Very informative thread, some good reads in there
I have a practical question which will probably make the physiologists/ coaches/ hardcore racers cringe with frustration...
Background is an enthusiatic amateur and the honest answer is that consistency
of training quality/ volume will always be my downfall due to work/ family/ usual excuses, hence why my goals are exploring on the bike/ longer races and events for the satisfaction of completion rather than position.
Most of my local rides have lots of short sharp climbs and in races/ marathon events it is the short sharp climbs I particularly struggle with. As an example of what I mean by "short and sharp," I am talking about 15-20% average grade for 3-4 minutes. The surfaces of these climbs are rocky and rooty so the majority of time I need to pedal seated to maintain traction. On the particularly technical climbs I am having to admit defeat as I am right on the limits of my capabilities fitness wise and loosing momentum over the rocks/ roots.
I guess the question is how to improve seated 4 minute power? I also feel I lack the underlying strength to keep a reasonable cadence on these climbs. I realise these types of climbs will always be tough but how do you go about improving riding such steep climbs? What are the components of success in these situations? I feel my technical skills are ok but perhaps even this is a component to look at in some way? Is it simply a case of doing it more and more and it gradually getting easier (doesn't seem to be working so far!), hill repeats on these gradients, maybe even gradually higher gearing on lesser gradients to build up to the strength required on these really steep off-road climbs? The last option makes the most sense to me but I would be very grateful for any advice the far more knowledgeable on here may be able to offer.