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Can't seem to start on an incline

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Can't seem to start on an incline

Old 05-22-18, 10:55 PM
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Can't seem to start on an incline

This problem is new to me this year. I don't get it. I am unable to start pedaling my bike on a very slight incline. I didn't have this problem last year. Is it because I am 67?

I decided I would try a hill I avoided all last year. I was able to start on flat place and then go up the long steep hill. I got all the way to the top on my bicycle! At the top of the hill there is a beautiful area with several trails. There is a really sharp turn at the end of one hill and I always stop there because I am scared I will crash. But then to continue on there is a very slight hill and just can't get the pedals going so I had to walk to where it was flat. There was also another very small incline -- it's not even a hill -- in the middle a pedestrian and I absolutely could not get on my bike. I had to walk that too.

I try to keep the right pedal up so I can push it down while I try to put my foot on the left pedall.. I can't seem to do it.. I seems I am very clumsy with my left foot as well as not being fast enough.

What has changed from last year? I need to get up those tiny little hills. I am supposed to be riding not walking! What am I supposed to do?

Note: I do not wear clip or cripples shoes. My pedals grip the bottom of my shoes. The pedals have little spikey things on them. I wore these tennis shoes all last year and just love them.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can advise me!
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Old 05-23-18, 01:50 AM
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Well, I guess we all have a hill that is impossible to get started on, but if you are having trouble now but it was OK in the past I'm thinking maybe a balance issue creeping up? An obvious question is what gearing you have when you are starting on the incline, but without having to clip in you -should- be able to get your offside foot on the pedal if you are making a smooth pedal. I know sometimes I anticipate that I am going to have to be careful getting clipped in fast and that almost makes it more likely I screw up. Maybe try using your other leg? (practice on level or downhill). Or if it is possible to make a u-turn start in the downhill (or cross-hill) direction?

It also sounds like maybe the tight turn is "psyching" you out a little bit. Maybe practice making some tight turns on grass so even though you have to slow you don't have to come to a complete stop and then have to worry about starting up again. But probably 95% of my experience is on the road, not on trails so maybe there are some mtb riders here with some better ideas.

scott s.
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Old 05-23-18, 05:18 AM
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You might also add some weight training sessions in to build up the strength of your muscles. We all run into difficulties starting on steep slopes. A problem on lesser slopes might just be a strength issue.
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Old 05-23-18, 06:34 AM
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It it's wide enough start at an angle instead of straight up, and then turn uphill when you've got some momentum going.
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Old 05-23-18, 08:56 AM
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Need to start gearing down before you stop to what ever gear would enable you to start moving when you want to start again...
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Old 05-23-18, 09:03 AM
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This happened to me after I broke my ankle (and continues). In my case, a good part of it is psychological. It helps to be in a low gear and to choose a line before you hop back on the bike. However, in my case, not stopping is key. For this reason I like to have some very low gears available, so that I don't have to stop.
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Old 05-23-18, 09:42 AM
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I'm 72, use clipless pedals, and have never seen a hill I couldn't get started on. Straddling the bike with one pedal at about 10:00, push down on it and then put your foot on the second pedal. I don't see what could go wrong, unless you're in way too small or too large a gear. So the first thing to do is to shift into your startup gear before you stop. The trick of course is to know what that gear that is, which takes practice.

If you could do it fine last year but can't now. the problem is probably that you're not young but haven't yet realized that you start to lose strength if you don't work out for 3 days in a row. HTFU. Ride or workout at the gym somehow at least every other day. Ride the hills hard. Long out of the saddle climbing workouts are very good.

Oh, and switch to clipless pedals so you can use more of your leg muscles and pedal a higher cadence, but be careful with that. Practice lots on your trainer before you go out on the road. Don't have a trainer? It's time. Sometimes it rains or it's snowy and slick. Gotta keep it up year 'round. You can't do it on youth anymore.
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Old 05-23-18, 10:41 AM
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There could also be an element of fatigue, if you are stopping at the top of a rather intense hill climb. Perhaps practice a bit in a parking garage, or someplace where you can get a bit of a swing with your start. But, if not steep, you should also be able to get going straight up.

Like @Carbonfiberboy, I may not like starting on about 15% hills, but can start on just about anything. Usually starting straight up the hills up to about 10%, or so.

Although, I might be stopped on steep hills with a heavy load.

Time for a lighter bike?
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Old 05-23-18, 11:04 AM
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I'm not sure why you can't get started, but I do know that being 64 is not a good reason
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Old 05-23-18, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
Need to start gearing down before you stop to what ever gear would enable you to start moving when you want to start again...

I usually forget to gear down at some red lights at the bottom of a hill, for example. I just shift down two, and lift the rear wheel and pedal with one leg to do the gear change in place without moving. No big deal. Also, don't be afraid to use your lower gears even on smaller hills. A little extra spinning will never hurt. The hills are your friends. Embrace them and they will reward you with stronger legs.
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Old 05-23-18, 11:29 AM
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Turn across the road start downhill then turn around and keep going up hill...

but generally drop to the littlest chain ring early rather than late, on the hill..

I'm not feeling shame when I use my 2 foot gear ..


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Old 05-23-18, 11:50 AM
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Driveways and side streets help
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Old 05-23-18, 04:20 PM
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I had the same problem three years ago when I resumed cycling after a 30+ year hiatus. I was in such bad shape I needed to stop every 400 yards to wheeze and catch my breath. I dreaded any slight incline. The worst were stop signs or traffic lights on inclines. I'd have to get off and walk across the intersection in busy areas, or cheat on lightly traveled intersections and do the rolling Idaho stop (roll through stop signs when safe to do so; stop and go at red lights when safe to do so). A few times when safe to do so, I'd U-turn, backtrack, get up some momentum and try again.

Took a few weeks... okay, months... to get into good enough shape to full stop on inclines and restart. And that was with platform pedals.

When I switched to clipless pedals on my road bike earlier this year I had to relearn starting from a dead stop on inclines. Lots of fumbling to clip in again, included barked shins and shelled nuts.

Then I saw some videos of pros and advanced amateur cyclists doing the U-turn thing to regain momentum going downhill, then another U-turn to take another crack at climbing a steep incline. And that's after tacking back and forth like slow sailboats to climb really steep hills.

Everybody has their point at which they need to backtrack or bail out.
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