Century or 40K TT?

Hello, everyone! A word of advice, please:

I started riding in 2019, and I can now ride 50 miles at 17 mph. I’d now like to increase my speed, and I don’t race… I’m just trying to get better! I’m thinking of setting myself the following goals:

  1. 40 miles @ 20 mph
  2. 50 miles @ 20 mph
  3. 40 miles @ 22 mph
  4. 50 miles @ 22 mph

Clearly (to my untrained eye, no pun intended) my primary need is to become stronger. I’ve just finished a Base block and had a very successful event. I’m now going to do a Build block then a Specialty block.

Which Specialty would be best for me: 40K TT or Century?

Thanks!

Probably neither? If you are looking to get stronger & increase stamina without an event in place, you could cycle through Base -> Build -> Base -> Build, etc. You can use Plan Builder without a goal event to see how TR recommends laying it out. The ratio of Base to Build will vary given your level of experience.

Speciality is more about honing than building, but if you really want to do one, I’d start with Century. It’s similar to Sustained Power Build.

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I agree with what @jgthomas59 has said. For build I’d focus on Sustained Power.

One thing to keep in mind is that to go from 17mph average to 22mph average requires almost double power according to bikecalculator.com, assuming same position on the bike. So you may want to set more intermediate goals. The 22mph may be very far off depending on terrain and your position on the bike. 1mph increments may be what you need to keep you motivated, because to go from 20mph to 21mph requires an increase of around 23W.

Not saying it’s impossible, but make sure your goals are realistic. Not being able to hit em could lower your motivation.

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I think tying your goal to MPH isn’t the best way to go about this. You could go out right now and ride with a tailwind and hit 22 mph for 100 miles.

If you look at your goals as an event, your event is a 50 mile time trial, and you want to presumably do that route “better” than in previous attempts, and better can fall into a couple categories, but using power is probably the best metric, because there are so many other factors in play like wind speed, mechanical issues, stop lights, nature breaks, etc… For goal setting I think it’s more important to pick something objective like average or normalized power, rather than a subjective metric like average speed.

For your training, I agree that sustained power and then probably century plan if you want to do a specialty. I like the idea of doing the century specialty cause it has a lot of sweet spot and some threshold work, so it’s like base all over again, but without those awful over/unders :slight_smile:

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Thank you for caring. :+1:t2:

I set high targets and then I’m happy to see my progress as I gradually get closer to them over a period of months (I’ve only had two goals for my first 10 months of riding). But I hadn’t realized just how big a jump I was contemplating, and you’re right: 22mph is a bridge too far. I’ll need 50% more power (from 195W FTP to roughly 290W) just to hit 20mph… and even that’s a very big goal.

Of course, those numbers assume that I’m still riding on the hoods at that point: I still lack the core strength to spend much time in the drops. Over time, as I’m able to get down in the drops for longer, the drag reduction will save me about 16% of power. So 20mph in the drops only requires ~23% more power than 17mph on the hoods.

I’ll gradually develop better posture, strength and endurance; so for now, 20mph seems to be a reasonable mid-term goal for me. So… after the Sustained Power Build block I’m about to start, I’ll do at least one more Base/Build set before moving to Specialty then. Should I do BOTH SSB1 and SSB2 in that block?

Yes, I would do both SSB1 and 2 for that block.
The Build block you’re starting now is pretty intense, so the first 2 easy weeks in SSB1 after that will probably feel very welcome. If you’re feeling really fresh you could chose to skip the first 2 weeks of SSB1, but I’d recommend to just enjoy those 2 easy weeks.

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That sounds like sage advice indeed.

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I think Century is the typical “I just want to be faster in general” plan.

You’re right in terms of training, but also seeing the speed increments is great because that matters for which group rides I can join (and survive). I tend to look at both power and speed as you suggest, and just derive happiness from improvement in any of them. :grin:

On the hoods, I’ll need an average power of 220W (290W FTP) to ride 50 miles @ 20 mph. In the drops, that’s average power of 180W (240W FTP). So I give myself a pat on the back for every 10W increase in average power on long rides, or every 10W in FTP, or every MPH on a long ride.

I find that lots of patting myself on the back for even silly-small gains leads to both quicker, greater improvement and much better quality of life. :grin: