Power uphill and sliding in the rain

Bradley Wiggins must be enjoying riding in the sun of California, resplendent in his yellow jersey. Much more preferable to  slipping all over wet Italian roads. 12 months ago, it was painful to watch Wiggins nervously descend Italian roads like he was on an old fashioned club run. But, 12 months on, it was good to see him putting out the power in the time trial and up the long mountain in sunny California. By contrast the Giro riders are having to deal with extraordinarily difficult conditions, which is leading to crashes all over the place. A times it appears more like a badly planned circus than a cycle race.

Here in the UK, we grumble about the rutted state of British roads. True the gravel and heavy roads slow you down, but at least you don’t have the ice-skating ring of Italian roads which seem to be doused with olive oil. There are so many crashes in the Giro this year, that you would think that if it was monkeys riding the Giro, it would get shut down for cruelty to animals.

falling-off-bike

Power on the Uphill

I can understand why light riders go quicker uphills. Less weight, increases your power to weight ratio. But, one thing I’m not quite sure is why is it much easier to put out more watts cycling uphill. In a recent hilly time trial, I was struggling to do 300 watts on the flat. If I made a big effort, I could do 310, 320. But, when the road went uphill, I could hold 360-370 watts. The last five minutes of the race I averaged just shy of 370 watts, because it was a 10% climb. If it was a flat five minutes I would have averaged 290, if I was lucky. The steeper the hill, the easier it is to put out more power.

Recently I did a one minute intervals, I went  flat out for a minute. But, despite making maximum effort, the power depended on the gradient. At the start it was flattish and I was getting 450, but when it became steep, it went up to 600 watts.

I’ve heard that some riders are more suited to putting out power on a climb. I wonder why or perhaps everyone experiences that.

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3 Responses to Power uphill and sliding in the rain

  1. James Barlow May 16, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Hi Tejvan,

    I looked into this myself a while back, the most usefull article I found that went some way to explaining was this:

    http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/09/climbing-and-time-trialling-how-power-outputs-are-affected/

    I did try to track down some of the research behind it, but must have got distracted. I may go back to it at somepoint!

    Hope it helps!

    • tejvan May 16, 2014 at 9:52 am #

      thanks James, I’ll check it out.

  2. J R May 19, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    This made me try to dig up an old article:

    http://myworldfromabicycle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/ideal-cadence-for-competitive-bicycling.html

    It states that for most unfit cyclists a cadence of 60(!) is the most efficient and even for very good amateurs a cadence of 80 is best. So perhaps when climbing you’re using a more efficient cadence.

    Interestingly in that link they stop at 350W and use athletes 69 Vo2 max, you’d have to imagine for a top pro like Wiggins with a vo2 of 90+ and power over 400W a cadence of 100 would be most effecient.

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