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  1. #1
    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Progression for training to climb hills?

    I'm trying to come up with a training plan for an event where the challenge for me is the climbing (ie I've got the distance under my belt but now want to do that same distance with significantly more climbing). When training for the distance, I just increased the length of my long ride by 10% per week.

    Does this same concept hold for progression through a training plan for climbing- ie 10% increase in the number of feet in the climbing ride per week?

    Thanks,
    H

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Pick 1-2 days a week ... the days you'd do intervals ... and do hill repeats. Hill repeats are kind of like really horrible intervals.

    And then do mixed terrain on your long rides ...different routes ... different types of hills ...

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Pick 1-2 days a week ... the days you'd do intervals ... and do hill repeats. Hill repeats are kind of like really horrible intervals.

    And then do mixed terrain on your long rides ...different routes ... different types of hills ...
    I found this on line. Which seems to me to be an excellent summary of what a newby needs to climb hills.

    http://www.cycleclub.co.nz/pdf_docs/...iend_10504.pdf

    Im totally revamping what I'm doing for phase two of this training program, which is to focus on hill climbing. Intervals are out in favor of trainer pedaling drills, progressing to some big gear pedaling. Once the sun rises a little earlier, I'll be off the trainer twice a week for the hill repeats.

    Id like to find a progression of hilly rides where I can increase my total climbing per ride by 10% per week. The cycling group I have hooked up with is led by two mad climbers, so they will be a great resource for rides. My biggest problem is a lot of these rides are a little dicey to do myself, they are into the closest national forest to LA, beautiful place but also where some serious crime takes place. However if I tell the ride leaders what I need, they will probably organize the ride with that in mind. I can get a decent amt of climbing with the group and then come back into town and do the hill repeats to finish the days climbing goal.

    I will be adding weight lifting and possibly a second day of core yoga. I don't mind hard work but I don't want to get over scheduled either.

    After the Wildflower, I will have a month of free riding to do "whatever." The two weeks vacation totally off the bike. Then I'm thinking of training for a century ride at altitude in early September- in Mammoth Lakes, CA.

    H

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    Not all hills are the same. If hills are not too steep, climbing them is not too different functionally from riding on flats. If you're in a decent shape and not too overweight, you can climb 3-4% grade hills all day right now with no need for any ramp-up. They get progressively harder with increasing grade. The critical point is the grade that you can climb at FTP (functional power) at 75-80 rpm in your lowest gear. It depends on your weight, fitness and bike setup, but it's probably somewhere in 5-7% range. Once you get above that, the perceived effort quickly goes up and the length of time you can climb continuously goes down.

    What you probably need right now is an exploratory ride with lots of assorted good hills. Drive to Santa Monica Mountains on a weekend (as far as I know, pretty safe, throngs of cyclists, particularly on Saturdays), climb some hills, get a feeling for different grades, and determine where you stand.

    I don't think that 10%/week rule is applicable here, training impact depends on the effort. You'll have to do it by feel. The general rule is that if your quads don't hurt the morning after the ride, you didn't try hard enough.

    There are three general directions of development. Long continuous climbing, threshold climbing, and out-of-saddle climbing.
    * Long continuous climbing: simply making sure that you can keep pedaling for, say, 1 hour straight. Seems trivial, but flatland cyclists don't always have this skill, because they can take short breaks and coast.
    * Threshold climbing: when the hill is steep enough that the power you need to climb it at 90 rpm is above FTP, and you go ahead and try to climb it at 90 rpm anyway. This is going to be painful, like the person above said, really horrible intervals But it's good for your development.
    * Out-of-saddle climbing: you also need to learn to climb while standing (out of the saddle), this is done at lower rpm's (40-60), it allows you to get up really steep hills, to 15% and above, but it involves a slightly different combination of muscles and it takes some practice. (You do have cleated pedals, I assume?)

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    Not all hills are the same. If hills are not too steep, climbing them is not too different functionally from riding on flats. If you're in a decent shape and not too overweight, you can climb 3-4% grade hills all day right now with no need for any ramp-up. They get progressively harder with increasing grade. The critical point is the grade that you can climb at FTP (functional power) at 75-80 rpm in your lowest gear. It depends on your weight, fitness and bike setup, but it's probably somewhere in 5-7% range. Once you get above that, the perceived effort quickly goes up and the length of time you can climb continuously goes down.

