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  • Writer's pictureHolohan Coaching


Lockdown Strava has been fun. C’mon admit it!

Blimey I have had a couple of serious Queen of the Mountains ‘taken’ from me. Note: I count ‘serious’, by how hard I tried up them in a hill climb competition.

  1. Great Dun Fell, Pennines

  2. The Struggle, Ambleside

And, wait for it, by E-bikes!!

Hmm, the question is do I flag?! I imagine two women (separate rides / times) having a nice bike ride and enjoying the benefits of an E-Bike, nothing untoward, getting a QOM or two, then BOOM, and email notification “Your ride has been flagged” by a chimp stravaite. Nah! They can keep them :)

The fact that E-Bikes are getting people out and about and up into the hills is just brilliant. But, to the owners & developers of STRAVA....please can you make an E-Bike category!! The latest thing I hear about is “live segments”. Yes, on your wahoo / garmin you can virtually race the QOM / KOM, seeing in live time whether you are ahead or behind of the winning time. What happened to enjoying the view?!! Or, even better, learning to listen to your body and go by feel. Each climb is different. Hiding behind a computer takes away a huge qualitative piece of data, RPE (Rate of Perceived Effort), it is very hard to listen to your body and get to know how you respond to varying gradients and lengths of climb whilst looking at a screen. Humans are rubbish at muti-tasking (read Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness).

And, does it teach you proper pacing? No! As everyone knows, a hill climb must be paced, build up acidosis* too quickly and you will die a million deaths on the top ramps. Chasing a screen telling you if you are 10sec behind of 1sec ahead is just going to lead to some epic blow-outs! Although makes a funny story to regale.

It amazes me that Hill Climb Competitions are not over-subscribed! If cyclists go this degree to chase a QOM/KOM then why not sign up to your local hill climb and test yourself under pure competition standards. Taking a “legendary” KOM/QOM with a massive tailwind off a load of pros doesn’t make you a better cyclist than them. But, turning up to a competition and facing the fear and pressure of winning / losing takes courage. Turning yourself inside out in front of spectators and being cheered along, no matter your performance, is uplifting. It strips away the ego. Committing to a training programme so that you peak for those events takes you from being a “local legend” to a “competitor” and athlete.

Moving on. I have another thought! Does this mean ‘Live Segments’ will be used on Hill Climb competitions?! Is this an unfair advantage to those who have the right bike computer to those who don’t? What happened to old school riding by feel, no technology. On the track (velodrome) computers are not allowed on bikes under competition rules, as they are seen to give an unfair advantage...hmmm... I see some correlations !! Or, maybe, there isn’t an advantage, listening to my body and riding without a computer has always elicited my best performances.

Strava Segments have their place in training, I don’t deny that I have three climbs in my area, which I test my power over various times on. These segments are ridden headwind / tailwind; heatwave / depths of winter, it doesn’t matter, because I am looking for my relative power personal bests over 1min, 5min, 10min and so on. Generally I keep these rides where I truly smash a segment, private. I am a competitive athlete after all ;)

STRAVA has been a life-saver in lockdown, motivating me for timed efforts in training. And, whilst my chimp is still jumping up and down about Great Dun Fell (GDF) and The Struggle, my human couldn’t care less :)

MYWINDSOCK...... Let's talk business. ‘Live Segments’ is one thing, but PLANNING your QOM / KOM is just eye popping! I love this! It’s bloody amazing. So, you insert your chosen Strava Segment into this cool piece of software called “mywindsock” (it’s cheap to sign up to), it tells you your predicted time based on the weather forecast. You insert your weight, bike weight, and if you use a power meter, your watts for a given time. Bloody brilliant! It has me laughing!

I love a hill climb event, taking part. Same day. Same weather. A fair test! Lets face it, if there is a headwind, then there is a headwind for everyone! Some people love a Strava Segment, I love a Course Record haha.

Talking of which, course records get discussed in detail amongst hill climbers. Everyone KNOWS the conditions of ‘said’ CR on a hill back in 2008 (for example), it is common knowledge if a storm blew the winner on a HC into a mind-blowing CR. So.....should there be a ‘cap’ on CR’s depending on wind speed?! Should CR’s only be recognised with an average wind speed and direction for that course?! Now we are getting pedantic. Is there someone out there wanting to create a database of course records for all Open Hill Climbs and the weather on the day, wind direction, air temperature, speed. Then we can all feel loads better when we don’t get the Course Record! week is the first hill climb event on Longstone and a closed road. It’s going to be brilliant! Pinning a number on! But the tech! Crikey, as competitors upload their rides on their wahoos, live segments will almost practically be LIVE!! And, what about Garmin users. “Manual Upload” oh dear, enough said.

Personally, I will choose not to ride with a pacing aid on hill climb competitions, choosing to mount by bike computer under my saddle so Liam has data (we missed out from key data from my win at Monsal Hill Climb and Peaslows Hill Climb last year).

It is all tongue and cheek, making hill climbing a fun scene, and now as we can’t all chat and mingle in the same way at events, SOCIAL DISTANCING applies, at least we have something else to unite us.....MYWINDSOCK ;)

So, dose up on some sportsmanship, sign up to Cycling Time Trials and enter your local hill climb. Join in the fun.

*Liam recently informed me "lactic acid" doesn't exist in the body!? It's an old myth that won't die!

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