Sweet Spot on a Mountain Bike

Hi Fascats, I’m 2 weeks into 18 Weeks of Sweet Spot, building toward the Trans-sylvania Epic, a 5 day MTB stage race. The SS MTB Marathon plan is on deck for the spring. Since group riding isn’t back yet here (or at least not in a way I’d be comfortable with), my plan for weekend sweet spot rides is the MTB, since that’s what my A event is on anyway.

I just got a Stages power meter for the mountain bike and did a 2 hour sweet spot ride this weekend. The target TSS was 122. I rode eagerly but not at race pace by any means, RPE around 5/10. I’d glance down at the power levels when I could, and they were usually under 300, but I didn’t try too hard to stay under a cap (sweet spot for me is 223-258 tested two weeks ago with a similar stages meter on my CX bike on a trainer). I finished the ride feeling fine, uploaded the ride a little later, and it came back with a TSS of 177.

I was pretty floored, because by the numbers that should be more of a race effort. I pulled the ride up in TP, and sure enough, it shows that 25% of my ride was in power zones 5 or 6 (40% was in zone 1, not surprisingly). Most of the trails in eastern NC are extremely bursty- ups and downs in the 10-30 second range, nothing sustained at all.

So, the advice I’m looking for from the crowd is basically:

  • How do you keep yourself in check on bursty rides like flatland MTB?
  • Am I overthinking this, is a 50 point TSS overshoot no big deal? My NP for the ride was 250, inside the SS zone, and the average was 197. I want to FTFP but these long MTB rides are going to be really important for the TSE.
  • Are my numbers potentially off? I don’t think they are, I calibrated the meter before the ride, etc, but I’m not sure my fatigue matched what the numbers say were a demanding ride.


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