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    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    How would you train for an especially hilly century?

    Hi,
    I have 8 weeks to get ready. I'm a newb, with one century under my belt, and not a strong climber. I'm using this workout from the Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling to prepare (beginning with week 3):



    Since this is a very hilly century, with 11k ft of climbing up to 25% grade, how should I slant my prep work, or what extras should I do to be ready for these hills? I have plenty of hills nearby to work with.

    Thanks!
    John
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
    ― Muhammad Ali

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    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    The main thing you need to do is spend lots of time climbing. Don't go for speed. Rather, your goal needs to be able to climb hills for several hours without getting sore because when you do the century, you'll have to last all day.

    You didn't say what kind of bike you have, but if you have a double, you definitely want to practice standing climbs. If you alternate standing and spinning on the day of the ride, you'll find that you can work one set of muscles while the other recuperates. Even if you have a triple, I think it might not hurt to practice standing climbs since 23% is no joke and you don't want to attempt that seated if your legs are already hurting.

    What I've found works very well is to practice standing for progressively longer periods of time. If your knees hurt the next day, it means they're not ready. Cut the distance/intensity and work your way up. When I started climbing, my knees would hurt the next day if I stood for literally 50 yards. Now I can stand for miles on the side of a mountain and feel fine.

    You also need to work on spinning up steep hills. Be sure to experiment with different riding positions and rotate through them. While it's harder to rest muscles if you don't alternate standing and sitting, you'll find that even staying seated all the time, you'll ride faster and in less pain if you can find different positions to rotate through.

    A hilly century is different from a flat one in that it's much more important to manage your legs. Unlike a flat surface where you can just go slowly, you may find yourself unable to continue up a steep incline if you've totally blown your legs.

    I would strongly recommend spending long periods of time climbing. Strength is useful, but it's more important to be able to use what you have to get you through the day. When you're climbing, you should be relaxed. If you're straining yourself, you're not going to last long enough. For this reason, make sure that you have some rides where you climb for several hours on end. That will help you develop a pace and a technique that works for you.

    You have plenty of time to prepare for this, and you'll do well.

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    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    Thanks for your advice and encouragement banerjak! I do have a triple crank.
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
    ― Muhammad Ali

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    seattle based cyclist merlinman's Avatar
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    http://www.arniebakercycling.com/books/b_ace.htm

    Arnie Baker's e-book on ACE (Altitude Climbing Endurance) rides is good. There are lots of approaches.

    I do a lot of these kinds of rides - in fact have one Thursday (150 miles, 10K climbing - 3 hard long climbs) along with 800 other riders. Based on having a coach for 6 months who set me up with a program and doing lots of research and buying ebook - here is my basic program:
    Mon - rest/easy 90 min
    Tues - lactate threshold intervals (2x20) - can be on long hill climb
    Wed - easy - 2K climbing 40 miles
    Thursday - hill intervals - find a 1,200 foot climb and do it 3 times or find a shorter 5 minute hill and do it 6-8 times
    Fri - off or easy
    Sat - moderate pace - 2K climbing - 40 miles
    Sun - 80 miles - 6K climbing - hard pace

    obviously you have to build up to mileage.

    good luck
    Andiamo!!

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    Since this is a very hilly century, with 11k ft of climbing up to 25% grade, how should I slant my prep work, or what extras should I do to be ready for these hills? I have plenty of hills nearby to work with.
    You've been given good and thorough advice, IMO. The simplest answer, though, is to follow your schedule and make sure that several days each week -- including your long day -- are in the mountains. 23% is no joke.

    FWIW, I don't approve of having your long day on Saturday and then, during the event week, taking Saturday off and having Sunday as your event day. Not a huge deal, but a "sensitive organism" can take offense at such a change.

    HTH!

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    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    Yes the advice has been great, many thanks! The event is on a Saturday btw, my chart there was scanned straight from the book. I'm working on finding the hilliest long day routes around Rochester, short of driving down to the course.

    Merlinman, I hope your ride is going well today.
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
    ― Muhammad Ali

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    seattle based cyclist merlinman's Avatar
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    ouch - hurtin' unit right now. RAMROD (Ride Around Mt Rainier in One Day) is a tough ride. I averaged 17.5 mph while riding (did the ride in 8 hours 15 minutes plus another 30 minutes for water/etc for total time of 8:45). Very happy with how it went. The thing you have to remember is you won't pound the last hills the way you do the first ones. This ride has 3 major climbs after a 40 mile gradual climb to get to the pass. I averaged 265 watts the first pass, 245 the second and 225 the third (oh yea, it had a big 12% grade section). Heat and tired legs. So pacing is a good thing to learn if you don't want to be like many of the folks I passed on the 2nd and third climbs. I generally tho ignore that advice - I like to go as strong as I can and even if I fade I am still going at a good clip thanks to all my hill intervals!
    Andiamo!!

