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Thread: Hill Help?

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    Hill Help?

    So due to the nature of where I live, any rides of any significant distance will make me go up a hill. I have a pacific 21sp mtb, and I struggle climbing hills. I'd be lying if I said I was in shape, but I'm not completely out of shape. I'm 16 and about 5'7"/170lbs. Every ride I go on, the hills are always a struggle. Is there any technique that I can use to help, or is it all just a matter of getting back into shape? And I know my bike isn't the best, so I'm also on the hunt for a bike to better suit my needs.

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    Use lower gears, get in better shape, ride with less weight (be it a lighter bike, a lighter you, or lighter cargo). Unfortunately, moving X weight up Y distance always requires expending the same amount of energy. All lower gears do is let you spread that energy expenditure out over a longer period of time, and give you enough leverage so you can actually pedal at all.

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    What's a bike? adclark's Avatar
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    I agree with everything Arcanum said. Also, one thing I have found that helps me is clipless pedals. Being able to pull up on the pedals can do two main things: 1. Allow you to use a wider variety of muscles. 2. Let you distribute the load among different muscles to lighten the strain on all of them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    Use lower gears, get in better shape, ride with less weight (be it a lighter bike, a lighter you, or lighter cargo). Unfortunately, moving X weight up Y distance always requires expending the same amount of energy. All lower gears do is let you spread that energy expenditure out over a longer period of time, and give you enough leverage so you can actually pedal at all.
    I'm usually on one of, if not, the lowest gears going up a hill. I'm working on losing weight, and a new bike would definitely help the weight. I don't carry much cargo, so that's not really an issue.
    Quote Originally Posted by adclark View Post
    I agree with everything Arcanum said. Also, one thing I have found that helps me is clipless pedals. Being able to pull up on the pedals can do two main things: 1. Allow you to use a wider variety of muscles. 2. Let you distribute the load among different muscles to lighten the strain on all of them.
    At this point, I don't think I'd want clipless pedals. It seems like it'd be a rather expensive setup, plus they wouldn't be too great in traffic.

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    You could check out Power Grips. They're cheap, easier to use than clips or clipless pedals, and they seem to get pretty positive reviews around here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    You could check out Power Grips. They're cheap, easier to use than clips or clipless pedals, and they seem to get pretty positive reviews around here.
    Sounds good, I'll look into that when I go for my new bike.

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    +1 on the Power Grips.

    Went on my first ride with them last night...they really keep your foot on the pedal. You kinda twist your foot to 'engage' the strap, and you angle your foot a little bit to slide it out. I opted for them since you don't have to fiddle with them all the time, you can pull out whenever you want (thats what she said) and they're only 25 bucks.

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    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    Try to alternately sit and stand while pedaling. Don't let your heart rate escalate too high too early in the hill. Don't get out of the saddle till you have to. Ride as you normally would, shift down (getting another cassette with a wider range of gearing is an easy, quick and cheap way to go also). Rise out of the saddle for a while (easy spinning, not all out) then back to in the saddle tilll you are up and over the top.

    Keep your upper body quiet and do it. Change the formula for sitting and standing till you've got it down.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

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    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    It'll get better as you get stronger and lose weight. That's my own experience: after I lost my first 20lbs it was an amazing difference. Just keep riding, but mind your technique so you don't mess up your knees and listen to the advice from posters above.

    Adam

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    Senior Member davincirider's Avatar
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    When I was seriously heavy, the guy who got me back on the bike was one of those annoying whippet type guys. 5'6" 140 lbs or something like that. I was was 6'2" 240 and often had to walk the bike up that last hill, trying not to puke. We rode every work day for our hour lunch. By the end of the first year I was crushing him on the flats in a sprint and leading up the hill.

    Keep riding. If you have to sit and spin in your smallest gear do it. Keep trying. From mtn biking try to keep your weight 60/40 over the back wheel to keep from spinning your wheel or popping the front off the ground.

    Hills aren't my friends but I don't avoid them and use them to train for upcoming events. Four times up and down the escarpment helps for the centuries.
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    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    I am curious, what is the gearing on your current bike? You may be able to change your gearing to help with the hills. However, it may not be cost-effective to invest in a Pacific-brand bike.

    Persistence pays off too. Five years ago, I was in terrible shape and could not even climb the hill to my home. I kept at it though, and rode a lot, and I made marked improvement. I'm still not in the best of shape, but I'm tons better than when I began.

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    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiPHRaPH View Post
    Try to alternately sit and stand while pedaling. Don't let your heart rate escalate too high too early in the hill. Don't get out of the saddle till you have to. Ride as you normally would, shift down (getting another cassette with a wider range of gearing is an easy, quick and cheap way to go also). Rise out of the saddle for a while (easy spinning, not all out) then back to in the saddle tilll you are up and over the top.

    Keep your upper body quiet and do it. Change the formula for sitting and standing till you've got it down.
    Adding to this, choose a taller gear when you're standing, then go back to a lower gear when you're sitting. When I'm standing to pedal, I like to use a gear that's tall enough to feel like I'm walking up a flight of stairs.

    The caveat is that you'd need to accelerate a bit so you can softpedal and unload the chain to make the shift. If the hill is steep enough and you're already going slow, your momentum might quit when you're in the middle of shifting.

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    Keep your seat high enough that your legs are almost straight on the downstroke. Keep in a low enough gear that you are pedaling faster rather than doing leg-press exercises. Don't be afraid to stop and rest on the way up. Make sure your tires have plenty of air. Explore to find routes with the easiest hills.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Hills require a technique that takes years to aquire---Or lots of hills.

