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  1. #1
    Senior Member CanadianBiker32's Avatar
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    How To Be Able to Climb Faster

    On a recent Charity group Road Bike Ride. I don't get chance often to ride with others.

    Anyways on a 100km road ride. I found I was lagging on the climbing part. When I ride alone, i thought i was doing ok climbing. Now I see need for improvement

    What are ways to learn and ways to train to become a better climber?

    To develop more power and speed going up the climbs etc.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Do more climbing.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    If you have any extra weight, lose it. Weight kills up hills. Losing 10% of your weight equates to about a 8% increase of your speed up a 3% grade using the same amount of power. This gets better as the grade increases to about 9% on a 5% grade and 10% on a 8% grade and higher.

  4. #4
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    What #2 and #3 said. Also, evaluate your pedaling style - do you prefer mashing (higher gearing/lower cadence) or spinning (lower gearing/faster cadence)? Relatively minor equipment changes may help some, although the above recommened improvemants in the "motor" will help more.

    I'm a spinner, and I do better (relatively speaking - I think I climb well until a real climber shows up) using a cassette with larger cogs for hillier events. I used an 11-28 for a moderately hilly century recently and a 12-32 on a very hilly one last weekend. 34x32 is a pretty low gear. I have SRAM 10-speed, and install a longer-cage Apex rear derailluer to accomodate the 32-tooth cog. And a longer chain - while you can tell yourself you'll never shift into big-big, unless you are obsessive about checking the cog you're in, one day you will click one time too many and lock up the drive train (and if you are really lucky, be able to un-jam it without bending/breaking anything and without a lot of cuss words). I also did this with 9-speed Shimano Ultegra (the long-cage rear derailluer they sold for 53/42/30 road triples worked well enough, although way outside of Shimano's specs) and I've read where people doing hill climbs and touring have done similar using an MTB derailluer and cogs. Could I have done last weekend's ride with a 34x28 low gear? I think so, but it was much more comfortable and I seem to climb faster when I can spin, event if it's only a 12.5% higher cadence.

    After that, find climbs typical of what you expect to encounter and incorporate hill repeats into your event preparation. Try different styles (sit/spin, stand, combo) and see what gets you up faster or easier. If you are numbers-oriented or obsessive, track your best times and see how it improves (it will) over a season. If you have a GPS-enabled bike computer or phone, use Strava to create a private segment and it will keep track for you.
    Last edited by ks1g; 09-12-12 at 10:40 AM. Reason: math error

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    You need to improve your sustained power/weight ratio. For increasing power you need to do longish (10-30min) intervals at or close to your threshold power. If you have access to a local hill do them there, if not, doing them on the flats will work fine as well.

  6. #6
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    I noticed the same about hills recently. I compared my strava ride around forest park (8th place! of 119) to the top rider on the list. While fell back at what I would call a respectably moderate rate, There are a few hills where combined I fell behind by almost a minute, and I was 2 minutes back of his time. My only solace is that my bike weighs about 30lbs, which is probably more than his. No doubt I could drop 10-20 lbs to come in at closer to 130-ish (I'm like 5'6" almost, so that is within normal weight)

  7. #7
    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    If you want to ride faster up hills, ride faster up hills. If you add a hill day to your weekly rides and bury it going up hills that day, your speed up hill will jump.
    You can do formalized hill repeats: ride up a big hill, ride down, repeat until you're bushed. I find that tedious, and instead plan a hilly route.
    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
    ― Muhammad Ali

  8. #8
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    As others have said:

    #1 Climb more and often.
    #2 Lose any extra fat/weight you can.

    #3 If you can't climb often, do high intensity short interval training (high wattage). Try to mimic your effort on a difficult climb.
    #4 If you can't lose weight, spend tons of money on slightly lighter bike components.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by roarau View Post


    #4 if you can't lose weight, spend tons of money on slightly lighter bike components.
    haha !

  10. #10
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    I have the same problem. I can keep up with faster riders on rollers but sharp hills do me in.

    I need to drop about 30lbs in all honesty (already down 50). I'm also going to do a combination of hill training and TMax intervals. Between the two, I should get into a lot better cardiovascular conditioning.

    The weight will come off but I need to seriously clean up my diet and start weighing food again. Blergh.

  11. #11
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    Since I commented on this about a week ago I have concentrated harder on keeping my cadence up on hills. I commute 2-3 times a week to work or school (a mile or so away from each other so it is the same route) and there is bit of climbing. I live in a valley and have to climb out of it to get to school, and it is about a 125ft hill out of the valley, 50ft of the climb in a 5% section. It doesn't sound like much, but it is sustaining the climb that makes it rough for me, and when I get to the short bits that are like 9% or 10% it wipes me out for the rest of the hill sometimes.

    That being said, I think concentrating on spinning really helps out. Today I rode to school in the middle of a rain and while I was slower than I have been before lately by a couple of miles an hour, I believe it can be attributed in part to the pouring rain and the baggy rain jacket I was wearing (it is a size to big and not cycling specific) that was like wearing a sail. I noticed while climbing the hill out of the valley, I was breathing at a very heavy, yet steady rate. Much harder than I normally breathe when cycling, but I was maintaining it over 7 or 8 minutes that it takes to get through that 2 mile section. With all luck making my efforts like that should help my climbing abilities.

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Best thing is to do more group rides with people who are faster than you. You should be able to find a group that rides regularly, like every weekend. Ask around. You'll figure it out. You have to learn to breathe, to get a handle on what a sustainable effort feels like, get used to going over that effort, recovering at the sustainable level, and repeating. You have to learn to pedal, and how to position yourself comfortably and efficiently on the bike and in the group. You have to increase capillary density in your muscles, increase your mitochondrial density, and grow your heart. This takes time, several years in fact. Don't get frustrated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roarau View Post
    As others have said:

    #1 Climb more and often.
    #2 Lose any extra fat/weight you can.

    #3 If you can't climb often, do high intensity short interval training (high wattage). Try to mimic your effort on a difficult climb.
    #4 If you can't lose weight, spend tons of money on slightly lighter bike components.
    Also... I found that after touring with about 75 pounds of bike + gear and commuting on the same bike (30-35 lbs with racks and panniers), I flew up hills on my 17 lb road bike. I'm only 115 pounds, so the weight made a huge difference!

    Now, if only I could figure out how to go faster on the downhills...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianBiker32 View Post
    On a recent Charity group Road Bike Ride. I don't get chance often to ride with others.

    Anyways on a 100km road ride. I found I was lagging on the climbing part. When I ride alone, i thought i was doing ok climbing. Now I see need for improvement

    What are ways to learn and ways to train to become a better climber?

    To develop more power and speed going up the climbs etc.

    Thanks
    In addition to what the others have said, there are specific exercises, such as "squat jumps" and 'lunges" that will help develop specific leg muscles used for climbing. It's true that these will also develop by just doing more climbing, but incorporating these exercises into your routine on the days you're off the bike will help too.

  15. #15
    Question Authority JoeMan's Avatar
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    Yes being as lean as you can is a definite plus in hill climbing. The pros calculate it out @ 2.1 lbs for each inch of height. I am not a racer, however, I love to ride both street bikes and MTBs! I keep my weight low and as advised in other posts I do leg work. Specifically sled presses and calf exercises.

  16. #16
    Its Freakin HammerTime!!! C_Heath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    Do more climbing.


    +1000
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I don't like any other exercise or sports, really.
    ....

    http://www.xxcycle.com/logo_w150h100/bmc.jpg

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