Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling - Hills: The enemy.
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07-16-11, 11:02 PM
So I want to get into racing a bit. I feel like I'm pretty fast, and have been told by people on the one club ride that I did, that I really should.
That being said, I can't do hills worth a ****. Yes, I smoke. I'm trying to quit that. But other then that, I don't know what it is.
Technique? I'm used to riding a single speed/fixed gear, so I'm not the greatest at gear usage, but I'm playing with it.
I don't know. I realize that to do any long rides that aren't in Kansas (I like across the river from Portland) I'm going to have to do some hills. Big ones at that.
So, any advice? Please.
07-16-11, 11:05 PM
Be a track racer.
07-16-11, 11:12 PM
What this race 7 hours from now..
07-17-11, 12:26 AM
I know some randonneurs that smoke. And they smoke me on hills. It's a little depressing. Unfortunately, climbing hills is the best practice for climbing hills.
07-17-11, 02:54 AM
I used to hate hills, and tried to pick flatter routes. Then I figured out that to get any good at hills, I needed to seeking them out rather than avoiding them.
07-17-11, 05:01 AM
1) Yeah, quit smoking. ;) After a few weeks your lung capacity should return to normal, assuming you haven't been a chain smoker for the last 25 years.
2) Always maintain a high cadence, including on the hills.
3) The only way to get better at hills is to do more hills.
4) Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9WaU-bZdic -- it's a little cheesy but afaik the information is largely correct.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRFNKhNhhJQ&feature=channel This guy talks about climbing for recreational cyclists. Mostly he talks about being smooth and not wasting energy. For myself, the main thing I see in the video is how smooth he actually is. Climbing used lots of oxygen so that breathing is important. People who have played wind instruments or had voice lessons and high altitude mountaineers have learned or been taught to breath with the diaphram. That is, to draw air into the belly like a nice chubby buddha. It is easy to tighten up as we tire and forget to breath.
07-17-11, 09:13 AM
yeah, I suppose that I should just simply do more hills it seems. Those videos helped, thanks guys.
I guess I just get down on myself. Some of the hills on my way home from work, are REALLY big, so I just avoid them. But in thinking about it, if I'm always doing huge hills, then I'd probably just get buff fast.
I'm only twenty, so I haven't smoked for twenty-five years, so at least I have that going for me.
Stop smoking. Everything else is window dressing.
07-17-11, 11:59 AM
Unfortuately, easier said then done. But then again, Eddy Merckx was a chain smoker. And super human.
07-17-11, 12:14 PM
I don't think Merckx was a chain smoker when he was riding. If he was, that explains why riders are 10% faster today than they were in his era. I know some top cyclists smoked a little, I doubt you can stay at the top if you chain smoke, but maybe exercise negates some of the bad effects.
07-17-11, 01:02 PM
I think he may have been a chain smoker, even when riding, but nevertheless irrelevant. Do you think the 10% may have anything to do, purely because of the technology? Bikewise and energy supplement wise?
Ether way, I know smoking is stupid, and I'm doing what I can to stop.
07-18-11, 09:11 AM
Learn to "Love thy enemy".
A change in attitude is your first task. As soon as you call hills your "enemy" you're done. Notice whether you start slowing down and feeling "tired" as soon as you see a hill. Next time you approach a hill start thinking more positively. Think of it as your "friend" and how it's going to make you stronger and tougher. Visualize yourself dropping other riders on the climb. Watch some of the great cyclists climbing on YouTube or cycling dvd's. Visualize riding like a champion. Sometimes cycling is about training the mind as much as the body.
Buzzman has a good point about learning to "Love the enemy. I'm mildly asthmatic, in the past smoked like a coal fired power plant in China, and I'm 72 y.o. Furthermore, I live in coastal Rhode Island that has only puny hills. Nevertheless I ride every hill I encounter with vigor and I'm getting stronger. This past Sunday I road hills with our local bike club. The short ride was a meager 24 miles but most of it was hilly with two good climbs. Total elevation gain on my ride was 1800 feet. I warm up slowly and that was the case Sunday. The first third was sort of painful, even on relatively small hills. After a while I really began to get into it, attacking the hills and standing to pedal. With each mile that went by I felt stronger and finished feeling great. I'm really looking forward to the next hilly ride.
