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Old 02-03-09, 09:04 PM   #1
rdtompki
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Gaining strength on hills

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)
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Old 02-03-09, 11:04 PM   #2
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Or even say, a 37 cadence. This winter I tried doing all my normal rides staying in my 42X17 (68") for 3 months. After a few weeks, I could get up everything up to 12% as long as the 10+ grades weren't too long. It seemed to me as though it made me stronger. Unfortunately I then had a work-forced month layoff, so I wasn't able to translate those gains into real speed. So not a good trial of the method. I'll try it again next winter.

While I was doing this, I stayed out of the gym. Enough strength work. I tried going to the gym after a couple of months and found I could squat my heavy weight, even after a two month layoff, but the muscles not used in cycling were really sore the next day.

It definitely gave me more endurance out of the saddle. Climbing in a big gear, pedal seated until you can't anymore, then stand until you can't anymore. Repeat until top of climb. Stay in that gear on the flat for "recovery" at 100-140 cadence. On a 10%+ climb, my cadence would drop below 40 after a while. YMMV. My stronger buds used even bigger gears, up to 85". That made it quite sporting on the flat.
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Old 02-03-09, 11:17 PM   #3
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Low cadence all the time can be bad on the knees, but a little bit of low cadence isn't bad as long as you don't overdo it and you fit well on your bike.

Riding low cadence will definitely give you more strength.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:06 AM   #4
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I suspect that as long as you keep your overall speed up on your harder hill workout days, it won't matter how small and wimpy your gear is.

If you can get up that hill in your 3rd granny gear up front by spinning out at 140-150rpm faster than the pack, you're stronger then them. Period. Gearing alone will not help you get up the hill any faster.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:20 AM   #5
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Suppose you are going to ride a circuit and in it there is one climb that will last for about 8 tenths of a mile. The other two miles of that circuit is relatively flat.

In a race type event, then one would think that the 2 miles is a way to recover from the climbing effort. However, that 2 miles involves going fast as well. So how does one actually try to recover from a climb and still go fast on the flats? That circuit is several times around.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:43 AM   #6
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check out this thread I started called "6 months to become a better climber" it is to be found in the RoadBikeRacing subforum.

I got some great responses and have really been feeling good about my training towards better climbing.

I am lazy, and thus there is no link. sorry.

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Old 02-04-09, 12:50 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
Suppose you are going to ride a circuit and in it there is one climb that will last for about 8 tenths of a mile. The other two miles of that circuit is relatively flat.

In a race type event, then one would think that the 2 miles is a way to recover from the climbing effort. However, that 2 miles involves going fast as well. So how does one actually try to recover from a climb and still go fast on the flats? That circuit is several times around.
In that situation you can recover by drafting off other people. Everyone has to suffer going up because you are gravity's b*tch, not the wind's
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Old 02-04-09, 07:04 PM   #8
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Does taking an energy gel make a difference before the race? I mean, a rider is going to really push for less than an hour, maybe 30 minutes of hard riding. Would an energy gel before the race help?
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Old 02-04-09, 10:23 PM   #9
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Does taking an energy gel make a difference before the race?
Probably not. Gels are just carbohydrate sources. Being low on calories makes you slower, but consuming more than you need doesn't make you faster.
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Old 02-05-09, 12:07 PM   #10
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Then what do the individual time trial riders do before they hop on the bike and take off? I know they get on their trainer and spin for a while. But do they take something before that fast ride?
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