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Thread: Hill!

  1. #1
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Hill!

    I am riding in the Marquette Traffic Jam on Saturday. I will probably do the 50k route, not the 100k. I drove the roads today on my motorscooter and the long route has some busy, crappy roads.

    Both routes are hilly. The ride starts at a ski hill with a long uphill, category 5. It looks like it goes for 5 or 6 miles. All the hills I have done have been short. Some are steep but they all have been no where close to 6 miles. And never right at the start of a ride.

    I assume that I just ride slow and not worry? It was kind of intimidating parked at the ski hill and looking up the hills on all sides of me.

    I hope I don't fall over.

    Oh, and I am nervous about the downhill side coming back. My top speed to date is something like 35 mph. And that was on my fat tired hybrid.

    Hold my hand!

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    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    I actually prefer hills at the start of my ride. I have the most energy at that point and they are easier.

    As far as descents, are you on a road bike? My old hybrid felt like it was going to fall apart at 32-35mph, but on my new road bike I've gotten to 38.5, and felt perfectly stable. I think road bikes are designed to handle those speeds better.

    Good luck!

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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I am on the road bike, I think I probably have had it up to about 30mph. I do not feel as secure on the road bike at faster speeds as I do on the hybrid. The hybrid feels more stable to me.

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    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    I don't know if you have a hr monitor, or if not I would use my breathing as an indicator, but I have found doing long but less steep grades is all about pacing....find a slow pace that you could still carry on a conversation, and grind till you hit the top.

    I tend not to focus on the horizon (as in how far I have to go) but rather use that time to look down and watch my pedal stroke and try and keep my knees tucked in, and practice pedal circles. This also rest my neck and keeps me from wanting the climb to be over.

    Good luck, and I know you can do it.

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    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Riding that fast in a group scares the **** out of me.

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    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    goldfinch - people will blast past you on the hill but don't let that deter you from your own pace! Just find a pace that you can maintain up the whole hill without blowing up (HR monitor is handy for that purpose) and then just do it. The first mile will be tough and then you'll sort of get in the groove. Pick a gear where you can keep a 70+ cadence going.

    As for downhill speed - well, use your brakes. Your hybrid probably has a longer wheel base and that's why it feels more stable. Don't go faster than you feel comfortable going and have a nice ride!

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Goldfinch, the advice about pacing yourself is good. You're pretty fit by now, so a long climb is well within your capabilities if you don't let it mess with your head.

    Too many people get anxious and charge the hill, in the hope (conscious or unconscious) that they can get it over with as quickly as possible. Don't do this, it's a recipe for exhaustion. Don't worry about speed. Start at a pace, and a level of effort, that you know you can sustain almost indefinitely. That way, it doesn't matter how long the hill is, you know you can climb it by just plodding along. And if, after a while, you think you could change up a gear and go harder, that's fine. Stand and climb from time to time to give yourself a break. Make sure you change UP one or two gears, into a higher gear, just before you stand, and change back down when you sit again.

    One piece of advice specifically for you. You've said in other threads that you're a spinner, that you ride at a fast cadence. That is usually a good thing. However, don't worry if your cadence falls on the hill. In fact, it might be a good idea if it does, because that will reduce the chances of your getting out of breath and discouraged.

    Just take your time. A hill is just a headwind that you know will stop quite soon...

    And have fun on the downhill. Descend in the drops, it lowers your centre of gravity and puts you in better control of the bike. If you need to brake, brake before the turns, not on them. But don't brake too much, try to relax and use it as an opportunity to get a bit more comfortable with the speed.
    Last edited by chasm54; 06-28-12 at 02:38 AM.
    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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    Good luck with the ride! Just ride your ride and have fun!

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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    Pick a gear where you can keep a 70+ cadence going.
    The hill starts out pretty steep, around 8%. No way in my easiest gear can I keep up a 70 plus cadence. But I will just turn the pedals around slowly.

