W/kg goal for hilly gravel rides e.g. 1000 ft per 10 miles

I haven’t ridden as much or been as consistent as I would have liked this year and my FTP is around 2.1 W/kg. I’ve got some weight to lose and I’m making a real effort to boost the power side of the equation too.

I’ve typically struggled (but enjoyed!) gravel rides and events, but they tend to have lots of climbing like 1000 ft per 10 miles. That’s a struggle for a big guy like me and I often had to walk steep and/or technical sections.

I’m in the lottery for Rooted Vermont and will probably aim for a few other big rides this year. I’m trying to get an idea of what w/kg I should aim for to actually finish these rides without being dead last or getting off my bike! As a rough example of what I’m asking, I think I remember Nate saying on a podcast that if you were at 4 W/kg you could probably do a sub-9 Leadville. I know I won’t be there anytime soon, but just trying to have a goal.

Can you share experiences or examples for rides in the 60mile/6k ft to 100mile/10k feet range? I love the idea of these huge rides. Either ftp or average w/kg might give me an idea.

Thanks all!!

Eh. Yes and no. Not all 1000’/10mi routes are equal. You could have a route that has two massive hour long climbs that could be ridden at Sweet Spot and it will be much different than a ride with 100 smaller climbs that are very steep and require lots of VO2 efforts. They are different.

In my opinion do not chase a w/kg goal, but rather modify your diet and nutrition in a good way along with buckling down on quality structured training and let whatever happens happen. If you merely chase a w/kg you can run the risk of sub-optimal nutrition which can/will derail your training.

It might be helpful to post your current weight, and training goals for 2022. As an example, if you’re @ 2.1 w/kg, but are 30lbs overweight then a better diet could be all that is needed to achieve your goals. Some context would help.

I realize this doesn’t answer your question but IMO your #1 goal should be to add raw wattage to your FTP, and do it while making good dietary choices. If you do that you’ll be just fine.

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The Bell curve of cylists - how fast are the average TR users? This thread might be of interest. There’s a bell curve on there : The Bell curve of cylists - how fast are the average TR users? - #6 by unstoppable

(Power distribution of TrainerRoad users : Staminist Cycling Forum)

edit: Bare in mind it probably doesn’t tell the whole story as it’s a sample of cyclists using a training platform called “the sufferfest” so I would guess the average would be slight above the actual average of cyclists. Although that’s probably the same for these big gravel rides you’re talking about.

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I hear you and appreciate the advice! I’m working on both sides of the w/kg equation and have a good plan that I think could get me close to 3 w/kg by August. I’m trying to figure out if it’s even worth trying these events at that level (or above/below) because it could lead to a really crappy day if I can’t cut it!!

I did 190 miles over 2 days on the road last year (as an example) and felt great. I crashed and burned on a 60mi/6k ft gravel ride because I just couldn’t climb (maybe 2.2w/kg at the time). I was walking the first big climb 10 miles in and pulled the plug because I wouldn’t be able to finish.

There has to be some rough ballpark w/kg where these rides are doable…just I’m just trying to see where that might be.

I see how context would help. I’m pretty self-conscious because I’ve put on alot of weight with pandemic and family related stress over the past 2 years.

Right now, I’m sitting at 265 lbs/120 kg with an FTP of 255W so 2.1 W/kg. I’m 6’5" or 196 cm.

If clean up my diet (and I’ve started weight training), I think a goal of 6 lbs/month lost could be achieved getting me to 217 lbs or so by the end of July. My best ramp test on TR was 302W maybe 2 years ago. I think I could hit that by being consistent and maybe 6-8 hrs riding (more come spring/summer) and 2/3 weight sessions per week. That would put me at 3.05 W/kg by end of July.

I just don’t know if 3 w/kg is good enough to for some of these big gravel rides. I’m certainly not aiming for a podium, but I want to stay on my bike on the climbs and not feel absolutely dead when I finish.

Does that help? As always…I really appreciate the help!!!

Are you in VT? There are a few smaller gravel rides/races that are a lot of fun earlier in the summer. The Raid Lamoille out of Craftsbury is a lot of fun, Vermont Overland is a great one, and I plan on doing The Ranger out of Tunbridge, too. Missed the registration for Rooted Vermont, sadly.

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I’m in Western MA, so VT is a nice drive and a good reason to get away for the weekend!!

Thanks for the tips…I’ll keep them on my radar!

No worries! There’s also the Muddy Onion out of Montpelier nice and early in the season (like mid-April), and I was just checking out Gritus in Waitsfield, too. If you drink beer, all the places I mentioned are very conveniently located close to some truly excellent breweries (Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s, the Alchemist, among others).

But yeah, as a fellow Clydesdale, I absolutely get where you’re coming from. I live in Central VT, and part of my motivation for really training seriously is just to be able to go for a ride out my front door without feeling like my lungs are about to burst the whole time. Very powerful motivator, especially since I just turned 50 a couple of months ago.

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I think 3w/kg is a good goal. There will no doubt be times where you’re over FTP, but depending on the course you might be able to do some climbs @ FTP or just below.

I would say go forth and get it!

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FTP is now and always will be an overrated metric for racing. Gravel especially. Endurance and fatigue management are far more useful.

