5 Years of TR but still getting dropped - What am I missing?!

Hello - In short, the title says it all HELP!

I’ve been riding for 5 years, solo mainly, until this year where I joined a group of guys 25-30 (i’m only a few above that) but no matter what I do, I consistently get dropped when the pace kicks up, the crew starts “flexing” and the surges begin. These guys have just started riding in the past year, Cat 5, but despite that, they all have this natural fitness and “extra gear” I just can’t hang on to. I’ve gotten a bit faster riding with them, but defintiely can’t hang for the hammer sessions.

Background for the TR forum: I’m 5’11", 170lbs, FTP of 216, and can ride just about all day at a moderate pace (think 160 mi @ 17mph). I’ve done sweet spot, sustained power and the climbing plans and log around 6-7 hours a week on the bike. We do regular tuesday/ thursday high intensity rides (rolling terrain) and long weekend rides (rolling but much more climbing). While I can hold my FTP for as long as I need, when the pace kicks up, think 350+ watts w/plenty of short uphill sprints at 450+, I hang on for a bit but then just crack - heart rate spikes to 190 and you all know the rest.

Besides HTFU, what training or tips does anyone have that I do. Feel like I need to get my V02 or Anerobic capacity much higher, or… is this what i got to work with? Any specific ideas would be great and feel free to ask anything that you need to help your response… Hoping to avoid the “just find a new group” response.

Thanks everyone!

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Based how you have described your situation, it looks like your FTP just isn’t high enough. Your weight looks fine for your height, so it really is just raising that FTP. Those 350w and 450w spikes are a huge output when your FTP is only 216w.

The weekly hours don’t look very high, so if possible I’d recommend trying to build as big of a base as possible over the winter. Focus getting lots of Z2 hours in and a bit of SS for a solid couple of months.

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Can you elaborate a bit more on your training? Do you do low volume plans, mid volume plans? Do you adhere to the plans 100%? If not, what is your compliance like? How many plans have you completed in the 5 years? Do you take large portions of the year off when the weather turns bad or life gets in the way?

Your FTP seems a bit low for someone who rides that much, so I’m just trying to get an idea of why. You should definitely be able to see some better gains with 6-7 hrs of training per week. The good news is that there are a lot of very knowledgeable people in the forum to help :slight_smile:

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The basic answer is you need to get faster. Keep riding with the new gang and just try to go farther before getting dropped. And, if you have been riding solo up until recently, work on your technique and strategy too. Learning how to save energy is as important as finding new energy.

On the fitness side, a higher FTP cures a lot of ills but keep in mind that while FTP is an important metric, it does not paint a full picture of what you need to hang with a fast group ride or in a race. As you’re learning, fast group rides (or races) are not steady state affairs. Work on your 1 minute to 5 minute power. VO2max work will help you. You need to be able to go over FTP, recover at a high percentage of FTP, then go again. And the nice thing about working on that is it will also raise your FTP too.

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Could you share a link to a ride where you got dropped as well as the information about when you got dropped?

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“While I can hold my FTP for as long as I need”

This statement, if accurate tells me that your FTP is too low which in turn would have your training zones lower than they should be which would would result in less growth and adaptation to push your FTP up in turn making those Vo2 and anaerobic efforts a bit easier.
I also agree that getting a little more V02 & anaerobic work in would help as well as that is where you seem to have the issue.

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To the OP, it is possible you’ve just stumbled onto some fast guys. 350w sounds like alot when your FTP is 216 but for someone with an FTP of 300, 350w is on the low end of a typical 5 minute power number and you’d expect that guy to be able to do 450w for 2-3 minutes so going up a series of short rolling climbs at that power for that 300w FTP guy is nothing. And, a 300w FTP for a guy in his late 20’s is nice but nothing to write home about.

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What trainer are you using? If you have a bad trainer or no power meter, then your FTP may be too low, leading to low intensity workouts. Or you’re lacking intensity in your rides. I’m a similar height and weight and my FTP was 216 my first year of riding, now its almost 100w higher. I think you may have a combination of both, your body is probably used to riding in a certain lower zone and that’s why you can put out good long rides but lack the punch for shorter stuff.

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“mostly solo” speaks volumes. Keep going with the fast guys. I think you’re probably just not good with the draft yet therefore not conserving energy where you could. Of course fitness plays a huge part but you’d be amazed at how much longer you can hang on if you know how to work within the group.

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Group riding takes a lot out of you when you’re nit used to it. Training and riding solo doesn’t fully prepare you for it. A lot comes down to technique, being comfortable an inch behind someone else’ wheel, anticipating when the surges come and being ready for them, knowing where to ride in a group (towards the front is easier), etc. Just stick with it, and you’ll get better.

It also looks like you do very little vo2/anaerobic work, adding that will help too.

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That might be a small part of it but the OP is at about 2.8 w/kg. The question from my point of view is why FTP isn’t much higher after 5 years of training, solve this solve most of the issue IMO.

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Thanks everyone for the overwhelmingly quick responses here! Hopefully we can figure this out!

@Ian747 Thanks for the comment and agree - I’ve always thought my FTP should be higher, and I’ve been stagnat for quite some time. Droping 350/450 on my FTP is definitely difficult to sustain. Curious how does working in Z2 raise my FTP? I can hang in the “Endurance” zone for quite some time.

