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  1. #1
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    How long to get to know/improve on a climb?

    OK - bit of a ramble here, but what the heck. One of the best things after riding Diablo yesterday was thinking about how to get better at it next time. It got me thinking about how each time I've ridden a new climb it takes a few attempts to really get to "know" it well. To me that means where to conserve, where to push, where you can ride harder than you thought you could before and where, no matter what your level of confidence, the gradient always crushes your soul.

    There are a few climbs I think I know really well know - San Bruno Mtn, Wildcat Canyon, Pinehurst Rd, 3bears I feel pretty much familiar with every yard . Some that I'm getting pretty well acquainted with - Claremont (Berkeley), El Toyonal/Lomas Cantadas (Orinda), South Park (Tilden) where I think Ive a good idea of overall ride tempo and a few, like Diablo, that I've only ridden once that Im itching to get to know a little better (could take a while).

    I'm curious to hear from you guys -- how long does it take before you feel like you've got to know a climb? How do you know that you've got it down? Which ones do you feel like you know well?

    Make like Robert Plant and ramble on

  2. #2
    dirtbag roadie ahpook's Avatar
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    Good thread Beaker, I agree with your premise though I'm totally unfamiliar with any of the rides you cite -- gotta get up to the eastbay more I guess

    I know Foothill-Stevens Canyon-Mt Eden really well because I tend to go there about once a week and do the Mt Eden part a couple of times. I want to learn montebello that well because it's right in the neighborhood and it's so much longer--more of a sense of accomplishment.

    After this week I feel like I know Hamilton *really* well -- this was the 3rd time this year I've done it. In addition to the "know when to hold em / fold em" on the climb, the extra payoff there is knowing where the really awful ruts are on the way down.
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  3. #3
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    Agree on the descents -- that reminds me of that last section of Radio Road from the top of San Bruno Mountain before you hit the first parking lot by Guadalupe Parkway. It's really easy to hit 40mph up to that last corner, but if you don't loose some speed and find one of the handful of half smooth lines, you're in for a helluva rattly ride.

    Any more?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
    OK - bit of a ramble here, but what the heck. One of the best things after riding Diablo yesterday was thinking about how to get better at it next time. It got me thinking about how each time I've ridden a new climb it takes a few attempts to really get to "know" it well. To me that means where to conserve, where to push, where you can ride harder than you thought you could before and where, no matter what your level of confidence, the gradient always crushes your soul.

    There are a few climbs I think I know really well know - San Bruno Mtn, Wildcat Canyon, Pinehurst Rd, 3bears I feel pretty much familiar with every yard . Some that I'm getting pretty well acquainted with - Claremont (Berkeley), El Toyonal/Lomas Cantadas (Orinda), South Park (Tilden) where I think Ive a good idea of overall ride tempo and a few, like Diablo, that I've only ridden once that Im itching to get to know a little better (could take a while).

    I'm curious to hear from you guys -- how long does it take before you feel like you've got to know a climb? How do you know that you've got it down? Which ones do you feel like you know well?

    Make like Robert Plant and ramble on
    Y'know, it takes me so long to do some of these climbs that I have plenty of opportunity to learn them real well the first time up - a benefit to being old, fat and slow?

    JB
    "Poor Reverend Hamilton! He worked so hard, got a mountain named after him and now all anyone wants to do is complain about his backside!" Overheard while climbing Mt. Hamilton

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  5. #5
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    The more climbs you do the faster you "learn" them. Also, looking at gradient profiles of climbs you know helps when scoping out a new climb, since you have an idea what different grades feel like.

    With all that, I have "learned" a climb without riding it, just from looking at the profile and driving it once. This is useful for races.

  6. #6
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    The more climbs you do the faster you "learn" them. Also, looking at gradient profiles of climbs you know helps when scoping out a new climb, since you have an idea what different grades feel like.

    With all that, I have "learned" a climb without riding it, just from looking at the profile and driving it once. This is useful for races.
    Thanks Eric, that's interesting. Me, I'm very visual -- I like to see where I am on a hill versus a grade. I've tried looking at profiles but only really make the connection after I've ridden on the road. That may just be my inexperience?

  7. #7
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
    Thanks Eric, that's interesting. Me, I'm very visual -- I like to see where I am on a hill versus a grade. I've tried looking at profiles but only really make the connection after I've ridden on the road. That may just be my inexperience?
    I'm the same way -- I'm a kinesthetic learner; perhaps you are, too.

    Gradually I'm learning how to read profiles. But I'd rather ride them than read about them.

    Getting better on climbs means repetition -- doing the climb frequently, as well as doing repeaters. We have a couple short, intense climbs here -- Wesley and Vine Streets, Steiger Hill, Cantelow, and the mother of the local climbs, Mix Canyon. My hill training days I do repeats of the first three. (One of these days I'll get out my triple and climb Mix.) Of the climbs you've mentioned the only one with which I'm familiar is Diablo -- have done it 3 times.

