Advice Wanted

Hi all - my first time posting here.

I’ve been into road cycling for about 4 years now. Essentially, I’ve always cycled socially and never really ‘dedicated’ myself to something related to cycling. I’ve also not been as committed to cycling this last year due to life, which has bothered me!

I’ve decided to really push myself over the coming months as I’m hopeful of getting a place on the 2024 Fred Whitton Challenge which is in May. I know it’s brutal.

What I’m after is some advice as to a Zwift training plan(s). I’ve recently got a turbo trainer with Zwift and I’m serious about increasing my ride fitness and capability on the bike! My only issue is, I don’t really know where to start regarding a training plan?

I’ve looked at Build Me Up, FTP Builder, Gran Fondo etc but I’m a bit clueless, as I only really do social riding as I said.

If it helps; I’m a 27yo male, 5ft 11, weigh 78kg (the aim is to get a bit leaner through training) and I have a steady base of general fitness. I did an FTP test yesterday and that’s showing 181FTP.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer.

Do the first 4 weeks of Build Me Up. If you’re enjoying it, keep going. If you’ve not done interval training before it’ll be something of a shock to the system, but you might just love it.

Just make sure you spread the work out so you get a bit of rest before the harder days. And respect the easy weeks!

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Big outdoor rides with plenty of hills. When I say big, I mean similar length of time to your target ride. And gradually increase elevation. Do that one weekend day, the other day just do an easy ride with distance. When you gradually do more of those your weight should drop away gradually.

I understand you’ll be facing some enormous gradients in places far above what Zwift has. This will take hard work and strength in your legs. And where the road goes up steeply, it will go down steeply, leading to the next bit….

If you don’t like descents, you’d better get comfortable with them - don’t have to be world beating speed, just comfortable enough to do them relatively safely. Zwift won’t teach you that. Use the drops to get your weight lower, safer too.

If the ride has bunches that form (and if you aren’t experienced in those) then practice getting good at riding in bunches so you are safe and predictable, learn the hand signals and calls, etc. this can also save you energy. Work with the bunch on any long flat parts.

In Zwift you want to do the steepest hardest rides, lots of Ventop and Alpe du Zwift. Ventop is great because it has long relentless sections at 10% or more - no hairpins for rest!

And do them with the gears - NOT in ERG mode. You want to be changing gears when the gradient goes from 9% to 14%, managing your power just like you would IRL.

During the days you don’t ride, rest up. Go for easy walks and get plenty of sleep - the last bit is really important or you’ll risk getting sick. You can work in some core exercises on those days if you like. Balance exercises as well are good. Some of your power is not just leg strength but core strength and that will also make you nice and stable on the bike.

Use TrainingPeaks or similar to track CTL (chronic training load) and TSB (training stress balance) to avoid going too far negative for that. Your CTL is fairly similar to fitness, as it builds you should be getting better over time.

You will need accurate FTP for this last bit.