Ollie’s Sa Calobra Hill Climb Challenge | In Pursuit Of A Cycling Personal Best


(explosion) – I’m here at the
beautiful Sa Calobra climb (soft music)
in Majorca, because I’ve set myself a challenge to try and ride up this 9.6 kilometer, 7% average gradient climb,
in under 30 minutes. I’m about to ride down and set off and I’m feeling pretty
nervous, but before I do, allow me to explain
what’s brought me here, why I’ve decided to do this,
how I’ve prepared for it and also what I think I need to do in order to pull this off. Seemed like a good idea at the time. (changes to techno music) (changes to soft music) I’ve been coming on pilgrimages
to this small island for years, and every time I come here I try and ride up this
piece of stunning road as fast as I can. Every year, I try and flog myself to bits up this serpentine tarmac
in the hope of riding it in under 30 minutes. Why? Well, to be honest I don’t
really have a good reason, I guess just as cyclists
we all have a climb that we want to be faster
on, perhaps you have a target in mind for that particular climb. Well, this one is mine, and
I’ve also kind of worked out that 30 minutes or sub 30 minutes is a really, really big challenge for me, it might well be the physical
limit of what I can do, and if you’re gonna pick a road to try and find your physical limit, then you can do far
worse than one like this. This beautiful, snaking, serpentine tarmac that goes through this Balearic,
Mediterranean landscape is absolutely spectacular,
and it even features a 270 degree hairpin, it’s
an engineering masterpiece. (changes to upbeat music) Where does my target of 30 minutes stand within the all time pantheon
of Sa Calobra times? Well, it’s nowhere near the KOM. A quick look down the official
Strava segment leaderboard and you’ll find many
professional cyclists, and at the time of making this video Sebastian Henao has the current KOM with the ridiculous time
of 24:54 which he set at Team Sky Training
Camp, but rumor has it that the fastest time was actually set by Bradley Wiggins in the winter before his Tour de France
victory, and he’s rumored to have done 22:30, which
is ridiculously quick, but I mean, if it’s not on
Strava then did it really happen? I’ll let you decide. But my current best time is 31:06, meaning I’m gonna have to try and shave just over a minute off to meet my target. I haven’t just turned up to Majorca with the hope of winging this challenge, I’ve been preparing for it
for just over three months and I’ve been training
with the help of Opie who’s been setting me
sessions and intervals to do, and helping me structure my training, and has been monitoring my training load, and it’s been working really well, I’ve been seeing good power numbers for me and they’ve been increasing so I feel like I’m in good form for the challenge. I also contacted aerodynamics expert and performance consultant, Xavier Disley of AeroCoach, and he
performed some course modeling and did some maths. Now this revealed some interesting data which helped me choose equipment for the challenge, but also suggested the kind of power that
I’ll need to put out in order to do it. The base calculation suggested
that I would need to produce around 350 watts while
weighing 73 kilograms on an eight kilogram bike on a still day. Now I’ve managed to lose a
couple of kilograms myself and I’ve also made some modifications to my trusty blue Canyon, and
managed to get the weight down to six kilograms. It’s a seriously light machine, I’ve got a single chain ring
on there and everything. I’ve gone full-on tech nerd on my bike, and I’m actually gonna do another video separate to this one to
go into all the detail about the modifications
I’ve made to this bike, so we’ll post that, a link to it, at the end of this video,
so you can watch it if you want to. That considered, with the modifications and weight loss, it’s been calculated that I need to produce
around 320 to 330 watts, now that might not sound
like much to some of you, but it’s a lot for me and it will push me to my absolute physical limit to do that. I’m gonna have to turn
myself completely inside out. Now interestingly as
well it’s been calculated that if I were to do the whole climb out of the saddle, that would
create a seven to nine watt AeroDrag penalty, which
could be the difference between doing it or not doing it. So I’m going to have to
try and remain seated as much as possible. Also, pacing is gonna be absolutely key, so fitted a power meter to the bike, it’s a power2max NG Road. There are some lighter, single-sided, non-drive side crank
power meters out there, but I didn’t want to
compromise on accuracy, I’d rather have a slightly heavier spider-based system that
measures total power rather than one that
measures it on one side and then doubles it and estimates it. (birds calling)
(changes to soft music) It’s the day before the challenge, we arrived in Majorca this morning, and I’ve built my bike
and gone for a ride on it to check that everything’s working OK and also just do a warmup
ride and get the blood flowing through the legs. Physically, I’m feeling pretty good, the numbers are there,
but I’m still nervous and the one thing I can’t
control is the weather, and it’s not looking great. Tomorrow it’s quite
chilly, about 10 degrees, the air pressure is pretty high which isn’t good for fast air, and also there’s a 14
mile an hour headwind, which isn’t ideal. But it is what it is, and
I’m just gonna absolutely bury myself and try my best, whatever, whatever the weather,
and just see how I go. (changes to dramatic music) To save a bit more weight off my bike I’m taking my bottle
off, and my bottle cage, because I’ve done a lot
of sort of time trials over this duration and I know that I don’t need to drink
in a 30 minute effort, I can drink before and I can drink after. There you are, that’ll
save me some weight. Also, right, bar tape
adds loads of weight, I don’t need bar tape for
a 30 minute climb, do I, well I hope I don’t, so
bar tape’s coming off, I’ll put it back on at the summit. Although weight is the
most important thing on a climb like this, aero still matters, and we also get reams
of fan mail here at GCN, mainly from one guy, actually,
called Michael McDermott, asking the same thing, why can’t we see the GCN presenters, mainly Ollie, wearing the ASSOS skinsuit more often. Well, who are we to disappoint the fans? We should give them what they want and this seems like a perfect opportunity to break out the ASSOS skinsuit. All right, I’m ready,
enough of my yapping, let’s do this. (changes to intense drum music) – Right then Ollie, you ready? Five, four, three, two, one, go! Good luck Ollie! – [Men] Go, go, go! – [Ollie] I was able
to pace the first part of the climb well, I knew roughly what I was capable of
and set off out averaging over 320 watts, I was feeling good and I was able to remain seated which was crucial to beating my target. At the halfway point in the climb after the wooded section,
I was 40 seconds up on my previous best, I felt OK and I told myself, it’s on. – Just made it. – (panting) (changes to soft music) – I certainly have emptied the tank, but according to my
timer, I was a minute off. But, I did do a PB, so every cloud, which there’s a lot of them today, (laughs) yeah, I did a PBA, I did PB power, for this like last sort of year, so passed more than that, but I think the conditions were against me a bit, but I’m gonna keep trying,
this isn’t the end of this, I’m gonna be back, I mean,
you know, Rocky didn’t win the first film, did he? So, I guess I don’t
have to, I’ll come back make another film, and I will do it, I’m gonna keep trying,
I’m gonna keep trying, I’m getting closer, ahhh, I’m knackered. I’ve just had a look at my power output and I’ve averaged 325 watts for 30 minutes which for me is, well,
really good (chuckles) and I couldn’t have really
done more than that. And it was right where we sort of thought it would have to be in
terms of power output, but it just wasn’t to be on the day, but I’m determined to come
back and give it a go, I know I’ve got it in me
and I’m gonna keep trying. But I hope you enjoyed this video, if nothing else just for
the sheer number of clips we’ve managed to add to
the unflattering pain face clip library that the GCN editors love wheeling out at every available embarrassing opportunity, and if you have, then please give it a thumbs up and click subscribe to the channel ’cause it helps us make
more content like this in the future. And to watch a video on
my amazing geeky bike in all its tech glory,
then click down here.


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