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Old 06-03-09, 07:13 AM   #51
Allegheny Jet 
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I competed in a race last Sunday that was very hilly over the 66 mile course. Most of the big climbs were only around 250 to 300 feet total elevation gain but were fairly steep requiring the smallest gearing. There is not much flat land in Southern Ohio (Vinton County) meaning there are rollers between the "hills and hollows". The race organizer combined the Masters 40+, 50+, 60+ and all women at the start, and within 5 miles of the start we rode thru the Cat 4's and 5's and picked them up making a fairly large group. It was interesting to watch the other racers and their climbing techniques while grinding out the hills. Due to it being a race, riding the hills at one's comfort level was not an option, I had to match the groups pace to an extent. On a couple of the hills I kept the gearing a little higher while matching the guys in front of me. On a few other hills, where I could see what we were heading to, I used my next to smallest gear (34 x 21) and spun up the hill. Using the small gears kept my cadence higher and allowed me to handle any quick slope changes or surges of the guys ahead of me, but it also got my HR higher. Riding with the higher cadence allowed me feel better going up the hill but it cost me plenty once over the top. I needed more recovery on the down hiill, and if there was a quick roller or another climb I went into "super hurt". One mistake that I made was trying to be at the front of the group on the climbs. I was worried that the leaders would get away and wanted to keep on their wheels. My brother-in-law was also in the race and stayed with the back of the pack on the climbs. After the climbs the back of the group would catch back up on the decent or when the leaders "sat up".

My lesson learned is to ride every hill as "unique" based on where I'm at in the race and my energy reserves. Using the smallest gearing is a bailout to get up the hill, but has it's cost afterwards due to the high HR. Using the larger gearing on the hill, at a lower cadence, makes me feel as if I'm not as fast but allows me to use other muscle groups to ride the hill by "pushing over the top of the pedals" and standing thus saving some energy to match the groups efforts after the climb. If I was riding a bigger hill and the group was splintered I would probably revert to the low gear with higher cadence for portions and mix in some higher gearing and standing to balance the effort.
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Old 06-03-09, 07:39 AM   #52
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Cadence is a personal thing. It's best to advise people to spin, at least until they have some miles in the bank and know their own body. Some will become mashers. Others, like me, will always spin.
One of the best climbers of all time, Andy Hampsten, was a spinner because that's what worked for him.
The biggest factor, however, is, and will always be, weight. Not the bike, not technique, weight. If you take 2 similarly trained riders, the 140 lb rider will outclimb the 200 lb rider. Simple physics. Sure, there are genetic freaks out there, but it takes more watts to move more weight up a hill.
I'm over 200 pounds and I do lots of climbing rides. Did 9000 feet in 80 miles last Saturday. Done lots of 10,000 foot centuries and some over 12,000 feet. I'm slow on climbs and unless I lose some weight, I'm not going to get faster.
In order to reach the 2 pounds per inch mark I would have to lose over 50 pounds. Not possible.
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Old 06-03-09, 08:24 AM   #53
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"So here is the question. How do you climbers approach a hill you have never climbed before?"

Several answers. If I am near Google Earth, I look up the route and figure out what its like because Google Earth has elevation and path distance data as you point with the mouse. Based on that, I approach as if I had climbed it before from previous experiences.

If I don't know it at all, I ask other riders on the way. If no other riders, and I know its going to be several miles with switchbacks, I pay close attention to body mechanics...good form.

As far as equipment, I really like my new Rotor Q rings. It really does cut out the dead spots and on climbs, I need every advantage I can get. I just recently test rode a bike on two separate 30 + mile rides with Dura Ace 7900 and what a difference it makes without those oval rings. I believe its Carlos Sastre who used the Q Rings last year at the TdF and this year at the Giro d'Italia, winning two climbing stages.
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Old 06-03-09, 08:49 AM   #54
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Here's a perspective from a pure utility cyclist, someone who has only ridden for transportation:
Unless you know the hill, climb at minimum forward speed in the lowest possible gear. The slower you go, the easier the hill.

Paul
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Old 06-03-09, 09:03 AM   #55
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I'm going to go against conventional wisdom. Sorry. Higher cadences do not reduce the amount of work you do. They increase it. The reason for higher cadence is to reduce risk of injury to your knees. So the trick is to find a cadence that is not too fast that it wastes energy but not so slow that you hurt your knees. My feeling is that for tough climbing, it's way, way below 90 rpm.

