Critique My Training plan - Two big Gran Fondos (Not racing)

Hello all,
I was wondering if you would take a look at my training plan based on my goals. I am not a racer. So my A and B “races” are Gran fondos. Also, currently I am a really low FTP athelete having taken off time off the bike. Currently only at 2.11w/kg. Off my peak last year at 2.8 w/kg.

Since I started on TR in 2015, every year, I would do the plan in the winter and then stop the rest of the year doing club rides and Gran fondos. Predictably and due to lack of structured training, my threshold will go down as the year progressed. This year, I have resolved to keep doing TR all year (mostly SS and Endurance with Vo2 max sprinkled in.

B “race”: Tour of the Tour of the Scioto River Valley. May 19th and 20th. Very flat. only 2-3k of climbing each day. Basically 105 miles each day on Saturday and Sunday. I normally do about 6-8 century gran fondos each year. However, I have never done 105 miles back to back on two days. I am super beat after a century ride and usually need 3-4 days off the bike to recover.

A “race”: Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. Sept 29th. 107 miles with 11k of climbing. I am HORRIBLE at climbing. This Gran Fondo has timed KOM segments with prizes. Needless to say, I will not be on the podium but still I want to go as fast as possible. I am a flat lander from Chicago and Columbus OH. I tried this Fondo back in 2016 and failed miserably oblivious to the amount of work I need to put in. I am really nervous about this one.

Plan: SSB Mid Vol 1 (currently in week 3) >> SSB Mid Vol 2 >> Sustained Build (either low or Mid). This would end 1 week prior to my B Race. I will rest from Monday - Friday. Is this enough of a Taper?

For specialty, I will add either the Low vol part of either Climbing or the Century plan. This will end by the end of July or the Beginning of Aug. I will keep doing SS with some more wrkouts from the century plan to keep sharp.

P.S. I am 5-8 and 185 (yeah, I know really big). I am following a radical change in the way I eat and aiming to get down to 155 by the end of June.

I hope to get to at least 3.2 w/kg by August.

Pls critique my plan.

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You have an appropriate base and build strategy but I would stick to the century speciality plan.

If you can drop 13kg and raise your ftp by around 50w you will hit your 3.2w/kg goal. That’s over 7ish months if you want to peak in August. 2kg weight loss a month should be doable.

Good luck, the best advice will be to stay consistent.

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My thoughts are see how you do on your B event and then tailor your remaining training to your weakness. If you had no trouble doing the centuries overall but the hills really hurt, then do a the climbing plan. If the climbing wasn’t so bad but your endurance was lacking then do the century plan. And then in the weeks between the plan end and the A event keep sharp with some of the opposite plans workouts.

As for the B event and taper, I think a week is fine, however if this were me I would probably repeat that last week in that “off” week. The exception being if the weather was really nice then I would some short rides to keep the legs moving and a short but intense ride the day before to get the body ready for the demands of the event.

The Climbing Road Race plan is tailored for athletes who will be dealing with dynamic attacks, breakaways and other types of supra-threshold efforts.

For “Gran-Fondo” climbing, where you get to ride your own race and pace however you see fit, then the Century plan will better equip you for the climbs :+1:

In general, the Century Specialty plan will be the best fit for your needs.

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Thanks Bryce. I guess you’ve never seen me ride a grand fondo. :rofl: :wink:

All kidding aside. It’s been a while since I looked at the plans but I thought the Climbing and Century plans were mostly targeting the same systems and the Climbing just had supra-threshold efforts sprinkled in. I didn’t realize the Climbing was actually tailored to be more specific.

It’s designed for a climbing road race. Rather than the sustained efforts you are more likely to be doing.

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With 17 weeks between your events, you have just enough time to take a recovery week, then repeat the Build > Speciality phases. I agree with Sus. PB and Century. But perhaps choose the LV versions, and do these during the week to get the structured training in, and add your club rides on the weekends. 2 lots of Sus PB over the season should do wonders for your long climbing efforts.

For your B event, perhaps try to do a couple weekends of say, 60 mile rides on both Sat and Sun to get used to doing longer rides back-to-back and riding fatigued (and a recovery day scheduled for the Monday).

I will share a little of my experience a few years ago I did 3x 100+ Miles Fondo Days _ I was doing unstructured training at the time but did back to back days of 50+ miles to try to build up the strength / recovery necessary for doing the back to back days. So if I was giving you some advice I would suggest you do some back to back rides in the plan, get your nutrition on track and make sure you fuel your rides and recovery. Good Luck

This is why I love this community. Thank you so much for taking valuable time out of your day and responding. I have learned a lot. :slight_smile:
@Bryce Thank you for the feedback. The only reason I was looking at climbing road race because of the so many anaerobic and VO2 max workouts. My “A Race” will have lots of 8-12% climbs where I will need to go way above my threshold. With a Century plan, it does not have that much of workouts that stress the body. I think I need to get comfortable by riding way above my threshold. Thoughts?

