you’re still so new to the sport at only 3 years of training, there’s so much more room to grow! this is when things get harder, and (tough love coming) you might just need to WORK a little bit harder for the reward now. I don’t say that to be a jerk, but a polite reality check. You clearly have some natural athletic talents, now hit the grindstone and get to it! In no time you’ll be finding a way to start dishing out some whoopings.
Some fantastic input so far that pulls a ton of weight!
One line I haven’t seen yet:
I could never give up cycling for bouldering, no matter how much I loved bouldering.
Personally, I need sports that allow me to push HARD, for longer periods. Get myself really flying, HR rocking, tank emptied, etc. Climbing is much more muscular than “max possible output”, high HR. [I know HR does go up, and it **is** very hard, but not the same category of ‘hard’, or after effect feeling.]
I’m not on TR because I want to sacrifice absolutely everything else in my life to be as fast as possible. I’m on here to keep pushing myself, and growing as much as I, personally can, within the constraints that I’m happy with. [Time w family, friends, hard lap swimming, travel, etc.]
Only cycling, hard swimming, and running let me max it out, and drain the tank.
Maybe keep cycling as your “full speed ahead” fun / outlet, and do bouldering on top, where it can fit?
It’s a crazy achievement. Personally I’d stick it out and learn what you can from being around elite racers. It will be cool to look back on it one day when age/other priorities don’t allow you to compete at this high level anymore.
Do what you enjoy, but keep in mind that if being the absolute best at something is how you will find happiness, you’ll probably always be miserable. That’s not an insult, it is just that darn near all of us cap out somewhere below the pinnacle and that’s life. Either way, you’ll probably gain a lot by getting your butt handed to you for a while - either in cycling ability or just general life stuff.
That and for me it is also the structure, knowing that there are moments when I should/have to go really, really hard. And then there are others when I really should take it easy, where going hard makes me slower. For me that was a very important life lesson.
I’ve watched fellow club riders rise the ranks in my local club for years. When these guys reach cat 1 and some will occasionally win or podium in a big single day race they are approached by some of the big racing teams in our country.
They will join the racing team and get some free kit and possibly race entries covered for them. Then they will be instructed to ride certain races for the “team”, sacrifice their own races and encouraged to promote sponsors etc on social media. These are amateur set-ups by the way.
A lot of these riders are now finished with the bike after a few seasons as the fun was sucked out of racing and burnt out. They are riding in a team with riders from different parts of the country so don’t train with each other.
Racing is great when you are on an upward curve but eventually you will reach a level where you just cannot compete as the standard is above your capabilities.
You mention the top guy is 100w more in FTP. That’s massive, possibly genetics and your physical makeup will never get you to that level. That’s not being negative or mean its just a simple fact.
I’ve seen lots of guys pack in racing because they get a taste of the very highest level and realise they can never compete with that. I think its good to reconcile that in your head and don’t compare yourself to the best guys.
On the other hand I see really average racers still pinning on numbers after 20 years of racing and enjoying the friendship and social aspect of it albeit racing at lower levels.
It’s not all about watts or being better than everyone else.
The best solution is just spend some time really pondering on why you ride. Do you still get enjoyment out of it? Will you continue to get enjoyment out of it even though you cannot compete with the very best?
However, if you’re thinking that transitioning into another sport because you can excel at it… Bouldering is no different to cycling. Given the fact you haven’t (an assumption) been doing it from childhood, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be truly elite at it either. Possible, but highly unlikely.
So the question becomes, do you actually enjoy the activity, or do you enjoy excelling at the activity?
Only you can answer this.
On a separate note. Bouldering training is light years less time consuming than cycling. You could be very good at bouldering on just 3hrs a week. If cycling is so important and time consuming that you can’t carve out 2/3hrs for something you actually enjoy… you might have an answer.
My bouldering/climbing friends would absolutely disagree. I suppose “very good” is entirely dependent on who you compare yourself to, but you’ll need a few climbing sessions plus a few strength/mobility training sessions to be very good (comparable to say Cat 1 cyclist).
Not to dispute that training is less time consuming.
If you add 25w to your FTP and lose 2-3kg you’re looking at a swing of 35-40w @ 5w/kg pace. Combine that with a polishing of your strengths and you can definitely be on the right path to closing that down.
better to speak in absolute w/kg terms instead of just W though as closing this gap to a rider who is @5.2 when you are 4.7 is going to be way harder than going 3.8 - 4.5
As someone who discovered cycling late, I would love to have the chance that you have. My advice is not from experience of competing at a high level, but one with a little bit of life experience. That’s just a fancy way of saying I don’t have as much hair as I would like . I would caution on being careful not to walk away from something too quick. You may regret it later in life after realizing you could have done more with time. If it were me I would go all in and me mindful of my mental focus. Competing at a high level takes a certain level of single mindedness and toughness. Don’t let yourself get off track. If you’re stubborn, channel it. If you’re not enjoying the process, I would look for ways to change that perception. Older me has discovered that you can find joy in areas you currently don’t, younger me didn’t have a clue. Best of luck to you.
Woe is me! This will probably sound a bit harsh and has likely been mostly said up above but…
If you don’t enjoy it then pack it in. It’s not your job. But if you rely on beating others/being better than others or winning for your pleasure then you’re going to hit a wall (no pun intended ) whatever you take up.
I’d steer away from comparing yourself to the top guys, at least initially. IMO it’s a lot more productive both mentally and physically to break it down into smaller steps and focus on improving one thing at a time. Figure out the biggest gaps and start with those, talk to your teammates/peers to see how they got to where they are, and slowly work your way up.
Compare it to any career- if you start out by wondering why you’re not a billionaire or a brain surgeon it’s easy to just get discouraged and give up. But if you put together a realistic plan and give yourself time to achieve it you just might get somewhere, And maybe you might not ‘get there’ in the end, for a multitude of reasons, but you certainly won’t by feeling sorry for yourself, and worst case scenario you’ll still be better for the effort.
If you have the means, I think this is one of the situations where a good coach can really help- an objective eye and some experience/motivation on your side can be invaluable.