Have I bitten off more than I can chew (am I wildly optimistic)?

After watching the race below and watching the power output it’s left me wondering have I done something stupid (or wildly over estimating my prowess).

TrainerRoad video

Last year I had an ftp of ~240W, it’s dropped cos of Xmas and lazy time to ~193W, the video is showing fairly consistent times in 300+ watt ranges, I’ve entered my first cat 4 race in April and second ever (first was male/female British Racing Go Race taster thing).

I had zero expectations about being up the rankings, but now I’m even wondering if I’ll get a couple laps in before dropping. I’m back on base build so might get ftp up to 210-220 come April but I can prob get a refund and don’t want to shell out more on the day race license + travel costs for a 2 lap dropping an DNF.

If this were you what would you think? It is nice to have a goal mind you.

With an FTP of ~197 I think it is pretty certain you will struggle a bit and definitely not be at the pointy end.

However you will be able to find more in a race than you ever will on a trainer and the race itself will be very good training for you.

To my mind I do not see what there is to lose. Just sit in the back, conserve energy and have a goal of finishing in the group.

Go for it.


It will depend massively on the course and your group riding skills. If it’s flat and “flowy”, and you are good in a group, you might be able to stay in the group, but if it has sharp corners or hills or you aren’t so good in a group, I think you’d struggle. Assuming your profile is correct and you are in Devon, I wouldn’t worry too much about the numbers that the TR guys are putting out in their crits. Focus on your course and what people are doing there (Strava is your friend).
Are you a member of a club? If not, find a club that does the sorts of rides you like and join them - hopefully you can improve your skills as well as power and they might be able to help with race tactics etc too.

It’s a very flat circuit, see below Strava:
Location of race

I am a club member but it’s less ‘racy’ more social and prior to Xmas I was in the faster range of the group rides (not fastest by any stretch but not at the slow end).

Think I’ll stick with giving it a go.

You’ll be fine. That power is a ~210lb rider in a P1/2 race. His FTP at the time was only 330. This doesn’t have anything to do with the race you’re entering.

The only way to improve at racing is to enter races. I can assure you that no one is ever as fit as they want to be going in.


Go race, learn something, and enjoy the experience.

Even if you have bitten off more than you can chew - go make the best of it! You’ll know where you stand and what you might want to improve on. I’d say just try and race smart and pick up on what you can, worry less about power than race tactics.

IF you feel wildly unfit compared to where you were last year and the race costs are high, that’s when I’d weigh heavily if it’s worth it to you. We all pay to play, right? There are some races for me that are hours away and it’s a big sacrifice for me to go (money, time, family inconvenience)… if I wasn’t all-in, I’d skip a race like that and find something closer/cheaper. If it’s doable for you, do it and post your learnings here!

Heck, look how often Nate talks about something he tried and considers a lesson learned because it didn’t work as he had hoped. If he can publicly do that as the CEO of TR, I’m pretty sure you or I can go out and get dropped in lap 2 and be ok with it :slight_smile:

The only way to get better at racing, is by racing. No harm in giving it a go.

With that circuit though, I seriously wouldn’t worry about FTP. There will be no steady efforts there. It’ll be all about the two 180 degree turns. Folk will be sprinting out of them hard each time. If you get dropped, then I’ll wager it’ll be because of the repeated explosive efforts rather than your FTP.

If you want to give yourself a chance in that race, I would forget about your FTP, focus on increasing your repeatable 15 second efforts and work on your bike handling skills.

Ha! One of the first things I said after starting TR and doing my first ramp test, ‘I’m glad I didn’t know this earlier in the year!’

It was terrible! Less than mediocre. Still is. I have crap power but I’ve already been on the podium this year.

And I won races last year. Back before I knew my hour power was more than 1 sigma less than the mean. :rofl: Just don’t ever stop trying. If you don’t have the power learn the racecraft. If you don’t have sustained power win by sprinting. If you don’t have a sprint try sprinting from a half k out and holding on. Try a break away. Try sitting in. Try, try, try. One day will be your day.


It’s flat, but the 180 degree turns are where it’s at. You know it better than us, but I’m guessing it’s basically sprint out of the corner, drift to the next one, spint out, drift… Repeatable sprints are the key, while trying to take a good line and avoid slowing down too much. If you get that bit right, hopefully you can hang in the group and recover between the hairpins. It should be good experience, and I guess it’s not too far or too expensive to treat as a learning exercise, so I’d definitely go for it. :slight_smile:

Always err on the side of doing something vs. not doing something. Tally up the regrets in your life and I’ll bet most of them are around things you didn’t do vs. something you did do.

Go ride bikes :metal:


I did the beginner race that day (Cat 5), and big guys needed 250W laps while small slippery guys were getting away with a lot less (I saw a fair number of sub 200W laps on Strava). You can learn a lot by looking at Strava rides from last year’s event. Was my first race and I’m a bigger guy and knew my power was down. Great experience, ended up 23rd out of 41.

Go for it!

Even if you do only last a couple laps before you get dropped, that’s not a bad thing. You’ll learn something and hopefully be motivated to come back the next week and make it 3 laps. Next time, 4 laps.

Pretty soon you’ll be hanging in the group for the whole race comfortably. Soon after that you’ll be mixing it up at the front of the race.

This is how progression works for everyone. Don’t think you are not worthy or not strong enough. Just get out there and learn and have fun.


I would give a bash. I always say this but I believe that everyone has more capacity than they imagine.

Looking at those corners, I’d make Whiteface your default training session until April :wink:

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If signing up makes your training that much more profitable than it’s worth it reguardless of the outcome.

FTP is not always a good gage on race performance. At CAT 4 repeatable 350-500w at various intervals would be a better indicator. Can you go with the surges?


Agree with others here, go out and race in order to learn how to race. TR will help you get stronger but if you don’t learn to race in a group that strength will be wasted.

Just to give you an example, I spent my first year riding training for a century after completing that I decided to try racing a crit 3 months later. I got dropped, the next crit I lasted a little longer but still I got dropped, rinse and repeat for a year before finally finishing with the group :star_struck:. In that first year I learned quite a bit about how to race in a group (and that short intense efforts were a major limiter :sob:). Nowadays I race as a cat 1, showing that if you just keep plugging away at it you’ll make significant improvements.


i totally agree with you

It is a lot easier and quicker to regain FTP lost during the off-season, than it was to build it in the first place. You might find you get back towards 240W faster than you think.

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How did you get on?

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Today’s the day, about to drive to the velopark so will post back later.

Nerves are fully kicking in now!