La Ruta Journal: Stage 2 – Shorter Doesn’t Mean Easier, with SRM File

By Adam Pulford, CTS Senior Coach

(Click her for Adam's previous entry from La Ruta)

During our La Ruta Recon Camp, the race director Roman Kilun brought us on the new proposed route of day 2 and promised there would be more climbing than last year. He didn’t disappoint. In talking with other racers that have never raced La Ruta before, they were shocked at the terrain they saw. One said “I never thought I could climb that steep for that long and not die.” Awesome. The day was shorter, just 44miles, but words really can’t do justice in describing what all we did today, so let’s take a look at the data:

5:21 ride time, 3626kJ, normalized power of 234, average power of 191, 9,288ft of climbing in 43.5mi (click to view larger)

Above, you see the power file for the day. That first climb you see (orange line) was just under 2,500ft in less than 5miles; we’re talking grades of 22% sustained, and up to 34.5% max. Absolutely gruesome! It took me 53min to go 5miles… And as you can see, the day didn’t get much different as it was climb, descent, climb, descent, over and over. And what the powerfile doesn’t show is how technical and muddy these descents were. Let it be known: you need to show up fit to this race, but it would serve you well to work on your handling skills too. The descending will be less stressful if you are a better bike handler, and then you will have more energy to focus on the climbing, hard climbing. How hard? Take a peek…

The specificity of this race, especially this day, is very unique because you have so much low cadence and moderate to high power climbing. To illustrate my point, take a look at the quadrant analysis of the SRM power file below: (click to view larger)

Where Quadrant I (top right corner) is high force/high velocity pedaling, Quadrant II (upper left corner) is high force/ low velocity, Quadrant III (bottom left) is low force/ low velocity, and Quadrant IV is low force/ high velocity. To keep things simple, think of force merely as power, velocity as cadence. The yellow sloping line is 315W; anything to the right is above, anything to the left is below.  So, the picture above shows a tremendous amount of the day spent on steep terrain with high to moderate force (wattage) and low velocity (cadence) indicative of really steep climbing.

My point here is that I spent 55% of the 5 ½ hr day pedaling in quadrant II low cadence (50-80rpms), high to moderate power, using a lot of big muscles in your whole body. If you don’t train for that, you’ll cramp up, quit, or die trying. You can use an SRM power meter to help you train specifically for events like La Ruta, road races, or criteriums where not only the power, but the specificity of the power and cadence generated, really matters.

Now I need to recover for Stage 3: the Volcano Stage!

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