The month of August was dedicated to conquering Strava's climbing challenge outdoors as well as limiting the indoor training rides.
What it is and why Strava's Monthly Cycling Climbing Challenge?
To climb at least 7,500 meters over as many rides as you like in one month. And the why, well personally it is an achievable target and over the last 3 months I have found it to be something that I have had difficulty in reaching.
Outdoor rides: 6
Total climbing meters: 10154m
How many rides to reach 7500m: 4
Highest elevation gain in one ride: 2095m
Longest ride: 6hr20min51sec
Rewards: Views, loads of fresh air, a badge and a sense of achievement.
General guidelines to taking on a climbing challenge.
Weekends – plan ahead and go big on at least one weekend ride or on both if legs are up for it.
Weekends are when you do your big rides and planning ahead when will reduce stress, and may help with any weekend work, family and or social responsibilities.
Go easy on Friday or take the day off from training.
You would want to be at your freshest or at least have minimal fatigue going into the weekend rides if you train during the week. Do a recovery ride on the Friday where average power is below 55% of FTP and heart rate is below 68% of lactate threshold heart rate or below 60% of maximum heart rate. Duration for recovery rides are generally 45 to 90 minutes and perceived exertion is very easy. Or take a rest day, stay off your feet.
Go big at the start of the monthly climbing challenge.
You have greater chance of completing the challenge if rack up climbing meters early in the month. Spreading the elevation challenge evenly over each weekend might increase the possibility of missing the climbing goal.
Climbing repeats or hilly endurance ride.
Climbing repeats are great for developing power – these sessions may be nasty and evil, however riding up a climb and riding back down and doing it all again is an excellent way to gain elevation when you have limited time. If you have more time available then a hilly endurance ride is ideal, these are big rides where you are able to summit a lot climbs.
And a few more tips to conquer a climbing challenges:
On the day elevation comes first.
Chasing QOM/KOM(Queen/King of the mountain) or trying to beat a personal best will drain your energy, remember the goal is to gain elevation.
Treat it like a workout.
Don’t skip the warm-up. Warming up will raise your body temperature, increase blood flow to your muscles and lower the risk of injury.
Start slow and keep it steady on the long climbs.
Going too hard and too fast from the base of a long climb or doing too many accelerations will sap your energy, increase blood lactate and eventually slow you down way before the end of the climb.
What it should feel like.
Because you are doing multiple climbs your efforts should be in Zone 3 or just below your threshold on the ascents. RPE should be around 3-4, your breathing should be deep and controlled, but not labored, and conversation somewhat challenging, Power range should be between 76% and 90% of FTP and or heart rate should be between 84% and 94% of LTHR. Some brief efforts at threshold or Zone 4 (power between 91% and 105% of FTP and heart rate above 95% of LTHR) is okay, however too many and too long will burn more energy.
Relax your upper body when climbing in the seated position.
Focus on a smooth pedaling action, engage the legs through the whole pedal stroke and maintain a relaxed upper body. Use your glutes through the top of the pedal stroke, quads driving down through power phase and hamstring and calves dragging up through the back of the pedal stoke.
Mix it up, briefly stand.
Briefly stand to elevate any pressure, standing allows you to drop your body-weight onto the pedals, and is ideal for when climbing steep gradients or section. As you get out the saddle to stand shift up to an easier gear, by shifting up you will be able to maintain momentum.
Your cadence should be self-selected, i.e. what feels comfortable to you.