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Old 02-02-12, 08:39 PM   #1
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Is it sacrilege to walk the steeps?

Whenever I see discussions on super low gearing for steep hills (and even Sheldon Brown advocated some amazingly low combos) I revert to my images of spinning madly and barely moving inches upward. I find myself setting a lower limit on gearing because I can get off and walk faster. I originally dismounted on the steeps to avoid back strain. I'm better now but I still get off and walk past folks who are spinning crazily and going nowhere.
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Old 02-02-12, 08:47 PM   #2
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I will stop on a long hill to rest sometimes (hardly ever anymore, used to all the time), but I will not walk. Rest a bit, then get back on and continue.
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Old 02-02-12, 08:50 PM   #3
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If a rider is "spinning crazily", which I'll take to be 110 rpm, with a 24 tooth chainring and a 27 tooth cog, then you're going to have to walk eight minute miles to keep up. Who's looking like crazy legs?

I have found that it is generally faster to have and use the low gears than it is to walk the steep grades. However, if you enjoy the ride more when you walk a bit, then that's what you should do. As long as you're having fun and being legal, safe and courteous, there really isn't a right way to do it, at least in my opinion.
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Old 02-02-12, 08:54 PM   #4
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Yes. It is sacrilege. You should be ashamed of yourself.
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Old 02-02-12, 08:58 PM   #5
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Maybe not crazily. I do occasionally walk past people on very steep hills. But I promise to try harder to stay in the saddle. (It's not that often anyway)
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Old 02-02-12, 09:00 PM   #6
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I subscribe to the 'rest stop' when necessary, remaining on the bike, (many scenarios here, but my favorite is twisting around, looking into the distance as if waiting for a less-fit riding partner) but if I were crossing the Rockies, I'd probably do a lot of walking.
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Old 02-02-12, 09:07 PM   #7
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Way back when I was a young fit bike racer, I'd have rather eaten worms than walk my bike up a hill. Now that I'm all grown up, I just do what needs doing.
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Old 02-02-12, 09:19 PM   #8
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If it is steep enough to have to walk I certainly won't be able to clip in and start back up. I haven't had to walk on the road but sometimes on my mtb it does happen. But that is probably due to my lack of any technical skills.
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Old 02-02-12, 09:21 PM   #9
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There is absolutely no shame in walking a bike up a hill. You won't see me doing it, but there's no shame in it.
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Old 02-02-12, 09:29 PM   #10
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So far in my brief cycling life I haven't ridden a hill so steep that I felt the need to walk it. But, if I did; I would.
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Old 02-02-12, 09:40 PM   #11
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Our tandem has a low gear of 18.5 inch, that's about 24-35 with 26 in wheels. We can ride 4 mph up hill at a cadence of 70ish. I can walk 4 mph, but not on a hill pushing a bike, we rest when we need to and ride slow up the hills.
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Old 02-02-12, 09:47 PM   #12
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Now that I'm all grown up, I just do what needs doing.
My thoughts exactly. I don't care what anybody else thinks, If I need to walk up something, I do it. If I hit a spot of singletrack with bigger rocks then I feel comfortable riding across, I walk it. If I need to peddle furiously to go slowly up an incline, then I do it.
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Old 02-02-12, 10:01 PM   #13
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I have had to walk a few hills, especially when the grade is well over 20%. However, I do pull my shirt or jacket over my face so I cannot be recognized......................... OK, just kidding.
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Old 02-02-12, 10:03 PM   #14
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Whenever I see discussions on super low gearing for steep hills (and even Sheldon Brown advocated some amazingly low combos) I revert to my images of spinning madly and barely moving inches upward. I find myself setting a lower limit on gearing because I can get off and walk faster. I originally dismounted on the steeps to avoid back strain. I'm better now but I still get off and walk past folks who are spinning crazily and going nowhere.
Naperville and steeps? I guess it's all relative. An old timer once told me that he considered walking as his lowest gear. You're still propelling you and your bike with your legs.
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Old 02-02-12, 10:11 PM   #15
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Naperville and steeps? I guess it's all relative. An old timer once told me that he considered walking as his lowest gear. You're still propelling you and your bike with your legs.
There's one hill in this great corn sea that's almost 5% and nearly 75 yds long. So there.

Maybe my problem is having no hills to train on.
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Old 02-02-12, 10:19 PM   #16
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It's not sacrilege but you have to carry the bike.

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Old 02-02-12, 10:23 PM   #17
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I walked the last few feet of Mt Diablo the first time I rode it in 1986. I vowed to never walk a road climb again, and I haven't.

