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How close to 400 watts can a skinny lad get for hill climb season? I am going to find out and document it (as best I can) as I go. Project 400 is what I am going to call it because my imagination is clearly incredible…..

My favourite thing to do with a bike is ride it up hills. I am already number crunching/planning/getting excited for hill climb season. Before you dismiss me and think it is ages away yet…. It’s only EIGHT weeks until there are regular weekend hill climb events being held throughout the UK.

400 watts is the magic number for me. I plan to be right around the 60KG mark with my two main targets being the Scottish National Hill Climb and the British National Hill Climb. Ball park time wise the Scottish will be around 7 minutes and the British around 13 minutes. My aim is to be at the sharp end results wise and 400 watts *should* hopefully achieve that. I’ll use Project 400 as a little series to document the journey

Why 400 Watts Though?:

Let’s start with the daddy. The British National. It’s being held on Haytor Hill on October 27th 2019. The hill is near Exeter so is at the complete opposite end of the country to where I live. It’s closer to France than it is to Scotland.

Course Record = 12:24
Approx Requirements = 398watts – 6.6W/KG @ 60KG

12:24 was set by Ed Laverack last year (2018). It previously stood unbroken as a record since 1979!
Ed rides for Swift Carbon Pro Cycling after many years of riding for JLT Condor who unfortunately ended their pro team at the close of 2017 season.

Ed’s video gives a lot of amazing insight on how he accomplished it.

I know from Ed’s current videos/Strava that he is already under 60KG and producing over 380watts on long climbs. So this is me hunting down a pro and seeing just how close I can get power-to-weight wise in the real world. He has to be the favourite for this title seeing as he broke such a long standing record and this climb is un-characteristically long for a National HC. It suits him. But it suits me as well!

It’s not often we see pro’s publish all their data and such fine details but I’d hope Ed see’s this as a massive positive rather than a negative. Yeah, I can stalk him like a weirdo, and yeah, he is a professional. But that is the beauty of all of these online platforms we now use. You can see what people are doing to achieve amazing things. I also, obviously, like a crazy challenge and to get stuck in. Watch out Ed! Wales v Scotland on a hill that’s nearly in France.

Scottish National:

This year the Scottish appears to be at the Falkland hill climb on October 13th 2019. It was on the provisional calendar and on British Cycling events as being held at Dunning on “the Dragon” for a long time. It has now magically changed. I’m a bit gutted about it because the Dragon climb up toward Path of Condie is awesome and the road surface is OK. If my memory serves me correctly, the road surface up the Falkland climb is typically Scottish, AKA, fucking horrific.

No idea what the course record is from an events point of view. So using the Strava KOM data.
Time = 7:15
Approx Requirements = 390watts – 6.5W/KG @ 60KG

The Strava KOM is proper on this. So it is a great basis. From previous years National hill climbs (minus 2018 as it was a longer climb), the winning rides have been right around the 6.4-6.6w/kg range. As you can see and as you would expect, the requirements to do well at Scottish National are not as tough as at British level. It’s still crazy numbers though and a bit of a terrifying thought. If I can get anywhere near those requirements for the Scottish then it bodes well for the British.

Can I Realistically Achieve Anywhere Near This?:

Yes I can. Maybe I won’t do it this year. Maybe I won’t ever do it. But I believe I can get very close to the requirements here and I will bust my arse training to see how close I can get.

Peaks this season:
20 mins = 342watts (340watts for 11:30 is what got me 8th place in the Scottish National last year)
10mins = 345watts (working 10-15min power is my top priority in training coming up)
5mins = 392watts
1min = 505watts

My peak 1sec/2sec/5sec/1min all time bests have all come in the last week in training. I also done 405w for 4mins as a sanity check test on a shallow climb last week. It looks pretty positive and I am certainly on the right track with plenty of training weeks left before time becomes critical.

I’m genuinely excited to get stuck into this and see what I can do. There is no expectations on my shoulders and no shame to be had. It’s about enjoying the process and the journey. It’s about taking some fun back from pedalling a bike and having ambitions/goals to shoot for. Let’s go!