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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 12-26-09, 10:06 AM   #1
neversummer
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How do you attack inclines better ?

Hey guys, im 6 2 200 pounds, and pretty athletic but as soon as a incline starts my legs start losing power . It hard to explain but on flats i can ride hard but as soon as i start on a incline my legs turn into jello and can barley peddle.
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Old 12-26-09, 10:10 AM   #2
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What gearing do you have?
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Old 12-26-09, 12:31 PM   #3
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Here's my method. Shift to a lower gear when climbing a hill. Maintain a steady pedaling speed (which is called cadence). The bike will slow down, but resist the tempation to pedal faster. If you have to slow down to walking speed it will be harder to maintain your balance, so concentrate on that. Pedal slower if you start breathing too hard.

Go slow, pedal steady, work on staying balanced, don't let yourself get out of breath. If you start gasping for air that probably means you tried to climb the hill too fast. Next time take it slower. Lower gear, slow steady cadence, stay balanced. If you do it that way you should be able to ride up any hill that you can walk up.
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Old 12-26-09, 01:53 PM   #4
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First off: don't "attack"! Hills are all about long-term endurance (and suffering).

My method is very similar to what Platy suggests: I shift to the appropriate front chainring well before I actually need it; if that means I end up coasting for a bit, so be it. Going up the hill, my cadence is determined by my heart rate: I shift the rear derailleur to a gear that allows me to pedal easily but at the same time allows me to keep my heart rate out of the "red zone".

My bikes don't have super-low gearing, so keeping my heart rate at the right level invariably means that I have to reduce my cadence. Instead of the 90-100rpm that I spin on flat terrain, I'll probably do 60-80rpm while climbing. Maybe even lower if the route is especially steep. I keep my cadence consistent and rarely coast while climbing.

For the most part, I stay seated while climbing. Occasionally, I'll stand to pedal through steep sections of the route (or if I just need a break from sitting). When I stand, I may shift to a gear that's a notch or two more difficult than the one I'm using while seated; my goal is to keep my heart rate and cadence as consistent as possible while standing.

Finally, I find that pacing myself properly is much easier if I know exactly how long the climb will be. For anything that's more than a half-mile, I like to use BikeRouteToaster or MyMyRide or a similar service to figure how exactly how long the climb will be from bottom to top. Be careful about using these service to estimate the steepness of a climb! They show average grades, and the average may include some significantly steep sections...
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Old 12-26-09, 02:32 PM   #5
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What gearing do you have?

I have a caad 9 - 6 2010
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Old 12-26-09, 02:42 PM   #6
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Hills, I suck at them. However, I climb a lot on my road rides and my technique isn't so much a "winning technique" but a method I use to endure the pain until it's over.

My method: I ride up hills on my mtn bike. A lot. I do this seated, standing, panting and straining with my heart pounding so hard I can taste blood and can't hear for the drum beat in my ears, or any other way I can. Then I repeat this next week. I do not recommend this method for the faint of heart or those with medical issues but it works.

With this method I have gained 2 full cogs on the cassette since March 2009 for hills I regularly ride on my road bike. A side benefit is that I have increased my overall MPH by 1 1/2 mph over 80 mile rides to almost 14 mph and no longer need a triple crankset.

It is the ONLY way I've found to get faster and stronger on hills.
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Old 12-26-09, 02:45 PM   #7
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Long hills are about enduring the pain. Short rollers you can attack. But it it turns into a hill, keep your HR down and use the small gears and just try to get over it with some juice still in the tank. On a climbing ride, I take it easy on the flats and save my energy for the hills.

You sound like some of the folks I ride with. I can't hang with 'em in the flats, but when the road turns up I get payback. They just don't know how to ride up.
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Old 12-26-09, 04:50 PM   #8
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I use Rob's method on short training rides and commutes. I go up every hill in the highest gear that I think I can still spin fast, and downshift only if there is no other choice. It means hard effort, and a little pain. But, on a ride under 3 hours (if you're fit), you should be able to recover quickly without bonking.

Then, on a brevet, or a long club ride, I switch back to Platy's method to save energy. But, even when conserving energy, the gains from the short rides make you a better climber.

I'm happy with the progress I've made this year with this method. I went from a very poor climber to at least average (for a club rider). But, a little pain every day is the only path I know.
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Old 12-26-09, 05:00 PM   #9
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its a matter of expectations. lower them. use a lower gear and expect your speed to drop significantly.
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Old 12-26-09, 05:03 PM   #10
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Also, you don't get better at climbing by avoiding it. If you really want to improve, add in some hill repeats a couple of times a month or more depending on how much you ride.

All the gears in the world won't do you any good if your lungs and heart aren't up to the task.
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Old 12-27-09, 09:56 PM   #11
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I have a caad 9 - 6 2010
Ok... so that means you have a 12-26 cassette in the back (went to cannondales website) do you have a compact double or triple crank?
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Old 12-27-09, 10:22 PM   #12
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Ease off the pace for a few minutes before you come to the hill. You will lose a few seconds on the flat but you will more than make up the time on the hill if you are fresh at the bottom.
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Old 12-28-09, 02:08 PM   #13
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I try to use an easier gear, and don't work so hard that I blow-up before the hill is over. I go slower than I thought that I would up the hill, but still have gas in the engine for pushing it hard down the other side, and maintaining a steady-burn on the flat sections before and after. Sure I lose the group on hills, just like almost all of the heavier riders, but I always come back. Especially when there is a wind on the flat sections (most smaller guys have bigger issues with wind than us bigger folk).
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Old 12-28-09, 03:19 PM   #14
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I have found climbing easier since I lost about 30 pounds (I'm still 35 lbs. heavier than you) and started working out at the gym. Lower body work (squats, lunges, leg presses, leg curls, leg extensions, calf raises, etc.) have helped strengthen my legs. It has made a real difference in my climbing ability. BTW, I'm 6' 3, 235.
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Old 12-28-09, 10:53 PM   #15
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If you keep climbing them you will get better. I put a scoop of protein powder in my recovery smoothie. I think it has been helping me gain a little strength. On the climb I try to use the biggest ring possible, but keep the cadence above 60.
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Old 12-29-09, 08:15 AM   #16
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I found that the problem I had with climbing was not so much trying to grind a way in a big gear, but dropping into too low of a gear and spinning at waaaay too high of a cadence. The rapid spinning wore me out more than the hill itself.

