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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 06-15-12, 10:40 PM   #1
Mithrandir
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Failed my first hill

http://app.strava.com/rides/10912227#
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/189314575#

Tonight was my weekly hill training ride. I've been doing 20 milers with about 900 feet of climbing (~45ft/mi) for the past month, and while the big hills still drop me down to the lowest gear and I can't maintain cadence, I felt it was time to bump things up a little, so I decided to extend the ride out to 27 miles at 1300 feet (~50ft/mi). So I mapped out a ride to Attica (yes, The Attica) and went for it. I visited Attica last year on my 2nd Metric Century, but I took an easier route than tonight. Tonight I took a more southerly route that has a giant hill leading up to Attica before a nice drop into the valley.

The first four big climbs are all familiar to me; I do those on the 20 mile hill ride. The 5th big climb is new to me, and unfortunately I didn't make it. About halfway up (~10.5 miles in), I faltered. My legs stopped working and I had to get off the bike. Almost felt like my lunch would end up on the side of the road, but luckily it didn't. I tried to get back on the bike and finish the climb, but I just couldn't get the bike going because the gradient was too steep.

Now, I have always made it up the hills I've tackled before. I've designed my bike with a 24/34 low gear and I assured myself that with this low gear I could climb up anything, even El Capitan. I did not believe in walking up hills, it's... impure. But reality eventually set in, and I performed a walk of shame up the last few hundred feet of the hill. It's a good thing I did, because even walking at 2mph, my pulse was near my max, and it was tough as hell even walking. So here I am, admitting my first real defeat in a year of non-stop cycling. It's humbling. Average speed by this point had dropped to around 9mph. I left the computer on to record the ascent even though I was walking; killed my average speed but hey, I don't believe in brushing failures under the rug.

The rest of the ride was pretty good after that. After that last hill it was pretty much downhill for a few miles. That was fun but also scary when the road suddenly terminated at a huge decline at a stopsign leading to a busy(ish) highway. My brakes proved to be worthy of the challenge however and all was safe. I was going against the wind the whole way up the hills, too, so coming back home was (literally) a breeze. My legs apparently still had some juice left in them because I powered up some hills at 16mph. Saw a beautiful sunset as well, which really made my day. Ended up finishing the ride with a 12.1mph speed, a whole 1mph over my goal, so I guess there's that as well.


This incident had me thinking all night. Earlier in the day I was having an argument with some coworkers who tried to tell me that spinning is much harder than actually cycling. They kept telling me that I was being ridiculous because I can bike for 8 hours straight whereas they can only spin for 40-60 minutes before they can't stand it anymore, so obviously "cycling is much easier than spinning". They wouldn't listen to my arguments that you never fight wind or go up hills on a spinner. You're not moving all 400 pounds of yourself, plus 30 for the bike, on a spinner. A spinner never got my HR anywhere as high as a real bike does. Well; a new data point to consider: a spinner has never made my legs seize up and make me want to barf my lunch out over the road. Point: cycling.

Anyway, that was my adventure for the night.
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Old 06-15-12, 10:49 PM   #2
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Bah, you didn't fail, you made a start. Good job.

Say, your gear combo - is that 34 in front, 24 in back? Or the other way around.

Anyway - my neighborhood (friendly hills, and no, they're not particularly friendly) has a nasty little 1 mile climb if I'm of a mind to ride around the block. The average grade is 4.3% according to strava, but that includes a little downhill at the start and a sort of flat for a hundred yards or so in the middle - it gets up to 10% for a while. The first time I tried that hill I turned around at the first stop sign (about 100 yards into the mile climb), and then I avoided it for a year. The second time, I made it to the top, but I stopped a bunch of times, uh, for water.

Last week I actually caught up to somebody on that hill and we had a nice chat on the way up to the top.

Today I set a PR on that damn hill.

So fight the good fight and keep at it! And screw the spinners! They just have to dial back on that little knob when they're tired - we have to keep going up that hill.
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Old 06-15-12, 10:54 PM   #3
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Well you may consider it defeat but I say VICTORY!

