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Could you do 32000m of climbing in 45 Days? (Preparing for Etape)

The Spring Classics Challenge

Well friends, it is on like Donkey Kong!

If you ever needed some incentive to fire up your training for Etape du Tour (Etape 2012 information page) or your cycling trip to Europe this summer, this is it.

Specialized has joined forces with Strava to create the Spring Classics Climbing Challenge. Read more and sign up here.

Based on the Spring Classics, the challenge involves climbing the cumulative elevation of the Spring Classics – 3 times – for a total of 105,312 feet or 32100 m (32km!) in just 45 days from March 15 to April 30. Actually there is some conjecture that it is 47 days (go on, count March 15-April 30 just to check!) but let’s stick with 45.

The Spring Classics have a bit of climbing, and here’s the break down. I didn’t realise Leige-Bastogne-Leige had so much climbing! What a beast.

  • Milan-San Remo – 6,260 feet / 1908m
  • Tour of Flanders – 5,709 feet / 1740m
  • Paris-Roubaix – 3,259 feet / 993m
  • Liège–Bastogne–Liège – 10,883 feet / 3317m
  • Amstel Gold – 8,993 feet / 2741m

Why you should do this

Whilst Strava is giving away a custom Strava/Specialized water bottle and another secret surprise for all finishers, this shouldn’t be your incentive.

Adding 32km of climbing into your legs in 6 weeks most definitely should be your incentive. This amount of climbing is perfect preparation for Etape du Tour in July or your trip overseas in the European summer. I would be shocked if you also didn’t shed some weight as a nice side effect.

I know some VeloNomad readers are using the VeloNomad Etape du Tour training plan, so you may choose to ignore this challenge (interrupting your training for this won’t hurt), but for those heading to Etape du Tour or even just to Europe for a cycling holiday, this is the perfect tune up for your legs.

Why this is totally doable

Whilst 32km of climbing in 45 days may seem an overwhelming amount, it’s not.

Breaking it down into bite sized chunks, we get:

  • 713m a day, or
  • 5333m a week (6 weeks), or
  • 1778m a ride (3 rides a week)

How you can do this

For those with full time jobs, kids and so on, this is going to seem impossible. However, it most certainly is not. All you need to do is commit to doing your required climbing each day, every second day or however you decide to break it down. If you have a small hill nearby, getting 700m a day done is not hard at all.

Look for the biggest climb nearest your house, preferably something you can do multiple repeats up. Some might say this methodology is against the spirit of the challenge, but I don’t agree. The challenge is purely about climbing the requisite number of kilometres in the stated time frame. As far as I am concerned, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

Obviously with a full time job, family and other commitments, you want as much bang for your buck as possible and this means the closest hill with the highest elevation gain.

You could easily achieve this target as shown below. The key thing is to work out a plan and stick to it. Hit the challenge hard, early so you have spare kilometres up your sleeve.

  • 6 days of 900m – 1 day off a week
  • 3 x 800m (weekday commutes/afternoon rides) plus 1 x 3000m (weekend ride)
  • 3 rides of 1800m each ride for 5400m total

How I will be doing this – a practical example

There is a hill near my house that is 2km long with a 152m elevation gain. It takes me about 7m30s to climb and about 2 minutes to to descend. So let’s say 10 minute loops. If I climb it 10 times, I have 1500m under my belt and have only ridden for 100 minutes. It takes me 10 minutes to get there, and 10 minutes to get home, for a total of 120 minutes or 2 hours.

If I do this twice a week, I have 3000m of climbing, for 4 hours of riding.

I have another loop that is 135km with nearly 2000m of climbing (1926m to be exact), across 5 hours.

So those three rides give me 5000m of climbing per week, for 9 hours spent. The target is 5333m a week, so I only need to find 333m, which I get on my way home with two small stretches of 10%. I can always add another 70km loop in which gives me another 1000m, or another 2 hour/1500m to get to 6500m for the week.

I think most people who train with purpose will agree this is not insurmountable.

Sign Up Now

So, if you need a bit of an extra push along in your Etape du Tour training, or you want to improve your climbing or lose some weight, this is the perfect way of doing that is a measurable, quantifiable way.

Sign up to the Strava/Specialized Challenge – it’s free to enter, and free Strava accounts can enter.


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by Tim Marsh

Tim is an ex Melbournite now living near Byron Bay on 10 acres, happily growing mangos, avocados and lots of other stuff, with his wife Kate, son Arthur and adorable Golden Retriever, Whiskey (RIP our 1YO G/R Poppins :( ).

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