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  1. #1
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    need to improve my hill climbing this year!!

    I put 4900 miles on my bike last year. But I always get kill going up hills. I know that I don't have the body type for hill climbing. I am 5'6" and 185. I have 21% body fat. I know I need to lose some weight. I did weigh 170 in college in the off season of wrestling. I start the hill in a lower gear. I do seem to lose my form as my heart rate goes up. I am 55 and when my heart rate hits 160 I get anaerobic. I spin at 85 to 70 rpm going up hills. Here is an example 1 mile hill 250ft of climbing. I have 11 to 12 mph while my group ave 14mph. The rest of the ride I am with my group. Do any of you have any good suggestions so I can climb hills faster? thanks.

  2. #2
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    I'm from Chicago and just moved to Connecticut. Between where I live now and where my in-laws live in Vermont, I now get hills a plenty. And I suck at climbing them too.

    I do suck less now because, while I hate hills with a passion, I keep on climbing them. Climbing them when I ride alone, when I ride with friends, when I'm pulling trailers (and then they really suck).

    Are you geared low enough? Standing helps in that you are switching which muscles you are using but is actually less efficient than sitting and spinning (this is why you'll see a lot of the pros switch back and forth).

    Besides that, anything that improves your cardio should help you spin up the hill faster.

    And, no conversation about how to improve hills would be complete without Eddie:

    "Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades."

    Good luck, Charles
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  3. #3
    Senior Member osco53's Avatar
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    "Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades."

    The Master has spoken, way cool zen thing Indeed.



    I like that, I resist al kinds of toys and gadgetry. but I also suck at hills mainly because Im a flatlander.

    On a hill that slows me down most of you guys wouldn't even drop a gear....
    Getting Stronger, Scott Aspect 940 29er, Tour Easy LE, Sun EZ-3 sx, Harley 1200R Sportster

  4. #4
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Hills suck. There is just no denying that fact.

    When folks come to me to get help with archery we'll sit down for a while and talk. To the person ALL(!) of them practice what they are good at. I'd say that 99% of them would just stand there at 20 yds and pound arrow after arrow into the target... because they are good at it. To get them to move to 50 yds or further is like pulling teeth out of a chicken.

    The moral of the story is; Don't practice what you are good at. Not a lot of point to that.

    If you suck at hills go ride hills.

  5. #5
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    You're right about the weight. Once you are in pretty good shape your weight is the limiting factor. All of the riders I have seen who make big improvements in climbing have done so with weight loss. It's all about the watts per kilogram.
    I'm over 200# and I always do lots of climbing. All of my friends who ride a lot can drop me on the climbs but I can pass the people who don't climb a lot and it surprises them.

  6. #6
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IBOHUNT View Post
    Hills suck. There is just no denying that fact.
    The moral of the story is; Don't practice what you are good at. Not a lot of point to that.
    If you suck at hills go ride hills.
    Actually, if I may have the opposite voice, I love climbing! Here is the ride we did Sat. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/263874964

    And that one was lots of fun! I even made it a bikeforums ride for the locals. Out here we have lots of long climbs; they can last for a couple of hours sometimes, so you get to be good at climbing when you live out here. In 2012 I rode a tad over 8,000 miles with 540,000 feet of climbing.

    The most I've climbed in one day was on the Mt. Shasta double-metric century, and that was 16,500 feet, so lots of fun on that one. I am not particularly light at 160 lbs. and 5'9" and I know lots of heavier riders who do just fine on climbs.

    The more you climb, the better you'll like it!

    Rick / OCRR

  7. #7
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR View Post
    . . . . I love climbing! . . . .
    I think even those of us who riders like Rick might pass as if we were gasping at the side of the road can benefit from this attitude.

    We humans have considerable powers of self-deception. Convincing ourselves that hills are our friends leads to more practice on upgrades and thus improved climbing and overall fitness. And, with a little eating restraint, those upgrades help us get back to college weight.

    I love climbing because it allows for concentrated effort.
    George
    Laissez les bon temps rouler

  8. #8
    Senior Member PRus's Avatar
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    The more i ride the more i enjoy hills. It also helps me with motivation for weight loss. Just don't have enough hills in my area.

  9. #9
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    I love climbing!
    Y'all are sick.

    But since we're all giving the same advice, I s'pose I can't complain too much...
    http://Charles.Plager.net
    http://RecumbentQuant.blogspot.com

  10. #10
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR View Post
    Actually, if I may have the opposite voice, I love climbing! Here is the ride we did Sat. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/263874964

    And that one was lots of fun! I even made it a bikeforums ride for the locals. Out here we have lots of long climbs; they can last for a couple of hours sometimes, so you get to be good at climbing when you live out here. In 2012 I rode a tad over 8,000 miles with 540,000 feet of climbing.

