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  1. #1
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    How do you handle a climb early in your ride?

    I don't have far to go if I want to tackle a "short" climb around here. Short to you guys, anyway; anything over 1/4 mile starts getting long for me if it's anything above, say, 4% or 5% or so.

    We have one road here that I've visited a number of times but it always scares me enough not to try again for a while. It runs just under 1/2 a mile. End-to-end, it averages about 8-9%. If you just take the last 500 feet, it's about 12%. Yep, the farther you go, the steeper it gets. Nice reward. So, the other day I went back, set a pace and ground my way up in around 2 minutes, HR at 163 (doctor approved!) and I was feeling it. I turned around, went down and climbed it again. This time I had to stop maybe just 20 feet from the top when my HRM went off. It goes off, I stop. Them's the rules I play by.

    What I wonder though is that I usually just ride over and start climbing. It doesn't take that long to get there, a few minutes at most so I figure I must still be pretty cold when I start up and that can't help the cause any. I do have the option of riding around in the flats for a while to loosen up -and I'll try that next- but what do you do if you don't have that option, if that climb is right outside your door step? How do you approach that?
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

  2. #2
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
    I don't have far to go if I want to tackle a "short" climb around here. Short to you guys, anyway; anything over 1/4 mile starts getting long for me if it's anything above, say, 4% or 5% or so.

    We have one road here that I've visited a number of times but it always scares me enough not to try again for a while. It runs just under 1/2 a mile. End-to-end, it averages about 8-9%. If you just take the last 500 feet, it's about 12%. Yep, the farther you go, the steeper it gets. Nice reward. So, the other day I went back, set a pace and ground my way up in around 2 minutes, HR at 163 (doctor approved!) and I was feeling it. I turned around, went down and climbed it again. This time I had to stop maybe just 20 feet from the top when my HRM went off. It goes off, I stop. Them's the rules I play by.

    What I wonder though is that I usually just ride over and start climbing. It doesn't take that long to get there, a few minutes at most so I figure I must still be pretty cold when I start up and that can't help the cause any. I do have the option of riding around in the flats for a while to loosen up -and I'll try that next- but what do you do if you don't have that option, if that climb is right outside your door step? How do you approach that?
    Why not just run the flat/easy part a couple of times before you tackle the climb? For these 52 yr.old knees that makes sense.

    Otherwise I'd approach it in low gear/high cadence, to keep the joints (relatively) stress-free, and call it warm up.

    Hope you find the happy medium.
    When my feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh, *****, she's awake!"

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  3. #3
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I hate climbing before a little warm up. My minimum warm up would be like 3 miles; anything less I'd alter the course to make it so.

  4. #4
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    In a low gear, spinning like mad.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    In a low gear, spinning like mad.
    +1 If it were right out my door, I might even start in the lowest gear I have.
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

  6. #6
    Me and the cat... Pamestique's Avatar
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    I do a couple of rides where I seriously start climbing in about a quarter mile without a warm up (pretty much north of my front door it's hill country). I'm with BluesDawg, go low gear and spin. I actually believe climbing hills are a great warmup. You are forced to rely on cadance vs. power. I just get into working my pedal stoke and keeping it smooth and constant. It's hurts alittle when starting but eventually the body lossens up.

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    Or even low gear / low cadance and take it easy. My old route to work had a big hill early in the ride, and I looked forward to it on cold winter days because I was always warm and comfortable when I got to the top.

    Paul

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    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    I live at the end of a street that is all downhill to my house and my driveway is also downhill to my house. I just have to start out in a low gear and crank it out.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  9. #9
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    I like to warm up for 15-20 minutes before any real climbing. When I leave from home, however, there is this steep, nasty thing and I go to my lowest gear (30x25) and do switchbacks across the road so my heart doesn't go from rest to max in 5 seconds. I also like to think it's better for my 53 year old knees that are carrying 205#.
    Some people complain that a long stop in the middle of a ride makes it too hard to get started again. I don't think that's a problem, I just start slow as if the ride had just started. We ride on Angeles Crest Hwy and it has a series of 6-7 mile climbs followed by 6-7 mile descents. Let me tell you, if you've been climbing all day and you finish a 7 mile downhill, your legs will scream at you on the start of the next climb!

