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Thread: Hills Kill

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    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Hills Kill

    Been slacking off this year for the most part in terms of climbing. I'm still on the fence about whether to do the Bike MS event in September, which is two days of 3000ft/50mi... far more climbing than I've ever done before.

    So, yesterday I decided to start doing some hill training. Instead of my normal 600ft/20mi hill route I did a 900ft/20mi hill route instead... and holy crap that was hard as hell. My speed actually dropped down to 3.5mph on one giant hill, the slowest I've ever gone on my bike before. I could barely make it up... but I made it, without getting off and walking. So there's that at least.

    I did that hill last year and I'm certain I could do it at 6mph. On the other hand I've gained 40 pounds since then, so I suppose that's where the difference came from. I really need to lose a lot more weight. Hauling 400 pounds up hills is no fun at all. So for training I think I'm going to do a hill route once a week at first, to see how well I can eventually end up doing it. Once I get it down I'll increase the distance and go from there.


    On the plus side, I now have a new speed record. Hit 36.5mph going down the other side of the hill... in a 35mph zone. Neato. I was amazed at how much more stable the road bike is compared the mountain bike I rode last year. Even going 28-30 on that thing felt like I was unstable and was going to die, but now on my road bike I just went into the drops, said "hmm, I don't think I'm going too fast", looked down and saw 36.5mph. That was strange, but also awesome. I bet I can even hit 40 on a bigger hill...

    One thing's for sure though. 900 feet over 20 miles hurt like hell. I simply don't understand how people do that much climbing in even shorter distances.

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/181082077

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    Senior Member MattFoley's Avatar
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    Don't worry, you'll get used to it. One disadvantage to road bikes is they usually aren't geared as low as hybrids and mountain bikes, so to climb the same hills, you have to put in more effort. For the really steep stuff, you can always zig-zag (assuming it's safe to do so), which spreads out the distance of the climb, but tempers the actual grade. There's a short hill on one of my commuting routes that's about a 15% grade for about 1/10 of mile. I can ride straight up it, but I find I save a lot of energy if I zig-zag it.
    Cars man, whyyyyyy?!?!?!?!

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    old and in the way grueling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattFoley View Post
    For the really steep stuff, you can always zig-zag (assuming it's safe to do so), which spreads out the distance of the climb, but tempers the actual grade. There's a short hill on one of my commuting routes that's about a 15% grade for about 1/10 of mile. I can ride straight up it, but I find I save a lot of energy if I zig-zag it.
    +1 for "paperboying". Plus - don't be afraid to get off and walk. It will help you know where your limit truly is. Also, you may find that after a brief walking bit, your heart rate will get back down, and you get on again. Hills suck but the more practice the easier it gets.

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    What really sucks is when you are humping it up that hill at 3.5 mph, gasping for breath and everyone passes you, and I mean everone!

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    Member savagemann's Avatar
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    In about an hour, I'm on my way to go haul my 300lbs carcass up a 3800' mountain, which is gained in about 10 miles.
    Just a couple years ago, I would barely be able to make it up 380' of it.
    To get better at hills, ride more hills.
    It hurts, but the payoff is great.
    Stick with it.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post

    One thing's for sure though. 900 feet over 20 miles hurt like hell. I simply don't understand how people do that much climbing in even shorter distances.
    It's quite simple. They weigh less. Climbers tend not to describe a ride as "hilly" unless it contains more than 100ft of ascent per ten miles, so 2000ft per 20 miles, or 10000ft per 100.

    But take this as consolation. If I added to my bike the difference between your weight and mine, the smallest gradient would destroy me. So if you keep going, and keep you power while losing the weight, you'll find yourself turning into a very strong rider.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Mith: You might think about changing to a better cassette for climbing. I just got a 11-36 on the back with mtn bike derailure and chain. It helped a lot when I went climbing last week. 33 miles and 2800 feet of climbing.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    You figured out the real cause, and the solution is probably to count calories.

    But the next thing you can do to help yourself is hill repeats. They're very simple, and very boring, but they're good practice, and they pay dividends very quickly. After several weeks of this torture, you can move on to seeking out hilly rides and leave the laps behind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    One thing's for sure though. 900 feet over 20 miles hurt like hell. I simply don't understand how people do that much climbing in even shorter distances.

