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-   -   Climbing in the Big Ring (http://www.bikeforums.net/fifty-plus-50/490931-climbing-big-ring.html)

Hermes 12-01-08 10:42 AM

Climbing in the Big Ring
 
Velodiva and I had four great days of cycling over the holiday. It started with a race up Mount Hamilton on T-Day, 30 miles on Friday, track workout on Saturday and a group training ride on Sunday. Our training is focused on building strength and power.

Sunday, we did Old La Honda repeats 3.2 miles / 7.2% average grade. We did the first climb at 90% or approximately 1 minute slower than your best time. At the top, the coaches told me now on the next climb, go half way up in my big chain ring. I suggested that I had two gears that worked. My lowest gear which they had forbidden me to use and the one I just used. They were not impressed with my argument.

I descended and saw two of the P/1/2 guys in our group on their second time up climbing in the big ring. I thought what the hell, we only live once and one can change out knees like cassettes - right?

I did the 50/25 and it felt weird climbing due to the lower cadence. I had to stand a lot and the 20% switchbacks were tough. My Cervelo, due to the short chain stays, did not like the cross chaining. I shifted to a 34/17 which is the equivalent of the 50/25. I made it with no problem. My legs and knees feel great today, but I am happy to have a rest day.

The big chain ring drill is a great confidence booster and strength builder. But you younger 50+ guys be careful. If you are not at least a racing age of 59, you may hurt yourself.:D

BikeWNC 12-01-08 10:50 AM

I did a similar workout last week on a 7% grade. I rode it in a 50/17 gear, 5 min on then 5 min in a 34/17 maintaining the same cadence and keeping constant pressure around the pedal circle. I did 3 reps like that and hope to move up to 4 this week. It's a tough workout and not one I want to do more than once a week for sure.

SaiKaiTai 12-01-08 11:04 AM

Big ring up a hill? I laughed, anyway... way to go! This is just fantasy land to me.

Hermes 12-01-08 11:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BikeWNC (Post 7944188)
I did a similar workout last week on a 7% grade. I rode it in a 50/17 gear, 5 min on then 5 min in a 34/17 maintaining the same cadence and keeping constant pressure around the pedal circle. I did 3 reps like that and hope to move up to 4 this week. It's a tough workout and not one I want to do more than once a week for sure.

I knew you were tougher than I am.:p I should have got the Parlee.:thumb:

NOS88 12-01-08 11:07 AM

Coaches!!! It's easy for them to say. Given I'm not yet a 59 racing guy, I'll take your advice and be very careful.

stapfam 12-01-08 11:16 AM

With the severity of our hills- 34/27 feels like the big ring by the end.

BikeWNC 12-01-08 11:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hermes (Post 7944282)
I knew you were tougher than I am.:p I should have got the Parlee.:thumb:

LOL. I'm not sure my cadence was anywhere near the 50-55 it should have been. My speed certainly wasn't much faster than my usual smaller gear climbing pace. It just hurt more. Two things are going to help my climbing for this coming year. Climb more and lose weight.

luv2cruz 12-01-08 12:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai (Post 7944270)
Big ring up a hill? I laughed, anyway... way to go! This is just fantasy land to me.

+1

You guys are nuts! My climbing suffers from my power/weight ratio.....not enough power and too much weight! :lol:

jppe 12-01-08 03:22 PM

Hey-I thought this was the off season????? No fair you guys out doing hill repeats already! I will admit to trying to just use my Madone with the 53/39 right now. When I move over to the 50/34 later on it feels wonderful. I could not imagine trying to do a climb in a 53/25.....Just go ahead and give me the drugs.

Allegheny Jet 12-01-08 04:46 PM

Sounds like you guys are having lots of fun. Too bad I'm just getting into the indoor winter training season and am not supposed to any thing harder than the two or three workouts our group does or I would be out attempting the same.:D I've done big ring drills before and was surprised the time it took to go the distance of the drill was not much different than while using regular cadence.

BikeWNC 12-01-08 05:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Allegheny Jet (Post 7946174)
Sounds like you guys are having lots of fun. Too bad I'm just getting into the indoor winter training season and am not supposed to any thing harder than the two or three workouts our group does or I would be out attempting the same.:D I've done big ring drills before and was surprised the time it took to go the distance of the drill was not much different than while using regular cadence.

