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Old 08-22-07, 04:08 PM   #1
8Lives
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Watts / Fitness for racing question

I started riding again in February after an 18 year layoff. I am thinking about racing and wonder where my fitness might be in relation to cat 4/5 or Masters (45+). I’m 47 and weigh 152. Thanks to my Garmin and Ascent I can isolate parts of rides and use the calculator at http://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm to estimate the watts. I picked hill climbs since I don’t know wind speed and at least that reduces the air resistance impact.

So…climbing Ebbets pass a couple of weeks ago I averaged 200 watts for 46 minutes and 197 climbing Monitor at the end of the next day (55 minutes). Both of these climbs were in the middle of longer days and below LT threshold. I think I would do better in race conditions. I also looked at a couple of shorter climbs and was in the 240-260 watt range for 5 to 15 minutes with good efforts closer to my LT.

So it looks like I can pretty consistently and comfortably hold 2.9 w/Kg for an hour or so, and 3.75 for shorter efforts. Race craft, tactics and ability to handle accelerations aside (right, all the major stuff!) is this a reasonable fitness level to start from?
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Old 08-22-07, 04:39 PM   #2
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Assuming the chart is accurate, you would assume so. But realizing that this data is based on anchor points at the top and the bottom and extrapolated in between.

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Old 08-22-07, 04:40 PM   #3
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Your power is probably higher than you think- Ebbets and Monitor are at elevation. Power is lower at altitude, depending on how well you were acclimated. 55min on Monitor isn't bad. But there are few races with that kind of climbing. For most road races the ability to handle accelerations and recover is more important than FT power.

Were you out there with UDC's Kiss of Death?
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Old 08-22-07, 04:42 PM   #4
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I was indeed - great ride. I can't wait to do it again, terry runs a great operation.
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Old 08-22-07, 04:49 PM   #5
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For most road races the ability to handle accelerations and recover is more important than FT power.
The ability to handle accelerations, but even MORE importantly recover is inextricably linked to FT power.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:00 PM   #6
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2.9 is a good place to start as a NorCal M 45+ 4/5 racer but if you want to be competitive in hilly races you will need to boost your FTP to roughly 4 watts/kg.

There is a LOT of sandbagging in the 35+ and 45+ 4/5 category because the M 35+ & 45+ 1-3 races are brutally hard!

gene r

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Old 08-22-07, 06:09 PM   #7
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Since the 2.9 was part of much longer days (heck I'd already climbed Monitor once and ridden 10 miles into a 25mph headwind on 395), i think my FT is probably higher though nowhere near 4 watts/kg. Gives me a good target though. Since i only have about 2,500 miles of riding the gains are still coming fairly quickly...
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Old 08-22-07, 06:13 PM   #8
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I was indeed - great ride. I can't wait to do it again, terry runs a great operation.
+1 You are right about Terry. He and his wife do a great job. I did Kiss of Death last year and had a great time. They are superb hosts.

If you are doing rides like that and feeling good about it, you probably have a nicely developed aerobic base. If you've been out of racing for a while though, you may find the speed surges the thing that kills you. Or maybe you will be ok with it, but don't worry about it, you'll adapt. Just go out and race. There are a lot of things you'll develop there that you won't in your solo rides.

Did you guys do Pacific Grade?
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Old 08-22-07, 06:22 PM   #9
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We did do Pacific Grade. My gearing may not have been the best - compact double with a 12-25 rear (could have used a 27) but made it up without a problem and actually feeling pretty good. I was glad to have climbed the 24% side first. I'd have been obsessively worried about it if we had descended it before climbing it.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:23 PM   #10
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I took 7 years off (after racing for 7) and started training over the past 18 months. I've raised my FTP from a low of 3.2 w/kg to 4.2 w/kg in that time. The payoff was making it into a small break that stayed away in a hilly NorCal RR (my only NorCal RR in '07).

I was able to raise my FTP by...

riding roughly 550 hours/year
training with power
losing weight
spending a lot of time doing SST and FTP work
adding vo2 and anaerobic intervals as my FTP plateaued

Good luck!

gene r
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Old 08-22-07, 06:34 PM   #11
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^ what's SST?

OP - that's about where I am. For time trials, that will put you at the back of the Cat 4/5 pack, maybe beating a few guys. But hell, you gotta start somewhere. My guess is that 4w/kg would make you pretty damn competitive; 3.5 would get you into the middle of the pack.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LT Intolerant View Post
2.9 is a good place to start as a NorCal M 45+ 4/5 racer but if you want to be competitive in hilly races you will need to boost your FTP to roughly 4 watts/kg.

There is a LOT of sandbagging in the 35+ and 45+ 4/5 category because the M 35+ & 45+ 1-3 races are brutally hard!

gene r
You're welcome

FWIW, I do OK in the 1/2/3 stuff and I'm sitting towards the top of the Cat 2 numbers on the chart. Gene's dead on about hitting 4 w/kg to see the front of the 4/5 Masters races if there's any uphill. Last year I was racing 4/5 stuff at 4.5w for 5 min, got me in the top ten in those events.

If you handle surges and have a sprint, you can do pretty ok in the 4/5 flat races without gaudy numbers. Go into this knowing you're in one of the harder Master's districts, with some big fields. This year there's been a lot more 45+ 4/5 races added to various events and in many cases they are splitting the fields there are so many entries.

