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Old 10-20-15, 08:22 PM   #1
offgrid 135
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Fading when the field initiates a sustained surge...

Hey everyone,
Insight from the Dr.s and veteran racers appreciated here. I am 52yo, started training in 2014 and my first season of racing this year.
I did around 25 races this year I believe and cat 4 now. I struggle when the field initiates sustained surges and at the sprints which either puts me off the back or out of contention on the field sprints. I have stage 3 Lyme and some other med issues which induce anemia(crit level of 35, rbc @ 3.6, wbc @ 3.8, Hemoglobin low, iron below 50 and low T levels). Not great numbers. On the upside, my body comp is excellent, great cardio, very strong legs for my weight(125#), ftp and 5 min power @ cat 2 levels. I do well on long solo training rides with a lot of sustained climbs(5 min to epic mountain duration and holding high power numbers for 50 plus mile rides. Can hit the climbs hard(280-300W for 5 min. duration) and over all NP of 195-210 @ 125# with good over all speed and cardio numbers. Was curious, would the above levels cause the fading and depletion of energy when I cannot dictate an effort? If so, any ideas to compensate for this(legally)? . I am getting frustrated esp. after talking to friends who have no where near the numbers or body comp which I maintain and I watch them initiate attacks in the field and win sprints. Of course, with my small frame and numbers I am more of a climber but trying to figure out how to hang with the field better. Thank you so much for your insight.
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Old 10-20-15, 08:52 PM   #2
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you're small. you have trouble when the speed gets high. with experience will come a lot of skill regarding drafting and anticipating field surges. I don't think that's unusual.
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Old 10-21-15, 07:41 AM   #3
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Drafting and energy conservation are trainable skills. Train them!
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Old 10-21-15, 07:43 AM   #4
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What these dudes said.

In addition, what's your short term power like? Like 15-30 second, 1min, etc. Not having good short term power can make those surges feel like hell.
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Old 10-21-15, 07:52 AM   #5
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What Fudgy said. offgrid, you're almost exactly my weight. Your power numbers may be in the same ballpark as mine, though I'm not sure what duration you're getting that NP from. My two major comments are this.

First, endurance takes time to develop, and it sounds like you start to run out of gas later in a race, is that right? I've always been weak in that area, and it's not clear to me what the relationship of your blood values is to that. That's kind of between you and your doctor. There's very little you can do legally except rest, recover from your illness and supplement with iron if your doc thinks that's a good idea. I would focus on building endurance, both in terms of base miles and ability to recover from efforts over FTP. If you can do 300W for 5 minutes, that's not too bad for your weight, but if you're totally blown and unable to recover after doing that effort, that 5' power is going to be of pretty limited usefulness. And keep in mind that 5.3 W/kg for 5' is quite good, but it is not exceptional. It's not going to blow everyone else's doors off, even in the Cat 4s, which means you can't just draft until you hit a 5' climb and punch it. Besides, chances are you won't have that much 40-60 miles into a race. So: endurance and recovery at high % of FTP.

Second, being of slight build means you have to be very choosy about where you put your nose in the wind. For me, motoring along on the front is simply not something I do. That doesn't mean never taking a pull or attacking, it just means it's really easy to burn matches uselessly if you aren't smart. When on the front or attacking or trying to bridge to a move, you need to take advantage of your strengths. The benefit of being small, is that it takes less energy to accelerate up to speed. So as you get more experienced in predicting a surge in speed, you can be accelerating onto a wheel and out of the wind quickly and efficiently. And as far as attacking, bridging and pulling, you can use that snap to jump onto an attack early, or slam a gap shut really quickly. Once you're in a break or chasing or whatever, taking short pulls over FTP isn't as big a problem, but of course you need to monitor your contributions and not dig a hole. As a light rider, even more than most bike racers, you need to be able to rely on going over your FTP, recovering and then doing it again, and again, and again. Which comes back to good endurance and developing the ability to recover at a high percentage of FTP.

