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Old 08-12-10, 09:04 PM   #26
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Yeah, AJ, I too did a bunch of OTS work yesterday, just to see what works and what doesn't. I tooled over to a short (0.15 mile) 6% hill and did it a bunch of times (8), trying to be aware of what I was doing and what worked better than others. I'm ok with the bike swaying a little bit, but I also tried to allow it to swing a little more, as I've seen some people do and also the pros when they are zipping up mountains. Big swinging isn't for me - it feels inefficient and it can throw off my timing. A little swaying seems to be OK, but I think the bike is pretty stationary when I"m in my groove.

I tried the two-fingers on the hoods position and I like that a lot. It's not so different from what I was doing before, but it does keep my weight balanced about right. I also tried different gearing and found that, at least for short hills, I"ve probably been using smaller gear ratios than optimum. I found the best results were 50/19 or 50/21. I probably couldn't stay in those gears for a much longer hill of that grade, of course.

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Old 08-12-10, 09:41 PM   #27
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This is one of my favorite videos and I feel compelled to post it at least once per year. i like the music and Alpe d'Huez is a tough climb. Here is how one of the guys who can really climb does it. I take note of his forward position on the bike, toe and heal positions. He does not rock the bike very much. My coach thinks I could use a longer stem which would help my out of the saddle climbing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmkRT...os=FIQg2aES2VY
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Old 08-13-10, 05:04 AM   #28
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This is one of my favorite videos and I feel compelled to post it at least once per year. i like the music and Alpe d'Huez is a tough climb. Here is how one of the guys who can really climb does it. I take note of his forward position on the bike, toe and heal positions. He does not rock the bike very much. My coach thinks I could use a longer stem which would help my out of the saddle climbing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmkRT...os=FIQg2aES2VY
I must admit I had not paid a lot of attention to the heel rise on the upstroke. I will have to observe to see if that is in my OTS hill climbs. I suspect that sometimes it is, but not sure. I would have said there was a fair bit of bike rocking going on, but that's just my perspective. What it tells us that if you are rocking the bike you are doing no worse than Lance...

When I dropped my stem back 20mm that helped my hill climbing - I think the reason was not that my power position was better but rather that I was more relaxed on the bike. It's a tradeoff. I would think you could easily test the longer stem theory - you are well enough instrumented and you have a lot of data on past performance.
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Old 08-13-10, 08:36 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by cyclinfool;11281994[COLOR="silver"
]I must admit I had not paid a lot of attention to the heel rise on the upstroke. I will have to observe to see if that is in my OTS hill climbs. I suspect that sometimes it is, but not sure. I would have said there was a fair bit of bike rocking going on, but that's just my perspective. What it tells us that if you are rocking the bike you are doing no worse than Lance...

When I dropped my stem back 20mm that helped my hill climbing -
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Originally Posted by cyclinfool;11281994[COLOR="silver"
I think the reason was not that my power position was better but rather that I was more relaxed on the bike. [/COLOR]It's a tradeoff. I would think you could easily test the longer stem theory - you are well enough instrumented and you have a lot of data on past performance.
My coach is always right. That is not the issue. The challenge is doing what he wants and having the perseverance to stick to it until it works. Most of the techniques he wants me to do are very difficult and result in poorer performance in the near term. This is much like the golf swing. One wants to improve but finds that the changes are very difficult. And then the pro says yea, it is going to take two years for the transformation.

Since we all rode bikes as a kid and it all seems pretty straight forward, we are loath to think that there is real technique. I can attest that there is and Lance and the other pros have worked really hard to get the pedal stroke and position perfect. I have read some articles that say Lance started his high cadence in 2000 and it took a few years to perfect. I can attest that high cadence is very tough to do.

Let me emphasize that there is nothing wrong with anything posted about climbing. Riders post what works for them. If they want to really improve then they have to commit to a program and do the necessary work and put in the time required for the changes to take effect.
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Old 08-13-10, 08:57 PM   #30
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From the (dead link)King of Jester hill climb (youtube). See the spilled concrete on the road, dribbled out the back of concrete trucks climbing the hill. That's steep!

There's two contrasting climbing styles, starting at the 0:49 mark. One rider is efficient and smooth while standing. But he gets passed by a rider just muscling up the hill in a low gear. (Makes my knees and lower back sore just watching it.)

EDIT Sept 2014 thread revival: Here's a new link.

