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old guys standing to pedal

Old 12-13-21, 02:54 PM
  #1  
deacon mark
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old guys standing to pedal

I find and mostly everything confirms that sitting to pedal is way more efficient. Standing takes a lot of energy and while it gives a break in the constant seated position, best to pedal sitting. That said I find the older I get the less I can stand to pedal. I certainly can get up and pedal and stand but if truth were known it is hard for me to continually pedal standing for long periods. I have some issues with runner's dystonia but it does not bother my cycling as such. However I find that I can stand to pedal but limited to maybe 40 strokes before my body says stop pedaling or sit back down. Although about 20 revolutions is all I ever do.

So every once in a while I hear of a cyclist who snaps a seat post and has to pedal standing for long time to get home. If that happen to me I would call the sag. So what do you all think can you pedal miles standing or what is the limit? I know it is really dependent on gear and terrain but just asking. I can pedal the longest no stop on a slight upgrade mashing in a higher gear. Fast and standing at high rpms is pretty much out.
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Old 12-13-21, 03:33 PM
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ofajen
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Iíve been riding only SS for well over a year. I stand a lot: climbing, accelerating from slow speed and managing difficult terrain. You are correct, there is an efficiency cost to standing because your muscles must support your full body weight somewhere.

Iíve optimized my handlebar configuration to balance sitting and standing positions. Thatís why Iím using touring bars with a 150mm stem and a carefully tested bar height that balances the needs of standing and seated riding.

Riding SS, one actually stands to take it easy and protect your knees, since pedaling seated up a hill in a relatively high gear requires high pedal force and stresses your knees,. On some routes I have nearly half mile climbs that I will do standing. This summer I did a couple of rides essentially without sitting. It is strenuous on your feet.

To some degree, it is what you are used to and what you set up your bike for.

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Old 12-13-21, 03:46 PM
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Itís got to be a pretty steep hill, before I get off my ass and pedal, and then only to avoid, the walk up of shame. Fortunately Iíve geared all my bikes accordingly, thus very rare occurrence.
Also, why I prefer kayaks over SUPs, if it involves much standing, Iím not doing it. I do recall standing on the pedals quite a bit as a kid, in the 50s & 60s, but then only had a single speed Schwinn Racer.
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Old 12-13-21, 03:51 PM
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Couple miles or so on the flat. The issue for older riders, say over 65 or 70, is losing muscle. The way to retain muscle is to use it. The more you stand the more you can and vice versa. On our tandem, stoker watches the time and we stand every 10 minutes for a few strokes if our legs aren't shot. Even that helps. I try to stay up until stoker says stop. On my singles I can stand for quite a while. it's just training like anything else.

I have the most success standing in the drops with my toes down, weight far enough back that I am pulling back on the bars slightly.

I never stood to climb when I rode SS, I just sat and pedaled circles. My knees are still strong because I stress them. When I BB squat I go all the way down. It's good for them.
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Old 12-13-21, 05:05 PM
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I try to consciously work at it. I have a 5 minute hill where I'll alternate sets of sitting and standing.
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Old 12-13-21, 05:16 PM
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There is a segment of road I incorporate into a lot of my rides that is about 2.5 miles and goes up 350 feet. That doesn't sound like a lot over 2.5 miles but it feels like it. It doesn't help that the steepest part of the ride is right at the beginning of the hill. I stand all the way through it. For me, I find it easier because I end up just using a walking pace and letting my weight o the work. Of course, there are a few paths around here I've taken where I have to stand and use my body weight just to keep the bike moving. But those are serious hills.
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Old 12-13-21, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by tkamd73 View Post
Itís got to be a pretty steep hill, before I get off my ass and pedal, and then only to avoid, the walk up of shame.
This is about where I am. I've never thought about any degrees of inefficiency doing it, but the older I get the less efficient I feel when trying to sand and pedal. I use foot retention, straps and cages on my vintage bikes and clipless on my modern bike. Without foot retention I don't know that I would feel comfortable doing it. And comfortable is probably more of how I think I've been looking at it. I seem to feel awkward these days standing to pedal. I'm not bashing electric assist and I don't have anything against it, but I feel in another 15 years there is a real possibility I may be riding an e-bike on longer rides, at least those with steep climbs.
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Old 12-13-21, 06:03 PM
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I tend to stand way more while riding my fixed gear bike. It helps keep momentum up bigger hills while also reducing the chance of "mashing" which usually isn't good for the knees. So, far so good at 62.
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Old 12-13-21, 06:59 PM
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Standing to pedal is for power, not efficiency. It allows you to use your body mass to put more force on the pedals, but it gets tiring if you do it for too long.
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Old 12-13-21, 07:33 PM
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Finding a good cadence would help. Too easy a gear, and I speed up, then can't maintain the pace. Too hard, and I'm pulling up on the bars and pushing too hard.
For steep hills, I tend to do a few pedal strokes in a slightly too easy gearing, then add a short coasting to slow back down.

