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Old 09-06-02, 01:57 AM   #1
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Hill climb burnout problem?

Explain this to me, if there is a reason. I weigh 90Kg, height 1.8m. I go to gym 3x a week, and ride 2x a week. I do a lot of weights. I think my overall strength for my age (48) is actually very good. I think I'm possibly in the top % of fitness for my age group. I can jog quite fast (for me) for 40mins on a treadmill. I have good body strength. I lift and press good weights. My leg strength is also very good. But when I ride, I suffer from burnout very quickly.

In comparison (I know you can't compare apples and oranges) my wife is generally unfit. Yet on hills and long slopes, she often leaves me trailing, and she can ride in much bigger gears than I can. I find this quite upsetting - it almost makes a mockery of my exercise regimen. For health reasons I do about 60% anaerobic 40% aerobic. In theory, I should at least be able to handle the anaerobic threshold (like hill climbing) far better than I can.

My bike is a good fit. I could raise the saddle another 5cm or so to get a more perfect leg stroke but overall, I don't think there is much wrong with the bike or the way I ride it. I use the rear lock-out on the level, faster stretches so going into 'hardtail-ish' mode helps on that. It's just these darned hills that bug me.

Maybe I need to change the exercise I do and perhaps do something new or different?:confused:

Does anyone have some thoughts on this?
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Old 09-06-02, 02:46 AM   #2
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There are others in the forum who are better qualified to answer your question, but it seems to me that your aerobic capacity is unable to keep up with your anaerobic capacity.

You have superbly developed your anaerobic capacity, but that is helpful only for short bursts of power. To go the long haul (which would be anything over half a minute of heavy-duty climbing), you have to expand the aerobic. No one can climb anaerobically for more than just a short burst. And, if you are under the anaerobic threshhold, then you are still working aerobically.

If I recall correctly, Mr. Lance Armstrong trains heavily at the level just below his anaerobic threshhold. I also know that Eric Zabel mainly does short (15 second) intervals for his anaerobic capacity--not even that much weight-lifting, so I have heard. In other words, they are logging lots of aerobic miles.

This means you need to do a good number of longer rides (60, 80, 100 + km). I would also recommend getting out on the bike more than 2x per week (at least one of which should be "long"). The good news is that once you have increased your aerobic capacity, you should be able to climb pretty fast, since you have all that strength.

In my own training, I have been impressed with how independent my aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels are. I haved trained to go the distance and wondered why my climbing speed and my overall speeds were not improving. Then I did some interval training and, boom, they shot right up. (Kinda the opposite of your situation.)

Cheers,
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Last edited by jmlee; 09-06-02 at 02:50 AM.
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Old 09-06-02, 03:01 AM   #3
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And, don't overlook the weight question. If your wife weighs significantly less than you do, she may have a similar strength to weight ratio despite the fact that she is "generally unfit." If she is acceptably fit aerobically, then she'll be able to do more with her lighter weight than you can do.

As an example: If you and your bike together weight a total of 100kgs, then you'll need about 200 Watts of power to go up a 4% slope at 15 kmh. If your wife and her bike weigh, lets say, 75 kgs total, she only needs about 152 Watts to do the same.

Please don't misunderstand me as saying anything about your weight other than it plays a larger role with climbing than any other area in cycling.

Cheers,
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Old 09-06-02, 03:02 AM   #4
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It seems (from what i've been told) if you want to be a good hill climber, then you have got to go climb some hills ....!?
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Old 09-06-02, 03:04 AM   #5
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I see where you are getting at. Long rides of 60+km are not really an option. We have mtbs, but I'm not making any excuses.

But there is the inherent problem pushing my weight, bikes weight, rolling resistance, lower gearing and I chose to switch to mtb because of the danger of riding on roads in the south east of England - heavy traffic, idiots - round up the usual suspects, millions of them. That sort of thing.

The trails are the only thing I can reasonably head for so I need to develop the aerobic whilst needing it now! As the autumn and winter draw closer (again no excuse) I can only effectively get on the bike at weekends, and Saturday is the only day we can put aside for that realistically. So later in the year, we'll be able to go maybe once a week, so I need to put the aerobic emphasis in the gym and that's where I need to refine my exercises.

Given that, are there any specific gym things I can do? I don't want to sacrifice the anaerobic as that is vital to my glucose control (if you know about diabetes, you'll understand why). Treadmills are boring to use in the long term. I need to find something that gives the benefit of what you suggest, but is not so repetitive that it becomes discouraging.