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Old 08-14-10, 05:50 AM   #31
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[COLOR="silver"]

One wants to improve but finds that the changes are very difficult. And then the pro says yea, it is going to take two years for the transformation.
This is 50+, a year or two may not be an option

For sure, the changes and work required takes a lot of time and in some cases you seem like you are going backwards. After 3 weeks I am finally feeling and seeing the benefits of the weight training the PT put me on. I think I may ask for a session on the road so I can get some tips on cycling form.
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Old 08-14-10, 08:24 AM   #32
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MinnMan, Hermes put it very well, we aren't 12 (or 22, 32 or even 42) year olds, we have to be crafty out of the saddle to keep up. Technique becomes so very important to maintain speed and minimalize joint injury.

The best climbing example I ever found is/was on youtube, and I can't find it now, but it was of Marco Pantani during a climb that he was struggling with. Whenever his technique started to fade one could almost see in his face the frustration and he'd bring it back together and become 'fluid' again, both in and out of the saddle.

Men have a tendancy to 'muscle' their way through sports. Women rely more on technique and are good pseudo coaches. Keep a technical eye on the better women riders in your group.

I remember a pre knee injury ride I took my close ratio'd crit bike on. Near the end of the ride was a b*ll buster of a bridge. Just for fun I dropped a couple of gears and charged up that bridge out of the saddle trying to remember everything I'd learned and while not effortless, it was much easier and faster than I had ever gone over it before. Once you get it 'right' all of those "this doesn't feel right" in training moments are forgotten.

For the record I think climbing should be done primarily in the saddle, but for a quick charge or just a change in style, getting out of the saddle is an alternative.

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Old 08-14-10, 09:26 AM   #33
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I come up out of the saddle often, not only to climb hills but to accelerate back to cruise or to sprint and sometimes to rest other muscles and my rear a moment. I only rock the bike slightly but I am most decidedly pulling on the bars with my arms using them to help propel the bike. I generally upshift a cog or two. I can ride out of the saddle for long periods of time. I think it is simply a matter of conditioning different muscle groups for sustained output, out of the saddle uses the calves, arms, shoulders, biceps and core abdominal muscle groups. Most of the time when out of the saddle I am on the hoods but if sprinting or accelerating or into the wind I will be in the drops where I ride most of the time anyway.
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Old 08-14-10, 10:52 AM   #34
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Women rely more on technique and are good pseudo coaches. Keep a technical eye on the better women riders in your group.
So very true, the best riders I know are women - I thoroughly enjoy riding with them and watching their form although I joke that I am watching other things.
I do several organized centurys a year, I usually pick up a few women riders and stay with them for the ride. They set a good consistent pace.
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Old 08-14-10, 07:51 PM   #35
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I did a 54 mile ride today and -tried- to use some of the OTS techniques being described. Didn't work for me; just couldn't get it right on the roughly 1.5% incline. Sitting worked much better. Meanwhile, as you two have just said, one of the women showed everyone what OTS technique was supposed to look like. She is very experienced (a 50+ would be my guess) and has raced extensively. She'd pop off the seat constantly to move to the front - natural as anything; clumsy and ineffective for me. I need practice, and need to get a LOT better at climbing. I was dropped like a water bottle on the TdF when we started going uphill. And after the climbs, I was just plain dead, and had to limp my way back on cramping calves.
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Old 08-14-10, 08:54 PM   #36
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I did a 54 mile ride today and -tried- to use some of the OTS techniques being described. Didn't work for me; just couldn't get it right on the roughly 1.5% incline. Sitting worked much better.
I think I'd sit through a 1.5% incline unless I was trying to sprint.

The other day, I posted about practicing OTS on a short 6% hill. Yesterday I went back to the same hill and did a few repeats, this time sitting. Definitely, for a short steep hill, OTS works better. Not only did I get up the hill faster when OTS, but I didn't feel as wasted at the top. I wasn't at all surprised, but I wanted a direct comparison. OTOH, I decided that doing some repeats on that hill sitting makes a pretty good training exercise and I plan to do some more now and again.

I need to learn better when to stand and when to sit (or what combination of these) for hills of various grade and length. Not that one can have a perfect formula (or that the formula would be the same for any two people), but I plan to try a few different hills in the area and do something similar to what I've done on this hill - do a few repeats of the same hill with different approaches and see which works better. Maybe I won't learn anything but the obvious, but even then I'll have put in a bunch of time climbing hills, which has to be a good thing.

