The MT evans Hill climb is coming up soon!!
I have done this race a few times. Here is a report I did about the last time I raced it in the Pro-1-2 field. This report has a full wattage breakdown, watts per/ kilogram analysis, and more.
I wellcome coments and others toughts relatung topics!
Mt Evans stands over 14,000 feet in altitude and has the highest paved road in the country. So it only makes sense that we as athletes who ride bikes should race up it!!
On sat July 19 2008 I did the Mt Evans Hill climb. High altitude riding is not my specialty but it is the CO climbing championships, it’s a fantastic ride and I know that I am capable of doing well. Top 15 top 10 in the pro-1-2 field. as always it will depends on who shows up.
Nothing really crazy here. No knarly FTP workouts, no altitude tent that I slept in. I did get up to 10,000 feet once a week to do 1 or 2 x25’ intervals at what I perceived to be Threshold. I would normally lose about 15%. These were also not fresh as I had to ride up there!
See attached article at bottom on some past data form high altitude riding.
Ride: 27.3 miles
6,920 feet of climbing
Avg. grade: 4.5%
From 7500 feet elevation – 14,135 feet.
**Mass start race, not an ITT.
Time 2:10 (very slow for me even with the wind we had)
Avg. watts: 275.
6’ above threshold
10’ Z1 and 2.
I was pretty happy with my numbers but with a dismal placing of 30th I new something was wrong. Something didn’t add up. every thing was perfect. The steady but firm pace as the bottom was a good warm up. I never had to accelerate, my bike supper light, etc… I was alone for much of the ride after it split up so no drafting there…
I did 303 watts for the first half , 250 for the second half and the last 20’ at 235. Between my loss for power from altitude and loss from fatigue I was thinking anything over 245 for the second half would have been good so I was pretty happy to see 250. I never cracked. I felt good the whole way. The few sections where we picked up the wind at our backs I was able to really get the bike moving.
Notes on training:
If you can’t sleep/ live at attitude the training AT altitude seemed to work well. At the very least the brain body connection will be lined up. You get some weird sensation riding all out above 12,000 feet! I can not speak on the cellular level on what adaptation occurs with this type of training but from what we do know about loss of power at increased elevation, this preparation seemed to put me one steep ahead of that curve.
Training at higher altitude tips:
1. Go by P.E. If you try and nail your normal watts you will quickly dig a whole for your self. Doing hard work at a significantly higher elevation takes allot out of you.
2. Take more recovery time than normal.
3. Keep the Iron intake up. Consult your doc. As your body tries to make more red blood cells it will need Iron. some people with handle the low O2 levels better than others but keep a healthy and divers diet coming, as always!!
So was everyone else just that much stronger? Is my FTP not 335? Was my power meter way off? What gives?
Here’s the deal I am normally about 70 kilograms, 155lbs. if I really get into it for a big stage race, etc. I can be 152 maybe lighter and feel strong, healthy, with energy to spare.
This year things have been very busy I have opted for more higher intensity training instead of the mega long tempo climbing workouts. This combined with a high frequency of dinner beers, I have been a bit heaver. Not so much to make me worry but a few lb’s. On Friday night I weighed myself 160 lbs!! I thought I was just retaining water maybe, a full belly? But, Sat. after the race when I got home I weighed in again, 160. so lets re-crunch the numbers.
Doing 275 watts at 70 kilo’s is 3.92 watts per kilogram, pretty good. talking with some friends after, ones that beat me, I figured they were in this area.
But 275 at 72.7 kilos is 3.78 big difference.
There are a few wattage calc. out there and even on a hill that is not that steep like Mt Evans, that extra weight comes out to 5-8 minutes!! Add in the fact that accelerating will have an exponential negative effect on a heaver person. And by “hanging onto” a group longer one can get more of a draft for more of the climb. That all adds up to a much, much faster ride and a better place.
Note on my % of loss. I lost 19% for the whole climb from my FTP. Realize that this is 2 hours not a threshold effort. In the 2nd half of the race I lost 26%. Which I figured is pretty normal. 20% from the extreme altitude change, 6% from fatigue from the first hour.
Some final thoughts on this. Yes, Threshold watts per kilo of body is important. And for a hill climb or hilly RR or stage race it’s very, very important! However, there were people that beat me that are significantly heaver. What’s there FTP? I don’t know. probably better than 4.6 watts/kilo. But, I know this. To reach your maximum potential nothing beats being healthy, happy and strong. In bike racing or any endurance sport simply being able to crush the power out put will pay off huge!!
~Here is some other data from training at altitude:
Here are some numbers and percentages of loss that I have so far. As you will see my data has not only the altitude but a varying amount of “work” before the high altitude intervals.
My FTP is about 335ish, 155lb’s
I live at 5500 feet
Normally, at my living altitude, I train that “late power” quite a bit. I lose about 8% after 2500-3000 kj’s of Z3-4 riding.
~Intervals at 10,000 feet: I push 290 watts (also after 1500kj’s) A loss of 14%
~My ride up trail ridge road. To 12,000 feet. (after 2500 kj’s, with 6’ above threshold) I did 235 for the last 30’ or so. A loss of 30%!!! Keep in mind there is also general fatigue acting here as well from early part of the ride. But even if we take out my usual 8% of loss thats still 22%!
Again these are all a bit tough to use because of the “work” that is done before the efforts None are “fresh TT efforts at altitude.