You did something you never tried before, that is NEVER easy. It starts that way but you keep trying then eventually you make it up. I almost died my first time up a 6 mile hill. Now it's a walk in the park. Now go do it again!

Even though you didn't make it the first time, you had to balls to try. That deserves a "hat's off to ya". Now go do it again I say. Seriously, in time, just that effort will make the other hills that much easier.

It is never about I did it the first time, or even I did it. It's about the effort makes me stronger! Now go do it again, wait a week if you have to!

See this is the thing about hills. Riders do it, feel they fail then give up. Like I said, think about it as you are going to get stronger even if you don't make it up the first, second , third or fourth time, you'll make it!.

Plus the wind does have something to do with an extreme effort on a climb, been there, done that!
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Old 06-15-12, 11:20 PM   #4
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I don't consider it a "Walk of Shame."

I think of it as "Cross Training."
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Old 06-16-12, 12:43 AM   #5
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I don't consider it a "Walk of Shame."

I think of it as "Cross Training."
^this is signature worthy.
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Old 06-16-12, 02:20 AM   #6
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All of us fail. Achievement is the result of repeated failure, of constantly attempting things that are at or beyond the limits of our powers. This is true in all aspects of life - nobody ever got really good at anything by only doing things that came easily to them. Those who, like you, are not afraid to try things that may be beyond them, end up realising their potential. Those who stay in their comfort zone, don't.
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Old 06-16-12, 03:56 AM   #7
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You tried and that is what counts. I remember hating the hills and keeping to the flat land. Big mistake.

You did it. You gave yourself a baseline and that is great. You gotta start somewhere!
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Old 06-16-12, 05:19 AM   #8
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All of us fail. Achievement is the result of repeated failure, of constantly attempting things that are at or beyond the limits of our powers. This is true in all aspects of life - nobody ever got really good at anything by only doing things that came easily to them. Those who, like you, are not afraid to try things that may be beyond them, end up realising their potential. Those who stay in their comfort zone, don't.

Spot on Chasm!


As for hills...I've had to "cross-train" on occasions in the past year. Yeah it's humbling and it really sucks but made me want to go climb because I suck at it.
Today I don't look at a hill and if I may quote Gold do an "ack!" or a Will "That's just rude" (still funny) it's just another thing I get to accomplish in life.

Mirth - not a failure but a baseline. Now I have to ask what your plans are to defeat this monster?

Spinning vs. cycling? That's an argument much like politics, religion and NASCAR. Don't get in them because there won't be a winner. My only comment is that I have ridden with a person that teaches spin class and she's told me that they are nothing alike and reality is cycling.
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Old 06-16-12, 05:46 AM   #9
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Good Job! I can't wait to see the post when you get over that hill.
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Old 06-16-12, 08:01 AM   #10
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Everyone has already said it pretty good, No Failure! I've walked hills before, there is no shame in walking for the gravity challenged. Failure would be to let it defeat you. Don't be ashamed if you have to walk it a second or third time, you will get up it.

btw, when you tried to get back on your bike, did you do it pointed straight up the hill? If so, it can be much easier if you point your bike perpendicular to the roadway so that you can get started pedaling on a easier gradiant then turn up the hill so you are going in a zig-zag pattern up the hill instead of straight up it. Make sure there are no cars coming before you do this though!
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Old 06-16-12, 08:18 AM   #11
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Well, I don't consider that failure. There's this one hill in Sinking Spring, PA that I never quite made it all the way up (and that was back in my late teens)

I'm on what's supposed to be a. . plateau (Cumberland Plateau). So there aren't many long hills (many less than 300 meters) but what there are can be on the steep side (17 to 21% grades). . . anyway. I usually ride a compact (50/34) with a 12-23 in the back, Yesterday, had some trouble with that bike, turned round, went home and got a new (to me) but it has a more standard 52/42 with a 12-25 in the back that I had yet to ride.

I took it on my long loop route, just to see if I could push it alright.

