Thoughts on climbing (spinning vs mashing)
So I recently moved to the Bay Area and have been trying to get better at hills. I've been slowly improving. I have a compact with a 12-26 cassette and found that there are times where I'm grinding away at 24 (preferring to keep the 26 only for emergencies) and ending up with an average cadence of 70 or so (where when I was on the East Coast my average would be 85-90). The bike I sold when I moved had a standard and I can definitively say I cannot get up some of the climbs here on a double (and even with my compact I've suffered once the grade goes beyond 16%.
Well, last weekend, after an already big week or riding that included mt Diablo, I did a long ride (43 miles) with about 4600 ft of climbing. I raised my saddle a smidgen (and moved it a tiny bit forward) which made it conducive to spinning. I also tried to spin as much as possible on climbs (and granny gear for emergencies be damned). Well, it felt like I was going much faster, and even at the end of the ride I felt pretty fresh. On one particular climb, I hang with someone who normally destroys me on climbs.
Strava bears my thoughts out. My cadence was higher, and my times were faster than almost all the other times I've ridden (like on one climb, Strava estimated a highest previous wattage of 180, this time, 210. My heart rate was slightly higher, but the climb actually felt easier, because I said terrain be damned and tried to keep a high cadence.)
I'm seriously considering a 11-28 or even Shimano's new 12-30 when my 12-26 wears out.