Gravel courses normally consist of lots of climbing and equal parts descending. This translates to plenty of time over FTP and plenty of time coasting, so NP is the really useful metric. I’ve never broken far outside of 4.5 w/kg ftp, but the last gravel race I did (and won) was 3:45 at 220 avg but 260NP (3.8 ish w/kg).

Train your fatigue resistance and ability to handle muscular efforts and watch performance shoot up.

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Just remember that pushing watts higher means burning more calories per ride (generally). And I’m not saying don’t focus on diet, because obviously that’s the single most important thing you can do, but if you are getting your Watts higher it will be easier to burn more KJ’s even in recovery and endurance rides. And I’m not also not advocating just exercising more to lose weight, because that’s not a healthy mindset. I am saying that if you focus a lot on improving your fitness, it will be easier to lose weight when and where you want as long as your diet is on point. So don’t look at it as in either or which to focus on, but rather look at it as how do you want to improve performance. And assuming you find a great diet, when Watts rise weight drops more easily.

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One of the challenges too is going to be gearing! I’m probably going to ride my hardtail (low gear of 32/46) and 700x50 gravel tires… It’ll be nice to have a dropper too.

I’ll have see if can be comfortable on flat bars that long though.

@wasket Great points too. Diet is the challenge though especially since my wife isn’t fully on board yet. I think there will be alot of healthy meal prepping in our future. I don’t honestly know how people work, raise a family, train, and cook healthy food every day. I haven’t yet figured out that balance (but that’s a work in progress and a whole other thread)!

Lol, yeah, that is a separate issue entirely. I’m sure there are some great threads around here talking about how to make those subtle changes. My tips sort of assume that as a baseline so not very helpful now 😵‍💫 but once you get there, I was simply saying that you could either focus on weight loss being slightly hungry, or you could feel the rides and really get your FTP up and then the reduction would be easier in general.
Not that I want to turn this into a diet thread necessarily, but one thing I like to do is make a big batch of healthy soup in a pot that will last for a few days. You can control what’s in it it doesn’t take much effort and it lasts for a while so it really helps. For example I make chicken noodle with onions carrots celery and whole wheat noodles and chicken, in that lasts for a while

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I appreciate the tips!!!

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I’m going to caution you against over optimistic goals. You plan basically calls for dieting for the next 8 months through your build and peak phases of training. It’s going to be hard to build and reach peak numbers during a long calorie deficit. And eight months is also a long time to be grumpy and hungry.

For me, 6 pounds per month of weight loss is aggressive. Even at 1 pound per week, I will often be hungry and miserable. In the past 1/2 pound per week has been much more sustainable.

I think the problem of this gravel ride needs to be attacked with gearing.

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Gearing and training is certainly a factor! I know that’s an aggressive goal so I’m open to modifying it to be realistic through that time frame. I’d argue 6 lbs/month isn’t as drastic for someone my size though…it would be more extreme for the 165 lb guys beating me on every climb :rofl:

I’ve done my fair share of paved climbs of at least 100 feet/mile. All the sustained climbs (2-20 miles) have been when I was at 2.6-3.0 W/kg, and generally I’ve done them at lower to upper tempo (75-90% FTP). Going to put on my captain obvious hat and say its ‘more fun’ at 3 W/kg. But even at 3 W/kg I’m suffering in the back third in a large group. At the DeathRide I got passed on 2 different 10 mile climbs by a dude in his 70s.

3 W/kg seems like a reasonable goal if you start shedding pounds. I’m a little shorter, 60lbs lighter, FTP a smidge higher, and that puts me at 2.8 right now. Over the last 3 months I’ve lost 15lbs, took a few weeks break, and pushing to slowly lose another 10+lbs which gets me to 3.0. Personally I’d suggest setting a more conservative/sustainable goal of 3-4lbs/month, and be sure to eat enough protein.

I’ve got a gravel event in April 2022 with two gravel climbs at 6.2 miles and 5.4 miles. Both are 200+ ft/mile, and have 2 mile sustained 7+% steep sections with short pitches in the 12-20% range. On sustained climbs both W/kg and FTP have a direct impact on my results, as does fatigue resistance (being able to go for 1-2 hours at upper tempo 85+% FTP).

You got this, focus on what you can control which is weight and consistent time in the saddle.

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Thank you for the advice!! :star_struck: I’m going to temper my expectations a bit, but really focus on training, healthy food, and consistency!! I just want to finish these rides this year, event if I’m the last one over the line :exploding_head:

You’re absolutely right…fatigue resistance is really going to be important. I may be slow but I’m determined.

Do you have any long 1+ hour climbs?

I just want to say that I’m right there with you. I’m 6 foot, 205. I gained 10-12 pounds during the last 1.5 years of the pandemic. I had been down to the low 190s which was 10-15 pounds away from what I would have called my goal weight.

I’m 55 now and I’m finding weight exceeding difficult to lose. When I was 30, I could start riding in the spring and easily lose 5 pounds a month without even trying.

A few winters ago I tried to do a winter weight loss / base miles program. Over 18 weeks of dieting and counting calories I only lost 8 pounds and then as soon as I stopped counting, I gained 2 pounds back over night (probably just low glycogen and water weight). 6 pounds net for all that work was super frustrating.

I’d give it a go and see if you can lose the 6 pounds per month in the winter (nov-feb) and then when you start harder workouts just try to maintain any weight loss.

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