So, it’s official, RoadCycling is headed to one of the toughest road events in New Zealand, taking to the start line at the Ruapehu Gran Fondo on 10th March.  What we established though, at the Hobbiton Movie Set Gran Fondo is that climbing legs are not what they once were.  Time to get to work then.

Roads that went downhill around Cambridge were good for me, I like downhills.  I’ve never thought of myself as a heavy rider, but my 80kg frame certainly seemed to make light work of roads that went down.  I also really rather enjoyed being a bit more leant on for the flat roads around the Waipa region, it certainly made me feel at least a little more like I had found my sweet spot a little bit; a bit more rouleur-ish, able to drag a few riders along for kilometres at a time on long stretches of flat.

But when the roads went up I came a little more unstuck.  Sure, I was ok during the first few short rises in the opening half of the event, but as the kilometres wore on I found myself just about hanging on or drifting back; almost to the point of wanting to take my body into the mechanic to see if he could make it work a little faster.  And this is where I approach my new venture with a fair amount of trepidation.

Ruapehu Gran Fondo approaching

The Ruapehu Gran Fondo is 164km in length and incorporates 2861m of climbing.  Even if you enter the Midi Fondo there’s still 2525m of elevation gain to tackle.  This is a whole different beast, and while I will doubtless enjoy the first 70km which are almost entirely downhill, the last 58.2km sees an at-first steady rise from 192m above sea level in Taumarunui, gradually working its way up to over 1600m in elevation by the end with not a whisper of downhill to bask in at all.

So I’ve been incorporating as much climb-specific work into my training as I can, although with no comparable climbs to speak of in my area.  I’ve been utilising the Wattbike Hub App’s climbing options, the shorter 2km climbs around and about my home (in the company of Hayden Washington-Smith in the above video) and whacking it in the big gear on the flats; trying to stay true to the advice and instructions of Logan Griffin from Spoken Coaching.

There was a day when I considered myself a climber.  I grew up in North Devon in the UK, home of short sharp climbs; and back then I thought myself in my element.  In fact, Patrick Bevin’s third place in stage 2 of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain last year took place on my old roads; short, steep, power-climbers’ roads.  Nowadays though, if I’m gonna return to my former ‘glory’ days I need help.

PowerAmp come to our rescue

PowerAmp have very handily come on board to provide their awesome support.  For starters I benefited from the company of Hayden on our training ride out the back of Te Mata, the guy can ride them hills!  But he also dropped off some awesome products with us, and we’re really pumped about being able to put them to the test.  We’ve got their Rapid Hydration product to the test in three flavours: raspberry lemonade, mango zest and pineapple.  We’ve also got their BRAND NEW hot off the press Sports Magnesium and Everyday Sports Multivitamin to try out.

Their Multivitamin is all about supporting energy levels and maintaining general health and sports performance, while the Sports Magnesium is all about post-exercise recovery.  Together with their Rapid Hydration products which are actually more effective that water in terms of speed at which it provides fluid to working muscles, PowerAmp have given us a great head start in terms of getting our fuelling right for the Gran Fondo.


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