  10. #10
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    Spin like mad. Me? Right.
    If I've learned one thing it's that conditioning does not come back in a year and a half after 20 years off.
    I've tried spinning up hills and my HR blows up (and my pipes close up) pretty fast.
    So, it's slow and steady for me. In terms of my heart and lungs, slow and steady does it. I grind up at 55-60rpm. If you can spin at that pace, I'm doing it. But I don't think hitting it cold is the way to go.
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

  11. #11
    Me and the cat... Pamestique's Avatar
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    It's time you get a triple!

  12. #12
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    My LeMond *is* a triple... maybe I need a quadruple?
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

  13. #13
    as I used to be NotAsFat's Avatar
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    I curse a lot. Hey, I didn't say I handled it well.
    Starve a terrorist - ride a bike to work. It's not just good for the environment, it's good for civilization.

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  14. #14
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
    Spin like mad. Me? Right.
    If I've learned one thing it's that conditioning does not come back in a year and a half after 20 years off.
    I've tried spinning up hills and my HR blows up (and my pipes close up) pretty fast.
    So, it's slow and steady for me. In terms of my heart and lungs, slow and steady does it. I grind up at 55-60rpm. If you can spin at that pace, I'm doing it. But I don't think hitting it cold is the way to go.
    The key is not to strain early in the ride.
    I'm not quite sure what you are doing, but it is not what I'm suggesting. Spinning up hills should be easier than pedaling slowly, not harder. If you can't spin or easily turn your lowest gear, then you probably need a lower gear that you can spin. A 30x26 may not be low enough for you on the hill you are climbing.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  15. #15
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    Oh, I know I'm not doing what you are suggesting. I do understand the concept of spinning.
    I said that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, although I do keep my stroke steady and even, pushing over from the top and lifting somewhat with my "off" foot.

    I pretty much would have to agree that a 30/26 is not quite low enough for me to go up a 11-12% grade easily or for very long - 500 to 600 yards at a time is about it.
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I have about 5 or 6 miles to the hills just up a few slopes- but on one of my breaks for coffee- I immediately start a 12% for about 500 yards and the total hill is around a mile at 9%. From the cafe- I am in lowest gear and I do not think about the legs- or spinning or cadence. I concentrate on breathing. Keep it just on the comfort side for that 500 yards but do not ask me a question after 100 yards as you won't understand what I am saying. After that 500- I am fine.

    And it does not matter if I am on the Giant with 30/28 or the Boreas with 34/27. It is equally hard on either bike. Only thing is the Boreas is faster. I reckon that my normal cadence of 90 to 95 will drop to around 70 so I just take it steady and wait for the lungs to come in.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  17. #17
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Okay, I'll admit it!

    I live about 1/3rd of the way up a hill that has about a 6%-7% grade. That hill lies between me and the rail trail. About 75% of the time, I walk my bike up that hill to begin. I just hate starting out, with stiff legs, up a hill.

    The back side of the hill is worse and I always ride up it on the way home. Occasionally I ride up it, then back down, and then up it again.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  18. #18
    Live To Ride Another Day! MarkAJ's Avatar
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    I have tired all these methods and riding easy for 3-5 miles first to warm up results in better performance and ending to the ride.
    I'm pushing it "High and Wide".
    -Mark

