Warm Climbs

Who is waiting at your mountaintop?

21“My mother was there on the last kilometre today. She was with me during the bad times and I dedicate this day to her.” Marco Pantani, Il Pirata, celebrating his last mountain victory in the Tour de France, July 2000

How would you climb a mountain if you knew your favorite person, one who loves you unconditionally, awaited your arrival? That’s a double whammy of warmth. Of course if you’ve headed to warm climes, you’re all set for loads of uphill time, but I know from making it through tough Colorado winters that it’s possible to train in the mountains all year. The descents are wicked cold of course, so it’s best to plan either a rendezvous point with a driver or do a series of short climbs with quick downhills. Either way, climbing is an essential part of winter base training.

Adding the extra resistance of uphill work is the next fitness progression. Mountains may not be available but over-gearing into headwinds or on hills adequate for repeats heat up your pace from 22piano andante to sostenuto adagio. Sustained muscular endurance is the goal of this period and can be coupled with low rep/multiple set weight training in the gym.

Some climbers steer clear of weight training favoring resistance on the bike only. Certainly, climbing on the bike is the most specific adaptation: gaining muscular strength for climbing is best gained by climbing. Resistance training off the bike may benefit cardiorespiratory endurance by improving cardiac output through stronger heart contractility. An argument can be made in either case with consideration to an athlete’s strengths, goals and time available. Ultimately, one must climb a lot!

This is only one phase of climbing prowess, but it lays some important ground work. Winter climbing is a bit of a fairytale experience and the wintry environment is energizing, from icy mists to silent solitude. I remember facing a familiar scene one chilly morning when all the world was frosted in bluish cubes Picasso-like. Still, I was plenty warm up that Purple mountains majesty. Maestoso!

Prayer for Strength Endurance/Climbing Fitness
“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.” 23Psalm 121:1-2

We are grateful for enjoyable ways to build strength. We ask for opportunities to ride uphill, scout important climbs, become more powerful.

Ponder Am I factoring in strength as an advanced element of endurance? Affirm I am a better climber as a result of climbing. Watch for that uphill mojo with more vertical miles.

21quoted in “Biography for Marco Pantani,” by Internet Movie Data Base on http://www.imdb.com. He was nicknamed “The Pirate” because of his shaved head, bandana, and gold earring, and I submit, his swashbuckling climbing abilities that caused many others to walk the plank off-the-back. Part of a small group of cyclists to win the Tour de France and the Giro D’Italia in the same year.

22piano andante is long, slow riding to sostenuto adagio, sustained work generally characterized by overgeared, low cadence, tempo. Maestoso means Majestic in Italian.

23The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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