Unofficial World Record! – The Uphill Hour

Unofficial World Record! – The Uphill Hour

August 9, 2019 100 By Kailee Schamberger


(upbeat music) – Well, when we were invited
to Oman to come cycling and they told us that Jebel Akhdar would be one of the hardest
climbs you’d ever do, I didn’t realise that they
were not exaggerating. – [Chris] Not at all, this is
hands down the hardest climb I’ve ever done or hope to do. – What, do you reckon it’s even
harder than the Passo Giau? – I don’t think you can compare them, because not only in this
steeper, it’s also longer. – Yeah, but we shouldn’t
complain about the steepness because it means we get up quicker. – [Chris] Yeah but we are going slower. – Well, we’re going slower horizontally, but we’re going faster vertically. I’m mean, basically if it’s steeper it’s a more efficient way of climbing. So you get a higher VAM, a higher vertical ascent
rate in metres per hour. – Right, so if that’s what a VAM is, how many do you think
you could do in one hour? – I don’t know, I’ve never
thought about that really. That sounds like a
really painful challenge. – [Chris] Hm, kind of like the hour record on the track but for climbers in a way. – Yeah, I wonder if that’s a thing. Do you think there’s a world record? – I don’t know, you should have a look. – Might just stop and have a look. – Well, let’s pull over. – Hang on. Well actually, it is
listed as a world record on the Guinness site, but no one’s got it! – So if no one’s got it, then presumably anyone could go and get it. – Yeah. – You could go and get it. – Actually, Jebel Akhdar
is the perfect climb because not only is it
steep, but it’s long and there aren’t actually
that many climbs in the world that are this steep for this long. – Hmm. – You know what, I think
I’m gonna give it a try. – Really, but we’re, no. Emma, Emma, come back! We’re over halfway up! Emma! She is mad. – [Emma] Actually, this attempt
at a strange kind of record, was not entirely spontaneous. Because when we planned
our cycling trip to Oman, and I saw the profile of Jebel Akhdar, I knew this was something special. The first ramp of Jebel Akhdar rises 1400 metres over 14 kilometres. There really aren’t many road climbs that average 10% for that long. And steep gradient equals
better ascent rate. Now, I mentioned this idea to ROTOR and after using their equipment
for many years racing, they agreed to support me in
this little challenge too. – The main reason I’m not
riding back up the hill is, the hill, the mountain. I’m 30 kilos heavier, which you can see it’s taken her a lot longer
to get to the bottom. (claps) Good job Emma. So Emma, after that long
descent, how are you feeling? Have you warmed up? – Warmed up? Are you crazy? I said when I’m retired I’m
never doing the warm up again. I hate warm ups. They’re the most stressful
thing about racing. In fact, I’ve got quite anxious
just thinking about warm up. – How about your pacing strategy? Have you thought about that? – Well I’ve thought about it. Problem is I don’t really
know my FTP anymore. If I ever did. So I think I’m gonna go
for quite a conservative, I think, 230 watts and kind
of reassess every 10 minutes. And go up or down by five watts. – Well you’ve got a whole hour. You’ll probably set an
FTP record doing it. – There’s a good way
to find out I suppose. To try to get the maximum
amount of vertical gain in one hour, I made
some little alterations to my Orbea Orca Aero. To bling it up, if you like. So, I kitted it out with Zipp
202 tubular lightweight wheels complete with Continental Pro
Limited Edition Tubular Tyres. For a steep climb, like the
first part of Jebel Akhdar, gear choice is obviously very important. So I’ve gone for 34, 50 at the front. And at the back, I’ve
got an 11, 30 cassette. Which is actually the
largest cassette you can run with a short cage GeoAce derailleur. Another feature that I specially requested for this challenge, is to use ROTOR Q Rings. Now after years and years
of racing with Q Rings I am fully adapted to
using oval chain rings. And I find that they help me
to smooth out the dead spot in my pedal stroke. So I feel I can pedal more
powerfully with a higher cadence and more smoothly with Q Rings. Also my legs ache less afterwards. As Chris mentioned pacing
is absolutely crucial for a challenge like
this so I’m lucky enough to be using a ROTOR 2INpower Powermeter. Which actually measures torque on both sides of the crank set. This also allows me to complete an optimal chain ring position analysis before the challenge by using the ROTOR Torque 360 software. So we went out on a long-ish ride and used the software to
analyse where the dead spots and the peak spots in
my pedal stroke were. My chain ring setting is number three, which is kind of average. – So as Emma is about the start enjoying this most epic of climbs,
we should explain VAM. Velocita Accensionale Media. Or, average rate of ascent. Measured in vertical metres gained. For context, what is a good VAM? Well this year, Tibo Pinot took the record on the famous Monte Zoncolan at a rate of 1700. However, this climb doesn’t
actually last an hour. It was 40 minutes. So you would expect a higher VAM. On the same day, the
gruppetto climbed over 14 minutes slower,
resulting in a VAM of 1250. Annemiek van Vleuten recorded rates of between 1375 and 1480 up La Colombiere on her way to victory
in this year’s La Course by Tour de France. But there was a descent in