That's because power at LT is pretty much the same in either gear. The low cadence big gear drills are supposed to help with muscle fiber recruitment which can then be used later at a higher cadence. It's like doing very specific weight training on the bike.

jim p 12-01-08 07:11 PM

If I ever get to the point that I can spin up a hill then I will consider going to a bigger gear. I have a 28 front and a 32 back gear and a 5% 1/2 mile long hill that I do hill repeats on. I have been doing this for about 6 months and still don't maintain 80 rpm when I hit the short 15 degree grades on this hill. I have riden up in higher gears but I am not sure what would be best as far as climbing better. I have been doing nothing but these hill repeats for the last 6 months so maybe in another 6 months I will get a lot better.

It must be nice to be strong and fast.

Allegheny Jet 12-01-08 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jim p (Post 7946869)
If I ever get to the point that I can spin up a hill then I will consider going to a bigger gear. I have a 28 front and a 32 back gear and a 5% 1/2 mile long hill that I do hill repeats on. I have been doing this for about 6 months and still don't maintain 80 rpm when I hit the short 15 degree grades on this hill. I have riden up in higher gears but I am not sure what would be best as far as climbing better. I have been doing nothing but these hill repeats for the last 6 months so maybe in another 6 months I will get a lot better.

It must be nice to be strong and fast.

From your post, if you are doing the same ride everyday it's time to switch up the drills. When the body is subjected to the same stresses every day it adapts to the workload and becomes efficient and does not improve. You may want to try the big ring climb, alternate standing/seated intervals, do repeats at HR zone 5, ride up 1/2 way easy then blast up the 2nd 1/2, etc... After a month of so of mixing it up go back to your regular hill ride and see if you can't ride up in a gear or two bigger while keeping your cadence at 80+

Jet Travis 12-01-08 09:08 PM

I always climb in the big ring--the big ring on the rear wheel. :o

Terex 12-01-08 09:32 PM

I did more big chain ring work this summer. I've got a variety of hills very near me, from gradual climbs to +15% hills, but nothing super steep. This year, in my 4th year of active road cycling, I climbed all of the local hills in my big chain ring. For me, it's a 53/39 - 12/27. I did the climbs in a 53/23. You don't go as fast, but it does build strength. I also spent a lot more time intentionally standing in my climbs, regardless of gearing. I haven't really done much in the way of focused hill repeats, so I plan to do more of that in the new year.

On any group ride that is below my "speed limit", I try to do the hills in a lot bigger gear than is optimal. This practice has helped me improve my power. When I ride with the fast guys, I use every gear I can to optimize speed and minimize muscle fatigue.

My winter bike has a compact chain ring, and I'm thinking of switching back to the 53/39.

I was in your area a couple of weeks ago, but didn't have time to ride. I did have a great dinner at Bella Vista on Rt. 35 though. What a view of the lights in the valley....

Kurt Erlenbach 12-01-08 09:34 PM

I always climb in the big ring. But my hills are highway overpasses.

Cleave 12-02-08 12:07 AM

Hi,

Right now I'm just happy to be riding. ;)

I am trying to get back to some basics: miles, climbing, and some fun workouts at the track. On Saturday I did a 50 mile ride with about 4,600 ft of climbing with a bunch of folks who I met through BF. Tried to stay in HR zone 3 on the climbs and I really did only touch into zone 4 a few times.

Sunday I rode 50 miles by myself. Rode down to SoCal's somewhat famous Newport Coast Highway. At the top of that moderate climb is a 1 mile climb that averages 8.9% grade (Ridge Park). You can always skip that climb but I decided to just put it in my lowest gear (39 X 23) and grind up it out of the saddle. I wasn't fast or pretty but I got to the top in less than 10 minutes. :o

My comment on hill repeats is that I don't have the mental fortitude to do them. I'll ride three different climbs in succession but I can't bring myself to purposely do the same climb more than once.

Allegheny Jet 12-02-08 06:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cleave (Post 7948516)
Hi,

Right now I'm just happy to be riding. ;)

I am trying to get back to some basics: miles, climbing, and some fun workouts at the track. On Saturday I did a 50 mile ride with about 4,600 ft of climbing with a bunch of folks who I met through BF. Tried to stay in HR zone 3 on the climbs and I really did only touch into zone 4 a few times.

