Matchs and Matchbooks?

There are two terms that I see and hear repeatedly in discussions about cycling. Maybe you have also come across these two terms, “match” and “matchbook”. I have seen them come up often in posts on social media sites and have heard people in groups talking about them. These are two terms that I have found, and maybe you have, that many people use differently. I’ve also noticed that nobody ever really takes the time to explain what they mean, or what they think they mean. In this post, I hope to clarify these two terms and how they can be used to benefit a rider.

In the book Training and Racing with a Power Meter, by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, PhD, they wrote, “For most riders and racers, a match can be defined as an effort in which one goes over threshold power by at least 20 percent and holds it there for at least 1 minute.”. In simpler terms, it is when you put in a hard effort that makes the legs burn and makes you short of breath for a period of time. This is important to know because during an event you are more than likely going to have to push hard to climb a hill, power out of a turn, or sprint for a finish.

The other term, “matchbook” refers to the number of “matches” or times a rider can push this time of effort. For some, matchbook can be more important to know than match. The rider or coach needs to know how many times the rider can push a harder pace during a race or event. A miscalculation of this number may leave a rider unable to make the last climb of the day, or to win that sprint finish.

As part of my training in the winter and early spring, I do a test on the bike trainer. After doing a 15-20 minute warm-up, I do a set of intervals, using my power meter, to see how many times and what wattage I can hold for a minute. I record the results, and I perform this test a few times during my indoor training season. This can be conducted the same way outside on the road, I just prefer the controlled environment of the trainer, for this type of task. The goal is that by the time spring arrives and race season begins, I have improved the strength of each match and built a bigger matchbook.

The reason this is important is because I conduct a recon of the races and events that are coming up on my calendar. I count the number of hill climbs, turns I will have to power out of, and I review the finish of the race. Knowing the strength of each match, I have a reasonable idea of how much power I can push on the hills, turns, and finish. It would be disappointing to give too much on the hills and turns, only to run out of legs and not have a strong sprint to the finish.

What are your thoughts on these two subjects?

One thought on “Matchs and Matchbooks?

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