December 18, 2019

The PBs Project: Some good early progress

Basin Olinda Road

This summer I’ve set myself the goal of ticking off a bunch of climbing PBs. I was keen for a project that would motivate me to ride more this summer, and so far it’s working. Here’s a bit of an update …

Over the past month or so I’ve attempted six PBs and I managed to take five of them:

The Crescent: From 11:44 to 10:38 (9.4% faster)
Montrose to Sky High: From 20:24 to 18:35 (8.9%)
Yarra Glen: From 10:01 to 9:25 (6%)
Basin-Olinda Road: From 26:22 to 21:36 (18.1%)
Terrys Avenue: From 16:10 to 14:56 (7.6%)

The one I fell short on — Main Road, Eltham — was desperately close: my previous best was 5:04 and I rode a 5:07.

For a list of all the climbs I’m targetting, with links to Strava files and other information, be sure to check out my PBs Project spreadsheet.

All in all I’m very happy with how the summer has started and with the improvements I’ve made. But I’m not getting ahead of myself — these are among the easiest PBs on my list.

I’ve ridden Main Road, Eltham hard — that’s reflected in the fact I wasn’t able to take that PB — but I’d never really given the other five a proper crack. And that’s why I was keen to tackle those ones first.

For starters, getting a few runs on the board just helps me to feel like I’m making progress. Even though it’s something of a false economy, it’s still satisfying to hit my targets and that motivates me for what’s next on the list. The other reason to do the “easier” ones first is so I can use them as training. Going full-gas on these easier climbs is essentially interval training for the harder climbs coming up.

By “harder” I mean the climbs I’ve already set PBs on a bunch of times and where doing so ahead will be very hard. They’re the ones at the bottom of my spreadsheet. The 1 in 20, Kinglake, Mt. Donna Buang — these are the ones that I need to be at my absolute best to set a PB on. That’s what I’m working towards.

I’ve got those harder climbs scheduled in for February and March, giving me enough time to build some more form. It also gives me enough time to sort out my bike.

As I mentioned when I introduced this project last time, most of my existing PBs on those tougher climbs were set with my Cannondale CAAD10 — a bike that’s a few kilos lighter than the Cannondale Synapse I’m riding at the moment. I’m in the process of refurbishing the CAAD10 which will put me back on equal footing to tackle some of those more challenging PBs.

Speaking of which, my goal is to lose a few kilograms in the lead up to those toughest PB attempts. Getting my power-to-weight ratio up is a surefire way of giving me the best chance of achieving all of these goals.

In summary, all is going well so far and I’m excited for the next little period. I’ve got some cool climbs coming up soon, particularly once I start carting my bike to the Aussie summer races in Geelong, Ballarat and Adelaide. I suppose I should pay another visit to Eltham at some point too …

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