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Muscle-glycogen bonk on hills in granny gear

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Muscle-glycogen bonk on hills in granny gear

Old 03-27-20, 09:51 AM
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Muscle-glycogen bonk on hills in granny gear

Hi all, 70+ man here. I can ride all day at easy speeds on level ground. I've been training for several weeks on my own hill that has measurable roadside landmarks. Scant traffic here in the country on this road.

In 20.5 gear inch granny gear, I get Muscle-Glycogen bonk -- not the other kind -- my legs just can't go uphill further without 3-5 minutes recharging. I'm totally clear headed, pulse up but not that high or near max, breathing heavily. The muscles just run out of fuel. Breath returns to relaxed normal in a minute or two but the energy doesn't. Lactic acid? I'm a recreational cyclist and tourer, after a snowy winter of layoffs and not a racer. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat, this just happens consistently but with some progress after about 3 weeks, I wish I could lengthen my distance before having to stop and wait to recover. I'm quite strong and fit, a fast-twitch guy in the gym but this stop and start hill riding is frustrating. Do I just keep doing these intervals as I've been doing or something else? Most riding here is hills and I need to do better.

I highly appreciate any tips or ideas from others here.
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Old 03-27-20, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by MrJames67 View Post
Hi all, 70+ man here. I can ride all day at easy speeds on level ground. I've been training for several weeks on my own hill that has measurable roadside landmarks. Scant traffic here in the country on this road.

In 20.5 gear inch granny gear, I get Muscle-Glycogen bonk -- not the other kind -- my legs just can't go uphill further without 3-5 minutes recharging. I'm totally clear headed, pulse up but not that high or near max, breathing heavily. The muscles just run out of fuel. Breath returns to relaxed normal in a minute or two but the energy doesn't. Lactic acid? I'm a recreational cyclist and tourer, after a snowy winter of layoffs and not a racer. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat, this just happens consistently but with some progress after about 3 weeks, I wish I could lengthen my distance before having to stop and wait to recover. I'm quite strong and fit, a fast-twitch guy in the gym but this stop and start hill riding is frustrating. Do I just keep doing these intervals as I've been doing or something else? Most riding here is hills and I need to do better.