Sunday I rode 50 miles by myself. Rode down to SoCal's somewhat famous Newport Coast Highway. At the top of that moderate climb is a 1 mile climb that averages 8.9% grade (Ridge Park). You can always skip that climb but I decided to just put it in my lowest gear (39 X 23) and grind up it out of the saddle. I wasn't fast or pretty but I got to the top in less than 10 minutes. :o


My comment on hill repeats is that I don't have the mental fortitude to do them. I'll ride three different climbs in succession but I can't bring myself to purposely do the same climb more than once.

Apparently you lack some of the "mind numbing skills some of us have.:D

stapfam 12-02-08 10:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jim p (Post 7946869)
If I ever get to the point that I can spin up a hill then I will consider going to a bigger gear. I have a 28 front and a 32 back gear and a 5% 1/2 mile long hill that I do hill repeats on. I have been doing this for about 6 months and still don't maintain 80 rpm when I hit the short 15 degree grades on this hill. I have riden up in higher gears but I am not sure what would be best as far as climbing better. I have been doing nothing but these hill repeats for the last 6 months so maybe in another 6 months I will get a lot better.

It must be nice to be strong and fast.


Was going to suggest something but Allegheny Jet has just done it. Sounds like mountain bike gearing and don't know what the bikes or tyres are- But we have some stiff hills in our area- even if they are short. For training last year I did repeats up one of the mile long 15% ones and I just put it in the lowest gear of 30/26 and rode. 1st time up- in the saddle and tried to keep cadence at around 75 to 80. Second time up it was out of the saddle and in one or two gears higher. 3rd time up and it was any way I could get up the thing and cadence dropped tremendously. Then it was time for a bit of a flat ride and 20 miles across the marshes with a high cadence and no pressure on the pedals. Just to finish off and back to the hill for one last try. It was a lot easier. Whether it was being better warmed up- or the rest after 20 miles- but it worked for me.

When I did get to the mountains- The training paid off- but there is a difference between doing one short hill and climbing 13 miles non- stop. Get some variety into your training- and don't forget to take some FUN rides occasionally. I hate to say it- but BIG ring work doesn't work for me. My knees are shot to pieces as it is without putting more stress on them.

Hermes 12-02-08 01:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai (Post 7944270)
Big ring up a hill? I laughed, anyway... way to go! This is just fantasy land to me.

Yea...you always say stuff like that and in a couple of months you will be posting your own big ring hill climb. I am saving your quote to post as a response.:p

Quote:

Originally Posted by jppe (Post 7945687)
Hey-I thought this was the off season????? No fair you guys out doing hill repeats already! I will admit to trying to just use my Madone with the 53/39 right now. When I move over to the 50/34 later on it feels wonderful. I could not imagine trying to do a climb in a 53/25.....Just go ahead and give me the drugs.

Hey. We have to do something to catch up.:innocent:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terex (Post 7947744)
I did more big chain ring work this summer. I've got a variety of hills very near me, from gradual climbs to +15% hills, but nothing super steep. This year, in my 4th year of active road cycling, I climbed all of the local hills in my big chain ring. For me, it's a 53/39 - 12/27. I did the climbs in a 53/23. You don't go as fast, but it does build strength. I also spent a lot more time intentionally standing in my climbs, regardless of gearing. I haven't really done much in the way of focused hill repeats, so I plan to do more of that in the new year.

On any group ride that is below my "speed limit", I try to do the hills in a lot bigger gear than is optimal. This practice has helped me improve my power. When I ride with the fast guys, I use every gear I can to optimize speed and minimize muscle fatigue.

My winter bike has a compact chain ring, and I'm thinking of switching back to the 53/39.


I was in your area a couple of weeks ago, but didn't have time to ride. I did have a great dinner at Bella Vista on Rt. 35 though. What a view of the lights in the valley....

We have not dined there but it looks like a great place. If you go south of highway 84 on highway 35 a couple of miles, you will come to Old La Honda. It is the benchmark climb in our area and has very little traffic so it is favored by cyclists to climb to Highway 35 or for repeat work.

Mojo Slim 12-02-08 05:00 PM

I used to do a "Big Ring Wednesday" ride. I'd follow a usual route, but not shift to a smaller ring. But I don't think it was anything like about which you are talking. It did raise my confidence a bit, but it seems too much like "training" :twitchy: to me.

