Practicing for a Stage Race

2020 was supposed to be my first year of road racing. Every race I had planned has been cancelled, causing me to tweak my training plan. I also might have overreached just a bit during lockdown since I had the time to ride. I decided to take 2 weeks completely off to rest the legs and the mind and came up with a brilliant but not completely thought out plan.

My next (and first) A race is a 3 day/4 stage stage race called Baker City Classic. Stage 1 is 70ish miles with a few punchy climbs on Friday. Stage 2 - 10 mile TT and Stage 3 - Crit are on Saturday, and it concludes with a 70+ mile stage with an hour long climb at around 8% to finish on Sunday.

On December 15, I will start the path of SSB I,2 → Sustained Build → Climbing Road Race.

Today, I am doing a ramp test in preparation of a SSB 1,2 → Climbing Road/40KTT which I will follow up with a 3 day simulated stage race. The goal of this is to see how my body will react to what I expect to be about a 700TSS weekend, and to test out my nutrition and recovery plan. I am trying to decide between doing the Climbing RR specialty and the 40KTT. The climbing RR will best simulate the fatigue my legs would be under for the race, while the 40K TT should provide a slightly different but still useful adaption while approximating the same fatigue. I realize that I am leaving the power build out of this 20 week block, but figured that a specialty plan that built in the taper would be more effective than trying to do a build plan and managing my own taper.

I have thought of a few of the variables that I need to test, but I am sure that I am missing some.

I used workout creator to simulate the stages as best I could. The crit and the TT were easy to do, but since I have never raced I don’t really know how to set effort levels on the two road races. I am assuming that since I will already have quite a bit of fatigue coming into the final climb of the race (where I would expect the winner to emerge) I have no idea what % of FTP I should shoot to hold on the climb. I also don’t know about what % of FTP the short punchy climbs on stage 1 might be.

Creating those workouts estimates that I will burn approximately 5000 calories. I will be topped off when I start stage one, and expect to burn 1500-2000 calories, and will be shooting to intake about 200-240 grams of carbohydrate, leaving me with a 500-1000 calorie deficit. I will consume a chocolate milk right after finishing, (60g carb) and then eat a pasta dinner of around 1000 calories. First thing in the AM I will consume another chocolate milk (I love chocolate milk if you can’t tell…) followed an hour later by a breakfast of oatmeal, banana, and scrambled eggs - about another 700 calories. (1000 counting the chocolate milk). The TT should only use 300-400 calories - making the lunch fueling before the evening crit fairly manageable. Following the crit I will again eat a good meal, and on Sunday morning will duplicate the chocolate milk → breakfast scenario. Are my caloric demands and plan realistic, and are there any tweaks you would recommend?

In regards to sleep, I am lucky in the fact I can fall asleep quickly and can sleep for 9-10 hours with ease. My wife used to be a massage therapist as well. I was thinking that a post race massage might help recovery before sleep as well.

Are there any aspects to this simulated stage race that I am overlooking, or overthinking? Is it unreasonable to try to podium a stage race as my first attempt at road racing? I ride in a group well, and regularly practice conserving as much energy as possible. (Basically I ride the wheel of the biggest guy on the ride on the flats, and look for the wheel of stronger climbers shortly before we reach the climb) I will be racing as Cat 5. I am currently 3.2 w/kg and have about 7 extra kgs that I will drop by then.

Hey there,
All my stage races for my first ever season of racing have been cancelled also, so I am interested in the same things as you, but can‘t add too much.
I would however love to know how things went for you.

Since you got absolutely 0 input from anyone smarter than me(hint, there are plenty who fit that description) , here’s how I would look at it:

What do you expect to be your weakness in the weekend? Focus on that. Racing on the road, you could lose gobs of time getting dropped in the first climb of the first road stage, if it happens to fall early in the race. If you’re confident that you can hang with the group for those punchy climbs, then think about how hard you’ll have to work to hang on in the crit or the long climb. IMHO, the 10 mile TT “is what it is” and in the “rising tide raises all boats” you’ll see those improvements based on the other fitness improvements.

In a Cat 5 or 4 field, for a new racer, WE should just be setting OURSELVES up to feel good about OUR performance at the end of the weekend. Teamwork, alliances etc, will all be suspect, and if WE’re riding teammate-less, maybe just focus on hanging on for most stages, but giving 100% for the win in the stage WE think we have the best shot at…

Introspectively, that would likely be the either the opening road race on a long flier, particularly if the finish doesn’t punish big-guys, or the (already disregarded) TT…

I did a stage race in 2019 (was cancelled this year)

Don’t forget all the other “off the bike stuff”. I don’t know what the format for your’s is (camper, hotels, large rooms) but plan and practice your routines to remove all other stress. Stuff like:

  • Morning routine: wake up time, breakfast, when and what will you take to the start (can you give drop bags)
  • What do you imediately at the finish, what is you routine, when (and what) will you prep for the next day, where do you go for your base?

My stage race included sleeping in large halls for 7 nights. I practised this at home in the kitchen (much too my wife’s disbelief), it helped me decide what kit to take and how best to organise it.

Simple things like this will make the whole race much more enjoyable.