I highly appreciate any tips or ideas from others here.
Nothing to do with glycogen, everything to do with training, which does include lactate clearing. It's really simple. Uphill 3 minutes, coast back down, wait 1 more minute, back up 3 minutes. Repeat until you go uphill for a quite noticeable smaller distance. Then ride away from home or car until you're quite tired, then ride back. Don't do the uphill intervals more than twice a week. Do the ride away until tired, ride back. also twice a week until your weekly mileage gets up over say 80 miles. When you can do the 3 minute climb 4 times well, do it for longer, say 5 then 7 then 10 then 15 minutes. Ride a gear that has you breathing deeply and rapidly but definitely not panting. It's just training. You do have to eat adequate carbs, but not all that much. Training is a slow process, don't expect anything else. You'll be much, much faster and stronger in a year of this. I'm about your age. The battle at this point is to improve faster than you age, so have at it! The faster you get strong, the slower you'll age. In a while you'll be able to "see hill, ride up it."
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Old 03-27-20, 11:41 AM
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What he said, but I would add: what's your cadence as you climb these hills? I can't relate the gear inch figure with what that ride would actually look like. If that's easy enough of a gear for that slope that you're spinning in the 80s or higher it would be very different from if you're doing like 60rpm and just burning your muscles out. Also something that training can improve, but if your normal "easy speeds on level ground" rides don't demand a lot of power-per-stroke of your pedaling, and now you're trying to mash your way up this hill, then you're using your muscles much harder than your used to. Training will help that, of course, but so will spinning faster so you're shifting more of the burden from your leg muscles to your cardiovascular system.
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Old 03-27-20, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
What he said, but I would add: what's your cadence as you climb these hills? I can't relate the gear inch figure with what that ride would actually look like. If that's easy enough of a gear for that slope that you're spinning in the 80s or higher it would be very different from if you're doing like 60rpm and just burning your muscles out. Also something that training can improve, but if your normal "easy speeds on level ground" rides don't demand a lot of power-per-stroke of your pedaling, and now you're trying to mash your way up this hill, then you're using your muscles much harder than your used to. Training will help that, of course, but so will spinning faster so you're shifting more of the burden from your leg muscles to your cardiovascular system.
Thank you. You are correct about the GI number without cadence. No, 80 for me would be mashing although I try that as just one more at a higher gear before quitting for the day. I usually spend half an hour at this once a day. Sometimes twice. Cadence is between 91 and 100. I use Android free app, Simple Metronome to keep me in line. I'm guessing that it's clearing that lactic acid or however you call that.
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Old 03-27-20, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by MrJames67 View Post
Thank you. You are correct about the GI number without cadence. No, 80 for me would be mashing although I try that as just one more at a higher gear before quitting for the day. I usually spend half an hour at this once a day. Sometimes twice. Cadence is between 91 and 100. I use Android free app, Simple Metronome to keep me in line. I'm guessing that it's clearing that lactic acid or however you call that.
Wow, ok, if you're spinning 90-100 rpm up that hill already (and there's enough resistance for this not to be too fast) then what CarbonFiberBoy said, for sure. Last question though: is there enough resistance at that cadence? Ie: are you bouncing around on your seat at that cadence, or still in full control? I ask because while I'm an advocate for spinning versus mashing, it's only really possible for me to spin in that 90-100rpm range if there's "enough" resistance to the pedal strokes. I can't spin on flat ground going 13 or 14mph, for example, because it's so easy of a ride that there's little enough resistance even at 70rpm in the appropriate gears, and spinning higher would not only be pointless but also nearly impossible due to lack of resistance to the pedal stroke. I can really only spin in that 90-100rpm range going like 18-20mph on flat ground, which is a fast cruise for me, because there's enough resistance. Or hill climbing, of course.
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Old 03-27-20, 12:06 PM
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Thanks. Excellent advice and motivation. I'll cut back to twice a week. No panting so far, the legs just give out and breathing heavily.
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Old 03-27-20, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
Wow, ok, if you're spinning 90-100 rpm up that hill already (and there's enough resistance for this not to be too fast) then what CarbonFiberBoy said, for sure. Last question though: is there enough resistance at that cadence? Ie: are you bouncing around on your seat at that cadence, or still in full control? I ask because while I'm an advocate for spinning versus mashing, it's only really possible for me to spin in that 90-100rpm range if there's "enough" resistance to the pedal strokes. I can't spin on flat ground going 13 or 14mph, for example, because it's so easy of a ride that there's little enough resistance even at 70rpm in the appropriate gears, and spinning higher would not only be pointless but also nearly impossible due to lack of resistance to the pedal stroke. I can really only spin in that 90-100rpm range going like 18-20mph on flat ground, which is a fast cruise for me, because there's enough resistance. Or hill climbing, of course.
I don't spin that fast usually on level ground unless I have a bad headwind to overcome. I'm no racer and don't have the endurance for it even if I wanted to be and there was a money payoff. No, I don't bounce on the seat or get out of the seat at all. I'm doing this as a cardio workout without pushing my absolute limit per the cardiologist, or panting, but also so that I can climb up some of these long hills without all these stops. It is not too fast but not slow either, in full control but with resistance. Until the legs burn and give out.
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Old 03-27-20, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by MrJames67 View Post
