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Hills don't like me! Gears, technique, what?

Old 05-27-11, 10:43 AM
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Hills don't like me! Gears, technique, what?

I guess I could post this in either the C&V forum, (old bike) or the road forum. But with all the variables involved in conquering hills, I'll post it in regards to the one constant. My age. I have what I think is a decent drive train for hills. I'm running a compact double, 34/48 up front and a 14/28 ultra 6 freewheel. We don't have many really steep or long hills for that matter, but I seem to get winded every time. I use clipless pedals and use the pulling technique. I wonder if it just lack of saddle time. I do not get to spend as much time on the bike as I would like. Any suggestions
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Old 05-27-11, 11:04 AM
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Take hills as slow as you like and they will never get easier. However with practice they just take less time to do.
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Old 05-27-11, 11:13 AM
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This time of year you could be having allergy problems.
Breathing problems develop slowly. They sneak up on you.

During my first year of riding I had some breathing problems.
Went to an allergy doctor. I was only at 65% of my capacity.
She put me on 5 meds and got me good to go in two weeks.
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Old 05-27-11, 11:18 AM
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A 34x28 is a fairly low gear. Probably just more saddle time.
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Old 05-27-11, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by yugdlo
I use clipless pedals and use the pulling technique.
What exactly do you mean by this?
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Old 05-27-11, 11:21 AM
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Try different techniques. I know I can't spin up hills. I have to stand but go much faster than way than sitting.
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Old 05-27-11, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by AzTallRider
What exactly do you mean by this?
the pull like your scraping mud off your shoes. Guess I should have given a better description
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Old 05-27-11, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by yugdlo
the pull like your scraping mud off your shoes. Guess I should have given a better description
And what sort of cadence are you maintaining? There is a tradeoff between loading up the muscles vs. pumping up the heart rate and getting winded. If you are really spinning up the hills, which helps in maintaining the circular pedal stroke you describe, you might want to see what happens when you maintain the same relative mph, but with a slower cadence and higher gear. You might be less winded. The tradeoff will be that you may get some sore muscles for awhile as you get stronger. On really low-grade hills I spin at 80-90, but as they get steeper, I drop that to the low 70's, working the leg muscles more.
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Old 05-27-11, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by AzTallRider
And what sort of cadence are you maintaining? There is a tradeoff between loading up the muscles vs. pumping up the heart rate and getting winded. If you are really spinning up the hills, which helps in maintaining the circular pedal stroke you describe, you might want to see what happens when you maintain the same relative mph, but with a slower cadence and higher gear. You might be less winded. The tradeoff will be that you may get some sore muscles for awhile as you get stronger. On really low-grade hills I spin at 80-90, but as they get steeper, I drop that to the low 70's, working the leg muscles more.
I will try what you suggest.
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Old 05-27-11, 12:10 PM
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Could be any of many things. You said you don't get to ride as often as you would like, but how much riding have you been doing? Is this a new thing or have you always had trouble climbing hills?

If it is simply a matter of being out of shape, the answer is probably just to keep doing what you are doing.
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Old 05-27-11, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg
Could be any of many things. You said you don't get to ride as often as you would like, but how much riding have you been doing? Is this a new thing or have you always had trouble climbing hills?

If it is simply a matter of being out of shape, the answer is probably just to keep doing what you are doing.
I usually average about 700 to 800 miles a year. Hills have always been a nemesis.
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Old 05-27-11, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by yugdlo
Hills don't like me!
How can that be? A long time Bike Forums member from Australia (Chris L) taught us long ago that "hills are your friends".
More time in the saddle and practice will get you up those hills.
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Old 05-27-11, 12:40 PM
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It is what it is. I find that I'm never in the condition I'd like to be in to conquer hills like I'd like to. I don't care if I do 800 miles/month, hills are always a challenge for me. I moved from a compact double (50/34 and 11/26 cassette) back to a triple (52/39/30 with a 12/25 cassette) and love it. But hills remain a challenge. I find the 39t chainring much more usable in my riding area than the 34.
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Old 05-27-11, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by yugdlo
I usually average about 700 to 800 miles a year. Hills have always been a nemesis.
That's not very much.... you would get a lot better at hills if you rode 4-5x as much.
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Old 05-27-11, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
A 34x28 is a fairly low gear.
Maybe, but a triple with a 30T is lower still, even lower is a 28 or 26. I guess I won't tell you what I have on my rig but its even lower than that!! Just saying.

