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I've got a seven day cycling session in the Alps coming up in about a month. Unfortunately, I've not been great about getting on the bike in the past month (or even the past year, to be honest). From many years of cycling, my fitness is still quite good — enough that I had a great double century last month, before I took a month-long break. But I'm still far short of where I'd like to be, especially in the climbs.

What can I do over the next month to maximize my climbing endurance for this trip? On average, a day will be about 8kft of climbing, with the biggest day being somewhere around 16kft. Should I be focusing on long-distance riding at endurance pace? Hour-long hill repeats? Something else? If you had a month to prepare, what would you do?

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    Given the base you have, I'm thinking the hill repeats are the way to go. Be careful not to overdo it. – andy256 Jun 18 '15 at 22:10
  • Could you clarify what you mean by "climbing endurance?" I assume sustained long climbs, but is it at a constant pace or will there be periods of maximal output (aka surges). Can you adjust your pace if need be, or must you hit a particular pace or be dropped? If it's constant pacing of your choosing, given your base, you may simply need practice pacing long climbs so you don't blow yourself up. – Rider_X Jun 19 '15 at 17:45
  • I want to complete these climbs at as fast a speed as I am capable, seven days back to back to back. I'll be with other riders, but outside of competitive spirit, the climbs will be at each rider's individual pace. We regroup at the summit of each climb. – Stephen Touset Jun 19 '15 at 17:50
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I'd say you could go with HIIT (high intensity intervals) on a treadmill. For example a particular training I like and find helpful is:

6-8 sets of:

  1. 1 minute very fast (18km/h for me)
  2. 1 minute middle speed (12km/h in my case)
  3. 1 minute slow (8-9 km/h)

and no stops in between.

That's a very good yet pretty hard training. Do not more than twice a week.

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Appart from training you should make sure that you have enough easy gears available. Being able to pedal (relatively) easy with high cadence does make a lot of difference, both in efficiency and endurance. If your gears allow you to do that then I also don’t think that there is much specialiced training you can/should do for climbing.

Using something like the typical road bike gears with 53/39 chainrings and 11–25 cogs in the alps is a bad idea. But I guess you know that already.

  • I've actually bought a compact crankset a few days ago for exactly this reason. Thanks! – Stephen Touset Jun 19 '15 at 17:51
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Since you already have a great base, I think you will see the most benefit from doing some high intensity intervals and some moderate intensity hill repeats. Just remember to taper way down and don't do anything too intense in the week before your trip!

  • The problem is, I don't feel like I have a great base. :( – Stephen Touset Jun 19 '15 at 20:55

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