    So once I get familiar with a hill I start experimenting, doing it all standing, or all seated, or as fast as I can climb it, or in the biggest gear I can turn, or all of the above. The more you climb the stronger and faster you get. That's very individualized, as well, and influenced by your other riding as well.

    I really like climbing, though, so YMMV.
    When my feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh, *****, she's awake!"

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  8. #8
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rider View Post
    I'm the same way -- I'm a kinesthetic learner; perhaps you are, too.

    Gradually I'm learning how to read profiles. But I'd rather ride them than read about them.

    Getting better on climbs means repetition -- doing the climb frequently, as well as doing repeaters. We have a couple short, intense climbs here -- Wesley and Vine Streets, Steiger Hill, Cantelow, and the mother of the local climbs, Mix Canyon. My hill training days I do repeats of the first three. (One of these days I'll get out my triple and climb Mix.) Of the climbs you've mentioned the only one with which I'm familiar is Diablo -- have done it 3 times.

    So once I get familiar with a hill I start experimenting, doing it all standing, or all seated, or as fast as I can climb it, or in the biggest gear I can turn, or all of the above. The more you climb the stronger and faster you get. That's very individualized, as well, and influenced by your other riding as well.

    I really like climbing, though, so YMMV.
    I think I'm getting beter at reading profiles, but I kinda like the way that as you ride a climb more often you notice more subtle facets that you don't appreciate first time up. A gentle change gradient that let's you recover, or flick up a gear, perhaps a better line that takes the edge of a killer grade etc. Sounds like we're on a similar wavelength RR.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
    Thanks Eric, that's interesting. Me, I'm very visual -- I like to see where I am on a hill versus a grade. I've tried looking at profiles but only really make the connection after I've ridden on the road. That may just be my inexperience?
    I think that's normal. But after comparing profiles to climbs you know from having ridden them you will have a better idea of what the profiles feel like. So then you can look at a profile of a new climb and be able to relate it to climbs that you know... like "south lake is like Hamilton with Hicks in the middle, and the top is like the last part of Diablo only four times as long".

    A good tool for looking at local climbs is ACTC's profile viewer. It lets you compare any two climb profiles in it's database.

  10. #10
    Come on, it'll be fun BenRidin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    ...
    A good tool for looking at local climbs is ACTC's profile viewer. It lets you compare any two climb profiles in it's database.
    +1

    As you do the same climb over and over, you will begin to discover the small area's for which you will gain "local knowledge". This knowledge hopefully will help you become faster on that particular climb.

    BR

  11. #11
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    I just ride up the climb. *shrug I kind of know what pace I can maintain so just ride in that pace. Only time "knowing" the climb comes in handy for me is on descents. On unfamiliar rode with blind turns and what not I tend to take it easy. Don't want to kill myself on a training ride. Race maybe, but training ride no.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

  12. #12
    100 kW :) ifox's Avatar
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    For me it's either on the first or second ride. I found that I'm getting better in judging the gradient and how hard I should push.

    I also combine seating and standing "intervals" while climbing. I'm doing this regardless of how many times I rode the particular climb. And on the climbs I did more than 2-3 times those intervals may not necessarily match. My intervals go something like this: 3-5 minutes seating 0.5-1 minute standing.

    I'm familiar with most of the climbs on Peninsula and South Bay. I lack "knowledge" of the climbs in Marin and East Bay.
    Cat-O-Meter: where do I get mine?

  13. #13
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti SteveE's Avatar
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    I just wanna' know where the top is! (i.e., Are we there yet?)
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

  14. #14
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    I jut look at my HRM and try not to go over 180-183 bpm too much. How much depends on the length of the climb.

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    bonk!

  16. #16
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bostic View Post
    bonk!

  17. #17
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    For a big mountain, I'll look at the elevation profile before I climb it the first time. I'll take it easy on the decent the first time, since the profile doesn't tell you where the tricky corners are.

  18. #18
    Senior Member sweetnsourbkr's Avatar
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    That's easy. Just go ride with some girls that can kick your *****. You'll be flyin over hills in no time.

  19. #19
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetnsourbkr View Post
    That's easy. Just go ride with some girls that can kick your *****. You'll be flyin over hills in no time.
    Dude, don't remind me. I was feeling pretty good after the ink grade on the Tour of Napa when I was putting my toy hammer down and passed a nice young lady, also riding a Roubaix. I thought I'd put some distance behind me only turns out she wanted to draft me.

    Thing is, I was spent.

    Not good.

    Despite the "come on, I'm just a girl" lines, she was clearly the stronger rider, good incentive to keep more in the tank on the longer rides next time.

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