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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 05-24-08, 12:11 PM   #1
Elwoodab
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How embarassing, the hills just killed me !

I wanted to write this while it was still fresh in my mind, so I sit here while still wearing my bike shorts and shirt. I just went on a ride with the West Penn Wheelmen which I used to be a member back in the 90's. I saw they had a ride posted that started in my neighborhood (Washington & Greene Co., PA.) so I thought I would give it a try, I haven't riden with a group like that in a long time, but I thought it would be fun to give it a try. Well we started on a nice level stretch and then started into the hills, I knew I was in trouble when I had to get off going up a hill and walk a little before we were half way throught the ride. This was supposed to be a 50 mile ride, when I reached 30 I knew I was going to have to find the easiest way home and I told the ride leader I was going to break off. He insisted I wasn't holding them up, but I knew they were waiting on me at the top of every hill and at every intersection. I was embarassed to hold them up so much, some of the guys in the group were well into their 60's and this 50 year old Clyde could not keep up with them. I broke off the ride, got to the top of a hill and called my son to meet me in the closest little villiage and pick me up. I ended up riding a total of 36.4 hilly miles. This was the 1st hard ride I've done on my road bike since I got it this winter, I will tell you I missed the 3 rings on my hybrid bike. I think I will be able to handle the compact crank eventually, but on the 1st hard ride I was definatly missing a gear or 2. I have got to get some more riding under my belt to get in shape. Ugggghhhhhh ! I'm just venting my frustrations.
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Old 05-24-08, 12:33 PM   #2
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Look into a triple crank if you dont mind tossing some money back into the bike and stick with it. By the end of the summer, you will be able to hang with the group no problem. I would also get the ride map from someone in the group and ride the route on your own. Eventually, you'll speed up enough to get back in the game with the other riders.
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Old 05-24-08, 01:03 PM   #3
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Make sure you have good solid tires too. Some of the new stock tires are mushy and require twice the effort, well it seems. Then again, some days you do good and some days you don't! No biggie, try again yourself at your pace. Speed will surely show his faceagain!
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Old 05-25-08, 07:41 AM   #4
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Ah for pete's sake, just use a triple if you need one. Don't be a slave to trends. Even if like me you started out as a 120 lb mountain goat, we can't stay that way forever. Who cares if compact double is the big thing on Bike Forums this month. Most people just talk about bikes and just pretend to be riding a century every morning before work. You did 30 plus miles in hilly terrain without any training for it. You should be very proud of that.
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Old 05-25-08, 10:50 AM   #5
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It's an expensive switch to just throw a triple on a road bike. New shifter, new crank, new derailleur, etc.

What setup of gears are you running?

It may be more economical to change from a 11-23, 12-25 cassette in the rear to a 12-27, 12-29 or ya know, something like that. You may need a long-cage rear derailleur but that would still be cheaper than running a triple.

Ask an expert, I'm not... but I do know that a rear derailleur and cassette are far cheaper than a new shifter/crankset/front derailleur.
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Old 05-25-08, 06:51 PM   #6
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I am running a 12-27 rear cassette. I am going out again tomorrow with the same group on a less hilly ride. They were very nice to ask me. I may look into the triple when I go in for my 300 mile tune up, other wise next time we go on a hill climb ride I may get the Canondale hybrid out with some taller gears. Thanks for your support and input.
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Old 05-26-08, 12:05 PM   #7
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I, and many other cyclists that stop riding for a while have experienced this before. It is temporary. It is easy to forget how much work it takes to get into biking shape.

Don't get discouraged! Those riders probably have consecutive years of riding under their belts. I've also noticed that many bike groups ride at least 2-3 mph faster than they did 5-10 years ago. There is much more of a race influence in a lot of bike clubs, these days.

If you train for hills this spring, you will not only be able to finish those hills, but not be embarrassed by how slow you are by the end of the season. You can make dramatic increases in your strength, stamina, and tolerance for...torture in just a month or two, and you should be riding nicely with them by the end of the summer.

Do what you can do now, and push it about 10% further each week. You will get there much faster than you think. You know it!
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Old 05-26-08, 12:26 PM   #8
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I did 16 miles today on a hilly route. MAN I HATE HILLS! between my size, EIA, and poor shape, plus
riding a LWB recumbent, a few times I thought my heart would beat right out of my chest. I managed
to only stop 3 times (first only to lose the jacket), so I was proud of that part.

Growing up in Illinois, I could ride forever and rarely encounter a hill. Now that i am older and out
of shape, they are just a major pain.

Oh well, I didn't get where I am in a day, and a days riding isn;t gonna get me back.
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Old 05-26-08, 12:27 PM   #9
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You're very fortunate that the group cares enough about your progress to keep inviting you. They sound like a considerate bunch who are interested in helping new cyclists.
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Old 05-26-08, 01:07 PM   #10
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Update - On our ride today we did a much less hilly 41.5 miles. I handled it fine and wasn't the last guy in. I will say I was ready to get off when we got back to our cars. That's my longest ride this year so far. Will try to get some 50's in and then the metric century in July, maybe a real century sometime. I will definatley try to get a ride in during the week after work also. Thanks again all for your encouragement.
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Old 05-26-08, 01:12 PM   #11
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^/ I think you are beating up on yourself a little hard. Can't do what you are not used to. I am surpprised you were able to keep up on the flats. You must get some kind of exercise. Know what your average speed was. / Great that the group would wait up for you. many don't. Sounds like they will make great ride partners.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:00 AM   #12
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I can relate. On Saturday I went out for a couple hours and was absolutely and completely spent after two rather ominous hills which, when I drove them in my car yesterday, didn't seem nearly as gargantuan (~ 30 miles total). Sunday did a relatively flat 62 miles which was like a walk in a park compared to Saturday's ride.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:57 AM   #13
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Hills do get easier - In training for the Mt. Mitchell ride, I've been doing a 55-mile loop that's one of the tougher climbs in the DC area. I definitely needed my triple for it, because the total climbing was about 5,000 feet, and there are 3 really tough climbs on the ride. One goes for 13-16% for about 1/2 a mile, the 2nd, goes from 14-20%, and the last big one goes all the way up to 21%. The rest of the ride's climbs are 3-9%, which seem easy in comparison.

