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This hill is kicking my A$$

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This hill is kicking my A$$

Old 08-12-12, 07:36 PM
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GlennR
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This hill is kicking my A$$

So there's this hill, Avery that I found 2 weeks ago. It's short but steep and the 1st time up I made it 1/4 the way and then did the "walk of shame" to the top. I hit this hill on the return of a 50 mile ride so i'm already 35 miles and somewhat tired. Today I was thinking of taking a different route, but decided to try it again. I hit the hill in the small chain ring and had to get out of the saddle very quickly. My heart was pounding and about 3/4 of the way up I thought my heart was going to explode so I stopped. I was hyper ventilating so I used my jersey to slow down my breathing. I sat on a stone wall in the shade and after about 5 minutes I felt better. I took a break and had a snack, Larabar and some water, finally felt myself. I got on the bike and finished hit it again to the top. It was a killer and while I saw riders go down, I only saw one on a tri bike go up.

How the hell do you train for something like this?

BTW... the hill is only 0.48 miles long but it's a 18% grade.
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Old 08-12-12, 07:51 PM
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1. You train for hills like this mostly by riding hills. It's not a bad idea to do some weight work too, but there's nothing like climbing hills to improve one's ability to climb hills.
2. What are your gears? You should have a low gear that is low enough to spin up any hill you are likely to regularly ride. If you are having trouble keeping your cadence up to at least 60 RPM, then you need some lower gears. Maybe it's time for a triple. By the way, that's not an age-related comment. I've had a triple on my main bike for thirty-five years. I rode my fastest-ever double century on a touring bike with a triple (8 hours), so having the bail-out gears doesn't mean you can't be fast.

I'm not surprised you aren't seeing many folks going up the hill. (I'm assuming the route up from the other side is less steep.) Many cyclists don't understand the joy of conquering a steep climb. That's their loss. Plant an imaginary flag when you defeat this beast.
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Old 08-12-12, 08:01 PM
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1. Get in the lowest gear before starting the climb
2. Stay seated
3. Go as far as you can
4. Turn around and roll down
5. Repeat a few times
6. Walk up the hill and go home

Do this 2 or 3 times a week.
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Old 08-12-12, 08:06 PM
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It's a compact crank.

Crank SRAM S350, 50/34 (compact)
Cassette SRAM PG-1050 11-28, 10 speed

I live on Long Island so hill are a relative term. Most of the south shore is flat and the north shore is hilly. So I regularly head north from my house on the south shore to "hit the hills". Maye I should drive up there and just do hills and not ride 20+ miles just to get to them.

I can say some of the long and mild hills that winded me in the past are not a problem and i'm cruising up them at 15-16mph. So I am seeing improvement.

Yes... I love a challenge, it's just that my son does hills like this all day long. But then again he's 21, a triathlete and 6'4", 185lbs and only 6% fat. He's a machine
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Old 08-12-12, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2 View Post
How the hell do you train for something like this?

BTW... the hill is only 0.48 miles long but it's a 18% grade.
Train your brain. It is more mental than physical. May the Force be with you.
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Old 08-12-12, 09:17 PM
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Some will tell you that one day you will learn to love hills. Not necessarly true but you can learn to climb them given enough time. I don't sunscribe to the hit your granny gear first method but I do believe just keep trying will eventually work. I went to a 11x32 just so I would have a bailout gear for my head. In other words I could make the climb in 34x28 but knowing I had the 32 made it easier somehow. It is all about pacing in my opinion. Find a gear that you can push at the start of the climb and stay with it till you start to slow down. Next you have a choice, stand for about 5 or ten strokes and then sit down and down shift. Push that gear till it seems to be getting hard and do the same as you did before, stand or down shift. When you get to your lowest gear and it gets hard stand but don't spin just use a walking pace on foot after the other. Force yourself to not spin and sit back down when you have to and see if you can grind it out. If you don't make it stop and make a note of how far you got and shoot to fet past there the next time. Sooner or later the hill will be yours. I have a hill like yours only it is about a mile and a half. I have beat it into submission three or four time but it is still in my head, you have to get it out of your head.
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Old 08-12-12, 09:55 PM
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I"m no expert,and in my 50's.....I know 18 percent is steep for any average rider....I would get in the lowest or second to lowest gear and go painfully slow,keep it under 5 mph.,stay aerobic as long as possible......you can speed up after 3/4 if you have anything left.
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Old 08-12-12, 11:10 PM
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18% maximum or 18% average? Either way, it sounds like a bear of a hill. (18% average for half a mile seems unlikely to me on Long Island- even though the N. Shore is hilly, the maximum elevation on LI is only 400 feet and there's no road straight up Jaynes Hill).