Again, I can't really make any recommendations with regard to your health. I think the main considerations you'll have there are in how it affects your training. You need to be able to train for those surges but not totally exhaust yourself doing it. That's something you'll have to figure out on your own or with the help of a coach.
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Old 10-21-15, 02:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by offgrid 135 View Post
Hey everyone,
Insight from the Dr.s and veteran racers appreciated here. I am 52yo, started training in 2014 and my first season of racing this year.
I did around 25 races this year I believe and cat 4 now. I struggle when the field initiates sustained surges and at the sprints which either puts me off the back or out of contention on the field sprints. I have stage 3 Lyme and some other med issues which induce anemia(crit level of 35, rbc @ 3.6, wbc @ 3.8, Hemoglobin low, iron below 50 and low T levels). Not great numbers. On the upside, my body comp is excellent, great cardio, very strong legs for my weight(125#), ftp and 5 min power @ cat 2 levels. I do well on long solo training rides with a lot of sustained climbs(5 min to epic mountain duration and holding high power numbers for 50 plus mile rides. Can hit the climbs hard(280-300W for 5 min. duration) and over all NP of 195-210 @ 125# with good over all speed and cardio numbers. Was curious, would the above levels cause the fading and depletion of energy when I cannot dictate an effort? If so, any ideas to compensate for this(legally)? . I am getting frustrated esp. after talking to friends who have no where near the numbers or body comp which I maintain and I watch them initiate attacks in the field and win sprints. Of course, with my small frame and numbers I am more of a climber but trying to figure out how to hang with the field better. Thank you so much for your insight.
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Just curious what's your FTP? Mine is 250 as a new CAt4 with 2 yrs on bike. I was doing lots of 20sec intervals early this year then added 3 mins intervals at 290-300 watts and i felt that it prepared me for Crits and road races esp attacking, bridging etc. I saw alot of improvement and was able to attack and go for primes in Crits and not blow out. I'm 5 8' 168 lbs so climbing was not my best.. clearly i need to lose weight.

Last edited by TexMac; 10-21-15 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 10-21-15, 06:39 PM   #7
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Definitely learn to draft, and try attacking the field towards the end of the race to take advantage of your 5min power. Add sprint intervals to your training mix as well as race winning intervals. You need to build your recovery.
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Old 10-22-15, 10:41 AM   #8
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Train your recovery. I like ZCI's and Race Winning Intervals because they force you to go hard when you aren't fully recovered. Another thing is to have a plan for the group rides. You can attack, blow up almost to the point of getting dropped, work your way back through the field, and attack again, eventually getting dropped. Or go out with the plan to work on hiding. You might get yelled at (tm), but eff'em. Group rides are for trying out stuff.
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Old 10-22-15, 10:58 AM   #9
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Train your recovery. Group rides are for trying out stuff.
This. Most races are won or lost in the 0-2 minute power buckets, excluding things like TT's and races with long climbs. Secondary to that is a quick recovery from those efforts.

Recovering from a 1 minute, 300w effort is quicker than a 1 minute 350w effort, and takes less out of you over the course of a race, which is where positioning comes in. Being a bike off the wheel in front of you, or being on the windy side in a cross wind can be the 300/350 difference, as can keeping your eyes up the road and anticipating rather than reacting to those surges.

Unless you have a mighty sprint, sitting on wheels the entire race will produce the same mediocre results, which will just get worse as you move up. So don't be afraid to make a move, jump in a break, or take a flyer.

Training recovery, having a strong 0-2 minute power, and being able to position yourself allows you to come into races out of shape and still win, even in upper category races.
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Old 10-23-15, 02:42 PM   #10
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Need more sprints and 1-minute interval training. Do as many practice crits as you can find. Look up Waterrocket's Training Bible in the training section.

While weight is an indicator, you have to pair that with body-fat %. I started racing at 135-lbs and 5% BF with a lot of aerobic fitness from 10-yrs soccer and running. I could hang with the group rides and climb no problem. Any surge in speed and I'd be caught out. Didn't do well in my first 10 races.

Got a coach through the university cycling team, an ex-Olympian with medal wins. He looked over my first years training history and race notes and devised a plan for my next year. Main difference was a lot more sprints & short intervals. Turns out that this isn't a limitation with lighter folks, ALL beginners tend not to do enough sprints and intervals. Need to train much harder than you race; if you don't puke during training, you haven't gone hard enough. After 6-months on this programme, the next season started and I won three cat-4 races in a row and got bumped up to 3. Did my 1st cat-3 race thr same day I won that final 4 race.