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
    ...
    What I wonder though is that I usually just ride over and start climbing. It doesn't take that long to get there, a few minutes at most so I figure I must still be pretty cold when I start up and that can't help the cause any. I do have the option of riding around in the flats for a while to loosen up -and I'll try that next- but what do you do if you don't have that option, if that climb is right outside your door step? How do you approach that?
    I have never been able to put out my full effort without a thorough warmup. Back when I was racing, if I didn't have at least 10-15 minutes warmup time, I often did not finish. Before then, when I was riding recreationally, I'd do club rides where everyone seemed to hammer at the beginning and then riders would sort themselves out into groups. I'd always be on the back of the last group at first, but then I'd start passing people. Now that I'm coming back to riding at the recreational level after a long layoff, I find that the situation is certainly no better for me. I really need to warm up. I'd skip the hill if I couldn't warm up on a trainer or get some other riding in first. I don't own a trainer any more so I guess I would drive my bike to a more suitable (for me) starting point if the big hill were the only way for me to get anywhere. There aren't many flat areas near where I live, but if I'm careful I can avoid the big hills for a while.

    -soma5

  20. #20
    Senior Member Old School's Avatar
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    Don't be a wimp, stand up and hammer!

    Seriously, climbing should include some standing if you can handle it. Don't forget to shift up a couple of gears just before you stand if you have been sitting. As for a hill climb early in the ride, I like the idea of altering your route until you are warm or warming up before you head out.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW! WHAT A RIDE!"

  21. #21
    Roadkill byte_speed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai View Post
    ...We have one road here that I've visited a number of times but it always scares me enough not to try again for a while. It runs just under 1/2 a mile. End-to-end, it averages about 8-9%. If you just take the last 500 feet, it's about 12%. Yep, the farther you go, the steeper it gets. Nice reward. So, the other day I went back, set a pace and ground my way up in around 2 minutes...
    I don't know what you are complaining about. I have a similar hill just 1/4 mi into my rides, right at the entrance to my subdivision. My hill is 180 ft of climbing in 1/2 mile or about 7% grade. I like to warm up by attacking this hill (or my best imitation of an attack). My fastest time ever up the hill is 2:05 sec. with a strong tailwind. I did it today in 2:12. You are riding a steeper hill in less time. Must be those repeats.

    To answer your question, I have tried spinning up the hill, but I get the best times by grinding in a larger gear out of the saddle as long as possible.

  22. #22
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Like others who have responed, I need to warm up. My normal rides have short (300 ft) & steep climbs, I usually do those as fast and hard as I can, there sort. My loop with the bad hill is 16 miles into a ride of flat to rolling terrain. I then climb what is a perfect interval hill, real steep, then moderate, then real steep, then a short slight grade and back to real steep and so on. This goes on for almost three miles. You gain a lot of verticle. Then it's a 6 mile down hill to rest and then 10 more miles back home.
    In climbing this long hill I sit & spin and stand and sit again. By the time my speed is under 10 I am getting angry with myself for loosing momentum and letting the hill win - which it always does.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  23. #23
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    I would turn around and find a different route.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrierman View Post
    I live at the end of a street that is all downhill to my house and my driveway is also downhill to my house. I just have to start out in a low gear and crank it out.
    Same here. At the bottom of a 1/10 mile slope, I have several choices of climbing out of the neighborhood with the worst being a 1/4 mile hill at 10%+.

  25. #25
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    Well, I tried it again last night and, ya know, climbing 11-12% is HARD. For me at this stage of the game, anyway. Maybe this time next year ,with another year under my belt, it will be better. For now, I'll stick to the 5-7% climbs which are still a good workout (but not as hard as they were a year ago). As I said, this street is particularly diabolical because, end to end, it's 9%. From the mid point to the end, it averages 12% and the last 500+ feet are 20% (According to Toporoute.com. TWENTY? I didn't know that ).

    I'm suspicious now about that two minutes statement. I have one 1/2 mile climb I do that starts at 7.5% and ends at 5.5%. That takes me 5 minutes (5:06 last time out).

    And again, I have a 600 foot, 11-12% climb to get home. I can do it but it's a test.
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

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