What is it? To climb at least 7,500 meters over as many rides as you like in one month. Why would we do it? To challenge ourselves physically, to test our endurance and strength and to experience the view at the top... below is a general guidelines for taking on a climbing challenge.
Saturday and Sunday – plan ahead and go big on at least one-weekend ride or both if your legs are up for it.
Weekends are when you do your big rides. Planning ahead will reduce stress and may help with weekend work, family and social responsibilities.
Go easy on Friday or take the day off from training.
If you train during the week, you would want to be at your freshest or at least have minimal fatigue going into the weekend rides. Do a 45 to 90-minute recovery ride on a Friday where average power is below 55% of FTP and heart rate is below 68% of lactate threshold or below 60% of maximum... perceived exertion is very easy. Or take a rest day and limit time on your feet.
Go big at the start of the monthly climbing challenge.
You have a greater chance of completing the challenge if you 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 rides.
Climbing repeats are great for developing power – these sessions may be nasty and evil. However, riding up a climb and back down and doing it all again is an excellent way to gain elevation when you have limited time. If you have more time, then do a hilly endurance ride. These are big rides where you can summit a lot of climbs.
Here are a few more tips to conquer a climbing challenge:
Elevation comes first on the day.
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.
Do not 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 laboured, and the conversation should be somewhat challenging. Your power range should be between 76% and 90% of FTP, or your 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 or heart rate above 95% of LTHR) are 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 pedalling action, engage the legs through the pedal stroke and maintain a relaxed upper body. Use your glutes through the top of the pedal stroke, quads driving down through the power phase and hamstring and calves dragging up through the back of the pedal stroke.
Mix it up, and briefly stand.
Briefly stand to elevate any pressure. Standing allows you to drop your body weight onto the pedals and is ideal for climbing steep gradients or sections. As you get off the saddle to stand, shift to an easier gear... you will be able to maintain momentum.
Your cadence should be self-selected, i.e. what feels comfortable to you.
Eat and drink early and often.
This is often overlooked and too late. Eat and drink early and often and immediately after reaching the summit.
This should be on the top of the list after finishing a hard ride,... consume a good mixture of carbohydrates and proteins post-activity meal or drink within 30 - 45 minutes of completing a workout.
That is it. Thank you for reading. I hope you found it to be a useful resource. Questions, comments and high fives! Drop them here.