FTP is an important figure, but the difference between finishing an HR event and finishing it comfortably, or finishing in the bottom half and finishing in the top 50 will not be solely FTP.
I have had a reasonably high FTP all year long, and therefore should be a pretty good climber by definition. When I did my first ascent of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong (550m, 6% average) I figured out that there is more things to know here than FTP. It was 35 degrees with close to 100% humidity and I felt like melting away, completely overshooting my power by just going at FTP.
A few months later, I was in the Alps and did a few epic climbs there (Col de Vence, Alpe d‘Huez, Bonette) and figured out, that I wasn’t prepared for this. Bonette took me over two hours and especially spending the latter half at over 2000m of altitude completely got to me. I somehow got up there, but 30W lower average than what I planned, and that plan was conservative based on my FTP.
The day after, I did Col de Vence, on paper, an easy climb. I had a slight tail wind and felt really good about myself, going out at 5W/kg (which is my FTP, and it is only a 30 to 40 minute climb) and feeling like I am flying. 20 Minutes in, the air was so stuffy, still over 30C and the sun in my neck. Legs felt like jelly after 3 hours of total ascending the day before. On Col de Vence, I felt like I could faint any minute now. I was so happy to finally reach the Col, after 40 minutes, which is 10 minutes more than planned and completely out of breath.
Two days of rest after that, and I did Col de Vence again and got up in 31:02 Minutes and even had a little left in the tank.
Why am I sharing this? Because I felt like a mountain goat when winning the KOM jerseys of Watopia, and beating my pears up the local climb. I had to figure out, that climbing in very high altitude, climb after climb, day after day, in the blistering unforgiving sun of French/Italian/Spanish summer, is just a totally different beast, and my FTP (which ultimately is a 20 minute TT on the flat at sea level) didn‘t at all translate to good real world results.
It’s raining and cold and I’m nowhere near any significant climbs and live pretty much at sea level!
I’ve kind of decided to hunker down for the winter. Having TR has definitely made me more of a fair weather rider, and then am thinking of focusing more on back to back long days at the weekends with a LV TR plan for during the week.
I do struggle to believe TR alone is the best way to train for HR events, but don’t really have a plan for what to do instead. Surely 7 or 8 hours a week isn’t going to be enough mileage to prepare me?
The guys at TR definitely know better than me and I’ve put all the events into plan builder as stage races/climbing road race, so it knows what I’m training for.
If I knew how to add Jonathan, Chad, Amber or Nate to ones of these posts, I’d probably ask them.
I believe you can get more than enough fitness from 7 to 8 hours a week to finish an HR event comfortably.
You will however need to ride hard sessions back-to-back, to prepare for the stress of such multi day event, also, it makes sense to plan sweetspot session on the weekend, with 90 minutes or so of base riding (Z2 or Z3) afterwards. Getting used to many hours in the saddle.
Preparing for the hot weather, the climbs and the altitude is very difficult, especially during COVID.
Best advice I can give is to have a hard session every now and then with sub optimal cooling, and if you have a smart trainer, with a simulated climb. The inertia of pushing the pedal on a climb is just very different from that on the flat.
In preparation, when getting closer to the event, I would however recommend to find a real outdoor climb, as a proof of concept.
I have many Alpe Du Zwift KOM Jerseys and felt reasonably prepared, but riding up the real Alpe d’Huez was a very different experience. Air got really thin near the top and my cadence was 10 rpm lower outdoors. I averaged some 20W fewer on AdH than on AdZ.
Lose weight in the base phase but ensure you fuel your harder work outs. You should be looking for overall calorie deficit over a week for example, not every day.
I live in Switzerland and am competitive in Grand Fondos and the best way to train for longer climbs if you don’t have any mountains near you are the long sweetspot workouts on the trainer starting with something like 3x12’ at 85% FTP working up to as much as you can do such as 3x30 or more. I do this in winter when I can’t get out, they work for sure.
For heat adaptation, again the trainer is great for that…
You can mention people using “@username”, for example @ Jonathan, @ Nate_Pearson, @ ambermalika (without the space of course, I didn’t want to actually tag them).
However, they have talked about stage races a couple of times in the podcast, so I don’t think there is the need to mention them. Nevertheless, here you could ask them a question specific to the Haute Route demands.
Also, here on the forum you will find a lot of stage racing tips, just use the search function
Back to back hard TR days and some SS + zone 2/3 efforts at the weekend ( I like this idea as can probably get out with a few slower friends for a social ride to a café when allowed).
My turbo is out in a barn and it’s pretty cool at the moment. I’m not even using the fan. I do have a patio heater, so could cook myself, but might wait for warmer weather and just leave the fan off, your right, this will make a huge difference to the intensity.
I used to train on a wattbike in the gym with no fan, it was hot (I ended up bringing a small fan with me and plugging it in).
The first time I did an FTP test on the trainer in a cool barn, it was up by 10%.
I don’t have a smart trainer with a simulated climb, but I could put the front wheel on a breeze block, would that work?
Would you suggest a low cadence too?
I spin very happily at 100rpm on an indoor trainer, but guess it’s near 70rpm on a climb outdoors and have been thinking this is a bit of a mismatch.
I don‘t think it is really that important to have the handlebar move up and down like with the Kickr Climb. The biggest difference in cycling at FTP on the flat and cycling at FTP on a steep climb for me is the inertia in the pedal stroke. On the flat, you „tip the pedal over the edge“ and it kind of does the rest by it self. A „micro freewheeling“ if you will. That doesn’t exist on a climb. Every inch of rotation is relentless, nothing is for free there. It is just a different feel to it, and in my opinion takes some getting used to. A smart trainer can sim that sensation quite well.
You might want to train to keep the cadence up when climbing (also climbing on a smart trainer). 100 might be very high, but a 70 cadence will break you. Especially when climbing an Iseran, Bonette, Ventoux, Stelvio, Angliru type climb.
85 sounds like a realistic cadence, but I guess the higher the better. Chris Froome, a 6.5W/kg rider, uses semi-compact up mountainous stages, to be able to spin at 95+ even on Mortirolo/Zoncolan/Angliru type monster climbs.
It takes a lot of getting used to and forcing yourself to spin.
I did a climb in Bavaria last year, 15 minutes at 9.5%. I had everything planned exactly, and how I would spin up there in 90 cadence.
I managed 75 cadence, because I had to get out of the saddle so frequently… theory doesn’t always translate into reality
I was about to do the climbing road race specialty too but a few weeks ago on one of the podcasts it was mentioned that the century plan was better for long days in the saddle and you are not planning on racing and the target descriptions back it up