My guess is that unless you are unusually strong, you won't be able to maintain enough speed to get up an 18% average half mile hill without a triple or a really great granny gear. With normal gearing, anything sustained over about 12-14% gets to be about raw strength.
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Old 08-13-12, 12:32 AM
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Sounds like our basket hill. 16% for about 3/4 mile and on a Narrow busy road.

I could do it on a triple but when i got the compact it took a while before I tackled it. Did the longer 10% hills to train myself- then the 12's and then the shorter 15% hill. But that little bit steeper and the traffic had me worried. Finally the day came when I had to do it and prepared myself for a walk. Approached the hill gently saving energy and started in a low gear. Almost immediately it was Lowest gear and it was plug away. 2/3rds of the way up there is a driveway to a house and I aimed for that. Got to it and realised that it was no more that 500 yards to the top and I had got this far so did not stop. Legs were burning- cadence was low and I left the lungs at the driveway. Just kept turning the pedals and I was still seated. 100 yards from the top I got out of the saddle and the mind just went blank till it suddenly got easier.

I stopped and tried to recover. While I was doing that a couple of local club riders came up and they could still breath. Did not care- I had done it and I was on the way home.

Still do that hill but I have to be fit to attempt it. No Way can you turn round on this hill due to the traffic and I do not walk a bike uphills. Last time I did it was last September and I am not fit enough right now but I recently got a Tiagra 12/30 cassette. Must be time to burn the lungs again.--Maybe next month.
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Old 08-13-12, 12:43 AM
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You can get a larger cassette (and derailleur to handle it).

You should end up in your lowest gear when it gets really steep, but don't shift down too early. You will just loose momentum.

I assume you were out of the saddle when it got steep? If not, learn to do that. That's how you get up the really steep stuff. When you are standing you can deal with lower pedalling rpms, so you can go slower with the same gearing than you can seated. You also can recruit your upper body muscles to help turn the pedals.

Beyond that, it's a combination of fitness and learning how to ride under your anaerobic limit. Practice helps both of those. Find a slightly less steep hill and practice on it.
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Old 08-13-12, 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
18% maximum or 18% average? Either way, it sounds like a bear of a hill. (18% average for half a mile seems unlikely to me on Long Island- even though the N. Shore is hilly, the maximum elevation on LI is only 400 feet and there's no road straight up Jaynes Hill).
As someone who grew up in the area that's what I was thinking too. I can never tell what the elevation of a hill is around here. Despite the formulas I can never get the proper elevation data to figure it out.

FWIW I ride with a standard crankset and a 13X25 cassette. I usually "ride into" my gearing during a season and find myself using smaller cogs as the season goes on.
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Old 08-13-12, 04:27 AM
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It's 18% average. I used https://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ with the end point being the top and bottom to get he elevation and then did the math with the change in elevation and the distance.

I started in the small chain ring, 3rd largest cassette gear and seated. When I stated to slow down I dropped to a lower gear. When that wasn't enough i got out of the saddle. Eventually my heart was pumping so hard I thought it was going to just out of my chest. My legs still had some left but my heart couldn't take it.

Maybe i'll drive to the hill and park at the bottom. Take a 5 mile warm up and then try it with fresher legs and not as tired to begin with.
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Old 08-13-12, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2 View Post
It's 18% average. I used https://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ with the end point being the top and bottom to get he elevation and then did the math with the change in elevation and the distance.

I started in the small chain ring, 3rd largest cassette gear and seated. When I stated to slow down I dropped to a lower gear. When that wasn't enough i got out of the saddle. Eventually my heart was pumping so hard I thought it was going to just out of my chest. My legs still had some left but my heart couldn't take it.

