Choosing a Build Phase - Aspirational? Or just Practical?

Hey, all. I’m in the recovery week of Sweet Spot Base Phase 2, so I’ll be starting a Build phase, next week. I’ve been going back-and-forth on which one to pick. I don’t think my circumstances are particularly unique, so I’m hoping that this will be easy to solve (or at least worthy of discussion).

So, despite being the self-proclaimed Worst Cat 5 Crit Racer in Connecticut, I still have a hankering to get better at them. For whatever reason, an urban wasteland like Hartford, CT still seems to have a really strong criterium population, and even the Tuesday Night Practice Crits have serious power. Last year, the most I was able to do was hold onto the pack for a single lap before I got dropped.

My goals for this year are very modest – just to hang with the pack. I think that means developing raw power – not w/kg, not surges, but just FTP.

On the other hand, you have my Wednesday / Saturday club rides. I’m (surprise!) the weakest rider in the A- group, when it comes to hills. I always get dropped and have to hustle on the downhill to catch up. Part of the reason is that the power I have to put out on the hill climbs in order to stay with the group puts me into anaerobic for too long; after a few big hills, I’m burned out and I’m lagging way behind. What this means is that I need to be able to do sustained climbs without burning out.

There may be some overlap in the two goals: the crit where I hung with the pack for a lap had me going 285W for 90 seconds, and big climbs probably hit the same intensity, with the same need to rapidly recover afterwards.

If I was being practical, I’d say I should go for a General Build plan, and hope that there’s enough overlap … but if I wasn’t afraid of being crushed with disappointment, at the end of this season, I would say that I wanted to get better at crits, more, and go with the Short Power build. I could easily see myself getting dropped in my races, though, getting incredibly discouraged, and wishing I had gone for the General Build instead.

Any advice that you guys can give would be incredibly appreciated. Thank you, in advance.

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I’d go with General Build. There’s plenty of anaerobic work in that plan and from the sounds of it a looking for a general fitness improvement is going to be better for you long term.

If you complete build with no issues and you’re gaining fitness you could always do a crit specialty plan to focus on short power.

Good luck! I know there’s a lot of strong riders in CT/NY.

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I was thinking of writing a similar post. On the last recovery week of SSB2. Prior years I have done general and sustained. This year I was thinking of doing short power build, supplemented with longer weekend rides. Same thing as you - short punchy hills and then no/quick recoveries are the bread and butter of where I live. However, my 2-3 “A” events this year are all sustained climbs - where I generally feel pretty good doing long SS intervals. No crits in my future. @ 3w/K it isn’t much fun.

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group rides here are with guys having ftp of 300-400+, my personal best is 280W. It is possible to hang with them when fitness is up, right now my ftp is 233.

My plan with TR is to work on increasing base power (ftp) fitness level, but more importantly increase repeatability of vo2max power. I can have ftp of 250 and still hang with A group when my vo2 fitness is higher.

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Curious about this statement. Is it because, like me, you just don’t have the power to stay with the pack?

Probably a mix of lack of absolute power (200w FTP at 69kg), efficiency (e.g. cornering), and ability to hang up the 1 punchy climb on the usual course, while averaging the +25 MPH speeds.

And truly, while I am a little curious about crits, I generally prefer long endurance events with lots of climbing in the mountains an hour or so away from where I live.

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3W/kg on a flat crit is actually a lot of fun, although I too prefer climbing in the mountains because of the incredible scenery and feeling of accomplishment.

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Since you’re in CT, I recommend you check out youtube videos of sprinterdellacasa (pretty sure that’s how it’s spelled), he is a crit racer there in CT and one time race promoter, so you may be able to pick his brain in person. He’s famously low FTP but has a great sprint and smart racer who made it up to cat 2 (he’s downgraded himself to cat 3).

As for build, I think I’d agree to work on general and get better in a lot of scenarios, and then maybe a crit specialty if you’re really wanting to focus.

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