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.

I watched the video by @ManofSteele regarding riding to focus on an outdoor ride. I got most of the concept but I’m not sure what he means by the intervals. He keeps referring to doing certain intervals which obviously are not part of a plan. Is he doing them for a specific amount of time at specific intervals or just randomly when he is trying to make the focus numbers line up.

Also, is there any handy guide to the color codes of all the Garmin data fields? Some turn green some turn blue and I’m never really quite sure what each one means


Video Ride to Xert's Focus Metric with Scott - YouTube

I think one of the best ways to learn about focus is to look at the focus rating of various activities and the efforts involved in those activities :slight_smile:

Or, look at what what happens to it as you ride…

  • Start riding easy (below TP), and focus will stay very long (> 1:00:00 focus).
  • Start riding juuust above TP and watch focus decrease (from >1:00:00 down to 55:00, maybe further to 45:00)
  • Throw in a short, hard sprint and watch focus drop like a rock, down towards < 10:00).
  • Ride easy, watch focus duration slowly drift back upwards…

You’ll also notice that as you accumulate more XSS, Focus becomes harder to move. For example, throw a sprint in 1 min into a ride, versus riding for 2 hours below threshold and then throwing in a sprint at the very end.

Check the documentation for the data fields in ConnectIQ… for example, Focus/Difficulty…

1 Like

Just went out for a nice rare winter spring like day. Intended to do an endurance ride came back with a mixed effort, bronze breakthrough and five minute focus. Strong headwinds today and I live in a pretty hilly area, just seems so hard to do something easy that would qualify as pure endurance.

I had a similar experience the other day, had my first ride outside in 9 weeks. I came away with a polar endurance ride with a 34 min focus. I live in a rolly hill area. The hardest part was self control to not hit it hard after a long period of being indoors. Self control is key.