    The most I've climbed in one day was on the Mt. Shasta double-metric century, and that was 16,500 feet, so lots of fun on that one. I am not particularly light at 160 lbs. and 5'9" and I know lots of heavier riders who do just fine on climbs.

    The more you climb, the better you'll like it!

    Rick / OCRR

    I'm with you, Rick.

    I honestly don't think I'd ride a bike at all if it weren't for hills. It would be ... I dunno ... boring. It's a lot easier to chat people up when you're going uphill and you can see and smell more. And when you get to the top, you get a great view, a feeling of accomplishment and have a great downhill in front of you.

    I think the key is to just stop fretting about how long it takes you to get up the hill. Get the appropriate gearing and get at it. Go at a speed that for you, is brisk, but not utterly exhausting.

    PS: Nice to see you Saturday, Big John!
    Last edited by Biker395; 01-21-13 at 09:45 AM.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    So much of what has been said here resonates with me. I live in northeastern CT and it is surprising how hilly it can be. And, at 5'9" and 185 lbs I am near my college football weight but at age 66 nowhere near as strong or fast as I used to be. (Probably didn't have to say that to this group). Last season I changed to a compact crankset and that actually helped but getting down to 170 lbs would be even better I'm guessing. I only ride about 2,000 mi. a season so I'm thinking more miles would help too.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by IBOHUNT View Post


    If you suck at hills go ride hills.
    +1

  13. #13
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Lose weight. It's the only answer. If you weigh more than 2.5 lbs per inch of height you aren't going to climb as well as you might. End of story. At 6'3" I should be under 185 lbs. I'm not - yet. As a result, I don't climb well. It's that simple.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Lose weight. It's the only answer. If you weigh more than 2.5 lbs per inch of height you aren't going to climb as well as you might. End of story. At 6'3" I should be under 185 lbs. I'm not - yet. As a result, I don't climb well. It's that simple.
    This is good advice of course. But, at 5'10" after basic training in 1969 (Ft. Jackson) I was in great shape and weighed 178 lbs. Not quite down to the magical 2.5 lbs per inch but close. Now I'd have to get down to 172.5 lbs and I'm not sure that's possible for me. Remains to be seen this season.

  15. #15
    Free Velo Vol! Dudelsack's Avatar
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    This is the single best article I've read on hill climbing and is worth the read. Jonathan Vaughters is the author: http://theclimb.blogs.nytimes.com/20...han-vaughters/

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Lose weight. It's the only answer. If you weigh more than 2.5 lbs per inch of height you aren't going to climb as well as you might. End of story. At 6'3" I should be under 185 lbs. I'm not - yet. As a result, I don't climb well. It's that simple.
    Thanks My goal is to lose weight!!

  17. #17
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    I am thinking it is very hard to give meaningful advice here because there are just SO many variables it becomes a very individualized thing:
    Leg strength
    Pulmonary function
    Cardio Function
    Vascular Function
    Metabolic Function
    Weight of the equipment
    Weight of the rider
    Equipment efficiency
    Gearing
    Tire size
    Tire tread
    Tire TPI
    Tire inflation pressure
    Type of hill (short & steep vs long & gradual)
    Type of turf (Paved, limestone, hard pack, soft, muddy, snowy, etc...)

    ... Even emotional factors enter into it: Confidence, Aggressiveness, etc...

    So, to the OP: What do YOU think the problem(s) is/are?
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  18. #18
    Senior Member climberguy's Avatar
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    Some good points have been made already. But if you're serious about improving climbing, two other things can help. One is to increase leg strength by off-the-bike weight training. The other is to spend some time riding in the big gears (ride in the big ring), even when you're not on the hills. This, too, can help strengthen the leg muscles.

  19. #19
    Free Velo Vol! Dudelsack's Avatar
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    I was looking at the comment section of the Vaughters article and found one that will resonate with most people on this thread:

    The key to climbing is weight. I ride the “hills” in California where we have a few good grades also, some go to 22% like Sonora Pass. But I will be puffing along and some 95 pound 22 year old female will just fly right by me. It does not help that I am 74 and about 10 pounds overweight either, so it also helps to be young. All this business about breathing right and suffering is for you old people. The key is to be in your early 20s, about 5’8″ and weigh about 100 pounds.



  20. #20
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apesrunner58 View Post
    I put 4900 miles on my bike last year. But I always get kill going up hills. I know that I don't have the body type for hill climbing. I am 5'6" and 185. I have 21% body fat. I know I need to lose some weight. I did weigh 170 in college in the off season of wrestling. I start the hill in a lower gear. I do seem to lose my form as my heart rate goes up. I am 55 and when my heart rate hits 160 I get anaerobic. I spin at 85 to 70 rpm going up hills. Here is an example 1 mile hill 250ft of climbing. I have 11 to 12 mph while my group ave 14mph. The rest of the ride I am with my group. Do any of you have any good suggestions so I can climb hills faster? thanks.
    You are doing better than "most" riders.