With 34 front, 32 rear low gear, I don't need to stand as much as I used to. The grade has to be over 12% to really need to stand. (Although I often do stand for short periods on longer hills just to use different muscles.)

Last edited by rm -rf; 12-13-21 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 12-14-21, 07:57 AM
  #11  
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I only stand in certain emergencies, like clearing an intersection in a hurry. I've always ridden that way, nothing to do with age. I've always been a recreational cyclist/tourist/commuter, more concerned with efficiency than power.
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Old 12-14-21, 08:06 AM
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Wildwood
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I practice every ride. It is the only way to get me home with vintage gearing, 42/26. And NO, it isn’t easy - but a little satisfying to get up those steep ramps.
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Old 12-14-21, 08:10 AM
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I have a rotator cuff injury with my left shoulder and previously injured my right shoulder. Atrophy set in and for awhile, I could not stand and pedal because I could not hold my body weight. I have since improved and started rehabbing both shoulders and can now pedal about 100 strokes on hill climbs before sitting and resting.

I am 6'2" 200 lbs so if I want to ride in the hills/mtns, I will need to stand on some double digit % ramps like on switchbacks without losing speed/momentum.
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Old 12-14-21, 08:11 AM
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I would just stand more. Get in the right gear and you should be able to stand for as long as you want or need.
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Old 12-14-21, 08:30 AM
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mostly not

thinking at my desk, there is a hill climb in the forest I get up for, on the MTB. but I can't do it for long

there's also a downgrade on a protected paved trail I ride the road bike on, that I will get up for to sometimes get a sprint going downhill to see if I can break a personal record

but the fastest I've been in years, was on a country road this summer, where the downgrade was steep enough, that I was able to stay seated & sprint seated. I was also in light traffic, so I needed control & composure. exceeding the speed limit didn't seem to bother me tho ... hehe
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Old 12-14-21, 08:44 AM
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IT does get more tiring to stand and pedal as the years go on, but this is a reason to stand more, not less. Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

My first long distance tour a few years back (I think I was 45) I was using a narrow and sparsely padded saddle that was perfectly acceptable for a couple long rides per week, but when it came time to do 100km+ rides every day, it was wearing two new arseholes into my taint. We were days from any major town with a bike shop so I just practiced standing and pedalling without accelerating, and by the time we made it to the next city I was comfortable riding standing up for many kms at a time, and was even able to do so smoothly while riding in a group.

To summarize, it's getting more difficult because you aren't doing it. Do it more and it won't be so difficult when you need to do it.

You are right that pedalling while seated is more efficient, but max torque to the pedals and switching the muscle groups you are using are worth the efficiency penalty IMO.
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Old 12-14-21, 08:48 AM
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#2

Also, when switching from seated to standing it is best to switch to a higher gear - you are 100% correct that spinning high RPMs while standing is difficult and pointless.

