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So, how do you climb hills?

Old 02-18-06, 12:38 PM
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So, how do you climb hills?

Really. I've got a fairly short, but heartbreakingly steep on the route home. I've tried charging it at full speed, but the momentum is gone long before the hill goes away. Would it be better to just resign myself to a slow, sustainable speed?
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Old 02-18-06, 01:24 PM
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I'm no hill guru but here is my 2 cents.

A slow sustainable speed is really just another way of saying that you have a good pace that can be held for a certain period of time. With that pace you have the ability to sprint, attack, and keep yourself at a good momentum, which is what I call the 'bench mark'. Sounds like you are using the hill for a short sprint interval? Which is great in my oppinion, that builds up endurance. But you'll want to find a pace that will actually get you over the hill. Experiment.

Good luck
(hope my comment helped)
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Old 02-18-06, 02:02 PM
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Depends on the hill. If it is just a short one- then I use the last 200yards as interval training. That is sprint the last 200. Then if it is a long ride and long hill I start at the bottom in a gear that is comfortable, and change down, then down again, then down again. When It gets hard and I have run out of gears then I slow down. Pointless in my opinion straining the legs and body for too long. Long ride--50 miles offroad. Long hill- anything over 800yards at 15%.
Then on a training ride of about 30 miles- I will try to get the whole ride done as soon as possible- try to keep average of 12mph with around 3000ft of climbing so the hills are taken with effort.

Depends on what YOU want to get out of the hill. Survive it-take it steady. Fitness training- sprint the last 200. Keep or improve fitness- take it with effort all the way up.
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Old 02-18-06, 02:47 PM
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Slow and steady ... there is nothing wrong with that.

Remember to concentrate not on grapping the bars, but to gently wrap your fingers around them.

Stretch your arms and gently assume almost a "waterski" position.

Tweak as needed.
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Old 02-18-06, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Nermal
Really. I've got a fairly short, but heartbreakingly steep on the route home. I've tried charging it at full speed, but the momentum is gone long before the hill goes away. Would it be better to just resign myself to a slow, sustainable speed?
If you're pretty sure that you are going to run out of momentum before you run out of hill, then I think that it's better not to poop yourself out at the bottom of the hill. When in doubt, put your bike in it's lowest gear, pedal as slowly as you can without falling over and, eventually, you'll get to the top. Un - that's a non-racer's point of view by the way.
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Old 02-18-06, 03:06 PM
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Having used your approach myself, one of the problems with it is that, as you begin to slow down, it's very easy to shift too low too soon, so that you spin too freely and lose even more momentum. If that happens to you, play around with your shifts as you experiment: you have to anticipate the need to shift, but don't over-react, if you know what I mean.
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Old 02-18-06, 03:18 PM
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Thanks all, for the answers, so far. And another thank you for not pointing out the real problem; lack of horsepower.

"Sounds like you are using the hill for a short sprint interval?" Uh, Katrogen, I'm not using the hill; it is using me.

Thanks for the tip, huhenio. I do tend to grip the bars when I'm climbing hard. I'll watch out for that.

Okay, Retro, that'll be my next experiment. Lowest gear, and without bending the bars. And that was definately a non-racer's question, by the way.
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Old 02-18-06, 03:30 PM
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I've just started riding again absence, so my fitness in strength is pretty low. My best advice has been hard learned because the town i lived in previously was fairly flat and my new hometown is in a river valley. SO to go anywhere i have to climb out of town. It really sucks to hit a fairly major climb in the first 5 miles and be warmed up. My best advice is you just want to survive is just get in your lowest gear and work on relaxed upper body and your breathing. Ya i get visions of lance armstrong or somebody hammering up a hill but a lot times if i just want to ride easy that'll blow my whole ride. There's no shame in creeping up some hill, i don't have a triple or compact chainring so its 39x23 for me while my wife hits granny in her triple. i'm so poor on these climbs that i'm working on my legs and fitness before i really tackle em. Good luck to ya
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Old 02-18-06, 06:20 PM
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Depending on the size of the hill, if it is long enough, I would totally agree with "slow and steady", especially for commuting purposes. If it is just for fun, or for a work out, charge it full speed, and have fun with it.
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Old 02-18-06, 07:44 PM
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The more often you climb a hill, the easier that hill gets, you're obviously riding it regularly on your commute so pretty soon you'll be wandering what all the fuss was about.

Keep a steady pace that won't blow you up, no need to charge at it as it won't make any difference except that you're burning up energy needlessly in gaining the speed at the bottom.

Climb seated and focus on an efficient pedal stroke applying even pedalling pressure all the way around (you are clipless, yes?) that way you're using all the pedalling muscle groups not just quads, this will make a great difference.
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Old 02-18-06, 10:03 PM
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'Fraid not. Clipless, that is. I would just love to try it at someone else's expense, but shoes and pedels aren't even a dream at this moment. Thanks for the thought.
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Old 02-19-06, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Nermal
Really. I've got a fairly short, but heartbreakingly steep on the route home. I've tried charging it at full speed, but the momentum is gone long before the hill goes away. Would it be better to just resign myself to a slow, sustainable speed?
I wouldn't bother with "full speed" or "slow" terms, Ride the speed that YOU ride. yet don't "resign"
yourself from ANYTHING on the bike.DO NOT fall into the bad habit of staying glued to the seat.Stand often & learn what it does for/to you & properly utilize the 2 together.NEVER dismount to walk,do what you have to to stay mounted on the bike (on pavement ,that is)Myself, i love the burning & the drive of the climb.
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Old 02-19-06, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Nermal
'Fraid not. Clipless, that is. I would just love to try it at someone else's expense, but shoes and pedels aren't even a dream at this moment. Thanks for the thought.
From another "non-racer", and one who is still learning to tackle hills- if you are using platform pedals, it's gonna be hard no matter what. When I went to straps (powergrips), and after teaching myself to use as much of the full pedal stroke as possible (and learning to pedal circles ain't as easy as it sounds) with straps, the hills became much easier- seated vs standing, 70-75 ppm vs 40-50, and I've actually started coming back up thru the gears on the same hills I was dropping into granny for, and not stopping to recover in the middle. You can pick up a set of straps for 20 bucks, 40 with pedals already attached, but they should work on your existing pedals if they'll take toe clips.

