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  1. #1
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    Standing to Climb

    Since I got my clipless pedals and bike shoes (Yaah -- I found size 49 Nikes), I found that suddenly I can really stand up and pound my way up hills with supremo confidence. I have a hybrid with bar ends so I can really crank out of the saddle.

    But......is it better to grind it out while seated ? Does it work you more staying seated ? Stylistically, if I stand, should I lean forward as well or stay vertical ?

    Answering my own question somewhat, I found when I stood up, I worked a lot harder, went faster, and almost fell out of the saddle with exhaustion because I pushed it too hard But that could be a good thing I guess - felt like I was hammering on a StairMaster

    Note: I tried searching the archives in case this was discussed four hundred times before, but got 401 posts back -- none of them seemingly related to what I was looking for

  2. #2
    Oh God, He's back! 1oldRoadie's Avatar
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    Ideally on a modest hill...keep the cadance up and stay seated.

    On a heavy hill...upshift (Iknow) 1 to 3 gears as you stand, pedal for 6 to 10 revolutions, downshift and sit pedaling with hi cadance, when you can breath again, repeat.
    I can't ride and Frown!

  3. #3
    It's in my blood Pete Clark's Avatar
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    I almost never stand up. On the other hand, I was stomped on a tall hill once by someone who stood up. I guess you could develop that skill to your advantage, if you use it strategically.
    Last edited by Pete Clark; 09-08-02 at 08:17 PM.
    Next in line

  4. #4
    Queen of the Pea Pile oceanrider's Avatar
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    Standing is soooo hard on my knees. Not a good idea for bad knees I guess. But hey, I had to try. Three or 4 rotations is all I can handle.
    Picture yourself on a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies...

  5. #5
    human velocipedio's Avatar
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    Standing allows you to engage more muscles -- upper body as well as lower body -- to deliver more power to your pedal strokes. Racers will stand at the beginning of a sprint to rev up their cadence as they upshift, or on a climb to dart ahead of the pack.

    The problem is that using more muscles requires more energy, and you will tire much more quickly.

    Having said that, I stand quite a bit, usually at the last 1/4 of a short climb to accelerate on attack, or during a long climb to use different muscles or, more often, to keep my cadence steady in a particularly steep patch.

    There's nothing wrong with the technique, just don't overdo it or you'll exhause yourself.

    As for form, don't lean too far forward. On a climb, you want a fair bit of your weight back so you don't lose traction or hop around on the back wheel.
    when walking, just walk. when sitting, just sit. when riding, just ride. above all, don't wobble.

    The Irregular Cycling Club of Montreal
    Cycling irregularly since 2002

  6. #6
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    years ago when I was dispatching bike couriers I had a couple of racers who worked with me they told me to ride hills sitting down that they only stood to get an edge on the next guy in the race but it used excess energy and put un nesecary stress on your drive train.
    Matthew 6

  7. #7
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Ahh so close. .5 size to small.. AHHHH...

    I might have to buy them just to try. Arg...Sometimes I hate being a clyesdale ride

  8. #8
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    Mix'n match the 2 techniques. Stand to increase your cadence, sit to conserve energy, but your cadence may drop on steeper sections.
    I have problem knees, but dont find standing to be more stressful, but I do use a low gear.
    Standing with a low gear takes some practice, but is a useful one to know.
    As for your standing position, move around to find the most effective position, between rear weighting for traction, and forward weighting for leverage on the bars. When you have found your sweet spot, try and minimise your body movement.

    I find that for sitting, it helps to slide back on the saddle and engage the muscles on the back of my knee.

  9. #9
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    Nothing could be truer than the comment about the rear wheel hop. That was one thing I REALLY ntoiced was when I stood up to crank, I started bouncing around in the rear wheel.

    I will concentrate on not leaning forward. I think I will incorporate some hill days with some aggressive standing. My motives are a bit different than most, I am really trying to up the power output needed as I need to start losing some weight.

    I guess for endurance, I will continue to try some longer rides at an enduro pace.

    Thanks for all the feedback.

  10. #10
    Jubalayo Unogwaja! Bokkie's Avatar
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    My penny-worth.

    1. Standing means you can (for a limited period) climb in higher gears. But you reach a point where you suddenly need to sit down, and it's easy to forget to downshift. That can be really unpleasant when your legs already feel like they are exploding.

    2. Standing means you can let secondary muscles do some work.

    3. Standing is not so good if you use smooth flatties. In my transition period on the way to Eggbeaters, I'm using the Shimano MX30 pedals that have the studs. I find them much safer than the sh1t MD545s the bike came with.
    If your bollocks ain't sore, yer ain't on yer boike!

