The Occasional Athlete

A cyclist trying to be fast(-ish) again

Back on it

Posted at — Nov 24, 2018

Well, turns out I’m less fit than I expected!

Now I’ve stopped getting sick The Plan has begun in earnest, starting with a ramp test. TrainerRoad’s ramp test is my “favourite” method of fitness assessment. After a short warm up the power increases in small increments until you can no longer continue. In this case each step is 6% of your previous functional threshold power (FTP). Your new FTP estimate is then around 76% of your best one minute power.

I find this method preferable to the standard 20 minute test. There is no real need to pace a ramp test, especially on a smart trainer where your power is set for you. It’s a simple case of burying yourself, whereas pacing is of vital importance in a 20 minute test. A ramp test also only hurts for the last few minutes rather than a whole 20!

So, how did I do? My new FTP is 239W putting me at 2.75W/kg. This is 7W lower than my ramp test a few months ago and 41W lower than my last outdoor FTP test (20 minute test up Cheddar Gorge). I typically see a 20-30W reduction in my FTP indoors compared to outdoors. I’ve narrowed this down to a few reasons. The most likely is an increased core temperature, which is well known to reduce athletic performance. I generally run quite hot so struggle to keep cool when on the trainer. I’ve done sessions in -5 degrees C in the past in summer kit and still ended up drenched in sweat! Based on this week’s test I’m estimating my outdoor FTP to be around 260-270W.

As I mentioned above, these reductions in FTP are not a surprise. What did surprise me was how hard the two tempo rides I’ve done this week have been. Training at this intensity (around 70-85% of FTP) shouldn’t be easy, but after half an hour I was cooked! I’ve lost an awful lot of muscular endurance and it shows. Though on the up side I have plenty of room for improvement!