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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long time singlespeed endurance racer here and by far my weakest skill is riding long gravel climbs. I can shred the descents and power up all the steep singletrack climbs but the rest of the field walks away from me on long steady climbs. I have to stand where they can sit and spin. I live in a very flat area so I don’t have access to anything remotely close to the things I encounter at the races but was wondering if there’s anything I can be doing to help. I’ve made the podium at a few 100’s and other endurance races but I lose so much dang time on the gravel. Help!
 

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Long time singlespeed endurance racer here and by far my weakest skill is riding long gravel climbs. I can shred the descents and power up all the steep singletrack climbs but the rest of the field walks away from me on long steady climbs. I have to stand where they can sit and spin. I live in a very flat area so I don't have access to anything remotely close to the things I encounter at the races but was wondering if there's anything I can be doing to help. I've made the podium at a few 100's and other endurance races but I lose so much dang time on the gravel. Help!
Other than power go weight which may be lacking (like in my case)

Erg mode training in intervals that match the power you can hold for that duration.

Example: Nats climb was 10-12 minutes gravel climbing with a couple is steep switchback pitches.

3-4x 10 [email protected] 95, 100 or 105% of FTP standing. Also some intervals barbellss with 150% for 15 seconds on the ends to simulate finishing strong over the top.

Also, just riding up Alp du Zwift helps. It's an hour climb that you can do standing. You can throw one of your SSs on a turbo trainer such as a wahoo or H2 H3

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My son gave me some advice the other day about going faster and keeping up with him. He told me to shift into a harder gear, but pedal at the same rate...or even faster if I felt like it. Then I'd go faster. Thanks son. So following that advice, change your gearing and pedal harder. Kids know everything.
 

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Have you got any Strava ride files with cadence, heart rate, power etc attached to show what was happening when you were being dropped?

On a geared bike a long gravel climb is likely to be a steady state effort, as you can change gear to regulate the intensity and maintain that constant pace. On a single speed bike, where you can’t change gear, I’m not so sure the same climb necessarily counts as steady state.

You mentioned climbing out of the saddle as an issue but which would you say were the main limiting factors at the point you were getting dropped - legs fatiguing, cadence dropping too low, arm fatigue, back pain, difficulty breathing, heart rate spiking etc?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
No Strava data. Standing is not an issue, I just seem to be forced to stand sooner than other SS’s…even guys running a larger gear. I don’t own a road bike and do the majority of my riding on singletrack. I do do some training on the road on my MTB on the little hills that we have around here. I’m wondering if running a much larger gear than I normally would and focus on staying seated could potentially help with getting used to the stress of climbing long climbs considering I do not have them here.
 

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No Strava data. Standing is not an issue, I just seem to be forced to stand sooner than other SS's…even guys running a larger gear. I don't own a road bike and do the majority of my riding on singletrack. I do do some training on the road on my MTB on the little hills that we have around here. I'm wondering if running a much larger gear than I normally would and focus on staying seated could potentially help with getting used to the stress of climbing long climbs considering I do not have them here.
  • no long hills available
  • single speed
  • endurance events
  • mostly singletrack riding

The ride data can be useful for seeing what you're actually doing. It takes a lot of the guesswork out. As soon as you say mostly singletrack riding in this context that's something to review, particularly single speed, as how you ride is going to be dictated by the terrain. You could possibly be doing the same type of ride nearly all the time, at the same sort of pace. The more difficult and technical the singletrack the more on-off freewheeling, pauses and short bursts you will likely be doing. It's hard work and excellent practice but not much like a constant effort up a long gravel climb.

I was trying to think what might be useful to do given there are no long climbs nearby.:)

One thing might be to do some 100% standing riding. I.e. If you have a dropper leave the seat down or with a fixed post remove the saddle and seatpost altogether. That forces you to ride out of the saddle all the time for an entire ride. When I've done that in the past (broken seatpost or saddles rather than a deliberate session) it's been really hard on the arms! If you're forced to climb out of the saddle on long climbs then getting better at riding out of the saddle for long periods of time could help with that. As a single speeder you're probably really good at this already but it might help.

As you don't have suitable hills nearby to train on (offroad or road) adding some indoor turbo training sessions could help. What you can do with the turbo trainer is to both do focused workouts but also raise the front wheel of the bike (either with something like a Wahoo Kickr climb or some solid blocks) so that the bike is angled upwards as though you are riding a 10% gradient or steeper climb. When climbing you shift your weight on the bike and use slightly different muscles and technique to riding on the flat so by replicating this position on the turbo trainer it will be a little closer to the long climbs you are trying to prepare for.

Exercise machine Bicycle frame Wheel Leg Sports equipment


A key point is that you're doing long events so it's likely you're doing these gravel climbs after 5+ hours riding beforehand. For at least some of your interval sessions, turbo training etc working on fatigue resistance, such as in the articles linked in the thread below would be worth doing. This is where you build up some fatigue riding beforehand, as you would in a 100 mile endurance ride, and then do your main training when carrying some fatigue to deal with it better. You'd do your normal singletrack ride for example, and then once you get home hop straight onto the turbo trainer for an hour or two of virtual hill climbing. Turbo training is going to be more controlled and focused than road riding so could give better results for the time better put in.


For the actual interval training you probably want to be doing some variable intensity intervals like under- overs and also intervals that mix standing and seated riding, rather than just lots and lots of constant Z4 threshold work. :)
 

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Thank you for the detailed response!!!
Long time singlespeed endurance racer here and by far my weakest skill is riding long gravel climbs. I can shred the descents and power up all the steep singletrack climbs but the rest of the field walks away from me on long steady climbs. I have to stand where they can sit and spin. I live in a very flat area so I don't have access to anything remotely close to the things I encounter at the races but was wondering if there's anything I can be doing to help. I've made the podium at a few 100's and other endurance races but I lose so much dang time on the gravel. Help!
Longtime endurance SS racer here. I often race in areas like Pisgah forest and Mt Mitchell. I train in SE PA, we have plenty of short punchy climbs, but lack the long grinding climbs that Pisgah has to offer. One of the training tools I use around here is to run a small cog in my training. 34x16-17cog then race a 21 or 22 cog for races over 5k in climbing. this has worked well for me in the past.
 

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Have access to a gym? Leg press machine of some sort and find a weight that builds up a nice burn at 20-25 reps. Now go slightly heavier and do single leg presses in sets of 20 until you are making babbling noises.

No gym, walking lunges with same goal as above. Find a distance/weight combo (carry whatever you want) that gets that lactic acid burn at 30 seconds and repeat 45 second sets until you hate life.

Once thats done work the core to failure by your exercise of choice. You have to be able to lock your core into place to put big watts down on a SS.

Lastly, a technique I like to do on the climb itself is a sorta row motion when stomping in that 50-60rpm range… stomp,row,stomp,row… kinda feels like you are humping the bike up the hill


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