Doi Inthanon 2014 is fast approaching on February 16th has got to be one of the toughest mountain bike rides in Thailand. The Doi-Inthanon is 46.62 km long, with its highest point at 2562 m and a total of 40.56 km climbing. The average climbing on this Doi-Inthanon is 5.8%, with gradients exceeding 23% in places and more than three times as long as the famous French classic L’Alpe d’Huez, this is a tough challenge.
What gearing do I need?
Unless you are Peter Pouly or one of the other top riders I recommend you ride a compact chainset 50-34 with a 12-28,29 or even 30 cassette. Inthanon is a long climb and you will require a compact to make your ride that little bit easier and more enjoyable. Granted the slopes at the bottom aren’t too steep but the last 7km is brutal and if you haven’t got the correct gearing you will end up walking or cramping in the last few km as many riders did in 2013. The fastest riders will do it in 2 hrs but the vast majority of us will be looking at 3-4 hours.
How do I climb Inthanon?
Inthanon is a personal challenge so you need to climb it at your pace and not get drawn into riding it at a pace you can’t sustain and dying a miserable death half way up. At the start there will be well over 1000 riders and the excitement and buzz of the event will send your adrenalin levels soaring and you will think you are riding the Tour De France. Don’t get involved in a race to the bottom of the climb, riding 30 seconds quicker now and sending your lactic levels into the red will ruin your ascent of Inthanon and your legs will be shot before you even start the harder sections.
Ride the first 7km in mid zone 3 (see table and zone calculator at the bottom of the page) spin the legs at 80-100 rpm and get them ready for the main climb. Once you hit the climb ride as much as you can seated but every now and then especially on the steeper sections get out of the saddle, if you stay in one position too long you are more likely to cramp. From km 8 to km 38 try and stick to zone 3 tempo pace, you can’t sustain zone 4 for more than about one hour at a time or you’ll just run out of energy too quickly.
Cadence is a very individual aspect of cycling; just look at Tour De France riders to see how every rider climbs differently. If you are a 55kg mountain goat then you are able to spin at a higher cadence of 90-100, but if you are a 74kg Farang like me then you’ll need to have greater torque and strength to ride at 70-80 rpm. On the really steep sections you’ll be out of the saddle at 50rpm and working hard.
On the short respites where the gradient eases or drops down momentarily spin the legs a bit and stretch the legs to help flush out the lactic from the muscles ready for the next section. The last 7km are super steep with no rest whatsoever, this is where the compact will really come into play, you’ll be out of the saddle a lot here and in zone 4 and 5 the last few km. Just dig deep and focus on the summit, keep telling yourself it’s only 7km, 6km, 5km, 4km, 3km, 2km, 1km to the summit and that you’re almost there. When your legs are screaming at you in pain to stop stay focused and tell yourself the job is nearly done, at this point it really is mind over matter and you’ll be able to rest very soon once you reach the summit.
Doi-Inthanon by Catena Cycling — Catena Cycling, The Worldwide Cycling Community
Training for greater climbing strength/torque on flat roads
A lot of us live in the flatlands of Thailand and can’t train on mountains on a regular basis; this doesn’t mean you can’t improve your climbing. Firstly you really need to practice riding out of the saddle, which although a less efficient way of climbing will be crucial on the steepest parts of Inthanon. The most crucial aspect of climbing is greater strength or torque which is the ability to pedal at a lower cadence. If you live near a mountain you can practice seated hill climbs at 50-60rpm but if you live in Bangkok there are no hills. This isn’t an issue, just ride into a headwind at 60-70rpm for 15 minutes mid zone 3 have 5 minutes recovery zone 2, repeat another 15 minutes into the headwind. Over the coming weeks you can extend the periods at the lower cadence to 20 min, 30 min and eventually one hour. In the tail wind sections practice higher cadence work at 80-100 rpm so you are able to ride at varied cadences.
Nutrition for Inthanon
I recently rode the Tour De Farm and was amazed at the lack of correct nutrition and hydration. Get it right and you’ll get 100% put of yourself, but get it wrong and you’ll end up running out of energy and dehydrated leading to cramping and under performance. A loss in body weight of 5% due to sweating can reduce your performance by up to 30%!
