Equipe Flamme Rouge  

FAQ ~ TSS Recovery Numbers


Steven Vanlanker recceing the Flandrian cobbles with Mr Cancellara
at the Trek Factory Racing Team Launch

For the Recovery Road Rides, traditionally on Sunday, you reference a TSS score.  But when I read the programme description of what a Recovery RR actually is I never gather the TSS points predicted.
Steven Vanlanker ~ Velo Flanders

I am still a bit confused with how (in your programme) my 2 hour Recovery Road ride can be rated at a TSS score of 120. 

If I am to truly ride at recovery (i.e. village policeman pace), that would elicit a much lower TSS score than 120.  In fact, a TSS score of 120 for two hours would closely reflect, for me, an endurance power output rather than a true recovery pace.
Ken Smith ~ USA

A question so good, it got asked twice! This is such a fantastic question, because Steven and Ken are probably amongst the few riders able to do a recovery ride correctly! 

The problem with Recovery Rides is that very few people will ride them correctly.  Most go WAY TOO HARD!

Active Recovery should be ridden between 45% to 55% (so around 50%!) of your FTP.  It isn't training, it's recovery.

TSS is a reflection of your FTP (Functional Threshold (or 60 minute) Power).  If you ride as hard as you can for an hour, you will "score" 100 TSS points at an Intensity of 1.0. You cannot ride harder than this, it's impossible. 

Recovery rides are ridden at around 50% of your FTP, but most riders find this impossibly slow, so "cheat" and ride a little faster.

recoveryI've found (from the thousands of power files I've analysed) that most riders ride at too high an intensity (IF) of their FTP, more an endurance pace, and class this as recovery!

In some of our programmes I upscale the Recovery to 50- 60 TSS per hour, rather than 30-ish it should be, to better reflect the effort the riders normally put in, rather than the effort they should put in.

It's a safety net to stop riders over-training.  So a one hour recovery ride will "score" around 55 points of TSS, and a two hour ride will give 100.

In reality a two hour "proper" recovery ride (ridden at half your FTP), should give a TSS of 50 (2 hours x 50% FTP (x0,5 (IF)) but most riders come in around 80 to 100. 

And all of these scores are relying on the FTP being accurately assessed, measured or calculated in the first place.

You are absolutely right.  It is higher than it should be, but it better reflects the reality of the pace most riders go at.  

People like us know how to ride, and know the importance of the recovery phase; so ride accordingly.  The numbers never lie; and in this instance, lower is better!

But as ever, in all our programmes, the numbers are a conceptual guide, not a target or objective.

And here's a shameless plug for Steven!  If you haven't ridden in Flanders, you really should.  It should be on your bucket list, to ride in God's own country.  And even better, Steven lives a stone's throw from my favourite climb in the whole world; the Mollenberg.


Take a look at the Veloflanders site and ride like a pro for a day.  Fabian trusts him, so should you.


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