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/181082077
    Weight, and practice. I weight less than you, but still a bit more than I'd like to. A few weeks ago I climbed 3,600 feet in 16 miles on Mount Baker (and hiked 2,600 in 2.6 miles the next day!), then 3,000 in 15 on Swauk and Blewett Passes a week later, then 3,700 in 20 miles last week on Mount Rainier. I blame lots of hill practice for my being able to make it. And I'm posting this to let you know that while Clydes are at a disadvantage on hills, we can still climb them.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonframe View Post
    What really sucks is when you are humping it up that hill at 3.5 mph, gasping for breath and everyone passes you, and I mean everone!
    Oh don't worry, I was the only idiot who was attempting those hills that day.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    Mith: You might think about changing to a better cassette for climbing. I just got a 11-36 on the back with mtn bike derailure and chain. It helped a lot when I went climbing last week. 33 miles and 2800 feet of climbing.



    I'm geared at 26/36/48 x 11-34 @ 700Cx40. Pretty much the lowest I can go. I suppose I could swap a 22 chainring in, and go with a 36 big tooth, but it's doubtful that'll be a meaningful change. I just gotta suck it up and get better.

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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I win the prize. I have gone as slow as 2.4mph up a hill without falling over. I might have gone even slower on the bike that doesn't have the speedometer.

    I am slowly improving on the hills.

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    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Elevation gain notwithstanding you need to build up to some experience at the longer distance. Once your comfortable doing 40 miles or so you should be good with back to back 50 mile days although there is no guarantee that the second day will be without discomfort.

    Do some good climbing once a week. it doesn't have to be in conjunction with the longer ride. In fact you'd probably be best off doing what your starting to do: incorporate climbing into your 20 mile ride and use the longer ride(s) for base.
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    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Im "blessed" that my home is on the top of a 2 mile / 500ft hill so no matter what ride I do I have to do some hills. After 2 yrs of riding this hill I can honestly say I dont even think about it anymore. Most short rides for me are arounds the 1200ft mark and longer 20+ miles closer to 1800ft. I feel fortunate to have interesting hilly landscape to ride.

    Keep at it as it definitely gets easier. I can crank along all day as long as the hill is less than 9%. Any thing over 9% and I start feeling it.

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Here is how to climb.
    The section between 1:55 and 2:55 has grades up to 12% according to my Garmin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u089k1B9o3k&t=1m55s

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    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by savagemann View Post
    In about an hour, I'm on my way to go haul my 300lbs carcass up a 3800' mountain, which is gained in about 10 miles.
    Just a couple years ago, I would barely be able to make it up 380' of it.
    To get better at hills, ride more hills.
    It hurts, but the payoff is great.
    Stick with it.
    Truth! And that's damn steep.

    I was afraid... AFRAID I SAY! of hills. Unfortunately, I live on a street that is damn steep (about 6-8% grade for half a mile to get to my house, and 4-5% for a quarter mile to get OUT of my house) so I get to climb every day I ride regardless.

    Cyclists ride hills, that's all there is to it. You're a cyclist, so ride some hills. You will get better at it and you really can't beat the exercise. Yeah, you weigh more than professional riders but who cares.

    Just two weeks ago I finally climbed a mountain... 2,143 feet in about 7.8 miles, and I did it with a 36 front, 28 rear at about 7.5 mph. It took just over an hour but I cannot even begin to tell you how satisfying it was to stand at the crest of that hill and munch on a Clif bar. (It was the KOM point on the amgen tour of california if you managed to catch that ride on Saturday) Heck, I'm still a little euphoric about the whole thing. I'm already plotting a return trip.

    Keep at it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    Here is how to climb.
    The section between 1:55 and 2:55 has grades up to 12% according to my Garmin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u089k1B9o3k&t=1m55s

    Ah yes, Flagstaff Road. I haven't tackled that one yet. I usually do Rist Canyon in Fort Collins, but I want to try that one. The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is going to do Flagstaff Road this year. Oh, and "sub-threshold"?? Are you kidding?
    Last edited by carbonframe; 05-24-12 at 08:28 AM.

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    Member savagemann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    Truth! And that's damn steep.

    I was afraid... AFRAID I SAY! of hills. Unfortunately, I live on a street that is damn steep (about 6-8% grade for half a mile to get to my house, and 4-5% for a quarter mile to get OUT of my house) so I get to climb every day I ride regardless.

    Cyclists ride hills, that's all there is to it. You're a cyclist, so ride some hills. You will get better at it and you really can't beat the exercise. Yeah, you weigh more than professional riders but who cares.

