Help me understanding my data

Hi everyone, I just did my first ever race last Sunday in Croatia.

A 152 km with 2245 m climb road race which I finished in 37th place among 340 people, right below 5 hours (4:59:32). I have never participated in any races before, 10 years ago i was smoking 3 packs of cigarettes with 30 % body fat and coming from a completely different lifestyle.

Originally I was pretty happy with my position, considering very ambitious local riders from Slovenia, Croatia and Austria was dominating the race and I don’t literally know a single person from the participants, couldn’t team up or group with anybody, also having no experience I was there at the starting point 20 mins before the race where 300 people were already in front of me.

After results announced and seeing people 0-25th places and noticing that their average power for 5h is 20% less than me (based on strava data) i can notice now that i could finish significantly better. Most of the time i found myself pulling small groups until i die and then people would just disappear. I couldn’t use any group dynamics and simply just killed myself pulling strong guys and they were simply much more fresher than me at the last kms of the ride.

What I am curious about:

  1. Can it really be that my average power is 224W for 5 hours while the guy finished the race around 15-20th is 180W. Am i so bad / inexperienced on execution? considering weight difference is +/- 2-3 kgs between me and the other riders. Of course wind and aero also has a big impact to that day probably.

  2. Is there any theory of racing that i can learn a little bit better i.e. a book, etc? I was struggling to understand my current position during the race, who are the stronger guys that i should follow, tempo of the race etc. I was just simply riding full gas for 5 hours

  3. Do you think zwift for example can bring some useful learnings for real world? I don’t think so after experiencing the reality but just curious to hear from experienced people.

About me: 40 years old, very stressful business and family life. 1.5 years on trainerroad, I followed mid volume plans and didn’t miss or quit a single workout since the start, FTP 292, weight 74 kg. Garmin measures my VO2 max 62 ml/kg min.

I appreciate your time and useful suggestions in advance :slight_smile:
below is the power curve for the race but also you can check it on strava

Watch bike racing to learn tactics. Zwift is not anything like actual racing, it’s more like every race is a group ftp test (nothing wrong w that but it’s not road racing).
Sounds like you did pretty well. Most road races have a feature that creates a select group. You need to make sure you can get in that group. It’s easier when you know who the racers are so you know who to ‘mark’ and follow.

Doing many real races is the best way to get better at racing. Power outputs and stuff like that doesn’t matter much tho it feels like it should.

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Yes, A guy riding in the draft is saving a ton of watts vs. a guy doing all the work on the front. Add to it that those riders are probably smaller than 74kg and you can see how someone lighter that sits in the draft can coast along at a much lower effort that you.

You should look for posts, including the TR podcast, about conserving energy. It’s very possible to sit in and not do any pulls and get to the end of the race.

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So first, that’s a really strong ride.

  1. Yeah that’s definitely possible. If they were in a good rotating group then they were probably spending 70+% of the time sitting in a draft then they would be putting out significantly less power on the flats and downhills then you.

  2. Races like that are pretty hard to learn about. With a group of 300 there is going to be a huge disparity in skill and fitness (as opposed to a crit with 60 riders in the same catergory). So the best thing you can do is start as far forward as possible and follow the riders that you know are strong or are there with a bigger, competitive team. But once things break apart (which based on the profile probably happened almost immediately) it can be almost impossible to understand what group you are in and how many people are in front of you. So those races are going to take some practice. But at the pointy end it’s going to be a road race with tactics while the further back you go the more it becomes a solo or team time trial

  3. No I don’t think zwift will give you any useful learnings for a race like this.

This is the quote that stands out to me. I think you did this to yourself. Those people probably saw how hard you were pulling and thought “wow he’s just going to do all this work for us and we won’t have to do anything”. So they just sat on your wheel till you died. I don’t know what you did to indicate to them that you would like help but if there were other similarly strong riders with you then you should flick your elbow and swing over and hopefully they pull through. If they don’t because they’re being lazy and not on their limit then you can slow down and force them to work if they want to keep going fast or you can actually talk to them and say “hey we can go much faster if you help me pull. I’m willing to work if some of you come through and contribute.”

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Yes, a 5 hour race is more like a tempo effort. You have to pace yourself and not burn matches.

It’s impossible to compare power to power. How much does the other guy weigh? Is he a lot more aero than you?

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This is exactly how i feel.

Obviously this is the best thing to do. Problem is life is really busy and i have maybe 3-4 races per year i can consider in my agenda :slight_smile:

I already started this, tons of useful videos mostly for crits but i found it very hard to be smart and conscious while you are riding 110% FTP for 10 mins.

Very valid point on riders diversity. Starting from back costed me a lot. Ideal strategy is find the strong guys, waste yourself as little as possible and either push on the climb if you are strong or stick to them until finish line instead of killing yourself on flats and not able to perform at the hill climbs.

Yes as I know these are important variables, assuming 2-3 profiles were not lighter than me but maybe much better on aero positioning and conserving energy.

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You need to learn more about racing and, unfortunately, the only real way to learn about racing is to race. You can learn a lot from short one hour crit races, and that may be more useful than the rare long road race.

In the meantime, the truest book about bike racing is fiction: Krabbe’s “The Rider.”

Two quotes from that book:

  1. “Racing is licking your opponent’s plate clean before starting on your own.” That’s what the others were doing to you: licking your plate clean.

  2. “Every once in a while someone along the road lets us know how far behind we are. A man shouts: ‘Faster!’ He probably thinks bicycle racing is about going fast.” Bicycle racing is about finishing sooner than your opponent. You want to go as slowly as you can as long as that will still let you finish in front of that other rider.

Good luck.

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First of all: well done! There’s nothing wrong with doing all the work, getting dropped and licking your wounds. That’s how you learn your limits and how to push them.

Some people like to sit in, and go for the sprint at the end of the race. Nothing wrong there too; it depends what your goals are.

Try different things at each race and see what works for you. Your power curve is a little too low to be out and out sprinter, but it looks like you could survive a breakaway. Again, it depends on the event and the competition.

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