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    fredelicious mini-masher overthere's Avatar
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    hills

    I'm pretty much a flatlander; but last weekend tried to go over one of the local 'hills' called Cantelow. I couldn't believe how much I was panting! My legs felt fine, never started burning or anything, it was not being able to catch me breath. Tried the ride yesterday, and the same thing on the final incline. Of course the heat was bad yesterday, 104 that day, but same thing. Legs were fine and could keep going, it was my panting, and feeling like a thermometer about to blow my top!

    So what can I do to improve my engine? Is it just hills, or do I work on my aerobic engine and do longer rides? Anaerobic work? I always loved getting out of the saddle in spinning class on 'hill' work, and could get leg burn there, but riding 'hills' in spin class is NOTHING like doing real ones. I never get to the point of panting in spin class, but I do get 'leg burn' that I didn't on a real hill. ???

    My goal is to make it over the darn thing without gasping for breath...

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    Quote Originally Posted by overthere
    . . .

    So what can I do to improve my engine? Is it just hills, or do I work on my aerobic engine and do longer rides? Anaerobic work? I always loved getting out of the saddle in spinning class on 'hill' work, and could get leg burn there, but riding 'hills' in spin class is NOTHING like doing real ones. I never get to the point of panting in spin class, but I do get 'leg burn' that I didn't on a real hill. ???

    My goal is to make it over the darn thing without gasping for breath...
    Ooh, OOH, I get to say it first: Ride that hill, and ride it regular. Ride any hill, and if you have to stop, stop catch your breath and ride on, even if it's only 50 feet and then do it again.

    Plug away regular and you'll eventually be getting up them in some sort of style.

    You CAN do it.
    I . . can . . . doooo . . . it

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    The Question Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by overthere
    I'm pretty much a flatlander; but last weekend tried to go over one of the local 'hills' called Cantelow. I couldn't believe how much I was panting! My legs felt fine, never started burning or anything, it was not being able to catch me breath. Tried the ride yesterday, and the same thing on the final incline. Of course the heat was bad yesterday, 104 that day, but same thing. Legs were fine and could keep going, it was my panting, and feeling like a thermometer about to blow my top!

    So what can I do to improve my engine? Is it just hills, or do I work on my aerobic engine and do longer rides? Anaerobic work? I always loved getting out of the saddle in spinning class on 'hill' work, and could get leg burn there, but riding 'hills' in spin class is NOTHING like doing real ones. I never get to the point of panting in spin class, but I do get 'leg burn' that I didn't on a real hill. ???

    My goal is to make it over the darn thing without gasping for breath...
    hmmmm, well I found that going up moderate hills with cars behind you is great motivation It keeps me going which in turn conditions me for harder, longer hills. There's nothing like the feeling of trying to hurry or keep up with traffic. Other than just keep riding those hills, with the traffic I'm not sure what else you can do. Maybe some breathing exercises?
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    fredelicious mini-masher overthere's Avatar
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    Maybe...it's just funny to me that I pant sooo much, like I can't get enough air. Is that anaerobic stuff? Yep, I really LIKE hills, as bad as I am. I DON'T like to sprint. The hard thing is that if I go do the Cantelow loop, it's 58 miles or so. 4 hours for me! I know I could drive closer, but I'm one of those car-light people. Maybe I should take a climbing vacation and spend a week in hills! :-)Thanks for the encouragement.

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    sch
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    Just out of curiosity try the hill early in the day when the temp is say 80F, rather than 104F. Just the temp alone is quite a challenge even with 20-30% relative humidity. Steve

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    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that the 15 mph+ cooling effect you're used to from riding on the flats pretty much disappears when you drop to <10mph on a hill. So now your body's dealing with heat as well as gravity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overthere
    ...My legs felt fine, never started burning or anything, it was not being able to catch me breath... Is that anaerobic stuff?
    I'm no expert but here's my take (which may not be right either).

    aerobic = oxygen dependant process
    anaerobic = not oxygen dependant process (or oxygen delayed).

    Not being able to take in enough oxygen means you are hitting the limits of the aerobic (oxygen dependant) process. Running out of strength means you are hitting the limits of your anaerobic process.

    While going up the hill, if you are pumping just fine but can't suck enough air then that's the aerobic process hitting the stops. If you are breathing nominally but have no strength, that's the anaerobic process. If you loose strength AND can't get enough air then you're pretty much out of everything.

