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  1. #1
    Senior Member Pakiwi's Avatar
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    Best training for Hill climbing

    I have been riding almost 9 months now in preparation for a Century ride.
    I found out the steepest Hill in the area and my goal is to ride up it without stopping. I stop three times to get some air and my heart rate down from 170 +. I have noticed my recovery is quicker but I have a long way to go to improve so I can ride up in one go.
    What is the best way to train for this. Just keep doing it or is there other things that I should be doing like intervals or strength training.
    Hill gets to 16-18 gradient in places and I am running 34x 28 on a road bike.
    Thanks
    Allan

  2. #2
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    I would suggest a cheap heart rate monitor - don't let your HR max that high and you will not have to stop. With that said, 16-18% will max anyones heart rate, if they are going after it. Have you tried to alternate between standing an spinning? I find that it helps me more than spinning it out.

    34x28 is a pretty low gear, but not overly so. If you think it'll get you to the top without stopping, you could always try a cassette with a 32t bail out gear, assuming the derailleur cage is long enough.

    Ride more, up hills.

  3. #3
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    How are you determining that it's 16-18%, and how long is the hill? That's a damn steep hill!

    Your answer is... do hills, hills and more hills if you want to be good at riding up hills.

    Another trick for nasty hills is to go up them slower. Pedal slower that is. 34x28 is not a terribly low gear either - that's what I used to use and it was fine for up to 13% for... say, a mile. I stuck a 32 on the back for some specific hills near me that get up to 15% or so for 3-4 miles and that's more pleasant for nasty hills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    How are you determining that it's 16-18%, and how long is the hill? That's a damn steep hill!

    Your answer is... do hills, hills and more hills if you want to be good at riding up hills.
    That's likely the ruling grade and it's not surprising. There are climbs in New Jersey with ruling grades, and even sustained sections, of 18% and higher.

    OP: Yes. Do hills and more hills.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  5. #5
    Littledog Mark Stone's Avatar
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    Best Training for Hill Climbing?

    Hill climbing.

    But don't use your muscle, use your spin.

  6. #6
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakiwi View Post
    I have been riding almost 9 months now in preparation for a Century ride.
    I found out the steepest Hill in the area and my goal is to ride up it without stopping. I stop three times to get some air and my heart rate down from 170 +. I have noticed my recovery is quicker but I have a long way to go to improve so I can ride up in one go.
    What is the best way to train for this. Just keep doing it or is there other things that I should be doing like intervals or strength training.
    Hill gets to 16-18 gradient in places and I am running 34x 28 on a road bike.
    Thanks
    Allan
    Coppenhaeffer?
    According to Strava there's even steeper sections about 5.1 miles into that ride where the first number is a "2".

    Only two ways to train for that kind of garbage.
    - keep doing it
    - push aways as my coach calls them. These are where you push away from the supper table earlier than you normally would.

    Don't, I repeat don't, put on the crankset gearing that @TrojanHorse used to have with a 25 on the back.

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    For short hills, you need to improve your anaerobic capacity along with your ability to recover from anaerobic efforts. Short hill repeats are a good way to do this, with one caveat: you don't want too long of a rest between repeats because then you won't actually be forcing recovery. Keep the rest intervals between repeats about as long as it takes you to get up the hill. Intervals work on this, too, especially if they're in the couple of minute range in length.

    For long hills, you're limited by your aerobic threshold power. Long hills, or intervals longer than 8-10 minutes in length. Or just ride a lot.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Hills, hill repeats, lose weight (it's working for me!) more hills and a 30 cog might all help. I'm a believer that we make what we have work. As long as the bike fit is right. I just changed from my 12-30 cassette to my 11-28 and PR'd on a local nasty hill. The worst part of the climb is 1.8 miles averaging 7%. I've not tried this cassette on our area HC climb which has 10.4 miles averaging 6% or 3463 feet. I'll switch back to my spare wheel with the 12-30 mounted for that. For short steep climbs hill repeats at max effort will help you improve.
    Sir Mark, Knight of Sufferlandria

  9. #9
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    stuff that steep, you need to develop a body rhythm for riding out of the saddle....IMO I think your gearing is just fine

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    In addition to all of the above advice, keep in mind the physics of hills as well. The formula for lifting an object up a certain amount of distance is p = mgH, where p is the potential energy needed, m is the mass of the object (you!), g is the gravitational constant and can be ignored for our example, and H is the height.

