The Gravel Issue!
We are taking it off-road! Our September newsletter is about taking the road less travelled and finding adventures off the beaten path, even if you live in the heart of the city. We’ve got route suggestions; coaching advice from Olympian Laura Brown on building hill-climbing strength and endurance; and pro-tips from Jon Bula co-owner of Bicicletta to improve skills and technique on steep loose gravel
Need motivation to get out the door?Our one20percent ambassador Cory Forrest shares one of his favorite mountain bike loops - straight out his front door, over the Lions Gate Bridge, and onto Vancouver’s legendary north shore trails.
Cory rides his mountain bike from the city to the north shore, telling us that while “some people cringe at the thought of riding a mountain bike on the road”, he finds it more efficient to ride to the trailhead as it only takes about 55 minutes from downtown – about the same amount of time as sitting in traffic, and more fun. Here’s Cory’s description of his favorite loop:
“I ride Mt Seymour first with the classic climb up Penny Lane and Good Sir Martin then continuing higher up for a lap of Corkscrew and Pingu then back up Dale’s and Forever After. This sets me up perfectly to zip over to Mt. Fromme via Twin Bridges and the Griffin Climbing Trail to Mountain Hwy. Depending on energy levels, I’ll ride up to Expresso or Executioner and Dream Weaver before riding
It’s 4.5 to 5.5 hours door to door with a great mix of everything. I’ve done it in the rain as many times as when dry and love it equally.”
We thank Cory for sharing his ride with us! We hope to see you out on the trails giving it go!
For resources on the north shore trails including links to trail maps, as well as information on volunteering to support trail maintenance, check out the north shore mountain bike association at: https://nsmba.ca/trail-maps/
Escape the City!Out in nature! One20 team members Sandra and Amanda unlock the Strava vaults for urban gravel gold and show you a great 130km mostly gravel route from Vancouver out to Pitt Meadows, suitable for all abilities.
This ride has it all – quiet paved roads to start, smooth gravel-surfaced multi-use trails, some non-technical single track, beautiful views over Pitt Meadows to
the mountains, and of course a few kicker hills around Burnaby Mountain to get the heart rate up (make sure you read the pro-tips in this newsletter from Coach Laura Brown and from Bicicletta co-owner Jon Bula on how to improve your climbing skills!)
Coming from downtown Vancouver, we like to head out on the quiet Adanac bike route through East Van and onto the smoothmulti-use gravel trails of Burnaby Heights. On to Burnaby Mountain where the trails definitely take an uphill turn with a couple lung-busters as well as short leg-sapping kickers, but your efforts are rewarded with swooping single track taking you into Port Moody (and coffee stop!) From there you can pull the plug and head home via the other side of
Shorter route is about 70km from downtown and the full meal is a tasty 130km loop. take an uphill turn with a couple lung-busters as well as short leg-sapping
Check out Amanda’s Strava file for the full route map:https://strava.app.link/fSzPd54gYib
For resources and information about the Burnaby Heights and Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area trails: https://www.burnaby.ca/explore-outdoors/walking-hiking-and-biking
And the Pitt River Regional Greenway: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/parks/parks-greenways-reserves/pitt-river-regional-greenway/
Pro-Tips Part 1
Two key workouts to improve hill climbing from Olympic medalist Laura Brown!
Laura Brown, coach and co-owner of DRKHORSE Cycling, two-time Canadian Olympian, Olympic bronze medallist in track cycling, and former professional road racer with nearly two decades of experience, shares two key workouts with us. The first is to improve endurance for longer climbs, and the second focuses on short anaerobic efforts to help get up the steep kicker climbs.
Coach Laura’s workout to build endurance for longer climbs, to be done 2x per week:
- 4 x 8min SE (strength endurance)
- 60 - 70 RPM (revolutions per minute - this is your cadence)
- Tempo zone (4/10 perceived exertion; Zone 3; 76-90% FTP)
- 4-8min rest between sets
Coach Laura’s anaerobic effort workout to get up those short steep kicker climbs, to be done 1-2x per week:
- 2-3 sets of:
- 30sec sprint
- Self-selected rpm
- Anaerobic Capacity (7/10 perceived exertion; Zone 6; 170% FTP)
- 30sec rest
- Self-selected rpm
- Active recovery (2/10 perceived exertion; Zone 1; 50% FTP)
- 8 min rest between sets
Over-under workouts are a great way to train your ability to repeatedly climb steep hills, follow attacks, or clear loose or technical terrain. Go out conservatively so you can finish the last 30 seconds as strong as your first. Can be done seated, out of the saddle, or a combination of both.
Our thanks to Coach Laura for sharing her expertise. She is a NCCP certified Performance Cycling Coach (level 3), Provincial and National team coach, and available at DRKHORSE Cycling to help you achieve your cycling goals. https://www.drkhorsecycling.
Pro-Tips Part 2
Technical skills and equipment choices for steep loose gravel climbs with Bicicletta owner Jon Bula!
Jon Bula, owner and COO of www.bicicletta.cc and avid racer of anything with two wheels – MTB, road and gravel – sat down with us recently and shared his top tips for improving climbing performance on gravel hills. He tells us there is a surprising amount of technique involved and it’s not always just pure horsepower (although that is helpful!) that will get up you that technical section. Jon breaks this skill down into two main areas – equipment and technical abilities.
Read on for his advice!
Tire choice and pressure: There are many tire sizes with a myriad of tread patterns, but in Jon’s opinion one of the key metrics to having traction on gravel is tire pressure. He highly recommends a tubeless tire set up. This enables riders to use lower pressure. This will greatly increase your tires contact surface and provide much more traction. Jon says he is roughly 75 kg and he typically rides 40-42mm tires on a tubeless set up. He runs his rear tire no higher that 35 psi (as low as 26 psi if it's wet) and his front tire no higher than 32 psi (as low as 22 psi). He says this might seem low, but on the gravel it's the bomb!
Gear ratios are important: If the pitch of the climb is so steep that you can't turn the pedals with your available gearing walking your bike up the slope will prove quickest. Having the right gear range on your bike allows a reasonable (as low as 50 rpm or so) cadence even up the steepest sections. This will give you a fighting chance. Jon says when he is gravel riding he always errs on the side of having better climbing gears rather than worrying about if his top end fast gears are big enough. It's rare to go faster than 40 km/h on the gravel, but it is really common that you find climbs in excess of 17 percent grade!
Technique: Jon gives us three key focal points:
- Sit back into the saddle. By this Jon means actually moving forward onto your saddle when the grade is really steep. You are actually sitting more on the nose of the saddle, but your butt is pushing back into the saddle. This really helps keep weight on the back wheel improving friction.
- Get your chest low. Do not sit tall when it's steep. He likes to put his sternum almost on my bike computer. This may seem counter intuitive, but the lower the better.
- Pedal in a smooth circular motion with as steady as possible power through touch the pedal stroke. Avoid smashing down with the left then the right as this tends to spin the tire in the loose stuff.
Key takeaways: Nose of the saddle, push back into it, chest down, smooth pedaling.
Jon says if you can master these pointers and there won't be much you can't climb - assuming your legs and lungs can handle the effort....
Many thanks to Jon for sharing his expertise! If this article has you re-thinking your gearing choices, head over to www.bicicletta.cc for ideas on expanding your options!