@JonnyBlaze Until working with this team, i would do Low Volume plans with 100% compliance to the plan until i had the chance to hit the weekends to do harder rides (above the time and TSS for the plan). I’m pretty consistent, dont take time off unless an injury/cold strikes, winter is TR, and summer is outdoors. Agreed with your last point, I dont get it either! Hopefully you guys can all help!

@STP Agreed on tryin to save energy, unfortunately the squad has alot of guys flexing, so the team mentality and smoothness is not there or times to find a few breaths, its very much surge upon surge. Think you hit it that it’s not steady state. I’ve actually started (this past week) to do exactly that, V02 rides (Dade etc.) Any suggestions on EXACTLY what to do each day for a plan like this (or plan to choose)?

@trpnhntr see attached - [Saturday Ride](https://www.trainerroad.com/career/mlitwin12/rides/65376790-saturday-send take a look at the uphills around 23, 26, 27 miles bascially its usually a steeper little uphill (think 2-5 minutes) where the power just starts getting thrown around

@textekvball Maybe I overstated what i meant - More meant, I feel right at my FTP, bascially saying for a 30 minute climb, I can hold that FTP the whole time without slipping. How do we get those zones up?

@Cleanneon98 Not coming across wrong, wish i could get to 309! Feel like your story is typical for a few guys who just joined the group. Never rode, slow in the beginning, after a few weeks they’re keeping up with the squad. Which is why i’m thinking… is this just me?! Using a Kickr and got power on the road, so all the tools to do it right.

@stephbc @splash When i can keep in the draft its great, issue is that when the squad kicks it up i just cant hang in the draft and its alot of lone rangers out there, so hard to anticipate the surges, since the team doesn’t really have any “smoothness”

@Bbt67 - Makes sense to me… and the age old question. How?

So i’m hearing “Work on Vo2” “Get the FTP higher” and “Hang in there” Which leads me to the next question… How? Which plans, how many days, how many hours, etc.? is this genetic, is it bike fit, etc? Feels like the TR forum is a weath of knowledge so any thoughts on EXACLY what to do would be great!

For everyone, below is a screenshot of my training history on TR

My point is you need to almost reset everything - traditional base is a lot of Z2. Keep in mind this approach only makes sense if you have (generally speaking) 12+ hours to devote to this type of riding. After this phase, you will want to go into a SS or build phase and go from there. This will prepare you engine properly in the base phase in order to get the proper adaptations when you actually do the higher zone work.

Looking at your training history, a couple of big things jump out. Those Saturday rides of 400+ tss? Is that accurate? Also, you are only riding like 2 or 3 days per week a lot. You’d be better off riding 6 days per week spreading that 500tss more evenly with a proper interval/recovery cycle.

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@Ian747 12 hours a week is definitely tough with life and work. Is there another way to reset?

As far as those Sat rides, yes, i ride with a PM outside and some of those are Centuries/big climbing rides with the crew, or at an intensity thats higher than my normal rides, after which i’m usually feeling ok with after and not burned. Its those “surges” where I cant get the HR down that kills me.

In terms of the day on day off, I’ve always had a problem with injuries/overtraining,so ended up with a day on day off approach, but maybe that’s not good either.

I think your FTP is just set too low. I would ramp test again, then focus on the higher intensity workouts like Threshold and Vo2. Keep riding with the group and your strength will grow. Riding solo often puts you into a complacent mode where you feel like you’re going fast but you really aren’t because you have nothing to judge your pace against. I see this often among guys who ride the same route, every, single, time, that they go out. They can ride at 16mph all day but can’t do much outside of that.

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@Cleanneon98 Any thoughts on plans to do that and will hit that area?

Personally I did Sweet Spot Base 1 and 2 low volume last year, but also added in 1 hour of z2 on wednesdays, and 2 hours of z2 on sundays. Then I did General Build Low volume with the same Z2 on the same days.

The key is to stick to the plan 100%. I never skipped a workout. I never rode outside. I never did extra so I could be fresh for the work ahead. That alone got my FTP from 268 to 300 in about 15 weeks and yea a lot of it was super hard along the way but worth it

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I’ll let others chime in with specifics but a key thing to keep in mind is that a group ride like you describe (hard efforts and you are barely hanging on) is a VERY HARD workout! If I read your post right and you are riding with this group 3x per week, that is all the work you can do in a week. Any other riding during the week needs to be easy or endurance pace.

You’ll need to think about subbing 1 or 2 of those group rides with solo interval sessions to maximize and balance out your training. Or if the group thing is super fun for you and you don’t want to miss hanging out with your new peeps, think about cutting one or two of the rides short and doing some interval work on your own before or after.

There are no shortcuts to building a proper base. It comes down to consistency week after week (riding 6 to 7 days per week) and putting in the volume.

Injuries should not be what’s preventing you from riding every day. You need to need to address why you need days off. Look at it this way, whatever you have been doing is not working, so you need to do something different.

Long rides are great if they fit in you plan correctly, but riding everyday consistently is a better way to go while building your weekly TSS slowly over time. You keep building your base until you reach a time limit of how much you can ride. At that point, you change gears from base and move on to other types of stimulus while maintaining your riding consistency, but changing the effort each ride.

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The ride and your account are private so I cannot take a look unless you make them public

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