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  1. #26
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    My SO just asked me to go for a ride tomorrow!

    She's marvelous.
    She's strong and tough. She got the nastiest big ring bite (a couple times) and just squirted the blood off with the water bottle... And rode on...
    Quite self-reliant.

    Nice long rides.
    She'll carry her own pack

  2. #27
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    OP - hills are hard and I agree your expectations are high.

    I personally don't see a point to stay on the bike when you can't manage cadence above 40rpm or speed above 3.5mph. You will still get plenty of exercise pushing your bike up the hills. Just don't automatically bail at the same spot each time, challenge yourself to ride a little farther and faster each try. Strava and a heart rate monitor is good for tracking your individual progress.

    I have a nemesis hill that I ride each week. It takes about a minute to climb and all the strength I can muster. At the top I'm wilting and about to pass out with my heart pounding near max. It isn't just a physical effort, it is mentally taxing as I muster my motivation and try to ride smarter as well as harder. I have learned a lot about myself on that one hill and even on a bad day I have a great sense of accomplishment.

    And without the hill, you wouldn't be able to enjoy the descent.

    Keep track of the details on these rides and promise yourself that you will re-read in a year to see how far you've come. Prepare to amaze yourself.

  3. #28
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    This is one of my favorite hills. If I leave from home-I usually do- it is 25 miles into the ride. Strava Segment | Torrey Pines Hill Challenge. I am currently 7189 out of 7553 on the leader board.

    My first time up it, about a year and a half ago, I struggled to keep a cadence of 30, and had to stop and rest twice on the way up. Now I can maintain 40 all the way up. I have found that this is really more of a mental thing. It'd hard, but I put my head down and do a mantra-"Mind over Muscle". Silly, but it works.
    Last edited by CommuteCommando; 04-04-14 at 02:51 PM.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  4. #29
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    A 250 lb rider going up a 12% hill at 3 mph requires 200 watts, which is a very substantial effort for a recreational rider for two reasons. The first is obvious. Balancing at 3 mph is difficult depending upon the bike setup and rider skill.

    Trim down to 160 pounds and the same rider is flying up the 12% hill at 4.5 mph. This can save an hour on a long climb of say 9 miles, admittedly there are few of these out there but they do exist in the Alps, Rockies, etc.

    Loss that same weight and put out another 35% in power with training and you cut your climb time in half. Instead of taking 3 hours to make it up very difficult climb, you do it in 1.5 hours.

    An interactive, model-based calculator of cycling power vs. speed

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by breadbin View Post
    keep doing them and they will get easier each time and then one day they will just be part of the spin! i find hills tough myself but keep trying, it's excellent training!
    Best advice ever.i try to follow this.

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuffinandPuffin View Post
    4. Where were you "in" your ride? Was it at the first part or the end of your ride? It does make a difference. Last Saturday two other guys and myself did a 60 mile ride with a climb that starts @6% and ends @15% with over 2000 feet elevation in less then 4 miles, but we were only 1/2 mile into our ride before we started the climb. Were you coming off a "rest day" or had you been riding your bike the previous 3 days straight?
    I was about 20 kilometers into my ride and had done some smaller much easier hills. No rest day, i ride almost every day. I also lift weights 3 times a week and play squash once a week.
    I'm thinking about skipping legday in the gym since i work them out enough on the bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by HuffinandPuffin View Post
    5. Did you stand up out of the saddle and peddle at any time?

    No i sat all the time, i'm afraid i'll snap of my crank if i stand up, i'm like 330 lbs

    Quote Originally Posted by HuffinandPuffin View Post
    6. What was your pace at the bottom of the climb going up? Myself, I like to peddle as hard and as fast for as long as I can till my legs just start to reach the burning point and then start to gear down and hopefully I can maintain that pace at the pre-burning point before my legs burn out

    Well my pace was very slow during the whole climb. I was afraid of burning out so i switched into my lightest gear and spinned, trying to control my breathing, at which i did a piss poor job. Half way through i was just riding on sheer will power and huffin and puffin like an idiot.

    My dad said that i should try to ride a bit heavier gear so i don't spin myself out of breath. I'm going to try that next time. See what happens.
    I think i underestimated climbing. I come so far already with weightloss, but i'm still a very heavey man. I sometimes forget this.

