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Training to stop me getting dropped!

ds731ds731 Posts: 8
I'm new to racing, and pretty new to cycling on the whole... I've entered 2 races, and have been dropped by the pack both times. One was a short closed circuit race (3/4) and the other a 2/3/4 road race (kind of inevitable fate for me on that one I know).

Both times I was dropped during fast acceleration/sprinting out of corners, rather than the constant pace of the bunch which I felt rather comfortable at on both occasions!

So obviously I realise that the way to fix this is by training! The question I have is what should I concentrate on in training? Until now I have always focused on raising that golden number FTP in training, but have always done some shorter high power intervals too. Should I really start focusing on raising my peak sprint power and ~30 sec power now? If so, can anyone offer up any specific sessions that I can have a go at? :)

I have been cycling since around May and have really been enjoying it. Training has got my 20 min best effort power to 315W (4.57W/kg) on a wattbike (299 FTP) which seems just about respectable given what I've read on other forums!

Thanks a lot, look forward to hearing any replies!


  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,034
    So how many hours are you training at the moment? How many hours on FTP, how many hours on interval work? FTP work is not going to stop you getting dropped during levels of max/high intensity. Finally, unless you plan on racing throughout winter, then it's not something I would want to be working on right now, as the season is pretty much over.
  • Hi there, cheers for the response!
    I average around 6 hours a week but will look to up this to 8+ as I build towards next year.
    I'm not going to be racing through the winter but have read very varied things about amateurs and base training over winter! In your opinion should I be doing low intensity base stuff or just keep trying to build and build on my numbers?

    Cheers !
  • Probably spend about 2 hours a week on interval work and the rest out on the road doing threshold/sweet spot rides around 1-2.5 hours long :)
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,034
    6 hours pw seems a bit low generally, but the combination of sessions all seems to be there. It's possible that you are simply not training hard enough for your hard sessions. How are you measuring effort in these sessions?
  • Generally I do my high intensity training in the gym on a wattbike so have some numbers in front of me - although apart from 20 min power I am often unsure of what I should be shooting for in my intervals..
    Should I do some more testing (6 sec sprint, VO2 max, 5 min power) to get some numbers to work on over shorter duration efforts?
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,034
    ds731 wrote:
    Generally I do my high intensity training in the gym on a wattbike so have some numbers in front of me - although apart from 20 min power I am often unsure of what I should be shooting for in my intervals..
    Should I do some more testing (6 sec sprint, VO2 max, 5 min power) to get some numbers to work on over shorter duration efforts?

    Testing won't really help, IMO. Measuring anything in a 6sec sprint is irrelevant really, as the only thing you need to be doing is making a 100% effort. For other intervals, like 1min or 5min, simply ride them at the hardest effort you can sustain for the duration of the interval. It might take a couple of tries to find the right effort level, but you get the idea.
  • Any specific workouts that I can steal? :)
    I do feel that I push myself to the limit in my sessions but maybe I can squeeze out a few more watts to make a difference.

    Also in the coming weeks/months should I focus my training block on this sort of stuff or should I take a step back and do more traditional slow base training rides? Or should I do a bit of both? Thanks
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    how is your positioning? Road racing is all about saving energy.

    Base training does not mean slow rides! Especially if you are only doing 6 hours a week
  • I generally ride around in a fairly aero position on the hoods, with forearms parallel to the ground and back pretty flat. In the circuit race I found myself in the drops for the entire race.

    What sessions should I do in my base training then? I'm looking at devising a training plan for winter without shedding the £s on one yet! (No PM yet anyway)
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    i was thinking more in terms of your position in the bunch, holding a wheel and hiding from the wind. Getting aero on the bike is good too of course.