Maybe i'll drive to the hill and park at the bottom. Take a 5 mile warm up and then try it with fresher legs and not as tired to begin with.
Do this and get the psycological part out of the way. We don't have those things (hills) around here so it's kind of hard to relate.
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Old 08-13-12, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2 View Post
It's 18% average. I used https://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ with the end point being the top and bottom to get he elevation and then did the math with the change in elevation and the distance.
Well, if you say so, but 18% average for 0.48 miles is 456 ft gain on an island for which the highest elevation is 400 feet (and that's in a park with no road to the top). But I'm sure that the hill is damned steep.
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Old 08-13-12, 06:31 AM
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I think those who have said riding hills is the way to train for hills are correct. I also think you were correct to stop at three-quarters of the way and recover. My house sits on a hill that requires a 1/4 mile climb up a hill that averages 17%. When I started riding it seven years ago it kicked my butt. For the first three seasons I had to walk up the last 20 yards on the first two weeks of riding. So, I sought out other hills and made it a point not to avoid them. I'm anything but a climbing machine, but hills have gotten easier.
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Old 08-13-12, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2 View Post
I started in the small chain ring, 3rd largest cassette gear and seated. When I stated to slow down I dropped to a lower gear. When that wasn't enough i got out of the saddle. Eventually my heart was pumping so hard I thought it was going to just out of my chest. My legs still had some left but my heart couldn't take it.

Maybe i'll drive to the hill and park at the bottom. Take a 5 mile warm up and then try it with fresher legs and not as tired to begin with.
Personally, I do better on hard hills if I've been riding 10 or 20 miles before hitting them, so I'm fully warmed up. If the hill gets steep quickly, I would get down to the lowest gear quickly after the initial momentum is lost. I wouldn't waste energy trying to hold on to the last little bit of momentum by working down the gears in steps at the cost of tiring sooner.

Concentrate on keeping the pedals spinning at a good cadence for as long as possible. When the cadence drops too low, it's time to stand for a while. Just long enough to increase your speed enough to be able to sit and maintain. Repeat that cycle up the hill.

Also concentrate on breathing smoothly. In through the nose and out through the mouth.
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Old 08-13-12, 09:09 AM
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I've mentioned this before, ..when I hit a super steep hill and my cadence fades way down even in the lowest gear, I sometimes find it faster to walk up the hill. I wish I had hills like that around here to train on but I don't. When we hit some of the super steep hills on our WI trip (SW Wisconsin) I have walked up the last bit of some and actually passed riders who are still trying to crank slowly in their lowest granny. I guess I don't have the aversion to walking if it feels faster, --and it can be refreshing to use different muscles. But, again, this would be on a trip where the objective is the destination. If I had hills like that on my training routes, I'd probably approach it with a different attitude..
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Old 08-13-12, 09:18 AM
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Getting up difficult hills certainly involves training, but there is also a good measure of desire thrown in. There comes a time where you have to decided that you WANT to get up that hill without stopping.
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Old 08-13-12, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by woodway View Post
There comes a time where you have to decided that you WANT to get up that hill without stopping.
Oh... i wanted it, but my heart physically couldn't do it.

I will get up that hill without stopping before the first snow. And when I do, i'll post it here.
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Old 08-13-12, 12:24 PM
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There's a hill like that on my ride home here in Prescott, AZ, about 300' total gain over 1/2 mile with a short 15% stretch. So every time I leave home on my bike, once a day on average, I need to climb that hill to get home. After about a year, I could climb it in my second-lowest gear (36/24). Be patient and climb it as often as you can. Some of my neighbors see "our" hill as an obstacle, and seldom cycle. I've always seen it as an opportunity.

The payback for me came this summer--I rode the Northern Tier eastbound and the hills in Maine would have eaten my lunch had I not been prepared for those steep grades. The Cascades and Rockies were hard in a different way, but not quite like those short Maine climbs. 12-15% seemed fairly common, nothing over 300', but I'm guessing. Of course, I was a little tired by then.
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Old 08-13-12, 05:03 PM
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I've got one hill on one of my routes that kicks my butt regularly, It is only 3/4 mile long but it ranges from 7% to 12% at the end. I've walked the last 50 yards a few times and it doesn't bother me to do so. At least I get to the top and can get back on the bike and motor off on my way. When I cannot walk the portion of a hill I need to I am then in real trouble. I'll keep riding it until I lick it regularly.

