An uphill battle

@jesseransom , I like that way of thinking about it!

I can relate to the idea of banking some energy for the descent, similar to a long slog into a headwind when you know you’re going to be coming back with it.

Different people find different terrain more or less challenging. I know plenty of riders who hate climbs and love the flats, and many the other way round.

It’s a very good point about the air pressure and the rate that it increases disproportionately much higher compared to speed. This is why during hillier Time Trials, it can be faster to ‘push’ more on the uphills and save a bit and tuck in more on the downhills. The additional power used on the climb will proportionally get you more speed than if that extra power was used on the flat. For example, going from 100 watts to 200 watts on the flat might get you from 10mph to 20mph, but to get to 30mph you might need 400 watts. Whereas on a climb, the impact of air resistance is limited and the gradient is the main factor to overcome, so more power goes a bit more directly to more speed.

Apologies if a bit of a ramble, hope that makes sense


Great paper, I enjoyed the reading. I mostly train outdoors on flat terrain, but after a few training sessions in the Texas Hill country, my Bicep Femoris was fatigued and sore vs my other muscles.

How does your research impact the training targets in G.O.A.T, where the cadence targets are set lower than comfortable?

1 Like

what’s your definition of “comfortable”? imo in this context it strongly depends on preference. I love riding the low cadences in GOAT while the third interval in Defender just about kills me. for other riders it may be just the other way round…



Those 45/50rpms in GOAT are a killer. Defender I find easy (“easy”).

G.O.A.T. = Not out of breath, yet dying
Defender = Very out of breath, still dying


The power needed to move through the air at higher speeds is near enough related to the cube of speed, which is even more terrifying!

From the research paper, the optimal RPM for power output ~90rpm. I used the word comfortable, but maybe should have said optimal.

If you want to model it more exactly:


@Coach.Andy.T I am buying what you are selling. Just finished a 50 mile MTB race with 8000 feet of climbing and set a new PR about 30 minutes better than the old one. All of the time gains were on the climbs - there wasn’t much more to gain from the descents and despite starting and ending at the same place there was a lot more time spent climbing.


So as part of the wider reading, the consensus from multiple studies was that different RPMs affect muscle activity but I haven’t looked into how an increase or decrease in RPM affects specific muscles and I would expect it to vary from person to person.

Significantly lower RPM than normal could possibly lead to greater activation of the agonist muscles on the down and upstroke as it’s akin to a lifting session on the bike with the higher torque so muscle fibre recruitment is likely to be greater.

I think with G.O.A.T, because it’s quite a specialist torque session and you’re unlikely to be doing those sorts of RPM/Watt efforts during competition, that training targets won’t be any different. The intensity and duration of the efforts makes them manageable, but the low RPM could increase RPE due to it being unfamiliar

1 Like

One thing common in low RPM efforts is that HR/cardiovascular load is significantly lower than efforts your usual RPM for the same power, but torque and muscular strain is higher so feels tough. Likewise, high RPM efforts lead to higher HR relative to power as the cardiovascular load is higher.

Correct. The coefficient of drag is directly linked to the velocity squared, so as the speed increase the drag increases at a factor or two. So 10mph to 20mph goes from let’s say a drag of 10, up to 20 (not correct numbers). But from 20mph to 30mph drag goes from 20 up to 40. Same increase in speed, much larger increase in drag (air density specifically)

1 Like

MTB especially in terms of where to do your efforts. Technical descents are more skill than raw power (although I’m not an MTB expert so if I’m wrong please correct me) so using your efforts on the climbs will make a big difference.

For more about the pacing and where to use efforts, Neal Henderson recently did an interview/podcast with Prof Ross Tucker in ‘The Real Science of Sport Podcast’. They discussed some of the pacing for Rohan Dennis at the Tokyo Olympics and how he paced on the climbs especially


It is interesting how well the Dutch climb considering the lack of hills there. It seems riding in windy conditions can simulate the additional effort of a hill.


Awesome read Coach, thanks for that!
However, my issue is that anything over a Zero gradient on the trainer really bothers my soft tissues, I’m talking complete numbness. I’ve actually had to remove the block from my front wheel.

The search for a better saddle continues, and I suspect this is the issue. I’m sure I’m not alone on this.

1 Like

Is it possible your saddle angle needs adjusting downward a degree or two? Have you tried those saddles with the stubby noses or the ones with big cutouts? Since getting my Kickr Climb, I find I prefer having the gradient at almost anything higher than 0.

I’m waiting on a saddle with a cut out at the moment. Right now the saddle is at a near Zero angle (I’ve had a pro fit done.)

I’m also due for a new fit, Lady Sabrina and I are going in for one in the next two months.


I would suggest that it’s not so much the windy conditions simulating that, but potentially riding in a more tucked up aerodynamic position as that closes off the hip angle in a similar way that can happen during climbing. Additionally, many of the top dutch climbers do live and train in hillier places


A cut out or stubby nosed saddle can help, additionally angling down a little bit. But of course if you’ve had a specialist bike fit that’s sorted out a comfortable position for you, make note of the original setup before making any changes. Rotating forward on the saddle when getting low or hunched when climbing can put more pressure on the perineum