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    riding once again jschen's Avatar
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    That's a LOT of climbing. You've done a century, so you've probably figured out that with proper pacing and fueling, you can ride basically forever on flat ground. So just climb lots. How you climb will determine whether you finish and how much you enjoy the ride. Your flat ground and descending speed is essentially irrelevant on a ride like this.

    And ideally, at some point, climb stuff similar to what you'll face on the ride itself. Get a few really steep climbs in to get used to the ultrasteep climbs. And if the major climbs are long sustained climbs, be sure to train on some long climbs. If it's lots of short steep climbs, practice on those.

    Good luck and have fun.
    If you notice this notice then you will notice that this notice is not worth noticing.

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    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    Hi,
    I have 8 weeks to get ready. I'm a newb, with one century under my belt, and not a strong climber. I'm using this workout from the Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling to prepare (beginning with week 3):



    Since this is a very hilly century, with 11k ft of climbing up to 25% grade, how should I slant my prep work, or what extras should I do to be ready for these hills? I have plenty of hills nearby to work with.

    Thanks!
    John
    What's the longest hill you have? The ideal would be a 3+ mile one at least.

    I know this sounds weird, but in doing the hill training I'd set up your rides so you do all of the following:

    10 miles, then hit the hills, then more reg. miles
    30 miles then hit the hills, then more reg. miles
    50 miles then hit the hills, then more reg. miles
    70 miles then hit the hills

    You can train for hills all you want, doing hill intervals, etc but NONE of that will prepare you for what it's like to hit some hard, long hills at mile 70. It's just different. And to then find the strength to keep going after those hills at mile 70 is also diff. I ride a mountain near me a few time, and I hit it at mile 50 or so most of the time and I have some smaller, steep hills I try to put in the first 10 miles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    Hi,
    I have 8 weeks to get ready. I'm a newb, with one century under my belt, and not a strong climber. I'm using this workout from the Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling to prepare (beginning with week 3):



    Since this is a very hilly century, with 11k ft of climbing up to 25% grade, how should I slant my prep work, or what extras should I do to be ready for these hills? I have plenty of hills nearby to work with.

    Thanks!
    John
    I'll say it, since nobody else has.

    You don't say what your first century was like, but I think you are getting in way over your head. Like Merlin, I also did RAMROD Thursday, though I had to cut out the last hill because of a knee issue, and only ended up with 124 miles and 8K of climbing.

    Unless you are used to riding the steeps, you will likely die on the slopes of those hills. I've done long hilly steep rides before, and hills above 15% will blow your mind.

    If you are still up for doing this, you need to train on the kind of hills you will be riding. You cannot train solely on 8% hills and expect to be able to climb long steep hills. You will need to do hill repeats on those sort of hills.

    But my best advice is to choose one of the short variants on that ride.
    Eric

    2005 Trek 5.2 Madone, Red with Yellow Flames (Beauty)
    199x Lemond Tourmalet, Yellow with fenders (Beast)

    Read my cycling blog at http://riderx.info/blogs/riderx
    Like climbing? Goto http://www.bicycleclimbs.com

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    You don't say what your first century was like, but I think you are getting in way over your head.
    The voice of painful experience!

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    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    Thanks for your candor, Eric, it's appreciated. We'll see how confident I feel when go-time draws near, and I'll be sure to train on similar hills.
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
    ― Muhammad Ali

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    This is Shangri La MTBMaven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    Hi,
    I have 8 weeks to get ready. I'm a newb, with one century under my belt, and not a strong climber. I'm using this workout from the Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling to prepare (beginning with week 3):

    Since this is a very hilly century, with 11k ft of climbing up to 25% grade, how should I slant my prep work, or what extras should I do to be ready for these hills? I have plenty of hills nearby to work with.

    Thanks!
    John
    How did your ride go?

    I've been doing a lot of hill climbing lately and it has paid off. I have a 12/25 cassette but do all my training in 39/23. I luckily have some steep hill around me in Pasadena. The ones I climb are not that long but I manage to in some 3 mile 10%-12% climbs and throw in a .25 mile 19% hill every now and again.
    Last edited by MTBMaven; 08-26-07 at 09:46 PM.
    I thought of that while riding my bicycle. ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

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    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    Hi Maven,
    It hasn't run yet, but I did one yesterday with 7500+ ft, and I knew by mile 50 that I hadn't worked hard enough despite all I've put into training this year. I don't think all the warning in the world can prepare a person for that kind of climbing until you get out and do it once. Now that I have better (painful) perspective, I'll shoot for this next year. I won't have it in my legs three weeks from now I don't believe.
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
    ― Muhammad Ali

  15. #15
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    Hi Maven,
    It hasn't run yet, but I did one yesterday with 7500+ ft, and I knew by mile 50 that I hadn't worked hard enough despite all I've put into training this year. I don't think all the warning in the world can prepare a person for that kind of climbing until you get out and do it once. Now that I have better (painful) perspective, I'll shoot for this next year. I won't have it in my legs three weeks from now I don't believe.
    You may have just ridden too hard. On hilly rides, the most common mistake I see people make is not saving their stuff. One thing I do to prepare myself is to practice riding slowly. Today, I'll do about 10K feet. I know how fast I can do that, but my goal is to do it in a way that will let me finish feeling like I can still do another 10K -- this is a much slower pace. Finding a way to pace yourself when you train is very important.

