P2A wave selection

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by November 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm.

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    Craig N

    I just signed up for the P2A Wave 1, and am starting to rethink this decision. Should I be in Wave 2? I don’t expect to be anywhere near the front, but I do want to be riding with a group of people, and not riding solo off the back for most of it.

    To give an idea of ability, I’m a group 3/4 (more 4ish) on Tuesday nights. FTP is 250W and just under 3W/kg (I’m heavy at 84kg). I was 7th in the ‘Runny Nose’ earlier this year, although that was only 40km, and it was my first race.

    Should I switch to Wave 2 to give myself a chance to have a group of riders to stay with?



    Hi Craig,

    You would probably be more suited to wave 2 as wave 1 is generally for those with race licenses. For the roadies that would mean that they are in group 1/2 on a Tuesday. There maybe exceptions to that rule, someone with really good bike handling skills from MTB or CX may be a group 2/3 rider, but gets the best of being more efficient in the sectors and hanging at the back of a group on the gravel roads.

    The course is flat with the exception of the end, and therefore W/KG is a little less significant for those trying to hang with a group than one that is more up and down. Having said that there will definitely be slower riders than yourself, but not a significant number of your ability that forming groups will be harder than usual. The positive is that you shouldn’t get bogged down behind people in wave 1 which is likely mid pack wave 2. If you compare wave times the rule of thumb seems to be 10 minutes slower for each wave due to bottlenecks or worsening trail conditions.

    The thing with P2A is forming good groups is hard and rare. Personally I tend to be the weakest in the sectors and then foolishly drag around a group up to the next sector, last year I spent around 70% of the time on the front of
    groups ranging in size from 5 to 15.

    If your interested in power numbers than last year I would have been FTP of around 260 at 3.8W/KG for P2A. In wave 1 I was 46/229. I probably lost 5 minutes in the sectors and then a few more more as it meant I was struggling to find good groups. You should be able to see my data on strava, but my average power for 2.5 hours was just over 200, remember this included me flaying around in mud and getting no power out.

    Looking at your SN compared to mine than adjusting for duration/ fatigue I would expect last year you would have been 25 mins slower than me at P2A. that would have put you around 160/230 in the wave 1, vs 50 in wave 2. So you wouldn’t be out of place in either.

    You could stick with Wave 1 and then use it as motivation over the winter!



    Also just noticed that they have increased the wave limits to 325 from 250 from W1 to W3. Maybe that influences your decision.



    If you ride wave 1 and expect to finish near the back of it, please, please do everyone a favour and don’t line up at the front. The fight for position on the rail trail for the top riders (even the top wave 1 folks) is nasty and having folks up there who shouldn’t be is probably the cause of ~90% of all (serious) crashes.




    Even worse are those that come rocketing back through the pace line on the rail trail as they overcook it and stop pedalling.



    If you know a group of people you want ride with it’s easiest if you all register for the same wave, start together and ride together. But with 1000+ riders there is almost always someone to ride with. Either you’ll be catching the back of the wave ahead of you or the fastest guys from the waves behind will be catching you.


    Craig N

    Thanks Rob, that’s good info! I think I’d be pretty satisfied with 160/230 in the first wave (and don’t worry Gaelen, I know better than to start at the front of Wave 1; I will be near the back). I’ll have to consider this a bit more, but it doesn’t appear that I’d be totally and completely out of my depth in Wave 1. I do have a fair amount of MTB experience, but not much CX (I’ve just been using it as my road bike), so I’m not sure how well that will transfer over.

    Your estimate of me being 25 mins slower than you actually matches up almost exactly with my own estimates – I will be aiming for a sub-3 hour race.

    The things about the SN that really increased my time were 1) being marooned between the lead group and the next group for a large portion of the race, and 2) not having enough gearing for The Longest Kilometer. At 38/25, I was really grinding through that, and lost several minutes. I am hoping to find a different small ring for this year, but it may mean changing the cranks (130mm BCD on an FSA SLK right now). The 30C tires may have been a little narrow for that section as well. A good and fun learning experience though! 🙂



    I registered for Wave 3. I’m guessing I’ll be looking at about 3 hours. My FTP is 207 currently but I plan to have it higher by race day. Anyone else thinking this is their level?



