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Climbing Hills (Slowly)

Old 08-03-16, 12:11 PM
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crashmo
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Climbing Hills (Slowly)

So, Climbing a-sucks. I'm a 240 lb. land monster, and about 70" tall. I am relatively fit, and can maintain a 140-150bpm heart rate for a couple hours, blasting away on the flats. But when I climb, it all goes to hell. I can putt along in my 36/25 up the grade, but it is miserable.

How much of that is my gearing, and how much is my weight? As I continue to drop the pounds hopefully it gets easier.

Would I be wise to run a 28 or 30 in the back? Riding a cyclocross bike on mostly paved paths.

Thanks!
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Old 08-03-16, 12:15 PM
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Hills..

Start in your most easy gear.

Sit up straight.Helps breathing.

Place hands on the flat part of your bars next to the stem.

See how Slow you can go up the hill.

Do Not look at the top of the hill.

When you get better you can ride it anyway you Feel.
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Old 08-03-16, 12:27 PM
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They way to get better at hill climbing is to climb more hills, although losing weight won't hurt.


As for gearing, what grades are we talking, and what climbing distance.


Personally, with a few exceptions, there is not much that is more boring than never-ending flat riding.
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Old 08-03-16, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by crashmo View Post
So, Climbing a-sucks. I'm a 240 lb. land monster, and about 70" tall. I am relatively fit, and can maintain a 140-150bpm heart rate for a couple hours, blasting away on the flats. But when I climb, it all goes to hell. I can putt along in my 36/25 up the grade, but it is miserable.

How much of that is my gearing, and how much is my weight? As I continue to drop the pounds hopefully it gets easier.
It's both. Mostly your weight, because... gravity, but gears help for sure.

Would I be wise to run a 28 or 30 in the back? Riding a cyclocross bike on mostly paved paths.
Yes, and maybe downsizing to a 34T small ring in the front.
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Old 08-03-16, 01:35 PM
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when I was a kid I read the manual that came with my bike. it mentioned something about picking short goals along your route. meaning, as 10 wheels said, don't look at the top of the hill, look at something maybe 25 ft ahead of you, then pick another target, then another etc etc
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Old 08-03-16, 01:59 PM
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Crashmo,

I feel your pain. I am about the same weight. Last year I was 35lbs heaver. I live in northcentral, PA and every ride has hills / mountains. I have a Specialized Diverge. It has a 35T small front crank and I changed the rear cassette and deraileur to a 12-36. That plus the loss of about 35lbs has made it easier to climb. I also realize climbing is a combination of leg strength, aerobic stamina and mental toughness. Personally I think they are almost equal in importance.

As stated above what has worked with me is to get into the lowest gear I can push for a long time and be resigned to the fact that you will be doing it for a while. With that approach I have been able to improve my climbing and eventually do the same climbs in a higher gear.

I read somewhere that for every 10lbs you lose you can climb a hill in one gear higher. That was inspiring until I read the next line which said..... yeah, but, it still hurts just as much.

Keep climbing
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Old 08-03-16, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by crashmo View Post
So, Climbing a-sucks. I'm a 240 lb. land monster, and about 70" tall. I am relatively fit, and can maintain a 140-150bpm heart rate for a couple hours, blasting away on the flats. But when I climb, it all goes to hell. I can putt along in my 36/25 up the grade, but it is miserable.

How much of that is my gearing, and how much is my weight? As I continue to drop the pounds hopefully it gets easier.

Would I be wise to run a 28 or 30 in the back? Riding a cyclocross bike on mostly paved paths.

Thanks!
5'10" and 240. I'm about 5'9" and 165. I'm probably 5 or 10 lbs. overweight myself.

Unless you are a bodybuilder, it stands to reason you could lose a considerable amount of weight. Up to 60 lbs perhaps?

Personally speaking, it is considerably more difficult to climb when I am 8 lbs. or more overweight, which is where I'm at now. An extra 60 lbs must make a huge difference.

