9 Ways To Improve Your Performance at Copper Triangle


Congratulations on signing up for Copper Triangle! It’s going to be a great day of riding beautiful alpine climbs. We want to make sure you show up to the event primed and ready to perform your best, so we’ve put together a few tips that will help you prepare for the climbing and altitude you’ll encounter.


#1 Commit to Consistent Training

Training 4 times a week (ie. twice during the workweek and twice on weekends) is good. Five training days a week is great. Six may actually be too much for some athletes, and 7 is generally not a good idea. Consistency is often more important for time-crunched athletes than the actual workout you’re doing, so make a schedule you can stick to.

#2 Get More Sleep

One of the best things you can do for your performance is to focus on recovery by getting more sleep. Aim for at least 8 hours, or commit to adding one hour of sleep to your current routine. If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, take it seriously and talk to your physician. Emerging research suggests that turning off backlit screens (phones and tablets) about two hours before bedtime may be beneficial, too. Read a book instead!

#3 Fall In Love With This Workout

3×10min SteadyState Intervals (3×20min for advanced riders), with recovery between intervals 5 and 10 minutes, respectively. It’s not sexy or complicated, but sustained time-at-intensity increases sustainable power at lactate threshold. This the performance marker that leads to higher climbing speed, less taxing rides, and overall better performance. Intensity: 90-95% of CTS Field Test power, 92-94% of CTS Field Test Heart Rate, or an 8 on a 1-10 exertion scale.

#4 Drink More During Your Workouts

Most of us ride the same set of routes, and drink the same amounts on those routes. This year try consuming an additional bottle on your 2-4 hour loops. Look at your power meter data and record your perceived exertion. You’ll feel better and your power will drop off less in the final hour of your ride.

#5 Dial In Your Nutrition

On the bike you only need to replenish 20-30% of the calories you expend each hour. So, if you’re riding at 600 kilojoules per hour (roughly equal to 600 calories), you only need 120-200 calories per hour. And for sessions under 75 minutes, you don’t need during-workout calories, just fluids and maybe electrolytes.

#6 Separate Calories From Your Fluids

Fluid intake varies with temperature, humidity, and ultimately, sweat rate. Caloric intake varies by intensity. Having fluid and electrolytes in your bottles and calories in your pockets allows you to adjust your energy and fluid intakes independently.

#7 Be Conservative Early On the Climbs

Pace yourself at the bottom of the climb. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, fear, anxiety of the climb, especially if you’re riding with others. As you approach the bottom of a long climb, don’t allow yourself to get caught in that frenzy. At the bottom of the climb, it can be difficult to judge the proper pace because you’re fresh. Ease into the climb and allow yourself to settle into your pace. As you progress up the climb, you can always go a little harder if the pace seems too easy, but if you go too hard at the bottom of the climb it’ll be very difficult to ease off the pace while you’re going uphill. Conservative at the bottom, steady to the top and you’ll likely be catching many of the riders who attacked the bottom of the climb.

#8 Stay Seated For Most of the Climb

This is the most efficient way to climb, particularly on the longer climbs. You’ll use less energy and you’ll notice that your heart rate will remain lower. You can scoot forward and back on the saddle to shift the emphasis of the work to different muscle combinations. Work on maintaining a nice smooth cadence, 80-85 rpm. Pay attention while watching pro races and note what the top climbers are doing on the extended climbs. You’ll almost always see them in the saddle except on the steep pitches or when they are making or responding to decisive accelerations.

#9 Adjust Your Efforts For Altitude

If you’re using a power meter you’ll notice that at elevations above 6,000 feet your sustainable climbing power will be at least 10% lower than it was at sea level, increasing to 15-20% lower at elevations above 10,000 feet. Athletes using a heart rate monitor will notice that their heart rates will be elevated, compared to sea level, for any given pace. And if you’re going off of perception, you’ll notice that at altitude it takes a lot more effort to climb at the speed you could sustain at lower elevations. To have great rides throughout the week, you want to avoid digging too deep early on. Slow down and don’t try to match the speed or power output you normally would at lower altitudes.

A pioneering company in the endurance coaching industry, CTS has improved the performance of more than 17,000 athletes over the past 18 years. Founded by renowned coach and author Chris Carmichael and home to more than 40 full-time, professional coaches, CTS provides personal coaching, training camps, and Endurance Bucket List experiences to athletes of all ability levels. For more information, visit www.trainright.com.