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  1. #1
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    Training for Long Climbs Without Long Climbs

    I set a couple of performance goals for myself for this year and was pleasantly surprised when I met them. So now is time to think about a couple of things to "point to" for next year (FWIW, I am just not a "road race" kind of guy - and NO disrespect intended toward those who enjoy and/or excel in Criteriums/etc).

    One thing that I am considering taking on is the the Six Gap Century in northern Ga. (something like 11K feet of climbing). Where I ride in southeastern NC is very much up and down, but never any one thing for very long. So finding some place where you can maintain a very hard/steady effort for like 10 to 15 minutes is tough because you almost always hit a short downhill several times in that kind of timespan. I'm assuming here that I could just ride a 5 mile flat stretch at whatever power was my climbing training power and gear it to match a whatever climb cadence, and I've got decent climbing training. But that tends to fall apart when interrupted by multiple short descents that you always run into around here.

    Thoughts/suggestions on how to train for long climbs if you don't have any. Thanks.

    dave

    ps. I don't have to go that far to find some somewhat hillier areas, but would prefer to avoid that if possible.

  2. #2
    Senior Member McBTC's Avatar
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    That's the sort of thing that upright and recumbent exercise bikes like you see in a fitness club offer. They use magnetic resistance to simulate various levels of resistance. You see them in fitness centers and they're available for home use.

    Like many I have a rear wheel bicycle trainer (they're usually offer fluid resistance). Cost is<$200 for most of these so, I was surprised recently when pinged by an ad for a trainer that looked like mine but costing about $800. I clicked on it and sure enough, it came with a lot of electronics including online access so I guess you can race against others or tackle the Alpe d'Huez in the digital world.

    These devices can get pretty sophisticated in with them you now have the ability adjust the resistance, enabling you to simulate hills on the fly.
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  3. #3
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    I've found some carryover between climbing and high-speed flat riding. That is, when I'm in shape to average 20 mph for 20-30 minutes, I don't have much trouble climbing. The biggest difference is gearing, and there's a bit of mental adjustment too. So make sure you've got adequately low gears, then lower your expectations w.r.t. speed. Match your climbing effort to your "flying" effort, the speed will be what the speed turns out to be.

    So train like you're going to race -- intervals, for instance. Then on your longer weekends head for the nearest long climb (e.g., Fancy Gap). to see how that training is working.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    There isn't anything "magically different" about hills. They can be a different kind of mental challenge than a lot of people are used to, and your cadence will be slower than you're probably used to. But don't make too much out of that.

    What really matters is how much power you can produce and for how long. You get better at that through training, by producing lots of power. You can do that going up a hill or on flat ground. A trainer can be useful because it removes a lot of variables (like traffic and down hills) and you can work exactly as hard as you need to. But they're incredibly boring.

    A power meter is hugely useful when you're training for the climbs and also to pace yourself when you're doing them.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Trainer 2x20's. If you have a power meter, do them at 90-95% FTP. If no PM but you have a heart rate monitor, then just below LTHR. If neither PM nor HRM, then 8-8.5/10 RPE.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
    I set a couple of performance goals for myself for this year and was pleasantly surprised when I met them. So now is time to think about a couple of things to "point to" for next year (FWIW, I am just not a "road race" kind of guy - and NO disrespect intended toward those who enjoy and/or excel in Criteriums/etc).

    One thing that I am considering taking on is the the Six Gap Century in northern Ga. (something like 11K feet of climbing). Where I ride in southeastern NC is very much up and down, but never any one thing for very long. So finding some place where you can maintain a very hard/steady effort for like 10 to 15 minutes is tough because you almost always hit a short downhill several times in that kind of timespan. I'm assuming here that I could just ride a 5 mile flat stretch at whatever power was my climbing training power and gear it to match a whatever climb cadence, and I've got decent climbing training. But that tends to fall apart when interrupted by multiple short descents that you always run into around here.

