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