    What you probably need right now is an exploratory ride with lots of assorted good hills. Drive to Santa Monica Mountains on a weekend (as far as I know, pretty safe, throngs of cyclists, particularly on Saturdays), climb some hills, get a feeling for different grades, and determine where you stand.

    I don't think that 10%/week rule is applicable here, training impact depends on the effort. You'll have to do it by feel. The general rule is that if your quads don't hurt the morning after the ride, you didn't try hard enough.

    There are three general directions of development. Long continuous climbing, threshold climbing, and out-of-saddle climbing.
    * Long continuous climbing: simply making sure that you can keep pedaling for, say, 1 hour straight. Seems trivial, but flatland cyclists don't always have this skill, because they can take short breaks and coast.
    * Threshold climbing: when the hill is steep enough that the power you need to climb it at 90 rpm is above FTP, and you go ahead and try to climb it at 90 rpm anyway. This is going to be painful, like the person above said, really horrible intervals But it's good for your development.
    * Out-of-saddle climbing: you also need to learn to climb while standing (out of the saddle), this is done at lower rpm's (40-60), it allows you to get up really steep hills, to 15% and above, but it involves a slightly different combination of muscles and it takes some practice. (You do have cleated pedals, I assume?)
    I see what you're saying, hill climbing is not really a directly linear thing like distance- its more a combo of several skills and abilities depending on the exact hill. Today I did a 36 mile long continuous climb, probably 4-5% average grade (but much harder than that because of a constant 20-25 mph wind just off our forequarter- ie from 10 or 11 o'clock), and enjoyed it. It was a bit of a hill climbing epiphany for me, in that I now realize that I had been approaching hills all wrong. When I first started riding 11 mo ago, I read somewhere that when I went up a hill, I should gear down and pedal quickly, which is of course correct. I also read and learned from experience not to shift to late or you could pop off your chain. And finally, I was pretty quick to take a rise in heart rate as a sign I was pushing too hard, so if my heart rate would rise pretty high, I either shift down or if already down shifter, pedal slower. So you can picture it now: I would see a hill coming and I would downshift, then my heart rate would rise and I would downshift further, just going slower and slower. But I have been doing trainer intervals lately and have been spending increasing amounts of time with a high heart rate and I've come to realize there's no emergency, it'll come down again right away when the effort's over. The bigger emergency is if my legs are on fire, because there's only so much of that before my goose is totally cooked.

    So today I just rode aggressively up the hills. Yes my heart rate went up and I was sometimes breathing hard, but no leg burn (which I still don't really understand, on the trainer those same heart rates are coupled with serious burn in the quads). I took the strategy that as long as my legs felt ok, I'd keep pushing. Guess what? I went up that hill for a long time at a very good pace for me.



    I also caught a bit of luck on the logistical front. I was asking one of the better riders questions about hill climbing. She and a group of three others are just starting to train for some super-climbing ride (Heartbreak Hundred? Or something like that) and I have been invited to train with them. I told her I wouldnt want to drag them down, but she feels like I could hang in there them. That remains to be seen, but at least if I can do some climbing with them, that solves one logistical problem.

    I don't really understand what you wrote about threshold climbing. In order to know FTP, do I need a power meter? I don't have one but have been considering the purchase.

    H

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    Not all hills are the same. If hills are not too steep, climbing them is not too different functionally from riding on flats. If you're in a decent shape and not too overweight, you can climb 3-4% grade hills all day right now with no need for any ramp-up. They get progressively harder with increasing grade. The critical point is the grade that you can climb at FTP (functional power) at 75-80 rpm in your lowest gear. It depends on your weight, fitness and bike setup, but it's probably somewhere in 5-7% range. Once you get above that, the perceived effort quickly goes up and the length of time you can climb continuously goes down.
    Ah! Here's my challenge. It also seems (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that time on shallower hills does not prepare one much for time on steeper hills.

    I was thinking about this on Today's ride. There's a couple of (supposed) Cat 2 climbs that I've got myself up no issues -- but they're relatively shallow and long. There's this Cat 3 that is killing me, because it's mostly over 10% grade. The first mile is bad, with my legs screaming at me. I figured I just needed to HTFU and get up the rest, but somehow I need to strengthen for it.

