Group rides are a lot of TSS. Accomodate them or skip them?

Hi all.

I’m getting in a bit of early training for my first full distance triathlon next year (doing an extra half of base, as recommended on the TR article). I’m on the mid volume full distance triathlon base plan right now. I was hoping to swap some of the longer Sunday rides with outdoor rides with my club, but even in the slower group these rides a lot more TSS than the workout they’re replacing, around 85 more yesterday in particular (and I can feel it!)

Can I shave a bit off of other workouts here and there to accommodate these, or should I just bite the bullet, stick to the plan and abandon the group rides until I (hopefully) raise my fitness enough to fit them in.

On that note, I’ve been training and did my ramp test on my Triathlon bike, but do these outdoor rides on my road bike. I know from the podcast that most people see a significant difference in FTP between the two, so maybe the additional TSS from the group ride isn’t as much as it appears and it could be less to worry about. I am using the same power meter on both (with Power Match in TR) and am fastidious about changing the crank length in the Powertap app when I move the pedals between the bikes as this reportedly changes the output. Would it be crazy to do a ramp test on both? I heard that the ramp test is easier to recover from, but even so, this sounds excessive.

I also find that I can’t resist going all out at our weekly Parkrun (a timed public 5k) so frequently throw off my TSS there, but that’s just my being an idiot :smiley: and should be easy to correct.

Hey there!

When deciding whether or not to drop the group rides or not, consider the bigger picture. Group Rides can be a huge motivator, as well as a mood booster since you get to socialize with your friends, have conversations, and just enjoy being outside. For me personally, as long as the group rides are not “race-rides”, I would try to integrate them into your training because that additional motivation will make a bigger difference in the long-term than picture perfect adhesion to the indoor training plan.

In general, I would try to keep your overall TSS for the week as close to the target as possible, so you may need to trim some TSS off of some of your other workouts. If you’re going to trim your other workouts, trim the lowest intensity work from your indoor training to minimize the negative impact.

If riding outside is not a big motivator for you, and you are indifferent between riding indoors vs. outdoors, then riding indoors may be slightly more effective, however, I don’t believe this scenario relates to most people.

As for your question about Ramp Testing, we totally recommend Ramp Testing on both bikes. Your FTP on your road bike is likely significantly higher than your FTP on your Triathlon Bike, and the only way to find out is with a test :slight_smile: The stress of a Ramp Test is fairly low, so just be sure to give yourself a few days in between tests.

Feel free to reach out if you have any further questions!


Thanks Bryce that’s really useful! I’ll test this week. I just noticed that you can set an FTP on an individual ride so I should be able to update the one from Sunday with the new figure.

I seem to recall that a previous podcast back in the mists of time recommended re-testing after getting a bike fit or otherwise changing your position. Am I remembering that correctly? I’ve been tweaking my Tri bike fit after my club coach made some observations at the velodrome the other day (our local velodrome is great, by the way, it’s outdoors and not even level so it’s a death trap in the winter :smiley:)

Don’t forget that group rides also encourage other cycling skills, such as riding in a pack and general bike handling. I don’t know if they’re key to your targets but I don’t think they shouldn’t be overlooked.

As @Bryce mentioned, lets not forget the social aspect. Isn’t that half the fun of cycling?


Good point. In addition you use different muscles when outside than indoors. There are far more upsides to doing a longer group/solo ride outside than doing the prescribed indoor workout. One of which is testing nutrition and seeing what works for you.
However with weather or time pressure the indoor one is always an option.