    Spinning high cadence/low force will challenge your aerobic fitness. Spinning low cadence/high force will challenge your anaerobic fitness.

    Except for a few bridge spans over nearby rivers, I'm pretty much a flat lander too. I get most of my anaerobic challenge from the winds, everything else is pretty much in the aerobic zones.

    How are you getting up the hill. Low - Medium - High gear? Low - Medium - High Cadence?

    d.tipton

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    fredelicious mini-masher overthere's Avatar
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    Thanks for your take! Yes, it was the lack of air that got me; heat may have been a factor on my second try, but not really the first. It was around 12N, so the heat hadn't peaked yet, but it WAS hot. I guess in all my flatlander riding, long rides, and spinning I never experienced that gasping for breath stuff. I was in my lowest gear, at a low cadence! No where to go but tipping over...

    Yes, living here would be *perfect* if we just had some hills a bit closer in just one direction...say North. Not much there except Woodland (ducking).

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    Quote Originally Posted by overthere
    Thanks for your take! Yes, it was the lack of air that got me; heat may have been a factor on my second try, but not really the first. It was around 12N, so the heat hadn't peaked yet, but it WAS hot. I guess in all my flatlander riding, long rides, and spinning I never experienced that gasping for breath stuff. I was in my lowest gear, at a low cadence! No where to go but tipping over...

    Yes, living here would be *perfect* if we just had some hills a bit closer in just one direction...say North. Not much there except Woodland (ducking).
    Just keep doing it. I live in a very hilly area and have big hills everywhere. For instance try a 10% grade for over 1/4 mile. That sucks and is right in front of my house. Then of course there is the 2 mile climb at the end of my long rides. Believe me they suck everytime but over time they get easier.
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    The Question Man
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    I have a somewhat unrelated question. How do you determine the degree of the hill? Especially if you don't know the elevation. Is there any way without using special instruments?
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    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    if you aren't already - sit up and put your hands on the tops of the bars. you need not worry about wind resistance, so get your body in a position where you can take deep full breaths. also pace yourself - easier said than done. when you start to feel your heart rate going through the roof, slow down an MPH or two and try to get it to stablize. if your quads are burning, try shifting down a gear and spinning more.

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    Senior Member trickdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overthere
    I'm pretty much a flatlander; but last weekend tried to go over one of the local 'hills' called Cantelow. I couldn't believe how much I was panting! My legs felt fine, never started burning or anything, it was not being able to catch me breath. Tried the ride yesterday, and the same thing on the final incline. Of course the heat was bad yesterday, 104 that day, but same thing. Legs were fine and could keep going, it was my panting, and feeling like a thermometer about to blow my top!

    My goal is to make it over the darn thing without gasping for breath...
    last week, I read in another post some general advice that has helped me out quite a bit, specifically up and over a 1000' climb @ 6% grade for the first time without stoppping. YMMV....

    Tired legs, not out of breath: gear down
    Out of breath, legs not tired: gear up
    Tired legs and out breath: time for a short break.

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    Senior Member trickdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overthere
    I'm pretty much a flatlander; but last weekend tried to go over one of the local 'hills' called Cantelow. I couldn't believe how much I was panting! My legs felt fine, never started burning or anything, it was not being able to catch me breath. Tried the ride yesterday, and the same thing on the final incline. Of course the heat was bad yesterday, 104 that day, but same thing. Legs were fine and could keep going, it was my panting, and feeling like a thermometer about to blow my top!

    My goal is to make it over the darn thing without gasping for breath...
    Last week, I read in another post some general advice that has helped me out quite a bit, specifically up and over a 1000' climb @ 6% grade for the first time without stoppping. YMMV....

    Tired legs, not out of breath: gear down
    Out of breath, legs not tired: gear up
    Tired legs and out breath: time for a short break.

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    fredelicious mini-masher overthere's Avatar
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    Trickdog - Perfect! I'm writing it down. I should have geared up earlier, and then maybe I wouldn't have needed the break.

    Funny, I really, really like the challenge of hills. Wind is not as rewarding!