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Old 08-13-12, 07:47 PM
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This is some advice I got when I started to do hills in the North East New England. I hope some of the ideas will help you as they did me. Good luck.

The Secret to hills.
The more you ride hills in your area, the stronger you will get

You have to be very fit to live in the mountains. You need to be able to make a lot of power aerobically, and clear lactic acid well, and recover a bit while still under a certain amount of pressure.
It took me more than one season to build myself up, so be patient.
If there is a trick to climbing, then it is simply accepting that there is no such thing as "casual" riding in the mountains.
"Be patient. Don't try to charge up the hill as fast as you can. Go at a pace, no matter how slow that is, that allows you to be . . . smooooooth. No gasping for air, nice smooth breathing. No clutching the handlebars spasmodically and mashing your legs erratically, nice smooth circles.

Relax. Body and mind. Try to keep your upper body relaxed, hands loose, SMILE! Focus mentally on just moving the pedals round and round and round and . . . so on. Don't look up at the top of the hill. This is always demoralizing. Especially when you look up and realize you can't *see* the top of the hill.

Shift to a low gear early. If you find that it's not enough of a challenge, you can always get in a bigger gear. When I confronted that final climb on Saturday, I didn't even bother . . . I just put that baby right into the great-granny gear, and started plugging away.

If you need to, get off the bike, but be aware that walking up a steep hill (especially in stiff-soled bike shoes) is not much less painful than riding up it. I stopped twice on that climb, for about 30 seconds each, to stretch my back. I didn't walk, just hopped back on the bike and continued to climb. Those two quick breaks felt *fantastic* and without them, my back may well have protested too much for me to be able to finish the climb.

But the long-term bottom line, as others have mentioned, is that the single biggest secret to being a good hill climber is to just keep going out and climbing the hills!




Comfortable" is another word you will no longer need to describe your riding
it isn't easy and it always hurts, so I would have to say that the real secret is just not minding it.

that's right. You have to find that pace that you can maintain for an extended time. One where your HR levels off and does not keep going up.

Once you go beyond that pace, the clock is ticking. On a mountain there are not a lot of places where you get a chance to recover, so once you go anaerobic, it is just a matter of time.

That's why I said earlier that it is important to learn how to recover a little while still being under pressure.

That skill will help you when you misjudge your effort on the way up.


One way to "cheat" on super steep hills is to zig zag back and forth. So if you're absolutely at your limit, you can ride sideways across the road to get momentum, and then turn back across, repeating until you recover. It ain't pretty, but it beats walking. The downside is that your effective rate of ascent drops even lower, so you'll spend even more time on the hill.


Some random advice from a guy who can climb pretty well but not "oh my god look at him go" fast:

Tip 1- Breathe deliberately as you climb. Don't let your breathing rhythm go nuts. Once you can't regulate your breath, all kinds of bad things happen. Breath deeply in and forcefully out.


Tip 2- Know that it hurts for everyone. Some people ride up hills faster than others, but everyone's legs and lungs are burning just the same. I always feel like this helps me- particularly when being dropped.

Tip 3- Find recovery points on the climb. When you're climbing long hills you'll find there are often stretches that are almost flat or even a little downhill. Sometimes you get a nice tailwind through a switchback or around a turn. Treat these little reprieves as recovery opportunities. Which leads me to...

Tip 4- Use interval training to improve the speed of your recovery. You can do them on flat land or on climbs, it doesn't matter as long as you go all-out hard then really rest. Intervals are good for those days when you only have a little bit of time to ride. If you do them right, you'll absolutely dread doing your interval workout.

Tip 5- If you have a heart rate monitor, figure out exactly where you go anaerobic. Understand that you have a limited amount of time that your body can handle being anaerobic before you start to shut down. So save the anaerobic efforts for when the hill really demands it.