For example, I could ride 30km on an erogotrainer but it would be boring. Ride 30km on a trail, and you have immediate interest value, if you see what I mean.
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Old 09-06-02, 03:13 AM   #6
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Please don't misunderstand me as saying anything about your weight other than it plays a larger role with climbing than any other area in cycling.
I agree. I appreciate what you are saying about the watts needed to go up the hill, and how hers will differ. It just miffed me a bit. Funny thing about weight. We'll look for lots of ways to make the bike skinnier and lightier, but the biggest area we can shed weight is that we carry with us all the time.

I think the last 'fatty' in the Tour De France I saw was the Fat Boy Jan Ullrich.

I could lose about 10Kg, but that'll be hard as I'd have to trade muscle mass and that's a product of my anaerobic development. I just read another reply, that the best way to climb hills is to get out there and climb them. It uses different muscle groupings so I think I just need to perservere.
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Old 09-06-02, 03:23 AM   #7
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Indeed, I see what you are getting at. I am already getting depressed at the prospect of winter approaching--I lost a lot of training time due to injury this summer.

Perhaps you can find a way to squeeze out a little longer ride on your Saturday ride. On the hills, you may want to try hitting them with a higher cadence, which will push the work more into the heart and lungs and away from the legs, i.e. turning the hills into more of an aerobic workout. (Of course, you'll feel even more taxed at first, but that's because you need to build up the aerobic capacity.) In fact, if your cadence on flat terrain is less than 90, you might want to try pushing it to 90 or above for the same reason. I moved my cadence from 85-90 up to 105-110 this spring (I still do 85-90 in the hills). It was hell (aerobically) at first, but now I love it.

I surely wouldn't recommend cutting back on your anaerobic training since it plays an important role in your overall health program (i.e. the diabeties). The trick for you will be to find a way work in a bit more aerobic training.

Best of luck,
Jamie
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Old 09-06-02, 03:24 AM   #8
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You say you could raise the saddle by 5cm and still not have an fully extended leg. Are you riding with a saddle too low? This is the usual case for beginers.

Are you using toe clips or clipless pedals? These really help on climbs, allowing you to stand on the pedals safely and use your full weight.

Thre really is no substitute for hill climing as training for hill climbing. Even pedalling on the flat is no training for hill climbing.
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Old 09-06-02, 03:27 AM   #9
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Of course, higher cadence implies lower gear.

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Old 09-06-02, 03:34 AM   #10
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Thanks Jamie. I now have some good ideas and a fresh approach to look at it from. I think I may get back onto the bike at the gym and spend a bit time on that for a while and get the cadence working for me. There was thread recently about the pros/cons of doing spin sessions in the gym so that's a new thing I can look into as well.

Elsewhere, another thread went on about the pros/cons of using bike computers - some say yea, others say nay. On the road, I think they have great value (I always used mine) but off-road there are different techniques involved so I may abandon mine and concentrate on the quality of the ride, not the quantity. Just a different perspective that's all.

Like you say, the winter months are pretty awful. Here in the south east, it might be wet a fair bit of the time, and colder as well, but in the last couple of years we have noticed the winter months are generally do-able. Despite it's scenic appreal, I don't think I'd survive trying to ride on snow and ice.
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Old 09-06-02, 03:48 AM   #11
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You say you could raise the saddle by 5cm and still not have an fully extended leg. Are you riding with a saddle too low? This is the usual case for beginers...Are you using toe clips or clipless pedals? These really help on climbs, allowing you to stand on the pedals safely and use your full weight.
The Gemini I ride has a much higher bb than I'm used to. In fact, the seat height is the same as I had on my ride bike (I used to size it at hip joint + 8cm). I could raise the saddle by 5cm but while I'm getting used to and developing confidence in the mtb thing, I want a quick escape route, so the lower down I am, the better, for the time being.

My biggest gripe with my Gemini is that it came with the Simano M545 pedals. They are a compromise between flattie and clipless. I think they are the most awful pedals Shimano ever made. One of the other forum guys dirtbikedude (a nice guy as well) has given me some good advice on switching to flatties with the raised threads on them that support the shoe, and that'll help me on the standing side of the equation. I can't do that on the M545s as I refuse to consider using the clipless option they provide. I spent a lot of bucks on Eggbeaters but I don't feel ready for those off-road (again a confidence thing) as I want to get my foot down quickly. Later, the Eggbeaters will get used.

For now, I'll buy some flatties and let those take me to the next level.
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Old 09-06-02, 05:18 AM   #12
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Try using once clipless pedal and one platform to learn with.

Winter in the S of England is really no big deal. The frozen week or 2 we get in Jan is actually one of the best times to ride off-road. It is usually dry and the ground is firm. An inch or 2 of snow makes it all look really pretty as well. You just need to wear winter clothes, and esp gloves and footwear. California style mesh shoes just dont hack it in cold mud.