Yes. Yes I could. Flatted at mile 18, but yeah.

I don't know it seems to me that many (if not, all) of us can do a lot more than we think we can. I certainly surprised myself.

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Old 06-16-12, 08:33 AM   #12
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Good Job! My first climb was 600 feet over 4 miles and the first time I did it, I only made it a little over half way and couldn't finish. I went back the next week and conquered it. In the end you had an awesome learning experience and I bet next time you go for it you make it.
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Old 06-16-12, 08:54 AM   #13
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Those who, like you, are not afraid to try things that may be beyond them, end up realising their potential. Those who stay in their comfort zone, don't.
Zactly!
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Old 06-16-12, 09:53 AM   #14
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The first four big climbs are all familiar to me; I do those on the 20 mile hill ride. The 5th big climb is new to me, and unfortunately I didn't make it. About halfway up (~10.5 miles in), I faltered. My legs stopped working and I had to get off the bike. Almost felt like my lunch would end up on the side of the road, but luckily it didn't. I tried to get back on the bike and finish the climb, but I just couldn't get the bike going because the gradient was too steep.
As others have said: this wasn't a failure, but rather an opportunity for improvement

One suggestion: in looking at the Strava data it appears that you were really charging up the hills! When I tackle climbs, especially new climbs that I haven't done before, I always dial my pace way back and keep an eye on my heart rate. If I see my heart rate edging toward the "red zone", I'll slow even more if possible. On a really steep sections (>~8%), I might end up going 4-5mph, or slower, at a cadence of 50-60rpm. Once I've been up the hill a couple of times and am more familiar with the route, then I'll start pushing myself to ride faster.
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Old 06-16-12, 10:26 AM   #15
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Oh yeah, looking at strava, that is a darn good climb. Ain't no shame in working up to this sucker!
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Old 06-16-12, 11:03 AM   #16
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Failure = not trying. That was not a fail.
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Old 06-16-12, 12:19 PM   #17
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You didn't barf. You didn't call for a car rescue. You didn't give yourself a heart attack. You didn't manage any impressive leg injuries. Next time, you'll try a different strategy on the hill and probably get further up before you think you're gonna barf. It may only be 15 feet further, but you do what you can.

Eventually, you'll have gone splat on the hill enough and you'll climb it.

Then you find a NEW hill.
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Old 06-16-12, 07:38 PM   #18
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So I woke up today and my back was killing me. I am wondering if I hurt it doing all that standing I wasn't terribly used to doing. Anyone ever do that?

I had a flat metric planned for tomorrow but I may have to put it off until later if my back isn't feeling any better. Sigh.
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Old 06-16-12, 07:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
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[h=2]Failed my first hill
[/h] I had a similar thing happen to me a week ago. I went on a 105km ride and around the 40km mark I could feel my legs just give it up. It felt like I was biking through 2 feet of water, for whatever reason my legs had next to no power.

There were a lot of 9 and 10% inclines that I began to really struggle on as my legs just wouldn't respond as they usually do, my HR was fine and not being pushed to the upper limits at all. I made it up them, but, it certainly wasn't easy. Then I came to a hill ~ 16% which I have ridden many times before and around 3/4th the way up, I just could not make my legs pump any more and had to dismount.

I also had cramping in both legs, upper and lower, that day as I slowly made it home.

So just to let know that you aren't alone in your battle against the hills.
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Old 06-17-12, 12:38 AM   #20
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I read no failure, but rather a biathlon on the last hill. You did good. And yeah, walking in cycling shoes is always a pain in the back the next morning! Next time, it'll teach you to try to biathlon it. You'll remember to stay on the bike. And you're not alone. If you saw any of the outtakes from the Giro D'Italia, the domestiques riding for some of the leaders weren't pretty. Some were laid out flat in the middle of the road. They didn't just lose their cookies out from their mouths... some lost it -all-. We all push ourselves. No shame in reaching past that limit and upping it again. And no shame in old age either. I'm just glad my butt is going numb so I don't feel the weight as much on my saddle.
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