    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    G
    And have fun on the downhill. Descend in the drops, it lowers your centre of gravity and puts you in better control of the bike. If you need to brake, brake before the turns, not on them. But don't brake too much, try to relax and use it as an opportunity to get a bit more comfortable with the speed.
    I have found that I have more control in the drops so I will do that. I am pretty good at braking issues, I used to ride a motorcycle and know how to handle braking on the twisties.

    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    Riding that fast in a group scares the **** out of me.
    The upside of not keeping up with the group is that I will have the downhill to myself!
    Last edited by goldfinch; 06-28-12 at 08:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    ....
    Oh, and I am nervous about the downhill side coming back. My top speed to date is something like 35 mph. And that was on my fat tired hybrid.
    There's plenty of good advice for the climbing part, I'm sure you'll do OK. Mentioning the downhill brought back some memories so i'll focus my comments on that part.
    I have to say that I'm no speed demon, and this type of speed when mistakes could end with skin an pavement getting acquainted has no appeal to me whatsoever. The first few it felt i had a higher Heart rate going downhill than going up. Amazing how fast a road bike gains momentum.

    After a bunch of rides this is my down-hill flight check:

    * Test brakes at the summit and remember which is the FRONT brake as that is the one you want to use the most. It may sound counter intuitive but this is what happens: If using the rear brake only there's a chance of skidding, at the time of braking a bit of anxiety could take over (feeling that rear brake is not enough) and prompt to press too hard on the front brake lever. That could make locking the front wheel and either flip over or lose balance. Ideally you press both levers (with the front slightly harder than the rear), but then remembering which is front comes into play.
    Yeah, i know, how difficult could it be to remember which lever is the front brake?. Well it's first time and possibly the brain link front brake>>left lever is not set in stone yet. Perhaps not the best time to test how the brain memory is functioning when going 40-50 mph knowing that getting it wrong could spell disaster.

    * Keep momentum under control. Use the brakes constantly (press hard as necessary, reduce speed, let go, rinse and repeat mostly during the straight sections of road)). "Fast" is something relative. 35-40 mph on a bike is definitively fast for me, some other people here feel comfortable going 45-50 mph. Going down-hill is a hands-on crash course about the FAST concept.

    * Keep your butt in the saddle (as keep as much weight as possible on the rear wheel). Reduces the risk of flipping over should the front brake lever is pressed too hard.

    * Avoid keeping the brakes on for too long. Rims and brake pads could overheat, need to let them cool down.

    * No braking in turns. Use the brakes on straight sections BEFORE the turns, once in the turn let the bike roll.

    Enjoy the ride, and the views, and come back and let us know what is FAST for you ;-)

    AQ

    EDIT: Just saw your previous post (while i was typing away)
    Quote "... I am pretty good at braking issues, I used to ride a motorcycle and know how to handle braking on the twisties. "
    Feels like I'm giving north pole survival technique suggestions to an eskimo.... ;-)
    Last edited by Acquaspin; 06-28-12 at 09:45 AM. Reason: quote added

  11. #11
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    If the drop-off area is big enough, ride some before the start so you don't hit thhat firsthill cold.z

  12. #12
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    I am on the road bike, I think I probably have had it up to about 30mph. I do not feel as secure on the road bike at faster speeds as I do on the hybrid. The hybrid feels more stable to me.

    Hmm interesting. Maybe it's because my road bike is a touring frame that it feels so much more stable to me.

  13. #13
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acquaspin View Post
    EDIT:
    Feels like I'm giving north pole survival technique suggestions to an eskimo.... ;-)
    Good synopsis on braking technique! I just do not trust bike brakes like I trust motorcycle brakes. I feel much more vulnerable on a bicycle, I am sure partly due to less experience.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Here's my 2 cents. Breathing rhythm is just as important as pedaling cadence. Make a point of actively focusing on breathing deep and try not to pant or gasp. Just breathe deep on every breath at a steady rhythm. A six mile hill is no joke. No need to try to set any speed records, just get in your lowest gear and take your time. On the descend, try not to brake on corners. You will be more stable in your drop bars, but you will instantly pick up speed when tucked low. Sometimes if I'm hauling a little more butt than I want to be, I just sit up into the wind and it slows me down without having to hammer on the brakes.

