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  1. #1
    Senior Member Pakiwi's Avatar
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    Hill Climbing. Which comes first weight loss or strength

    I have been riding for 9 months now.
    Down to 210 lbs (5'6")and average around 14 miles an hour on my rides from 1 hour to 3 hours.
    I joined my first C ride yesterday and even though they stated it was a hilly ride, I felt like I sucked.
    24 miles, 2200 ft of climbing in slightly less than two hours.
    I felt I struggled from about mile 7, early in the ride from successive climbs from 6-13 % grade with a couple of 18 %
    This is a link to the strava segment. Bike Ride Profile | Thursday C ride near York | Times and Records | Strava

    I know my hill climbing is stronger, but compared to the rest of the rider's I really sucked and they left me behind like I was standing still.
    Does hill climbing get easier, or is it a thing that just takes time or only improves with weight loss.
    I know I am carrying 50 lbs more than I should be on the climbs.
    Thanks
    Allan

  2. #2
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Strength and will power first, the weight will follow

  3. #3
    Senior Member brianmcg123's Avatar
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    The more you ride and the more weight you lose the faster you will get and even faster up hills. Compared to other riders you probably have a few more ponds on them and they can get up the hills faster. You are probably producing more power than they are but they will go up faster given their weight.

    Give it some time.
    Everyone's a roadie, they just might not know it yet.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I think that you hit it with this "Does hill climbing get easier, or is it a thing that just takes time or only improves with weight loss." All the aforementioned. Well I guess in some ways it doesn't get easier but yuo do get faster. And some people are just better at it too!!

    Bill

  5. #5
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    I don't know if "easier" is the right way to describe it. There's a lot of truth to the LeMond quote, "It never gets any easier, you just go faster."

    I can climb much better than I used to, according to Strava, but unless I had a power meter I wouldn't know that by the actual climb.

    Weight loss helps uphill, but technique and rhythm and good cardio help, too. So does pain threshold, which is a tough thing solo, but if you have a distraction (another rider just faster than you) that can distract you from the pain a bit. The good thing is that hills provide a good mix of training to get better at climbing hills. Pretty impressive amount of climbing for a C ride IMO.

    18% will always be tough.

    I was where you are last year. Now I had to find faster people to have that same feeling of not being able to climb. That feeling is like fuel to me.

  6. #6
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    I think both, weight loss and strength are both determining factors on climbs, and while building muscle and continuously doing it does help, there's something to be said for efficiency, also, or "having the right tool for the job."

    I've been absolutely killing myself on the hills on the local path for months. There are people in the club who are newer to biking than I am, and they were riding further than I ever thought I would. I would be in terrible pain and just dead-tired after 15 mile rides, and I couldn't figure out why. I thought it was a lack of fitness, but it wasn't. My "lack of accomplishment" and pains turned out to not be because of a lack of fitness, but because of poor bike fit. I got fitted to my bike and all of a sudden, things got easier. While I was still really tired, I was no longer in pain; there's a huge difference between being in pain, and just being a bit tired.

    I had some extra money to spend and have been wanting to make some upgrades to my bike. I decided to spring on some Mavic Ksyrium wheels, a very large (but reasonably priced) upgrade from the factory Alex RPD-15 wheels, which are pretty much garbage in every sense of the word. I'm not saying you should go out and get new wheels, but they made a difference for me, but there was still room for improvement.

    As the owner of the LBS pulled the cassette off my old set, he mentioned, "No wonder you're killing yourself, this cassette is absolute CRAP! You have a 23-tooth cassette. For riding these hills out here in this area, you're going to want around a 28-tooth cassette. It's going to make a HUGE difference."

    I had the LBS order 28-tooth cassettes for my wife and I. We were supposed to get 28-tooth Shimano 105s, but instead I wound up with a 28-tooth Ultegra cassette and my wife wound up with a SRAM PG 1050 (?). Swapping the cassette made worlds of difference.

    For the first time, Thursday night, I got out with the new cassette and was climbing hills like a mountain goat. While I wasn't just sprinting up them at break-neck speeds, I was not burned by the time I got to the tops of them, and there are some big hills on the local path!

    Normally, I believe the whole "Climb up grades, don't buy upgrades" motto, but there's a lot to be said for making your bicycle more efficient and work for you. A proper fit is not only going to provide comfort, but it will put you in a position to be more efficient with distributing your power to the ground. Upgraded wheels will be stiffer and lighter, which will also help you transfer more power to the ground, and as for the cassette, it can extend the limits of your top speed, plus enhance your performance on climbs.

    Hill climbs never get easy, but there are things you can do to make them bearable. It's not always a matter of overall strength or weight loss that come into play. I've had people who probably weigh at least 260-270 lbs pass me on climbs (I'm 210-215 lbs), some of whom are women, and they ain't slow.

    Being comfortable and efficient will be huge in helping you to achieve weight loss, as you'll be more comfortable and inspired to ride longer. Since making these expenses, I've gone from wanting to call it a day after 15 miles to doing no less than about 25 miles. While 25 miles is not a long ride, per se, it's a world of difference between being in pain after 15 miles to just being a little tired after 25 miles. When I'm done my ride, I can climb a set of stairs without my knees shaking anymore and waking up the following morning, feeling like a creeky, old rocking chair.

    My suggestions are that if you haven't had a fit to your bicycle, get it done. Getting fit to your bike is probably the best expense you'll ever make when it comes to cycling. Secondly, talk with your LBS and get suggestions on what the most efficient cassette will be for you to use for the terrain you ride, as it makes a world of difference. Wheels certainly do make a difference, but you'll probably get more out of just swapping a cassette.
    - Dan \m/

  7. #7
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    .

    Well, I haven't lost any weight yet*, so I'd have to say that the strength comes first!
    I've definitely gotten stronger, now I need to start eating right...

    * Over three years of hilly cycling, 3-7 days a week.
    ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model

  8. #8
    Thread Killer
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    Strength and will power first, the weight will follow
    +1

    Simple, concise, and true.

    Weight does not stop one from becoming stronger and fitter, attributes every climber needs, irrespective of weight.
    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. #9
    Senior Member hermanchauw's Avatar
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    More strength will make weight loss easier because you can do more.

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