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Cycling 101: How to prepare for hills

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Cycling 101: How to prepare for hills

Old 07-16-11, 01:22 PM
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Shrktank
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Cycling 101: How to prepare for hills

Hello

Just getting into biking. Been riding on a local road with no traffic to get the body accustomed to riding. At each end of the road(makes about a 3.5 mile loop) are hills.

I am trying to find out the best way to prepare t up the hills. Do you power through and shift down when needed? Do you downshift before going up the hill and spin through the hill? Or is there another way
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Old 07-16-11, 01:33 PM
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Only one way to get up a hill----And that is anyway you can.

Short sharp ones and power up- longer drawn out ones and get into a sensible gear and cadence and stick to it. LOOOOng steep ones and find granny and stay there.

Hills will never get easier--They just take less time to climb.
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Old 07-16-11, 05:49 PM
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There are a number of techniques. First, your position on the bike. Move back on the saddle, to the end, to increase your pedaling leverage through the power portion of the stroke. Hands should be on the upper part of the bar. You can sort of "pull" with the arms while forcing the leg through the power stroke. This should be a rhythmic movement.
If you are running clipless pedals, these help. You can continue the power stroke to some degree through the bottom of the stroke by using the classic "wipe the mud off your shoes" movement.
If you are a smaller, lighter rider, then standing and "dancing on the pedals" can be a good tactic. Shift up several gears till you can feel proper resistance for a smooth stroke.
If you are of more normal dimensions (like me), then sitting and spinning a higher gear will likely prove more efficient. Generally, you want to shift before pedal effort becomes too great. Shift early, shift often...
Short, sharp hills, sometimes called "sprinters hills" can often be just powered through as stapfam says. Long ones.... Get into a rhythm. Breathe fully and try to keep your momentum as long as possible.
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Old 07-16-11, 06:06 PM
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Try sneaking up on them, i.e. don't hit them after a hard run across the flat - be recovered and spin easy up the first third. By the time you begin to get tired you are most of the way there.
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Old 07-16-11, 06:11 PM
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Start with low gears and take your time. It's not a race.
You're not climbing the Alps in the Tour de France with Contador.
And don't drop your chain like a schmuck (I mean Schleck).
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Old 07-16-11, 06:47 PM
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There's really no way around it:

1. Ride to the bottom of a hill.
2. Ride up the hill to the top.
3. Repeat.

IMO there's no magic bullet to climbing. Well, maybe tainted beef or similar, but I doubt you want to go that route.

What everyone else has posted rings true, but in the end you just gotta do it the old-fashioned way: work your butt off to get good at it.
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Old 07-16-11, 06:52 PM
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One training tip: If it is really hot where you ride, you might want to do hill drills in the early morning or late in the evening. Trying to ride long steep hills in the middle of a hot summer day will get your heart rate into the red zone before it is used to the effort.
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Old 07-16-11, 07:43 PM
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Just ride up them, its the only way I'm afraid. Shift a bit before you need to.
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Old 07-16-11, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Shrktank View Post
I am trying to find out the best way to prepare t up the hills. Do you power through and shift down when needed? Do you downshift before going up the hill and spin through the hill? Or is there another way
It depends on the type of hill.
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Old 07-17-11, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Shrktank View Post
Hello

Just getting into biking. Been riding on a local road with no traffic to get the body accustomed to riding. At each end of the road(makes about a 3.5 mile loop) are hills.

I am trying to find out the best way to prepare t up the hills. Do you power through and shift down when needed? Do you downshift before going up the hill and spin through the hill? Or is there another way
The "best way" is to gradually acclimate your body to it. If a new rider tries to tackle the hills, head on, he will "explode". The heart starts to pump harder, the breathing becomes faster. You don't want to explode. Its simply not enjoyable and depending on your age, it might distract you from the overall heath benefits of riding. There's all sorts of techniques. But I don't think you are asking for that.

