Energy system used for bridging efforts?

Got caught with my pants down on the last road race of the year and was at the back of the pack when the front hit and split the pack split in half. Nobody attempted the bridge, so after a hesitation I did and some of the back came with me, I caught the front at the base of a climb and they hit again and I couldn’t, I was gassed from the bridge. I recovered with some of the racers that came with me for the initial bridge and then went to go again but this angered the 1 of the 2 racers I was with as they felt I used them to recover and then was trying to drop them (I wasn’t, I had imagined them coming with me and taking some hard pulls as I faded to bridge us all to the group).
I’m left wondering if I should have just gone on my own to attempt the 2nd bridge (I feared I wouldn’t make it and get passed by the back half of the pack once I was gassed, staying with them I was able to beat them all to the line but that only netted me 7th).
So in terms of motivation for winter training, what energy system should I be training to facilitate bridging efforts, would it be different than break away efforts?
Any suggested workouts, for bridge efforts? I imagine it being endurance or tempo (I could talk easily while in the pack before the split) with like 3 minute threshold efforts.

Working as a group of 3 with another 5 or 6 behind us it reminded me of Caltech -8 except I couldn’t do hard pulls with these guys as they were gassed and I kept gapping them.

I guess it depends on how hard you’re going and for how long. Assuming it’s a case of “as hard as I can so I can get there and get a rest”:

Up to 1:30 - Anaerobic Repeats
1:30 to 5 to 8 mins VO2 Max sustained intervals
Anything over that - Threshold

… and if you’re doing threshold you may as well do over/unders, because hardly anywhere is truly flat and misery is your friend. :grin:


So maybe something like The Owl +5 Log In to TrainerRoad
or The Chimneys +2 ? Log In to TrainerRoad

Assuming you want to simulate snapping out of the pack and then dieseling across the gap, yes. :+1:

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I’m in Specialty Climbing Road Race and I’ve been doing the following workouts recently that seem to mimic bridging efforts, sitting in a bit (2 mins) then attacks and/or punchy hills. Feels like a great road/gravel race simulation leading into my A race (BWR).

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In terms of winter training I wouldn’t worry at all about doing anything specific to improve your bridging. Just build a bigger engine with lots of aerobic training, then as you get closer to racing again start doing some of the more race-specific workouts as suggested above.

In this case I don’t think energy systems were the issue though. You had the fitness to make the bridge, and you had the fitness to win from your group. What went wrong was more a case of tactics and bad luck than gaps in your training. Your positioning when the break went was bad, so you can get better at identifying when and where a break is likely to go. There are often sections of the course where climbs, technical bits or wind make it more likely an attack will stick. Or sometimes it’s the people in the attack - enough firepower and/or team representation that the bunch can’t or won’t chase it. Either way it should have been predictable enough to get yourself better positioned to either go with the initial break or at least be able to respond more quickly before it gets too established.

On the bridge itself I think if you took people with you you should have made them do a turn to get their measure before the bridge was completed. You don’t want people in a break or bridge who can’t or won’t pull. Suspect that having people with you was part of the reason the break hit again on the climb. One more rider joining the break is normally seen as an asset if they’re strong enough to have done a solo bridge. Multiple riders joining changes the dynamic quite a bit as the break might now be an unwieldy size, have multiple riders from the same team, etc. So more likely to lead to somebody going hard to split it again sooner rather than later.

Also worth looking at your pacing on the bridging effort. Of course you need to go hard enough to be closing the gap, but no use doing so if you leave yourself too gassed to hang on when you get there. Emptying the tanks to get across is OK if you’re joining the break on a flat or downhill section where you can then have a reasonable expectation of sitting on for a few minutes to recover. Emptying the tank and then catching them at the bottom of a climb not so good! Might have been better going steadier and reeling them in more slowly to make the catch at the top of the climb instead of the bottom. As above, would also have been better to get whatever pulls you could from your bridging mates, even if that meant they were holding the gap instead of closing it, but you were getting some recovery so could then go again on the climb and get across to the break before the descent.


I agree with what you are saying, I guess I felt like I hadn’t done any workouts that mimicked that bridge or breakaway attempt so if I did some, I might be more confident in myself especially once I have a power meter on my bike.

Agree that a lot of what happened was due to poor decisions, after recovering from my first bridge and going for the second attempt I was with 2 other riders and one of the guys literally yelled “Awww fuck off!” when I pulled out around the guy I was recovering behind (not the guy that yelled). They held my wheel on the first bridge but were immediately dropped on my second attempt at a bridge, I let off and was like okay lets work together, I thought you guys were coming with. They were like okay take smooth pulls and we will rotate out but it wasn’t fast enough and eventually we lost sight of the group, anytime I would start pulling harder they would lose my wheel. I think if I had just went for it early on for the 2nd bridge attempt I may have made it but was nervous to go alone, get gassed and then passed by the 7 or 8 riders behind.

