Tour of Watopia stage 5 - pacing

i was just wondering what pacing strategy ppl used to ride tow s5 in terms of ftp/hr/cadence. i ask because i was going good until i bonked/over-fatigued after the big climb/descent. i managed to finish but barely. i was in zone3 mostly but a chunk of it in z4 as well (on the climb). my cadence up the climb was around 70-80. maybe i pushed too hard and or fatigued my legs too much by grinding.  

You might try a negative split, “a racing strategy that involves completing the second half of a race faster than the first half. It is defined by the intentional setting of a slower initial pace.”

Wikipedia adds [it’s relevant to cycling as well, especially the big events where there are groups to ride with at all effort levels]:

  • "Negative splitting helps build discipline, subverting the natural instinct to begin running as fast as possible. It takes self-restraint to allow others to run ahead and not be pulled along.
  • "Starting slow allows the runner’s body to compensate for the lactic acid production and low oxygen levels that result from exertion. Lactic acid buildup may cause a runner to slow down unintentionally.
  • “Progressively increasing speed in any race allows the runner to focus on passing each person running directly ahead.”

So in a longer event, in the first half you’d limit yourself to a pace/effort, identified by your watts and heart rate, that you know from experience you can maintain for a long time – the whole event. As you move into the second half and end of the event, you up the effort gradually if you have it in you. And close to the end, you can go nearly all out.

Afterward, assess how it went, to inform your pacing for the next long ride.

Stage 5 was a tough stage and one that required pacing yourself. I averaged 85% of my FTP doing it in 1:24, avg cadence 84 (56 years old, 77kg, power meter). It really comes down to fitness and experience and knowing how hard you can go and for how long. Stage 3 up the Alpe du Zwift was a even better example of the need to pace yourself. I started out moderately and was getting passed by people, then by the time I got to the climb I was nice and warmed up and picked up the pace and pretty much sat on 90 - 95% of FTP knowing I could hold this power for an hour. I passed a lot of people and did a PR on the climb.

One thing I did in Stage 5 was to get in with a group of a similar fitness level and rode with them pretty much the whole way. This helped to conserve energy on the downhills and flatter sections by drafting.

If you’re on a smart trainer you may find lowering the trainer difficulty setting helps otherwise on the really steep sections you may not have the gearing to maintain a reasonable cadence and have to grind it out.

I have years of experience riding and know to pace myself, so that wasn’t the issue for me.

I managed to bonk after about an hour and a half and suffered through the last 5 miles or so at half power. All the best strategy for pace/cadence/etc will fail if you dehydrate or run out of fuel. How I manage to forget these lessons is a mystery, but I won’t forget for probably another few years.

Nice thing about indoor training though is you can always get off the bike and get something to eat or drink. You can always keep extra food or fluids around too, with no weight or aero penalty - not that I was too smart about it this time around.