the middle of this climb and the upward effort again
didn’t quite total an hour. And what could you or
I expect to climb at? In September, weighing 78
kilos I climbed the Passo Giau in 55 minutes with a VAM of 970. I rode to an average power of 290 watts, which should give you a rough guide. Right Emma, this is it. This is the start of what
is probably the hardest 60 minutes of your career and certainly the most important. How are you feeling? – Uh, yeah, a bit scared actually. – Right, well, the blue line
or the blue sign rather, is the start line. So when you get there, I’m pressing go. – Running start. – Good luck, Emma. – Thanks. – Enjoy. – Not sure I’m supposed to enjoy it. – I’m going to enjoy it. (upbeat music) – [Emma] With the first
steep ramp towering above me, my power was well over target. And, I could feel the
burn, but I thought no! I will push on through. 230 watts was clearly
far too conservative. However, time slows down around threshold. I call it the Special Theory
of Threshold Relativity. Where 13 minutes feels like 53. (upbeat music) – Emma is now 13 minutes into the effort and as you can see it goes up in ramps. Good work Emma! – After my initial enthusiastic start, the watts that had felt so
easy for the first 10 minutes, now somehow don’t. Working at this rate,
my body had heated up really quite suddenly and I didn’t seem to be moving fast enough to generate a breeze to evaporate
my sweat and cool me down. It’s funny because obviously
I’m longing for a flat section where it’s a bit easier, but also on the flat I
can’t get a higher VAM. So I need to look forward
to the steep sections. I was not expecting to
get wet on this ride. (upbeat music) I’m out of gears, at an RPM, of about 70. (breathing heavily) Maybe I should have gone
even smaller on the cassette. Man it’s hot. Forget the wind. You’re riding slowly uphill. There isn’t any breeze from travelling. So it really gets quite warm. My sweat is dripping like crazy. (upbeat music) – So Emma has absolutely annihilated the first 5.6 kilometres of the climb. She’s done it in around 21 minutes and this here is the finish
line in the Tour of Oman. She’s done that, pretty much
as fast as most of the men did. But she’s gotta go all the way to the top. She’s got another eight kilometres to go. – [Emma] At present, stage
one of the Haute Route Oman in March 2019 is the only
chance for most people to ride this beautiful beast of a climb. Because usually you have
to get special permission to ride through the
check point at the base. – Emma is now 34 minutes into the climb and she is obviously over halfway, but has shown absolutely
no sign of easing up. There are a few of these little ramps that ease off a little bit, which enables her to then
hit the next one even harder. She’s looking good. (upbeat music) To get to this point, Emma
has now ridden 11 kilometres and climbed over 1100 metres, and she is currently on 49 minutes which puts her effort
estimate of around 1400 metres well within reach. Good work Emma, you’re
doing a really good job! – [Emma] Okay, I’m gonna be sick. I haven’t dug this deep for a long time. The thing about bunch races
is that there’s usually someone to chase or someone to drop. But solo time trial is
just your own motivation, and willingness to suffer. Facing off in a duel with
your own lactate burn. – So with only five minutes remaining, Emma is now over 1800 metres, and doing an amazing job too! (upbeat music) Emma now has only 50 seconds
remaining of her effort. And we’re gonna have to
find a little finish line, an imaginary finish line that we can guess to work out where it is. (upbeat music) Oh drop it, stop, stop! – I haven’t actually been sick on my bike, although I feel like it. That’s part of a muddy puddle, I promise. It’s amazing, pacing. You know how you asked about pacing? – Yeah. – Did I pace it, no. Did I go off at 250? Mm. – [Chris] What’d you finish up with? – An average of 231. – [Chris] That’s what you
said you were gonna do. So it’s not far off. – But I started like this,
and finished like that. – Well, the good news
is you’ve gone so fast, that even with this little rest, if you got back on your bike now, you’d take the KOM all the way to the top. What’d you reckon? – And my final ascent in
one hour, 1275 metres. Which seemed disappointing to me, knowing the VAM I can
hold on shorter climbs. But just like your top
speed isn’t the distance you could ride on the track for the hour, your best ascent rate is not what you can do in an hour uphill. Oh man that was rubbish! I didn’t even do 1400 metres. – That was not rubbish! It was absolutely brilliant. But it’s also a world record. – Well, only because no
one’s done it before. That doesn’t really count. And I bet someone’s gonna message in that they’ve done more
than that on Strava. – Well, that throws it
out to them, doesn’t it? If you think you can beat
Emma’s monumental effort, why not have a go and let us know how you got on in the comments? – Yeah, it’s great fun, I promise you. In fact, you can even come
and ride this very climb in the Haute Route Oman
next year in March. – Yeah, well you’ve had a recce now, maybe next time you make
it all the way to the top. – Yeah. I hope so. I feel like I could go faster. I want to come back and do it again. – Well, if you thought
Emma did a great job today, why not give her a big thumbs up. – And click down here if you want to see our epic ride in Oman.