Question: I am interested in learning more about training for climbing as I am preparing for Haute Route Ventoux. Any information would be welcomed. Thank you. —Jared N.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Congrats on your upcoming ride in France. Always wanted to do that route myself.
Of course, climbing is always a matter of your power-to-weight ratio, so the leaner you can be for the ride the better.
It sounds like you’re already at fighting weight, but you might think about what you carry on your bike and on your body during the climbs.
I see a lot of riders who have 16-pound bikes with another 5 pounds of unnecessary stuff hanging from them – top tube bags, extra clothes, etc. – that simply add weight without much function. Of course, you’ll need to carry important things, but even the most spare kit can often be stripped down a bit more.
Short, Hard Local Hill Efforts Are Good Training
As for the training for such a ride, there are a number of good studies showing that short, hard efforts like the ones you can do on the short hills of Delaware also improve all physiological abilities below that intensity. So doing 30-second efforts all-out will also improve your 30-minute power at or slightly higher than your lactate threshold.
I’d recommend doing about 70 percent of these seated and 30 percent standing, although if you typically don’t stand much when doing long climbs, the ratio should tilt more toward 80/20.
The danger is that these tough intervals are demanding on the body and require lots of rest, or you’ll overtrain and feel puny in France. So be sure you don’t overdo it. Monitor your body, and your enthusiasm, carefully as you do these efforts. Twice a week is the most I’d recommend and, of course, as your intensity goes up, your training volume must come down.
Longer, time trial-like efforts on the flats will help convert some of that high-intensity fitness into something more useful for climbing Ventoux. Again, too many of these will just make you tired, but they’re really useful if you do them at your climbing cadence, preferably into the wind.
I cover all these topics in more detail in my eBook, Climbing for Roadies, available in the RBR bookstore.
The important thing is to get to France with lots of enthusiasm and fresh legs, then to have fun climbing Ventoux!
Dominic Ferro says
I just rode up Ventoux last week! I did fair amount of repeats of local hills to prepare. I did not have a 5,000 foot mountain nearby, but I did have a 1,000 foot mountain that I could climb five times. It got a little boring, but I definitely think that it prepared my body for the long grind up Ventoux. I developed a smoother pedal stroke while climbing than I had before.
I also rented a bike with a 32-tooth cog on the cassette, which made a big difference from the 28 tooth cog that I trained on.
Enjoy the descent! But be careful.