Imagine that your legs are a small 4 cyl gasoline engine and they like to rev nice and high to stay in the power band. But when you stand up you have to change strategy and pretend your legs are a diesel engine - happier at lower RPM and higher torque.
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Old 12-14-21, 09:21 AM
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At nearly 61 years old, my problem with getting out of the saddle is the pain in my bad knee. It needs to be replaced (or soon will be). I have the usual pain issues with/when walking, or sitting for long periods (like in the car). But that added pressure of getting out of the saddle to climb, or sprint causes pain that I just canít overcome. Doing those things in the saddle is fine.

Dan
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Old 12-14-21, 09:30 AM
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I also find shifting my sit position and focusing on pulling up the pedals and also focusing on the more elliptical motion with the "scraping the mud off the heals" that LeMond posits, are alternatives to standing to generate more power. Seems like I am working different parts of the quads, glutes and gastros that perhaps are not as fatigued.
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Old 12-14-21, 10:14 AM
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I stand on the pedals less than I used to. I usually stand when I am taking off from a dead stop, but I do not try to put a whole of torque on the pedals. It is more of a balance, straight line tracking thing. I also stand on the pedals occasionally when riding just to give my back end a break and stretch things out a bit. Again, I do not mash. My knees do not like the stress of hard pedaling, especially when standing. For me, a short time off the saddle, and mild stretches, make a huge difference in comfort on long rides.
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Old 12-14-21, 10:32 AM
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As others have said standing more will make standing easier. I can do it for a short time but I've never been one to stand for any distance. It's something some people can do easily and others, not so much.

I climbed a 9 mile canyon one time with a friend who stood the entire way. I rode across the valley here for about 10 miles with a local pro who stood the whole way. I was hammering along trying not to embarrass myself and he spun the pedals from the standing position, chatting, checking traffic, etc, like it was no big deal.

Reminded me of video I saw of Sean Kelly riding next to Greg LeMond and Sean's legs were spinning as he stood but his upper body was almost motionless.
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Old 12-14-21, 11:32 AM
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I'm about to turn 60 and I can't stand as long as I used to. Plenty of hills here in Colorado Springs. On my two road bikes I'd stand and muscle up some hills. Back a few years ago I dropped the gearing on them so I could sit and spin, but I was more worried about my knees. than actually standing.

My heavier MTB has a very low ratio. And the 2nd wheel set I bought for my winter tires a couple of years ago has a big bail-out gear...I'd call it a great-granny gear, so I can just sit and spin my way up anything.

When I picked up a folding bike last spring I bought lower gears for that, too.

I was a real masher until my early 50s, and now I and my knees are happy to spin.

Last edited by BobbyG; 12-16-21 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 12-15-21, 07:24 AM
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I've been riding my SingleSpeeds mostly for the last 2+ years now. I enjoy the silence of the bike(s) and not having to think about shifting....just enjoying the ride/scenery.
Now that I'm pushing 62, I can feel it in the left knee when standing on the pedals for a climb (even feel it for the odd stair). If it gets worse I'll just dismount and walk up the hill. I have nothing to prove.
The only time I'll get off the saddle (now) is to avoid the shock of road hazards or to give the "boys" some air.....
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Old 12-15-21, 08:36 AM
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I used to love standing and pedaling. It just seems more like a chore now.
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Old 12-15-21, 08:51 AM
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I'm riding an upright bike after about 25 years primarily riding a recumbent. Two things I'm finding most enjoyable are the ability to stand on climbs, and the ability to ride no hands. At first i couldn't ride 50 feet standing, but between increased core strength and better technique, i can now ride standing for as long as i like. Gear selection is key, for sure.

When i was getting back to upright, i spent a fair amount of time reading about bike fitting ideas. One fitter suggests starting the fit process with a standing position, focusing on hand and foot position alone. This essentially determines stack and reach. Saddle position then follows. Idea being climbing geometry is important for sustainable climbing, and seat position can be addressed with seat tube angle and setback. I think he has a point.
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