Cycling: Why a Steady Effort Pays Off

That is, Pavg and Pnorm should be very close. Which means we want to see a low VI.

What does this style of riding look like on the road?

How You Should Ride

Goal watts: based on your fitness and the length of the course, your goal is to ride at 220 W. So you're riding on the flats at 220 W.

  • Hills: The road starts to go up. You look at the power meter monitor and dial in about 230 to 240 W. You maintain this effort across the crest of the hill and keep it up (or dial it down to about 220 W) until you hit about 34 to 35mph?then you just coast, or you keep pedaling at your goal watts until you spin out. If coasting, as you drop under about 30 mph you start to pedal again at 220 W and your speed bleeds down to your normal cruising speed.
  • Headwinds/Tailwinds: You simply maintain your 220 W into the wind and 220 W with the tailwind.

More: Should Your Sit or Stand When Riding Uphill?

Contrast this to?

How Everyone Else Rides

  • Hills: Watch the people around you. You'll see that as the hill starts they step on the gas and may quickly put several bike lengths between them and you. Remember that the metabolic cost of watts increases exponentially, not linearly. There is a BIG price to pay, later in the day, for stepping on the gas like this. Next, you'll see them come off the gas and, if the hill is long enough, this gap between you and them stabilizes. As the hill reaches the crest, watch their body language as they come WAY off the gas. Shagged from their effort, they keep these low watts up just past the crest of the hill and then keep pedaling, weakly, on the downhill. Or they start to coast right away. Compare their 27mph to your 35mph.
  • Winds: Watch your competitors step on the gas into the wind; they have an exponentially higher cost of high watts. Also, resistance increases exponentially with wind speed. So your 220 W into a 20-mph wind gets you 18 mph, while their 275 W into the same wind gets them about 20 to 21 mph. But when the wind changes, they come way off the gas while you stay on 220 W. Your speed is now 30 mph to their 24 mph.

More: 4 Tips for Cycling Uphill

So you and your non-EN (Endurance Nation) friend go round and round the bike course, exiting T1 and entering T2 together. And, of course, you're identical twins?again. Both of you finish with average watts of 220 W. However, your style of riding has created a Pnorm of 230 W while your friend's style as created a PNorm of 250 W.

More: Climbing Smart on Race Day

You've both done the same physics, meaning the same bike split, but we could say that your style of riding was more efficient, making you less tired.

Myself, Patrick McCrann, and many, many EN athletes have been racing like this for years. It absolutely, positively works, in that you can see just how hard everyone else around you is working?and not getting anything for it. They charge up hills, killing themselves to get to the top, and then shut it down, again and again and again. Before long they just go away or end up suffering on the run.

More: How to Ride Steady

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