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Training for hills but no hills nearby

navrig2navrig2 Posts: 1,799
I live in the middle east in a location where there is no hills. Almost totally flat. The combination of working hours and weather makes summer riding almost impossible. Winter riding (Nov - March) is feasible but traffic conditions are not conducive to safe riding.

I am hoping to join friends in June or September for a cycle trip in Europe. Spain or French Alps. We had these trips for the last 6 years so I know what the climbs are likely to be.

The move from the UK to the ME has taken its toll on my fitness but I am now getting better organised. I have my turbo (ERG Smart) and a road bike with me and I have a trainer road account. Previously I have managed a reasonably sustained programme of TR sessions but have never managed to stay on the turbo beyond 60 mins with 45mins being preferred.

I have easy, unlimited and free access to a gym with loose weights and several multi-gym machines which allow all muscle groups to be worked. There is also a cross trainer, treadmills and a couple of bikes. Typically the bikes are pretty censored .

I also have an off road bike and access to a reasonable amount of flat but rough and sandy ground (man made desert basically).

I am happy with TR but would willingly change to another platform if it is likely to be better for my circumstances.

Given all of the above and assuming I can keep my motivation levels reasonably high is it possible to get fit for alp style climbs and longish days using limited road rides and a turbo?


  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 12,015
    Depends what you mean by 'fit'. Anyone could ride up an alpine climb given the appropriate gearing and the necessary amount of time. The only variables are going to be how long it takes and/or what effort level you can sustain for what duration.

    So it's difficult to say one way or the other. But long sessions at sweetspot or threshold will help, as will improving your w/kg (specifically the kg), if there is any weight to lose.
  • LongshotLongshot Posts: 940
    Ride through (shallow) sand? I imagine that would be useful as training for long (steady) ascents?
    You can fool some of the people all of the time. Concentrate on those people.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Perfectly possible to train for hills on the flat. TR will be great for you. You may need to look into what gearing you need when you get to Europe and test that out beforehand but if you're fit you can climb.

    And i'd focus on increasing your watts per kg. So if you're a chunky munky - reduce that and the figure goes up.
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 11,115
    There's nothing inherently special about hills, all you are looking for is the ability to put out sustained power.

    The TR "Climbing Road Race" speciality plan is perfect for this, their description:
    Climbing road races differ from flat ones in obvious ways - they usually include sustained climbs, and often finish on one - but they also share a lot of overlap with flat or rolling road races.

    As you might expect, the Climbing Road Race blocks address this diversity with a heavier emphasis on sustained power than short power, with due attention still paid to maintaining your base of aerobic endurance.

    So if your races involve selective climbs, if you have to be able to hold high percentages of your FTP after hours of already challenging ride time, and if you want road-race fitness that favors longer, sustained efforts, the Climbing Road Race blocks are ideal for you.

    The Century plan is also probably quite good.

    As you probably know already, their plans are structured Base>Build>Speciality. You have enough time that you could work through the Sweetspot Base plan (2x 6 weeks), then Sustained Build (8 week block) and Climbing Road Race or possibly the Century plan (both 8 week blocks), which is a total of 20 weeks. You can then either go back to the start or you could repeat one of the build>speciality blocks, which could take you up to your event.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 69,760 Lives Here
    edited November 2019
    I guess the main things you can do are simulating the type of effort you'll be doing. Cadence tends to be lower when climbing and alps will often be around an hour or so, so why not find a route that lets you ride full gas for an hour without any let up on a bigger gear?

    What that won't really necessarily help with is that some of the different muscles you use but you can cover that off with some core work tbh.

    Also keep practising getting out of the saddle for the same periods you would do going to the Alps.

    Apologies if this is all too obvious - I find the turbo efforts focused on short power stuff which is helpful but only to a point.

  • You also need to train your mind for the amount of time it will take to ride up the mountains.
  • Do a Froomey and ride with the brakes on to simulate climbs...
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  • webboowebboo Posts: 5,859
    edited November 2019

    Do a Froomey and ride with the brakes on to simulate climbs...

    Didn’t he nick this idea from Chris Boardman. I’m sure I read something where if he hadn’t burnt the required amount of calories on his ride. He would ride the last miles with his brakes on.
  • I live in Norfolk, England, so the same as you there are no hills to train on. Get Zwift and go on any and all climbs you can find.
    Todays I climbed 5,600 ft in 30 miles on there and they feel like proper hills to whilst you are doing them.
  • figbatfigbat Posts: 680
    Any multi storey car parks nearby?
    Cube Reaction GTC Pro 29 for the lumpy stuff
    Cannondale Synapse alloy with 'guards for the winter roads
    Fuji Altamira 2.7 for the summer roads
    Trek 830 Mountain Track frame turned into a gravel bike - for anywhere & everywhere
  • navrig2navrig2 Posts: 1,799
    Great replies guys. There are some spare kg and losing them is part of the plan. Cheers.
  • navrig2navrig2 Posts: 1,799
    figbat said:

    Any multi storey car parks nearby?

    Loads. The first four or five floors of office and apartment blocks are mostly parking floors. Not sure they would be much good for training :D
  • That's is good training. So would getting a fat bike and going off road. 4" tyres plus sand is going to be the best training anyone can do.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 12,015

    4" tyres plus sand is going to be the best training anyone can do.

    Ideal training for racing fatbikes on sandy courses. For everything else, the rule of specificity probably applies..

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