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How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs?
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I live along the Gulf Coast. On a typical 50 mile ride, I get around 450ft of elevation.

I want to do IM Chattanooga, but there is over 4000 ft of elevation in that one. In fact, it seems most IMs have lots of elevation.

Question: How do I train for the elevations when I have none around me? And for those that have done Choo, how bad are those climbs?
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Low cadence drills...don't say its flat where you ride, use the brakes if necessary...
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Do you have a powermeter? If so, I feel that riding hills is way overrated! If you have the proper gearing, just know what power you should be hitting. Hills for running on the other hand are very necessary for a hillier IM course.


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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [pots4] [ In reply to ]
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pots4 wrote:
Low cadence drills...don't say its flat where you ride, use the brakes if necessary...

Ha! Well F me. I kept reading that triathletes should have a higher cadence, so I have been doing high cadence drills for the past month to get my rpm's up to the 90rpm range.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Not sure exactly where you are on the gulf coast, but I live in pancake flat Houston and have done IMCdA, IM Lake Placid, Syracuse 70.3, Oceanside 70.3, and Chatt 70.3; all with lots of climbing. Unfortunately, it's not easy for me to get hill work in as it usually means driving over an hour away from Houston every Saturday to get to areas with hills. None of the hills I did where as big as anything I did in any of those races, but they were short and punchy and surprisingly got me ready. I've been told that you can also simulate hills when riding flatland by sitting up and shifting into a much higher gear and doing intervals. I have friends that have gotten ready for hill races that way.

My other suggestion, don't let your ego get in the way and change your gearing. I used a compact crank (50-34) with an 11-28 cassette and never had any issues. I'm a really high spinner and the 34-28 let me keep a high spin. My thought process is that is always better to have a lower gear and not need it, then to need it and not have it.

As I mentioned, I did the 70.3 in chatt last year, and I thought the hills weren't bad at all. The rollers are perfectly spaced so if you stay aggressive on the downhills, you will carry a lot of momentum up the next one. Even my sister (who is a very weak cyclist) exceeded her expectations by gearing properly and staying aggressive on the downhill portions.

Good Luck!
Last edited by: HoustonAg: Apr 13, 18 8:04
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [natethomas] [ In reply to ]
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natethomas wrote:
Do you have a powermeter? If so, I feel that riding hills is way overrated! If you have the proper gearing, just know what power you should be hitting. Hills for running on the other hand are very necessary for a hillier IM course.

I am a runner and have no problems with hills Running. That is why I like Choo.

I do not have a power meter.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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BRIDGES!

I used to run and ride the bridges going over larger water ways. Some have like a 13% grade and are quite large. Even small ones - start at the bottom - and basically start climbing from a dead stop. Ull get worked haha
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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On a trainer. Watts are watts. If you have the resistance you can slow your cadence and emulate a tough climb. Or just spin at the wattage. Doesn't much make a difference if you're going up hill, down hill or through a loop de loop. It's all watt based.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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I had a similar dilemma - living in Dallas & training for IMCdA. Some things that helped me were lots of time on the trainer in the big ring & repeats on the one or two "hills" that were accessible. I was diligent in those two areas & felt totally prepared for the climbs in CdA.

Also, +1 on the benefits of the powermeter for this type of stuff.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [cmd111183] [ In reply to ]
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I 2nd the trainer. Sit up and lower your cadence. I usually spin at 100 rpm in road race kind of scenarios so lower it to about 85 to 80 for hill stuff on the trainer.

GCN show has some hill climb cadence videos in the 30min range. If needing more than 30min, lower the power or RPE and repeat the video.

I'd lookup the segments on Strava to see what the longest or steepest hill is and make sure you at least do some intervals at that length of time.

I'm training for Mt. Mitchell and it's......interesting.

Good luck!
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Spartan420 wrote:
I live along the Gulf Coast. On a typical 50 mile ride, I get around 450ft of elevation.

I want to do IM Chattanooga, but there is over 4000 ft of elevation in that one. In fact, it seems most IMs have lots of elevation.

Question: How do I train for the elevations when I have none around me? And for those that have done Choo, how bad are those climbs?

I live on the Gulf Coast and my next IM has over 6500 ft gain. I'm not the least bit concerned as I do long climbs on the trainer all the time with Rouvy (Cyclops Virtual Trainer). Just pick your route in the Alps or Pyrenees and let the suffering begin. I haven't looked but I bet the Chattanooga course and video are in the library.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [HuffNPuff] [ In reply to ]
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HuffNPuff wrote:
Spartan420 wrote:
I live along the Gulf Coast. On a typical 50 mile ride, I get around 450ft of elevation.