Water: – Drink I bottle of water every 30 minutes, sip every now and then rather than gulping it down. You’ll need to stock up at the feed stations.
Food: – Consume approx 30g of carbohydrate every 30 minutes
- 1 banana approx 25-30g depending on size
- Gels approx 30g per sachet
- It’s not easy to find Gels in Thailand so here’s a recipe for Rice Cakes from Alan Lim, Sport Scientist to the Garmin Pro Team
o 2 cups of sticky rice
o 3 cups water
o 8 ounces ham
o 4 eggs
o 2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
o Brown sugar & salt
o Combine rice and water in the rice cooker
o Chop ham and fry in oil until crispy, drain the oil and soak up excess fat with a paper towel
o Scramble the eggs
o Combine the rice, ham and eggs in a bowl and add soy sauce and sugar to taste
o Press into a 8inch square baking pan approx 1.5 inches thick
o Makes approx 10 cakes. Cut up and warp in tin foil to pop in your jersey pocket.
How to Calculate Your Training Zones
1. Your threshold heart rate or power zones can be set by completing a simple but hard test. You’ll need a flat road in a loop of 20-30minutes long or a turbo trainer.
2. Warm up easy for 20 minutes
3. It is important not to start too quickly, so for 5 minutes gradually increase your effort every 30 seconds until you can only mange short sentences.
4. Now start your heart rate monitor and hold that same effort for a further 20 minutes. Make a note of the average heart rate or power for ONLY those 20 minutes.
5. Once home work out your average heart rate or power for ONLY the 20 minute test then go to this link and download my zones calculator to work out your training zones. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ap4ly7k1n8i9u8c/Calculators.xlsx
|Zone1||Zone 2||Zone 3||Zone 4||Zone 5||Zone 6||Zone 7|
|Active recovery||Endurance||Tempo||Lactate Threshold||Vo2 max||Anaerobic capacity||Neuromuscular Power|
R.P.E Perceived rate of exhaustion
10 point scale of exertion
|<2Speak, sing and even dance||2-3Chat freely||3-4Just about hold a conservation||4-5One sentence at a time now!||6-7Only get out the odd word and you’re breathing hard!||>7Grunt! Gasp! Pant!||>10 maximalVery, very hardOnly well trained athletes can cope with this intensity. Can’t speak for 2-4minutes when finished!|
Average duration session
Heart rate based on AV threshold HR for 20-30 min test NOT MAX HR. Individuals % may vary, which can be calculated from SUFFICIENT feedback from athlete.
|<68%||69-83%||84-94%||95-105%||>106%||There is no heart rate zone for this as it takes too long for heart rate to catch up with the effort. Its perceived effort that counts.||Note there is no heart rate zone for this as it takes too long for heart rate to catch up with the effort. It is the perceived effort that counts.|
If you would like tailor made training plan or a fitness test to accurately work out your heart rate and power zones then please contact me.
Feel free to phone or email me if you would like to discuss coaching packages and fitness testing and please follow me on Facebook to view my daily tips and have a look at the photo albums.
Going to do this one next month.
Being the bigger guy of 90 ish kg I am thinking I will take the deal and pop in an 11-34 cassette.
Having those 6 extra teeth as an insurance.
Thanks for the great info.
I’m aiming to tackle this some time over the coming months. Currently just working on base fitness and increasing my climbing around Chiang Mai. I’m 98kg, so will use compact cranks and probably an 11-34t cassette. Probably will still be a massive struggle for me ?.
Mario Preston says
It’s possible to go up with your bike but not possible to go down on your bike anymore unless you want to pay a fine of THB 1,000.
I just was stop at the check point and explained this.
Good thing I did it a few years back.
No sign at the turn off or anywhere else.
They have a written english sign on their window at the check point.
Mario Preston says
And I just found this : https://www.thaipbsworld.com/for-safety-downhill-cycling-banned-in-doi-inthanon-national-park/