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Old 07-04-11, 09:55 AM   #1
FrenchFit 
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Leg Fatigue; Hill 2,3 & 4

58.5 y.o., lots of riding the last 5 years, lots of spin class time in year 3 and 4.

Thanks to mixing in MTBing I've gotten pretty confident tackling +15% grades on the road, normally getting over the first one not too winded and feeling pretty strong. Hills later down the road are a much different thing; although the bigger muscles are still good to go fatigue sets in while spinning up. If I stop halfway up and hydrate, shake the legs out then I'm good to go for 2 or 3 minutes, then they shut down again. After 3 or 4 hills, the legs don't want to climb at all; plenty of power and cadence on the flats but nothing in the legs for the grades. I've stopped, had something to eat, stretched the legs out, napped - doesn't matter, they're dead for the day. It's a very odd feeling to feel relatively fresh and strong during a ride but know your legs have no pop left. To compensate, I end up mashing or standing on whatever hills I have left to get over. I like standing, but not if it's the only option.

If you've dealt with this is it an age, nutrition, cadence training, technique or all the above deal? I am loving the hill challenge thing, but one and your done is unsatisfying. I'm think interval training at high cadence might be the cure, maybe mixing standing and spinning on every hill, especially the early ones. What do you think?
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Old 07-04-11, 11:28 AM   #2
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My mates have had this problem. Offroad and first hill and they are gone. 2nd and they are in sight- 3rd and they drop back to keep me company- And 4th they have stop to adjust the gears- or have a comfort stop- or look at the pretty flowers----Any thing to stop and est those tire legs.

Pacing is what I have done ever since about the 5th MTB ride of 20 odd years ago. And that always starts as soon as the asphalt stops. Doesn't always work on the short 25 to 30 milers but pays dividends on the long ones.

Stopped the long Enduros in 2006 and went road but still get out to make the youngsters wait at the top of the offroad hills.
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Old 07-04-11, 12:01 PM   #3
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15+% hills, huh? Aren't there some routes in your area with 7-10% grades? Those would be quite challenging but maybe not kill your legs quite so.
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Old 07-04-11, 12:04 PM   #4
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for me, this usually means I need to eat. And I've also admitted I'm old and weak and gotten lower gears, 34-32 keeps the really steep and long climbs from wiping me out so badly.
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Old 07-04-11, 12:11 PM   #5
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Don't go so fast on the first hill. Climb in a lower gear so you are not overworking your leg muscles. Do more climbing.
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Old 07-04-11, 12:38 PM   #6
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I have the same issue. I've had some luck reducing the issue of sore & tired legs, but it's an ongoing battle.

Trick #1, slow down: Climbing a hill at 7 mph is about 50% more work than climbing at 5 mph. It's the same benefit as reducing the grade from 15% to 10%. Use a heart rate monitor to keep from exceeding your capacity. Just remember that the heart rate is a trailing indicator.

Trick #2, keep your cadence high. I'll keep my cadence above 60 rpm on slow climbs. Yes, that means having a huge gear range. A higher cadence has two benefits. The gearing required for a faster cadence provides a mechanical advantage. Second, a faster cadence produces a smoother turn of the crank and reduces stress on the knees and muscles.

Trick #3, as others have said, eat. I'll use a combination of fruit, energy bars and Hammer Sustained Energy to keep my calorie intake above 250 calories/hour. I eat during every hour of the ride, if the ride is more than four hours long. I also drink a bottle of sports drink/hour.

Trick # 4, build a fitness base. You appear to be doing this now. Ride every other day and do a 75 to 100 mile ride per week. Half of those miles should be hilly.

Last edited by Barrettscv; 07-04-11 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 07-04-11, 01:16 PM   #7
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Sounds like you are burning too many candles early in the ride, not leaving enough for later. Two solutions. Either take it easier early on to conserve energy, or train harder and fuel up better so you'll have more in reserve.
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Old 07-04-11, 01:35 PM   #8
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55 is just about everyones start of real physical decline. The legs are the first to go. Just keep fighting it the best your can with equipment, training, nutrition and most important proper rest(sleep). You can also try to lose pounds but that is very hard to do, at least for me. At 55 i hit the ball just as hard as i ever have, it just did not go as far, it as been downhill ever since. Good luck. Enjoy the ride.
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Old 07-04-11, 05:01 PM   #9
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So, the concensus seems to be it's all the above. The truth is, I'll often run on coffee & a scone on morning rides and I'll charge that first grade. So, easy enough to prep with some better fuel and pace the effort. Some focused training would be good too, but I've lost enthusiasm about that - too much time and too little incremental improvement. You older guys will know what I mean, like twice as much training effort as a 20 something, and a fraction of the gain. It\'s mostly about delaying the decline.

But, losing weight....that is a win-win..I've got lbs to spare. Darn, wish I hadn't downed those cookies before booting up the cpu.
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Old 07-04-11, 05:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
15+% hills, huh? Aren't there some routes in your area with 7-10% grades? Those would be quite challenging but maybe not kill your legs quite so.
True, but I've been doing those on a fixed gear, 46x17. Not really long grades though...more intermittent stuff. I'm not saying I'm any sort of Lance, but it's the 10%+ grades that have my attention right now; a great workout and simply no hiding.
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Old 07-04-11, 06:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
True, but I've been doing those on a fixed gear, 46x17. Not really long grades though...more intermittent stuff. I'm not saying I'm any sort of Lance, but it's the 10%+ grades that have my attention right now; a great workout and simply no hiding.
Well, more power to you then. But if your legs are dying on the 15% grades, it just seems natural to focus on hills where you can sustain multiple climbs, etc. I'm not criticizing, though. We all have our tastes.
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Old 07-04-11, 06:22 PM   #12
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FrenchFit, I think it's a matter of pacing yourself more so than the other factors you listed, though they're certainly contributing.

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