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how to bridge to the break

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how to bridge to the break

Old 07-07-17, 01:09 AM
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how to bridge to the break

Ok this is perhaps a dumb question.. but here goes anyway. How can one get better at bridging to a break? Assume a flat, technical p/1/2 crit.

In a recent crit (Davis 4th of July) I tried to bridge solo to The Break and failed. Fwiw I've bridged successfully before, but this gap was probably 25-30" by the time I tried. Group of 11-12 guys up ahead, most of them working - got about 3/4's of the way there and blew up.

After about 6 minutes at ~27.9 mph (from gps, not sure how accurate), I was done. Back to the pack for me.

I think the two answers are:

a) go at the right time, i.e. when the break was being formed, aka race smarter. This is really The Answer I think.. but I was at the back not paying attention when the break formed.

b) go faster

What I'm more interested in is answers to b). It's not sprint power/top speed, it's not really FTP. It's more like top sustained speed/power, but for less than say 10 minutes.

Fwiw I'm not riding with power anymore, although I have a PT. One obvious answer is "work on 6-minute power", but I don't think doing something like riding up a hill for 6 minutes is a good answer. Or is it? Seems like the workout(s) should probably match the race scenario: high power/high cadence, flat ground.

Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/10...ysis/2582/2927

For comparison, this guy did the solo bridge a few minutes before me: https://www.strava.com/activities/10...ysis/2360/2875

I dunno. I googled "how to get faster on a bike," took one look at the links, and figured that was the wrong rabbit hole to go down. So I'm asking you instead!
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Old 07-07-17, 02:32 AM
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i think you already know your answer, but if you have a specific area you want to improve (call it 5-8' power specifically on flat courses), then you need to train the ability to make power for those durations at the leg speeds that your gears/terrain dictate.

we could have a whole discussion around how to improve power for X duration (which doesn't always involve intervals of that duration), though again i think you know those methods. the key is to train in the right quadrant -- in this case, high power, high cadence.

in a flat course/no wind, your best bet is going to be to ride as steady as possible THROUGH every feature. if we add wind, then that changes things--and that is where a time trailing background/experience (or at least being very tuned in to where stepping on the gas just a bit more and easing off just a bit) can shave a few seconds and mean you make the connection vs going back to the pack.

also, can you do anything to improve either your equipment or your ability to handle any technical elements even *slightly* smoother than the group ahead?
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Old 07-07-17, 04:58 AM
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Just putting it out there, c) slap a guy on the leg and bridge with him.
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Old 07-07-17, 05:45 AM
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I will add this in if it wasn't already obvious, choosing the shortest / optimal path or identifying ground features that provide less rolling resistance like paint lines or smoother pavement (I have not quantified if this actually works).
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Old 07-07-17, 11:31 AM
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solo bridge on a 25-30" gap to a breakaway of 11?? unless they're playing games with each other, that's a tough one regardless of strategy.. where I come from, a breakaway like that would be hard to stay with, much less bridge to in a 50 minute crit. I was in a similar situation where the breakaway was smaller, and I was with 2 pretty good cat 1's and a pro from axeon, and our chase fell apart.. We all bit the dust one by one; I was the first. but i have a feeling there's a much larger disparity of talent over here. there are a handful of guys here who are absolute monsters.

and there's a good chance a good portion of the peloton is represented in the breakaway, so few would probably work with you (assuming your team isn't already represented). it's just not a very good situation. best way to address it is to prevent it in my opinion
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Old 07-07-17, 11:42 AM
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The key to bridging a break is to do it as fast as humanly possible, if not faster. Otherwise, you're left out there working as hard as the breakaway and will tend to flag and get swallowed up by the peloton.

You also need to catch the break without running out of gas, lest you simply fall off the back, in which case it's all over.

IMO- knowing yourself, and gauging whether it's a smart move, and you have the necessary speed to bridge quickly is the most important step. Then, unless you're a fast time trialer, recruit some as fast and interested in bridging as yourself. You don't want to be trying to bridge with guys who don't really care that much and are willing to let you do all the work.

In short, the key to bridging, is good planning and fast execution. It helps to know who the breakaway riders are. if they're guys that you know are as fast as you are, the odds are against you, unless they've been out there a while and hopefully starting to flag.
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Old 07-07-17, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post


a) go at the right time, i.e. when the break was being formed, aka race smarter. This is really The Answer I think.. but I was at the back not paying attention when the break formed.

it's not really FTP. It's more like top sustained speed/power, but for less than say 10 minutes.
I would hope you would take my advice as this is the only thing I know how to do - make or get to breaks.

a) is easier. A lot of times I am out front alone or with someone I know will fold eventually in the hopes that a chase group comes by and now we've seeded a break. Else, when you go to a break you gotta know your limits. How many up front are working, how fast are you currently going. How big is the gap. All that. You already know what you're doing though. Sometimes it's just too late.

The presumptive -b- up there I would argue against. My flat threshold seems to be around 360 right now. Not as good as my climbing but I give up a lot to fold my body over to gain speed. Anyway, it is FTP. My break attempts or bridges start at 550w (once I sit, after the jump and if I'm clear) and slowly trail down to ~400, then after 15-20min I'm at threshold and can only do 360w.

