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  1. #1
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    Getting off my a***

    No, really, I need help. Well, with climbing that is.

    Now, I have for quite a long while just sat in the saddle and spun hills out, admitidly mostly in granny gears. Now my egs are a bit strong I want to try and get out of the saddle a bit more. Trouble is, I have trouble staying up for more than a couple of seconds.

    So, other than lots of practise, is there any tips anyone can kindly give me?

    I am thinking at the moment that part of the problem is gear choice and I am choosing a gear that is too low so my weight just goes straight down through the pedal stroke rather than meeting resistance and power going to the wheel.

    Balance wise it also feels a lot harder. I know when climbing out of the saddle a certain amount of weaving is necessary but....how much is too much? and yes I realised this is a hard question to answer.

    Thanks in advance.
    I want to live.

  2. #2
    Carbon Fiber Bones elgalad's Avatar
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    Hey damnable.,

    Climbing out of the saddle is one of the most physically tiring parts of climbing, so don't worry if it takes some time to build up your strength.

    From what you mentioned about not being able to stay out of the saddle very long, it sounds like you may need to strengthen your core muscles (abs and lower back) a bit, as these are what support your weight when out of the saddle. Doing some sit-ups, back extensions or deadlifts, and climbing out of the saddle more will all help with this.

    You're dead on with your comment about there not being enough resistance in the pedal stroke. If I'm comfortably pedaling seated on a hill, I usually upshift 2-3 times as I get out of the saddle. Your cadence will naturally drop by 20-30 rpm when you do this, but I think you'll find it much more comfortable than spinning a small gear.

    Most importantly, just keep practicing. Every time you do a climb, get up out of the saddle for as long as possible, then once you're spent, sit down for a minute or two, then repeat. After a month or two of doing this (depending on how much time you spend climbing hills), you'll find that it gets a lot easier quite quickly

    With regard to weaving, how fast are you going when this starts to happen? If you're going really slowly (maybe 5-6 mph), then this could be the cause. Otherwise, try and lean forward a little bit. A good rule of thumb is to have your head directly above the intersection of the stem and handlebars, and try and get a rhythm going, with the bike rocking gently back and forth through 9-12 inches of arc. Again, this will be easier if you're pushing a bigger gear at lower cadences.

    Most of all, keep doing hills, they're what make cycling such a beautiful sport

    EDIT: sorry if you know some or most of this already, but there are so many different levels of knowledge, best to have too much information than not enough

  3. #3
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elgalad View Post
    With regard to weaving, how fast are you going when this starts to happen? If you're going really slowly (maybe 5-6 mph), then this could be the cause. Otherwise, try and lean forward a little bit. A good rule of thumb is to have your head directly above the intersection of the stem and handlebars, and try and get a rhythm going, with the bike rocking gently back and forth through 9-12 inches of arc. Again, this will be easier if you're pushing a bigger gear at lower cadences.
    Good advice but I'd like to point out that the handlebars and the upper part of the bike can go back and forth 9-12". The wheel contact patch shouldn't move much off of a straight line.

    Go find some Youtube videos of bicycle racers and watch how they climb. Then go out and apply what you've learned.
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  4. #4
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    I've wondered about the advantage of climbing out of the saddle. It seems to depend on the rider leg strength (not power) and gearing. On many rides I've noticed that when we hit a hill even at a moderate pace, the lighter guys get out of the saddle while I stay seated. They aren't necessarily going any faster up the hill though. They also typically have something like a 39x23 low gear vs. my 39x28. I only get out of the saddle for relatively short climbs at speed - say I'm doing 22-mph over relatively flat ground and hit a short hill I may stand and power over it while only dropping to 18-mph then sit back down and keep going. If it's more than a short hill I won't be able to maintain that power output without going anaerobic so I just sit down and drop into a lower gear. I have a great deal of muscle strength and I'm a good sprinter but my muscle endurance sucks. I haven't seen any recommendations to train out of the saddle. The climbing routines I've seen usually say to pick a hill and a gear where you can do around 50-rpm for 20-minutes. Rinse and repeat several times.
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  5. #5
    Carbon Fiber Bones elgalad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kommisar89 View Post
    I've wondered about the advantage of climbing out of the saddle. It seems to depend on the rider leg strength (not power) and gearing. On many rides I've noticed that when we hit a hill even at a moderate pace, the lighter guys get out of the saddle while I stay seated. They aren't necessarily going any faster up the hill though. They also typically have something like a 39x23 low gear vs. my 39x28. I only get out of the saddle for relatively short climbs at speed - say I'm doing 22-mph over relatively flat ground and hit a short hill I may stand and power over it while only dropping to 18-mph then sit back down and keep going. If it's more than a short hill I won't be able to maintain that power output without going anaerobic so I just sit down and drop into a lower gear. I have a great deal of muscle strength and I'm a good sprinter but my muscle endurance sucks. I haven't seen any recommendations to train out of the saddle. The climbing routines I've seen usually say to pick a hill and a gear where you can do around 50-rpm for 20-minutes. Rinse and repeat several times.
    This is an excellent exercise for building pure leg strength, but on extended climbs you want to be able to climb out of the saddle. It uses different muscles than those taxed when seated, and so allows you to spread the work around a bit. Also, any serious accelerations uphill are going to require you to be out of the saddle to follow. Also, in terms of racing, it is far better to conserve energy by spinning a lower gear at higher cadence when seated. Try spinning at 90+ rpm, I think you'll find it to be much easier on the body, although it may take a little while to get used to.

    The reason that lighter guys tend to climb out of the saddle more is because they can generate more powe that way, and because of their light weight, it doesn't tire their core muscles as much as is the case for heavier riders. However, there is no reason a heavier rider can't climb well out of the saddle if they practice it often and work on their core strength.

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I sometimes get down to a spinning class. Part of the routine is high pressure and out of the saddle. Lot easier to do on a bike that is not going to topple over if you get weight distribution wrong- but it also taught me how to move up and down on the bike instead of moving the bike from side to side.

    So get down the gym and join a couple of classes. Takes a while, about 6 classes before the spinning takes effect, but for learning technique and how unfit you are- Spinning classes work.
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  7. #7
    Dances a jig. Mchaz's Avatar
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    My knees hurt from reading this thread.

    To add something useful, I'll usually only climb out of the saddle on very short climbs, or just to crest the hill. Sustained climbing while standing can get very tiring. When pushing the big gear, it is advantageous to really pull up on the bars to gain leverage.

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