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  1. #1
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    Standing up nerves

    Howdy All!

    I'm a heavy Clyde clocking in at around 343 (lost 7 pounds in the last month already ) who has quite a few hills to climb in between his commute from work to home.

    Normally on my commute I will just dig in with the granny gear and haul myself up, but I've been noticing that I've been becoming less and less winded doing this, but don't have enough leg strength to do these hills in the stronger gears yet.

    I've tried to stand and pedal in higher gears a few times, but feel kind of nervous about it, I can't quite explain (I'm sure some of you know exactly how I feel). I guess I'm scared of putting all of that pressure on my pedals or something or what, but I just don't feel comfortable standing while pedaling yet.

    Any tips?

    I'm also wondering if I'm not getting enough power during my pedal strokes altogether if I'm unable to sit and power my way up hills like the lighter riders that pass me by day by day. I guess I'm just trying to find a happy medium, because I want to keep improving.

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    Triathlon in my future??? flip18436572's Avatar
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    The more you work the hills and get faster at climbing you will be able to change to other gears and go at a better pace. It will get better and you will become lighter with the weight loss which will help also.
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    try keeping your rpm's up, that should let you go up the hills without standing up. I don't think you'd break anything, however you'll probably increase the rate of fatigue on your parts. i would check your chain often, there should be a certain length per 12 links or something like that, they sell tools to check it but you could measure it without them. you should do this because steel yeilds before it fails, thus the chain will get longer as it wears out.

  4. #4
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    You sound like my brother. My other brother and I just spent a week trying to break him of the habit of going for the biggest possible gear. As I explained to him, nobody's going to give you a prize for using a high gear -- you do it when it's functional to do so, which is not when you're climbing. Are you getting up the hills in a lower gear? Are you doing it without standing up? Yes? Then why do you want to stand up? What you're doing works and is easier on your joints and your bike, so don't change it. Sooner or later you'll run into a hill that you can't climb without standing up, so it's a good skill to have, but if you don't need it, it's just not functional to use it.

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    Senior Member cod.peace's Avatar
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    It took me about 2 weeks of practicing to feel comfortable and stable standing on the pedals. I remember doing that all the time as a kid, but the balancing is definitely a little different as a bigger adult. The first time I tried it a month ago I really felt like I was going to fall over sideways I'd suggest repeating it until either a) you break something and replace it with something stronger, alleviating that fear or b) you're comfortable in the standing position.
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    Yeah, I'm actually fine getting up the hills, I guess I just want to do it *faster*. It's probably just an ego thing, because it makes me feel a little sad when I see someone blow by me going up the hill, and it seems that they are almost always standing while powering through the steepest areas.

    I'll just stick to what I'm doing and spin my way up, I'm comfortable doing that, I think I just need to look into my seat height and placement a bit to make sure I'm getting all the power I can into the pedals, because I'm a bit unsure of that.


    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
    You sound like my brother. My other brother and I just spent a week trying to break him of the habit of going for the biggest possible gear. As I explained to him, nobody's going to give you a prize for using a high gear -- you do it when it's functional to do so, which is not when you're climbing. Are you getting up the hills in a lower gear? Are you doing it without standing up? Yes? Then why do you want to stand up? What you're doing works and is easier on your joints and your bike, so don't change it. Sooner or later you'll run into a hill that you can't climb without standing up, so it's a good skill to have, but if you don't need it, it's just not functional to use it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    If you want to get accostomed to standing while pedaling, start on the flats. Get used to the feeling of rocking the bike back and forth as you pedal. As you get comfortable, put more and more effort into pedaling. When you've got that down, head for the hills. On the other hand, I usually just sit and use my big old Clyde legs to power up a hill if it isn't too long or spin up if it's a long one.

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    Senior Member tabnlu's Avatar
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    I got really comfortable standing while in a spin class. I have never spent much time out of the saddle until I took that class. Now I'm out of the saddle on every hill without any problems at all.
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    I am hesitant to stand in the saddle for any length of time, concerned with breaking sprockets or worse.

    when I younger, around 240 lbs or so, I sheared a bottom bracket axle (torsionally) when standing up powering up a hill. Still wonder if there was a flaw in that piece of metal.