    250 feet per mile is a 4.7% grade. The kreuzotter.de bike calculator says that's 250 watts at 11 mph and 185 lbs.

    At 14 mph, its 350 watts. That's a big power increase. If you only weighed 155 lbs, it would still be 300 watts.

    The 11 mph speed is about what I would do on that climb.

    Trying to keep up with the rest of my group on climbs is my best hillclimbing exercise. I don't push nearly as hard on my own.

    I do much better on familiar hills. I know how hard I can go on those.

    Riders lose the most time on the steepest parts of the climb. Push a little harder there, and recover on the flatter sections.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 01-21-13 at 10:18 AM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    I am thinking it is very hard to give meaningful advice here because there are just SO many variables it becomes a very individualized thing:
    Leg strength
    Pulmonary function
    Cardio Function
    Vascular Function
    Metabolic Function
    Weight of the equipment
    Weight of the rider
    Equipment efficiency
    Gearing
    Tire size
    Tire tread
    Tire TPI
    Tire inflation pressure
    Type of hill (short & steep vs long & gradual)
    Type of turf (Paved, limestone, hard pack, soft, muddy, snowy, etc...)

    ... Even emotional factors enter into it: Confidence, Aggressiveness, etc...

    So, to the OP: What do YOU think the problem(s) is/are?
    I have a Carbon q Klein, I put new components on it last year. ultegra My bike weighs 17.5 now. I think it is my weight and cardio function. I had bypass in 2009. I have 14,000 miles on my bike since my bypass. Weight is the biggest thing!!

  22. #22
    West Coast Weenie Esteban58's Avatar
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    One other bit of advice (which is working pretty well for me)...

    Find a hill that is 'hard but not too hard' - at first for me this was just a half mile or so at 4% - do some repeats. Once that climb starts to feel easier, pick a new harder hill
    (say 1 mile at 6+%)... eventually you'll get to where nothing can stand in your way.

    Spending time in bigger gears on flats will help, but nothing improves your climbing like climbing.
    there is no signature.

  23. #23
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    Whoa. Nice link!
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  24. #24
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apesrunner58 View Post
    I have a Carbon q Klein, I put new components on it last year. ultegra My bike weighs 17.5 now. I think it is my weight and cardio function. I had bypass in 2009. I have 14,000 miles on my bike since my bypass. Weight is the biggest thing!!
    Brings to mind a (very bad) joke from my childhood:
    >>> Do you know the quickest way to lose 10 pounds of ugly fat?

    But most people don't choose that route.

    I'm thinking you have already worked pretty hard on weight loss - at least from the burning it off perspective...

    Maybe working the cardio/pulmonary side?
    ... But I'm not sure what the best way to develop that is. Maybe sprints / short bursts of high output. Or maybe some running/jogging?

    On the other hand, losing 10 pounds wouldn't hurt either -- but you might have to starve it off. And most people fail at that over the long haul. And besides, I would rather focus on something positive (like building cardio/pulmonary capacity) rather than something negative like starving off body mass.

    Have you checked with the cardiologist on his thoughts about your cardiopulmonary efficiency and ability to improve?
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  25. #25
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    A good measure of hill climbing is VAM (velocitÓ ascensionale media, vertical meters per hour). It makes different grades comparable. Strava.com shows the VAM score for all it's hill climbs. (The VAM score tends to be higher on short, steep climbs.)

    Your 250 per mile * 11 miles per hour = 2750 feet per hour /3.28 = 838 VAM. That's very good. I average about 650 (around 2100-2200 feet per hour) for long climbs.

    And 250 * 14 mph = 1066 VAM That's comparable to the top 10 riders out of 200 on the local 4% / 1 mile climb. You have some fast co-riders!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    From more than one comment above:

    "Hills suck"

    I like hills. I'm not fast, but I really like rides with hills. Short and steep 15% for 100 feet of elevation, or 5-9% and 1 mile long, or long Blue Ridge Parkway climbs. It's all good.

    ( I do have a 34-29 low gear. That really helps.)

    This:
    Quote Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
    I'm with you, Rick.

    I honestly don't think I'd ride a bike at all if it weren't for hills. It would be ... I dunno ... boring. It's a lot easier to chat people up when you're going uphill and you can see and smell more. And when you get to the top, you get a great view, a feeling of accomplishment and have a great downhill in front of you.

    ...
    Last edited by rm -rf; 01-21-13 at 10:56 AM.

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