Need Advice for pacing 165k race, but with only HR/rpe

First time racer here! I was wondering if you have any advice for novice racer for 165km race with 1,8km climbing. Route is basically Up hill section>down hill section or flat>Uphil> downhill etc. You can check it here Routes - The Northwest Bulgaria Bike Tour (last one). I was thinking to go tempo or sweet spot pace on hills /long hills/ and take some rest on the downhill and flats afterwards and then repeat. My goal time is 6 hours and definitely i don’t want to go in the red! Have you ever got similar experience? Main goal is to finish in top 30%. It is amateur race. I finished 12 weeks maybe of SS base and than did Sustainable power build both on low volume + endurance rides when possible. Swapped specialty for more outdoor long rides to take some saddle time. I did increase my sustainable power from trainerroad plans. My ftp went from 200 to 250. Unfortunately i do not posses power meter for now. I will need year or two to save for one. Thank you in advance. I feel prepared with the fueling part and need help for pacing/strategy. Thank you

Have you done other similar rides outdoors?

To be honest, I don’t think you need a powermeter for anything like that anyway. Your best option would be to find a group that rides at what feels a good pace to you, may like a faster endurance pace. If you have a good group, it’s probably worth spending a bit of extra energy to stick with them on climbs etc, but if you don’t, or if they’re going to fast, just make sure you’re not going too hard at the start and on climbs and not too easy when it’s flat.

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Hey, I will definitely try to find a group that matches my pace. I haven’t done similar outdoor ride in terms of duration, but I have done numerous climbing specific rides. Yesterday I did half of the race climb (800 meters) in just 1 hour climbing in mountain with hills much harder than ones in the race. I felt pretty strong. I intended to do 1200 meters of climbing, but the rain stopped me.

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Nice work with the training up to this point! :muscle:

I think your pacing plan sounds spot on. Tempo/sweet spot pace up those climbs should keep you moving pretty quickly, but it should also prevent you from going into the red.

If you know your threshold heart rate, you can check to make sure your HR doesn’t go above threshold on those climbs. If it starts to creep up, you may want to ease up a little bit to make sure you stay in line with your pacing strategy.

You can also use good old RPE, of course! If your effort feels like “work” but it also feels sustainable, that should be a good sign that you’re in that tempo/sweet spot range.

I also like the suggestion from @splash – finding a group of riders that are going about the same pace as you would be a good idea as well. You can save a lot of energy by working with a group, and it can even be worth some extra effort to catch up to a group if you need to (or ease up a bit to let a group catch up to you). It will probably make your overall time faster if you are able to work with other riders. Just be sure to keep your pulls on the front in check – if you go too deep, you might pay for it later on.

Hope this helps – feel free to let me know if you have any other questions!

From my experience:

  • I used to have higher HR at the beginning of the race. Usually it led to overpacing the beginning and then struggling towards the end
    • E.g. stay calm on a more than comfortable pace (adrenalin makes you feeling so great initial 15 minutes) but you are about to stay there several hours and it will pay off towards the end
  • Focus on hydration and eating since beginning
  • It is very tempting to follow a better group than what are you able to handle (be aware that many people are trying to do that) - the benefit is that you will very quickly get pretty far - downside is that if you will not quit the group soon enough you will be struggling later
  • Once you finish - just think about what to do better next time :slight_smile:

Good luck

Thanks for all of your replies. I took notes! Will tell you the race went. I will try not to burn my matches early and have fun riding.