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Thread: Clyde climbing

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    Clyde climbing

    I've only been riding road for about a week, but I can already tell some things about my riding compared to my (non-clyde) friends. I've had no trouble hanging with even more experienced riders on the flat, but when it comes time to climb I have a lot of work to do. There are several good climbs in the area and I intend to keep hitting them until I can own them all.

    Any clyde climbing success stories to spur me on? Hints and tips that worked for you that your non-clyde buds might not think of?

    -Adam

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    Just think how fast you'll fly by them on the downhill

    I've had a few friends keep asking me how I fly past them when I'm not even pedalling on the downside. I just smile...

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    Senior Member JOEPIPPAS's Avatar
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    Big Pro's

    Hey if you want to talk about Clydes' look at Miguel Indurain. that mo' fo' is tall. and Sean Yeats, that guy is tall and they climb well.... just cuz we carry a few extra pounds. does not mean we cant climb.

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    I'd say good luck, but that doesn't have anything to do with it. It's going to take a lot of work. I did an 800 mile tour across England a few years ago, not riding all that far, but just about every day, with a fully loaded bike (the bike, bags & I probably came in close to 375). For the first couple of weeks, I walked a lot of hills. The next couple of weeks I struggled up a lot of hills. The last day on tour I cleared a 12 mile hill, mostly in the middle ring.

    When I got back, I was able to clear every hill I tried, even some steep nasties I never considered before (taking off 40 lbs of touring equipment and 20lbs of fat sure helped!)

    My climbs weren't blazing, or really even 'fast', but I wasn't the last person in the group rides up the hill.

    As for tips.
    1- Know the climbs so you aren't demoralized when you 'think' you're at the top, only to see the road stretch off into the sky...

    2-Know where you're going to finish. What I really mean by this is, don't turn around if you hit the wall on a climb. Go ahead and walk it up some. Once you get some recovery in, you'll be able to keep going.

    3- Get on a training program. Overdoing it will get you hurt or burnt.

    4- Taking one from Rodney Dangerfield, "if you want to look slimmer, hang out with fat guys". If you want to ride faster, ride with people slower than you!

    5- Work, work, more work. Non clyde's have a big advantage on the climbs, takes a lot to overcome that.

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    jcm
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    TIP: When I see the next weeks' ride posted on our club site, I select the bike most suited to my needs. If it's going to be hot with hills, I'll bring the '88 Trek 830 because it packs alot of water, has the gears of a Jeep (the old BioPace) and is supremely comfortable with the setup I'm using. Heavy? Yes, but so am I. Strong, too. I don't fall far behind on any hill and I always carry lots more weight than my clubbies.

    TIP: There's considerable help in running 1.5" pavement tires on a MTB used for roads.

    For faster cruises, I'll ride the '98 Trek 520 or the Sequoia Elite. Lotta fun, that Sequoia.

    TIP: Conditioning. I started riding last July. Went from 270 to 225. If I want to ride anywhere from my house, it's 1-1/2 miles up hill in any direction.

    TIP: Mental State of Mind. Hills are temporary.

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    When I get to the bottom of the hill, for the few times I ride with others, I say:

    "See you later"

    And then take my time and enjoy the ride in anticipation of the descent to come.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
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    Senior Member kk4df's Avatar
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    Tip: Find a hill that is fairly long, but one you can make with some effort. Then get out there and do "hill repeats." Up and down 6 or more times. This is like interval training, but using hills. I'll mash up the hill one time and spin (faster cadence) up the hill the next. Sometimes I'll stay seated, sometimes I'll be standing. Once you do a few of these sessions (no more than once per week), you'll be amazed at the difference.

    Hills? Bring 'em on. Started at 220 lbs back in May, down to 188 lbs and still dropping.

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    Senior Member masi61's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abertsch
    I've only been riding road for about a week, but I can already tell some things about my riding compared to my (non-clyde) friends. I've had no trouble hanging with even more experienced riders on the flat, but when it comes time to climb I have a lot of work to do. There are several good climbs in the area and I intend to keep hitting them until I can own them all.

    Any clyde climbing success stories to spur me on? Hints and tips that worked for you that your non-clyde buds might not think of?

