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  1. #1
    Still can't climb
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    Century in hilly terrain

    I ride in rolling hills terrain where there aren't really any monster long climbs but I'm constantly climbing and descending. I thought I was ready for my first century yesterday after doing lots of 60 milers where I felt pretty good afterwards. I failed miserably and now it aches just to stand up.

    Usually when I push myself too far the culprit was poor food and drink intake thus bonking or just general lack of energy towards the end but this time (and the first time) it was purely muscle fatigue. I got the food and drink right. I felt alert and there was no cramping. The legs just gave out on me at about 80 miles when I stupidly went up the steepest and longest climb on my usual route which I usually tackle at about 40 miles. When I got to the top I wasn't gasping for air but my legs were so full of lactic acid I had to stop for a while but the muscles never fully recovered so I limped home reaching only 91 miles.

    What do those of you riding in hilly terrain do to prepare your muscles in hilly centuries? I would use a higher cadence if I could but I'm climbing much of the time and the cadence and speed drop massively just to heave myself up.

    I'm so disappointed. Until the legs gave way I was on scedule to do the century in about 6 hours. Instead I limped home doing 91 miles in 7 hours. I'll try again next weekend.

  2. #2
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    Well done for doing 91 miles
    great effort.

    I prepare by riding in hills, lots of hills.

    george
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  3. #3
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    I agree. There isn't really any secret to being successful. Just lots of climbing. Still, look on the bright side, you completed 91 miles in hilly terrain. That doesn't sound anything to be too disappointed about.

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    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke's Pass View Post
    I agree. There isn't really any secret to being successful. Just lots of climbing. Still, look on the bright side, you completed 91 miles in hilly terrain. That doesn't sound anything to be too disappointed about.
    +1 Just call it a preparatory ride for your successful century.

    Scott P
    Bend, OR

  5. #5
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    What drivetrain gearing are you using?
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

  6. #6
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    It takes time to learn how to pace yourself on the hills, especially when jumping from 60 to 100 miles; you can't go nearly as hard as you do on the 60 miles so lower gears come in handy.

    100 miles and 10,000' is no joke.
    Race-o-meter:
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  7. #7
    Not an internet law-maker Godwin's Avatar
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    Sounds very similar to the kind of hills we have around here, flat spots are pretty much non-existent but there's no mountains. It sounds like you just burned yourself out, next time just take it a little easier; you can't keep up a 60 mi pace for 100 miles, it should just take a while to find your century pace. Don't worry about the time it takes you on your next attempt, just get it done and add speed from then on. Spinning faster can help but it takes practise and if you're not used to it, you can wear yourself out just the same.

  8. #8
    Still can't climb
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    My gearing: 52/39 and 12/27.

    I suspect the gearing is quite suitable as I don't have difficulty on regular 60 mile rides. When I get into the 39/27 I can usually handle the hills here. It was after my legs gave out at 80 miles that I found even the lowest gear was painful. Short of switching to a triple I guess the only way would be just to get stronger and lose more weight (both easier said than done!). I think a triple is a bit of over-kill without massive mountains to negotiate.

    I was quite pleased with the 91 but the high expectations tinged it. I was expecting too much having got comfortable with 60 milers and probably rode as if it was just another regular ride. Maybe I should do a few 80 milers until they become comfortable or just take it easy early on.

  9. #9
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    If it's constant up and down, go with lower gearing. I don't know what everyone else considers to be a hilly century; I give one a 'hilly' rating when there's over 6000' or more of climbing.

    A triple isn't necessarily over-kill, but it could be more total gears than you need since you can accomplish a similar gearing range with a compact double and a wide-span cassette. You don't have the tight configuration of 1 tooth jumps for cruising the flats any more, but it's a reasonable sacrifice. I have a 34/48 up front, and an 11-32t cassette. My daily commute is 30 miles r/t, with a bit over 2000' of climbing and I'm signed up for a 7000'+ century next month, so I'll really get to test out how this gear range performs.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  10. #10
    Still can't climb
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    How do you measure the amount of climbing on a route? If it turns out the route is not as hilly as I thought and feel then I will be really disappointed.

