All five routes on Storming of Thunder Ridge involve the dreaded “c” word: climbing.
No worries… We asked Hunter Allen, Founder of Peaks Coaching Group and someone who has climbed Thunder Ridge over 100 times and lives only 3miles from the start of the climb. Hunter has coached riders in the Tour De France
Climbing, especially a big mountain, is all about pacing yourself. This means that at the bottom where it’s relatively flat in the first couple of miles, you should just maintain a nice endurance or tempo pace and not attack the beginning of the climb. You will have plenty of time to push yourself harder as you get close to the summit, which is where it will make more difference anyhow in your overall time. If you have a power meter, then you should ride between 80-95% of your FTP in order to have enough energy to finish strong. For those with a heart rate monitor, ride with your heart rate between 85-95% of your threshold HR in order to be strong in the finish. For the rest of you, if you had a scale of your perceived exertion from 0-10, with 10 being the hardest thing you have ever done, then you should ride around a 4-5.
Stay Relaxed and Focused
Relax your elbows, allow your shoulders to drop, slide back in the saddle and let your breathing become smooth and rhythmical. Get out of the saddle and stand every 5-6 minutes and climb for a little while standing, so that you can give other muscles a break. Don’t let others in the group force you to work beyond your comfort level too early in the climb. You don’t want to blow up. Remember, it’s over 13 miles to the top.
Watch your Cadence
If your cadence drops below 60rpm, you are using too much muscular force to pedal and that takes a lot of energy away from you, which you’ll be regretting at the end of the ride. Keep your cadence in the 65-80rpm range on the climb if you can, and that will load the cardiovascular system more than the muscular system.
Eat and Drink!
It’s very easy to forget to eat on the climb. You are focused on maintaining your pace, riding in your lane and relaxing while climbing. With so many things going on, you forget to eat! Make a mental note to eat at least 300 calories over the entire climb. More if you need it! Have a sports drink with electrolytes so that you can replace while climbing. Definitely stop at the top and re-fuel with all the great foods and drinks there. I am a big fan of pickle juice to prevent cramping, along with good healthy carbs and proteins. The weather at the top of the mountain can be 20 degrees cooler and getting cold on the descent can use up valuable calories that are needed to finish out the ride.
Remember to look around at the beautiful scenery. Smile and enjoy your day on the bike!