This might just because because I am wimp, but my NP during my last two races (with the last one yesterday was only my seventh race or so ever) NP was about 15 watts below my ramp test FTP and within three watts of each other. Both races were 47 and 48 minutes, I think.
Does this mean that this is my real FTP and I am flogging myself plenty hard, or that I am not going hard enough for the length of the race? Or is riding for 45 minutes at the ragged edge of my lactate threshold a skill one simply has to master?
For context, I am consistently off the back for the length of the race, so road races end up essentially being a TT for me. Yesterday I felt like I had legs left afterwards but my spirit could not have survived another lap. I was bargaining with myself just to hold power on the final climb. Haha.
Am assuming you’re using the same PM indoors and out, otherwise differences could just be discrepancies between PMs. What was your AP? If it really is a TT type effort then AP and NP should be within a few watts of each other, if they’re not then that means you had sections of surging and/or coasting which mean it’s not really a TT effort. You mention a climb, which presumably also means there’s a descent where you may have been easing off the power. I guess there was also a part at the beginning of the race where you were trying to hang with the pack and may have gone above threshold doing so before you got dropped? In this case that would likely put a dent in your sustainable power for the rest of the race.
If it’s the same PM, and AP and NP were close, then conclusion would be that that number is…(drum roll)….the power you can currently hold for ~48 minutes when riding outside. Doesn’t mean that you should change your FTP for indoor training. In fact if you’re completing workouts OK at that FTP then you shouldn’t change it. It does mean that you currently can’t hold your FTP for 48 minutes, either because you don’t have the necessary endurance and/or mental strength or pain tolerance to do so.
FTP doesn’t necessarily equate to the power you can ride for 1 hour, it equates to the power you use for setting workout intensity. A TT rider, triathlete or climber who needs long, steady power might be able to hold FTP for over an hour. A sprinter or crit racer might only be able to hold it for quite a bit less than an hour. Question for you is whether it’s better to work on increasing the length of time you can hold FTP, which would mean doing lots of longer SS and Threshold intervals. Or raise your FTP with more VO2 and Anaerobic work. If this is the kind of race you want to compete in then I would suggest the latter - holding a slightly higher steady power just means finishing a bit closer to the pack but still off the back. Raising your FTP gives you a better chance of being able to hang with the surges and accelerations and stay with the pack for longer, which means getting a chance to recover in the draft.
The descents would certainly explain it then! In which case crack on with the training and the weight loss and good luck. Maybe pick flatter courses if that’s an option, weight only really penalises you on climbs or on technical courses where you need to accelerate out of corners (and even then improving your handling and positioning to carry more speed through the corner can cover most of the difference). On a flat course you should be able to hang in the pack if you have the wattage, even with some extra pounds.
more importantly, move up. Riding in the back is just allowing you to yo-yo and respond to every surge that is amplified when you’re in the back. Ride in the first third of the group; you’ll have way less surges, can ride more smoothly, therefore going anaerobic less often and hopefully hanging in the race longer.