Training for the UCI road race using power – some ideas

Quite a few SPR folk are adorning their bikes with power meters attached to wheels, cranks and/or pedals (like my Garmin Vectors), or are thinking about making the leap into power training, so I thought I would present some of the data collected from the UCI training group ride around Perry Lakes last Saturday. It might be helpful in constructing some workouts for those training for the event – as long as you know your own Functional Threshold Power (FTP).

Firstly, my power curve for one of the fast laps in the group (similar to other laps – click to enlarge):
Perry Lake lap power curve


The lumpy or steeper parts of the profile correlate well with the times when I was over my FTP (maximum wattage able to be held for an hour) and working hard/becoming anaerobic.

Points of interest:

  • Length of race is 98km or 2 hours 30mins (give or take). Average power for whole lap was below FTP, so close to sustainable for the whole race. Keeping an eye on average power in relation to FTP over the race may help with pacing, sitting on or rolling-through decisions i.e. rider won’t last if average is too close to FTP beyond an hour.
  • 3 difficult places on the course lasting 2mins, 3mins 45sec and 50 seconds (x 12 laps) – become the bases for race-specific interval training workouts.
  • Peak power for lap (double my FTP wattage) was produced closing the gap out of the corner on West Coast Hway (downhill) – work on cornering at speed (see Luke Ellis) and be near the front, otherwise match burned.

Curve/graph 2: Last lap (with the attack that split the group) on Oceanic Drive (click to enlarge)

Oceanic Drive power data


Points of interest:

  • High average speed (curve not shown) on ‘climb’ – still a significant drafting effect; benefit to those on the wheel, so tuck in.
  • Low power lull below FTP level on false flat before someone attacked; #warningsign.
  • Peak power (for the whole ride) of >2 x FTP was produced 1 hour 55 mins into the ride; some intervals should be done when tired/after a longer ride/effort. The Saturday training ride on the course would help to simulate this.
  • High wattage (for me) required for 15 – 18 seconds during a typical attack – basis for interval length.

Some potential race specific workouts – substituting your own FTP:

  • Race distance/time (2 h 30 mins) at 75% of FTP for the required endurance.

(After warm-up. Any clear road can be used)

  • 12 x 2mins or 12 x 3 mins at 110% FTP (1:1 recovery).
  • 10 x 4 mins of overs and unders – accelerate to 175% – 200% of FTP at 15 seconds, decelerate to below FTP at 30 seconds, accelerate to same higher power at 45 seconds, decelerate to lower power at 1 minute etc.; keep alternating until 4 mins is up. 3 minute recovery between each one. (Create nice saw tooth effect like the power graph on West Coast Hway above)
  • 12 x 50 seconds at 150% of FTP; 70 second recovery (short, sharp workout on a lighter day).
  • 6 – 8 x 15 seconds at 2.25 – 2.50 x FTP, longer recovery up to 5 mins if required. This could be added to the end another longer workout to reproduce the fatigue effect.

Based on the power numbers produced last Saturday, these might be some workouts that help to prepare you – if you have a power meter and know your FTP – for the specific demands of the UCI race on the Perry Lakes course (keeping in mind that the ‘long’ laps go up a steeper hill). They can be roughly translated into RPEs (Perceived Exertion ratings – google it) if you can only use more subjective methods.

A good coach can be a big help in putting together a properly co-ordinated programme using this sort of power data. Apparently there are a few about.

18 thoughts on “Training for the UCI road race using power – some ideas”

  1. I can hire a power metre for your bike for the race preparation, IBIKE is a different way of taking the power measurements, however, it delivers the same types of numbers. If any one is interested call me on 0414829232. Luke Dawson.

  2. Looks impressive Mike…


    Do you have a few bullet points for those of us with no power meters or coaches or idea of ones FTPs..

    Maybe I need to come ride round and round on a Saturday to practice the simulations.. 🙂

    1. Ryan – look up RPE.
      Mike, great post. You forgot to mention, however, the most useful thing about having a power meter – the opportunity it offers you to spend hours on the computer after your ride looking at graphs that you can’t understand instead of doing things like fix leaking taps or helping out in the garden…..:)

  3. great post mike. even for those of us not power metered it offers great insight into how we can use these saturday training sessions to the fullest.

  4. Very good interpretation of your metrics, however, i’d like to offer some further guidance to this.
    Firstly, you talk of a power curve, in power meter parlance this refers to an x and y axis of power and time
    The most important thing to learn with using a power meter, is unlike heart rate it doesn’t lie, but also importantly, the magic numbers are not found in the power curve, but in the watts/kg numbers.

    Check out the following sites

    And read

  5. I’m guessing that I should qualify the advice and opinion I’ve offered.
    In the 80’s and 90’s I have rode at elite level, placed high at GB nats etc… Few too many painful crashes and now ride to stay heathy. Been with SPR back in 06 and rode with transition on Australia PH (Thanks John) delivered some hurt up to to ‘Steve’s Hill’.
    Never trained back then with Power, but have for the last few years. Get in touch if you wanna chat, or you’ll see me occasionally at SPR rides ( Rapha JLT KIT – My Team )

  6. Mike – great write up… One thing that people looking to sharpen for a road race might want to add to their training plan is some VO2 style intervals… Often a road race will be dictated early on by people attacking and trying to separate the group… Doing 6-8 intervals of 2 mins at 110-120% of FTP with a shorter recovery (30sec) will simulate these attacks… (basically shortening the recovery time you’ve got in your first interval).

    Tom, while I agree that watts/kg is a good indicator of how fast you will go, and can be used to quantify variation in your power profile (riding style), it doesn’t help you develop a training plan/set the power that trainings different systems in your body (i.e. neuromuscular power, anaerobic capacity, VO2max, and lactate threshold).

    Understanding your FTP, regularly testing it, and knowing the physiological demands of the kind of event you’re training for will allow you to get the most from training with a power meter…

  7. Tom – My post wasn’t about whether watts/kg was the best way to train. I wanted initially to highlight the use of the term ‘power curve’ and it’s incorrect application in the initial post. The power curve is one of the fundamental parts of the metrics provided when using a power meter.
    I strongly feel that (unless you are a qualified level 2 and above coach) that we refrain from getting too technical with training zone and intervals within this blog.
    My post indicated some great reading material so that most of the readers of this blog can learn something about training with power.
    One of the messages loud and clear from the leaders in Power Meter Coaching, Friel, Hunter Allen and Coogan is that, as has been stated above, measure your FTP regularly, and it suggests a flattish course, that you can go all out for 20 – 30 mins.
    A workout that has some validity, was one recently offered by Scott McGrory (2x) 8 x 20 secs maximum efforts – 60 secs recovery between intervals, 5 mins between sets – ON A TRAINER.
    Like I said, I do have validity in making these observations, and am happy to discuss any topic you like. I have the relevant British coaching award, and my palmares can be found online.
    Have a great day

  8. All of the above aside, will there be a sequel to the data posted above – highlighting the deltas from week to week?

    Or is that giving away too much to the (potential) competition?

Comments are closed.