  11. #11
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coasting View Post
    How do you measure the amount of climbing on a route? If it turns out the route is not as hilly as I thought and feel then I will be really disappointed.
    Many of the Garmin GPS units have altitude tracking on them. You can get a standalone altimeter with an elevation gain tracking feature. Or (I'm not sure if it works for Europe) you can use a mapping site like www.veloroutes.org which tracks elevation profile on your mapped route.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    another good training technique is to ride a fixed gear bike - gear it relatively low (~60-70 gear inches), and do your normal rides/climbs on that bike for training.

    riding fixed gear (in hilly seattle) made me a stronger all-around cyclist, and it also helps with cadence (as in, you'll get used to a higher one).
    pro-meter: lol

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  13. #13
    nun
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    www.bikely.com is another good bike route site and gives good elevation maps. I completely empathize with the OP as I have issues with hills too, being about 30lbs over weight. I've done flat centuries, but I'm intimidated by hills. My goal for this season is to complete a hilly century going from Boston on Rt62 out
    to Barre and back, its about 110 miles and will have 7000' of climbing. It's part of the BMB route and it freaks me out that on that ride they go from Boston to Barre in about 4 hours.

    My approach is to work up to the whole thing by doing sections each weekend. I'll start by doing Boston to Sterling and back, the next week I'll try the hilly bit Sterling-Barre-Sterling. Hopefully I'll do the whole ride on one very long day sometime this summer.

  14. #14
    Senior Member sojourn's Avatar
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    So, you've been training hard, taking on hills, and jumped from 60 miles to 91 miles.
    Let’s see............you did GREAT! Your minds telling you that you failed, your body is telling you that you are on the verge of making your goal.
    Listen to your body, your mind appears to be out to get you!
    After you successfully complete your first century (and you will, probably within a week, two at the outside), your mind will become your friend and your confidence will soar!
    If I can do it, anyone can do it!
    Good luck-
    Last edited by sojourn; 05-17-08 at 02:15 PM.

  15. #15
    Still can't climb
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    Thanks for all the suggestions and the useful bike route sites.

    Thanks also for all the encouraging comments. Now I'm all fired up to give it another go this coming saturday! I'll do it differently this time; taking it easy all the way round and forget about time. Oh no! Now I cannot fail since I announced the attempt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coasting View Post

    I think a triple is a bit of over-kill without massive mountains to negotiate.
    I think there's your error. Massive mountains are one reason to get a triple. Another is getting a rider up lesser slopes so he can reach the finish when he is quite tired.

    Sound like the ride was an accomplishment anyhow even if you were a little short of your goal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coasting View Post
    ...What do those of you riding in hilly terrain do to prepare your muscles in hilly centuries? I would use a higher cadence if I could but I'm climbing much of the time and the cadence and speed drop massively just to heave myself up....
    Yes. Climbing hills for practice is the best way to get better at them. I can't tell from what you have written how long or hard these hills are. There is no question that, while one can climb almost anything on a 52/39 when one is fresh, it does wear one down and it becomes harder to climb the same hill at the end of a Century...At least this is my experience. It is better to go easy with a lower gear at the beginning of a ride and control one's heart rate. If you have energy left over at the end of a ride then give 'er H E double hockey sticks on that one last hill.

    Try a compact double (50/36 or 50/32) if you don't live in the mountains. For long distances here in the N. California coastal range I use a triple and sometimes need to resort to it after 100 miles even on grades that measure as easy.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    First, I figure out what heart rate I can maintain for hours at-a-time over longer practice rides of 60-75 miles, and make sure that I don't go above that rate too often.

    To get ready for hills, nothing else works as well for me, as dedicating one entire week in every 2-3 to steep hill training. If you don't have continuous 2-3 hour climbs where you live, the next best thing is power intervals, where you set the resistance such that you can barely keep the cadence above 60 rpm, while pegging your heart rate at 85% - 95% of max as long as you can (1.5-3 minutes, for me, depending on how I feel). But make sure to not let your heart rate drop too low on the downhill sections. You want your heart rate to remain between 75-80% of your max during the rest periods.

    I also do lots of regular intervals to increase my lactate threshold. I do intervals using the same heart rates as mentioned above, but I tend to spin at 110+ rpm on the hard part of the intervals, and not let my cadence drop below 85 rpm during the easier recovery periods.

    And don't forget to rest. I only ride 4-5 days per week when I'm training for hills that week. I hike or do something else on one of those non-riding days, and take the other day off from all activities to heal-up (I don't repair or recover as fast as I did 15-20 years ago).

    Oh, and I think that you did great as well. I've known lots of more experienced riders than myself that have bonked during a given event. Hilly or no. Even in guys that race competitively. It happens. Have fun out there!
    Last edited by Pinyon; 04-30-08 at 05:03 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sojourn View Post
    So, you've been training hard, taking on hills, and jumped from 60 miles to 91 miles.
    Letís see............you did GREAT! Your minds telling you that you failed, your body is telling you that you are on the verge of making your goal.
    Listen to your body, your mind appears to be out to get you!
    After you successfully complete your fist century (and you will, probably within a week, two at the outside), your mind will become your friend and your confidence will soar!
    If I can do it, anyone can do it!
    Good luck-
    Amen Brother! You are so close it will be very soon before you hit this goal. In fact, I would bet that with the training your muscles got on this one, you could go out and ride the same course a week from now and do better if not complete it. Then it will not be long before you get another one under you belt, then another one, then before long you will posting ride reports about the most recent Brevet . Just keep at it...