  11. #11
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    Out-of-the-saddle riding, in general, takes practice and training to be efficient.

    New muscle groups have to be developed, especially lower back, shoulders and arms.

    Refining your technique will make you faster and more comfortable, too. Try not to pull the bike from side-to-side with your arms, but, rather, let your arms follow the natural rhythm of the bike. Stay vertical as this will keep your weight over the pedals. Too far forward will cause your weight to fall over your arms and handlebar, and make you feel sluggish and quickly tire your arms and shoulders.

    If you can climb every hill you ride seated, you'll need to force the issue. Shift up 1 or 2 gears (harder) and sprint over the top of every hill, maybe the last 100 or 200 yards. Recover on the descent. Or, ride the same hill in a harder gear, but out of the saddle.

  12. #12
    The Flying Scot chewa's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    I find that for sitting, it helps to slide back on the saddle and engage the muscles on the back of my knee.
    I think that sliding back also effectively lengthens the "lever" factor of your legs.

    For short climbs I shift up a gear and stand, but if anything creaks, I sit down real fast.(A friend told me about someone standing to climb who had a crank arm snap - now sings soprano !)
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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  13. #13
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    well, i agree with almost all of what's been said here...

    standing allows you to produce more power than sitting BUT requires more energy. the physics i've heard is that you also have to support your body weight in addition to pedalling, so requires more energy

    in gereral this means:
    * for a short hill where you need fast power and can then recover, standing can be a great technique (like in racing)
    * standing uses different muscles so allows for a break or change in a long climb
    * IF you don't have really low gears (like a MTB) then you may HAVE to stand to climb a 25% grade on your racing 38x12 road bike

    as a general rule, stay seated and spin for the best endurance and energy efficiency, and then stand for variation or to get extra power if you need it

    as an aside (i just finished 8 days and 15,000 meters of climbing in a TransAlp ride) -- i did 3 huge 900-1500m climbs at sustained 12-15% grade (on my MTB bike) and i found that when switching from sitting to standing i could crank UP from the small front chainring to the middle ring plus maybe one rear gear for a comparable speed. i had knee pain so did one 1200m climb standing almost the whole way (and still managed to hang with my buddies and win the sprint at the top - 1:40 for 1200m on Stilfsjoch in Italy)
    why drive when you can ride?
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  14. #14
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    oceanriderStanding is soooo hard on my knees. Not a good idea for bad knees I guess. But hey, I had to try. Three or 4 rotations is all I can handle.
    well, i guess it depends on what knee problem you have. I experience exactly the opposite: i've had knee pain on and off for the last 3 years after a major over-use injury 3 years ago when racing... i have found by experiment that if i raise the saddle about 1 inch too high it reduces the pain and if i ride standing I have almost no problems. not sure, but i think whatever my knee problem is, it is aggrevated by the steep angle you get with "optimal" seat-height. by raising the saddle of standing i am less efficient, but i don't put the knee in such a small angle so it doesn't get worse...

    as i said in my post above, i had some knee pain in the middle of my TransAlp trip and for one 1200m climb i stood the whole way. the next day for a 1000m climb i raised the saddle about 1" too high and also had no problem (although my stroke efficiency was greatly reduced)

    by the way, it's not done, but i'm making a website from my trip. currently almost no photos (only 2), but i have all my ELEVATION profile data and charts: http://mitglied.lycos.de/nathank/ and click on TransAlp
    why drive when you can ride?
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  15. #15
    Jubalayo Unogwaja! Bokkie's Avatar
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    I probably have the times wrong but Marco Pantani set the record time for the Alp D'Huez. Recreational riders, aim for 2hr 20min, good riders 1hr 30mins, race standard riders 1hr, higher category rated riders 50min, world class 40min, and Marco Pantani something like 28min or thereabouts for the 14km. When that guy stood on the pedals, he was in sprint mode. An awesome climber.

    I wonder if that was in his pre-doping days, or in the doping days before he was caught out?
    If your bollocks ain't sore, yer ain't on yer boike!

  16. #16
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    I think I have learned that changing to a larger chain ring or raising the gears by about three before standing really keep you going. I find that if I minimize my body movement and strive for smooth strokes I do better. I think it is also important to practice sitting back down in a smooth motion and work on timing the return to easier gears.

    Sometimes I do it right. Other times, I really mess up the transitions and end up working harder. It is really pleasing when it works correctly. I intend to keep practicing.
    Just Peddlin' Around

  17. #17
    Senior Member gabiker's Avatar
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    I mix it up and it has made me a better climber. I don't think you use a lot more energy by standing unless your trying to sprint going up hill. I have found by pacing myself standing a going fairly slow I can use my body weight to my advantage.

