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Thread: Improving Climbing

  1. #1
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    Default Improving Climbing

    So last year, my younger and more powerful brothers and I went to Italy and climbed the Nivolet (2600m alt ~2300m vertical over 40km) to celebrate middle bro turning 60. I averaged 165w for the first hour of the climb (being conservative), 220w for the second hour (steepest bit) and 200w for the 3rd hour (FTP is 235)

    This year baby bro is turning 60 and we're going back to climb the Fauniera (1700 vertical over 25km) and the north side of the Stelvio (1880 vertical over 25 km). We'll have about 4 days between the two climbs.

    Prep last year was me bumping my mileage by about 25% (8000km for the year), climbing everything I could find, doing a lot of 3 hour+ Zone 2 rides, and 4 5 hour rides with 1300-1500m of vertical that were~65% zone 1&2, with zone 3&4 on the climbs. I deliberately over-geared all the climbs because none of the local climbs were as long or as steep as what we would face in Italy, and I quessed (correctly) our gearing would be a on tall side. Also did 6 hill sessions of 4-5 x~6 minutes zones 5-6 in July and August (went to Italy in September.)

    I had a good winter this year (thank you Zwift) and am well ahead of last year both mileage and quality wise.

    I was quite happy with how things went last year, but am wondering what the collective wisdom might be if my aim is to climb a bit faster and to be able to handle the two climbs in short succession.

    Regards,
    Larry Sampson

    "Donít buy upgrades, ride up grades."
    Eddy Merckx

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    1) lose weight. there is no other way.

    2) raise the power at the two turnpoints (the first lactate turnpoint/aerobic threshold; the second turnpoint/lacatate threshold): AeT is 30 beats below LT; I like the Friel 30min test for LT, or just looking at the last 30min of a 50-60min climb at your limit.

    3) raise the first turnpoint by doing lots of time below it (the 20-30hrs/week in zone 2 method, which no adult with a real job can do) or by spending a reasonable amount of time slightly above it -- 1.5-2hr rides in the low Coggan zone 3/low Friel zone 2 range (what Lydiard called "bread and butter aerobic).

    4) raise the second turnpoint with a couple of days per week of Coggan 88-92% (what Friel calls HR zone 3, and what Lydiard called 3/4 effort) for 2-3 months. Then move on to the 2 x 20 stuff right at FTP.

    5) if it's a long day, get in say 8-10 long days (4-5 hrs) in the 8-10 weeks leading up to the ride. Then recover for the thing and have fun.

    VO2 intervals would put the last 5 to maybe 10w on FTP, but if you are over 50 and the climbs are over 20min, why put yourself through that?
    Robert Kendrick


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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    When I was young racer in my late 20's, I was a good road racer and time trialist. I could lay down some wattage, especially in the closing laps of a criterium to set up a sprinter. The year I turned 29 I decided to be a climber too. As a previous mediocre climber but good descender, I figured if I could stay with a lead group over a climb, I could gap them on the descent. I had been racing at 190-195# at 6'2" so I controlled my calories, upped my mileage, etc and got down to 178. Almost magically I was with the lead groups on the Cat 2-3 races, going over the top in the front 10 or so riders, and occasionally opening a gap to hit the climb first and holding the gap over the top. It was the weight, but it was also the strategy of climbing, gear selection, when to push, where to be on the road on switchbacks, how to pace myself when no one else was around, and focusing down the road and not in front of me.
    I heart burnt bikes.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Quote Originally Posted by DOOFUS View Post
    1) lose weight. there is no other way.
    Damn !
     

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Thank you Robert.

    Don't have a whole bunch more to give on the weight front, but continue to try;-)
     

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Short update - have been doing 15 hours a week of Zone 2 (that's about 20% more than last year) with 1, 5 hour ride per week. Also doing 1 session per week of 4-5 X 8 minutes w 2 minutes recovery as hard as I can do them, and still keep the last one consistent with the other intervals. They seem to be settling out in low Zone 5. Doing the local climbs (nothing longer than 1km and 5-6%) in biggish gear and low (70ish) cadence.

