Winning, Ego & Goal Setting?


Started riding 18 months ago. Enjoy competing against myself. No desire to enter “serious” road races. Gran Fondo’s seems to be the middle ground.

Due to age/back issues chosen to limit myself to ~4 hour rides which means 70 and not 100 mile Fondos.

Done three of the larger Fondo’s in California and finished 3rd, 2nd, and 1st respectively. The 100m is super competitive but too long for my body. The 70 mile is not competitive enough (on my local group ride I couldn’t finish in the top 10) hence why I podiumed.

I have one Gran Fondo left this year and I’m thinking of trying to PR the climbs, overall time, avg and NP. And not think about the competition or the podium or blowing up. With the intention of pushing myself rather than feeding the ego.

Would love some TR wisdom.

I like the approach, but I think I’d simplify the goals. What really matters in a race is overall time. For training, the intervals and other data are helpful tools, but I wouldn’t try to PR the climbs because it could actually hurt your overall time. And average and np are really not that important in a race scenario. For example, in a race you want to do as little work as possible. If you draft behind someone doing your goal average power, but then leave some in the tank to beat them in a sprint, you wouldn’t hit your goal average power, but that would be because you were smart and you won. I get that a fondo is different, but it sounds like you are treating it like a training ride rather than an event. Even if it is non-“competitive” it’s still an event and you should take pride in the podium.

Yeah, it’s weird. I kind of feel like a hack. A part of me enjoyed the feeling of crossing the line first but the rest of me just felt like a fraud. I felt terrible on the day, my numbers were super low, I hid in the front group until 15 miles to go and didn’t make a move till 2 miles to go. But I look back at the profile and there’s nothing there that I’m proud of. On any other day if the group was more cohesive, or stronger I would have been dropped at mile 35.

If you don’t want to race, you don’t need to ride mass start events. Time trialling or Strava segments?

Without knowing the details of your specific situation, I would take a wild guess that certain things can be improved for you to tackle the 100+ mile fondos.

I slipped a disc 20 years ago so I understand back pain. Good bike fit, some weight training, and plenty of endurance training has made it so I don’t experience back issues on the bike. I don’t consider any ride under 6 hours to be a long ride anymore.

I do want to race, and I love the feel of mass start events. I’m just not built for the 100 mile event and I find the road race scene to be a little too intense. I think in a perfect world I would race gravel, where the vibe is a little more inclusive than the road scene but more competitive than the fondo scene. Mind you, 100 mile Fondo’s are very competitive. I doubt I would finish in the top 50-100.

And yes, I’m super driven with my local KOM’s (which are all taken by pro’s). My goal is to make the top 5-10% of all local climbs. Some of them have over 15,000 riders.

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I ride 200-250 miles a week with about 7-15k of climbing. Have used three bike fitters, the last has done over half a dozen adjustments. I ride an endurance frame, strength train, aim for two sessions a week, sometimes only get one in. 2-3 of my weekly rides are 3-5 hours. the longer ones have breaks in them. It’s not that I can’t ride a 100 mile fondo, the focus would just shift from being competitive and finishing strong (for myself) to just trying to survive and mitigate any discomfort/fatigue.

I find it interesting that in road anything less than 100 miles is considered “less than”. I don’t think the same could be said for running or swimming or tri where it’s ok to specialize in shorter distances? Every time I’ve mentioned I’m doing the 70 every single person I ride with says, only the 70? or why not the 100?

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On the ability of the body to get through 100 miles comfortably, I think it is something that improves with time and you say you’ve only been riding 18 months. So you may find with another winter of 200+ miles/week and strength training under your belt that you’ll be better equipped to be able to do the 100 mile events and only be limited by your fitness and not by discomfort. In which case from what you’re saying about feeling like a hack in the shorter events then I assume you’d be happy doing the 100 miles even if it meant coming 50th instead of the podium?

It’s not the case in road racing. People specialise in crits and never race more than an hour or so and nobody looks down on them. Even road races round here tend to be 50-60 miles a lot of the time, maybe 70-80 for the more elite races. I think the gran fondo vibe for many (most?) people is more about challenging themselves than beating the competition. 100 miles is a bigger challenge than 70, so they gravitate towards that.

I think it actually is very similar in running and triathlon once you get away from the pointy end of the field and into the majority that are really just there to finish or maybe set a PR. I used to run and do tris, the most common question people ask when they find out you do triathlon is whether you’ve done an Ironman! And people that get into running from a more sedentary background quite often start out with a 5k then if they get the bug they move up the distances and eventually try their hand at a marathon. Swimming is a bit different as there isn’t really much of a scene for mass participation swim events like there is with cycling, running, triathlon.

I can relate. Cycling is different in that regard. I target the short course version of our local mountain bike endurance series as I’ve learned that I am better at shorter distances, and most importantly, I find them a lot more fun. I can race 25-30 miles (MTB), but once it gets much longer, I’m riding - that’s me, and the amount of time I can dedicate to training lends itself much nicer to 2-3 hour races, versus 3.5 - 8.

I have also been challenged by friends with similar language, “you’re only doing the short version?!”

I’ve never done a Fondo, but it’s the only road racing that appeals to me whatsoever. I think your plan to continue on with the 70 mile version is a solid one - as someone else mentioned though, trying to PR the overall time and PR the timed segments, could be at odds. That said, just know that going in and maybe prioritize one or the other and go for both.

Agree on both sentiments. I think that’s going to be plan. Although a faster time overall may mean staying with the pack for longer. It’s hard to tell I guess. I’ll just have to figure out what power I want to try and hold for four hours and go for it.

And yes. I much prefer to end strong and feel competitive then limber across the line. On the weekend while most of the ride was chill i did threshold for the last two miles and vo2 for the last mile at 8000’. That, at the very least I’m proud of.

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if you’re talking podium sure. But plenty of races have timed segments and people set goals to win segments with little concern for the rest of the race.