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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 06-27-08, 09:15 PM   #1
Griffish
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How to handle a "sudden incline"...

Hey guys and gals, I finally started riding again. My wife and I ride about 10-20 miles a day now(about 2 months into this highly addictive drug called cycling). I am a clyde at 5ft 9in and 226 and this thread inspired me to get on the bike...thank you all! Stupid question probably but...I ride in Florida which is very flat, and I ride on the Pinellas Trail. It is very flat and scenic where I ride, but at about mile 5 I hit an overpass over a busy street. You go from very flat to very steep. What is the best way to get over these things? I am always able to do it, but am very winded at the top. We usually just accelerate going into it and try not to have to shift too much, but it kills me! Is it best just to hit a granny gear and keep the same pace, or accelerate and try to race up these short (probably 50 yrds.) inclines? Anyone know what I mean? Thanks in advance!

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Old 06-27-08, 09:29 PM   #2
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I ride single speeds, so I stand up and run at them. Others say that spinning in granny gear is easier on the knees though. If you want to get better at them, find one that good and tall and spend some time going up and down for awhile.
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Old 06-27-08, 09:42 PM   #3
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I shift down and just start spinning. I don't try to go too fast up big, short inclines- I just try to not wear myself out!
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Old 06-27-08, 09:48 PM   #4
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mmmm if you cann accelerate into it try to carry as much speed into hill. then down shift as cadence requires.
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Old 06-27-08, 09:50 PM   #5
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Do it over and over. If you do the same ride each time, start doubling and tripling that hill. After a little bit, the hill won't be so bad the first few times. Don't matter if you granny gear it or crank through it, doing more hills makes hills easier.
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Old 06-27-08, 10:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Griffish View Post
Hey guys and gals, I finally started riding again. My wife and I ride about 10-20 miles a day now(about 2 months into this highly addictive drug called cycling). I am a clyde at 5ft 9in and 226 and this thread inspired me to get on the bike...thank you all! Stupid question probably but...I ride in Florida which is very flat, and I ride on the Pinellas Trail. It is very flat and scenic where I ride, but at about mile 5 I hit an overpass over a busy street. You go from very flat to very steep. What is the best way to get over these things? I am always able to do it, but am very winded at the top. We usually just accelerate going into it and try not to have to shift too much, but it kills me! Is it best just to hit a granny gear and keep the same pace, or accelerate and try to race up these short (probably 50 yrds.) inclines? Anyone know what I mean? Thanks in advance!

Griffish
For short hills (up to around 200 yards), I just stand up. There is some technique to it, however. Get your speed up before you hit the bottom of the hill. You should be spinning fairly fast but you don't what to be in too low a gear to start. As you stand, you'll need a slightly higher gear than if you were seated.

As you transition to the hill, make sure you hands are on the hoods, elbows slightly bent and a relaxed grip on the bars. Depending on the steepness of the hill, you'll need to move forward towards the bar. Don't worry about traction since road bikes usually have it in spades. I pull on the bars and throw the bike from side to side although you don't have to.

Here's a pretty good video showing how the pros do it. Of course you'll be doing it for a shorter distance and you'll have to keep a good line, i.e. not weave all over the road.
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Old 06-27-08, 10:46 PM   #7
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Just keep riding, it'll get easier. When you're coming up on it, start breathing hard before you need to, don't wait till you're out of oxygen and then start. Downshift to whatever gear it takes to keep from killing your legs. If you're on a single speed, just tear into it. Either way, there's no reason you can't stop at the top and admire the view while you catch your breath.
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Old 06-27-08, 10:57 PM   #8
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mmmm if you cann accelerate into it try to carry as much speed into hill. then down shift as cadence requires.
+1
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Old 06-28-08, 05:16 AM   #9
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Just do what feels best to you. You can either speed up before you get to it and hope your momentum carries you up. In this case, you keep pedalling and try to shift down as you need to in order to maintain your same cadence as much as you can, OR, you can go into your granny gear just before you start the hill, shift the rear for a reasonable cadence and then gear down as you go up to try to keep that cadence. Try to do this all while seated, and save standing for nearer the end in case you need it. When you gear down, just momentarily relieve some pressure off the pedals to allow a smooth shift (but not enough to lose momentum, of course).

You're not in a race, so do what feels best for you. You don't want to burn your legs out on that one incline and then ride with tired legs the rest of the way. Non racers normally want to go the farthest they can while maintaining their ability to do so.

