Extreme Climing and sustained power

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by MarkM13, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. MarkM13

    MarkM13 New Member

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    Greetings,

    This July I will be doing the Mt. Washington Hill climb for the 7th time.
    However, it is the last time I did it was ten years ago. Since then I've started training with power.
    As comfortable as I've become with it, I'm not sure how to approach the extreme gradients of Washington in regards as to where to try to keep the power. Mt. Washington is 7.6 miles. Climbs over 4600', averages 12%, has extended (over a mile) sections of 18% and finishes with a 22% kicker :eek: I live in the hills of western CT. 8-10% hills are not hard to come by. But they are done in under 13 min. I do know that trying to hold my FTP of 262w, on such gradients, is impossible. The gradient will have it around 350w.
    My best time up Washington is 1:12:03. I'm hoping to do it in 1:09:xx or less. Still trying to maintain my FTP of 262w will be an exercises in futility. I've also been using the Carmichael program. This list my climbing range at 310w. This might be more realistic. Still I'm a bit confused as to what wattage to try to sustain for the whole run.

    I'll be doing a practice run this weekend in which I will use the Power Tap. On race day I want the bike as light as possible. Seeing my Power Tap Open Pro wheel is over one pound heavier than my carbon/kevlar Topolino I'll be leavign it at home on race day. Still, for the practice run I want to get a feel for the wattage I'll need to sustain. By monitoring HR and RPE as well as wattage during the practice run; I'm confident I'll get close on race day w/o the power meter.
    But, the question is what the heck wattage do I focus on for the practice run.

    For those of you with extensive wattage/climbing experience; please weigh in.

    TIA
    M
     
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  2. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    If you have an FTP of ~260watts the adjust your gearing to suit. You can't expect to mystically raise your FTP 40 watts just because your gears are too big. Most climbs don't last an hour and the Carmichael system's "climbing range" adjusts for that.

    If you can maintain 300watts for an hour then your current FTP is incorrect.

    Tie in the effect of altitude (ie your sustainable power will drop) and you won't be holding 300 watts at the end of the ride.

    Sure, the powertap wheel weighs more but the "important" weight is at the rim and tire. Reletavely static weight requires about 1watt per lb at ~7.5% and about 1.5 watts per lb at 12%. If you look at the singular item then the PT wheel is significantly heavier - if you look at it, like you should, as part of the whole bike/rider combination it's a very small percentage increase but the information it gives is valuable.

    As for the gearing - you can normally get a 30 sprocket to work with most Shimano short cage rear mechs. IRD do a 10 speed cassette with dinner plate sized sprockets. It aint the lightest, nor is it the fastest shifting but compared to Shimano, what is? SRAM do an XX powerdome cassette that is Dura Ace equivalent weight wise but will require a long case rear mech. 11-32 or 11-36. An older style XTR (with barrel adjuster) will work fine with STI shifters (9 or 10 speed). I've been known to run Dura Ace 7900 shifters, 08 XTR rear mech and an IRD 11-32 cassette and it shifts well - not as fast as a full 7900 setup but it's good enough to change gears out of the saddle if required.

    You'll probably need to adjust the B-Tension screw if you go with a 30 sprocket on a short cage mech.

    Contador used a 32 and a long cage mech on the Giro mountain time trial in 2008 - so don't feel too bad. He won the Giro that year.
     
  3. halbritt

    halbritt New Member

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    How much do you and your bike weigh?

    Hill Climb Estimator

    Use that calculator. For a 150lb cyclist with a 20lb bike, that ends up being 1:14. 5lbs less brings that down under 1:12.

    The climb is just over an hour and your one hour power is your one hour power. Exceeding your FTP will likely only accelerate the onset of fatigue. Get the right gearing and use it. Most folks like to climb about 10rpm less than their self-selected cadence on flat sections. Friend of mine does the Mt. Washington time trial on a single speed with no brakes and 20:21 gearing. His bike is fairly standard lightish road bits, nothing to expensive, no gears, flat bars, carbon bar ends, aluminum frame, etc. IIRC it's ~14lbs.
     