    Don't write yourself off for this year yet. Rest your legs and try some heavy climbing in a week. Wait until the final week to make your decision. Having said that, you haven't been riding that long and you've accomplished a great deal whether or not you make it. There's no dishonor in waiting until next year if you need a bit more preparation.

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    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    Thanks Ban, I appreciate it. You may be right about blowing the wad too early. I rode into the hills thinking conservation all the way, but there is always that voice in your head telling you it's a race, too, even though it's not.

    At mile 60, I thought "no more hills, ever", at 70 while zipping along during the wind-down finish, I though "hey cycling is awesome, this feels great", and after chilling out this morning I'm starting to construct what it would take to make those hills down there a lot smaller. Who knows, another hilly ride may still come this year. If it doesn't, I'll latch onto some other goal like century-a-month. Catching some speed in the flats after crawling up hills for hours is an awesome feeling, like a birdy on the 18th hole after a hard round lol.

    How'd it go today? Did your pacing idea pan out the way you wanted?
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
    ― Muhammad Ali

  17. #17
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    Thanks Ban, I appreciate it. You may be right about blowing the wad too early. I rode into the hills thinking conservation all the way, but there is always that voice in your head telling you it's a race, too, even though it's not.

    At mile 60, I thought "no more hills, ever", at 70 while zipping along during the wind-down finish, I though "hey cycling is awesome, this feels great", and after chilling out this morning I'm starting to construct what it would take to make those hills down there a lot smaller. Who knows, another hilly ride may still come this year. If it doesn't, I'll latch onto some other goal like century-a-month. Catching some speed in the flats after crawling up hills for hours is an awesome feeling, like a birdy on the 18th hole after a hard round lol.

    How'd it go today? Did your pacing idea pan out the way you wanted?
    It did. Aside from pacing, today I was testing my knees. This season, I've been having some issues with them. I went easy on them for a few weeks to let them heal up but decided today would be a good day to find out if they're up to some real climbing. Right now, they both feel great and my legs are a little tired but not blown. I'm on track to complete a monster ride in late Sept. Ironically, my speed average for this pacing ride was very respectable.

    BTW, one other reason to take it easy towards the beginning of a hilly ride is to prevent you from racing people you shouldn't (those who are stronger, and those who are also riding too hard). As the ride progresses and you feel good, you can pick up the pace. You'll start dropping people who passed you earlier which will tend to boost your spirits when you're feeling tired and/or in pain.

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    You have already got a bunch of great advice from people way more experienced than me but let me toss in my $0.02 anyway.

    I did my second century in April (07). It was the Brasstown Baldbuster Century. Nearly 14K ft of climbing.

    I live in the flattest part of Florida so training for it was tough. Since I didn't have real hills I did bridge repeats as often as I could. I put on as many miles as I could and I did everything I could afford to do to my bike to make it possible. I did it with a compact crank 50-34 with a 12-29 cassette.

    To make a long story short: ~ mile 80 was a seven mile climb (Hogpen Gap), followed by another climb, then the killer, Brasstown Bald, STEEP but ONLY 3 miles.

    I would have loved to have a triple but I finished with what I had.

    Take it easy. Ride slower. Eat and drink.

    And Have Fun! (you can do it!)

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    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    ...by doing at least one ride a week that's also especially hilly and working interval training and/or hill sprints into that ride.
    One Less Car
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  20. #20
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike45 View Post
    I did my second century in April (07). It was the Brasstown Baldbuster Century. Nearly 14K ft of climbing.
    Holy smokes -- That's quite a ride to cut your teeth on!

    I have a question about your 12/29. How's the shifting working for you and what kind of RD do you have?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
    Hi,
    I have 8 weeks to get ready. I'm a newb, with one century under my belt, and not a strong climber. I'm using this workout from the Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling to prepare (beginning with week 3):



    Since this is a very hilly century, with 11k ft of climbing up to 25% grade, how should I slant my prep work, or what extras should I do to be ready for these hills? I have plenty of hills nearby to work with.

    Thanks!
    John
    My simpleminded observation (I am not a coach) based only on my experience in various endurance sports is that in eight weeks you are not going to develop much in the way of improved strength or conditioning. But you can develop improved hill attack form, knowledge, and attitude.

    [Edit: reading this over the morning after I wrote it I think I overstated my point about strength and conditioning above. One certainly can make gains in stamina with eight weeks of training. But I still think the best bet with eight weeks is making sure you have the techniques down so the hills don't defeat you).]


    I'm not generally a big fan of Bicycling Magazine (I view it as largely an advertising organ for the manufacturers) but they publish a short and succinct book on road cycling which has some really good pointers on how to approach climbing. If your public library doesn't have a copy I'd suggest buying one, and looking over the section on hill work.
    Last edited by larryfeltonj; 08-31-07 at 04:28 AM.

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