How to prepare for next years Tuesday night Chaingang/Paceline

Hi everyone,
I started cycling on May 2018 and 2020 has been my second full season. I ride with power and my power record for 20 minute is 300 watts. calculates my FTP at 287 watts.
My favourite group ride in the summer is the Tuesday night Chaingang, which consists on the same loop once per week, full gas taking turns at the front.
I usually can manage the first two thirds of the ride skipping some turns and then drop in some short not too steep drags towards the final third. I then continue at my own pace and sometimes finish with average speeds over 40 km/h or about 25 mph for imperial unit lovers.
The full gas lap for the front group is around 40-44 minutes; I dug out from Strava the power file from a guy that systematically finishes on the front group and is slightly heavier than me.
In order to reproduce this power file indoors I did 30 second average of the power file and obtained the following data:
If I am able to finish this workout in ERG mode, it will mean I am completely prepared for next year’s ride. I find a bit farfetched to think I can improve so much until next May (start of the season), but still the question is: how do I get there? (or close)
As you can see, the level is super high. There are truly fast guys around here, and an FTP of around 330 watts seems to be needed, but also surges of more than 460 watts for 30 seconds. The ride has an overall IF of 1.16 for 39 minutes at my current fitness level which is obviously out of I would say anyone’s reach, and shows clearly why I drop.
It would be nice to hear the thoughts of the forum on how to prepare for this.
Thanks in advance!

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We do a Tuesday night Chaingang - same 25 mile flat loop (154ft elevation) every week. About 25mph for an hour.

In terms of getting round for the first time, my advice is:

  • no hero pulls - get to the front and pull off
  • get behind someone bigger than you (or the next largest)
  • move positions in the group if the person in front of you surges a lot (sit off the back and tighten your shoe or whatever)
  • eat well 2-3 hours before and a gel 15 mins before the start
  • try to relax and keep it smooth
  • work on VO2 and anaerobic efforts - each turn at the front tends to be at or above FTP if it’s a spicy one, this will help out of corners and to get on the back of the group after your turn
  • improve your FTP - makes almost everything easier!

That’s some great advice ^^^^^^

Talk to the guys you’re friendly with beforehand and let them know you’re just looking to survive. They probably already know you’re getting dropped each week and shouldn’t really care if you’re just hanging on as long as you can (unless you then contest the sprint, in which case they can and should work to drop you)

Survive as long as you can without doing any pulls, or doing minimal pulls. Once you can make it to the finish add in more balanced pulls until you’re doing equal work with the others.

If the group isn’t friendly enough to let you hang on without doing any work on the front then time your pulls strategically. Be on the front going up hill and just ride your own pace, make them come around you if they want to hit it harder. Don’t pull into a headwind, don’t pull downhill. Don’t close any gaps but stay tight on the wheels that are closing them. If the guy in front of you surges and there are people behind you let a gap open and have someone else come around and close it for you.


Thanks everyone for their inputs, they were very useful.
The fact is I have been going for two years already and most of what you guys mention I have little by little found out painfully by myself.
My question was more on the training side.
Are there any suggestions on how can I step up my current fitness of 287 watts estimated FTP to the fitness finishing in the first group requires?
Obviously, having higher FTP, doing VO2max and anaerobic efforts should be the bread and butter, but any training advice is welcome!

More volume, more consistency, better nutrition, better recovery :wink:. Joking a bit, but after 2.5 years of training (assuming you’ve been doing mostly the right things) you’ve probably picked all the low hanging fruit already. You’ll likely still get some marginal but diminishing gains year to year just from sticking at it, but for the kind of FTP improvement you’re talking about you probably do need to look at changing things up significantly in at least one of the four things I’ve listed.

Have you looked at the watts that other riders are putting out? There’s often quite a big disparity on these kind of rides and this guy might be an outlier towards the high end if he’s consistently front group and therefore putting in longer or harder turns than others who are just trying to survive. Hopefully he’s not an outlier at the low end! 40kph average doesn’t sound like a crazy high speed for this kind of ride (appreciate that watts:speed relationship depends quite a bit on road surface, wind, how technical it is, etc) - I’d be a bit surprised if a 330W FTP was the required entry ticket. Unless it’s very surgey and you’re getting dropped by big accelerations (or power surges over short climbs) as opposed to just gradually running out of gas?

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Agreed - you don’t need a 330w FTP to hang. If you shelter well and skip turns then even more so…

I’ve done 335w NP/ 326w Av solo round our 1 hour loop, just to see how quick I could go solo. However in a group, it tends to be more like 300w for me due to time drafting. One week when there was a big group, I was going round slower people and putting in some big efforts, and still only did 309w NP/281w Av (277w going by Strava) because of the size of the group (8 or 9 riders). Here are some results from the segment on that ride:


A type 2 diabetic racer, his Strava said something about high blood sugar and that he “sat on for most”

A very talented female racer - pulled a bit, but hung in the group plenty:

My point is someone who did 63w less than me made it round without getting dropped.

I have managed to finish a couple on “easier” days, but I can not finish in the front group on a regular basis. The guy I took the power from is 7 kg heavier than me (80 kg vs 87kg), I agree he is a kind of big powerful guy.
The course has 2 very different parts, the first part is slightly rolling but mostly flat and is easy to skip a pull and recover (no one is really mean that would not allow this in this group).
The second part starts with a 4 minute drag at 2% which is done at high speed, I can usually hang on here still but can put me on the red.
But then a series of short 1 minute 5% climbs start, in particular 3 to 5 if I remember correctly, this are climbed at 500 watts and then require to fall back into close to threshold, maybe I can do one, but many times I drop. And in this efforts there is no hiding.
Granted if I lost weight it would make my life much easier as indeed my power gains are slow at the moment…
For reference data from my buddy:
Strava segment of the full course and its 2 parts:

Example of surge (and this day I believe it was not the most aggressive, I’ve seen even 530 watts)
This is my data; this day I dropped just at the beginning of the second part as I left a gap and I was too cooked to close it):

I took the power curve from my buddy and I did 30 second averages:

I then created based on this power a Trainerroad workout, by adding a warmup and cool down:

It has 39 minutes at 334 watts normalised and is obviously currently outside of my reach.
However if I scale the power so that the normalised power matches my ftp do you think this is a good workout to prepare for the actual effort?
Or what do you think about separating the file into chunks of 5 to 10 minutes and do them at the original high power?
Thanks for your replies!

Besides the energy conserving tips, I think this is the best advice. I would not be concerning yourself with the specificity of the exact effort 5 months away from your ‘A-event’. Put in the hard work between now & then and all of the gains (or weight loss) that you make will reduce the amplitude of those harder efforts. Not sure race simulations are your best bet right now.

For me, I’d use every time I got dropped or unable to ride on the front as motivation to suffer through the carpathian peak +3 or Kaiser and then come ride time, change your mindset to tell yourself that you’ve put the work in, that you have the fitness, you belong here and you’ve suffered through worse.

What does plan builder spit out for you? There should be some decent training simulations in short power build and rolling road race / crit?

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