This video by Alex Dowsett was in my feed tonight and I thought what he had to say about pacing TTs was interesting; especially the bit about pedalling downhill.
I have to watch it, but I only pedal in order to maintain speed or where I can gain it.
I don’t ever coast
Depends on what I’m doing… But more than likely i try to keep power
Always pedaling even if it is only soft pedaling whether it be downhill, on the flats, in the group draft, etc…
The downhill coasting part starts around the 9:15 mark…
100% - if you’re holding threshold power at high speed on a downhill, you’re probably wasting energy. Although the exact calculation with wind resistance, acceleration, etc is complicated, you can roughly estimate using KE=1/2mv^2.
You’re better off soft pedaling or getting into a tighter tuck.
Exactly, I find it pretty obvious when its time to lay off the power, accelerating downhill and going to the next gear and the power needed to continue that acceleration is huge, it’s time to just coast or slow pedal.
It depends on the speed, if I’m alone or in a group (and where in the group and who else is in it), how technical the descent is, and what my aim of the ride is.
- The higher the speed, the more important are aerodynamics, which means its better to tuck.
- In a group - always pedal at the front, the rest of the group will be faster anyway as they’re drafting, and you don’t want them to run into you
- at the back, don’t pedal for the same reasons
- weight differences between riders play a big role
- if you want a nice even power number, pedal
- if you want to chill and have fun, don’t pedal
- if the descent is fairly technical (for your skills), don’t pedal
I pedal all the time, for reference I did a 52mi 3300ft ride and only coasted 5% of the time. It’s a bunch of little 50-200ft hills, only coasted 5% of the 2.5 hour ride. If I don’t pedal my legs get stiff it’s a good recovery I think
If I’m out training, I’m pedaling the whole time. In a race, I take the approach that Pete and Jonathan have mentioned on the podcast of trying to be the one with greatest amount of time coasting for the whole race while still remaining competitive (that title is easy to win if you choose not to compete ).
If it’s a long mountain decent, I tend to break it up with periods of pedalling. Don’t want to hit the bottom of a decent with stiff legs.
For my local lumps and bumps, I tend to pedal because I find that I feel more ‘planted’ on the bike. I also find that pedalling keeps me loose, so I react and respond quicker.
I was pedalling downhill on an effort just yesterday and wondering if I was wasting energy, good watch that.
I did find it painful and embarrassing to listen to when he started throwing power numbers around though. No need to rub it in
You want to be using the most power when you’re going slow, such as against a headwind or going uphill. If you want to see what a rolling or hilly TT pacing is like, just run the course through BestBikeSplit.
Don’t be shocked when it suggests you ride out at 70% of FTP on flat or slight downhills only to tell you to kick it up to 115% on steep ramps.
This is about during a solo TT, not in group rides, rides out with your mates.
If you are on the front, you had better be pedaling downhill.
Idk if it’s a waste of energy, specially for tt/triathletes. We train to ride a specific power zone for a long time… And keeping the power uphill or downhill is part of the whole things…
The main point Alex Dowsett is making in the video is that you’ll likely go faster overall if you don’t hold constant power. Use more power where speed is slower (uphill, headwind) and less where speed is higher (downhill, tailwind).
Air resistance scales with v^2. The faster you go the more energy you are wasting. If you have climbs that you can get over in <10 minutes or so it’s better to bang up the hill and recover on the way down. If you say ‘I’m a triathlete I can’t go over threshold’ then you’re leaving time on the table and should fix that.
always though the best approach was to keep constant power
might need to change my approach then
I’m sure Chris Boardman once said that power output should be even, regardless of uphill/downhill/headwind/tailwind etc.
FWIW, I employ Alexs approach. The extra power will make a much bigger difference in slower areas of the course. Throwing an extra 20,30,50 watts at gaining 0.5mph on a downhill isn’t very efficient