If you’re not already doing this, there’s a whole load of tricks you can try to keep the TSS of your group rides down. You can do these secretly, or be open with your clubmates about your training plan - they might be accommodating.
(And some of these are just good riding tips that you very well may be doing anyway)

  • Ride at the steadiest power possible - when you’re leading, take the opportunity to keep it even
  • Don’t chase “attacks” or hill climb pushes unless literally everyone else is doing them
  • When you’re on the wheel, really hold it.
  • Concentrate on conserving energy in the wheels by freewheeling and avoiding braking as much as possible. Keep it smooth.
  • Ride up hills with the slowest member of the group, unless that’s you anyway! Or start at the front and “drift” to the back
  • Only take turns when you’ve got a tailwind and/or you’re going uphill. Flats, descents, and headwinds, stay in the wheels.
  • Push a bit down little dips to get (and keep) momentum going into short rises.
  • Suggest or devise routes with fewer steep hills and descents. This will / should keep the power even and the NP down.

I don’t think you necessarily need to do that if you find that you can handle the load. For the reasons mentioned, and as indoor:outdoor TSS are not quite 1:1 in terms of effort.

After Sunday you have Monday as rest. If you don’t experience a negative carry-over effect on other workouts in your plan, I would say enjoy the group ride and don’t adjust. But be aware of possible effects.

Thanks for all the good advice.

We do practice riding in a group on the road for the usual safety reasons, but almost all of our races are not draft-legal and I’m usually on the tri bike, so unless I train to have coach Jonathan’s bike handling skills I’m likely to stack it if I run over a penny :rofl:

I actually felt drained enough after Sunday’s ride that I couldn’t do the long base run in the afternoon, but I didn’t do the run the day before at recovery speed which likely contributed to that. I’d say the plan feels like it’s manageable right now when I stick to it. There’re are a few other things I could definitely improve to increase my training capacity such as better diet and sleep.

Might be a moot point though, I’ve got a scheduled blood donation on Friday and it’ll be downhill from there for a few weeks :syringe:

I have the exact same predicament! I want to follow the TR plan as closely as possible but want to retain the social aspect of cycling also so would like to keep up my Sat Club rides. Last sat rdie alone was 431 TSS so it is a sizeable chunk. I’m guessing I will perhaps reduce the Sun workout to esnure recovery and will do the usuall Mon-Wed workouts as planned.

it does make the overall TSS for the week seem excessive vs what is planned but I will just evaluate as the plan goes over the coming weeks.

Thanks for all the input guys!

I don’t know how big your club is, but a while back one of my clubmates started a separate club run aimed specifically at riders looking to do base miles and a less high intensity ride. The response she got was very positive and it’s now a regular weekly ride with a rotating roster of ride leaders.
If you have a club forum / FB group / whatsapp you can always see if there’s any interest in such a ride. No harm in asking!

Good point Martin - only issue is I always like to ride to ride with the same guys as we know and trust each other. I suppose I could turn early but the social element of the club ride is important to me. 431 TSS was actually a steady ride for them :joy:

Keep in mind as your FTP goes up the TSS will come down. Be steady and coast as much as possible as mentioned in the thread and you can drag it down. I’ve done 230TSS and 110TSS on the same group ride.

According to today’s road bike ramp test I have 22 more FTP than my last Tri bike measurement at the start of the plan, which is what the whopping TSS from the group ride was calculated with. It’s significantly less stress now that I’ve recalculated :slightly_smiling_face:.

Going to re-test on the Tri bike soon as suggested, who knows, maybe I’ve just made 22w of gains! (The chances are vanishingly slim, but you never know…) Might regret doing that ramp test when I’m in the pool with my club in a couple of hours :rofl:

So here we go! Did my tri bike ramp test last night, two days apart (with a low TSS run workout in the middle). Was 197, now 206. Compared to my road bike result which was 219 this is a 6% drop from upright to aero. I think this is pretty close to the normal range if I remember the TT podcasts correctly. Goodness me it really feels worse trying to do the test while desperate to sit up straight :laughing:

For context, my road bike is very upright for a road bike as it’s my mile-muncher and I set it up for long distance comfort (it’s a regular Trek Domane, not an SL/SLR so less aggressive). My aero position isn’t very aggressive either, mind :slight_smile: I need a bike fit, but there isn’t much that comes recommended locally.