I ride all winter on roads and trails and only stay off the roads for a few icy days. Getting your excercise outside is much more bracing and IMHO helps ward off winter bugs much better than skulking around damp crowded gyms.
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Old 09-06-02, 02:53 PM   #13
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Originally posted by Buddy Hayden
It seems (from what i've been told) if you want to be a good hill climber, then you have got to go climb some hills ....!?
This is true. I ride hills all the time, and when you get right down to it, there's not a lot of science to it.
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Old 09-07-02, 01:34 AM   #14
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From your post, it seems that you simply do not ride enough. Great overall fitness only gets you to the first rung. Next you need to log long miles or hilly miles (preferably both.)

If you can't get out, rollers are an option. I'm surprised that road riding is not an option for you. I always found SE England a great place for road riding...

Finally, if you can find a fitness club with spinning classes, that may offer you the best compromise. You can get very intense and competitive without getting bored.

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Old 09-07-02, 01:42 AM   #15
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I agree. The SE is actually very good road riding country. But I recently traded my road bike for mtb.

Where we live has some very special rides and I've been on many, but there is an inherent danger with congestion and inconsiderate drivers. I know that a very small % are a problem, but that same very small % has a greater potential for accident as well.

We switched to mtb to get off the roads. I could take my mtb on road but it would defeat the reason for getting off them, and an mtb is nowhere as efficient as a road bike. I used to ride using distance as the success or failure of the ride. Now, I like to make quality the governing rule. I did have some quality rides on my road bike, but it was nothing I could share with my wife as the roads scared her badly. The move to mtb was as much for her concerns as it was for mine - just a personal thing.
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Old 09-07-02, 08:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bokkie
Explain this to me, if there is a reason. I weigh 90Kg, height 1.8m. I go to gym 3x a week, and ride 2x a week. I do a lot of weights. I think my overall strength for my age (48) is actually very good. I think I'm possibly in the top % of fitness for my age group. I can jog quite fast (for me) for 40mins on a treadmill. I have good body strength. I lift and press good weights. My leg strength is also very good. But when I ride, I suffer from burnout very quickly.
I don't know. But can I take a stab?

1) Maybe your wife is just much lighter and faster on the hills.
2) Maybe your wife is not as unfit as you think; fitness is more a measure of cardiovascular capacity than muscular development.
3) Maybe all those workouts during the week don't give you time to recover, therefore robbing your performance.
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Old 09-09-02, 02:45 AM   #17
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1) Maybe your wife is just much lighter and faster on the hills.
She considers herself a heavyweight at 72Kg.


Quote:
2) Maybe your wife is not as unfit as you think; fitness is more a measure of cardiovascular capacity than muscular development.
She dislikes exercise, mostly. Sure, she does exclusively aerobic exercise but what she puts into it is disproportionate to what I see she gets out of it. That's the bit that got to me. By the same token, Arnie S is not going to run a marathon, so I suppose I'm better at climbing hills then he is.

Quote:
3) Maybe all those workouts during the week don't give you time to recover, therefore robbing your performance.
There was a time when I used to suffer from injury, but I've scaled back the time I spend at the gym and the intensity of the workouts. I opt now for quality. I intend to increase the aerobic content. I know a particularly 'brutal' instructor at the gym who is really good at putting together good programmes that are hard, but effective. He used to be an international 'pro' 100m sprinter, and he's very clued-up. He's of the 'old' school 'no pain, no gain' type of instructor.
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Old 09-09-02, 09:33 AM   #18
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hmm.... very difficult b/c there are so many unknowns... are we talking BIG long climbs or short climbs...

i would guess the following:
* your body is not well-adapted to hill-climbing despite overall OK fitness --- climbing on the bike uses musles differently that running or weight lifting -- climb more and you'll improve
* something is afoul in your technique - either your saddle is too low or you're using gears too high or you're trying to sprint and burning your muscles out in the first few minutes...

in general for short hills, you need power and strenght and can use anaerobic energy and then recover on the downhill or flat.

for longer hills you need EFFICIENCY more than anything which means muscle strength, cardio fitness and pedalling and body-position efficiency

mkae sure your bike is set up correctly as to seat-height and pedal and cleat position, start in in really low gears and try spinning 80+ rpms --- don't sprint and burn out at the beginning of the hill, but watch your speed and pick a pace so you can ride the same speed the whole hill and even increase the pace near the end ---- doing this A LOT will help more than any weight training or whataver.