    Good luck!

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    Senior Member iforgotmename's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just_Nigel View Post
    Good luck with the ride! Just ride your ride and have fun!
    +1

  16. #16
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    This ride was fun! But, I got off to a tough start. The ride started at a ski hill and went up and up. I was last going up the hill but I wanted to go my pace. I was just fine. I got up the steepest section and then it was only a slight incline for a bit. And I got a flat! Two miles into the ride. I had the wheel off to change and the sweep appeared and shortly thereafter the SAG. The mechanic changed the flat tube for me in about 20 seconds. They tossed me in the van and took me to where the slowest rider was, now about a mile and a half ahead. The bad thing was that I missed a few hundred feet of uphill.

    The rest of the ride was not very hilly, as near as I can tell I did 30 miles with 1640 of elevation. So, not that difficult of a ride, but it was frontloaded with the big hill. The really nice thing about the ride was the people I met. When I got dropped off I caught up to the slowest rider, talked to her for a while. She was a new rider and struggling, having blown herself out on the big hill. After a couple of miles I moved ahead and passed another couple of riders. About a mile later I caught up to three riders and rode the entire rest of the ride with them. It was really nice riding with others. Because of the flat I decided to just not care how well I did or how fast I went and I stuck with guys that I could have passed and spent the ride chatting.

    This ride was not well supported. I didn't do the 100k ride because of poor roads, one rest area, and no portapotties. The 50k ride had one rest area, which is fine, but also no potties. My spouse parked the motorhome at the half way point and I used my own porta potty. I managed this stop and still catch up to the guys I was riding with. The downhill coming back was manageable and I held my speed to less than 35 as I was worried now about flats. Next big hill I might speed it up a bit.

    Average 13.7mph.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 06-30-12 at 02:14 PM.

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    Glad you had fun!

    I'm not looking forward to my first flat. For the last year I've been riding my MTB and haven't had a flat. Just switched to a road bike and I know flats are coming! I haven't changed a bike flat in over 20 years .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just_Nigel View Post
    Glad you had fun!

    I'm not looking forward to my first flat. For the last year I've been riding my MTB and haven't had a flat. Just switched to a road bike and I know flats are coming! I haven't changed a bike flat in over 20 years .
    They happen.

    Recently I had a spate of them. Old tires + road debris = lotsa practice fixing flats.

    I can replace an inner tube pretty quickly now!

  19. #19
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    So I was feeling all full of piss and vinegar this evening and decided to ride the long hill to the grocery store, about 3.5 miles away. Part is 8% grade and the total hill is 361 feet elevation gain. I actually bonked for the first time in my life. I made it to the grocery but I was dripping sweat and shaking. I dropped the milk in the grocery store. The were nice and didn't charge me. I bought and ate a doughnut (I wasn't thinking straight about what to eat) and coasted, more or less, back home. I froze on the way back, too much sweat. Ugh.

  20. #20
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    Gf. You sure you didn't get overheated?

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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    Gf. You sure you didn't get overheated?
    Unlike much of the rest of the country, it was only in the 60s outside. In fact, I started the ride cool and wished I had a long sleeve shirt. I think I figured out what happened. I really did a bad job of food management yesterday. I had a 200 calorie breakfast, did the 30 mile ride with the big hill, having only half a cliff bar and water. I had a huge lunch with food I do not ordinarily eat, burritos and lots of chips, supplied by the ride organizers. I was left with only 200 calories for my day allotment so I skipped supper. I did the big hill to the grocery store without having eaten for 6 hours. Bad! And the end result is that I ended up way over on calories for the day as I ate the doughnut and then at home I ate a few hundred more healthier calories.

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