Cleave 12-02-08 08:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Allegheny Jet (Post 7949058)
Apparently you lack some of the "mind numbing skills some of us have.:D

Ain't that the truth! ;)

TysonB 12-06-08 09:09 AM

Hermes,

Old LaHonda is quite the road. I live in the flatlands of Oklahoma and visited my daughter and her boyfriend in Palo Alto this summer. On her Lemond Reno, which fits about right, I made it only 3/4's of the way up without stopping. Started too hard and never found a place to slow down to get out of the "red zone." (Any slower and the bike would have been doing a 'track stand.') Those switch backs on Old LaHonda are ugly when you have 'no go.' The steepest parts might be as short as 10 to 20 yards, but they take their toll.

Next day, I went at a more deliberate pace, kept the boyfriend in sight (he had mercy), didn't have to stop, caught up on Skyline and then did my El Falco Salvodelli imitation on the way down from the store. I LOVED that downhill curvy road back to the north that drops you out above Stanford. I stayed in the traffic lane and cars could not keep up. Using the whole lane and picking a late apex was the key. It was only slightly dangerous and oh so fun. (Having a previous trip down was helpful, too; there's a couple of tricky decreasing radius curves!) The boyfriend never said so, but when he caught up later, I think he thought I was nuts. My mispent youth on years of motorcycle racing has some benefit in old age though!

Next year, I might try the big ring at the bottom, but there's no way I'll be able to get up like you do. If you and Velodiva pass me on the tandem, say "Hi!" I'll be that fat grey haired guy embarassing a nice pink and black Merckx MX-Leader named "Emma."

TysonB
Cushing, Oklahoma

PS Loved your posts and pics from Tuscany and other vacations.

Hermes 12-06-08 10:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TysonB (Post 7974665)
Hermes,

Old LaHonda is quite the road. I live in the flatlands of Oklahoma and visited my daughter and her boyfriend in Palo Alto this summer. On her Lemond Reno, which fits about right, I made it only 3/4's of the way up without stopping. Started too hard and never found a place to slow down to get out of the "red zone." (Any slower and the bike would have been doing a 'track stand.') Those switch backs on Old LaHonda are ugly when you have 'no go.' The steepest parts might be as short as 10 to 20 yards, but they take their toll.

Next day, I went at a more deliberate pace, kept the boyfriend in sight (he had mercy), didn't have to stop, caught up on Skyline and then did my El Falco Salvodelli imitation on the way down from the store. I LOVED that downhill curvy road back to the north that drops you out above Stanford. I stayed in the traffic lane and cars could not keep up. Using the whole lane and picking a late apex was the key. It was only slightly dangerous and oh so fun. (Having a previous trip down was helpful, too; there's a couple of tricky decreasing radius curves!) The boyfriend never said so, but when he caught up later, I think he thought I was nuts. My mispent youth on years of motorcycle racing has some benefit in old age though!


Next year, I might try the big ring at the bottom, but there's no way I'll be able to get up like you do. If you and Velodiva pass me on the tandem, say "Hi!" I'll be that fat grey haired guy embarassing a nice pink and black Merckx MX-Leader named "Emma."

TysonB
Cushing, Oklahoma

PS Loved your posts and pics from Tuscany and other vacations.

Hi Tyson: Thanks for the kudos on the pics.

Glad you enjoyed the climb up OLH and the descent down 84.

We will keep a look out for you.:)

I assume you saw all the motorcycles at the corner of 84 and 35 (Skyline) by Alice's Restaurant. On the weekend, it is an amazing show of motorcycle equipment and rider talent.

dendawg 12-06-08 11:17 AM

I did hill repeat training most of the summer with my club. The hill we used was maybe 1/3 mile at 4.5 %. We would start in whatever combo felt comfortable for the first climb, then do 5 more repeats at 2 cogs higher than the first time. I started off the summer in my granny gear, and by the end of the summer I felt comfortable climbing in my middle ring ( I ride a triple) and one of the middle cogs. Oddly enough I would ride all the way home in my big ring afterward, and didn't even notice the hills that I used to shift down for. Sure my cadence would drop, but there was no struggle involved.


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