Weak Power & Good @ Racing! Humblebrag & Help Someone Out. Your advice wanted

This goal of this thread two-fold:

  1. A place to learn to race better / smarter, and from the people who actually have the good advice. (ie, those who outperform their power numbers)

  2. To serve as a place of realism and optimism for folks who really just don’t have “impressive watts” and find themselves racing among mostly folks who have untouchable power outputs. Self doubt sucks. I’d like folks to be encouraged that they don’t have to be anywhere near the leading W or W/kg of those on their team, or in their category, and should still expect to win bike races. Yes, sure, more W/kg will make you better, if you’re in the low-but-winning camp already, but these anecdotes should provide encouragement.

If you are a person whose race results sometimes seem surprisingly positive for the power outputs you’re capable of, in any specific time domain, or if when people hear your power outputs they’re like, “oh, REALLY? C’mon, you’re capable of more than that,” then…

Please share some of your inferior power numbers and race results that some folks might find unexpected.

I’ll start. This is not an attempt at a humble brag because I think what I did is obvious and not all that savvy. Just savvy and opportunistic enough to serve as an example starter to the thread.

I got to a place where I could place very well in pretty much any cat 4/5 crit or flatter road race with a 2.7-2.8W/kg 20min best (~265 W). 1-hr power of probably 2.5W/kg (235-240 W, estimated). I was able to upgrade to Cat 3 with no team. I did this by doing 3 things. I’ll keep the “advice” portion of mine short because I think part of my advice could be “be an elite power athlete then transfer to cycling” which isn’t super helpful for most folks :slight_smile:

  1. Playing the sprinter card and sitting in. Let breaks go. Learn peloton flow.
  2. Being as small/aero as possible at ~210 pounds. Think… could draft a recumbent, small. Or, “can still draft the 12yr/old in the field, small”
  3. I have a big sprint at ~20W/kg (~1900 W) for 5 seconds, so if I was in the top 10 with 1k to go, and not actively vomiting on my bike, I was going to be on the podium, and probably win. If in the top 5 riders with 1k to go, 1st place was guaranteed. So I learned to go all-in to get to top 3-5 and on a wheel with 1k to go.

Edit: PS. Tag someone who beats you with less power.

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for us flatlanders please post raw W too, not just W/kg

Edited! :slight_smile:

thanks, I’m also ~210 / 95kg with wide shoulders / big chest and not very aero. Its been my observation that I need 20-minute power of 280+ and some anaerobic repeatability in order to hang, and your post correlates with that. My 5-sec sprint is only ~1100 seconds and saving grace is that I can summon that after 3-5 hours / 2000+kJ. Still working on fundamentals and believe there is hope for me in masters 55+ and 45+ fields, once I can hang with the Wed night world guys that are on podium in actual races.

Saw your post yesterday, thanks for posting this in a separate thread.

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I’m a UK Cat2. Nothing about my watts, power curve, sprint or general ability says that I should be there.

How did I do it? Not going to lie, hard work and the ability to accept that (a). I had lots of room to learn and improve, and (b). by not focusing on one thing.

Much like TR Pete, I started UK Cat4 races and I thought 'I’m a sprinter!! I’m so good at sprinting!! Welcome to Cat3. My sprints could get me into the top 10 and points but I was winning nothing. I’m no sprinter. I still practice my sprints and can knock out a set of three 1200w (PEAK) 30 second efforts after a three hour endurance ride. My experience in UK Cat3 is 1200w (PEAK) at the end of a Crit or road race will win you nothing.

So I spent almost a whole season just learning how to surf within a pack. Trying to learn what ‘moves’ look like, who makes them, when and where they come from. Slowly but surely, you do start to see patterns and even bookmark riders. Like watching a pro race, you begin to learn which break has the ability to work.

I also learnt when to cut it off and drop back. This sounds totally counterintuitive but, there’s little point being in a six man break when only three are actually working. You know you’re getting caught so why expend all that energy?

I’m currently 73kg. My race weight is usually around 72kg. I’m not featherweight but I can climb. My watts (292) aren’t going to scare anyone who’s ever raced. So I train to ensure that I can use those watts across all zones. I can hit out and recover fast, sprint to cover a break, hold threshold and above for long enough to be useful in a break. Being a one-trick-pony is going to get your card marked fast and other riders might decide that they’re not going to work with you.

In conclusion. Be as dynamic and flexible as you possible can. It’s great to race when you know you have options.

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Hi, thanks for the insight, honest, keep improving!
Allan

I’ve got an OK power to weight but I’ll get smashed by folk who have a lot less power than me simply because they are more skilful. IMO power isn’t everything.

Hello @pusherman

Is 1200 watts for 30 seconds at 72kg not extremely good? Like professional road racer good.

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Was thinking the same thing.

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:rofl: You’re 100% correct. My poor use of the English language :rofl:

1200w is my peak for those 30 second efforts. That dwindles down to the 900-950 range.

As you can see, I’m no sprinter :+1::wink:

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Still pretty pretty good for an amateur!

http://powerspeedprofile.com

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Well, you just played your strength and you have that sprint, so strategy is obvious. As such, I am sure your power number for sprinting is top, you are just not a “Diesel”.

The advantage of not being strong is that you need to learn to be smart, no other chance. The again, here in Switzerland it’s all about climbing and I just hang on for dear life… :sweat_smile:

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I’ll offer a few nuggets.

Treat bike racing the absolute opposite of training. Your intention should be not to work. As in, do every single thing you can do to not use your incredibly valuable energy.

Draft every second you can. Draft on the perfect side for the crosswind. Know the course intimately. Know when and where you should place yourself for optimal drafting at all times.

Never pull. Yes, really. Never. If you really are in an absolute race winning breakaway, okay take a pull. However, make it shorter and weaker. Enough to not get attacked by angry breakaway members, but only just. You are racing them. They will try and beat you at some point. It’s a bike race.

Never, I repeat never demonstrate your fitness. Watching hero’s pull the bunch along always makes me smile. Don’t crest any climb first unless it’s the finish. You need to blend into the group. Nobody should be fearful of you. You’re a nobody. Until the pivotal moment… when you win.

For me, this is the final 70m, where I zip past the idiot who was demonstrating his fitness all those hours ago. For you, this could be a climb, a flat section. Attack where it suits you best. Attack hard, use everything you have. Make it count.

I’m not actually weak per se, I’m reasonably strong across the board for my age. However, I’ve never been the strongest rider in a race I’ve won. Not once. I do all of the above, plus a multitude of other tricks. Winning is no accident.

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It always amuses me when someone gets upset if I don’t pull through when its not absolutely required. You go on ahead and work hard mate, im just here for the free ride :sweat_smile:

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All of which were pure gold.

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If a triathlete or long TTer, actually test your FTP by trying to ride it for an hour - if you can’t, adjust zones accordingly.

I once got my “ftp” to 5w/kg off of 20 minute tests but would get crushed with training and race poorly. Purchased one of those fancy modeling systems, knocked the ftp back a bit, trained to actual, and holy smokes I’m flying. I used to wonder how people could hold 88-90% ftp for a half iron and still run well, now I know.

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