I don't spin that fast usually on level ground unless I have a bad headwind to overcome. I'm no racer and don't have the endurance for it even if I wanted to be and there was a money payoff. No, I don't bounce on the seat or get out of the seat at all. I'm doing this as a cardio workout without pushing my absolute limit per the cardiologist, or panting, but also so that I can climb up some of these long hills without all these stops. It is not too fast but not slow either, in full control but with resistance. Until the legs burn and give out.
Well it sounds like your goal and willpower are admirable, and that you're on the right track. I'd say that CarbonFiberBoy's advice is probably about perfect. Only thing I'd offer up is that if you're panting at all then perhaps there's a breathing issue. Whenever I spin (or when I'm running, for that matter) I breathe very deliberately, very deeply, and to a measured cadence that's tied directly to my pedal strokes. In my case I'll initiate an in-breath and an out-breath every three pedal strokes, and breathe very deeply each time. By maintaining a very deep, controlled, and focused breathing rate that scales with my cadence I'm putting my mental focus on my breathing, not on my legs, and I've done this so much that my legs just follow along. I'm no expert on any of this, but as a teenager I went running with a guy who'd been in track during high school and he saw me panting like a dog and taught me about controlled and focused breathing, and I've practiced it ever since. It's served me well my entire life in endurance stuff like cycling, and I've come to regard deep, controlled, focused breathing as the engine that powers me on long-distance, high-cruise-speed cycling rides. If you already do this then disregard, but if not, you might give it a try and see how it works for you. That, and the practice regimen that CarbonFiberBoy recommended.
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Old 03-27-20, 12:51 PM
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Do you mind of I ask your weight/.height? How about the bike and bike fit?
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Old 03-27-20, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Do you mind of I ask your weight/.height? How about the bike and bike fit?
Five feet six inches. 144 pounds. I have five bikes and the one I've been doing this same exercise on is my beater because of the salt still on the roads. Tire pressure is at max, it is not a road bike. It is a woman's mountain bike and I have a good fit on it. I have other bikes but until the roads are fully clean and washed don't want to take them out. BTW I do have strong quads. Although not a large person I still do leg presses at the gym bench with full stack of 350 pounds.Have been doing that for 18 years. I can knock out ten reps but then get that same quad burn that makes me stop on the hills, which I want to get better at.
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Old 03-27-20, 02:06 PM
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There is a considerable difference in muscles that produce lots of power and muscle that produces endurance. This difference can generally be seen in the body types of the endurance athlete and the power athlete. Riding a bike is mostly an endurance activity. If you continue to ride hills you will get much more adept at this. Your legs are already strong but are lacking in endurance. Just ride your bike on hills every chance you get and in no time, maybe 6 mo to a year, you'll be punishing those hills rather than the reverse. It is pretty flat where I live but there are hills and I go out of my way to ride them.
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Old 03-27-20, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
Well it sounds like your goal and willpower are admirable, and that you're on the right track. I'd say that CarbonFiberBoy's advice is probably about perfect. Only thing I'd offer up is that if you're panting at all then perhaps there's a breathing issue. Whenever I spin (or when I'm running, for that matter) I breathe very deliberately, very deeply, and to a measured cadence that's tied directly to my pedal strokes. In my case I'll initiate an in-breath and an out-breath every three pedal strokes, and breathe very deeply each time. By maintaining a very deep, controlled, and focused breathing rate that scales with my cadence I'm putting my mental focus on my breathing, not on my legs, and I've done this so much that my legs just follow along. I'm no expert on any of this, but as a teenager I went running with a guy who'd been in track during high school and he saw me panting like a dog and taught me about controlled and focused breathing, and I've practiced it ever since. It's served me well my entire life in endurance stuff like cycling, and I've come to regard deep, controlled, focused breathing as the engine that powers me on long-distance, high-cruise-speed cycling rides. If you already do this then disregard, but if not, you might give it a try and see how it works for you. That, and the practice regimen that CarbonFiberBoy recommended.
This is terrific advice. And at the right time. I forgot in my initial post to ask if there were any special breathing techniques I could use to slow down these muscles giving out. I will try what you say. The only thing I did try but not see much difference with, yet think I gave up too early on is to take a quick fullest deep breath possible through nose, hold it a few seconds for oxygen absorption, then a quick exhale "HAH!" out the mouth. I notice this helps with reps lifting weights. I used to have to do quick full inhales when playing a musical wind instrument as a kid. There must be an optimal timing and foot coordination and it seems as you're already doing just this. I don't pant at all, just quicker heavier breathing towards the last half of the interval before I have to quit. I've also wondered about the various energy drinks, gels, Snickers bars, raisins and other things some use, especially for all day riding and touring. Many all day trail hikers eat a lot of snickers or Clif bars. Sugar. And still lose weight. One other thing I've discovered that helps get me another little way up the hill is to alternate extra pressure on one foot versus the other. For example, hard right right then hard left left. Or thee harder presses on one side then three on the other. A rhythm of extra pedal pressures. What also helps me get up to my finish "mark" later in the half hour routine when I'm tireder is to not look up the road (I hear any traffic, even a Prius, in either direction, 1/3 of a mile away) but to stare at the road about twenty feet max in front of me. I pick a shadow, a twig or any noticeable thing on the road or the shoulder, and mentally say "I'm going for that." And when I arrive then look at another one about fifteen feet ahead of me. And repeat. But I never look up to see the top of the hill where my final mark finish line is. I know when I'm there. I tried the old trick of imagining a tow rope helping pull me up, and that did nothing for me.

