Climbing to the Top
Climbing can be one of the toughest yet most enjoyable aspects of road cycling.
longer climbs, then you should consider a compact crankset. Shimano, Campagnolo and FSA now offer compact models. They come with a 50-tooth big ring and 34- or 36-tooth inner ring. The 34-tooth chainring with the 25 & 27 rear cogs give you the ability to maintain a higher cadence on steeper climbs without resorting to a triple chainring crankset. With the proper gearing installed you can climb the long and steep hills much more efficiently. This increased efficiency will go a long way to improving your climbing position in your club peloton.
The latest rage in wheelsets is to create the wheels that are extremely light while still sturdy and stable enough for rough roads and fast descents. Some now weigh less than 1kg, for both wheels! Most climbing-specific wheelsets have a rim depth of 30mm or less. There are a few very light wheel sets with rim depths of 50mm, but they are closer to the ‘aerodynamic’ category and that’s for another article. There’s a famous quote about bicycle components by Keith Bontrager: “Strong, light, cheap. Pick two.” So unfortunately for the consumer of light wheels, there is no low end of the price range. In the ‘middle’ of the price range ($1100 USD; €925) is the Mavic ‘Ksyrium ES.’ This wheel set is an update of the proven Ksyrium SSC design. The ES version saves a few more grams by going with a shallower & lighter front rim as well as lighter hubs. It totals 1485 grams for the set. Other great choices in this price & weight range include the Zipp ‘303,’ Shimano ‘WH-7800,' and Reynolds 'Stratus-DV.’ At the high end of the climbing wheel set is the Lightweight ‘Ventoux.’ It’s constructed of a shallow carbon rim with a kevlar/carbon spoking system that never needs truing. The hubs have carbon bodies. It’s tough enough for riders up to 100kg. At 950 grams [the only UCI approved wheelset below 1kg] and $5500 USD [€4575] its in a category all its own.
You’ll notice the greatest improvement with a lighter wheel set. After you’ve done that and are looking for more weight savings, there are plenty of other ways to lighten your ride. Cranksets, brake calipers, and seatposts are the areas where you can save the most weight. A great source for these lightweight parts and builds is at Weight Weenies [ http://weightweenies.starbike.com] but also check out our advertisers for places to shop. These parts will also lighten your wallet, so spend wisely. Remember that improving your fitness and reducing your body weight are the cheapest ways to maximize your watts per kilogram!
Altitude training is quickly becoming an often talked-about training tool. It’s still not mentioned or used as much as a power meter, but it can still be a great training tool. In studies, researchers Dr. Ben Levine and Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen, have shown that altitude training improves performance by as much as 5% (Levine). Five percent is quite a bit when it comes to climbing. For example in the 2004 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong won the