    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    As a clyde, you're probably going to have to back off some. Go to the small ring on your triple crank, get a bigger cassette if you have to in the back, and try to maintain a smooth pedaling stroke and a reasonable cadence. Don't worry about taking a break or even walking -- most tourists and even randonneurs will tell you they've had to walk some hills, so you can thing of walking as training for another kind of "extreme" riding.

    Thanks for the advice. I already got the smallest casette that is available at my LBS and frankly if i would go any slower i probalbly would fall over ;-). I'm riding so slow uphill that i have to wiggle my handlebars a bit to stay balanced.
    I think i need to change my mindset. There is no shame in walking i guess. But when i walk i feel bit of a failure. But i guess the real failure would be sitting on the couch and doing nothing because i'm afraid of what other people would think!

    Quote Originally Posted by lenA View Post
    It never feels good chugging up a hill...for anyone, at any level, but I feel the mental and physical toughening you gain is worth it. Every time you crest a hill it's an excuse to smile, celebrate.....grab a drink and pedal on.

    When i think back about the climbs i think that the mental part was tougher them the physical part.
    I was discussing the climb with some cyclists at work and they where like, don't do it, it's really tough, start out with an easier climb and work your way up to it. I was like BS i can make any climb if i spin light enough! I never realised how steep 12% on a bike would be!
    So approached both climbs from the top and rode them down. When i rode them down i already starting getting nervous because i was driving of them with like 55 km's an hour. The fastert i ever gone on a bike.
    At the bottem i turned around and started pedaling and within a 100 meters i was all out of breath and panicking. I felt like driving up a wall. So i started doubting myself. OMG i never going to make this, this is imposibble, i'm going to fail.
    I tried to calm myself by finding my cadence and only look right in front of my wheel so i did not see how far i needed to go. This worked for a while but then real fatigue started setting in and the doubts came back. Every turn the climb made i was like "if i don't see the top after the turn, i'm going to get of the bike" somehow i could pull through and finally make the top.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    Maybe you need lower gearing. What is your current setup? For me it is easier to keep spinning.

    I'm not a real techie. I have a triple up front, but don't know the sizings. My casette at the back goes to 30

    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    Congratulations on dropping 100lb. You don't really say where that leaves you in terms of weight, but since you're posting here I'll assume that you (like the rest of us) could lose more weight. Gravity is the problem! There is no easy solution, just keep after those hills.

    I'm 330 lbs

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoJoe View Post
    You're doing it. THAT is what matters. No, it's never easy. Gravity is only your friend on the down-hill side. Uphill, it is your enemy! Keep it up, it will get easier. I believe jsigone says "It never gets easier, you just get faster". I'm not sure I agree with him. My last climb sucked!!!! It was soooo much harder than the same ride last year, but I let myself get (more) out of shape.

    Thanks Joe for quoting my post and showing the positive aspects of it. I think i'm sometimes a bit harsh on myself.
    I agree it never get easier. Every day i commute to work i'm exhausted. You would think it would be easier after losing 100 lbs. But when i look at my ride times i'm like 11 minutes faster then when i started out and i don't need any recovery days anymore!

    Quote Originally Posted by the engine View Post
    The only way to get better and for climbing to get easier is to do it. You use different muscles in your legs for climbing than for flat riding, so you are working a whole lot more muscles when climbing. You are incorporating your back and shoulders more, and especially your glutes and hamstrings.

    Thanks for you advise! I think this should become my new mantra. Just ride more hills an let my body and muscles get used to it. Maybe i should time my climbs with strava and then check after a month if i see any progression.


    Thanks for all you guys comments, i feel so much better now that i'm not the only one that is struggling to get up hill. It's really motivating me to get back into the saddle and start climbing again!
    Last edited by abstruse; 04-05-14 at 08:46 AM.

  7. #32
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    Lots of good tips in here, but in addition to reiterating a couple, I want to add a couple:

    -- relax. Ease your grip, release muscle tension in your upper body, let go of anxiety
    -- settle into a sustainable pace. Find the right mix of gearing and effort for the length and steepness of the hill that lets you sustain the maximum comfortable power.
    -- if on drop bars, hands on the flats
    -- slide forward on the saddle. You want to both weight the front a bit more, and to get out on top of the pedals (i.e. get your weight directly in line with the power part of the stroke)
    -- focus on things like breathing speed and rhythm to help you STAY RELAXED.
    -- do short rides just to hit a few climbs.
    -- do repeats (up/down/up/down ad nauseum) on a short hill. This helps you understand your fatigue and recovery limits.
    -- practice enjoying the effort, learn to love it

    I also employ a lot of tricks, like little mental distractions, to help pass the time of the climb. For example I might sing a song in my head that's in time with my cadence, or bring a puzzling question to mind (often related to work); I'll think about other goals later in the ride, or I'll imagine myself not where I am, but someplace nicer and more beautiful, doing a climb there. Whatever, really, to take my mind off the physical stress.

