I received a question recently and wanted to give it a public answer. The question in pretty in depth, but gives enough information to give an in depth answer that I hope you will find interesting.
First of all, great blog and your story about your progression from Mr. Slouch to a CAT 1 racer was somewhat inspiring to me that I decided to give racing a try. I rode for about 3 years on a recreational level, mostly doing long weekend climbs etc… But finally wanted to experience another level. After one year of racing however, I really feel I am at a wall so to speak (my license # is ACA XXXX, and you can see, my results were fodder material).
I was lucky enough to participate in a study sponsored by Specialized, and my stats were measured at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, and this is what they came up with in Sep-11 in two different tests:
Weight: 142Age: 34Height: 5″9′Vo2Max: 4.5L or 69.86Power at Vo2Max: 377FTP: 245 on trainer at BCSM (although bike outside with Quarq always send me to around 260, so I guess all relative)
Overall QuestionI know I will never be a CAT 1 racer, but I saw how quickly you progressed, and see your Lookout Mountain climb stats near 17 minutes. Currently, best time this fall is 24:58. Am I just limited by Vo2Max? In an odd way, if you were to tell me your Vo2Max were 80, I would at least get why I seem stuck, especially against my peers and when comparing to someone like yourself, who makes it seem so easy (I know – it is not, you train hard). But in another way, if you were to say closer to my level, it would somewhat also give me some sense that I just need to train more, and am not hitting a genetic wall so to speak.
Look – I know…some do not like to release their data, but you have always been so open with your data, that I figured perhaps you would be open to it.-Rob
Well Rob, you’re in luck. First of all I am open to publishing any data I have, and secondly I happen to have a friend in a very similar position to yourself (a struggling Cat 4 with near-identical numbers), so I feel like I can give you some advice.
First, let me address the ‘Mr Slouch to Cat 1′ progression. I’ve always been a big eater and come from a big family. I’ve always had a propensity to put on weight. I have been on a long-term yo-yo for a lot of my life. I topped out at 208 lbs (6′ tall) in mid-high school, and spent a few years riding it off and later raced at 165 in college. After my hiatus from riding described in my bio, I exceeded that at a maximum of 228 lbs in 2008.
Although I weighed a lot I wasn’t entirely inactive. My weekly activity was low, but I would still be out on the weekends. My family may be big people, but we always were out in the mountains hiking and fishing. I’ve talked with a local coach that believes that ex-fat folks who stay active have particularly well developed aerobic systems from hauling all that weight around.
My data (from March 2010 as a soon to be successful Cat 3)
Height: 6′ 0″
FTP: 330w (4.26w/kg)
VO2 Max: 5.1L – 68.5 ml/kg/min
Power @ VO2: 400w
Body Fat %: 11.6
The data is somewhat old, but that is the only complete snapshot I have. More recently (summer 2011) I was weighing 158 and my FTP was 360w. Assuming my absolute VO2 remained unchanged, my relative VO2 Max would be 71, still quite close to yours.
Your power at VO2 Max is quite high. I would perhaps double check that 375w is the wattage that your O2 consumption peaked (correct VO2 power) and not the wattage at which you stopped the test (which is perhaps 50w higher). Either way, your VO2 Max overall is very good.
As for your FTP, I wouldn’t expect much of an overall difference between 245 and 260w. The difference is significant, but won’t make the difference between being off the back and winning the race. According to the ever useful Cycling Calculator, a power of 245w would get you up Lookout (4.5 miles at 5.4%) in 24 minutes, so I bet your FTP measurement is pretty close. 245w would be 3.8w/kg, which is actually close to the top of Cat 4 on Andy Coggan’s Power Profile Chart.
So the good news is that your numbers show that you’re already quite fit, with adequate FTP and good body weight. Your high VO2 Max shows room for further growth as well. I’ve answered your question on face value in this post, but in my next post I’ll give you some specific tips and considerations for next season.