Training for the longest climb I've ever seen

Hey guys!

I am a college student who is going to be studying in Cuenca, Ecuador for about 8 weeks after Christmas. I had used the calendar to plan my training, and was planning on starting SSB mid volume 1 my first week in Cuenca. However I found something yesterday that makes me think about changing up my plans.

I found this strava segment relatively near where I am going to live, and of course I have become obsessed with going for it at some point! The segment itself is 44.1 miles long with 12,242ft of climbing, and if you start the ride a bit lower down, the climb ends up being almost 50 miles long with close to 14,000ft (I know, it’s nuts!). If I do choose to start the climb as low as possible (which, of course I feel like I have to do!), I’ll be starting at just 25ft above sea level and reaching a max elevation of 13,625ft at the top of the mountain. Crazy!

My question is about what I should do between now and when I get to Ecuador to make sure I am as strong as possible for when I attempt the ride. I have no idea what exact date I’ll get to go for it, but I know I am going to be in Cuenca from Jan 3rd-March 3d. I am still planning on starting SSB 1 when I get to Ecuador so I don’t fall behind for my planned events, however I feel like if I try to attempt this ride with only a few weeks of structured training from SSB under my belt, I’ll have a reallllly hard time going for the KOM. I was thinking about starting either sustained power build, or maybe the century specialty plan and just doing as much of the plan as possible before I head to Ecuador? Thoughts?

Any insight or tips would be much appreciated!

Here is a link to the segment for anybody interested: La Muerte

(yup, it is indeed called “la muerte”, which means “death” in spanish- yikes!)

The full version of the climb starting at 25ft above sea level and finishing at the 13,625ft summit would start at Naranjal just a bit to the west of where the segment starts.



Focus on muscular endurance. You’ll need to push hard on the pedals for 6+ hours which means it is very much a low IF effort - maybe as low as 0.5 or 0.6 - so you just need to be able to put out power consistently for a very long time

Looks awesome! You’re going to need some very different gear when you get up that high than what you start with - carry some pretty solid cold weather kit. I’ve ridden up to 13k feet and it gets cold no matter where you are

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Well, at least you will have some downhill…
Jokes aside, what an EPIC climb, good luck man!!


Man, I can’t even imagine how much I am going to cherish that short descent!

Thanks for the heads up! I can imagine it’ll be pretty chilly at the top!

Not worth it! That descent is going to be a nightmare on the way back when your legs are cold and blocked up. That might be the hardest part of your whole day

This looks absolutely nuts. Good luck. Have you looked into “everesting”, not sure if this climb would qualify, though I don’t see why it wouldn’t, but if you do complete you might as well get some everlasting recognition for it!

He’d have to do this climb somewhere like 2.25 times to Everest. I forget the exact number but Everesting is something like 29,000 feet in a single ride. The average gradient on this climb is lower than you typically want for an Everesting attempt - it would be extremely time consuming

Good point! That little climb would be brutality on some thoroughly cooked legs. I’m thinking I’ll probably try to do this route, where I would start in Naranjal and just descend down the back side of the mountain to my apartment in Cuenca.

Yeahhhh, I am gonna have to pass on the whole Everesting thing hahaha

That looks amazing! I agree with @trpnhntr, muscular endurance workouts are your friend. I would also do a fair bit of low cadence work - unless you have a pretty small gear, or are just massively strong you’re going to be grinding up parts of that.

What’s your fitness like currently? In you’re in fair shape you could just straight to SSB2 or sustained power build and switch out one of the weeked rides for a long one of > 4 hours.

My fitness is not too low right now. I have just been doing unstructured riding for the last few weeks, but I feel like I have a solid enough base built up where jumping in to a build or specialty phase would be feasible. I was also thinking about maybe starting SSB1 now, and then just restarting it when I get to Ecuador.

Two of these plus a little bit and you’d Everest just like @Jonathan :grinning:! I’d take a look at replacing Century with Climbing Road Race; I did Century earlier this year and kinda wish I did Climbing Road Race based on the course I encountered (although I finished with no major issues using Century).

Hmmm was the century plan mostly long endurance stuff? Seems like that’s what I’ll need more of. If there are attack or sprint focused intervals in the climbing road race plan, I don’t know if they’d benefit me much.

Hahaha no chance I would ever Everest this climb! I rode Haleakala a few weeks ago, and the descent was almost an hour and a half long! Can’t image how long the descent on this bad boy would take.

I’d recommend 40k TT if you’re going to specialize - you’re going to need constant flat power for that climb - no spikes, no short efforts - that’s what you get in 40k. Also - I’d recommend just doing build as prep for this - sustained power build will treat you very well as prep for this

Read feet as meters :man_facepalming:t2: Haha

Now that would be truly insane!

You get to go down that too right?

Hey everyone, just checking back in on this thread to let y’all know that the big day is this Saturday. Gonna be a tough one, but I am so excited! Best Bike Split says that to take the KOM I have to average just about 205W for the duration of the effort which I think is doable if I really stay on top of my nutrition. Last ramp test on Jan 30th put me at 255W here at 8,500ft in Cuenca but I’d guess I’m closer to 260 right now. Pacing is so key because at the start of the climb my FTP is actually closer to 290, but at the top it is closer to 220!


Good luck @HMITCHR

Looks like it will be an amazing ride.

Is the road entirely paved? If so, then this beats Haleakala which many say is the world’s longest paved road climb (37 miles, 10,000 feet).

I did Haleakala for the third time in January. It’s all about pacing, getting some nutrition in, and not blowing yourself out in the first half.

Bring layers to wear so you can put on and take off as needed. It will get a lot colder as you ascend.