    Another trick I do is to keep my eyes down on the road very near my front wheel, rather than looking ahead and up to the crest of the climb. When I'm watching the endpoint, I get anxious; staring at the road, not knowing how far I'm into the climb or what the rate is, allows me to relax and deploy my bag of metal games. Of course, be careful to do this only on roads you know well, and with no traffic. Also, don't drop your chin too much and restrict breathing, just lower your head and eyes.

    Lastly, use foot retention, like clips/straps or clipless pedals. That allows you to vary the muscles being used momentarily while still capturing some power in parts of the stroke that you wouldn't be able to power otherwise.

    Oh, and I should add that the suggestion about having a computer is great, because again, it gives you something to think about other than the pain you're in. Additionally, though, it helps with pacing and controlling your effort. I highly recommend a heart rate monitor for this, and a cadence sensor is great too. Having those in combination with a power meter is ideal, but for the money, HR and cadence are good value add-ons.
    Last edited by chaadster; 04-05-14 at 08:54 AM.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by abstruse View Post
    Half way through i was just riding on sheer will power and huffin and puffin like an idiot.
    That sounds about right for most people!

    That's just the kind of effort it takes, and we just have to get used to it. Not to say it doesn't get easier-- it does-- but when you're really working, no matter how much you weigh, it takes sheer will power and huffing and puffing to put out a max effort.

    Keep at it!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  9. #34
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    I also employ a lot of tricks, like little mental distractions, to help pass the time of the climb. For example I might sing a song in my head that's in time with my cadence. . .
    On hills I use some kind of mantra, as a I mentioned before "mind over muscle. . . mind over muscle . . ." or "Lon gom pa. . . Lon gom pa". (That last is a literary reference to a collection of short stories called Escape from Kathmandu by Kim Stanley Robinson. Highly recommended.)

    On the flats, where I can keep a good cadence, I use the William Tell Overture, or Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony (background music for the drafting scene in Breaking Away).
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  10. #35
    Senior Member MikeRides's Avatar
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    I agree with the OP, hills are tough mentally and physically. I did just over 1200 miles on mostly rolling hills last year, spent most of the winter on the exercise bike, but I still find myself struggling to climb hills. I try not to dismount and walk up any though, even if I'm seeing single digits on my speedometer I'll keep pedaling up that hill. I tend to use mind tricks like using a nearby road sign or tree as a landmark, push myself to that point, sit back and comfortably spin to cool down, then push to the max again. Sometimes it helps to "cut" the hill in sections before you approach it.

    There's one hill that is long and steep, but according to mapmyride it's only 580ft in elevation(seriously? I question the accuracy of this site sometimes!). The first time I tried it, I walked up 3/4 of it. The last time I was on it, I managed to ride it entirely at around 6mph. I have never seen another bike on this particular road. Most cyclists don't go out of their way to find hills, but I did, does that say anything about my sanity?
    "Just ride it until the wheels fall off!"

  11. #36
    Senior Member breadbin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Lots of good tips in here, but in addition to reiterating a couple, I want to add a couple:

    -- relax. Ease your grip, release muscle tension in your upper body, let go of anxiety
    -- settle into a sustainable pace. Find the right mix of gearing and effort for the length and steepness of the hill that lets you sustain the maximum comfortable power.
    -- if on drop bars, hands on the flats
    -- slide forward on the saddle. You want to both weight the front a bit more, and to get out on top of the pedals (i.e. get your weight directly in line with the power part of the stroke)
    -- focus on things like breathing speed and rhythm to help you STAY RELAXED.
    -- do short rides just to hit a few climbs.
    -- do repeats (up/down/up/down ad nauseum) on a short hill. This helps you understand your fatigue and recovery limits.
    -- practice enjoying the effort, learn to love it

    I also employ a lot of tricks, like little mental distractions, to help pass the time of the climb. For example I might sing a song in my head that's in time with my cadence, or bring a puzzling question to mind (often related to work); I'll think about other goals later in the ride, or I'll imagine myself not where I am, but someplace nicer and more beautiful, doing a climb there. Whatever, really, to take my mind off the physical stress.

