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What type of training time or average speeds are needed to qualify for each category of racer? I realize that it can varry based on a hilly or flat route so lets assume a time trial of 40km that's relatively flat.

An example might be:

Cat 2 = 20+ hours a week of training and an average speed of 40km/hour on the time trial.

I'm not sure where to set my goals for my first racing season and figured a good place to start was to see where I fit already with training time and speed.

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2 Answers 2

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Speed is very difficult to use as a measure due to the fact that the measurements have to occur in an uncontrolled environment. Power, on the other hand is great because it's unaffected by the environment - it's a pure measure of what you're capable of doing at that moment on the bike.

A lot of power data has been collected by awesome folks like Andy Coggan who coaches racers of all different categories. One of the key measurements that folks use is W/kg in this analysis.

So a much better number for comparison would be 4.44 W/kg for functional threshold power (FTP) (average power over 1 hour) for the median Cat 2 racer. For the purposes of comparison, to win the Tour de France requires >6.4 W/kg FTP.

Here's a link to Andy's excellent article about power profiling where he talks not just about FTP, but what your power profiles should be for different durations (eg 5s, 1min, 5min).

Here's a direct link to a spreadsheet where he lays out what the numbers are for riders of different categories.

I highly recommend buying a copy of Andy and Hunter Allen's book: Training and Racing with a Power Meter, 2nd Ed:

http://www.amazon.com/Training-Racing-Power-Meter-Hunter/dp/1934030554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286482928&sr=8-1

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Hrm now I need a power meter :) –  curtismchale Oct 7 '10 at 20:27
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Power meters are awesome. You'll get much more out of spending money on that vs. some fancy carbon bike :) –  John Lam Oct 8 '10 at 2:06

This will be a bit of a non answer as the question somewhat leads down the wrong path. The short summary is that with efficient training and a few seasons under your belt, you can be a successful cat 3 racer on 5-7 hours per week. Once you get above that level, you are entering into a completely different game and while more time will be needed, it will be highly dependent on your personal goals.

Anecdotally regarding time trials, I'm a Cat 3 racer with a couple of wins and I have never done a 40km/h time trial for a flat 15km race, let alone a 40km race. I race with a lot of guys who could do a 40km/h TT without aero equipment.

Time trial performance is at best a minor indicator of success in the amateur levels. It indicates potential, but little else. It really only helps in time trials, races with substantial climbing and some very specific situations in mass start road races.

From a fitness standpoint, racing success is more about repeated high speed surges that you need to recover from. From a mental standpoint, you need to be able to conserve your energy as much as possible in a race until it's time to use all that energy. Knowing when that time comes is also a bit of a challenge.

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