And like others have said- to climb hills you have to climb hills.

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Old 02-19-06, 11:16 AM
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Well actually, the pedaling rotation (clipped in or strapped in) in reality is really closer to duplicating a square when transferring the power to pedals.It sounds "choppier" but it is what it is...
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Old 02-19-06, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by sngltrackdufus
I wouldn't bother with "full speed" or "slow" terms, Ride the speed that YOU ride. yet don't "resign"
yourself from ANYTHING on the bike.DO NOT fall into the bad habit of staying glued to the seat.Stand often & learn what it does for/to you & properly utilize the 2 together.NEVER dismount to walk,do what you have to to stay mounted on the bike (on pavement ,that is)Myself, i love the burning & the drive of the climb.
I promise, sngltrackdufus. If I ever take on a hill that I absolutely, positively can't climb, I'll turn around and pretend that I never intended to go more that halfway.

I've tried the toe clips, Dellphinus. They were a big help, both on hills and flat ground, whenever I remebered to use them. There's kind of a problem with the two pair I've tried, though. Whatever adjustments I've made, I ended mashing my toes. I should mention that I got first into walking, and then cycling because I have diabetes. Either will cause a major drop in blood sugar after about 20 or 25 minutes. Cycling is more fun, by the way, but inflamation and possible infection around the toenails is what you really don't want at anytime, but expecially with diabetes.

You know, I'm really glad I asked the question. There hasn't been an answer that hasn't helped in some way or other.
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Old 02-20-06, 04:53 AM
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I find with steep hills that it is much more important to maintain a high cadence than a high speed. Use your low years and change down in advance. If your geras dont go low enough, consider changing.
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Old 02-20-06, 07:46 AM
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I handle the mountains around here this way.
Seated while steady and constant. Out of the saddle when there is a short steep incline, then back to the saddle once it settles again to the previous degree.
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Old 02-20-06, 01:17 PM
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When using my Trek 830 I smoke the hills. I also live at low altitude and must climb in all directions for a mile. It has Ovaltec chainrings and resin platform pedals. I can relax in low range (28) when I want to, or, attack in midrange (38). I'm a Clydesdale and the only guys that seem to pass me on really steep ascents are Thoroughbreds on 20lb machines.

On my 520, it's harder even though the bike is much lighter than the 830. It has round rings up front. I usually just gear down, be patient, and spin it out. I'm convinced the BioPace/Ovaltec is the key to Hill-Hunting if you're a heavy rider. Very easy on the knees, too
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Old 02-20-06, 01:29 PM
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I've found going clipless to be very helpful with hills.

On the way into work I have a fair amount of hills. Since I commute 30+ miles a day, I use portions of each hill to give my back a break. I shift to a harder gear and stand up while pedaling. This enables me to commute my 150+ miles a week without a back ache.
Otherwise, I sit down in an easier gear and pedal at a high cadence.
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Old 02-20-06, 03:28 PM
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I googled the powergrips, Dellphinus, and ordered a set. Good, bad, or indifferent, they're sure not going to chaf the toes.
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Old 02-20-06, 04:44 PM
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Here's how to tackle hills if you are not used to power up them:

Shift to a lower gear, such that your pedaling speed (ie pedal RPM) is about the same as on the flat, with your legs doing the same amount of effort. Don't fight the hill, just keep gearing down as you slow down to keep the effort and RPM the same. Your legs will not know the difference. It is similar to just riding a longer flat distance.

Eg, if you are on a MTB, you could gear down all the way to 1x1. Assuming the hill is not deadly steep, pedaling in 1x1 at the same RPM as riding on the flat could even be too easy, allowing you to shift up.
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Old 02-20-06, 04:52 PM
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Contrary to what everyone else here would have you believe, the world does not come to an end when you walk up a hill. Trust me, I've done it.

This year, of course, I'm going to be so much stronger and fitter that I won't even give the hills a second thought.
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Old 02-20-06, 07:34 PM
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Of course you can walk up a hill. At 3:00 a.m. when there's nobody around and too dark to be recognized anyway. I mean, walking is okay, and riding is fun, except maybe when you're almost to the top of the hill and already foaming at the mouth.

I have three trained attack <snicker> cats of my own, by the way. They wouldn't let me use Roger to sign in, so I borrowed from the middle cat and joined as Nermal. Nermal, you will note, is almost, but not quite Normal.
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Old 02-20-06, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Nermal
Of course you can walk up a hill. At 3:00 a.m. when there's nobody around and too dark to be recognized anyway. I mean, walking is okay, and riding is fun, except maybe when you're almost to the top of the hill and already foaming at the mouth.
You're right. Walking up a hill IS pretty humiliating. Except for the time that I was walking (believe me, it was a steep hill) and I overtook the friend who was still struggling to ride.

My attack cat is flat out on the floor right now. Very pathetic. Doesn't he realise he's supposed to be out killing something.
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Old 02-20-06, 09:43 PM
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I know! I could let the air out of a tire. Can't ride on a flat tire.
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