    Another trick I do is to keep my eyes down on the road very near my front wheel, rather than looking ahead and up to the crest of the climb. When I'm watching the endpoint, I get anxious; staring at the road, not knowing how far I'm into the climb or what the rate is, allows me to relax and deploy my bag of metal games. Of course, be careful to do this only on roads you know well, and with no traffic. Also, don't drop your chin too much and restrict breathing, just lower your head and eyes.

    Lastly, use foot retention, like clips/straps or clipless pedals. That allows you to vary the muscles being used momentarily while still capturing some power in parts of the stroke that you wouldn't be able to power otherwise.

    Oh, and I should add that the suggestion about having a computer is great, because again, it gives you something to think about other than the pain you're in. Additionally, though, it helps with pacing and controlling your effort. I highly recommend a heart rate monitor for this, and a cadence sensor is great too. Having those in combination with a power meter is ideal, but for the money, HR and cadence are good value add-ons.
    some good advice here, i also sing to myself, chant etc. find its easier with headphones on but they aren't pc, look at my front wheel religiously. i tend to sit backwards on the saddle as much as possible though with my arms stretched out in front not sure why though. i understand the reasoning of sitting on the nose like i'd do mid sprints or whatever but on climbs it makes it easier on the back

    there's this hill close to me called "Creggagh" and its my goal to cycle up it this year. can't even get started its so tough! time to follow my own advice

    actually here is the b*****d

    creggagh.jpg
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  12. #37
    SanDiego Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by the engine View Post

    I don't look at the top of the hill, I watch just a few feet in front of my tire most of the way up.

    Amazingly, this works really well. I got the same advice from a runner and incorporated it into my running and bicycling. Just look far enough ahead so you can avoid obstacles.

    Some other advice I can contribute from others and personal experience:

    * If you are going to stand up while climbing --- Don't accelerate your cadence. I see this a lot on a very long hill I have during my commute. Rider will have a good, sometimes struggling, cadence seated and when standing they pedal as if they are racing for the finish line. When you're standing use enough force to bring the pedal up and just over, then let gravity do the rest. Takes some practice but you can get a good rhythm and not expend as much energy.

    * Relax your upper body. Don't squint your eyes, clench your jaw or grab the bars like your hanging from a cliff. Watch professional riders when they climb steep hills. Their upper body seems to just sway like a tree in the wind. All of your energy should be directed to your legs.

    * Put your mind somewhere else. Look at the scenery or try to read license plate numbers of passing cars. If you listen to music, put yourself in the music... Prevent thoughts such as "When will this hill end?", "My legs are burning!" or the most fatal "I'm riding too slow I have to push harder to get up this hill faster."

    You are 'training' now and will become better. Same with running, swimming or weight lifting. It gets easier with some practice and conditioning (mental as well as physical).

    Good luck with your rides and awesome news on your weight loss!

  13. #38
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    I have gotten dropped on every single group ride this year.....in the hills.

    On the tortuous steep ones, I try to get into a zone where I don't think and I turn off any internal dialogue. I focus on breathing and not thinking. Not quite a trance stance but often I get to the top and don't have a recollection of the misery.

  14. #39
    Senior Member Pakiwi's Avatar
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    Hills will make you stronger. You need to look where you come from and the difference on the same hill now versus what it was like one month previous.
    In my younger and much lighter days, I used to do a 10.3 gradient that was two miles long at the beginning of my ride and on the way home in Wainuiomata Wellington. I doubt I could even tackle it now, but what I found that you just have to do it. Keep you eye a few feet ahead of your, rather than looking up at what's ahead. I remember the first time I did it, I hated it, but after doing it and other hills in the area I got stronger and faster. To get better at them, you just have to do them and it will happen and it will help many different areas of your all round fitness.

    When I got back on the bike here after many pounds and many years, I hated the hills. Having the extra weight makes things harder, but from where I was when I started the hills that used to get me breathing hard and almost made me get off my bike. But many miles over the winter on the trainer, I was much stronger and am now able to stand, while tackling them and can finish them at a nice pace.
    Don't let them win. It will make you stronger, it will just be some work as you get there.

    Allan

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