Ok, I’ll admit from the start I messed this one up.
There was a few years where I was unbeaten on Bank Road, which felt pretty good after winning the Nationals on there in 2008; but the last few years, it has seemed to get steeper.
It’s a relatively simple climb, at least in the standard length. You can see about the first minute of the climb gradually ramping up in a staight line before it slightly goes around a building and you’re out of sight. By this point the climb’s rapidly got steeper and from then on in, it’s pretty unrelenting to the line.
On Sunday I rode Riber on fixed for a laugh and with the headwind up Bank Road it seemed prudent to leave the 21 sprocket on the back instead of my usual 42×20.
It turns out even this wasn’t quite enough, even on my 4.7kg Trek Emonda SLR.
The problem with a fixed wheel on a steep gradient is they often take quite a shove to get going. I completely misjudged this though and very unsually for me, I went too hard, way too hard.
You can see from the start I hammered off the line, hitting over 1000w – that’s almost a full on sprint effort for me. I quickly sat down to try and control the effort, but the speed and cadence rose with this acceleration – I topped out at 130rpm as the speed went up to 19.2mph, then the road started to ramp.
When this happens on a fixed, it usually dictates standing up, which is usually what they’re all about. I love riding a fixed, but into a headwind you can become unstuck very quickly. Before long I was at the Smedley St crossroads where they were doing an intermediate timecheck. I’d been going quite well until now, but then again at an average of 689w for the first minute, that’s not surprising.
The second minute of my ride wasn’t so impressive. While I’d averaged 92rpm previously, both my cadence and power were rapidly both dropping off. Trying to keep the power down in the second minute of the climb, I was at 67rpm, which is usually about the limit of getting a gear round for me on a fixed. With this a fairly significant drop in power down to 566w.
For the whole climb I managed to average 608w for a shade under 2-minutes, the biggest issue was that I’d put the power down on the wrong half of the course. In just 40s on the top section Joe Clark put a whopping 9s into me. Guess who I’d be putting my money on next weekend?
Then again, I have to remember that I never really go that great the week before the Nationals, running about 10% up on power from 2015, I can’t really complain about the numbers. It’s what you do on the day that counts.
And just to disappoint those fixie purists, I’m riding gears again on Sunday.
Thanks to Matlock CC for putting on the two climbs.
Mike Vaughan Cycles as ever, as well as Trek Bikes, Cyclepowermeters and Science in Sport.