Friday, June 12, 2009

Goals continued and climbing

I would like my next major ride to be a border-to-border along the Rockies. PAC does this tour occasionally and as far as I know they are the only ones who do it at the pace I need. It is unlike to happen in 2010 and maybe not in 2011. Whether I will wait that long for another major ride is still open. But I really want to ride border-to-border down the Rockies.

That ride has a some long days and some very long, steep climbs. This year I am focused on gaining strength, gain flexibility and losing weight. Weight is always a fascination with cyclists especially when climbing a lot is involved.

The basic formula for success in climbing is the ratio of power in watts/weight in kg. You can get crazy focusing on weight and not realize that unless you are racing and are very strong it just doesn't make that much difference.

Let's take climbing Lefthand Canyon (LHC) which is 16.5 miles long, an average grade of 4.2% and a climb of 3573 feet. If you generate 170 watt average, have a 20 lb bike (including water bottles, seat bag, etc) and you weigh 175 lbs you will climb LHC in 1 hr and 56 mins (to the nearest minute). At 165 lbs, 1 hr and 51 minutes and at 155, 1 hr and 46 min. So the difference in weighing 20 lbs is 10 minutes longer in the climb.

However, if you generate 200 watt average then 175 lbs=1:41; 165=137; and 155=1:33. So increasing your power 17% drops the time 15 minutes. That is 5 minutes faster than if you lost 20 lbs (11%) of body weight.

If you generate 210 watts (my goal for 2 hours) then at 175 lbs=1:37; 165=1:33; and 155=1:29.

So if you weigh 175 lbs increasing your power by 24% (40/170) will reduce your climb on LHC by 19 minutes. If you were able to lose 20 lbs, 11% (20/175) body weight, and kept your power the same you would only reduce your climb by 10 minutes. In my mind power comes first. While hard as the devil, increasing power by 24% is easier than losing 20 lbs. In the first year with Mike I increased my maximum power 40% although certainly not my 2 hr average power.

Where this really gets silly is looking for the lightest possible bike. I wanted to replace my Ultegra 10 speed, triple drive chain and shifters with a Dura Ace Compact 10 speed set saving over a pound but at a cost greater than $1,000. I calculated out the gear ratios to see what I lost on the lowest gear and it wasn't too much. I figured with that pound saving I would be flying over the mountains. Then I calculated the time up LHC at a pound lighter and found it saved only 33 seconds. What the hell. On nearly a two hour climb a $1,000+ of new equipment would save me 33 seconds.

I'd way rather have that $1,000 to spend on food going from Canada to Mexico than saving 33 second every couple of hours of climbing.

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