    Clearly producing more power (~10w) at at HR that is 5bpm lower than previous.

    Still 2 months to go before the trip.
     

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Mr. Doofus is right - losing weight is the best way, by far, to improve your climbing. The rest is fitness and is also important, but power:weight is the most important factor. Lose weight. Last fall I lost several kilos and my riding spontaneously improved. Imagine that.

    The only other thing I'd add is don't be afraid of low gears. I don't know what you're planning on using, but I think there's no crime in a compact paired to an 11-32 to keep the spin going. I've seen some super fit riders use this plan to great effect. If I return to the Alps to ride I will likely try this plan myself.
     

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Dang, should have read this six months ago. Leaving for CO in a week and I've violated almost everything here except putting a 32 on the back in place of the 29 I've ridden on the last several trips out.

    At least most of my riding will be solo so I'm the only one who will know how horribly I suck (if I don't count all the other cyclists out for a day ride who will easily cruise past the fat old guy who lives at 867 feet).

    How much weight can I lose in a week????
     

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Weight is down a kg to 80 and should drop another 1-2 if I can keep the post ride electrolyte replacement within reason;-)

    Will be renting a "half-bike" for the Fauniera and Stelvio as we are also taking the tandem.

    Been doing most of my climbing here in 36x25 (where the climbs aren't as long or as steep) anticipating 34x30 on the rental.
     

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Nice work there Mr. Larry.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryA View Post
    Weight is down a kg to 80 and should drop another 1-2 if I can keep the post ride electrolyte replacement within reason;-)

    Will be renting a "half-bike" for the Fauniera and Stelvio as we are also taking the tandem.

    Been doing most of my climbing here in 36x25 (where the climbs aren't as long or as steep) anticipating 34x30 on the rental.
    Excellent!!!
    ***Instagram***
    my name is Houston

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    Quote Originally Posted by DOOFUS View Post
    1) lose weight. there is no other way.
    Yes, yes and yes.

    Climb a lot if you can as, fitness aside, there is a real mental shift required to climb for an hour plus.

    Without the technical language that Doofus has laid down, do some work on your high end. This improves your fitness and may assist with the weight loss.

    Finally, post lots of photos here after the climbs to make us all jealous!

    Good luck.
     

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Improving Climbing

    So..... I thought I should give those of you who where good enough to indulge my ask for advice an update on what actually transpired. Not sure what metrics would be most useful to you, but here are some basic numbers.

    Preparation:

    Kms in last 12 months 2016- 6,697 2017 - 10,720
    Kms in last 3 months 2016 - 3,064 2017 - 3,651

    2016 - 173lbs
    2017 - 171lbs

    Time in Zone (HR) 2016 2017
    Z1 23% 26%
    Z2 48% 44%
    Z3 23% 22%
    Z4 5% 8%
    Z5 1% 1%

    5, 10, 20, 30 and 60M CP numbers virtually identical in last 3 months for both 2016 and 2017

    The Results:

    2016 Col di Nivolet 35.9km climb, 2017m vertical, VAM 644, Avg HR 143, Avg W 183 (felt on the rivet the whole time, in the 30 tooth most of the ride)

    2017 Stelvio North Side 25.9 km climb 1858m vertical VAM 680, Avg HR 145, Avg W 192 (felt very within myself the whole climb, never got out of the 28)

    One of my brothers popped early so I spent most of the the Stelvio nursing him up the climb, (the other one popped late;-) and the Stelvio was a much tougher day weather wise (small blizzard the last 2km or so).

    Not sure what other info would be useful. Power numbers are from a "Powercal" which I know has its shortcomings, but I've been using for a few years and seems to track well to my Powertap when doing longer efforts.

    Thanks again for helping me along!

    IMG_20170915_155312.jpg
    Larry Sampson

    "Donít buy upgrades, ride up grades."
    Eddy Merckx

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