    So basically the energy needed is directly proportional to the mass of the object being lifted. If you weigh twice as much as another rider, you need twice as much energy. So basically to climb a hill in X minutes, your power output will be Energy/Time, which is measured in watts. If you lower your gear ratio in half and take X*2 minutes, your power output will be cut in half. So what ends up happening is that a 150 pound rider can climb a hill in X minutes with ratio R by putting out power W. For a 300 pound rider, you will need to put out W*2 to take the same time, which isn't always realistic, and thus we need lower gears. For a 300 pound rider, a ratio of R/2 will take you X*2 minutes, but you'll still put out W watts.

    Keep in mind that this is all roughly speaking. There's additional variables here such as the grade, wind, and tire resistance, but in general this rule is a good ballpark way to estimate how much gearing you need.


    Now let's play around with BikeCalculator! Bike Calculator

    I weigh 420 pounds (ugh, I know). I know from experience that I can output 250 watts of power for an hour at maximum effort. So let's put those figures into the calculator.

    For an 18% grade at 250 watts, I can average 1.47mph. Well that's just not realistic now is it.

    Let's dive into more numbers though using Gear Calculator. http://gear-calculator.com/

    My bike has a 22/30 low gear. Input those numbers and set cadence to 70 (to prevent knee damage, you probably don't want to spin less than 70rpm under heavy load), and it says my lowest speed at 70rpm is going to be 4.0 mph. So like I thought above, climbing an extended hill at 18% is not going to be realistic. If I control for speed and alter the wattage, this tells me I need to put out slightly less than 700 watts to climb an 18% grade. Not unrealistic, but I also don't think I could handle more than a minute of that.


    For you, you'll need to work backwards. If you're new at cycling maybe assume your long term power is somewhere between 150-200. Enter those numbers and your weight into the bike calculator and see what your expected speed would be up an 18% climb. Then go to the gear calculator and lower the gearing until you find a gear that matches your speed. It sounds like you have a compact, so you probably can't lower the crank any further than 34. So you'll be looking at getting a bigger cassette (which unfortunately might involve a new derailleur if you go too big).

    A 28 cog is the biggest you can go on a small-cage derailleur. Shimano makes 12-30's now for mid-cage derailleurs, and 11-32/11-34's for long-cage derailleurs. That's about as low as you can go on a road bike, 34/34, giving a 1:1 ratio.



    One final tip: if you attempt the hill but feel yourself in trouble, you can always do an impromptu switchback. IE: serpentine your way up the hill in S-curves. I would *ONLY* advise doing this if the hill is low-traffic. This move can be dangerous if cars whip by, especially since oncoming traffic sometimes can't see you (since they're coming over the top of the hill!). This method lowers the "effective" grade of the hill and will make it a little easier to climb.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Cycle Babble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    In addition to all of the above advice, keep in mind the physics of hills as well. The formula for lifting an object up a certain amount of distance is p = mgH, where p is the potential energy needed, m is the mass of the object (you!), g is the gravitational constant and can be ignored for our example, and H is the height.

    So basically the energy needed is directly proportional to the mass of the object being lifted. If you weigh twice as much as another rider, you need twice as much energy. So basically to climb a hill in X minutes, your power output will be Energy/Time, which is measured in watts. If you lower your gear ratio in half and take X*2 minutes, your power output will be cut in half. So what ends up happening is that a 150 pound rider can climb a hill in X minutes with ratio R by putting out power W. For a 300 pound rider, you will need to put out W*2 to take the same time, which isn't always realistic, and thus we need lower gears. For a 300 pound rider, a ratio of R/2 will take you X*2 minutes, but you'll still put out W watts.

    Keep in mind that this is all roughly speaking. There's additional variables here such as the grade, wind, and tire resistance, but in general this rule is a good ballpark way to estimate how much gearing you need.
    I started to read this and smoke came pouring from my ears.
    Will have to digest this in small intervals.

    On another note: I find the best way to overcome any obstacle is to tackle it over and over until you have mastered it. Then move on to the next one. That is the way I have been dealing with hills in my area....and in the Kettle Moraine, we have plenty to choose from.

    Thank you again Mithrandir for the great points! I will copy your post and work the math for my own goals.

    John
    The Declaration of Independence grants me the right to the pursuit of happiness.......I choose that pursuit on my bike.