Mostly I think you just have to be used to the efforts. All my time otf of Spectrum/TNR/PV rides means that when I find myself alone in a race for a bit I know my limits and strength. I've gotten a lot better at judging when I can vs. when I should sit up and try later, too...
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Old 07-07-17, 03:51 PM
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You gotta know what kind of rider you are. A sprinter who ranks near the bottom on stage race TTs will have only option A. A little climber also may only have option A unless he can simulate an awesome TT position on the road bike (plus is great at TTs).

Option B is reserved for big wattmakers who can Merckx an excellent TT.
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Old 07-07-17, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by dz_nuzz View Post
I will add this in if it wasn't already obvious, choosing the shortest / optimal path or identifying ground features that provide less rolling resistance like paint lines or smoother pavement (I have not quantified if this actually works).
placebo works either way
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Old 07-07-17, 05:28 PM
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Not a how, an observation - and little how...

Junior finds chasing breaks gets him too tired, as esp in junior, U23s the break-sticking/attack ratio is low (there are a lot of attacks).
So he prefers to let them establish, then bridge up. He is rarely an initiator of a break.

He was coached to make a subtle attack. Just go high cadence and not some pounding out of saddle attack. Spin to front, look over shoulder at the pack as if you are not going anywhere, pedal a bit farther forward and then just TT - IAB of course.
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Old 07-07-17, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by tetonrider View Post
i think you already know your answer, but if you have a specific area you want to improve (call it 5-8' power specifically on flat courses), then you need to train the ability to make power for those durations at the leg speeds that your gears/terrain dictate.

we could have a whole discussion around how to improve power for X duration (which doesn't always involve intervals of that duration), though again i think you know those methods. the key is to train in the right quadrant -- in this case, high power, high cadence.
Yes, I guess that's the discussion I'd like to have - how to train that specific power.

As for quadrants, that's what I was thinking as well. Is it as simple as "try to simulate the same thing", e.g. find a flat road where I can go for ~5 minutes as fast as possible, and just keep doing that? What else, in addition to that?

in a flat course/no wind, your best bet is going to be to ride as steady as possible THROUGH every feature. if we add wind, then that changes things--and that is where a time trailing background/experience (or at least being very tuned in to where stepping on the gas just a bit more and easing off just a bit) can shave a few seconds and mean you make the connection vs going back to the pack.

also, can you do anything to improve either your equipment or your ability to handle any technical elements even *slightly* smoother than the group ahead?
There was a bit of wind - couldn't feel it in the pack, but once solo (and tired) I definitely did.

It was a tailwind on the long start/finish straightaway, felt like a headwind basically everywhere else.

As for equipment, I had aero bars, 404s (gp4000s w/ front butyl, rear latex), aero helmet. My position could be more aero, and I didn't use IAB.. maybe that's why I failed to bridge!
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Old 07-07-17, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
Just putting it out there, c) slap a guy on the leg and bridge with him.
A decent point.

A team mate of mine had that happen and made the bridge with another strong guy. They just forgot to tell me.. he got 3rd.

Really I'm embarrassed I didn't even know he was up there.. my fault for sitting on the back (of 60+ people), thinking it was ok. I wasn't really paying attention until it was too late.
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Old 07-07-17, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by dz_nuzz View Post
I will add this in if it wasn't already obvious, choosing the shortest / optimal path or identifying ground features that provide less rolling resistance like paint lines or smoother pavement (I have not quantified if this actually works).
Not something I think too much about, but probably worth it.. thanks.
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Old 07-07-17, 06:10 PM
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Gotta know when to go and when to not. I use the pack dynamic to help, look for a surge and work off that or another attack to get you close. Pack primes are good for that. Having another rider there with you who will work is great, unless they are marked and it lights the fuse in the pack.

Once you make the attempt you need to 100% commit. Then you need to gauge effort to ground gained and figure the duration you can sustain that effort. Watch the break to see if there's any inconsistency in how they are rotating and if there is make the last big push when they slow.

I know the are some breaks that are gone in my AG if I don't jump right away (go look at the 55+ TT times), I know there are others that I can sit on for a bit.

As far as training to a specific time bin, I dunno. I've gone 30 minutes before I got on. This is where actually racing TT's and pursuits is helpful. You get a good internal power meter and clock.

Being aggressive and starting a break makes all that moot...or at least moot more often.
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Old 07-07-17, 07:25 PM
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motorpacing?

I read somewhere that the solo bridge limit is about 10 seconds, 15 seconds if you're super good. This is assuming equal type riders in the field and in the break. Obviously bridging to Tony Martin will take more, and if you're 15s in front of Tony Martin then that's not a lot of time.

A rider had a lead of some minutes over Eddy Merckx or some other great rider. He was asked about the significance of his lead.

"Three minutes? Well three minutes from me to him, that's not much. Three minutes from him to me, that would be impossible to make up."

