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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 08-14-13, 09:52 AM   #1
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Hills in the city... how do you do it?

I'm currently hanging out in the hilly city of St John's NL as opposed to the very bike-friendly terrain of Des Moines.

How do you hilly city folks do it? Even though I am a reasonably fit 59 year old, I huff and puff up the hills. Some of them are hitting over 10% grade and I tend to walk those. Luckily I have a mtb here that is geared pretty low...but even then.

Despite that, I see a lot of cyclists tackling hills w/o electric assist... like they are going on flats.

Will I ever get used to these hills?
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Old 08-14-13, 10:20 AM   #2
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First, apparently hill climbing is one of those things that the more you do, the better you get at it.

When I rode in San Francisco, I quickly discovered that looking for alternative routes made a big difference. You may end up climbing the same actual height, but there are usually (at least in SF) routes with more gradual climbs.

And ultimately, there is nothing wrong with getting off and walking.
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Old 08-14-13, 10:35 AM   #3
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How do you hilly city folks do it? Will I ever get used to these hills?
I ran into that same problem moving from the desert to Little Rock. Since my driveway is on a hill, I can't go anywhere without encountering one. There are 21 hills between where I live and downtown Little Rock. So as you might guess, I practice a lot. After a while you may even welcome hills because they exercise you more rapidly. There are only a very few steep enough that I look for ways around them. As PlanoFuji says, alternate routes. River Mountain Rd. is one. It's the direct route to the River Trail for me. I'm at the top of the bluffs. So normally, I ride down it. Wheeeeeeeee! And then I ride the River Trail to the end and take some gentler rolling hills back home.

I've learned that there are no gears too low, and when cresting a hill, upshift to a higher range, not a higher gear.

Did I mention that I just had to replace the smallest ring on my chainwheel because the old one wore out? Hills will do that to you.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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Old 08-14-13, 12:25 PM   #4
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Flat as an ironing board here. It's usually the largest ring that needs to be replaced because the only way to get exercise is to go faster. And I love that Artkansas counted the 21 hills! That's something only a cyclist would think to do.
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Old 08-14-13, 03:36 PM   #5
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Hills in the city... how do you do it?

Lower gears and complaining a lot helps me. The downhills are almost worth grinding up the hills.
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Old 08-14-13, 05:58 PM   #6
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Foot retention such as toe clips and straps or clipless pedals make hill climbing a little bit easier.
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Old 08-14-13, 06:21 PM   #7
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At the risk of being insulting, it is just power to weight. You can improve your power. You can also reduce your weight (easiest and cheapest to reduce the engine weight). You can ride with more gusto and over longer distances and simultaneously increase your power and reduce your weight.
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Old 08-14-13, 07:59 PM   #8
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Did my usual loop tonight. The last big hill on it is not so steep as it is long and at the end of the ride. I've been trying to push harder on my ride lately. I would have to pause going up this hill and take a water break. This afternoon, I not only got up it without stopping, but I was not in the lowest gear. So, take heart Gerv, you will get better.

Rather than walk a hill, I will rest, then continue. "Water" breaks are such a good excuse.

But I have found that there are the occasional hills that are so steep that they won't be easy, no matter what. I had one like that on my last commute. But I did get up it. But even after a year and a half, it was still a challenge.

Water breaks are good. They keep your attitude up, so you can proceed with the challege and not get a sore mind about them. And hill climbing has a tranquility. You aren't going fast, so you can look around, or just look at the ground and enjoy your thoughts.

I looked at the link you provided. St. Johns, seems similar to Little Rock.
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Old 08-14-13, 08:07 PM   #9
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At the risk of being insulting, it is just power to weight. You can improve your power. You can also reduce your weight (easiest and cheapest to reduce the engine weight). You can ride with more gusto and over longer distances and simultaneously increase your power and reduce your weight.
True, but not it's not so easy for the transportation cyclist to reduce weight when riding on a heavy bike with heavy cargo and heavy flat-proof tires. And yeah, the cyclist him/herself might be on the heavy side also!

I try to work on the power side of the ratio, and I do think it can be improved somewhat with dead lifts, power squats, and of course a lot of cycling on hills!
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Old 08-14-13, 11:04 PM   #10
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So I guess it would be bad to tell Newfie jokes?
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Old 08-15-13, 12:18 AM   #11
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True, but not it's not so easy for the transportation cyclist to reduce weight when riding on a heavy bike with heavy cargo and heavy flat-proof tires. And yeah, the cyclist him/herself might be on the heavy side also!

I try to work on the power side of the ratio, and I do think it can be improved somewhat with dead lifts, power squats, and of course a lot of cycling on hills!
I've had the best cycling power improvement from leg extensions/curls. When I'm doing them, I generally start with VERY low weights and do hundreds of reps before increasing the weight and repeating. One leg at a time, increasing the weight in five pound increments, ten sets of fifteen per weight with fifty curls between weight changes. The overall experience is rather like climbing a long steep hill at max output.
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Old 08-15-13, 05:50 AM   #12
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So I guess it would be bad to tell Newfie jokes?
If you can tell one while pedaling up a 15% grade, all is forgiven. Or at least ignored.
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Old 08-16-13, 05:13 AM   #13
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I don't have a lot of hills by me, but I do notice that the few i have get easier the more often I do them. So just keep on biking!