    Most people rush at them and by halfway up they are dead. Take it steady and lower the cadence down a bit. I normally ride with a cadence of 90 but on hills lower it to 80. But start at the bottom of the hill in the smallest ring on the front and a sensible rear cog. When it gets hard- change down- harder still and change down again and again- till you run out of gears. Still hard?---Then slow down. Then just before the top when you have no energy left- ride out of the saddle.

    Doesn't always work- but keep practicing and it will.

    And hills never get easier- they just take less time to climb.
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    My experience is that, if you are in decent shape, the most significant improvements come from weight loss. At age 62 I was riding my 14.8 mi. "time trial" at 16.5 mph. The next year after losing 12lbs I did it at 17.4 mph. The hills were much easier.
    Last edited by bruce19; 03-03-10 at 08:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by j_deLaBay View Post
    +1 on the Power Grips.

    Went on my first ride with them last night...they really keep your foot on the pedal. You kinda twist your foot to 'engage' the strap, and you angle your foot a little bit to slide it out. I opted for them since you don't have to fiddle with them all the time, you can pull out whenever you want (thats what she said) and they're only 25 bucks.
    Power Grips are great! My feet are too wide to fit in any of the clipless shoes I've tried.

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    How long is the hill? I;v efound that I cna climb 10,000 ft and feel fine once I warm up cause the body has time to settle into the climb. But to be honest, a 1/8 of a mile climb can make most riders feel like they're done. But that's really only because they didn't get a chance to warm up to the short climb.

    Same principle as riding to the corner convenicenstore, I will get winded as it usually takes over 5 miles just to warm up. I think that's a big mistake plenty of people make. Thinking they can't do 20 mile because they hard a hard time doing a one miler to the corner.

    So it may not be that you are out of shape, you just need more time to warm up to the hill. I have an easier time on a 5 mile climb than I do on a 1/2 mile climb for the same reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by McStuff View Post
    At this point, I don't think I'd want clipless pedals. It seems like it'd be a rather expensive setup, plus they wouldn't be too great in traffic.
    IMO, clipless pedals work great in traffic. It's very little effort to unclip and it's a very natural motion. I haven't had any issues riding clipless in traffic.

    FWIW: I'm 9 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than you. The neat thing about hills is coming down the other side!
    Jeff Wills

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    Keep tires inflated to max pressure. I also, have a mountain bike that had the large lugged tires on it. I changed the tires out for a more hybrid type bike tire in 1.5 size. That helped a lot !!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Esteban32696 View Post
    Keep tires inflated to max pressure. I also, have a mountain bike that had the large lugged tires on it. I changed the tires out for a more hybrid type bike tire in 1.5 size. That helped a lot !!!
    I'll second the advice to use a low- or no-tread tire if you're riding only on roads. Tread doesn't do any good on paved surfaces, and it can slow you down.

    On the other hand, you shouldn't necessarily inflate tires to the maximum pressure. That number is usually the maximum safe pressure, not the best pressure for efficient riding. Frank Berto and Jan Heine have determined the optimum inflation for bike tires; it depends on their width and the weight that each tire bears. Their results are summarized here:
    http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com/images/TireDrop.pdf

    Essentially, if you pump your tires up too much, you lose energy to vibration, whereas tires that are optimally inflated provide some shock absorption when you go over road irregularities.

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    I do have low tread tires on. I swapped the knobbies off for some thinner, slicker tires.

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    Here's some more specific data because I've just got back from a ride. I usually take flat land at about 2nd range, 7th gear. Once I approach a hill, I drop to 1st range. As I progress, I drop gears. But after a short time, my quads start to burn. When I tried to alternate like you guys said, I stood up and it felt worse. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but my muscles seem to get sore pretty fast going up hills. Just a guesstimate, but the two hills that I'll usually encounter in my rides are about 1-2 miles long. They're pretty steep hills, but not very steep. And I currently have 26x1.75" hybrid type tires right now.

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    Well ditch them fatty tires to start with, thats going to be providing quite a bit of resistance. Different techniques for different people, but if I know the hill ahead is gonna be a long one, I go to the easiest gear immediately, and just start pedaling easy with lower cadence. I find this way I can keep going quite a long time before I require a rest. I focus on my breathing, keeping it deep and even, not shallow and panting (sure signs of "blowing up"). It isn't a race. If you have to climb those hills going 3 miles an hour, so be it. You will get stronger, and you will get faster.

    You kinda twist your foot to 'engage' the strap, and you angle your foot a little bit to slide it out. I opted for them since you don't have to fiddle with them all the time, you can pull out whenever you want (thats what she said) and they're only 25 bucks.
    I am failing to see how that is any different than clipless, really. I never have to fiddle with my pedals or my cleats (once I have them set up how I like them) except to replace the cleats occasionally as they wear out. Clipless also use a twisting motion to disengage (slightly different dependent on pedal system). While my particular pedals are more than 25 bucks, you can get a decent pair of spd pedals for 25 bucks. Unless you do a LOT of walking (and mtb shoes solve this particular problem), clipless is better in just about every way. Better foot retention, better foot support, more efficient pedaling....other than the short learning curve of clipless, what is so bad about them?

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    Well I guess I was stupid when I bought the tires because I considered them to be better than the knobbies. These are the tires I got: http://www.performancebike.com/bikes..._20000_1504501 What's a more appropriate width for street riding on a mtb?

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    You are going to want to find the narrowest slick tire that will fit on your current rims, as getting narrower rims would require some fidgeting with the brakes. It looks like your tires are more suited for both road and gravel applications. If you are just riding roads, then you don't need any tread as the rubber compound will provide all the traction you need (note: this does lessen in the rain, so be careful when you are riding on wet roads with slicks).

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