I also feel that high cadence climbing does little to build ability to climb. I think it hinders it, because climbing is an opportunity to push harder on the pedals than any other time. I couldn't climb well until I got a fixed gear (66 inches) and didn't have the opportunity to shift down. You don't need a fixed gear to build this skill. You need to choose your gear well.

Plus standing up helps you put more force on the pedals.

I'm willing to talk more about this if you like. I've been cycling seriously for 34 years, and this is what I've learned.

High cadences are fine for flats and downhills but I think they are bad for vigorous climbs.
I agree with this. The fastest climbers in my club are powering up hills in higher gears with slower cadences. On my ultra-distance bike I have very low gears (for when I bonk late in the day on a long, steep hill) and started using them all the time. I couldn't figure out why my performance had plateaued and asked for advice. I was told that riding in these low gears all the time wasn't building up my strength. So, I started riding one gear up, two,... and now I am getting real improvement. Obviously, one needs to build up slowly and be careful about injuries.

When attacking a long, unfamiliar hill, I use a heart monitor and try to dial my HR to a value depending on the total mileage for the day.
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Old 06-03-09, 09:09 AM   #56
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On long hills where I don't know what's coming mentally I just hunker down and crank it out making sure I don't spend it all in one place. This typically results in getting dropped. Whats your strategy for those long climbs?
Since you don't seem to state a specific goal your climbing- what's the point on any answer?

Are you asking how to climb efficiently? How not to be dropped? How to "look good?"

I can see your point about feeling at a disadvantage when approaching a hill on an unknown route. Did it dawn on you to ask the fellow next to you if they knew anything about the size and scope of the climb? What about asking about the route just as the ride gets started?

The most "normal" - old school - answer I can give you, is the standard answer for anyone in any situation that is concerned about whether or not they can "climb" well enough with an unknown group on an unknown hill.

1. Plan for the approaching climb by relaxing - while moving to the front of the group.

2. Let at least one, if not two riders start the climb ahead of you.

3. If you "feel" the pace, let a gap develop and wait for a third and or fourth rider to pass.

4. After three or more riders get ahead, increase your pace as necessary. If stressed, let up to one-half of the total group get ahead during the climb.

5. When you are in the middle of the entire group, work like hell to hold your position.

6. As you reach the top, make a note to drink and or refuel if you are going a long way.........

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Old 06-03-09, 09:26 AM   #57
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Here's my lame approach to hanging with the group on club rides. I catch 'em on the downhill. I don't take stupid risks (I hope), but I've learned how to get myself pretty aero.
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Old 06-07-09, 02:38 PM   #58
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Today was hill repeats.
My riding buddy who is thin as a rail and will be doing the whiteface race in two weeks as well (his third go a it) wanted a train day. My plan was to go out to Lake Desolation and do two ups, he said lets do 4 - and so it goes. 4 - 1100 ft climbs, 6% to 9% grade. Starting out I was sure he was going to lap me but he didn't. Overall he probably finished the last climb a mile ahead of me (each climb was 3.5 miles long). Each time at the top I stopped briefly to take in fluid, my second time up I took in a Guu and the third a trail mix bar before the rapid descent. I don't know if he stopped at the top or not - he did not say and I did not ask. Next Thursday, more repeats and then again on Sunday. As far as the race goes, I may not be fast, but I think I'll be able to stay on the bike and finish.

I did surprise myself though - last year all I could do was 2 runs at this climb and I was waisted. This year I did not really feel it until the last climb near the top where there is a 9% section, my legs felt a little tired but only for a short period of time. I concentrated on not letting my breathing get too labored, lefting my leg on the upstroke and more completed pedal strokes rather than mashes. It worked well and allowed me to sustain the effort. Also - my knee seems to be completely strong now, no pain - just a felt a little stiffness when I got in the car to drive home.
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Old 06-08-09, 08:58 PM   #59
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Mt. Washington???

