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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-25-07, 07:15 PM   #1
trigger
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How Do You Practice Climbing Hills ... ??

I mean, can it be as simple as finding a medium to largeish hill and just climbing it repeatedly? Is this something I can / should spend an hour at a time (one ride a week, say) actively practicing? My hill climbing sucks, though I will admit to finding a kind of perverse pleasure in it ... I'd like to get better at it.

How do I learn to climb hills? What do I work on?
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Old 08-25-07, 07:20 PM   #2
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Pretty much what you said. Practice on hills. You could do sprints while spinning to practice riding at the higher heart rate.
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Old 08-25-07, 08:02 PM   #3
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I find a mtn climb that takes a couple of hours to climb. Just take your time. One day you will wake up and find that you are much faster. It's more about doing it than trying to race up. Long sustained climbs work wonders.

Like the other guy says, you can do hill repeats but I myself like to make sure I complete the climb. You'll get very tired but the effort it takes to finish it is what makes you stronger. Some days I suck but then realize if I can do it on a bad day, I can do it on a good day! You can't expect every climbing ride to be magical!
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Old 08-25-07, 08:16 PM   #4
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I find a mtn climb that takes a couple of hours to climb. Just take your time. One day you will wake up and find that you are much faster. It's more about doing it than trying to race up. Long sustained climbs work wonders.

Like the other guy says, you can do hill repeats but I myself like to make sure I complete the climb. You'll get very tired but the effort it takes to finish it is what makes you stronger. Some days I suck but then realize if I can do it on a bad day, I can do it on a good day! You can't expect every climbing ride to be magical!
What Beanz said.
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Old 08-25-07, 08:19 PM   #5
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Ride over bridges is the only training I can do to train for hills, well outside of riding in the wind. We have a fairly nice bridge downtown that is bike friendly that I ride over multiple times. I'm pretty wiped out after 10 or so round trips. I just don't live in a hilly area so I have to take what I can get.
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Old 08-25-07, 09:42 PM   #6
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I started riding on MUPS around here which are very flat. Now that I am commuting and riding on roads, I am encountering some grades. Not steep as this is Illinois, after all but anything more than flat is a challenge for me.

I don't know how to train for it other than riding them. So that is what I am doing...getting off the MUP and riding the hillier routes more often.

My only strategy for hills is to tell myself over and over...'Don't give up your cadence, don't give up your cadence'. I don't know if that is the best way to conquer a hill but I know that when I don't pedal fast enough or I don't shift soon enough or often enough as the grade begins to increase, I am a dead man!
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Old 08-25-07, 09:50 PM   #7
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I have only a basic understanding of the training effect yet. . . I understand you need to train al least two or better still three separate days a week for faster improvement. Say half an hour or an hour or more of climbing 3 days a week. See the racing and training areas for a better system.
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Old 08-26-07, 05:28 AM   #8
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I found when I first started riding (a few months ago) that I couldn't climg any hill without a lot of effort. But at 240 pounds that is easy to understand. I started on some smaller hills, shorter and with less grade, and then worked my way up to larger hills in both length and grade. The biggest thing for me was the mental part of it, because I didn't think my legs would allow me to make it up the hill. I changed my attitude and decided I could make any hill. Try and keep your cadence up. Depending upon the hill and how you approach it, will depend upon the gear you are in and how early you need to shift up.

If I get to go down a hill before going up a steep incline hill, I will shift down two or three gears and try to gain some speed, and then I will shift back up gears very early in the hill. I do not look at my cyclometer to see how fast my cadence is, but I try to shift early and often, so that my cadence stays as high as possible, to make it easier on my legs.

If it is flat and just starts to increase, I will stay in the gear that I am in and try to increase my cadence a little at the start of the hill and then just shift up in gears to keep my cadence up.

That may not be of any help, but that is what works for me.
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Old 08-26-07, 07:13 AM   #9
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I live on a hill in a hilly area so I have no choice, but if I didn't, I'd try to approximate it...

Assuming one is physically sound enough to take on extra effort:

1) Initially in safer parts of your ride, plan some intervals of riding out of the saddle in a much harder-to-push gear. As if you were sprinting.

2) Same thing sitting down in the saddle. Ride in a harder-to-spin cog than you'd normally roll. This you can do for whatever distance you want to emulate the 'hill' effect. If you normally spin 85-90, bring yourself into a gear that you's have to spin at 55-60 with some stronger effort.

