Mas­ter Mon­ster Climbs

Tack­ling lengthy Alpine-like climbs is one of cy­cling’s great tests of both men­tal and phys­i­cal en­durance, a test that can make or break you and your morale. How do you go from romp­ing over the shorter ramps at home to con­quer­ing th­ese gi­ants of the road?

Bikes Etc - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND PHO­TOG­RA­PHY STEVE THOMAS

Learn how to tackle one of cy­cling’s great men­tal and phys­i­cal chal­lenges, the long moun­tain pass.

There’s an all too of­ten in­de­fin­able line of thresh­old pain and suf­fer­ing that lies be­tween crack­ing a long climb and it crack­ing you, be that men­tally, phys­i­cally, or both. There is also no de­fin­i­tive line be­tween a climb be­ing con­sid­ered a power climb or an en­durance climb, even if many have a stab at the stat chart. Ba­si­cally any­thing over a minute in length en­ters the no-mans land of power bal­anced with en­durance. Rack that up some, though, and then add some more and you start to reach climbs of 30 min­utes up­wards, which are the kind of sep­a­ra­tion steps that we see in the Grand Tours. Th­ese are what we usu­ally con­sider as en­durance climbs – yet many of th­ese climbs are 2-3 hours long for reg­u­lar rid­ers, tak­ing them to a whole new level of en­durance. There’s a huge dif­fer­ence in the de­mands and qual­i­fi­ca­tions it takes to mas­ter th­ese great climbs when com­pared to shorter power climbs, and those that wan­der the slopes in be­tween the cat­e­gories. Th­ese epic chal­lenges are of­ten seen as the realm of those skinny, pint-sized climbers, and of course th­ese rid­ers do have a huge po­ten­tial power-to-weight ad­van­tage over many. Yet along­side (or not too far be­hind them at least) you of­ten see rid­ers of a more rounded and sub­stan­tial stature man­ag­ing per­fectly well. Af­ter all, we have to use what we’ve been given in ba­sic phys­i­cal terms, and then im­prove our bod­ies, minds, equip­ment and ap­proaches to make the best of them. Adopt that at­ti­tude and there’s a huge amount of room for any rider to im­prove their en­durance climb­ing. So, if you’re de­ter­mined to up your long­haul climb­ing game here’s some es­sen­tial ad­vice that will lit­er­ally help you to rise above…

With the right ap­proach, tack­ling moun­tain passes might even be en­joy­able

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