Man! It was all I could do to get to the top IN MY CAR!!!!!:
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Old 06-09-09, 09:07 AM   #60
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Climbing

Europa hit the nail on the head.
From the 'been there done that' side of New York State and 'over 50', I've far too often gone out with the A crowd and paid for it -either with a nasty 18mph wind on the way back or a climb that went well over a half mile.
The body uses up the oxygen and the carbos and..here comes da bonk. (push it too far and the bonk becomes 'da wall')
There are guys (and gals) I ride with who are easily my (mid 60s)age and have the leg to go and go and go regardless of the terrain.
I'm not one of em and as Clint Eastwood said: "Man Needs To Know His Limitations"
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Old 06-09-09, 11:18 AM   #61
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My lesson learned is to ride every hill as "unique" based on where I'm at in the race and my energy reserves. Using the smallest gearing is a bailout to get up the hill, but has it's cost afterwards due to the high HR. Using the larger gearing on the hill, at a lower cadence, makes me feel as if I'm not as fast but allows me to use other muscle groups to ride the hill by "pushing over the top of the pedals" and standing thus saving some energy to match the groups efforts after the climb. If I was riding a bigger hill and the group was splintered I would probably revert to the low gear with higher cadence for portions and mix in some higher gearing and standing to balance the effort.
Thanks for this post. I took it to heart on our group ride Friday and I did better on a pretty long climb than I ever have. I have almost always just found a gear I could hold and stuck with it till I reached the top. I didnít like to stand on long hills because it spiked my HR and I worried about burning out.

On the Friday ride it was a bit overcast and the A group didnít show up. I have been covering as the B group leader and was suggesting a 40 mile ride with only about three or four short climbs but mostly flat between. One of my friends who has always been a better climber than me and he gave a bit of a smirk and asked why we didnít ride a route with a climb over a range of small hill that has always been a dread for me. It is long and has several steps up that make you feel you have reached the top when you have a long way to go. The smirk was because he knew I would try to save all my energy for the hill and I would simply grind away in whatever gear I had selected at the bottom.

But this time I decided to use more gears and would shift up or down to keep up a better pace and I would up shift and stand just before the top of each rise to give me a little extra speed till I had to down shift again because of the new grade.

I still hate hills but at least this time I had a smile on my face as the friend that suggested the ride finished behind me.

And they say you canít teach an old dog new tricks.
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Old 06-09-09, 08:50 PM   #62
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Tonight - more hill repeats. Tonights hill was one of the longest steepest ones close by my hose. The climb is 1200' and 2.5 miles which puts the average grade over the entire length at 9%, there are some sections at 12%. We did it twice. It hurt but afterwards my legs recovered quickly. My Knee seems completely healed now. I was only in my lowest gear when at the steepest section. I need to go back and do this again but stay out of the lowest gearing. At the steepest points my speed was down to 3.8mph. Again - I was not as fast as I would have liked, but I did it. My friend who has done Whiteface for the last 3 years said this hill was harder. I only did 2 laps on this hill - 3 would have been the same verticle as Whiteface.

Next weekend - more repeats - but then it's flat riding until the race.
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Old 06-09-09, 09:10 PM   #63
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I just tell myself, as I'm crawling up the hill, that I'm going on a diet when I get home, and I'll be flying up this hill the next time. Of course, once I reach the top I forget all about that
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Old 06-15-09, 08:46 PM   #64
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http://vimeo.com/groups/velovimeo/videos/4796923

Some good stuff here about technique...and even better scenery.
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Old 06-15-09, 08:59 PM   #65
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http://vimeo.com/groups/velovimeo/videos/4796923

Some good stuff here about technique...and even better scenery.
+1 That guy from Barlow World was really good. Take note of how low he was when he was putting in the power. He was using his back and glutes. His back was almost flat.
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Old 06-15-09, 09:27 PM   #66
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I did this on Saturday.


Doesn't matter if I know the climb or not, I just try to stay within myself, unless I know the ride is short enough so that if I blow up I can limp home.
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Old 06-15-09, 10:19 PM   #67
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On the hills I climb I know I'm in trouble when I get blisters on my feet from walking. OR I think I could get up the hill faster if I didn't need to drap this &^$% Bike along. This is a round trip.
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Old 06-15-09, 10:22 PM   #68
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+1 That guy from Barlow World was really good. Take note of how low he was when he was putting in the power. He was using his back and glutes. His back was almost flat.
Really. Watching pros climb, especially when they stand and mash, is pretty cool. They are so far over the bars and flat.

Last climb of a long event Saturday I felt pretty good. Mixed it up - spin high cadence in 34-28, then 25-30 seconds in 34-22. My back/legs felt pretty good with the effort being spread around sitting/standing.

