Page 1 of 2

The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 6:45 pm
by Mca.and
I was interested in whether - theoretically, the average joe could race A grade with all of the correct training etc. Now, by race, I mean have a FTP that is within range for this grade ( 4.05W/kg - 4.7W/kg from Training Peaks Power Tables). Now, I recently read a little post by Mr Coggan on the theoretical limit of "the average joe's FTP". See below:

The average healthy but sedentary, college-aged male has a VO2max of approximately 45 mL/min/kg. However, I have seen it argued based on studies of, e.g., aboriginal tribes (and there are population data from Europe as well as military inductees here in the US to suppor the conclusion) that the "default" VO2max of the average human male is closer to 50 mL/min/kg, and the only way to get below this is to assume a couch-potato lifestyle, gain excess weight, etc. (and/or grow old, of course). So, I'll go with that latter number.

With short-term training, VO2max increases by 15-25% on average, with another perhaps 5-10% possible (on average, anyway) with more prolonged and/or intense training. That gives a total increase of 20-35%, so I'll go with 30% just for argument's sake.

So, if VO2max is, on average, 50 mL/min/kg and increases by, on average, 30%, that means that the average Joe ought to be able to raise their VO2max to about 65 mL/min/kg with training. Indeed, there are many, many, many, MANY amateur endurance athletes with VO2max values of around that number (not to mention the fact that athletes in team sports with an endurance component - e.g., soccer - often have a VO2max of around 60 mL/min/kg, something that is also true in other sports that you don't normally consider to be of an endurance nature, e.g., downhill skiing or motocross - i.e., motorcycle - racing).

The question then becomes, how high might functional threshold power fall as a percentage of VO2max (again, on average), and what does this translate to in terms of a power output? The answer to the former is about 80% (LT, on average, being about 75% of VO2max in trained cyclists), which means that in terms of O2 consumption, a functional threshold power corresponding to a VO2 of 65 mL/min/kg * 0.80 = 52 mL/min/kg could be considered average. If you then assume an average cycling economy of 0.075 W/min/kg per mL/min/kg, this equates to...

3.9 W/kg - Andrew Coggan

Now, to me, this suggests that the average Joe, indeed cannot race A-grade. The average Joe, in fact, could be competitive in B at best, and be a pretty sloppy A-grader. What are your thoughts?

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 6:59 pm
by toolonglegs
All A grades are not made equally, All A grade riders are not made equally... plus add in whether it is too survive as pack fodder or actually win :P .
There is a another similar thread lurking around somewhere.
But one thing is for sure... if you convince yourself that your numbers aren't good enough... then you will never race A grade.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 7:08 pm
by Mca.and
toolonglegs wrote:All A grades are not made equally, All A grade riders are not made equally...


That is why I defined A - grade as "Now, by race, I mean have a FTP that is within range for this grade ( 4.05W/kg - 4.7W/kg from Training Peaks Power Tables)"

toolonglegs wrote: plus add in whether it is too survive as pack fodder or actually win :P


Again see above comment. I mean be able to have an FTP in these power zones to essentially "qualify"for A grade. I could be a D-grade rider and race A -grade. Doesn't really make me a proper A-grade rider though does it :D

toolonglegs wrote: There is a another similar thread lurking around somewhere.


There is - that is where I got that coggan quote from

toolonglegs wrote: But one thing is for sure... if you convince yourself that your numbers aren't good enough... then you will never race A grade.


Totally agree.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 7:30 pm
by boss
I've seen it said time and time again here - cycling is a sport where brains regularly beat braun, and experience not numbers are the key to doing well in racing. I'm assuming that we aren't talking about TT'ing here.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 7:44 pm
by toolonglegs
boss wrote:I've seen it said time and time again here - cycling is a sport where brains regularly beat braun, and experience not numbers are the key to doing well in racing. I'm assuming that we aren't talking about TT'ing here.

