CYCLING UPHILL FASTER - Improve your w/kg
Whether it's the
challenge of getting over the legendary local climb, a summer trip to
cycle in the mountains or the peculiarly British tradition of
late-season hill climb races, cycling uphill faster is on every
cyclist's list of goals.
As part of a new
client's introduction to Custom Cycle Coaching we go through an
in-depth questionnaire to find out, amongst other things, a rider's
goals, strengths and weaknesses. Something which inevitably comes up
on one of these lists is cycling uphill faster – we all want to
improve our climbing! How to go about that is, like everything we do,
very individual to that rider and their abilities.
Put simply, climbing
faster is about improving your power to weight ratio, or w/kg.
However, how best to improve your w/kg depends both on the type of rider
and the type of climb. A seasoned hill climb racer might spend the
weeks leading up to an important race shaving the final grams off
their body and bike, but this is the final piece in the puzzle, after
'the engine' has been optimised. What training to focus on in order to improve your w/kg over different durations depends on the type of climbs you ride, but to be successful your training must be specific to the race demands.
The British hill climb season runs in
September and October, culminating in the National Championships. Over the years National
Hill Climb Championships have taken place on climbs as varied as Long
Hill in 2011, where many competitors chose to use a time trial bike for
aerodynamic gains which outweighed the weight penalty on the 3% incline, to Streatley Hill in 2020, a lung-busting 2 minute effort averaging 13% where the best strategy for a fast time is to improve your w/kg and lighten your bike.
This shows how even within the UK,
training for the two extremes of climb requires different training,
due to the different energy systems used. At Custom Cycle Coaching we use testing to help to determine your physiological strengths and weaknesses and indicate what needs working on. A 2 minute maximal effort
has a large anaerobic component whereas a 12 minute climb is
much more aerobic. Of course, in the long mountain climbs of Europe
the characteristics differ even more and a Grand Tour King of the
Mountains might struggle to break the top 10 on Streatley Hill.