Road to Sa Colobra



Road to Sa Colobra



It’s a Great Goal

Sa Colobra is a great climb. And it’s a great goal when you’ve done something before, and you think:

‘You know what, I want to go up that faster next time!’

I personally think it’s a great way to set a goal. Especially in this case where the first attempt was just over an hour (1:02.47), which was done in 2017, before I started coaching him. So 6 years on, age 57…what’s the plan coach?


Where to Start

With a goal in mid-March, starting training in late October gave us plenty of time to implement a nicely periodised plan. He’s an athlete I already know, having trained them for a few months last year for a trip to the Alps (see here to see how we got their FTP from 145 – 225).

I don’t usually test someone who’s had a big break in training. Better to get them doing some basic training and working on frequency, consistency and gradually building volume…better to test when these are already in place. However, it was clear from the data that we were starting from a slightly higher FTP than last time (about 170).

Just as we were reaching the point of increasing intensity and pushing on a bit we had a couple of setbacks!

Not all Plain Sailing!

Obviously, it would be great if life was easy and you write a great plan, and the athlete can follow it along with no issues and no interruptions.

However, this is pretty unlikely. Even with a pretty smooth base, build, peak…you always have to adapt things a bit.

On this occasion, we had a particularly tricky winter with a couple of illnesses that really knocked us back. Every time we got back on track, we were hit with a bit more illness. Never anything particularly severe or prolonged, but certainly enough to set us back.

This was really frustrating for us both, and with another illness forcing a bit of a re-start in early January, we were getting close to having a conversation about managing expectations.

How to Manage the Set Backs

You can’t bury your head in the sand and assume you can just keep building when you have setbacks.

‘You have to Start from Where you are!’

In this case, since it was an illness, it means taking a few steps back and building back slowly. If you try and push on, you are likely storing up issues that will bite you closer to your goal…NOT GOOD!

Finally, by mid-January, we were on track, and as it turned out, we would now be able to push right through to the goal in Mid-March…though I didn’t know that at the time and it was a little nervy!

A Typical Week

We’re not talking about pro athletes doing 25 hours a week on the bike. With a job and family, we are really looking at the time-crunched athlete and so making the most of this time is a fundamental part of the process.

So how did we make the most of our time, here’s a typical couple of weeks:

These from mid-late Jan:

Summit Cycle Coaching

As you can see, typically doing about 3 hours on the bike, mainly low intensity, with some time spent around LT1 and some over-gear efforts mixed in.

These from mid-late Feb:

Summit Cycle Coaching

You can see the progression. Now doing 3-4 hours, but with some intensity mixed in. Typically, we did one shorter, sharper interval session, with intervals around 300 Watts for 2 mins. Then one session with lower power, but prolonged 8-12 minute intervals, progressed over time.

Difficult to get longer than 90 minutes on the bike due to his dislike of cold/wet weather…which is fair 🙂 But we did a long, easy turbo of 90 minutes most Sundays.

Intensity Distribution

I don’t plan a specific intensity distribution…but I do like my athletes getting plenty of Z1 in. Here’s a typical week:

Summit Cycle Coaching


I do regular sub-max benchmark tests along the way to see how we are doing. Here are the results from this period of training:

Summit Cycle Coaching

OK, I confess one was a Max Test…but I wanted to see where we were 🙂

FTP – 246




So – How Did We Get On??


Sa Colobra was planned for day 2 of the trip, with day 1 being an easy trundle to the Light House at Formentor…great planning.


Due all the snow and storms, the road to Sa Colobra was closed when we got there:

Summit Cycle Coaching

Re-planning new route…no Sa Colobra today!


Summit Cycle Coaching

Road Re-opened for Day 4

Road re-opened…great news. However, in the first 3 days, we cover 180 quite hilly miles!! So not as fresh as we would have liked!

So, here it is in Pictures


Summit Cycle Coaching




Summit Cycle Coaching

Summit Cycle Coaching


58.31 – So Proud!

Massive congratulations to Coached Athlete Rick for putting in all the effort and achieving a great goal and earning the tastiest of ‘recovery beers!’

Summit Cycle Coaching

What Ricky Had to Say

As Neil has said, it’s great to have goals. I think my goal was always to go up quicker than the first
time, but it was also to try and enjoy it a little more. I’d only been cycling a few years the first time I
attempted Sa Calobra and it was a pretty miserable experience. I was a bit of a mess at the top,
which my friends laugh about every time they re-post the “photo of pain” of me hanging over the
bars at the top.

This was my fourth cycling trip with a group of friends and the second where I’ve used Neil’s
coaching to get me ready for the trip. After using Neil’s coaching last year prior to our trip to the
Alps, I was confident that if I stuck to it, I could get up Sa Calobra and complete the other full days
that we had planned.

At my age, I find it difficult to motivate myself to train, especially when the
temp is -1 in the garage, so having a week’s plan set out by Neil in advance is a great help. The
structure of the training sessions is great for me as they are short and I can fit them in around work
and family. They are sometimes challenging but not overly so, which means they can be completed
at the end of the workday.

With Neil’s help, I’ve now climbed Alpe d’Huez and Sa Calobra in successive years and actually
enjoyed the experience. If you’d told me I’d do this 8 years ago, when a short 4% climb took my
heart rate to levels Garmin had seldom seen, I would have said you were mad.

I’m sure that most people my age would see the words “Cycling Coaching” and think that’s not for
me, it’s for younger riders and athletes who just want to race. My experience proves that is
definitely not the case and this process will work for all ages and abilities.
Although it’s always nice to go faster 🙂

Do you have a Goal we can help with?

With a coach, you are part of a team. Together we make a plan tailored to your goals and your lifestyle


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