    Thoughts/suggestions on how to train for long climbs if you don't have any. Thanks.

    dave

    ps. I don't have to go that far to find some somewhat hillier areas, but would prefer to avoid that if possible.
    I have found in the flat Minneapolis-area that hilly rides get you strong for long climbs. My daily commute is 8.5 miles (one-way) with around 650 ft of climbing (hilly route). I've been riding this route daily for years. With no special training, I decided to take on some gravel-grinders, including the Almanzo 100 - 100 mile route with 7,500 ft of climbing (no mountains, but there's lots of hills). I found myself passing riders on every climb, and never had a rider pass on the climbs (down hill was different, I had the wrong tires and was scared of descending gravel).

    My favorite was stay on my bike while climbing Oriel Rd Hill (272 ft at average of 10%.... on gravel!) - no other rider around me was riding, they needed to walk. There were many riders ahead of me that clearly rode up the hill, but nobody near me could stay on the bike.
    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I'm blaming you. There's a difference.

  7. #7
    I love the rolling hills. ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Making use of headwinds and bigger-than-appropriate gears are strategies that come to mind. You certainly don't need long hills to train for them -- it's a combination of having your head in the right place and the appropriate fitness.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    Making use of headwinds and bigger-than-appropriate gears are strategies that come to mind. You certainly don't need long hills to train for them -- it's a combination of having your head in the right place and the appropriate fitness.
    This works too. It helps to sit up on the tops of the bars in the same posture you would use for climbing.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Every time there is a strong wind out there ... ride into it.


    I'll also add that climbing stairs really seems to be making a difference for me. I work on the 5th floor of my building and I do that climb several times a day ... lately it has been about 6 or 7 times a day for 30-35 flights of stairs. Each day, 5 days a week.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Every time there is a strong wind out there ... ride into it.


    I'll also add that climbing stairs really seems to be making a difference for me. I work on the 5th floor of my building and I do that climb several times a day ... lately it has been about 6 or 7 times a day for 30-35 flights of stairs. Each day, 5 days a week.
    True story. 20 some years ago (before I owned a bicycle) I joined a gym that was just a block from where I worked and I used it often at lunch. I realized one day that I was in an elevator going up six flights with the intent of getting on a machine that simulates stairs.

    You gotta' wonder sometimes :-)

    dave

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    Senior Member McBTC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
    True story. 20 some years ago (before I owned a bicycle) I joined a gym that was just a block from where I worked and I used it often at lunch. I realized one day that I was in an elevator going up six flights with the intent of getting on a machine that simulates stairs.

    You gotta' wonder sometimes :-)


    dave

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  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Hill repeats. A 15 minute hill is perfect. 3-4 repeats at lactate threshold.

    Another thing you can do is speed work. My fave is all-out for 45 seconds, 6 minutes easy spinning, 6 reps. Sometimes do them standing, sometimes seated.

    Another thing to try in rolling terrain is to hold a 100 cadence, moderately high effort, up hill, flat, and downhill, changing gearing as necessary. Can't be too steep up or down. Two 30 minute intervals, only 5 minutes easy spinning between.

    Another thing you can do is one-legged pedaling on the trainer or rollers. 2 minutes each leg at 85 cadence, 2 minutes legs together 90-95 cadence, 2 minutes each leg 50-55 cadence, 2 minutes legs together, repeat until you can't anymore. No slack in the chain, ever! Shift as necessary to make the 2 minutes possible.

    These sorts of workouts will get your power and endurance up where they should be. What they don't teach you is pacing, hydration, and nutrition.
    Results matter

  13. #13
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    100 miles with 11,000 feet of climbing is a big ride.

    At the minimum, I'd want to ride a few 100 mile rides on my local rolling hills before the Six Gap. And going 120 or 130 miles would be a little closer to the Six Gap effort.

    ridewithgps Six Gap route.

    ~~~~~~
    Steep climbs
    I did the 62 mile Tour de Cashiers a few years ago. It was harder than I expected, mainly due to the steepest climbs. Some of the little bumps near the beginning on the elevation chart are 250 to 300 feet, with sections over 12%. That steep climbing affected my lower back and leg muscles a lot more than the same amount of elevation gain at a more reasonable grade. I had to stop briefly a couple of times to rest my lower back on the 1800 feet in 4 mile climb at mile 44. And I passed a few riders with leg cramps on that climb.

