Hills in the Real World

Well, that was a bit of a shock to the system. I replied to a thread on Facebook the other day about cycling and how most people loathe the Turbo Trainer saying that I actually quite like mine.

I said something along the lines of

  • It’s more time efficient
  • There’s less to set up and get ready
  • It’s more controllable
  • It’s better from a targeted training aspect
  • It keeps my road bike nice and shiny for the summer
  • I can do something else such as catch up on podcasts whilst doing it.
  • There’s less laundry to do afterwards

However, yesterday I had a brick session planned that involved 5x 6 minute hill reps on the bike followed by a 20 minute run off the bike. I could have replicated this on the Turbo Trainer but it was a nice(ish) day and I had to get into Aberystwyth so I decided to had out on my bike in the real world, do the set session and use it as transport into Aberystwyth as well.

The bike portion didn’t feel easy though. I started off into the wind along the golf course and then headed up onto the steep 25% gradient hill out of Borth. I don’t do this hill very often and it is never easy, but yesterday it was downright difficult. I made it to the top though and continued on my way. This climb is of course a Strava segment and according to my data I did it yesterday in a time of 6:18, way off my personal best of 5:10. The overall record is an impressive 4:17, a time that I will never achieve.

Next up was an easy ride into Llangorwen and then the planned hill reps. I decided to do them on the Llangorwen Hill from the humpback bridge up to the top as they were supposed to be 6 minutes long and my PB on this climb is 5:43. That should be about right then. Once again I was way off that pace though so didn’t quite do the whole hill and turned around a little early. It was fairly hard work, especially by the 4th and 5th time but I was enjoying it in a strange kind of way. As I was continuing on into Aberystwyth I did the whole hill on the last rep which was completed in a time of 6:56. again a long way off my previous PB. I do have the excuse of it being my fifth rep this time though and the fact that it is still winter and so I was wearing quite a bit of clothing which never really helps. However, even with the excuses it would seem clear to me that I need to do some more work on the bike in the real world.

The work on the Turbo Trainer does help, but as I use TrainerRoad workouts these days I tend to stick at the same gradient or resistance on the Turbo Trainer and only adjust the efforts and power outputs for each interval based on cadence and gearing rather than slope / resistance. Once out in the real world it is the wind and hills that make a difference and these can’t so easily be replicated indoors.

On a positive note though I did have quite a good run off the bike afterwards. Nothing fast or long but a challenging hilly run on which I managed to post a Course Record on a Strava Segment. I didn’t know it was a segment whist doing it mind you and I could definitely have gone faster, so that will be one to aim for on another day.

I’m certainly not feeling like a proper triathlete at the moment though so there is a lot of work to do before race season rolls around – and it’s getting closer all the time. It will soon be time to lose some weight and start focusing on strength and then speed. I wonder if I’ll get anywhere near as fast as I was last year?

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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