A connected idea is to race your strengths and train your weaknesses. This also relates to mental strategies as well. Work the hills to hurt the bigger guys and be near the front on the downhill to draft and recover. Same with the surges, if it's a regular occurance at certain parts of a course, be near the front. Then draft the biggest guys when the surge starts and drift back so that you don't have to go as fast as them. Hopefully by the time you're halfway back into the pack, the surge will have subsided. Don't ever be out in the wind and pulling.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 10-23-15 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 10-24-15, 06:00 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by offgrid 135 View Post
Hey everyone,
Insight from the Dr.s and veteran racers appreciated here. I am 52yo, started training in 2014 and my first season of racing this year.
I did around 25 races this year I believe and cat 4 now. I struggle when the field initiates sustained surges and at the sprints which either puts me off the back or out of contention on the field sprints. I have stage 3 Lyme and some other med issues which induce anemia(crit level of 35, rbc @ 3.6, wbc @ 3.8, Hemoglobin low, iron below 50 and low T levels). Not great numbers. On the upside, my body comp is excellent, great cardio, very strong legs for my weight(125#), ftp and 5 min power @ cat 2 levels. I do well on long solo training rides with a lot of sustained climbs(5 min to epic mountain duration and holding high power numbers for 50 plus mile rides. Can hit the climbs hard(280-300W for 5 min. duration) and over all NP of 195-210 @ 125# with good over all speed and cardio numbers. Was curious, would the above levels cause the fading and depletion of energy when I cannot dictate an effort? If so, any ideas to compensate for this(legally)? . I am getting frustrated esp. after talking to friends who have no where near the numbers or body comp which I maintain and I watch them initiate attacks in the field and win sprints. Of course, with my small frame and numbers I am more of a climber but trying to figure out how to hang with the field better. Thank you so much for your insight.
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A few questions -
1. What sort of avg power are you seeing before you get gapped? What sort of peak power? And over what kind of time, like 15 min? 30 min? etc.
2. Is there a Strava file or something where there are multiple riders in a given race that have uploaded power numbers?
3. Being brutally honest with yourself can you say that you're drafting pretty effectively, sort of effectively, or not at all effectively? Related to that, can you describe a few situations where you get gapped off?

A good friend of mine has very low HCT, in the mid-upper 30s. It was a bit higher before and he's noticed a drop off in his sustainable power. He's out of breath quicker, etc. He's pretty strong otherwise - stronger than me - but he also struggles when it's crunch time. A year ago he was fine in similar situations.
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Old 12-11-15, 08:17 AM   #12
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Offgrid,

I know those feels. I've also had lyme disease and 3 knee surgeries and some rugged medications to go with it. At 140 lb, I tend to have the same issue. I'm easily keeping up with the pack, chasing and making breakaways. I have a good jump and can tear guys legs off in a hard paceline, but that last kilometer where the pack surges I really suffer.

You can of course increase that top-end power through training, but trying to win a bunch sprint against a more powerfully built racer is just fighting your physiology.

I have some simple recommendations:
Pick races that use your strengths - more distance or more climbing
Lift weights
Strategy - work the breakaways, settle into your time-trial mode and rip chunks of time away from the peloton so that the field sprint isn't a factor in your race. Also, if you're not actively breaking away, you are never out in the wind.
Practice sprinting - you may not be able to beat captain quadricep in a sprint - but since you've made a breakaway he's probably not going to be there. You're still going to need to have a decent sprint to place well within your breakaway group.
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Old 12-12-15, 01:48 AM   #13
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Yes, successful sprinting is about 80/20 tactics versus strength. I've been beaten by guys with 1/2 my strength and I have won against others who are much, much stronger than me.

I always ask people, "on the last lap, were you following the guy that won the race?" If you were, you have a much, much better chance of winning. In the vast a majority of races I've won, the guy that got 2nd was the guy I was following around on the last lap.
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Old 12-12-15, 02:58 AM   #14
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Some terrific advice in this middle-aged thread. Pity the OP doesn't seem to have stuck around to take it...

Last edited by chasm54; 12-12-15 at 05:23 AM.
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Old 12-12-15, 05:23 PM   #15
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Everybody wants a quick fix.
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Old 12-13-15, 05:24 PM   #16
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The OP was racing Cat 4 so most likely with a lot of idiots. I am thinking that the OP was talking about those surges that create mini-breaks in the Cat 4 pack. If so, don't be a hero. Let someone else be the hero. If you do it right you get to wheel surf back into the main pack without doing a lick of work.

And if things are right it is a great time to attack.
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Old 03-13-16, 10:02 AM   #17
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I just wanted to thank everyone for the invaluable insight on my situation and apologies for not getting back sooner as I had some life situations come up.
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Old 03-13-16, 10:33 AM   #18
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I just wanted to thank everyone for the invaluable insight on my situation and apologies for not getting back sooner as I had some life situations come up.
**** happens.

And an addendum: Being 50+ it adds a layer of difference on top of the "normal" racing/training paradigm. The Master's Forum is a good place to pick up info about that layer.
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Old 03-17-16, 10:27 AM   #19
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how is your nutrition?

and this isn't meant to sound negative, but cat 2 power levels but can't surge with cat4 surges..... imho that power difference , u could probably have your nose in the wind alot during a race and still be fine. So maybe you are correct in trying to reconcile what's happening here
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