    -Adam
    I find that if I ride hills regularly, my technique improves. Don't develop a phobia about hills, just incorporate a variety of terrain into your regular training routes. I don't know why this is helping but lately I'll do my regular training route backwards. This hits different hills and rewards you on your normal inclines, also wind directions are different. As far as climbing technique I would say staying relaxed and finding a comfortable position to keep a steady tempo helps. I like to stand and climb on shorter steeper sections, then sit down and finish. Climbing taxes you and your bike. I have found it helps when I wear my better bib shorts, and I like to slide in and out of the saddle frequently so it helps to have a fairly smooth leather saddle. Lately I have fitted my road bike with a tighter cassette 13-23 (7speed uniglide) but I use this in conjunction with a 30-39-53 triple crank. I find that I can get up most hills now in the 30-23 gear( earlier in the season I needed a 26 cog and was using it quite regularly, but I now feel like having too little resistance while climbing, slows you down so much in the real world of group riding that if you fall in love with the easy spinning touring gears that your climbing doesn't improve, it just keeps you fresh while you lose lots of time or get seriously dropped.

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    I just changed handlebars and brake-levers this week and there's something to be said for grip when climbing, esp. if you climb out of the saddle much.

    ~3 months ago I started commuting and biking (hadn't ridden one in 10 years) From the start just about everything but hill-climbing was pretty much natural and easy. When I started, I had to walk all of the big hills, or on a hill-repeat, I could handle the entire hill once and just didn't have the endurance to do it again.

    nowadays, I'm not much better on endurance (mostly because I'm too lazy to get out and do repeats on the weekends) but I've mastered all the hills on several different commute routes. There's this one long hill that has a steep start on the way to my fiance's mom's house, it's still too much for me, but I will master it.

    Just remember the little engine that could...I think I can, I think I can...

    This weekend I'm going biking with a friend who's about to start back up after not biking since he got his license at 16 (about a 10 year break) I'm eager to see how my single-speed and training do against his mtb.
    Proudly wearing kit that doesn't match my frame color (or itself) since 2006.

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    A clyde that climb and has good descending technique pays big dividends. I've learned that in a pack to get out front before the hills lest I get stuck. Here's the deal:
    All that mass carries further up the hill before I start pedalling again. Having a 'shorter' hill means I can use those bigger muscles harder and hammer to the top. Good technique (getting down and aero) maximizes the advantage going down hill.

    Rinse and repeat.
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    Its all about generating power to raise all the weight up the hill, that means getting stronger. On shorter hills of no more than about 90 seconds of climbing I go anaerobic and hammer like nobodys' business, then almost pass out gasping on the descent.

    On longer climbs its like kk4df said, do a weekly session of repeats and over time you'll own those climbs. I make it a point to plan hillier routes when commuting somewhere, provided I have the time. The more you climb the better you'll get.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

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    Yeah, note that most clydes have oodles of torque (also a big factor is why we break stuff for reason other than weight). Use that to your advantage. In a short-medium hill, just power the hell up. I ahve been known to up-shift for hills.
    Long hills, well they take time till you get good at them. Try attacking a 50lb weight for a while (panners). Then, when its gone, boom, up you go.
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    Air
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    Actually - I rode around with a friend of mine, she was on skates. I towed her up some of the larger hills - when she let go I took off like I had a nitrous tank on the side

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    I have been successful on hills. At 230# down from #300 I have built up large gluts which when trained doing the Hill Intervals will bring you along nicely. Plus you lose nothing from the faster descents. Once a week is all I would do a 3/4 mile long hill. I was fine for a Hilly Civil War century but will spend more time on hills next year. I have seen it said everywhere ' TRAIN your weakness and RACE your strengths'.

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    fixed gear and singlespeed riding builds character for sure.
    especially on hills

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    I find knowing what sort of RPM for each gear I am in helps. You know how it is if you ride the same bike long enough. In any gear on the flat you know what speed you are going without looking at the computer. On hills I just select a gear that gives me the best speed I can expect at 60RPM+. This way nothing gets hurt or broken and I dont feel like I am struggling too much.

    On my first commute to a new office in the winter I didnt actually notice the night before, but there was a seriously long incline in the road, not the sort of thing you would feel going down but seriously feel it going up, or so I thought. As it was dark and the road busy I didnt notice until the next day when I was a bit more relaxed in the morning because I knew where I was going. The weird thing was that because I didnt see it, I didnt really feel it, weird!

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    lol, broke my chain riding up a hill today. Luckily I had my trusty chain tool with me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOEPIPPAS View Post
    Hey if you want to talk about Clydes' look at Miguel Indurain. that mo' fo' is tall. and Sean Yeats, that guy is tall and they climb well.... just cuz we carry a few extra pounds. does not mean we cant climb.
    Big Mig may have been 6'2", but he was also whip thin at 176 pounds and had some crazy respiratory and cardiac anomalies, like an 8L lung capacity and a 50L/min cardiac output. The guy had cycling in his genes.

