After a very hard effort of about 15 miles today, I did an ascent of a local climb, Old La Honda. I was feeling good, not trying for a personal best, and so I was not working at peak ability for most of the ascent (too bad!). I was also carrying about 3.5 pounds of extra clothing and gear as compared to my personal best day (it was cold).
I thought it would be interesting to draw a line showing a constant rate of ascent on the graph produced by the SRM software.
In the graph below, the gray area is the elevation profile. The heavy reddish line shows a constant rate of ascent.
Here, the constant rate of ascent line shows that the actual effort was very consistent over the entire ascent (compare the line to the elevation profile).
To improve this time, observe that raising the effort just a little in the beginning and middle of the climb is where some seconds could be shaved off, as well as raising the effort by just 1-2% would likely have eclipsed my previous best (as would dispensing with the extra weight).
Since the steepness varies, we can’t simply say that the effort was not consistent, since wind resistance comes into play for a few percent. But on the whole, it does look like it should be possible to eke out a bit more performance at some points of the climb with just a bit more effort, and by eliminating excess baggage during the attempt.
Click for a larger graph.