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  1. #1
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    Any Climbing Strategies?

    Seems like research says there's really no difference between sitting or standing when climbing, they both have positives/negatives which practically net out.

    I usually keep my rpm high, stay seated, and climb somewhat quickly. It seems more difficult to ride slowly up a hill when seated than climbing quickly up a hill seated. I notice I pull on my handlebars and shift my seat position so I have a little more seated power. Once near the top of the hill I start changing gears to prepare for the downhill so I can pedal and gain speed quicker when going down the hill. When going down the hill I lower my body to minimize wind resistance.

    If the incline is really steep I will stand and slowly make my way up.

    So I'm curious what most people do, do you sit or stand when climbing? Any other climbing strategies?

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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Depends on the type of climbing. Long 60 mile hills with 10,000 ft, I don't stand much and could care less about being aero for the downhill. A short 1 mile hill, I might push the last 30 yards and over the top but still remain seated.

    On a long climb, I might stand to adjust my shorts!

  3. #3
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    Short hills or rollers can be taken with a burst of extra effort, but in my experience the best way to tackle a long hill is to choose a pace you can sustain for its entire length and stay close to it. This pace will probably feel too slow at first, but you will finish the hill with some energy in reserve. It will take some experience with hill climbing before you can judge your sustainable pace for a given hill. Sure, you can get out of the saddle if you like and vary the pace a bit when the slope changes, but keep 'sustainable' in mind. I see lots of cyclists who attack a hill near its beginning, get totally wiped out before they're two thirds of the way up, and spend the next 2 miles recovering.
    Last edited by rnorris; 04-01-10 at 09:20 PM.

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    My strategy is to go at a pace that won't require me to stop because I've went out at a pace that was not sustainable. Like rnorris said, it initially seems slow, but you get to the top of the hill and don't feel like you need a siesta to continue. If that means I am going 5mph or less the entire time, so be it. I get to the top of the hill, and when the next one comes around, I have the energy to tackle that one too. It takes some practice to get a feel for what is a sustainable pace over a given length and grade. I learned by blowing up on a few hills by going out too fast, and moderating my pacing and gearing to something that is sustainable. I don't stand much unless there is a short really steep bit (say ive been climbing a consistent 8% grade, and then there is a turn that goes up at 16%. yep, i am standing for that) then sit down when the grade eases up.)

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    Senior Member Timber_8's Avatar
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    I grab a high enough gear to get a good power stroke and stand up. If you grab to easy a gear the cadence is to quick standing and the power is wasted and you have to sit
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    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Try not to pay too much attention to hills

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    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    The best strategy is the one that gets you to the top fastest.
    There is no right or wrong. Look at the pros; everyone does it a little differently.
    Your best bet is to experiment, and do what feels best. If you have a regular hill, try timing yourself and monitoring your heart rate several times in several different ways. If you can climb it faster or with a lower heart rate standing (or sittin'-n-spinnin'), then you've learned something valuable.

    And get into the habit of sprinting over every little hillcrest in your daily rides--for some reason this helps regain a lot of time.
    Last edited by calamarichris; 04-02-10 at 10:22 AM.

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    Member Bicycle Guy's Avatar
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    Are there any suggested exercises one can do at home (no stationary bike) that will help prepare me for climbing? Climbing is the only part of biking that I struggle with, and dread. I am a newby, so any advice would be appreciated.

    Not trying to hijack the thread-I thinks this question is in keeping with the OP. Sorry if considered otherwise.

    Thanks
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    Degenerate Grouch xray1978's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicycle Guy View Post
    Are there any suggested exercises one can do at home (no stationary bike) that will help prepare me for climbing? Climbing is the only part of biking that I struggle with, and dread. I am a newby, so any advice would be appreciated.

    Not trying to hijack the thread-I thinks this question is in keeping with the OP. Sorry if considered otherwise.

