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Flagstaff Climbing Challenge

Flagstaff PR Challenge - CyclingTips.com


Camera, Drone, Rough Edit

Flagstaff. Seven and a half kilometres, 605 metres up into the clouds. It’s not the most difficult climb in Boulder, Colorado, but it is the most dynamic. It twists and turns, pitches up and down. The average gradient is 8%, but it kicks as high as 20% and flattens out in the middle. Official times start at Gregory Canyon and stop at a row of mailboxes at the top. An easier first half gives way to the Wall, a 400-meter long stretch you hit after about 20 minutes that makes you want to cry. The record? Tom Danielson, in 22’47", followed by Lachlan Morton at 23’08. But for us mortals, 30 minutes is the mark to beat. A sub30 Flag is a badge you can wear with pride. Our climber-in-residence, Mike, is made for it. He’s 53kg, 5’5″. Loves the steep stuff. His PR was 30:53, from years ago. He wanted to beat it, so we set out to help. Figuring out pacing was step one. Mike’s threshold is around 250 watts — about 4.8 watts per kilogram. Quite good for an amateur. We know from experience that it takes about 4.6 or 4.7 w/kg to go under 30, depending on wind and other factors. Flag opens up with a steep section, 14%, then levels off for about 10 minutes, then kicks up again. The steepest part, the Wall, comes about 5km up, after about 20 minutes of full-gas riding. The basic rule on a climb like Flagstaff, which kicks up and then drops to almost flat in places, is that you’re better off expending more energy on the steepest parts and then recovering on the flatter sections.