Estimate outdoor ride XSS and Focus

Is there any way to estimate the xss and focus of a planned outdoor ride? I know that if I’ve done the route before I can look back and see what the signature was for that particular ride, but wondering if it’s possible to look at other routes I haven’t done so I can decide which road to take on an outdoor ride.

The terrain around here makes it very tricky to do the structured workouts that really work well on a trainer, and was wondering if there was some way to decide on a target ride based on an estimation of what it would look like if I rode it outside. I know that Strava for example can give me a time estimate based on previous results on similar ride profile.


I don’t think there is a practical way to do that. However, if the route isn’t too hilly (long or steep climbs) you can can free ride to a target Focus as the alternative to structured intervals. That is the advice on the left side of the ATA panel.
Focus Type: xxx (minute mark on power curve)
Interval Target: xxx Watts (rough target at any duration required)
Workout Goat: xxx XSS

The key aspect is you are free riding to a Focus target that you can monitor at any time.
It’s kinda fun once you learn how and is a different way to ride the same route with varying results (Rating, Specificity, Focus).

20 minute mark and higher are Endurance rides. Go as slow and easy as you can depending on the terrain. Highest I have gotten is 43:00 minute mark by riding out and back legs that are flat. The key is to start slow then continuously pedal at low intensity (lots of gear shifts) and avoid all hills. A stiff head wind could mess things up. :wink:
If you are successful Xert EBC will title the activity “Easy Polar Endurance Ride”.

Below 20 minutes is where it gets interesting. For example, driving Focus down to the 4 minute mark range is a hard ride that will end up titled “Difficult Mixed Puncheur Ride” or “Breakaway Specialist” if closer to the 5 minute mark.
I normally try to punch it down rather than ride longer intervals at target watts. I am not good with long intervals but don’t mind hard repeats especially when descending or on a gradual climb. In either case you’ll be beat by the end of the ride.
Coasting during RIBs helps keep the Focus number down since riding at 0 watts means no low strain minutes. Pedaling easy between efforts will raise Focus but that’s unavoidable at times.
If you hit your XSS goal with plenty of distance left on the route don’t worry about Focus rising back up. You’ve met your goals for the day and extra XSS at low intensity is a bonus similar to an extended cooldown after an indoor workout.

Range of activity titles –
Rating: Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Tough
Specificity: Polar, Mixed, Pure (unlikely outdoors)
Focus: 2 min (Road Sprinter), 3 (Pursuiter), 4 (Puncheur), 5 (Breakaway Specialist), 6 (Rouleur), 8 (GC Specialist), 10 (Climber), 20+ minutes (Endurance)

I cannot imagine what a Difficult Pure Pursuiter Ride would feel like if that’s possible to do. YMMV :slight_smile:

Reference –
Understanding ‘Focus’ and how to use it – Xert (

Lots to unpack in there. No matter what I try, based on the terrain around here my outdoor rides tend to be in the 4 to 5 minute focus range, I will experiment with some of the flatter routes and see what it yields.

Either way, was hoping I could load up a few planned routes and use them in lieu of the suggested indoor options to decide which way to go.

50ft/mile is flat around here
75-100ft/mile is usual rolling, hilly ride

Would have to get in the car and drive somewhere if you wanted something really flat :slightly_smiling_face:

Listening to podcast 21. End of episode discussed this somewhat.