Time to re-test my FTP and start next TrainerRoad program.
At the end of February I completed the six-week cycling training program I was following on TrainerRoad. The program I was following, Intermediate Base I, is a Base/Foundation building plan, and an excellent place to start after taking some time off or at the beginning of the season. I’ve completed Intermediate Base I three times now, and after an admittedly lazy December I knew that it was precisely what I needed to get me on the road to my previous fitness level.
When I completed the Base I program in late February, I decided to wait to re-test my FTP* and start my next cycling training program. The reason I decided to wait was twofold:
- I had some big training rides planned as I prepared for the 170-mile Cross-Florida event (you can find my wrap-up for the XFL here: Part I & Part II). I knew that most, if not all, of my XFL training would consist of group rides in the great outdoors, and so my indoor trainer was going to see very little use in March.
- Up until recently I did not own a power meter, and so I’ve always used TrainerRoad’s VirtualPower technology for my indoor cycling training. When I completed the Intermediate Base I program in late February, I had a Stages Cycling power meter on order and it was due to arrive at any time. While TrainerRoad’s VirtualPower is an excellent, consistent and low-cost method to train with power, I suspected that an FTP measured with VirtualPower would not be comparable to an FTP measured with a real power meter.** Because every cyclist needs to reassess his or her FTP before beginning a new training program, I decided it would be best to wait until my Stages power meter arrived to do that.
*Functional Threshold Power. For more information on this term and training with power, please see my article “Coggan’s Power-Based Training“.
**My suspicions were well-founded. Once my power meter arrived I conducted a series of tests designed to compare the Stages power meter to TrainerRoad’s VirtualPower, and there were significant differences. I disclosed and analyzed my data in two articles: here’s Part I and here’s Part II. .
So, with the Cross-Florida ride behind me and my Stages Cycling power meter installed and functioning brilliantly, I’m fresh out of excuses. It’s time to get back in the pain cave so that I can take my cycling fitness (and suffering) to new heights.
I’ll be re-testing my FTP this week (perhaps today), and then picking up where I left off with TrainerRoad’s Intermediate Base II program.
Right now my fitness level is almost undoubtedly as high as it has ever been, however it’s very unlikely that my FTP test will yield my highest result. The reason for that is simply due to the wattage differences between the Stages power meter and TrainerRoad’s VirtualPower. For those who didn’t read the articles I linked to above, my testing indicated that VirtualPower (on the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine) measures an average of roughly 12% higher than the Stages power meter over the course of an intense 1-hour workout. My highest FTP to date, which was measured using VirtualPower, is 294. So, assuming my current fitness level is as high as it has ever been, my tests indicate that I can expect my FTP to be around 258 using the Stages to measure my power output.
All the speculation in the above paragraph is, for the most part, academic: at the end of the day, actual FTP numbers are pretty much meaningless. As I concluded in my Stages/VirtualPower articles, “…power numbers are only useful when compared to rides using the exact same equipment and setup. Any change in equipment (especially a change in your power source) will require a new FTP test.”
So I’ll try to keep that in mind, knowing full well that my tests indicated “VirtualPower 294 = Stages 258”. I can’t completely ignore that, no matter how much I’d like to.
Oh man, how I hate this test. It really hurts… 🙂