lastly, on major hills (say > 10% and more than 200m) body weight makes a HUGE difference. i just completed a TransAlp MTB ride with 15,000m of climbing in 8 days. we had 13 riders in our group and a woman was our 4th best all-round climber and the 2nd best on steep >20% climbs --- she uses low gears and spins and dropped most of the guys on the hills although she still lacked the raw power to beat the best of us in the "sprint" at the end of the hill-climbs ---- i am really a sprinter at heart and have a great power-to-weight ratio but i still struggle sometimes on hills b/c of the sustained ENDURANCE required --- i have mosty fast-twitch power muscle fibers.
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Old 09-09-02, 10:06 AM   #19
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The most overlooked part of climbing/riding in general, is how much mental determination is used. I'm a climber, fit or not I climb well. That is because I can keep pushing - no matter how my body feels my mind can find room for a little more. Iíve raced for years, and it always amazes me who the fast guys are - not the ones with the best gear, or the best diet - it's the guys with the "eye of the tiger", which it sounds like your wife has.
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Old 09-09-02, 10:14 AM   #20
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That is because I can keep pushing - no matter how my body feels my mind can find room for a little more
I read about that as well. She has an anatomy/physiology textbook where it's written that the mental threshold is reached before the anaerobic threshold. In other words, when we are doing anaerobic exercise/effort we 'feel' pooped, long before we are physically pooped.

Eye of the tiger? I'm not convinced about that in her case! I shall just put it down to a chick thing.
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Old 10-25-02, 03:03 PM   #21
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Bokkie,

I've found this thread most interesting especially JMLEE's comments:

"but it seems to me that your aerobic capacity is unable to keep up with your anaerobic capacity."


That's exactly where I'm at. I really fall back on climbing. I recover fast, and most times catch up on the down sides, but I'm huffing and puffing way more than my riding buddies. I do weigh from 30-70lbs more than even the next one in size. But I really try and we target the hills on our rides. Althought I literally Hate them I know they improve my riding faster than any other part.

There are several women that leave me on the climbs. They love drafting most times, but leave me to suffer alone on the climbs. Life is not fair.

Keep at it. I am.

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Old 10-25-02, 03:22 PM   #22
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Couple of other thing to maybe consider are mental attitude and handling pain.
My partner Kathy and I have the same situation. I started her off on cycling and within 3 months she was leaving me on the hills.

I made every excuse under the sun but when it came right down to it she is far more determined than me and will never ever ever give up on anything. For her its a matter of pride. Me I have none. I can give in very readily.

with her determed will to succeed she has quietly achieved some great accomplishments wheras I with all the physical and academic advantages have achieved little in comparison.

Incidentally Bokkie Kathy hails from your neck of the woods Hassocks in West Sussex

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Old 10-28-02, 02:10 AM   #23
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I've changed my gym sessions to concentrate on the aerobic spin bikes and the results are encouraging. Two things get in the way: riding is limited to Saturday on account of light, and I'm still waiting for my lbs to get the frame checking guage from Cannondale as my Gemini needs a frame recall. Until then, Cannondale recommend not to ride - purely precautionary, but I'd rather not take the chance (however remote) until I know that mine is ok.

One of the UK mtb mags published a route around the North Downs. I drove there two weeks ago just to get a feel for the local terrain. Ye gods! There are some hills that 'beat me' and I was still in the car. That was wrong. If I set off with that attitude, then the ride itself is doomed to failure.

I recall a rugby coach in SA who used to have this rhyme in big letters on the inside of our changing room door. I know, it's hardly original, but here goes:

If you think that you're beaten, you are.
If you think that you wont then you don't.
If you think you can win, but know that you can't,
then it's almost a cert that you wont.

Thing I learned from that all those years ago, and maybe I need to remind myself, is that if I get the attitude right then I'm almost there.
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Old 10-28-02, 02:29 AM   #24
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I think your wife just kicks a$$ and if she ever decided to get serious about cycling, would kick some more a$$! Maybe she is just a really good rider even though she may not know it?
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Old 10-28-02, 02:44 AM   #25
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RacerX, you're just trying to make me feel better, aren't you?

She is 44 now, and has the usual lady 'thing' with her weight, voluptuous, not fat, if you get my meaning. The sort of physique you'd associate with a buxom wench carrying 2 flagons of beer (in each hand), the kind of lass you'd see at a beerfest in Munich. I know, I have seen such wenches and I looked most lustily upon their...flagons of beer! Even though their 'dumplings boiled over the pot' if you get my meaning, I noticed such things not. Honest!

There was a time, two years back on my road bike, when I used to climb some impressive hills in the south east UK where we now live, and each time I made it to the top, I felt so good. Maybe I need to resiscover that, but on a trail with fat knobblies and pedal-induced bob, perhaps I need to retrain in some areas. Right now, I'd like to shake hands with the inventor of the granny chainring.
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