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Significant Power Loss into Headwind?

Moderator: King Boonen

Significant Power Loss into Headwind?

04 May 2016 02:57

I am a 58-year old male now concentrating on time trials and hill climbs. I weigh 66 kg and my FTP runs at 260-265 WA. At a recent hill climb, I managed 267 WA for about 35 mins as part of TT stage race.

One week later, however, while racing on a flat outbound leg into a headwind, my average power lagged badly, around 247 WA. Even that effort drained me sufficiently that I could not take full advantage of the ensuing in-bound tailwind. As a result, my time was 3+ minutes slower than two weeks ago on the same course, with less wind. I have noticed a similar drop-off while riding into headwinds during training.

I realize that there are a lot of potential culprits, including fatigue from 3 TTs over two days one week before. Some of it may also be mental or attitudinal: I tend to like hills and am confident I can make up time there on heavier, and more powerful, racers.

Still, I am struggling to both understand this phenomenon and to find ways to train for it and overcome it -- or at least limit the damage from a headwind. Gravity, in the form of hills, seems much less a problem and I can generate more normal FTP levels in such cases.

I understand that power-to-weight ratio works to my favor on hills, unlike power-to-surface area, which is not that different for different sized riders on similar TT bikes. Yet the gap seems bigger than just that effect would suggest.

Thoughts and suggestions greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
New Member
Posts: 48
Joined: 13 Aug 2010 19:54
Location: Hometown, USA

04 May 2016 10:13

Strong head/tail wind makes flat out/back course slower overall.
Strong winds affect smaller less powerful riders more than larger more powerful riders and it tends to increase the time gaps in fields.
Fatigue from prior efforts
You may not produce as much power on flat terrain as when climbing
Winds can be gusty and make settling into a rhythm more difficult
Power differential on road hill climb bike vs TT bike
Handling issues on TT bike in strong winds taking concentration away from effort and instead thinking about staying on course
User avatar Alex Simmons/RST
Senior Member
Posts: 2,277
Joined: 10 Mar 2009 23:47
Location: Australia

Re: Significant Power Loss into Headwind?

04 May 2016 16:32

VeloMaster wrote:I am a 58-year old male ...

I realize that there are a lot of potential culprits, including fatigue from 3 TTs over two days one week before.

My guess is lack of full recovery being the primary cause.

For me - male age 67, it's become quite apparant that I need much more recovery time now compared to when I was younger. I do use a 'protein recovery drink' and think it does help to reduce muscle soreness and quicken muscle recovery.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
Posts: 831
Joined: 25 Nov 2010 13:55

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