    For the rest of us, the best climbing advice I received was from an ultradistance racer and randonneuring friend of mine. He caught me slacking on a climb during an early season training ride, and as he rode past me he yelled "STAND UP, BIG MAN!"

    Standing up works. Use your weight to your advantage: Go one or two gears higher than you'd sit and spin for a given pitch, stand up, shift your weight forward so you're centered over the forward position of the crankarm instead of centered over the cranks for spinning. Stand up on that forward pedal and just let your weight do the work.
    You might not go any faster with this technique, but it's not about the speed. It's about playing gravity to your advantage, even when you're going uphill.
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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    If you're heavy, you'll never be a great climber. That's just the way it is, great climbers are built like whippets and that's the only way to get the power/weight ratio required.

    You can improve, of course, and many of the tips given above will help. There's absolutely no substitute for doing intervals on hills, it's brutal in the extreme but it gets results quite fast.

    Oh, and did I mention losing weight?
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    If you're heavy, you'll never be a great climber. That's just the way it is, great climbers are built like whippets and that's the only way to get the power/weight ratio required.

    You can improve, of course, and many of the tips given above will help. There's absolutely no substitute for doing intervals on hills, it's brutal in the extreme but it gets results quite fast.

    Oh, and did I mention losing weight?
    Maybe in the sense of competitive at a Cat-3 racing level this is true, but the OP is talking about having just started road riding, so I don't think this kind of discouragement is warranted.
    Sure, the reality is that on average, Clydes will never climb as fast as their lighter ride partners... but there are Clydes in my rando group who have no problem with 300k routes that have 12,000' of climbing. There's a guy on this forum who finished the RAAM (again) this year, and there's a lot of climbing involved there.
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    I would focus on maintaining a smooth pedal stroke at a slow speed. I'll pedal at 4 mph on hills steaper than 10% and just take my time.

    It's simple physics, climbing a hill at 4 mph requires half the energy of climbing it at 8 mph.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    ... I don't think this kind of discouragement is warranted.
    Sure, the reality is that on average, Clydes will never climb as fast as their lighter ride partners... but there are Clydes in my rando group who have no problem with 300k routes that have 12,000' of climbing. There's a guy on this forum who finished the RAAM (again) this year, and there's a lot of climbing involved there.
    I wasn't being discouraging, I'm on this forum myself (though I only just qualify), I'm 55 years old, and I can climb at 2500 feet per hour. Faster, when I'm really in shape. But the little guys who can really climb dance past me like thoroughbreds past, er, Clydesdales. And the OP was comparing himself to other riders whom he can hang with on the flats but not going uphill. There's nothing discouraging about telling him that he can improve, but that heavyweights will never be true climbers. It's just a fact of life.
    Last edited by chasm54; 07-07-10 at 10:04 AM.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    There's nothing discouraging about telling him that he can improve, but will never be a true climber.
    True climbers? Neither are the little guys that pass the clydes. The true climbers are winning the TDF!

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    Senior Member DoubleTap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kk4df View Post
    Tip: Find a hill that is fairly long, but one you can make with some effort. Then get out there and do "hill repeats." Up and down 6 or more times. This is like interval training, but using hills. I'll mash up the hill one time and spin (faster cadence) up the hill the next. Sometimes I'll stay seated, sometimes I'll be standing. Once you do a few of these sessions (no more than once per week), you'll be amazed at the difference.
    This. Hills were kicking my butt four months ago, so I started doing hill repeats near my house. Once a week, I'd drive over to the park near my house and spend an hour climbing over the dam. Up, down, up...it made a huge difference, not only physically but mentally as well. I now know that I can do it, and I also know how slow I can go without falling over (about 4 mph). You'll get better fast with practice.

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    Some tips that have worked for me:

    NEVER look at the top of the hill. If you're in an urban area ( ie one with blocks ), set the end of each block as a mini goal, and know that the intersection will be flat.

    Take quick rests when the opportunity comes. After a long, steep climb, your heart rate is soaring, and you need to let it fall a bit. This seems to be the #1 thing; after long stretches of what feel like 40 degree inclines, my HR will hit 160 to 170, but when it's back to about 130, I'm ready for more punishment.

    Shift early and often.

    Don't stand on the pedals too early.

    Go clipless! I find that holding the tops ( of the handlebars ) and using my legs to pull upward as hard as I can, will get me over the peak when I've exhausted every last bit of downward force I can muster.

    Practice climbing hills. A lot. When you've done that, go do it some more.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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