  12. #12
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    Only 9 months? Your low should at least be a 1:1, like 30-30 or 32-32. If you are still working on conditioning, then you need to be able to spin, not mash the gears. Hill training ? Try mountain biking. Great cardio workouts.

  13. #13
    Senior Member spdracr39's Avatar
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    I have found that for me mashing works better than spinning on long climbs. I was attempting my demon hills by low gear and pedal fast to keep momentum like everyone said but I would run out of air way before the top and had to stop. I have started riding them to completion now by pedaling slowly (about 50-60) in not the lowest gear then when my legs start to tire catch a gear and keep the same cadence. First attempt right to the top without feeling like I was going to die. Now I can ride up a little faster by not going to low gear till almost to the top. Don't forget as you climb RELAX !!! Don't death grip the bars and tense up because it will squeeze the air right out of you. I do bend forward but barely hold the bars. That is when I get the best climb.

  14. #14
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    Sorry for hijacking this thread, but can someone point me to a site or explain to me these gearing numbers you all are using? 34 x 28? etc etc...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexxer View Post
    Sorry for hijacking this thread, but can someone point me to a site or explain to me these gearing numbers you all are using? 34 x 28? etc etc...
    How To Shift Your Bicycle's Gears
    First number is the size/number of teeth on the chainring (smallest usually, if talking about lowest gear for hill climbing), second number is the size of the largest cog. It's the ratio that matters, e.g. 34/28 = 1.21; the lower the number, the easier the gear, the less far you go for every turn of the crank. More mechanical advantage, the slower you go for a given cadence. Sometimes this ratio is multiplied by the diameter of the tire ("gear inches") or the circumference ("meters development"), which is useful when comparing bikes with different diameter wheels (MTB or folding).

    For a clyde on steeper hills, a 1:1 ratio or even slightly lower can be a good idea. You'll be going perhaps only 3-4 mph. Lower than that and might have trouble balancing.
    Last edited by stephtu; 06-18-14 at 01:13 PM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member jaxgtr's Avatar
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    Ride into the wind as hard as you can....better than climbing...
    Brian | 2015 Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3 | 2014 Trek CrossRip Comp
    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Pakiwi's Avatar
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    I find the hill gradient by my computer head unit.
    Coming up the other side is a Road called Lewisberry. Its between 6 and 8 most of the way up and I can Spin up that the entire way. My heart rate is elevated but it peaks at 155 and stays there for the entire time.
    I know losing weight will definitely help.. I am down over 20 lbs but have about 50 to go.
    I will check out the gear calculator. I know I could climb up the side of a mountain with one to one while living in New Zealand. I. Do have a triple that I could go to but thought since I can pedal. Up the hill my lung capacity was the problem rather than gearing.
    Good information.
    Thanks
    Allan

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    Good advice here. Only thing I would add is to get out of the saddle for breaks. You can stay out for long, but if you practice it will help

    This will use different muscles, and give you a break. I was never good at it until I went to spinning classes at a gym one winter. They'll get you out of the saddle and build those muscles.

  19. #19
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Lose weight. Extra pounds affect everyone's climbing ability. I gained 25 pounds over the winter, mainly due to a shoulder injury from an accident I had last September, which limited my riding even more than a crappy winter did. Since I started riding again, I've regained most of my flat to rolling performance. But even after shedding 5 of those 25 added pounds, I'm still a lot slower on hills than I used to be.

    And keep on riding hills. They will get easier.

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    Do you use Strava? I find it helps for training purposes...

    Make a segment of said hill, do repeats, or maybe just find a short path back to the bottom of the hill (I have nice little park that leads to a very steep yet shorter hill that takes about 2-3 minutes to climb). Strava tracks your best times, etc. etc. Nice to see improvement! Very reassuring.

  21. #21
    [IMG]http://i4.photobucke jeepseahawk's Avatar
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    Keep riding up that hill and quit worrying about it. Eventually you will conquer hills without stopping when you quit worrying. Worrying elevates everything, relax and ride the hill as comfortable possible.

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakiwi View Post
    I have been riding almost 9 months now in preparation for a Century ride.
    I found out the steepest Hill in the area and my goal is to ride up it without stopping. I stop three times to get some air and my heart rate down from 170 +. I have noticed my recovery is quicker but I have a long way to go to improve so I can ride up in one go.
    What is the best way to train for this. Just keep doing it or is there other things that I should be doing like intervals or strength training.
    Hill gets to 16-18 gradient in places and I am running 34x 28 on a road bike.
    Thanks
    Allan
    Even if riding that hill without stopping is your goal, it might be better training to ride different hills where you don't need to stop. Better psychologically, that is.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  23. #23
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Did my first version of "hill repeats" ... albeit nothing like the hills some of you have.

