The past weekend was my A-Race, the Ötztaler Radmarathon, a granfondo style event with 220km and 5.500 meters of elevation. My goal was to finish in less than 07.45h which I just managed to achieve, finishing at 7.44h.
Despite being very pleased, I feel I could have gone a lot faster, as I was over 25 mins up on my time schedule when entering the last climb, Timmelsjoch (1.700 meters elevation). As you can see in my ride file (https://www.trainerroad.com/career/elvis/rides/61650699--tztaler-radmarathon-7-44h-saisonziel-erreicht-hsgazellen-on-fire), I paced the first and third climb at about 280 watts with an FTP of approx. 320. The second climb (which is more like a false flat) I managed to stay in the pack and recover. I had followed my nutrition and hydration plan to the dot and took in approx. 100 grams of carbs per hour through gels and my home made energy drink (with the prescribed mix of glucose and fructose). My stomach was no issue, as I had already practiced the fueling strategy in previous events.
When entering the final climb I was feeling really strong and confident. Initially, I was able to hold my target power of 270 watts which I had planned to gradually drop over the climb to 250 and finally 230 in anticipation of fatigue and elevation. However, at one point, things started going south – fast! I could no longer hold any power and was not even able to push more than 170 watts at the end of the climb. I have never encountered that feeling before. I know what it feels like to bonk, but usually I can feel that coming. This time it was only initially a slow decrease, then it felt more like being hit on the back of the head with a bat. What could be the reason for this and how can I avoid it in the future? I tend to believe I overpaced on the other two climbs but feeling so strong at the bottom of the last climb just makes me want to believe it may have been something else.
Also, how could I adjust my training in order to not encounter this problem again? In the century and climbing road race specialty plans (yes, did both – the first for my peak in beginning of July and the second for 3 weeks previous to my A-race) I often added 1-2 hours of base work after the sweet spot and threshold intervals on the weekend. Would it make sense to possibly do the intervals after the time spent at base? This is more similar to the event’s requirements but could lead to a decrease in form and possibly inhibit workout quality.
first of all thanks for your response. The comparison over IF is quite interesting. I had not taken that into consideration and had mostly looked at absolute watts but the result should be identical. I feel it woul be more representative to compare the IF of the climbs 1, 3 and 4 only rather than the IF of the first two thirds vs last third.
Climb: IF of 0.89
Climb: IF of 0.72 (was more like relaxing the legs)
Climb: IF of 0.86
Climb: IF of 0.72
Hence in my view I clearly decreased in power. What is usually seen as a good time to be able to hold an IF of approx 0.85-0.90?
My question would be: what do YOU think was your limiter? How did it feel when you lost power? Was it just feeling empty, or was it pain in the legs?
Because you have quite a high FTP, you burn through a LOT of calories. 5600 for the event. And that means a lot of carbs burned, too. You were taking in 100g per hour, but how many did you take in the day before, and for breakfast? If I was doing 220km and 5500+m climbing, I’d be eating the mother of all breakfasts 3 hours before the event. I mean HUGE.
If you feel it was more muscular, then maybe you need to look at some longer tempo / sweetspot interval workouts. Perhaps some low cadence work in the off-season.
The Ötztaler Radmarathon is a brutal (but beautiful) race. Did it some years ago.
Not only does Timmelsjoch come late in the race, it’s also the longest and the climb with the highest altitude. Peaking at 2500 m you are experiencing lower levels of oxygen. I think I read once that above 1800 you need to take into account the reduced oxygen. This will probably vary as well, from rider to rider. Also, if I remember correctly (those last few hours are a bit of a blur…), the steepest sections are at the end of the climb.
@elvis you put me in the wayback machine. Took me a while to find this…I remembered the numbers but not the author! It was in the Burgomaster sprint training article.
“After [Sprint Interval Training], [Citrate Synthase] maximal activity increased by 38% (5.5 +/- 1.0 vs. 4.0 +/- 0.7 mmol.kg protein(-1).h(-1)) and resting muscle glycogen content increased by 26% (614 +/- 39 vs. 489 +/- 57 mmol/kg dry wt) (both P < 0.05).”
But the subjects were relatively untrained cyclists…definitely not at the level of training you might consider yourself. Still, that’s just 6 SIT sessions over the course of two weeks. Less than 10 minutes of work a week…not a big time committment if you just wanted to give it a whirl. On the other hand, we’re talking about 6 30 second wingate tests 3x/week.
If you are not familiar with the Burgomaster protocol, it’s super simple. 30 second wingate test, 4 minutes glass cranking, repeat 6x. 3 times per week.
@Brennus: interesting study, I will have a look at it. Sprinting and work above threshold is definitely not my strong point, hence could be a field of interest
@brendanhousler: I very much doubt is was the missing base would be the explanation. Only possibly a combination of the insity and duration. However, who runs a marathon to train for a marathon? Generally, if you look at my ride files I regularly ride above 4 hours and actually spent 14 days cycle touring Japan with almost 5-6 hours every day (i know it does not have the same intensity but more than enough base). Also, my cardiacic drift on a 4 hour ride is closer to 3% than the 5% which is mentioned by Friel as a good aerobic base…
Still thinking about the strong decrease in performance and eager to give it another shot in the upcoming season
You likely can’t increase your glycogen storage if you’re already carb loading regularly in your training and racing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6019055/ At best you are looking at ~500g of accessible glycogen but more in the 400g range so 1600-2000 calories max.
What you can do is increase your % utilization of fat at a given intensity. As others pointed out you were right on the edge of bonking. Pacing on FTP as the only metric if you’re not a long distance rider probably led to this issue.
You are absolutely right. The long base was my interpretation, not what you had written, sorry. However, i had done 4-5 hour rides with some sweet spot and threshold efforts. Also my B events were quite similar but not as long, e.g. 220km with 4000 meters climbing. Also with a long past at the end. My takeaway for the next year is to train harder and pace a bit more conservatively…
definitely sprinkle in some mid range vo2max (5m or so) efforts…you climbed a couple of those with an IF over 0.85, and I’m sure there’s some vo2max efforts in there. if you dont train them though, they can be debilitating. Good luck Elvis!
HI @Elvis, just found this thread :-). Super informative. BTW, 7.45 in the Otztaler, WOW! You are a top rider in the Gran fondo’s. For the people who does not know the Otztaler, it’s brutal! I don’t think any one who finish this ride will be fresh on that last climb :-). So I think it is normal that you hit the wall. I also did last year :-). And I finished it in 9h56 (hey, not even that bad for a non climber). But it was a tougher edition because of a major stone block on the road, the first climb was replaced by the Haiming climb (10km at 10.5%) and then the last 6k of the Kuhtai.
I also struggled on the Timmelsjoch (felt great all day but the lights did go out halfway that climb).
As you can see @brendanhousler, also 0.85 IF on the first climb but with that avg grade, almost impossible to go lower in power…
This year I go for the Marmotte for the 5th time. Try to improve my fueling strategy. And maybe do more longer tempo and sweetspot intervals? What is the best approach to be able to ride 5hours of climbing (assume does 5 hours are done in 4 climbs) at 0.80-0.85? Simulate this in training (flat) and progresse in time at 0.80-0.85?
hit some over unders to work the FTP, and then some longer tempo/SS/threshold. I’d work on the fatigue resistance by climbing as much as possible on the long weekend rides; it will make a big difference (anecdotal from personal experience of many 40,000 feet climbing weeks)
FUELING is key!! aim for 100-120g of carbs per hour! It will help massively with the watts, RPE, and recovery!