  4. MarkM13

    MarkM13 New Member

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    Hi guys,

    Thank you for the thoughtful responses. I did the practice run this weekend.
    The biggest obstacle wasn't the hill or gearing or wattage. It was the weather (more on that in a bit). I've already decided I'm using the power meter on race day. The power profile has proved to be invaluable. I was marking the miles with the interval marker and realized I've been making the classic mistake of going too hard at the beginning. The top of my threshold zone is 266w. Avg. watts for the climb was 270w. It would seem that I paced well but, not so. Check out the milage info:

    mile 1 = 314w HR 170 Cadence 73
    mile 2+3 = 278w HR 180 Cadence 65 (I missed the mile two marker)
    mile 4 = 258W HR 178 Cadence 61
    mile 5 = 256w HR 177 Cadence 55 (18% pitch the whole mile)
    mile 6 = 246w HR 175 Cadence 56
    mile 7 = 243w HR 172 Cadence 56
    mile 8 (last .6) = 252w HR 170 Cadence 62

    My best time to date was a 1:12. However I now feel I'm in better shape and more experienced. As such, I was hoping to break 1:10. For the 1:12 I used a 12x25 cassette and a 30t ring in the front. After looking at the profile I'm going to put a 12-27 on the back. I did try using a 22t chain ring in the front one year, but wasn't diciplined to stay out of the low gears or keep the RPMs up while in them. My time really suffered. The years after I went to the 30x25 and did much better. Still I think I'll go with the 27t for the actual race.

    In the next month I'll be focusing on threashold power in hopes of breaking 1:10.
    In case your interested below is an excerpt from a race review I wrote for my teams BB.
    (FWIW Jon in my training partner; it was his first time on Washington)

    Mark

    -------------
    (Pre) Race Report: Peanut Butter and Jelly Beans; This Ain't Good

    .... Here are some stats that will give you an idea of
    why re-gearing is important.

    - Rd length = 7.6 miles average gradient is 12%
    - Mile 4 to 5 is a steady 18% that never lets up. It's followed by several 16% ramps.
    - Road climbs 4880 vertical feet, summit is at 6288 (base is at 1408')
    - At 4000' you are above tree line. Many sections of the road are dirt.
    - Final pitch is a knee popping 22%

    We started our practice run at 6:20am in light drizzle. It was 56º at the base and 40º at the summit. The wind however, was gusting up to 30mph.
    With the first two miles, running consistently at 14%, my heart rate and wattage were soaring. Too much so for so soon. The rain was picking up and getting heavier as we ascended. Jon said later he considered throwing in the towel in the first two miles. Other folks were already off. I hit the 1/2 way mark at 34min. I wanted to do a sub 1:10 so I was right on target. Little did I realize what awaited above the trees. Shortly after 1/2 way I hit 4000' and was above tree line. Instantly I felt the full force of the 30mph winds. Jon later said at that point the rain was the size of Jelly Beans and pelting him in the face as he climbed. Normally at this point you have fantastic views but we were in the clouds and could only see about 5 yards in front of you. I started the 18% section known as the "5 mile Grade" 1/2 way up this the rd turns to dirt. The rain was running muddy little streams down the rd. For the first time I thought, "This Ain't Good". At the top of the 5 mile grade you went around a switch back and felt the full gail of the wind again. Now the jelly bean size drops were right in your face and it was like the hand of Mother Nature was pushing backwards on your helmet. To make matters worse the rd had now turned to the consistency of Peanut Butter. With the combination of tires being sunk in to the side-walls, the wind and rain, my heart rate was at 180bpm, watts were 90w over FTP and I was going 4 MILES PER HOUR!!! This continued for the next 1.5 miles. When we were finally back on the pavement, the rain was more intense and the jelly beans bigger. I was really regretting at this point not having knee warmers on. My knees were turning blue, "This ain't good" I thought again. Finally I hit one of the few flat spots (flat being 5-6%) around mile 7. It was good motivation to ramp it up. Until this I was physically and mentally numb. With visibility near 0% I was on the 22% grade before I knew it. There were several folks off and pushing. The rain and wind was at full force. I didn't even clip out at the end and rode right to the front door of the summit building.

    ... Just finishing today was an achievement. I was 5 min off my goal, but
    with slogging through peanut butter like roads, and being pelted by jelly bean size raindrops driven by 30mph winds... I'll take it.

    Hoping Mother Nature is a bit kinder on race day.
     
  5. gregf83

    gregf83 New Member

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    Given that you were riding with a power meter, why did you ride the first few miles so far above your FTP?
     
  6. MarkM13

    MarkM13 New Member

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    Caught up in a game of "Catch Me If You Can" with a group of other riders that went out at the same time. Like I said the power profile has provided some really valuable info. The biggest is I have to be more disciplined and let other riders go. Some time my competitive spirit gets the best of me. ;)

    M
     
  7. kavipriya

    kavipriya New Member

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    hi thanks for ur kind information.Just got some ideas
     
  8. kavipriya

    kavipriya New Member

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  9. kavipriya

    kavipriya New Member

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  10. kavipriya

    kavipriya New Member

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    good
     
  11. Eldrack

    Eldrack New Member

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    Ok, so just a short comment here but isn't your cadence rather low? For a climb that's over an hour long a cadence of 90+ would be much more efficient. Of course given how steep Mt Washington is you might not be able to find a gear small enough to get that cadence at your FTP! You might need a 1 to 1 gear ratio or smaller...

