Hello everyone, I had my first gravel “race” this weekend. I say “race” because I have no expectation of winning, but I’d hoped I could do better. Anyway, this is part of a 6 race series in the region and I’d like to do the others, just with less suffering! I think I overpaced the beginning but Im interested in everyone’s thoughts and where to go next for the race and training.
The course was 72 miles, 4,400ft climbing on rolling hills, 50% pavement 50% gravel, 65 degrees outside.
Finish time was 4h 20m. The first 2 hours felt great. Hour 2-3.5, ok, and the last hour was a death march on the edge of cramping at times. I ate 60g of carbs per hour and drank 5 26ox bottles (skratch mix, honey stinger chews, Stinger waffles, GU Roctane gels).
I did set some power PR’s around the 30 minute mark, and also everything from 1h 30m and up was a power PR.
I just finished SSB LV+ 1 and 2. I say “+” because I did 3 to 4 indoor TR rides each week from the MV plan with a 3-4 hour outdoor ride on the weekend. My FTP is at an all time high and I’m 3.6 w/kg.
I’ve got a month to the next race and am going to start General Build LV+ this week, looking to have the rest week the week before the next event. Event 3 is a month after that, so the next block and rest week there too.
I listened to the 2 most recent FasCat podcasts on the way home from the race and he discussed that “your FTP decreases as you ride.” I would say I definitely felt that, so how do I extend that? Whats next? Pace better and ride alone more on event day, letting the group go at the event sooner? Does my fitness just “lack depth?” How can I address this?
I think you have to be more precise here: it is not your FTP that decreases, but the all-out aerobic power decreases as you fatigue and e. g. as elevation and other factors change. FTP has a precise definition (e. g. as lactate threshold 2).
Pacing is hugely important, and the fact that you set power PRs around the 30-minute mark indicates to me that you paced incorrectly. Many people go way too hard in the beginning, and they end up paying the price in the end. You should use your power meter to pace your effort correctly, i. e. look at the distance of your events and the elevation change, and then estimate roughly how many hours you will spend in the saddle.
As far as training for such long events goes, you can either raise your FTP as you have done now and pace at a lower percentage. Or you can aim to raise the percentage of FTP, while not improving FTP as much. The latter, more traditional approach takes much more training time to get an equivalent benefit.
IMHO you should work on your pacing and your discipline outdoors. Try to set yourself specific pacing goals. Consistency in pacing is a big plus, i. e. try to push roughly the same power uphill than on the flats. Don’t try to kill yourself on the climbs and limp along on the flats. Our bodies like consistency. Also, learn to be disciplined. Set yourself power targets and stick to them.
Thanks to everyone for input! I definitely learned some new ways to break down the data.
I will shoot to up the carbs and will start that on my workouts right away, as well as my weekend outdoor rides.
As I looked back through my past rides, I realized that I had ridden then shooting for 4 hours of ride time, which I often hit, but usually spent so much time taking pictures, changing clothes, coffee stops, etc, that my rolling time never hit that 4.5 hour target. So may add a field to my Wahoo for rolling time in order to build this.
Also, at the next race I wont make an attempt to stick with the main group for any period of time and I’ll ride steadier and hopefully more comfortably the whole time.
I think you over extended early on and paid for it the last hour.
What I do for my gravel training is choose a known gravel course around where you live.
Pick out the pacing strategy and attack the course for the amount of time you feel like the race will take. I bring all the same foods and prepare the same way I would just like a race. I then go back and take a look at the data and say I can hold that pace, let me try to hold 80% the first hour and then do 70% the final 3 hours. Reason for this is if you can stick on the group early on, maybe it slows down after an hour to a zone you can work at. Or maybe you go out in training at 70% for 3 hours and attack the final hour at 80% like you would in a race if you were in the group.
probably smart as the main group will have some stronger riders, but I wouldn’t say not to stick to any group. You’ll need to be more careful about finding a group that is at a compatible pace, but I think riding with a group would be beneficial overall. That may be slightly faster than you want because you rarely get to set the group’s pace yourself. You’ll just need to learn when to drop back.
You have a pretty high VI in that data…some of that in the first hour is undoubtedly from trying to ahng with the front group, but the trend continues throughout the ride, until you completely blew in the last hour.
It is a fine line between “gaining time” by hanging with the front group for an extended period and burning too many matches early on.
Looking back on my DK200 experience in 2019, I probably hung with the front group too long (~90 minutes). I felt fine when I let the group go and did so consciously (OK, time to let them go and settle in). But I had been very sick the weekend before (fever, body aches, literally could barely get out of bed, etc). Had I been 100% healthy, I probably would have been OK with where I let the group go…but my body was in no shape for that kind of effort. I pad the price with whole body cramps @ mile ~75. My first ever voluntary DNF. No way I could get my body through another 125 miles.
POint is…better to be conservative early on and let people go. Chances are that you’ll reel in a lot of those guys later in the race anyway.
Try and even out your pacing (which is difficult in gravel races with hills and coasting)…but that will help you a lot later in the race.
You are way too close to FTP for the first and second hour. You probably went over FTP as well many times which drained your glycogen.
I did a 5 hour event last year. I didn’t try to race it but wanted to enjoy the ride and finish without the death march at the end. I used a HR cap of 80% of max to limit intensity. This corresponded to around tempo/SS for me. I only exceeded it a few times on long climbs. It worked. I felt good until the end and only cramped a tiny bit on the last climb. If I hadn’t stopped at rest stops, I would have been top 10 in my age group.
Your average power for the ride was 63% of FTP which puts you in zone 2. So think about high zone 2 / lower zone 3 for your next ride.
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