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  1. #1
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Who Stands to Climb?

    I've only been riding about eight months so please indulge a neophite. In the last couple weeks I suddenly decided it would be a good idea to try to stand up at certain times while going up hill. It felt funny at first but I started working on it and....Viola... it is great... I am a pro! Well, maybe not, but it sure seems to help conserve energy in certain situations like on a short steep hill or finishing up a longer hill. Also when you have mometum already and are pushing a tall gear up a brief slope.

    My riding chum says it can't save any energy over sitting but I sure think he is wrong. How many of you stand to climb? When do you stand if you do? In what circumstances is it efficient? Please explain... I'm here to learn.

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  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    My riding chum says it can't save any energy over sitting but I sure think he is wrong. How many of you stand to climb? When do you stand if you do? In what circumstances is it efficient? Please explain... I'm here to learn.
    Sit for mile after mile up a stiff climb and I want a different position on the bike- Dead easy- just stand for 100 yards or so. Only thing is before you do- change up a gear or two. In fact I even stand for 100 yards every 10 miles or so on the flat bits to change the body position and give the butt a rest.

    But short sharp slopes and instead of changing into the small ring- I will stand to get over the top.

    Then there are the occasions where The hill has got too steep and gone on for long enough and I have no gears left. Instead of walking- just stand and pedal. I don't normally change up on this type of Standing though.

    The final situation is when I am comfortably going uphill and someone decides to race it. Up a couple of gears and stand. Better acceleration and until The lungs feel like exploding- I stay standing and changing up.

    Standing when climbing is usefull and in my case- often necessary. As to being efficient- Can't say but it has become part of my riding style.
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  3. #3
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    I climb more efficiently seated, but stand to attack on a hill, or to increase speed and power. I have a couple hill repeats where I ride up one side seated, then up the other side standing. It's a valuable skill to have, being able to stand to climb.

    Next, try sprinting up your hills -- that'll add some punch to your workout!
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  4. #4
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Never found standing to be efficient. Sometimes necessary when the hill is too steep or I am too lazy to shift down for a short steep incline, but not efficient, I do not think.

    I do practice some standing on hills just to have it when needed.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

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    I've been standing a good bit more this year than last. It gets me up the hills faster. Like Stapfam, I stand every now and then on long rides to give the derriere a change of pace. On the shorter hills in urban areas, I may stand for the entire hill. For the longer ones, I'll alternate sitting and standing, and I do like to upshift a gear or two for standing.

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    In theory it's more fatiguing. I find that's often compensated by going up faster so you spend less actual time climbing. I deliberately stand part of the time as it makes me fitter and I can subsequently ride longer/harder. Armstrong seemed to spend a lot of time out of the saddle.

    Al

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    Standing allows you to put out more power because you can make greater use of your arms and apply more force to the pedals. However, using more muscles generally entails higher energy consumption and hence higher heart rate. Don't know if the efficiency changes at all but, personally, I like to stand to give myself a break and use some different, fresher muscles.

  8. #8
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Good advice so far. I'll stand on rolling hills when I think that a short burst of speed will allow me to remain in a higher gear and keep my speed up over the top. It is a better choice at that time than gearing down and remaining seated.

    Another time I stand is when climbing a long, tough hill. If I am having trouble keeping a steady cadence in the lowest gear I plan to use on a climb, I may shift up a gear, stand up and accelerate slightly. Then I'll sit down, shift down and try my best to keep spinning for a while. On a very long, very hard climb, I may repeat this a few times before finally getting over the top.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  9. #9
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I stand for butt breaks and to change the load on my knees and back on short rollers. At road races when acceleration comes on a hill, generally, everyone is standing sprinting as hard as they can which can last for tens of seconds.

    I have no idea how long climbs are where you live. In my area, we have long steep climbs of several miles. I alternate standing and sitting on long climbs with a bias for staying seated. If you watch long climbs in a pro race, the peloton is generally seated with some sporadic standing. Attacks are a different story.

    I have read many articles about seated versus standing with respect to efficiency and energy use. I think it does not make a lot of difference but one must practice standing since it will use the muscles differently.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  10. #10
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Interesting input... thank you all. I don't know how I rode so long without discovering this fascinating tool. I swear though, sometimes I'm sure I can keep my heartrate down by standing.

    We do have some moderate contour (hills) here in eastern Nebraska.
    Last edited by billydonn; 03-28-09 at 07:50 PM.

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  11. #11
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    I've got one short, steep climb out from the Plant on my commute home. Some days after work when I'm drained of excess energy I'll stand to climb that short monster. I normally stay seated mind you, but on the rare day I just have to stand and allow my 200lbs. and gravity to combine forces to get me up that little hill. That's right, sometimes I just stand and let my weight on the pedals do the work.