    Anyway, if you could find a smaller gear and spun that up the climb rather that wrestling with too big a gear you might find that couple of percent performance gain you're looking for to beat your time!
     
  12. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    How do you know that he's more efficient at those revs in the hills? I don't think his name is Alberto - even Lance didn't use revs that high when attacking. Most of his epic rides were done in big gears with lots of out of the saddle...
     
  13. Eldrack

    Eldrack New Member

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    All the studies that I've read indicate that for endurance cycling higher cadences are preferable. There may be some variation between people and some people don't feel comfortable peddling at higher revs but the science seems to say peddle fast anyway and just get used to it.

    Lance spun light gears for a long time in the earlier parts of the stage so that he could max out when he attacked on the final climb. Out of the saddle efforts aren't as efficient (except on very steep gradients) but they're sometimes what you need to get a gap. Once the gap was there he'd sit back down and spin it away (at least based on the footage I've seen).

    All in all, low cadence out of the saddle efforts are sometimes necessary in group racing but if you're essentially doing a time trial then treat it as a time trial and keep the cadence high! Unless someone can quote a study that suggests this isn't true.
     
  14. MarkM13

    MarkM13 New Member

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    Gentlemen,

    Thanks for the thoughts. After looking at the power profile, as previously mentioned, I am going to put on a 27t cassette. This will help a little bit. I did use a 22t chain ring one year with a 25 cassette and my time really suffered. Truth be told, I was also in graduate school and my fitness was low too. However, I do know that I tend to climb at a lower cadence than most. Not that much lower, but still lower. Think Jan v Lance.
    In the forth coming month I'll continue to work on power at threashold. In addition I'm trying drop 5lbs. Sort of tough seeing I'm at my racing weight of 146 now. But, what the heck. Any goal that has me skipping the occasional dessert and passing on the Belgian brew can't be that bad. I do know, that the night after Mt. Washington I'm having a bottle of Chimay (Belgium's finest) and a brownie Sundae. Oh, wait there's the Vermont 50 to consider, the Dark Horse 40, oh yeah and the MTB World Cup in NY. Hmm better skip the Sundae:D

    Mark
     
  15. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Technically yes, a higher cadence is said to be more efficient if one can put out the power and sustain it at higher rpms. Most of the best climbers in Tour history rode out of the saddle of long periods - Bahamontes, Herrara, Pantani, Armstrong and even guys like Hinault earlier in his career. Watching Contador 'dance' on his pedals on the insanely steep Angruli and Plan de Conornes in his fast, out of the saddle style, did seem a little odd though. Maybe the more you do it the more efficient you get at it...
     
  16. KWalker

    KWalker New Member

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    This post won't be scientific, but honestly the debate seems kind of pointless regarding climbing style. Yes, higher cadences are better, but you also have to remember that certain riders accel in certain respects. I did the Carmichael recommended stay seated all the time and spin at x cadence for a whole season, then my first race came and I couldn't respond to attacks and was climbing weaker.

    I'm a bigger rider- about 163 lbs and 6 feet 3 inches. I have a power to weight ratio of 4.22 and I've never been a climber. Two weeks back I rode a pretty epic local climb- 12% average for 8 miles and it took around 54 minutes. Some sections were 20%, some were only 7%, so I made sure to alter my cadence based on perceived gradient, switchbacks, and power zones. My goal was to spin a higher cadence up the less steep sections and get out of the saddle around switchbacks and in the steeper section. To me, it feels like I can then gut out some of the steeper stuff at a faster pace and "recover" at a slightly lower wattage/higher cadence on the easier stuff and keep a higher overall pace. For a 20 minute period it was impossible to spin a high cadence with my 11-28 and 53/39 setup. Since I'm heavier and more of a power climber, I used a lower cadence/bigger gear based on what felt right. This was only 75 to 80 rpm a lot of the times, but doing 90 rpm seemed to just tire me out faster. My average power for the climb was 287 watts, which was right in my sweet spot zone. After the first few sections, I was able to get a feel for this zone and I didn't really need my power meter for pacing.

    Long story short I like to mix up my climbing cadence/position based on what I'm actually climbing and what my personal advantages are. I have a comfortable rhythm and I know when I've found it and what it feels like in all positions and cadences. I suggest you train with your pm and find this feel for yourself. Calculate in your mind what a higher cadence effort feels like at your target wattage, etc. and then when the climb comes go by feel. This is a very dated way of doing things I guess, but its helped me a lot. In the past 3 weeks I've dropped 3 minutes off my time for a local UCI Cat 3 climb (Col de la Faucille) just by going off feel and being able to read the gradients better. You've done the climb before so you should know where the tougher sections are for you, etc.
     
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