My friends are very strong...or am I missing something?

Hi, I am 47 years old, 171 cm, 67 kgs, and I have followed plenty of Trainerroad plans. My fitness has increased in the past years. I love climbs. And I have rode several times with younger people (25-35 years old range), and I can’t follow their pace. Many of these guys just make 2-3 rides on a month!!! So I don’t understand it. I am consistent for many months, doing 3-5 rides a week, and then I see this people destroying me…It’s very frustrating to see how people that just make that low number of rides and then they crush you.

So, what is wrong?? :face_with_spiral_eyes:

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Describe “destroying me” in more detail. What are they doing that you cannot?
If it is sprinting, ignore it. Some monster climbers lose out to U17 women in sprinting.

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An example it would be as they say “let’s do a couple of hours of bike”, and just from the beginning, on a flat segment of 12 kms I am on my red zone, 170 bpm (my max is 184) and I decide to turn back and follow my own pace on another direction. Or they do a century ride much much faster than me (and I am more used to 120-130 kms ride than them as they use to do 70-100 kms rides)…

I think the key here is you are struggling to keep up on the flats. I’m guessing you can hang a bit better on the climbs where your weight is an advantage. From a pure FTP perspective, I suspect they are just more powerful than you. From a watt/kg perspective, you may be on better footing, but the unfortunate fact for all of us is, there are lots of folks faster than us. You can work harder than them, but it still may not matter.

What you don’t say is how are you trying to mitigate this. If you are doing any pulls, stop. If you aren’t aero enough, work on getting more aero. If you aren’t drafting well, start drafting. You can make up a pretty sizable difference in watts by sitting in the draft effectively.

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That is not good. Looks like your aerobic fitness is very low. Doing only short sessions with intervals can do that to you but you are also used to 100+km rides which would be 4 hours or so.
You might be slower but being at the max like that is strange and interesting.

And I consider myself a low heartbeat guy, in the 45-55 bpm range and I love the VO2 workouts…
My FTP is 225, Weight 68.0kg, Watts/kg 3.31

I can see 2 groups of cyclist that beat me. The ones as I described, people that only makes 2-3 rides on a month, and other people that are more consistent doing rides with their friends that usually are rides of 2- 3,5 hours, 3-4 times a week.

And I am doing 3-4 workouts of a TR plan, and one outdoor ride of usually 4-5 hours, per week.

How long have you been riding for?

From your weight and ftp looks likely that you would struggle vs others on flat road especially.

I took a look at your calendar for some ideas, I think my thoughts all come back to consistency:
-Once a week really high tss rides, looks like you have a big weekend ride without power meter so that tss could be inaccurate but for sure they’re big rides and those have the potential to throw off your whole week trying to recover from them
-Workouts not fully completed
-Some back to back “hard” rides, Threshold/V02 + sweetspot is the highest intensity combo TR does on the weekends, double V02 or threshold seems problematic, I wasn’t looking closely if you had pairs of rides at high intensity
-Some higher tss rides on days that were recovery per the plan

Now all of these things are fine if you want to do what you enjoy. But my bet is if you focus on consistency and get things closer to the plan intention then you’ll make gains, and sometimes that does require sacrificing enjoyment a bit. For example I’d prefer to ride all mtb as a mtb xco racer but my trails don’t allow me to complete interval workouts so I have to make a balance of how much on the road/trainer vs mtb.

In my opinion as a light rider you want an above average w/kg so you have a reasonable watt/cda vs others, plus a focus on riding smart/aero/draft. The bell curve of avg trainer road riders says 3.3 w/kg is pretty good but I know in any kind of road racing even at the lowest category that would not be enough to stay in the group for the entire race (at least in my area). I mention that since riding fast with others is somewhat like racing re how strong you need to be.

My last thought is how do you know for certain the others ride 2-3 times a month? Its pretty common for cyclists to say they ride less than they do. Or if going by apps like strava, some people use private for various reasons, one reason is to intentionally make it look like they’re not riding. Or they just don’t bother to record all rides.

Also, a preference for vo2max isn’t gonna help you here. When riding as a group, you’re doing tempo up to threshold. Your vo2max preference may also be overrating your FTP, which may be understating the gap in power over longer durations. You can see that you are completing vo2max, but struggling with threshold. I’d do much less vo2max and focus on your base.