  10. #10
    Senior Member dbikingman's Avatar
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    I am finding this thread interesting. When I first started riding I was having standing riding. I have since improved for the following reasons. I adjusted the fit of the bike, I practiced on the flats (as mentioned), and I found I needed to be in a higher gear. I was trying to stand on hills when my legs were already tired and it wasn't working. I don't do it often, I just practice once in awhile to build the skill, my legs tire quickly.

    Now if I could only ride with no hands like when I was a kid

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    Senior Member Nola_Gal's Avatar
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    I was on a ride this weekend and ended up about 30 feet behind this old guy on a beat up big box mountain bike. I was a little wary at first because he looked like he was homeless and maybe a bit mentally ill. (I'm not trying to sound judgmental...it was just the way he was groomed etc.) Anyway, he was going at a decent speed and joyfully weeving back and forth across the path so I just stayed behind. After a while it became fun to watch him because he seemed to be having so much fun. He would weave in and out, and everyonce in a while, he would glance around and then stand on his pedals, elbows pointing out and pedal as fast as he could. He looked like he was enjoying the thrill of it as much as a young boy might. It was even kind of fun to watch someone having so much fun...

  12. #12
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by triptogn View Post
    Yeah, I'm actually fine getting up the hills, I guess I just want to do it *faster*. It's probably just an ego thing, because it makes me feel a little sad when I see someone blow by me going up the hill, and it seems that they are almost always standing while powering through the steepest areas.
    And you've been doing ths for how long? A month?

    Never mind about ego -- I suspect that your larger issue is a certain lack of perspective. Many people fail in their efforts to get fit because they don't want to look bad. They don't want to look silly or fat or incompetent. They're worried about what people will think. The problem with this is, of course, that when you get off the couch and try a new activity for the first time, you're not going to impress anyone, and that's all there is to it. You need a proper sense of perspective to just say, "Yup, I'm a newbie, and I'm out of shape, and that's what I look like." People who can't do that are the ones who will beat a hasty retreat to the safe, comfortable couch.

    Let go of the need to look like Lance Armstrong dancing on the pedals up Alpe d'Huez. Pick small upgrades to practice the skill of standing up -- if you pick something too big or too steep, your thighs will turn to lava long before you reach the top, you'll have to sit down again, and then you won't be in the right gear, with not-fun results. Stop thinking that the world is watching and judging. Adopt the "beginner mind", empty your cup grasshopper, all those good old platitudes. They may be platitudes but they're also true.

  13. #13
    Real Human Being wild animals's Avatar
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    i hate hill climbing. so much. and i managed to avoid standing up for the entire length of my adult cycling career...until sunday! i think i needed to speed up to catch up with my sister, or something, so i stood up and hauled freight. i'd always avoided standing because i feel so unstable out of the saddle. i don't like that feeling. it is a sensory thing. plus i usually spin as fast as i can without rocking, so if i stood up i'd probably knee myself in the face. i spin fast because i've heard it's better cardio exercise and it's better for your knees. maybe some people think that's wimpy, but that's because they aren't hip.

    anyway i bet if you try out some different combinations of speed, grade and gearing, and you get some more miles in, you will be more comfortable. maybe find somebody to chase
    Go until you stop, then take a break.

  14. #14
    I'm a Cyclist! Missbumble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbikingman View Post
    I am finding this thread interesting. When I first started riding I was having standing riding. I have since improved for the following reasons. I adjusted the fit of the bike, I practiced on the flats (as mentioned), and I found I needed to be in a higher gear. I was trying to stand on hills when my legs were already tired and it wasn't working. I don't do it often, I just practice once in awhile to build the skill, my legs tire quickly.

    Now if I could only ride with no hands like when I was a kid
    +1 Me too. I tried standing on my first few rides with no luck. Recentkly I have tried again on a very flat ride when I am not too tired and have been able to ride standing up. I also try to practise standing and riding and eliminating the bounce or side to side action as a good exercise for my legs (As taught in some spin classes). I think it helps to make me stronger.