@mcalista and @GrahamH Good idea. Towards the end of my plan, I will skip a couple of the weekend workouts and do back to back 70-mile rides. Or perhaps do the workouts and ride 3 more hours outside on consecutive days.

Thank you @willball12 @fastk9dad, @GrahamH

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With 107 miles and 11k of climbing, you should be looking to keep it below threshold pretty much the whole way. Over that distance, time above threshold is going to kill the legs long before the finish line.

I’d strongly suggest looking at your gearing to enable you to keep a reasonable cadence at lower power levels while climbing those grades, and also including some low cadence drills in some of your workouts. The latest generation of rear derailleurs can handle 32-34t cassettes (and unofficially, even more), while something like a Wolftooth roadlink will allow even lower gears.

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thanks @mcalista. Understood. I recently upgraded to a 11-32 cassette when I installed etap on my bike.

My “A Race” will have lots of 8-12% climbs where I will need to go way above my threshold.

With a race of that duration, you really will not want to be pushing above threshold very often, if ever. As Mcalista mentioned, I would strongly consider upgrading your gearing on your bike to allow you to slowly slog up those steep climbs in order to maintain a sub-threshold effort level.

It sounds like you’ve technically tapped out the limits of your rear derailleur (the WolflLink only works on Shimano Rear Derailleurs :pensive: ), but do you have a compact gearing in the front? This could help further lower your gearing for those tough climbs.

If upgrading your gearing is not an option, I would lean more towards training your ability to ride at a low cadence rather than training your ability to go above your threshold. For an event like yours, it really will benefit you to have a “slow and steady” approach to pacing.

Let me know if you have any more questions!

I understand. Thanks, @Bryce. I do have compact gearing up front.

Stopping this thread. Thanks all.

Hi Bryce,
Any chance you could give some details on this please? Ive got a century ride in sept which is all im really aiming for apart from training. Ive maxed my gears but im quite heavy (95kg) so the two big hills are going to be a slog. Ive seen some good gains in FTP over recent months so im just getting more base in between now and then as I think thats where im lacking, but if theres anything I can do to improve low cadence climbing within thay id be keen to hear!

I need to make a dedicated thread to low cadence work, but here are some of the existing discussions with various suggestions.

Thanks Chad, Ill take a look. Much appreciated.

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Thanks Chad!

These links should answer your question @jamieborg. If you have any remaining questions after you check those resources out, feel free to ask :slight_smile:

Thanks Bryce, much appreciated!

I did your “A” ride in 2017 and am planning to do it again this year. We should meet up to at least say hi!

My W/kg is ~3 and like you I hope to get it to 3.2ish by the event. Last weekend I did an event that is a great proxy for the alpine loop – look here - https://www.strava.com/activities/2323738137 - though it had steeper climbs, longer descents, and more gravel (50/50 vs. alpine loops 80/20).

My takeaways:

  1. Definitely get at least a 34-34 low gear, if not even easier. The multiple 30-90 minute steady climbs are much easier by keeping an 80+ cadence. And for the steepest sections (Fultz Gap) it will also come in handy.
  2. 3-3.2 W/kg with good endurance and pacing should allow you to finish in time to get the bell!
  3. While counter-intuitive, I saw big gains this spring completing MV Short Power Build. There will be lots of rollers in between long climbs, and you will want to hang with groups throughout. I had done SS work for so long I had no ability to go hard and recover at a high output, and repeat. I am going to start more sustained power now, but will still work in short power.
  4. Workouts like North pack and similar I found to be really helpful - where you spend an hour + at SS/threshold with shorter breaks at endurance/tempo levels (vs. going down to full recoveries).
  5. I am finding this year that I don’t necessarily need to do SUPER long rides as part of the training. In 2017 I was doing near weekly 70-100 mile rides the summer leading up to it and I think it actually stunted my progress. Some of it was confidence - I hadn’t ridden that long before, so I was freaked out / didn’t know how my body would handle it. This year I plan on fewer super long, spaced further out, and will focus on quality indoor work, and more like 3-4 hour rides 1x week to work on nutrition, bike position, mental fatigue, endurance etc.
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@llmonty Thank you for taking the time this response. It was super helpful. I too was thinking that instead of the Century plan recommended here, I may do the climbing plan or the Short build plan to buil up my tolerance for sharp supra threshold efforts.
I don’t have a problem doig long rides but I do have issues with repeatedly taking my anaerobic engine (or lack thereof lol).
I live in Columbus, OH. So unable to meet you :slight_smile: I plan on driving or flying in for the ride.