How to have consistent power output during long climb

Here is some power data from a 30-minute climb. The issue I’m facing is that my power output is extremely inconsistent due to my bike’s 8 speed Claris gear.(11-34) For instance, if I’m climbing in a specific gear and outputting 300W, a slight decrease in gradient causes my power to drop to 250W. In response, I shift down a gear, which then spikes my power to 370W due to the large gaps between gears, and this exhausts my legs. How can I maintain a steady 300w throughout the climb instead of 350 and 250 which averages to 300.

Additionally, I got a severe stomach cramp after drinking water during this, which forced me to stop after 30 minutes. How can I prevent this? Should I drink water during threshold longer than 40 minutes?

holding a relatively steady cadence.

For example a 90 minute climb with low power variation but “all the cadence”



More about low variability and better charts over here:

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Your gearing is not the issue here it’s your inability to pedal at a different cadence. You can easily hold very steady power by upping or lowering the cadence as the gradient fluctuates.

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Learn to put out 300w (or whatever your target wattage) at a variety of candences and gradients. It’s trainable. We all have a level of resistance and cadence that we prefer, but you can absolutely train yourself to get better at working outside of your happy place. The larger gaps between gears for 8 speed aren’t helping you, but there are lots of folks running 1x with similar gaps on wide range cassettes. I used to be pretty sensitive to cadence/power, but have spent a lot more time racing off road in the last 5 years and I’m a lot less sensitive now after riding a 1x setup with larger gear gaps. Now, I’m reasonably comfortable riding at threshold at a much wider range of cadence.

It won’t come overnight, but do some hills focusing on your wattage. If you can’t hold a steady 300w, knock it back to a steady 270 and work it up over the next few months.


Thank you for the tip. After looking back my data, I realized that I was averaging 98 RPM and even hitting higher 120RPM in some parts. This feels natural to me because of my background in distance running. I will definitely practice holding my watts around 75-85 RPM.

Use a TR workout like Tunbora that has cadence ladders in it. get a feel for what the various cadences are like.

Sometimes I’ll have a VO2 or Threshold workout that calls for 85-95 and in those you can really feel the difference in the range. Moving the load from aerobic to legs and back. IMHO that’s one of the things you need to train your brain on.

TR Crew, what are some other TR workouts that have cadence ladders in them?

Don’t shift unless you see a 30-60s change in power.

Edit: others say to change cadence but it is easier to slow down to decrease power than it is to increase cadence, so in case of power drops I tend to shift up but in case of too high power drop cadence.

It takes a bit of practice but no worries, you still did the workout. In the big picture being off 5-10% doesn’t really matter

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This will make zero sense to most…think about siting hard in the saddle. I honestly don’t know exactly what it does but, the result is a smoother application of force to the pedal, make the power phase of the stroke longer, and smooths out the transition between pushing down hard then releasing the tension during the upstroke. It should help calm the upper body and engage your core. Once close to your target stop fixating on the screen. Learn to feel what xxx watts is. Pay attention to the rhythm of your breathing.

Every so often go ride w/o your computer and learn what your body can do by feel. Kinda like running…


I call it driving from the glutes


As other athletes here mentioned, it sounds like working at varying cadences would benefit you. It takes some practice, but you should be able to hold pretty smooth power over different cadences as you go up a long climb.

Try not to spin up/stomp on your gears too quickly/hard as you shift. Try to make your gear changes as smooth as you can. If your cadence creeps up, try not to let it get out of control, shift into a harder gear, and try to internalize the effort you’re feeling at a given wattage and try to replicate it at a slower cadence. If your cadence stays high when you shift into a harder gear, that would be why you’re seeing those 370W spikes.

Similarly, when the gradient changes, try to adjust your cadence/gear shifts accordingly. If there’s a decrease, bring your cadence up so your power stays smooth. If it gets too high for your comfort, shift into a harder gear, and, again, focus on making it smooth. Same goes for an increase in gradient – try not to stomp on the pedals too much if your cadence decreases. Keep it as smooth as you can, and shift into an easier gear to maintain your preferred cadence as best as you can.

Like I said above, it takes time/practice/experience to keep your power as smooth as possible, but it’s doable if you focus on it!

As for the stomach cramp, it can be difficult to diagnose what might have happened. If you took a big gulp of water rather than sipping on it over time, that might be why you cramped up. You should definitely continue drinking and fueling (taking in carbs) for those longer threshold efforts. You should try to take in some carbs every 20-30 minutes – probably in the form of a gel or drink mix during a hard interval. Stay on top of eating/drinking often, and your stomach will start to get used to it – even when you’re riding hard. If you watch pro cycling races, you’ll notice that they’re eating and drinking all the time – even going up long climbs. Eating and drinking on the bike is basically its own skill that needs to be practiced, just like adjusting your cadence, but it will come over time if you work at it!

Hope this helps – feel free to let us know if you have any additional questions!