3) If you avoid windier days (like I do, cos I have other sports for windy days), ride in days with stronger headwinds that you otherwise might avoid -- as long as it's safe and won't put you at risk of getting blown into traffic, or off the road, of course. Some extra wind resistance gives a little of that 'hill' feel.
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Old 08-26-07, 07:29 AM   #10
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A couple techniques:
  1. Practice applying pressure on the pedals for the entire pedal stroke--i.e. pedal in circles. Pull the pedal back at the bottom (like scraping dog-poo off your shoe), and pull up on the pedal as it goes up (cleats advantage here)
  2. Alternate standing and sitting. I stand particularly when the pitch steepens. To do this, I actually gear up one gear into a harder gear, then gear back down to the easy gear when done and sitting back down.
As others have said, try to maintain a nice high cadence, using these techniques and appropriate gearing. Don't use hard gears until your body/knees can handle them.

As for training ideas:
  1. Long sustained climbing to establish hill climbing base
  2. Hill repeats/intervals to increase speed on the hills and ability to accelerate on the hills
  3. Change gears during intervals: harder gears to develop strength, easier gears to develop spinning/aerobic abilities
  4. Change length of intervals: short intense ones, longer sustained ones (almost puke inducing )
  5. Change gradient of hills you ride on: shallow slog-it out seated, steep standing only
  6. Change length of hills: long sustained seated climbing vs. short, rollers you power over in a high gear at a high speed
  7. Definitely ride with others/groups--we go much faster/farther when with others because of draft (not so in hills) and motivation (definitely in hills)
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Old 08-26-07, 07:57 AM   #11
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Thanks a lot everyone, I've now got a sense of what I should work on, and how. I'll try to add dedicated hill training into my weekly schedule at least once for now, and will stop shying away from including a few hills on my route.

... I anticipate pain.
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Old 08-26-07, 08:16 AM   #12
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... I anticipate pain.
Pain is an 11% grade. I have one near me. Thankfully it's short. There's a 6% grade back home that's nearly a mile. >_<
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Old 08-26-07, 08:27 AM   #13
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I got into hills by riding rolling terrain and getting to the point I could do that without shifting, then moving to more serious climbing etc. I was forced to adapt to hills quickly because I had a couple of good-sized ones on my commute. By the time I was done climbing in CA I was able to go back and forth over the Oakland hills without too much difficulty (no stopping, not having to use the granny gear)
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Old 08-26-07, 08:53 AM   #14
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I've got a 1.25 mile hill (240 feet of climb) 5% grade that almost kills me. You guys are rock stars.
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Old 08-26-07, 09:36 AM   #15
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First rule of hill climbing: Hills are mental. You set out to beat it and you stay with it as long as you can push. Mr Beanz has it absolutely right though, in just work it.
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Old 08-26-07, 02:00 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Thanks a lot everyone, I've now got a sense of what I should work on, and how. I'll try to add dedicated hill training into my weekly schedule at least once for now, and will stop shying away from including a few hills on my route.

... I anticipate pain.
Me personally? I'd only do dedicated hill workouts once a week period. Any more, I'd be afraid for my knees. On another day, I'd work on speed. Then, the other 5 days would be base mileage (LSD).

Just me.
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Old 08-26-07, 04:55 PM   #17
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Thanks ... that's a basic structure for the week that perhaps I will use, though I won't be riding 7 days a week yet ... starting off with aiming for 5 ... I run errands (car-free) 7 days on my bike, but for the "hard core" riding, I'm not going to push it too far, too fast.

Thanks again for all the advice and encouragement!
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Old 08-26-07, 05:58 PM   #18
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Good luck and keep us posted. The Clydes forum is always very supportive and encouraging.

<warm><fuzzy>
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Old 08-27-07, 01:18 PM   #19
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One thing that really helped me was getting a heart rate monitor.

Before that, I'd keep blowing up on long climbs. It turned out I was going way over my aerobic threshold early on, then having nothing left a mile or so later. With the HRM, I start out below AT, and keep going at a pace that keeps me there, with occasional bits above as the gradient gets steeper. Eventually, I became strong enough to do whole 3-5 mile climbs with average grades of 7-8% at or above AT the whole time.

Then I stopped riding for a few years, and I'm back to climbing below AT most of the time.

Another thing I do is climb solo. If I'm with another rider, the pace is wrong - too fast or too slow. I have to do it at my own pace. YMMV, of course. Some folks like the camaraderie of shared suffering.
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