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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 09-23-07, 11:30 PM   #1
antchen
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Climbing hills??

I went on my first group club ride last weekend and went on a route I've never been on before.. It was fine for the most part but eventually I hit some steep (at least to me) roads and I started to struggle a whole lot. For someone who is normally riding on the big chain ring in front and middle-small in back, it was a real ghastly experience. I shifted down to compensate but still had a lot of trouble.. I felt like I would tip over because of the speed going up the hill. Later hills were easier because I broke away from the group to sprint up the hill.. Earlier hills if I start slow on them will tear me apart!

How are other clydes dealing with these hills?
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Old 09-23-07, 11:50 PM   #2
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Go out front, hold your own pace, make it up on the flats.
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Old 09-24-07, 12:58 AM   #3
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practice on hills. not only will it improve your climbing but it will help your flat land speed as well. us big people naturally have big, powerful legs. use them.

thats my $.02 anyways.
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Old 09-24-07, 07:26 AM   #4
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Because of my size I've always had problems staying with my 120 lbs girlfriends when we hit hills. So I let them get ahead, I ride up the hill at my own pace, in a nice steady cadence and then when I crest, I make up time going downhill. Generally I catch up before we all hit the flats.

We all have talents. Because of my leg strength I can do flats and downhills. My slight, lightweight sisters do hills but they can't hang with me on flats. Just need to know how to balance it all out.

And several years ago because I was so slow on hills, I started almost exclusively riding hills. Now I find flats very boring. My training rides are as hilly as I can make them. I'm still slow (can't fool physics!) but confident up hills.

Also attack only short hills, anything else you should gear down and spin up. Remember cycling is an aerobic sport. If you try to power up every hill you will quickly lose stream. I start slowly and finish stronger once I hit a steady cadence.
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Old 09-24-07, 08:28 AM   #5
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Train on a lot of hills and they get easier. I liken it to any other riding. When I started adding distance at the beginning of this year, 25 miles was a long weekend ride for me and I'd take Monday off from my commute as part of recovering from it. Now I can do a metric century on the weekend after commuting all week, and be right back on the bike Monday morning.

Plan a short loop course with a good hill and train on that. I have 3 routes of under 3 miles, all with few hundred feet of elevation gain in one big hill. I'll just go ride 5 to 10 laps and I'll get in over 1,000' of climbing very quickly.
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Old 09-24-07, 08:31 AM   #6
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Just call me a Rolls-Canardly! I roll fast down the hill and can 'ardly get up the next
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Old 09-24-07, 09:38 AM   #7
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Train on a lot of hills and they get easier.
+1

I started out slow on hills and have gotten much better, now I can outclimb some of the scrawny guys that I ride with on the weekends. Just don't give up.
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Old 09-24-07, 09:53 AM   #8
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If they are rolling hills, just do your best getting up the first hill and then attack the second hill with pedaling down the first. You can blow by the lower weight riders, because of the weight difference. Use the lower gears you have and keep your cadence as high as you can.

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Old 09-24-07, 11:33 AM   #9
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I can sprint up hills if they are very small hills...like on the course I ride every day. But if I try that on a longer hill, I just get my legs super tired, then it's that much harder on the next one. If you can't sprint up it without getting too tired, just take your time, don't worry about it.
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Old 09-24-07, 11:54 AM   #10
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+1

I started out slow on hills and have gotten much better, now I can outclimb some of the scrawny guys that I ride with on the weekends. Just don't give up.
Same here. It's possible to climb well as a clyde but it takes some concerted effort.

This thread makes me sad. I'm back in North Dakota and I'm losing my hill climbing abilities.
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Old 09-24-07, 12:18 PM   #11
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Play to your strengths while riding with smaller riders. What you are naturally good at will determine what you do. Most of the big riders that I know can't ride within the main pack, because the smaller people like to rest on the down-slope and flats, and put in random spurts of speed on the way up, and eventually they tend to attack the end of the hill. Most of us clydes are not built to do that well.

I know larger riders that stick a steady pace and grind away. The smaller guys pull ahead of them on each hill, and the big guy catches them on the flats going about the same speed.

I have to use a long-term endurance to get up hills anywhere near the pack, which means that I keep my heart rate steady at 85% - 90% maximum on all hills. So, I pass the smaller riders on slight inclines and especially at the beginning of a significant hill, and they always pass me as the slope goes over 7%-8%, and at or near the top (no sprint left in me after a 15+ minute climb, but I can stay steady-hard).

On this one local uphill section that gains 400 ft over 3 miles (the previous 11 miles has a steady 1% - 2% uphill slope too), if I stick with the smaller riders on our group ride, the steady pace and changing speeds take their toll on me, and I end up 300-600 meters behind everyone else by the time we get to the top. If I do my own thing with heart rate and charging on the flats, I only end up 50-150 meters behind everyone else.

