For those who competed in the recent UCI Grand Fondo qualifiers, I believe most people were surprised by how competitive these events were. This was both in terms of absolute speed and the manner of the racing.
In my age group or indeed for anybody between 50 and 60 years of age this meant cycling at over 22.5 mph for nearly 80 miles. The groups on the road were big, busy and dangerous. Travelling regularly at speeds in excess of 25 mph in groups, led to many crashes as people fought to hold their positions.
Because you were riding in such big groups and taking the aerodynamic advantage of siting behind other riders you needed to be able to ride in a specific way. To average 22.5 mph you would have thought it meant a consistent effort somewhere below threshold effort. In reality it meant frequent short burst way in excess of threshold nearer to max effort and then backing off again to be dragged along by the group. These efforts were necessary to return the group to racing speed after corners, junctions, hills etc. Therefore the ability to deliver and recover from these max efforts became critical. Most riders managed it for 1-2 hours but only 20 or so could do it all the way to the end.
To ride like this you need to practice so you your body can adapt. Therefore if you always ride steady long rides you will have the endurance but not the pace required to stay in a group.
Following the race there has been a lot of discussion online and recognition about how it has got quicker since last year, and that next year will be even quicker. getting older does not help, as the standard in the 50+ groups is still very high and improving. My group (55-59) rode through the younger age group. If you want to qualify for the World Championships this means you now have to ride in a more competitive road racing style. Learn to hold wheels, put in frequent massive efforts, recover and then go again.
For older riders the ability to develop the power required becomes more difficult because of loss of muscle bulk, therefore it is important that your training programme allows you to build your power profile and fuel it. Most people need help to get this aspect of their training right. To learn how you can do this contact QN coaching now.