So thinking to skip ramp test next week and do a test outdoors as I’m doing my POL training outdoors. The power meter on the bike and terrain I’m on maybe makes more sense for me right now. Also want to have a go at a 20min best effort and see where I’m at.
Read an article there that said not to use a hill, as it engages different muscles. I get that, but the reason for building power for me is mostly to use it on hills so, think it makes more sense to do the test on a hill?
I’m one of those idiots that rarely tests. Maybe been years since I’ve tested. Guys like me wreck your bell curve on those spikes.
I’ve always done them on the flats (out my garage door), but my coach and coaching company prefers a 2-3% grade:
"When available we’ll recommend a steady grade hill free of stop signs, descents and any section of road that requires the athlete to stop pedalling. Ideally a 2-3% steady grade hill like this Strava segment . Steeper climbs tend to bog athletes’ cadence down which skews the test results. Conversely, some athletes make greater power uphill than they can on the flats. Whichever you choose, it is absolutely imperative that you ensure your test is repeatable, accurate and reliable. Apples – apples. "
I think they mean it might be less repeatable and steady as some people can generate more watts uphill, and the other side of the coin is it’s harder to hold watts up a steep hill. So it has more spikes.
Lower Cadence = More Muscular demand, and Less Cardiovascular demand
Higher Cadence = Less Muscular demand, and More Cardiovascular demand
It could alter the demand in testing if you strayed too far from what may be your “normal” training cadence. In a sense, if you train mainly on flats at 90 rpm, and test on a steeper hill at 70 rpm, you may be testing a bit different than you train. Then there is the whole “inertia” aspect that is it’s own monster, and may well have some impact on muscular loading.
Might be splitting some fine hairs, and I am guessing, but can see a potential in the requirement. The “test like you train” makes sense and is likely a good goal to keep in mind. But depending on the actual variation, it may well be negligible in the end.
I’d do the test on precisely that terrain then (i.e. wherever your training focus will be). That is, if you want to use the result for your training in some way (which I don’t find so straightforward).
If it’s just as a benchmark to compare yourself to your past or future you, then I’d go for whatever terrain you like most and is readily available. Just my 2c - or how I do it personally (I don’t use 20min tests for my training, just to judge my progress, occasionally).
I am going to give my answer without looking at the other replies. (I’ll go back and look in a minute)
Ideal is a 1 - 3% gentle and consistent incline. Steep climbs recruit muscles in different ways and skew the results.
Second best is pan flat; maybe road following a river flood plain, no wind direction ride upstream of the river or look at the weather and it is not gusty against the wind (gusty? pick another day or consider the affect it might of had.)
“Training and Racing with a Power Meter” recommends slight up hill or into a headwind, “where you are forced to ride a maximum effort for the entire 20 minutes” especially for those not accustomed to the effort. I seen many citing 1-2%.
same here although flat with headwind allows for something to push against. For example my last field test:
was enough headwind for 274W average power to result in 18.5mph speed. Also, I don’t normally do intervals outside in an aggressive aero position, so that was ‘test as you train’ normal body position (more wind resistance).
Other than in TTs I have only tested outside a few times. I’ve found it impossible in UK at least to get a course that is consistent, well surfaced, long enough and without junctions/ driveways etc for a true outdoors test.
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