Also, I've noticed that jogging regularly really helps me be a better biker.
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Old 08-17-13, 06:13 AM   #14
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If you can tell one while pedaling up a 15% grade, all is forgiven. Or at least ignored.
Keep us posted on your progress gerv.

I just had a hill-climbing step. Two days ago, I rode up River Mountain Rd. without stopping, something I haven't done in a couple of years. It's about 300 feet straight up. Yesterday, I went back and did it again, just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. What I noticed the most was at the points where I might have said, this is too much, I must stop, instead I was thinking, well, I'm doing okay breathing right at the moment, and realized that it was the thoughts that were prompting me to stop. If I didn't freak out and just remained composed, I could continue on.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 08-17-13, 06:25 AM   #15
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Conditioning and perseverance...


There is one hill in town between my parents house and one of my favorite brew pubs... down hill going to the pub. When I was young and foolish I used to grind up that hill in my lowest gear. Now I just hop off and walk the distance back up.

Aaron
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Old 08-17-13, 10:13 AM   #16
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To me the best way to climb a hill is to approach it with as much momentum as possible. Then I downshift as I begin losing speed so I can keep my pedaling cadence as high as possible for as long as possible. I rarely get to the lowest gear combination before making it to the top of the hill but as my @60yo parents tell me, I'm in the prime of life. I also don't have the steepest hills to deal with. I don't know how much age has to do with it really, though. I would guess that maintaining the highest possible pedaling cadence in whatever gear necessary would gradually build up climbing endurance for anyone at any age. Isn't everything about building up endurance through practice? The trick to maintaining endurance, then, is not to do anything that trips you up, like overstressing or injuring your body.
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Old 08-17-13, 10:38 AM   #17
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To me the best way to climb a hill is to approach it with as much momentum as possible. Then I downshift as I begin losing speed so I can keep my pedaling cadence as high as possible for as long as possible. I rarely get to the lowest gear combination before making it to the top of the hill but as my @60yo parents tell me, I'm in the prime of life. I also don't have the steepest hills to deal with. I don't know how much age has to do with it really, though. I would guess that maintaining the highest possible pedaling cadence in whatever gear necessary would gradually build up climbing endurance for anyone at any age. Isn't everything about building up endurance through practice? The trick to maintaining endurance, then, is not to do anything that trips you up, like overstressing or injuring your body.
One thing about aging is that if you do get out of shape, it takes a little longer to get back in shape. But hopefully age will also give you greater patience and fortitude.
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Old 08-17-13, 11:04 AM   #18
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One thing about aging is that if you do get out of shape, it takes a little longer to get back in shape. But hopefully age will also give you greater patience and fortitude.
And senior discounts
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Old 08-17-13, 11:45 AM   #19
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Conditioning and perseverance...


There is one hill in town between my parents house and one of my favorite brew pubs... down hill going to the pub. When I was young and foolish I used to grind up that hill in my lowest gear. Now I just hop off and walk the distance back up.

Aaron
I'm old and foolish. I prefer rest stops to walking. I've gotten up River Mountain on all my bikes but one. The Stiletto just isn't a hill climber. It must be walked.



But I have towed my BaW trailer up River Mountain, without a load though.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 08-17-13, 11:50 AM   #20
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Very cool, Art! But I can see that a low rider is not the best machine for climbing hills. But are those disk brakes? If so, that would be helpful when you're coming down the hill.
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Old 08-17-13, 12:30 PM   #21
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There's a cliche that hills never get easier, you just get faster on them. The cliche is wrong in my humble opinion. The hills not only get easier over time, some of them disappear completely! It comes naturally with repetition, and unfortunately it takes more repetitions as we get older I think.
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Old 08-17-13, 03:19 PM   #22
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Very cool, Art! But I can see that a low rider is not the best machine for climbing hills. But are those disk brakes? If so, that would be helpful when you're coming down the hill.
Yeah, that's a disc brake on the back. No brake on the front, though it's got the mount. Going down River Mountain Rd. it is like riding a motorcycle. Very fast and stable.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

Last edited by Artkansas; 08-17-13 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 08-17-13, 03:28 PM   #23
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There's a cliche that hills never get easier, you just get faster on them. The cliche is wrong in my humble opinion. The hills not only get easier over time, some of them disappear completely! It comes naturally with repetition, and unfortunately it takes more repetitions as we get older I think.
That's it! When my grandson was little, he asked me how come he could ride up the hill by our house easier than he used to. I told him that every time he rode over it, his bike tires wore off a little bit of the hill. So now the hill is shorter than it used to be.

Dont worry... He didn't believe me either!
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Old 08-17-13, 04:48 PM   #24
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Just take those hills on. That's how I did it when I lived in N. Vancouver. My ride to class was downhill and the ride home was all uphill. You will actually build up your endurance this way. All you have to do, is learn how to curse in Newfie.
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Old 08-17-13, 05:47 PM   #25
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We all have a given size 'engine'. You can improve that, but only to a limited extent. Every cyclist can and will encounter hills that their engine is incapable of climbing. For each of us that grade/distance is different. You can move that limit, but it will always be there. And no matter what you do to improve the 'engine' getting close to that limit will not be easy or fun (at least if your wired properly).

The good news is that there are almost always alternative routes to avoid those hills our engine can't get up...
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