How do you handle short kickers on endurance rides?

When you’re out on an endurance ride and you come up to a short hill, say less than 30sec, do you downshift to hold endurance power or do you get out of the saddle to clear the hill quickly and then back it down to endurance pace (a more natural way of riding)?

I know many will say to manage HR over power in situations like this, and that’s probably the right answer, but I’m curious how others deal with this common occurrence during outdoor rides.

I use a combo of shifting down and lower cadence as needed to keep at my basic power target. I don’t sweat it if I overshoot it a bit, but I avoid “spikes” in power generally speaking.


This topic interest me, as I’ve wondered that on MTB endurance rides. When you make a couple strong moves to clear features, HR lags and stays in endurance but power spikes. Do the power surges affect the quality of the endurance ride, if yes, how so? Is HR the important factor as OP mentioned?

Depends. But I normally don’t worry about short and infrequent excursions.


My philosophy is to avoid power spikes, but outdoors I prefer to pace a little more naturally. So if I have to up the power for 30 seconds to roughly Z4, that’s fine. I’m just gentle with the throttle. Same for (traffic light) starts.

Power surges lead to fatigue, which is something you want to avoid during endurance rides. IMHO route choice is essential for endurance rides. If you cannot resist the temptation to hammer it up climbs (or grind in some places at low power), opt for flatter routes. Don’t go down the gnarly trail, pick the forest road.

1 Like

I thought this thread was about riding in short knickers. Why is everyone commenting on spikes in power? :rofl:

Seriously though, I switch it up. If I need a saddle break, I’ll climb them OOS. If not, I just shift to an easy gear and try not to go too hard.

1 Like

I simply change down gears and go slower.

Surging in power on every kicker can add up to a significant time in high power zones. This isn’t the optimal endurance ride execution. If an endurance ride really is your target, do your best to execute it correctly.

There is considerable value in properly executing your endurance work. A large portion of it being the carry over into the following training day/days. Learning proper intensity discipline is a skill in itself.

I often remind myself, like Luke Sky Walker attacking the Death Star…

Stay on target.

I also learned that it’s impossible for me to do an endurance ride on my local MTB trails. So, I never attempt it. I make my MTB rides, hard/fun days etc. This obviously depends on your terrain.

The single best piece of advice I’ve ever learnt in terms of endurance rides is get proper low gearing. Most amateur cyclists are dramaitcally over geared. We are not profesional cyclists, we do not have 6w/kg FTPs. Hence, we need far lower gearing. Without it, we are very limited on what terrain we can execute proper endurance rides.

Work out the math. Work out how low you need your gearing to be to maintain endurance power at an ideal cadence. You’ll likely be quite surprised how low it needs to be to deal with actual steep hills. I began my endurance rides on my MTB, as it was the only way I could get low enough gearing.

Your mileage may vary. A lot depends on your terrain and gradients.

Bin the ego on endurance rides, speed, times on segments etc are totally irrelevant. You want nice steady volume. That is your goal.

Get low gears, play some nice tunes, let the squirrels pass you. Patience, patience patience. Play the long game.


I stay in z2 power. I recently did 100k/4 hours of rolling gravel (2,000 ft of climbing) and nearly never touched above endurance.


That’s impressive. My butt would need more time OOS.

I get out of the saddle, but I just keep it in z2.

1 Like

I go up to 80-85% ftp when going over inclines on endurance rides. No worries, they don’t make it ‘not an endurance ride’ even if it happens 5-10 times in an hour (because that’s at most 5 minutes)


Unless your trails are super flat and feature free, MTB just isn’t the best for endurance riding for this very reason. I still try though! I typically stick to gravel roads, but even then it’s super tough.

1 Like

I would have thought short hard efforts on a endurance ride would be OK provided there aren’t too many of them and you give plenty of time for recovery between them. Brandon McNulty did 5 30 secs efforts on a shortish endurance ride at the weekend. If its good enough for him. Seriously I seem to remember hearing on a podcast that it really doesn’t detract from the endurance element provided they are SHORT.

1 Like

I’ve listened to a couple of podcasts with Iñigo San Millán and he advocates ending your endurance rides with an effort. He says to go out, do your endurance ride (Z2 (or Z1 in a 3 zone model)), then, if possible, end with a 3-6min climb or effort where you finish with a feeling of having done some work. I don’t remember him elaborating on the science behind this approach, just that this is what he does for his personal training and recommends for his athletes.

I think he said he does those mostly for time saving reasons and because efforts at the end of endurance won’t ruin the Z2 adaptation. But for quality work better to do those hard efforts fresh.

Yeah, and my coach has 66%-79% defined as my zone for endurance rides. Here is well executed endurance ride with that endurance zone in green (a bit hard to see):

easy rollers with 1200+ feet of climbing over 2.5 hours.

I usually throw in 3 or 4 hard 1000W sprints at the end. Standing up I find it hard to control power, its often a brief 300-500W on those out of saddle ‘get comfortable’ efforts.


I got the impression that this was his preferred way of training, not a method for time-saving.

Like I said earlier, I’ve listened to a few of his interviews, but I think it was this podcast with Dr. Peter Attia that I’m specifically remembering.

Slow down and reduce gearing to allow me to keep power roughly constant, if even that’s not enough with 11-32 on the back, choose a different route net time…

1 Like

Does it really matter? It’s not exactly going to ruin a ride or training plan.