And many of those guys are carrying burlap sacks and a shovel

Good luck!

Last edited by Racer Ex; 08-22-07 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:38 PM   #13
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SST is the low end of one's threshhold, roughly 88-94% of FTP (a person's 1 hr power). What's nice about it is you are working threshhold, but it doesn't beat you up physically and/or psychologically like training at or above FTP.

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Old 08-22-07, 06:45 PM   #14
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You're welcome
Huge LOL! Genetic mutants like you, Caldwell, Blount, Rogers, & Stetina (the 3 mutants I see at various SoCal races) are inspirational! It's great to see old guys riding nearly as fast as the pro 1/2 s.

When I go temporarily insane and race 45+ "open" races I know I'm racing for 20th, but my goal is to finish w the group or in a respectable chase group.

gene r (a racer-ex wannabe but never will)
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Old 08-22-07, 10:23 PM   #15
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The ability to handle accelerations, but even MORE importantly recover is inextricably linked to FT power.

ive seen plenty of guys in races with high FT power who couldnt handle nor recover from accelerations to save their life.
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Old 08-22-07, 10:40 PM   #16
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In my experience, four watts per kg is necessary to be competitive in most Cat 4/5 races unless its a flat race. However, it's highly dependent upon your area. We have quite a few elite triathletes who jump into the cat 5 races. In the last hill climb, the top 10 of the cat 4/5 would be midpack in the Cat 1/2/pro group. My LT is 3.8 watts per kg. On most climbs, I can hang with the group.
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Old 08-23-07, 05:28 AM   #17
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ive seen plenty of guys in races with high FT power who couldnt handle nor recover from accelerations to save their life.
There was an interesting debate on another forum as to who is more likely to win, a rider with high FTP but average anaerobic power, or the reverse.

No consensus was ever reached, but having a high FTP will allow you to be as fresh (not spent) as possible when the attacks begin. At that point it certainly is critical to be able to respond, repeatedly in most cases, and dip deep into your vo2/anaerobic capabilities to make the selection.

So in the end the best train all energy systems.

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Old 08-23-07, 06:01 AM   #18
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^ what's SST?

OP - that's about where I am. For time trials, that will put you at the back of the Cat 4/5 pack, maybe beating a few guys. But hell, you gotta start somewhere. My guess is that 4w/kg would make you pretty damn competitive; 3.5 would get you into the middle of the pack.
While that may be true for time trials, my FTP is under 3 and yet I have won a cat 5 crit and been competive in 4/5 road races.

Dont let numbers be your excuse for not going out and racing.
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Old 08-23-07, 06:27 AM   #19
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While that may be true for time trials, my FTP is under 3 and yet I have won a cat 5 crit and been competive in 4/5 road races.

Dont let numbers be your excuse for not going out and racing.
Not doubting you, but you are certainly not in the norm (winning w a low FTP). How often do you test FTP? What's your testing protocol? What PM are you using?

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Old 08-23-07, 06:35 AM   #20
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Well, I havent tested much because I got injured pretty bad in the middle of the season and had to start over again. The few times I did test I just used the method in the book or just did an hour of truth. Im using a PT.

I hope no one took my post as naysaying on power training because I certainly am working to improve my FTP by as much as I can.
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Old 08-23-07, 06:45 AM   #21
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Interesting, I hate to hijack, but oh well. I just input some numbers from the race I did last night into the calculator. And using a 0 slope and the average speed, I got 260-275 wattage for the race. I assume you just divide that by your body weight to get the weight/kg ratio?

Last edited by calhoun1; 08-23-07 at 07:31 AM. Reason: It helps if I have the right height in the calculator(watts changed)
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Old 08-23-07, 06:47 AM   #22
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^^^
yep
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Old 08-23-07, 06:57 AM   #23
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hmm, so it will be 276/87.5433274 = 3.14 W/kg for the race. Wow that is surprising. Now if I can lose 10-20 lbs, that number should skyrocket. I like math.

And if I lose 15 pounds: that jumps up into the 3.41 range. If fitness stays the same.

Last edited by calhoun1; 08-23-07 at 07:33 AM. Reason: changed wattage using correct height...
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Old 08-23-07, 07:38 AM   #24
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Interesting, I hate to hijack, but oh well. I just input some numbers from the race I did last night into the calculator. And using a 0 slope and the average speed, I got 260-275 wattage for the race. I assume you just divide that by your body weight to get the weight/kg ratio?
Unless the race was a timetrail, that won't work unfortunately. The calculator assumes no drafting, so in the pack your average wattage would be lower than its numbers. On the other hand, if this race was fairly spurty, like a crit, then average wattage isn't a good measure of your ability anyway. Your body pays a penalty for the inconsistent pace, so the more variable the pace, the lower average wattage you can achieve. That's why "normalized power" was invented, but that's a whole 'nuther topic.
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Old 08-23-07, 07:40 AM   #25
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ah ha, it was a crit, but there were only 14 racers, and 5 in the group. The rest were shelled off the back. And I was definitely drafting most of it.

But I also didn't take into account the profile of the course (you can read about it/see it in the Greenbelt topic I posted)

But I am basically trying to get numbers in order to have a baseline for the future. This was my first race and I am interested in trying to track improvement.
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