Not where I live... all the experience and brains won't get you to the finish of an "A grade" club race... you need to be putting out some pretty good numbers even to survive. But then the 30km flat crit doesn't exist here at A grade level. A short A grade crit would be 80-100kms where yes you might survive if you are really good a sucking wheels, but to win you will need to out sprint pretty fast young guys. Average road race will be 120-150kms... out of your normal 80-120 starters only 20 or 30 will finish near the front.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 7:57 pm
by vander
The 30% increase is not correct. If you are well discipline with long term training and lots of it you will get a much larger increase then that in VO2max. The biggest difference will also be losing excess weight, most people I would say can probably loose atleast 10%. If someone is really dedicated they can make A grade. Average Joe with an average training plan and no work on nutrition no can probably not make A grade. Find me a study that gets a decent amount of people and trains them properly for 5-10 years with a good diet and I think the majority (if not all of them) will make A grade barring injury/illness. However most people would not put in 10 years of 15hrs+/wk training as well as eat properly and do this without injury or illness.

I also think that mentally a lot of people are not up to the hard work required to make it to A grade but physically I believe almost everyone will be able to make A grade.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Wed May 08, 2013 1:53 pm
by DavidI
toolonglegs wrote:But one thing is for sure... if you convince yourself that your numbers aren't good enough... then you will never race A grade.

Too true. I read somewhere once that Mark Cavendish' numbers were analysed in his eary (pre pro) days and he was told he was good, but would never be good enough to make it at the top level.......

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Wed May 08, 2013 4:45 pm
by Ross
I think the same was said about Robbie McEwan.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 2:11 pm
by Karati
With regards to the two posts above mine.

Cavendish and McEwan being sprinters probably differ significantly physiologically from most other cyclists I'd imagine so the data set is too general to make an assumption of what some person can or can not do.

I don't like this pigeon hole methodology that comes with these numbers and methods. I think that with a lot of dedication, training, strategy and coaching anyone could probably reach 'A' grade level. But, not everyone has the opportunity to start young enough or more importantly the mental strength to push for the time period required for the results.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 4:52 pm
by twizzle
A few weeks back, I set FTD in a 20km TT by 42 seconds. A week after that I did a road race in B grade and came 4'th last... and three of the people behind me had given up trying on the final climb. I'm A grade for TT and (sometimes) flat crits, but I'm about a C-grade road racer if there are any hills.

IMHO, FTP isn't a good measure of potential performance. That being said... you have to be a pretty good all-rounder to ride in A-grade, you can't be significantly deficient in aerobic or anaerobic performance or you WILL get dropped. And it's no fun riding on your own.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 4:58 pm
by RomanTheCube
Chasing numbers will almost ALWAYS end in disappointment. Race for fun, train for improvement, but most importantly Ride for good times 8)

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 5:28 pm
by vander
twizzle wrote:A few weeks back, I set FTD in a 20km TT by 42 seconds. A week after that I did a road race in B grade and came 4'th last... and three of the people behind me had given up trying on the final climb. I'm A grade for TT and (sometimes) flat crits, but I'm about a C-grade road racer if there are any hills.

IMHO, FTP isn't a good measure of potential performance. That being said... you have to be a pretty good all-rounder to ride in A-grade, you can't be significantly deficient in aerobic or anaerobic performance or you WILL get dropped. And it's no fun riding on your own.


Nope FTP is a good predictor W/Kg on a climb but. Gotta loose them kg if you want to go up hills quickly.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 7:01 pm
by twizzle
vander wrote:Nope FTP is a good predictor W/Kg on a climb but. Gotta loose them kg if you want to go up hills quickly.


Might be for long climbs, but I was toasted before the final climb arrived from the effort of keeping up on all the shorter climbs.

Yes, Vander, I know I'm still fat. But I still won't have 2min power when I've lost the weight.

Sent from my iThingy...

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 8:29 pm
by vander
twizzle wrote:
vander wrote:Nope FTP is a good predictor W/Kg on a climb but. Gotta loose them kg if you want to go up hills quickly.


Might be for long climbs, but I was toasted before the final climb arrived from the effort of keeping up on all the shorter climbs.

Yes, Vander, I know I'm still fat. But I still won't have 2min power when I've lost the weight.

Sent from my iThingy...


Toast before the final climb tells me its definitely a FTP thing all the shorter climbs will be fine when the FTP goes up. A lot of 2min power is Aerobic. If you keep saying you wont have the power then yes I agree you will never get it. You might not have a 2min power to win races but you should be able to keep up especially is you work on it.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 10:15 pm
by twizzle
vander wrote:A lot of 2min power is Aerobic.


Care to quantify that?

Sent from my iThingy...

