How do you maintain a steady pace outside?

Practice and being in the zone, or flow state.

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@OreoCookie, here are screenshots of graphs from 2 indoor trainerroad workouts and 2 outdoor rides.


temperature wise, I don’t see a huge difference between indoors and outdoors. Indoors- around 22-23ºC and it is 1ºC-3ºC cooler outdoors given the wind and how close I am to the coastline here in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Well yes I am facing this issue. I cannot ride at a high cadence outdoors (>82 RPM) as if I do, my heart rate will increase. I also do intervals in outdoor workouts at a lower cadence. For example, I usually ride at 90 rpms with ERG mode when I am doing a sweetspot workout on the trainer. When I do a sweetspot workout outdoors, I keep my cadence around 80-82 RPMS as I find it easier to keep a steady pace at that cadence. Any higher and I will overshoot my sweetspot zone.

I see many riders on the same roads that I ride on average around 29.0km/h to 30.0km/h with the power I am producing on solo rides. However, I cannot seem to average that kind of speed even when I keep pushing harder. I suspect that I am not riding smoothly and it is unnecessarily driving up my average heart rate.

Edit: same powermeter (favero assioma- single-sided left) on all rides and it is calibrated before every ride.

Edit 2: keeping heart rate in check also seems to be a great idea. I usually start the ride at around 210-230W at 142 bpm average for 1.5 hours and then my average goes to 148-153 for that same range of power leading to increase in RPE and overall fatigue.

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Why is an increase in heart rate a bad thing? In a sense, that is the precise point of Z2 workouts: you train your cardiovascular system to take more load. I think you should focus at normal-to-high cadences if you haven’t done much above 82 rpm. Basically, it allows you to shift the strain at higher wattages from your leg muscles to your cardiovascular system. I think you thinking you have to do everything to not make your heart rate go up is actually bad for your training.

If you find it easier to keep your pedal stroke steady at slower cadences, then this suggests to me that maybe your pedaling technique is not up to snuff. One way to address this is on indoor endurance workouts with lots of small changes of power levels, workouts such as Black. This way you can easily coordinate cadence changes with changes in power, and you only have to hold uncomfortable cadences for 1–3 minutes at a time. You should really push to wide the gamut of cadences you find acceptable. IMHO that should be at least 70–110 rpm. At the outer edges, say, 100–110 rpm you don’t have to feel as if it is the most comfortable cadence for you, just that you can hold it for a while. Note that a fast cadence will tend to increase your heart rate. That is fine and intended.

Forget about heart rate, please, that has nothing to do with it. Usually on solo rides the biggest factors are wind and being aero. Since wind is the same for everybody riding at roughly the same day and same time, you should look into becoming more aero.

I had a look at your power profiles. Am I correct in assuming that the indoor workouts were in erg mode? If yes, then the work bits of the intervals look normal, nothing unusual I’d say. Apart from the three dips, your cadence looks perfectly steady, if a bit low in absolute value. A lot depends on your trainer and how it reacts to changes in cadence, not you. But your rest intervals look uneven and spikey. Were you shifting gears for some reason?

Here is my last workout from this morning: for the majority of the rest intervals I switch into ergo mode, but the rest was in resistance mode. On the last one you see that I was alternating cadence by shifting one gear to make time pass. (It was one of those days where the workout was easy physically, but hard on me mentally.) Also, ignore the dips in power after each interval, these just come from shifting.

I’d try to do more indoor workouts in resistance mode. If you are having trouble, start with easy endurance workouts.

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Step 1: Find yourself a good route with few interruptions, and not overly hilly, so that you can maintain your target wattage on the downhills, too.
Step 2: Get in the zone. :grinning: My ride from yesterday, an out-and-back that’s absolutely ideal. Spike in the middle is me turning around.

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You need to learn the skill of riding smoothly. Cadence and power are not married(unless you’re riding single speed) find the gear that allows the cadence and power you’re looking for.

your outside rides, were they intended to be endurance rides? if so, you spend WAY too much time not riding in that zone. You were above the endurance zone 56% of the time on your first one and almost 60% on the second one. unless you’re out of gears, don’t go above 213w.

Any other riding? If yes, what type of riding and what did power profile look like?

Makes comparison easier.

So would you say the biggest differences are a) wind, b) fixed position on bike while using trainer, and c) the use of Erg and steady cadence while on the trainer.

I’m reluctant to offer suggestions without better understanding your situation, however my initial reaction is it sounds like you haven’t done enough 2 hour endurance rides. This is one the first thing I learned about developing an aerobic base of fitness from reading Friel’s Training Bible back in 2016.