    My theory is to just ride it, and I'll get better. DO what I am doing now, which is just the first half of it. Basically your No. 2 below. I guess this confirms it, but I was wondering why I could GET up what werte in theory harder climbs, but the steepness of this one was hammering me under.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
    I don't really understand what you wrote about threshold climbing. In order to know FTP, do I need a power meter? I don't have one but have been considering the purchase.
    You don't need a power meter - in fact, ascent rate on sufficiently steep hills is a pretty good proxy for power (though not in 20-25 mph wind), there are calculators that can help with this - but it helps simply to know that you _have_ one, to see the lay of the land, so to speak. The hill you climbed today looks like a good "type 1" (long & continuous) workout but it was not steep enough to force you to go above FTP. I'll add more comments later.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    You just got the idea. Yes. It's no good unless you push outside your envelope of perceived ability and strength once in a while. You have to see what the terrain looks like out there, gather experience in the art of the possible. Hamster has it just right.

    FTP is basically power talk for a particular version of lactate threshold. That's what the TCC test was supposed to reveal. For HRM users, I think it's better to find a 20' climb and see how fast it's possible to get up it, see what it's possible to hold during the climb. You won't want to climb that fast on a century, but about 95% of that is reasonable IME.

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Ok, so how would I approach something like this ride? If you cut out the middle portion (from approx mi 30 to approx mile 72), that is the exact ride we did today. The rest of it is from a century ride that takes place in our town.



    My climbing friend said as an example we could ride this course. Obviously not all at once next week. But how should I be approaching something like this? Ride 8% & 10% short hills first? Then repeats of those hills? Or do I just go out and ride as far as I can on the "real" course, then turn around? Or does it not matter, whatever makes sense as I can fit it into my schedule?
    h

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    Heathpack, You're asking a simple question for which there are many answers. :-)

    Refer to paragraph four of the Introduction to The Cyclist's Training Bible.

    The answers to all of your questions about what sort of rides to schedule, or how to approach those rides, depend on your history, current state, aspirations, reasonable expectations and goals.

    You've identified Hill Climbing as a limiting factor that you wish to improve on. (You're not alone by the way. It's the one most common limiter for almost all of us. Except a very few natural climbs who make all the rest of us feel inferior.)

    To make a poor analogy, that's a bit like saying, "I'd like to major in Biology."

    You're at a stage where all of the various aspects that make up affective Hill Climbing could probably use work on.

    Because of that and the fact that your goal "A" event century isn't that far away. It's might be a good idea for you to consider a training style that existed before the current trend toward periodization. Back in the old days, riders used to target each of their energy systems and riding styles during a training week. Instead of periodizing and focusing on just one area for improvement for a block of 3-4 weeks.

    There's so much that should be said about this, that an entire book could be written on the subject. And, many have been. However, I have a couple things I need to do right now. I'll try to revisit this thread later this evening.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
    I found this on line. Which seems to me to be an excellent summary of what a newby needs to climb hills.

    http://www.cycleclub.co.nz/pdf_docs/...iend_10504.pdf


    H
    Oh, and, Hey! That's one of the clubs I belong to here. It's good to see we're of use to someone.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Heathpack, You're asking a simple question for which there are many answers. :-)

    Refer to paragraph four of the Introduction to The Cyclist's Training Bible.

    The answers to all of your questions about what sort of rides to schedule, or how to approach those rides, depend on your history, current state, aspirations, reasonable expectations and goals.

    You've identified Hill Climbing as a limiting factor that you wish to improve on. (You're not alone by the way. It's the one most common limiter for almost all of us. Except a very few natural climbs who make all the rest of us feel inferior.)

    To make a poor analogy, that's a bit like saying, "I'd like to major in Biology."

    You're at a stage where all of the various aspects that make up affective Hill Climbing could probably use work on.

    Because of that and the fact that your goal "A" event century isn't that far away. It's might be a good idea for you to consider a training style that existed before the current trend toward periodization. Back in the old days, riders used to target each of their energy systems and riding styles during a training week. Instead of periodizing and focusing on just one area for improvement for a block of 3-4 weeks.

    There's so much that should be said about this, that an entire book could be written on the subject. And, many have been. However, I have a couple things I need to do right now. I'll try to revisit this thread later this evening.
    Ive finished the book and liked it. My biggest limiter is the ability to push high gears (ie leg and to a lesser extent core strength). The secondary skill to work on after leg strength improved is muscular endurance. Bike handling & experience is another limiter. Then maybe pedaling efficiency (although I suspect I actually am an efficient pedaler, I think this could always be improved upon). Also thr new shorter cranks arrived today (yay!), they are supposed to imprve that as well. Aerobic endurance is a non-limiter at this point.

    As far as what I've done: I bought the bike last March and rode Mar & April in an unstructured way and got bored. Took May off. In June committed to training for a metric century and trained July, July, August. Then felt lost in Sept with no goal, rode a bit, then no riding in October, bored again. First two weeks of vacation in Nov, decided I don't enjoy cycling unless I'm training for something. Picked out the Palm Springs & Wildflower rides as goals while lying on the beach in Maui. Then started training late Nov-Dec-Jan. I mostly just want to become a better cyclist, to become faster, stronger & more capable. Long rides appeal to me, races do not. I've ridden the bike about 3000 mi.

    So for phase two I'm thinking of:
    1. Lifting weights, which I find very zen and actually like
    2. Possibly adding second core yoga session per week
    3. Various pedaling drills on teainer
    4. Some progression of long hill climb rides.

    Even though I like Friels book, there are several problems I have. First, it's not always clear to me how to translate his race-specific advice to my goals. Second, I like the prep-build-base-peak progression, that makes sense to me, but I only have 10 weeks until my event so I can really go through the whole process and I'm not clear exactly where to start.

    H
    Last edited by Heathpack; 02-01-14 at 11:33 PM.

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Oh, and, Hey! That's one of the clubs I belong to here. It's good to see we're of use to someone.
    Well, whoever wrote it- tell him/her their impact is worldwide.

    H

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
    My climbing friend said as an example we could ride this course. Obviously not all at once next week. But how should I be approaching something like this? Ride 8% & 10% short hills first? Then repeats of those hills? Or do I just go out and ride as far as I can on the "real" course, then turn around? Or does it not matter, whatever makes sense as I can fit it into my schedule?
    h
    I would suggest to try to ride the middle 40 miles. They look substantially steeper in parts than the section that you rode through today. Then find some hills closer to home that look similar to you.

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    I would suggest to try to ride the middle 40 miles. They look substantially steeper in parts than the section that you rode through today. Then find some hills closer to home that look similar to you.
    That might be a good thing to try next weekend, to see where things stand. From what you were saying about the steeper climbs above, it seems the middle 40 will be exponentially harder. I'll see if I can drum somebody up to ride it with me.

    The comments in this thread have made me go back and look at the specifics of the ride I am training for. Here are the elevation maps, with & without %grade superimposed.







    So if I had to break it down, it looks like this ride will present two challenges:
    1. Longer total durations of 3-4-5% climbing than I am currently used to. I have a pretty good idea how to train for that.
    2. Multiple short, steep efforts 8-10% in the context of legs that have already been climbing for awhile.

    I know that "middle 40 mi" ride you suggested above has a 1/4 mi steep section at the very top, I think 10% grade. So maybe I will work up to riding that multiple times.

    H
    Last edited by Heathpack; 02-02-14 at 09:14 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
    So for phase two I'm thinking of:
    1. Lifting weights, which I find very zen and actually like
    2. Possibly adding second core yoga session per week
    3. Various pedaling drills on teainer
    4. Some progression of long hill climb rides.

    H
    If you're looking to do some cross-training, I recommend stadiums. You can throw a weight vest or leg weights on to make it harder. I work out here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Hill_Griffin_Stadium a few times a week. It has definitely made my legs stronger. Not sure if it helps climbing on a bike directly, but I can't see how it could hurt unless you overdo it.

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    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    Hey lookit what I found! Yesterday when I was on the group ride, I was talking to a rider and she was telling me about a hill "up by the water tower off XYZ Street". I didn't know what water tower she was talking about but XYZ Street is not that far from my house and I can get there via bike lanes. So today I went to check it out, its pretty killer. This hill is going to be my Lex Luthor. And even better, since I will be forced to ride it before dawn (work schedule), was the fact that it's in a pretty nice neighborhood and the private security guy drove behind me in his police-ish car as I drove through the neighborhood checking out the hill. Safety first.

