Doubting my Training path

I’ve got 1 A even for the year. It’s 200 miles of gravel, with about 13-15k ft of elevation(nothing more than 500ft in each shot). I was following the thoughts that I read on the blog about training for DK(similar to my event but with less elevation).

In that blog post the path laid out was SSBI, SSBII, Sustained Power, Century Specialty.

I am just finishing up SSBII MV. I have been replacing the Sunday workouts with long outdoor rides. Looking back at my outdoor rides(in similar terrain to the my goal event) I’m getting VI’s in the 1.2-1.4 range. Those numbers imply anything but sustained power.

Should I consider going with General build and Rolling Road specialty?

I’ve competed in this race the last 2 years, and each year I’ve had to drop to the 150 course and I’ve committed myself to doing what it takes to have a better outing this year. My consistency has been through the roof this year and maybe that will be enough but should i consider changing my build and specialty plan? Either way I intend to continue replacing the Sunday workouts with long outside rides in an attempt to increase the specificity of my training. I don’t foresee many scenarios during the race that would require any efforts above threshold(short of maybe a dog sprint) so is it all about just increasing FTP?

I think the key here is your last sentence - you won’t be going above threshold. GB and RRR put more emphasis on over-threshold efforts, which is less relevant to the demands of your A event. SusPB and Century are more about being able to sustain (and repeat) those under-threshold efforts.

The other aspect that SusPB and Century work on building fatigue resistance in the muscles. When you get to the business end of those plans with 3x20 and 2x30 sweet spot efforts, that is really building fatigue resistance.

“Sustain” doesn’t just mean a single long effort (eg. 40K TT or an alpine climb), it also means being able to keep it up all day.

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Are you racing other people or yourself?

If it’s the former you might consider rolling road race, otherwise I’d stick to sustained build and century plan.

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How long are your long outdoor rides? And what has made you drop to the 150 mile course in previous years? Is that a decision you have to make beforehand or you just drop down on the day if you’re halfway through and don’t feel like you can handle it?

I think you’re on the right training plan but have a pacing issue on your outdoor rides. Those VIs are very high for solo efforts. For context I typically have a VI of 1.2-1.25 on fast group rides and road races with a big pack where there’s a lot of easy cruising in the peloton interspersed with some very hard efforts on hills, when on the front, when somebody is attacking, etc. Those are hard days, I can cope with that kind of variability up to about 4 hours/100 miles, but no way could I do it for 200 miles and 10+ hours. For a long solo ride my VI is typically below 1.1, if there’s nothing too steep then it would be below 1.05. But those VIs are a function of pacing not fitness. I can ride at 1.4 or I can ride at 1.01, it’s a choice. To get to 1.4 you must be hammering it and then taking it easy. Don’t!

And yes, for a race that long you don’t need to go above threshold so it is all about raising FTP and increasing endurance. But working above FTP is also a great way of raising it, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you should only train below threshold.

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I would keep doing SSB, SuPB but ditch the speciality. Only would do that before the event for a taper.

Those plans work very well with increasing your FTP while enabling you to hold a higher power for longer durations. Pretty much what you are after.
Though that doesn’t mean you will ride very smoothly. That’s a skill in itself which has to be cultivated. Perhaps try doing longer trainer sessions in erg mode?

Edit: Perhaps you also want to look at the SSBHV plans as they are pretty much only about sustaining high power for extended periods.

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Minimum of 6 hours, will build them up to 12 hours over the next 16 weeks.

lack of fitness and weather. Both years happened in the rain making the gravel soft and sucking watts, I just didn’t have the power to make the cut off for the 200 mile distance(both distances shared the same route up until ~100 miles) It’s a mid race decision.

The terrain forces that kind of VI. Most climbs require solid 90%+ efforts. Then on the backside, you end up out of gear going 40+mph. No doubt I can do a better job at pacing but I don’t see a path to a VI below 1.2. Here is a link to this last Sunday’s ride:

Both the SusPB and Century plan have their fair share of over threshold work.

While it is a race against other people, I have no delusions about where I will fall and for me it is about getting over the hump and completing the 200 mile distance.