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 10:55 pm
by vander
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=61814&p=931188#p931188

Hopefully this works, as you can see from this post (AT) 2min Aerobic system is the predominate system. I would probably say from this graph its about 2/3 of the energy is coming from it.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 9:41 am
by twizzle
Well, in MY case my MAP is ~ 460W, and my best-ever 2 minute power is 520W (set two weeks ago) - so my aerobic power is 88% of my 2 minute power. Comparatively, the rest of the bunch are doing it easy on those short climbs while I'm killing myself to stay on.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 10:13 am
by twizzle
And back to the orginal post... re. the race the other week, I lost 4 minutes on a ~8km climb. Now, I was pretty stuffed and in pain from the lower back, but I still managed to average 3.5W/kg for the ~30 minute climb, but the top five riders all had to be exceeding 4W/Kg - and this is veterans B grade, not open A grade.

That being said - we have a 6 km hill TT at the start of each year, I placed 4'th this year which put me in with the A grade times. That was a 4.2W/kg effort. And Ross, who came second last Saturday with a time 4:12 faster than mine was 42 seconds behind me for the 6km TT. The difference mainly being that the average speed for the 6km ride is 28.7kph vs. 15.9kph for Apollo Road., ie - the latter is a lot steeper and favours W/Kg over W/m^2 frontal area.

Edit:Fixed a day reference.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 3:47 pm
by toolonglegs
The beauty ( and the beast ) of Strava... you can see where you sit in the hierarchy of things... on the climbs that is. Pick the fav Cat 4 climbs ( with a good steady av % ) in the area, and see where you sit against the names you know. For me it is humbling :lol: .

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:11 pm
by doggatas
http://app.strava.com/segments/2557426

Comparable to anything you ride? This is probably one of the most ridden short climbs in Hobart.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:25 pm
by toolonglegs
We don't have anywhere near the numbers using strava that you guys have in Oz except on the most famous climbs.
These two would be the most popular near me... both very sheltered and switchbacked so wind doesn't have much affect.
http://app.strava.com/segments/709036
http://app.strava.com/segments/708976
It is slowly becoming more popular... and I am slowly sliding onto the 2nd pages :lol: . The top guys are DN1 riders ( Open Elite / U23 ).

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:40 pm
by vander
toolonglegs wrote:We don't have anywhere near the numbers using strava that you guys have in Oz except on the most famous climbs.
These two would be the most popular near me... both very sheltered and switchbacked so wind doesn't have much affect.
http://app.strava.com/segments/709036
http://app.strava.com/segments/708976
It is slowly becoming more popular... and I am slowly sliding onto the 2nd pages :lol: . The top guys are DN1 riders ( Open Elite / U23 ).


Or around Sydney
http://app.strava.com/segments/935762
Yep close to 4000 now on some local climbs! Makes being in or around the top couple of hundred feel good.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:47 pm
by doggatas
Some nice looking climbs there guys, nothing too long or too steep.

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Mon May 13, 2013 1:55 pm
by Daccordi Rider
I had my first go in A grade a couple of weeks ago and believe me I'm an average joe. 41 years of age, trained semi properly for 2 years (250km/week ish).

I survived. Below is a segment on Strava that I am proud of, that's me in 2nd spot surrounded by times set during the Tour Down Under in 2011. :D
http://app.strava.com/activities/51069144#911123357

And this is the race (inc warm up and cool down).
http://app.strava.com/activities/51069144

So, an average joe can get in A grade, when the handicapper needs to pad the field out and if you train and race regularly. 8)

Re: The average joe CANT race A grade...

Posted: Tue May 21, 2013 3:19 pm
by rogan
vander wrote:
toolonglegs wrote:We don't have anywhere near the numbers using strava that you guys have in Oz except on the most famous climbs.
These two would be the most popular near me... both very sheltered and switchbacked so wind doesn't have much affect.
http://app.strava.com/segments/709036
http://app.strava.com/segments/708976
It is slowly becoming more popular... and I am slowly sliding onto the 2nd pages :lol: . The top guys are DN1 riders ( Open Elite / U23 ).


Or around Sydney
http://app.strava.com/segments/935762
Yep close to 4000 now on some local climbs! Makes being in or around the top couple of hundred feel good.


Just noticed - but thanks Vander, for picking a climb where I am first of the ACFs! :D There are plenty of climbs around town where I am not... :cry: