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Old 06-14-13, 01:40 PM   #1
hambertloot
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Can't even spin up hills in my 30x26...weak?

Maybe the hills are just very steep where I am, cant check gradients or anything because I have no power meter.
But I just cant seem to spin up hills, not even in my granny ring on my triple, 30x26...I am ALWAYS mashing and going 7-8mph... I looked up some grades and it is like 4-5% only. am I just really weak? my buddies tell me i have a huge aerobic capacity, taking on long rides easily, but climbing is hell for me. I hit 180-190BPM on every climb we do. I am 17 so i am gussing it is near MHR
ugh.tips guys?
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Old 06-14-13, 01:56 PM   #2
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Ride more climbs. You will get better.
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Old 06-14-13, 02:22 PM   #3
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First, to go ~8mph in a 30x26 gear requires a cadence of about 90rpm, which is a pretty fast cadence for any kind of climb.

Secondly, the word "climb" means something different to just about everybody. Some won't say "climb" until they're on a legitimate mountain pass, some will say "climb" when they're on rolling hills.

Thirdly, how are you determining the grade of the road you're on? Internet road grade calculators that claim to know the starting and ending elevations can be wildly inaccurate.
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Old 06-14-13, 03:20 PM   #4
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First, to go ~8mph in a 30x26 gear requires a cadence of about 90rpm, which is a pretty fast cadence for any kind of climb.

Secondly, the word "climb" means something different to just about everybody. Some won't say "climb" until they're on a legitimate mountain pass, some will say "climb" when they're on rolling hills.

Thirdly, how are you determining the grade of the road you're on? Internet road grade calculators that claim to know the starting and ending elevations can be wildly inaccurate.
Alright, so wait, I like where you are going with this. So...
1. What does that tell me? That my aerobic capacity is good or something to spin 90rpm on .5-3mi climbs?

2. I am using Strava, so it isn't the most accurate compared to a power meter
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Old 06-14-13, 06:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by hambertloot View Post
Maybe the hills are just very steep where I am, cant check gradients or anything because I have no power meter.
But I just cant seem to spin up hills, not even in my granny ring on my triple, 30x26...I am ALWAYS mashing and going 7-8mph... I looked up some grades and it is like 4-5% only. am I just really weak? my buddies tell me i have a huge aerobic capacity, taking on long rides easily, but climbing is hell for me. I hit 180-190BPM on every climb we do. I am 17 so i am gussing it is near MHR
ugh.tips guys?
I'm probably the world's least gifted climber so I won't offer any training advice. But I have learned that the best way not to explode on a longish climb is never hit 190 bpm in the first place. Once you max out your heart rate like that there is no going back. But if you can avoid that initial spike, after a while your heart rate will settle down a bit.
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Old 06-14-13, 07:33 PM   #6
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First,...I am fat, old and out of shape, but I am getting better. I also live on top of a hill.

Second, there is grade and there is length of the grade.

Short steep hill, I mash my way up. Gear up, stand up, go. I have 5 minutes until my legs give out and my heart rate is maxed. It is fast weight lifting. At that point, I have to sit down and chill, but I made it up that hill without walking

Long hill slow grade no rest. Go slow. Don't race up the hill. Watch the heart rate monitor. Try to keep it low.
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Old 06-14-13, 08:30 PM   #7
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Maybe the hills are just very steep where I am, cant check gradients or anything because I have no power meter.
Power meters measure power, not grade.

The power numbers that Strava guesses for climbs are less inaccurate than the numbers for other terrain.

All you need to check the average grade of a climb is to know the distance and the starting and ending elevation, which you can look up on a map. Percent slope is (rise/run)*100.
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Old 06-15-13, 08:56 AM   #8
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I'm probably the world's least gifted climber so I won't offer any training advice. But I have learned that the best way not to explode on a longish climb is never hit 190 bpm in the first place. Once you max out your heart rate like that there is no going back. But if you can avoid that initial spike, after a while your heart rate will settle down a bit.
THe thing is, I don't purposely attack on hills. I just try to spin fast and i guess my heart just can't keep up. hope all those hill repeats at 190BPM weren't damaging to my fitness
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Old 06-15-13, 10:30 AM   #9
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THe thing is, I don't purposely attack on hills. I just try to spin fast and i guess my heart just can't keep up. hope all those hill repeats at 190BPM weren't damaging to my fitness
190 BPM may be too high depending on your age. Seriously, change your RD to a medium cage (or what SRAM calls WiFli) and then install the 11-32 SRAM 10 speed cassette. If you don't want to change the RD, then install the Shimano 12-30 cassette. I started a lot similar to what you describe after not riding for over 10 years. It took me 3 years to get in a decent enough shape that I don't worry about hills less than 15% grade. The other key thing I learned is to pace myself. I always start in a real easy gear and then watch my heart rate as I climb.

Happy Climbing.
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Old 06-15-13, 10:49 AM   #10
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190 BPM may be too high depending on your age. Seriously, change your RD to a medium cage (or what SRAM calls WiFli) and then install the 11-32 SRAM 10 speed cassette. If you don't want to change the RD, then install the Shimano 12-30 cassette. I started a lot similar to what you describe after not riding for over 10 years. It took me 3 years to get in a decent enough shape that I don't worry about hills less than 15% grade. The other key thing I learned is to pace myself. I always start in a real easy gear and then watch my heart rate as I climb.

Happy Climbing.
I love climbing it just seems like i am huffing and puffing. I can suprisingly hold 180-190BPM for quite some time, like 5 minutes on a climb, but it is a bit challenging and tiring
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Old 06-15-13, 11:03 AM   #11
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I love climbing it just seems like i am huffing and puffing. I can suprisingly hold 180-190BPM for quite some time, like 5 minutes on a climb, but it is a bit challenging and tiring
You want to stay below your HR Threshold for maximum training effect.
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Old 06-15-13, 10:21 PM   #12
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i agree with ericm979... i took his advise and kept on riding the same hill nearly daily during my lunch ride to build up or maintain my leg muscle strength.

what once was a tough climb is starting to feel better using my 34/28t. before i was spinning at 35-40rpm.. now i can spin 44-50rpm. also, using HRM to monitor my heartrate.. usually if i start going close to 170-172.. i start to concentrate on my breathing.

just keep it up.. give yourself credit even if you don't succeed.. cuz one day you will spin up that hill like nothing.
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Old 06-15-13, 11:11 PM   #13
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Maybe the hills are just very steep where I am, cant check gradients or anything because I have no power meter.
But I just cant seem to spin up hills, not even in my granny ring on my triple, 30x26...I am ALWAYS mashing and going 7-8mph... I looked up some grades and it is like 4-5% only. am I just really weak? my buddies tell me i have a huge aerobic capacity, taking on long rides easily, but climbing is hell for me. I hit 180-190BPM on every climb we do. I am 17 so i am gussing it is near MHR
ugh.tips guys?
I had the same problem when I first moved to Virginia from flat as a pancake Chicago. Going up any type of hill, whether short and steep, or long and gradual, was a nightmare. But- for me, it helped that I kept attacking those hills over and over.... slow and steady. I remember there was this murderous hill I used to struggle up and I had to slow down to nearly falling off my bike. Mind you, I don't have granny gears either, so I really felt like I was dying! But after a couple of months of continually attacking that hill, one day, I realized I didn't have to slow down when riding that hill. I had a riding partner that would drop me every time on that hill. It killed me. But that day- I passed him. I actually got to the top and had to wait for him. It felt really good.

In the off season, you may want to focus on building your aerobic capacity as well, which will eventually help with the hill climbing as well.

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Old 06-16-13, 12:10 PM   #14
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THe thing is, I don't purposely attack on hills. I just try to spin fast and i guess my heart just can't keep up. hope all those hill repeats at 190BPM weren't damaging to my fitness
If you want to stay aerobic during those climbs, get even lower gears then. Or ride hills that are slightly less steep.

Yesterday I rode the Sierra Century in NorCal, and after hearing too many stories about "Slug Gulch", an allegedly ~5mi grade at 15%, I put an MTB cassette and RD on my road bike. It turned out the climb wasn't nearly as bad (it was 5mi long, but the first half was only ~10% with short 15%'ish bumps). I used all the gears I had and was able to spin (75+) the whole way while keeping my HR at 80% of max. A few people crept passed with trad road gearing, and besides the 50'ish cadence, they sounded like they were absolutely dying.

If the ride is short, or I'm close to the end, or it's part of the training plan, I don't mind doing all out anaerobic efforts. To keep things enjoyable, they're better done on my terms though. And for sure, you don't need to ride hills anaerobically all the time to improve your fitness and make them easier ... just increasing your aerobic capacity will do wonders.
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Old 06-18-13, 11:03 AM   #15
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If you want to stay aerobic during those climbs, get even lower gears then. Or ride hills that are slightly less steep.

Yesterday I rode the Sierra Century in NorCal, and after hearing too many stories about "Slug Gulch", an allegedly ~5mi grade at 15%, I put an MTB cassette and RD on my road bike. It turned out the climb wasn't nearly as bad (it was 5mi long, but the first half was only ~10% with short 15%'ish bumps). I used all the gears I had and was able to spin (75+) the whole way while keeping my HR at 80% of max. A few people crept passed with trad road gearing, and besides the 50'ish cadence, they sounded like they were absolutely dying.

If the ride is short, or I'm close to the end, or it's part of the training plan, I don't mind doing all out anaerobic efforts. To keep things enjoyable, they're better done on my terms though. And for sure, you don't need to ride hills anaerobically all the time to improve your fitness and make them easier ... just increasing your aerobic capacity will do wonders.
"That's the way you do it."
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