Outdoor Z2, Riding Technique & Casette Size

Hey All,

I fretted over whether or not to tag this as training or equipment or both, this question has quite a few dimensions to it.

The preamble is that i’ve recently lost about 15kg(33lbs) and dropped from 85kg(187lbs) to 70kg(154lbs). My FTP has dropped (allegedly) from 266 to 233 in that period after a ramp test. I’m somewhat skeptical on the FTP but i’m happy to accept it prima facie as i’m ‘trusting the process’ and on a high volume plan. Additionally i haven’t done enough workouts to trigger AI FTP detection yet. As such my Z2 which peaks at about max 175w feels extremely ‘light’ and RPE isnt commensurate with what I felt my Z2 was on an FTP of 266 although I dont really have data on that.

I currently run a compact 50/34 chainring with an 11-28 casette, all Ultegra on a Medium Cage Rear Derailleur (so can get up to an 11-34 casette). This is also the first time i’ve ever trained with power outside thanks to some new Assioma Favero’s and I live in a lumpy city that just wont stay flat. I quite like climbing on my 11-28 and on a gearing of 34-28 can get up anything, infact I actually prefer to get up stuff on an even harder gear! I cant however, even on that 34 + 28 gear combo, get up the smallest hill without smashing through my Z2 ceiling. Even doing 5kph(3mph), spinning a 50rpm cadence, standing, sitting, whatever, puts me into 200+w. Additionally I have the opposite problem of what goes up, must come down and produce zero watts on the descents.

So my questions are this:

Do you think it would be worthwhile me investing in an 11-32 or 11-34 casette to be able to produce lower powers required for Z2 outdoor workouts considering my uphill issues?

What techniques do you have for Zone 2/Endurance Zone workouts where hills are unavoidable for both ascending and descending?

Given your terrain, a larger cassette would probably let you keep your easy rides easier. That said, I am not a believer that a Z2 ride means that you absolutely never go above Z2. If these are long climbs though, you might want to prioritize this upgrade. If this is 60-90 seconds, no big deal. What till your cassette wears out and replace with a larger one when it does.

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I have said this elsewhere but my local area is also full of steep but never long climbs and as such I ignore outside workouts. Endurance rides outside just aim to not go mad and keep the normalised power in the z2 range.

Anything needing structure is done watching YouTube. That being said at the end of the day when tired I’ve never been sad to have a low low low bailout option. In your case I’d not get a cassette now but wait until it’s dead.

I recently swapped my 53/39 front rings back to 52/36 and simultaneously went for an 11-36t on the rear. The additional range that this has facilitated has been a gamechanger for climbing and allowing me to hit my desired power zones. I would highly recommend this as a cheap/easy win.