    On longer hills I usually pick a spot to stand while I am sitting, when I get to that spot I shift and then stand until I get close to the top and then sit again.

    I know it depends on the person, but this works great for me.
    MEMBER:TITANIUM BIKE CLUB #003
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  18. #18
    serial mender
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    Over a long climb, I usually sit for over 90% of it. I can maintain a higher overall speed while sitting.

    I'll stand to work some different muscles, but if I want to maintain my same speed I have to go up a gear or two. (Since I have shifters on the downtube, that's pretty impractical.)

    I did a group ride this weekend in which one woman had what cannot be a very efficient technique. She would half-way stand for a couple of pedal strokes in order to bring her cadence/speed up. Then sit down for several more strokes (during which her speed and cadence dropped a bit). Then she would stand again. She did this all the way up a 5 km climb.

    At first, she held up a reasonable speed, but then she eventually dropped back. She was obviously trying to use a gear that was too high. At the top of the climb, an experienced rider suggested that she should try a lower gear and higher cadence. She responded that, if she did that, she wouldn't be able to keep up her speed. Unfortunately, she was rather obstinate about it all.

    Cheers,
    Jamie

  19. #19
    Jubalayo Unogwaja! Bokkie's Avatar
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    Since I have shifters on the downtube, that's pretty impractical.
    You have shifters on the downtube? Yikes! Last time I saw those was on the first bike I ever owned, a Peugeot, back in the (ahem) 1970s!

    How old is this steed of yours? Are tube shifters still an option? If it is of historic value, have you a photo of it?

    Perhaps you had it built like that? I demand an explanantion!
    If your bollocks ain't sore, yer ain't on yer boike!

  20. #20
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nathank
    http://mitglied.lycos.de/nathank/ and click on TransAlp
    More pictures!! Awesome ride... I'm jealous!

  21. #21
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    roadbuzz, yeah, the ride was awesome!

    i've got about 60 pictures and i stayed up until 2:30am last night editing them, so i could burn on a CD and then bring to work to upload using the company LAN instead of dial-up... but my CD Burner decided not to work... so i've got to figure out another way to upload all the photos...

    i'm contemplating doing the TransAlp Challenge next summer in July - it's a different but similar route with 8 days and 19,000m vertical -- i have some friends who've done it (actually the woman on our tour who i referred to finished 9th this year in the TransAlp) --- about the only problem is financing - i think it's not cheap and the riders with a support wagon have a real advantage but that's even more cash!
    why drive when you can ride?
    now a fully certified German MTB Guide! (DAV)

  22. #22
    The Flying Scot chewa's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Bokkie


    You have shifters on the downtube? Yikes! Last time I saw those was on the first bike I ever owned, a Peugeot, back in the (ahem) 1970s!

    How old is this steed of yours? Are tube shifters still an option? If it is of historic value, have you a photo of it?

    Perhaps you had it built like that? I demand an explanantion!
    Dear boy,

    As someone who has downtube levers on both of his bikes (one 1963, the other 1983) I just have to say some things you can't improve on, and downtube shifters are very precise (short cable runs) and look great.

    I'm getting ergo on my refurbished bike
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

    1985 Sandy Gilchrist-Colin Laing built 531c Audax/fast tourer.
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    (YES I LIKE STEEL)
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  23. #23
    Jubalayo Unogwaja! Bokkie's Avatar
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    As someone who has downtube levers on both of his bikes (one 1963, the other 1983) I just have to say some things you can't improve on, and downtube shifters are very precise (short cable runs) and look great
    No offence intended, chewa, it's just that I've never seen tube shifters in an awful long time.
    If your bollocks ain't sore, yer ain't on yer boike!

  24. #24
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    Bokkie,

    Downtube shifters are Baie Lekker!
    I have em on my Trek.
    You should try it again sometime.

    Marty
    Sono pił lento di quel che sembra.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    Originally posted by Bokkie


    No offence intended, chewa, it's just that I've never seen tube
    shifters in an awful long time.
    Bokkie and Chewa!

    By a strange coincidence, on my ride out today, I came upon a cyclist whom i rode along with for a couple of miles and saw that he had the old down tube shifters.
    When i enquired about them, he stated that he was an old pro and was happy to stay with the mechanics he had always been used to.

    Also I could hardly believe from the look of the cycle when he said it was 19 years old (a beautifull old hand built Steve Yates) .

    Regards Willi`c

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