Riding in a fondo or an organized event is much different than a weekend long ride.
If your goal is to make the most of the perks, like closed roads, fantastic food stops, and beautiful scenery, then your ride time will likely be slower and you will be out in the elements longer as you soak it all in.
If your goal is to use the event as an opportunity to push yourself to achieve a Personal Best (PB), then you will need to prepare for that type of intensity.
Pacing yourself is essential to having a successful day, whichever way you decide to ride..
#1. Learn the route
You need to know the route before planning your overall pacing strategy. Can you use up all your matches, knowing that the last 40km is a downhill coast, or do you need to save some? Are you drafting or riding alone? Where are the rest stops? How many will you use and when?
#2. Draft – or not
Watch your speed when riding in the middle of the back of the pack. If it feels comfortable and you are riding way faster than you ever have – enjoy the ride! Don’t get fooled into thinking you can ride faster and waste energy pulling at the front. Take the opportunity to cruise and recover. If you are faster (than the group you are in), wait for a smaller group to break away at the front and go with them, or wait for a faster group to catch up.
#3. Know yourself
Knowing and listening to your body is more complicated than it sounds. The body can fool even the most experienced riders; therefore, you need to plan the following ahead of time:
1. What, how much, and how often will you eat and drink?
2. How often can you push into Zone 4/5 without blowing up?
3. How many breaks do you need and for how long?
4. If you “feel” like the pace is relaxed or see that your power output is low – is it really too slow? Refer back to #1 and 2.
#4. Patience, Practice, and Perseverance
Learning how to pace is not easy, and the more gadgets you have, the more complicated it gets. Executing the perfect pacing strategy takes time, practice, and patience.
If you want to learn more about pacing, how to use a power meter (or heart rate monitor) and other training tips, I suggest the following books:
The Power Meter Handbook by Joe Friel
Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan