How to train for country road races?

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How to train for country road races?

Postby sogood » Mon May 31, 2010 11:42 am

After another Ken Dinnerville this past weekend, a few of us dropped riders wondered what we needed to do to better train for this event, one that's around 90km of hilly country roads?

Personally I think us time restrained city folks are at a disadvantage as I felt that endurance was the weak point for us. Many of us had the power to mix with our respective bunches for the first 30-50km, but after that, it becomes harder and harder. Given that our typical training rides are in the range of 80-100km with a few breaks in between, I strongly suspect that endurance is the key issue as our usual training rides just don't train for non-stop effort of 50km or more at race intensity. Although one power guru (not Alex) has spoken about the use of 2x20 as an alternative for long endurance rides, I am not so sure it can truly replace regular long endurance rides of 100-150km distance to prepare for these country road races.

What are your thoughts?
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by BNA » Mon May 31, 2010 3:56 pm

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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby toolonglegs » Mon May 31, 2010 3:56 pm

I would still go for the higher ftp option...IMO that translates to whatever distance you are racing (within reason) more than harder endurance rides.Because if you spend too long at or above your lower ftp in the first hour you will still pop no matter how much hard endurance paced rides you have in your legs.Better to find longer races every so often like Waratah's Enduro's (2 hours)...100% know you could win 100km long races never training over 2 hours...but a bit of both never hurts too much.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby sogood » Mon May 31, 2010 6:58 pm

I agree with you that higher FTP would definitely assist. However as we all know, improvements in FTP don't come quickly enough for most of us who have been riding regularly for a few years, while weekly long rides may lead to more beneficial outcome on one's ability to cope with these road races.

So guess the key question is, for a limited 10-12hrs in a week, should one allocate more time for those longer rides in place of one or two 2x20 sessions?
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby toolonglegs » Mon May 31, 2010 7:24 pm

When I was riding :roll: ...10-12 hours was all I was putting in most weeks.I honestly felt I got more benefit from 90-120 minutes doing VO2 or ftp workouts than I would have got from 3-4 hours rides at endurance pace.But I was also doing a couple of group rides up to 4 hours every so often, but to be honest I felt that if it wasn't for the social aspect they were a waste of time.They tired you out just as much but I felt like I had to
o much time cruising in the pace line.
The advantage I have is all my races start at 70-80km long and go up to 140kms.So I was doing a 80k race Saturday and backing it up with another on Sunday treated as a hard group ride.
If you are doing hard group rides of 3 or 4 hours then sure you will get advantages...but I think they can't be your standard club rides...they need to be a small bunch of people all with the same aims...ie:a super hard groupie nearly simulating race conditions.
Is the KD race a graded scratch or handicap?...handicaps don't exist here thank god!.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby sogood » Mon May 31, 2010 7:32 pm

Thanks TLL for your perspective. I guess without any objective data, one just has to try things out.

KD is a handicap race. The unrelenting race pace along with those hill climbs "killed" a lot of non-hardcore noobs.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby orphic » Mon May 31, 2010 9:40 pm

I would agree that increase in FTP is going to benefit over anything. I think the most I get out of long rides is the moments within that ride where I am putting in big efforts... So the same could be done in a shorter space of time.

Ofcourse, I'm just a noob and I have no idea. I got dropped on the first hill (which means diet is back on TODAY!)
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby sogood » Mon May 31, 2010 9:47 pm

I guess it would depend on the particular rider, whether FTP or endurance or weight loss would offer more in the short-medium term? No doubt that increasing the FTP over the longer term is the goal. Guess another question is, what's the relationship b/n FTP and endurance?
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby philip » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:55 am

Most of my training rides these days are only ~40km.. but they are hard. Last weekend I went on a 90km group ride (3 gorges) and found it very easy even though I hadn't done a longer ride like that in quite a while. I'm pretty sure these short hard rides are still helping my endurance a lot.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby orphic » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:51 am

I have been thinking about this, and I think racing more is important.

Not just for fitness - but for the mental aspect. I think A LOT of it is mental. My mind gives up before my legs do, but my mind tricks me into thinking it's my legs...
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby fenn_paddler » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:22 am

I reckon the problem is the weekly waterfall training ride is too flat. We talk about hills on that ride, but they aren't really hills in the accepted sense of the word.

A weekly detour via RNP would fix the dinnerville problem for next year...
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby sogood » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:25 am

fenn_paddler wrote:I reckon the problem is the weekly waterfall training ride is too flat. We talk about hills on that ride, but they aren't really hills in the accepted sense of the word.

A weekly detour via RNP would fix the dinnerville problem for next year...

Any takers? And winter is here. Ready for the super-chill going down that Waterfall hill? :mrgreen:

In the meantime, I feel like a spin in CP right now. 8)
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby Strawburger » Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:36 pm

I've been thinking about how to improve from the performance of last weekend in regards to being a city dweller heading out for the country races.

