Home Measuring Mountains: Pacing Climbs with a Power Meter

Measuring Mountains: Pacing Climbs with a Power Meter

Posted by Mac Potter on July 14, 2022

Today’s Stage at the Tour de France had riders taking on one of the most iconic climbs in France - Alpe d’Huez. With its famous 21 hairpins and relentless grades, it’s the perfect climb to pace with a power meter. Many of you may have even ridden this climb, albeit virtually in Zwift!

How can a power meter help you pace such a long effort?

If you know your FTP , you can use this as a reference to gauge your effort. As the pro’s climb the Alpe in around 40 minutes, they will be riding the climb at, or slightly above their threshold, an astonishing 400w - 450w!

The average cyclist takes 1hr 20 minutes to make it up the Alpe, so if they tried to emulate the pro’s strategy they would be pedaling squares by the top! For such a long effort, you would want to pace the climb in your Tempo Zone. Tempo is approximately 76%-87% of your FTP . If your FTP is 250W , you would pace the Alpe d’Huez between 190w - 217w. It’s common to feel good at the start of the climb and push just a little over your limit, which you ultimately pay for later in the effort. Knowing your zones will help you stay within your limit, which means you’ll not only feel better by the top of the climb, but most likely summit it even faster than if you were pacing by feel.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in France, riding the real Alpe d’Huez a 4iiii power meter will help you gauge your ascent, and while it may not make the iconic ascent easier, it will be a more enjoyable experience! We still recommend a cafe stop at the top though to re-fuel!

Learn more about your FTP and why it matters.

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