A big thank you for the breathing advice. I'll do it before dinner today.
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Old 03-27-20, 02:57 PM
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I'm not a big runner, and never have been, but thanks to the Army I do have to run at least sometimes (it's on our physical fitness test). My breathing technique when I'm running is to initiate each in- and out-breath on my left foot hitting the ground. This may be more rapid breathing than some people would be used to, and it took me a short time to adjust to it 33 years ago when my friend taught it to me, but adjust I did, and now I couldn't not do it while running. Again, it focuses my mind on my breathing, and the legs just follow along. That breathing rhythm is too fast for spinning during a bike ride, hence the change from every left foot down to every 3rd pedal stroke. If I'm spinning at 90 or 95rpm that's still quite rapid breathing, but it's doable. In addition to the massive airflow it provides, focusing on my breathing during these high-effort endurance rides gives me something besides my legs to concentrate on. When I'm maintaining my deep, focused breathing in cadence with my pedaling my legs are running on automatic, without conscious thought. Btw I don't breathe this way on all rides; its a high output thing. If I'm just puttering along I'm not breathing deliberately at all, but if I'm hammering on my own or with a fast group my breathing gets about 90% of my concentration.

I'm not a mouth breather in my regular activities, but when I'm cruising hard on my bike, or running, I can't do the inhale through the nose thing, not taking full, deep, rapid breaths. The nasal passages just aren't big enough for that much airflow. It's mouth-breathing all the way in these cases.

I'd also suspect that pushing harder on your left or right from time to time might be counterproductive. The point of spinning vs. mashing is that it reduces the instantaneous power required of the leg muscles by spreading the load to more frequent but less powerful strokes. Pushing hard is how you burn your legs out, so doing it on purpose during a spin can't be helpful I'd think. I could be wrong.

For the kinds of distances you seem to be talking about I very seriously doubt that eating or drinking any calories specifically to enable your effort is the issue. I fully recognize that everyone's different, but when I read about what folks are eating or drinking to "fuel" their rides and then read that they're going like 5 or 10 miles at 15mph, my mind is blown. I'll easily go 30-35 miles at a moderate pace (say, 80% of my threshold HR) on an empty stomach, or the same distance at closer to threshold with just a single scoop of Gatorade powder in my 2nd water bottle for a little sugar. I'm having a hard time comprehending how anybody who isn't an Olympic sprinter needs to "fuel up" for a 10-mile ride. Again, everyone's different, so I'm quite possibly just showing my ignorance.

Anyhow, good on ya for working out in the gym and trying to hammer up hills at 70. I'm only 51, and definitely feeling it. I hope I'm still doing what you're doing in another 19 years.
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Old 03-27-20, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by MrJames67 View Post
Five feet six inches. 144 pounds. I have five bikes and the one I've been doing this same exercise on is my beater because of the salt still on the roads. Tire pressure is at max, it is not a road bike. It is a woman's mountain bike and I have a good fit on it. I have other bikes but until the roads are fully clean and washed don't want to take them out. BTW I do have strong quads. Although not a large person I still do leg presses at the gym bench with full stack of 350 pounds.Have been doing that for 18 years. I can knock out ten reps but then get that same quad burn that makes me stop on the hills, which I want to get better at.
Nothing obvious to attribute your problem to. I agree with the poster about breathing, some call it "breathplay". One breath per 2 revolutions of the crank or whatever. Sometimes we forget to "just breathe" as Greg LeMond said.
Maybe it's just taking you longer to get back in climbing shape this year?
A friend of mine is 74 and can still climb better than a lot of us. He's about 6 feet and 140 pounds and 30 years ago he was one of the best climbers in our road club of 500 members.
I'm 65 and about 200 pounds and I can climb ok but I'm not fast. I can ride all year here so I don't have to re-train each year.
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Old 03-27-20, 05:13 PM
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20.5 gear inches? I'd bonk too if I had to pedal that many times to go any distance, hill or not. Do you know what the %grade is for the hill?
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Old 03-27-20, 06:09 PM
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MrJames67 , I think many of the others' comments are spot-on.

