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  1. #1
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    Hilly vs. Flat Terrain

    Hey all:

    I've only been riding a few months on a hybrid so take this for what it's worth. I live and ride in a fairly hilly area with some good climbs. And I thought that was good training for building endurance. But I recently went on vacation down on the Eastern Shore and rode on perfectly flat terrain. I was thinking it was going to be easy, but I think it may have been harder! The difference being that instead of being able to coast along on descents, I was pedaling the entire friggin time. Is my perception correct, or did I just have a bad ride?

    Also, flat rides are boring. No fast downhills. Felt like I was in a cycle class just pedaling away.

  2. #2
    Mitcholo CrimsonKarter21's Avatar
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    Ohio is like that, mainly flat, but some good hills, you just have to look far. I actually just found a 40 mile stretch of mean hills a half hour bike away from my house, and it is hard to adjust, I was so used to pedaling non-stop for two hours on flat ground that I thought I'd be doing fine on hills, but they just killed my legs, I'm talking about 8mph uphills.
    What I'm trying to say is that you need a little bit of time to adjust to different terrain, but you got the tough terrain out of the way early, flat is easy. Keep at it, find some flats and ride!

  3. #3
    Flatland hack Flak's Avatar
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    Crimson, i live in Lakewood and would love to find a few hills aside from the entrance/exits from the metro parks. Do tell!

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    Senior Member Basscycle's Avatar
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    I kinda experienced the same thing when I switched over from MTB. I was so used to climbs that didn't las that all that long that, when it came to spinning for more than 15 or 20 minutes, my legs would turn to jelly. The upside is that it didn't take all that long for my legs to get used to spinning. Keep at it bro!

  5. #5
    On the big ring deanp's Avatar
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    I think flat is better for building endurance. I wish there were more flat roads in my immediate area. It seems like I'm either climbing or coasting. It's hard to get a steady pace going.

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    I'm with deanp, I absolutely love the sections of my rides where it's just a long drawn out flat (or near enough that I am still doing 20-22 on an incline). That said.. when I do hilly rides I definitely feel stronger the next day, it's just tough to keep up motivation when your speed varies between 12 and 45mph in a half mile stretch, and you see the next hill is even bigger.

  7. #7
    Mr.Schwinn F'in Armstrong nocondorfx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flak
    Crimson, i live in Lakewood and would love to find a few hills aside from the entrance/exits from the metro parks. Do tell!
    wooster, rockcliff out of the metroparks,
    some hills in hinckley,
    and then everything else in and out of the valley

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    Senior Member john bono's Avatar
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    They each have their points. On a hilly terrain, you wind up grinding away at <10mph one moment, only within 2 minutes to wind up bombing downhill at 48 mph the next. On flats you spin at a steady speed and fight the wind.
    Ride a bike. It makes your legs stringy, and less tasty to our Kanamit friends.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  9. #9
    Eternal Cat3 Rookie branman1986's Avatar
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    mleess, I felt the exact same way a month or two in when I started cycling. Give it another month or two, and you'll probably feel like you could pedal away for hours at a time on flats...your endurance base will just keep building and building.

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    Don't coast down the hills.

  11. #11
    Mitcholo CrimsonKarter21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iansir
    Don't coast down the hills.
    It's good to se that other people don't. I just put her into the 14th and bomb that hill!

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    I find hills to be way better exercise that the flats. Are you using a granny gear and spinning easily on the hills. Try spinning a bigger gear and huffing and puffing a little. Pushing into the anerobic zone isn't the most efficient way to ride, but it will give you a better workout and will improve your fitness level much faster than easy spinning all the time.

  13. #13
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    I was pedaling the entire friggin time.
    Some of us live to pedal 100% of the time.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iansir
    Don't coast down the hills.
    My last ride I made a conscious effort to do just that, i.e., keep spinning the entire time, versus kicking back and just rolling downhill. I think it made a difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mleess
    My last ride I made a conscious effort to do just that, i.e., keep spinning the entire time, versus kicking back and just rolling downhill. I think it made a difference.
    Easy spinning on the downhills isn't going to make much difference (except to keep your legs loose). You need to really hammer on the downhills if you want some exercise.

  16. #16
    Know Your Onion! badkarma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mleess
    The difference being that instead of being able to coast along on descents, I was pedaling the entire friggin time. Is my perception correct, or did I just have a bad ride?

    Also, flat rides are boring. No fast downhills. Felt like I was in a cycle class just pedaling away.
    It's less work to maintain a constant speed than it is to constantly be accelerating and decelerating. Perhaps you're just not conditioned yet to constantly pedaling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by badkarma
    It's less work to maintain a constant speed than it is to constantly be accelerating and decelerating. Perhaps you're just not conditioned yet to constantly pedaling.
    Depends on your speed. A constant 25mph is a lot more work than 5mph hill climbs.

  18. #18
    Know Your Onion! badkarma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99
    Depends on your speed. A constant 25mph is a lot more work than 5mph hill climbs.
    Say you do a route at a constant speed and you end up with X average speed. If you were to do that same route while constantly accelerating/decelerating, you'd be doing more work in the end to have that same X average speed.
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  19. #19
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    "Say you do a route at a constant speed and you end up with X average speed. If you were to do that same route while constantly accelerating/decelerating, you'd be doing more work in the end to have that same X average speed."

    My high school physics teacher would have pegged you with an eraser just now.

  20. #20
    Senior Member here and there's Avatar
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    After riding nothing but hilly terrain for the last month or so (on the road and on the trails) I finally went for ride on flat terrain this morning. It was a nice ride, beautiful scenery, but I'm heading back to the hills on my next ride. The change of terrain is funner than riding the flats.

  21. #21
    Know Your Onion! badkarma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rknj
    "Say you do a route at a constant speed and you end up with X average speed. If you were to do that same route while constantly accelerating/decelerating, you'd be doing more work in the end to have that same X average speed."

    My high school physics teacher would have pegged you with an eraser just now.
    Say you're doing a 10 mi. route, with the first 5 miles downhill (10% grade), and the next 5 uphill (10% grade). If you output a constant 200 watts of power, you'll have an ave. speed of 41.64 mph for the downhill, and an ave. speed of 4.46 mph on the uphill. Therefore, the total time for you to complete the trip is 1.2417 hrs (overall ave speed of 8.05 mph). FYI, my algorithm accounts for rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag.

    Do the same 10 miles on even ground outputting a constant 200 watts and the overall ave. speed is
    18.23 mph.

    So it seems to me that you do more work in the hills than you would on flat ground when going the same distance.
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  22. #22
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    I think that if you ride at a higher cadence then spinning the whole time is pretty normal. just increase to a higher gear on the downhill, and maintain the cadence. the only thing I noticed when I rode the Seagull century a few years ago is that there always seems to be a head wind no matter what direction your going. the flat area doesn't break up the wind as much as the hillier terrain does and the road surfaces on the eastern shore seemed to be a lot coarser ,the tar and chip had a lot of chip in it. This definitely increased the rolling resistance. I much prefer the variable terrain when riding ,its not quite as mindless as all flat.

  23. #23
    Walmart partner spiderbike's Avatar
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    I ride in a very hilly area...after a hour I would really just like to ride flats for a hour and try to maintain that cadence...

    that is the dream ride anybody have this route

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by onRoffR
    the only thing I noticed when I rode the Seagull century a few years ago is that there always seems to be a head wind no matter what direction your going.
    A head wind for 100 miles? Oh joy. My wife's going to owe me big time for doing this with her!!

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