Final road upgrade - thank you TrainerRoad

First a little background on me.

I’m a 37 year old male road racer who started riding bikes around age 29 and started racing at age 31. I rode/trained without power or structure through my age 33 season at which point I bought a power meter, a smart trainer, and a TrainerRoad subscription (at the time I picked TrainerRoad because they had powermatch and their competitors didn’t)

My age 31-33 seasons I slowly made my way up to cat 3 on the road but stalled there, unable to brute force my way to victory like I had at the lower categories. My age 34 season I went from cat 3 pack filler to front of the pack and got a mandatory upgrade to cat 2 about three quarters of the way through the season.

I attribute this to me taking training seriously and, perhaps more importantly, learning how to rest by following the TrainerRoad plans religiously.

I raced as a cat 2 for my age 35-37 seasons and continued following TrainerRoad plans. While I was strong enough to get results it took me a couple of years to figure out how to win or get into a winning breakaway as a cat 2. People aren’t kidding when they tell you that doing well at the higher categories is a skill that requires more than strength and fitness.

This season everything has clicked for me and, while my fitness is around the same place it was previous years (4.7-4.8 w/kg), I’ve been very successful at timing efforts and getting into the winning or decisive breakaway in road races. I made the winning break in 3 road races, defended a teammate’s presence in 2 others, and we completely missed out on only 1). Racing on a small team with only one or two teammates in every race makes the above very challenging - you really only get one shot per race.

The combination of these results with some points from prior years has just gotten me my cat-1 on the road and I couldn’t be happier.

It is no exaggeration to say I wouldn’t have achieved this without the plans from @chad and all that the company does - thank you!

For everyone getting into this sport late - don’t let your age hold you back. I never would’ve set a goal of being a cat 1 at age 37, but I was able to incrementally improve both my fitness and racing ability every season. While I suspect I have better than average genetics (my first FTP test showed me around 3.8 w/kg with no regimented training but lots of hard riding) I am not a huge outlier on the curve of genetic potential - pick a plan and follow it. I imagine if @Nate_Pearson or @Jonathan were to look at my profile they’d be able to confirm that I am much more of an outlier in my adherence to a plan more than anything else

28 Likes

Huge congratulation @trpnhntr

Out of interest, where do you race? Just so that I can avoid that area :wink:

trpnhntr - wow, great going in reaching cat 1, especially given the late entry. What a great message post here, as well.

There might be a good number of TR folks who manage to adhere to a plan, but it does seem like among people who post on this forum such folks may be outliers. Perhaps not, though. I convinced two teammates to buy inexpensive smart trainers but pay up for TrainerRoad this past winter, and although they loved it, they did not manage to adhere to their plans. More important than what portion of users adhere to plans is probably an explanation of the benefits of actually doing so. Discipline does seem to have an outsized effect on performance, and the benefits of workouts in a plan are synergistic rather than simply additive.

Congrats again on the upgrade, and thanks for sharing the story here.

1 Like

Mostly mid-atlantic US races, although I get up to the north east and sometimes a bit west from time to time. I prefer a challenging course which don’t exist in too many places these days - so I drive quite a ways for the right course

To further this point a bit - I think that having the discipline to follow the plan has obvious physical benefits, but it also speaks of the rider’s dedication to their training. If you are willing to adjust things to make sure you hit the plan you are likely to be more committed to the overall goals and fitness gains - so there is some correlation and some causation from the results you see associated with strong plan adherence

3 Likes

Fantastic, @trpnhntr! Thanks so much for sharing your story so far and for being part of the magic. :wink:

5 Likes

Yes man! Way to go!!! :clap::clap::clap: :muscle::muscle::muscle:

5 Likes

Way to go @trpnhntr! My story mirrors yours in a lot of ways, though I was 23 when I went from off the couch to cat 1 over the course of about 8 years. Cycling is pretty amazing in that you can pick it up later in life and still teach yourself to excel at a high level.

Keep up the great work!

2 Likes

Great job trpnhntr!

Re adhering to the plans, I’m definitely in the camp of struggling to adhere to them too closely. Mainly for 2 reasons (which I suspect I share with many here):

  1. Life gets in the way. Holidays, work trips, childcare, social events, etc mean that while I can do some kind of training nearly every day it’s not always possible to do the prescribed session - I might only be able to run, or fit in 30 minutes, or use a hotel bike, etc. And I also suspect that TR users are a bit of a self-selecting crowd in this respect - one of the many advantages of indoor training is how time-efficient it is, so naturally many subscribers are people who are very short on time and have a lot of other things that intrude into training time and aren’t always under our control.

  2. I like riding my bike with other people! I currently have 2 group rides I do pretty much every week unless they clash with a race, but they don’t fit particularly neatly with the plans. One Wednesday night worlds type ride, and a 3-5 hour (depending on time of year) Saturday ride which typically involves quite a lot of noodling along at active recovery or endurance zones apart from an intermediate and final sprint, but can also get quite tasty depending on who shows up, and can involve lots of breaks, chases, etc. Not prepared to give up either ride as they’re great fun, good race practice (particularly as a lot of the local racers show up so good to get know who’s who, how people ride, which wheels are good to follow, as well as honing cornering, group positioning, sprint timing, etc) and social. I’d get bored and lose motivation if I did all my rides indoors or solo. But not easy to fit them into TR plans, particularly the Build and Specialty plans where you want to be fresh for the key sessions so can’t just slot them in around the group rides which is what I do during base. Generally boils down to either hard sessions on back to back days, or else replacing one of the key sessions with a group ride which isn’t ideal either as it’s not providing the same training stimulus.

Edit to add: I’m actually starting to find the forums, podcasts and blogs to be at least as valuable a resource as the plans themselves, since it’s giving me a really good understanding of how best to adapt and personalise the plans given the above constraints, and still periodise my training to get the right adaptations. 44 years old and with 25+ years of almost continuous training for various sports behind me, and I’m still learning something new most days!

Couldn’t agree more. The Podcast is as important as the sessions themselves, in my opinion.

This is a big reason people miss out on the plans but also a big reason people keep riding. I was very focused on getting this upgrade so I made my focus fitness and race craft at the expense of a lot of the fun rides that I enjoy. The amount of indoor riding I do, and the number of workouts I missed during my last full base/build/specialty progression is not achievable for most people, and possibly not even desirable.

It is a very fine balancing act between maintaining sight of why you like to ride and what your goals are on the bike. If you really want to be faster you will likely have to sacrifice some of these more fun and mentally recharging rides but if you are more focused on overall fitness and your ‘fun’ comes from these group rides then by no means do you need to focus entirely on the plan

Couldn’t agree more - I was introduced to the podcast about 18 months ago and have since gone through the entire back catalog. While I don’t always agree with the team I do always appreciate their thoughtful approach to training and racing - even when it is for events that have little to no overlap with my time on the bike. In particular learning how to treat lower priority races was extremely helpful for my race results

3 Likes