Setting Training Goals Using Best Bike Split

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 | By Philip Mosley

Best Bike Split is a great online tool designed to help optimize the way you train for and race your target bike events. It offers a tangible competitive advantage because you can set your training, expectations, and pacing on real-life data rather than guesswork. In this article I will explain how it can help you set realistic training targets that will help you reach your racing goals.

Set Realistic Race Goals

Start by thinking about what you want to achieve on the bike in 2015. If you know what races you’ll be doing, now is a good time to set some approximate bike targets. Taking into account previous results and current form, estimate your times for these races. Come up with a Gold, Silver and Bronze estimate, with Gold being the most optimistic and Bronze being the most conservative. It's only a guess for now, so don't worry too much about being super accurate. It's simply a useful way of comparing your guesswork versus the cold hard facts you'll acquire later.

Test Your Power

Next, you need to work out your current Functional Threshold Power (FTP) in watts. There’s a simple way to test this, providing you have access to a bike with a power meter. It doesn’t matter if it’s a static indoor bike, road or mountain bike – as long as it measures power accurately. You'll need to perform a Critical Power 20 minute test (known as a CP20), where you ride as hard as you can sustainably manage for 20 minutes. Record your average power and your average heart rate throughout. Your CP20 is the highest average power you can maintain for 20-minutes.

Calculate Your FTP and Predict Your Bike Splits

Once you know your CP20, you can estimate your FTP with a good level of accuracy. FTP is the magic number that BestBikeSplit.com will use to predict your race times. You simply multiply your CP20 test result by 95%. For example, if your CP20 result was 200 watts, your FTP would be 190 watts. After you've done this, start by creating your own free profile on BestBikeSplit.com. After typing in variables such as your FTP, weight, height and bike type, you can then apply your profile to a multitude of events and course-conditions, and it will calculate a realistic finishing time and a suggested optimal power output.

Experiment With The Data

Providing you fed accurate and realistic data into the website, you should now have a good idea of what you’ll be capable of on race day. How close were you to your original Gold, Silver and Bronze targets? Were your estimates under or over optimistic? Often the optimal strategy for a course is actually roughly the same with in 20-30 watt target. Play around with the data in Best Bike Split and see how you might improve your finishing times. For example, what happens if you reduce your weight by 4 pounds? Or if you increase your FTP by 15 watts? Or if you improve your aerodynamics? By doing this, you’ll learn that the route to improvement isn’t always just about getting fitter – it’s about being smarter too.

Formulate Your Goals

Using the information you’ve gained, you can now start formulating goals designed to help you reach your targets. For example, you may have learned that during the winter you'll need to improve your FTP by 10 watts, lose four pounds in weight, upgrade your bike wheels and practice your pace-awareness. None of these things will make a massive difference on their own, but together they all add up. Either way, it takes the guess work out of goal setting and enables you to set realistic targets. After this point it's a good idea re-test your FTP every eight weeks to get a feel for whether your training is working or not. Avoid the temptation to skip these tests, or lose yourself in unfounded optimism. Accurate numbers never lie, so don't bury your head in the sand.

If you've followed all the steps in this feature, you should finish up by testing your FTP about 10-days before your target race. You can then type your new FTP score into BestBikeSplit.com and use it to predict something called a pacing cheat sheet. It's a small print-out that you can stick to your stem or handlebars, which shows your optimal power output for various sections of the course such as steep hills, descents, strong head winds etc. So above all else, you can be sure that you'll pace it to perfection.