As to foot and ankle position, I"m trying to be more conscious of what I'm doing, but changing one's pedal stroke is damned hard, that's for sure. On thing that seems to help is that rather than think about how my ankle is bent, I'm trying to think more about throwing my knee up a little higher as it comes towards the handle bars. This comes from a Joe Friehl video I saw some time ago (sorry, I don't have the link)
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Old 08-15-10, 12:35 AM   #37
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OTS riding will use a different set of muscles and if they are not there- you will struggle. So like everything else- it is practice and train for muscle build up aswell as technique. If on the flat or gentle slopes up to about 8% you will need to change into a higher gear or else you will be spinning out. And OTS riding is a good way to rest the Butt on any ride- even before the Ache comes in.
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Old 08-15-10, 09:41 AM   #38
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Yesterday, I climbed a short 900 foot length (not vertical) 8% grade climb. Normally, I sit and spin up this but I decided to stand. It took about 1:30 @ 260 watts 58 rpm. Sherman and Liggett would have said I was dancing on the pedals. It was pretty easy. For the last month I have been working on standing starts at the track and I think there is some carry over to hill climbing.
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Old 08-15-10, 02:24 PM   #39
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Yesterday, I climbed a short 900 foot length (not vertical) 8% grade climb. Normally, I sit and spin up this but I decided to stand.
Hermes, today's 3 lap race had a similar climb. On the first lap I kept it in the big ring and went OTS about 1/3 way up when the momentum dwindled. It caught a bunch of guys in little ring who had to really crank up the cadence to keep up. On laps 2 and 3 I rode the entire hill OTS and attacked at the top once back on the saddle. The hill never gassed me and on the 2nd lap a teammate caught up after the climb and asked "WTF?".
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Old 08-15-10, 03:42 PM   #40
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This is one of my favorite videos and I feel compelled to post it at least once per year. i like the music and Alpe d'Huez is a tough climb. Here is how one of the guys who can really climb does it. I take note of his forward position on the bike, toe and heal positions. He does not rock the bike very much. My coach thinks I could use a longer stem which would help my out of the saddle climbing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmkRT...os=FIQg2aES2VY
I bet that is really Hermes in disguise climbing Alpe d'Huez!
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Old 08-15-10, 03:48 PM   #41
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I've always been one to sit and spin up hills. Exceptions have been when I needed to close a gap or stay on a wheel and I had to OTS as a last resort.

Today I tried to see some of the numbers around when I was OTS climbing. What might be a decent cadence that keeps a nice momemtum but doesn't send your HR soaring? I know there are lots of variables but assume the grade is around 7%, it's not a really long climb and I'm not trying to attack the hill-just get up and stay in a Z3 type HR zone. What I've found is I'm having a hard time finding the right gear that keeps me from either spinning too fast as I tend to spin out after several hundred feet. Or...the gear is too hard and I wear out my legs trying to muscle up. Would 65-70 rpm feel about right?
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Old 08-15-10, 03:55 PM   #42
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MinnMan-one comment I'd make is to make sure you're using the full pedal stroke when you're spinning in the saddle. I know all hell breaks loose on hills with groups sometimes but staying on form and using the right gear and the full pedal stroke is a pretty efficient way to get to the top. However, there are indeed times to greatly increase the power and OTS climbing is definitely called for. And as you know hills is where your work on interval training will really reap its rewards as well.

I'm one of the worst climbers in terms of power output -even at my weight I'm just too heavy for what I can crank. I'd like to see what I could do if I shed another 10-15 lbs but gosh that would take more effort than I've been willing to put forth.
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Old 08-15-10, 05:58 PM   #43
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Just want you all to know- this is an outstanding (no pun intended) discussion. Truly fascinating, and quite instructional/useful. Thank you all very much!
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Old 08-15-10, 06:30 PM   #44
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I've always been one to sit and spin up hills. Exceptions have been when I needed to close a gap or stay on a wheel and I had to OTS as a last resort.

Today I tried to see some of the numbers around when I was OTS climbing. What might be a decent cadence that keeps a nice momentum but doesn't send your HR soaring? I know there are lots of variables but assume the grade is around 7%, it's not a really long climb and I'm not trying to attack the hill-just get up and stay in a Z3 type HR zone. What I've found is I'm having a hard time finding the right gear that keeps me from either spinning too fast as I tend to spin out after several hundred feet. Or...the gear is too hard and I wear out my legs trying to muscle up. Would 65-70 rpm feel about right?
If you wish to maintain Z3 then 65-75 cadence would be a good place to live. Finding the right gear is important for the reasons you cite. I usually don't try to keep a Z3 HR on any climb that will take several minutes or longer. On those kind of climbs I look more to a Z4 HR and work to relax and utilize the best form and pedal stroke possible. Possibly it's my fitness or the fact that I've been riding OTS more and more, but my HR does not spike as soon as I'm off the saddle anymore. I think I've become more efficient and have strengthend muscle groups to the extent that they are not taxed when OTS.

Although not politically correct in August, the trainer is a great tool to use to develop OTS skills. Last year in our trainer class we would spend 30 minutes OTS doing overgear into sprinting intervals and never get back on the seat. The instructor also provided boxes to put our front wheels on to simulate the incline of the hill.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:21 PM   #45
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I found it easier to do long climbs off the saddle with the Spanish made Rotor Rings. The dead spots are reduced and the cadence seems quicker, easier.