07-18-11, 10:47 PM
Haha, I never thought of that. The love thine enemy. I'm gunna do that for now on. Damn.
07-19-11, 09:18 AM
My riding time is a bit limited right now because of family and work obligations, so when I do ride, I often seek out hills and do hill repeats. Ride up the hill, ride down, brief recovery and repeat until done. I get a great workout and I have noticed that I can fly up hills that used to be difficult. Believe me, it feels really good to get to the top of a once-challenging hill and realize you didn't even work that hard to get to get there.
07-19-11, 10:48 AM
Hills are your friends. Stop riding on flat ground.
07-19-11, 09:25 PM
So, any advice? Please. You would have to ride with an experienced racer to know whether you have a real "hill" problem.
In any case, any ability to sustain high levels of power is destroyed by smoking. You should have become a pro cyclists first and then take up smoking.
Unfortuately, easier said then done. But then again, Eddy Merckx was a chain smoker. And super human.
No not really. Easiest thing I ever quit and believe me I've quit a few tough ones. I haven't smoked a cigarette in a decade. If you ask Eddie I bet he'd say not to smoke.
07-25-11, 09:14 AM
In terms of energy consumed it's better to shift to a lower gear and keep spinning than it is to stand and mash the pedals. There are times when you want or need to stand--e.g. you're in your lowest gear and the hill just keeps getting worse, or you need a sudden burst of speed--but you'll use less energy if you stay seated.
I have learned to love hills, even if they sometimes drive my average speed down into the single digits. There's the challenge of overcoming them, the views you get from the top, and the thrill of descending them. Plus they make you stronger. I'm not a racer but I measure my progress from month to month and from year to year by how well I do on some of my favorite hills.
07-25-11, 10:48 AM
Also, for climbing ss/fg, don't use a big city-sprint gear. Keep your ratio <2.5
07-25-11, 01:01 PM
We ride a tandem and find that hills are only half bad!
07-26-11, 07:32 AM
First of all, I'm 6'5" and weigh in at about 260. Even at my ideal weight of 235 I'm still never going to have the best power to weight ratio in the world. I can pull a 19-20mph average on a solo ride, have done 100 milers with a 19+ average and produce lots of power, unforetuneatly I also have lots of weight. That said... I love hills. I have a love of all things adverse and challenging. I love riding in when its snowing heavily. I love riding riding in the rain. I love riding in the cold. Just about the only thing I don't love riding in is extremely hot and humid weather... but then again, I'm getting pretty good at that to.
What I love most about hills.
First, I looove rollers. Anything I can get up and over before my heart knows what hit it is awesome. My speeds actually go up, way up when I hit a good set of rollers.
I love it as I approach a roller and try to come in fast and maintain my speed while conserving as much energy as possible.
I love the feeling as the hills starts to resist and I start using more legg muscle without down shifting. The early transistion.
Then I love it when I hit that steepest spot in a hill. It's the sweet spot. At this point I either downshift or stand up, but I usually go absolutely ape / ferocious / 110%. I'll lay it all out. Actually accellerationg. I love the pull of the wheels on the pacement, the grind of the gears, the accelleration in what is the steapest part of the hill.
I love continuing to accellerate right over the top of the hill. Until I'm doing 25-30 and my heart is about ready to explode. It is then that I ease up, relax, continue to accellerate because of the downhill as I get down into an aerodynamic tuck, still pedaling lightly as I conserve energy and recover, the free radicals and ache in the leggs a welcome drug. The endorphines coursing through my body.
I think... it's the only way to get a "runners high" while biking.
The only thing you need to know with this approach to rollers is to be able to gauge how big of a roller you can get over.
Of course then their are other approaches.
I love the steep short hills of the appalachians and appalachian foothills. Usually 1/8 mile to a half mile. Perhaps as many as 18% grade. I find these the toughest. They beat you down and teach you humility. You don't really climb over mountains, you just climb, descend, climb, descend... again and again. In order to go over a single mountain you might climb and descend a dozen times. Since you never have one continuous long hill you never get in a rythm. You just redline and recover, readline and recover. Probably the best way to get in shape.
I love the long steady climbs of the rockies and appalachia's biggest mountains. We're talking long steady consistent 8% grades of 15 miles. By the time you're half way done you're feeling no pain and anything less then a 4% grade looks like a downhill. :) You simply find your rythm.