Have you routinely done any 2 hour aerobic endurance workouts, to establish aerobic endurance before doing the intensity work of SSB1 and SSB2 LV?

Again I’m reluctant to offer suggestions without understanding first, but it sounds like some undergear work might help: Spinning on hills. Grinding on flats. What’s going on? - #15 by WindWarrior to increase your cadence range. Do you usually ride at 90rpm in Erg on the trainer, possibly with the exception of following the Coach Chad cadence prompts in the TR app?

Hope that helps.

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More aero, simple.

I guess my question is… why do you need it to be “steady”?

We race outside where there are hills, wind, terrain challenges, temperature variation, etc. Why not train there? I get wanting to keep things “zone 2” but I’m my opinion if we (coaches, athletes, etc.) are worried about a HR or effort jump, we are overthinking it. This is both art and science.

To be good at riding outside (racing) you need to ride outside. Riding on the trainer is a great tool but ultimately you’ll end up really good at riding on a trainer and wondering why you can’t do the same outside in a race.


Those outdoor rides look fairly normal. The power profile is never going to be as smooth (or anywhere close) to an artificially smooth erg ride. Unless you’re riding a TT on a closed, flat, straight, and windless course there’s going to be minor disruptions to the power profile (even then, unless your level of focus is amazing). You may want to use power smoothing (on the head unit or post ride, or both) if it bothers you. 10 or 30 second averaging would keep it a lot steadier.

Also, everything else being equal your heart rate would probably be a bit higher outdoors anyway as your brain has to do more (balance, steer, avoid potholes, etc) than it does on a trainer where all that you need to do is push the pedal down when it comes up. At least, that’s my pet theory on why I hit higher heartrates during (some) mass start races than I can while riding on the rollers doing similar (ish) efforts.

@yajvans that ^ is a good question. Your first post ended with “how do I maintain a steady pace outside to last longer and avoid overcooking myself?” so there is an assumption you believe smoothing out power will result in less ‘overcooking’ but its really not that clear.

And a similar question - what was the goal/objective of the two outside rides you posted power screenshots? Group ride? Attempting to do a zone2 ride outside? Just riding around? Something else?

I want it to be steady because that is my goal. I do not race, but I want to enjoy riding my bike. I am training for the rapha festive 500 outdoors this December and have couple of A, B and C century events and multi-day long rides planned along the way. I am following SSB (LV1 & 2) → Sustained power build LV → Century LV.

By enjoying riding my bike, I mean:

  1. Being able to ride long distances with low overall RPE. I don’t want my HR to drastically increase after 2-3 hours on a ride. I see some local non-pro riders on my strava feed where it takes them a couple of hours to experience substantial cardiac drift. FYI, I am 21 years old with a max heart rate of 205 bpm.

  2. Have a high average speed (greater than 29.0 km/h).

@WindWarrior the objective of those two outside rides were an attempt to do zone 2 endurance rides. I realize that I wasn’t in zone 2 most of the time even though I felt like I was in zone 2 most of the time.

Century rides and Festive 500 sound like fun goals. Steady endurance rides are primarily about developing more metabolic fitness in your leg muscles. Adaptations are primarily driven by duration. I’m nearly 3 times your age and have been doing 4-6 hours of endurance a week for about 18 months, and have seen excellent results. They do work but are not front and center in most of the TR plans. The old saying is “go slow to get fast” and it does require patience.


Are you supplementing the LV plans with additional z2 volume?

Does that include drift due to ambient temperature increases? Hydration level changes?

Are you accounting for hydration or ambient temp changes when doing this analysis? How often are they riding at or longer than the time it takes for them to experience cardiac drift? Ex. if Rider A typically starts to drift around 3 hrs in, how often are they doing 2-3 hour rides? What about 3+ hr rides?

Yes, I am doing additional Zone 2 endurance rides. I average around 7-10 hours per week of riding in total. I also strength train (just shoulders and back maintenance with a barbell).

I don’t seem to notice HR drift due to dehydration. I was dehydrated in a 5h endurance ride couple of weeks ago and while I noticed an increase in RPE, I didn’t notice a decrease in HR after replenishing with water and pepsi (good source of carbs and electrolytes). Maybe cuz I pushed myself above threshold in the hills following the convenience store where I stopped to replenish.

