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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 05-15-10, 09:27 PM   #1
TechKnowGN
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Dear Mr. Beanz and other Clyde Mountain Goats - a query for you...

I know I mostly hang around in the Clyde Triathlon thread these days but I ventured out because I like to go right to the experts when I have a question.

It was brought to my attention by a 56:30 10 mile ride during my triathlon last weekend that I need to work on my climbing. I am well aware that the only way to get better at climbing is to climb. I've started that work already, and seeing a little bit in the way of results already.

My question relates to gear selection. I have realized other than the approximately 4 gears I use on a regular basis, I have no idea how to use my gearing. I currently ride a Fuji with a triple up front and 7 in the back. I went from freewheel to cassette when I put a new wheel on back last year (I still owe the guy a thanks, just have to remember who sent it), so the cogs may not be exactly the same but are close to 14-34. There was an overdrive cog in the back that I dont have anymore so it might be a 14-28 (its a standard Shimano).

I understand it's better to be spinning on the way up as opposed to fighting my way up.

What should I be trying to climb these darn hills in?
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Old 05-15-10, 09:42 PM   #2
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Whatever gear that keeps your cadence around 85 (give or take 5 or so) and with an effort that keeps your HR at a reasonable level.
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Old 05-15-10, 11:40 PM   #3
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Different styles work for different riders and the size of the hill. On a hill anyhting longer than 50 yards, I drop to the granny and tallest cog in the rear. I get my cadence up and camfortable, then increase one cog at a time till I feel that I can stil maintain a good cadence that won't fatigue my legs.

Other will stay in a big gear and drop down, I do best starting ez, then increasing a gear if I can, then shifting up at the crest pushing over.

Another thing to consider is that it's not a wussy thing to use the granny gear on the climb. I have a double and a triple but knowing that the granny has some duplicates of the gear combos of the middle ring, I don't hesitate to go granny as it keeps a straight chainline compared to crosschaining on the mid ring of a triple. So on a climb of any length, I drop to the granny and work the rear gears to find the right combo.

On my triple, if I hit any lengthy hill of 4% or more, I'm in the granny. Some might think that's too ez but I spin and like I said, keeping a straight chainline plus the convenience of working on one ring rather than swithching the front mid to small over and over. Just hang in the granny. Some riders might think that's shameful but I've smoked plenty of riders that had that silly thought.

If you have a triple, use it!

One thing that I find very helpful on the climbs is just climb. Do long consistent cimbs even if you aren't racing up, do what you can, you will improve. Even if the first 5 or 6 times is just making it up!
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Old 05-16-10, 04:57 AM   #4
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Thank you, kind sirs. I've no pretext that using my smaller chainring upfront is anything other than a good idea for climbing, so you can be assured I'll make use of it. Just have to get used to shifting into it during a ride. I'll work on that today.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:21 AM   #5
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So we did some bigger climbs (at least for us) this weekend. Nothing that any of you mt climbing types would even breathe hard on, but we all start somewhere. 18 (slow) miles with a few hundred feet of climbing along the way. Understanding how to better use the gears helped a lot, and to show how far I need to go, I spent a good bit of time on what were fairly short climbs in the granny gear and the 2nd cog on the back. The good news was I didn't have to do any walking, though I did have to stop on 3 different climbs, for about a minute each time.

Having my wife waiting at the top is good motivation to keep going, as is trying to mount up again with the bike shoes on the side of a hill. I have about 90 days, so with other workouts, days off, and vacation time, probably 35-40 rides to get ready for the hills of New Hampshire. We're going to go out to the course as soon as possible to see what kind of riding we need to be prepared to do.

man oh man, but the downhills... We had one that was long and winding ending at a stoplight... convinced me I need upgrade the brakepads.
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Old 05-24-10, 09:26 AM   #6
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So we did some bigger climbs (at least for us) this weekend. Nothing that any of you mt climbing types would even breathe hard on, .

Haha, don't let any of the hardcore mtn goats fool you! Everybody breathes hard on any climb. Those that ride by with a smile are faking it!

Even a short climb (1/8 of a mile) will make me feel like I'm going to bust a lung. Like I've said a hundred times before, the body doesn't have a chance to warm up into the climb. For that reason, I feel much better after a couple miles of climbing, after I've had a chance to find a groove. One of the big reasons I try to talk new climbers into trying a long conssitent climb. Once you experience the feeling, you'll know what I'm talking about

Once you experience the feeling, you'll better understand why a short climb is tough. Buy you'll also understand that it's just a bump compared to your experience and if it were longer, you'd conquer it with a smile.