Take some short duration low grade hills and use a low gear. Just pedal at a high cadence. Over time, it will get easier. You will notice it. Then gradually get into a longer duration hill. If you do not proactively try to get better on hills, you will not. Its a challenge and you either do it or don't. Some riders avoid it but those who do hills are the more complete riders. Then you can go on group rides with a lot of confidence.
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Old 07-17-11, 09:15 PM
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have you learned to balance the bike, riding standing on the pedals?
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Old 07-17-11, 09:15 PM
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Here's the "Cycling 101" answer:

1. Rest at the bottom of the hill and catch your breath.
2. Shift into your easiest hill climb gear.
3. Begin pedaling up the hill as slowly as you can.

It won't be fast and you won't win any style points but, if you are physically capable of pedaling up a hill, that technique will get you there.
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Old 07-17-11, 09:26 PM
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Depends on how much energy I have and how much further I have to go. The "safe" route is to downshift in preparation for the hill and spin up it. You'll get better at it and won't have to go as low in time. If it's a short hill or you have the spare power, then by all means attack that sucker.
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Old 07-18-11, 05:29 AM
  #14  
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Use your gears to maintain your power output at a sustainable level: you can ride at an easy pace for hours uphill or you can ride harder but blow out when you reach the top, whichever way you chose, power output is up to you.
When it comes to using your gears, stay in a gear that gives some resistance but not too much. As the hill steepens, the resistance will increase so your pedalling cadence will slow down. You need to change down before this happens. You cant derail the chain from one gear to the next when pedalling hard, you have to lighten your force for a fraction of a second.
When you run out of low gears, you can get out of the saddle and use your arms as well as legs for more power. On big climbs you can alternate in and out of the saddle.

On switchback climbs, the gradient varies according to where you are in the road.
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Old 07-18-11, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by achoo View Post
There's really no way around it:
1. Ride to the bottom of a hill.
2. Ride up the hill to the top.
3. Repeat.
This says it all, I think. Particularly the "repeat" part. I "tame" a ferocious hill by doing repeats. I let it know that I'm the boss here. Really, there's no royal road to getting better on climbs than climbing, climbing, and more climbing.
As for techniques, here's one I learned from a mountain-goat friend: focus on controlling your breathing. I get into a rhythm involving a short, deep inhale and a slower exhale. Maybe it improves O2 uptake, or maybe it just tricks me into imagining that I'm moving more efficiently. Whatever.
Oh, and one more thing: think about keeping your upper body, and even your jaw, relaxed. It seems to help when I remind myself to let my legs do all the work.

Last edited by ortcutt; 07-18-11 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 07-18-11, 02:11 PM
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Sometime red line it. Sometimes don't. Just get up the damn thing before it decides to show you who is alpha.
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Old 07-25-11, 05:25 AM
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Thanks for all your ideas. I am fininding the breathing and controlling the upper body has been helpful. Of course just riding them everyday seems to be making a differenence each day.

The other one I find which is helpful is not to look at the whole hill but rather keep vision only in the area directly in front. Then conquer the hill stroke by stroke
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Old 07-25-11, 11:04 AM
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Hills can be tricky. As I approach a hill, I tend to try to "read" it. I try to figure out where I need to bear down. Also, I tend to avoid red lining it on a hill. The problem with redlining a hill, is it is an excellent way to flame out part way up.
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Old 07-25-11, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
It depends on the type of hill.
This.

Short sharp hills: You may be able to attack these by big-ringing it up to the pitch, then get out of the saddle and sprinting up it. Use your whole body and rock the bike.

Long shallow hills: Might as well get in a small gear at the start and just spin it.

Long sharp hills: Do anything you can. It's like the old football cheer: Stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!
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Old 07-25-11, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Long sharp hills: Do anything you can. It's like the old football cheer: Stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!
In my case, I put mtb gearing on my road bike. So far I haven't found a hill I can't climb. I might end up going less than 3 mph, but I make it and live up to my username: slow and steady like a freight train.

Here's some proof of that-Iowa Hill Road, with grades in the teens and twenties for 3 miles going towards the town of Iowa Hill. I added speed, heart rate, altitude, percent grade, and distance gauges in DashWare so you can see my slow progress. This is raw footage, so if there is anyone within earshot you may want to advise them that you're not watching porn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfFz6LUgDNE
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Old 07-25-11, 08:15 PM
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My best method of getting up killer hills is to closely watch my cadence on my bike computer. I let my cadence tell me when to change gears. This REALLY helps.
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