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You don’t or can’t complete the easy sweetspot and threshold workouts trainerroad has been giving you. That’s your answer, right there. You’re leaving muscular endurance gains on the table.

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+1. I’ve only seen one rider, who only spent his childhood literally on a couch, poor diet, the works, come out and crush souls in a year or two. He was upper 20’s at the time. It takes a bit of time to build aerobic fitness. IME this gets amplified if the rider was not very active earlier in life the older the rider is. Sort of like a masters rider who was a former pro. They can come out on very limited time and do amazing things. If you or I did what little they do we get crushed. We don’t have the same history.

+1 again. 12km flat and in the red with guys who ride 2-3 times a week is confounding. It’s easy to prescribe ride more (your aerobic fitness is low compared to guys riding much less) but, some other possibilities exist:

  1. The riders you ride with have a much longer history cycling/aerobically than you.
  2. Your really fatigued.
  3. You have an undiagnosed medical condition affecting performance.
  4. Your bike fit is really really really bad. Power and aerodynamics compromised.

Without a lot more info I think we will only have you chasing rabbits. Good luck with your quest.

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I would say I have a buddy here who does the A rides consistently. His normalized power for these entire rides is above your FTP (he does weigh 7-8 kg than you) but they are rolling terrain for 2-3 hours. The guys he rides with are in great shape, but don’t train with structure (he does).

I think if you want to ride with those guys you need to raise your FTP/critical power. I can gaurantee on the flats even in the draft with these riders you are in sweet spot/tempo range when they are in zone 2 (maybe not the person leading the charge). If you raise your FTP then you can more comfortably sit in when W/KG is less important.

Hit those SST/threshold workouts too so you can get mentally used to sitting in these zones for an increase in time. If you like VO2 you are probably good and more anaerobic - so need to work on your weaknesses more than your strengths.

Yeah, this seems suspicious to me…my guess is that they aren’t being truthful about how often they ride.

Guys that ride 2-3 times a month are not dropping the hammer on fast group rides.

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If they’re not training, they could be a lot fresher too. I can get dropped by people on club spins whom I know I am stronger than - but I also know they didn’t do a “hard” 1.5 hour workout the day before (on top of another two key workouts).

Piecemealing some things together here:

  1. You’ve made yourself into a highly glycolytic athlete, meaning you are burning a lot of sugar, even aerobically, because of the extensive focus on interval work and lack of FTP progress.

  2. If your 225W FTP is from a ramp test or AIFTPD, there’s a good chance your actual functional threshold is quite a bit lower. What’s the longest duration you’ve ever ridden at 225W? When was the last time you tried riding a sustained effort of 60min?

  3. You’re not committed to any one plan and it’s left you overly fatigued because you are trying to do everything. (3-4 TrainerRoad interval sessions with a preference for VO2max AND a 5 hour outdoor ride). When was the last time you took a week off? Like totally off the bike?

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You need a faster bike, isn’t it obvious?? :grinning:

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Lots of good points above. One thing some of the answers may be forgetting is that he’s in his upper 40s competing with riders in their 20s. I’m not suggesting that means everything, but it does factor into why they may be able to recover faster/suffer less and why they can come into the weekend ride stronger with less training.

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The first time I broke my collarbone, when I worked my way back, I was the strongest I had ever been. It was because all my fatigue was gone with the month+ of enforced rest, with nothing but quality workouts and reasonable recovery periods.

It may be that you are just overworked.

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I’ve always had a lot of success with sweetspot. It’s a very useful effort level to get good at because it’s reasonably fast and you get good at doing it for a long time. Most “fast” rides will be at or near SS and so if you can get good at holding that pace then you are less likely to get dropped. For real world riding It’s one thing being able to do VO2 max efforts but if you’re all out of gas after 3 minutes then it’s not a lot of use.

So - the answer to your problem can probably be solved by Sweetspot Base. And more carbs.

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Not everyone posts every ride/activity they do on social media.

I leave off my commutes (that’s 8-10 rides a week), weight lifting, rowing, short runs and occasional rides as well.

Those fast people may be doing more than you give them credit for, or have a lifetime of base fitness they’re still running on vs. your few years of more intense training.

+1 for emphasizing sweet spot/tempo and muscular endurance if you want to hang on longer flatter rides.

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