I disagree with climbing RR plan for ultra mtb events

I’ve chosen Climbing RR for my season focused on the Pisgah Triple Crown series (including Off-road Assault On Mitchell). All of these races include 1+ hour climbs on fire roads and single track combos.

My quibble is with the climbing RR plan recommendation is that it seemed to focus waaay more on threshold and VO2 work than endurance and sweet spot. I’m an old 54 yr guy and steady state endurance seems like it should fit in a bit more. I get lifting threshold with those workouts but why not much emphasis on long SS intervals also???

I train in Michigan on relatively flat terrain and feel like I did a disservice to my training doing the thresh and VO2 at high speed and high cadence…. The opposite of what it takes in sustained climbs in these races of 2000’ or more.

Is there a better plan that would be a bit more specific to the demands of these ultra endurance events I’m doing??? Again, I’m training in the flatter areas of Michigan. Longest local climbs are less than 0.5 miles.

I have an FTP around 280 but I find myself on the slow looong climbs settling in at 180w. I refer back to my comments about doing the majority of my intervals at higher speed and cadence so what transpires in the long climbing races leaves me feeling like I’m in a strange zone.

Sorry for the lengthy description but I hopes to add context.


If it were me and i had races with hr long climbs, I certainly would be progressing multiple SST intervals that were 30+ long or longer. Id keep the vo2 in there for the 4-6 prior to the event, but progress those sessions too. Vo2, do self selected cadence, SST, you may want to vary cadence and have periods on lowered cadence. Training on flats recruits muscles a little different than training on hills, but you live where you live,

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Pancake flat here, but we have a reliable headwind. December 2015 I bought a road bike and 7 months later finished an event of 117 miles with 5 mountain passes and 15,000 feet of climbing. 8+ hours of climbing that day.

Most of my training was simply riding 40-60 minutes into a headwind, at various cadences, and then high speed returns. Always pushing out how long I could hold sweet spot power, both into the wind and with a tailwind. Best case I was 3W/kg at the event (didn’t have a power meter). FWIW.


I seem to remember the recommendation being Century for events like this.

Been awhile since I looked, but found this quoted from another thread. I think it was from a podcast or discussion and posted by a member of the TR team.

When I was doing TR plans, this gave me a good blend of Sweet Spot, Threshold, VO2 Max depending on the phase.


Yeah, I was thinking similarly that with the note that this plan is now called “Gran Fondo” instead of “Century” in the TR plans. It is more about steady state work than the Rolling Road Race that is about punchy kicks aimed at handling not only rolling terrain, but also responses to other riders.

Gran Fondo is more about longer duration, steady power at and below Threshold.


Head to Zwift and climb Alpe de Zwift or Ventoux or any of the new “portal” climbs. While I am not certain about the portal climbs, bot the Alpe and Ventoux are ~1hr (or more) of sustained climbing.


Gran Fondo plan is where it’s at for this type of specificity if you ask me.

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I have done the climbing road race and grand fondo . I did make improvements on hill climbing. That being said I’m now doing the the TT plan. I find that at a lower cadence while doing Dunderberg, Glaena, Mt Goode to be more like real hill climbing.

Thank you all!! Great advice. Looking forward to more! The forum members always respond and that’s nice.

I was actually doing climbing RR plan. Still seems more geared to 4-6 min thresholds intervals and a cpl minutes VO2

Understood. Had the wrong one in my head, but the “Road Race” aspect still rings true. It is more about handling mass start attacks, even if the Climbing side of it is more steady state than the Rolling version.

So the Gran Fondo, and TT as well, mentioned are superior for your goals.


This right here. In addition to my TR plan, I was doing AdZ on Sundays if I didn’t do an outdoor ride. I felt like I got a lot of benefit in doing that since it felt more realistic than a very long ERG session.

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Or a long, consistent Fulgaz climb.

I set my slope scale to 50% (up and down) to minimise the gradient changes and allow my flatland gears to spin easily if needed on these steep climbs.

It’s nice to still require a gear change and natural cadence change with the real world gradient changes. I can defo do more sweet spot here than on any other platform and much more often.

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Also, realize that these are canned plans, they are not perfect for all races. Hour lomg climbs are not the norm, so plans will need to be adjusted to meet your specific demands


As a fellow MI native training in SE MI, this is what I would recommend. In years past I was primarily a XC and MTB 100 racer. In 2023 though I’ve turned mostly to gravel races (MGRS) this year. I agree the Gran Fondo plan is a good outline. However, I’d change Saturdays to longer (2-3 hours) Tempo on gravel or trail riding and Sundays to long z2(3-5 hours) Also, focus on lifting your z2 rides to 70+% of FTP. The tempo and high z2 workouts are critical since this is the race specific intensity you’ll be living at. Very beneficial to be comfortably uncomfortable at this effort.