Something like that.
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Old 07-07-17, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
I would hope you would take my advice as this is the only thing I know how to do - make or get to breaks.

a) is easier. A lot of times I am out front alone or with someone I know will fold eventually in the hopes that a chase group comes by and now we've seeded a break. Else, when you go to a break you gotta know your limits. How many up front are working, how fast are you currently going. How big is the gap. All that. You already know what you're doing though. Sometimes it's just too late.

The presumptive -b- up there I would argue against. My flat threshold seems to be around 360 right now. Not as good as my climbing but I give up a lot to fold my body over to gain speed. Anyway, it is FTP. My break attempts or bridges start at 550w (once I sit, after the jump and if I'm clear) and slowly trail down to ~400, then after 15-20min I'm at threshold and can only do 360w.

Mostly I think you just have to be used to the efforts. All my time otf of Spectrum/TNR/PV rides means that when I find myself alone in a race for a bit I know my limits and strength. I've gotten a lot better at judging when I can vs. when I should sit up and try later, too...
I like the "be out front"/"let the break come to you" idea, but I'm not strong enough to do that in a real p1/2 crit.

This was a weird one because by the time I felt like the break was a threat, it was too late/gap too big/too many fast guys up there. Usually I'd be up front to monitor for exactly that, but in this case I was trying to avoid crashes, given this race always has big crashes and I've been a victim there in the past.

Honestly I don't like breakaways, but when all the fast guys are up there (or you want to get away from the best sprinters), it's sometimes the only option. The annoying thing is that in NCNCA p/1/2 crits, the fast sprinters always seem to make the break somehow, almost like more of a selection. Pretty rare (like when I won a few months ago, from the break that I bridged to) that the break of non-sprinters gets away and stays away, seems like.
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Old 07-07-17, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
motorpacing?
Yup - that's the quadrant of high cadence/high power. I keep thinking "this is the year I'll do motor pacing" for the last few years, but never do. The local velodrome offers sessions at some points in the year, I should do it eventually.
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Old 07-08-17, 04:07 PM
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Do you lift weights?
I saw a big difference for junior - from not lifting, to lifting, to not lifting so much.
Lifting instead of riding made him much faster for anything under 3 hours.
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Old 07-08-17, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post

I read somewhere that the solo bridge limit is about 10 seconds, 15 seconds if you're super good.
just no.
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Old 07-08-17, 09:27 PM
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Watch Justin Stanley's series of videos "making the break." Here's one of them.

An amazing one is the Emmit Smith gran fondo where he got a flat and had to catch back on. That was the $10k winner-take-all GF.
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Old 07-08-17, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Do you lift weights?
I saw a big difference for junior - from not lifting, to lifting, to not lifting so much.
Lifting instead of riding made him much faster for anything under 3 hours.
I started doing that over the winter, yeah. But not during the season.
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Old 07-08-17, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
just no.
Sounds reasonable to a mere mortal. Maybe no if your ftp is like 45 watts over average...
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Old 07-08-17, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs View Post
An amazing one is the Emmit Smith gran fondo where he got a flat and had to catch back on. That was the $10k winner-take-all GF.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCYYZt2eDEw&t=8s
lol - I think if I had a van pacing me up to the break I would have caught back on..
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Old 07-09-17, 02:03 PM
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I don't post here that much anymore, but back when I did there was somebody that had a variation on 2x20 intervals where instead they went 5 minutes "on" and one minute "off" for 6 reps. The idea was to replicate the training of the 2x20 in a shorter time. Anyone remember that? We named that set of intervals after him. I used to do them and they were so hard that I got exercised induced Tourette's Syndrome during the last set. But they really worked. They allowed me to do some things for 5 to 10 minutes that I could not do before without totally blowing up.

I am thinking that intervals like this might be just the thing to prepare oneself for such efforts. This a a bridging effort that is not a short sprint where 1 minute intervals would be the training regimen, i.e. the 10 second or so gap. Instead it is a bit of a longer effort where you need a quick recovery after so that you stick in the break. And you recover with some matches still left for later.
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Old 07-09-17, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
just no.
All sorts of exceptions apply, but basically it's in situations where riders are riding pretty hard up front and is using the same amount of effort (power) as the riders behind. Unless the bridger has some excessive FTP they'd have to go anaerobic to bridge and therefore the fuse is pretty short. The trick is to balance power/speed vs longetivty.

I have a chart somewhere where I put in the break speed, chase speed, and it calculates bridge time. For a given gap as chase speed drops the bridge time increases rapidly. Increase the time gap and it gets worse very quickly.

A 10 second gap should be bridgeable by almost anyone in the field. Of course one can bridge a bigger gap but it would be tough to say that virtually anyone could do it.

In one race where I was an active observer (timed the gap to the break for something like 45 laps out of 50), the rider off the front maintained about 28 mph on the slower laps, 31 mph on the faster ones. Even a decent pro (Graeme Miller, racing for Scott Bikyle) couldn't close a 35-ish second gap - he got within about 10 seconds and then faded back into the field. His then teammate Jeff Rutter (I think) also gave it a go but didn't put that kind of dent into the gap. They were the two strongest riders in the field. In the end the solo break rider, a local Cat 1 and someone that would get 3rd at the Elite National RR, won.
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