    I have a series of three hills on my way home route of my commute. I picked two of them last night to do, and fashioned a loop of sorts (around 3.75 miles total). Haven't been able to commute the past couple of days and I badly needed to ride.

    Anyway ... I rode the downhill side of the loop (which had a nice little uphill about the midway point too), then started up the hills. Did them as fast as I could till I got to the top, then turned left and went back the downhill side (at one spot there were two or three guys sitting on a front porch, they must have been entertained by my repeat appearances). Anywho, I did the loop four times. Was a nice change up from the usual "distance" ride I do.

    Feel it a little in my legs today, but it's not terrible.

    I think I need to find a bit more difficult hill

  24. #24
    Senior Member Pakiwi's Avatar
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    I get plenty of different Hills to choose from. Had about 10 days break due to funeral and vacation. I am going to keep coppenheaffer on my weekly ride. Even if I don't beat it for a while I want to measure my progress and the return Hill is a great constant workout all the way to the top. I need to start increasingly mileage as well as I prepare for my century later in the year.

  25. #25
    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    In addition to all of the above advice, keep in mind the physics of hills as well. The formula for lifting an object up a certain amount of distance is p = mgH, where p is the potential energy needed, m is the mass of the object (you!), g is the gravitational constant and can be ignored for our example, and H is the height.

    So basically the energy needed is directly proportional to the mass of the object being lifted. If you weigh twice as much as another rider, you need twice as much energy. So basically to climb a hill in X minutes, your power output will be Energy/Time, which is measured in watts. If you lower your gear ratio in half and take X*2 minutes, your power output will be cut in half. So what ends up happening is that a 150 pound rider can climb a hill in X minutes with ratio R by putting out power W. For a 300 pound rider, you will need to put out W*2 to take the same time, which isn't always realistic, and thus we need lower gears. For a 300 pound rider, a ratio of R/2 will take you X*2 minutes, but you'll still put out W watts.

    Keep in mind that this is all roughly speaking. There's additional variables here such as the grade, wind, and tire resistance, but in general this rule is a good ballpark way to estimate how much gearing you need.


    Now let's play around with BikeCalculator! Bike Calculator

    I weigh 420 pounds (ugh, I know). I know from experience that I can output 250 watts of power for an hour at maximum effort. So let's put those figures into the calculator.

    For an 18% grade at 250 watts, I can average 1.47mph. Well that's just not realistic now is it.

    Let's dive into more numbers though using Gear Calculator. http://gear-calculator.com/

    My bike has a 22/30 low gear. Input those numbers and set cadence to 70 (to prevent knee damage, you probably don't want to spin less than 70rpm under heavy load), and it says my lowest speed at 70rpm is going to be 4.0 mph. So like I thought above, climbing an extended hill at 18% is not going to be realistic. If I control for speed and alter the wattage, this tells me I need to put out slightly less than 700 watts to climb an 18% grade. Not unrealistic, but I also don't think I could handle more than a minute of that.


    For you, you'll need to work backwards. If you're new at cycling maybe assume your long term power is somewhere between 150-200. Enter those numbers and your weight into the bike calculator and see what your expected speed would be up an 18% climb. Then go to the gear calculator and lower the gearing until you find a gear that matches your speed. It sounds like you have a compact, so you probably can't lower the crank any further than 34. So you'll be looking at getting a bigger cassette (which unfortunately might involve a new derailleur if you go too big).

    A 28 cog is the biggest you can go on a small-cage derailleur. Shimano makes 12-30's now for mid-cage derailleurs, and 11-32/11-34's for long-cage derailleurs. That's about as low as you can go on a road bike, 34/34, giving a 1:1 ratio.



    One final tip: if you attempt the hill but feel yourself in trouble, you can always do an impromptu switchback. IE: serpentine your way up the hill in S-curves. I would *ONLY* advise doing this if the hill is low-traffic. This move can be dangerous if cars whip by, especially since oncoming traffic sometimes can't see you (since they're coming over the top of the hill!). This method lowers the "effective" grade of the hill and will make it a little easier to climb.
    This is good advice. Do math in your head as you ride up that way you forget you're climbing until you reach the top.

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