The Alpine Challenge is testing for any cyclist with around 8,000m of climbing. One key statistic you should know if you’re keen to conquer the mountains is your power to weight ratio.
Read on to find out how to identify and, perhaps more importantly, improve your power to weight ratio:
The Alpine Challenge features many significant climbs making your power to weight ratio a key metric, as you’ll often need to get your body mass up (and over) hills.
If you’re riding in a group, the heavier riders will need to produce more power to ride alongside the lighter members of the group up a hill. In the example below, if Adam produces an average of 300 watts and weighs 95kg and Laura produces 250 watts and weighs 71kg then you might easily assume that Adam would cycle faster up a hill as he is producing more absolute power than Laura.
Adam – 300/95 = 3.15w/kg
Laura – 250/71 = 3.52w/kg
After discovering the riders’ power to weight ratio, it becomes clear that whilst Laura is lighter and is producing less power, she actually has a higher w/kg and therefore will climb quicker than Adam.
When you’re a descent, the tables turn and gravity is in your favour. This means that, generally, the larger and heavier riders like Adam will descend more quickly than lighter riders like Laura.
Top tip: Lighter riders like Laura can benefit from a slipstream effect by tucking in behind lager riders on a descent.
How to improve your Power-to-Weight Ratio
The two main ways to improve your power to weight ratio are either lose weight or increase your sustainable power output.
Dieting simply to attain your ideal cycling weight can actually be counterproductive as you could lose muscle mass during your weight loss, you’ll find your ability to produce power also reduces.
The best option is to focus on optimising power whilst balancing diet and weight. To optimise your sustainable power output, try following a structured training plan.
Using a Wattbike you can begin to truly understand your power-to-weight values. From your test results you will be able to build a structured training program which will see natural weight loss and increased power bringing an overall much more enjoyable cycling experience.