Despite racing only a handful of times, 2015/16 was a breakthrough year for me.
I finished 38th (out of 387) in the Haute Route Pyrenees, smashing my target of a top 100, and secured my 3rd Cat licence by placing well in a couple of post-Haute Route races. But it would be wrong to judge the year on the basis of results alone, as they don’t tell the whole story.
From the moment I signed up for the Haute Route in December, I had a big target and that motivated all my training from January onwards. I decided not to race crits or road races in the build-up, primarily because of the crash risk but also because my training would be very endurance-specific. The fitness demands of a mountain stage race are totally different to a 45 minute smash-fest round the local crit circuit, and I accepted early on that my power over shorter intervals (up to, say, 5 minutes) would take a hit in return for an increase in FTP and all-day endurance.
So I’ve finished the season light, aerobically strong and with about 12,000km in the legs. In that respect, I suppose I’ve almost had a bumper base training year; sure, I’ve been doing regular intervals sessions to keep a bit of top end, but overall it’s my slow-twitch, aerobic system that’s benefitted most.
To quantify my development, I suppose it’s worth looking at my FTP and weight (and, using those figures, my power-to-weight ratio) at the beginning and end of the season. I appreciate this is only one indicator of strength on the bike, but it’s all I have from last year save for a handful of race results.
January 2016: FTP 260 @ 66kg = 3.93w/kg
October 2016: FTP 289 @ 60kg = 4.82w/kg
That’s almost a whole 1w/kg improvement in FTP over 8 months. I’m delighted with that. I won’t maintain it over the winter (eating pies/cake, backing off the intensity, Christmas parties and the usual motivation slide) but it’s an engine upgrade I’m pleased with, and with the right fine-tuning in the new year I hope it will give me a chance of being competitive on the local race scene.