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  1. #1
    Senior Member tntom's Avatar
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    Am I to big to be a climber?

    At 6' and 214lbs and going down. Am I to big to be a good climber? Climbing is what I would realy like to be good at. And if my size is not a problem how should I train to get better at it? I only started riding last Aug and I know this won't happen overnight but I am ready to start. So am I to big or is this something I can accomplish with HARD WORK and if so where do I start? Do I just climb? If so I live in the right place.

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    RT
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    I am 6'1" and 205 (going down), and the best advice I can give is the most obvious - climb more. I've also found that, of my three bikes, I have one that traverses hills better than the other two. I commute on my favorite, but the 'hill' bike is my training bike. I don't train for races, but I do train to be better at hills.

    Find a hill (mine is 2 miles, 5% grade) and ride up and down it until you can't ride any more. Find a good spinning speed and gauge your progress by which gear you are comfortable in ascending the hill. Soon you will find that not only are you spinning in a harder gear, but you can stand on the pedals for much longer.

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    I am 6'0 and started the season at 202, now down to 185. I have raced occassionally over the last three years in 55+ races. I find my size is a definite disadvantage. I love climbing just as you do, but have pretty much accepted that most well-trained 160 or 170 lb guys are going to beat me up the hills. It is still fun to try and it is possible to compete with myself by entering the same races year-to year. The number one race for me is the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic which is a race from Durango to Silverton, CO over two mountain passes. My goal for this year is to get there in under 3 hours which should be close to a top 10 finish.

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    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    In the same vein:

    What improves your climbing more, short very steep hills, or longer not-so-steep hills? The maximum climb in my neck of the woods is 300', so usually you have to do one or the other.

  5. #5
    Bikin' and Hikin' RockyTopBiker's Avatar
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    I'm 5'8". I used to be 6' before all this climbing!
    "Put me on a highway. Show me a sign. Take it to the limit one more time"
    -The Eagles

  6. #6
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    I'm 6' and 190lbs and climb pretty good when compared to other guys on group rides and training. I can't climb with my son's who are great bikers, 30+ years younger, and weigh 20 lbs less. Well I do climb with them, only, I get to watch them climb from behind. I was a track and field athlete in my younger days and just always expect to be good at climbing and sprinting. Climbing isn't much different than the suffering we did running intervals. As stated before, riding hills makes you a better hill climber. That statement is more valid if you have a "plan" when riding hills. I did a workout yesterday ,with one son and a riding friend, that included 4 hills and then 4 sprints over 20 miles. After warming up we rode up the first hill very hard (zone 4 to 5) then soft peddled down the hill to the next hill then rode up it really hard. We did this for 4 hills total. The hills were at least 1/2 mile to 3/4 mile long with a grade of 3.5% to 5%. The effort we put into the hills was much harder than what we would do in a race or group ride where the groups will keep the pace going. You'll need to determine what kind of hills you are riding and adjust the cadence/speed/time and effort to get the maximum workout you desire. You can also mix in some "standing" on the hills. Make sure the "out of the saddle efforts" are complimenting the workout. The standing effort helps to get over steep sections, give your quads a break ect... standing out of the saddle should not cause you to go into oxygen dept. becuase you won't recover going up the hill. One more trick when doing the intervals is to keep your speed/effort going up and over the climb, pick out a mail box or other landmark that is beyond the top of the hill and keep the effort going to that point. Doing that will keep you from mentally stopping on hills once at the top. The idea of intervals is to put more stress on your system than it is used to, the muscles and cardio vascular system will respond to the training and get stronger and more efficient then you will be more comfortable (if that's possible) when stressing your body while riding.

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    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    At your current size, etc., just ride as much as you can. You will improve and you can enjoy climbing all day once you are more conditioned, but you won't be a great climber against smaller people. It's rare to find a guy over 200 who is a great climber. I'm not saying you can't feel good and climb reasonably fast, just that the weight will always be a disadvantage against people much lighter.
    I like to do long climbing rides, but I am usually the last one to the top of the mountain. They don't mind waiting, though.