    Thanks
    Ken
    Well nothing beats good saddle time but, at home you could try one legged squats to help build up muscle in your thighs and one legged toe raises to strengthen your calves. If doing it one legged is too hard just do lunges or use both legs until you get stronger. Really, the best is to just keep riding and embrace each hill. It is amazing how quickly you will go from having to walk up a hill to just riding right up it.

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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timber_8 View Post
    I grab a high enough gear to get a good power stroke and stand up. If you grab to easy a gear the cadence is to quick standing and the power is wasted and you have to sit
    How long of a hill ?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Paul Y.'s Avatar
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    For very steep hills I will sit up straighter, pull up on bars, feel like your trying
    to pull your pedals up on the up stroke.

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    hills that i can take without shifting ( shallow and short hills ) i will take that way. extra shifting = extra time and energy wasted.

    hills that i can take without slowing down ( steep but very short ) i will take by downshifting, and pedaling both faster and more forcefully - this preserves momentum which in turn also saves excessive shifting.

    if the hill isn't short then slowing down is unavoidable and you might as well slow all the way down until the pedaling effort is the same as on a flat stretch.

    for some reason i feel like to me riding against the wind is more exhausting than riding uphill. maybe because with a hill you can visualize the effort required and pick the right gear in advance but the wind keeps changing so in effect you're always in the wrong gear.

    when my brain memorized the trail i am now riding with all of it's short ups and downs my speed and efficiency went up dramatically simply because i had worked out an optimal strategy for every segment of it.

    sometimes there are optical illusions where it looks like you're going down but you're actually going up such as when i am going next to a road ramp which is at an angle. it was really difficult for me there the first one or two times i rode there because my eyes were telling me to stay in the same gear that i am using on flats but my legs were screaming we can't do it ! eventually i figured out that i have to listen to my legs and now it's a much smoother experience.

    also sometimes if its two hills in a row your eyes may be telling you that this is a small shallow hill and you should do it this way but when you actually try to take it - it isn't working because you've just taken another hill - so those kinds of issues get better when you rode the same trail a few times.
    Last edited by NEUROSPORT; 04-03-10 at 12:15 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMallez View Post
    So I'm curious what most people do, do you sit or stand when climbing? Any other climbing strategies?
    I'm hardly a mountain goat, so maybe one of my personal strategies might help. If you know you are going to run out of momentum before you run out of hill, don't charge it. You do not want to start the hill out of breath and with your legs burning. That's one of the answers I got on what was probably my first question on bikeforums, by the way.

    Oh, I almost always do hills seated. I think that's because I usually hit the hill in too low a gear to stand, and am just too stubborn to change. That's not advice, it's just my answer to the question.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

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    Senior Member Timber_8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    How long of a hill ?
    Hard to say, every hill I encounter, none of them are very long but some are kinda steep. I ride a hybrid so I have a lot of gear selection. I use to select a low gear but if you do you are committed to sitting and crawling up the hill. I find most of the time I stay on the middle sprocket on the cranks and 5th gear on the hub and I can clime any hill in the standing position I have encountered. I have 3 highway overpasses on my commute as well as several smaller hills along the way. The last hill on my commute home is the steepest and rather long 1/4 mile anyway. That one tries to kill me because it is at the end of 17 miles at the end of the day.
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    The old "standard wisdom" is that standing for anything other than small "sprinter's hills" is for little wiry guys. (think...Marco Pantani) Bigger riders tend to sit and spin at their best pace...(Think, Jan Ullrich)
    I find that's true for me; at 200 pounds I can easily pop over short hills by gearing up a couple of notches and standing, but for anything beyond that my pulse rate rapidly goes towards the red.
    I do much better spinning up the hill in a low gear.
    Bike position helps. Back on the seat to increase leg leverage, hands on top of the bars for a wide-open chest and easier breathing...Standard stuff.
    Clipless pedals help quite a bit; you can truly "pedal circles" and work on the "scraping mud off your shoes" movement which helps provide power through the whole pedal stroke.

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