I want to do IM Chattanooga, but there is over 4000 ft of elevation in that one. In fact, it seems most IMs have lots of elevation.

Question: How do I train for the elevations when I have none around me? And for those that have done Choo, how bad are those climbs?


I live on the Gulf Coast and my next IM has over 6500 ft gain. I'm not the least bit concerned as I do long climbs on the trainer all the time with Rouvy (Cyclops Virtual Trainer). Just pick your route in the Alps or Pyrenees and let the suffering begin. I haven't looked but I bet the Chattanooga course and video are in the library.


Rouvy has the Choo route, but not the video. I tried it out just for that. Using a classic trainer, would I want to try to maintain a certain speed going up the hills on the rouvy as a way to measure affect, or something else? again, I have no power meter or smart trainer.
Last edited by: Spartan420: Apr 13, 18 11:45
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [burnthesheep] [ In reply to ]
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burnthesheep wrote:
I 2nd the trainer. Sit up and lower your cadence. I usually spin at 100 rpm in road race kind of scenarios so lower it to about 85 to 80 for hill stuff on the trainer.

GCN show has some hill climb cadence videos in the 30min range. If needing more than 30min, lower the power or RPE and repeat the video.

I'd lookup the segments on Strava to see what the longest or steepest hill is and make sure you at least do some intervals at that length of time.

I'm training for Mt. Mitchell and it's......interesting.

Good luck!

Super noob question: Do you do the climbs in real life sitting up or in aero?
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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I live outside of NOLA (pancake flat) and have done IM Chatt. The bike course was mostly rollers / false flat type terrain, only 1 longish climb coming out of Chickamauga. As others have mentioned, if you are riding with a power meter and shifting early/often the bike ride shouldn't be a problem. For me, the hilly run course was a much more significant challenge....
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Bummer that it doesn't have the video, but I don't think Rouvy is a good match if you don't have a smart trainer. With a regular trainer I would spend a lot of time doing big gear work at low cadence to build climbing strength. I still use my old Spinervals Competition DVDs and recommend the following:
#7 - The Uphill Grind
#11 - Big Gear Strength
#24 - Hillacious
#41 - Ascending Mountains in Leadville, CO

These were all designed and filmed for regular trainers. If you work them hard per Coach Troy's instructions you'll be just fine.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Trainer. Big gear intervals at 40 rpm. Hardest gear you can manage.
I usually do 1:1 interval to rest, so 1min grind, 1min spin, 2 and 2, etc.
I also do combo sessions of say:
5x[1min grind, 1min easy]
5x[1min TT effort (and cadence), 1min easy
Repeat as 3x2min.
and keep going up the ladder if you are even fitter and have more time.

I did 60x[1min grind, 1min easy] before... that was a fun one.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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I don't know the Chattanooga course but 4000' of gain in 112 miles doesn't sound very hilly to me. At least not implying that there are a lot of extended climbs over 10% where you may be forced to go below your ideal cadence. If most of the hills are in the 3-6% range, then just make sure you have adequate gearing given your power and weight. You should be able to spin up those types of hills in the aerobars at your preferred cadence. Or if you prefer to climb out of the aerobars, then just do portions of your training rides while on the horns to ensure that position is comfortable enough for you.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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I live in a flat area and love to travel to hilly races. For long climbs like the ones on the Aple D'huez long course tri I did a lot of turbo work. Thirty to forty minutes reps of high resistance work, ten minutes easy and back to the high resistance again.

For courses with short sharp hills I try and find the few very short lumps in the road where I live, ride the to the bottom and start from an almost stand still in the gear I would ride up the hill in had a flying start. No idea if it's any good but I got around my target races. Also shorter intervals of high intensity and resistance on the turbo.

At the end of the day fitness is fitness. A lot to the guys in the flat area I live in crush the hilly races by just being super fit.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Jason N] [ In reply to ]
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Jason N wrote:
I don't know the Chattanooga course but 4000' of gain in 112 miles doesn't sound very hilly to me. At least not implying that there are a lot of extended climbs over 10% where you may be forced to go below your ideal cadence. If most of the hills are in the 3-6% range, then just make sure you have adequate gearing given your power and weight. You should be able to spin up those types of hills in the aerobars at your preferred cadence. Or if you prefer to climb out of the aerobars, then just do portions of your training rides while on the horns to ensure that position is comfortable enough for you.