While I haven't done much higher-performance cycling, I've done plenty with running. And, to me at least, this sounds like a classic situation of muscle stamina. Not outright strength, per se, but the stamina aspect. Might be partly that you're in your 70s, now. Likely just not training as much to boost stamina as an aspect of your performance. Which you're seeing most particularly with long hill stints.

What worked for me, back in the day with middle-distance running: hill intervals, regular and hard, but with sufficient recovery and lower-intensity days in between to allow for the body to recover before the next stint. A couple times per week, generally, was about all we could stand (with the other training we were doing). But it worked. The gym and sprints on hills helped with the strength aspect. The longer, slower general runs dealt with the overall cardio aspect. But stamina on the tough stuff came from the harder interval training. (Granted, that's with running and not cycling, but still.)

Here are a couple of simple articles from Bicycling Magazine that speak to this approach with cycling. Might help provide ideas on how to adjust your own exercise regimen for stamina improvement.

5 Cycling Workouts That Boost Your Power and Endurance @ Bicycling Magazine.

This Climbing Workout Will Make You a Mountain Goat @ Bicycling Magazine.
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Old 03-28-20, 12:52 AM
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I had the same problem trying to spin 90-110 rpm up climbs. Wrong approach for me. Switching to harder gears and slower cadence worked better for me.

Took awhile to strengthen my legs enough to handle it, but it worked. My heart rate was about 10 bpm slower, my legs and lungs didn't cook as easily, while maintaining the same speed or a little faster.

I bought into the "faster cadence is better" approach for years. But after re-reading the rationale for it in the late 1990s I realized it probably wasn't right for me. I don't race full throttle for 3 weeks at a time every summer, including serious mountain climbs. I don't have that kind of VO2 max and I don't take PEDs that help clear lactate quicker.

The only difficult part now is my bikes are 7 and 8 speed. Not many choices when I want to finesse the feel between spinning and mashing. Occasionally I'll switch to an easier gear and spin awhile when the quads feel stressed.

I still tend to spin around 90 rpm when I'm cruising on flat terrain, but my average cadence has slowed from 90 rpm average for years, down to 75 rpm and slower since late last summer when I tried another approach. Some workout days I watch the computer to deliberately keep my cadence around 60 rpm average, with harder gears. Helps strengthen my legs for non-workout days when I just want to ride and not turn it into serious exercise.
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Old 03-28-20, 06:06 AM
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^^^^^^ +1
20 gear inches is = to about a 34-46 crank to cog ratio. I would not find this serviceable unless it was for extreme ascents for short pitches. Too much aerobic and not enough strength for me. 1:1 ratio in a 34:34 setup gets me up every ascent without overburdening my aerobic system. I am 6'2" 210 lbs and my cadence is between 60-80 depending on the gradient and length. Spinning at 90+ rpm up grades is not my preference.
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Old 03-28-20, 08:04 AM
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I think you are simply over doing it. You must pace yourself for anything more then a short climb. I have a rather steep hill with soft gravel and loose stone I like to climb using 21 gear inches. I learned very quickly the importance of pacing myself if I want to make it to the top.

As a recreational cyclist my cadence is in the 63 - 72 rpm range for cruising. Perhaps 80 rpm for short power a burst. I think you're cadence for climbing is WAY too high. I don't know the mechanics involved but it seems easier to climb for a few minutes at a lower cadence even though on a flat, a higher cadence seems to be best, at least for me.

I'd practice at a much lower cadence in a higher gear for starters to build leg strength, and work on pacing your self.