    The P2A wave criteria suggestions are,

    WAVE 2 Riders should feel capable of completing the race in 2 hours 45 minutes.
    WAVE 3 Riders should feel capable of completing the race in 3 hours 45 minutes.
    WAVE 4 Riders should feel capable of finishing in less than 5 hours.

    As Rob says, choosing a wave a little ahead of your current level is great motivation for the winter training. Be sure to work on your skills over the winter so you are ready to hang on to those fast wheels and to make sure you don’t get dropped in the muddy sections. It is very easy to get “marooned”. If you end up falling to the back of the wave it can be hard to find someone to share the work. There are always lots of wheel suckers. As well, if the next wave catches you, they come fast and it can be difficult to latch on. The groups in P2A tend to be smaller that the big groups you get in road events, so there isn’t as much opportunity to hide from the the relentless spring winds. Good thing there should be lots of winter gravel grinders to give you a chance to work on skills and fitness.

    Choice of wave also has a lot to do with personal motivation. What works for you? I like to be closer to the top of my wave. Start closer to the front of the wave. It gives me a chance to stay out of some of the traffic jams. I usually find decent groups to work with. I also prefer to chase down the wave ahead, rather than be chased down. Going hard to make sure you get past St. George before they start also minimizes some congestion.

    Whatever wave you choose remember to have fun. This event is a blast. Such a great way to kick the season into high gear.


    Craig N

    Bill, I saw those suggestions, but in 2017 only 11 of 237 riders in Wave 2 finished in less than 2h45m, so it didn’t really appear to be a good benchmark for finding riders near my ability.

    I am definitely going to try to hit the winter gravel grinders this year! Saturday mornings are busy now (kid gymnastics), but once that’s over I hope to be out.



    Hi Craig,

    If you go at your training with as much effort and science as your wave selection, you have nothing to worry about. 🙂

    The wave guidelines are there to get everyone through as quickly and safely as possible. This is not a time trial. So, the order doesn’t need to be perfect. Working around the hundreds of other cyclists who are thankful that spring as arrived is part of the fun.

    Last year their was a fierce east wind that slowed down most riders. I think even the returning champ was more than five minutes slower for a course that should have been faster with the one big mud section removed. For the mere mortals in the race, the weather probably accounted for 10-15 minutes which is significant.

    In general, when you need to predict five months out, things are going to happen and that is fine. Picking the right wave can help make for an enjoyable day, but as Gaelen said, how you ride on the day of is the most important.

    As for winter gravel grinders, is there a time that might work better either on the weekend days or weekday evenings?



    “Last year their was a fierce east wind that slowed down most riders. I think even the returning champ was more than five minutes slower for a course that should have been faster with the one big mud section removed. For the mere mortals in the race, the weather probably accounted for 10-15 minutes which is significant.”

    This 100%, last year was huge block headwind and pretty cold. Only thing that could have made it slower was if it was even muddier.



    I was faster last year by 3 minutes then the previous year. This was purely due to not having the flu unlike the previous year and being in much better shape.

    The wind probably was definitely worth 10-15 minutes. The latter riders would have suffered even more as the sectors were a lot wetter than the previous year. The previous year had around 100 of W2 in-front of the benchmark. Remember this was also the year of the forced dismount from the cut down trees, from what I’m told that slowed the latter waves down more.

    David, I think wave 3 will be ok, you have multiple days CX race experience now and got to ride G1 on LTGR :). You will probably be closer to the back 3rd of the wave but certainly won’t be the last one. The 3:45 expected time places you at just over 17 kmhr, just remember the sectors will impact the average speed required on the gravel roads.


    Craig N

    Since we’re on the P2A topic here, what’s everyone using for tires when it’s relatively dry (I assume that there will always be at least some mud)? And when it’s extra muddy?



    Way to early for tire choice. If its dry then a file tread with side knobs would be ideal. Generally a intermediate tire would be fine on a wet year (clement MXP). I think a full on mud tire would lose you as much on the road as you gain in the mud, but that would come down to a preference.

    Last year I ran the clement ush, mainly out of laziness and the lack of time from a urgent bike repair the night before. This was completely the wrong choice. I’m sure its why I was so bad in the sectors, although my bike handling probably had a bigger impact.

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