While the group was together I was riding with and chatting with all of the guys that won/podiumed at the back of the pack but they knew when to move up in the group or reacted faster than I did.

The bigger the engine the better chance of recovering from tactical mistakes. Or alternatively, driving the pace to force others into mistakes or being outright dropped.

Agree with Cartsman to just keep elevating your overall fitness.

My experience, if the race is truly going up the road, you want to make the decision to bridge as soon as possible and then make the effort needed to get there and get back in the race. If you get help going across that is great. But you can’t be picky or waste time watching the gap grow. So, if you do 100% of the work and take someone(s) along with you that’s fine. The key is to act quickly and not be left behind. That’s in the case of a pack split that you think will stay away. There are other situations where you might just sit in the field and wait to see how things play out.

OP – Take any noise from others with a grain of salt. If the race was up the road and your group was still behind after good effort to rejoin, or caught on and got dropped again, then everyone is just disappointed, tired, oxygen deprived and frustrated. You don’t owe anyone and your only objective is to get back to the front. You are either in the race or not so don’t worry about it. Just ignore vocalizations from others. If, and this is very rare, someone says something later, calmly explain that all you wanted to do was to get back to the front and would have been happy to have help if possible or to tow others if all they could do was hang on. Then let it go.

Training: Time trialing is a good way to embrace the hurt locker. Put some 10 mile time trials into your race schedule. Or if none are available do your own mock-races in training. 10 miles is about 20 min on the flat and you’ll do them above threshold. It is a good way to practice for those times when you just need to put your head down and hurt.

Sounds like you had a good day out pedaling hard and having fun.

As an aside, race long enough and everyone will get caught on the wrong side of a pack split. It’s worth thinking about what you are going to do in that case so that it’s a reaction and not a thought process. It’s gonna hurt to get across so embrace it and GO. My best races were when I committed quickly to the hurt. Biggest regrets were overthinking it and missing out. Lesson was “don’t think, do”.

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Power meter would definitely help, a solo bridge or break is actually one of the few times it’s useful to have power in a race.

FWIW I think you should probably have backed yourself and gone solo the 2nd time. Suspect the “aww fuck off!” was more directed at himself for being unable to follow than at you! Certainly you didn’t do anything wrong to feel bad about. If they couldn’t even hold your wheel then they weren’t going to be any use in either bridging or in holding off the bunch. If you’d gone solo then you might not have caught the break but at least you wouldn’t have wondered. Well done for beating them both to the line, that really would have been a kick in the balls if you’d towed them round all race then they’d outsprinted you!

Lol no it was directed at me I let off and was like “Whats up?” and he was like “You sat on his wheel for like 3 minutes!” and I was like okay I figured you guys were gonna come with me, I’m willing to work together, was just trying to contribute…

Before the end of the lap not only did we lose sight of the front group but another group of 2 caught us. One of them went for it but I like reeled him in easily thinking we were going to work together but then he was gassed but him and the guy that caught our group and went by the group I was working with finished behind me ahead of the ones I was working with.

They would have to have been pulling some Carapaz shit to outsprint me at the line because anytime I took a hard pull it was causing seperation, I still sprinted to the line, mainly against the chase group that caught us but I either had no issue with them or they gave up. As it was my first race after moving up to that category and everyone is so much bigger than me I just assumed they would crush me given I’m more of a climber build (~125lbs) and there were no significant climbs.

You can see my ‘group’ off the back in the 2nd photo.

The relative sizes explain a lot, those guys wouldn’t have been getting much draft off you! Well done for a solid result in your first race after an upgrade.

Same. I’ve rarely regretted trying something even if it doesn’t work out. Have often regretted not trying something!

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They can help for that as Cartsman noted. Though don’t psych yourself out with them if you can’t hit training numbers later in a race, either. I’ve ‘settled into’ flyers and then looked down and my power was ~50W less than what I’ve done in training; it can be a bit disconcerting to see. In terms of outcome it didn’t matter all that much, if the race prior to that was hard for me it was likely hard for the rest of the field, too.

Yeah I guess it would help my confidence a bit if I could target a power that I can roughly sustain an estimate of how long it will take me to make the bridge say 5 minutes rather than starting out and getting gassed because I was trying to hold a 2 minute power or end up making it but then am dead.

Not speaking to the tactical side, but more the training side. Doing work that improves your lactate shuttling should help with these types of efforts, depending on how long it takes to bridge.

You are going to be above threshold and generating lactate as you bridge, but then when you get to the group you are still going to need to stay on the gas while simultaneously trying to clear the lactate. Workouts that have you motoring along at tempo, SS, or threshold, but then throw in surges before dropping you back to the tempo/SS/threshold range will help here. You will burn off the lactate faster at Tempo than Z2.

There are a lot of these types of workouts in the TR library if you look through them.

Can you give me an example? I hate that most of the workouts go to full recovery like 40% between efforts, would love to see something that sits at ~70% as a baseline with a few ~120% 3 to 5 min efforts. All the over under stuff drops down to 40% between the intervals.

I live on the coast so its very rolly on and off but I feel like for training would like to do workouts that keep me at a tempo pace, push me above for a few minutes and then bring me back to tempo, no recovery.

Maybe Chicoma -5? Log In to TrainerRoad or Muah Log In to TrainerRoad or Royce? Log In to TrainerRoad or Red Keweah -1 Log In to TrainerRoad

Pay no attention to what others yell at you during a race. It’s a race, not a group ride, and unless you’re unsafe, there’s no shame in taking advantage of other riders to improve your own results.

It’s a race.

That said, there are times when it is useful to build and maintain alliances, but someone upset because you dropped them isn’t something to be taken seriously.


Keep in mind you can modify some of workouts as well to fit your needs by either during the workout or editing it in the TR Workout Creator.

The Lion Rock series of workouts are RaceWinners with surges at the start and end. If those surges are too short, you could look ath Whiteleaf workouts. Whiteleaf is great for simulating rolling hills. As you get deeper into the workouts you are forced to stay aerobic as there isn’t enough rest for your anaerobic system to recover. If you wanted to make them tougher you could raise the intesity of the recovery portions. I really like Whiteleaf as an indoor workout because of the constantly changing intestity it keeps you focused and makes the time go by quickly but you end up with a lot of time in zone.

Looking at something like McAdie +1, you could bump up the intensity of the Over to perhaps 115 or 120% and then drop the under to 80 - 85%. That would have you producing more lactate during the over, but then being more efficient burning it off during the under.

Use “Resistance” mode for the workout and keep the valleys at z2/z3.

Just in case it helps, I’ll add some notes based on the two comments above. Will apologize in advance that the text below is critical and might put you off. Meant only as learning and sharing.

(1) It may be the the “eff off” comment was because you were sitting on to recover in the rotation and then taking hero pulls which were causing separation but not helping anyone go faster. If you aren’t committed to the bridge, and are not working cohesively toward that goal with others, then taking pulls that cause separation and then going back in line can be very annoying.

Basically, the race part of the day is over. It’s now a ride. When folks are tired, and frustrated and disappointed at being dropped, and just going around a few more times to finish the event and get some miles in, then it is easy to get annoyed.

There might be a lesson that rather than “causing separation” with your pulls, just take longer pulls at the appropriate pace for the group. At this point, you guys were dropped (dropped twice it sounds like). You aren’t getting back to the front, and you aren’t getting a race result. Just finish the day with your new friends and next time make the front group.

(2) “Sprinting” out of a dropped group for a non-placement is not something I would do or advise. Nobody cares if you finish 15th or 20th. The race is over and was won up the road. Sprinting for nothing is a good way to look like a newbie, and also a good way to cause an accident. Because people who are dropped and just finishing the ride aren’t necessarily expecting someone to unleash their massive 750w finishing kick. I’ve seen plenty of guys “sprinting” for 25th place from a dropped group wreck themselves and others. For absolutely nothing. The better move is to roll through the line, say nice day to your group mates and go have a coffee.

Power Meters and mass start racing. I’ve raced with power for about 25 years. It’s pretty useless during a mass start race. You are either where you need to be, or you aren’t. It doesn’t matter what your power meter says because you are racing the other riders not your numbers. The power number just doesn’t matter and worrying about your power will distract from situational awareness and can psych you out if you see the wrong number at the wrong time. Ride the race not your computer.

In terms of workouts… I think the best workouts for new(wish) racers is to race. A lot. Work on your FTP and short term power during individual workouts, and then go race and learn how to do it. It is very hard to duplicate the demands, and motivation, of racing in a workout. Train well when alone and learn race craft in actual races.

Best of luck to the OP. It’s always fun to see folks pinning on a number and trying to get better at the racing part of our hobby.

Disagree. The OP was sprinting for top 10 (7th place) and maybe that does matter. Wins are far and few between so process goals and skills can be made every race. Sprinting from a pack is a skill and should be practiced, not just when the win is on the line. To assume sprinting means unsafe/reckless then apparently your anecdotal evidence speaks for itself.

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