    Rather than specific sessions I would look to maximise your training load in the time you have, leave some headroom to add more intense work nearer to the season, and be consistent.
  • Some of this could just be getting used to races and the need to stay near the front. My friend has been racing this year and seem to suffer from this although he is a strong rider. Some of your time could be spent practicing the tight corners you get in these sort of crits. It can be pretty scary in the bunch so you might moving back through the bunch unvolatarily. If you are near a velodrome, it's a good place to learn tight group riding and positioning.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    ds731 wrote:
    Any specific workouts that I can steal? :)

    Do you ride/train with other people between races?
    Specificity is something I've been working on this year and we've added some nasty training sessions that have really helped.
    Look at the circuits you are racing, where you struggle and replicate that.

    Personally I keep training simple and accept that I have a life to live. Most races around here have uphill finishes so I've added hill sprint sessions, often done as a group. Each week contains roughly 1x sweet spot (30 mins to 1 hour), 1x intervals/hill reps, 1x longer with mixed efforts.

    And another idea, enter some Cat 4 only races! :D
  • thomasmorristhomasmorris Posts: 373
    edited September 2016
    From a technical side practice cornering. Find a car park you can use early on a Sunday morning / late a night. Every mph extra speed you can carry through the corner is watts saved in the sprint to get back on.

    Positioning also... you say you are comfortable at the general pace but get dropped in the surges. Try moving up around the outside of the bunch when you feel comfortable.

    In terms of training sessions I tend to do a couple which focus on race simulation rather than just raising FTP.

    "Crit Intervals": Got this from a magazine article on pro training. Think this was Ian Bibby or someone. Each interval block is 30sec sprint/ max, 30 second Z3 recovering, 3 minute z4, then a final 30 second sprint / max. Between sets ride at a hard tempo (simulating riding in the bunch). The interval mimic's getting in a break, recovering, riding hard to establish a gap, then the final kick. I do this on the trainer sometimes, but prefer doing outside on flat roads.
    Trainer example
    on the road

    "Billat's": 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Keep on going until you're not able to hit your target power. Take a 2 minute rest, then start again. Target power should be high enough that you're not doing more than 20 reps, but low enough that you can do more than 10. The 'on' power is double the 'off' power. I do this session and progress it by trying to do more reps each week, until I get to about 20 reps, and then I up the power for the next session. I tend only to do this on the trainer as it's maybe a little too intense unless you have very quiet straight roads.
    trainer example
  • Trainer Road has specific Crit racing training plans. I think they included a lot of the Billats mentioned in the above post.
  • ds731 wrote:
    Any specific workouts that I can steal? :)
    I do feel that I push myself to the limit in my sessions but maybe I can squeeze out a few more watts to make a difference.

    Also in the coming weeks/months should I focus my training block on this sort of stuff or should I take a step back and do more traditional slow base training rides? Or should I do a bit of both? Thanks
    There are programmes on the Wattbike web site. There is a 3 minute test also set in the Wattbike menu(assuming that it's the current software) that will give you a maximum minute power figure, that will then enable you to work in specific zones ( the same as the British Cycling zones, recovery zone to zone 6. A progressive Wattbike programme will be more effective than repeating maximal efforts. Make sure you do a proper warm up ( about 20 minutes) and a proper warm down to maximise the benefit from the sessions. Again, these are on the web site.
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    Don't kill yourself with too much race specific work in October!
  • ISTM your numbers are pretty good, way better than mine for example.

    I think there are three things to consider, first positioning in the sense Tom used, being in the right place at the right time, second is cornering, the higher your minimum speed the less acceleration required, the third is anticipation of the need to sprint, rather than waiting for a gap to start opening, give it full beans earlier. And when you sprint go all in rather than winding it up into an opening gap. So 5s you hardly notice rather than 30 seconds to failure. Save that for the end.

    So I don't think it's necessarily all about finding the right sessions to fix a weakness, it's largely about avoiding the need.

    This is the Strava for my last ever Cat 4 race, it's relevant because there was a relatively slow corner, if you go to the 'Analysis' page you can look at the power, durations etc. You could try finding a way of emulating that sort of power delivery curve in training, but you may well already be able to do it.