36x25 isn't too bad. Could you change to lower gearing for now while you lose weight?
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Old 08-03-16, 02:07 PM
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36-25 is not a hill gear, at least where I ride in MA. Mt biker background. Whatever pitch the hill, for me it is easier to spin than mash. I like a 1:1 ratio at least. So start with a 34 up front, go to a 30 out back,( or more) maybe might need a new rear der. as well. Touchy subject here, pure roadies will scoff. Only you can determine what works for you. I did a lot 22-34 spinning on my loaded touring bike last week. NH has some hills.
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Old 08-03-16, 02:10 PM
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Someone might be 5'10 and 240 and be superfit. So heavy doesnt' mean weak. So strong & heavy guys will never be able to climb well?
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Old 08-03-16, 02:16 PM
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+1, at 240 lbs a 36/25 isn't enough gear for hills over 5%, unless you're just a monster of a man. I'd be looking at changing that rear to a 11-28 if possible, if money isn't that tight, an 11-32 with a long cage derailleur.
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Old 08-03-16, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by baobao View Post
Someone might be 5'10 and 240 and be superfit. So heavy doesnt' mean weak. So strong & heavy guys will never be able to climb well?
That depends on you're definition of well. In general, no, not compared to someone who's 200 lbs, 175 lbs, or 150 lbs, or less. Granted, they will not usually have trouble getting up and over a little kicker, but on a > 1 mile climb @ 5% or more? Probably not.
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Old 08-03-16, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by baobao View Post
Someone might be 5'10 and 240 and be superfit. So heavy doesnt' mean weak. So strong & heavy guys will never be able to climb well?
Not compared to a strong and light rider they won't.
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Old 08-03-16, 02:40 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by American Euchre View Post
Not compared to a strong and light rider they won't.
I'd take this line of thought somewhere other than the Clydes forum, honestly. I'm sure 8lbs overweight is real tough on you going over hills. Skinny people problems!
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Old 08-03-16, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by crashmo View Post
So, Climbing a-sucks. I'm a 240 lb. land monster, and about 70" tall. I am relatively fit, and can maintain a 140-150bpm heart rate for a couple hours, blasting away on the flats. But when I climb, it all goes to hell. I can putt along in my 36/25 up the grade, but it is miserable.

How much of that is my gearing, and how much is my weight? As I continue to drop the pounds hopefully it gets easier.

Would I be wise to run a 28 or 30 in the back? Riding a cyclocross bike on mostly paved paths.

Thanks!
I weigh more than 240 lbs, so I can relate. It stands to reason why a strong but heavy rider can cruise along on the flats with the skinny riders but struggles keeping up on hills is pretty simple. As a heavier rider, your momentum keeps you moving along at a good clip on flats. But on hills, you are dragging an extra 80 lbs up that hill compared to a 160 lb rider. That is a lot of extra work. 36 - 25 is way too tall a hill climbing gear for someone your weight. Powerful quads might blast you over short hills, but on longer hills, you will wear yourself out. Get yourself something closer to a 1: 1 gearing.
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Old 08-03-16, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
I'd take this line of thought somewhere other than the Clydes forum, honestly. I'm sure 8lbs overweight is real tough on you going over hills. Skinny people problems!
Try putting on an 8 lbs backpack for a walk. Take it off in the middle of your walk. You will notice the difference. An additional 8 lbs makes an even bigger difference going uphill whether walking or cycling.

Therefore, an additional 50 or 60 lbs will make an even bigger difference.

The average adult male in the US is about 5 9.5 and 195 lbs. And the average adult male is significantly overweight.

A sensible course of action for OP is to get a wider range cassette and gradually lose weight; he could likely stand to lose 50 lbs at least.
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Old 08-03-16, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by American Euchre View Post
Try putting on an 8 lbs backpack for a walk. Take it off in the middle of your walk. You will notice the difference. An additional 8 lbs makes an even bigger difference going uphill whether walking or cycling.

Therefore, an additional 50 or 60 lbs will make an even bigger difference.
Yes, thanks Newton. I have a PhD in Physics, so I understand how forces work.

I also understand that on the Clydes forum, it's generally not considered a great thing for people who weigh less than 200lbs to come in and people that they need to lose 60 lbs to solve their issues, not matter how true that might be.
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Old 08-03-16, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by crashmo View Post
So, Climbing a-sucks. I'm a 240 lb. land monster, and about 70" tall. I am relatively fit, and can maintain a 140-150bpm heart rate for a couple hours, blasting away on the flats. But when I climb, it all goes to hell. I can putt along in my 36/25 up the grade, but it is miserable.

How much of that is my gearing, and how much is my weight? As I continue to drop the pounds hopefully it gets easier.

Would I be wise to run a 28 or 30 in the back? Riding a cyclocross bike on mostly paved paths.

Thanks!
That's odd gearing for a cyclocross bike. How long are these hills you're climbing? I'm assuming that by "hills" you mean REAL hills, since you live in Colorado.

OK, you're getting advice all over the place here. Gearing will make a big difference, as will losing weight. One of those is easy and requires a few bucks, the other is hard. Over the last few years I've been as high as 240 and as low as 213 (currently about 220) and I assure you, it was easier to climb at 213. I had a semi-compact crank with an 11-28 for a long time (36/28 low gear) and that was plenty to get me over long hills that get up to 7% or so.