    I would be concerned about the steep parts of the Six Gap. The best thing would be to go ride one of the big climbs in advance, with a half hour warmup ride and then do the climb. I always find a big climb to seem easier the next time, since I know what to expect.

    And core exercises would help with the steep climb efforts. And intervals like some of the previous comments mentioned.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 12-10-15 at 07:51 PM.

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    You can read how Cameron Cogburn trained to win the Mt Washington hill climb while doing his PhD at MIT with limited access to hills and a relatively small amount of time to devote to training: The Mt. Washington Hillclimb: A case study

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
    True story. 20 some years ago (before I owned a bicycle) I joined a gym that was just a block from where I worked and I used it often at lunch. I realized one day that I was in an elevator going up six flights with the intent of getting on a machine that simulates stairs.

    You gotta' wonder sometimes :-)

    dave
    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    100 miles with 11,000 feet of climbing is a big ride.

    At the minimum, I'd want to ride a few 100 mile rides on my local rolling hills before the Six Gap. And going 120 or 130 miles would be a little closer to the Six Gap effort.

    ridewithgps Six Gap route.

    ~~~~~~
    Steep climbs
    I did the 62 mile Tour de Cashiers a few years ago. It was harder than I expected, mainly due to the steepest climbs. Some of the little bumps near the beginning on the elevation chart are 250 to 300 feet, with sections over 12%. That steep climbing affected my lower back and leg muscles a lot more than the same amount of elevation gain at a more reasonable grade. I had to stop briefly a couple of times to rest my lower back on the 1800 feet in 4 mile climb at mile 44. And I passed a few riders with leg cramps on that climb.

    I would be concerned about the steep parts of the Six Gap. The best thing would be to go ride one of the big climbs in advance, with a half hour warmup ride and then do the climb. I always find a big climb to seem easier the next time, since I know what to expect.

    And core exercises would help with the steep climb efforts. And intervals like some of the previous comments mentioned.
    Another true story. Having done virtually no climbing since moving to SW-FL in 1986, I rode Six Gap this year on 11 days notice. I am 65, 5' 8.5" at 135/140lbs. Here in SW FL a 100 mile ride can have as little as 30' of gain. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March, had a bilateral orchiectomy(L.A. minus both), ride with younger guys who average 22+mph for 40+ miles non-stop no letting up, ride INTO the wind for 1 to 3 miles in 53/12 standing grabbing the hoods, have done numerous 100+ milers this year with a 200.7 miler this past Halloween of which the first 100.3 miles were with only one foot touch to ground when I had to stop at mile 84 to pick up an empty gel pack after I missed getting it into the top-tube bag. Last year I rode the 112 miles of Ironman Florida without touching. No trainer miles, no interval miles, no anything everybody does for training. I ride 2 to 4 times per week. I enjoy riding into the wind and straight up hands on tops. My gearing is 39/53 with 12/28 for climbing otherwise 12/23.

    Last month I rode Horrible Hundred in Clermont, Florida(4,000'+ in 92 miles) and it hit me harder than Six Gap because my blood work showed worse anemia and other indicators.

    Yesterday, Thursday 12/10/2015-5 months after my 65th, I had my second prostate cancer procedure and my Dr. declared me cancer free and wants me to get on Testosterone ASAP.

    If there should be any doubt about my story, one can email Gary or Melody at Real Bikes in Englewood, FL and ask about Super Freak John. A name he and the guys bestowed upon me after leaving them behind during the climbs.

    To complete the task chosen, one needs good preparation and lots of luck.

    OP, GOOD LUCK preparing for and completing Six Gap.......we all plan to be there next year and I WILL be attacking the hills much harder.