Would there be any benefit to jump on an indoor trainer? I find that any 2hr+ training ride i do would involve at least 10 mins of rest (traffic lights/intersections) which you don't get in a race. A trainer would eliminate those forced stops, but are there other benefits to justify adding indoor training to the schedule?
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby goneriding » Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:36 pm

Either that, or catch the train out to Penrith and ride up to Katoomba via Old Bathurst Rd. 100km round trip with about 2,000 meters of climbing.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby orphic » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:00 pm

Strawburger - I don't know if sitting on the training for 2+ hrs is really going to be beneficial. I would think that doing shorter more specific work outs (targeted to increase VO2max and threshold) on the trainer would be better... But you can do those on the road as well. Do you do any mid-week training at the moment?

I did some longer rides with real hills in them in the lead up to the Dinnerville, but I was sick and out of form in the weeks before so I really can't tell you if it made a difference or not. There wasn't any real hills in the race anyway... Probably would have been better to stick to Waterfall and just try to hammer it faster.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby Strawburger » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:19 pm

orphic wrote:Strawburger - I don't know if sitting on the training for 2+ hrs is really going to be beneficial. I would think that doing shorter more specific work outs (targeted to increase VO2max and threshold) on the trainer would be better... But you can do those on the road as well. Do you do any mid-week training at the moment?

I did some longer rides with real hills in them in the lead up to the Dinnerville, but I was sick and out of form in the weeks before so I really can't tell you if it made a difference or not. There wasn't any real hills in the race anyway... Probably would have been better to stick to Waterfall and just try to hammer it faster.


Yeah i don't think i could last 2hrs on a trainer. The only riding i do midweek is commuting (30km/day) which is not really ideal for training. The only thing i could do in that time is 1min intervals - essentially racing between traffic lights. I usually do a 120km ride on the weekend (gorges ride) if i'm not heading down to waterfall so hills aren't a problem. My thinking was that i could add a couple of sessions during the week on an indoor trainer at high intensity (as you mentioned above). There aren't many places around our area where a short-medium continuous ride is an option which is why i'm thinking a trainer may be the solution.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby sogood » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:27 pm

Strawburger wrote:Would there be any benefit to jump on an indoor trainer? I find that any 2hr+ training ride i do would involve at least 10 mins of rest (traffic lights/intersections) which you don't get in a race. A trainer would eliminate those forced stops, but are there other benefits to justify adding indoor training to the schedule?

I have found my sessions on a stationary bike with iso-power to be very good in making improvements, but no ideas how it directly translates to long country road races. Shame that they changed it to a fat saddle and it has been rubbing up my leg. No dice for a while.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby orphic » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:44 pm

Strawburger wrote:Yeah i don't think i could last 2hrs on a trainer. The only riding i do midweek is commuting (30km/day) which is not really ideal for training. The only thing i could do in that time is 1min intervals - essentially racing between traffic lights. I usually do a 120km ride on the weekend (gorges ride) if i'm not heading down to waterfall so hills aren't a problem. My thinking was that i could add a couple of sessions during the week on an indoor trainer at high intensity (as you mentioned above). There aren't many places around our area where a short-medium continuous ride is an option which is why i'm thinking a trainer may be the solution.


A couple of sessions a week on the trainer would probably do you some good. And it is really good to have a plan like that in progress during these rainy months. I have secretly been hoping for rain during the week as I've been quite enjoying doing a roller session in the morning. I guess it's a question of how good you are at pushing yourself when you're not trying to keep up with others. I can get my heart rate a lot higher on the road when I'm working hard in a bunch, but it's a struggle to get to 95% indoors! So I figure I'll just mix it up a bit, indoors when it's raining and out when it's not...
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:41 pm

I know some guys riding at Cat1 level US who do 90% of their training inside.
You have to be very strong mentally...but it can work.
Think about what is in a normal road race...this is for me...

77km race on rolling hills at 40km av.

Zero Watts 00:24:18 20.63%
Recovery 00:19:47 16.79%
Endurance 00:38:03 32.30%
Threshold 00:04:24 3.74%
Race Pace 00:05:20 4.52%
Max 00:05:54 5.01%
Supra Max 00:20:01 17.00%

or 55km crit on "flatish ground" at 42av
Zero Watts 00:16:49 20.54%
Recovery 00:12:03 14.71%
Endurance 00:19:17 23.55%
Threshold 00:03:04 3.74%
Race Pace 00:03:22 4.10%
Max 00:03:52 4.72%
Supra Max 00:23:27 28.64%

or 77km on rolling ground at 39av with 90 minutes in breakaway (less hiding and more work)

Zero Watts 00:14:18 12.28%
Recovery 00:14:10 12.16%
Endurance 00:39:53 34.25%
Threshold 00:06:25 5.51%
Race Pace 00:07:39 6.57%
Max 00:08:52 7.62%
Supra Max 00:25:10 21.61%

Very little time is spent at threshold / race pace...it is either hiding in the pace line or flat out (supra max for me is 450w plus)...it is all about conserving matches.The higher your ftp the less the matches take out of you.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby rogan » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:45 pm

:shock: I think "race pace" needs a new name...
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:47 pm

These are my zones...

