Question: I’m a 44-year-old recreational rider who also does a couple of citizens races each year. I can keep up on the flats and even long climbs, but I get dropped on short, steep hills. To me, this says that I need to work on my power at lactate threshold so I can hang on without going anaerobic. So what training should I be doing? — Dave M.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I think your situation is pretty common. Most riders get dropped when the pace gets really hard. It’s not as common to just trail off the back of the bunch when the pace is steady on the flats or even on long, moderate climbs. Surging pace changes usually happen on short, steep hills.
You definitely could benefit from higher power at lactate threshold (LT). This would mean you’re using a lower percentage of your absolute power on each climb. You’ll last for more climbs.
But top-end anaerobic power is important, too, because that’s what’s called for on the “sprinter’s hills” you describe. Even with a high power output at LT, you’ll need more watts than your LT wattage to stick with the group when it’s sprinting up a 45-second hill.
That’s a good thing because it’s usually agreed by sports scientists that training at a high intensity is the best way to improve your power output and performance at all speeds below that intensity.
But remember that any training technique isn’t done in a vacuum. Your workouts must also include endurance, sprint work and recovery rides.