  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Circuit races are hard. It is only this year I managed to complete them in the top ten or bunch race after race. Last year I lasted a few laps and got dropped. I cured this by doing 20hrs a week over winter and early spring with lots of sprint training. One session I did involved 66 x 6 sec sprints with 24sec recovery in between. That was hard.

    Crit races are constant sprinting out of corners. Very different kind of effort to road races which require hard 1 -5 minute efforts the sprints are less frequent.

    You are producing enough power to finish a race even get points. So the other main factor is where you are in the bunch. In a circuit race being at the back is deadly. The one circuit race this I started at the back I fell of the back within a few laps because I with all the people who stopped in the corners leaving me to close a big a gap then I behind someone else too slow in the next bend and so on. After 4 laps of that my legs failed. In every other circuit race I stay near the front and then it easier. The same goes in road races. If you are near the back you are amonst others who are either so strong they can cope with gaps or with those who are struggling. Then you have a gap to bridge which is fine the first few times but your legs will fail. The races I do better in are those where I am able to sit in and move about in the pack at will to where I want to be. If I am near the back it is because I am struggling and I know what is going to happen it is just a matter of time (generally a hilly race). One trick I use is to move up to the front before a hill and slide back a bit on the hill. Of course this only works if the pack is still together. There was one race where mine and other efforts at the start shed half the pack then I tried my hill trick only to find there was no one behind me. So I shed my slef from the race.

    Try intervals like one minute one and one, standing start sprints and higher cadence sprints, hill reps on a 5 minute hill and up you mileage if you can. I put in 15 hrs a week at present. I am not that sucessful at racing because I always find someway to censored it up like this morning not getting up early enough.

    Also lets not assume your bike postion is good. You power maybe good but unless you have an aero position it could all be in vain. I do see some people far more upright than me in races and I am not flexible.

    So first work out where you weakness are, sprinting, closing gaps or is it simply endurance and then pick the intervals to fix that. If it is endurance then the only way to fix that is ride more. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • taon24taon24 Posts: 185
    The answer for any racing with reasonably frequent corners being ridden in a group is sprint intervals. My typical session (on turbo) would be 5 x 10 minutes of (15 seconds hard, 15 seconds light or 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds light) with a 5 minute rest in between the 10 minute sessions. Each rep you have to accelerate up to speed again.
  • paul2718paul2718 Posts: 471
    But that doesn't fit a real closed circuit race situation.

    Which is why I linked to my Strava record. I didn't win that race, that would be a serious bonus, but I ended up there or thereabouts all race and 6th at the end. It seems a good example of the type of power delivery required to be in the bunch on a flat circuit with a slowish corner. If you're lighter than 80kg then it's easier, more then harder.

    But nothing can replicate doing it, you need to figure out how to minimise your effort in a bunch so that you can maximise it in the last 100m. I'm in my mid-50s and I've only just figured it out. A combination of confidence and cynicism. Training less than 5 hours a week on average, now a Cat 3 expert. Roll on the humiliation of 2017.

  • ds731ds731 Posts: 8
    Hi guys, really appreciate all of your views and feedback. Nice to know that I'm not doing too badly numbers wise but also very useful to know where I need to improve. I'm committing a lot of time over winter to improving (at least 10 hrs a week) now and will be sure to incorporate lots of these sessions mentioned. How do I go about increasing my training volume as most training plans have 2-3 rest days. Would it be better to sacrifice a rest day and train instead, or increase the time and miles on one of my 'On' days?

    paul2718 thanks for the strava link really useful being able to actually see some numbers for a Cat 4 as often people are very secretive!

    I agree with what some of you have said about positioning too, it was definitely the case both times that I was slow to react to the accelerations. I'm going to practice cornering but mainly just make sure I race loads next year and gain experience!

    Cheers all!
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