  16. #16
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Biggish gears on the flat will do it. Pushing a gear tall enough to restrict you to a climbing cadence of, say, 75 builds exactly the sort of muscular endurance you need for climbing. In fact it seems tougher than climbing, to me, because the hill keeps you honest while on the flat you always have the option of backing off.

    Still useful to ride some decent hills occasionally just to get a feel for pacing, learning how to take it easy while out of the saddle, that sort of thing, but in terms of sheer fitness you can train for hills on flat terrain. And you've just done a five-hour century, you aren't lacking much in the fitness department. A lot of climbing is in your head. Just get used to the idea that if you ride at your own pace and settle into a rhythm you know you can sustain, it doesn't matter how long the hill is.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  17. #17
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    OldTryGuy - thanks for the inspiring story and congratulations (for a number of things).

    dave

  18. #18
    I love the rolling hills. ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    +1, congratulations, OldTryGuy!
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
    One thing that I am considering taking on is the the Six Gap Century in northern Ga. (something like 11K feet of climbing). Where I ride in southeastern NC is very much up and down, but never any one thing for very long. So finding some place where you can maintain a very hard/steady effort for like 10 to 15 minutes is tough because you almost always hit a short downhill several times in that kind of timespan. I'm assuming here that I could just ride a 5 mile flat stretch at whatever power was my climbing training power and gear it to match a whatever climb cadence, and I've got decent climbing training. But that tends to fall apart when interrupted by multiple short descents that you always run into around here.

    Thoughts/suggestions on how to train for long climbs if you don't have any. Thanks.
    Training for sustained hill climbing when you don't have sustained climbs is awkward but possible. Pay more attention to your normalized power than your average power.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
    OldTryGuy - thanks for the inspiring story and congratulations (for a number of things).

    dave
    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    +1, congratulations, OldTryGuy!
    Thanks!!!

    After the fog cleared out of my empty head late Thursday, I spoke to a friend and told her I had asked my doc while in recovery how soon I could get back to riding. He said today. She said I was the "nuttiest nutless guy she knows."

    WELL......11 miles bicycled today. 5 miles to the LBS to say high to today's group of riders and 6 miles home. On the way home I found 3 pennies, 1 dime and 1 quarter in the bike lane since I was riding slowly on my wife's 26" balloon tired Schwinn with the seat turned around for comfort reasons.

    BTW, the ride was also with a Foley cath. in use.

  21. #21
    I love the rolling hills. ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I had to look that one up, and I wish I hadn't.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    I trained for the Logan to Jackson Road Race (LOTOJA) never having done more than 80 miles during training. Even though I had access to a lot of mountainous climbs at the time, living in Northern California, I didn't do a lot of extended climbs. That was mostly because I didn't want to drive to where the mountains were, and instead stayed local and didn't do more than maybe 6-8 mile climbs.

    How I did it was working on pushing my LTHR up as much as I could. I didn't have any problem with the 206 miles. Then again, my body seems to be built for long distance as I find it a lot easier to sit just below LTHR for extended periods of time compared with bursts of intensity like in crits.

  23. #23
    Senior Member TexMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
    Thanks!!!

    After the fog cleared out of my empty head late Thursday, I spoke to a friend and told her I had asked my doc while in recovery how soon I could get back to riding. He said today. She said I was the "nuttiest nutless guy she knows."

    WELL......11 miles bicycled today. 5 miles to the LBS to say high to today's group of riders and 6 miles home. On the way home I found 3 pennies, 1 dime and 1 quarter in the bike lane since I was riding slowly on my wife's 26" balloon tired Schwinn with the seat turned around for comfort reasons.

    BTW, the ride was also with a Foley cath. in use.
    Dude! great story. Maybe post pics of the bike with saddle turned around

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexMac View Post
    Dude! great story. Maybe post pics of the bike with saddle turned around
    Fat seat on arse-backwards is SOOOO WRONG, I feel it is something best left to one's imagination, so no pics.

  25. #25
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    Try the 3s3m as a warm up. It's in your neck of the woods: Full Century Ride Option | Chattanooga Bicycle Club

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