Do what works for you, and have fun out there!
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Old 09-24-07, 01:09 PM   #12
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Same here. It's possible to climb well as a clyde but it takes some concerted effort.

This thread makes me sad. I'm back in North Dakota and I'm losing my hill climbing abilities.
I know the feeling. I used to ride in the SF Bay Area, back and forth over the Oakland Hills and I could climb like a machine. Since I've been in Baltimore all that ability melted away and now I'm having to rebuild from baseline again. Of course I blame it all on the bike right now (then - Trek 930 Singletrack 21 speed MTB [stolen], now - Raleigh Supercourse 10 speed roadie with no granny gear)
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Old 09-24-07, 01:13 PM   #13
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Lot's long gradual climbs in one or two gears higher than you's normally spin in.
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Old 09-24-07, 01:23 PM   #14
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It's amazing the differences on flats vs climbing. Climbing is all about power. Whatever you can do to develop power in your legs will help you climb faster. Generally speaking, that means climbing, a lot. You will get better and faster. You'll probably never pace a group up the hill though. Just get good enough so you aren't last

Also, don't worry about getting dropped. Sometimes it sucks, but if you're in a friendly group, they'll wait or soft pedal til you catch up with the group. When you're our size, you give really good draft and people will definitely wait for that.
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Old 09-25-07, 11:12 AM   #15
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Same here. It's possible to climb well as a clyde but it takes some concerted effort.

This thread makes me sad. I'm back in North Dakota and I'm losing my hill climbing abilities.
Try riding into the wind, v1k1ng. I have read that some cyclists use that as a form of resistance training. I don't know how well it works, but it might help!
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Old 09-25-07, 01:31 PM   #16
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Move to somewhere flat... We have no hills here.
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Old 09-25-07, 02:07 PM   #17
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Try riding into the wind, v1k1ng. I have read that some cyclists use that as a form of resistance training. I don't know how well it works, but it might help!
Oh, I do that a lot. It's not quite the same thing though. I'm moving in January to a place that has at least some small rollers to climb.
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Old 09-26-07, 04:18 AM   #18
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Oh, I do that a lot. It's not quite the same thing though. I'm moving in January to a place that has at least some small rollers to climb.
Now there's commitment! Moving just so you can find some hills!! Oh wait, you didn't exactly say that.
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Old 09-26-07, 05:56 AM   #19
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There's really a few types of hills, and strategies for dealing with them differ..

Gentle Rollers -- these are short and you can often pick up speed going down one to help carry you through the next one.

Power climbs -- these are short to medium, and often a bit steeper. We've got a few around here that are about 1/2 mile in length. You just need to push over them with as much power as you've got.

Long climbs -- I live in Florida so I never see these, but we're talking about long sustained climbs here..

In dealing with #1 and #2 on a group ride, I find that it's easier if I can get up front in the pack, get my HR down while approaching the hill, take a few deep breaths to help get oxygen to the legs, and then just climb the hill at my own pace. Often the group will overtake me, and sometimes I may get dropped on the hill, but just keep working through it. For me, spinning up the hill works a hell of a lot better than standing and mashing, but sometimes you just gotta get up and mash that last 10 yards..

For long climbs you just need to find a pace you're comfortable with and do it.

BTW -- the more you do hills, the easier they'll become.
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Old 09-26-07, 11:34 AM   #20
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I have the power for hills, but I don't have the lungs or heart yet. I think hills are all about the spin.
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Old 09-26-07, 05:50 PM   #21
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We don't have a lot of hills over here in corn country but the ones I do encounter, I attack with a vengeance. I actually speed up on many of them. Once I crest, though, my legs scream at me. lol

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Old 09-27-07, 06:34 PM   #22
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Hills...at 255lbs I know the struggle up hills. I do fine early in a long ride on those short steep ones. Just get up and grind away at it. There are a few 1-4 mile long 6-9% climbs around here that I drop into the granny gears and spin up at 5mph. The short, steep ones later in the rides hurt the most. If my speed drops below 3mph. I get off and hike. My longer rides are always considered bike and hike. (and I'm talking both MTB and Road here)

Finding what works best for you just takes some trial and error.
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Old 09-28-07, 03:50 AM   #23
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All of the suggestions and strategies stated here are good ones - I've used them all. However, they are also rationalizations in part -which I have also used.

The greatest gain on climbing and overall performance I've made was to lose 56 pounds.

I used to think that the benefits of being at a lighter weight, however true, were overstated. Now I know differently. Some of the climbs I used to have to ready myself for are now traversed without forethought, fatigue, or even awareness.
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