    Here it is, with percent grade:



    Ive settled on the outline of the training schedule. I can't really work the weightlifting in because I need a simple schedule (my work schedule is too chaotic, if the training schedule is complicated, it will be a source of stress instead of a stress-reliever). I need a day off after the weights, to lift weights twice a week means four days off the bike and no yoga. Maybe I'm making a mistake, but I really think I need the time on the bike right now and I just don't have time to do things as ideally as I'd like.

    Mon: PM Core Yoga group class
    Tues am: AM Trainer pedal drills progressing into big gear drills and maybe am hill rides
    Wed am: AM Hill ride. This will need to be pre-dawn. I need a better light.
    Thurs am: Off
    Fri am: Private yoga (core, upper body & stretching)
    Sat: Easier hill ride
    Sun: Harder hill ride

    I don't like to leave anything to chance, so it's a little hard for me to rely on the new hill climbing friends but I think I just have to do that for now. Anything else is iimpractical. I don't know all the hill rides, many of the hill rides are in places with no cell reception & shouldn't be ridden alone (at least for women) and I still learn a lot from each group ride, from riding skills to what an event will be like or where the in-town hills are, etc. So I just need to go with the flow and see how it works for a little while. If its no good, I'll figure something else out.

    H

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    Hill Workouts 101,

    Obligatory Caution:
    Hill workouts can involve high loads and low cadences. These can individually or combined lead to or cause injury. They are the very two conditions that junior gearing restrictions are designed to avoid in an effort to reduce the chance of injury in developing cyclists. If at any time you feel soreness that is not directly related to muscles, anything that feels skeletal or connective tissue in nature (knees, hips, ankles, ligaments, tendons, etc.), STOP what you're doing and seek the advice of a knowledgable and trained practitioner (coach, physio, doctor, specialist, etc.).

    Right. With that out of the way.



    Hopefully you can find three hills within 20-25 minutes of your home.

    1. Short, steep and nasty. Here's one of mine, although not that steep, it's close and works for me: Mcleans

    2. Medium, moderate, uniform and 400-1,000 meters long. I use this one: Botany and this one Beach Rd.

    3. Long, gradual and at least a couple km long. My closest: Sandstone


    A few basic hill repeats:

    Standing Repeats- Initially using hill 1 and working up to hill 2. Approach the hill in a comfortable gear, shift up two gears and stand up. Maintain a reasonable standing cadence and exertion level of approx. 8/10 up and over the top. Once safe to do so, turn around, descend, repeat with the goal of completing 6 or more. Don't be surprised if initially you find it neccessary to sit back down before summitting or only complete 2-3 before warming down and heading home.

    Seated Speed Repeats- Again on hill 1. A seated all out effort. No attention paid to HR, or exertion level, or anything else. Climb it as fast as you can while remaining in the saddle. Summit, turn around, descend and coast a block or two, repeat. At some point you'll pop and will notice a marked decrease in your ability to complete further repeats. At this point turn around, warm down and go home. Initially, this'll probably be after 2-3. Your goal is again 6. Once that becomes achievable without popping add more, up to 10.

    Both of the above should only be performed after a really good warm up of at least 20-25 minutes. Hence the distance from your home. And, followed with a reasonable cool down. They're really draining workouts that can be completed in 45-65 minutes.

    The Climbing Strength Repeat- Approach hill 3 in a gear you can maintain 60-65 rpm in, and grind your way to the top at an exertion of 7.5/10. Repeat

    Seated/Standing Intervals- Again on hill 3, pick a cadence and a gear. Pick a number of seconds or pedal revolutions you'll spend seated and the same for standing. Like: 30 seconds seated, 15 seconds standing, repeat this to the top. Turn around, do it again.

    There are plenty more variations on the theme.

    Chances are pretty good that your standing technique will benefit quite a bit from practice and training. And the "power" that is required for climbing is much more "strength" dependent than that used during constant output intervals at lower exertion levels. This can be built with the all out efforts and the low cadence, high resistance work. But, be really careful about the low cadence, high resitance drills. If you have any alignment issues or don't work into them progressively they can be a good way to injure yourself.

    Hope that helps,
    F
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Hopefully you can find three hills within 20-25 minutes of your home.

    1. Short, steep and nasty. Here's one of mine, although not that steep, it's close and works for me: Mcleans
    Let's say you only have hill type #1 at your disposal, but some very nasty as in over 20% grade. Do those repeats have any benefit at all for longer climbs?

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