Post World Championships - new goals for Ric

What’s Ric been up to?

Looking fresh before the race!

Looking fresh before the race!

If you’re a keen follower of the blog, you’ll know that in September I was in Italy to ride the UCI World Championship Gran Fondo Road Race. I’ve not really spoken about it yet, other than a few brief mentions on Facebook. To say it was hard, was an underestimation of massive magnitude. It was, without doubt, the hardest road race I’ve ever done, and one of the hardest routes I’ve ever ridden. Technical downhills, tough uphills, a long climb, 2500 m of climbing, a ton of crashes (not mine), and two pave sectors. Brutal. The race was great, well organised, lots of competitors, tons of spectators cheering us all on. I’d say there was fantastic scenery, but if I’m absolutely honest, there was only 2 or 3 moments in the whole race where I was able to lift my head and admire the scenery. Apparently we raced around 3 lakes… who’d have known!!!?

Anyway, once I got home, that was the end of my race season, so I took two easy weeks, where I just rode easy, and wasn’t overly bothered what I did in terms of training. However, I still rode every day, because if you’ve been following things I’m riding every day for a year (I’ll tap past that and keep going with any luck!). At the end of the two weeks, and while I’d been messing around, I realised there were aspects of my cycling that I needed to improve. I made a list:

  • Increase FTP by 15%, by March 2019

  • Increase MAP by 8%, by April 2019

  • Increase (5-sec) sprint power by 5%

  • Lose 1.5 kg by June 2019

  • Increase downhill ability

  • Increase ability to eat and drink while racing

As you can see there’s a variety of things to consider. We’ve got some power metrics to consider, some weight loss, and some technical aspects.

Improving my technical road craft

I’ve raced every year since 1984, starting at 14 years old. I’ve had a few bad crashes in that time. It’s unfortunate, but to an extent you have to expect that in road races you’re likely going to have a crash at some point. As you get older, they’re less fun, and you want to avoid them more and more (and want to take fewer risks). Back in 2016, I suffered my worse race crash to date - broken ribs, fractured shoulder, chipped fingers. I was a bit of a mess, and although i was able to ride (gently) within a week, it was about 2 months before I was fit enough to race again (just in time for the last race of the season, where I promptly punctured after 4km…).

However, from a psychological perspective, the mental scars are worse than the physical ones. I’m feeling a tadge nervous and anxious on descents and corners. Italy had a lot of descending, and off camber corners. Since my race crash I’d noted that I was slower on descents and like a snail in wet conditions… So, there’s a few things to do:

  • Ride more in adverse weather (less turbo time, more road and mtb time)

  • Practice descending. I find descending at up to about 70 km/hr okay, but above that I’m nervy. So practising increasing speed by 1 or 2 km/hr until I start to feel comfortable at the newer speeds

  • I struggle eating and drinking during races — I though at first it was a skill thing, but it turned out it wasn’t — I’m racing at too high of a relative intensity, and need to increase fitness

  • Rollers. Riding rollers helps with balance and skill

Weighty issues
Nutrition is hugely important so that you can perform at your best. If you put crap fuel in your engine, you can hardly expect to get the best out of yourself. Luckily, my diet is dialled and I’m happy with it. That said, if I can knock off 1.5 kg prior to the qualifying race for the World Championships I’ll be very happy. I’ll be the same weight as my mid-20s (actually, slightly less!).

Power metrics
Simply, for most people, improving one or more areas of these metrics (FTP, MAP, sprint) or time you can maintain them is where you’ll see your biggest performance gains. Most people - no matter how well trained should be able to gain 5% somewhere.

I didn’t need my sprint power for Italy — I came in by myself well down on the leaders (I’m sure I’d have sprinted if I was in a group, but I was solo!). In Poland where the 2019 Worlds will be held, the course is essentially flat… I’m sure the duration, and attacks will break things up, but I imagine I’ll be in a group. I need to practice my sprint skills, and power and improve them a little.

My FTP, was high enough that in nearly all my road races, and crits I’d be in the front, or main peloton, but I found that I was riding at too high a % of FTP for too long (and this was affecting my ability to eat and drink in a race). Simple answer was to improve my FTP by 15%, which would take my FTP back to what it was in my mid 20’s. Is that possible? I have no idea, but i’m trying! At the start of October, I changed the focus of my training to increase my FTP. Now, 9 weeks later I’ve increased it by 7%, my aim is to keep this going until I reach my goal…

Increasing my MAP, is both simpler and more complex all at once! By that, I mean that once I switch to training my MAP it should come relatively easier (compared to FTP increases), but the cost of doing such training is much higher for me, and that can lead me to dropping volume, and increasing weight. I’ll start such training in February and see how it goes…

Can I reverse the clock?
If I manage to achieve all my goals, then I’ll have reversed the clock! I’ll be back at where I was at 25 years old (I’ll be 50 next year). The weight and sprint power I suspect will be the easiest to achieve, and the high speed descending the hardest.

If you’d like to be as fit as when you were in your 20’s or, to take your fitness to new highs then give me a shout and one of the team at RST will have you pinging! There’s no greater feeling than when you reach a new fitness level so start working towards it!

Richard Stern