I went to a compact crank (34x50) and that made things a little easier and then an evil friend of mine led me up a steep road and I had to cross train. Now I have a 11-32 cog for those days when I know I'm in for it. 34x32 makes just about anything on a road bike climbable. (like say, 15% and up grades, which are fortunately not that common out west)

so.... if you have shimano drivetrain, I'd start by trying to get an 11 or 12-30 cassette on the back with your existing derailleur. Most people will tell you that works but I haven't personally tried it. SRAM will definitely do a 28 tooth cog, or you can by the medium cage road rear derailleur and go up to 32 teeth or so, which ought to be plenty.
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Old 08-03-16, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
That's odd gearing for a cyclocross bike.
My cross bike came with a 46/36 crank and a 11-25 cassette in the rear, so not that odd apparently.
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Old 08-03-16, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
My cross bike came with a 46/36 crank and a 11-25 cassette in the rear, so not that odd apparently.
(headsmack)... I saw the 36 and immediately leapt to the conclusion that it was a mid-compact crank. My bad.
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Old 08-03-16, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
Yes, thanks Newton. I have a PhD in Physics, so I understand how forces work.

I also understand that on the Clydes forum, it's generally not considered a great thing for people who weigh less than 200lbs to come in and people that they need to lose 60 lbs to solve their issues, not matter how true that might be.
I'm not telling anyone they NEED to lose 60 lbs. exactly.

The OP had a question with two very obvious answers: lose weight and get a wider range cassette.

BTW, that's Sir Isaac to you, fattie.

I'm overweight myself, and eagerly await the opportunity to drop 5-10 lbs. OK, more like 10.
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Old 08-03-16, 03:15 PM
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Some Clydes are Big, some are fat.

Losing wieght is most difficult for some folks.

So Please Leave the thread if this is bothering you.
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Old 08-03-16, 03:18 PM
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Yeah, the climbing trouble is all weight. If you can push a 36/25 around the hills of the Front Range, you've got strength, so that's not the issue. Losing weight will make a huge difference in your climbing speed.

Gearing can certainly ease the pain and make it easier to sustain an effort, but finding speed is something else, and simply takes more watts or less weight.
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Old 08-03-16, 04:33 PM
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Great input, everyone, thank you! I'm obviously resigned to the fact that I need to lose weight, and have dropped about 25 pounds in the past year. But I'm not really a flabby turd, more like a large-framed guy with a lot of muscle mass and broad shoulders. I could probably drop another 20-30 pounds and be in fighting shape but I think my skeleton probably weighs 180 by itself.

Going to try out a 11-30 with my short-cage Ultegra RD. Should be a fun experiment, and will pick up a long cage if it doesn't play nice. I'm climbing at 4-5% grades typically for 10+ miles at a time but I want to get up into the big mountains next year and do some serious climbing. Down here around south metro Denver, it's all doable but I can't really sustain the climbs how I want to. A big ride length for me is about 25mi, with 1500-2000' of climbing. Did one last Friday and it kicked my butt. 20mi with 800-1k is my current comfort zone - I want to get better and stronger so I can climb longer and have more fun. I do enjoy climbing, strangely.

So less ham sammiches and bigger cogs. Got it!
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Old 08-03-16, 06:37 PM
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the short cage rear d is usually limted to 28t max. you may need a mid cage or would be way cheaper just to change out the 36ring for a 34t. Sub 50ish vs nearly 200 (rear D, cassette & chain)

you can plug the info to some gear calculator but if you can pedal a 36/25 already, I doubt you will use the 30t under effort
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Old 08-03-16, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by crashmo View Post
So, Climbing a-sucks. I'm a 240 lb. land monster, and about 70" tall. I am relatively fit, and can maintain a 140-150bpm heart rate for a couple hours, blasting away on the flats. But when I climb, it all goes to hell. I can putt along in my 36/25 up the grade, but it is miserable.

How much of that is my gearing, and how much is my weight? As I continue to drop the pounds hopefully it gets easier.

Would I be wise to run a 28 or 30 in the back? Riding a cyclocross bike on mostly paved paths.

Thanks!
Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
the short cage rear d is usually limted to 28t max. you may need a mid cage or would be way cheaper just to change out the 36ring for a 34t. Sub 50ish vs nearly 200 (rear D, cassette & chain)

you can plug the info to some gear calculator but if you can pedal a 36/25 already, I doubt you will use the 30t under effort
The point is to get to where climbing isn't miserable. Plugging the numbers into a gear inch calculator, 36/25 is a relatively tall 38.4 gear inches. Changing the small chainring out from 36 to 24 teeth and keeping the road cassette gets you down to just 36.3 gear inches, or hardly noticeable. Going to a 30 or 32 tooth cassette and switching from a 36 to a 34 tooth small chainring gets OP down to a far more clyde friendly 28 gear inches.
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