I’m hazard a bet I was one of maybe 2 or at most 3 people with a power meter racing The Transcontinental Race. Go to RAAM and they’ll be common place. With guys like Christoph Strasser sharing his data online. This isn’t a guide for training for ultra-racing, there is in fact very little info on such and a lot of disagreement. However, I used a powermeter to train for road racing/time trialling and there’s no way I’d train without one for ultra racing. Using it during an ultra race is beneficial, in the beginning, to keep a lid on excitement. After a few days it becomes a case of all you can do is all you can do, and you’re giving it all you’ve got. That said, when the road goes up, and in Europe it goes up for a long time, a powermeter still has it’s uses to keep your effort at bay.
I used the powermeter a lot in the first day or so. I came into the race in the form of my life, ready to rip the cranks off. I’d hidden my bike in the days before, and not only was I feeling super fresh, but I was baying for blood to get at my bike and just rip it up.
I’ll remember the start well, the excitement took over many and they punished themselves, not only up the Muur van Geraardsbergen, but over the next first few hours of the race. I recollect rolling along at a solid pace and a 4-up team time trail of idiots comes past, proceeding to all get out of the saddle and drive it up any small Belgium hill, I could only laugh. And be sad, as drafting is flouting the rules. I had a strong disagreement with someone (a kind word did not suffice), who when I passed them, seemed to think it was acceptable to get on my wheel and draft me. Anyway before I digress further.
During the race I intended to split my files up into 12h parts. This happened for a little bit, then I forgot about the plan!
I have shared all the files on Training Peaks so you can see, links at bottom.
(note I scratched from the race after1800/2600miles, so these are figures until scratch) (figures taken from TP/Excel)
Time riding: 120 hours
Elapsed Time: 168 hours
Average Speed: 15.1 mph
Distance: 1803 miles
Average power: 124 W
Normalised Power: 151 W
Energy Expenditure: 54662 KJ
TSS: 2522 (I kept the same FTP figure during the race)
Looking at the files in closer depth In the first 12 hours of the race I racked up 494TSS, covering 205 miles, with an average power (AP) 192W normalised power (NP) 212W. Over the first 24 hours I covered 365miles, burning ~ 14000 calories. I could have pushed harder and made more power, but I was cautious, this was my first ultra distance event and I did not want to bury myself too soon.
Continuing to the first checkpoint, the summit of Mt. Ventoux, in 39 hours 59 minuets I racked up a total of 1080TSS, AP of 146W and NP of 180W. Out of the 40 hours, I cycled for 36 hours. To the base of Mt. Ventoux my average speed was 17.1 mph, summiting it caused the whole average to drop to 16.8pmh. Most of the other hours were spend doubled over at the side of the road being sick, or worse. My initial feeding plan hadn’t quite gone to plan!
I didn’t stop there for long, a little sleep in Sault and I continued onto checkpoint 2, Sestriere, Italy (6,677 ft). I reached Sestriere in 54h47m. Cycling 10 out of the next 15 hours, this was an overnight section, I rested more than people think! I did this at 14.6 mph, AP 126W, this reflects the 10,600 ft of elevation!
From this point it’s a bit more boring power wise. It became a case of fighting the fatigue and an eating contest. I was simply riding at the only pace I had. Something like a car engine in 2nd gear that wouldn’t go over 2000rpm. Just slogging along. Italy was super hot, this made life even tougher, this is translated to an AP of 96W, as I suffered through the heat that I wasn’t really used to, coming from Great Britain.
If you want to have a closer look at the files they’re all shared below.