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Flat land vs. hills

Old 07-17-18, 12:53 PM
  #26  
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I suspect that the fear of downhill is mostly just lack of experienc because you've been avoiding uphill, so you'd probably acclimate yourself to the higher speed if you put in the time climbing. I used to ride in San Franciscco a couple decades ago, and was amazed at how fast I got used to riding down steep hills in traffic.

I love hills, except when it's hot and humid, at which time I will tend to avoid them.

This might not be popular advice, but it works for me--do everything at the highest gear you can tolerate. It may not be the fastest way to go (at least at first), but it builds leg strength like crazy. Running at lower gears may be better for cardio, but you don't build as much muscle. Since muscle to weight is the key ratio in determining your speed going uphill, it makes sense to build more muscle as well as lose weight to work on both sides of that ratio. But please, if this makes you miserable, don't do it, my regimen is not for everyone, and you don't want to ruin cycling for yourself by doing something unsuited to your needs.
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Old 07-17-18, 03:10 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
That was my bread-and-butter workout training for the Mount Diablo Challenge, so yeah, the point was to make it a 59 minute climb. :-)
You already had the psychological and pacing stuff figured out though, right? Yeah, you can get climbing strength and endurance on the flats but you don't get the reality of knowing you can't soft pedal for a while if you dig too deep. I see this on the faces of people stopped on the shoulder looking surprised at how much harder it was than they were expecting. I'm not bragging here, I'm slow... but I know how to climb, because that's what I do and that's what I enjoy doing.

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Old 07-17-18, 03:23 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I hate to break it to you, but these are intervals.
Thanks, but intervals in my mind requires SPEED AS A COMPONENT of the effort and 15mph to 17mph is not fast or aggressive by any stretch of my imagination.
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Old 07-17-18, 03:25 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
You already had the psychological and pacing stuff figured out though, right? Yeah, you can get climbing strength and endurance on the flats but you don't get the reality of knowing you can't soft pedal for a while if you dig too deep. I see this on the faces of people stopped on the shoulder looking surprised at how much harder it was than they were expecting. I'm not bragging here, I'm slow... but I know how to climb, because that's what I do and that's what I enjoy doing.

You're right. And I had a couple of advantages. 1. I'd done it before so I knew where I'd wasted some time, so rather than let myself take it easy through Rock City, that's the place to drill it; 2. I treated it like a race. I found a group that was just a bit faster than I could be on my own and I just fought like crazy to hold that wheel.
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Old 07-17-18, 03:36 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
Thanks, but intervals in my mind requires SPEED AS A COMPONENT of the effort and 15mph to 17mph is not fast or aggressive by any stretch of my imagination.
Maybe for most running without a lot of elevation gain, but not for cycling. Just google "bicycle hill climb intervals" without the parens. Think in terms of high watts, not high speed. And if I was training for a hill run, it would be the same thing.

You'll find many things like: https://cyclinguphill.com/hill-climb-intervals/
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Old 07-17-18, 03:39 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
Thanks, but intervals in my mind requires SPEED AS A COMPONENT of the effort and 15mph to 17mph is not fast or aggressive by any stretch of my imagination.
I guess it's semantics, but I think most people define intervals as any set time or distance at a given output, whether that's speed or heart rate or power or cadence. For example, I'll do spin intervals where I put the bike in the lowest gear I have and spin as fast as I can for a minute. Don't care about speed at all. Most of my intervals are power (xWatts for yMinutes repeated zTimes), but they're not all super hard. Some have maximum wattage targets, not minimums.
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Old 07-17-18, 03:44 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
You already had the psychological and pacing stuff figured out though, right? Yeah, you can get climbing strength and endurance on the flats but you don't get the reality of knowing you can't soft pedal for a while if you dig too deep. I see this on the faces of people stopped on the shoulder looking surprised at how much harder it was than they were expecting. I'm not bragging here, I'm slow... but I know how to climb, because that's what I do and that's what I enjoy doing.

I recognize that climb! Must be the fog .. lol.
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Old 07-17-18, 03:47 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
I love rollers! Give me hills any day over relentless headwinds. I'm from the western suburbs of Chicago, btw.

Scenes from the 200K brevet I did last weekend near Fond du lac, Wisconsin.

Yea, I'm with you. Winds suck!

Rollers can be really fun. There are times you can get enough momentum running from one to the other that you can just stand up and power of the next one (if there isn't a sucky stop sign at the bottom like in your second pix lol).

Not that I qualify, but I'm sure really strong riders can ride through rollers very quickly.

PS: Nice pix with that telephoto perspective.
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Old 07-17-18, 05:01 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
PS: Nice pix with that telephoto perspective.
Can't claim credit for the photos but am fortunate to ride with others who are much better at getting great shots!
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Old 07-17-18, 06:11 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
Can't claim credit for the photos but am fortunate to ride with others who are much better at getting great shots!
At least you guys do a better job of installing telephone poles than they do out here.

Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo
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Old 07-17-18, 06:21 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
At least you guys do a better job of installing telephone poles than they do out here.

Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo
Yeah wow that's some ugly there!
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Old 07-17-18, 07:03 PM
  #37  
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I'm not a fast climber, but I like hills. I'd rather climb than battle headwinds -- at least there's a goal ahead, and often some interesting scenery.

Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
I guess rather than just wax poetic about climbing, I should offer some advice ... here it is.

1. Low gears first: Get some low gears so you can spin up most hills. They'll give you confidence to tackle them. I personally like gears as low as 27 inches, but go even lower if you prefer. I use a triple and on long climbs, shift into the inner ring and leave it there, doing all my shifting on the rear cassette from that point.

2. Learn how to stand: Click up 2-3 gears and stand on the pedals once in a while. This allows you to breathe better, and rests the muscles that you use when you're sitting and spinning. Your cadence should be fairly slow ... and your motion should be like a stair stepper. Don't stomp on the pedals. Let your weight do the work. If done properly, you'll eventually be able to stand long periods without tiring of it.

3. Pedaling technique: It is very easy to find yourself pedaling against yourself when you're tired. Concentrate on pedaling in circles, and watch your speed go up 1-2 MPH for no extra effort.

4. Take your time: It's not a race. Go up at a pace you are comfortable with. If others are faster, let 'em go. If it is an especially long climb, settle into a comfortable speed. You are going to go slower, so enjoy the stuff that you don't see when breezing by at 20 MPH.

5. Keep your weight down: It is all about power/weight. Losing 10 pounds or so does make a difference. Do enough climbing and the weight will take care of itself.
Yes. Confidence. I've seen riders give up really early on a notorious hill, even before it started getting steep at all.

I have 300 foot hills, from easy to very steep. So I have experience with climbing. The really big climbs, like 1500 feet, 3000 feet, etc, worried me. I did training by doing hard, steady efforts for 30 minutes to an hour, and watching what heart rate I could sustain. Actually, the long climbs weren't bad at all. I stayed at a heart rate I could sustain.

I now have gears to be able to stay seated up to about 10-12% grades. But even at easier grades, occasional standing is a good break. I shift down two or three harder cogs, otherwise I'll quickly run out of breath.

Climbs are often scenic. Look around!

Originally Posted by caloso View Post
It's possible to train for climbing on flat land: long intervals near threshold (2x20' @ 95% FTP), into the wind, sitting up with hands on the tops or hoods, big gear. Gets you used to the grind.

Oh, yeah. And what Biker395 said: lose weight. I'm going to guess that means cutting out pizza, dogs, Italian beef, Old Style, etc.
A heart rate monitor was very useful to keep my effort within a sustainable range. I had a few roads that had no stops for many miles, great for steady effort training.

Originally Posted by CreakingCrank View Post
That's good to know as I prepare for a hilly tour in September. I was wondering if stairs would help significantly. I have hills where I live but its so hot here its difficult to get to them, up them, down them and back home before the sun cooks me. I work on the fifth floor ... obvious what I need to do.
Just do some hills to get used to climbing. But for training, you can ride on the flats, at a hard, steady effort for the range of time that your hills will need. And once a week, including some short, all-out intervals will help a lot, too

Last edited by rm -rf; 07-17-18 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 07-17-18, 07:12 PM
  #38  
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Downhills for beginners:
Don't drag the brakes all the way down. That overheats the rims, and could eventually lead to tires blowing off, or brake pads fading.

Instead, harder braking efforts, with coasting in between, keeps the heat load down. I'll alternate front and back hard braking on long, steep downhills. On really steep descents, continuous braking might be needed. I'll stop part way down if so, to check and cool the rims.

I now have a good idea of the distance I need to brake to a stop at these higher speeds. So if sight lines are clear, I can see that far ahead, and the road looks good, I'll zoom downhill.

But I've started slowing down somewhat. It's just not worth it to go full speed. I've pinch flatted on an unseen large piece of gravel on an otherwise very smooth road (and stopped safely after some flat tire drama).

Emergency braking
The shortest stopping distance is by using the front brake only. At those extreme braking efforts, the rear tire is close to lifting off the ground, and can easily lock up -- then the bike fishtails -- scary. Practice on a quiet parking lot is necessary, and it's a good skill to have.

Preferably hands in the drops. Arms extended and braced. Butt back behind the saddle if possible.

Last edited by rm -rf; 07-17-18 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 07-17-18, 07:33 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
**Some NYC-specific content**

My hat is off to all you riders who ride hills. (I'd say 'mountains', but at this point, I find it impossible to believe anyone rides up or down mountains on a road bike. Give me a while to get used to the concept, and I'll bow down to mountain road bike riders....

I generally ride on Chicago's North Shore. Now I'm visiting Providence and NYC.

Up hill is bad enough, but the downhills scare the **** out of me. I've been using 35 year old Suntour Superbe brake pads, which have been fine on the flats at my 13-15 mph speeds. Not so fine going from Ft. Washington Ave, down 181st St to the Hudson River Greenway. I just got some Kool Stop Continental pads, and I hope they help.

