Mass Start Hill Climb Pacing

Hi guys,

Wanted your input on pacing for a Mass Start Hill Climb. It is around 7 miles long with 4% incline and should take around 35 minutes to complete.

My question is, should I try to hang with the front group with the risk of eventually blowing up or should I ignore group tactics and pace it as a solo TT given that it is a climb and hopefully reel 'em in given the length of the climb.


That is about 12mph so drafting would have very little effect. Ride it at your own pace if you’re not at the very front and trying to crack others

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do you want to win? what’s your goal? if the former, def don’t get dropped. if the latter, ride your best pace.

don’t forget to hit some vo2max a few weeks before this

The goal is to win! Thanks!

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crush it. sometimes reverse psych can work if you are close in w/kg; go up front and set a hard pace that you can manage, that way it reduces surges; BUT, you can’t see everyone behind you.

keep us posted. goPro it!

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It depends on whether you think you can hang with the leaders the entire way. There’s definitely a drafting advantage, perhaps 10%. But if you blow up, your chances of doing well are over (risk-reward). So the question is: can you do .90 X the average wattage of the leaders (you should be able to get a good sense from the Strava segment).

For reference, a couple of years ago I did a mass start 18mi 5% hill climb. The leaders did it 1:10-1:15. The motorcycle neutral zone lead out was at the pace of the fastest riders (~5.5 wpkg). I was about 3.8 at the time. I was ~50+ watts over threshold trying to hang on in the neutral zone and decided it would not go well if I continued, so I backed off and hit the start line 8secs behind. It was a good decision for me because I picked off a dozen riders by doing a steady pace TT up the mountain beating my PR by 5 mins (1:35).

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Thanks a congrats on that PR!!

Thanks! I was pretty happy at the time. . . . of course, next I’m targeting to break 1:30 :slight_smile:

Some illustrative math as follows to illustrate the impact of drafting:

Assume output from the following example:

30 watts out of 230 go towards overcoming aero drag. If drafting reduces aero drag by one third, you save 10 watts.

Saving 10 watts on a 230 base is about 4% savings… or put another way, riding at 230W in the draft you’ll go up the hill about 3% faster (rough math).

Does 3% matter? If so, stay with the lead group and ride in the draft.


I’ve done a lot of mass start hill climb events and have always had a better time when I try to stay with the lead group but you’ll know quickly if you are over your head and need to back off.

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So this is how it went! Pace was really fast from the gun, tried to hold on for about a minute and then decided it was too much to hold on. Went off on my pace after that so plan B was in place. After 5 minutes when the first steep part was over, I passed about 2/3s of the first group as they were all gasping and already in survival mode… Went to to reel on some of the other guys and managed to get 3rd place in a sprint finish for 3rd. 1st and 2nd places were out of this world and not even on my dreams would I have been able to hang in their draft…

Also, I was able to chop 3 minutes off my PR and 5 minutes off of last year’s time.

So happy with the result and with a new goal for next year!

Thanks everyone for chiming in…


I took a couple computer science classes from this guy in college :nerd_face: he was a cool dude