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Old 03-28-20, 12:20 PM
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Proper endurance breathing is called "diaphragmatic breathing," because it's done with the diaphragm. It takes some practice. First of all, never try to breathe through the nose if you're going hard. You want to move the air with as little restriction as possible. It's already hard on the chest muscles to move that much air. Practice this while lying down or standing: Drop your jaw, drop your tongue to the bottom of your mouth, straighten your neck and open your airway with your neck muscles. Then breathe in by expanding your belly first, pooch it out like you're pregnant. When you belly is full, then continue the in-breath by expanding and lifting your chest until it's full, too. Then just breathe out, all the way out. When you're practicing this standing still, you'll hyperventilate almost immediately, so after the out-breath, count say 8 heart beats before inhaling again.

I don't find any advantage in restricting the out-breath as is done in high altitude mountaineering. The issue when going hard at ordinary altitudes is not that you're not getting enough oxygen. You have tons of oxygen, more than you need. The issue is getting rid of CO2. People think they're oxygen deprived, but they're not. Rather their blood is getting too acidic from the CO2.

So that's how one does it after ordinary breathing doesn't work anymore. Eventually if you keep going harder and harder, even diaphragmatic breathing doesn't get rid of enough CO2 and you inevitably start panting. That's called VT2 or the second ventilatory threshold. Over that, one begins to develop more and more energy from anaerobic pathways rather than aerobic, which is fine if that's what one is training. With training, one can hold that panting level of output for 10-12 minutes before having to stop and rest. One does want to delay that point as long as possible as effort ramps up, hence the focus on aerobic training.
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Old 03-28-20, 12:24 PM
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Cadence increases oxygen demand. Try increasing your gear and dropping cadence to say 78.
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Old 03-29-20, 06:36 AM
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This is my favorite climbing technique video. What I especially like is how relaxed the cyclist is. Granted he is a cycling fit young man but he is not expending a bit more energy than is needed to get up the hill. In my own climbing I try to copy his general demeanor of smoothness. As an asthmatic I've paid special attention to breathing. As Carbonfiberboy has pointed out, using diaphram muscles is a key element of technique when large amounts of O2 are called for.

As an opera fan I have followed young singers and seen their development over a few years. As their breathing muscles develop the voice becomes more powerful and resonant. It is astonishing how an opera singer, with no microphone, can fill an entire music hall with their voice. Those breathing muscles are the diaphram as well as intercostal muscles that open and expand the chest creating larger volume. To develop those muscles, don't avoid hills. Rather look for them.

I just watched the video again, probably more than a dozen times now. I noticed the narrator mentions we can recover a bit on some shallower parts of a climb so look for those sections. The cyclist in the video also stays bent over the bars. This helps open the chest cavity for greater volume. As mentioned in earlier posts, too high a cadence is detrimental. Whatever your normal cadence is, a slightly lower cadence when climbing is more efficient. Good luck.
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Old 03-29-20, 07:23 AM
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More info needed:
That 20.5 gear inch number seems low enough for most any paved hill. It's around 24 front, 32 rear, for example. You should be able to climb quite steep hills with it. The rear cogs have tooth counts stamped on each cog, or you could count the teeth. What gear numbers do you have in your low gear?

How long and how steep are those hills? Can you keep a slow speed, around 3.5 to 4.5 mph on the steep parts?

From your original post, about your muscles needing a rest in the middle of the hill, I assumed you were grinding up the hill in a very low gear, at a very slow cadence and pushing hard on the pedals. As opposed to using the easiest gear, keeping the speed as slow as possible while still being able to steer and balance. But then you mentioned the very low gearing.
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Old 03-29-20, 09:06 AM
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First off, don’t listen to @Carbonfiberboy. He is actually a cyborg. He knows nothing of the limitations of the flesh.

Seriously, he is about the most knowledgeable expert in elderly fitness that I have come across on any site—I pretty much listen to everything he says—but it is worthless because he is so fit, he is talking about doing things I haven’t been able to do in about four decades.

After I read this post, I did a few if the hills I like/hate most to see how I did it.

Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I had the same problem trying to spin 90-110 rpm up climbs. Wrong approach for me. Switching to harder gears and slower cadence worked better for me.
Took awhile to strengthen my legs enough to handle it, but it worked. My heart rate was about 10 bpm slower, my legs and lungs didn't cook as easily, while maintaining the same speed or a little faster.

Originally Posted by CAT7RDR View Post
20 gear inches is = to about a 34-46 crank to cog ratio. I would not find this serviceable unless it was for extreme ascents for short pitches.
I am a weak climber but I find that even on some climbs later in the ride I don’t get down to my lowest cog—34x25 is about as low as I usually need to go.

I know some riders can spin up hills and I definitely climb more with revs than power, but everyone has a different limit. After I had heart surgery I found that my tolerance for high cadence/high heart rate/ heavy O2 demand was lower—which meant I needed to gear up a little, slow down a little, and avoid peaks of exertion.

I stopped trying to attack hills, and started finding a more sensible pace—a lot less satisfying on the way, but a lot more satisfying when I get all the way up the hill and am able to keep riding.

Another thing I do when riding solo (first time I did it on a group ride I generated quite a bit of ire in everyone behind me) is to stop pedaling for about five pedal strokes.

I have the same issue with burnout the OP has—but I find that just a few seconds of complete rest (coasting uphill) gives me a lot more endurance.

Yes, I lose a lot of momentum—but I find I can drop a gear, start pedaling, shift back up a gear and go further.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Proper endurance breathing is called "diaphragmatic breathing," because it's done with the diaphragm …..
(Read this entire post, #20 )

Because I have had asthma all my life, and a background (slight) in martial arts and yoga, and some meditation—I have learned a lot about breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing is key, as is TOTAL exhale. When I start a climb I tend to breathe in for one count (usually a pedal stroke or two) and out for four. I make the last exhale forceful, because of physics. When one’s lungs are completely empty, external air pressure will force your lungs full even better than the person could through expanding the chest and dropping the diaphragm through effort.

Also, if one doesn’t expel All the air, some high-CO2 waste gas stays in the bottom of the lungs, which limits how much that person can inhale next time.

When I do my five-count (or eight-count or whatever—not much more or I slow too much) pedaling break, I make sure to completely empty my lungs—easier because I am not demanding that my lungs supply my legs.

One thing I tried successfully for the first time after reading this post—standing up. (When I was a little less fit I couldn't support the extra effort.)

I tried standing when I felt a need to shift down—I usually can spin a higher gear when standing because I can drop my body weight into the stroke.

This does take more muscle, and thus more blood and air—but it also uses different muscles, and it preserves momentum. A couple of times I actually could shift up a gear and stand—just for several strokes—and then shift down to the starting gear and sit down, and use the momentum gained to stay in the original gear, which means I get to have a gear in reserve for later up the hill.

Whatever.

There is so much great info already in this thread, you would have been better off skipping this post. Don’t you wish I had said that first?
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Old 03-29-20, 06:19 PM
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Thanks everyone

Thank you everybody for all the great tips. After all I've read here I think Berner and others are right in that it will largely be a matter of incremental improvements practice over months, and with controlled measured breathing, and exercises to improve climbing. I will try standing and mashing also. What is interesting is that when my legs give out totally and I'm breathing heavily, my pulse is only in the 80's or 90's. At worst when cycling or exercising, it doesn't go above 120 and that rarely. Cardiologist says to keep it below 130 tops. On the same hill at the exact same distance, when it levels out, my legs give out, same as in the gym when I cannot for love or money do "just one more rep." And I have always been a fast twitch guy. I've read that this can be retrained and hope so. What else is always true about me and cycling in this hilly country, or even when the flats are thrown in, is that for years it has consistently taken me about 18 minutes to "warm up" and get into the groove physically. At that point I rapidly seem to have more energy and power and as long as it isn't up a steep grade, could cruise along until I feel like stopping, unless it hit a headwind. After 18 minutes I switch to a higher gear on hills or flats, with same cadence. And I don't spin except on these hills. There's no prize money for going fast in beautiful countryside. I've had enough years of real speed with 11 motorcycles.

Thanks again. I've saved all the advice and am reading it over each morning.
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