as you ride duration-wise, work/family etc. so I ride ~5AM-6:30AM and then at lunch either lift or a 45min Z2. I’m going after it this season, working this way I can get in 10-12hrs a week (ramped up from usual 7-8hrs).

If you can get a ~3hour (z2) session once a week or every other that really can help bring you along.

My only word of caution is too much intensity this early, stay on the LV plan and just add some Low and High Z2. Even extending those sessions from 60 to 90 minutes, or throwing in some 45-60min sessions when you can, over the course of a year that’s a huge amount of volume. Volume + Consistency.

Which side of Cov? I ask because I’m sure you know that there are some great clubs in and around your area. If you’re the south side of Cov, you could (time/travel/expense) do far worse than pop along to Kenilworth Wheelers. They have a wealth of cycling knowledge in that club, coupled with some very handy racers. I’m saying this because (as was mentioned previously) getting used to riding with others is a key part of racing.

Take what you want from this but, I would put the sprint numbers to one side. That is of course unless you’re putting out 1300+ after a solid 3+ hour endurance ride or a taxing TR Threshold session.

I say this because sprinting is obviously all about what you have at the end. TR produced a video with Pete Morris (Clif Bar Race Team and past member of the TR Team) which focused on sprint technique. Sure it can be found on this forum. It’s on YouTube for sure. That delves into sprint technique. What you might stand to lose in numbers, you might reap back in technique. Just a thought.

Thats good to know. I dont actually mind z2. I’ve only really done it on rollers (as opposed to outside) but i just stick netflix on on switch up the cadence every 10 mins for a change. Trying to balance whilst watching something is engaging enough lol. I will certainly try to add in more Z2. I do pop an extra 10 mins z2 as warm up and another 10-15 at the end where possible. Maybe a jiggle of my training days will free up some time for 2 hrs (to start).

I did feel a little wrecked on Tuesday after 8 days straight training (SSB, lifting and a few Z2 rides) but i put it down to being a little under the weather plus i had just done my first 3 days on SSB lv1. Everyone in the house has been ill. A SS session saw my HR super high which was an experience. I’m feeling much better after a day off but it was certainly a note to self about listening for when your body tells you to rest. With lifting its a much different experience ploughing through a session when you are a little fatigued.

I’ve seen a lot of people progress well on LV so happy to stick there and add in z2 time when and where. I hate missing workouts so MV would drive me crazy if i was stuck for time.

Yep with kids in the house there is usually some kind of plague circulating. Getting up at 4:45, when it’s 2C outside, and you’re nursing some new variant of whatever that’s going around at the school is certainly character building! Usually feel fine after 10mins of Z2 work though! Does wonders :slight_smile:

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I’ll have a look. TBH i have not looked around much at clubs as i am a little anxious. The times i have been out for rides its been pretty hit and miss with other cyclists. Some are friendly, say hi extra, the rest seem to ignore the nod or hello and i have no idea why. Maybe my bike isnt fancy enough or i have the wrong coloured socks haha.

I will have a look around though. Again, the biggest challenge is time but im sure i can find some.

I have seen the video and understand the points. I was more eluding to keeping something reselbling a sprint in order to still do some track events. The idea is to keep options open. But i do appreciate the whole jack of all trades predicament too. Why oh why cant we have everything hahahaha

I’m 74kg with about 5.2w/kg 20min power and a personal best of 1500w for 5 second. Yeah, you absolutely can improve endurance without sacrificing sprint power. I lift once a week to maintain it and ride about 8-10hpw on average. I came from a hockey and then T/F sprinting background but started on the bike around 4.25 w/kg 20min power.

With your ftp where it is and your endurance background being so limited, you will get the most bang for your buck riding 1.5-2hr endurance rides 3-4 times per week with 1 sprint workouts and 1 long ride of 2-3hr. Anything more complicated is completely unnecessary, but do it if you feel like it or if it’s fun for you.

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i have never lifted weights in my whole life and i am still good at sprinting with my 53 years i reach 1400 watts/5s without special training, my FTP is only around 200W, my weight is around 70kg and i am 1,84 meters tall


Nice numbers. Ice Hockey right? I always found that so much fun by with a bad ankle from a motorbike accident in my early 20s it was never going to last long.

In your view to you think Sweetspot base is unnecessary then? and simple riding mostly z2 is enough.

I just stuck on Base LV and got to it. No plan set out as i dont have anything to plan for. Was just going to try SSB 1 and 2 and see what happens. I had considered using SSB to gain a little more endurance quickly and then ride more Z2 after. 144w for 90 mins is not exactly challenging and i always feel like i should be working harder.

As you can probably gather, im a little lost with endurance stuff. So much conflicting views on how to do it. Especially when time is limited

So i am worrying over very little then. Just get to work on improving my aerobic system :slight_smile:

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Nah, it’s not you. That’s a different topic all of its own :wink:

So, this might not work for you but, if you do fancy cycling with a group, let me know. We’re a small team of racers in Stratford-upon-Avon. We do a Saturday Bash that lasts for an hour and it is race pace. It’s a drop ride so it might not be what you’re looking for at this point in time.

When the better weather roles around, we try to organise bigger sessions with a more relaxed vibe.

We don’t care what you ride or what you wear. If you’re fast, you’re fast. Whatever direction you choose to head in, I wish you all the best :+1:

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I think you need time in the saddle, period. If intervals make it less boring and you more likely to ride then go for it. But no I don’t think that’ll matter at this point. Your ftp is so low the it will rise with the simplest stimulus. I would just ride z2 for 3 months and do a step test once a month. When you start to plateau, look into something more complex

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Might be worth a try when im up to speed. I have done a ride like that once with a club that i know a few chaps in. Fortunately its a short ish loop so as you get dropped from the group you join up with others and keep circulating for the hour. Thanks for the offer and if i remember, or get up to speed, or both i’ll give you a shout.

Also, good to know its not me haha (its a shame as my track bikes nice :))

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Randomers on the road is different from actually going with a group. People cycle alone for all kinds of reasons.

Again, here in Ireland, you’ll get three spins before having to make a decision on joining (or not). If there’s multiple groups, go conservative on the pace you think you can hold. I was in my mid-30’s before I cycled in a group/ joined a club. A lot more have only started late than you’d think!

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Cheers. I think a mix of z2 AND what ever SSB throws at me will work for engagement. TBH if i know something will work, then i can put the work in too but i told myself i have to make sure im enjoying it too. A bit of both will probably work best.

That being said, i hear a lot of talk about longer rides providing something that shorter rides cant, even if they are SS rides. Where would you put that threshold, for the lack of a better word. Given most races i am likely to do will be under an hour order even shorter track efforts, is more than 2hrs necessary? either now or in future.

Thanks for the encouraging words.

That being said, i just remembered i am part of the Halesowen club but that was mostly to use the track and the odd track session as i was starting out. They’re a little too far to join the road group.