  8. #8
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    6"-2" 203 lbs, Riding 5 months now. A friend changed the small sprocket on my Felt F-80 from a 30 tooth to a 24 tooth. Rode 101 miles of hills saturady in 8 hours.
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  9. #9
    Gilpin County Wheelman SKYLAB's Avatar
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    Climbing is all about power to weight ratio. As you lower your weight you will become a more efficient climber. You can lower your weight by getting a lighter bike, but the best thng to do is to keep cycling and climbing. Eventually the weight will come down. Try working in some standing pedal strokes on a slightly harder gear and then shift up to an easier gear as you come back down to the seat. That can help you spin a little easier for a while.
    I like attacking climbs, there's usually a downhill on the other side so you can use them to do something akin to interval work - hard blowouts followed by easier spins. That's some great country to ride in you've got.
    And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    I'm with the "just ride as much as you can" group. Obviously, continue to drop weight to the extent you can. Try to work climbing into every ride. My avg. ride is about 60' elevation gain per mile. If you don't have a Garmin or something, consider getting one. You can keep track of how much you climb. If you don't have a compact chainset, consider getting one - at least until you get stronger. Vary the way you attack hills: focus on spinning at a sustainable pace most of the time, but also select rides were you intentionally use bigger gears than are comfortable. Find hills that you can't quite do in the big chain ring, and see how far up them you can get without shifting. Practice standing when climbing.

    I went to the gym last night, and did some seated leg presses after not doing any for a couple of months. Just from increasing the intensity of my power efforts while riding, my top lift weight went up by 20%. It's just an empirical measure for cycling, but confirmed my thoughts about my power level.

    And....FIND OTHER PEOPLE TO RIDE WITH THAT LIKE TO CLIMB!!!
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

  11. #11
    Gilpin County Wheelman SKYLAB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Western CO guy View Post
    My goal for this year is to get there in under 3 hours which should be close to a top 10 finish.
    WOW ! That would be a very creditable ride indeed. I've done the Iron Horse a couple of times and felt lucky to beat the train. For me the darned ride is always early in the season - witness the foot of snow we are getting today. I don't know what it is about Coal Bank but that climb just seems to go on and on. It doesn't look steep but my word it has always had me turning my pedals so slowly.
    Under three hours is a GREAT time for any age group. Congratulations in advance.
    And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

  12. #12
    SRS
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    To see how weight effects power level (and therefore speed) one can use a power calculator. There are a number of on-line power calculators and, though the wattages displayed are approximations, you can get a sense of why power to weight ratio is important when climbing vs riding on flat ground. As an example, my weight is 165. The OP is 214. At 10mph on a 6% grade (assuming identical bike weights, no wind) I need to generate about 276 watts while the OP at 214 needs to generate 342. That is about 24% more power. On flat ground at 20 mph, the respective wattages are 212 and 222, for a 4.7% difference. Weight isn't a significant issue on flat ground whereas when the road tilts up it is.

    One of my favorite on-line power calculators disappeared from the web a few days ago but the following one is good - easy to use and relatively good numbers.

    http://bikecalculator.com/wattsUS.html

    The following power calculator is very good but it takes some time to learn how to effectively use it.

    http://analyticcycling.com/

  13. #13
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tntom View Post
    At 6' and 214lbs and going down. Am I to big to be a good climber?
    The answer depends on how you define "good climber".

    If you mean will you be able to climb big hills faster than someone 50 lbs lighter who climbs as often as you, uses as good a technique as you and works as hard as you, I'm afraid the answer is no.

    But can you be someone who can climb most any hill put in front of you? Can you be a faster climber than you are now? Can you climb faster and farther than other people your size? Can you climb faster and farther than some lighter riders who don't work at it as hard and as smart as you do? Absolutely! Yes you can.

    I am 6' and 200 lbs and I consider myself a good climber. I climb every hill I can find. I work on my climbing technique. I gear my bike to make sure I have low enough gears to climb the hills I'll see.

    I regularly climb hills faster and steadier than most people my size and some who are lighter but don't work at it. I am regularly dropped far behind by lighter riders who climb well. I am sometimes outclimbed by lighter riders who aren't great climbers and by heavier riders who are.

    As long as you define "good" in terms of improvement and maximizing potential, you can become a very good climber if you work at it hard enough.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  14. #14
    Senior Member tntom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    The answer depends on how you define "good climber".



    But can you be someone who can climb most any hill put in front of you? Can you be a faster climber than you are now? Can you climb faster and farther than other people your size? Can you climb faster and farther than some lighter riders who don't work at it as hard and as smart as you do? Absolutely! Yes you can.