  12. #12
    Senior Member David13's Avatar
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    I stand, I sit. I vary it just to keep from getting stiff into one position. It gives more power, but I can't sustian it too long, so then I sit back down.
    Also, I stand anytime I see any obstruction, such as a bump, hole I can't miss, etc. Just like on the motorcycle. Standing is the jumping position.
    dc

  13. #13
    Pat
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    Well, everything I have read suggests that sitting and climbing is more efficient than standing. It is also my personal experience. It makes sense doesn't it? I mean part of your effort in standing has to go to suspending your body against gravity. When you are seated, your posterior does that job for you with virtually no energy expenditure.

    Now does that mean that standing does not have a place in hill climbing? Well there is more to life and climbing than efficiency. Standing has a cool facter which can not be ignored. Standing can feel good and it does not cost anything! Shoot feeling good for no $ expenditure is well.... priceless. Also standing allows you to use your weight to aid in climbing and your arms and back so you can generate a pile more power if you absolutely have to. I can climb a much steeper hill standing than I can in the same gears seated.

  14. #14
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I do a bit of both depending on the climb. For some really steep sections of climbs in my area I'm not strong enough to do the entire climb seated with the gearing I currently have on most of my bikes. These situations don't occur with a great deal of frequency. Additionally, I sometimes stand just to give my backside a break from the saddle (I even do this by standing to sprint on flat roads on long rides). Changing positions can be a good thing if done thoughtfully.
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  15. #15
    Pretend Racer dcvelo's Avatar
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    Sitting is more efficient, actually, but as others have noted standing has its place. I tend to use it for short steep climbs and as chane up on longer climbs. Or as a bail out if I've been going too hard seated and start running out of gas....

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    I've also noticed that standing part way up a longer hill gives you the momentum to use a bigger gear for the rest of the hill after you sit back down. It sees to come at little if any expense of additional effort and cuts down on the climbing time.

    Al

  17. #17
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Darned hard to do on a recumbent.

    Maybe this is the year that my stoker/wife and her captain will learn to get out of the saddle on our tandem. Just so that we can say that we can do it!

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    Except when racing demands or forces it, I've always found that there is no situation in cycling where standing and pushing hard would be better than sitting and spinning if you have the choice.

  19. #19
    Ti #18 Senior.
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    For me, my Heart Rate goes up dramatically when I stand. So, I usually sit when going up hill. Seems to be much easier on my heart. YMMV.

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    When I'm going up a steep hill with a hundred pounds of groceries and I have run out of gears, I stand. Otherwise I sit. Sometimes, I just need all the torque I can make.

    Paul

  21. #21
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    since 90% of my riding is on a fixed gear I stand alot when climbing.

  22. #22
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    ... I swear though, sometimes I'm sure I can keep my heartrate down by standing.
    We do have some moderate contour (hills) here in eastern Nebraska.
    'efficient', I think has been proven countless times to be a seated position. However, sometimes 'efficient' isn't the best course.
    'Effective' as the end result may be a better way to look at sections. IE, 'powering' over a short hill or rise might be more effectively done in a bigger gear and standing. But that dependz on the rider...
    Climbing for any length, standing, will sap you faster than seated. The changeup of standing and seated, gear size changes and rpm changes all contribute to being 'efficient' and 'effective' over long climbs. As Stapfam and many have noted, the 'change' is often needed to break the growing discomfort and feeling of fatigue.
    I know some riders whom I've never, ever seen stand on the pedals, except to 'start' and to ease over rough surface. Some are strong enough, just they chose not to...
    Another aspect, as important as chosing to ride out of the saddle, is HOW to do it effectively...
    in the very least this is important when you're under the duress of some 'competitive' ride.
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  23. #23
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    I would welcome any references on climbing/pedaling technique, so that I may read up and be better informed.

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  24. #24
    pedaling from Black Dog Snail Male's Avatar
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    Living near the base of the Niagara Escarpment, I find it's almost impossible to avoid some real killer grades. At those times I do best by mixing it up, alternating sitting with standing. On some days, if I'm really baffed, I get great results by standing after a quick dismount. I can usually stand for a good 10-15 minutes, usually commenting to passing riders about how much I admire their commitment. If this is after a particularly big lunch, I may even try lying, for a brief nap. Following this I'm quite refreshed, my heart rate has recovered and I can usually attack the second half of the hill, which, for me, is the half I already came up, by turning around and coasting down. Then I'm sitting.

  25. #25
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    I am just starting to stand more. For years, my left leg would get so fatiqued after just a few strokes (see previous threads on the Plantaris tendon) that it wasn't worth it. I'm getting better and use standing as discussed above on short, steep hills to maintain speed. However, just Friday, about 10 of us got into a crazy 2 mile sprint/race and I had fun pulling out of the pace-ish line and charging to the front by standing and pounding like the end of a stage of the TdF.
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