I agree. If the hills are not too steep for your gearing, you can ride them at your normal cadence -- so low cadence work isn't necessary. What is different about uphill is that you do not have as much momentum to help you get your pedals over your dead spots -- the lower your cadence, the more apparent this becomes. So if you normally ride at a low cadence, uphill will feel a lot different. To me the best way to simulate this is to ride on a dumb trainer that does not have much (or any) of a flywheel -- get into a gear big enough to make you work at the cadence you expect to ride and get used to it.

The main thing is to be conservative on your gearing. If you have 1 mile uphill and one mile downhill on a course and you lose 1 mph (7 mph instead of 8) going uphill because you do not have an easy enough gear, you will lose over a minute. If going downhill you run out of gears and have to glide at 35 mph instead of pedaling at 40 mph, you lose only 17 seconds. Plus, the too high/low of gear is a gift that keeps giving/punishing afterward. You will burn some matches grinding the high gear going up that will cost you later; having (?) to rest when you don't have a steep enough gear going down will let you make up a little bit of the 17 seconds when the road flattens out.

So get your setup (e.g., compact up front and at least a 28 or 30 in back) and find the closest place you can drive to that has a hill of about the same steepness and duration as the hardest hill for your race and see how it feels. If you have a power meter, ride your normal power. If you use HR, ride your normal HR. If you ride RPE, ride your normal RPE (careful here judging your RPE near the bottom of the hill because part of your brain will be trying to override your sensations because you will be going slower than normal). OK, do you have enough gear ratio to maintain both your normal cadence and your normal power/HR/RPE? Do you have a good margin of error (because in your race you will need to riding at a lower % of FTP than you can on a training day and because you may hit a hill during a bad stretch)? If yes and yes, you're good. Otherwise go back and adjust. In either case, you can go to your race with confidence.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Spartan420 wrote:
burnthesheep wrote:
I 2nd the trainer. Sit up and lower your cadence. I usually spin at 100 rpm in road race kind of scenarios so lower it to about 85 to 80 for hill stuff on the trainer.

GCN show has some hill climb cadence videos in the 30min range. If needing more than 30min, lower the power or RPE and repeat the video.

I'd lookup the segments on Strava to see what the longest or steepest hill is and make sure you at least do some intervals at that length of time.

I'm training for Mt. Mitchell and it's......interesting.

Good luck!


Super noob question: Do you do the climbs in real life sitting up or in aero?

sitting up, once you get to a slower speed the amount of power needed to overcome the drag is no big deal
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Cookiebuilder] [ In reply to ]
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Cookiebuilder wrote:

sitting up, once you get to a slower speed the amount of power needed to overcome the drag is no big deal

I definitely sit up. I am good at otherwise staying in aero, but I really like the break from it on the uphills . . .

BUT, I have often wondered about this. The common wisdom is that the slower you go, the more time savings you get from being aero (by that I mean in total amount of time saved, not % of time saved). Assuming this adage applies even to as slow as I go up hill, there would be a significant advantage in having a comfortable enough aero position that you could sustain for the whole 112 (or 56 or whatever).
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Spartan420 wrote:
pots4 wrote:
Low cadence drills...don't say its flat where you ride, use the brakes if necessary...


Ha! Well F me. I kept reading that triathletes should have a higher cadence, so I have been doing high cadence drills for the past month to get my rpm's up to the 90rpm range.
Not sure where you read triathletes should be doing high cadence? Maybe Olympic but half and full IM you should be leaning towards a lower cadence below the 90 range.
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Look at my most recent ride. Do that a few times, I got 780 ft in 25 miles. You'll be just fine in Chattanooga, I rode there and it's doable

strava
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Re: How to Train for IM with Climbs in an Area with no Climbs? [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Spartan420 wrote:
I live along the Gulf Coast. On a typical 50 mile ride, I get around 450ft of elevation.

I want to do IM Chattanooga, but there is over 4000 ft of elevation in that one. In fact, it seems most IMs have lots of elevation.

Question: How do I train for the elevations when I have none around me? And for those that have done Choo, how bad are those climbs?

IM Chatt is not a "hilly" bike course by IM standards. That run course on the other hand...
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