    Just two weeks ago I finally climbed a mountain... 2,143 feet in about 7.8 miles, and I did it with a 36 front, 28 rear at about 7.5 mph. It took just over an hour but I cannot even begin to tell you how satisfying it was to stand at the crest of that hill and munch on a Clif bar. (It was the KOM point on the amgen tour of california if you managed to catch that ride on Saturday) Heck, I'm still a little euphoric about the whole thing. I'm already plotting a return trip.

    Keep at it!
    Well, I didn't end up going to the summit.
    But did make it up about 3100' of the mountain.
    I was with a buddy, and he was spent at 3000'.
    I was more than happy to call it a day there....= )
    This mountain was part of the Amgen Tour Of California Stage 3.
    Here is my strava from yesterday.
    http://app.strava.com/rides/9196390

    OP,
    Get in as much riding as possible between now and then.
    Climb, and then climb some more.
    You may have enough time to prepare for the challenge in september if you really work hard!!!
    If you aren't feeling ready, dont push yourself.
    Good luck!

  18. #18
    Member savagemann's Avatar
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    P.S.
    Check this little jem out............
    http://app.strava.com/rides/3886878#71521862

    It is the finishing grade going up to the summit of Mt. Diablo.
    About 16% average grade.
    My avg speed was 1.7mph!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Average!!!!!!!!!
    If you look at the link, you can see I had 2:10 of resting time going up the 200 yards.
    I had dropped my sunglasses and stopped to pick them up.
    Big mistake!!!!!
    It is very narrow there. Barely wide enough for a single car.
    So lets just say getting back on the bike and clipping into my pedals was quite a challenge.
    I think I actually went slower than 1mph going up that!!!
    Amazed I didnt fall over. Hahaha

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    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    Here is how to climb.
    The section between 1:55 and 2:55 has grades up to 12% according to my Garmin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u089k1B9o3k&t=1m55s
    I just barfed watching that.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I learned that butterflies can move through the air at about 10 mph, going up hill (which I guess doesn't matter to them), while I was climbing toward Old Blewett Pass, at about 8 mph.

    But I made it to the crest.

    Don't believe everything you think.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonframe View Post
    Ah yes, Flagstaff Road. I haven't tackled that one yet. I usually do Rist Canyon in Fort Collins, but I want to try that one. The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is going to do Flagstaff Road this year. Oh, and "sub-threshold"?? Are you kidding?
    In the lingo of the locals, there is:

    "Flagstaff" - Meaning turn right at Amphitheater Road and go to the circle at the summit. IIRC, this is where the race will finish this year.

    "Super Flagstaff" - Meaning don't turn at Amphitheater Road, but continue straight up to the top of the ridgeline. This is steeper than anything below including a sustained 16% grade on one section.

  22. #22
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    I have learned that climbs and hills are all subjective. I have not done a ton of it yet, and freely admit I suffer when I do. I did about 2000 feet of climbing in 30 miles last weekend and was very tired.

    Total elevation and gain over time have a significant effect. For instance I see lots of reports where someone says they climbed 3000 feet in a ride. When I look at the ride report, they did in fact do that total, but really they went up and down between 300 and 600 feet above sea level a bunch of times.

    Where I live I can go out my door, turn right and start a 11 mile climb that starts at 4700 feet and ends around 9100...all that on one road with no turns.

    Making that climb is my goal by the end of the year.

  23. #23
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    3 years ago, the short steep hill on my usual training route I struggled to climb at 3.mph. Now I struggle to climb it at 4mph. My speed coming down it hasn't changed (about 33mph).
    But all the training I've been doing have greatly improved my ability on the flats and climbs that aren't as steep.

    In 2010 a 70 mile day with 3500 total climbing (net) was exhausting - it was all I could do to shower, eat and collapse in bed.
    A few weekends ago a 70 mile day with 3500 net climb was tiring, but not exhausting; and my average speed was ~4mph faster.

    During those years, I have been very persistant riding with a plan and a purpose and seeing what works for me. I can't pinpoint any one factor.
    2 rides I do often have a detour around the hardest hill. I promised I would not take that detour unless I had to escort a weaker rider.
    I also make sure that each week I do a ride with steep hills and one with long hills.

    Most importantly, pick routes where you get to enjoy going fast downhill - you've earned it!!

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