Spinning's good enough to get over most climbs but, in the long run, I think I'm never going to get stronger if I don't put in some anaerobic (stand/mash) intervals. Keeps my calves/legs/back fresher too- it's just relaxing to get out of the saddle and stretch.
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Old 06-16-09, 03:23 AM   #69
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http://vimeo.com/groups/velovimeo/videos/4796923

Some good stuff here about technique...and even better scenery.

+1 on this! Very good video, thanks for sharing.
I have never done a mountain climb and some day hope to though knowing it will be killer.
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Old 06-16-09, 07:29 AM   #70
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After 60+ posts I am so glad to discover the "secret" of climbing. I will now fly up the hills of W. Pa and WVa!!!
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Old 06-16-09, 08:24 PM   #71
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+1 That guy from Barlow World was really good. Take note of how low he was when he was putting in the power. He was using his back and glutes. His back was almost flat.
Good observation - I have notice that makes a big difference in how much air you can take in. I noticed how much he rocked the bike when standing - I try to keep the bike steady, maybe thats not right. Also I tend to sit a little but back in the saddle when it is really steep and my cadence has gotten lower - it seems to give me a little more power - maybe thats not right as well. I also like to keep my hands on the bend above the hood with just the base of my palms - no death grip on the bars and my elbows are bent out so I can open my chest - feels like it helps the breathing as well, again that may be wrong. Anyway, I may try a few different things later but for this weekends big climb I can't afford to change anything.
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Old 06-16-09, 08:37 PM   #72
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For a lot of this stuff there is no right or wrong, you have to find out what works for you. Cadence is very personal, for example.
Some people like to stand a lot, others don't. I rode along with a local pro for about 10-12 miles on a slight grade and he never sat down! I have also seen guys climb for miles without sitting.
I have pictures of myself from 17-18 years ago when I was more flexible and I could never get a flat back. I look like I'm pretty upright when I'm in the drops.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:55 AM   #73
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You guys amaze me. On steeper stuff my cadence drops to 60 or below and I have to tack back and forth across the road like a puffing sailboat just to make it to the top. I don't know what my HR is but it is pounding away in there.

My low gear has a gain ratio of 1.3. Any sense going lower?
Ok, if I understand gain ratio correctly, and you have a normal crank and rear wheel, your ratio of wheel radius to crank length is around 2 (340/170=2).

GR = lever arm ratio * gear tooth ratio = (wheel radius/crank length) * (chainwheel teeth/cog teeth) as I read Sheldon's paper on this.

To have a gain ratio of 1.3, your ratio of crank teeth to cog teeth must be around 0.65. If you have a 32 tooth largest cog in the rear, your smallest chainwheel must be about 20 teeth.

Is this a decent description of your low gear?

If so, it will be real hard to go lower. I've seen '70s era freewheels with a 38 tooth rear cog, but you have to be very well-schooled in C&V bikes and component selection to make this work.

You might really be at the limits of low-end gearing.

If I'm right, your only choice is to get stronger.
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Old 06-17-09, 09:23 AM   #74
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In order to reach the 2 pounds per inch mark I would have to lose over 50 pounds. Not possible.
If I'm not getting too personal, why is it impossible? I dropped 40 lbs. over the course of 2 years in my early 40's, thanks largely to encouragement/goading from my physician and a dramatic change in my eating habits (e.g., fruit=good, ice cream=bad). He was also an enthusiastic mountain biker who got me to start cycling.
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Old 06-17-09, 10:08 AM   #75
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If I'm not getting too personal, why is it impossible? I dropped 40 lbs. over the course of 2 years in my early 40's, thanks largely to encouragement/goading from my physician and a dramatic change in my eating habits (e.g., fruit=good, ice cream=bad). He was also an enthusiastic mountain biker who got me to start cycling.
Two pounds per inch is an old metric and may not be applicable today. Power measurement is what is used today. And I think it may be a kilo not a pound. For TdF general category wannabee winners, the metric is 6.7 watts/kilo at their 20 minute power. Power meters have made the sport much more quantitative. It does not matter how they get there. The problem is that increasing power above a certain point gets extremely difficult. Losing weight can be easier. Cantador was quoted as saying the the Dauphine Libere last week, that he needs to lose a kilo for the TdF.

For those interested, here is a table of power to weight ratios defining various categories of cyclists.
http://cozybeehive.blogspot.com/2008...ght-ratio.html

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