I used to ride in Providence as a kid. IIRC, I once rode up College Hill. I rode from Providence to Newport. Now ... I wouldn't attempt either.

I bought a 28 tooth chainring for my TA Cyclotouriste (shouldn't that be 'Cyclotourist'?), but I couldn't get it shift reliably at home, so I'm in 45/42-13/26. I walked up 157th from the Greenway to Broadway. I can handle Broadway and Ft. Washington fine, but I haven't found a way I can ride from the Greenway to where I'm staying (172nd and Ft. Washington). I'd love to ride in Central Park, but there's a hill there that seems to steep to walk up.

How does anyone get used to the need to work like hell to go up hills and coast going down? How do you build endurance? I never thought I'd say this, but at least with headwinds, all one has to do is to keep spinning, and eventually you'll get where you want to go. The constant off-on cycling seems inhuman.

I found a Friday parking space last Wednesday, though, and my son taught me the double-parking ropes, so I'm good for a parking space until we leave on the 21st. I guess it's churlish to ask for anything more in NYC.
Your current low gear, 42F / 26R, is very high. It's the equivalent of a new bike's 34F / 21R. Even bike racers have a 25R now.
My low gear of 34F / 32R is 66% easier!! That's like 5 to 8 rear shifts easier. If you can get your 28 chainring working, it's 28F / 26R is essentially the same gearing as my 34F / 32R. Try to get it working!

No wonder climbing is hard for you.

I don't "work like hell" on fairly steep 8% grades. I can stay seated and climb at a low cadence, but with quite easy pedal pressure. More typical 4%-5% grades are easy at a slow speed, or doable at a higher speed.

(And new dual pivot brakes are very powerful, and the larger pads are effective. There's a lot more stopping power.)

Last edited by rm -rf; 07-17-18 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 07-18-18, 03:04 AM
  #40  
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If you tune in to the Tour de France today and tomorrow, you can watch the mountain stages in the Alps. I don't know whether it will encourage, or dishearten you.

Another suggestion is lose weight.

Change your gearing.
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Old 07-18-18, 05:44 AM
  #41  
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Was thinking about this yesterday as I looked at my log. Hilly here. My 22mi and 33mi "go to" rides from the house are ~1400 ft and >1900 ft, respectively. There are a few pretty nice downhills (that are uphills in the other direction)...I've gotten to the point of riding down them as hard as I can (on the big ring...revelation) to see how far up the other side I can go with some speed. Fun. Gaining confidence over time. Keep smiling.
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Old 07-18-18, 06:05 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by biker395 View Post
at least you guys do a better job of installing telephone poles than they do out here.
orcutt road in san luis obispo
wtf?!?!
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Old 07-19-18, 03:49 PM
  #43  
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I'm sort of getting the hang of it, even though I walk up some hills. I walk down some, too; I want to make sure I don't blow through red lights at the bottom of some hills. Also, there are some spots on the Henry Hudson Greenway that really scare me.The new brake shoes are an improvement, but I really want to get to my next birthday, which is just a few days away. Better safe than sorry. I'm on vacation, so I can take my time.

My low gearing isn't that far off the standard issue when the bike was built - 52/40 or 52/42, 14-18-21-24-28. My current gearing was fine for me 30 years ago. I knew it was a potential problem, but as I mentioned, I couldn't get my 28T chain ring to work reliably. Besides, I'm OK in 42/26 for all but a few blocks (from the Greenway to Broadway at 157th or Riverside to Ft. Washington on 168th). The Greenway itself is pretty flat.

The pros ... for the record, one Sunday in 1986 my time was the same as LeMond's, for just about exactly half the distance. Stages 11 & 12 are motivating for me, not that I hope to match the pros speed and distances, but they do make me realize the importance of perseverance.

ETA: I do not avoid hills. The only hill that I know about in my area is off limit to bikes. As for the rest, 25 miles with 100' rise.

Yes, my descending problem is lack of experience and changed equipment.

Last edited by philbob57; 07-20-18 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 07-19-18, 05:41 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
I love rollers! Give me hills any day over relentless headwinds. I'm from the western suburbs of Chicago, btw.

Scenes from the 200K brevet I did last weekend near Fond du lac, Wisconsin.
The first thing I thought of when the OP from the Chicago area mentioned hills was to go to Wisconsin to learn to ride them. I live in the mountains but have spent a week riding about 600 miles in Wisconsin; those Wisky rollers are no joke. Thoroughly enjoyed riding there.
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Old 07-19-18, 05:52 PM
  #45  
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One photo of some Wisconsin rollers I had the pleasure of riding; 2nd photo of the home turf.


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Old 07-19-18, 10:00 PM
  #46  
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My ride on Saturday (Markleeville Death ride). 16,000' of up. The reason to ride up mountains is to reward yourself with the views and the descents.


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