My wife is by no means a climber. But I've taken her up a mtn climb (8 miles/2200ft). She's not a happy camper at the start of the climb. I've been called all sorts of names up the first 2 miles. But I keep telling her that she will warm up into the ride. After mile 3, the names stop, at mile 4 the smile appears, at mile 6 the eyes sparkle, at mile 8 she's all smiles knowing she completed the climb pretty much with with ease once her body warmed up and found the groove. Then she's got a different and better set of names for me!
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Old 05-24-10, 09:34 AM   #7
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To rework a quip from Greg LeMond, climbing doesn't get easier, you just get faster at it.
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Old 05-24-10, 09:48 AM   #8
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Thanks guys! I'll update this thread throughout the summer as I progress.

Here's what I'm training for: Timberman 70.3 bike ride. Its this image... then reverse it on the way back.

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Old 05-24-10, 11:11 AM   #9
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Thanks guys! I'll update this thread throughout the summer as I progress.

Here's what I'm training for: Timberman 70.3 bike ride. Its this image... then reverse it on the way back.

Dude, find a 10 mile 2% course, do out and back 2 times a week.

Find along flat ride an do 50 miles once a week.

Finda 4 mile 5-6% climb, do it once a week. Do it at our pace, nobody cares how fast you make it up. Nobody cares if you struggle, nobody cares if you don't complete it til our 4th or 5th attempt. Nobody cares if you cry, Just take your time and do it! Once you do, you'll never fail on the climb again!

Don't do the 6% climb more than once week to save your knees! BUT DO IT!

If you do these rides, you'll fly through that 70 mile course!
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Old 05-24-10, 11:25 AM   #10
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A note on gear selection:

Others have correctly said it is your choice what gear and how fast you go, but there is a simple rule to help you decide when to change gears:

'If it hurts in your legs shift to an easier gear; if it hurts in your lungs shift to a harder gear; if hurts in your legs and your lungs slow down.'

Keep in mind that there should be some discomfort, but you need to set a pace that allows you to make it to the top and keep riding.

Last edited by LarDasse74; 05-24-10 at 11:25 AM. Reason: Speelign
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Old 05-24-10, 12:23 PM   #11
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'If it hurts in your legs shift to an easier gear; if it hurts in your lungs shift to a harder gear; if hurts in your legs and your lungs slow down.'
Spot on advice! The biggest key to success, at least for me, is to keep my HR out of the "red" zone. Most of the climbs I do are short (3-4mi) and steep (6-8% average grade). If my HR gets too high, it's very difficult to ease off enough to get any appreciable recovery. I find that a slightly more difficult gear and slightly lower (~70rpm) cadence seem to work well for the most part.
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Old 05-24-10, 01:17 PM   #12
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Haha, don't let any of the hardcore mtn goats fool you! Everybody breathes hard on any climb. Those that ride by with a smile are faking it!
Actually I recorded an mp3 file of me whistling, and I play this from a speaker on the handlebars when I pass other cyclists going up hill.
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Old 05-24-10, 02:12 PM   #13
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Actually I recorded an mp3 file of me whistling, and I play this from a speaker on the handlebars when I pass other cyclists going up hill.


..............
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Old 05-25-10, 09:29 AM   #14
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I recently read something in an MTB magazine that I tried and it has helped in the climbing. The article was about a guy who observed his dog breathing out just before a large exhertion of energy. He researched into why dogs do that and came up with something to the effect(can't remember word for word) this is how the dogs empty out thier lungs before that start exherting a lot of energy so that there bodies can perform under the stress it is about to go through. He then tried this while riding MTB because there are sometimes short bursts of energy required to get up some hills. He found that he was able to complete longer climbs doing this. He also tried it on road climbs and it worked. I have been trying it the past couple of weeks and climbing seems a bit easier then before and I can push a little harder then usual while climbing. On the long climbs I am taking deeper breaths which makes my stamina last a lot longer then the quik short breaths. Just something else to factor into help climb a little better.
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Old 05-25-10, 09:35 AM   #15
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Nobody cares if you cry, Just take your time and do it!
Thanks for the signature line!
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Old 05-25-10, 10:02 AM   #16
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Hm. This looks like rollers, not significant climbing, per se. Short pitches and humps like this say one thing to me: intervals. lots and lots of intervals. Do you have similar roads to train on? Are you close enough to ride the course --if not as a training ride, but perhaps a recon ride once or twice before the event? On the way back it looks like 450ft across what, 4 miles? That's 2%. That's not climbing, that's a false flat. So, hill repeats for one. And then some Over/Under intervals. Then more hill repeats.
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Old 05-25-10, 10:18 AM   #17
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Thanks for the signature line!

