Race Specific Strategy/Prep - Lutsen 99er

I am doing the Lutsen 99er (full race) next month and trying to think about my race strategy as well as any possible race simulation training. The race starts with a pretty good climb (700+ ft elevation over 3 miles) which I think will separate out into at least a few groups heading into the next stretch which is almost 25 miles of relatively flat and fast gravel road (from what I can tell). For reference, I am going to be about 80 kg and ~3.7 w/kg heading into the race. That said, I have two questions for the group. One, how hard would you go on the first climb to try to make it into a decent group for the gravel? Specifically, would you push threshold or what would be your target power to not go too deep at the beginning of a 100+ mile race? Second, would it be valuable to create a training ride to simulate this a bit? BBS has the climb taking about 22 min with sweet spot power but I think I could get it down to about 20 minutes by pushing a little harder. Depending on how hard I plan to start then I’m thinking I could build a custom 2-3 hour practice workout with a hard threshold start and then settle into some more endurance pacing. Course profile is here: 99er 2024 (official) · Ride with GPS Thoughts? Other considerations for a race strategy? I know I don’t have huge power numbers but am hoping to try some kind of strategy to improve my finish time given how much of the race is on gravel with what I think will be fast group riding.

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Hey there!

I just checked out the course profile you linked. I agree that it would probably be beneficial to hit that first climb pretty hard so you can try to find a good group to ride with over the flatter remainder of the course.

I think you should still probably try to cap your effort off at about threshold, though, since it is a 100+ mile race. Pushing much deeper than that right from the start might make for a long day in the saddle – I’ve been there before. :sweat_smile:

A simulation workout sounds like a good idea as well. Personally, I’ve seen benefits from doing workouts that reflect what a certain effort in a race will be like. I think the mental aspect of doing so can be huge – it can really help you prepare for what to expect on race day. You don’t even have to go full gas, either – even knocking out an effort like that at sweet spot and then settling into a longer endurance ride can be great race prep. As a bonus, it wouldn’t be as taxing as doing that starting effort at threshold, which could help keep the rest of your training on track.

Once you’re over the climb, definitely try to find a group to ride with! Even if you have to push a little harder to catch a group just ahead of you, or if you have to ease up to let some other riders catch you – it will ultimately benefit you to be in a group sharing that workload with other riders.

When you find a group and you start rotating, continue to try to keep your power in check. Capping your pulls at tempo/sweet spot would probably be prudent considering the length of the race. Avoid the temptation to take “hero pulls” – they almost always come back to bite you later on!

Outside of that, stay on top of your nutrition and hydration. Get some carbs down every 20-30 minutes and keep sipping on your water. It’ll be key to keep your energy stores topped off.

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


Not doing it this year, have done it several times over 3 different courses. With about the same weight and fitness I finished in 6:16 last year.

Ride the first climb at threshold, then find a fast group to work with. For whatever reason, it seems the old courses were much harder than what it looks on paper. You will be gassed a the end. Eat and eat and eat and try to hold a .8 if.

The chunk on Honeymoon trail sucks, has wrecked me every time I raced that stretch of road.

The last 20 miles look pretty brutal this year, the single track at the finish can get pretty congested.

I’ve never done specific work to prep for this course, just put a lot of miles on. Being able to settle in at tempo for long periods of time is what you really need.


There’s already a Lutsen Thread where you might get more chiming in - @mcneese.chad - can you combine?

Short answer, I did it last year, that climb was in there, I’ll be there again this year. I’m planning on pushing around 90 - 95% personally. Going above threshold on a long day is probably a bad idea IMO.

There will be a lot of people pushing harder than they should at that point.