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So I recently did a Crit race (I only do 1 a year in my home town) this year I upgraded the bike and it's fitted with a power meter so I can see the race statistics.

The race was locals only. and dominated by one guy going solo before mid race, bunch sticked together (45starters)

Distance 44km avg pace 43km/h avg power 248w normalized power 300w

I launched my sprint from the last corner (360m) because there was a small gap behind me; I cornered as second and didn't want to get closed in. here is the power output I managed to give in the sprint, sadly 2 could come over the last few meters.

enter image description here

Here is the overlay cadance vs speed vs power

enter image description here

For training I did 3000km from april to now. But I wonder how I can use my data to improve using the same amount of effort next year.

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  • It may not make a difference to the answer, but villagers isn't a term I recognize. I assumed you are in an amateur race with other low level amateurs. You could consider clarifying. If you meant peasants, then I assume you were being humorous, but not everyone might like it.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 17:54
  • @WeiwenNg I interpreted "villagers" as people from that town, or maybe the larger area around it. Could be wrong. Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 13:31
  • @RoelSchroeven You could be right. This could have been local race - I haven't raced crits in many years, but in the US, 45 starters might have been small to medium for something in the Southeast Michigan or a similar USAC district.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 13:56
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    @RoelSchroeven yes I changed my question. locals only, bad choice of wording. You have to live in our village to compete Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 14:02

2 Answers 2

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In addition to what R Chung said, consider the following.

First, criterium racing is dominated by anaerobic bursts. If you don't care about high performance at longer distances, you could consider structured training to build anaerobic capacity. TrainerRoad is a paid service, but their public blog can be helpful. Here's one post on anaerobic intervals.

Basically, you could probably feasibly do them outdoors. You need a lot less free road than you would for outdoor VO2max or threshold intervals - I would have to ride an hour out of my city to get to enough road for a 20 minute interval. You're generally doing short efforts above 120% of your functional threshold power - the exact barrier will vary by person, and you could simply use perceived exertion to pace them. You could simply go as hard as you can, not doing an all-out sprint but close to that. For example, you want to work at a level where you could last about one or two minutes when fresh.

You can manually copy the TR workouts and modify them as necessary.1 You can find some Trainerroad workouts on Google if you know the workout names - which you can get by searching the forum or by a string like "Trainerroad anaerobic capacity", and browsing for images. You will also find non-TR workouts online. If nothing else, you could just warm up, find a hill, and sprint for 45-60 seconds, then rest thoroughly, and try for 6-10 sprints.

Anaerobic capacity intervals are distinct from outright sprinting. Your body has two anaerobic energy systems. The first one uses creatine phosphate to produce energy. It can power efforts up to 10-20 (I think) seconds. This is what 100 meter sprinters use. Anaerobic capacity intervals target your anaerobic glycolysis system, which powers efforts from 1 to 3 (I think) minutes. You could also train your sprints.

Second, road racing draws on a lot of soft skills. Unless you have enough power to break away and literally lap the whole pack on your own or with one or two people, you need to develop soft skills like positioning, bike handling, reading the race, how to optimally handle a corner, how to handle a corner if you're forced into a suboptimal line, how to position yourself towards the end of the race if you feel you can contend, things like that. It's possible you have more than adequate power to win, but you're burning too many matches (i.e. using up anaerobic power in bursts) to stay in position before the critical moment.

I don't race anymore, so I don't know the best YouTube channels. The r/Velo subreddit does cater to competitive cyclists, and it occasionally features crit YouTube channels where you can get a first person view of a race with commentary. I think that NorCal Cycling is one of those channels. I haven't examined their output, so I don't know how to rank their quality. You could explore YouTube for more technical advice.

The other issue is that you need to actually practice those soft skills. If you're doing only one race a year, you may not get enough practice unless you're a real natural. It's possible that you have a racing-oriented club near you that holds practice criteriums. My old team used to do this at an office park once a week. These can be valuable. Of course, there have to be enough people showing up to get enough pack dynamics going where people can learn.

I'm aware that this part has absolutely nothing to do with power meters. I ask the OP's indulgence here. Soft skills are really important in racing, and I used to be quite a bit stronger than many peers but not as good at the bike handling. Soft skills let you preserve as much of your reserve power as possible before the decisive moment of the race.2

Third, this isn't as important, but you might consider learning bike throwing. OK, that link was facetious, but people actually do throw their bikes forward like this. Similarly, sprinters will push their chests over the line, or skiiers will throw a ski over the line. Most amateurs may not do it, but you might benefit one day. A bike throw once improved my placing (in a low level amateur race) from 7th to 6th (or so). You never know.