Hmm, I'm better with words than I thought!
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Old 05-25-10, 12:00 PM   #18
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TechKnowGN - you're in the Boston area, right? http://nebc.us/rides/ The Northeast Bicycle Club has a Wed. night hillclimbing ride out of Burlington, MA that might be of interest to you.

Hill Ride:
The (in)famous Wednesday Night Hill Ride. The ride leaves at 6pm sharp from the mall parking lot next to the Cycle Loft in Burlington (directions below). ...

Low gears recommended. Since this is a training ride, no one will be dropped; we will ride an easy recovery pace between the hills, work hard up the hills, then regroup on the tops.
Waiver sign-in is required for non-NEBC members.
Ride takes place mid-April through August.
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Old 05-25-10, 03:20 PM   #19
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I'll jump in with a note on gear selection... go as big as you feel the need to. And if anyone disses you point em to the VeloNews article by Lennard Zinn "Counting Teeth: Lennard Zinn rides the Giro’s Monte Zoncolon" http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/...oncolon_118438

You'll be amazed at how low of gears the pro's are using when they need to.
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Old 05-25-10, 03:33 PM   #20
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You'll be amazed at how low of gears the pro's are using when they need to.
Some of the pro in the Giro D Italia are using compact cranks on the mtn stages.
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Old 06-12-10, 05:20 PM   #21
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Since posting I've done some hill work out with my wife, mixing some in when I can, but the weather has been somewhat prohibitive of riding, so it wasn't as much as I hoped. Til today that is, when our tri team president took me out for what was supposed to be a mini group ride. Our other riders bailed due to the threat of inclement weather (June turned into September last week), so it was just Sunny and I. We went through a pretty hilly section of one of the suburbs of Boston, and then to what is basically an abandoned stretch of road with only an apartment community in it that lends itself to some nice loop repeats with some climbs.

Unfortunately, with the hills on the way there, one trip through the loop was all I could muster knowing that I had to still deal with the hills on the way home. The good news is that 2 weeks ago I wouldn't have gotten through as much as I did. And there was still a hill I didn't even want to try because I knew I would wind up making at least 2 stops on the way up.

2 1/2 months to go til the big race.
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Old 06-12-10, 05:30 PM   #22
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If you have a triple on the bike, why are you using such a wide range cassette 14-28.. You should look at getting something with a tighter gear ratio so the jumps are not as big, like a 12-25 or 12-23..

Spinning has been in vogue because of the Lance effect.. Many people do not realize that spinning up climbs requires a good cardio base.. Most bigger riders that are decent climbers are more grinders than spinners in my experience..
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Old 06-12-10, 06:15 PM   #23
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I will always refuse to go with this keep cadance above 85 on a climb. I've always heard this and it's always bothered me. I'm a natural spinner, on flat ground I'm usually at or above 100 in my 53-19, it's my comfort range. Some of the hills in my area I get to my lowest gearing 39-25 and it's all I can do to keep it above 70 when things get over 10% I'm a firm believer in do what gets you up the hill and forget what everyone else is telling you to do. I'll also chome in and say the obvious, want to climb better...loose weight, it's that simple. I do not live in mountains but in terrain that goes up and down so there is climbing in every ride unless I go out of my way for flat ground. Hill repeats will help but work at attacking the hill to not just make it up, oh hold on remember my other advice, don't listen to anyones advice just experiment with gearing and find what's right for you. I will say though for the coarse shown above try to keep it in as tall a gear as you can and just power over those little suckers, your time will thank you!
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Old 06-12-10, 06:16 PM   #24
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I've replaced the cassette with a 12-25. I dont have any idea exactly what Im doing, but Im finding that depending on the hill I try to build momentum up to it and then power through as best i can, as i get tired, i drop a gear, and keep moving easier as I need to. Ive been using the granny gear and that helps, but I can't stay in it when Im on the flats because I cant get the power I want, so I have to shift in and out.
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