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    Quote Originally Posted by overthere
    ... I was in my lowest gear, at a low cadence! No where to go but tipping over...
    Quote Originally Posted by trickdog
    Tired legs, not out of breath: gear down
    Out of breath, legs not tired: gear up
    Tired legs and out breath: time for a short break.
    Following this little ditto might have worked. Just remember, shift up early, not after you have come to a crawl in low gear. You're gonna need to push harder (to maintain your speed); borrow from your anaerobic process but don't use it all up on one hill (unless that's the only up hill you have for the ride). Be prepared for the higher gear or you will tip over. If your having troubles maintaining walking speed then either you gotta start the hill faster or get off and push. The way you describe your condition, you probably have a little elbow room in your anaerobic process with your legs working just fine. Might as well use it. A word of warning about the anaerobic process, it's a pay me later process. You do the work with little increase in oxygen need UNTIL the work is done and then it's pay back time ... your gonna suck oxygen eventially.
    Make sure you're breathing OK (not gasping) when it's time to pay the piper.

    I remember this by imagining sprinters at track events. They explode off the line and are pretty much using the anaerobic process for the enter race. Notice how they breath. Very short and choppy DURING the race. Their power output is not entirely dependant on lots of oxygen intake. After crossing the finish line and coming to a stop, what happens? They double over, breathing deeply (almost gasping). That's their pay back time.

    Sounds like your climbing a cliff not a hill (said the rider from Florida )

    d.tipton

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    Hey overthere I have the same problem. I'am a fairly good flat rider (20-21mph) and seems like I could ride forever, but the hills just leave me winded. One thing I'm going to try, and feedback is welcome is to try running wind sprints. Seems like this would help to build up my lung capacity. Any thoughts on this from the experts?

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    cab horn
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    How much do you weigh?

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    6ft tall and 170 lbs

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ant
    Just keep doing it. I live in a very hilly area and have big hills everywhere. For instance try a 10% grade for over 1/4 mile. That sucks and is right in front of my house. Then of course there is the 2 mile climb at the end of my long rides. Believe me they suck everytime but over time they get easier.
    This is so true. If your performance is suffering on the hills you have to force yourself to keep riding up them. Now, i'm not saying that you need to climb yourself into pulminary recessitation but you can get better by performing "hill days" say, every other ride day as an example. That way, you aren't unpleasantly surprised when you DO need to attack that hill. For me, on my non-bike days, leg strength training (barbell Lunges, squats, leg extensions, etc) has made a HUGE difference in my strength on the bike going uphills. HTH - renegade

  20. #20
    Hill Seeker LOOPDEELOOP's Avatar
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    Hills should be a part of your overall cycling training. I like to do slow and easy, few hills one day, then all out hills the next. Where I live, it's hard NOT to find a hill. You need to train with hills the way you train on flats - alternating higher and lower gears, building up your strength, and working on your recovery. You can't go all out on a hill if you haven't been hill training. It's just like anything else in the athletic world - you've got to build up your power and strength to condition your body for the hills. Don't judge your performance on hills after just a few rides. It can take a whole season before you see how well you can adapt to hill climbing.
    The world has a lot of starters but very few finishers.

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    Hill Seeker LOOPDEELOOP's Avatar
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    Oh yes - and DO remember to hydrate ... drink that water! It's so important on hot days. Especially when you put in the added effort of hill climbing.
    The world has a lot of starters but very few finishers.

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    Hey you flatlanders need one of these: www.insideride.com
    From 0 to 15.5% climb while you ride your bike, freely

  23. #23
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    Work on your breathing technique. Establish a rythm of deep controlled breaths. Time it with your cadence if it helps, for example one breath every so many pedal revolutions. Keep your hands on the top of the flat part of the bars and try to keep your upper body upright. This will allow your lungs and chest to expand a little more and take in more oxyen. Try and relax as much as possible, once the rhythm comes and your in the zone you'll know it. Of course, some panting on hills is just a fact of riding hills, but keep doing them and you'll have much better control of it.
    If you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, then come sit next to me.

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    And, there's no shame in getting off the bike and walking or taking a break- I know this well, also I know well the more you ride hills, the better it gets. Great thread!
    the_recluse

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    I had a student last semester who is a cyclist and used to work at my LBS. He's a smart guy, former Marine, has friends in common with Lance, even ridden with him, I think.

    Anyway, he was telling me one day about doing a double exhale. If I remember correctly, he said that it's all in the efficient exchange of gases in your lungs and if you exhale twice before you inhale, you somehow increase the amount of oxygen you take in.

    I'm not doing his technique justice at all -- anyone familiar with this technique who can elaborate? I tried it a few times and it did seem to help. Then I forgot about it until I read this thread. Thanks!

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