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  1. #1
    Senior Member kjmillig's Avatar
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    Mountains suck...or am I just out of shape?

    Just some thinking out loud:
    I'm from SE Texas where there ain't no mountains. I went for a ride with a friend in the mountains today with LOTS of steep ups and downs. Basic rundown, I flat ran out of gas I almost didn't make it up the last hill even pushing my bike. Plus on the way back my butt was especially painful. Time for better shorts?
    I know more climbing will help. I'm down to between 210 and 215, but my cardio is still poor. I'm shooting for <180. I also think I need to raise my seat a hair to remove more bend from my legs...and drink more water...and fuel up better before riding...and get rid of sodas....
    "Pain is weakness leaving the body"......yea, right!

  2. #2
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    It could be any number of things, all of which you touched upon. The biggest one though is that you just haven't been doing any hills. It may have been as simple as you just pushed yourself a little too hard and ran out of steam.

  3. #3
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    The trick with hills, I've found, is gearing and pacing.

    The most important thing is to ride at your own pace. If your buddy is used to climbing and you try to keep up with him, that's a recipe for frustration. Buy a heart rate monitor and use it to ensure that you're not continuously operating "in the red zone". When I started climbing, I really had a problem with trying to ride up the hill too fast, which meant I burned out long before the top. As soon as I started watching my HR, I had much more success. I was going slow (<5mph in some cases) but making it to the top.

    Gearing is also important. With climbing you need to be able to find the right balance between mashing a difficult gear (which quickly saps your leg strength), and spinning an easy gear (which exhausts cardiovascular strength). If you're riding a typical road bike (53/39 chain rings, 11-25 or 11-26 cassette) you may find that switching to a "compact" crank (50/34 chain rings) or a wider cassette (e.g. 11-28) or both helps improve your ability to climb. I've been climbing with 50/34 rings and 11-28 cassette for the last year and I'm almost tempted to try moving back to a standard 53/39 crank. Almost!

  4. #4
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    It's that gravity thing


  5. #5
    Neil_B
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    "Mountains suck...or am I just out of shape?"

    Possibly both.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I have no mountains but hills get easier, I always find my butt gets a little sore after a lot of climbing. I think it's the added effort or pressure pushing on the pedals. Luckally I can stand for a bit to ease the pressure.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

  7. #7
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    The other thing that hasn't been mentioned is bike fit. When you don't have the seat in the right place, it tends to make your legs work in an unnatural and different way than what they were designed to work. You want to be able to extend your legs when they are on a down stroke, but not so far that you are having to work/stretch to do it.

  8. #8
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    We moved from Dallas to Colorado, and I got started hiking up there while still overweight. Part of it is just the regular practice- when i could go hike up steep hills every day, I got a lot better at it. Weight makes a big difference, much more so than on level ground. I also noticed that the best hikers weren't big stocky people that had developed huge muscles, but rather people that were just pretty slim to begin with, and that seems to carry over to cycling. Anyway, if you do it a LOT, you'll get a lot better, but may never be in the same league with some 120-pounder that's also been doing it a lot.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  9. #9
    a big man
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    The more hills you ride the easier it gets. You get in better shape and you learn how to attack the hill. When I first started riding the best advice I got was to go slow and it's okay to mix sitting and spinning with standing. Sitting is more efficient, but when you stand you can push a harder gear. So by alternating between the two you are able to take advantage of your strength, cardiovascular, and different muscle groups. But the bottom line is climbing gets easier the more you do it.

  10. #10
    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    Without the experience of ultraclimbs and not being in as good shape as you could be are both huge factors. It sux balls, but the best way I have found to train for climbs is the touring way. If you have a back rack, some panniers, some fill em up with stuff, 1/3 rocks or something. Keep pedaling up and down. It hurts, but it builds and fast.
    12' SuperiorLite SL Pro w/ Sram Rival | 10' SuperiorLite SL Club w/ Sram Force | 06' Giant FCR (Dropbar) w/ Shimano 5700 | 10' GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc

  11. #11
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn1234 View Post
    The other thing that hasn't been mentioned is bike fit. When you don't have the seat in the right place, it tends to make your legs work in an unnatural and different way than what they were designed to work. You want to be able to extend your legs when they are on a down stroke, but not so far that you are having to work/stretch to do it.