At times, I feel that I want to try a stem with less angle, thinking that I can pull up on the bars easier and with more force.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:24 PM   #46
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I'm trying to gear up and stand up every chance I get the last couple of days. Is it normal for this to really work the quads just above the knee?
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Old 09-18-14, 05:31 AM   #47
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Earlier this year I decided to really learn how to climb standing.

Over the winter I'd seen a YouTube video of one of the pros giving an interview--yes, an interview--while climbing out of the saddle. He just seemed to lope along easily. The darned interview lasted nearly five minutes and at the end, he loped off up the mountain. I turned off the sound and just watched that clip over and over again.

I committed that to memory and come spring, tried to reproduce it. I found that my problem was that sometimes I'd been trying to spin while standing, and other times I'd been trying to sprint out of the saddle up the hill. As soon as I upshifted a couple of gears, I found that "lope along easily" pace and it really has worked well for me.

The cadence seems to be right around 60 rpm, BTW--maybe even less. All I seem to be doing is shifting my weight from one pedal to the other and letting gravity do most of the work. I've learned how to climb really steep grades like this (14-15%), and at anything over about 5%, I'm not only faster climbing this way, but it seems easier. There aren't many really long grades where I live, but every one falls to the easy lope method. Who knew?

I wish I'd kept the link to that video…
After composing a nice PM to ask about this, I got the following error message:

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An error has occurred no sweat! You must have 50 posts in order send Private Messages. Your current post count is 22.
That's a rather silly rule (steam escapes). So, this is why I am bumping an ages old thread.

tsl: Did you ever manage to relocate that video? I'd love to see that.

Out on my Siena last night climbing local hills in earnest OTS for the first time since low gear is 39 x 27. The good news is that the bike is a freaking rocket compared to what I've been riding and I completely destroyed a number of personal bests. The other news is that my OTS form is atrocious.
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Old 09-18-14, 07:13 AM   #48
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So, this is why I am bumping an ages old thread.
I'm glad you resurrected this thread. I've spent hours reading the archives but missed this altogether.

I'm a newbie and struggling on climbs, for the obvious reasons - conditioning / technique / lack of experience. So there's been some useful info in this thread that I can take away and practice.
My biggest issue is being energy-flat at the top of the hill. So I'm expending too much on the hill then pay for it when I'm trying to recover after the crest. Which tells me that my approach is wrong, for the level of fitness that I'm at.
It's one thing to just keep riding and getting fitter, but it would be better to build good riding technique and not adopt habits that are hard to lose.

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Old 09-18-14, 08:39 AM   #49
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Earlier this year I decided to really learn how to climb standing.

Over the winter I'd seen a YouTube video of one of the pros giving an interview--yes, an interview--while climbing out of the saddle. He just seemed to lope along easily. The darned interview lasted nearly five minutes and at the end, he loped off up the mountain. I turned off the sound and just watched that clip over and over again.

I committed that to memory and come spring, tried to reproduce it. I found that my problem was that sometimes I'd been trying to spin while standing, and other times I'd been trying to sprint out of the saddle up the hill. As soon as I upshifted a couple of gears, I found that "lope along easily" pace and it really has worked well for me.

The cadence seems to be right around 60 rpm, BTW--maybe even less. All I seem to be doing is shifting my weight from one pedal to the other and letting gravity do most of the work. I've learned how to climb really steep grades like this (14-15%), and at anything over about 5%, I'm not only faster climbing this way, but it seems easier. There aren't many really long grades where I live, but every one falls to the easy lope method. Who knew?

I wish I'd kept the link to that video…

You have found what I noticed while climbing, I sit most all the time and stand only to stretch my legs mostly and on a few short uphill rollers.

Keep a nice steady pace do not pedal like your sprinting or muscling up, I try keeping my head still (do not bounce) I lean forward and do not get into a sprint action rocking back and forth getting the timing so its a smooth action this is were finding the correct gearing comes in, this takes practice knowing whats correct for the given effort.
But I still sit most of the time even on those few 17- 20%+ grades we see sometimes.
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Old 09-18-14, 08:48 AM   #50
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I rather like honking on climbs. The notion is to use different muscles once in the while to give the others a rest and to stretch out others.

I was taught that in a non-racing context, honking is best accomplished by minimizing side to side motion and just using your weight to step up on the pedals. Seems to work well enough, but I guess I've got to go through the thread and see whether I'm doing it right or not.

And for me at least, it's not all about efficiency and speed. Sometimes, it just feels good. Heck, sometimes I stand up on flats ... just cuz I feel like it.
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