  20. #20
    BreakingWind BreakingWind's Avatar
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    I live in Colorado. I thought the key to my first century was to ride a lot of miles - so I rode a lot of flat miles. Although I finished, it was just barely! The key to my second century was to climb, climb, climb! I can't tell you how much better that turned out to be!

    As for gearing, check out this link on gearing for the Tour of the California Alps (Markleeville Death Ride).

    http://www.arniebakercycling.com/pub...ll%20Gears.pdf

    Good luck on your next century! You're almost there! Embrace the hills!

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    Quote Originally Posted by coasting View Post
    I ride in rolling hills terrain where there aren't really any monster long climbs but I'm constantly climbing and descending. I thought I was ready for my first century yesterday after doing lots of 60 milers where I felt pretty good afterwards. I failed miserably and now it aches just to stand up.

    Usually when I push myself too far the culprit was poor food and drink intake thus bonking or just general lack of energy towards the end but this time (and the first time) it was purely muscle fatigue. I got the food and drink right. I felt alert and there was no cramping. The legs just gave out on me at about 80 miles when I stupidly went up the steepest and longest climb on my usual route which I usually tackle at about 40 miles. When I got to the top I wasn't gasping for air but my legs were so full of lactic acid I had to stop for a while but the muscles never fully recovered so I limped home reaching only 91 miles.

    What do those of you riding in hilly terrain do to prepare your muscles in hilly centuries? I would use a higher cadence if I could but I'm climbing much of the time and the cadence and speed drop massively just to heave myself up.

    I'm so disappointed. Until the legs gave way I was on scedule to do the century in about 6 hours. Instead I limped home doing 91 miles in 7 hours. I'll try again next weekend.
    Coasting,

    You made a pretty good effort. Usually you can't expect to be able to ride any further than about 20-25% further than the longest distances that you train at. Unless you were going at a much, much slower pace than usual. Which is why you died at 80 miles.

    You will need to do at least one 85-90 mile ride a week at a similar pace that you want to race at to be ready for that century. And increase the pacing a little on your 50 & 60 mile rides to up the intensity. Still, 91 miles in 7 hours on a hilly course is a very respectable ride time. Keep up the good work.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    If you are going to try it again so soon (one week later?!), I would also suggest at least one 10-minute stretching session off the bike to also use the restroom and cram a cliff/energy bar down your throat (solid food at the middle of a century keeps my stomach settled).

    Keep it simple with the food and drink too. Don't try anything new that may upset your stomach during exertion, but try to evenly space it out over the entire ride. I shoot for about 150-200 calories per hour, mostly in the form of diluted sports drinks. I burn a lot more energy than that during an hour, but if I consume any more than that my stomach becomes upset. Experience has shown me that this approach really extends how long I have before I bonk. It adds about 15-20 minutes per hour that I make sure to eat and drink that way.

    Have fun!

  23. #23
    I'm no newbie! dave.henri's Avatar
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    I'm working on my first century of the year too. My recipe is to add 10 mile per week. No hurry. I'm at 75 now and I can tell you I really felt the difference from 65 last week. You need to condition those muscles and joints. I do my hill climbing in the middle of the week and save the distance for the weekends. And the above comments about nutrition and drinking. I drink Gatorade but dilute it 50% with water to lesson the sweetness, and make good use of sandwiches and cliff bars. One of the joys of a long bike ride is the picnic lunch!

  24. #24
    Still can't climb
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    I managed a new personal best last sunday. A whole single mile!

    I caught a cold on tuesday and by sunday I thought I felt recovered except for a slight chesty cough which I still can't shake off. One mile into the ride I hit a slight upward slope (not even a hill) and my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it. Had to turn around and roll home. Such a waste of fine weather!

  25. #25
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coasting View Post
    I managed a new personal best last sunday. A whole single mile!

    I caught a cold on tuesday and by sunday I thought I felt recovered except for a slight chesty cough which I still can't shake off. One mile into the ride I hit a slight upward slope (not even a hill) and my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it. Had to turn around and roll home. Such a waste of fine weather!
    I'm right there with ya, brother. I've been off my bike since Monday due to a pulled trapezius, and we've had great weather the past two days.
    Hope you feel better soon. I'm hoping that my shoulder is better in time for my 200km on the 17th...
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

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