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Old 08-18-09, 08:29 AM   #1
FormerRower
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Learning Curve and Physiological Potential

Hey folks,

I had pretty broad question that probably can't be answered specifically, but I wanted to see if there was a generally held consensus among those of you that frequent this board. I am a Cat 4 (and have been there for about two seasons), and I got serious this summer about training. I have been on the bike since May and picked up a powertap, and with a coach, managed to get my FTP to 362 watts at about 70kg (5.2 watts/kg). This brings me to my question (actually a couple of questions). Is there an easy way short of lactate and Vo2 max testing to determine what my physiological ceiling would be? I have a pretty good amount of data now from the last couple of months, so I am guessing there might be a way to extrapolate what a best possible FTP (give or take) would be.

Also - I usually can't get more than a couple of races in a summer, so I am having trouble accumulating enough upgrade points to move up. If I was able to count a couple of seasons I would have enough, but the USCF rules seem to limit the ability to count old seasons. Have any of you put in for an upgrade with not enough points, but were able to make the case that you should be in a higher category? Thanks!
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Old 08-18-09, 12:32 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by FormerRower View Post
Hey folks,

I had pretty broad question that probably can't be answered specifically, but I wanted to see if there was a generally held consensus among those of you that frequent this board. I am a Cat 4 (and have been there for about two seasons), and I got serious this summer about training. I have been on the bike since May and picked up a powertap, and with a coach, managed to get my FTP to 362 watts at about 70kg (5.2 watts/kg). This brings me to my question (actually a couple of questions). Is there an easy way short of lactate and Vo2 max testing to determine what my physiological ceiling would be? I have a pretty good amount of data now from the last couple of months, so I am guessing there might be a way to extrapolate what a best possible FTP (give or take) would be.

Also - I usually can't get more than a couple of races in a summer, so I am having trouble accumulating enough upgrade points to move up. If I was able to count a couple of seasons I would have enough, but the USCF rules seem to limit the ability to count old seasons. Have any of you put in for an upgrade with not enough points, but were able to make the case that you should be in a higher category? Thanks!
Holy mother of God, 5.2w/kg as a cat4? Why haven't you moved up by now? Just get to the front, drill it, and drop the rest of the pack. They wouldn't even be able to draft you at that power.

As for determining your ceiling, you will probably never know until you've been doing serious training, consistently, for a few years. Don't believe in the numbers, too much. Mark Cavendish had mediocre testing (LT/VO2) numbers, but the British coaches gave him a shot. He won't win a TdF, but look at his success already.

As for upgrading early: yes. It's easy to do in the lower ranks. Part of the idea from upgrades, however, is that you are more than just physically strong, but you are tactically proficient. You need to develop pack handling skills, technique, and good tactics more than just brute strength.

Commit yourself to a few weekends of racing and focus on winning them. If your power numbers are correct, you should be able to drop everyone in the cat4's (and even cat3s) just by hammering it at the front.
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Old 08-18-09, 01:55 PM   #3
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Hey JPradun, thank you for the information. Part of the reason I've stayed in 4's is the upgrade point situation, as well as having some fellow club members racing as 4's. I'm also not a particularly strong crit racer mostly because I just don't enjoy it much. This season though was a little frustrating once I built fitness and so now I have the motivation to upgrade. I'm pretty certain the power numbers are accurate - I use an SL+ and do all of the testing on one climb. I race next weekend and will probably take your advice and try and do some work at the front to break up the field. Hopefully a solid result will give me the points to move to 3's.
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Old 08-18-09, 02:05 PM   #4
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DO NOT "do work at the front"

instead: ATTACK AND GO SOLO
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Old 08-18-09, 03:43 PM   #5
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Are you sure your FTP is 362? Thats a pretty incredible FTP.
How did you test it?
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Old 08-18-09, 10:31 PM   #6
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I'd have to check with my coach, and he is probably on these forums, but I think it involves the critical power model. I would test twice in a week and then those numbers would help determine where my FTP was. I was doing these tests on a very well known local climb that Cat 1 and 2 guys often do, and my times were toward the top... so I think the numbers are pretty close. Right now for a Level 2 ride around 2 to 3 hours I will generally average around 240w (3.5w/kg) with an NP somewhere around 260 depending if an interval is scheduled.

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Old 08-19-09, 08:20 AM   #7
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What Creakyknees said. Do not work at the front. At 5.2w/kg you should drop everyone just by drilling it at the front. However, there are often sandbaggers in every level, so someone who is smart and can hold 4.2w/kg might just be able to hang onto your draft and pull around you at the end for the win. Attack and go solo or with a small group.

Your test for FTP should be at least 20min long. If you get into an early breakaway in the race and spend 20+min away from the field, you'll have a good idea what your potential is.
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