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cycle train for hilly event

How to cycle train on the bike for a hilly event WITHOUT hills

Something I get asked about regularly is how to train on the bike for a hilly event without hills where I live. Living in Norfolk which is one of the flattest counties in the UK I feel I am best placed to be able to answer this.

Firstly I would always tell an athlete that the fitter that they can get on the bike then the easier it will be to climb those hills. Many people get too hung up on specificity and often neglect the basics. If you can increase your FTP and work on the length of time you can hold percentages of that then you don’t have to train on hills.

Do you get dropped on the climbs by your mates?

When riders get dropped by their clubmates on the climbs they naturally think it is the lack of hill training that’s the problem. Maybe not…. It could be your lack of aerobic endurance. How you arrive at the foot of the climb will influence your performance during the climb. If you can arrive less fatigued and with a lower heart rate then you will climb faster.

Climb faster WITHOUT training harder?

This one is an easy win….

When the gradient goes up it is all about the Power to Weight ratio. If you can lose a few extra kilos then your power to weight ratio with improving and thus climb faster. Remember an extra 7watts is needed for every KG of weight.

Check out my weight loss for cyclists blog

What cycle sessions should I do to train for a hilly event?

 I would focus on plenty of Sweetspot work at a slightly lower cadence. This will be at the intensity you will be climbing at generally for longer climbs. I would also add the all-important zone 2 aerobic training as this will also play a part. If you can get to the start of the climbs in better shape then you will have more chance of doing better on the hills.

Check out what GCN recommend doing in your training to improve

As you get closer to your event I would also look to recreate the lengths of the climbs. You can also reduce the cadence as you go through the intervals to simulate the climb getting steeper nearer the top. Check out the workout below which is one that I created and is included within my Mallorca 312 training plans. Create your own one for your event and complete that in your training.

mallorca 312 training plan

If you have any questions then post in the comments below 👇🏻

James Walsgrove

My cycling career started in 2005 when I purchased my first road bike and I was immediately hooked. Since then I have completed numerous cycling challenges including Ironman, Lands’ End to John O Groats, Mt Ventoux (all 3 ascents), London to Paris, the BBAR challenge which included a 12hour TimeTrial and more recently the Mallorca 312.

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