Hill Climb Time Trials

I am coming to the end of a short Hill Climb Time Trial season in the UK. I am new to this event and am looking for guidance. Training for these (typically) 2-5 minute events has been discussed by Chad in a recent podcast with some useful insights… but I wanted to know what everybody else thought. These time trail climbs are typically on climbs with steep gradients with averages often around 15% and sections up to 20. Any thoughts on outdoor or indoor sessions to hone fitness and skills specific to this event appreciated. Thanks

This is all VO2 Max. Any plans that emphasize this in the plan will be your friend; Short Power Build and Criterium for sure.

My favourite outdoor hill climb training session…

  1. Find a hill that takes about 1 minute full gas. Sprint for the first 10 seconds, then sit down and push all the way to the top, no letting up. Ride easy for at least 4 minutes and preferably more - you want to fully recover between each interval. Repeat 8 times.
  2. Ride gently to your next hill, which should be 3-6 minutes in length and as even a gradient as possible.
  3. Ride up this hill 4 times as hard as you can, with plenty of rest between each one. Your anaerobic capacity should have been completely depleted by part 1, so you’re now working the aerobic system alone. Judging by my efforts, I’d aim for 85% of the power you’d do that hill in a hill climb competition. But it’s just whatever you can manage really.
  4. Go home, have some cake, get some sleep, have a day off.

My “favourite” vo2 max indoor session is Shortoff +4. The various versions of Bashful and Baird are good for the shorter but repeated intervals.

And for what it’s worth, my 3 hill climb tips…
Preparation, preparation, preparation.
Use veloviewer, best bike split, my windsock, bikecalculator, whatever tools to work out the highest likely power you can sustain up it. Recce it - how does the gradient vary and does this mean you should leave something in the tank for a steeper section? Conversely, look out for climbs that go steep and then level off leaving you spinning and your power dropping. How’s the road surface? Maybe drop tyre pressure if you need grip.

Hi Martin. Thanks so much. Loving (if that’s the right word) the outdoor session. Makes sense. I will definitely give it a go. I’ll take a look at those trainerroad sessions too. I agree regarding flat sections, it so hard to sustain power. I have my club HC on Sunday at st Margaret’s bay, Dover. If goes steep, flattish, then steep. My power tends to drop from 400 plus to 300 plus on that section. Any thoughts?

Thanks Julian. I intend to follow aspects of short power build in the run up to next season.

The first thing to say is that some variation in power is no bad thing; power output counts for more the steeper it gets.

But what you want to avoid is that complete drop where you’re spinning the pedals and you lose all momentum. To avoid that, I’d plan your gearing strategy so you finish the first steeper section out of the saddle and a fairly low cadence. Then when you hit the flatter part, just increasing your cadence back up to 90-ish rpm and sitting down should put you in the right gear.

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As others have said, VO2 max sessions are the way forward in terms on indoor trainer work. Look for a workout that has repeats of roughly the duration of your event.
One thing I will add though is that putting out power on a steep climb is a bit different to indoors on a turbo with the bike level. The strains are different. Unless you have something fancy like a KICKR Climb, I would try to do at least some of the sessions with the front wheel raised to simulate the gradient. Also, do more off bike core work as this will really help give you the physical base to effectively deliver high power on a steep climb.

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I have just done some of my first ever hill climbs and have gotten a couple of top 10’s.

My training was as Martin suggested, you want to leave nice big gaps between the intervals, lots of the Trainer road Vo2 training is about repeatability but for hill climb you want MAX power, so you want to be nice and fresh before each interval.
I didn’t worry too much about the interval length just used real hills and raced up to the top (Strava segments being good motivation for max power), making all the intervals between 1 and 5 mins, total of about 15-25 mins work per session.

I started trying to do 3 sessions a week but it wasn’t long before I found that was too much and had to drop to 2 sessions a week, it doesn’t seem like doing just 15-20 mins of hard effort twice a week is enough but it really kills you.
I managed to up my 5 min power from 430-450 in 6 weeks.

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Excellent tip r.e. finishing first steeper section out of the saddle. I’ll use that.

Good tips. You are right, maximal repeated efforts (even with full recovery) destroy you. Twice a week sounds
about right… I definetely made the mistake of doing too many sessions in a week and burnt myself out.