    But I also am weary of standing with others near by beacuse I do wobble side to side at times and it is a bit jerky in the beginning. These days when I am in a Pace line - my job is to catch up to someones wheel - and If I stand it is only if I am the last rider in the pace line... as I progress up the line I would not stand as my skills are not refined yet as I am a newbie.

  15. #15
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
    And you've been doing ths for how long? A month?

    Never mind about ego -- I suspect that your larger issue is a certain lack of perspective. Many people fail in their efforts to get fit because they don't want to look bad. They don't want to look silly or fat or incompetent. They're worried about what people will think. The problem with this is, of course, that when you get off the couch and try a new activity for the first time, you're not going to impress anyone, and that's all there is to it. You need a proper sense of perspective to just say, "Yup, I'm a newbie, and I'm out of shape, and that's what I look like." People who can't do that are the ones who will beat a hasty retreat to the safe, comfortable couch.

    Let go of the need to look like Lance Armstrong dancing on the pedals up Alpe d'Huez. Pick small upgrades to practice the skill of standing up -- if you pick something too big or too steep, your thighs will turn to lava long before you reach the top, you'll have to sit down again, and then you won't be in the right gear, with not-fun results. Stop thinking that the world is watching and judging. Adopt the "beginner mind", empty your cup grasshopper, all those good old platitudes. They may be platitudes but they're also true.
    +1 on this. I fall into this trap all the time.

  16. #16
    Senior Member tabnlu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nola_Gal View Post
    I was on a ride this weekend and ended up about 30 feet behind this old guy on a beat up big box mountain bike. I was a little wary at first because he looked like he was homeless and maybe a bit mentally ill. (I'm not trying to sound judgmental...it was just the way he was groomed etc.) Anyway, he was going at a decent speed and joyfully weeving back and forth across the path so I just stayed behind. After a while it became fun to watch him because he seemed to be having so much fun. He would weave in and out, and everyonce in a while, he would glance around and then stand on his pedals, elbows pointing out and pedal as fast as he could. He looked like he was enjoying the thrill of it as much as a young boy might. It was even kind of fun to watch someone having so much fun...
    How would anyone from NOLA have a clue about watchin' someone have a good time?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
    And you've been doing ths for how long? A month?

    Never mind about ego -- I suspect that your larger issue is a certain lack of perspective. Many people fail in their efforts to get fit because they don't want to look bad. They don't want to look silly or fat or incompetent. They're worried about what people will think. The problem with this is, of course, that when you get off the couch and try a new activity for the first time, you're not going to impress anyone, and that's all there is to it. You need a proper sense of perspective to just say, "Yup, I'm a newbie, and I'm out of shape, and that's what I look like." People who can't do that are the ones who will beat a hasty retreat to the safe, comfortable couch.

    Let go of the need to look like Lance Armstrong dancing on the pedals up Alpe d'Huez. Pick small upgrades to practice the skill of standing up -- if you pick something too big or too steep, your thighs will turn to lava long before you reach the top, you'll have to sit down again, and then you won't be in the right gear, with not-fun results. Stop thinking that the world is watching and judging. Adopt the "beginner mind", empty your cup grasshopper, all those good old platitudes. They may be platitudes but they're also true.
    I appreciate the words.

    Yeah, I've only been commuting and trying to do longer rides since the beginning of July to be honest. I had a beach cruiser that was great in San Diego, but wouldn't cut it here, so I graduated into a better bike to hang with the cool kids.

    I mention ego, probably out of self deprecation because I cannot find another way to describe it. I know what I want to do, I'm just not capable of it, and it will take some time.

    I'm kind of an observer of sorts, and like to watch people, so when I see someone doing something in the same vein of interest of something that I'm doing, I will attempt to emulate them in certain ways, whether or not I'm even able to. At this point in my life, I'm looking up to people who are riding by me with ease, and want to do what they are doing, so my natural inclination is to try and copycat them and try to stand on the pedals as they go up the hill.

