What do you think is the bare minimum watts/kg to race (and actually enjoy it)?

I would think it’s something like 3.0 for flat races and 3.5 for hilly races, but I’ve never been in a race where everyone was properly separated by experience/ability.

I raced a cat 4 crit with 2.6w/kg (came from a s&c background) and stuck with everyone just fine. As long as your power numbers under 5 mins are good you should be fine.

Not sure we can take that # in isolation. I’m sitting at 3.0 after 4 months of not riding…I’d get dropped in the first 30 seconds of any race.

Other factors to consider would be VO2max (currently mine is an estimated, yet still pathetic, 44mL/kg/min — barely above sedentary levels), muscular endurance, 5min power repeatability, race craft, bike handling, etc.

My first crit was at around 3,4 W/kg… Got annihilated on the first two laps, wasn’t a fun race :joy:


What type of racing are you talking about? How are you defining “enjoy it”? Are you defining enjoy as being competitive?

I guess it’s just having the right course. Luckily mine was flat and I whacked out 1150w for 10 secs at the finish, so sitting in for 99% of the race worked for me at the time.

depends on whom you race with

And how the race plays out. Vegan Cyclist grabbed a sound bite from the visiting Cycling Fanatic (gotta love those YouTubers!) after his first RR in the US. Paraphrasing, “That was the most boring and annoying race I’ve ever done! Slower than my slowest group ride!”

His >3.0 didn’t contribute any enjoyment.

put me in a San Michel-Auber 93 kit – and matching team bike – right now and drop me on the start line of the Tour de Provence, and I will have the time of my life until I:

a) get dropped

b) crash

c) crash and get dropped

Then, as I am picking myself up off the road, and/or watching the field ease away from me forever, I will feast upon the moment as roadside fans look upon me adoringly, and quote mistakenly, as a pro cyclist. Even when I stop, take off my glasses, and contemplate how I’m going to get back to my hotel and exactly what kind of excuses I will give to my pals about how I got mercilessly spat, I will have the time of my life as a fan’s facial expression turns from compassionate awe to incredulous contempt, as they ask themselves how this 54-year-old mess ever managed to get a continental team bike, kit, and apparently legitimate race number. If said fan is female, of a certain age, and has a keen sense of irony, perhaps I could even parlay such a moment into a date.

In short, much enjoyment could be drawn from the experience.

This really is all a matter of perception.


Enjoy it? If your’re enjoying it you aren’t racing hard enough… :wink:


Enjoying it meaning you don’t immediately get shelled out the back. Road racing, mostly, but I suppose any time of endurance racing, really.

Let’s just say we’re talking about when you’re on form.

That said, where I live even recreational cyclists can often climb better than me, most races only have two or three categories, and lots of people sandbag, so maybe my idea about fitness is a little skewed.

Not only does it depend on who but, the course. Real word example:

Yesterday in the 45+ VOS ITT my team mate won and did an average power of 390W (370 FTP) for just over 30 minutes at 89-ish Kg. At 75Kg I did my usual 320W (304 FTP) and was almost 2 minutes behind. We both have just over 4W/Kg and as it pitches up I can usually get away from him but, it has to be more than 5% or so.

Then put us in a technical f’d up criterium and due to positioning and how I accelerate I’m more likely to best him even though he has superior metrics at every level.

DK200 and he would crush my soul.


Obviously there’s going to be a difference in performance even at similar power-to-weight-to-skill ratios based on absolute watts. I’m talking about the bare minimum fitness level (thrust to skinny ratio) someone needs to be pack fodder in a Cat 5 race… given a fairly average level of lean mass.

I won the overall season for cat 3 with an ftp of around 140 and w/kg of around 2.0 (power from kickr snap) (xc mountain bike)

This is a question I’ve had a lot recently. Planning to do my first bike race (“C” group Tuesday night crit) in about a month and sitting at around 270 watts (3.3 w/kg) based on TR’s virtual power. I know I’ll be weak on the technical side (cornering, sprinting, etc) but just hoping my fitness level is enough to keep me in the mix.

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You’ll probably be fine unless people sandbag or there’s a massive equipment disadvantage (e.g. 30+ watts at race pace). Assuming your FTP is reasonably proportional to your five-minute and sprint power.

I won a cat 5 race at 2.9.

If the course is flat FTP is down the list on things that matter. Pack riding/drafting skills and the ability to repeat short high power efforts are what keep you with the pack.

From my perspective the answer to this question is less interesting than the reason for asking it

If you’re asking yourself this question because you don’t want to race until your fitness is ‘ready’ or at some minimum threshold - you’re likely going about it wrong. As a new racer the best thing you can do is go line up at a race and give it a try. Don’t get caught up in results or finishing - get out there and give it a try.

Let your ego go - there will always be people faster than you


I’d second this. I think unless you are strong enough to just ride away from the pack…you’ll probably get dropped your first couple races due to skills and positioning errors. I certainly did. I’m not blazing fast…but I’m over 3watt/kg at a fairly large 85kg on flat courses. The numbers say (I think…) that I should have been able to sit in without a ton of effort. But alas…I’m dumb and inexperienced. Sprinted to the front of the group, followed an ill advised break for a lap that got swallowed up, sprinted back to the front of the pack, then drifted towards the back without even realizing it, and spent 4-5 laps sprinting out of corners to make up for elasticyness of the pack before I was cooked and got dropped.