Fast Talk podcast, ep. 36: Inside the new science of climbing

Is climbing as simple as power-to-weight ratios? Not so much. We discovered some surprising answers about how different riders climb.

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The VeloNews Fast Talk podcast is your source for the best advice and most interesting insight on what it takes to become a better cyclist. Listen in as VeloNews managing editor Chris Case and columnist Trevor Connor discuss a range of topics, including training, physiology, technology, and more.

Is climbing as simple as power-to-weight ratios? Not so much. In the January/February issue of VeloNews magazine, we dug into the rarely explored science of climbing. This podcast goes behind the scenes of the making of that article, and the many fascinating discoveries that came out of it.

To start, we turned ourselves into mad scientists and convinced WorldTour pro Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo) to join us. We rode several time trials up a few Boulder climbs in our quest for answers.

Chief among our questions was simply: Does climbing come down to power-to-weight or does your climbing technique make a difference? In other words, if two riders weigh the same and average the same wattage, will they have the same time up a climb regardless of how they ride? Answering that question led to several others, including how a rider’s “type” affects his or her climbing and what’s the difference between pros and amateurs.

We also discovered some surprising answers about how different riders climb, how cadence plays a role, and if those basic online calculators can really predict your time up a climb. We also collected novel on-the-road biomechanical data.

This special episode of Fast Talk takes a deeper dive into our in-house experiment, more so than any magazine article could. No, our experiment wasn’t worthy of publication in the journal Science, but we had a lot of fun, we discovered some things that we’re very excited about, and, most importantly, we hope to help all of you become better climbers.

Joining us for the podcast is Ryan Kohler of the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center, who helped with the experiments on the road.

Fast Talk is available on all your favorite podcast services, including iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Soundcloud. If you enjoy the podcast, please consider taking a moment to rate and comment on iTunes after listening. Also, check out the VeloNews Cycling Podcast, our weekly discussion of the sport’s hottest topics, trends, and controversies.


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