Anyway - the first time, I did it, I had to stop on the first stretch to get my HR down. The climb up 601, I had to walk over half of it, and stopped twice on the rest of the ridge climb. On the other big climb, had to walk most of it, too.

2nd time - didn't stop on the first stretch. Still had to walk up the 601 stretch, but shorter distance. Didn't stop on the rest of the climb. Still had to walk the final climb.

3rd time. Didn't stop on first stretch, and had to stop on the first 601 stretch, but didn't walk it. Stopped on the final climb, but didn't walk.

4th time (Saturday). Changed rear cassette to 12X27 and had bike tune-up. Didn't stop on first stretch. Still stopped on 601, but made it to the top of the stretch before stopping. Stopped on final climb, but didn't walk.

5th time (Memorial Day), only 36 hours after finishing the previous ride. Didn't stop until I made it well past the crest of the killer climb. On the final climb, I didn't stop at all....And, my HR seemed to be about 8-10BPM lower for the whole ride.

So, if you keep doing the same thing, it gets easier over time. I know that it makes my commute climbs look like kid stuff.
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Old 05-27-08, 09:21 AM   #14
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I rode the 7 Hills of Kirkland century yesterday: 7050 feet of climbing over 13 or 14 majour hills (the original 40 mile route has 7, hence the ride's name.)

I was getting passed by tons of people on this ride. I started before 7am, and there were late starters just whipping past me. That's just how it goes for me, though. The lightweight riders on carbon bikes will always fly by me up the big hills.
I finished in 07:16:47 rolling time, which was much slower than most people who took on the century route. I wasn't riding with anyone in particular, so no one waited for me anyplace. I'd catch people at the rest stops and say Hi before they took off again. Last year, I doubt I could have finished that century.
Keep at it, and the hills will seem easier.

As for gearing, depending on your bike you might be able to go bigger than a 27t cog in back. I run a compact double (34/48) matched to a Tiagra mid-cage RD with an 11-32 cassette. The new 10spd setups aren't happy running anything bigger than a 27t, but with a 9spd setup and the right RD, you can run some really big gears out back without sacrificing much on the tall end. (I can't spin-out my 48/11 gear.)
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Old 05-27-08, 09:29 AM   #15
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I'm thinking about getting out the old Canondale Hybrid H700 and riding that same hilly route by myself. With out the pressure of trying to stay up with the crowd and some more gears I'll be able to do it and at the same time give me a little more training and exercise so that I will be able to handle it with the compact on my road bike. Maybe I will try it by myself with the road bike after that. You all have got me thinking. Thanks.
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Old 05-27-08, 09:54 AM   #16
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road bike

I have a few road bikes and the stock gearing is always too high for my 49 year old body. On my most recent machines I have used a Sugino triple with 46x36x24 chain rings coupled with a 8 speed 12-32 cassette. I currently ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker with 40mm wide tires and the above gearing. This bike is a real tank at around 29 pounds, as set up but I manage to make it up any hill I try. I have nearly 80 pounds to lose but I ride quite a bit and am in fair shape. I find I do fine on flatter courses but the hills are where my power to weight ratio is all wrong. I use the gearing to save my knees and heart and I could care less if I go up them slower. At the end of each season I notice my climbing improving dramatically.
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Old 05-27-08, 11:38 AM   #17
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I am running a 12-27 rear cassette. I am going out again tomorrow with the same group on a less hilly ride. They were very nice to ask me. I may look into the triple when I go in for my 300 mile tune up, other wise next time we go on a hill climb ride I may get the Canondale hybrid out with some taller gears. Thanks for your support and input.
I'm a 240lb slug who just quit smoking. I use a 50/34 with a 12-27 on my road bike and have never used the 34/27 combo. While I can't guarantee that you won't need a triple, I have confidence that you won't need it. Just keep riding and keep climbing...it won't get easier, but you will get stronger and faster.
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Old 05-27-08, 01:07 PM   #18
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I'm a 240lb slug who just quit smoking. I use a 50/34 with a 12-27 on my road bike and have never used the 34/27 combo. While I can't guarantee that you won't need a triple, I have confidence that you won't need it. Just keep riding and keep climbing...it won't get easier, but you will get stronger and faster.
You're just a hill climbing beast, I think.
I was really happy to have my 34/32 bail-out gearing on yesterday's ride. Sections of 18% grade, and 2.5 mile long climbs...
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Old 05-27-08, 01:11 PM   #19
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You're just a hill climbing beast, I think.
I was really happy to have my 34/32 bail-out gearing on yesterday's ride. Sections of 18% grade, and 2.5 mile long climbs...
Note I said road bike...I use a triple on my touring bike and BD.
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Old 05-27-08, 01:17 PM   #20
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Note I said road bike...I use a triple on my touring bike and BD.
Ahhh.

My 'road bike' is also my commuting bike and long distance bike, so it's set up with the bail-out gearing. The only other option is my fixed gear, but there's no way I was going to try a 7000+ hilly century on a 39/15 fg. Although, I did see a guy on a fixed pursuit bike doing the 40 mile ride yesterday. The sad thing is that I heard him coming up on me from at least 50 feet back. His bike was squeaking like a cheap hotel mattress.
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