It might be an idea to take a look at your gearing. Sticking a compact on the front (assuming you don’t have one already) or switching to a long cage derailleur with a larger cassette should allow you to smooth out your power output for the duration of the ride - giving you a lower VI. Should save the legs for later in the event as well.

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I think that’s your problem right there. For a 200 mile ride you can’t be spending big chunks of time over 90%. So assuming the terrain for the event is similar to what you’re training on you need to change your gearing and/or get comfortable at lower cadence so that you can get over those hills at a lower intensity. Other option of course is improving W/kg.

Speaking of improving W/kg, I’m not sure it’s beneficial to be going >6 hours every week. You need to do some long rides to test out nutrition, comfort, etc. But I think going super long every 2-3 weeks is enough. More than that and you’re just accumulating a load of fatigue which isn’t doing anything much to raise your FTP and is likely impacting on the quality and/or volume of other training you’re doing. I think you’d be better off swapping those rides for something like 2 x 2 hour SS sessions some weeks.

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Currently running the new GRX Di2 Group. 48-31 Front 11-34 rear. I could change the front to 46-30 but I don’t see that making a huge difference.

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Riding against yourself/the clock, your pacing plan will call for a lot of long steady efforts which is more suited to SPB and Century. Gen Build and RRR are tailored to work in more varied demands (for responding to situations in a race where you can’t always dictate your own pace).

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Right, but at the same time I don’t get a choice in terrain. Like I said, I could change the front to 46-30(instead of 48-31) but that’s not gonna make a huge difference. I already have no problem spinning 60 RPM. If you check out the hill climb from my ride I posted that starts at ~minute 23, I’m doing 60-65rpm and doing 260-270watts(ftp of 266). Those are the cards dealt, not much I can do in that regard to help out, which leaves W/kg(which I agree is the answer.)

I agree 6+hr rides probably don’t offer a whole lot in W/KG improvement, but it does offer a ton in the conditioning of the contact points to the duration which is equally as valuable IMO. That said, It is unrealistic that I will be able to maintain long outdoor rides every Sunday(doing them on Saturday ends up costing me the whole weekend of training and is an unacceptable choice to me) Sooner or later weather or other commitments will not allow me to get a long ride in on a Sunday, at which point I’ll sub in trainer work. Realistically I would expect that to fall into line with what your saying of every 2-3 weeks, but If I have the chance to get a long outdoor ride, I’m taking it. I’ve made my self pretty consistent on the training front this year, and it’s come at a cost of the ‘recreational’ riding I’m use to, that’s another reason I try to stick a long ride in on Sunday’s as well. Also the mental aspect of ‘I can do this because I’ve done it before’ has been huge for me as well.

and that was my initial thought as well for my choice, but my recent outdoor riding has shown me that the terrain will also dictate my pace and that’s what made me question it.

Edit: I posted above but something just came to my mid. Perhaps it would make sense for you to take a look at the full distance triathlon plans. Presumably high volume as you can ditch the runs and swims.

I think sustained build and century is the way to go. You won’t be attacking and settling in or responding to attacks which is what the rolling road race plan is designed for. Depending on the terrain though you might find that you have to spike above FTP during a SS climb. In which case you might be able to swap in a Threshold or SS burst workout to get used to that. (e.g. Ebbetts, Jenson, Hunter).

However, for climbs that force you over FTP for extended periods you don’t have a ton of options beyond upping your FTP, dropping weight, or changing your gearing.

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Pacing the course and pacing to stay in a group are quite different.

You need to change the cassette to an 11-40 or 11-42. You might have to purchase a different rear derailleur but it is supported by GRX.

I agree with those guys. You need to go up those climbs at 70-80% instead of 90%.

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Max for the 2x is 11-34. This is as low as the gearing gets short of the 600 series crankset rings(46-30)

Also, it’s not that every climb requires 90%, but it’s out there. I’m working on making that number lower. My question was as to what plan offered the best specificity to my goal event. I am well aware that over 200 miles, I don’t want to be doing my climbing at 90%+