Tip 6- Keep your gaze ahead of you. Don't look down at the road. This is always good advice whether you're going up, down, or flat but while climbing it makes the hill seem do-able rather than just an infinite incline that just won't quit. You don't have to look at the top of the hill. Find a mile marker or a tree or something and concentrate on making to that object. Once you get there find another one a little further up the hill.

Hi,
A mental trick that worked for me on a recent mountain century (Mt. of misery...steep 3 mile hill at the end), was to be aware of my pain, but listen to the background noise. There were birds singing and the breeze blowing through the trees. It was almost meditative, and made my 45 minute climb seem not so long as the previous 3x I did it.

Every so often I would stand to pedal for 3 strokes. But instead of a smooth pedal, I would push down, and hold while coasting, repeat 2x, then sit and get back into the groove. Gives you a little stretch of the back, uses the quads a little differently, and helps your head.

Early on a big hill, I would put it into that really low gear (39x34...cheap man's triple), and, as others mentioned, just slowly grind away. I only attack hills that can be climbed in less than 2 minutes.

Enjoy the satisfaction you will have when you conquer those big hills that are killing you now!





I thought of one other thing that helps me when I'm suffering up a climb. Come up with a climbing mantra. I say under my breath (and so no one can hear me) "quick-round-strong" over and over again. Even I think it sounds like B.S. when I say it but it helps me remember how I want my pedals to spin.

Repeating anything out loud will keep you from going completely anaerobic.



Now go do it anyway. You don’t learn to swim by staying out of the water , and the same is true for doing hills. You just gotta climb them.
One trick is to make full use of the pedal stroke on the hill. You have to make full circles instead of pushing down harder. Try to think of “unweighting” the foot on the top of the up stroke, pushing forward and around the front of the stroke. It’s a mental image that works for me. It may not work for you , but you get the idea. Find what works for you and do it.


On longer hills think about different parts of your pedal stroke on different parts of the hill. Focus on the left leg for 10 pedal strokes, switch to the right; focus on pulling back on the bottom of the stroke, now focus on the up and over the top, that sort of thing.
You can also pick a target, like a landmark or specific crack in the street, Once you have reached that mark, select another, and so on. Before you know it, you are up and over the hill.


A couple of days once a month, pick a hill and do hill repeats. Ride up, coast down, ride up again. As you become stronger, do them more frequently or more intensely. Your body will adapt and hills will become easier. Unfortunately, they never actually become easy. That the insanity of cycling, that we continue to do it even if it takes massive effort.


Good Luck.
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Old 08-14-12, 07:36 AM
  #23  
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I'll tell you how I train for hills like that (given there is the gear for it to begin with.....I ride with a road double).....dont quit. If you dont quit, you win.

Persistence is the best tool in the box. You cant buy it.
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Old 08-14-12, 09:44 AM
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Sounds like a hill I had on my last commute. At least for the bottom 3/4. Then at the top it kicked it into max by going to 20% and in winter there was a little ice slick at the top. I got up it most of the time, but there were some times where because of attitude or weather or something, I had to stop and catch my breath or walk that last little part. With the ice patch, sometimes I had to get off the road all together.

Most hills you get acclimated to. This one was always a challenge for me.
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Old 08-14-12, 10:39 AM
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How the hell do you train for something like this?

BTW... the hill is only 0.48 miles long but it's a 18% grade.
Sounds like a hill similar to one in Maryland (Ellicott City), the infamous, Illchester Rd. Also about .5 mi long and the road sign says 18% grade. IT IS A MONSTER!! Haven't done it in a while but used to about once a month when I was in my 30s. For me, it was very tough but doable without some serious hill training; however, much easier (but still a work-out) after 3 or 4 wks (once a week) of hill intervals (hill repeats) on a lesser hill about the same length. Intervals are awesome and payoff quite well if you have the base miles, fitness, a good hill to train on, and are inclined to suffer once a wk for 3-4 wks. Since I'm recently back into road riding, I may make it a goal to tackle Illchester Rd before it gets cold here in November. No intervals now but I do an awful lot of hills twice a wk. GOOD LUCK!!

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