When I was out of shape and coming back after 8 years of not cycling, I had to stop and rest on some steep long climbs to get my heart rate back down. I'm fitter and don't need to do that any more.
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Old 02-02-12, 10:29 PM   #18
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You must wear a "I'm a Wimp" jersey.

I only walk one spot, not because of the
hill, but it is the top of an over pass
and very very windy at times. Cross
winds.
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Old 02-02-12, 11:59 PM   #19
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I look on it as defeat if I have to walk a hill. I may be going slow and cadence may be down into the 50's on the really long steep ones but Walking is a no-no for me. Couple of reasons--

I have a leg problem and Getting off and walking will cause me some pain---just walking. To be pushing a bike aswell will be even worse.

The hills are there to be conquered and it is one of the few challenges left for me.

Mind you- If it is that steep-I can always not do the hill- or turn round and try another day. It's been a long time since a hill did defeat me but with lack of practice over the winter and a bit of aging coming in- I doubt I could do the 16%er right now but a few rides on the gentler 12% and I will be ready.

Main bike is a compact with 34/27 and the hill bike is a triple with 30/25. I am not a speed merchant either so I do manage to save some energy for the slopes. And where I live- we have plenty of slopes.

Hills take a different mindset. They take training and they take some effort. Put me on a long flat ride and I get bored. Hills do provide the variety and the workout I need to keep me riding.
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Old 02-03-12, 12:18 AM   #20
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I never walk up a hill. I try to never stop on a hill.

And I never spin fast on any grade. The reason why was made visible to me a few years ago, when I decided to ride my new fixed gear bike (70 inch gear) for a few miles, up a 7% grade to the top of Griffith Park, in Los Angeles. I was thinking I'd turn around after a few hundred yards, but I found I could just keep grinding away.

And although my cranks were turning slowly, I easily passed a group of young guys on mountain bikes who were in their lowest gears (probably around a 20 inch gear). The guys were spinning so fast, and had been for a mile or so, that they were wearing out.

So I try to strike a balance: no matter what the grade, I'll put myself in a gear that keeps my rpms down, and keeps my speed up.
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Old 02-03-12, 12:33 AM   #21
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Whenever I see discussions on super low gearing for steep hills (and even Sheldon Brown advocated some amazingly low combos) I revert to my images of spinning madly and barely moving inches upward. I find myself setting a lower limit on gearing because I can get off and walk faster. I originally dismounted on the steeps to avoid back strain. I'm better now but I still get off and walk past folks who are spinning crazily and going nowhere.
Well, the question isn't really if you can pass people spinning by walking but whether you yourself are more efficient walking than riding. This is an empirical question that you can get data for with a bike computer and heart rate monitor. If your heart rate is slower and your speed is faster walking than cycling then you are onto something ... give it a try and let us know what your find.
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Old 02-03-12, 02:00 AM   #22
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I've had to walk a bit three times over the last five years or so. The first was two years ago at Mountains of Misery, where it wasn't the steepness of the road. It was just that I was completely out of gas and my legs were cramping up after 103 miles finishing up a very steep mountain.

The other two were both very short, steep sections of some hilly "rollers" around here. In both cases my Garmin GPS was showing a 26%+ grade. Who knows how accurate that is, but believe me they are both very, very steep despite being quite short. I have a compact setup with a 34/28 low gear. I could have gotten up both of them with a lower gear, but I don't want to use that setup for the few times when I run out of gearing. I had to walk a half a block each time, at most. There's no way I could have gotten restarted after stopping on those.

Besides that I WILL make it up Bear Wallow Rd in Warrenton, VA this summer when I'm lighter and not wearing nine layers of winter clothing

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/136337905

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Old 02-03-12, 06:02 AM   #23
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It's your life and your bike. I've actually fallen over on hills so steep that I couldn't get unclipped in time (and I'm not the only one who has on this particular climb - I've seen Cat 1 riders do the same). If you find more enjoyment walking instead of spinning, then walk. Don't let others live rent free in your head.

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Old 02-03-12, 06:16 AM   #24
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Back problems in the past few years has impacted my ability to climb hills. I often need to stop and rest before continuing up the hill and sometimes I just need to walk. It's tough pushing a bike up a hill but it's less stress on my back and legs. I usually take the Madone on hilly rides as it's lighter than the other bikes.

I have this jersey and I've never met a hill I couldn't walk
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Old 02-03-12, 06:39 AM   #25
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Some suggested taking a 'rest' stop.

Some suggested 'tough it out'.

May I suggest a 'moving rest walk'. Just keep it moving.
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