    I'm glad to see that others share the same apprehension that I have, and that it's perfectly normal. The lack of skill and balance during the act is all on me, I just have to practice. The fear of breaking my bike is on me too, because I'm the heavy guy, it's not the bike's fault. I think I'll just wait to practice this skill once I lose more weight and address it when it because a real necessity instead of a want. I am perfectly capable of just spinning up these hills the way they are, and its probably in my best interest to get better at that one gear at a time.

  18. #18
    I AM the stress test
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    Quote Originally Posted by triptogn View Post
    I guess I'm scared of putting all of that pressure on my pedals or something
    Don't worry about that part. . . they're a lot stronger than you and I put together!
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  19. #19
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Clips and straps or clipless will help you climb those hills in a higher gear while remaining seated.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I stand quite frequently, especially when powering over short inclines.

    I also signal my turns extending my left or right arm to point where I'm going.

    Here's a tip: don't do both at once! I nearly lost it on my commute home tonight. I was standing up a pretty steep section and saw a car I wanted to warn of my turn. Without thinking I took one arm off of the bars and pointed withOUT getting back in the saddle

    Not a good idea. The bike lurched away from the arm I lifted,and I just barely recovered without hittting the pavement.

    You've been warned

  21. #21
    Uninformed Informer
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    I recently started riding again myself and found that I couldn't stand immediately either. I don't have any problems with balance or things that you would normally attribute to feeling unsure standing. After the first week or so I hadn't stood to ride at all and was at a light waiting to turn left to get the the LBS when the green caught me off guard. Sure enough my childhood reflexes kicked in and I stood up to stay ahead of the traffic that was moving past me. Turns out it was my weak calf muscles and my week of riding had strengthened them enough for me to be able to stand.

    I weigh in at about 280 and am a young guy, so don't be discouraged at the time difference. Everything comes in it's own time and everyone has a different pace.
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    Quote Originally Posted by triptogn View Post
    Yeah, I'm actually fine getting up the hills, I guess I just want to do it *faster*. It's probably just an ego thing, because it makes me feel a little sad when I see someone blow by me going up the hill, and it seems that they are almost always standing while powering through the steepest areas.
    As you get stronger and faster, you'll be able to chase these kinds of riders seated. And you'll notice something about an awful lot of standing climbers... they stand for hundreds and hundreds of meters even on the flats because they've got a bee in their bonnet about riding big gears. They don't have the power to really drive those big gears seated, so they have to stand a great deal. Don't be that kind of guy, your knees will not thank you for it.

    It *is* useful to stand sometimes. Just it is fairly specialized, and it doesn't do much good until you've got the strength to do normalish hills seated.

    Mostly I just compare me to me. I can almost always do better than me of a month ago . (and if I can't, I check my tire pressure and then go out and ride more)

  23. #23
    Mad scientist w/a wrench
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyossarian View Post
    Clips and straps or clipless will help you climb those hills in a higher gear while remaining seated.
    +10

    I refused to stand as an adult after slipping a few times until I got these...since then I stand as often as possible

    Bumps in the road? Stand
    Short hill I can attack with inertia rather than spinning in super low gears? stand
    130lb weakling on a CF frame almost in my grasp? Stand, drop, spin, stand some more.
    sore butt/groin? Stand
    every 5 minutes on my cyclometer that pass? Stand

    Standing early and often is a good thing once you get the hang of it, if your knees are willing that is.

    As for ego? I'd say its more of goal frustration, we all get it, the trick is learning what you can change about the situation and what you can't.
    Proudly wearing kit that doesn't match my frame color (or itself) since 2006.

  24. #24
    Roast Beast Sammich Sammiches's Avatar
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    At what weight should a person worry about snapping the chain when powering uphill? I'm sure chain type and condition are important factors, but significant weight plus pulling on the handlebars to push the pedals harder... when should a rider worry?

  25. #25
    I AM the stress test
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    pretty much never - as long as you take care of you chain (clean it when it gets dirty) you should never need to worry about it snapping from any effort WE can put into it.
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