Most of my longer rides (30+ miles) involve climbing. I'm relatively new to cycling with only 1500 miles in the last 6 months after a 20 year layoff. I've got the mental aspect of grinding away under control since my distant past running background was largely in the hills.
My specific question involves spinning. I've got no problem on the flats or in rolling terrain maintaining a cadence of 80-90. Probably most comfortable toward the lower end of that range. Once I start climbing I'll shift to keep the cadence up. I've seen a big improvement in my heart rate on grades in the 6-8% range. In order to get stronger for steeper pitches I'm not using my small chainring (30 teeth) on my triple as long as I can keep my cadence over 60. Understand that the high cadence is easier on the knees, but if I spin away on these moderate grades I'm wondering if I will continue to build the strength I need to spin up 10-15% grades in my lowest gear. Lowest gear BTW is 29 gear-inches (30 chainring, 11-27 cassette)