I would suggest that you will get the most from your body going up if you grip the handlebars as far forward as you can (hoods on a road bike, bar ends on flat bars). If you're riding a comfort bike, just forget it :-)

The more you do this little hill, the more you will be able to do it, no matter what you weigh.
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Old 06-28-08, 07:32 AM   #10
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mmmm if you cann accelerate into it try to carry as much speed into hill. then down shift as cadence requires.
yup, you got gears, use them. As you gain miles, strength and a good cadence, at some point you'll probably find that you can just power over.
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Old 06-28-08, 07:50 AM   #11
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mmmm if you cann accelerate into it try to carry as much speed into hill. then down shift as cadence requires.

I do the same but at the midsection of the hill, I will try to relax and find a confy cadence. Then towards the top section I shift up and do a hard effort., Like you, that's where most are winded and are easily dropped. If you practice, it will be you dropping the others at the top. If riding alone, practice this tech anyway for when you do ride with others.
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Old 06-28-08, 08:07 AM   #12
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I do the same but at the midsection of the hill, I will try to relax and find a confy cadence. Then towards the top section I shift up and do a hard effort., Like you, that's where most are winded and are easily dropped. If you practice, it will be you dropping the others at the top. If riding alone, practice this tech anyway for when you do ride with others.
I don't think the OP was looking to drop people, though perhaps he might like some alone time from his wife!
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Old 06-28-08, 08:10 AM   #13
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mmmm if you cann accelerate into it try to carry as much speed into hill. then down shift as cadence requires.
That is my game plan.
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Old 06-28-08, 08:16 AM   #14
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I was living in Boulder in the early 80s and a women's team from Holland came over to do the Coors classic. They had done all there training at home. Not too many mountains in Holland, so they did a lot of overpass repeats. They ended up performing pretty well in the Colorado mountains, so it appears overpasses can be a good way to build up your strength.
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Old 06-28-08, 08:19 AM   #15
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Depending on how smooth your shifters are, you may need to ease up on your effort and soft pedal as you downshift, so don't let your speed drop so low that you will actually stop and fall over while shifting, halfway up the slope. Shift down while you still have ample momentum.
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Old 06-28-08, 09:21 AM   #16
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Drop gears early (anticipate) and spin.
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Old 06-28-08, 12:40 PM   #17
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Take the advice here and try it different ways to see what works best. But really practice is the key and if you have only been riding a short time, you might not have the muscles yet. I have three hills that used to kick my ***** and now only one still gives me trouble, but at least i dont have to get off and walk anymore. I like to stay seated personally, because im afraid of the side to side movememnt that sometimes happens with standing throwing my cargo off the bike. But if you stand, you might noteven have to shift to a granny gear either.
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Old 06-28-08, 04:18 PM   #18
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Its a common theme but, try to keep your cadence up as much as possible. Don't worry about the speed. Shift gears to keep the cadence. The speed will come the more you ride it. I like to stand on a lot of hills. Shifting the bike back and forth keeps you from loosing energy from you shifting back and forth and keeps your movement in a straight line. It takes practice to get it right though. I stand as long as my legs will let me then sit and down shift a couple of gears to get the cadence back up.
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Old 06-28-08, 05:23 PM   #19
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Pushing hard (mashing) will sap your strength faster than spinning.
Anticipate your shifts. If you wait until you have to shift, it's too late. Think about shifting 20-30 feet before you have to. Adjust as necessary. You'll figure it out with a bit of practice.
You have energy built up in your crank and legs, Slow then down to a crawl and they want to stay at a crawl.
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Old 06-28-08, 06:18 PM   #20
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I don't think there is a right or wrong method. Some like to stand on the pedals and "beat the devil", but that's not my cup of tea and it's definitely not recommended if you have health problems.

There are two lower impact methods:

1. Lower slightly your gears and push hard through the hill.
You will most likely remain seated and you might drop, say, two gears at the bottom of the hill and two gears a little further on (or do one shift from large to centre chainring early on and one two-gear shift further on).
During this process, your cadence might drop from, say 80-90 rpm to 60 rpm and you'll push harder, but not overly hard.

2. Continue applying the same force on the pedals and continue to clip at the same pace
This is the easiest method and it works even for those 20-30 km long hills. Basically, you shift to lower and lower gears as needed. You won't ever feel your legs burning (but you will sweat, especially in Florida weather) and you will be able to climb really long hills, but it will be slow and you will use those gears that the shop told you they were ridiculously low.
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Old 06-28-08, 07:22 PM   #21
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Hey all, great posts! Thanks much for the advice. I will definitely try some of these suggestions and see which works best for me...
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