    +100............When I do lots of climbing or training for a climbing century, I might raise my seat anywhere from .100-.300 of an inch depending on my extension. Try climbing with a lowered seat position and the quads are gonna kill ya!

    Riding a mix of flats and hills, you may need to find the happy medium. IF it's all hills, try the raised position. Sometimes one has to experiment a bit. IF I raise my seat, I place a strip of electrical tape around the post so the I can easily find my start point if I'm unhappy with the movement.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by justin70 View Post
    Sitting is more efficient, but when you stand you can push a harder gear.
    Just be sure to watch your heart rate. I'm in darn good shape at this point in the season, but when I stand while climbing I can jump my HR by 20bpm pretty quickly. For me, that's a difference between a sustainable 150bpm and a killer 170bpm (94% of max)...

  13. #13
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justin70 View Post
    The more hills you ride the easier it gets. You get in better shape and you learn how to attack the hill. When I first started riding the best advice I got was to go slow and it's okay to mix sitting and spinning with standing. Sitting is more efficient, but when you stand you can push a harder gear. So by alternating between the two you are able to take advantage of your strength, cardiovascular, and different muscle groups. But the bottom line is climbing gets easier the more you do it.
    Here ya go.

    4-weeks ago I did Levi's Gran Fondo (100-miles). The climbing seemed like it was all steep hills: about 8,000' at repeated 15% grades. It sucked. But, now, back home, hills are so much easier and I almost look forward to them

    Also, make sure to alternate when you can (stand vs sit). It breaks it up and allows your body to recover while you use a different set of muscles.

    Visit The C-Blog : the blog about cycling.

  14. #14
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    sounds like you went aerobic too many times and you emptied your fuel tank trying to keep up. Assuming you have your seat in the right place to begin with sstorkel hit it. On the flats your power/weight ratio isn't as significant a factor for maintaining an even pace but when climbs are thrown in people will spread apart significantly. Your friend might have been climbing 1mph faster which would be like you riding 5mph faster on the flats. You'd experience the same depletion if you went on a fast training ride with racers who took you outside your prefered power output.

    So next time you go climbing in the mtns pick your pace for the day so you can come home without blowing up. When you hit a hill and your friend zooms up starting at the bottom you zoom up at YOUR pace, not his. That means not turning every hill climb into a sprint effort until you hit your max effort and back off. I suspect you don't do that on the flats turning a 5km flat section into a balls out tt effort.

    Climbing hills involves technique as much as any other effort.

  15. #15
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    When I first started riding a good friend and ver experienced rider told me to "Let the hills come to you, don't attack the hills". It took me a while to realize what he meant, but if you start a climb in a gear that you are farely certain you can finish the climb in and you will typically ride within your limits. Also, you mentioned that maybe you ran out of energy, most people can process about 240 calories an hour. Between whatever you use for hydartion and some type of gel or food depending on the length of time you ride you should try to intake about 240 calories or so. I use Hammer product(HEED and Hammer Gel, and whenever I am riding more than two hours I mix in a little Perpetuum). Any more than 240 cals and they are wasted...much less and you are setting yourself up for failure after more than an hour or so.

  16. #16
    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    I started riding MTB's in New Mexico and got to a point where I thought I was really "something." Then I went to Durango, CO. Mountains are cruel, reality sucks!

    You now get to dig deep and soon carve your name into those inclines, you be the master! Post the progress. As YODA commanded Luke, Try not Luke, DO or do not.
    I think its disgusting and terrible how people treat Lance Armstrong, especially after winning 7 Tour de France Titles while on drugs!

    I can't even find my bike when I'm on drugs. -Willie N.

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