    As long as you define "good" in terms of improvement and maximizing potential, you can become a very good climber if you work at it hard enough.

    That is what I mean.

    Where can I learn good techique?

  15. #15
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    As Pcad says, we're all too fat for this sport.

    To be a good climber depends on what you consider good...to be a great climber, you need to weigh about 130lbs and have the stamina of the energizer bunny.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  16. #16
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    I am the worst climber in history. The other day, we had 20+ mile winds, and I was going right into them, and I started up a Kansas slope. A mild slope. I was in my easiest gear by the top of it.

  17. #17
    Pat
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    Well, fast climbing is all about power to weight ratio which is something most people have pointed out.

    Hills can be fun because there are times you can build up speed and muscle up a short hill pretty fast. If you try that on a longer hill, you blow up. A good way to climb, is to pick a speed that you can maintain and just motor you way up, whatever that speed is. It is something you get better with experience.

  18. #18
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tntom View Post
    That is what I mean.

    Where can I learn good techique?
    Start by searching BikeForums and Google. How to climb is one of the most written about subjects in all of bicycledom. Number one on most lists is - to climb better, climb more.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  19. #19
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Hills take some practice. You also need to guess at what gear to use and guess how fit you are at the time of the hill. Next to Soveg I am the worst climber.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  20. #20
    Gilpin County Wheelman SKYLAB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tntom View Post
    That is what I mean.

    Where can I learn good techique?
    I dunno from technique. However....here's some links
    http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6...6883-1,00.html
    http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6...-183-1,00.html
    http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6...1304-1,00.html

    I think I might read these myself.
    And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

  21. #21
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
    In the same vein:

    What improves your climbing more, short very steep hills, or longer not-so-steep hills? The maximum climb in my neck of the woods is 300', so usually you have to do one or the other.
    Not to sound like a smart@$$, but riding short steep hills improves your ability to climb short steep hills; riding longer less-steep hills improves your ability to climb longer less steep hills. Both will help your climbing ability in general. Ride whatever hills you have access to, ride 'em hard, ride 'em often, but allow enough recovery time in between workouts. Your body will adapt to whatever demands you place on it.

    SP

  22. #22
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SKYLAB View Post
    Sorry, but those are Bicycling magazine links. It has been well established here that nothing useful is ever printed in those pages. One must assume the same holds for the website, so instead of reading them we should just make cycnical comments about them.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  23. #23
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Sorry, but those are Bicycling magazine links. It has been well established here that nothing useful is ever printed in those pages. One must assume the same holds for the website, so instead of reading them we should just make cycnical comments about them.
    But they have about the same info as other sites Maybe they copied??

    http://www.cptips.com/climb.htm
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  24. #24
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tntom View Post
    That is what I mean.

    Where can I learn good techique?
    Some say there is no such thing as technique when climbing. I do know, however, that you have to learn things about what works for you on a long climb. I always tried to keep my cadence high so I didn't stress my knees. Been pretty lucky so far. I think it's very important for heavier riders to spin to save those knees.
    Another thing to focus on is your breathing. There is a method called breathplay, where you use different ways of counting your breath to maintain a rythym. For example, take 1 breath in and all the way out for 4 pedal strokes, or whatever. It teaches you to breathe in a consistant way.
    Another thing to learn is your own limit. You get on a long hill and stay within yourself so you don't have to stop or blow up befroe the top.
    Of course, on a short hill you can just sprint over it and if you get tired, the top isn't far.
    Ask scvroadie about the 35 mile climb he did last Saturday, that one is special.

  25. #25
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbycorno View Post
    Not to sound like a smart@$$, but riding short steep hills improves your ability to climb short steep hills; riding longer less-steep hills improves your ability to climb longer less steep hills. Both will help your climbing ability in general. Ride whatever hills you have access to, ride 'em hard, ride 'em often, but allow enough recovery time in between workouts. Your body will adapt to whatever demands you place on it.

    SP
    Elegantly put.

    Really, what I wonder about is 1) should we ride 'em until we puke, and 2) aren't we getting too old to be riding 'em until we puke? I'm not being facetious -- I really worry when I'm on the verge of a glory spew whether it's in fact the sign of the Big One.

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