Tuning Climbing Form

The Hill Climb season is a very strange one, with the entire discipline crammed into around 6-8 weeks starting in September.  This, you may think means that a rider could hit the first climbs at maximum form and carry it through right to the big one, the National Championships on the last Sunday of October.  This isn’t always the case.

Hill climbing is so maximal that you just don’t do those kinds of efforts in training – take for example I did a shade under 450w for 6:32 on Holme Moss this week, that cannot easily be replicated in training, I don’t have a ride near that power for two years.

On the other hand, it’s very easy to go too deep to early.  The maximal efforts can take a lot out of you, yes it might only be a 3 or 4- minute ride, but it can hurt you far more than any 10 or 25mile time-trial could.  Careful recovery is essential, as is keeping warm, making sure you warm-up properly and so on.

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The Huddersfield Star Wheelers/Holme Valley Wheelers has been a staple event of my hill climb calendar for probably about a decade now.  Unless weather forces a change in course, it’s Jackson Bridge (2015 Nationals), followed by Holme Moss.

Myself and client Jack O’Neill (B38/Underpin Racing) headed up to Yorkshire to takle these climbs, with a strong field including 2014 National Champ, Dan Evans and rising star Kieran Savage.

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Conditions were fairly still, with Dan Evans ducking under his wining time of last year to record a blistering time of 4:07.5.  I rode my “test” fixed wheel bike, the first that I’ve ridden fixed on this climb in maybe four years.  This bike’s maybe 2kg heavier than the one I have lined up for the Nationals, so being 5s down on last year, with better power at 4:27.6 wasn’t such a big deal.  Jack’s power is also on the up – remembering we’ve got an extra weekend to play with this October – and he clocked just a single second slower than 2015 to place 5th with 4:34.7

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Holme Moss would be the feature of the afternoon, much less technical, but a real monster at 1.3miles long.  Warming up well to flush the morning’s efforts out, I decided to ride my geared bike. A time of 6:32.8 would be way off my best, last year I’d twisted my chain warming up so did not start. The power was the best I’ve done in a long time, so the form is coming along nicely.  Jack would be still feeling the effects of the morning’s event, with no tailwind like last year, he’d lose a bit of time, despite recording almost identical power, finishing in a time of 6:53.2.  Dan Evans would wrap up the day with a second win in 6:11.8

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