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Old 05-27-11, 01:39 PM
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It's not that hills don't like you but that you don't like hills. Attitude change needed.

I used to avoid them like the plague now I seek them out. Everyone has their own technique. Mine got better when a friend asked me "why do you work so hard up hills; why don't you rest???" I got it... before I attacked every hill and would run out of stream; now I "glide" up them. I have low granny gears and am not afraid to use them. I just get into a comfortable low gear and spin. If it becomes too easy I gear up if hard, I go down. I do have a triple crank and 36 (Sram XX 36t) cassette which is helpful. Not much I can't get up - sometimes its takes time and patience but I get it done!
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Old 05-27-11, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by [B
big john[/B];12702911]A 34x28 is a fairly low gear. Probably just more saddle time.
I agree with big john and I know he's a very strong climber so he knows whereof he speaks (or types).

Here in CA the climbs are usually longer, but less steep than what you have in OH (at least what I remember from The Hilly Hundred (around Bloomington, IN). And it's true, hills are your friends, and they will make you stronger plus increase your endurance.

You will get better the more you climb, but it will take time, so be patient.

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Old 05-27-11, 01:48 PM
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@800 miles/year, I don't foresee much change. While hills have always been a challenge to me as mentioned earlier, when my conditioning is reasonably up-to-snuff, I'm considerably faster going up them.
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Old 05-27-11, 01:48 PM
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Loose weight, ride hills. Repeat. And again. Get a BMI near twenty and a lot of climbing miles and you will see a different side of this..
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Old 05-27-11, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR
I agree with big john and I know he's a very strong climber so he knows whereof he speaks (or types).

Here in CA the climbs are usually longer, but less steep than what you have in OH (at least what I remember from The Hilly Hundred (around Bloomington, IN). And it's true, hills are your friends, and they will make you stronger plus increase your endurance.

You will get better the more you climb, but it will take time, so be patient.

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Want to ride in the mountains tomorrow? p.m. sent
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Old 05-27-11, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
Want to ride in the mountains tomorrow? p.m. sent
Yes John,

I'm riding in the mountains this weekend, but in a different place. Basically Fawnskin (6,700 feet of elevation) to Onyx Summit (8,443 feet of elevation) then descend to Angelus Oaks (I think at about 5,000 feet?), then have lunch there . . . plus talk about cycling, the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

Then . . . all that done, we'll ride back up Onyx from the Breathless Agony side, descend back to Big Bear Lake, take a lap around the lake, and end up back at the cabin in Fawnskin. That's 81 miles, 8,000 feet of climbing.

Next weekend is the Eastern Sierra Double Century, so 200 mi. but only 11,000 feet of climbing, so no problem!

Best Regs,
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Old 05-27-11, 02:45 PM
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We won't get quite that high.


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Old 05-27-11, 02:48 PM
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I wish we had mountains that tall up here in the bay area.
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Old 05-27-11, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979
I wish we had mountains that tall up here in the bay area.
I wish I could climb like you do.
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Old 05-27-11, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by yugdlo
I wonder if it just lack of saddle time. I do not get to spend as much time on the bike as I would like. Any suggestions
Originally Posted by yugdlo
I usually average about 700 to 800 miles a year. Hills have always been a nemesis.
Yes, it's the lack of saddle time.

700-800 miles a year is respectable compared to most Americans, in fact, it's 700-800 miles a year than most Americans rides. Good on you!

But 700-800 miles a year is insufficient for anything remotely like bike fitness and strength for hills. Treble or quadruple that, spending most of the additional miles climbing, and you'll see a difference in no time.

Otherwise, sadly, hills will remain your nemesis.
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