Hitting the target Watts outside

Just looking for a bit of advice and to see if anyone else is or has had this… and what they did to resolve.

Last night I went out for a ride with the aim of doing a few sweet spot intervals. It’s not often I ride out on my own I either tend to be in the garage doing a TR workout or doing a group ride once per week. The group ride is tough and I’m seldom on the front in the wind.

Last night I found that holding sweet spot on the inclines was easy however on the flats I found it really tough to get to the intended power out. Some of my thoughts…

Too reliant on ERG mode modulating the power and need to develop my ability to hold it for myself
All my workouts are currently little ring at the front and I’m not used to riding in the big ring and inertia that it brings
Different cassette with smaller gaps to help keep cadence at a comfy spot
Riding in the wind at 21 or so MPH is new to me and need to get used to it

If anyone has any tips or has experienced this let me know thanks!

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I have had the same experience. Last weekend’s ride I found it difficult to keep the pace with my teammates on the flats, and yet every single hill I was waiting at the top for them without digging deep.

Everyone’s power curve is unique, and fatigue sets in differently,

Putting power on the flat is quite different. I have a closed road crit circuit near my house on which I enjoy doing my SS and VO2Max workouts during the summertime. I realized that it’s easier to put out constant power with a lower cadence.

For example, my normal cadence for inside SS workouts is 95, but outside, on the flat, I aim for 80-85. It’s easier to apply a constant power on the entire powerstroke that way.


I just think it’s practice. It doesn’t take too long and you start to figure out how to better apply and keep force on the pedals in those non uphill situations where it’s difficult to do. Very suttle changes in wind and terrain can easily show up as 30+!!! Variations in wattage. I am starting to anticipate tiny terrain changes better and adjust resulting in smoother output. Wind is tricky, just gotta react!
Good luck, keep at it and you will get smoother


I’ve felt this as well. It’s a constant back and forth between my gut and my brain. My gut says “weeeee you’re going fast you must be hammering!” and my brain looks at my head unit and shakes its head in disappointment.

As far as advice goes, a higher cadence has helped me keep the watts up at high speeds. But @jeanchristopheroy just said a lower cadence helps him, so clearly it’s a pretty personal thing :slight_smile: Trial and error time!

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I agree that this takes practice, but I very much doubt it has anything to do with ERG mode specifically. It is all mental when you’re outside.

You feel yourself going fast and unconsciously let your legs relax, you need to keep an eye on your power number if you want to remind yourself that even though you’re going fast, you can go even faster! On the other hand, when you’re on a hill you expect to have to be putting out big watts so it just happens.

Out of interest, what metric are you looking at on your device outside? Remember that you are usually working to a power range (220-240W etc) not 225 dead on.

If you are showing average power then you’ll never hit the power required as the fluctuations are too great. I use 3s power, but you may find 10s power keeps you focused a bit more. I say focus as you won’t be trying to react to those fluctuations quite as much.

I wasn’t trying to do any specific workout. I have a Bolt so 4 green lights means sweetspot, on the climbs always felt like I had to take some off to come back from Vo2 and Threshold on the flats I would feel like I was pushing hard. Look down and it would be Tempo and sometimes less.

I use powermatch on TR so effectively same power meter so that rules out any changes there.

My experience with the outdoors vs indoors

Peakpower and power above 120% i far easier outside.

Steady power way harder

Avg power tends to align both places.

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I feel like unless you’re pulling on the front of a bunch or riding a time trial, you’re really unlikely to be doing constant sweetspot or threshold efforts on the flat anyway. In a race you’ll be pedalling and resting, pedalling and resting, over threshold then coasting, hanging on then cruising.

So there’s an element of not worrying too much about it, and if you’ve got longer climbs, do sweetspot on those.

If your course is flat / rolling, stick normalised power (lap) as a field on your computer, and just aim to achieve that over the course of 30-90 minutes for a good workout.

Right but I think the OP is talking about training outside. If the workout calls for SS intervals and you’re taking them outside you need to focus on holding a range, not telling yourself “hey if in a race this type of work won’t matter hear” because that defeats the whole purpose of the workout.

I think I’m basically saying “find a climb or do it on the trainer”.

I don’t think anything above tempo is really feasible on most flat roads for long periods, unless you’re willing to accept some serious fluctuations in power.

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Funny. I’m a relatively big guy in a fairly hilly area, so I have trouble keeping up with people on climbs, but tear away on the flats. I took a trip and did a group ride in a flatter area. I passed them all on the few relatively mild climbs (which they were genuinely apprehensive of), but really struggled to barely keep up with the paceline on the flats.

With practice you can get those fluctuations down though. This is their acknowledgement that outdoor workouts will be lower quality than indoor, but doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile

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I agree and find it interesting that people are “learning this the hard way” after years of TR stating these issues as the reason to “stay indoors” (at least for the “quality sessions”).

I do think there are benefits to doing some structured workouts outside because they can help bridge the gap to outside event efforts with respect to gearing, positioning, dealing with irregularities and such.

As with anything, there are pro’s/con’s and you should looks at them with open eyes. Then choose based on your needs and preferences. They are all good in their own way and can be used in various combinations for a successful plan aimed at our goals.

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If you want to do a time trial or a solo break on the flats, though, riding above tempo on a flat road might be worthwhile to practice.

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It is interesting and does make a very good case for indoor workouts be of a higher quality.

However, I think if someone can’t put down the power on flats, that might be a skill deficiency that should be worked on. To me, it seems like this is almost a case of leaving power on the table. What good is a huge FTP on the trainer, if it isn’t translated to the road?

I’ve noticed this same issue myself, one of the main reason I find my indoor FTP to be higher than my outdoor FTP.

Outside I’m constantly spinning faster or slower or shifting to keep my power on target while dealing with the variations in road surfaces and grades. I think this constant movement in my power output causes me to fatigue faster outdoors as opposed to inside where I can just peg my power to a certain number and not worry about over or undershooting that target.

It also doesn’t help that the speeds are really high doing intervals outside, so I have to worry about not ending up in an epic crash. Sometimes I actually prefer to train on my mountain bike to get the speeds down.


Yes, despite myths to the contrary, riding outside is different than riding inside :wink:

Holding a steady power at higher outputs does take some practice. Also, holding an exact number is basically impossible so think in terms of a range rather than one number (btw sweet spot or any other target is a range not a number – the single number targets in TR are a function of ease of computer programming along with having to control an Erg that wants a specific number, not some specific training methodology).

As for data metrics, I like to use both real time power and 3 second power at the same time. Looking at both at the same time lets you see short term trends as they develop rather than just chasing your tail.

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In the context of my reply, I was relating to the workouts done outside. That means riding with intent to hold a particular power range to meet the demands of the specified interval.

That is very different from just putting out power on a ride, event or race. The closest parallel between the workout and an event is something along the lines of a TT, where you aim to hold a particular power range for a paced plan.

Otherwise, I don’t see the training aspect (indoors or outside) being a “power limiter”. That is down to the rider, their motivation and ability to turn the pedals over. Of course, the variability mentioned will pay into that, but the training prior (again, in the context of my comment) is not likely to “limit” peak power, IMHO.

When I said riding in the wind I meant on my own. Tucked away with a group I feel more able to put the power down?