This much i know.
a) ride with other riders, preferably more experienced. Use them to pace yourself. Copy their moves... i.e. when they stand, when they sit, what cadence they're spinning. If you need to race them... it's good to know you can accellerate on them.
b) You should know that most races... i.e. the tour de france, are won and lost in the mountains. They are the greatest measure of individual capacity, perhaps even greater then the time trial. No team can pull you up them. I love the mountain stages of the tour de fance because after every attack a little bit more of the peloton falls away until the only riders left are the true leaders. It's then that the racing really starts. The mountains reward bold attacks as the lone rider doesn't have to do much more work then riders in a pack. On the flats where air resistance is the biggest factor a pack of riders does far less work than the single rider because of the draft. But in the mountains wind plays less of a roll (usually) and therefore the playingfield is leveled (ironic pun-age). The only advantage to riding in a group in the mountains is psychological, i.e. being able to pace yourself better against other riders, but a rider who really knows themself and has lots of experience riding solo will be able to find their rythm regardless of whether their are others around them.
c) smoking hates biking... it wants to kill your aerobic / lung capacity. I should know, I smoked for to many years, and it took me years to recover. Still, I will have a very occasional cigar, but that's not a lung thing, you don't deaply inhale you just puff on a cigar. Cancer sticks on the other hand are a symbol of the best the unbridled american profit motive can do... strip down a pipe or cigar to it's most elemental and addictive form. Not just physically addictive but also into a habitually addictive form that can be consumed in five minutes or less. A true 'hit'. The five minute smoke break. I loath cigarrettes and all they represent. Have nothing against pipe smoking or cigars though. Cigars and pipes are something that requires time and patience and is done only on occasion or event. Cigarrettes are vending maching junk foot.. indeed that's exactly how they were sold for a long time. Vending machines. What I did to kick my smoking habbit some 5 years ago now was to take "biking breaks" instead of cigarette breaks. It works at work, home, pretty much anywhere you spend large amounts of time. Simply keep a bicycle on hand that you can ride casually in regular street clothes, i.e. not a road bike, my favorite is my 1976 Fuji cambridge iV, now single speed. When feeling stressed, that urge for a cigarete just give yourself permission to go for a five minute ride. It's a perfect stress reliever. Gauranteed to work everytime. If you're at work just say you need to run and get a coffee, or some air, or run an errand to the corner store... the bank, make a personal phone call, whereever. Just a few minutes on a bicycle is a very good thing. Especially after sitting at a desk in front of a computer monitor.
d) Above all seek out new and varied hills and ride them alot. It's the fastest/best way to become a better rider.
if you want to conquer hills you can't hate them, you just have to ride them, the steeper the better, every day, day after day, and one day you'll love them.
07-29-11, 10:52 AM
The reality of smoking is this:
If you are a bicycle racer and you are also a regular cigarette smoker, another racer will rip your legs right off.
Years ago I took flying lessons, and my instructor laid it out this way... A normal fit human can safely operate at altitudes up to around 18,000 feet. Smoking reduces the body's ability to carry and process oxygen to the point that a smoker... when standing on the ground... is effectively operating as if he is at 10,000 feet already.
08-04-11, 09:54 PM
Oh my God, I was going to explain why you must love hills, but Mmeiser said it better.
08-28-11, 07:31 AM
a semipro friend of mine gave me some simple advice that has really helped on hills. this may be obvious to most but was lost on me until he pointed it out:
the key is to put your hands on the tops, not the hoods and certainly not in the drops, while going uphill. you won't need your brakes, you probably won't need to shift, and wind resistance is negligible at slow speeds.
plus, sitting upright expands your lung capacity and enables you to sit back in the saddle and make use of leg muscles that aren't tapped quite as much when crouched over. (don't ask me the name of the leg muscles.)
of course, downshifting to spin rather than mash is essential as well. I used to think it was cool to push quickly up the hills, but I would always exhaust myself. taking this approach as well not only gets me there just as fast as mashing + resting, and it preserves my energy.
the other advice from my semipro friend was to "think of hills as rest." this seemed counterintuitive to me as I think of them as hard work, but he said just to sit up, sit back, and not try to rush. just try to finish. this has also helped quite a bit.
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