Regarding other riders, they are rarely ride and when they do ride, their numbers (watts and speed) are amazing! I have a very hard time beleiving that they rarely ride, and I suspect that they hide their training to the public or don’t post at all. However, some of them keep their rides available to the public and one of them at least does one 3 hour or 2.5 hour ride per week and does a ~4 hour ride once every 4 weeks.

Are you able to maintain a steady power if you target 50% FTP instead of the above which looks like 80%?

Yes I am.

I noticed that to hold a speed of 30km/h- I need to be in one of the last 3 small gears on my casette. To be in those gears, I would need to hold around 230-240W and I am just not there yet in terms of my fitness. I recently had an FTP increase of 8W from 280 to 288, which puts my upper limit of zone 2 to around 219W. So I can comfortably hold around 200-210W and cruise around 28.00 to 29.00km/h on flat roads for now without having a high RPE.

How tall/big are you? I’m 185cm 75kg and with a power of around and with a power of around 200 W I can average 34km/h on flats with little to no wind

(Eg today with 8.7 km/h NNW wind I cycled SW for 26.79 km in 46:50 average speed 34.3km/h 202W and 141 bmp, my ftp is way lower than yours btw)

That seems wrong to me, both, the gearing and the wattage needed to reach 30 km/h. Assuming no headwind, you should be able to do 30–35 km/h at 200–220 W easy. It depends a little on how aero you can be, but even sitting up 30 km/h at less than 200 W should be no problem even with a little wind. For reference, I’m 1.78 m, 74 kg. When I get aero and put out this kind of power, I can reach speeds in excess of 34, 35 km/h. (It is a bit hard to tell since in practice there is always wind.)

Ditto for the gearing: assuming you have a compact chainset (50/34) and something like a 11-32 cassette, it is unlikely you are in any of the three smallest gears. To do 30 km/h in 50:13, you’d have to grind away at 66 rpm. Even if your self-selected cadence at speed is 90 rpm, you’d do 40–50 km/h if you are in the big ring and the smallest three gears.

If you are really stuck in such small gears, I’d really train to increase the range of cadence at which you feel comfortable.

I am 173cm and weigh 71-72kgs. I checked out my rides and yes I do average around 27.5 to 30km/h when I ride between 200-220W. Given that I live in a hilly area, my NP for endurance rides is around 220 to 225W. I usually ride at tempo or on the lower range of sweetspot on the climbs. I am not entirely sure if I maintain a steady 200+W on the flats as when I check my normalized power, it is often more than 210W for the most part.

FYI to get out of town, I have a steep 8% average gradient climb for 1.5kms followed by some rollers and ~2.5 km at an average 4% gradient climb before I get to flat roads. By the time I get out of town, my normalized power is around 235W, which is quite high for endurance rides given that my FTP is 288W.

I do not ride aero and I mostly ride on the hoods. I always calibrate my powermeter before doing a ride indoors or outdoors and my heartrate matches accordingly with my effort. On a recent ride with headwind for around 10 kms and couple of short climbs, I averaged 25.8km/h with an average power of 218W and a normalized power of 224W.

@ArHu74 what powermeter are you using?

edit: here is the data for the latest group ride where I was riding quite unsteadily which led to premature burnout. I joined an intermediate group ride and had a hard time keeping up due to my efforts being spiky in nature. This ride left my fatigued for 2 days!


One thing I haven’t seen people mention yet: Have you done a three hour endurance ride indoors? I have a similar FTP (281) and if I were to set my ERG mode power at 210 and pedal for 3 hours I would probably be feel pretty beat by the end of it.

Looking at the rides you posted, in the second TR workout you averaged 219 with np of 236. In both endurance rides you averaged around 210 with np of around 220. If you want to compare apples to apples you’d have to do the second TR workout 2 more times (and slightly reduce power). Do you think you would feel tired at the end of that?

Also, if I do a steady Z2 ride outside I do not average 75% of FTP. Stops lights, stop signs, food stops, turns, hills, etc. all mean my average power on a z2 ride will be closer to 180 with np between 190 and 200.

In fact, when I average 75% of FTP on a ride outside, I am generally pedaling between 230 and 250. It looks like you did the same. You are spending over 50% of your ride in tempo, sweet spot, and threshold.

Here is an article about Alex wild’s 2021 Leadville. His AP is 224 and NP at 262. These are 65% and 77% of his FTP at elevation (340). He also mentions ‘bonking’ at 4 hours in.

Point being: Averaging 75% of FTP for a ride that includes a fair amount of coasting and light pedaling down hills is going to require a lot of time above your endurance zone.