Many of you took to the mighty Jebel Jais during our recent IF Endurance Training Camp. Whether by bike or by running, the completion of this is something to be proud of. Considering Dubai is a land of pan flat desert, going uphill consistently for 19km is no easy task. As coaches, we always strive to improve you and get you better at life. The variety of potential training sessions that can be held on Jebel Jais got us excited about the possibilities. I have taken a moment to share with you some of the benefits of taking advantage of the highest point in the UAE.
Obstacles with power training outdoors
One of the main issues of applying a structured cycling session to the road, is that unlike an indoor session, you're unable to train as accurately. This is mainly due to environmental issues that affect consistent power output and the consistency of an effort, such as wind, incline or surface quality. We’re really unique here in the UAE, Al Qudra is basically an outdoor turbo trainer. There is no need to stop, good quality tarmac and a gradient that varies very little, giving you probably the best chance to ride a session accurately. Jebel Jais is, in essence, the same as Al Qudra. The consistent uphill opens up a world of possibilities.
Training benefits of Jebel Jais
The difference between Jebel Jais and other summits, is that it's super long and super steady. The length is important because you can base all your intervals going one way, without having to consider rolling back down or loops to get to other hills. This elimination of such logistical issues is awesome for both coach and athlete. The consistency of the gradient is fantastic as undulating hills are a nightmare when trying to ride to power. If you’re going full gas up a hill and have to flick through the gears to meet the desired power output, albeit great for technical riding skill, it is likely to reduce the accuracy of the intervals and therefore the training effect. Riding up Jebel Jais removes this problem as the variations are only very slight, therefore you can focus on your effort without worrying that the hill will run out or there is a massive change in incline.
Unlike Al Qudra, where you are reliant on wind to provide resistance, Jebel Jais’s consistent gradient allows for excellent interval efforts. Modified cadence flips, without concerns of gearing, group training efforts where sprints in the won’t split the bunch, the gentle gradient allows you to play around with gearing and cadence without being restricted by it. For example, a typical strength session would be near impossible to do on a flat or undulating road, is made entirely possible on Jebel Jais. One of my favourites is a strength endurance session with cadence variations. Playing between high and low cadence at around 90% FTP or Zone 4 LTHR, not only stresses the body physiologically, it also stresses your neuromuscular system.
With a consistent hill, you open up a repertoire of interval sessions: threshold, strength, out the saddle, attacks from a bunch, explosive power development (EPD bursts). It really is a playground for the more intense interval sessions. If you would like to know more, drop me an email and we can discuss your coaching options.
As races start to open up, such as Coast to Coast, Cape Argus, Haute Route, you are more than likely to come across a hill of some description. If you’re wanting to stay in a group up a hill or try to make a break away, practicing these efforts or simulating a ‘race’ situation can be really good to prepare your body for the physical demands of a race. Your head will also be ready and used to these efforts, that means that when they arise, you’re mentally ready to go deep and then recover. The confidence this gives you is unreal. Trust me! You may have seen on instagram when Tom and Rob J were having competitive sprint efforts up Jebel Jais, a bit like Roglic vs. Bernal. These repeated attacks, feint attacks, quick selection of gear and effective application of power are fantastic racecraft practices and effective learnings.
A wise person once said, what goes up must come down. You can go as fast as you want up a hill, but if you can’t back that up with a confident and quick descent, then all your advantage will be for nothing. The burly bloke will cruise past you saying ‘this is my advantage’ and it sucks for the skinny lad. Gaining experience and fine tuning your descending skills, is essential for any cyclist or triathlete wanting to be competitive. I know I said triathlete, but look at Nice Ironman, there is a lot of technical descending that requires practice and skill. Jebel Jais has a fantastic variation of corners: full 180 switch backs, flowing corners, blind corners and off camber. You can really get a good skills workout on the descent. Key pointers such as hitting the apex, looking around the corner, body position and braking points can be practised and repeated to build up your confidence. Safety wise, the quality of the tarmac, the extra wide roads and visibility mean that you can trust the road and can be less nervous about idiots taking you out.
Jebel Jais is so close to Dubai! It’s incredible for training both physically and mentally and is only 1.5 hours away. So if you and your turbo trainer are still getting over your lockdown fall out, or you want to climb an actual hill, get in your car and get your arse up to Jebel Jais.
If you’ve got any questions or would like to talk about coaching and how to prepare properly for an upcoming event, drop me an email email@example.com
Enjoy the Ride