Footnotes 1: If you copy a TR workout, note the numbers next to it. For example, consider Cypress - 3 (anaerobic 3.3). The "-3" refers to different versions of the Cypress workout. This one is 3 steps easier, and there's also a -2, a -1, and a regular version. They also make harder versions, e.g. Cypress + 1. The number next to the workout type (e.g. anaerobic 3.3) is the progression level, and they go from 1 to 10. I don't use TR, but I believe that 3.3 is intermediate-ish, maybe suitable for beginners and intermediates. I think level 5 workouts are challenging for most general athletes (e.g. up to US cat 3 or similar). 7 or higher will probably be very difficult for a lot of folks who aren't cat 1s or 2s.

You can find a workout, then modify the number of intervals to make it easier or harder. You probably shouldn't start with copying their very hard workouts. You are looking to start at something manageable, then keep progressing at your own pace. Remember to rest as well; anaerobic workouts can be very fatiguing.

2: Cyclists use the phrase 'burning a match' to mean going anaerobic, and the concept is that you have a limited supply of matches to burn. A formal version of this concept is W', pronounced "W prime". It's part of the critical power model.

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    I think that "burning matches" is a phrase originally coined by Hunter Allen on the old Wattage List. I've always thought that phrase not quite right because there is some W' reconstitution, or sometimes recovery in the ability to express W' even if W' itself doesn't renew, during a race. You can see this in team pursuit which is perhaps a ~4 minute effort at supra-VO2Max so no W' reconstitution is going on but there is clearly recovery in the ability to express W'. Thus, there aren't a fixed number of matches to be burnt.
    – R. Chung
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 14:43
  • @R.Chung Good point. Let us say, then, that all cyclists have a matchbook, and also someone working frantically in the background to mix niter and phosphorus and glue it to sticks of wood. They may not be able to make you any new matches if the race is short enough, but in other circumstances they can at least partly refill your matchbook. This doesn't yet address the distinction between W' and the ability to express it, but it does improve the metaphor.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 15:57
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There are lots of ways to analyze race data of this type though in some ways, paradoxically, a close loss gives you a better basis for critical analysis than an easy win. There are too many ways to go into detail on them all but we can identify some of the general approaches.

You have a power meter, but it would be helpful if in addition you had dedicated speed and cadence sensors. Cadence and speed would would let you calculate the exact gear ratios you used in your sprint and, in combination with your power meter, crank torque or pedal force. That will help you identify when you changed gear and what effect that had on pedal force and sustainable duration. That will help you understand your power production.

In addition, a power meter (with speed and cadence sensors) will also help you identify power demand. You can identify how you accelerated out of corners, and how much speed you lost going in. You'll be able to tell when you sheltered in the pack and when you stuck your nose out into the wind; and whether you were eating up watts with your riding style or drag profile.

In particular, since two riders came over the top at the line, you may want to re-examine your sprint timing and tactics (as opposed to your top-end sprint power). Although you were seeking separation, 360m from the line is a long way and that small gap behind you can allow a chaser to accelerate in your slipstream before popping out and accelerating past just before the line. Here's a phase plot of the sprint at the end of the P12 (Pro-Cat 1-Cat 2) race at the classic Fitchburg Crit race. This particular rider was nosed out for the win but finished on the podium. Each number represents the number of seconds from the last turn so you can follow the sequence of crank torque, cadence, and power. Max power in this sprint was less than a kilowatt (the rider was around 69 or 70 kg at the time of the race) and was attained near the finish line. Cadence, pedal force, and power in sprint at end of Fitchburg Crit

A rather more advanced analytical approach for crit racing is to exploit the feature that crits are generally relatively short laps of the same circuit: in that case, you can split your data into lap-length segments and examine the relationship between speed and power for each lap. This is the basis for "virtual elevation" methods, where you account for the distribution of your power allocated to accelerations, rolling resistance, aero drag, and changes in the elevation profile of the course. Since crits are laps of the course, the elevation profile is fixed across each lap; since you didn't change tires during the race, the rolling resistance component must be constant also; since you have speed, you can calculate acceleration (and deceleration). The analysis of power for speed (or speed for power) then can tell you when you were saving energy by hiding in the bunch and when you were sticking your nose out in the wind. (As an aside, virtual elevation is the basis for field-testing aerodynamic and rolling drag).

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  • That's a sign that you launched too early. IMO it's hard to judge that without being in that race and knowing who you're competing against and where they are. After racing against the pack for an hour, I myself wouldn't question his call - because I've been there - "Dang, if I don't go NOW I won't have a chance..." Kinda sucks when you can't find your leadout... Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 18:26
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    @AndrewHenle That is why it is actually difficult to answer his question based solely on power numbers. And it is why wrote what I wrote even though half the answer is technically off topic.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 19:20
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    @AndrewHenle The guy who cornered before me got swamped by the pack and found himself boxed in completely. In review I think the decision was decent to go early; especially knowing they only got me in the last 2/3m Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 14:07
  • @WeiwenNg I added a overlay image; cadance vs speed vs power. Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 14:08
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    @AndrewHenle Actually, I read the chart as showing a finishing cadence in the 50s and 60s, which is unusually slow for a trained cyclist. I'm looking at the right y-axis, the text in blue.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 18:17

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