Recovery 0 146
Endurance 147 329
Threshold 330 360
Race Pace 361 398
Max 399 449
Supra Max 450 2500

But unless you see a power file like this you don't realise where you spend your time in a race...I don't think the zones I spend my time in are different to anyone else if they are in a hard race for their level.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:31 am

sogood wrote:However as we all know, improvements in FTP don't come quickly enough for most of us who have been riding regularly for a few years, while weekly long rides may lead to more beneficial outcome on one's ability to cope with these road races.

They may or may not, depends on the quality of those rides. If FTP is not steadily improving over the course of months, then your training isn't doing it's job, you are not training consistently well, or there is something else wrong.

sogood wrote:So guess the key question is, for a limited 10-12hrs in a week, should one allocate more time for those longer rides in place of one or two 2x20 sessions?

Depends on what your specific needs are as to what mix of training you do. I would say that with 10-12 hours/week, that is way more than enough to do well at Dinnerville, which isn't an overly hilly race, just one pimple you do a few times. Jayson Austin averaged 8.5 hours/week in the six months leading up to his hour record ride.

It's a matter of assessing if those 10-12 hours are worthwhile or full of junk.

You don't need to do 2x20 all the time to boost FTP. Many ways of skinning that cat.

sogood wrote:I guess it would depend on the particular rider, whether FTP or endurance or weight loss would offer more in the short-medium term? No doubt that increasing the FTP over the longer term is the goal. Guess another question is, what's the relationship b/n FTP and endurance?

Strong. The higher your FTP, the less you tap your limited glycogen stores during a race and which can be saved for when it really matters, such as when the selection happens, hills, breakaways, closing gaps, run to the line etc.

I quite like the Dinnerville but hate the crappy road surface. Have picked up some money in that race before.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby sogood » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:40 am

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:I quite like the Dinnerville but hate the crappy road surface. Have picked up some money in that race before.

Thanks Alex, so it sounds like it's back to FTP focused training.

One final question though, if one has been focused on 2x20 type of training as well as some shorter L5 intervals closer to the date, would you not advise adding some longer road rides? Can a rider really do this without prior long rides in the 120-150km range?

The road surface is indeed crappy at Dinnerville, especially the section just before the riser. Not only is it crappy, it's full of mud and what have you. Fortunately there were a lot fewer deep holes than 2 years ago.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby sogood » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:49 am

orphic wrote:A couple of sessions a week on the trainer would probably do you some good... I can get my heart rate a lot higher on the road when I'm working hard in a bunch, but it's a struggle to get to 95% indoors!

Have you tried that Turbo Trainer gym that Alex has been involved in? And as Alex has pointed out, you really need a big fan in front of you when training indoors.
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby orphic » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:09 am

sogood wrote:Have you tried that Turbo Trainer gym that Alex has been involved in? And as Alex has pointed out, you really need a big fan in front of you when training indoors.


No I haven't. It could be interesting, but like I said - indoor training is something I only do when it's raining so it's a spare of the moment thing. Having said that... I slept in while it rained outside this morning. Ooops.

My rollers are located at a large open window and I have a good fan on me when I'm on them, so I don't get too hot. Not like riding outdoors, but not like doing rollers in the downstairs room at Tempe either ;)
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Re: How to train for country road races?

Postby wardie » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:07 pm

Just digging up an old thread as I was lucky (?) enought to get into the Dinnerville this year. It will be my first open raod race so I'm interested in the best way to train.

I'm currently riding 4 to 5 times per week and the last 3 months has been along the lines of:

1 or 2 x 2 hr easy spin
1 x lap through the RNP with a mate who's quicker than me so it's a pretty hard ride
1 x group ride from Sutherland into the city and then back with the Coluzzi group. Done one ride taking a turn on the front but otherwise in the pack.
1 x long ride normally solo but sometimes join a group for the 2nd part which is normally too fast for me. The solo ride is normally hilly with a loop through the RNP and down the coast.

From this weekend, I am going to include the St George Handicap (24km) at Oatley Park as part of my long ride.

I'm going to start using a wattbike for at least 1 session per week (my club have them) so what would be the best session? I used to own a power meter (sadly sold it) and my FTP was around 280watts (I weigh 76 kgs) and I did a fair bit of 2 x 20min sessions on my trainer. I actually enjoy using a trainer.

When I race or ride in a group that pushes me, I feel I struggle with constant surging (e.g paceline) but feel stronger when pushing a constant pace (e.g taking a 10 min hard turn).

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