Also, a simple tip, when you are climbing, do not look at the top of the hill, look at a point past your front tire so that you see just enough road ahead to dodge any obstacles. Climbing is psychological as much as it is physical. You are going slow so the top of the hill never seems to get closer. This will destroy your confidence. Look forward a little bit and you will be surprised when you get to the top.

Good luck, ride hard.
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Old 12-29-09, 09:20 AM   #17
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I just bought a computer from bonktown , so i plan on seeing what my avg. speed going up this hill is then slowly add more speed each week.
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Old 12-29-09, 10:19 AM   #18
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That'll give you some data, which can be interesting. But...

Increases in speed when climbing aren't nearly as important as experience. Practice, practice, and practice!

Over time you'll begin to recognize what gears and what cadence work for you as you climb. As you gain that experience, and fine-tune it, your speed will increase -- and so will your confidence!

As a couple of others mentioned, don't look up at the top of the hill. Your legs and lungs will want to invite your eyes to join the pity party. Don't!
Keep your eyes focused on the road directly ahead.

As you climb, keep your mind occupied with your body's condition:
*Breathing: full and rhythmic -- use your diaphragm to fully empty and inflate your lungs. Open your mouth!
*Other muscle groups: relax and drop your shoulders, lose the 'vice grip' on the bars. That extra tension uses oxygen!
*Pedaling: resist the temptation to 'mash' -- pedal through the full circle, completing each 'down' by imagining that you're scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe as you transition from 'down' to 'back'. Let your hamstrings assist your quads!

If you concentrate on these items, and ignore the mental distractions of 1) the speed indicated on your computer and 2) looking for the tip of the hill, you'll become more aware of your body.

Have fun. Embrace the suffering, but don't make it harder by being distracted by numbers.

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I just bought a computer from bonktown , so i plan on seeing what my avg. speed going up this hill is then slowly add more speed each week.
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Old 12-29-09, 11:58 AM   #19
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I do not look at the top of the hill, look at a point past your front tire so that you see just enough road ahead to dodge any obstacles. Climbing is psychological as much as it is physical. Look forward a little bit and you will be surprised when you get to the top.

Good luck, ride hard.
+1, I have been surprised by this, it works.
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Old 12-29-09, 12:07 PM   #20
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I don't attack!
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Old 12-29-09, 01:46 PM   #21
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Also, one other tactic I use is to talk to myself. OUT LOUD. Sure you may look a little crazy, but if you can't speak a coherent sentence or two, you are working too hard and will wear down. Just a couple of phrases like "Don't give up" "You can do it" "Almost there." If you can speak easily without fighting for breath, you are at a good heart rate. It also give a little boost mentally.
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Old 12-29-09, 03:29 PM   #22
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I don't attack!
Passivist!
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Old 12-29-09, 06:26 PM   #23
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I don't attack!
I dunno.. he almost clobbered me with his frame pump when I whistled at his wife...
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Old 12-29-09, 06:34 PM   #24
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On a more serious note to the OP...

Try changing things. When you ride differently, you use different muscles or different energy systems in the body.
  • If you're sitting, stand up.
  • If you're standing, sit down.
  • If you're in an easy gear, switch to one harder and power up (if hill's short enough).
  • If you're in your small ring, try it in your big ring.
I used to have trouble on a group ride getting over one short hill while still in contact with the group. I would go up in my small ring and pedal as fast as I could to keep up. But inevitably, I would "blow up" near the top and the group would quickly sail away. One day, I forced myself to keep it in the big ring instead of shifting down. I had to get out of the saddle once or twice to keep the cadence up, and for longer periods than I wanted to, but I stayed with the group. The big ring forced me to use my muscular legs instead of relying on my aerobic capacity, which was handicapped by my heavier weight in comparison to the rest of the group.

Granted, on longer hills, I wouldn't be able to keep up like that, but the premise of changing things up still holds.

And to further somebody else's post, experience does play alot here. The more you ride, the more you do hills, the more you know what you can do.
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Old 12-29-09, 06:42 PM   #25
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I don't look at the top or attack hills near the bottom. Near the top is another matter. I usually think that I'm farther up the hill than I really am, and looking up at how far is left usually makes me angry enough at me and the hill to push a little harder or even attack during the last bit of the climb. I figure I can take just about anything for a couple of minutes, and will attack near the top...usually if I'm feeling particularly strong or in a really bad mood that day.

Oh...and attack is a relative term. That just means that I push into the red zone with my heart rate, and will probably stand up and use my arms to pull down and help my legs put more pressure on the pedals. It is usually just a slight increase, or stopping a decrease in my speed. Well...I feel like I'm "attacking"...
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