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Peak (and flat) performances

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Peak (and flat) performances

Old 07-10-19, 11:35 AM
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Peak (and flat) performances

What factors contribute to having a really strong, or really not so strong, ride on any given day for you?

I ask more for curiosity, as I don't race. But part of my enjoyment of any sport/hobby is understanding how it works, and cyclists' ups and downs are interesting to me.

All else equal, ie, controlling for variables like hills and heat, what are the tell-tale signs that you'll probably have a strong ride? Or not?

Is it how how many days in a row you've ridden? The most recent really strenuous ride? Especially curious how workload affects it. How quickly can you bounce back from a ride?

How about qualify of preparation, such as hydration?

What got me most recently curious was that I did a 40-mile ride last evening, then came back and did a 40-mile ride this morning. The 40-mile range is pretty typical for me. I generally ride 2 days out of 3, but rarely evening followed by morning. Naturally, I was stronger on the evening ride than the next-morning ride, but I wonder that turnaround is really a big deal or not. I haven't done it very often. In fact, that was probably the first time. How much would that take out of someone?
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Old 07-10-19, 11:47 AM
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There are way too many variables to answer that question succinctly.

If you start tracking your workouts and using analytics software, you can start to see how your chronic (CTL) and acute (ATL) training loads affect your total performance or training stress score, often referred to as TSS. But that is all specific to each individual.

Also, in your example, your morning ride may not have been as strong as the evening ride because it was in the morning, and not because it was a short turnaround from the evening. Some people perform better later in the day than early.
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Old 07-10-19, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro

Also, in your example, your morning ride may not have been as strong as the evening ride because it was in the morning, and not because it was a short turnaround from the evening. Some people perform better later in the day than early.
Great point. Hadn't thought of that. I think early mornings are sometimes harder (for me, anyway) because it's harder to be hydrated after sleeping 8 hours than if you're anticipating a 6 p.m. ride by drinking a little more throughout the day. It also was distinctly more humid this a.m. than last p.m. Or at least I certainly sweated more.
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Old 07-11-19, 10:53 AM
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Also, the conditions in the morning (wind, temp, humidity, stress level, traffic, etc.) may not have been the same as during the evening.

Too many variables, each unique to your own body’s response to them. It takes time to learn to listen and understand what your body is trying to tell you.
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Old 07-11-19, 11:47 AM
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I ride stronger in the mid afternoon to evening on a day I've had some calories but not a big meal recently. Hydration hours before is important which is probably a reason I hate riding first thing in the morning. The flatter it is the higher my average power output will be. I ride better when I get lots of sleep.

Example: All of my recent riding has been on Zwift as it's just too hot here in Georgia for me to want to go outside and ride. Last week I had Thursday through Sunday off from work. I rode 239 km last week, which is the most I've ever ridden. I rode hard for 120 minutes on Tuesday, 120 minutes on Thursday, 100 minutes on Friday, 60 minutes on Saturday, and 60 minutes on Sunday. And yet I had my highest average watts on the Saturday ride at 237 watts (FTP is 257 as of a test a month ago). The course was a very flat course with 55 m elevation in 36.1 km.
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Old 07-11-19, 12:06 PM
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Strong, a positive TSB. Really strong, TSB of 10 or so. Looking at my HRV numbers, a high parasympathetic power will mean a strong ride. A low resting HR combined with a low standing resting HR can mean a strong riding day, but it's not as predictive as those first two items.

I've been tracking my fitness and readiness for 20 years or so. Going by data is so much better than trying to go by feel.

One will ride stronger after an appropriate meal and when one is not exhausted by events of the day. Most folks find it easier to put out power on a long climb, but your average watts will go away if you coast. Have to keep the pedal down the whole time to see good average watts.

Over the long term, getting your CTL up will enable you to ride more strongly.
Results matter
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Old 07-12-19, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by guachi
The flatter it is the higher my average power output will be.
Do you have a power meter on your bike? I ask because outside performance is usually riders can hold higher wattage on climbs then on the flats. Also, wattage tends to be higher outdoors than in. Zwift physics has some compromises. I climb on Zwift much better than I do in real life. It must be difficult to recreate the effects of gravity.
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Old 07-12-19, 10:42 AM
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Yesterday, I had the most difficult ride I have had in many years. I was riding with a friend that is a strong rider. We were out to do a 32 mile circuit at a quick pace. We started out heading into a 10-12 mph headwind and I was feeling a bit off from the start. I wrote it off to having been doing quite a few miles the past 10 days. At about the halfway point I was feeling out of gas and short on oxygen. I told the other rider I needed to take a couple of minutes down time. No problem, we stopped in a shaded spot and I drank a good amount of water and caught my breath. We started riding again, the point of the circuit where we were heading back to the starting point. We were now in a swirling crosswind and I started to feel tired and sluggish and my shoulder and neck muscles were tight and bunched up. I asked for another breather with about 6 miles to go and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to make it back. Once we got going again, thankfully, we were riding with a nice tailwind. Back at home I immediately got re-hydrated, got some carbs and protein into my body and took a very nice, on the cold side, shower. I was still feeling poorly. I checked my e-mail and there was mail from the local blood bank thanking me for the donation I had made. Of coarse it then struck me, I had donated double red blood cells 3 days before on Monday. Well DUH, no wonder I was in such a poor feeling state. I took a nap, had a really hardy dinner and drank a lot of fluids the rest of the evening. Still feeling a bit worn out today, but certainly better. No ride for me today, and eating and drinking well. I am doing some maintenance on a couple of my bikes and patching some tubes that I have neglected for awhile. Tomorrow I will get in an easy paced shorter ride, and give myself some more time to recuperate.
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Old 07-12-19, 10:52 AM
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I thought I had you on my feed, otherwise I'd have taken a look since you're local to me.

Either way, you just discovered how all those fancy training acronyms work like Topflight posted about.

If you usually do XX/day but suddenly do XX+X/day, then the subsequent day may be tougher or less optimal. XX could be miles, hours, etc...

The more you add on or the quicker you add it on, the bigger the effect.

As to time of day? I find I'm strongest if I don't do my lunch training ride on days of the night-time group ride. I eat a decent lunch then go out for maybe 5 miles before the ride departs and eat a snack and drink some while warming up for the ride. So, just before dinner hour with a snack in me and well warmed up.

That usually results in being able to dole out some pain. Especially if I had the prior day off.

Morning I do ok, but my workouts before lunch are always mentally tough as I feel like I broke fast from sleeping but by workout/lunch time am starving. I just tell myself it's only 45min and I should have enough glycogen/fat for that time and to just man-up and put on my big boy spandex.
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Old 07-12-19, 01:04 PM
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I have to say that I tend to do better starting off in the mornings rather than the afternoons. But what matters the most is what I've eaten prior to, or during, the ride. If I eat too much, or eat too heavy, it really slows me down.
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